The history of Goety - Shamanism, Witchcraft, Sorcery, and working with Demon Familiars...
Nov 02, 2015
Definitions of GOETY
Etymology: Latin goetia, from Greek γοητεια ‘witchcraft’, from γοης ‘sorceror’.
Noun: (archaic) witchcraft, demonic magic, necromancy
Go"e*ty\, n. [Gr. ? witchcraft, to bewitch, sorcerer: cf. F. go['e]tie.] Invocation of evil spirits;witchcraft. [Obs.] --Hallywell.
Dedicated to Bune
Goety is the art of the sorcerer, the practice of working magick with demons and other spirits, which is also classically known as witchcraft.
"In classical times, "witchcraft" was a direct reference to working with spirit Familiars, or the performance of necromancy." (Leitch, Aaron. Secrets of the Magical Grimoires. p. 13). Leitch further clarifies that classical scholars used the term necromancy to label any work that involves summoning of spirits, whether spirits of the dead, or demonic.
The classical definition of witchcraft is the same as that of conjurer, practitioner of the natural arts, or sorcerer. This is the same as what we understand today as shamanism - a shaman is a human who has built a relationship with spirits, and who has the ability to journey through the realms and/or evoke entities from other realms into our own, in order to perform workings through interacting with gods and spirits directly.
Shamanism, witchcraft, sorcery, conjure - it all comes from the same roots - the practice of magic and workings done through the collaboration of a human with the deities and familiar spirits he or she forms ongoing relationships with, often through traveling the astral and spiritual realms, and through conjuring the spirits directly into our realm.
This kind of magic can be seen throughout many cultures and time periods, it seems to be universal. Whether the spirits are demons, angels, nature spirits, the dead, loa, or others, there is evidence that many spirits from many realms and at varying levels of power have always interacted with humanity. We cannot deny this. In fact some believe that the most profound revelations and discoveries are bestowed into mortal minds directly by the most powerful spirits themselves. I see the mind as a psychic instrument that is able to both transmit and receive. It has been established that geniuses like Tesla or profound minds like Socrates have often had lives filled with spirit contact and were guided by otherworldly forces into their inventions, discoveries, and teachings. They were able to receive insights directly from these powerful spirits which changed the world.
Many ancient traditions speak of entities, called Watchers and Fallen Angels in the Judeo-Christian tradition, who came to earth to teach humans the concepts that shaped civilization. These same entities, beings of advanced intelligence from other realms, are still teaching us and performing magical workings with us today. In my own practice one of the spirits I work directly with is Azazel, who is head of the spirits or demons known as Watchers.
"The schools of magick or "natural philosophy" (that is, alchemy, astrology and spirit-working) were considered among the respectable sciences from the earliest of times. The medieval and Renaissance mages... were also physicists, doctors, astronomers, biologists, mathematicians, philosophers, architects, navigators, etc... In truth, the men who created most of our modern fields of scientific study were adept mages as well (such as Sir Isaac Newton, who was in fact an alchemist)... Not only was magick respected among the sciences, it was actually considered the highest and most sacred science." (Lietch, p.28)
Leitch quotes from Agrippa's Three Books of Occult Philosophy to give an idea of the way the magick of the grimoires was respected in those times. This is what Agrippa said the grimoires promise:
“To defend kingdoms, to discover the secret councils of men, to overcome enemies, to redeem captives, to increase riches, to procure the favor of men, to expel diseases, to preserve health, to prolong life, to renew youth, to foretell future events, to see and know things done many miles off, and such like as these, by virtue of superior influences, may seem things incredible; yet read but the ensuing treatise and thou shalt see the possibility thereof confirmed both by reason, and example.”
Further he points out that some editions of The Goetia manuscripts began as such:
“Magic is the Highest, most Absolute, and most Divine Knowledge of Natural Philosophy, advanced in its works and wonderful operations by a right understanding of the inward and occult virtue of things; so that true Agents being applied to proper Patients, strange and admirable effects will thereby be produced. Whence magicians are profound and diligent searchers into Nature: they, because of their skill, know how to anticipate an effect, the which to the vulgar shall seem to be a miracle.”
