Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Role of Conjure Magic

I really enjoy Devi the Danforth Witch's Queen of Pentacles Blog. Her recent article, Shortcuts to Evocation? Yes and No provides an interesting take on what it takes to begin conjuration. She has 11 steps that she recommends to noobs looking to conjure their first spirit. She offers a great deal of really good advice for the prospective conjure magician, and she talks about the kinds of things that will make a magician successful with their conjurations.

While I agree with the advice she offers in most of her points, there are some differences in our approach that I'd like to point out to prospective conjure magicians. I'm one who happens to believe that all magic is a form of conjuration, from the most basic prayer or lesser banishing ritual, to the most elaborate conjuration. I've found that some of the things she recommends doing before conjuring a spirit are actually best provided by conjuring spirits. 

In this post, I'm only going to talk about the things I disagree about. Anything in her post I don't specifically mention, I am in total agreement with. I think most of her points are valid and important for successful conjure magic, and I suspect the differences in our opinions are based on our areas of study and our experiences. Mostly though, she still believes, I suspect, that there's a difference between "evocation" and "invocation." I've ranted on that bullshit before, so I won't go into again, but suffice it to say that anyone who thinks that you can do one without the other is in for a rude awakening at some point in their conjure magic career. There is no difference in the actual magical act. The only difference is what part of the effects of the conjuration the magician is focusing their interpretation on.

1) Some Form of Psychic Seership - While this is a handy thing to have, the idea that it is necessary keeps a lot of people away from conjure magic. Seeing the spirits is nice, but it isn't necessary for the magic to work. Even those of my students who never see the spirits benefit from their Work. Most people are not psychic when they start doing magic, but if they start conjuring spirits (sanely), they'll develop all the psychic skills they could ever hope for.

Most people don't trust themselves, or their ability to differentiate between their own thoughts and the thoughts of the spirits. The sad fact is that nothing prepares you to do this, nothing but experience. You have to screw up and think that spirit telling you, "Yes, you WILL win the lottery today" was really Bariel, lose, and then realize it was your own wishful thinking. You have to ignore a spirit's advice thinking it was your own "ego" a few times before you learn to recognize a spirit's instruction. It's part of being a magician.

More importantly than all that, conjuration of the spirits is what changes a magician, enabling the development of psychic seership abilities. Each time you conjure a spirit, its "vibration" affects your own, changing it by creating a resonance to its own powers in your sphere. It's a natural thing, like a tuning fork at a note will make a string tuned to the same note vibrate. Only the spirits are actually tuning your sphere so that it will vibrate in harmony with their spheres. The Archangel Gabriel is an excellent spirit to conjure to develop the skills Devi recommends. Carrying its seal, meditation on its name, and ritual conjurations made with the appropriate candles and incenses that include a request for the development of these abilities is the most effective means of acquiring them.

I agree with points 2-4. Excellent advice that I wish I followed more consistently in my practice. There are a ton of mistakes that could have been avoided in my Work if I'd done these things. I think they should be seen as works in progress, and you shouldn't wait to "master" any of this before conjuring, because the spirits can teach exactly what she suggests you need. Take these points as things to Work on with your Genius or Supernatural Assistant.

5) MASTER SPIRITUAL CLEANSING, PSYCHIC PROTECTION, AND RITUAL BANISHING!!! - Sigh. I think this is a good thing to have, but is not a requirement.

Spiritual Cleansing is a nice thing to know how to do, but once you figured out how to light a sage bundle and waft its smoke around, you've done enough to start conjuring. The floor washes and baths and such are nice things to know about too, but if you can sprinkle Holy Water, you've got the same thing. Pretty much. And again, the spirits will teach you how and empower you to do all this stuff. One of the things that shocked me while reading Pow Wow and Hoodoo recipes is how much they look just like the kinds of things the angels of the planets and their spirits tell me to do on a regular basis.

