By Frater Michael Sebastian Lùx
For many aspiring magicians, the practice of magical evocation of demonic forces suggests images of Medieval magicians in long, flowing robes; armed with wands and swords, standing in circles conjuring agents of Hell for the purposes of making pacts in order to obtain wealth, love, eternal youth, or whatever else suits the vanity of the intrepid sorcerer. Perhaps it is this image and the seemingly arduous methods of preparation of ritual tools, memorization of lengthy conjurations and exorcisms, and misunderstanding of the averse or earth-bound forces of our spiritual reality, that has caused the practice of goetic evocation to be much maligned and misunderstood, even by some of the great adepts of our present day. To what degree this bias is deserved or not is entirely open to debate. It is my opinion, however, that the benefits cannot be debated for those who are mature and determined to take the steps necessary to engage with these forces face-to-face and that the actual process of doing so need not be overcomplicated by recreating, down to every detail, the tools and temples described in the various texts which have been handed down to us. In fact, that can be just as dangerous to the magician as not following the instructions at all and throwing all caution to the wind. This essay seeks to provide a simplified overview of my extensive practice of evocation over the course of nearly ten years and demonstrate that it is not only an accessible process, but one that can enrich the life of the magician, regardless of one’s station of life.
For the reader, perhaps the most famous book detailing the practice of magical evocation is none less than The Lemegeton, or Lesser Key of Solomon the King as translated by S.L. MacGregor Mathers, the great adept of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Much has been written about this particular text in the past hundred years from magicians and academics alike and, in many ways, conforms to the image of evocation in popular consciousness complete with a complicated magic circle, exhaustive description of required tools and ephemera and a registry or hierarchy of spirits with descriptions of their powers and abilities. Many contemporary authors such as Lon Milo DuQuette, Christopher Hyatt, Carroll Runyon and Michael Osiris Snuffin have written extensively on this particular text and have informed an entire generation of its practical applicability. There are, however, other grimoires that are not so well explored, or are only in recent years in the process of being thoroughly examined and re-examined for their role in the consciousness of the emerging magical renaissance. Texts such as the Grimorium Verum, the Dragon Rouge, and others of the early modern era and bibliothèque bleu genre are being rediscovered and re-explored in their individual contexts and compared with others of earlier date. This particular essay will primarily address our experience with the Lesser Keys of Solomon and the Grimorium Verum, but for those who are interested in exploring other texts I have included a bibliography at the end of this essay.
Most contemporary literature on the practice of demonic evocation tends to approach the practice from two models: a) the psychological paradigm in which evoked entities are complex subjective projections of the magicians unconscious or b) the spiritist paradigm, in which evoked entities are treated as unique and independent entities separate from the consciousness of the magician. It is my opinion that the epistemological question of whether these entities exist subjectively or objectively, while certainly deserving of a more thorough treatment, is for the time being moot, and that regardless of their nature, the beings evoked frequently act independently and should be given proper considerations and treated as such – this also applies to other beings and entities that the magician may encounter in their vocation. It is, however, of primary importance that the magician who would participate in the practice of evocation be of sound mind and have a thorough knowledge of elementary magical practice before beginning the practice of magical evocation. At the very minimum, I would encourage the individual magician to spend some time familiarizing themselves with the exercises mentioned in Appendix VII of Liber ABA, in particular Liber HHH, Liber O, and the Bornless Ritual (also known as Liber Samekh). Additionally, I would strongly encourage careful reading of Aleister Crowley’s essay, “An Initiated Interpretation of Ceremonial Magic”, which can easily be found online as well as in most editions of the Mathers/Crowley edition of the Lesser Key of Solomon as well as Crystal Vision Through Crystal Gazing by Frater Achad.
Depending on one’s living situation, the practice of full-scale evocation to visible appearance may be difficult to perform due to spatial constraints, especially in most urban settings. Even arranging to create a temporary temple or oratory for the practice of magical evocation to visible appearance requires, at minimum, eight to nine feet of unobstructed space - not including the magic circle itself! For this reason, it is probably most convenient for many of us to practice what some have called evocation to the astral plane. While I take some disagreement in the semantic definition due to differences in operative understanding, the practice of evocation to the astral via the medium of some reflective surface has a long and honored history in magical practice, and has the benefit of being able to be practiced even in a small studio apartment. Using our particular method, the minimum temple requirements are:
- a desk or table at least 36” tall by 12” ²
- scrying mirror or crystal ball,
- 18” x 18” x 18” piece of heavy, black fabric
- heavy card-stock paper or parchment
In addition to these, one may wish to use Holy Water which can easily be made at home or obtained at your local Catholic or Episcopal parish; an aspergillum made from rosemary, marjoram, mint and rue; and whatever ritual robes one may have. Depending on the particular grimoire being used, there are a number of differing opinions on the considerations for the preparation and consecration of one’s magical implements. It is my opinion that in an ideal circumstance one would prepare each according to the specific rules of the magical text in question but, since this is rarely the case, one can prepare them according to the spirit of the text and still obtain reliable and effective results. Additionally candles, incense and elemental weapons such as those used in the Golden Dawn or by initiates of AA may be of use to the magician.