John Dee is an excellent example of a respected man of science who was also an occultist and sorcerer – one who enjoyed the patronage of the Queen of England. The spirits and system of magic he discovered through his work were adopted by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in the late 1800s and form the backbone of much of modern Western magick.
"Johannes Kepler, Galileo, John Dee, and a host of others came to the forefront of the scientific world in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries; many times such men were in direct opposition to the Catholic Church. This was also the time of the most famous wizards of history, such as Johannes Trithemius (1462-1516), Dr. John Dee (1527-1608), Giordano Bruno (1548-1600), and others. It isn't taught in our modern schools, but the very men who originally fashioned the basic scientific assumptions about our world had copies of the grimoires upon their shelves, and/or claimed membership to various mystery orders." (Leitch, p. 6).
During the medieval and renaissance times, the grimoires were like a stronghold for the practice of Goety in the face of overwhelming religious oppression. Many of the grimoires were written from a religious standpoint and they were filled with prayerful invocations and cruel treatment and curses of the very demons that were being summoned to enhance and enrich the lives of the practitioners. Some say this may have been a ruse in order to provide the occultists of a time a level of protection from an intolerant, religiously oppressed society. However, many of those who wrote and transcribed the grimoires in those times were religious clerics and monks.
Many magickal traditions still approach working with the spirits from a dual-natured and religious perspective, and will only summon demons for magick while at the same time summoning an angel to protect them. However, other magickal practices have looked to the grimoires to get the sigils and names of spirits, and have used this information to practice Goety without the religious invocations, the long-winded prayers, the hostility and fear innate within them.
Goety is practiced within both the Right and Left-Hand paths, it can be practiced religiously, or non-religiously, it can be seen practiced within the very religions that outlaw it, and it can be found in folk magic passed down through the ages.
But what happened in modern times? How did the ancient practice and respected natural art of Goety become painted black in more modern times? Lietch claims "The historical fact is that magick was feared enough by the medieval Church to outlaw it." (Leitch p.29).
But why would the Catholic church outlaw the ancient practices of the natural arts, Goety, witchcraft, shamanism, and necromancy - when so much of its own practices reveal the same kind of practice of Goety as found in other ancient natural and folk practices – such as necromancy, spells and magick, the use of altars in worship, the use of bindings to connect with spirits, and working with spirits one has developed a relationship with?
"Catholic doctrines involve such concepts as communications with the dead, the use of relics and repetitive prayers, some of which are actually spells. The use of beads, relics, statues, talismans, and necromantic charms to connect with the spirits; the mass, the rosary and the sacredness of the number seven are all doctrines derived directly from paganism...
"Until the advent of Vatican II in 1969, every fixed altar within a Catholic Church contained the relic of a martyr. In Christianity, a relic is the remains of a deceased saint or martyr, which may include a part of the body such as a hand, a tooth, hair or a fragment of clothing. It sometimes refers to an item that has come in contact with such a relic. No mass was to be said over an altar that did not contain such a relic. This practice shows a belief within Catholicism in the power of the remains of a deceased person who was endowed with certain abilities or characteristics in life.” (di Gregorio, Sophia. The Grimoire of Santa Muerte, Kindle edition).
It's interesting to see the various ways classical witchcraft, necromancy and working with spirits, has emerged in later religions, cults and traditions, in the face of Catholicism. We see the necromantic practices of working with spirits disguised as the recognized Catholic saints throughout various practices such as Voodoo, Hoodoo and Santeria. Looking at folk magick and conjure practices we get a glimpse of the survival of the practice of Goety, we tap into the various current expressions of true practitioners of the natural arts, witches, shamans, sorcerers and priestesses. We find that contrary to what is taught in the medieval grimoires, with their elaborate rituals, the pages long prayers and invocations, and the intensively difficult preparations to do a working (some require 6 months of purification, others require exotic and difficult to require items), the practice of working with spirits is actually a natural one. Looking at folk magick and and magickal religions that practice sorcery with the spirits - side by side with Catholicism - we get a glimpse of the underlying commonality of magick shared by all – the practice of Goety, the witchcraft, the sorcery and shamanism.
