Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Book of Abramelin: The First English Interview with Georg Dehn

How did this book manifest?

Georg Dehn has grown to be one of my heroes of the occult when he released The Book of Abramelin: A New Translation. Dehn was not aware his  "hometown hero" that lived 600 years ago would have changed the future of the occult and his own life. This hometown hero was Abram von Worms (or Abraham of Worms, Germany). He was unaware of the impact that McGregor Mathers and Aleister Crowley played on this book, and how it would shaped western occultism as a whole. Thus, this made his book a modern day gem.  

In western occultism we have our set of heroes from different time periods from Iamblichus, Plato, Cornelius Agrippa, Eliphas Levi, McGregor Mathers, William Wynn Westcott, William Butler Yeats, Aleister Crowley, Peter Carrol, Poke Runyon, and etc. In modern thought most of our information is easily influenced by our path, tradition, beliefs, and listening to mentors. Georg Dehn is an entirely different person in this regard, Abram von Worms was a honorable mention in his area history. Therefore, Dehn's motivation was far different than focusing on the past through the eyes of a Thelemite or ceremonial magician with an ideology and more through the lens of a curious man with a hero. That is the beginning of this book's story and Dehn's personal story. 

This version of the Abramelin is far more complex than a ritual to find God's wisdom, the Holy Guardian Angel, and True Will.  Much rather it is the story of a man seeking answers. In my opinion, the first book of the four (a story of a man who lost his father in his late teens) is the most crucial to comprehending this work. Abram von Worms was a devout man who seemed religious, conservative, sought wisdom from gurus, and had a tendency to test new practices in a progressive manner. It is obvious his measuring tool was how much 'Godly' wisdom was applicable to the particular magick, but this was also the beginning of Dehn's journey to discover not only more about this book and its author. It was also a path to finding himself. 

Why is the journey of Dehn and Abram von Worms so important?

George Dehn had scoured maps of Africa to find the of Araki Abram spoke of in his book. He had no luck until an archaeologist showed him a map of Napoleon's conquest, which had 3 towns with "Araki" in the title. However, it was too late and Dehn had to depart back to Germany. This was a testament that Dehn was in dire need to prove this was a real man writing about a authentic experience. 

It was the next trip when he actually traveled through Egypt to actually find Araki. He compared the unpaved roads and environment to Turkey in the 1970's. He found what he believes the "Araki" Abram described near Luxor, Egypt. Dehn states, "It is 3 or 4 kilometers to go through. It is real big. But it's only clay huts, some stone houses, modern rich farmers have stone houses, then you have old clay houses with 1 or 2 stories. It is like some parts of the town like are like 300 or 400 years old. But you don't have pavement, asphalt. You don't have paved roads." He describes this Araki, where Abraham was inspired by Abramelin, as a village of farmers in modern times, almost untouched by time. 

Nag Hammadi is not far from Araki, the place where the pre-Gnostic text, Nag Hammadi Library, was discovered. Therefore, it shows a possible heavy Gnostic influence that could have easily been an indicator of Araki's culture. The idea of obtaining such knowledge from God and communication with the Holy Guardian Angel could primarily be discovered culturally from a Gnostic point of view. The Gnostic influence on Abramelin (the old man) and the Abram is obvious by the nature of this book. As the ritual to obtain knowledge and the conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel is so heavily emphasized. 

The journey is also important because it adds much needed context to this infamous grimoire, which is more about the ritual than the man in The Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage. Dehn humanizes Abram von Worms and does not only limit the book to one mere ritual. The book needs to be seen as whole, not a half. Every pen needs a writer, Dehn realized this notion. It is through his travels he has shed a new light on the Abram because this was hometown hero. It is so easy to get sucked in the vacuum Crowley and Mathers created from The Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage as a ceremonial book. They completely ignored the key points in the the life of a spectacular man. We are fortunate that Dehn brought out this historical masterpiece not driven by modern, conventional ideology on the Holy Guardian Angel. 

Who was Abram von Worms?

