Evocation: A Modern Sorcerer's View
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Probably no other subject in Occultism is full of as much nonsense, bull, opinion or urban myth as the subject of Evocation is!
Far too many would-be experts abound on the subject and their views range from the ridiculously absurd to the verbosely over-stated. Then to top it all off, you have the parrots who parrot other parrots running around there telling one another which author is right and who's full of bull. Does it ever end? Nope.
The confusion begins before one starts down the path. The paradigms are diverse and the adherents to either usually only seek to argue back and forth at which side of the fence who is on and why they're there. Take a trip thru the Net looking at the sites that advocate Evocation and you'll soon see who is where. Then spend the time reading ridiculous opinions both sides give and well... heh heh... you'll be thoroughly confused all right! ;)
If we take the oldest known paradigm, Animism, and examine it, we find that the concept of Animism is that everything has "a spirit" - every rock, blade of grass, cloud, etc. In a bygone age, you had the tribal Sorcerers (rather than argue the proper use of the terms "shaman" or "medicine people" we'll just stick with this one) who went off to make contact with these Spirits to both learn how to adapt better to their environment and learn to better themselves thru this contact.
A modern practitioner by the name of Frater Ubiquitous Daemon (or U.: D.: for short) has written an excellent essay called "The Models of Magic" and in there, he uses Entities as a basis of distinction for seperating the belief of the five models: Spirit, Psychological, Information, Energy and Meta. Animism comes under the "Spirit" classification.
It is believed that for years, this is the method is the primary one that the great Magicians of the Medeival priod operated from. We're not certain whether these practitioners held any belief about it all stemming from within their own mind so to try and argue the psychological model as applied to the Medievalists is pretty much as skeptical as the applying the Spirit model of belief to oneself is in academia today.
It's pretty much believed that Agrippa, Dee, Barret, Levi, Mathers, etc., all were convinced that the Entities which they summoned were tangible, real and beyond our understanding. One can see the Shakespearean line of "There are more things Horatio in the heavens and under the earth..." can be argued here. In fact, a previous Golden Dawn initiate, J. Brodie Innes, once said "It doesn't matter if angels and Gods exist or not; the universe behaves as if they do" and for those of us who operate from the Spirit paradigm (myself included) you can appreciate that quote from Mr. Innes quite well.
The other side of the coin is taken from when Freud came out with is theories of how the human mind works. Many consider Freud one of the first who attempted to rationalize behaviors and beliefs rather than sit idly and believe blind superstitions. With this I too must agree that Mr. Freud did help us all come out of a dark age of belief. Then enter the world of Carl Jung who a disciple of Freud but also a psychonaut in his own time.
Jung's theory of the Collective Unconscious has a lot of merit for those who are of the Psychological model. The idea that all Spirits and Entities are just fragments of the greater whole makes perfect sense for this model. This is where you find modern thinkers like Anton LaVey, Carroll Runyon, Michael Aquino, Phil Hine, etc., arguing that there are no real Spirits but just psychological clusters of belief called "complexes".
On one side of the fence, you get the Spiritists who will point to the African Traditional Religions (ATR) such as the Yoruban Ocha de Regla (aka Santeria) who's worship of the Orisha Spirits garners them direct, material reward and punishment. Physical evidence can be seen and felt and countless experiments have been conducted to prove these entities exist. In the Fon religion of Vodu (also Vudu, Voudoun, Voodoo) these Spirits are worshipped as the LWA and they have been documented to provoke physical manifestation even outside of their worshippers to those who did not believe in them. Modern authors like Lisiewski (see Magical Evocation), & Sebastian Jason Black and Dr. Christopher Hyatt (see their Pacts With The Devil & Urban Voodoo) can offer up their own subjective experiences and experiments.
On the other side, the Psycho-Mages will point to the Phillip Experiment where a group of people from varying backgrounds and experiences who had no pre-conceived notions about anything Occultic were gathered and given a task: to create an entity out of nothing. This entity was called 'Philip' and thru the course of the experiment, Philip did material things to happen such as table tipping, tricks and other such phenomena. In fact, Philip was believed into existence much like the Tibetan monks do with their creations they call "Tulpas". Alexandra David-Neel mentioned how a monk created a Tulpa that was so lifelike and real it fooled even her keen eyesight in her book Magic and Mystery in Tibet.
So where do they meet? Fact is, they don't! Conveniently it is easy for the Psycho-Mages to use the labels of Psychology to explain away everything. And if anything does not fit nicely into their way of thinking then like any pseud-scientist, they will resort back to that carte blanche term "coincidence" which is the catch-all term for "We don't know but it's pure dumb luck that it happened".
Essentially the biggest danger I've been able to trace in the practice of Evocation is the attitude and belief of the practitioner. Now after saying that, it would seem automatic to say, "Well gee Moloch, you just pegged yourself into a corner on the Psychological model side of the fence!" and I would almost have to agree with you. On the Spirit model side, you'll find that practitioners tend to have many steps to go thru to achieve their results.
