Goetia Work in the Context of Chaos Craft


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!


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.


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.

Properly Prepared – Initiations into Freemasonry and Chaos Witchcraft

This week I took my Third Degree initiation and became a Master Mason, which was nice.

As someone who has already gone through Wiccan, OTO, IOT and other initiatory rites I found the Masonic initiation process fascinating and deeply moving. As anyone who has been paying attention to the history of esotericism knows, many key elements of contemporary ‘western’ initiatory ritual (being blindfold and bound, actual or symbolic nakedness, a challenge with a weapon at the threshold of the sacred space) along with much of the specific language (such as ‘The Charge’, the formal presentation of ‘working tools’ and phrases such as ‘So Mote it Be!’) are derived from Freemasonry.

For those of a salacious (or insane) persuasion Freemasonry undoubtedly conjures up fantasies of a baby-eating, one-world governing, lizard brotherhood. The truth is rather less outré. Freemasonry exists primarily as an inclusive (ie multi-denominational) ritual structure at the core of something which is essentially an affinity group based on mutual aid. That’s why there were so many Freemasons (and indeed other organisations such as the Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes, the Ancient Order of Druids and the Ancient Order of Foresters) in early modern Britain. These groups provided their members with financial and social support in times of trouble before the creation of welfare state and social security systems. (Which, it’s worth remembering, is a valuable all-inclusive structure: One my ancestors fought for having endured exploitation by the plutocratic class during the times of enclosure and the industrial revolution.)

Woodland regalia

Woodland regalia

The rituals within Freemasonry, whether they are the Three Degrees or the side-degrees (such as The Royal Arch) are typically initiations. This emphasis on initiation is continued by the Masonic-Thelemic mashup of practice provided by the OTO, and indeed this focus on initiation found in some styles of Wicca. (In its most curious manifestation this shades off into, in my view, a bizarre emphasis by some ‘hard Gard‘ practitioners on maintaining an imagined lineage of practice back to Gerald Gardner who, as any fule kno, along with Crowley, made up Wicca in the first place, predominately out of his own head.)

Freemasonic rituals are learnt by heart, and this is key to the practice. In a chaos magic sense the ‘esoteric tech’ being deployed is that of achieving memorisation, while at the same time, keeping the ritual sounding fresh and alive (especially when these words are spoken to the candidate during initiation).

The corpus of Masonic ritual texts is extensive, with much of the material being contained in The Blue Book (which naturally comes in many variations depending on the Lodge, region and nation in question). Unsurprisingly, given the period in history in which this system was developed (the United Grand Lodge in Britain is about to celebrate its 300th year anniversary) the art of memory is central to the system. I’ve met Freemasons who have memorised The Blue Book completely and, when examined, can recall the text, in any order, with >97% accuracy. Now that’s certainly one way to ‘build the temple’ (or pyramid, see below) of practice!

While Freemasonry relies on the cultivation of exact memory my own practice is usually quite different.

Another day, another initiation; This time with me as one of the initiators.

I was approached by a magician from London who asked if he could undergo an initiatory process within the envelope of Chaos Craft. His motivation wasn’t so much to be part of ‘our club’ but rather to use an approach to magic he digs (ie that witchcraft meets experimental magic vibe) as part of his own self-transformative process. Sometimes an initiation isn’t into something, as much as it is about a process; a desire for a ceremonial act that both recognises where we are at, and instigates a new cycle of change and development at an individual level.

Challenging times

Challenging times

Our candidate having completed his preparatory work, bravely made his way from the big city to deepest darkest Devon. That evening we read through the ritual, a variation of the one given in Chaos Craft. Since our candidate had also read the rite (and because we tend to favour an open source approach) we took a little time in my kitchen to run through the ceremonial plan with him present:

“So, we make the space. Do some stuff to open, maybe the chaosphere banishing.”

“What 8.1?”

“Or is it 1.8? Anyhow, yeah, up and down once, then 8 thingies at each direction widdershins”

“Then say some stuff about the wheel of the year and pull in the powers from each direction…”

Our informality was obvious. In our group (in this case me, Nikki Wyrd and Steve Dee) we’ve worked together for so many years we can use a simple short-hand. But as I explained to our guest and candidate:

“Don’t worry, we talk about this like it’s throw away stuff, but we’ll be using some serious focus when we’re in the temple.”

(And we did.)

Star system

Star system

At the end of the Chaos Craft initiation the new initiate is asked to declare an identity for themselves with a (magical) name and (personally chosen) title. In advance of the rite I could see our candidate diligently reading through this section of the text (and generally looking for those places in the order of ceremony where he had to say stuff), so I explained:

“Each piece of text here is a guide to what might be expressed at this point in the ritual. Don’t worry about the exact words. Think of the writing more like place-holders for what we hope will be expressed in each part of the ceremony”.

This free-form approach to ritual is much more common in (for want of better words) ‘shamanic’ styles of work, in contrast with the rote-learning Hermetic-Masonic styles of ceremony. While shamanic style rites may require memorisation (many archaic cultures have great traditions of learning stories, geologies and songs by heart, and the Chaos Craft initiation itself requires the memorisation of a Barbaric Invocation) the emphasis is on what I call ‘saying what needs to be said in the moment’. The words on the page are like guidance notes; serving suggestions for what happens as the ceremony unfolds. In terms of the esoteric tech this is a method-acting, spontaneous approach.

Obviously contrasting these approaches isn’t a value judgement; memorised ritual has it’s place, as does a more improvised style. And a good blend of both approaches is what the successful occultist aims to cultivate. Like Crowley says:”The Magician must build all that he has into his pyramid; and if that pyramid is to touch the stars, how broad must be the base!”

May your pyramid touch the stars!