By Frater S.C.F.V.
A. The Belt of the Lion: An Introduction to the Historical and Textual Roots of the Lion Skin Belt as Magical Implement
The lion skin Belt of the magical Art is arguably one of the most elusive, fascinating, and, in our contemporary context of sensitivity to animal ethics and environmental concerns, controversial of all magical objects. While not an essential or major magical tool in the vast majority of texts that compose the Western grimoiric corpus, it remains a powerful tool with a rich and ancient history. As I aimed to explore this mysterious tool in both theory and practice, I determined to ground myself not only in the historical context in which the Belt of the Art took on its meanings and virtues, but also in a sensitivity to the ethics surrounding its creation. If I was to attempt to craft such a tool, I would need to do it in a way that did not reinforce illegal poaching, promote the further endangerment of lions, who remain an at-risk species globally, or involve any disrespect to the spirit of the lion from which the skin had originated. In this article, I will aim to share some of the historical and traditional background from which the lion skin Belt emerged and how I approached its procurement, crafting, and consecration in the context of an intimate relationship with the spirit of the lioness I now lovingly refer to, in the style of St. Francis of Assis, as Sister Lion.
Since the revival of the Western grimoire literature, the legendary lion skin Belt of Art has entered into the consciousness of the magical community primarily through a single text — the Lemegeton’s Goetia. This sixteenth-century grimoire instructs the magician, in preparing for magical Operations, to prepare “a sceptre or sword; a miter or cap, a long white Robe of Linnen, with shoes and other Clothes for ye purpose also a girdle of Lyons skin 3 Inches broad, with all the names about it as is about the uttermost round [part of the] Circle.” (Peterson, 2021). Mr. Joseph H. Peterson (2021) notes that the lion skin Belt reference appears to have originated from “the experiment of Bealphares in Scot, which says it can also be made from “a hart’s skin” i.e. deer or buckskin. Compare also Sloane 3824 110.”
The key symbolism and Agrippan occult virtues of the lion skin belt surround courage, royalty, boldness, and fearlessness. All of the traditional materia used for this purpose–a lion skin, a hart skin, or a harlot’s garment–all embody this bold, fearless, brave aspect. The key magical function of this Belt of Art, regardless of which of the aforementioned versions of the Belt one chooses to craft, is therefore, to imbue the magician with these virtues and also provide one layer of magical protection to the Operator who steps into the magic Circle to conjure spirits.
To this point, the ever-insightful Jake Stratton-Kent has noted that “boldness is the criterion hence ‘the smock of a harlot’ alternative etc. — see Albertus Magnus.” Jake illuminatingly adds that “the Goetia is known to be part cut and paste, it borrows substantially from Scot’s Discoverie of Witchcraft, for example, for its spirit catalogue, which also includes belts of bearskin and of snake. Another possibility, not necessarily excluding the former: it is sympathetic magic to induce courage in the face of demons. References to this lead to the Book of Secrets tradition, which encourages folks to wear thongs of lion skin for this purpose, or the smock of a harlot. Both lions and harlots are bold, and items once belonging to them can transmit this quality.”
In addition to the virtue of boldness, the connection between the lion, as “Kinge of the Jungle,” and royalty imagery symbolizing mastery, power, and authority, is evident in multiple grimoires from the Medieval, Renaissance, and Early Modern periods. One such example occurs in the Sword of Moses, which provides a spell “to go before king or lord,” which instructs the magician to say an invocation “over a piece of lion’s skin dipped in black hemp (?) and pure wine, and take it with thee” (Peterson, 1998). This anointed and consecrated lion skin piece effectively becomes a kind of talisman, which carries “kingly” authority with it in a way that would enamor the magician to the “king or lord” before whom s/he would present him/herself.