With the heavy, black fabric one will make what I have taken to calling the Linen of the Art - not particularly romantic, to be sure, but in the absence of a full-scale circle the Linen of the Art can become a powerful tool for evocation. For this purpose, one will need to take the fabric and divide it into nine squares so that it creates a 3 x 3 x 3 grid. Interestingly, these dimensions are not too dissimilar from the triangle and allude to three as the first solid, as well as to Saturn, the planet of limitations. By constraining the spirits in a triangle, as suggested in the Lesser Key of Solomon, what we are really doing is limiting their ability to move freely and control their primordial powers for our own (presumably) constructive ends. Three multiplied by three is nine which is also unique in that it is the number of the Sephirah Yesod, which rules the Moon and the manifestation of visions, dreams and psychic phenomena.
This conforms to the Triangle of Evocation described in Solomonic literature, but more closely resembles the magic circle described in the Dragon Rouge and Grimorium Verum. The reason for this is, simply, during the course of your evocation you will be calling the spirits into your crystal or scrying glass that will be placed in the triangle itself on the table.
The next step in creating the Linen of Art will be to paint the four Hexagrams of Solomon (see Figure 2) on the cardinal sides of the fabric so that, when placed on the desk or altar, they appear facing outward in the four directions. The particular image I use is the same hexagram described in the Grimorium Verum, Dragon Rouge, Pietro de Abano’s Heptameron and many other medieval and early modern grimoires depicted below:
This particular image can easily be modified to suit the hexagram described in the Lesser Key of Solomon which is worn on the apron of the magician (Figure 3) or could be simplified even further to the Magical Hexagram described by Crowley with interlinking descending red and ascending blue triangles with a gold, inverted Tau image in the center (Figure 4). The purpose of the hexagram, at any rate, is to prevent uninvited energies from approaching the working table of the magician, as well as to remind the spirits and the magician of their place in the macrocosm.
The next step in the construction of the Linen of Art, as with all implements used by the magician, should be to consecrate or dedicate it accordingly. Since this is a relatively novel tool, there are a number of options one could follow, but in keeping with the tradition of goetic magic, we have chosen to use the consecration from the Greater Key of Solomon in Book II, Chapter XVII: Of Virgin Parchment, or Virgin Paper, and How it Should be Prepared:
“Be ye present to aid me, and may my operation be accomplished through you; ZAZAII, ZALMAII, DALMAII, ADONAI, ANAPHAXETON, CEDRION, CRIPON, PRION, ANAIRETON, ELION, OCTINOMON, ZEVANION, ALAZAION, ZIDEON, AGLA, ON, YOD HE VAU HE, ARTOR, DINOTOR, Holy Angels of God; be present and infuse virtue into this [Linen], so that it may obtain such power through you that all the Names and Characters thereon written may receive due power, and that all deceit and hindrance may depart therefrom, through God the Lord merciful and gracious, Who liveth and reigneth through all the Ages. Amen.”
This is then followed by reciting psalms 72, 117, 134 and the “Benedicite Omnia Opera” and finally sprinkled with holy water and censed, saying:
“I conjure thee, O [Linen], by all the Holy Names that thou obtainest efficacy and strength, and become exorcised and consecrated, so that none of the things which may be written upon thee shall be effaced from the Book of Truth. Amen.”
This being completed, the Linen of Art is ready for use and, when not being utilized, may be safely folded up and stored in a safe location.
The next major item needed for this particular form of evocation will be either a crystal ball or scrying mirror. During the course of the evocation, this item will be placed in the middle of the triangle and it will be this item into which the spirit is conjured. There are no hard and fast rules for obtaining this item but in my opinion that it should be at least 6” in diameter to accommodate for comfortable viewing and that it be consecrated during an auspicious time. For this, we have found Scott Cunningham’s suggestion in Wicca: a Guide for the Solitary Practitioner, that it be immersed in a tisane of mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) during a Full Moon to be more than sufficient. If one is so inclined, one may also refer to Franz Bardon’s methods in his opus The Practice of Magical Evocation, which outline a series of very advanced but worthwhile considerations for evocation in general.
