Symbols & Spells

judikasigilA Workshop with Judika Illes
Date: Sunday, June 10th
Time: 2-4pm
Admission: $40 ***You must RSVP to phantasmaphile [at], as class size is limited.  You will then be sent a Paypal payment request.
Presented by Phantasmaphile

Symbols reverberate with power. They are not just mere markings. Instead they convey and radiate magical forces. Because of this, symbols are among our oldest and most potent magical tools. Their use spans the globe, as well as a vast spectrum of spiritual and esoteric traditions.

Magical symbols include seals and sigils- Kabbalistic and otherwise, Egyptian symbols, such as the ankh and the “girdle” of Isis, the Congo Cross, glyphs, runes, vèvè, alchemical, Masonic, fertility, Adinkra, and hex signs.

Symbols serve virtually unlimited magical uses. They are incorporated into amulets, talismans, and mojo bags and used in divination, spirit summoning, and magic spells. The most accessible manner of working with symbols is candle magic.

In this class, we will explore the esoteric power of symbols and how this power is transmitted through candles. The class will begin with a lecture about symbols and will then evolve into a hands-on workshop. Each attendee will have the opportunity to create a magic candle.

Attendees will receive a hand-out of symbols. We will also discuss how to create your own magic symbols to serve your own personal needs and desires.

PLEASE BRING a notebook or paper and something to write with, so that you can take notes.

PLEASE ALSO BRING a candle. The size is up to you, but the larger and more substantial the candle, the more surface space is available for carving symbols into it. Birthday candles and tea lights are too small and tapers tend to break. Pillar and round votive candles are best.

Colors, like symbols, radiate power and a candle’s color is chosen to coordinate with a spell-caster’s goal. Here is a list of traditional color associations, but if you possess your own associations, please trust your intuition:

Black: protection; banishing; fertility; regeneration; healing chronic illness.

Blue: protection; peace; healing emotional, mental or psychic illness; terminating addictions, including smoking.

Brown: justice; legal issues; grounding.

Green: fertility; prosperity; money; healing physical illness and conditions.

Purple: power; sex; erotic love spells.

Red: luck; good fortune; love; fertility; healing blood ailments.

Pink: love; spells benefiting children.

White: ancestral work; contacting those in the Next Realm.

***White candles possess the power of the blank slate and may be substituted for any other color. If in doubt or unsure, bring a white candle.

Judika Illes is an independent scholar, international speaker, educator, and author of books of folklore, folkways, and mythology about the subjects of magic, the occult, divination, diverse spiritual traditions, witchcraft, and the paranormal.  She is the author of four popular encyclopedias: The Encyclopedia of 5000 Spells, The Element Encyclopedia of Witchcraft, The Encyclopedia of Spirits, and the new Encyclopedia of Mystics, Saints, and Sages. Her other books include Pure Magic: A Complete Course in Spellcasting, Magic When You Need It and The Weiser Field Guide to Witches. Her website is:

This event is in conjunction with Observatory’s Sigils & Signs group art show.

Magic Circles in the Grimoire Tradition

dr-faustus-in-a-magic-circle-frontispiece-of-gent-s-translation-of-dr-faustus-published-1648An illustrated lecture with William Kiesel of Ouroboros Press
Date: Friday, June 1
Time: 8pm
Admission: $8
Presented by Phantasmaphile

‘With the center of the circle as a starting point, orientation can take on precise meaning in the context of its ritual, which was designed to secure spiritual knowledge and material dominion in the world through the agency of spirits, stars and cabalistic arcana.’

Magic Circles have been depicted in popular expressions of magic and witchcraft as well as detailed with full rubrics in traditional manuals of magic such as the Clavicula Solomonis or Liber Juratus.  Using narrative, visual and textual material available from European grimoires and manuscripts, William Kiesel will discuss the various forms and functions of this important piece of apparatus employed by magicians in the Western Esoteric Tradition, including their role in providing authority and protection to the operator, as well as examples of their use in divination and treasure finding.

WILLIAM KIESEL is an independent scholar researching occultism and western esotericism in practical and historical contexts.  He is particularly interested in esoteric symbol systems and their use as manifested in alchemical, hermetic and occult traditions.  In addition to giving presentations on these topics in the United States and abroad, Kiesel has also collaborated in avant garde music circles concerned with the esoteric use of music.  It was the later context which led to his contribution in John Zorn’s acclaimed ARCANA series with an essay titled Musings on the Hermetic Lyre.  His first book ‘Magic Circles in the Grimoire Tradition‘ is part of the Three Hands Press monograph series. William is the director of Ouroboros Press and editor at CLAVIS: Journal of Occult Arts.

This event is in conjunction with Observatory’s Sigils & Signs group art show.

The Public School NY Para-Academia Series #3: Nabokov, Coincidence and Otherwordliness

nabokov-4A class facilitated by Stephen Aubrey
Date: Tuesday, August 23
Time: 8 PM
Admission: free, but please donate $5 if you can!
Presented by The Hollow Earth Society and The Public School New York

Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov (1899-1977) is perhaps most famous for Lolita and Pale Fire, novels of startling linguistic and literary playfulness. But as his wife, Vera, wrote in a foreword to a collection of his poetry in 1979, the true watermark of Nabokov’s work is the concept of “potustoronnost” or otherwordliness. Though much of Nabokov’s work may seem straightforward and realist, lurking underneath his fiction is an entire pantheon of ghosts, shades, demons and devils that comprise the true world of Nabokov’s writings.


Please read the following short stories by Nabokov: “Signs and Symbols” and “The Vane Sisters.” They can be found here.


In his famous letter to Katharine A. White, the chief editor of The New Yorker, while explaining the intricate riddle‐like structure of “The Vane Sisters,” which had been rejected by the magazine, Nabokov mentioned that some of his stories are composed according to the same system “wherein a second (main) story is woven into, or placed behind, the superficial semitransparent one.” This second story was frequently mystical or supernatural making his stories a collaboration between this world and the next.

Try and write your own text (story, poem, dialogue) where the real and supernatural worlds collaborate.


Stephen Aubrey descends from hardy New England stock. He is a Brooklyn-based writer, editor, dramaturg, lecturer, storyteller and recovering medievalist. His writing has appeared in Publishing Genius, Commonweal, The Brooklyn Review, Pomp & Circumstance, Forté and The Outlet. He inexplicably holds the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Hollow Earth Society and is an instructor of English at Brooklyn College.

He is also a co-founder and the resident dramaturg and playwright of The Assembly Theater Company. His plays have been produced at The Ontological-Hysteric Theater, The Flea Theater, The Collapsable Hole, The Brick Theater, Symphony Space, the Abingdon Theater Complex, UNDER St Marks, The Philly Fringe and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival where his original play, We Can’t Reach You, Hartford, was nominated for a 2006 Fringe First Award.

He has an MFA from Brooklyn College where he received the Himan Brown Prize and the Ross Feld Writing Award and a BA with Honors from the College of Letters at Wesleyan University.

He is—for the record—not a Christian singer-songwriter. He does, however, hold the dubious distinction of having coined the word “playlistism” in 2003.