The roots of the lion’s skin belt tradition stretch back through history far beyond the Early Modern, Renaissance, and Medieval periods, however. In his Magical Techniques and Implements Present in Graeco-Egyptian Magical Papyri, Byzantine Greek Solomonic Manuscripts and European Grimoires: Transmission, Continuity and Commonality (The Technology of Solomonic Magic), Dr. Stephen Skinner (2013) indicates that the magical tradition of using a lion skin Belt has its roots in Ancient Egyptian magical practice. In his words,
“The skin of any big cat, especially a lion, was held in awe, as it related to the fierce goddess
Sekhmet. Sekhmet also had associations with magic.1341 High Priests of Sekhmet were often
associated with magic, such as Heryshefnakht, who was both Chief of Magicians and High
Priest of Sekhmet. On the reverse of the Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus (which dates from
1700 BCE) the title of one spell refers to “the demons of disease, the malignant spirits,
messengers of Sekhmet,”1342 which identifies this goddess also as a ruler over evil spirits. If
that is so, then wearing a belt made of her animal’s skin conferred a certain authority on the
magician. The leopard skin of the Egyptian priest and the lion nemyss1343 is met with within
the European grimoire tradition in the form of a belt made of lion skin. This practice lasted
through to the 17th century, and a belt of lion skin is recommended in the 1641 Goetia.”
To explain the magical rationale for this practice, Dr. Skinner suggests “that this practice originally related to Sekhmet, but later it may simply have become part of the dress of the magician designed to cower the spirits. The thinking being that any man who had mastered a lion – as he was wearing its skin – must truly be powerful, and so the belt of lion skin would be like wearing a ‘badge of courage.’”
Interestingly, none of the grimoires specifies a necessary gender for the lion from which the Belt is to be made. While the male lion, with his majestic mane, and epithet “King of the Jungle” is an obvious choice, the female lion is equally fierce, being the one who does the majority of the hunting (Packer, 2019). In addition, as Van Binsbergen (1992) notes, “most of many lion-associated divinities in Ancient Egypt were female (for example Matit, Mehit, Mentit, Pakhet, Sakhmet, Menet, and especially Tefnut).” The image of a female lioness protecting the magician like her own cub or beloved has magical sympathies that are well in harmony with the protective features of the Belt of Art as a talismanic object.
The idea of a male or female lion being a source of protection was well-attested in both Rome and Egypt. For instance, in Chapter 19 of Plutarch’s famous De Iside et Osiride, (2nd century C.E.), Osiris returns from the underworld to help prepare his son Horus for the battle with Seth. Osiris asks Horus what animal he considers most useful for those going to battle. Osiris expects him to answer ‘a lion’, but instead Horus answers: ‘a horse’. When the father expresses his surprise at this answer, the son explains, hardly convincingly, that a lion merely enables one to defend oneself, while a horse allows one to pursue the enemy and to vanquish him (Van Binsbergen, 1992). Be that as it may, horse skin belts seem conspicuously absent from the grimoiric tradition, at least to the best of my knowledge.
An invocation for this kind of mastery over the lion as implying the ability to have similar mastery over spirits can also be found in the Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses, which features a notable prayer under the heading of the “magical laws of Moses.” In this prayer, the magician invokes the righteous authority of the Lord of Hosts, praying “Oh, Lord, arise, that mine enemies may be destroyed and that they may fly; that those who hate Thee may be scattered like smoke — drive them away. As wax melteth before the fire, so pass away all evil-doers before God, for God has given Thee the kingdom. Pour out Thy wrath over them. Thy wrath seize them. Thou shalt stand upon leopards and adders, and Thou shalt subdue the lion and dragon. With God only can we do great things. He will bring them under our feet” (Peterson, 2019). According to the magical logic of this passage, if it is a symbol of power to subdue a lion, then it is even more powerful to call upon the Creator of the lion with the awe-inspiring power to subdue all lions.
Nor is the association between the lion and kingly authority and iconography exclusively localized to Egypt. Grant (1951) describes an archaeological excavation of the burial site of an Tangayikan chieftain in present-day Tanzania, which unearthed a kingly headdress which was common to many burial sites of chieftains in the area. This elaborate piece was made out of a combination of precious Kibangwa shell and the skin of a lion. In Grant’s words:
“In the matter of dress we see that the Kibangwa shell is the principal object of the royal regalia, and only chiefs are allowed to wear it with the lion skin. The head-dress (crown) is the same in every case and is made from the tail and part of the rump of a lion skin, the tail being split lengthwise and so forming two tails; the remainder of the skin goes transversely over the head from back to front, and an encircling band secures it. On the transverse piece of skin, rather nearer the crown than the forehead, is fixed the Kibangwa shell.”
