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Class on Illusion magick.

The idea of illusion magick tends to bring up the image of the conjurer, the stage magician, and their sleight of hand and deception. But instrumental magic has another idea of illusion, that of changing the appearances of things, so that the appearance is no longer instantly recognizable, or is recognized as something else. In terms of Aristotle's philosophy, we would say that the form of the object or person (the "accidents") is made to differ from its reality (the "essence" or "substance").
This is a commonplace in fictional magic works, particularly modern ones, where invisibility is something produced by an incantation, or by a magic device (such as the invisibility cloak in Harry Potter). But there are older texts which speak of concealment, or making unseen.

The 1887 "Ancient Legends, Mystic Charms, and Superstitions of Ireland" by Lady Francesca Wilde has the following charm on "How to Go Invisible". It says "Get a raven's heart, split it open with a black-hafted knife; make three cuts and place a black bean in each cut. Then plant it, and when the beans sprout put one in your mouth.

By virtue of Satan's heart,
And by strength of my great art,
I desire to be invisible.
And so it will be as long as the bean is kept in the mouth.

Please do not be tempted to follow this or the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds will not be pleased; it is also very unkind on ravens.

The Medieval documents such as the  "Grimorium Verum" contain some of the most bizarre ideas of invisibility, which involves starting "this operation on a Wednesday before the sun rises, being furnished with seven black beans. Take next the head of a dead man; place one of the beans in his mouth, two in his eyes and two in his ears. Then make upon this head the character of the figure which here follows...." A lot of the magic in this Grimoire assumes a handy supply of skulls, which probably explains why it remained in the texts; it was never tested that widely! I should warn that all the extant texts are missing parts of the sequence, so the reader should not consider going down to the nearest graveyard with pick and shovel at the dead of night.
Going back further, the Ancient Irish Epic Tale Táin Bó Cúalnge, of which the text probably dates from the 9th century, but records stories from centuries before, is part of an epic sequence known as the Ulster Cycle. In this, Queen Medb of Connaught gathers an army in order to gain possession of the most famous bull in Ireland, which is the property of Daire, a chieftain of Ulster. Because the men of Ulster are afflicted by a debilitating curse, the seventeen-year-old Cuchulain must defend Ulster almost single-handedly. In one sequence, he prepares a charioteer Laeg for a foray into the ranks of the enemies:
"Then cast he a spell of concealment over his horses and over his fellow, so that they were not visible to any one in the camp, while all in the camp were visible to them. Well indeed was it that he cast that charm, for on that day the charioteer had to perform the three gifts of charioteership, namely leaping over a cleft in the ranks, unerring driving, and the handling of the goad."

The ancient idea is often not quite the same as invisibility, it is more of something seen but not seen. This is best taken up in fiction in Philip Pullman's "Subtle Knife" where the witch Serafina can cause herself by mental effort not to be seen, or rather, not to be noticed; sight glances off her.

We can see this idea underpinning the text of the "The Temple of Solomon the King", one of the documents of the Ordo Templi Orientis. Notice that this is definitely not speaking of invisibility in the Harry Potter or H.G. Wells idea, as breaking the laws of optics, but of seeing "the thing they see not", or what might also be termed a mental invisibility.

This is part of the text on invisibility: 
"The operator now recites an exorcism of a shroud of Darkness to surround him and render him invisible, and holding the wand by the black end, let him, turning round thrice completely, describe a triple circle around him, saying: "In the name of the Lord of the Universe," &c.; "I conjure thee, O Shroud of Darkness and of Mystery, that thou encirclest me, so that I may become Invisible: so that, seeing me, men may see not, neither understand; but that they may see the thing that they see not, and comprehend not the thing that they behold! So mote it be!"

Of course, however overlaid by legendary accretions, the oddest text concerning this type of invisibility are the New Testament narratives about the risen Jesus. Here is precisely that kind of invisibility, someone seen, but not recognised until at key moments, the veil of concealment vanishes.

Returning the the Ordo Templi, the idea of a "shoud of concealment" in fact goes back futher, to the Celtic legends where Manannán gave feth fiada to the Tuatha De Danann, the power to remain invisible from mortal eyes. The hidden domain, or sidh is hidden with magical shrouds, and only a person with feth fiada can come and go from the sidh. Without the feth fiada, a person could not possibly find his way back to his sidh.

Some Celtic scholars considered that the feth fiada was a spell peculiar to Druids and poets who by pronouncing certain verses of the hymn fáeth fiada, in which it had been incorporated, could make themselves invisible to other's eyes. But what parts is, unfortunately, not known!

Remember to harm none!!!!

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