Goetia Work in the Context of Chaos Craft


Introduction

Having just convened for the second time after the lockdown with our coven we performed a conjuration of Astaroth – the third time that I have done goetic work in a group and we considered it to be a great success. Without revealing my exact method (I would like people to come along and experience my method for themselves!) we managed to each of us ask Astaroth a question and get a fitting answer. All of us were very happy with what we had achieved! Participants left feeling inspired and empowered.

Being a chaos magician I will freely construct my rituals in a creative way to hopefully achieve the desired result without worrying unduly about violating principles of tradition. I used strobe lights with the lenses painted over with colours and out of step with each other to induce an altered state of consciousness. I tested this at home with my friend in the kitchen one evening: they got scared and kicked me in the shin on the way to the light-switch accusing me afterwards of ‘pulling faces’! This told me that I got the desired result!

Paradigms

I tend to think that the entities in the grimoires are not inherently evil but am more inclined to think that we have a list of spirits here, many of them gods of ‘other’ religions, re-branded as ‘demons’ for which we have instructions for performing pujas in order for them to assist us in our lives. Many purists will think of me as being dangerously complacent! However, I have worked extensively with Astaroth within groups and by myself using various methods and have come to no harm by having this perspective. For me the word ‘evil’ is in itself dated and of little relevance in modern language, a word usually reserved for things we fear or don’t like.

Here we reach a point of clashing of paradigms and theories on how this kind of magic works and for that matter any type of magic. The psychological model based on Jung’s theories is a favourite for many. Ideas about the Shadow and archetypes with Jung believing that thoughts do not altogether take place inside the brain. Crowley himself was a veteran of this perspective when he introduced his Goetia publication by asserting that the spirits are actually parts of the brain. ‘Psychologizing’ magic has a history of at least 100 years. There is no doubt in my mind after reading Jung’s Red Book that Jung himself was a Hermetic magician since Philemon, Jung’s Daimon actually carried a copy of the 6th and 7th Book of Moses with him, which is a grimoire! He believed that thoughts have an external reality of their own, that would literally mean that ‘complexes’ can be equated with spirits by his way of thinking. How thoughts can be ‘external’ has not been clearly explained to my satisfaction, hence I am not fully subscribed to this theory or any other paradigm for that matter.

Whichever way you believe magic works: there is no complete theory which explains it flawlessly. Jung was a scientist and his theory on the paranormal is elegant and serves as a good springboard for magic until the moment when you dive in and actually do the work! Once the circle is drawn: all that stuff falls aside for a while and you proceed without a rational framework.

Approaches: Purist versus Pragmatist

Being a chaos magician, I am concerned with results rather than traditions. I don’t think it is necessary to quench my ritual knife in mole’s blood in order to get a good result when following instructions in the True Grimoire but if you are a purist which instructions do you follow and which ones do you ignore? Working as a gardener and I can tell you that I am proud of my Japanese pruning saw as it makes me look like a garden ninja however: even with this tool I would struggle to cut a wand thick enough with one stroke to put all the necessary signs on it as prescribed in the grimoires!

As for the virgin parchment: I recognize a life-force offering when I see one! If you cut the throat of a goat and pronounce the name of the spirit that you wish to conjure that is what I see, a life-force offering. This should be an important part of the ritual but for obvious reasons, it cannot be so. In the African Traditional Religions the use of blood is difficult to overlook. I have seen goats being sacrificed in India. It features in the Bible: Jehovah insists on it and punishes Cain for failing in this. The use of blood in religious and magical traditions is cross-cultural and can be found from South America all the way to Nepal. It is considered effective.

My argument is this: there are no purists in goetia work! You will never catch enough moles to quench that blade in their blood and you must not try to do so either!

Pragmatic Approach

Seeing as you are unlikely to be able to follow exactly the instructions as set out in the grimoires: what would be the best way to proceed?

Black and Hyatt in Pacts with the Devil give some good ideas on substitutions. For a life-force offering they suggest that the sexual act can be used and the resulting fluids be offered instead of blood. Crowley did so with great effect in the ‘Paris Working’. One’s own blood can also be used to great effect: using sterile diabetic lances, a few drops is enough in my opinion to get impressive results. Drop some in that incense for example! It would not take a creative genius to come up with really good techniques to make a powerful and effective life-force offering without injury to yourself or any other living creature! The ‘Vinum Sabbati’ that Kenneth Grant refers to in the Carfax Monograph I would consider to be the ideal.

Chaos magicians will dissect a ritual and see procedures that are common to many other acts of magic. Altered states of consciousness are useful and everything from incense and various drugs to spinning, over-breathing, sleep deprivation, fasting are used in magic around the world in various cultures and times. My ‘unusual’ approach to conjuration would not be considered at all unusual in this context. I like using a dutch-pot (cauldron) as the place where the spirit manifests: painting the sigil of the entity onto the floor of the pot. I have the charcoal read on there with the incense that has all of the special ingredients that you wish to add. This might be some heady incense and a few drops of blood/Vinum Sabbati that you have hygienically added.