Dr. Skinner also cites a 3rd century B.C.E. evocation in Mesopotamia reported by Menippus, an author who lived in Gadara, and later in Thebes, in which he alludes to the practice of a magician wearing a lion skin in Graeco-Egyptian magic:
“ I resolved to go to Babylon and ask help from one of the Magi, Zoroaster’s disciples and
successors; I had been told that by incantations and other rites they could open the gates of
Hades, take down any one they chose in safety, and bring him up again. I thought the best thing
would be to secure the services of one of these, visit Tiresias the Boeotian, and learn from that
wise seer what is the best life and the right choice for a man of sense. I got up with all speed and
started straight for Babylon. When I arrived, I found a wise and wonderful Chaldean; he was
white-haired, with a long imposing beard, and called Mithrobarzanes. My prayers and
supplications at last induced him to name a price for conducting me down [to Hades].
 Taking me under his charge, he commenced with a new moon, and brought me down for
twenty-nine successive mornings to the Euphrates, where he bathed me, apostrophizing the
rising sun in a long formula, of which I never caught much; he gabbled indistinctly, like bad
heralds at the Games; but he appeared to be invoking spirits. This charm completed, he spat
thrice upon my face, and I went home, not letting my eyes meet those of any one we passed.885
Our food was nuts and acorns, our drink milk and hydromel886 and water from the Choaspes,
and we slept out of doors on the grass. When he thought me sufficiently prepared, he took me
at midnight to the Tigris, purified and rubbed me over, sanctified me with torches and squills
and other things, muttering the charm aforesaid, then made a magic circle round me to protect
me from ghosts, and finally led me home backwards just as I was; it was now time to arrange
 He himself put on a magic robe, Median in character, and fetched and gave me the cap,
lion’s skin, and lyre which you see, telling me if I were asked my name, not to say Menippus, but
Heracles, Odysseus, or Orpheus.”
The connection to Herakles (Ηρακλής) here is culturally significant. Both Greek mythology and Greek iconography often depicted Herakles–later Latinized as Hercules–as wearing a lion skin draped over his head as an emblem of his mastery over the mighty lion, and therefore, powerful in his own right. For instance, a noteworthy late 6th century Greek vase called the “Kyknos Krate” depicts the Greek hero wearing the lion skin as shown on the far left of this reconstruction by Barov (1998):
In addition, the setting of the evocation in the 3rd century narrative from Menippus quoted above, namely, Mesopotamia, strikes me as relevant to the present article for another reason. Herakles was not the only legendary Ancient hero who clad himself in a lion’s skin as an emblem of power and boldness. Indeed, the eponymous hero of the Epic of Gilgamesh, an epic poem written in Akkadian during the late 2nd millennium B.C.E., also famously clad himself in a lion’s skin. Perhaps surprisingly, however, Gilgamesh did not don the lion’s skin in a context of triumph, but rather of mourning the passing of his dead friend and comrade Enkidu. In this extreme state of his grief, the hero pulls out his hair, tears off his clothes, vows not to shave–an oath reminiscent of the later Biblical Nazarite vow which will be taken by Samson, Samuel, and others in the Hebrew Tanakh–and runs into the wilderness, clad only in a lion’s skin, in search of Utnapishtim (Luke & Pruyser, 1985). Utnapishtim, in the Epic, is the only mortal who survived the archaic flood and gained immortality, a Mesopotamian quasi-precursor to the Jewish Noah. From Utanipishtim, Gilgamesh hopes to learn the secrets of the gods which allow the transcendence of earthly mortality.