Psychic Protection - I think this is newage bullshit. Remember when I talked about the spirits changing your sphere's vibration? Working with each of the planetary and elemental rulers takes care of whatever psychic protection you need. They energize your sphere, opening up channels of power and teaching methods that look a lot like the things people talk about when they talk about psychic protection. Devi recommends mastering several techniques for psychic protection, and in my experience, it's overkill. In the time it takes to master the imaginary special effects most psychic protection provides, you could have taken over the world conjuring spirits.

Banishing rituals - This one really annoys me. How long will people continue to believe the LBRP is anything but a conjuration ritual? It works because most of the crap that we accumulate spiritually doesn't like to be in the presence of the Four Angels Ruling over the Corners of the world (Agrippa, Book 2, chapter 7). The LBRP cleanses space because it is a conjuration ritual. It really sucks the way it's tauhgt, in my opinion, because it doesn't actually do anything once the angels are present. You should be telling all the nepheshim, wandering spirits, hungry ghosts, and any other spiritual entity to be gone in the names of the Archangels, and charge the Archangels to keep all unwanted spirits away. Otherwise, the spirits may leave while you're seeing imaginary stars, but the angels aren't going to do much for you to keep them away. It's good to have in your pocket in case you're ever under attack, don't get me wrong, but treat it like the conjuration of the Four Angels of the Corners of the Earth that it really is.

Hermetic Conjuration rituals like the ones described in renaissance accounts of magic are the very best form of banishing you can hope for. Drawing up the Table of Practice from the Modern Angelic Grimoire, for example, is the creation of a talisman that does everything the LBRP does, and more, because it includes the powers of the seven planets in addition to the four elements. If you create a Magic Circle like the one in the Lemegeton, you'll have nothing to fear from any of the spirits. The physical creation of that Circle is a form of kinetic meditation that results in an initiatory experience, granting you the authority to do the magic you're trying to do.

And once you get into conjure magic, you'll realize how a "banishing ritual" can actually be something that interferes with your Work. The Key of Solomon provides a technique that includes nine days of fervent prayer leading up to a ritual. In those nine days, spirits in harmony with the intent of your daily fervent prayers are drawn to you like moths to a flame. They gather, awaiting the Charge. Then you do the ritual, and using a talisman of an archangel, you put the spirits that gathered to Work on your behalf. Throw in an LBRP designed to banish away all spirits, positive and negative, and you've just ruined nine days worth of Work. The same is true of the Lem's Goetia. As soon as you start sketching the seals of the spirits, you've started gathering their awareness of you. The banishing rite disperses the power that's been built up, and you end up with weak results.

Devi's next point, Point 6, is one I've made a few million times in my writing. Your relationship with the divine needs to be the foundation of your magic, imo. However, it is something that grows and matures as you practice conjure magic. I think having the intent of discovering your relationship to the divine is enough for you to start conjuring spirits.

Point 7 is another point I strongly agree with. I see making the altar to Michael and developing that relationship with the spirit as a very good first step. I personally believe the HGA or Supernatural Assistant is the best place to start. As soon as you start making an altar to a spirit though, you are conjuring that spirit.

Point 8 is another great chunk of advice. I have nothing more to say about that.

Overall, I agree a great deal more with the points Devi makes than I disagree. I think I just look at things differently. I've benefited a great deal from learning to see all magic as a form of conjuration. Even doing things that some people consider "energy work" from the perspective of "conjuring up my own spirit's powers" has helped me a great deal.

I also want people to begin to see conjure magic as a valid form of magic that doesn't require all these hoops to jump through before you get started. Pointing out that most of the preparation people advise is either already conjure magic, or is best accomplished through conjure magic is a start.

I do believe it's best to start slow and work your way up. I use the Emerald tablet as the primary model of the Work. You start with the Abramelin Technique, you attain K&C with the HGA or Supernatural Assistant, or Genius, and then you Work with that spirit to get the basic skills and experiences you need to take the next step. You Work your way up through the spheres and then back down. You gain a deep understanding of your relative position, your "relationship" to God, the Source, all the spirits that are manifestations of that Source, and all the physical things and people in your life. Once you've got that perspective, and the authority that comes with it, you're ready to start Working the sub-lunar spirits to take Right Action as necessary in your physical life.

