Friday, March 5, 2010

My Goetic Approach

Anyone that writes a book with a wide release is going to recieve some criticism. Generally I let most of it go unanswered because either 1. The Criticism is valid and stands for itself (Dunn's and Ed 1300's review of TSS would fall into this category) or 2 The criticism is just stupid (Rantboi, Informer, and the guy whose name I forget that complained about there being nothing about shields in P&RM when there is a whole section on it). Occasionally though there is a smart piece of well reasoned criticism that you want to answer or further clarify.

A few people have noted that my invocation of the Goetic Spirit BUNE is a little lite compared to what one would find in the Goetia proper. Given what RO has just gone through concerning his home and the idea that it was linked to his use of Bune, this critique has even more weight to it. A good synopsis of this criticism was given by Kenaz Filan:

I think that Miller's approach to working with Goetic demons is too casual and potentially dangerous: the safeguards built into the Solomonic system are there for a reason, and using those spirits outside that system can lead to all sorts of problems. This is a personal opinion, of course, and we could both find other writers and practitioners who supported our view. So like gentlemen we will agree to disagree.

This opinion is not just Kenaz's alone, but has been given to me in private by a number of people I respect and admire including one of my own mentors. I do not so much feel a need to defend myself as I do a wish to offer further clarification and point out a few things that I think people gloss over when reading that section of the book.

The first thing that I want to point out is that I should have made more of a solid point as to when to resort to Geotia: short-term specific goals. I tried to make that point in the beginning of that section, and again at the end in the section on Strategies. Upon re-reading it, I can see how it was not strong enough.

I am not an advocate of long term work with spirits of the Goetia. In fact as my thoughts on Strategic Sorcery started to take shape and I had to really analyze how magic worked, I have to say that I am extremely warry of turning to much work over to spirits at all, Demonic, Natural, Angelic whatever. Its not their job to know how you want your life to work, its yours. I use the Archangels to bestow blessings and initiations over specific projects and to open up new opportunities, but I make sure that I am the one guiding those projects and that I always maintain the right not to take those opportunities when they arise. They dont live here, we do. Asking spirits for something general and then letting them figure out the details tends to work out poorly.

The second point that I wish to make is that I did preface the work with Bune with the following :

That said, you do need to be able to summon and constrain the demon. Ideally you would have the Knowledge and Conversation of your Agathodaimon when summoning a demon, however if you are adept at universal center excercise, are regular in your invocations, and competent as banishing, you should have no trouble.

Quite frankly anyone that is adept at the Universal Centering Excercise (The SS way of taking on a God Form) is regular in their invocations (has a close relationship with the Divine) and is competant at Banishings (can clear up stuff when the fit hits the shan) than you should be able to summon Bune or any other being without fear. If you really keep up with what i suggest you are a lean mean conjuring machine. Note that many magical texts refer to the operator as an "exorcist". This is because the ability to exorcise is a given. Often people interested in magic would enter Seminary and Leave after taking the final of the Minor orders (Exorcist) but before they took the first Major Order (Deaon or Subdeacon). Does an Exorcist need a circle and triangle on the ground and a ring and a brass vessel? No. They need their personal link with the Divine. In short, as an old friend from Philly once said "Its not the wand baby, its the wizard".

Now I have done Goetia in a number of styles. I have perhaps never done it completely by the book with every detail, but I have done it in as elaborate a fashion as you are likely to see today: proper circle on the floor done to the specs of the book, representatives of all the seals and tools, evocation by the book. As close as we could get without costing a fortune. It worked really well. I have also done it according to the specs in Modern Magic. It also worked really well. Just as well in fact. I have also used Paul Huson's evocation of Vassago from mastering Witchcraft and it worked just as well. No problems.

The ritual that I give in TSS is not even an Evocation. It is not meant to bring Bune into appearance so that you can hang out together and shoot the shit and get into a big dialog. It is a spell. A request for help in exchange for spreading his name. However, I have used the same format that I gave as an evocation and it works perfectly well.

I begin with a short three line circle opening. It has been my experience that the more complex openings are not necessary for people who are really doing regular work as I prescribe. The Goetic circle is just as much about putting you into a "Goetic State of Mind" and opening up your psychic senses as it is about protection. TSS suggests that other methods are better for reacing that state and thus the three line circle opening should do the trick.