Through the various expressions of Goety, we see the living representation and natural expression of the sorcery that is hinted at in the medieval grimoires of notoriety. We see it in its raw simplicity, beauty and power. Magick is alive and well in the world today, although hidden and much misunderstood. Coinciding with the rise of technology and scientific advances we have seen a backsliding of the spirit back to the Dark Ages, where the simple practice of working with spirits, the natural arts, is feared as being evil and labeled and branded as Black Magick.
Perhaps Victorian era occult writers such as Levi and A.E. Waite had something to do with defining the natural practice of Goety as 'Black Magic' and propagating the modern attitude of distaste for true sorcery, fear of and distaste for the natural art of working with spirits. After all, the Renaissance had seen the end of the witchhunts, it seemed to be an emergence from a spiritual dark age, but instead of returning the natural arts to its elevated status of the most sacred of the sciences, sensationalist writings such as those penned by Levi and continued on by AE Waite and Manly P. Hall became the modern standard for current attitudes which paint the practice of Goety found through the medieval grimoires black.
Levi's writings “between 1855-1860 became the new Western standard. These were Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie (otherwise known as Transcendental Magic) and Histoire de la Magie (History of Magic)... Levi was all too happy to fabricate tales of horror and even false rites to attribute to the classical texts... Levi painted a picture of black and dangerous rituals that could only lead to the ultimate destruction and damnation of the aspirant. The next standard text for Western scholarship on the grimoires was written by Arthur Edward Waite, who was himself influenced heavily by Eliphas Levi. Waite's book first bore the unfortunate title of The Book of Black Magic, but was later renamed the Book of Ceremonial Magic... Waite and nearly all who have followed have condemned the [grimoiric] texts...” (Leitch p. 36).
Of course it's important to again emphasize that the medieval grimoires had already become a twisted portrayal of the natural practice of Goety, due to the religious influences of the time period and the fact that most who originally scribed and practiced with these grimoires were religious clerics, monks and priests. Yet they remain an important part of magical history in the west through the medieval period and the most important aspect of these kinds of grimoires is actually in the spirit names, sigils, talismans and other relevant information and intelligence found within.
Working with sigils.
Taking out all the unnecessary elements of the grimoires, we find a more natural practice of working with the Goetic spirits represented in hoodoo. For example, in the booklet by Anna Riva, “Secrets of Magical Seals”, we find the sigils of the 72 demons of the Goetia and simple methods of working with them for various magical purposes. There is no invocation, no circle or triangle, no summoning of angels to protect yourself. Instead, the magical aspirant is simply advised that they can use the sigils “to answer all questions, satisfy all desires, and bring magical assistance – as well as cause disasters in the lives of others, steal money, or compel women to display themselves in the nude. The 72 seals are divided into two groups, those which are primarily used for good or white magic, and those which are intended for evil or black magic purposes. However, many of the Seals of the Spirits are empowered in both spheres of influence, so check the description of each spirit to find the one which you wish to use for your particular situation, problem, or request.” (Riva, Anna. Secrets of Magical Seals)
Generally in hoodoo, the sigils are worked with in a direct and simple manner. The sigil is traced or drawn onto parchment paper, cut out of a book or printed up. The name of the person who the spell is intended to effect is written on the back, and the seal is consecrated with a simple prayer. For a simple working, placing this under a lit candle or incense and saying your request aloud may have quick results, while more complex workings will likely require more effort. The forces of magic in the seal can be increased by anointing it with oils or powders. The seal can be worn or carried, and the practitioner can meditate or pray while holding the seal and focusing on their objective, several times a day.
