Palo Mayombe, II.1


II.1. Resurrectionem Mortuorum

pp. 55-67

pp. 55-9 European necromancy & goeteia : Asklepios, Erikhthoi, Medea

p. 55

"The resurrection of the dead, to reanimate corpses ... is ... the ... purpose ... which informed Western ideas of necromancy. ...

Goeteia describes more a set of practices, a techne' for ... funeral rites and crossroad mysteries."

p. 56

"Rabbi Lo:w made his golem in 16th century Prague. Dr. Frankenstein, as a scientific successor of Eric[h]tho, made his monster, testifying to the possibility of cadavers ... being struck with the life[-]giving flash of divinity."

p. 57

"Asclepius ... was paid handsomely by Artemis to resurrect Hippolytus from the dead. ...

It is also said that Athena gave him a specific gift, a potion made from the blood of Gorgons. This potion could both resurrect and bring death. .

{"Athene had given him two phials of the Gorgon Medousa's blood : ... what had been drawn from the veins of her left side ... could raise the dead; ... what had been drawn from her left side ... could destroy instantly. ... Athene and Asclepius divided the blood between them : he used it to save life, but she to destroy life" (GM 50.e).}

.. Asclepius served as a healer ... and it was because of his many good deeds that Zeus {this would seem unlikely, inasmuch as Asklepios was purposely "killed by Zeus's thunderbolt" (GM 50.f) -- more likely, Atlas (upholder of the caelestial sphaire) performed the installation among the constellations} made him immortal and placed him in the constellation of the Ophiuchos {Ophio-okhos} (the serpent holder) as a reference to

his cunning concerning the medicinal use of serpents and vipers.

{This should be the context of the dictum, "Be ye wise as serpents" (Matthaios 10:16), and "Ye generation of vipers" (Matthaios 3:7).}

A significant part of his healing was to place the afflicted in a dormitory with snakes and during the night a god or spirit would enter their dreams and his priesthood

p. 58

would interpret the oracular message."

"Lucan's Erictho ... reanimates corpses by prayers, charms and invocations ... . She first summons the ghost to appear and then directs it back to the body ... .

In like manner, the witch Bessa uses the same elements but also applies fire and libations as part of the summoning.

Erictho calls on Hecate, Hades, Persephone, Earth {Gaia} and Night {Nukt-} ... . ... It is from the stories of Erictho we find ... thrown into the witches' cauldron, ... moonwater, dragon eyes, eagle stones, parts from the sea-monster echenais, foam from a dog with rabies ... .

Ovid's Medea uses ... in her necromantic art ... also the guts of a werewolf, a crow's head and the wings of a bat."

p. 59

"Pliny in his Natural History says that the ghost of Homer had been summoned by the herb cynoscephalia (dog head) also known as Osiritis, said to be the herb that brought Osiris back to life. {Soul only : his corpse was not restored to life.} ... .

{This "the plant Cynocephalia ("Dog-Head"), also called Osiritis, which kills whoever tries to uproot it" (AJM, p. 91), must surely be the Atropa mandragora (mandrake), whereof "it was believed to be death to dig up the root, which was said to utter a shriek and terrible groans on being dug up, which none might hear and live. It was held, therefore, that he who would take up a plant of Mandrake should tie a dog to it for that purpose, who drawing it out would certainly perish, as the man would have done, had he attempted to dig it up in the ordinary manner." (MH, s.v. "Mandrake"; see also "M&M")

... St. Christopher was in the middle Ages depicted in the eastern Orthodox Churches as a cynoscephali -- a dog-headed saint."

GM = Robert Graves : The Greek Myths. 1955.

AJM = Gideon Bohak : Ancient Jewish Magic. Cambridge U Pr, 2008. &

MH = Mrs. M. Grieve : A Modern Herbal. 1931.

"M&M" = Anthony John Carter : "Myths and Mandrakes". J ROYAL SOC MEDICINE 96.3 (2003 March):144–147.

pp. 59-60 oracular human skulls & oracular mummified human heads

p. 59

"A Babylonian tablet speaks of Solar Shamash as the skull of skulls, and the one who is able to make skulls oracular.

