As we begin the New Year, today is the Feast of the Circumcision, traditionally considered the first time Jesus shed his most Precious Blood in accordance with the Father’s will.
Of course somewhere along the line, Bugnini and Friends™ thought to themselves, “Eww, shedding blood is icky! We need to do something more happy-clappy. Wait a sec, this Mass Collect says something about Mary. Yeah, that’s it! We’ll claim it was an ancient Roman custom to celebrate January 1st as a Marian feast and dedicate it to her instead!”
Of course, the old Roman liturgies themselves would beg to differ, but you know how the post-Vatican II Church is: they’re not going to let facts get in the way of their historical revisionism!
Yet I suppose we should thank our good Archbishop Hannibal, because in changing the Feast-day, he gave us pause for reflection. And it gives a good excuse to share something of the style of conjuration indigenous to historical Catholicism.
The other day, I shared with you a “rough draft” translation from Friar Menghi’s Flagellum Daemonum, where he explains the meaning and purpose of so-called “Barbarous names” or nomina ignota found in Catholic conjurations/exorcism manuals of the medieval and Renaissance periods, with at least one example printed well into the Enlightenment era.
In short, these Greek and Hebrew names – which typically translate either as Divine names or attributes (e.g. Saday) or as theological concepts (e.g. Omousion) – are viewed as “Words of Power,” words which bring power to bear on the conjuration and either validate or reinforce the operator’s authority to deal effectively with the spirit in question.
I’d also mentioned that an analysis of these manuals reveals some “Words of Power” indigenous to Catholicism’s own tradition. The most prevalent of these I found were the acclamations “Christus Vincit! Christus Regnat! Christus Imperat!” (Christ Conquers! Christ Reigns! Christ Commands!) that we find used this way repeatedly in the manuals and even on runic amulets, side-by-side with the Hebrew and Greek words Saday, Otheos, Tetragrammaton, and AGLA.
Of course, we also find words that have no immediately discernable meaning whatsoever, such as the oft-quoted formula ABRE MONTE ABRYA ABREMONTE CONSACRAMENTARIA SYPAR YPAR YTUMBA OPOTE ALACENT ALAPHIE used in a sort ritual for diagnosing demonic activity, from 14th-century manual at Die Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in Munich. (see image below)
One of my Facebook friends told me the word ABREMONTE in this formula is reminiscent of the word ABERAMENTHO – the name given to Jesus in the Pistis Sophia – and that it’s “suuuuuuuper weird” (his words) because the Pistis wasn’t discovered until 1773, some 300-400 years after this manual would’ve been written. I don’t really have an answer to this that isn’t far-fetched, so will leave you to figure out that riddle. For my part, I thought the comparison was worth mentioning.
Getting back to Menghi, when we turn to the “Third Exorcism” in his Flagellum, we find yet another Word of Power elaborated in detail: Mary.
Not only the name of Mary, but every last one of her titles, and – I quote this verbatim – “all good things which can be said or thought about” her.
The image below is the “meat” of this conjuration in question, which spans from pages 99-101 of the edition printed in Bologna in 1577 (the edition from which this image comes, and which I am following in my transcription and translation work, with occasional reference to a later edition printed at Venice in 1623). In the image you will note that no less than 42 titles of the Blessed Mother are used as Words of Power, which I’ve highlighted with a red box for the sake of convenience:
Below I give a translation of the entire conjuration, followed by a transcription of the original Latin. The text is only a few pages from the end of the ritual, hence all the “aforesaid” and “above-mentioned” phrases, referring to previous prayers, exorcisms, and conjurations.
ENGLISH TRANSLATION (references to Mary in bold for ease of reading):
Again I conjure + you, above-mentioned spirits rebellious against God, through his Virgin Mother, to wit of our Lord Jesus Christ + through her Birth + through her Virginity + through her Conception + through her most holy Milk, which he received by his own mouth, who is called Alpha + and Omega + Yah + Shaddai + Emmanuel + Tetragrammaton + through her merits and through all good things which can be said or thought about the most blessed Virgin Mary, and through all the names of the most blessed Virgin Mary, and to wit through these: Virgin + Flower + Cloud + Queen + Theotokos (God-bearer) + Empress + Lady + Dawn + Handmaid + Beginning + Fountain + Well + Moon + Sun + Gateway + House + Blessed One + Glorious One + Most Kind One + Loving One + She of Royal Power + Berry-Bush + Ladder + Star + Tower + She-Who-Helps + Ark + Inner Room + Pearl + Tabernacle + Friend + Veil + Beautiful +Mother + Fostering One + Splendid One + Well-Formed One + Blessed One + Rose + Spouse + Mary + and through all things spoken above I cast down and eternally condemn you into the lake of fire and sulphur; and as the blessed Virgin Mary, and the aforesaid Virgins of God, and Widows, and continent-ones rejoice with Christ in glory everlasting, so shall you immediately – in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ the crucified Nazarene, and through the power of his passion – suddenly depart from this creature of God, N., in the manner and condition I have enjoined upon you above; otherwise through all the aforesaid may you fall, by the very deed, indissolubly into all damnation, through the punishment said above, and just as expressed to those rebellious against God. Amen.
