The first sign of a goetic spirit working going awry is obsession. The constant need to work with the spirit, give it energy, give it praise etc. This is what will get you burned eventually. This can be seen in ROs work by simply reading his blog. The error was in the obsession. The obsession led to playing fast and loose.With all the respect he truly deserves, POS doesn't know what the fuck he's talking about. I wrote a lot about the Goetic work and Bune in particular because that's what people responded to the most. I was also writing a book on Goetia in general. It is fun and exciting. I catered my blog posts to the audience, because I'm a WRITER. That's what I do.
As to a "constant need to work with the spirit," I hadn't done any Bune work before getting laid off this summer in a long, long time. He makes it seem like I was under a compulsion to Work with Bune, enthralled by the spirit into giving him "energy" and praise. The truth is, I had to blow the dust off his spirit pot when I started working with him again. Over the last 4 years, I've done maybe a dozen rituals with Bune, including the three weeks that I did a ritual every Friday. The presentation POS is making is twisted and wrong.
I wasn't obsessed with the spirit, I was desperate for money. Doing magic in desperation was the error, lack of planning, lack of forethought. Lack of strategy.
POS then says:
"A more subtle sign is forgetting it is present at all in your life. Untended gardens grow weeds. Untended demons crack the asphalt and allow weeds to infiltrate your foundation."In other words, if I'm doing a lot of Work with Bune, it's dangerous, but if I'm not doing a lot of Work with Bune, it's dangerous too. Because why?
POS provides the answer:
"classes of spirits tend toward their average behavior. The average behavior of a demon is, well, demonic!"There it is! The Spirits of the Goetia are DEMONS!!! Angels who rebelled against God, and are secretly going to trap the soul of the magician who dares dabble with them for eternal service to SATAN!!!
Ok, POS doesn't likely believe that, but I've met people online who do. It's the same basic belief that permeates the cloud of magic around any spirit that any human has ever said was a demon.
This idea that the Spirits of the Lemegeton's Goetia in particular are dangerous is stupid. I mean, they are dangerous, but so is all magic. I did Solar Work with Michael of the Sun and lost my job because of how I worded the ritual. I spent a long time planning that ritual, a long time learning the seals, getting the astrological timing just right, and then I botched it by emphasizing getting wealth "without having to work for it." I stressed that part of the rite the most because I didn't want to have to work for a living any more. In terms of global humanity, I made more money in the time I was unemployed than 90% of the population on the planet. The ritual was a success from the viewpoint of an eternal spirit dipping their wings into the maelstrom of manifestation.
It sucked to go through from this side.
Are the spirits of the Heptameron, the Kabballah, Agrippa, and Trithemius all to be viewed with the same distrust and concern that POS thinks should be given to the spirits of the Lesser Key? Is the Archangel of Tiphareth to be treated like an evil spirit? No, of course not. All magic should be treated with respect and a healthy touch of fear. There's a reason Mars-Geburah is the sphere that was known as Pachad, or FEAR. Fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.
The spirits of the Goetia aren't "ZOMG, DEMONS!!1!1!" There is no spirit that ever rebelled against God, no matter what any book or ecclesiastical interpreter of Holy Script might try to tell you. All spirits are manifestations of God. The ones that do evil are doing God's evil, whether that fits in your opinion of God's goodness and mercy and grace or not. All things work together for good for those who love God.
The "demons" are also manifestations of God. They're links on the chain of manifestation. They operate within the boundaries of their existence just like we operate within the boundaries of our own existence. They're only spirits, they don't have an evil agenda.
I do think I was obsessed, but not by the spirits of Goetia in general, or Bune in particular. I was obsessed with money. That was the main problem, the biggest lesson I had to learn in the last few years. I was a slave to cash, in a really unhealthy way. My magical activities in the mundane world touched on local and global politics, from time to time, but the majority of the practical Work I've done in the last three years has been all about getting "rich." That obsession led to my troubles.
If I had conjured Bune into the Spirit Pot, and then all my Work after that hinged entirely on that one tool, I would be the first to concede that he had a point. If I ditched all my Work and focused solely on Working the Spirits of the Lemegeton's Goetia (I'll write another blog post about Goetia later) to the exclusion of all else, I might even say he had a valid reason for saying what he did.
But I live my life every minute of every day. I see what I do, I know why I do what I do. I have a deep and intimate understanding of my motivations that POS can never have. I've been obsessed with cash as the true measurement of wealth and happiness for years longer than I've been a magician. My mother warned me about my outlook on money when I was a teenager. It's been a constant source of trouble. I never wanted to learn to manage my finances responsibly, I always wanted to just make more money. I hopped from job to job in pursuit of a bigger net paycheck, regardless of what it was costing me in benefits, tenure, or professional respect. I was a mercenary, and it sucks to live like a mercenary.
For him to present my catastrophe as the result of Working with the Lesser Key is simply wrong. It's taking my experience, which he can't relate to, and using it to support his pre-formed opinion of the class of spirits. It's not only wrong, it completely misrepresents the true and fundamental lesson that people should be learning from my error: don't be obsessed with cash as the only means to measure wealth.
