This post involves serious navel gazing, and even I’m not happy with it. I’ll probably change my mind ten times after I write this but why not?
After a successful working, I think people who are at least somewhat sensitive can perceive a light on the astral. They are beholding the Glory of the Godhead, the thing which makes magic work. Case in point, things smoothed over at work. I had a coworker really work hard to go to lunch with me so he could discuss more work problems, and two other magicians came to me to discuss their own workings and how to do them better. My coworker doesn’t know about my exiting life as a magician, but I suspect people are drawn to the current of a working on some subconscious level. At the same time, talking with other magicians really turns into an intimate experience. There’s a fine line to walk between “being nosey” and “being helpful”. I’m much less interested in what the drama is which pervades someone’s life versus how they perform ritual. However these two often intersect. I think I’ve learned to be a lot less judgmental of people also – I’m using what amounts to Angels at work, another magician is using angels to improve his relationship, and another magician I’ve been speaking to wants to improve their appearance. The hard and fast rule of magic I think has become “use it when nothing else is going to work”.
The interesting part about this is when we give people advise, because we have the light, we are essentially bringing the light down into people’s lives. We are, as magicians, Lucifer or Prometheus. It’s very important to make sure we bring people the light in a responsible way. I personally think we should equip people to magic for themselves much in the same way we might teach people to fish. To make someone dependent on the light-bringer is to replace the light itself, and this is the stuff of the Fall. That being said, I don’t believe in hell, but I do believe in the Abyss which is the knowledge of God without the integration with the Godhead. So long as any person knows God in their own way and works to integrate that into themselves, they’re fine. But this is a point that the various magical societies could take to heart. A lot of times I think people are gun shy about giving magical advice because they don’t want to tread on someone’s True Will, or whatever. It is important to teach people to fish, so to speak.
One of the topics that came up in both discussions is the difference between Angels (or Olympic Spirits, or Gods) and Intelligences (or Goetic spirits). The Angels will work for the betterment of everyone in a given situation if the situation isn’t simply patently absurd. If someone petitions an Angel for cash because they spent it all on booze, they should consider themselves lucky if the Angel shows up at all. If the Angel does show up, it might try to talk to the operator, but more likely than not the Angel is probably going to make sure the operator doesn’t have money for booze. Angels can and do work in seemingly unfortunate ways for the betterment of people.
Intelligences I think ultimately feed the ego. The name is fairly literal, an Intelligence is a discarnate entity which has awareness but doesn’t have a body. Olympic spirits really sort of walk an interesting line here because according to the lore they act like Intelligences and they have bodies. I tend to put them in the Angelic category though. But the Intelligence can be reached through the Kundalini. Poke Runyon just had a really interesting Hermetic Hour on the topic and while it was very scattershot topically, there’s gold in there. “The Kundalini is raised by sitting with your spine straight, put your tongue in your soft pallet, and squeeze the home of the dragon” (your anus). I wouldn’t do this casually, but I would combine it with something like the Middle Pillar. Magic is always the combination of the intellect and the feeling. But, unlike Angels and Godforms and such, Intelligences exist as islands and I feel I have to bring my own bridge to use them effectively.
Which bring us to Goetic spirits, which are spirits after the fall. Some of them are goodly spirits who “seek to return to the throne…” and some of them are jerks. All of them serve as Intelligences – they typically want to make our lives easier through material means and they’re on this plane because they want to experience the material things. There’s nothing wrong with being comfortable, but again, there’s a fine line to walk between being comfortable and being too comfortable. As we generate comfort for ourselves here on this plane, we can become dependent on those comforts. This is the Great Trick, and the fall of Man. Adam clothed himself in flesh to separate himself from God, and therefor to prevent the return to God some spirits make us awfully comfortable in the flesh. Those spirits who do that are themselves not interested in returning to God, and seek fleshy experiences.
“OK great Phergoph you just swallowed the Gnostic Kool-Aide and I’m not reading your shitty blog anymore”.
Well hear me out. This is something which occurs over the course of all mythologies. When Zeus is in the flesh, he consorts women and births abominations. When Odin is in the flesh he consorts women and births abominations. When the Spirits took on flesh, they consort women and birth abominations… When Zeus is in spiritual form as a lighting bolt, he brings enlightenment. When Odin is in spiritual form (as an Eagle or dead on the tree) he brings people the Mead of Inspiration and Magic. When spirits are brought down to Earth, they risk all the trappings on this particular plane.
So then when is it appropriate to use Goetia or Angels? The Angels will resolve things for the betterment of everyone. When they operate, there’s improvement in everyone’s life. It might not be fun, but it’ll be a growing experience. The Angels also can and will say no. When we use Goetia, they give you plenty of rope to hang yourself with. However they work swimmingly well in the sublunar plane they decided to occupy. (And not all Lesser Key spirits are Goetia…) However if we do something like compel a spirit to give us treasure or similar, it’s important to redeem the spirits act. It’s OK to be comfortable, but make sure someone else is comfortable too from your action. This is sort of like karma, but not really. Karma assumes an individual actor, the operator, and working with spirits is a task which isn’t done alone. It’s more of the contract of the social commons. It’s OK for the operator to divert storms, so long as the rain is displaced to someplace that needs it. It’s OK for the operator to dispel a forest fire, so long as the fire isn’t completely snuffed out and thus harmful to the forest. It’s OK to use the Goetia, so long as the operator doesn’t become so complacent as to get stuck and marry the trappings of the world.