Chris Bennet in Liber 420 argues convincingly that intoxicating drugs were used in spirit communications of many types – asserting that the incense used was actually exactly that. It would be a shame to reduce conjuration work down to a ‘controlled hallucination’ as it is not a complete theory that explains every aspect of the phenomenon, such as the paranormal effects, but it might be considered another way of opening a path to successful work in this area.

Our Formula

I would suggest the following formula for goetia work, like recipes in a cookbook you will not want to slavishly follow my suggestions and you might have strong opinions that will prevent you from doing so:

  1. Sacred Space: Circle and Quarters Ritual
  2. Cleansing of participants with white sage or preferred method
  3. Switch stobe-lighting on
  4. Invocation: Petition your patron deity to oversee this work
  5. Headless/Bornless Ritual: invocation of Holy Guardian Angel by your preferred
    method as ‘preliminary invocation’
  6. Lighting of specially prepared incense
  7. Repetition of incantation as per True Grimoire
  8. Chanting of name of spirit in step with in and out-breaths for 10 minutes
  9. Manifestation of spirit in cauldron
  10. Quizzing the spirit/making requests
  11. Banishing
  12. Closing of ritual and license to depart
  13. Chaos Magicians use the IAO ritual as a ‘re-centering’ rite after everything has been completed. You might wish to use voice-recorders during the ritual and share insights with participants after the ritual before going your separate ways.

Conclusion

I have directly used over-breathing and strobe-lighting to great effect in group goetia work as well as drumming, using my own blood and other unconventional methods. As a group we have successfully communicated with Astaroth: each member in turn and got satisfactory answers to our questions. I certainly had very vivid visual effects without using intoxicating drugs. There is no need to harm animals and there is no need to skimp on those techniques that help just because they are not in the book or form part of goetia tradition. Magic is a dynamic pursuit which in my opinion should evolve and change with time. Our method also needs honing and improving. I would like to do a great deal more to make our ritual more powerful and effective!

Frater Ananael (Priest of Chaos Craft)


Coming up next…

Julian will be teaching Street Sigil Sorcery on the 25th of November, 19:00-21:00 GMT. Join the workshop live or catch up afterwards with delayed viewing tickets.

Julian will be leading The Sun at Midnight, an online ritual as we approach the winter solstice on the 9th of December 19:00-21:00 GMT.

Dancing with Abraxas

I have recently been busy doing a cluster of podcasts related to my work as a therapist, the path of Chaos Witchcraft and also my own heretical take on gnostic mythology. This last discussion with the lovely Talk Gnosis channel took me back 5 years to many of the themes regarding dualism and deity that I explored in my book A Gnostic’s Progress. Contemporary attempts to reimagine gnostic practice often get tangled in the dilemma of how literally to engage with primary sources that often seem to be viewing the material realm and the body as being overwhelmingly negative. In both my book and the interview below I try to dig into the existential significance of such mythologies and how they often express the transformational tension we experience on our way to non-dual/less-dual experiences of the numinous and mysterious. Here’s the interview and a relevant excerpt from the book that picks up on these themes:

“In contrast to either creedal formulations or some distant “unmoved mover”, for Jung the God that seemed to encapsulate the endeavour of the gnostic explorer, was that strange bird Abraxas. Abraxas, like Baphomet, is one of those Gods whose queer visage keeps popping up in esoteric lore, while at the same time being very difficult to categorise. Research will provide some insights into the roles that he played/plays within a whole host of occult traditions – this strange cockerel (and sometimes lion) headed being with its serpentine “legs” is viewed as an Aeon by some, and as an Archon or even the Demiurge by others. His number (using Greek gematria) being 365, along with his association with the seven classical planets, connect him to both the round of the year and the physical cosmos.

For Jung, Abraxas represented a movement beyond dualism. No longer is the divine image split into a good Lord and an evil Devil; rather the mysteries of godhead are held within the complex iconography of Abraxas:

“Abraxas speaketh that hallowed and accursed word which is life and death at the same time. Abraxas begetteth truth and lying, good and evil, light and darkness in the same word and in the same act. Therefore is Abraxas terrible.”

The Seven Sermons to the Dead

Cocky God


When one meditates on the most commonly found cockerel headed form of Abraxas, we cannot but be struck by the bizarre chimera-like quality of the image. The body of a man is topped by the head of a solar cockerel (possibly symbolizing foresight and vigilance), while from under “his” concealing skirts, strange chthonic serpents come wriggling forth. This cosmic hybrid seems to be holding together the transcendent and immanent, solar and night side. Viewed through my contemporary lens I am both awed and unsettled by the sense of internal tension that this God seems to embody.

