Cunning Magical Rhymes from Arthur Gauntlet

I love manuscripts which surprise me, or remind me of things I had forgotten, or best of all, open up new panoramas to me. The manuscript which forms the basis of my most recent work The Grimoire of Arthur Gauntlet, managed to do all three of these. One of the little engaging surprises was the use of rhyming couplets in some of the charms.
Whilst the use of rhyming couplets has become commonplace in Wicca and Neopagan, people often do not appreciate their earlier use in traditions such as those of British Cunning-folk, who used heavily biblical references for much of their magic. The following charm to return stolen goods is from The Grimoire of Arthur Gauntlet, an early 17th century London cunning-man’s book of practice. An interesting inclusion in the charm is two of the demon bishops, Matherion and Botherion, who are found in other charms in the book, and also in the Folger Vb.26 manuscript (c. 1580). The charm, which is quite extensive, reads as follows:
In Bethlehem was Jesus born
And Christened in the flood Jordan
Between two beasts was he laid
In that shed was neither wolf nor thief
But the blessed Trinity
The self same God that there was born
Defend me and my goods from harm
In the name of the Father And of the Son And of the Holy Ghost Amen
Matthew Mark Luke and John
Four Evangelists all in one
As you write the Trinity
Of our Saviour most truly
My Good which in this Circle be
I wish they might be safe with me
And that such Thieves as will me wrong
Be they weak or be they strong
Matherion before And Botherion behind
So those thieves you do them bind
As St Bartholomow bound the Devil
To defend him from all evil
With the hairs of his grey head
And also eke his hoary beard
So you Thieves see you stand still
As the spindle in the Mill
That from hence you do not start
Until I say you shall depart
By Alpha and Omega height
The first of day the last of night
And by that blessed Trinity
Three in one One in three
See you Angels with me tend
That my goods you safe defend
Until the morrow Morn of day
I bid the Thieves to part away
So Thieves Thieves Thieves stand you still
And be obedient to my will.
Fiat fiat fiat amen.

The popularity of such techniques has endured, as indeed has the magic practised by cunning-folk, or its derivatives. There is still so much to learn from our past!

The Shekinah and Sacred Sex

Although modern magicians often look to the East for the source of sex magic, they often neglect the references within the Western Esoteric Traditions, especially the Kabbalah. In The Cosmic Shekinah, published recently by Avalonia Books, which I co-authored with Sorita d’Este, reference is made to this.

The sixteenth century Kabbalist, Rabbi Moses Cordovero (1522-70 CE), who systemised the Kabbalah into the root of what it is now, wrote about the Shekinah and sexual union. His teachings are extremely clear, and perhaps surprisingly graphic in their instructions to husband and wife considering the period they date from. They parallel the practice of a couple identifying with the Hindu goddess Shakti and god Shiva in tantric rites. In a commentary on the Zohar (included in Or ha-Hayyim, Azulai, C17th CE) he wrote:

“Their desire, both his and hers, was to unite Shekinah. He focused on Tiphereth, and his wife on Malkuth. His union was to join Shekinah; she focused correspondingly on being Shekinah and uniting with her husband, Tiphereth.”

Cordovero may have drawn inspiration from the fifteenth century writings of Ephraim Ben Gershon, who in his Homily to a Groom, gave very clear instructions for the magical process to be enacted during the sexual act (Homilies, Ephraim B. Gershon, C15th CE):

“Thus do Kabbalists know that thoughts originate in the rational soul, which emanates from the supreme. And thought has the power to strip off and rise and reach its source, and when reaching its source it attains communication with the supernal light from which it came, and both become one. When thought once again stretches down from on high, all becomes one line in the imagination, and the supernal light comes down through the power of thought that draws it down, and the Shekinah is found down below. The clear light then spreads to the thinker’s location. So did early priests reach communion with the supremes through thought in order to draw down the supreme light, and all beings would thus grow and multiply and be blessed in accordance with the power of thought.”