The Magician, as a universal symbol, shares features with both Herakles, as a bold figure with the courage and authority to dominate other-worldly powers, and Gilgamesh, as a hero who aims to move beyond earthly death and aspire to Divine mysteries (Luke & Pruyser, 1985). Indeed, Gilgamesh later turns his lion-skin cloak into a sail for the boatman Ushanabi’s boat to help safely convey them across the sea to Utnapishtim; the lion skin, thereby, takes on the symbolism of not only a protective covering of one attuned to the wilderness, but also of conveyance to a holder of spiritual power (Luke & Pruyser, 1985). Magicians have long shared Gilgamesh’s yearning to transcend the bonds of mortality and learn from the spirits beyond. Such was the way of the Initiate from the time of the Ancient Greek mystes who sought Immortality in the Rites of Eleusis, or in the Mystery rites described in lines 26-51 or 475-820 of PGM IV, to the Christian Mystic who sought mystical rebirth in the eternal Life of Christ, who was famously referred to as “the Lion of Judah” (Van Den Berg, 2003). Perhaps it is fitting, then, that the magician’s Craft should feature a lion’s skin implement that girds the Magician in the power, boldness, and mythological emblems of heroism and kingship.
B. Befriending the Lion Spirit: Ensuring the Ethical Provenance of the Belt and a Practical Animistic Approach to Lion Spirit Work in a Christian Grimoiric Framework
Inspired by this rich history and the magical virtues promised by the Lion Skin Belt of Art, I therefore took on the great challenge of acquiring the means of making it in a loving and respectful way. As already pointed out in the introduction, it was essential to me that if I was to make such a Belt, that the skin should come from an ethical source, that is, not from illegal poaching or from the illegal skin trade that continues to endanger this beautiful and majestic species the world-over.
Moreover, it was important to me not only from an ethical perspective, but also from a spiritual perspective, that the skin be properly obtained because I would be inviting the spirit of the lion associated with the skin to join my spiritual family and to live in my home. It is also worth stating by way of context that I am by nature a passionate animal lover and lover of cats in particular. Protecting endangered species is a cause dear to my heart, as is caring for local animals in my area. To this end, I made sure that every cat I ever owned was a rescue from a non-kill shelter. Therefore, out of love for these beautiful animals, I resolved that unless I could find an ethically-sourced skin, I would never endeavour to make or acquire such a Belt.
Firmly adhering to this resolution, it took me a staggering 16 years to find a skin that met the ethical criteria I had set out. Over the span of the intervening years, I encountered several skins for sale, but always from dubious sellers and often with no clear provenance identified, which made them likely the product of distasteful poaching. Let any prospective skin purchaser be warned that if you cannot ensure the provenance of the skin from a vet-able local source in its country of origin, you will likely be supporting poaching, which I would strongly discourage.
At last, the fortuitous breakthrough came when a dear friend of mine, who lives in an African country whose name I will not share out of respect for his wish to remain anonymous, informed me that a skin was available from a reputable individual in his area. It was important to me that this information was coming to me from a man I know and whose character I respect, which leant credence to the fruits of his research. The skin in question came from a lioness who was not illegally poached, but killed by a local farmer in defense of his herd, which the lioness had been hunting. My friend took special care to research and discuss the provenance of the skin to ensure it was not improperly obtained and thankfully, this dear lioness’s skin passed all the tests. At last, I had found the skin of a lion whose memory and spirit were not dishonoured for money, but whom I could honour through a loving, reverential, and respectful approach.
It took careful work with my Spirits to ensure the safe conveyance of the skin to my home, bearing in mind international laws and proper protocols, as well as all ethical concerns. I will not share any more about this process both out of respect for the wishes of my friend who helped me in this difficult process and to whom I remain most grateful, and because I do not wish to involuntarily promote illegal poaching and its injurious impact on the endangered lion population. However, I will say that it took us nearly a year of careful and diligent work from start to finish simply to acquire the skin even after we had identified it.
Before anyone asks, I would like to emphatically state from the outset that I do not and never will sell lion skin Belts, nor will I assist anyone else in the procuration of such an item for legal, ethical, and spiritual reasons. This is the first and the last such Belt that I will make. There will be no exceptions. This is a hard and absolute rule to which I am bound by my conscience, reason, and Spirits, secured by an Oath that I shall not break.