Every step in the process, as I see it, requires conjuration for full effectiveness. Waiting until you've got everything ready to start conjuring spirits is like getting cleaned up to take a bath.


  1. I read the original article and was left wondering about the level of skill necessary to even consider such work (it gets really discouraging when you start thinking in years before you can actually try something… not to say that everything in life and magic is, or should be, easy but from a beginner’s perspective that’s the general feeling). You pretty much answered all my unasked questions and put some of my fears to rest :) Great take on the topic. Thanks!

  2. Certainly if someone is going to drop into the occult world gung-ho on following a system similar to the one that you work in, using the various initiations and such, then this advice may not fit the bill. Especially as it applies to methods of psychic protection. Although I don't find this "new age". I work with people in my healing practice everyday that have no interest in joining a complex magical system, but have issues related to energy mismanagement, weaknesses, etc. Knowing how to shield one from harmful energies is invaluable to many people. I've been practicing for 13 years now, and while I don't need to shield nearly as much as I used to, there are occasions when they do come in handy. And when I was just starting out they helped A LOT! Some people are much more sensitive to things than others, and learning to keep your balance and energetic integrity is extremely important. So, if you feel that psychic protection is bullshit across the board, then we'll just have to agree to disagree on that one.

    Let's face it, the majority of the people to whom this article was addressed are starting from square one with a lot of piss and vinegar and little practical sense. Or they are interested in the evocational arts but wish to be prepared enough to know they can handle what might pop up, and are wondering what they may need to work on before jumping in (I was in this catagory for a long while). I feel that what I outlined provides advice that is very applicable to the majority of those putting their toes into the occult waters for the first time.

    I would sincerely hope that as they apply themselves to learning foundation skills, they would develop the insight that all magic is a conjuration. But fresh out of the gate, it may very well be easier to give them a game plan, that is fairly customizable to their particular spiritual individualisms (you notice I never made any pronouncements about any one particular technique or system being better than another - if they don't like one, they are encouraged to seek out others. Hell, even if they DO like one, learning about others is invaluable).

    Really, more than anything else, going through the steps that I outlined, more than anything else, helps someone develop a level of magical maturity and some ritual experience and sophistication with basic elements of occult practice.

    But you're correct in that we seem to agree on more than we disagree.


  3. I actually agree with most of your points RO. I believe that pretty much all magic is a conjuration - you are always working with Spirit and spirits. The post was directed primarily at those who are wishing to jump into work such as the Goetia or something similar in the first week of their occult practice, who do see a large distinction between doing some candle magic, and calling up a daemon to do their bidding (and there *is* a difference, the line is just fuzzy). Going back to a good term that Kenaz used, we're talking spirits that are hotter than cooler, or more prone to neutral or amoral personalities - note, I am *not* making a judgement here, nor am I suggesting that they are 'bad' or 'evil'. I think one should cut their teeth on spirit work that is safer for those learning the ropes.

    Absolutely the LBRP is a conjuration. Getting in with those 4 archangels is very valuable in my opinion! (Is the LBRP the only way to do that? Not at all.) And I didn't say that ritual was the be-all end-all. I simply presented it as an option since it is very well known. I specifically said to seek out and study different ways to perform the same task. I certainly don't see anything wrong with expecting someone to be able to clean up any mess that they might make - and knowing how to ritually dismiss any spirits which they may not wish to have hanging around is a reasonable pre-requisite for that type of work.

    In my section on psychic seership, I didn't hold up clairvoyance as the standard one had to achieve. I specifically mentioned several different techniques through which one can learn to at least sense the presence of a spirit. It doesn't have to by "psychic" per se, but I think learning to know to sense in some way if a spirit has arrived is pretty important. Even if it's learning to trust the subtle shift in energy in the room. If you don't have any way to know if the spirit has arrived or has heard you, then you are simply guessing if your operation was successful, until you see results or not. You say that the main thing is learning to know the difference between your imagination and spirit communications. True - which is why I suggest cultivating skill at a self-observatory form of meditation. The two go hand in hand.

