Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Hopefully the Last Goetia related post I feel compelled to make for quite some time

You see a lot of blog posts by Wiccans on Witchvox about Christians Demonizing them and their gods. You see the occasional post from me and a few others about Wiccans and Pagans Unfairly Demonizing Christians. Recently there has been a lot of chatter about demonizing Haitian Vodou and the Loa by Protestants. These kinds of things happen all the time.

You know its a weird month however when a magician goes on a crusade to stop the demonization of, well, demons.

This however is the subject of the last 10 Posts over at Head for Red. I started to reply to lots of them, but because of time constraints and the need to keep focus, I thought I would post yet another Goetic post here. HBesides this all started with a post I made. All I wanted to do though, was defend my conjuration of Bune by pointing out that 1. I rely upon the realization and power of the magician more than ceremonial parameters and 2. though deceptively short, my conjuration contains very targeted constraints. This has turned into a discussion on the nature of the beings and now has spiraled into a full on crusade on the good Frater's part to defend the reputation of these spirits.

Leaving aside the fact that the magnitude and veracity of his demonic defending would itself be reason in the eyes of many magicians to think that the Goets had too much a hold on him ;) I must admit that he makes some excellent points. Among them:

1. People are quick to attribute their Goetic Successes with their own abilities but their failures on the evil nature of the spirits.
2. His own problems with Goetia stem not from the nature of the spirit, but from the manner in which he worded things and possibly the frantic mood he was in at the time.
3. You can get unwanted results from Angels as well as Demons.
4. Many Goetic spirits have their historical origins in Pagan deities, as do many Angels.

All excellent points. I would not dispute them directly, only point out that it should be kept in mind that:

As to point 1: Sometimes it is nothing more than the summoning that goes bad, not a result. When I conjured Asmodeus I did'nt even get to my requests because after reading the spirit psychically and making sure it was Asmodeus, I felt I had summoned a presence that was not just wrathful, but truly evil - a concept that I did'nt even believe in at the time. Now, I have used Goetia before that and after that, and never felt the same presence of evil, but when thinking of them as a group - it does force me to keep that in mind.

As to Point 2: It is true that giving any spirit too much latitude can cause problems, but man, there were a million and one ways for that to manifest. The way it did was pretty drastic. You can give the spirit too much of an opening, but it still takes that spirits nature to drive through that opening with sherman tank covered in napalm.

On Point 3: Yeah, maybe if you focus on the wrong thing. For instance if you focus too much on making money through your night job and only work with the Angels in that capacity, they may make more time for you by removing your day job. However, with Angels I have always seen an underlying wisdom in the end. They tend to work more in line with our intent than our wording, the Goetia's spirits seem to do the reverse.There is an ennobling factor to Angels that there that I just do not find with the Goetias Spirits. Its not even a matter of very Material spirits either. I have encountered this ennobling nature in Loa and in Saints. Lucifer himself has it, though not the being that I contacted under that name using the seals from the Verum. Of course this is just one Mages experience vs another.

Apart from the above, the possibility of Spirits acting in ways we dont anticipate is one of the reasons that I advocate any spirit magic at all to be done in support of other types of direct magic which in turn is in support of well defined goals. It is not their job to know exactly how you want your life to run.

As to Point 4. Here is a real can of worms. There are a number of points to make:

First of all, most of the Goetias Spirits do have older origins than the Lesser Key, but many of them have ALWAYS been considered evil. Asmodeus literally is Avestan for Wrathful Demon. Belial has always been translated as "without worth" and indicated an evil spirit.

In other cases like Bael, it is a Christian demonization of a Pagan Deity, Baal. Same with the Verums treatment of Astaroth who is a demonic development of Astarte. The problem is that if you are summoning them via the Lesser Key's Goetia, you are NOT approaching them as if they were a God or Goddess - you are approaching them as if they were a demon.