{BM 36703, Akkadian text at "NR1" : skull-rite for UTU [i.e., UD] (S^amas^) with etemmu figurine}

The ... motive surfaces again with the head of Orpheus drifting ashore on the island of Lesbos. ... On the island of Lesbos it is said that the head

gave out oracles from a hollow in the earth".

{This is similar to the oracle of Trophonios.}

p. 60

"one Polycritus ... died shortly after making his wife pregnant. The child was born a hermaphrodite and the dead father surged up from the halls of Hades and consumed the child leaving only the head. The head became oracular and uttered prophecies of doom."

"theRoman general Publius ... was consumed by a red wolf. The wolf consumed his body, but not the head which was preserved as it had become oracular."

"NR1' = "Necromancy Ritual 1"

p. 60 techniques for redanimating a corpse

"Eric[h]tho uses not only herbs but also ... magical items ... . The cadaver is then beaten with a snake in order for it to gain life.

Bessa on the other hand places the corpse between the grave and the fire and utilizes a poppet simulacrum of the corpse in her necromatic work whilst

whispering her enchantments into the ear of the corpse."

{O`dinn likewise whispred into the ear of the corpse of his son Baldr (Vaftrudnis-Mal 54 -- "WhOWhBE".}

"the witch Zatchlas

{Zatchlas is an Aegyptian prophet (prophetes, EG p. 55) and priest (sacerdos, EG p. 56).}

brings Thelyphron back to life by presenting herbs to his mouth and chest. ... In Apuleius' Metamorphoses ... Zatchlas resurrects into the flesh Thelyphron -- and

Socrates receives life again by the hand of

the Thessalian nigromancer Meroe.

{Meroe is a "Hypatan witch" (EG p. 64); she is evidently of Nubian extraction (being named for Meroe, the capital city of the country Nubia).}

In a similar manner Aeson receives life again in Ovid's Metamorphoses and

in Lucan's Philopseudes it is said that he Hyperborean sages know the art of resurrecting even decaying corpses".

"WhOWhBE" =

EG = Ian McLean : The Egyptian Gender. BTh, Williams College, 2013.

pp. 61-2 rendring a skull oracular

p. 61

"In the Greek Magical Papyri we find ... :

Face east at sunset, invoke the Sun over the skull cup (skyphos) of a man who died ... . Burn amara (sun beetle) ... . You will then take ... ink made from myrrh written on bay leaves, thirteen in number, and adorn the crown of the skull with them. It is said that doing this, Helios, the Sun, will send the ghost of the skull at the hour of midnight ... to commune and give oracular answers".

"A Byzantine spell suggests taking the head .. to the crossroads where the crossroad-charms are written on its forehead.

Daniel Ogden recounts a similar working from the Codex Parisinnus Gr. 2419 where the names written are

Bouak, Sariak

{/Bouak/ and /Sariak/ are Euskara words}

and Lucifer. The skull is then placed on the skin of a black cat and taken to the crossroads at midight. A circle is marked with a piece of dead man's rib and the head is left until cocks[-]crow when the head is retrieved. The head turns oracular upon three days fasting, and works only at night.

Another French codex -- Bononiensis 3632/Delatte -- speaks of the use savory and the plant mercury (mercurialis perennis or Dog's mercury), a very toxic plant, to make a heavy ointment for the forehead, nape and the top of the head of the skull which ... is inscribed ... . Five names in

p. 62

all should be inscribed, one on each night. On the fifth night the skull is taken to the crossroads and stays there until sunset. Upon getting the head one needs to dress in ... a cat skin belt and invoke the 'demons' with branches of laurel".

{Cat-skins are important in, e.g., Irish lore.}

p. 62 luring ghosts into objects

"The practice of luring ghosts into statues was attested in Greece ... . Likewise, the same techniques were used to make the ghosts enter jars and bowls of water ... to give oracles. Some of ... The Testament of Solomon ... became ..., particularly in the bottle spells, an interesting continuation of the necromantic practice with a further reference to the witch bottles. These haunted statues could be chained ... . Statues could carry the dead ... and were the subject of veneration and offerings, much like the household cult of lares in Roman homes."

p. 63 alteration of attitudes about ghosts after corpses ceased to be buried in houses

"When the ecclesiastical demand of burying the deceased ones in cemeteries was set in motion they also instigated the process of the dissolution of ancestral awareness. Before this ecclesiastical demand the ancestors were buried in their own land, and

preferably inside the house.

