The Rufus Opus Spirit Model
Magicians are here to perform magic. The process of training and initiation that goes on across the lifecycle of the magician is a system that progressively reveals aspects of their relationship with the world(s) around us. Early in our path we have little understanding of what we really are and how we fit into the grand scheme of things, but as we progress, we achieve levels of mastery of skills designed to enable us to perform our function within an ovearching hierarchy of manifestation.
Manifestation is a process of condensation. From
Just as God is conscious, so too are all the levels of manifestation . As thoughts become matter by specializing, so too did the spheres of the heavens and elements coalesce into vast numbers of individully aware spirits of the realms, arranged in hierarchy from the closest to the original Idea to the furthest, separated by layers of density. Each of these spirits were mirrored in the material realm below.
Man is an After-Thought. That is, after the Mind of God created the realms by speaking them into being through the Logos, He created a separate being called "Man." (Mankind, Humanity, Human... Hu-persons? Tell me if I'm getting politically warmer or colder here...)
Man was different than the rest of creation (manifest thoughts of the Mind of God). Man was made "in the image" of God, the original Mind. We knew God intimately, and we were friends and companions of our Father. We learned of all the layers of manifestation, and were friends with the intelligences and beings of those realms. They loved us because we were the image of God. We entered the Microcosm, what with one thing or another, on purpose and out of Love. In this realm, we can continue our friendships with God the Father, the Logos, and the Spirits of God, but the things of this world are distracting. We are always happier, satiated when we are fulfilling our purpose.
Man gets distracted by the things of this world and forgets its role in things. The Great Work is the process of reclaiming our knowledge of who we are and why we're here, and consciously doing what we're here to do. It isn't the Great Easy.
Fortunately, we have help. The Spirits that loved us Above stil love us Below, and they are eager and willing to help us in performing our duties. They teach, they initiate, they empower, and they work in harmony with Man. Ritual is the process of communing with these spirits. Implementation of their teaching in the making of talismans and other manifestations of the results of your empowerment are rituals of a sort, but tend to be more kinetic than ritual conversations, training, and empowerments from the spirits. Implementation tends to take place on the physical realm, while the training and initiation take place in the heavens. Ritual and implementation are both "magic." One is not more magical or in any way "better" than the other. They are like Ob and Od, the two serpents on Mercury's Caduceus, of equal dignity, and combined together to symbolise Mastery of Hermetic Arts.
All magical acts involve interacting in some way with another manifestation of a Thought from the Mind of God. It may have more or less layers of manifestation around it, but it is one part of a chain of manifestation that includes intelligences that operate consciously at some level of the Heavens. Everything has a spirit that can be contacted and Worked with as a magician. Working with the spiritual intelligence of a manifestation creates a harmony betwen you and it, which empowers you to manifest similar things in your sphere of influence. Being made in the image of God, you and I can manifest our thoughts by speaking them into being, creating layers of form around the idea until it becomes a material thing. Reaching the full potential in the areas we are most drawn to requires initiation and training by the spirit(s) of the manifestation.
Of the available systems of magic, the system that best utilizes the above outlined structure of the universe is the "Spriit Model." The tools and techniques that maximize your potential as a magician are found in the grimoires.
The trap of the grimoire is stagnation. Each focuses on a class of spirit, or a set of spirits. The gift of the grimoire is infinite potential relationships. If a magician sees the entities of one grimoire and believes that list to be all the spirits that are, they are limiting themselves and the grimoire becomes a trap. If they use the spirits listed to learn about other spirits, the grimoire becomes a gift, sort of a gateway to the denizens of the heavens and earth. As you Work with daimons, for instance, you will learn their role in the hierarchy of spirits, and can meet entities of higher and lower planes. These may be heroes, angels, or gods. ("Gods" for the sake of sticking to the terms of Iamblichus. To me, the "gods" are manifestations of the monad God, Divine Intelligences that are tasked with representing one aspect of a Thought of God.)
The grimoire I've found to produce the greatest results has been Trithemius' Art of Drawing Spirits into Crystals. It's a fairly generic method of contacting any spirit, it works within the Hermetic cosmology laid out above, and it's fairly easy to put together a working facsimile with limited funds or time.
The sources that best provide infomation on the cosmology laid out above tend to be written prior to 1700 A.D. After that, people got screwy. Or their screwiness started manifesting in weird ways. The Aeon of the Crowned Child resulted in a lot of immature people getting treated like Kings and gurus, and the modern occulture is littered with systems that misuse symbol sets, misappropriate vocabularies from other systems, and are consequently much less powerful or useful to the magician in achieving their reason for being.
And true fulfillment can only come when you are achieving that reason for being.