It is like someone in the Mafia. I have known a few people related to organized Crime. Some are very nice, some are bad all the time, just like Goetia's description of its spirits. If you approach them from the angle of someone who wants to hire them or do business, than they treat you one way. If however you are a cop and you are forcing them into service they treat you another way. Read the Goetia itself. Read the conjurations. The system is BASED on the legend of Solomon BINDING DEMONS into service. Some of them are easier to deal with than others, but they are still Bound Demons when you approach them from that angle. Whatever they were originally, the spirits that answer to those calls and those sigils are patterned by that approach and basically act as Demons.

Now, there has also been a few terms that have been thrown mixed in to the conversation. Goety and Qlippoth come to mind. Goety or Goeteia is basically just a term for Sorcery in Greece. It is distinct from Theurgia in aim. Pretty much any practical magic is Goeteia and so it bears little upon the specific Grimoire known as The Goetia.

I dont know why Frater RO Brought up the Qlippoth in one of his posts. They have little bearing on the spirits of the Goetia. There are different interpretations of what they are but none of them involve anything good other than the way that confronting the most unbalanced and fractured portions of yourself and your owld can be good. It IS good work, but hard. Whether the Qlippoth represent genuine Evil, the shells of a broken and unbalanced Geburah, or the "nightside" of the sephira and paths, they are distinct from the rest of the system for a reason.

Anyway, I know that I am not going to change Frater R.O.'s mind with this. He has his view, and has the experience to back it up. I respect him even when I disagree with him because he does the work and doesnt whine about the consequences. I hope he reads most of this e-mail knowing that I am smirking while writing, but also that the issue is serious enough that I wanted to provide a counter balance to his recent posts. Frankly it doesn't matter whether an individual sees Bune is a Money Machine a being primarily concerned with ferrying the dammed in Turkish mythology (remember that first bit in his description?). But the discussion is a good one.


Layo said...

This could be Bune's theme song - Turkish Song of the Damned!

At any rate, Bune doesn't like it when people defame his name, so RO may be fulfilling a deal by defending it.

Frater A:.D:. said...

I have had a chance to get up to speed on this Goetic discussion that has been going on and it has been fascinating.

It didn't seem as if RO's rant on the Qlippoth was related to the Goetic discussion. Although I am actually surprised that the "Shells" had not come up in the debate earlier. In the experiences that I have had working with the demonic spirits I have never felt so overwhelmed as the time I did an invocation of Asmodeus in his aspect as ruler of Golochab. It's the only time that an invocation has felt more like a possession to me.

Perhaps the context in which the demon is summoned is also a factor in not only the intensity but the resulting fallout o an operation. I will have to agree with you on not understanding the urge to defend the demons as not being demonic in nature. Granted most modern magicians do not hold conventional views on good and evil which is completely understandable, however one turns to the demonic spirits for a reason. If there were little distinction between them and the Angelic beings one would not chose to work with demons if the same results could be achieved with cooler safer spirits.

One turns to the demons because they act fast due to their fiery or infernal nature. They are bold, and seem to only be bound the parameters set by the karcist and the forces he invokes during his operation. One can chose not to view these beings as "evil" but they are certainly other in nature and should be respected and approached as such IMO.

Rufus Opus said...

I'll try n ot to post another Goetia post for a while, but man, this is tempting.

The Qlippoth thing was a response to a comment by Jack Faust. Just a joke.

"Demons" and "Angels" is a big issue for me. They're labels applied to spirits, and the idea is that because the labels are differen,t one set is "safe and cool" and the other is "dangerous and hot."

This is false.

Extensive work with the Lesser Key spirits over the last couple of years has left me with an understanding of them that equals that of my experience with so-called angels. Despite all the hype, there's no such thing as "angels" and "demons." There's only "spirits."

The grimoires are notoriously unreliable when it comes to being an authoritative source on the nature of the spirits presented. Uriel and Cassiel can be angels or demons depending on which grimoire you consult. Ashtoroth comes across as an Angel in the Testament of Solomon and a Demon in the Lesser Key. They were written a millenium and a half apart, so it stands to reason that different maicians had different experiences, and some posted their results as negative and others as positive.

The thing is, of the many people that read grimoires, few actually do the rites. I doubt that's changed much in the last couple of thousand years.