Prior to the actual evocation, it is worthwhile to take into account which spirits would be of benefit to the magician. The Lemegeton does a good job of outlining particular characteristics of individual spirits and their fields (or realms) of experience in a way that others, including the Grimorium Verum, do not. For initial explorations, I would suggest making a list of one’s immediate needs and matching these with the spirits of the Lesser Key. Another method, suggested to me at one time by Michael Snuffin, uses the pip cards of Lon DuQuette’s Tarot of Ceremonial Magic, which feature the seals of the spirits of The Lesser Key, and shuffling them, drawing out three cards, and making a divination based on which spirits happen to appear. While this method is not without some degree of ambiguity, it has served me well in more than a few operations and may provide some assistance to others. Once the spirit has been decided, its seal may be drawn in the color appropriate on thick card-stock or engraved on wood or the appropriate metal or gem (if any). In most cases, heavy card-stock is more than sufficient. This is then blessed with holy water and set aside until the time of actual evocation.
On the date of the evocation, I would suggest taking a “fast” from usual activities and devoting the day (or, at minimum, half a day) toward meditating on the operation. In keeping with the suggestions of the grimoires, I’ve found it helpful to abstain from meat and intoxicants as well turning off my phone, and computers to limit our social interactions except for those relating to our family or very close friends. During this time one prepares the table by washing it with holy water and consecrating it with Oil of Abramelin by marking five crosses on the surface in the shape of a pentagram before laying the Linen of Art over the surface and placing the crystal ball in the triangle and covering it with a black silk cloth along with the sigil of the spirit. Since the ideal time for evocation is in the evening, it may be useful to have candles on the altar on either side of the circle. In this case, I’ve found votive lamps in cobalt or dark red glass to be particularly effective in eliminating distractions while casting a suitably appropriate ambience.
The outline of the operation is as follows:
- Preliminary Work
- Preparation of the temple and equipment, including reviewing conjurations
- Abstention from sex and food for at least six hours prior to the operation
- Ritual bathing
- Meditation or energetic work, such as the Middle Pillar
- The Opening
- Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram
- Banishing Ritual of the Hexagram
- Bornless Ritual, aka. Liber Samekh
- Purification of temple with holy water and incense
- The Conjuration
- Study sigil of spirit until link is established
- Recitation of conjuration1
- Reception of the Spirit
- Interrogation of spirit’s identity
- Oath or Contract of Obedience
- Commission of service, or charge to the spirit
- Contract of Payment2
- License to Depart
- Banishing rituals as in opening
This particular method of evocation, while nearly identical in structure to conventional methods of evocation to visible appearance, is decidedly scaled down and as mentioned does not require the extensive work or space required by evocation to visible appearance. Its only draw-back is that it is somewhat limiting in the full experience of conventional evocation in much the same way as communicating with someone in person is different than communicating with someone over Skype or video-phone.
In the course of my personal experience, the conjurations used can be switched out depending on the grimoire being used thereby maintaining internal consistency with the text being used. Additionally, as the experienced magician may have noticed, some of the terms used in outlining the operation have been purposefully changed to reflect a more mutual or egalitarian relationship with the spirits in contrast to the hierarchical “master/slave” relationship with spirits that is decidedly a result of the original authors’ writing from the perspective of pre-modern, patriarchal monotheisms typical of the prevailing Jewish, Christian and Islamic worldviews. I therefore propose approaching the spirits with the same respect as one would have in commissioning someone to create a work of art or hiring someone for employment, which brings up the next point.
Doubtless, many will hold objections to the idea of making an oath or pact with demonic entities. This fear, while understandable, is in most cases irrational since few spirits will make outrageous demands à la the morality stories of the medieval magician who sells his soul to the Devil in exchange for his wishes. While the possibility of “selling one’s soul” is deserving of much theological exploration, it is our opinion that providing simple payments such as lighting votive candles in honor of the spirits, engraving their sigils on more expensive materials upon successful completion of subsequent workings, or even spreading their name are more than enough to please these entities. As always, I would warn the aspiring magician against offering elements of one’s own being such as blood or other bodily concerns, but feel the need to point out that even these offerings are not without attestation in the annals of goetic practice or even among some contemporary practitioners.