Georg Dehn has concluded that the actual author was Rabbi MaHaRil. His parents had have been survivors of a plague that wiped out many Jews around 1376. Dehn has concluded by the population of 500 or less Jewish people in the early 15th Century in the area. MaHaRil was the best candidate to be the author. Only a handful of people from Worms had the means to travel. Through the efforts exhausted from Dehn to find the correct identity of Abram von Worms with sufficient data he feels he has found the correct man. The answer he is currently seeking is the mention of Lucifer, Satan, Leviathan, and Belial as the four kings of Hell. If the author was Jewish he would likely not believe in a literal Christian Satan or a Hades. Most Jewish practices do not acknowledge a Satan at all, versus Christianity that does believe in these ideas. I will take a shot to say that Abram was so open to ideas and being unconventional that he would adapt that ideology. It would explain why there is a demonic hierarchy. 

What makes this book different than the Mather's version?

Georg Dehn states that there are seven or eight different version of this Abramelin book outside of the Hammer version. This modern explorer even ventured to examine Mather's version from French. Dehn even went to say that Mathers did a terrific job translating what parts he could, but the French manuscript also had some German. In The Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage in comparison to The Book of Abramelin: A New Translation there are three key differences: 1) there are 4 books, not three, 2) the infamous squares are complete, and 3) a demonic hierarchy with the names of each spirits fills in the squares. 

Firstly, the second book of the "sympathetic magick" was missing entirely. It is upon examination of most of the formulas there is a Biblical verse associated with each recipe. As one example here is a spell that "bad people and sorcery cannot harm your house": 

Write on seven plates of pure wax, bury them in seven locations around the boundaries of your property, and fasten them under the roof of your house. The house will be secure; evil cannot approach. 

The words: "The godless have joy to be wicked, but verily there is a reward for the righteous." 

These words are from Jon. 2:3-6; Ps. 69:14-15. The vast majority of these recipes require wax, honey, butter, metal plates, and etc. Book 2 contains spells to protect people from diseases, physical attacks, harmful magick, being conquered, and malevolent entities. They could also be used to attract people and cause enmity. The spells were used for medieval problems of that period, including victory during war. Abram is quite boastful about the magick he did for kings, lords, and dukes. Some of the spells could be applicable today, but it seems that modern times has solved many of these issues that has plagued mankind for thousands of years. 

Secondly, Mathers magick squares are entirely incomplete. Dehn is not sure why Mathers had incomplete squares from the manuscript he was translating. These magick squares solve problems like second book does, but some of the squares have different ways of being used from the manuscript. In book 3 of The Book of Abramelin it says about chapter 9 in book 4:

Let animals  and people look at the word square or touch them with it. To restore them to their former appearance-- because they are not really changed, they only appear to be-- place the word square on the head or knock on it. At the beginning name the spirit. 

This is a great historical discovery because for the first time in the Abramelin operation we have a clear instruction on how to use the Abramelin squares. By so many instructions and squares there are many ways to apply each and every square. But this begs the question why did Mathers leave out the demonic hierarchy on the squares?

Thirdly, The Book of Abramelin outlines a clear demonic hierarchy (as you will see in most grimoires). However, each and every grimoire tends to have varying spiritual hierarchy. The Book of Abramelin has four kings: 1) Lucifer, 2) Satan, 3) Leviathan, and 4) Belial. Aleister Crowley adopted the princes, thus, this made it a part of Thelema. Anton Lavey had taken this idea from Crowley and used these four kings to divide The Satanic Bible. Yet there is another layer of demons. There are the eight dukes Astaroth, Magoth, Asmodi, Beelzebub, Oriens, Paymon, Ariton, and Amaymon. Each of these dukes has servants under them.

In order to utilize these magick squares you must use conquer the Kings, the Dukes, and the Dukes' servants under the guidance of the Holy Guardian Angel. Some of these demons have stood the test of time, others have been obscure. So many of these can be thoroughly researched, while some of the spirits cannot be as researched if you want to learn more about them. Once the magician has mastered each of these demons the Abramelin squares become fully functional. The magician can use them in any way he/she chooses.

I would like to thank Georg Dehn for this amazing interview and you can purchase his book at Expanded/dp/0892542144/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1495379583&sr=8-1&keywords=book+of+abramelin. i. If only Crowley had his hands on this version of the book he may have changed the some of the Thelemic system as a whole. Who knows? One ounce of curiosity on the part of Georg Dehn has crystallized into a pure masterpiece.

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