The divine marriage is also expressed every week in Judaism, with the Shekinah being the Sabbath Bride and Queen, who is united with God every Friday evening. The Zohar (Zohar 2:128a, C13th CE) emphasises this equation of the Shekinah as Shabbat Bride:

“Then this pavilion was sanctified with supernal holiness and adorned with its crowns, finally rising ascendantly in a crown of tranquillity and given a sublime name, a holy name: Sabbath.”

The Grimoire of Arthur Gauntlet: Now Available

I am delighted to announce that The Grimoire of Arthur Gauntlet is now available for pre-order from Avalonia. This London Cunning-man’s book of practice has been one of the most rewarding and revealing books I have worked on, and presents a new range of insights into 17th British century magic.

The Grimoire of Arthur Gauntlet is an outstanding example of a seventeenth century London Cunning-man’s book of practice. Cunning-folk were practitioners of magic and herbal medicine who dealt with problems in their local communities. Cunning-man Arthur Gauntlet was based in Gray’s Inn Lane in London, and his personal working book contains a fascinating diverse mixture of herbal remedies, prayers, magical and biblical charms, with previously unseen angelic conjurations and magic circles, in an eclectic blend of practical magic for health, wealth, love and protection.

This unique manuscript demonstrates both the diverse and spiritual nature of such Cunning-folk’s books of practice, as well as their magical emphasis on Biblical scripture, particularly the Psalms, and their opposition to witchcraft, found in charms and conjurations. Arthur Gauntlet worked with a female skryer called Sarah Skelhorn, and drew on numerous preceding sources for his craft, including the Arbatel, the Heptameron, Folger Vb.26, The Discoverie of Witchcraft, the Book of Gold, the writings of the German magus Cornelius Agrippa, the astrologer William Bacon and Queen Elizabeth I’s court astrologer Dr. John Dee, as well as other London Cunning-folk.

In his introduction, the author provides fresh insights into the hidden world of seventeenth century magical London, exploring the web of connections between astrologers, cunning-folk and magicians, playwrights, authors and church figures. These connections are also highlighted by the provenance of the manuscript, which is traced from Arthur Gauntlet through the hands of such notable angel magicians as Elias Ashmole (founder of the world’s first public museum, the Ashmolean in Oxford), Baron Somers (the Lord Chancellor), Sir Joseph Jekyll (Master of the Rolls) and Sir Hans Sloane (founder of the British Museum), as well as the astrologer John Humphreys and the cunning-woman Ann Savadge.

This is a unique work which draws attention to the often neglected place of women in seventeenth century magic, both as practitioners (such as skryers and Cunning-women), and customers. It also emphasises the vital and influential role played by Cunning-Men and Women in synthesising and transmitting the magical traditions of medieval Britain into the subsequent centuries, as well as their willingness to conjure a wide range of spiritual creatures to achieve results for their clients, including angels, demons, fairies, and the dead.

The Cosmic Shekinah – Interview on Witchtalk tonight!

I will be being interviewed by Karagan on Witchtalk tonight, 9.00pm UK time, on Hopefully Sorita d’Este, my co-author will also join me, depending on commitments. I hope to see you there.

For anyone who hasn’t yet seen the book, here is a flavour of the material:

The Shekinah is the manifestation of the Wisdom Goddess of the Kabbalah,the Old Testament and Merkavah Mysticism. She encompasses the primordial light of creation, the wisdom of the serpent and the inspiration of the dove. She is the beauty of the lily and the embodiment of the Tree of Life. She is also the World soul, heavenly glory, mother of angels, inspiration for prophecy, and source of souls, as well as being the Shabbat Bride and the wife of God.

The Cosmic Shekinah – Mother of Angels

In my excitement and pleasure at the launch of my new book with Sorita d’Este, The Cosmic Shekinah, I decided to post some snippets to provide a flavour of the diverse material on the Shekinah we have woven together in this work. The first of these looks at the connection between the Shekinah and angels:

Considering the Kabbalistic model of creation as the result of the union of God and the Shekinah, the title of the Mother of Angels becomes entirely appropriate. The angels are the divine messengers (from angelos, ‘messenger’, Greek), and an interesting reference in The Thunder, Perfect Mind emphasises the association between the Wisdom Goddess (as Sophia in this instance) and angels, when she says: “of the angels, who have been sent at my word.”[1] Angels are also described in one of the Merkavah texts as, “Messengers of the Power and Awakeners of the Shekinah”[2]

The Zohar makes reference to the angels being born from the Shekinah, saying, “Its sparks are sparks of fire. Who are the sparks? Those gems and pearls born from that fire.”[3] It is also worth noting that the Shekinah is described as a gem and a pearl in Kabbalistic texts, demonstrating the continuity of association here.

