In this blog post I shall be discussing the Dark Side, and attempting to argue that that which is commonly called “black magic” may in fact be turned to a wholesome end.
“Goetia” as a general term refers to magic which deals with “evil” spirits. More specifically it also refers to a portion of the mediæval grimoire The Lesser Key of Solomon, which was made famous in modern times by being a favourite of Aleister Crowley (1875 – 1947). The term “goetia” derives from a Greek word for “howling spirits,” and is thus a direct translation of the Arabic Djinni (Geni), who were the howling desert spirits of middle-eastern folk-lore.
I have heard some people try to claim that the spirits of the Goetia are somehow not evil. However I disapprove of this notion: because denying they are evil is one step away from denying they are powerful. The fact of the matter is that they are dangerous. Somewhat like electricity is dangerous. But if properly handled, Goetic spirits – also like electricity – can be made to do remarkable things.
Also, going from past experience, I would say that all of the well-known horror stories – of bizarre creatures appearing, of succubi, of demons trying various schemes whereby to trick the magician, etc – are in fact all true. There is a saying in the occult: “it does not matter whether the gods exist or not, because the Universe behaves as if they do.” Unfortunately, the same can be said for Goetic spirits as well.
The only qualification I would make to the statement that they are all true, is that these phenomena do not appear physically, but to the psychic consciousness of the magician – before the “mind’s eye” as it were. Nevertheless, these visions do produce actual effects in the real world.
I have also discovered that, during my researches into Lucid Dreaming I noticed that such magical operations also affect one’s dream-life as well. To illustrate this I will give an example of a Goetic operation which I did badly: I offer it to my readers so that they can learn from my mistakes. The night after performing a goetic operation I retired to bed and had a vivid but non-lucid dream of a highly erotic or pornographic nature. This I went along with, stupidly not thinking anything of it. Many days later it transpired that the intended result of the operation had not come to pass, thereby indicating that it had ended in failure. It was only later that the penny-dropped: the dream I had experienced was in fact the spirit I had evoked, appearing as a Succubus! Clearly, what I should have done was: (a) recognise it for what it was; (b) become lucid; (c) astrally use the techniques of ceremonial magick to compel it to do my bidding, e.g. force it into a Triangle of Art, command it by the various Divine Names, etc. Since then, with the benefit of experience I have performed operations which were more fruitful.
The fundamental point to understand is that the person who follows the path of pure Theurgy is seeking after something that is good, is trying to make contact with beings (e.g angels) who are more than willing to assist the individual, and who are inherently beneficial to him or her. Goetia however is a completely different technique: the Goetic magician has to do the magical equivalent of wearing protective clothing and using force to conjure a spirit, because of its troublesome nature. I write all this not to encourage the reader to practice Goetic magic, but to give you fair warning. None of this should be taken as implying that one should treat the subject with superstitious terror, but rather with a sense of due caution.
Now some people may balk at the idea of actually wanting to deal with a supposedly-evil spirit (whilst others might embrace the idea a little too readily), but I say this: qualitatively, what is the real difference between this and, say, working on re-integrating the Shadow Persona, as C G Jung would describe it? Or, to adopt a Freudian idiom, the abreaction of psychoneuroses contained within the unconscious? Mental problems, emotional problems, behavioural problems – mankind has suffered from them since antiquity, the only difference being that in ancient times they were demonised and given names like “Paimon,” “Buer,” etc, but nowadays they are called “Repression,” “Neurosis” and all the rest.
Therefore, if I am correct in my suspicion that Goetic-magick is really ancient man’s attempt to confront the demons of his unconscious (by taking the metaphorical for the literal), how much more would it be improved if it were re-interpreted in the light of what is known about psychology?
With this in mind, I have been working on a particular method of Goetic-Magick-As-Therapy, by incorporating some of the principles of neurolinguistic programming therein. Specifically the NLP technique of “6 Step Re-framing.” The rationale for this is that supposed problems are assumed to be caused by parts of the psyche which are in fact well-meaning, but which apply their powers in methods which are incongruent and thereby cause disharmony. Hence, by confronting these parts of the psyche, the technique aims to persuade them to fulfil their objectives by abandoning their old, unhelpful, and incongruent methodologies with harmonious new congruent ones.
