This can also be a catch-22, because we do have plant codes that date back to the PGM. PGM XII:401 - 44 clearly demonstrates some, as does Dioscorides. (Harold Roth has an excellent page on herbal codes, here.) Nonetheless, some other instances are probably more literal. The sacrifice of a white mouse to Lucifer in the Verum is probably more literal. (I know
individuals - err, at least one, who has actually had their home invaded by white mice after beginning to work with the Verum.)
Well, you can always try both, not that doing so is always a great idea. The biggest problem I can see plant code wise is that some of the knowledge of the coding may just not have survived into the present. But that’s just a risk you take with old grimoires.
Also I now picture Lucifer as a python thanks to the white mouse sacrifice.
"These spirits do not always appear in the same form. This is because they meld themselves out of the secret matter, from all matter and for this reason, they need something to lend them a body in order to appear to us, and can take the shape and form that appeal to them.
Beware lest they frighten you.
Lucifer appears in the form of a handsome boy; when angry he appears reddish. Nonetheless, there is nothing monstrous about him.”
- Grimorium Verum (Joseph H. Peterson translation, p. 11)
When dancing around plant codes, I feel like we need to deal with both literal and metaphorical sacrifices. The plants and the blood play different roles. Blood invigorates certain types of spirits, it literally lends them the ‘substance’ that the Verum calls for, and this idea goes back at least to Homer (such as when Odysseus has to protect his blood offering from the swarms of dead souls with his iron blade - just ONE example, though). Additionally, plenty can also take invigoration from other substances we utilize during ritual, such as incenses of frankincense offered to ‘fiery’ spirits (like those of the Verum). In all cases, we can divine/ask the spirits what they want and should take that into consideration.
The risk of working with dusty old books and dusty old beings is that they might actually want you to approximate what they’re used to.
Some excellent points made!
I do think one issue with plant codes is that there is a danger of folks misunderstanding their use in order to make their work easier. “Oh, I’m not comfortable with killing cats….this is probably a plant code”. Haha.
I agree 100% that the spirit should be consulted directly to discover what it wishes. Very, very seldom in my experience do they prefer “alternatives”, as blood and death have a virtue that is particular and powerful. You can’t just throw another oil in your tank, and expect it to work like gasoline.
Of course, if you know someone with a black cat you can also get a vial of blood drawn every now and then (especially if they’re the sort of kind soul that takes their cat in to donate for animals undergoing surgery). Working with blood one can occasionally skirt the requirement of death.