In hoodoo, we see simple workings done with the very same demons who are the subject of such heated controversy, the demons of the Goetia. Working with sigils is a kind of sympathetic magic, where the image is linked with the spirit, a visible representation of the invisible being. Sigils are the calling cards of the spirits. Working with a sigil hoodoo-style is a simple way of making a strong connection with a powerful demonic spirit. With enough energy and focus put into it, the sigil itself worked with in this way becomes a sort of light and temporary binding to the demon, in that it opens up a pathway between the demon and the practitioner, a pathway that can become stronger the more that it is worked with.
Working with bindings
Bindings are a major part of Goety, found in witchcraft and sorcery through the ages – in fact they are essential, as they allow for the transmission and reception of energies and communications between the spirit and the practitioner. Bindings can be extremely simple or highly complex. Bindings can be done with spirits, entities, demons and deities as well as personal familiars – the difference between them is that with higher-level beings such as deities and Goetic demons, the binding is not exclusive to the practitioner, any practitioner can create a binding to one of these beings, while with the binding of a familiar, it is a demon or other entity which works exclusively with the practitioner. In that case, the bindings done are much more complex, in order to provide the entity with a permanent and abiding anchor in the life of the practitioner.
"Within Catholicism, relics and images that have been empowered by touching them to relics of saints are used to facilitate communication with a particular saint." (di Gregorio, Sophia. The Grimoire of Santa Muerte, Kindle edition). This is an example of a simple and natural way to create a light binding to a spirit in order to a enhance a channel of communication. Aspirants who use this technique can strengthen the binding to the saint or deity by working with it regularly in prayer, meditation, and acts of devotion such as the use of an altar and making offerings to the spirit.
The Usage of Altars
Altars are found in most traditions which practice Goety, they have a central role in Hoodoo, Santeria and Catholicism, and we see mention of them in the grimoires (for example, the Ars Notaria refers to 'King Solomon' giving offerings and receiving gifts from his god through an angel, at his altar). Altars when approached correctly become a charged magickal area, one which gathers energy and works for the practitioner full-time. The altar is a focal point and area to broadcast energies and communications between the spirits and the practitioner.
Taking Mexican Witchcraft and the devotees of Santa Muerte as another modern example of living Goety, we see people naturally working with various types of spirits in magic. Similar to the Catholic form of Goety, practitioners of Santeria may work with spirits of deceased humans who have become something more, powerful spirits in their own right in the underworld. "Besides Santa Muerte other examples of folk saints in Mexico include Pancho Villa and Jesus Malverde. Jesus Malverde's legend involves a necromantic procedure. It is said that he was a thief who was hanged for cattle rustling. A rancher who had lost a cow used the bones of Jesus Malverde in a ritual to determine its location and this was the first miracle attributed to him.
"In Mexican witchcraft, spirits of the dead have the power to bestow favors upon the living. Mexican witches work with the spirits of murderers and sinners, such as the Intranquil spirit and the Anima Sola. At the same time, they call upon spirits such as the archangel Saint Michael for protection from evil.” (di Gregorio, Sophia. The Grimoire of Santa Muerte, Kindle edition).
Pact-making and Offerings
The Intranquil spirit and other similar very dark spirits can be very difficult to handle, and may even choose to torment the magician as well as the subject of the spell, so it can be seen as logical for some Santeria practitioners to attempt to protect themselves with angels when working with a spirit like this. St. Expedite is another example of a powerful dark spirit who has been said to go so far as to take the life of a family member of the practitioner if they do not keep their end of the bargain. St. Expedite does not care about the nature of the request, only that he is paid.
“The prayers of worshipers are often directed to a saint or deity, and, as a member of the religion, petitioners' desires are often obtained. When the prayers accompany an offering to the saint or deity, the action becomes religious magic, very similar to the magico-religious practices throughout the pre-Christian world. This religious magic, which the Roman Catholic Church calls “popular religiosity,” is very similar to the magico-religious practices of many so-called primitive cultures in the world today.
