The Archangel Dragons Of The Directions: Preface

In early 2021, I accepted a magical art commission.

There is a ritual that many modern magicians perform known as the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, wherein they define a space that is both of this reality and outside of it. A space where Magic is easier to perform. Perhaps a space where the magician’s imperfections are carved away, little by little, every time they enter it.

A major part of this ritual involves visualizing four angels: RAPHAEL before you, GABRIEL behind you, MICHAEL on your right hand, and AURIEL on your left. The client wanted help doing this, and felt that they would find it easier if they were given the shape of dragons.

I was given a page of the text of the version of the rite they were working from. (There are a lot of different versions floating around; the original was cobbled together from diverse sources in the late 1800s by members of the Order of the Golden Dawn (no relation to the modern Greek neo-Nazi party), and ever since their secrets were made public, the variants have bloomed – both small tweaks within the same religious framework, and big tweaks like swapping out Arch-Angels with Hebrew names for members of pretty much any pantheon you might prefer.) This particular one was from the Open Source Order of the Golden Dawn.

Beyond that, the only direction I was given was “flat colors rather than full shading” and “needs to fit on a letter-size page”. This could have been enough to start with. But I wanted more. So I broke out my copy of Skinner’s Complete Magician’s Reference Tables, dug through Israel Regardie’s The Middle Pillar, flipped through Damien Echols’ High Magick, pondered a few versions found online, and a half dozen other books. And I started taking notes, writing down ideas, and making sketches. In a little sketchbook with dragons embossed on its leather cover that my in-laws had given me this past Christmas – it felt like a book for a Project, and this was obviously the right one.

I pretty quickly settled on the idea of building each Archangel Dragon upon the skeleton of their sigil. I worked them out myself with the Golden Dawn’s Rose Cross sigil method. It took me a little longer to read the OSOGD’s version of the rite and pick up the repeated mention of colors “flashing” on the angel’s robes; this word is used in other places in Golden Dawn instruction to refer to very intensely-contrasting color pairings that tend to clash and vibrate in your eyes.

I set up an Illustrator file. With all those sigils. And a couple more, because the variant of the LBRP/LIRP I like the most adds in an additional angel above and below you. I hadn’t decided if I was going to do them yet but I figured I’d leave the option open.

I started doing the Ritual of the Pentagram regularly. The Lesser Invoking Ritual of the Pentagram in the morning, the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram in the evening, as directed by my copy of the Golden Dawn material, rather than doing the LBRP twice daily as almost everyone tends to tell you to do it now. Some of those ideas on how to approach this project were sitting there in my mind as I woke up, ready to be written down in the dream journal I’ve kept by my bed for a few years now. If I’m going to make images designed to be used as magical tools, I feel it is part of my job to do my best to make them potent. And part of that involves inviting the subject into my life, maybe to pose for my third eye, or maybe to just spend a little time sitting behind me while I work and casually dropping ideas into my head.

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The Archangel Dragons Of The Directions: Uriel

I have been commissioned to do a set of illustrations of the dragonsonas of the angels one calls upon during the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram, if one is a neophyte in a magical system derived from the Golden Dawn documents. This is the fourth one. There may be more eventually but this is it for now.

Uriel (or Oriel, or Auriel; nobody can agree on which vowels to add into the consonants-only Ancient Hebrew name) is the patron of magicians, the Overseer of Tartarus, and is helpful in matters of divination, finances, and obtaining the treasures of the world.

They carry a shield, to remind you that this direction is associated with the suit of Pentacles.

Prints, posters, shirts, phone cases, etc, on Redbubble.

The Archangel Dragons Of The Directions: Michael

I have been commissioned to do a set of illustrations of the dragonsonas of the angels one calls upon during the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram, if one is a neophyte in a magical system derived from the Golden Dawn documents. This is the third one. There will be at least one more.

Michael is chief among angels. He rules the Fire signs of the Zodiac, and is the angel of the orange sphere of Hod on the Tree of Life. He is helpful in matters of remaining chill during crisis, protection, success in business, and expressing your ideas well. He has very strong Cool Dad Energy.

He carries a sword, despite this direction being associated with the suit of Wands. Perhaps this is a clue.

I haven’t been able to see any other names on his nametag.

Unlike the other archangels, Michael gave me the distinct impression that his reaction to this project was that he already has a fursona, and that it is a lion, and if I am going to make him into some kind of dragon then it should be a seriously leonine dragon.

Prints, clothes, journals, and other whatnottery are available on Redbubble.

MA-X: Inner Library

So a while back in early March I was cycling lazily through the park thinking about Magical Stuff when this lady popped into my head and said “Congratulations! You have found the Inner Library!” and requested an access code. None of my first guesses worked. Perhaps I will get it eventually.

I drew this pretty soon afterwards, then let it sit for a while because I knew there should be some kind of sigil above her head, and that my attempt at drawing what had popped into my mind was not right:

Last night I finally got my head into the right place to investigate this, and scribbled down a quick version of the one you see in the main image; today I put it into Illustrator and am posting this. Time Sink says this image took about two hours of actual work in AI, if you are curious; I’ve gotten really good at making it do this sort of visual vibration quickly!

