In this post I’m going to share how I modify the instructions from the Key of Solomon for the First Pentacle of Mercury and adapt the core principles from Key to make it my own.
If you want to read the original instructions, you’ll find it in this 560-page e-book (physical copy of the text is pictured above) by downloading it from here.
The more common representation of the First Pentacle is what you’ll see above, where the Hebrew letters for the angelic spirit name AGIEL (אגיאל) are inscribed around the pentagram counter-clockwise and then around the outer ring clockwise.
Above, in the carved wood disc on the left page spread, you can compare it to the original instructions and see how I’ve changed it up so it’s more “me.”
I was working with birch wood for the wood’s protective qualities (metaphysical correspondences) and carved the design into the wood with a wood-burner (pyrography– writing with fire! ooh, how fun!). My pentacles are also two-sided. I’ll talk about what I did with the back side of the pentacle later in this walk-through.
I made two different versions, which you’ll see above. The left one is a stylized version of the Phoenician alphabet equivalent, and the right one above is in the Celestial Alphabet.
Worth noting here that practitioners will hold very different and conflicting perspectives on just how much you can embellish or modify the original seals. I think, like any other science, it depends on how you’ve modified the original seal.
Working with the doctrine of analogies, it really is just like cooking. You can swap in different ingredients, but exactly what ingredients you’re swapping with will affect the taste of the resulting dish. Some ingredients are enough like the original that you probably can’t taste a difference, though there will still be subtle undertones you can pick up on; and with others, you’re probably basically creating a totally new dish.
Here, I went back to the original text and followed the written instructions. You’ll find the instructions on p. 151 in the e-book download. It’s pretty scant. You get one line about the use and purpose of this particular pentacle, and one line that says the pentacle should be inscribed with the letters that form the name of the spirit Agiel.
In some texts, it’s provided in Hebrew; in others, such as an Arabic version, it’s in Arabic. (I don’t have any photos to show you, because photographs weren’t permitted at that library/museum in Istanbul, and my sketch of it in my notebook is so awful, I’m pretty sure it’s sacrilege, so I don’t want to publish it.) In Ritual of Levi’s Transcendental Magic text, he notes that these magical names can be written in Hebrew, Arabic, or the Celestial Alphabet. I went with the Celestial Alphabet per Agrippa.
By the way, about the wood burner, you can go nuts and buy one of those extravagant wood burning kits, but I did not. I went with an economical $15 one (Amazon link here) and it works just fine.
To start, I wasn’t familiar with “Agiel,” so before I went around inscribing that name on consecrated and charged talismans, I thought I might do a little reading.
In Francis Barrett’s The Magus (1801), Barret notes that the angel Agiel is a beneficent spirit associated with Saturn, or more specifically, “The Intelligence of Saturn,” though in most versions of the Key of Solomon, you find it associated with Mercury.
Here are the angelic names for Mercury, in case you want to use that instead:
Either way, whether Agiel invoked Mercury or Saturn, it would work out well for me (just my view of things), since Saturn is my chart ruler, so I thought to myself, yep, I feel good about proceeding. You might, too, or you might not. Go with your own gut feelings.
The above shows AGIEL converted from Hebrew into the Celestial Alphabet.
You’ll find references for the Celestial Alphabet in one of the appendices at the back of the Key of Solomon and Collected Studies text. You can see the page spread above.
For the other version I made (you can still see some pencil eraser marks in the pictured wood pentacle above, as that’s still an unfinished piece), I went with the Phoenician alphabet equivalents, though I stylized the lettering with the circles that you see above. For quick reference, the top right glyph in my wood pentacle, at the 1 to 2 o’clock position, is Aleph. Below it, going clockwise, is Gimmel. After that, still moving clockwise, that’s Yod.
The First Pentacle of Mercury is for communing with any and all spirits “under the Firmament,” such as nature spirits, spirits of the dead, or any spirits that would be considered earthbound. So I take that to mean that this pentacle would really amp up your mediumship abilities. Also, I would include muses here, too. The First Pentacle of Mercury will bring stronger and more consistent creative inspiration from your muses. So they’re also great for writers and artists.
“Firmament,” by the way, kind of goes back to flat earth theory, which I’m not exactly a proponent of, but oh well. I can roll with it for magical purposes. The firmament, or firmamentum, was what separated the earthly world from the angelic world, and it was believed to be a domed canopy made up of the constellations.
So in the original drawing from the Key (or at least in most copies of it), the Hebrew letters are first inscribed counter-clockwise, closest to the pentagram, and then inscribed clockwise, outside the pentagram around the ring.
Here’s how I changed the design so that it would feel more powerful and more attuned to me.
I inscribed the letters, using the Celestial Alphabet conversion, around the pentagram counter-clockwise, and did not include the second ring of letters. However, while I was burning that outer ring with the wood-burner, I made sure to always go clockwise, and as I went clockwise, recited an invocation for Agiel.