    ...contin'd below

  4. Devi, again I agree with at least 85-95% of what you said.

    The rest is mostly perspective and interpretation. I think people need to start with conjuration, specifically their Genius and the Archangel Michael. I mostly only responded because after reading your article, I thought people who would otherwise blossom on a path similar to mine would be left afraid to start.

  5. RO, this is golden, golden, golden advice:

    "You should be telling all the nepheshim, wandering spirits, hungry ghosts, and any other spiritual entity to be gone in the names of the Archangels, and charge the Archangels to keep all unwanted spirits away. Otherwise, the spirits may leave while you're seeing imaginary stars, but the angels aren't going to do much for you to keep them away. It's good to have in your pocket in case you're ever under attack, don't get me wrong, but treat it like the conjuration of the Four Angels of the Corners of the Earth that it really is."

    Love your work.

  6. Man I am not going to quote a percentage, but there are not many of your posts that I have disagreed with more.

    First, All magic is NOT a form of conjuration unless you stretch that word so far that it is essentially as meaningless a catch all as magic itself.

    I have a friend who does only energy based magic in what I consider the lower and mid astral planes. He views all magic through that lens and insists that any other type of magic is really a type of energy work and that he knows best. His lens filter is screwed on so tight that he can only see things that way.

    You are in danger of becoming that guy sometimes with the "spirit model". There are people who do magic with absolutely no interaction with spirits. There are those that do magic with some, and there are those that do magic only with spirits. Magic is too big a thing to be pidgeonholed like that.

    At the point where you are interpreting the energy workings that the angels are teaching you as "conjuring up my own spirits power's" just so that you can see everything in magic is conjuration is huge stretch.

    Your treatment of the LBRP is a prime example of this lens. I totally agree that people overbanish and how banishing non stop can screw up your results, but
    you statement of "How long will people continue to believe the LBRP is anything but a conjuration ritual of the four Archangels" is basically your way of saying "I jive with that section of the ritual and think the rest is just mental masturbation because it doesnt fit my model.

    I taught that ritual for years and can tell you for sure that it is WAY more than that. There are three separate parts that can all be done independently.

    The first is a combination of prayer and energy work that balances the ouranic and chthonic forces within the verticle column and the male/female or solar/lunar polarity with the horizontal one. It is pure prayer and energy work.

    Part two also is prayer and energy work. You are setting up a fortress of energy. This is different than a Solomonic floor circle which is as you say a prayer and a boundary placing. They work on different principals. The floor circle is like a border that has been agreed upon by negotiation, the violation of which is punishable by the powers invoked. The LBRP and other rites like the Tibetan Vajra Tents and such are like Walls. There is an element of protective powers as well, but the wall is also important.

    The conjuration of the archangels is actually not what I would call a straight conjuration at all, but a combination of a conjuration and energy work. You are visualizing the archangels in specific forms, than invoking them so that their presence fills the "throne" that you have set for it.

    The way I see it there are three levels of manifestation that angels can take. The first is by lending a bit of their attention/essence to a form or even just a simple prayer. If they appear at all, their appearance is based on your expectation and energetic work.

    The second is the stronger contact that you get when you evoke/invoke (total agreement about the fuzzy or even non-existent line there is there) or even when you travel to their sphere in the astral body.
    Their appearance is an exchange between the angel and the conjurer, which is why sometimes in conjurations you have to ask the spirit to take a comely form.

    The third is full on balls to the wall shit your pants the angel is showing the full 500 feet tall flaming grand spectacle with 100 wings filles with 1000 eyes each. They speak with all twelve vocal chords and bend your mind because they are passing around 10 dimensions. You only get this when they want to talk to you, not the other way around.

    Anyway man. I love you, and I love your work, but anytime anyone has ever said "all magic is basically X" they were pretty much wrong.

  7. When spirits talk to you or give you 'mental sounds' (for lack of a better term) it's usually pretty hard to mistake it for your own thoughts. During one of an Enochian evocations I suddenly heard wings flapping; except it sounded lounded than a helicopter taking it offm it was deafening. It had to have been in my head since no one else in the house heard anything like it.