Of the few that do the rites, there's a wide range of results, and then there's a few hundred more interpretations. More people interpret my results than actually do the rites I do, for example.

In the days that the source material for the grimoires were written, "Daimon" meant spirit, messenger, and so did "Angel." Putting a neat line that says, "Angels are safe and cool while demons are unsafe and hot" is not accurate at all.

Rufus Opus said...

Layo, no deal is being fulfilled by defending the spirits. I just can't stand people shitting on an entire system because they don't understand it.

AD, I like the hot and cold metaphors, but the spirits of the Lemegeton's Goetia are as likely to be cool as hot. You can't lump them all under one label. Asmoday can be hot in some things, cool in others. They're primarily teaching spirits, not materialists. Their main realm of influence is the Mental realm, Jason's Level 2 of the 3-level cosmology of existence he used in Sorcerer's Secrets.

People may be motivated to use the spirits based on their classification, as you said, but that doesn't mean they're using them right. Sammael of Mars is a "hot" spirit, as is Cassiel, in that their effects are fast to manifest, yet Bael and Asmoday have "cooler" methods of manifestation than these Archangels.

I just don't want to see people missing the potential of the spirits because the way the spirits really operate falls outside a person's predetermined expectations.

Jason Miller, said...

The Grimoires are unreliable as to the nature of the spirits but should be trusted in other ways?

I am not saying don't work them, I am just saying have a realistic expectation of what you are working with. I know the master of one occult lodge who was so caught up in the idea of Goetia being parts of the brain that he recomended Goetic Evocation to a mentally ill person! No one here is suggesting that they arent real spirits (unless Lon is lurking about) but I do think that when approached through a grimoire that treats them as demons, you essentially get a Demon.

If the Grimoires are unreliable, than work with something older or newer.

In a way, and this is ironic, I think you are being dismissive of the Christian Magicians that put together the Grimoires. Why does their opinion of what makes a Demon vs an Angel count less than the opinion of a Greek a Thousand years earlier?

Also the origins of the terms Angel (messenger) and Daimon (spirit) had differnt meaning originally, but were well established in Christian Theology by the time the Grimoires were written.

Rufus Opus said...

Yes, the grims are unreliable in many ways. They take lists of spirits and put them into their own approach to conjuring them. They can be trusted to be no more than what they are: basic primers in the art of conjuring spirits. They provide useful tech, but their theology, doxology, and cosmology is mostly crap.

I disagree that you get a demon because you use the technique from a grim that paints the spirits as demons. You get a spirit. Your subjective experience of the spirit will be colored by your expectation that it's a demon.

As for the Christian Mystics... Dude... It's occult. Assuming the grims were even written by Christian Mystics, and not some opportunistic occult publisher trying to make a fast florin, you've got to figure they had to hide the truth in plain sight. Look at Weier's introduction to the Pseudomonarchia Daemonorum, it's an anti-Catholic rant. Hell, look at the title, "The False-Monarchy of Demons." Do you think an occult scholar versed in middle platonic philosophy of Plutarch's Parallel Lives, Iamblichus' On the Mysteries, and the Hermetic texts of Constantinople that were flooding Europe at the time would have really believed the hierarchy of terrestrial spirits had anything to do with a Christian war in heaven?

The grims were written mostly in the 15th and 16th centuries. The Ottoman Turks had sacked Constantinople, and the people who fled to Europe to escape the Turks brought with them an influx of occult texts. The Europeans ate it up. Cosmo Medici sponsored the translation of some of the work, and based on this and the ideals of the emerging Enlightenment, the West was hit with a ton of good stuff about Hermetic magic. But it was alchemical or astrological, mostly, and there were a few things here and there that were like receipt books, what we call Greek Magical Papyri today. But they were incomplete. There were no instructions for working magic.

