During the last decade, a little known but very powerful renaissance has been going on within the occult community as a whole, and specifically within the realms of ritual and ceremonial magic. Ten years ago it was very difficult to find a quality book on spirit summoning that went into any kind of useful detail on the subject. Donald Michael Kraig, author of one of the few books that outlined summoning – the CM classic “Modern Magick” – relates how in his own journey to understand and practice evocation he ran up against a lot of ignorance on the subject. Evocation was alternately seen as dangerous, difficult, highly advanced work, immoral, a work of psychic masturbation, and any number of other labels that served to mystify and confound the subject for anyone who wanted to study AND practice it seriously.
During the last several years, it was my pleasure to obtain a number of new and re-released books on the subject by several highly qualified (and occasionally not-so-qualified) authors across the occult spectrum. With the growth and popularization of the Internet, especially the web-groups and blog platforms, information about the occult is spreading and exploding at an exponential rate. If there were any doubts in your mind whether we’ve come to a New Age, put them to rest – the Age of Aquarius has arrived!
What’s been so exciting about utilizing the Internet to study magic is the ability to chat and post back and forth with the very same authors whose books you are reading. Practitioners (and not just armchair theorists, though they are always welcome) are sharing their experiences and findings with each other and inspiring a whole new generation of priests and magicians. I highly recommend that anyone who wants to practice summoning in depth join up with one of the better web-groups on Yahoo such as Aaron Leitch’s Solomonic magick group or Joseph Peterson’s Mosaic magick group. I myself have a group on Yahoo for the study of the Lesser Key of Solomon (the Lemegeton): http://groups.yahoo.com/group/lemegeton
And of course there are groups dedicated solely to Nec-related magick as well, such as the Order of the Necronomicon Disciples of Enki
What you will find if you study this subject in depth is that there are a number of different ways to perceive, call, and communicate with spirits, ranging from the most elaborate ceremonies to the most casual conversations. I would say that the two biggest factors you will find at work in who uses what method is the spiritual/magical background of the practitioner (Wiccan, CM, Chaoist, etc) and their natural paranormal abilities, which includes traditional psychic vision but is not limited to it in any regards.
Some people will swear by a certain way of doing things, but it will not be fruitful for others to go about it in the same fashion. Sadly, a lot of the occult community is still trying to break out of the entrenched patterns that were established by the Golden Dawn over a hundred years ago. These prejudices have proven to be as frustrating for working-class Wiccans as much as for, say, practitioners of Enochiana.
Remember that in previous articles I explained that many people get stuck in the Lesser mysteries and can spend a lifetime there without growing to a new level of gnosis. One of the flags for the “babes in Christ”, as I like to call them, is that they get very rigid about doing things the way they were taught to them originally. They tend to take what was taught as ineffable gospel truth until they learn to think – and more importantly, experiment – for themselves.
Even in the supposedly enlightened occult community, there are large numbers of people who get very dogmatic about things, and summoning hasn’t escaped this reach. There are several folks out there claiming to have (re)discovered the “one, true way” of summoning spirits in the classical and “authentic” manner. Such authors should be taken with a grain of salt, because its very evident if you talk to people on the groups that there are plenty of roads to Rome and that lots of people using lots of methods from different background are all getting results and getting excited about the possibilities of magic.
Here is a hopefully lengthy, but not exhaustive, list of techniques and practices related to summoning. You may choose to incorporate and combine any number of them in your own practice, but don’t be haphazard about it. Remember that even the left hand paths demand that you break the rules deliberately and decisively and don’t equate liberty with recklessness.
*Drugs – Lets face it, drugs have been a huge part of human culture, religion, and magic since the beginning. They are a very quick and easy way to wire yourself into the spirit world and they do wonders for many people, but can also be problematic. The biggest issue with drugs is that they used to be used, for the most part, in a religious context with a reverance and respect that is often lacking in the modern world. Modern drugs have created so many problems, IMHO, because they are both synthesized too many steps from their natural state and they are used with a careless and dangerous attitude. Each drug is overseen by a particular class of spirits and these spirits must be respected when you use the drug to unlock its full potential. Also, different drugs work on very different parts of the brain and body; some take a person back into their evolutionary past and others can place a person ahead of their time (FAR ahead). KNOW YOUR DRUGS when you use them and remember that a little goes a long way!
*Inhibitory trance – The Chaoists have outlined two main forms of trance accessible through subjecting the body to unusual amounts of stress, and this is the first. Sleep deprivation, fasting, and even vegetarian diet can fall into this class. What I have found with these techniques is that they require a lot of practice and discipline to use effectively – they will not necessarily produce results in themselves. Depriving yourself of sleep in the hopes of seeing the spirits more clearly usually doesn’t work in my experience. Lucid dreams present wonderful opportunities but require that you still allow natural sleep to occur in tandem with your practices – else they quickly become unhealthy in excess. The biggest problem with these techniques is that they are often, sadly, an outlet for a very subtle form of spiritual masochism. This goes back to the monks of the middle ages who used to flagellate themselves in hopes of beating the sin out of their bodies and growing closer to God. You might be amazed how much this still goes on in the modern occult community – people starve themselves of sleep, sex, food, and any number of other natural necessities in hopes they can sacrifice their way to success.
