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Demonic Forces?
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A Revised Look At The Goetia Spirits

By James Donahue

A few years ago we devoted a lot of space on this site to a study of the 72 Spirits of the Goetia as identified by famed Twentieth Century Psychic and Magician Aleister Crowley, and such infamous predecessors as Collin de Plancy, S. L. MacGregor Mathers and Johann Wier.

While posted the drawings and descriptions of these demonic entities probably drew more interest than anything else we have ever published. We still find people searching this site for information on the Goetia.

The drawings and written descriptions of the spirits by de Plancy, Mathers and Wier produced interesting diversions to those of Crowley and the drawings once published on this site. At the time we suggested that the spirits were changing their appearance, often to that of human skeletal figures, as some kind of warning to mankind. There also was a link to alien space craft which gave us the suggestion that the Goetia Spirits were, in reality, aliens existing among us.

Indeed, there is a strange shroud of mystery concerning these spiritual forces. Some say they are major demonic figures commanding legions of lesser demons and that they move about the earth in constant search of humans to possess and destroy.

Many magicians over the years say they have successfully evoked specific spirits and called upon their powers to gain fortune, fame and other gifts.

There is a story that King Solomon of Old Testament fame had all 72 Goetia Spirits under his control and used them to gain the great wealth, power and wisdom that marked his place in the Hebrew historic memory. As the old story is told, when he was finished with the spirits he bound and sealed them in a brass vessel. His secret seal supposedly kept the spirits eternally bound.

If this was so, how is it that contemporary magicians have been capable of evoking the spirits? Did they discover Solomon’s secrets and break the seal? We doubt that. In recent years, some leading Israeli archaeologists say that they have been unable to prove that such a king as Solomon even existed. And if he did, they believe he may have been no more than a tribal warlord of his time. The stories about him are but a false mythology generated among the Hebrew people as part of an attempt to prove that they were chosen by God to be superior over all other races.

The Goetia, the primary source of what has long been called “goetic magic,” is a book from a collection of five ancient volumes known as the Lemegeton. The other books describe other magic operations that establish a complete system of spirit communication that includes calling on angels for help. In other words, the text acknowledges the spirit world that exists around us and offers a way of creating a temporary gateway between here and there.

Does the opening of the gate allow such spirits entrance to our world? And are the stories true that the Goetia Spirits are, in reality, the fearful demons that would cause us harm and even possess our bodies when given a chance?

Indeed, it has been said that the very name “Goetia” is a reference to the operations of that magick that deals with “gross, malignant or unenlightened forces.” Because of the stories it is considered a dangerous form of magic that can get out of control, yet draws people who seek the possible reward of wealth and power. Thus the spirits are like the genie in the bottle that grants wishes once brought under the control of the one in possession of the bottle.

Paul Hughes-Barlow, who writes about spiritual matters and claims to be a spiritual master, writes that the spirits are not only among us, but they choose who and when to make contact with magicians. Their motives are usually that “they know when a magician can assist them,” he said.

Hughes-Barlow also believes the spirits are capable of taking on various forms when making their appearances, thus explaining why so many different descriptions of the Goetia spirits are in existence.

Crowley, who is among the more infamous magicians associated with the Goetia, believed that the demons might even be “parts of (the magician’s) own psyche.” In other words, the image perceived with more imagination than reality.

So just how dangerous are the Goetia Spirits? It has been our conclusion that while we are above them, if allowed to get involved in our lives these powerful demons can affect our health and our lives and should be left alone. Inexperienced sorcerers who play with such entities in a quest for wealth and power may get the reward they seek, but it will come with a price.

The parallel here would be like the age-old warning of the fool who sold his soul to the devil in exchange for some bauble of a reward ripped from this dark and twisted world.