My own attraction to strange gods is hardly new territory – that monstrous hybrid Baphomet has long been jabbing at my consciousness as I’ve sought to make sense of life’s dissolving and coming back together. For me both Abraxas and Baphomet represent something of the core paradox that many of us experience in trying to make sense of the world.

Most attempts at constructing “big theories” (metanarratives if you like) are designed to make sense of the universe that we live within. The success or failure of any such world views seems to be largely determined either by their followers’ ability to manage nuance and complexity, or conversely their naivety and willingness to block out new information. However, for those of us who are seeking to promote some form of cognitive liberty, it seems inevitable that at some point we are going to have to develop deeper strategies for managing complexity, paradox and the types of uncertainty that such realities often give birth to. (See also this.)

We have previously considered the way in which the duality and tension that exists within many gnostic myths potentially trigger the awakening of consciousness; and in many ways these iconic images of Abraxas and Baphomet are little different. The juxtaposition of apparent opposites and the sense of movement that they contain speak to us of dynamism and process rather than fixed Platonic certainties. Whether via weird cosmologies or shape-shifting iconography, these gnostic riddles push us to the edges of comprehension and certainty. In seeking to engage with such material we often experience a profound unease and yet for the intrepid explorer such discomfort can trigger the types of “strange loops” that arguably enable the evolution of consciousness.”

My own exploration is far from merely academic, and I conclude A Gnostic’s Progress with this invocation  to she/he/them:

I call to you O dweller on the knife-edge,
Ambidextrous God,
Both hands, both paths:
A Shadow God, in the half-light of the pre-dawn,
Cockerel headed,
Rooting us in darkness and showing us the Sun.
Skirting Mysteries as Serpent legs
Move in and out of sight.
Creator, destroyer, begettor, purveyor of half-truths
That hold Wisdom still.
I think I know you,
And as I breathe in,
A Serpent tightens-
Wrapped thrice point five around my spine.
Breathing out
Silent Sophia beckons:
A deeper night, whose threshold you safeguard.
Hail to thee O great Abraxas
Whose glorious horror haunts me still!

For the podcast lovers amongst you here’s the link to Dr Vanesa Sinclair’s amazing “Rendering Unconscious” podcast in which we get all therapeutic: 

And here’s a reflection of the path of Chaos Witchcraft with the beautiful people over at “Queer Chaos”: https://www.queerchaospodcast.com/episodes-1

Steve Dee


Coming up soon…

Julian has got a bunch of workshops coming up with Treadwell’s Books. All sessions happen in Zoomland and run from 19:00-21:00 UK time. You can opt to join the workshops live or catch up with the fun at your convenience with a delayed viewing ticket.

The Magical Qabalah 28 October
In this workshop Julian Vayne takes attendees through The Qabalah, a core magical system of the modern Western Occult Tradition. The class examines Qabalah from its origins in Jewish culture, its use in the The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, to its appearances in the comics of Alan Moore, and its ‘dark side’ the qliphothic shadow tree. Participants come away from the workshop with a knowledge of the structure of the Qabalah, and with practical techniques to take them deeper into its mysteries. This session is suitable for people who are new to this system and for those wishing to develop their practice.

Queering Baphomet 11 November
‘Baphomet’ is a half-heard whisper of heresy among the Knights Templar, a heavy-metal icon, a French alchemical symbol representing the union of opposites —  but is always more, always undefinable. In this workshop, Julian Vayne explores Baphomet as a queer ‘Deity without a Myth’ who embodies ideas including gender fluidity, disability, and the totality of the life force on earth.  There is also sharing discussion and hands-on magical practice, so attendees by the end feel prepared to work magically with Baphomet as patron and ally. Julian is co-author of The Book of Baphomet.

Street Sigil Sorcery 25 November
Gods at zebra crossings, chthonic deities in cement subways, sigils in the graffiti. Julian Vayne presents practical techniques for working magic in modern cities. This class teaches ways to connect to local spirits of place, how to tap into the psychic power of the urban jungle, and how to perform ’empty handed’ spell techniques that don’t require ceremonial paraphernalia. Attendees will learn to use their phone for magical work, methods to protect themselves from damaging energies in the metropolis, and how to develop their spiritual practice in the hustle and bustle of city life.

The Sun at Midnight 09 December
This workshop-ritual is dedicated to preparing for the longest night of the year Julian Vayne shares magical techniques for nourishing the soul, which help transmute suffering into alchemical gold, and leads the group in an online ceremony to encounter the magic in the season of darkness, ahead of a rebirth of the sun and of light. All are invited to sit around the virtual hearth, feast, chant, laugh and cast intentions into the cauldron of 2022.


The Deep Magic First Steps in Magic course remains at it’s super low price and provides a great introduction to the Core Magical Skills course which was featured in the delightful Wyrd Magazine.

The excellent Dave Lee is also offering a range of classes, self-directed, in-person and online. Visit Dave’s Chaotopia website to find out more.