Summoning Spirits: Do You Play By The Rules?

Summoning Spirits: Do You Play By The Rules?

Is it just me or has there been a bit of movement around how summoning should be done in the last few years? Jason Miller wrote in The Sorcerer’s Secrets about the merits of dispensing with the full magic circle for quite a number of workings. This idea has legs, if you ask me.

Changing the Rules

Here’s my reasoning:

  • If you’ve done your personal clearing/banishing like the LBRP then you’re just doubling up.
  • I’m either at my altar or a place of power (crossroads, riverside, whatever), anyway.
  • Casting a circle and calling the four quarters is more or less unique to Western magic and is a late development, besides. As an idea, it was built by Victorians out of a bunch of medieval texts which required the magicians to construct a miniature model of a Dark Age Christian world in which they were acting as God.

This is not how we see the world today (or at least I don’t). It’s an out of date map.

Changing the Players

There’s a really interesting piece on Olympic Spirits by Nick Farrell in the latest Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition. This article is the inspiration for this post, actually.

I find the idea of the Olympic Spirits fascinating. Quoting from the article:

“In the Golden Dawn we are taught that in a planetary hierarchy we have God, Archangel, Angel, Intelligence and spirit… However it is clear that the Olympics are supposed to be approached directly and will send minions to do their bidding. They are not ‘spirits’ in that sense. But in the late medieval period everything that was not God or material was considered a spirit….There can only be one meaning for this during the Late Medieval period and that was that they were the beings that inhabited Mount Olympus… It seems that in looking at the names of the spirits, or becoming focused on their planetary nature we missed that by calling them Olympic, the Arbatel was implying they were the seven main Greek gods that dwelt on Mount Olympus.”

Earlier in the piece, he writes The Olympic Spirits “have total control over the world and can do what they like, provided they do not upset God who is the guide of all things.” So, what we’re dealing with here -as I interpret it- is sorta a European version of the Seven African Powers. Well, now, that certainly throws open some interesting new ways of approaching them.

Off the top of my head, I’m going to play with approaching them/working with them as a group just like you can with the Seven African Powers. Traditional evocation strategies would mean such an experiment would make for a very long ritual (and a very crowded circle).

And that brings me around to the notion that players change over time:

  • We know and accept that so many of the demons listed in grimoires are former Gods. Demons, spirits and angels aren’t scary to us the way they were to medieval magicians. No one worries about imperiling their immortal soul. (Y’all are in the wrong business if you do!)
  • If we no longer see them as satanic monsters then traditional methods are a bit of an overkill. It’s like inviting someone to your house for tea and then opening the door in a HazMat suit.

Changing the Game

If you’re wondering about the image that attends this article, it’s based on a clever little quote from The Triumph of the Moon that Psyche pointed out about how traditional scholarly magic was essentially ‘ordering room service’ . Brilliant phrase. (I’ve actually ordered the book because of it.)

It seems to me that the ‘room service’ model of evocation is past its sell-by date. Unfortunately, I don’t have a precise example for what should replace it. But here are some general principles:

  • Do what ‘feels right’. That phrase is such a cop out but that’s how the room service model we inherited started. It ‘felt right’ to fortify yourself in an elaborate circle and spend twenty minutes mispronouncing Hebrew words so as to make yourself comfortable enough to continue.
  • Mash-ups are allowed. I wouldn’t ever mix my pantheons but I’ve had some success moving ‘practices’ (like summoning) between systems.
  • Swim between the flags. You don’t need a shark cage every time you go in the water but don’t go swimming at dusk with a cut on your foot in murky water at the mouth of a river. Be sensible about whom (or what) you call and how.

What About You?

So what about yourself? Do you tend to follow the broad format of clear, circle open, invoke, work, banish, circle close? What situations would you step outside this and what situations do you think require it?

Hit me up. Comment or email. (Or Tweet. Anything but courier pigeon, really.)

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  1. 4
    The Scribbler

    There’s actually a passage in the Arbatel that, depending on one’s interpretation, might speak against invoking the Olympics as a group. It’s the thirty-sixth Aphorism, which goes:

    “Care is to be taken, that experiments be not mixed with experiments; but that every one be only simple and several: for God and Nature have ordained all things to a certain and appointed end: so that for examples (sic) sake, they who perform cures with the most simple herbs and roots, do cure most happily of all.”

    Nick Farrell’s article is a most welcome addition to a very sparse body of commentary and interpretation of the Arbatel. It has its tendentious Golden Dawn coloring, but that’s just “horses for courses.” I appreciate that he takes a serious stab at the burning question: who are the Olympic Spirits anyway? And he comes up with an answer that jibes my own hunches and suspicions.

    I would caution readers of his article to consider that his dismissal of the majority of the text in the grimoire might not be the wisest modus operandi. I have found that if you read it and reread it, clues you didn’t notice early on start popping up. It is a deceptive text. Things are hidden out in the open.

  2. 5
    Astaroths vessel

    I have summoned a demon before no circle, no banishment, basically no fancy stuff. My goal was to invoke a demon and instead of just calling upon it I invited it to use me as a vessel (by accident) but I do like the results. So I say go for it change the rules of the game and make it suit you.

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