In any case, after 16 years of searching and a full year of work to acquire the belt, I was overjoyed to say the least when it finally arrived safely at my house. Raphael, Kokaviel, Savaniah, Ghedoriah, and Chokhmahiel were highly effective at ensuring it arrived here safely after my prior work with them to support the legal transmission of the skin to Canada. The unconsecrated and uninscribed skin was mailed from its source country in Africa in the Day and Hour of Mercury. I was carrying my 2nd Pentacle of Jupiter for good fortune when the lion skin finally arrived at my house on the Day of Jupiter.
From the time the lion skin arrived at my house on Thursday, I felt a shift in myself in sympathy with the energy of the spirit. I felt more aggressive without knowing why. There was also some poltergeist phenomena — an object on the kitchen table where I had been storing the Belt package, waiting to open it in the Day and Hour of the Sun, spontaneously moved by itself. Strange noises were heard in the house, their source unknown. Then, today, a bottle cap spontaneously fell off the stove and landed on the floor. No one had touched it.
Before I share how I began to work with the spirit of the lioness, consecrated the skin, and inscribed it with the requisite Names, it would perhaps be helpful to offer some context in terms of my spiritual and philosophical approach to the process.
My approach to the Belt was grounded, not only in the grimoiric texts and history we have explored above, but also in the animistic worldview from which the roots of grimoiric magic spring as Aaron Leitch (2009) in Secrets of the Magickal Grimoires and Jake Stratton-Kent (2010) in Geosophia have lucidly showed It is no coincidence that the Operator in the Key of Solomon speaks to the fire of the candle as a conscious being, directly addressing it as “O Creature of Fire” — this is a remnant of an animistic mode of spiritual relating that harkens back to the earliest roots of magic itself (Peterson, 2004).
Indeed, the grimoires emerged from an attuned awareness to what B.J. Swayne (2018) has eloquently dubbed a “World of Spirits,” a view of nature as en-spirited, brimming with spiritual beings investing and inhabiting all things. It is notable that it was not only with the objects and materials (materia magica) that the magician aimed to work, but also with the spirits that embodied the stones, plants, places, and in this case, skins, of the natural world. This is the case because both the materials and the spirits carry the “occult virtues” with which the magician works and which Agrippa describes in his Three Books of Occult Philosophy.
To paraphrase the 19th to 20th century Austrian Jewish and Israeli philosopher Martin Buber, what I strove for in relating to the spirit of the lion, was not what he called an I-It relationship, which is purely a instrumental subject to object relation in which “I” as the magician simply see a skin as an “object” and “tool” (Scott et al., 2009). Buber, Instead, I strove for an I-Thou relationship between a human spirit and a lion spirit, in which we would forge a magical We in the mysterious dialogic in-between of ritual encounter (Charmé, 1997; Watson, 2006).
I was blessed in my life to have been blessed with the chance to learn from two Indigenous Elders from the Kanien’kehá:ka People here in Montreal, Canada. Both taught me the importance of approaching the spirits of natural things and beings–like the lion in this case–with care, respect, and reverence, and I determined to do precisely this in my magical approach to the Belt of Art of the Goetia.
Such an approach is harmoniously resonant with the spiritual worldview of one of my most beloved saints, St. Francis of Assisi, who spoke to his “Brother Sun and Sister Moon” and preached sermons to birds, fish, and even flowers (Hughes, 1996). Like St. Francis, I, too, would come to call the spirit behind my Belt of Art, Sister Lion, and to approach her with love.
Thus it was that with great excitement, on Sunday, September 15, 2019, I came to perform a moving ritual to begin my relationship with the spirit of the lioness whose skin would come to make up my Belt of Art. Having patiently and excitedly waited for this Day and Hour of the Sun, I performed Solomonic bathing to purify myself and entered the Temple, setting the lion’s skin and fur on the Altar surrounded by statues of Raphael and Michael, my Altar Cross, water, unleavened bread, incense, and candle offerings, the Sigils of Och and Ophiel as well as of Michael and Raphael, Holy Oil, and Holy Water.
C. From Fear to Friendship: Ritual Consecration of the Lion Skin belt and Relational Work With the Lioness Spirit
Date: Sunday, September 15, 2019
Sun Phase: Set.
Moon Phase: Gibbous in Aries.