ORIGINAL LATIN (Latin spellings modernized for ease of reading):
Iterum conjúro + vos supradíctos spíritus Dei rebélles per Vírginem matrem ejus; vidélicet Dómini nostri Jesu Christi + per Nativitátem suam + per Virginitátem suam + per Conceptiónem suam + per Sanctíssimum lac suum, quod próprio ore suscépit, qui vocátus est Alpha + et Oméga + Ya + Saday + Emánuel + Thetragrámaton + per mérita sua et per ómnia bona quae dici, et cogitári possunt de beatíssima Vírgine María, er per ómnia nómina beatíssimae Vírginis Maríae, et per haec scílicet Virgo + Flos + Nubes + Regína + Theotócos + Imperátrix + Dómina + Auróra + Ancílla + Ortus + Fons + Púteus + Luna + Sol + Porta + Domus + Beáta + Gloriósa + Benigníssima + Pia + Aula + Rubus + Scala + Stella + Turris + Auxiliátrix + Arca + Thálamus + Margaríta + Tabernáculum + Amíca + Velum + Pulchra + Mater + Alma + Speciosíssima + Formósa + Benedícta + Rosa + Sponsa + María + et per ómnia supra dicta vobis ímpero, et in stagnum ignis, et sulphúris praecípito, et aeternáliter condémno; et sicut beáta Virgo María, et supradíctae Dei Vírgines, Víduae, et continéntes gaudent cum Christo glória aetérna, ita vos immediáte, in nómine Dómini nostri Jesu Christi Nazaréni crucifíxi, et per virtútem suae passiónis recedátis súbito ab hac creatúra Dei N. eo modo, et ea conditióne, ut supérius vobis injúnxi; alióquin per ómnia supradícta sitis ipso facto lapsi indissolubíliter in omnem damnatiónem, er poenam supérius dictam, et expréssam tanquam Dei rebélles. Amen.
Examining this, what do we find? I leave you to your own conclusions, but will tell you what I found.
What I found is nothing short of a practical implementation of something the Church has always taught: that the name of Mary is the “hammer of heretics” and the “terror of demons.” As Jesus is bound by the Fourth Commandment to obey Mary, the simple act of getting her on your side and acting in Her name brings so much power to bear on a situation that opposing forces are more easily sundered, if not outright annihilated.
This is also something I was afraid to post in a public space, for fear people would take this as “proof” of the “Mary is a goddess” canard. As I said in Mary, Matriarch of Christian Magic two and a half years ago – and explained full there – the historical Mary is no more a goddess than Ras Tafari is a god, no matter who or how many people protest to the contrary. Humans are not deities, period.
What it does tell us, though, is that practices often associated with the grimoires (i.e. hierarchical conjuration, nomina ignota, circles, etc.) are no more alien to pre-Tridentine Catholicism than they are to the grimoires themselves, and survived long enough past the Council of Trent that perhaps we could consider these aspects a natural part of pre-Enlightenment Catholicism.
Now for a fun fact about the book this circle diagram comes from. If you search for this book at the Die Bayerische Staatsbibliothek website, the site automatically suggests looking into one of 23325’s cousins, popularly known as “The Munich Manual of Demonic Magic” (BSB CLM 849). Give that connection a ponder.
When I first searched for this manuscript, I did NOT see that suggestion coming!
One may be tempted to ask whether the manuals borrowed from the grimoires, or the grimoires borrowed from the manuals. My own answer is that it would be like asking about the chicken or the egg, as the number of cleric-magicians at the time pretty much guaranteed a free-flow of techniques and formulae in both directions, most of which wouldn’t have been considered heterodox at the time they were written down, or for several centuries after. In fact, that 1623 edition of Mengi’s Flagellum I mentioned above, proudly displays its own imprimatur:
This tells us that when the Flagellum and the other exorcism manuals started to be suppressed in 1704, the stated reasons of the book being “halfway to sorcery” were bunk, and the presence of an imprimatur means we can know the Flagellum certainly wasn’t banned for being heretical.
May the Name of Mary most Holy, most Blessed, and most Powerful, watch over us and preserve us as we head into this New Year!