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6- 2nd Theurgical Operation: Binding and releasing


Through the operations of Desmós kai Éklusis (Binding and Releasing) a God or Daimôn is called to take temporary possession of a person. The terminology is from traditional magic, but in theurgy we must interpret "binding" in the sense already discussed ("Theurgic Invocation"): preparing a suitable receiver for the divine energy. In fact, the easiest was to understand Desmos is as Telestikę in which a human receiver replaces an agalma (divine image).

But first some terminology. The theurgist, who invokes the God or Daimôn, is referred to as the Klętôr (CLAY-tor, Caller) or Theagôgós(God-evoker), whereas the subject is referred to as the Dókheus (Recipient), Theatęs (Seer), or Kátokhos (the "Held-down One"). They may be the same person (i.e., the theurgist may call the divinity to seize themselves), but this more advanced operation will be described later ("Autodesmos") and for now we will treat them as different people.

In Desmos, sumbola and sunthęmata are used in much the same way as in Telestikę (with obvious adaptations, some of which are described later). The goal again is to "tune" both the Caller and the Receiver so that they are receptive to the divine power (dunamis) and actualize the divine energy (energeia). This allows the energy to awaken and shine forth, in the souls of both the Caller and Receiver, as well as in the material environment.

The advantage of Desmos over Telestikę is that the Receiver is a human being, and therefore they can speak with the divinity's voice. On the other hand, the disadvantage of a human Receiver is that their soul may (consciously or unconsciously) contaminate the revelation from the God. Less obviously, there is a danger that the Receiver's personal daimones (see "Personal Daimones" previous pages) may seize them, rather than their being possessed by the God or Daimôn who was invoked. (Similar problems can arise in Telestikę, for the theurgist is human too, but they don't usually directly contaminate the receiving image.) This is the reason that naive young boys were often used as Recipients in ancient times: they are less likely to put their own ideas and personalities in the way, an their personal daimones (especially sexual daimones) are fewer and weaker. They have what theurgists term epitędiótęs (suitability, fitness). In general, we can see that the Seer needs to be able to enter a trance state in which their conscious mind is quiet; their personal daimones should be pacified and dormant during the operation. Then the Seer may become a pure and uncontaminated Receptacle for the divine energy. To reflect the divine light clearly, the mirror should be unblemished, clean, and polished.

Needless to say, depending on their psychological state and the activity of their daimones, Seers may be better able to bear the God at some times than at others. This must be taken into account before attempting Desmos. In what may be a fragment from the Chaldean Oracles (fr. 211), a God complains,

The Recipient's wretched heart supports me not.

Furthermore, an inexperienced Seer may have trouble at first achieving an adequate receptive state, but with talented Seers this improves with practice. We say that they acquire the Hieratikę Dunamis (Hieratic Faculty).


The Desmos

The Desmos operation begins with the cleansing and purification of both the Caller and Receiver. They will take a ritual bath and dress in ceremonial attire: typically a white robe bound with a belt bearing the sumbola of the God to be invoked; they may wear also garlands and other divine sumbola as appropriate. Next, the Caller, Receiver, and ritual area are purified, typically with salt water and burning sulfur (Hólmę kai Theíon: Brine and Brimstone). The atmosphere may be prepared by Atmoí (Vapors), that is, incense appropriate to the divinity.

During the operation, the Caller may stand on kharaktęres (esoteric characters and figures) that are sumbola of the divinity.

In general, as in Telestikę, the mor