Mansion of the Moon: Al-Butayn, which the Picatrix says is useful for “removing anger,” which is appropriate for helping to pacify an agitated lion spirit.
Planetary Day: Day of the Sun.
Planetary Hour: Hour of the Sun.
Activities: Solomonic bathing; opening by Bell of Art; greeting spirits of the four directions; offerings to the spirits of my spiritual Court; conjuration of the lion spirit; working with the lion spirit; purifying and consecrating the skin; obtaining consent of the spirit to proceed with preparing the skin; temple closing.
I opened the Temple with prayers and worship to God and asked for help in facilitating the work and for aid from St. Francis of Assisi in communicating with the animal spirit as he had excelled in doing, Raphael for supporting communication, and Michael for helping to calm and soothe the powerful spirit of this lion linked to the Sun in Leo and sphere of his rulership.
I rang the Bell of Art three times before entering the Circle as per the Hygromanteia and then sounded it to each of the four Cardinal Directions as per the Key of Solomon, blessing and greeting the spirits of each direction as I did so.
I made offerings to God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the name and honour of the Saints, the Seven Heptameronic Archangels, Uriel, the 7 Olympic Spirits, and my Ancestors. I made an additional offerings in thanks to Raphael and his four subsidiary Angels Kokaviel, Savaniah, Chokhmahiel, and Ghedoriah in gratitude for helping the lion skin to safely arrive to my home.
Thereafter, under the aegis of my Patrons and the Most High, I performed a conjuration of the lion spirit and began to directly address the spirit directly, inviting her to come in peace and be present with me in the Temple.
When her spirit arrived in the Temple, I observed an interesting phenomenon. A cloud of incense smoke broke away from the stream of smoke from the incense and drifted directly over the lion skin where it hovered for a moment before disippating.
The lion spirit appeared to be aggressive and scared at first. I saw images of roaring and felt her presence as volatile and unstable. However, I was able to calm her with a gentle approach, cradling her skin and petting it softly, giving offerings, and clarifying that I did not wish to harm her in any way but only wished for her friendship and our mutual benefit.
Originally, she presented images of growling and baring her teeth at me in my mind. When I moved my fingers over her fur, however, I had a flash of the African farmer who had killed her to protect his animals from her. Suddenly I understood — she saw humans as a threat. She had fear and aggressiveness around the traumatic moment of her death.
Gently and gradually, however, I was able to calmly shower her with gentleness and the kindness of my approach, offering her water for her thirst, food for her hunger, incense for her spirit to play through, and candle fire for warmth. The more I stroked her fur and held it close to me, the more her spirit seemed to relax. I wished her to know that I was friend, not foe, a protector of her spirit, not a threat to her life, a haven of safety, not a harbinger of death.
As her spirit began to relax, the images of the growling lioness gradually dissolved, burned up in the incense smoke. Images of the purring, beautiful creature gradually replaced them. I seemed to sense the “edgy quality” of her spirit softening into a more gentle, relaxed state as the ritual proceeded. The transformation reminded me of a cat releasing tension and relaxing into a comfortable sleep while purring.
The whole experience warmed my heart tremendously. I fell in love with this beautiful animal sister, with the beauty of her spirit, and felt great gratitude to be able to welcome her into my spiritual family. As the ritual wound to a close, I asked for the lion spirit’s permission to write the nomina magica on the Belt for her protection and mine and received an image of a purring lioness in response, which I interpreted as agreement.
I prayed for the Most High God to bless her and calm her fears, to free her from suffering, and aid us in our work together. I kept praying for her and speaking with her and I asked for all of the spirits in my Court to also welcome her and protect her. I also invited her spirit to take up safe residence in the Belt if she wished and to see it as a safe home for her if God willed. I asked her to not threaten but to protect those who live in my house as if they were her own pride, for she is now a member of my family. The images of the purring lioness continued while I continued to caress her skin, holding it close to my heart.
At last, I returned the skin to the Altar, invited the spirit to rest there and be refreshe there as long as she wished. Then I closed the Temple, and left the room feeling like a great deal of tension had dissolved from my home and feeling a great deal more at peace.