By the way, repeating an invocation while dragging that wood-burner around the disc in a circle is so much harder than I realized it’d be. That’s why my lines are wonky. The lines for the pentagram came out so much nicer because I wasn’t trying to multi-task…
At the center of the pentagram, I carved the astrological glyph for Mercury, just to designate this as a Pentacle of Mercury and also to help give reference as to which way is right side up.
Welp, okay, not all of them. My pentacles are not all aesthetically equal. Doh. Wood-burning is hard. You really need to pay attention to how much pressure you’re applying and you have to get into a rhythm with how you drag the tip across the wood. Half a millisecond too long and you end up with those thicker, really burned wonky lines you see in some of the above-pictured pentacles.
Since my pentacles would be two-sided, I went with a four-elements design on the back side. They’re in the order of the equinoxes and solstices around the tropical horoscopic wheel.
See all those funny little background filler lines that are slightly lighter in color than the main carving? For each quadrant, I started by invoking that specific element, as designated by the elemental glyph in that quadrant.
I visualized drawing it from the world around me, up my feet, which were planted on the earth, going up and through my arms, out my fingertips, through my wood-burner, out its tip, and into the lines I carved onto the wood. Each quadrant’s lines are carved with an infusion of potent elemental energy. All four elements are thus pressed into the backing of this pentacle.
The rest of the medallion design itself framing the four elemental glyphs was inspired by the seals found in Key of Solomon, plates of images that didn’t come with any specific instructions, notations, or descriptions. My own speculation (pure speculation, like out of my arse, no basis whatsoever) is that these are ideas for the back designs of the pentacles. So that’s what I use them for.
But in case you prefer following Eliphas Levi, in Ritual (Part II of Transcendental Magic), Chapter VII, The Septenary of Talismans, he writes as follows about what to inscribe on the back side of the pentacles:
The reverse must bear the Sign of Solomon, that is, the six-pointed star composed of two superposed triangles; in the centre there is placed a human figure for the talismans of the Sun, a chalice for those of the Moon, a dog’s head for those of Mercury, an eagle’s for those of Jupiter, a lion’s head for those of Mars, a dove’s for those of Venus, and a bull’s or goat’s for those of Saturn.
So there you have that.
Though I don’t have photos of the prep process, I started by soaking these blank wood discs in holy water. This happened on a Wednesday (day of Mercury) and the soaking process was at sunrise (hour of Mercury). Then after the full-hour soak in holy water, I took the discs out and slow-dried them at a very low temperature in my oven. This all happened through a waning moon, because I want to draw out, detox, purify, etc.
I then waited for a new moon (or waxing crescent moon, as it wasn’t exactly a new moon, but close enough), day of Mercury again, at an hour of Mercury, to carve the seals. I couldn’t finish within the hour, so I stopped, then waited for the next hour of Mercury on the same day (day of Mercury) to resume. Didn’t finish within that hour either, so stopped and resumed again during an hour of Saturn, since Agiel is probably connected to Saturn, too.
You can find the above page spread in the Key of Solomon. That’s what I used to track my astrological timing of the crafting.
I then placed the finished discs (as in the carving; we haven’t gotten to the charging yet) on selenite charging plates and left them on my altar, in energetically closed space (so a circle was cast around them) from the new moon until the next full moon on a day of Mercury. So yes, I waited for a full moon that would take place on a Wednesday (day of Mercury) and I just happened to luck out because the moon sign was one ruled by Mercury. Yay.
On the full moon, working only during hours of Mercury, I would start by anointing each pentacle, making sure the oil got into the carved grooves of the design. I also anointed my fingertip and traced the lines of the pentagram with my anointed fingertip while reciting certain incantations I drafted, based very closely to the instructions you’ll find in the Key of Solomon, but modified so they’d be more “me.”
Then I burned frankincense resin and passed each pentacle, one by one, through the smoke of frankincense, continuing the incantations. After that, I placed the discs in a ring around the frankincense pot and let it burn out.
When it burned out, I burned myrrh resin and again, passed each pentacle, one by one, through the smoke of myrrh, continuing the incantations. Again, after I finished, while the myrrh still burned, I placed the discs in a ring around the myrrh pot.
Back onto my altar they went atop a selenite charging plate (one I got hand-crafted by Jamie Sawyer, which also featured a pentacle) to rest until morning.
I then wrap each one in a purple microfiber silk cloth (purple being associated with Mercury per one of the correspondence tables found in the Key).
I thought I’d share how I work with the Key in a way that makes it my own. You don’t have to follow everything in the grimoire to the letter, but in making your modifications, think about what the core elements of the spell are. You want to make sure those core elements are preserved.
So what are these birch wood First Pentacle of Mercury seals used for? They’re talismans that help you connect and attune to “spirits under the Firmament,” so for the mystic, this will amp up your mediumship abilities and for the writer or artist, this will help you channel your muses and enhance your creative expressions.
If all this has interested you, then check out the Keys of Solomonic Magic and Spirit Conjures.