I don’t know why this wants to be numbered as Major Arcana X (Fortune). It just did, so I went with it. There’s certainly some visual correspondence with the image I did for the Silicon Dawn, and some of the other Majgickqghal Correspondences link up to that card, too:

(that’s a screengrab of stuff hovering off the side of the canvas in a “notes” layer)

Want this on a print, a t-shirt, a magnet, a journal, etc? Go over by my Redbubble shop.

The Exterior View

“It’s all in your head; you just have no idea how big your head is.” – Lon Milo Duquette

In certain magical operations that I have been doing regularly, it is useful to visualize yourself as bigger than the entire universe. So I did a drawing of Soror Fututum Stella to help me solidify this feeling.

The Archangel Dragons Of The Directions: Gabriel

I have been commissioned to do a set of illustrations of the dragonsonas of the angels one calls upon during the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram, if one is a neophyte in a magical system derived from the Golden Dawn documents. This is the second one. There will be at least two more.

Gabriel is the Lord of Paradise, the Serpents, and the Cherubim. She rules the Water signs of the Zodiac, and is the angel of the purple sphere of Yesod on the Tree of Life. She is helpful in matters of emotional healing, finding love and peace, finding strength in the middle chaos, and gaining insight through both dreams and one’s Third Eye.

She carries a chalice, so as to remind you that this direction is associated with the suit of Cups.

Her nametag, if you look at it from another angle, may show names like Nyx or Nut or Luna or perhaps even Hecate. And without the overlay of the Water of the South she is purple, silver, and black.

 


I was feeling a little blocked on this for a while. Until the day when I got a little baked, did the morning Lesser Invocation Of The Pentagram, and asked Gabriel to hang out and help inspire me to finish this. On a Monday. Which is… the day associated with the Moon, and thus the best day for doing magic connected with it, according to all my books. And time sure did fly while I was going from “this is just plain wrong and I will never finish it” to “time flew by and now it’s done and makes me really happy”. There’s a few tweaks to this image I might want to make before I call this whole set done, but she feels more than sufficiently complete for now.


July: I did some tweaks. Set’s done. Prints, shirts, etc are available on Redbubble.

The Archangel Dragons Of The Directions: Raphael

I have been commissioned to do a set of illustrations of the dragonsonas of the angels one calls upon during the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram, if one is a neophyte in a magical system derived from the Golden Dawn documents. This is the first one. There will be at least three more.

Raphael is the Lord of the Spirits of Man. He rules the Air signs of the zodiac, and is also the angel of the golden sphere of Tiphareth in the middle of the Tree of Life. He is helpful in matters of transmitting ideas, safe travels, healing, and the intellect.

He carries a caudceus, despite this direction, element, and color scheme being associated with the Tarot suit of Swords.

If you look at him from the right angle sometimes he has a hat that looks like a pie-plate with wings on it, and a nametag that says “HELLO MY NAME IS HERMES”, with the name crossed out and RAPHAEL written below it. Whenever I ask him about it, he just waggles his eyebrows suggestively and makes the Sign of Harpocrates at me. Sometimes he makes suggestive gestures with his caudceus, too. Maybe you’ll get a straighter answer out of him. Ask him about that caudceus while you’re at it, he’ll probably make some interesting reading material start showing up in your life regarding the snakes that snooze deep inside you.

Prints, shirts, wallets, journals, etc on Redbubble.

Hermanubis

So I was sitting around late at night, a little stoned, reading some books of ceremonial magic, when something in the back of my head sat up and said “hey, you should draw Anubis”. And, well. I mostly did. Sorta:

Hermanubis is a Greek deity who is somewhere in the space between Hermes and Anubis in their roles as psychopomps, which is a fancy word for “the nice guy who shows up after you die and gently leads you to the underworld”.

Both of them have other jobs – Hermes deals with commerce, transmission of knowledge, speed, travel, thieves, and sleep, while Anubis is a bit more focused, with responsibilities like ruling the land of the dead before his brother Osiris took over, mummification, and presiding over the judgement of your soul. But Hermanubis is where they blur together into one slightly saucy jackal dude, who definitely shines with the dark light of the Underworld rather than the bright light of Divine Knowledge. He’s still a beacon, though.

Illustrator, one hour, no sketch. I should try to get this printed on very deep blue card in gold.

a fresh coat of paint

According to my file dates and names, I built this version of my website in 2011. Visually, it remained pretty much unchanged – I built a few new styles for the various comics, but largely I just changed it by writing new blog posts and uploading pictures and comic pages.

Today, I found myself suddenly compelled to sit at some picnic tables under a highway overpass in City Park (this is much nicer than it sounds, trust me) and work on a new front page image.

I chose to keep it similar to the old one:

…but holy crap it’s a lot more detailed and fluid. And it probably took less time to do, too. The new one took about an hour and a half, plus some more time digging up my old CSS toolchain and changing the rest of the website’s colors to match. (Hooray for CSS pre-processors.) I’ve got no idea how long the old one took, but I have a vague memory of struggling with that under-chin angle on the face. This time I just knocked it out quickly, and came back for one brief touch-up near the end; I think I mostly spent my time fooling around with more detailed takes on the caduceus, and deciding how frilly to make the big swath of hair. Also this one, like, kind of actually looks like me, if you ignore the fact that I sure as hell do not have that kind of ass, damn. If only.

I guess I’ve changed elemental associations from Fire to Air or something? I have no idea what that will mean for the future. Maybe I’ll be back here in another decade or so with a new take on this.

Anyway. If you wanna see it in its full glory then go visit the front page of my site.