The Key to the Key (and the Goetia)
The tradition of ceremonial magick holds that the Key of Solomon and the Goetia (the Lesser Key) recount a viable method for evoking spirits, through the use of conjurations, symbols (talismans or pentacles), prayers and action, under the auspices of the Jewish deity. In the present age, many magickians are dissuaded by the complexity of the method, and the attention to detail which is reputed to be the only hope for a successful evocation. Thus, while the Key of Solomon and the Goetia are prized reference books, their actual usefulness is limited.
More than mere methodology lies behind the text of these books. The long, drawn out prayers and conjurations are not a means to evoke a spirit from the â€œdepths of hellâ€, or wherever an individual practitioner may believe these entities dwell. The pages upon pages of supplications focus the magickian on a specific purpose. This is why it is recommended, if the first version of the evocation is not successful, a second is tried, and a third, and a fourth. Each involves more detailed words and actions. For, if the practitioner is not properly focused, no magickal operation will be successful.
The magickal operation to which we refer is that of self-knowledge. The Key of Solomon and the Goetia are not methods for evoking â€œexternalâ€ entities; they are a means to bring forth oneâ€™s own innermost aspects - to draw on oneâ€™s ultimate potential to bring about, as Crowley wrote, â€œchange in accordance with Will.â€
The traits listed for each of the â€œdemonsâ€, described in the Key and the Goetia, are traits of the deepest human self, all of which must be explored by the magickal initiate, and all of which can be used toward magickal ends. The proof of this fact is in the knowledge that the original authors of the Key and the Goetia, and similar tomes of that era, hadnâ€™t the slightest idea of the workings of psychology, and accordingly attempted to explain magickal or miraculous phenomena as the workings of external entities.
As numerous writers on the subject of magick have since confirmed, however, what the magickian evokes is a manifestation of his own inner demons (or angels, or what-have-you).
He is trying to understand himself.
In this light, how better to use the Key of Solomon or the Goetia? How to get past the obscure and lengthy diatribes to a deity which few practitioners hold as valid?
Study and contemplation.
To take the Key of Solomon or the Goetia literally, much preparation would precede any operation. A â€œright state of mindâ€ is necessary before a magickian can construct his circle.
To get at the â€œspiritâ€ of the Key and the Lesser Key also requires much work. Meditating on the traits of each entity will involve locating (and admitting to) the corresponding traits in oneself. This will not be easy and, at times, may be downright unpleasant. But, as human beings, we all have the potential for every manner of behavior - even though we may not engage in a majority of them. Acknowledging these traits exist within, nonetheless, gives the magickian power over them and makes them subject to oneâ€™s Will.
And, as it is claimed that an improperly banished â€œdemonâ€ may continue to cause trouble for a magickain after a working, so it is a meditation improperly concluded may keep a specific trait foremost in oneâ€™s mind, prompting unwanted changes in behavior or other alterations of consciousness. Returning a trait to its rightful place - though it may be a mentally triple-locked closet - is very important for oneâ€™s psychological health. Always ground the energies of a meditation at its conclusion.
Readers of the Key and the Goetia are warned that its wrongful use can bring about madness. This is very true, as shown above. Personal balance - mental/emotional, physical and spiritual - is imperative before embarking upon this path. Any magickal system worth its salt will verify this statement. One must have physical health (or any health concerns under control), a grasp of personal spirituality (a firm belief system), and - absolutely mandatory - emotional stability and the intellectual capacity to grasp this technique.
Contrary to claims in some modern publications on magick, it is not possible to crack open a text, mumble a â€œspellâ€ and instantly achieve love, wealth or power. Endless study and constant effort go into the making of a true and serious magickian.
Vigilance, awareness of oneâ€™s actions and activities is part of this training. Acceptance that magick is not an â€œeasyâ€ path and, without knowledge of the basics and willingness to ever learn more, there is no hope for progress.
With this balance, the practitioner may take the Key of Solomon and the Goetia in hand and work through their pages, to discover the hidden depths of magickal power which resides in his own soul.
Suggested News Resources
- Monday's MusicNow concert salutes John Zorn and Evanston native Myra Melford
- Few figures have accomplished that feat more eloquently and prolifically than John Zorn, whose 2002 piece for violinist Jennifer Choi, "Goetia," will be performed Monday by Yuan Qing Yu.
- New leaders discuss future of the World of Darkness
- At that time my place was decorated with black plastic on the walls, Goetic seals and massive industrial hooks and chains, Hellraiser-style.