The short evocation begins with the lines from the Psalm that is assisted with constraining Bune, followed by the name of the Shemhamphorash Angel that binds him, and the Greek and Egyptian Names of his Deacon of the Zodiac that he is ruled by. If you are successful enough with this evocation to conjure Bune, you will also be successful enough to conjure all the constraining forces. Lastly you make a deal with Bune so you are not just shoving him around demanding things lest god kick his lilly ass.

I think that some people are just thrown by the fact that it is so short. People are used to entire books on Goetia, not snippets as parts of chapters. It hasn't been done that way since Huson's Book. I maintain however that often there is too much written about a topic and that the best thing to do is get down to business. Even if you get your fingers burned you will probably come out stronger and wiser in the end.

So, in short. I offer the following.

1. I should have been more clear about when to summon a Goet or how to only use spirits for specific goals. I think that every writer looks back at books and findds things that they wish they could change.

2. My statement about the requisites for doing the spell should not be taken as lightly as they have been.

3. My spell is not an evocation, its a petition rite.

4. Even as an evocation it contains enough constraining forces. More is not always more. I would rather trust someone with a real connection tothe divine, using a simple circle and a few names, than an newy or Chaos magician that has chosen to "believe in god for the term of the operation" and has the whole elaborate set up. Thats just me though. As Kenaz wisely puts in his statement, we will have to agree to disagree.


Qabalier said...

"I have to say that I am extremely wary of turning too much work over to spirits at all, Demonic, Natural, Angelic whatever."

How would that apply to artificial spirits? (I've just bought 'Protection and Reversal Magick')

Wouldn't even having well-meaning spirits -eg those attracted by offerings- acting on their own be dangerous too?

Rufus Opus said...

Oh, man, large can o' worms there.

Qabalier said...

Hey, I couldn't help thinking about your post here 8)

Dohmnaill said...

Can of worms indeed.

Given the various models of understanding non-physical entities, and the varied methods of interaction with those beings - I think that everyone is going to end up interacting in a wide range of affect/effect. That personal experience is going to inform the general opinion.

I saw the Bune rite as a simple petition. Nothing more than the magickal equivalent of a quick phone call (or a facebook cause invite) - and certainly nothing dangerous.

Granted, I have almost always had civil (or indifferent at least) interactions with spirits. Simplistic and casual rites seem to work best for me. I tend to have less haunty issues when doing some form of regular Petitions.

I can understand the trepidation some would have, but if you have an issue with any Goetic energies - don't use them. I was just having a conversation about the reaction some people would have to coming home to discover a crocodile in their house. Some would freak, some would handle it calmly, Herpers (reptile keepers) would say "Hey Free crocodile!"

Jason Miller, said...

Artificial spirits are much less likely to go off on their own unless you let them. Even if you do not believe that they are completely artificial, but rather a created astral avatar inhabited by a normally formless intelligence, they still obey the command and dissipate at the time that you set. I like them.

Beings that are attracted by offerings can indeed sometimes act on their own, just as friends can. However if you set clear parameters with your friends than you can also do so with local spirits. No problemo.

Its the beings that you summon and say "Go out and get me 10 grand" that cause you the problems.

Qabalier said...

Aha... and anyway many offerings seem to be more about spirits stopping what they had decided to do (crossed conditions etc).

I guess the strategic way of working, instead of telling a spirit "Go out and get me 10 grand" would be 1) Asking a spirit "How can I get 10 grand?" 2) Deciding on a plan, taking that into account, or not 3) Telling a spirit to follow it.

As you might guess, I'm quite interested in artificial spirits -regardless of origin-, partly because servitors seem to have the creativeness of Chaos Magick without trying to use fictional characters with no magic behind them.

Jason Miller, said...

Pretty much. I probably would ask a genius or Archangel to help with the idea phase, or perhaps just to lay their grace upon my own intellect.

Than yes, I would make a plan and use a Goet to support a part or whole of that plan. For instance if I wanted to sell a certain number of books I could have a spirit in charge of that (and what is that nifty eye like sigil on the back cover of P&RM that doesnt appear anywhere IN the book anyway? hmmmmm....)

And yes, Thralls are a good way for people who draw a lot of their energy and spirit from the creative process to work magic. I have made some doozies in the past, and even released a few to roam free range. Sky is the limit with them.

