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.