It is necessary to have a knife made or bought on the day and hour of Jupiter with the Moon crescent.
Quench it in mole's blood and juice of pimpernel.
The True Grimoire, ed. Jake Stratton-Kent (Scarlet Imprint, 2009), 95.
One of the first questions most budding grimoirists face when beginning work with the Grimorium Verum - my unabashedly "favourite grimoire" - is where to source the mole's blood the book demands for quenching a newlyforged ritual knife. And while the GV also allows for one to skip this ingredient - affording the option of buying a premade knife - it should I feel strongly behoove us to examine the virtues of such a magical materia. There are folk necromantic dimensions to the use of animal blood of course, and particular animals were considered to hold certain occult virtues and potencies. The mole is a deeply chthonic beastie, with much lore and material history, to which this here article attests. This forms an excellent introduction to thinking about animal lore in folk necromantic terms.
The directive to quench the blade in mole’s blood and juice of pimpernel is an instruction for those forging their own working tool. Quenching the blade is here a technical term, something that needs to be done anyway if one is getting smithy with it. It should be remembered that metallurgy and skilled craftsmanship, especially in terms of the self-reliance of a practitioner, can be considered some of the vital skills that the Grimorium Verum has to teach those that engage with its practices. (It seems, by the way, Jake's current considered opinion that if you aren't forging the knife, you don't gots to quench the knife.)
But greater access to material Stuff in twenty-first century wherever-you-are presents different lessons and challenges to the goetic practitioner. There are other examples of procuring rather than making equipment in Verum, a grimoire that frequently presents several alternative modes of practice. Buying a knife should not be seen as a dodge or a cheat. That said, making the knife ready for proper use, even after fumigating and asperging and consecrating and conjuring it, even doing all this by planetary hours, can well be aided by some ritual components which can be drawn from the text. So, the question then becomes: what’s the mole’s blood doing? Understanding this allows us to add, substitute or replace key features that will operate to similar effects.
Matthew Morgan’s 1718 translation of Plutarch’s Morals contains one of the earliest references to the magical use of this substance. Over dinner and drinks at Delphos Plutarch reports hearing it said that ‘those Officers that are appointed to watch the coming of the Hail, avert the Storm by offering a Mole’s Blood’. Combining this with the fact that the simple knife is brought into play on the day and in the hour of Jupiter begins to suggest connotations with Zeus and other sky and storm deities. Furthermore, noting that the knife is to be engraved or otherwise decorated with the seal of Bechaud, a spirit ruling wind, hail, rain and tempests, the importance of a distinctly airy magic of weather to the knife becomes apparent.
Wayland D. Hand claims that mole’s blood has also been sprinkled on the mad to restore their sanity since the days and ways of Pliny. Without branching off on too much of a tangent on the separation of psychiatry and state or an invocation of the various (occasionally problematic) works of RD Laing, I cannot help but compare this lore to Israel Regardie’s recommendation that any serious magician should seek out some form of psychological evaluation as part of their training. I take Crowley’s suggestion that “magick is for all” with the same pinch of salt I take Leary’s ubiquitous prescription of LSD: while both are powerful tools and methods for revealing the soul, both are also clearly not necessarily the healthiest practices for some of us. This is certainly not to suggest I am restricting magick to those few of us who have never had a bad day, found ourselves in a vulnerable or broken condition, or suffered from “mental illness” (itself a problematic term), but merely to pull out a useful and pertinent piece of wisdom from the Verum: make sure you’re in some kind of a healthy place when you work. Thought of in another way, the use of mole’s blood would, by sheer contact, grant the operator some benefit of mental well-being. And we can all use a pick-me-up every now and again.
There are also many versions of the notion that mole’s blood can be applied to remove warts and so on. It is tempting to ascribe this practice to the English language homonymic similitude of mole and mole, and this seems likely to have made some contribution to its continuance.
From these last two utilities – healing the mad and removing blemishes – we have the sense that the blood of a mole is a potent force for purification. This is to be expected given its place in purification rites of the grimoire. But drinking the blood also has precedent as a panacea for a variety of maladies, of which epilepsy (occasionally called "the divine disease" ) is frequently mentioned. Perhaps the quenching can be seen as much as for the knife as for the wielder of it. That is to say, ensuring one’s equipment is healthy when one begins (clean, safe, sharp, fit for purpose and so on) is a vital part of any tool-using practice.
Overall then, what qualities are suggested as desirable and to be gained from using mole’s blood? The Jupiterian attributes of the knife itself suggest a certain magisterial mindset, while the storm-calming effects of the blood also underline the nature of the tempestuous natural forces with which the operator engages. These forces are to be respected as present in both the attitude and balance of the operator and in the actions of the spirits themselves.