Qabalier said...

Oh, I got the Kindle edition, which hasn't got a back cover... but it's an interesting idea I had been thinking about (always looking for ways of using drawings, another could be "fleshing out" servitors)

I remember you mentioning one or two you had released. Aren't long-lived entities supposed to need a lot of control or safeguards? I guess some of the things I've got in mind would be closer to shared egregores or even godforms.

Another variation in the procedure could be coming up with an idea yourself and then use divination -something I need to work on- to determine the prospects or get additional details.

Btw, one of the reasons Strategic Sorcery could be described as RPG sorcery is that there are very few generic spells in them, and they're usually assumed to follow Murphy's Law...

Jason Miller, said...

I know that you mean it well, but I would be really happy never to see my magical style compared to a role playing game ever again.

Qabalier said...

Sure, it is more like "Realmagik" 8)

Kenaz Filan said...

It appears to be a demonic kind of day: a discussion on the Qlippoth is heating up on a mailing list I read regularly.

My main concerns with Goetic spirits are

(1) I'm not entirely certain that they can be handled safely by anyone using any system. I don't want to use the word "evil" but I might use the words "corrosive" and "inherently dangerous."

(2) In my dealings with them, it struck me that they only understand raw power. They see efforts to negotiate with them as signs of weakness: they will either betray you at the first chance they get or wait until they can do you some real damage. And if you get control over them for the purpose at hand (which, as you rightly point out, should be a fixed and short-term purpose) you will then be dealing with an angry being with a grudge and a long memory. It's like Cronenberg's line about "insect politics" - only the insect has superhuman intelligence and an emotional/inner life which is completely alien to warm-blooded human/mammalian types.

All that being said, I will admit that the Goetia can work remarkably well for short-term stuff. But I've found there are equally efficacious methods which are considerably safer. I will also admit that I am biased because I had a Goetic working blow up in my face and suffered several months of oppression and personality changes. So while I feel that it is a dangerous system and the spirits should not be trifled with unless the mage has a good reason, I will grant that others might have a different relationship with them and be able to work with them successfully and profitably.

FraterM777 said...

I Am In the Beginning stages of a Goetic evocation of BUNE and have found several methods of invoking him to visibility w/power as was said earlier(Goetic Beings only respond to powere) & yes you will face oppression and serious danger if you even think or show sign of doubt or weakness, these methods invove the use of Blood-a dangerous act indeed, and yet in a way if one is to dabble with demons and the goetia, then going all out is the only way to recieve the results desired, for the demon knows all you wish and will deceive at every turn so IF ONE TAKES CHARGE AND ACTS AS AN AGENT OF ADONAI-or an Exorcist you could say-One should have no problems, as long as the blood is not ones own-however, smoke, and other energies which the spirit can use and draw power in order to manifest are much safer, Blood is the most powerful and is considered Dark magick by most, but will guarantee visible appearance, which is by no means for the squeamish, but then, neither is thy Goet.

Kaspith said...

I am a member of the OTO and have evoked Orobas twice and Andromalius once. I used the standard ritual but I also just painted the sigils and conversed with them as I was creating them on canvas. I found that they are strong and there is certain about them BUT they have to be respected. In all the times I conjured them I got results.

Nothing is wrong with Jason Miller's Book - it is innovative and very helpful.

Respect and understating of what is happening is really important. One must also be aware of one's mind - ie Know Thy Self.

Kind regards,

Unknown said...

I don't ever leave work for them either or up in the air. I just ask for assistance or blessings as well. For instance, I just summoned Bune for help with a really important situation but I didn't just sit back and watch, I worked my ass off the best I could toward the situation in hopes for the best. And thank you Bune! ❤️❤️ It still required my tools.

HAMMER 6IX said...

What would be the result of working with one of the Goetia spirits for someone who considers themself to be a Christian? Trying to work with Bune for example; would he not care, be repulsed by this and refuse to help or become hostile towards the petitioner?

Solomon was a Godly man as was Dr. John Dee. Didn't Christ give his followers the authority to put these creatures under contract for help? And what if a person worships Hekate; would she be adversarial to the use of daemons from a Christian? Can all of these things be combined safely and effectively or must a person chose one way and only one way to ask for help?

Thank you.