Following the successful completion of an evocation, it is important that the magician make careful record of their spiritual and mundane life in a journal. This serves two functions in that it a) provides a subjective record of events and happenings and, b) is a reference of events that the magician may return to if something particularly out-of-place has happened or needs to be noted in continuing the operation. It is important to note that the operative process of evocation frequently extends beyond the ritual of evocation itself. For this reason, after the magician has determined that the entity has rendered their services, it has my experience that it would behoove them [the magician] to perform a follow-up conjuration to formally thank the spirit for its help as well as to provide whatever payments have been agreed upon in the Contract of Payment. Under no circumstances should the spirit be paid prior to the completion of the task! If a spirit has previously agreed to work for the magician and fails to follow through, they may be evoked again and be relieved of their duty or, in this case, cursed and bound into obedience. As always, I prefer the former over the later but leave that to the individual magician’s discretion.
If a particular operation is determined to be long-term, the magician may need to provide the spirit with some additional support in the process, somewhat different from that which has been discussed in the Contract of Payment. This also is not unheard of, and the Greater Key of Solomon devotes an entire chapter to this consideration in Book II, Chapter XXII:
“In many operations it is necessary to make some sort of sacrifice unto the Demons, and in various ways. Sometimes white animals are sacrificed to the good Spirits and black to the evil. Such sacrifices consist of the blood and sometimes of the flesh… When it is necessary, with all the proper Ceremonies, to make Sacrifices of fire, they should be made of wood which hath some quality referring especially unto the Spirits invoked… But when we make sacrifices of food and drink, everything necessary should be prepared without the Circle, and the meats should be covered with some fine clean cloth, and have also a clean white cloth spread beneath them; with new bread and good and sparkling wine…”
According to one particular method discussed by Lon Milo DuQuette in his My Life With Spirits, one may proceed with the usual Preliminary Work and Conjuration of the spirit and offer it animal blood purchased from a butcher or squeezed from good ground beef and mixed with any high-proof alcohol (my preference is Bacardi 151) and set it on fire. In keeping with the mythological narrative in the New Testament in which the sorcerer Jesus of Nazareth exorcises a legion of demons into a horde of swine3, I’ve found that pigs’ blood purchased from any Asian supermarket makes a great sacrifice that many of the spirits seem to enjoy.
In the end, the practice of magical evocation is not entirely about getting what you want, but rather formulating new relationships and exploring new ways of experiencing the world and is can be a powerful method of spiritual (and personal) enrichment. To say that it is easy would be misleading and dishonest – I’ve met more than a few spirits who have been less-than-hospitable and who had to be subjected to the curses and rigors of banishing – but after some time and effort, the magician will find that dealing with spirits is in many ways like dealing with people who just don’t happen to have bodies. It is my hope that this material will be enough to interest and get you started on your own exploration of the world of demons and wish you the very best on your experiences.
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Bardon, F., Hanswille, G., Gallo, F., & Johnson, K. (2001). The Practice of Magical Evocation: A Complete Course of Instruction in Planetary Sphere Magic : the Evocation of Spirit-Beings from the Planetary Spheres of our Solar System. Salt Lake City, Utah: Merkur Pub.
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Oxford University Press., & Cambridge University Press. (1989). The Revised English Bible: With the Apocrypha. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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Solomon, ., Mathers, S. L. M. G., & In De, L. L. W. (1914). The Greater Key of Solomon. Chicago: De Laurence.
Stratton-Kent, J (2009). The True Grimoire. London. Scarlet Imprint.
1 Note: It has been my experience that the spirit may not appear after a single recitation, so it is best to wait for a minute or two between successive recitations and allow the spirit to appear in the crystal or mirror. If it does not appear after three, or seven at most, recitations it is best to abandon the operation. It is my opinion that the traditional curses are best left when no other recourse is available or if the spirits conjured are overtly malicious to the magician.
2 While many may object to the idea of making a contract of reciprocity with a spirit, it has been my experience that providing some form of payment in exchange for services rendered to the magician is a great step in developing a relationship with spiritual entities, as well as corporeal spirits like your local barista or favorite waiter.
3 Mark 5:1-20, Matthew 8:28-34, Luke 8:26-39
About the Author:
Born in the Year of the Law, anno iii:XIV 1984, Sol 27° Taurus, Luna 6° Capricorn, Michael Sebastian Lux quickly outgrew his humble beginnings in the backwaters of the Tacoma tide-flats and rose to prominence as a recognized student of psychology, sociology and esotericism in the City of Olympia. After a few years and squandering his wealth accumulated from manufacturing the mythical red-powder (which he sold for a fifth of vodka, twelve aspirin and a bottle of KY personal lubricant), he moved to Seattle where he is now in the process of earnestly seeking the Philosopher’s Stone. In his spare time he enjoys the company of good friends, drinking strong wines and working for Seattle and King County Public Health as an HIV/AIDS educator.http://michaelstrojan.wordpress.com/