  8. Jason,

    I am comfortable seeing all magic as a form of conjuration. I came from an Energy Model, I evolved to an Information Model, and now I'm at the Spirit Model. It's the most effective model, it has the most explanatory force for the range of experiences I've had and seen.

    But to quote the Holy Grail, "It's only a model." It's a means to understand events and predict future ones. If I'm seeing the kinds of results I'm looking for and expecting, then who gives a shit? I spent years trying to see "the truth behind the illusions," and then I realized there are only more illusions, and even when you see the truth, to explain it you have to create more illusions.

    Eventually you realize (or you don't) that regardless of the ultimate truth behind the illusions, the universe operates as if [insert belief system] were true, under some conditions. Right now, the Spirit Model provides the most consistent and powerful results. If I find something better, it wins.

    Until then, I'm sucking every drop of marrow from the bones of this model, and if that means I say I'm conjuring the powers of my own spirit to release effects that others get by doing meditative energy work, so be it.

    As for the LBRP, it's a bullshit ritual, completely overblown, overanalyzed, and remains a shit stain on the underwear of the occult left by incontinent old men who pulled the teeth from the Hermetic Tradition trying to make it reflect the fairy tales of the Theosophists and their own made up "history" of their Masonic roots.

    If occultists spent as much time reading chapters of Agrippa as they do analyzing that stupid fucking ritual, we'd probably have reached global Enlightenment by now.

    That's my opinion. I know a ton of people are living better lives because of the LBRP, I'm glad it was there for me when I needed it, because I literally had nothing else to use to fend off a spiritual attack, and it worked brilliantly.

    But that was in the 1990s, the tail end of the 20th century. I'm doing everything in my power this life to make sure that people have access to the true Hermetic Tradition, that they can get trained in real magic without the horse shit, magic that works to make them better people in their personal lives, and grant them the degree of influence/control over their manifest world that they is their birthright.

    And I know the way I see it isn't the only way to do things, it's just the best way I've found so far, for me, and it will be more effective for some people than others.

    They're the ones I'm writing for.

  9. See, you capture my point in your last paragraph:

    "And I know the way I see it isn't the only way to do things, it's just the best way I've found so far, for me, and it will be more effective for some people than others."

    Right on man. I feel the same way about the things that I do and the people I write for. The difference is that when you say things like all magic is X, you sound like you are not just speaking for you.

    Thats why I got so pissed at Frater Barrabbas for putting words in my mouth. Meditation actually is the core discipline in my system, but I would never argue that it is the core of magic itself or even necessary at all for people to do magic.

    PS: Models suck. All of them. :-)

  10. I am in awe of all of the experienced voices on this subject. Being someone who has lacked the discipline to pursue magic in the manner that you all have (even though I've studied for approximately 30 years..yikes!), I can say that the majority of the successes that I have had came through nothing more than a sincere prayer from my heart to call the said spirit into my world. I first, successfully, evoked Michael when I was literally between heaven and hell (in that I had no place else to turn before doing something that would have changed the course of my life forever.) I took the seal RO uses in his Angelic Grimoire, held it in my hand, and prayed harder than I ever had in my entire life! After a few minutes, I literally felt the crown of my head begin to open up and a great burning sensation descend over me. It moved behind my right shoulder and although frightened, I continued the "conjuration". After this event I felt an impression mark on my right shoulder for almost three weeks. As someone who has NOT practiced regularly, I believe that the core is your heartfelt desire to make contact with the spirit, especially if it is for something that you know you cannot accomplish on your own. I feel that from that point learning specific systems is icing on your cake and should be used to develop and master yourself so that you, too, can do great things! I love what you all are doing, and am greatly encouraged to keep reaching towards this matter how lazy I can be (LOL!)

  11. Thanks for posting this up here along with Devi's post. I finally got to read it around 4 this morning and I'm pretty happy to see that it covers some of my questions related to my 'box' post.


Thanks for your comments, your opinions are valued, even if I disagree with them. Please feel free to criticize my ideas and arguments, question my observations, and push back if you disagree.