{This was likewise the Sumerian custom.}

The living and the dead continued to co-exist. This is wonderfully attested to in the works of Claude Lecouteux speaking of the medieval mindset amongst the Nordic people concerning death. He postulates that the ecclesiastical usurpation of private faiths ... contributed greatly to turning the corporeal {identifiable} revenant into a disembodied {unidentifiable} ghost. The revenants were not errant {widely-wandring} spirits, but bound {territorially limited in their visitations} to hearth and land and ... it seems that the sighting of once resurrected ancestors got less and less frequent with fewer and fewer home burials."

Claude Lecouteux (transl. from the French by Jon E. Graham) : The Return of the Dead: Ghosts, Ancestors, and the Transparent Veil of the Pagan Mind. Rochester (VT) : Inner Traditions, 2009.

pp. 64-5 Saturnine & Palo Mayombe necromancies

p. 64

"we might define [European] necromancy today as a form of spirit summoning that is Saturnine in nature. ... It is all about pacts and communion to establish helpful spiritual alliances. It is a work which involves working with 'the bones of the forest', roots, leaves and sticks and spirits connected to putrefaction ... . ... In the vocabulary of the Kongo, it could be about the relationship between the bakulu (ancestor/spirit'ghost), mvumbi (cadaver) and nkisi (spirit) in relation to ndoki (power, usually with a nightside ...).

Looking at the conception of the soul held amongst the Kongo ..., ... the soul could wander in the forest ... for years on end, influencing life ... . The proper name for an ancestral vessel amongst the Nganga Ngombo or diviner was lukibi lwa bakulu -- vessel that guards the bones of the ancestor. ...

p. 65

The prenda in Palo Mayombe is rarely constructed upon the bones of one's blood ancestors and thus it is more properly a nzo nkisi, a spirit guarding my house. The nzo nkisi could be made founded on human bones and infused with an errant soul {soul whose personal identity is quite unknown}. The ensouled vessel would then be adopted as part of the family".

pp. 65-6 Kongolese understandings about souls

p. 65

"Kongo cosmology holds that the soul, nsala, is a gift to men from Nzambi. ... This creative power is manifested in the kimbanga, or mountain, which represents the Ngolo, the power {creativity} behind every creative act. The nsala is the storehouse of ancestral memory called luzcena in kikongo and ... refers to the activities of the mind. The nsala lives in the luzcena, ... the intellect and manifests in rational and logical thinking. ...

As night falls on the mundane life {as sleep is entred by a soul of the dead?} the nsala breaks free from the body [from that soul's corpse?} and turns into a light. Phenomena of {praeternatural?} lights moving in the sky are often seen as [souls of dead] ancestors stirring until the daybreak of their next incarnation. ... Many [a] Kongolese believes the nsala should only stay a cycle of nine days, weeks, months or years without a [material] body. Failing a [willing] union with matter {material body, i.e. embryo} it will at the end of its destined cycle be forced to merge with the body of a challenged {demented} person, that is one suffering from any abnormal state afficting the brain ... . This is traditionally seen as [the result of] a form of resistance toward manifesting [co-operating with] one's journey. ...

p. 66

From this idea of the soul's constitution and purpose it is possible to explore philosophies more dense {metaphysical} and mystical, as in the Kimbisa order and orders with a more existential approach, such as Changani and many Briyumbas".

p. 67 exorcism

"In reference to the Book of Consecrations Richard Kieckhefer says that the text explicitly speaks of the necromancer as an exorcist.

{This is quoted from MMA, p. 166.}

This might be verified in the use of the red book of exorcisms as the tool of the 'ex-pellar', or Cornish pellar, in their craft."

{The Cornish practitioner pellar is muchly given to "the exorcism of troublesome spirits" ("PC").}

MMA = Richard Kieckhefer: Magic in the Middle Ages.

"PC" = "Pellar Current"


Nicholaj de Mattos Frisvold : Palo Mayombe : the garden of blood and bones. Bibliothe`que Rouge (Scarlet Imprint), 2011.