A range of texts mention the connection between the Shekinah and angels, such as the first-third century CE Gedulath Mosheh (The Revelation of Moses), which describes:

“50 myriads of angels stand before him; they are of fire and water, and their faces are directed towards the Shekinah above; and all sing hymns”[4]

Enoch describes his own ascension to heaven in the Book of 3 Enoch, saying that:

“When the Holy One, blessed be He, took me away from the generation of the Flood, he lifted me on the wings of the wind of Shekinah to the highest heaven and brought me into the great palaces of the Arabot Raqia on high, where are the glorious Throne of Shekinah, the Merkavah.”[5]

[1] The Thunder, Perfect Mind, C3rd-C4th CE, Nag Hammadi Texts, trans. George W. MacRae.
[2] Hekhalot Rabbati, VII.154, C3rd-C7th CE.
[3] Zohar 2:114a, C13th CE.
[4] The Revelation of Moses, 9, C1st-C3rd CE, trans. M. Gaster.
[5] 3 Enoch 7:1, C2nd-C6th CE.

Spiritus – review (magical fiction)

Imagine someone had taken D.H. Lawrence’s poem The Ship of Death, fed it some psychedelic drugs, and then introduced it to the Western Mystery Tradition and turned it into a story. The end result could be Spiritus by Kala Trobe, a phantasmagorical journey through hadean and empyrean realms.
I really enjoyed this novel, which combines a rich narrative style with a plot which twists and turns like an eel on heat. There are layers of symbolism woven into the text, with the result that any reader will enjoy it, but the greater the occult knowledge of the reader, the more they will spot in subtleties of description and deed. The author’s own wealth of experience really shines through in this, both as an accomplished writer and as someone with a thorough grounding in the traditions of magic and myth.
If you haven’t encountered Kala Trobe’s fiction before, this book should be on your reading list – it is a dazzling combination of mythic themes combined in personal journeys which cross, skew and diverge for the characters of the book. I have deliberately shied away from describing the plot because I feel that you need to approach this book without any preconceptions. Read, enjoy, digest and contemplate!

The Cosmic Shekinah: Now Available

For the last few years Sorita d’Este and I have been continuing our research into the origins of different mystical and magical practices, especially those associated with the Qabalah.  Along this journey we encountered The Shekinah on a regular basis and decided to bring together our historical research on the origins and development of the Feminine Divine in this new book The Cosmic Shekinah, which is now available for pre-order from Avalonia.   You can order your copy now at

It is my sincere hope that many readers who enjoy my work on the Qabalah and Ceremonial Magick, as well as those who are interested in the Goddess traditions, will find this book and the research we have presented in it of interest.


Sorita d’Este & David Rankine

A historical study of the Goddess of the Old Testament and Kabbalah

The Shekinah is the manifestation of the Wisdom Goddess of the Kabbalah,the Old Testament and Merkavah Mysticism. She encompasses the primordial light of creation, the wisdom of the serpent and the inspiration of the dove. She is the beauty of the lily and the embodiment of the Tree of Life. She is also the World soul, heavenly glory, mother of angels, inspiration for prophecy, and source of souls, as well as being the Shabbat Bride and the wife of God.

In The Cosmic Shekinah the authors present a concise history of the different influences of earlier wisdom goddesses on the development of the Shekinah. These goddesses include the Sumerian Inanna, the Egyptian Ma’at, the Greco-Egyptian Isis, the Semitic Anat and Astarte and the Canaanite Asherah. They show that from these ancient sources the unnamed Wisdom Goddess and wife of God portrayed in the Old Testament and early Jewish wisdom literature arose. It is this unnamed Wisdom Goddess who would subsequently become the source for the development of the Shekinah as well as the Gnostic Sophia.