D. Consecrated Ink and Spiritual Markings: Inscribing the Belt of Art
Consecrating the Belt of Art and befriending the spirit of the lion are important aspects of the processs of preparing this legendary magical implement. However, the Belt of the Lemegeton’s Goetia in particular also requires the inscribing of extensive Names of Power upon the skin, which is no small task. As in the case of the Goetia Circle, I wanted to make sure I proceeded properly and meticulously. I undertook the painting as a ritual in itself, not preparation for the magic, but intimately part of the magic. Following the instructions of the Lemegeton’s Goetia grimoire, I inscribed all of the Names from the Goetia Circle were inscribed on the belt as per the Lemegeton’s instructions in Ink of Art consecrated according to the Key of Solomon method. As I painted, I prayed, sung spiritual songs, and burned offerings of incense and candles. I spoke gently to the lioness spirit and prayed for her and for our work together.
As we have already seen, the Lemegeton’s Goetia instructs the magician to prepare “a girdle of Lyons skin 3 Inches broad, with all the names about it as is about the uttermost round [part of the] Circle.” (Peterson, 2021). To quote my work in the Crafting a Solomonic Circle article, which explains the origin of the Names of Power used on both the the Legemeton’s Goetia Circle and the Belt of Art:
“As I studied the Hebrew words–written in Latin characters in the original manuscripts–it soon became clear to me that the letters in the outer circle of the Goetia Circle had originated in Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa’s Three Books of Occult Philosophy (1531). As a side note, this very fact tells us that the Lemegeton text cannot, therefore, be older than 1531, and is probably considerably younger.
More specifically, the Hebrew words around the ring of the Circle come from Chapter 13 of Agrippa’s Second Book of Occult Philosophy (1531), a Chapter which is entitled “Of the Number Ten and the Scale Thereof.” In this Scale, Agrippa provides a Table with 10 Columns devoted to the 10 Sephirot of the Qabalistic Tree of Life. These Columns supply the Hebrew Names of God, the Sephirot, the Angelic Choirs, the Archangels, and the names of the “Spheres of the Celestial World” which were transliterated into English characters in the ring of Names around the Goetia Circle.
Realizing that these were originally Hebrew names, Mathers and Crowley restored them to their original Hebrew. I agree with this decision and decided to go along with it in my own Circle. In the Goetia Circle, however, only 9 out of the 10 columns were included; the Malkut column was omitted. Some Magicians have argued that the reason for this was that the Circle itself represented the Sphere of Malkut, and therefore the names were not needed. This is a fair argument, although one with which I humbly and respectfully disagree.
It seems to me that the Malkut column contains key Names of God, Sephirot, Angelic Choir Names, and Archangelic Names, which if omitted, deprive the Circle of additional protection and talismanic power; conversely, if added, they add an additional layer of talismanic and protective power to the Circle as well as a greater sense of holistic and unified completeness.
Through this addition, the physical Circle then becomes a potent and complete mandala of all of the Powers in the Four Qabalistic Worlds mapped around the Magician; in effect, it becomes a completed microcosmic mandalaic representation of the macrocosmic forces that Agrippa (1531) lays out in his Ten Scale. Therefore, I transliterated the Names from the Malkut column in Agrippa back into Hebrew and followed the same symbolic conventions as Mathers-Crowley edition (e.g. using the astrological sigil of the associated Planet, in this case Earth).
An additional issue that anyone who wishes to construct a version of the Lemegeton’s Goetia Circle must face is the issue of the Hebrew. Unfortunately, there are many errors in the Hebrew both in the original manuscripts in the Mathers-Crowley Hebrew as well.Mr. Gilberto Strapazon has done some excellent work in meticulously correcting these errors in his own take on the Goetic Circle. When you add together my work with Mr. Strapazon’s, the result is the following list of Names for the 10 Columns of Agrippa’s (1531) Ten Scale, all in their original Hebrew, which are to be written in the outer Circle.
