I was preparing for an evocation of Solomon to enable me to perform a second Abramelin. The first one wasn’t enough.
The Abramelin tells you to set up the oratory then work it right there. It doesn’t say what medieval magicians probably knew or had to live by dint of circumstance. They didn’t move from house to house. It was hard enough to have one house. They didn’t usually have ten.
When they say a spirit is “bound,” they don’t tell what “bound” means in spirits. A demon is a multi-faceted construct composed of aspects of
1. Ghosts of the operator’s own Deep Self
2. Ghosts of the Deep Self of the clan, lovers, fellow practitioners
3. Ghosts of the animals, plants and land beings of the area – literally earth, air, wind, and fire. Animals who choose to work as gods alter themselves in some ways that render them less able to function normally in their worlds. It is a big commitment. They can “ride” the humans in certain ways and expand into more human ways of cognitive function, while humans expand into more animal ways of energy work. This is why witches and shamans practice shapeshifting. It is one of the most important magical practices in the repertoire.
4. The living energies of the beings who inhabit the region
5. The structure of the magic itself and human thought about it, especially in the area
6. The energy of the operator himself/herself
A demon morphs constantly and is constantly evolving. Thus when you “bind” a demon in one place, it is best to stay put so that he or she can evolve and develop with you and you can develop with him/her.
Spells you do with demons in an area are workable in that area and not other places.
Thus my Abramelin demons were mostly California demons and had not really had a chance to evolve in New Jersey, nor had I.
And I am not a Thelemite or Enochian magician with that entire structure to lend assistance to the Abramelin. I am a Golden Dawn person with thousands of hours of Hermetic Cabala under my belt, as well as some hoodoo. That is what got me through. I knew someone who undertook the Abramelin without those structures and ended up with four months of food poisoning, a job loss, and a significant crisis in mental health.
When I got to New Jersey, my Abramelin spirits were bedraggled and struck and I had lost my items in a whirl of delusion and magical battles; they were inadequately protected across the country from their christening in L.A. I had moved into other forms of ceremonial magic, which is like trying to simultaneously build your house and live in it. The local spirits do not really spend much time as medieval operatives–they mostly back Christianity, which is lovely but not happy about demons–and I had ancestors, ex-lovers, and former lodge mates who are not that comfortable with demons, either. They would rather feel their way with angels. I needed a new Abramelin, I was thinking the spiffed-up eighteen month variant this time, because I wanted to be the diva.
I am not the diva. What I am is beaten but not dead.
The European old ones and many of my clan assure me that they are perfectly capable of turning into medieval operatives, but they need the Catholic Church on a regular basis to do so–or a big fat pile of THE DEVIL. It is part of the energy structure of that system. Or Judaism. I now have all of the above, so I am COVERED. Sort of. Not that I understand religion.
This is not clearly spelled out in the Renaissance texts we have. It is assumed. This is why we have so many accidents with the Abramelin and with ceremonial magic. The modern lodge system does much to fill in the holes, but the new stuff is not able to connect with the old powers, so it lacks the wisdom and elegance of the old magic.
It was also worked in Europe, where the land spirits know how to “make” it. The Hermetic magic that is worked here is Enochian and that is mostly on the West Coast. It probably doesn’t work as well in Europe.
We read the work of Dion Fortune, especially her novels, but we somehow never have quite that experience. How many contemporary Hermetists can read the Deep Self even after a decade of work? How many meet their ancient gods or the immortalized old ones of their Deep Self? How many know what is going on in the earth’s underworld or in human evolution? I didn’t have these bells and whistles until I did the unthinkable:
I sold my soul to the Devil.
And I re-up the Deal every Wednesday with a witch spell.
This is a big thing with artists, so it was easier for me than for many others. Robert Johnson sold his soul for the power of the guitar, but then he was fool enough to get in bed with another man’s wife. There is a lot to learn from this example. You have to behave. The Devil can’t get you out of everything.
(I had performed the crossroads ritual years before, meeting the Black Man at the crossroads on nine nights. That time I asked for hoodoo. I had no idea this meant anything more than a leg up on working the root.)
I didn’t come up with this pact stuff myself. I was merely trying to ask the Solomonic spirits who handle the Abramelin to set it up properly, because the thing didn’t “make” for me. I expected to get training and information. I am psychic enough to receive information from the spirit world in many ways. I expected to have an organization of operative spirits that would enable me to be a very fine witch. I wanted to get people jobs, find them lovers, heal their illnesses, read for them about their life’s problems, and assist them in dealing with the dead. Classic witch stuff. And I wanted to get paid for it. You can and should make a reasonable living. After twenty years and thousands of hours of work, I am entitled to a lower-middle-class wage, the same I earn in the business world. Or so I thought.
No one agreed. The workers in the traditions where that actually functions–the African and the Latino, and to a certain extent Chinese Traditional Medicine–were not having any of this white man’s power magic nonsense. It’s not good for business. Smash.