The influence of the feminine divine as the Shekinah has continued to find expression, with the Virgin Mary and the Holy Spirit of Christianity and the Sakina of Islam all being shaped by the enduring influence of the Wisdom Goddess. Through tracing her roles, myths and functions the authors show that in addition to her resurgence, the Wisdom Goddess has always been present throughout history, even when she has been suppressed and disguised by deliberate exclusion and mistranslation.

Drawing on numerous sources including medieval Kabbalistic works, Hekhalot texts of Merkavah Mysticism, ancient literature such as the Egyptian, Sumerian and Ugaritic myths, the Old Testament, Gnostic texts and recent finds in Biblical archaeology, The Cosmic Shekinah draws attention back to the light of divine feminine wisdom.

For order information see:

Also see:



Stargazer – review (magical fiction)

If you like vampire novels which actually question preconceptions and push the boundaries rather than simply regurgitate the standard formula, then you will love Stargazer. As I read through the story, it brought a number of other works to mind, but in a comparative manner as I noticed similarities in richness of language or challenging the genre. Thus on one level Stargazer made me think of Colin Wilson’s Space Vampires and A.E. Van Vogt’s Supermind as all being works which bring innovation and then twist it on its head in places to spin the plot into dark and unexpected complexities. On another level Connor has captured the atmospheric detail found in classic vampire masterpieces like Freda Warrington’s Taste of Blood Wine series, and the hero-antihero angst of the lead characters found in Brian Lumley’s Necroscope series.

However, to the details of the book itself – it is a book which moves at a good speed throughout, with no lapses in pace or excitement, and yet still manages to reach a breakneck climax. Miguel Connor has created a new vampire antihero in Byron who goes beyond the ‘vampire with a soul’ characters found in contemporary television series. Instead Byron is the best of antiheroes – with a huge capacity for selfless action and a dark past which lurks like an iceberg through the book, slowly surfacing until his collision with the powers that be in the climax.

The idea of a post-apocalyptic world created by vampires, now calling themselves stargazers, is indicative of the intelligent use of the genre the author has demonstrated, with layers of symbolism throughout the work awaiting discovery by those interested in spirituality and Gnostic symbolism. This is definitely a must-read book which stands out as one of the best vampire novels I have yet read, and I am eagerly awaiting the sequel, Heretic.

An Ogham Wood – review (magical fiction)

I love good magical fiction, though there are not very many contemporary writers who produce it. Authors such as Charles deLint, Neil Gaiman, Terri Windling and Patricia Geary stand out from the crowd through their innovative but believable storytelling. And now another name joins them – Cliff Seruntine. Cliff’s first novel, An Ogham Wood (also available on Amazon Kindle) , is a delightful read which builds up slowly, gathering momentum to an epic climax, like a storm in all its glory – wind, rain, thunder and lightning, but for the inner senses of the mind.

The level of detail and loving craft found in the fairy folk in this story is an absolute joy, bringing Celtic folklore to life in a vivid picture of country life largely lost in the modern western world. Although the story is complete in itself, there are enough tales of past glories and tragedies feeding into the weave of the story to allow for any number of sequels and prequels. The fabulous cover by Marc Potts draws the eye and hints at the other realms to be explored within.

The author’s own experience and expertise show through in the flawed hero, Sweyn deSauld, both of sailing and as a successful psychologist. Another reviewer astutely pointed out that this is a story told by a man from a man’s perspective, a definite bonus in this genre where the hero’s perspective is often neglected or disregarded. A line from a song by Canadian band Martha and the Muffins comes to mind with this story – “I think of your past like broken glass, the people who are pieces I still meet”. For Sweyn to step back from the brink to sanity, he has to find and bring together the right broken pieces, and his journey to do so is in the style of epics from days gone by.

For me, An Ogham Wood is the most enjoyable fantasy read I have had for a long time, and in a sign of its quality, leaves me wanting to read the following volumes the author has promised.