So I wanted to talk about the Brass Vessel, spirit vessels in general, and magick lamps because I think some folks really misunderstand (IMO) what these things are. Clearly a lot of people look at magick lamps and brass vessels and we think of genii. You rub the lamp, the genii trapped in the lamp pops out and gives you three wishes. After that – the genii goes back to his lamp until the next person comes along. The moral of these stories always being, “Be careful what you wish for.”
But the fairy tale is far from the actuality. In a lot of ways the brass vessel, some folks like Rufus Opus and Jake Stratton Kent have referred to it as a spirit pot, is very much like a triangle of art in that it’s a focal point to bring a spirit or the spirit’s influence into the physical realm.
Don’t mistake the “spirit pot” – let alone the Grimoiric Magick “Brass Vessel” as anything having to do with Necromancy. I address both Nganga and necromantic “Spirit Pots” briefly in Necromantic Sacraments. That’s a different thing. Same concept, different thing.
No, the spirit vessels eluded to in ceremonial magick and the old grimoires from Agrippa to Goetia and beyond are basically open doors for a spirit (usually genii, angelic, planetary, or even elemental) to connect with the practitioner or for their energy to have influence over the practitioner in some way. Yes, it could be said the vessel is a metaphoric “home” for the spirit. That’s a very old shamanic idea and really, Western Occultism is really our own shamanic tradition.
And on some level all Western Magicians practice drawing spirit energy through a vessel whether it be an offering bowl on an altar to a specific god, a magickal lamp created to bring forth a certain divine intelligence or spiritual influence, or even a Goetic brass vessel.
In Daemonolatry Goetia I discuss the brass vessel as a sacred place to keep permanent sigil(s) and keep the energy in that (those) sigil(s). Or a sacred space to hold the Daemonic energy itself.
I am no stranger to the brass vessel or the magick lamp. I have a magick lamp on my altar as we speak, and I have a copper vessel in there as well, dedicated to a specific divine intelligence (for whom copper is more pleasing than brass). When I seek out this Daemon’s wisdom, I’ll approach the vessel and speak to it because it is a gateway to the spirit I’m working with. I tend to construct and deconstruct my vessels as they’re needed, depending on the work I’m doing. My vessels have been made from wood to ceramic, to various types of metal. I generally only construct a vessel for long-term work, or at least something I’ll be working on for more than a week or two. This is likely the same for most magicians.
As an aside here – I do not generally recommend iron for spirit vessels because iron is grounding and it’s magickally considered the heart of the earth. However, Iron is good for opening up the veil and communication with the other side. This is likely why nganga and other types of necromantic spirit pots are made of iron.
Rufus Opus, who has a wonderful blog on magick if you haven’t read it, discusses the brass vessel and “spirit pots” on his blog here and here. He wrote these posts the summer of 2011. So the idea of “spirit pots” and their grimoiric magick connection is nothing new, clearly.
The issue, for me, comes in where people think they’re actually constraining, capturing, or luring (in a sneaky way) a spirit into the vessel. Here’s the thing — the spirit doesn’t actually reside in the vessel like the genii in Aladdin’s cartoon lamp does. It simply comes through it. This is where myself and other folks tend to differ in our opinions.
Some really believe they’re keeping spirits in vessels (either willingly or unwillingly, I’ve met both types of folks), or that they’re capturing spirits with these vessels. This is because they’re usually folks who believe a spirit has a physical mass that is somehow finite. Like sticking a genii in a bottle. Or they have really big egos and think they’re the shit and that they can control the universe with their special magick. Yeah – I’m a fucking snowflake, too. Aren’t we all?
I view it much differently based on my own experience. Since I believe genii, elemental spirits, planetary spirits, Daemonic spirits, god-form spirits etc…. are infinite and have no measurable physical mass, I don’t believe you can put a genii in a bottle (literally).
Here’s how I think it works — you put together the materials that resonate with the spirit, these materials are put in the vessel, and this draws the spirit to the vessel. The spirit (its energy and influence) then visits that vessel, being naturally attracted to it by the inclusion of the items within it. The vessel becomes imbued with that spirit’s essence or influence, that influence begins to influence (both spiritually and physically) you. Also, meditating over such vessels does generally result in very productive communing sessions with the divine intelligences. Or at least in my experience.
Oh yes, I’ve tried rubbing my lamps and my vessels (just because you have to say you’ve at least tried it). I’ve tried the old grimoiric ways of constraining the Goetic spirits. It simply doesn’t work like the mythology tells us. When you’re working with the old grimoires you have to have the wisdom to understand what is metaphoric, what is literal, and how to navigate the blinds, often left there to ward off the uninitiated and the casual dabbler.
Once you “get” how it all goes together you understand that “God” (which for me is nothing more than a concept of the All) is no more an affront to Daemons than Daemons are adversarial to “God”. All things are simply part of a natural universe working the way it works. Good and evil are perceptions of the magician and we manifest what we perceive. We can take things to a place of light and understanding, or we can take it someplace dark and stagnant. It’s a choice.
Thinking you’re kidnapping spirits with your powerful magick, and keeping them in vessels (sometimes against their will) to do your bidding, is kind of a creepy choice IMHO. Just sayin’…