I immediately saw the parallel with Goetic Magick. The parts of the psyche which “6 Step Re-framing” attempts to address are analogous to the spirits of the Goetia, whilst the actual process of confrontation, negotiation and re-framing is akin to the kind of interaction with a spirit which takes place in an evocation ceremony. I have thus sketched out a structure which attempts to show how one would indeed incorporate 6-Step Re-framing into an actual Goetic operation, below. In the method I refer to the actual Goetia of the Lesser Key of Solomon itself.
1. Determine the cause of the problem – probe in depth to see the underlying characteristics. Compare to astrological chart if necessary.
The Goetia of the Lesser Key of Solomon is a grimoire which is closely based on astrology. Hence by relating the perceived problem to an astrological basis, one will be able to translate it more easily into the Goetia’s idiom, and that of ceremonial magick generally.
2. Identify which Goetic spirit most “personifies” the cause of the problem identified in step 1 above.
This can be done in two ways. By following the astrological method, one will notice that the spirits of the Goetia are associated with certain parts of the Zodiac, and with certain planets. Hence, by noting the position of the planets in one’s own astrological chart and comparing with the Goetia, one may work out which of the 72 spirits are likely to be most relevant to oneself.
3. Prepare for and proceed with evocation in the normal manner. In my personal work I try to be as authentic as possible, with regard to temple furnishings, preparations, etc. Once everything is in place and I am ensconced within my magic circle, the order of the ritual would go like this:
a. Banishings – i.e. with Lesser Banishing Rituals of the Pentagram and Hexagram.
b. The Preliminary Invocation (otherwise known as the “Bornless Ritual.”)
c. Specific pentagram and / or hexagram rituals as appropriate. These will be determined by the astrological sign with which the Spirit is associated, and also the Spirit’s planet.
d. Evocation – the “First Conjuration of the Goetia.”
I usually only use the First Conjuration, as the subsequent ones sound less and less like forcefully commanding the Spirit, and increasingly like plain old whining.
e. The “Welcome to the Spirit” (from the Goetia) on its manifestation.
Note that, as I have explained elsewhere, this refers to manifestation to the psychic consciousness or within the skrying medium (e.g. dark mirror), not literally appearing out of thin air.
f. Negotium – this is the actual Reframing. I describe it in detail below.
g. “Licence to Depart,” followed by final Banishings to close the ceremony.
4. The Negotium follows this specific structure:
a. Identify Spirit; identify problem to be changed; express appreciation for what the Spirit has done so far (i.e. for the intention, not how it has done it); reassure Spirit that you are not going to get rid of it.
b. Go inside and ask “Will N. communicate with me in consciousness now?” Be alert for internal sights, sounds, feelings. If signal occurs, try to repeat consciously; ask again until signal occurs which cannot be controlled consciously.
Ask Spirit to increase the signal to indicate “Yes,” and to decrease it for “No.” When it does –
c. Thank Spirit for co-operating. Ask: “Will N let me know what it is trying to do?”
On “Yes” signal and revelation, thank for information and for doing this. If there is a “No” signal, explore circumstances in which Spirit would be willing to reveal its intentions. (Otherwise assume positive intentions).
Ask: “If you were given ways to accomplish this intention at least as well if not better than what you are doing now, would you be willing to try them out?”
If “Yes” – proceed to next step. If “No,” the Evocation is flawed. Go back to step 4(b) or start the whole thing again.
d. Ask the Spirit to communicate its positive intention to your own Higher Genius.
Ask your Higher Genius to generate ways that will accomplish the same purpose.
Ask Spirit to choose only those it considers good or better than original behaviour, which are immediate and available. Ask it to give “Yes” signal when it makes choice. Do this three times. Then thank your Higher Genius when finished.
e. Ask Spirit if it will agree to do new choices rather than old behaviour in next (e.g.) two weeks? (NB: this is an arbitrary figure – choose a time-frame to suit if more appropriate).
On “Yes,” proceed to next step.
On “No,” tell Spirit it can still use old behaviour but you would like it to use the new choices first. If it now gives “Yes,” proceed to next step.
If however it still gives a “No,” reframe the objecting part and take it through the 6 steps again.
f. Ecology. Ask: “Do any other spirits object to these new choices?”
Be alert to signals.
If there are no signals, thank Spirit and proceed to Licence to Depart.
If there is a signal, ask the new Spirit to intensify it if it really objects.
If not, proceed as before to Licence to Depart.
Otherwise, either go back to step 4(b) with regard to new Spirit, or ask your Higher Genius to come up with new choices in consulting with the new objecting part. (Submit these to Ecology Check as well).