“In the magico-religions, the practice of giving an offering to a saint or deity is considered payment for services rendered. An offering is required for every request made. You are giving first in order to receive in return. Part of the thinking that develops within a magico-religious practice is that only a thief would expect to get something for nothing. (Marlbrough, Ray. The Magical Power of the Saints. p. 3)
Spirits being paid for services is a common element in the practice of Goety. This is often as simple as a candle, or some incense, some cake, or some fruit, flowers, tobacco, alcohol, herbs, gemstones, and in darker workings, blood and bodily fluids. In regards to St. Expedite, he is one of the few spirits who it is recommended by those who work with him not to pay him in advance. It is said that it would nullify the working, as he would receive his payment and assume that the request was fulfilled.
However, despite the natural arrangement of paying spirits for their services through making offerings, this is considered one of the main practices that makes magic black, by many. The simple practice of making an offering to a spirit in return for the fulfillment of a request is considered by some to be an act of worship. It is correctly called, a pact, and it is the pact-making practice in the grimoires that is sensationalized most as being 'Black Magick' – the most infamous grimoire that speaks of making pacts with devils is The Grand Grimoire (Red Dragon). Most other grimoires, including the Goetia, do not work through pacts and rather through controlling and commanding the spirits, subjugating them to the will of the sorcerer through curses and invocations of angels, and so on. In The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abremelin the Mage, the making of pacts is expressly forbidden.
I see the fear of pacts and offerings as a product of religious and dualistic thinking, as well as a method of control as an attempt to scare people from practicing Goety and empowering themselves. As Marlbrough asserts, above, “only a thief would expect to get something for nothing”. As we see in the living Goety, offerings in return for services rendered is a simple and natural part of working with spirits. One does not need to 'sell their soul to the devil' in order to make a powerful magical pact with a demon or other spirit. Selling one's soul to the devil is a religious myth. A pact is simply an agreement between spirit and practitioner where the spirit agrees to perform a working and the practitioner agrees to pay for it in a certain way.
Is this black magick, or is this simply mutually beneficial collaboration between the realms? When you retain the services of a professional in this world, such as a lawyer to advocate for you, do you pay for them? Why would it be any different when retaining the specialized services of a spirit? When you retain a lawyer, you make a pact or agreement as to what services they will provide and what you will give them in return. It is the same in making pacts and paying for services from demons or other spirits in the practice of Goety.
In all traditions of Goety there are a variety of spirits on the spectrum of the moral scale. Many spirits can choose to help or harm. The true definition of black magick is simply a moral scale. A practitioner with an evil intention can easily find a dark spirit, such as the Intranquil spirit, who can accomplish such a task. In fact many dabblers who are not spiritually developed enough and are grasping for a spell to fulfill a selfish intention such as forcing an unrequited love to return to them, or an unjustified act of severe revenge, will unknowingly turn to acts of black magic, discovering the dark spirit who would be happy to oblige them.
Yet on the other side of the spectrum there are people who are grounded and spiritually developed who work with dark spirits and demons for beneficial purposes. Contrary to religious views, demons themselves are not inherently evil. Like ourselves, demons are individuals who have free will, and like ourselves, some demons are what we would consider evil, and some are morally ambiguous and some are actively helpful and work towards liberating humans from slavery and oppression, such as Azazel, Lucifer, Satan, and many others that we work with in our practice.
In our style of Goety, we work with demon familiars and we work with summoning the demons whose names are found in the medieval grimoires. On the moral scale we enhance the lives of ourselves and others and work to spread enlightenment and illumination however we can. Though we are not performing acts that can be morally classified as Black Magic, what we do is defined by many as Black Magic. In fact any tradition that involves Goety other than Catholicism is defined by the same thinking as Black Magic. Yet this is simply a product of religious fear and propaganda.
Some of the common practices of Goety that are found throughout a variety of religions and traditions are: Working with familiars, spirits and deities. Working with sigils. Working with bindings. Making offerings. Pact-making. The usage of altars for devotion, connection and spellwork. This is Goety. This is what we do. This is what is feared by the weak and religious-minded. This is the guilty secret so many of us hide from the world due to witchhunts and religious persecution... We hide and always have hidden, and we have always been sought out by those in the know...
Adelphia D. Blood
Adelphia D. Blood, -site founder