*Excitatory trance – Oh yeah, oh yeah, oh yeah! Nothing is true, everything is permitted! Indulge those desires to the extreme, and flood your senses with so much wholesome goodness that you see God! WOOHOO!
Eh, its not always that simple, and this class of techniques presents the opposite problem as inhibitory techniques. People can get so caught up in satisfying their pleasures they forget that they were pursuing something extra-sensual as well. The spirits, especially those hungry for energy, love to participate in rites involving these techniques, and they can get results very quickly. What is important here is to make sure you are not using the trance goal as an excuse for doing something you would not otherwise allow yourself to enjoy. Go enjoy your body outside of ritual too – don’t feel like ritual is your only outlet for getting the pleasure that is essential to life and happiness.
*Ritual Ceremonies – Everything has to look FABULOUS for the spirits to show up! Did you get all your correspondences correct? Is everything set up perfectly in your $1000 customized temple? Are you using the astrological timing that only emerges once in a thousand years, and did you set your clock correctly to account for daylight savings? Did you obtain the lion skin and the virgin thread properly? It has to be perfect or they won’t show up! Ahhh!!!
No, this is soooo not the case. It has frequently been observed by myself and my magical colleagues that the spirits will show up way before the “official” rituals even get started, and sadly have to sit around and wait patiently while some CM makes sure he crosses all his Taus and dots all his Pentagrams.
Nonetheless, there is nothing quite as stirring as a good ceremony. Wanna know the secret? KEEP IT REAL! Be honest and brave and always authentic when you step up to perform rituals – NEVER GO THROUGH THE MOTIONS BLANDLY.
*Scrying – I am gazing into my crystal ball… gazing…gazing…my eyes are starting to hurt and I don’t know what exactly it is I’m seeing…
First of all, scrying can be used with many different kinds of media. The crystal ball is of course classic and powerful because of its deep associations, history, and the nature of spherical balls of piezoelectric quartz crystal. However, the ancients employed many other kinds of surfaces, including oil, fire, marble, and water. Donald Tyson’s book on Scrying goes into these practices in more detail if any of you are interested.
I actually used to scrye into the faux-marble surface of my shower lining when I was a kid, and I still tend to do it unconsciously when I come across a similar kind of surface. I have also scried into such weird surfaces as the mud that has splattered onto bus windows (it looks remarkably like Los Angeles). My point is that you can scrye through any surface that is composed of seemingly random arrangements of line, shape, and pattern. Experiment with different media both to save money and to increase the versatility of your gifts.
The second thing about scrying is that you shouldn’t limit yourself to only your eyeballs, in either a mundane or astral sense. Allow and integrate the psychic equivalents of your other four senses as well. This is especially important because not everyone is wired to perceive things through a mainly visual medium. Many people are much more auditory than visual and could have as much luck scrying through radio static as they could through a crystal ball. As Don Juan Matus told Carlos Castaneda in “A Seperate Reality”, there is a difference between looking and really SEEING, and Seeing (the original meaning of scrying) is not limited to just your eyes and their astral counterparts.
When scrying, it is important to relax and just let your gaze flow through the medium and off into the distance. Do not strain your eyes and try to force yourself to see something. Allow light to bend and refract through the medium naturally. Adjust the amount of light so that you are comfortable – you don’t want too much or too little. Also, the use of drugs or incense can powerfully boost your abilities in this practice, because they will turn off the psychic filter of your mental chatter and turn ON the circuit of the spirit or information you are trying to perceive. Use classic correspondence guides and Timothy Leary’s Circuits Model of Consciousness to help determine which drugs and/or incense are ideal to your purpose at hand.
*Drift/Derive – On the road again… I can’t wait to get on the road again… walking out of my mind again…
This technique of walking into another dimension under or overlaying a mundane landscape is a favorite of chaos magi. I’ve put it to excellent use myself. Stephen Grasso wrote a great article about it for Jason Louv’s magical compendium “Generation Hex”. It allows you to enter the Dreaming at almost anytime by utilizing a very traditional and shamanic approach to exploration and travel.
The only thing I would advise with this method is to make DAMN sure you are clear about when you have entered and when you are leaving Dreamspace. Mark it ritually in some way or another, or you could very well never come back again. Neil Gaiman’s classic novel “Neverwhere” is, to a great degree, about the wonders and dangers a man experiences when he falls into the Dreamscape of “London Below”. There is a similar story in the Sandman anthology “World’s End” about a man who takes regular walks through a city, and one day accidently stumbles into its astral counterpart. Sadly, there are many homeless folk out there that are still living in these alternate realities and have yet to return to concensus with the rest of us.
These are just a few examples of popular modes of perception through which you can perceive and communicate with spirits you have summoned. In addition to Tyson’s book on Scrying, my friend and fellow Abramelin grad Athena Nightshade has a popular online course on scrying and other spiritual perception for those who are interested. Check out her site at www.enochian.org .
Till next time!