Previously on Phergoph…

Last week in Letters to Phergoph, I posed some questions to someone who was interested in Ceremonial Magic. I think one of the major differences between Wicca and Ceremonial Magic is that Wicca is a lot of “let’s get what we want” and really ignores the greater philosophical questions posed by why things work (or when they don’t).

Is it safe to use the Goetia without first engaging my HGA?

Yes, and there are examples of people sticking to the system and using the protections outlined in the Lesser Key and there are examples of additions to the system which people have used. Poke Runyon has the Master Mandala which he reveals in the Book of Solomons Magic. In the Goetia of Dr Rudd, Rudd adds protective Psalms to the back of the spirit seals. This is a move directly out of the 6th and 7th Books of Moses. Personally, it helps to have an Angel watching out for the operator, be it the HGA or one someone has summoned before the operation. The original operation though relies on the purity of the operator for their protection, which includes the spiritual purity to resist the temptation.

The overlap between Voodoo and the Lesser Key?

There’s numerous overlaps and more than enough to convince me that this is the same system. Leitch does an excellent job tracing the parallels so I will save the readers. The lack of the triangle is the most impressive part of the operation as far as I am concerned. The people being “ridden” by the spirits are actually being possessed by those same near-earth spirits. Perhaps the most interesting observation to me is that Crowley in the desert has extremely similar elements to people being ridden in voodoo.

Why do you suppose that the Goetia are easy to contact? 

The goetic spirits are the spirits who live adjacent to our plane. This is why they lust for material things and this is also why they are so effective at making changes to the material world. If they’re the Old Gods – the Bull El, the Baal – they were worshipped long before men desired abstract forms of wealth and power. Back in the citystate era, each city had a patron God and the God was petitioned mostly for crops, weather, protection, and such. Rudd takes this to its logical conclusion by assigning spirits in the Lesser Key to individual parts of the earth, not unlike the Earth according to Ptolemy. That being said, most people who are just starting out their spiritual careers are doing so because of a desire to be comfortable, or at least in desperation, and so they are effective at petitioning spirits who provide material comfort. There’s nothing wrong with that. As the individual advances and becomes interested in philosophy, they become better at contacting higher spirits.

Conjecture – Spirits are parts of ourselves.

This must be true because we cannot conceive of things we don’t know. I cannot make up a new color. I cannot call some guttural sounds a word without giving it context and meaning. Furthermore because spirits are limited to constructions which pre-exist in our minds, we have no use for spirits who are unrelated to activities we are engaged in.

Conjecture – Spirits are independent entities.

This must be true because ideas and situations arise gestalt without our intervention. If I close my eyes, although I am cut from perception, clouds still form and light still plays across a blade of grass. Similarly in the spiritual plane, although a man may have no spiritual life, he is still subject to ideas and desires, which he endures like a cork on the sea.

The truth, I suspect a lot of people will affirm, lies in the middle. Although we cannot think of a new color, we use existing colors to display colors we cannot perceive, such as infra-red or ultraviolet. In this way we provide a mental and spiritual model, or half of the bridge, for spirits to build their half of the bridge into our spheres. Calling on a treasure hunting spirit in this modern age might produce a lost ring or a bag of money meant for a drug dealer in a drop. Calling on a spirit whom makes Kings would assist in the rise to political power or a workplace promotion.

Can we definitively prove spirits exist?

The best argument I’ve come up with after many cigars and scotch is that the psychological model of “things happen because you are looking for them to happen” falls flat. I can be looking for that lost ring, and despite desiring the thing with a single pointed ray of Will and the desperation in my heart, I cannot apport the ring. The ring simply will not appear. At the same time, asking spirits to help achieve a goal will set the spiritual wheels in motion to achieve that goal. If I take that ray of will and burning desire in my heart and I use that energy to conduct a ritual to summon a treasure spirit, then the ring will surely appear. Without ending up in pedantic brass tacks over which parchment and circle I used, this is the difference between the emotional and psychological models of magic, and the idea that petitioning things which have a disincarnate spiritual life produces subtle but productive influences. Perhaps the spirit guides us to walk down a different street or has our bus break down so we’re forced to walk a new stretch of road. These are things we don’t mindfully do, but I can hardly think of a productive way to cast a spell to cause the unique sequence of events without the intervention of intelligent design.

The difference between the spirits, not subject to time, and us, is a firmly gnostic concept that we are the results of a universe created by the first mover, but we are the first movers in a smaller, personal universe created by us. As we perceive, so we create.