What I expected from the Abramelin is done quite nicely here in the African Traditional Religions, but I had spent twenty years in Hermetics and wanted a return on investment. Not a bad thought, and I need to leave with the one that brung me, but ouch.
Hermetics doesn’t like actual witchcraft. There is a Jungian individuation schtick where you are opening to the Higher Self — which is supposedly honorable (not always!)–and growing through archetypes. The idea that there is the accountability of a spell ACTUALLY WORKING isn’t really part of how they work. The truth is, they would have to account for what their magic does to people’s souls, ancestors, and clans, and they cannot, because it isn’t entirely beneficial. And they don’t want to admit this. (Few people last more than a couple of years anyway, so the results may not be knowable.)
Rosicruciana was originally an upper-middle-class situation, and the idea of charging twenty dollars for a limpia or seeking instruction at the hands of the working class is beneath them. So no witching.
And witching is what Hermetics really needs, because lodges were always worked from the underworld, and the finest underworld operatives are–you guessed it–witches! There are wizards and Churchmen in the mix, but operatives solve problems more creatively than bureaucrats.
The witches who are able to “make” this old magic need some of their own work in your energy so that they can remember how to “be.” They are very old ghosts, and while they do support the goth kids, working in ceremonial magic is different, and Enochian magic, which does not build bridges to the preexisting traditions of Catholicism and witchcraft, can be harmful to their energy patterns. The dead are fragile, and that is why they prefer to work behind masks. The masks have rules, however, one rule being similar to “The first rule of fight club is you don’t talk about fight club.” The first rule of being a ghost is you don’t tell anyone you’re a ghost. You are a god, or an angel, or a fairy, but you are not Gramma with a rosary.
There are also rules about what you can and cannot tell the humans about human evolution. An enterprising worker will work with lots of masks and then the traditions can rat each other out. Boy, do I have some tales to tell, but that’s because I am in league with lots of devils.
I did not go seeking the pact. In a reading one night, a great King mentioned the whole existence of pacts to me, and added, “It is a great honor and one you will accept.”
Now the Abramelin flat out tells you NOT to make pacts, as do many other medieval magic manuals, but I jumped. Yes. Gut sense. I got a piece of lambskin and wrote out a pact that the Solomonic spirits would serve me in honorable magic and in turn would make arrangements for my soul in the afterlife, and signed my name in blood.
I put some art in there as well. Why not?
Then I constructed an evocation of Solomon with a circle that was an amalgamation of many designs in Solomonic magic, of barley flour, with khyphi incense which I unfortunately made hurriedly and without the level of research and ritual purity that would have pleased the gods. I wouldn’t do that again, and do advise against it. As I stood at the cash register of my local magic store making the purchases for the operation, Odin’s raven flew into the store, and all but materialized on the shoulder of the ghostly form of Jake Stratton-Kent who strode through the shop and out through the back wall. I didn’t know if this was a good sign or not–but it was a sign, because that evocation blew up my life while saving it.
I would never have known how the underworld worked without it. And I lost all of my worldly possessions which I am now having to replace.
I was planning to move to a new apartment in a ritzy part of town, one that I had gotten on a deal as part of the evocation ha ha ha. The very day before I was to go, I had a hankering to go shopping and knew I needed a place to leave the shopping bags, because I tire easily and hate shopping. So on a lark, I called in sick from work and booked a hotel room in an older neighborhood, one formerly inhabited by the poor, and as I walked past a park a slew of orbs rushed me and drew me into the park.
They were New England witches.
Speaking in unison, they told me they had evolved to worlds beyond comprehension in witchcraft and had come back to aid and teach me.
The Pact is evidently a Bat Signal in the underworld. It is your admission ticket to the old magic. I didn’t know this–no one in lodges does. It would put the lodges out of business.
Only the Devil can save you if you cross the power of the Church. That is as true today as it was a thousand years ago, which is why, I suspect, the lodge never really takes on the empire. A lot of lodges are seeking to become empires. Sad.
The Devil saves you from death (if he can!) and he saves you after death, when the might of the Christian underworld dismantles anyone who doesn’t get with the program.
And it’s a ridiculous program. It’s not that I want to have something for nothing. It’s that I want all those stupid promises of Christianity–having a piddly now life to have a great afterlife–to be true–and they’re not square unless the defenders make them. It’s not nice. And we can have bigger lives. Christian poverty is largely about the distribution of wealth up the social scale.
The rich have figured out how to game the underworld. This is partly the biology of the simian which is hierarchical and distributes domination upward and to males, but the large system magicks divorced from shamanism have exacerbated it. The rich suck wealth from the others of the Higher Self and from people in the surrounding area simply by being wealthy. The poor have to make power like nobody’s business and even then the rich can take a cut simply by being rich. They can also be jerks and still immortalize and command a great deal of power in the underworld for centuries.
It is the Devil workers who have to be THE SHERIFF. And get strung up for it.
A Devil Worker can get people jobs, find them lovers, and play the guitar. But only a card-carrying member of Hell can also make death fair.