Search:
HOME     Books eBooks Audio Video Specials Authors Ordering Resellers Articles Links About

from Aleister Crowley's Illustrated Goetia


The Danger of High Magick

"...the Single Supreme Ritual is the attainment of the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel. It is the raising of the complete man in a vertical straight line. Any deviation from this line tends to become black magic. Any other operation is black magic...if the magician needs to perform any other operation than this, it is only lawful in so far as it is a necessary preliminary to That One Work."
--- Aleister Crowley, Magick in Theory and Practice
It is no secret that, to many modern students of esoterica, Goetia has a decidedly shady reputation. On a scale of spiritual practices one might find Goetia sandwiched somewhere between "Pacts with the Devil" and "addiction to the Ouija board."

This attitude is understandable. After all, Goetia is the intentional conjuration of spiritual beings who are, by definition, Fallen Angels, Evil Spirits and Demons!

From their infernal abodes these naughty Spirits are called forth to act as personal servants to the Goetic magician to extend his power and execute his will on Earth. The magician must be ever vigilant to the wiles of the Spirits. If he is unskilled or loses control even for an instant, he runs the risk of being obsessed, possessed or even destroyed. This sounds uncomfortably like Black Magick.

Such behavior is certainly beneath the altruistic purity of purpose that characterize the quest and disciplines of High Magick and can serve only to bring out the lowest qualities of the practitioner's character...

So goes the argument against Goetic evocation and, so far as it goes, it is a point well taken.

Yes, the Spirits in question are of the "infernal" variety. But exactly what does that mean? If we embrace, for a moment, the popular nomenclature of High Magick, "infernal" relates to the subconscious stratum of the human psyche. Spirits inhabiting these regions would then be the personifications of powers or energies that lie buried in our subconscious minds---qualities of our consciousness that we have disowned. They are Fallen because they have slipped from the conscious control of the deity---ourselves.

Yes, they are dangerous because while they remain unmastered they can surface unbidden and wreak all the havoc modern psychology blames on "things hidden in the subconscious mind."

To the charge that such practices bring out the worst qualities in the magician's character, the Goetic practitioner pleads "guilty," pointing out that this is precisely the purpose of this variety of evocation. If these disowned qualities are not brought forth, identified and controlled, the magician, like the rest of humanity, is doomed to be at the mercy and the caprice of his own subconscious demons, never being allowed the opportunity to subdue these denizens of his psychic menagerie.

But are the Spirits of the Goetia simply subjective components of the magician's mind, or is there really an independent objective quality to their natures? This fundamental question may never receive a satisfactory answer due to the fact that no one really understands the nature of "matter." But one thing is certain: one who has never experienced a Goetic Evocation is not qualified to voice even the most educated opinion on the subject. It is one thing to be well-read on a subject; it is quite another to be part of the subject itself. It is an unfortunate fact that there are many individuals who make magick their life without making their life magick. Even the most talented and brilliant expounders of the Art sometimes lose sight of this and focus instead on historical or technical aspects of the subject to such a degree that they ignore completely its relevance to their daily life and happiness.

In light of this, I feel it would be helpful to relate the circumstances surrounding my first Goetic evocation. I beg the reader's attention to what follows because I feel that it contains many of the major components necessary for a successful Goetic Evocation. (I have omitted the name of my former "magick teacher" as it would be recognized by a great many readers.)

With My Back Against A Wall

It was 1975 and I had never been so desperate in my life. My decision to end a "successful" fourteen year career in music had been one of life and death---mine. It was either continue a lifestyle that was destroying my health and my relationship with my wife and young son, or risk not being able to support them. I was trained for nothing practical. Even my college education, such as it was, was as a Drama major. The pocket change I was still earning from recording royalties and guitar lessons wasn't enough to feed us let alone pay the rent and the bills. I had no job, no car, no money, no prospects... no hope.

One of the few bright spots that characterized this period was my discovery of the writings of Aleister Crowley and my involvement the disciplines of ceremonial magick.

Since the mid-60's I had been a student of Eastern Mysticism and Western Hermeticism, and my interests had finally brought me into contact with a magical society that I had believed long extinct. I passionately involved myself in this group and subsequently became the student of one of its senior officers.

A charming woman in her fifties, she continually impressed me with what I perceived to be her balanced, logical approach to the subject of magick. Her teacher had been a personal student of Aleister Crowley and had even been a resident at his (in)famous Abbey of Thelema in Cefalu Sicily in the 1920's. I was thrilled to be a link in such an historic magical chain and my spiritual practices became the entire focus of my life. Periodically my teacher reviewed my diaries and we maintained constant correspondence. I also visited her as often as I could.

However, my deteriorating situation on the material plane was a source of major anxiety and the distraction inevitably began to affect my ability to concentrate on my "spiritual" practices.

What was the use of all this study if I couldn't use it in a practical way to improve my life? My teacher cautioned me not to mix my planes. "If you need a job, go out and get a job." she wrote. "Learn to walk before you attempt to run." Performing magick to help get a job was, in her words, "low magick" and would distract from the Great Work that I was pledged to perform.

I could not make it clear to her that I was trying to improve my situation by normal means, but I also felt the need to magically "lubricate" the situation. Obviously there was a great stumbling block before me and, after all, didn't the esoteric Wisdom of the Ages teach us to look first in ourselves for such obstacles?

I was familiar with The Lesser Key of Solomon---The Goetia---and it seemed to me that many of the seventy-two Spirits (if one considered them actual entities, capable of effecting change on the material plane) could provide such help. I wanted to perform a Goetic evocation for the purpose of improving the conditions of my material life.

This suggestion to my teacher evoked in her an almost hysterical response. She told me in no uncertain terms that I was not ready to practice any form of Goetic evocation. She stressed that only magicians who had already achieved the highest levels of illumination were qualified to do so. "Once you achieve the Knowledge and Conversation of your Holy Guardian Angel you will see all of this as unnecessary."

But how could I obtain the mental and emotional equilibrium necessary to achieve such lofty spiritual heights while my life remained so screwed up? Is it required by the Gods that illumination comes only to the illuminated?

I did not wish to be disrespectful to her yet I was sensing a real blind spot in our relationship.

When I asked her if she had ever performed a Goetic evocation she answered, "Certainly not! That is Low Magick."

Back to Aleister Crowley's Illustrated Goetia