The Spiritists believe you can offend a Spirit by not following protocol and in doing so can cause yourself great harm. So you may think that going the route of the Psycho-Magi is better? Not hardly. Here you get individuals who can become quite arrogant in their thinking and begin to demand, insist, cajole, threaten, etc., all of these deep complexes that not only exist within their own mind but also the collective unconscious. The belief of "I AM A GOD" is fine within one's own microcosm (their own self) but when they begin to assert that belief out onto the collective unconscious is where the rubber band snap effect takes place. Many would be Psycho-Mages end up in nut wards mainly out of their own stubborness and selfless haphazard.
How Do They Develop?
First they must go thru a period of indoctrination of certain beliefs or "teachings". This may include the myths and legends of the Spiritual Entity, it's avatar appearance, it's likes and dislikes, habits, manner of address, etc. (You'd think that one was preparing to meet with a foreign dignitary and you're right)
Next, after the indoctrination is over, then comes learning the proper sequence and steps to open that door so the Entity will make Its appearance. This is where you get a lot of variance and much becomes dogma. Strict adherence to rules and procedures are enforced and the practitioner is forewarned that any misstep is liable to cause all manner of disaster.
Now do the Psycho-Mages have any of these issues? Yes they do! Within their own camp you have two main factions: the ones who are clearly romanticists like Runyon and the pragmatists like Hine. The romanticists call their tools "props" and believe ritual = psycho-drama. This psychodrama is merely a mental exercise to keep your logical left brain half to remain occupied which hopefully allows your creative right brain half to go about and stir up the emotions and create the entity.
The pragmatists are of the school of belief that the human mind is already powerful enough and all one needs to do is bypass the left brain half thru various mental/physical tricks to implant a suggestion directly into the subconcsious part of our brain which is believed to be the seat of creation.
Even though the means (by which the Complexes are summoned) are pared down thru the application of Occam's Razor, you'll find there are still some centra core beliefs which must be adhered too regardless of paradigm. Failure to adhere to these beliefs is a sure sign of failure of the whole operation.
End Result Achieved
So who's right? They both are! The argument over which way is more effective truly is insane. The joy is found in the ego gratification which both side refuses to let go of. The Psychological and Spiritual sides both share this common denominator. "Someone has to be right! They can't both be!" and I say that's a load of rubbish in itself.
Ask yourself, "WHY must I believe one way or the other?" and go within and try to find a reason. You'll probably find that you're taught to believe that reality is an 'either/or' type of thing and that's all B.S. too!
Enter Moloch's Concept of Useful Beliefs
In studying the field of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP for short), I ran across Richard Bandler and John Grinder's concept of "Useful Lies" (see their book Frogs Into Princes) The idea that everything is a lie and we choose to attach belief to it which filters our attitude, values and behaviors is a personal choice and not forced upon us. At least we believe so. ;)
I in turn thought about this and opted to reframe it (another NLP technique) by applying it to the idea of beliefs and calling it "Useful Beliefs". This is pretty much the same concept except rather than say we're all holding onto various "lies" I prefer to say what we're really doing at the core is grabbing onto certain beliefs and operating them upwards thru various filters of experience.
Thus to me, it's a useful belief to know that my own subconscious mind interacts with all of the other subconscious minds out there - including animal, vegetable and mineral consciousness. (Laugh if you will at that last part, I find it useful to believe such. Some day I may discard it if I don't find it useful to me anymore) By being tied in to the Collective, I can directly influence, thru Occult means, anyone and anything to the degree of my own belief and ability to make it happen. One of those Occult means is thru the use of Entities.
Entities covers the concept of Spirits both pre-existing, created and those who have passed on (the Dead). The pre-existing variety tend to be Animistic as well as those who are Gods, LWA, Orisha, Archangels, Archons, Demons, Angels, Fae, etc. The created beings are known as Servitors (Chaos class), Egregores & Complexes (Psycholigical model), Clusters (Information model), Elementals (Spirit model), and Thralls (my own model).
Regardless of which way you believe, the fact is there is a tremendous advantage to exploring yourself (microcosm) and the universe around you (macrocosm) to the extent you'll never finish. Ever. Even those who operate from the Psychological model know this to be true. Your mind alone is one huge vast place to visit.
When I finally realized all I was doing was wrestling with an idea of which side of the fence I'm standing on, and abandon my rationale for believing this, did I begin to make serious progress. You can as well. Whether you believe as the Psycho-Mages do or whether you choose to do the full route into Spiritist model, is totally up to you. I mean after all, since no one alive has absolute proof which side is right, the Spiritist can easily argue that "The Spirits allow the Psycho-Mages to have their silly beliefs" while the Psycho-Mages will counter with "The Spiritists are only duped into believing any God exists outside of their own mind". ;) It's beating a dead horse, folks. So why waste your time and effort? Move past it and get into the practice of Evocation!
Keep the Faith and DO THE WORK!
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