As a practitioner of magick I know how to do evocations, invocations, banishings, blessings, healings and hexes. My workings have primarily been with the higher kindred of Gods and Nature Spirits, the genii locorum. Most of the spell-work produced has been to the benefit of others, or myself, and the energy produced comes from ME... either as channeled from a higher being or my own kundalini. Rarely do I ever use spells from Grimoires, especially ones that are hundreds of years old and invoke angels or demons. For me, this would involve a general belief in Godhead as the Judea-Christian perspective I do not possess. I understand that in a historical aspect, these grimmeries were the cornerstone of medieval magicians; immersed in the Christian-society of their time so the belief in 'angels and demons' was rampant and so indoctrinated into the psyche of these individuals. There was no other jargon for them to use when producing these formulaes. This is especially true when looking at one of the most famous (and probably most utilized) text of all: The Goetia.
For those who are unfamiliar, let me give you a brief background on the Goetia. Known also as the Ars Goetia (a 17th century piece of a larger text, “The Lesser Key of Solomon”), it is believed to contain the names and evocations of the 72 demons corresponding to letters of the Hebrew alphabet. These spirits are mostly famous for being employed by the great King Solomon. Solomon was a powerful magician who was able to make these spirits do whatever work he wanted done, including building the great First Temple of Jerusalem in record time, and then kept them in a sealed brazen vessel; ancient tupperware to save the spirits for a later use. Eventually it was re-worked and translated for early 20th century magicians by Aleister Crowley. In utilizing the seals, symbols and evocations any magician could summon up one of these spirits to do work according to their specialty. This is not to be confused with the 72 Enochian angels 'discovered' during the experiments of Dr. John Dee and Edward Kelley.
Why do I ponder this book and the information contained within it? Well, I am curious for one thing: If a magician is so powerful, why do they not do the work themselves? Unless it is due to laziness, I assume they cannot do the thing and need to employ some otherworldly be-ing to do their dirty work. For example, instead of evoking Vassago to tell about the future, why not just divine it myself? Why go through all the trouble of bringing this demon into a circle only to do work I possess the ability to do myself? It seems like a bit of an insult and waste of talent to me. However, on the other hand... there are Goetic spirits who can steal royal treasure (Raum), inflict disease onto others (Sabnock), and teach secret magicks and skills (Bifrons). But once again, there are several Gods/Goddesses, ancestors and other be-ings who could do the same thing.
What does it mean to work with these ancient spirits for a modern practitioner? Would an a-theistic magician only see them as parts of their Selves? And if so, is it still considered to be as dangerous? Unlocking the secret, subconscious parts of ourselves in the world of magick, whether we believe it is outside ourselves or coming from within, still has a certain element of danger involved. Look what happened to poor Faustus:
'tis magic, magic, that hath ravished me” (from scene 1 in the play The Tragical History ofDoctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe).
The fine line between sanity and madness can easily be crossed in the magickal arts and the Goetia, I believe, only wait for the opportunity to push us over the edge.