Jonathan Rose is a ceremonial magician of the western tradition, specializing in evocation and theurgy.
Let's face it, many people involved in magic and the occult are freaky narcissists or fledgling sociopaths at best.
It's not that the road to high magic is rocky per se, rather that so many are looking for short cuts.
Like any pursuit worthy of deep study, the occult requires discipline. For my money anyone who can't, at the very least, perform the Lesser Banishing Ritual, Star Ruby or Bornless Rite at least a few times per week is probably wasting their time.
The notorious black magician Aleister Crowley himself cautioned “evoke often”. As with the martial arts, failure to regularly practice will lead to one becoming generally weak and incompetent.
But there is an additional peril involved with the occult that does not occur when practicing martial arts. Even a lackluster attempt at magical evocation may lead to attraction by all sorts of astral entities. Most of these are neutral in nature, but some are entirely parasitical. These are the entities generally portrayed by Hollywood movies, they are rarely grand demons, they are low-level parasites who exploit the vulnerable with thoughts of obsession and melancholy. It is not uncommon to see one of these entities attached to an adolescent, not least in that aura, like the brain, is not fully established until the early twenties.
A good grounding in Solomonic magic will deal with a lot of this. But I am constantly amazed on social media sites when youngsters profess it's all about “making friends with the demons”. The demons must be laughing their heads off and gorging on this ignorance.
Many people who attempt Goetia work, for example, have no idea how to form clear boundaries in a ritual. They are terrified of offending the demon but they are also timid or vague as to their own wants and needs. To this extent their foray into the metaphysical reflects a failure of understanding of trans-personal psychology. Demons are far smarter than human beings and I'm sure they relish the fact that so many pubescent fools are happy to punch portals into their world.
Chaos magic has, arguably, emasculated real magic because it has taken God out of the equation. You cannot command demons in the Solomonic tradition unless you understand hierarchy and your place within it. There is a clear chain of command and you are a part of it, whether you like it or not. Unless you stand with your head in the stars you have no chance of commanding the forces below. Even the word “command” horrifies many wannabe magical adepts, but it's actually very simple. Either you take charge of your ritual or something else will.
Don't get me wrong. Establishing a pattern of command and control is not about bullying, abuse or harassment. Quite the opposite, it is actually the highest form of respect. Because, ultimately the magician must learn to command the unruly portions of his own frail psyche.
Celibacy and fasting have also become extremely unfashionable in this “instant results” age. But if you can't resist expelling a bit of mercury or blood from your body for a month or two, or maybe burning a few more calories, how can you expect to complete the Great Work? The most advanced occultists that I know have finally wised up to this fact.
Why do you think the Goetic legions are ranked as they are (dukes, earls, kings etc?). The spirits themselves are bound by a clear and logical hierarchy. As a society we have lost the understanding of discipline. A parent who instinctively swipes a child to stop them from putting their hand into a fire may now be the subject of legal proceeding. This is the madness that has overtaken our age. This attitude makes any attempt at ceremonial magic hazardous in the extreme.
My advice, as many others have discovered the hard way, is to seek the support of a patron demon. This, on its own, can be a lengthy process as in many ways the daemon has to chose you. It's not simply a question of going through a book of baby names and picking one that you like the sound of. However, once such a bond has been formed, the patron demon will act as a mentor and a protector, to the best of their ability. Depending on their station, the patron may be able to keep unruly spirits at bay and stop you from getting into deep trouble. In Freemasonry the concept of warding is fully understood. A ceremony cannot commence until the temple is fully warded and one member is appointed to literally guard the door. Consider the patron demon to be your ward, choosing who to let into the ritual and who to keep out.
Of course there will be practitioners who utterly refute this position, refusing to use a magic circle or even the most basic methods of psychic protection. Some actively invite possession before a spirit is even identified and their credentials checked (by scrying, or pendulum, for instance). The danger here is not that the spirit may be devious or malevolent (although many are tricky by nature) rather that the basic rules of communication have not been established before hand. As with human interaction, our first communication with a new friend or acquaintance establishes the ground rules for further dialogue. And you only get one chance to make a good first impression. It's the same with demons.
Some may say that since a spirit can effectively read our thoughts the actual language we use in a ritual is not of consequence, but this is not entirely true. Through language we map and shape our world, through words we broadcast our will, establish our identity and signpost a myriad pieces of information about our place in our social and spiritual hierarchy which is common to all beings, whether corporeal or not.
This is where I believe prior research to be so important before embarking on any evocation. It is not enough to download a sigil off the Internet, light a candle, burn some frankincense and hope for the best. Worryingly there are a host of books currently coming off the occult press that actively encourage this kind of laziness.
The consequences can be dire. I'm not suggesting we'll see Linda Blair writhing and mouthing obscenities on every street corner, although there is a more subtle danger of mass obsession creeping in. Arguably the signs of this sort of infestation are clear to see in society at large, with the mental health of the young being at an all time low.
With the sort of synchronicity that often occurs when a ritual goes right, it was a spirit – Astaroth (or Astarte) who impressed upon me the importance of what the black magician E A Koeting describes as “preparatory immersion”. This means that you should take days, weeks, months in some cases in reading, researching, testing, discussing before even putting a foot inside a magic circle. In many ways this period of immersion IS the work. Read the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage to fully grasp this point. In times of yore magic was not seen as an easy quick-fix, it took study, application, a high degree of intelligence, a full control over ones emotional states. A genuine exposure to the supernatural can unhinge even the most robust of minds, unless one is fully prepared in advance.
Considering the zeitgeist of our current age, isn't it curious how Goetia has suddenly become fashionable (particularly among the young)? Suddenly Pazuzu is popping up in children's books and in cartoons (yes, you did read that right – Pazuzu was the Mesopotamian storm god finally wrestled to the ground by Father Karras in William Peter Blatty's seminal shock fest “The Exorcist”). The times, it seems, really are a changing.
So, be vigilant (but not paranoid) in your dealings with demons.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2020 Jonathan Rose