Here are the corrected Names for the original 9 columns used in the original Lemegeton’s Goetia Circle as transliterated back into Hebrew by Mathers-Crowley, with credit to Mr. Strapazon:
In addition to the above, my restored version of the 10th column Earth/Malkut Names, which are to be written after the Luna Names, is as follows:
With the above duly laid out, we can now return to the process of inscribing the names on the Lion’s Skin Belt of Art. A useful tip I learned from this process was to use a tape measure to calculate equal segments of the Belt so that I could divide the full length of the Belt evenly among the different divisions of Agrippa’s (1531) Scale of the Number 10 from the Three Books of Occult Philosophy.
Please note that this tip would also work in exactly the same way if you wished to use a Harlot’s garment to make your Belt of Art. If you go that route, I would recommend using either a scarf or an actual belt given to the “Harlot” in question — please pardon my use of the original grimoire language here, with all due respect and love to our contemporary sex workers.
My approach to the Belt did not limit itself to a unigrimoiric or single-grimoire approach, however. That is, I did not only include the Hebrew Names from the Lemegeton’s Goetia, but took a transgrimoiric or multi-grimoire approach and drew also on the Heptameron, Arbatel, Armadel, Abognazar, and Frater Ashen Chassan’s Gateways Through Light and Shadow.
As readers of Light in Extension will likely have noted by now, my general magical modus operandi tends to be transgrimoiric; that is, I enjoy synthesizing material from multiple grimoires, as could be seen, for instance, in my approach to the Wand or the Bell of the Art.
More specifically in this case, and after drawing some inspiration from my spiritual Court, I added the 7 Archangel Sigils from the Heptameron as well as the Seals of the 7 Arbatel Olympic Spirits in their corresponding Planetary sections. Special thanks are due to Andy Foster for the idea of dividing the Belt into sections to facilitate the organization of nomina magica.
As a practical tip to any budding Belt-inscriber who is wondering how to evenly divide the full length of the belt into sections, the formula I used to calculate the length of each division of the Belt is simple:
- First measure the total length of the Belt.
- Then divide that total by 10 to obtain the length of each section.
- Next, clip the tape measure to the belt to fix it in place.
- Then, go along starting from the left hand side and draw a short line at each division of the length you calculated above.
- Finally, extend the lines to their full length after removing the tape measure.
Voila! You will now have 10 equal sections. As a side note, the same method also works for dividing up sections of the Goetia Circle, although measuring is much trickier because you have to measure in a spiral. I found that too difficult, so I did it visually, approximating by eye. That resulted in somewhat uneven sections, unfortunately. Thankfully, for the Belt, this process is much easier since we are only working with a rectangular shape rather than in a spiral, so I would recommend measuring rather than eyeballing in this case.
In addition to the aforementioned Seals from the Heptameron and Arbatel, I also included Sigils of Uriel from the Grimoire of Armadel, Iophiel, Raziel from Abognazar, and Metatron and Sandalphon from Frater Ashen Chassan ‘s Gateways Through Light and Shadow were added to balance out the remainder of the sections.
The completed Belt, with all sigils and nomina magica inscribed appears as follows:
E. The Belt of the Lioness as Offering An Ongoing Relationship: Concluding Words On A Boundless Subject
In conclusion, the lion skin Belt of art remains, both a fascinating artifact in the history of magic, and a living tool in contemporary or those who feel called to craft, care for, and employ it. Far more than a tool, however, if rightly pursued in the spirit-centered manner of grimoire traditionalism, I would suggest that the Belt offers he means to forging a powerful connection with the spirit of the Lion from whom it originated. Traditional magic is largely centered on relationships, and the Belt of Art provides a possible focus for such a relationship, not only with the spirits conjured while wearing it, but with the lion spirit him- or herself. If we are to cultivate a meaningful, loving, and respectful relationship with such a spirit, however, we must first ensure that we found it on a skin that is ethically sourced in order to care, not only for the spirit, but the living species to which it belongs. Therefore, and in closing, I hope that a key take-away message of this article shall be that if we cannot ethically source such a skin–and I repeat that it took me 16 years to do so–then it is far better not to purchase lion skin at all and thereby risk promoting illegal and disastrous poaching in the process. After all, even by grimoiric standards, a deer or Hart skin’s will work as well–and can offer a similar means for a relationship with an animal spirit–and a “Harlot’s garment” is easier than either of those to come by, and not a modicum less boldly worn by a confident magician.
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