A few people realized there was a passion for occult stuff that made sense and threw together the grimoires to make cash. The grims are not carefully researched reports on historic practices of magic. They're thrown together lists of spirits from the plethora of lists of spirits pouring into Europe, sprinkled with simplified Christian Cabala, and reflective of the local Church Authority's spin on the doctrine of the day. In Protestant areas, the grims reflect Calvinist ideas, in Catholic areas, they're structured along priestly lines. In more secular places, they could get away with writing the grimoires like St. Cyprian, Black Pullet, Liber Juratus, or the Red Dragon.

The source material they were pillaging did, however, mention spirits using terms like Angeloi and Daimon, and as you said, the meaning of these words was already established. They took their contemporary understanding of the words Angel and Demon, and applied it to the lists of spirits. So a Goetic magician's notes that list his "Daimons" of the Terrestrial realm becomes a list of infernal demons in a 15th century grimoire.

Seriously, I've spent a lot of time researching the history, the culture, the societal mood of the times the grimoires were written. I've gone in depth into the Hermetic, Neoplatonic, Platonist, and Persian sources of the grimoires. I've tracked their emergence from the 1st century through the 15th and 16th centuries, and they are not lists of angels of demons.

You've been duped, man. And now every time something goes wrong with the spirits of the Goetia, you'll think, well, you get demonic results from demonic conjurations after all, heheheh, but that canned answer doesn't fix anything, doesn't lead to learning how to do the magic right.

And the implication that I'm defending demons because I'm enthralled by them instead of because I've done the research and the magic to have an informed understanding of what they are and how they work is more than a little offensive.

Jason Miller, said...

First thing is first, the implication that you were defending demons because you are enthralled by them was a joke which should have been clear from the smiley face that appeared right after that. No offence was meant.

It should also have been clear on the point that I ended my post with: I know that I am not going to change Frater R.O.'s mind with this. He has his view, and has the experience to back it up. I respect him even when I disagree with him because he does the work and doesnt whine about the consequences.

That said, you seem to imply that anyone that has come to different conclusions about the nature of the spirits is not doing the work. It is true that I have not made the Grimoires a focus of my magic in he way that you have, but I have had plenty of experiences with them. I have also had experiences with other systems. Almost all other systems have groups of spirits that are considered a bit dangerous but potentially fruitful to work with. Tibetan Dharamapalas work this way. Vodoun Petro spirits work this way. It is my experience that Goetia works this way - which, is why I like them.

Rufus Opus said...

The joke in your post was noted, but the comment by AD made me wonder if more than one person was thinking that way. Just wanted to nail that coffin shut.

Maybe I do need to adjust my thinking. I guess I assume because I've done some work and reached some conclusions that fit my experiences, everyone who does any Work will reach the same conclusions.

Jason Miller, said...

Lets take a look at someone who disagrees with both of us as to the nature of the Goetia; Lon DuQuette.

I completely disagree with his conclusions but I am absolutely 100% positive that he has done the work and has good reasons for thinking the way he does.

Results and interpretation of teh results are two different things.

Frater A:.D:. said...

I certainly understood that his statement was made in jest. I certainly don't want to try and enter this discussion and try and pass myself as any expert of sorts. I have certainly worked with the spirits including an spirit pot operation inspired by FO's work with Bune. But I will say that it could be more my personal aesthetic that insist on considering the spirits as demons. But is has worked for me thus far and has not hampered my workings. Of course if something does blow up in my face Iam more inclined to blame myself than the spirit because that's just my nature.

I think Jason made a good point about assuming that if someone comes up with a different conclusion or has a varying experience that they are somehow either not doing the work or approaching it incorrectly. One of the most interesting things about the Goetic tradition is wide variety of experiences and methods that have been developed. It's what keeps the tradition a living one and not just a curious antiquity. A demonolater may have a different experience than a Grimoire Verum purist, and that's find as long as they are doing the work and getting the results they seek. That's how I view it.

All in all I have learned a lot from following this conversation through the different blogs, and have some things to ponder in regards to my own practice. So much thanks to Jason, and RO for your insights.

leo9 said...

A aside,but:
Jason, could you share more about Bune as Ferry-guy of sould in Turkish mythology?
Turkic, pre-Islamic stuff, or Turkey really greater-Greece stuff ;-)

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