If you go back over my Work carefully, you'll see that one of the first things I did with the Trithemian system was to conjure Tzadqiel of Jupiter to get rich. What happened? I got a job making less and had to focus on trimming my budget to live within my means. If I had continued my Work with the Jupiter spirits, I suspect the long term results would have been the establishment of patterns of behavior that lead to the accumulation of wealth. I didn't want that, I wanted to get rich quick. So I conjured a spirit closer to manifest reality and landed a job paying a lot more.
But that didn't fix anything. I spent more than I made, and that's what keeps me desperate. I have a lot of skills and talents, I have a good understanding of how to make money, but as long as I spend more than I make, I will be poor. I'm flexible and entrepreneurial. I'm just a fool when it comes to spending money. My spending sabotages my ability to accumulate wealth.
That's the real problem. Saying "The Devil made me do it!" is disingenuous and ... well, it's just a bullshit cop out. I have K&CHGA, I have access to the powers that formed the universe, I have training and skill, but I was LAZY and didn't bother to do the Work the way I know you're supposed to do it. That's not the fault of the spirits. That's the fault of the magician.
Now, I know that spirits do "obsess" people. It's different than possession, there's a lot less head spinning 360 degrees and pea soup vomit. It is subtle, it is damaging, but the fact is, people who are performing the Great Work develop an immunity to this kind of thing. The Abramelin rite talks about how the lower spirits can't stand being in the presence of the holiness of the HGA. The Bible talks about how you can't see the Face of God and live. The Work I do with the seven planetary archangels, the relationship I have with God, the contemplation I do of my Source builds up a spiritual barrier that keeps off the nepheshim and other detrimental spirits. It's the nature of initiation.
Granted, while stressing over the lack of money, I did let a lot of other things slip. I didn't listen to my HGA much, I didn't pray much (except for a couple of weeks for the SA Course, but I let that slip too), and I wasn't doing the nightly ascension through the spheres that I advocate.
The role of the "Evil Daimon" is to punish the impious to drive them back to God. In all honesty, when I'm broke, I don't go to God, I go for money. I go to god to ask for money, true, and my Work with Bune and the other spirits is possible because of my relationship with God, but I don't get my strength from my relationship with God when I'm desperately conjuring spirits to manifest wealth. I'm obviously getting my strength from "wealth." Money makes for a bad God.
None of this is new information, I've personally heard the same basic lesson a few hundred times from preachers, pastors, gurus, hippie mystics, and other spiritual writers for years. It took losing the house temporarily to see that basic lesson. Bune, even if he was acting in the role of "Evil Daimon," succeeded in getting me closer to God, and refocused on the practical application of the Great Work. If I'd spent those hours of conjuring the spirits to get me money on taking care of what I already had been given by the spirits, the flame-out in the water heater wouldn't have had anything to catch on fire. My spouse told me I needed to clean out that room two weeks before the fire, but I didn't think it was that important.
Was Bune responsible for that? Did he make me lazy? Did he feed on my greed, cultivate scenarios that resulted in me having to turn to him so he could get "energy" and praise? If he is, then he's got a broad reach. Hell, he must have gone back in time and planted the seeds of my greed in my youth, influencing my character flaws from the time I was a baby just so he could tap into the resulting greed in my present and recent past! It's totally not my fault at all, it's all Bune's fault!
The worst thing I could do is take this fire and blame it on my activity with Bune. POS isn't my only friend who implied that the Goetia is the reason I've had all these problems. It's a ready scapegoat, it fits their personal prejudices against Goety nicely. It's easy to sit outside someone's life and decide you know what they need to learn. It's a lot easier to blame demonic forces than to accept that being human includes having character flaws that need to be overcome.
Any kind of magic will result in painful periods of time. This house fire was NOTHING compared to the excruciating pain I went through leading up to attaining K&CHGA. If you want a life without pain, don't bother incarnating. It doesn't work that way. Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something. (Princess Bride quote, points!)
Everyone I know who does the Great Work has problems in life. Some people have deep relationship issues, others have financial difficulties, while others have physical illnesses crop up along the way. To learn a spiritual lesson, we suffer physical and emotional hardships. Pain leads to joy. It's the nature of the beast.
People who don't consciously do the Great Work suffer too. People who never conjured a spirit in their lives had their house catch on fire last year. Earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, and hurricanes are happening to people who have been ridden by Loa and to Evangelicals and to Catholics and to secular humanist atheists alike. Shit happens. "The rain falls on the just and the unjust." Most people try to apply meaning to the catastrophic events of life, and some people apply positive meanings while others apply negative ones.
It would be so fucking easy to just hang up my spurs, blame all my suffering on spirits and move on with my life. But that won't fix anything at all. I choose to apply the meaning that will result in not needing to conjure Bune weekly to maintain my wealth.
I think POS's commentary on Goetia is the same mentality as the Evangelicals blaming the Earthquake in Haiti on a pact with Satan. I disagree with his interpretation. It's easy to reach conclusions you already have established. It's a lot harder to look at the whole picture and assess the root of the problem at its most fundamental level, seeing the failures within that led to the calamity, take ownership of it, and then make the necessary and tedious, annoying, difficult changes to the self that come as a result.
But this isn't the Big Easy, it's the GREAT WORK. No one said you get to take the easy way out.