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On Evocation

This post was written by Donald Michael Kraig
on January 3, 2012 | Comments (2)

Yesterday I read a nice post on the subject of spirit evocation by Fra.AshenF.:N.:F. Basically, his position seems to be that the evocation of spirits is not proven when you

  1. Evoke a spirit for a purpose and
  2. You later obtain the purpose or think you get a message concerning that purpose.

I believe this is fairly accurate. As Fra.AshenF.:N.:F. accurately points out, if you achieve your goal without seeing the spirit, how do you know you actually evoked a spirit? The successful results could have been caused by some other type of magick, such as sympathetic magick, triggered by your unsuccessful evocation.

So the essence of spirit evocation is, well, directly communicating with the spirit you’ve evoked. As Fra.AshenF.:N.:F. adds, this does not mean the spirit takes a 3D form in the physical world. Rather, it means you are able to actually see the spirit.

Again, I agree. This is primarily the position I take in Modern Magick, and in my book, I give instructions on how to do evocations. You’ll also find some good information on this in Konstantinos’ book, Summoning Spirits.

When I first started investigating magick, the truth is that few people were actually doing ritual work. There were far more armchair magicians than practicing magicians. While there are still plenty of magicians in their armchairs, there are currently an increasing number of practicing magicians. Some new magicians, fascinated by the idea of evocation, try this type of magick early on in their “magickal careers.”

I think this is a mistake. There are a lot of basics to learn and magickal abilities to develop before most people will be easily successful with this type of work.

Why The Current Beliefs?

So why is it that people think that all evocations consist of either making some critter jump out of the ground or simply ooze into your mind during dreams or trance? Well, I think people believe the former because of their superficial reading of the original texts, relying on mistaken secondary sources (usually written by people who have never performed any magick at all), watching fictional movies or reading novels. They believe the latter because of one (or both) of two reasons:

  1. They are followers of what I call “The psychologization of magick.” This is the belief that everything non-physical is in the mind—including gods, demons, spirits, etc.—and are nothing more than manifestations of our psyches. Demons, for example, are just neuroses or psychoses and evocation “externalizes” (let’s you deal with them as if they were separate from you) them.
  2. They try evocation and don’t succeed. However they desperately want to believe their mistaken concept of nasty little demons popping into the physical world is accurate and accept anything as a sign that the evocation succeeded.

A Magick, Not the Only Magick

Evocation is simply one type of magick. It’s dramatic, but it is not the only kind of magick there is. For some people, actually seeing a spirit is the proof they need for the validity of magick. Therefore, some people spend a lot of time trying to conjure up a spirit for the purpose of, well, basically saying “Hello.”

All of the ancient grimoires indicate that the different spirits have various purposes. I do not advise essentially wasting your time (and the spirit’s time) by calling them up for no purpose other than to call them up. Instead, evoke them for one of the purposes where they can assist you.

This makes evocation into just another form of magick. If you need money you could do a planetary magick ritual, an elemental ritual, a natural magick spell, an evocation, or many other types of magick. When doing evocation to get a spirit to aid you in achieving a magickal goal, seeing the spirit isn’t as important as obtaining a positive result. As Crowley wrote, “Success is your proof.”

What Fra.AshenF.:N.:F. didn’t stress in his original post (but which M.C. does make clear here [in response to a comment here by Rufus Opus in his response to Fra.AshenF.:N.:F.'s original comment]), and I would stress, is that what you are doing first is magick. Evocation is the method. If you achieve your goal the magick worked, even if the method you thought you used wasn’t the means by which the magick occurred.

I Didn’t See Nothin’

If you are doing magick to achieve results—and by results I mean a change that you are seeking—is the exact reason why your magick worked important? I don’t think so. I think the important thing is that it worked.

But if your goal is direct communication with a spirit, then I mostly agree with Fra.AshenF.:N.:F. that you are only successful if you see the spirit. And yet, many practitioners believe you don’t have to see the spirit. Do the evocation and wait for a message in a dream, a stray thought, a curious coincidence, etc., and this will prove that your evocation was successful. Again, I agree with Fra.AshenF.:N.:F. when he says that it isn’t so.

Fra.AshenF.:N.:F. believes the reason most people who believe that this is the nature of evocation do so because they’ve never been successful with real evocation. If a practitioner has never succeeded in doing an evocation they can’t really know what evocations are. He writes, “Claiming something does or does not work a certain way without really having the experience in it, is obvious faulty reasoning.” (Emphasis in original.)

I have had some remarkable results with evocation, some of which have been published in Modern Magick. So I agree with his concept of drawing spirits to visible appearance. However, I must respectfully disagree that this is the only way of knowing that you have evoked spirits.

When you see auras or create visualizations so clear you can practically touch what you visualize, it is because you have developed your astral vision. All of our senses have astral counterparts and can be developed (if they’re not already available to you). Again, Modern Magick has instructions on how to do this. To see a spirit requires that you have developed your astral vision. Without it, you won’t see anything. Someone who peeks into your ritual room without such abilities (either natural or developed) won’t see anything either. That does not mean the evocation was unsuccessful, only that your vision (and the outsider’s vision) wasn’t developed.

Fra.AshenF.:N.:F. requires visual proof of the effectiveness of evocation. And he’s 100% correct for him. It’s also a good proof for many others. But respectfully, it’s not the only proof. One of the advantages of working with groups is that different people develop different skills. It may be that you, or another person in the group, never develops astral vision to a level where a spirit can be seen. Someone else may see the spirit but you won’t. The evocation can still be considered effective.

By the same token, you may have developed astral hearing to a high level and be able to hear the evoked spirit without seeing it. In this case your evocation may also have been effective. The means of determining whether you’ve evoked a spirit if you only have astral hearing is through questioning the spirit and checking the responses via known correspondences. Again, this is described in Modern Magick.

Today, the sense of astral smell seems to be rarer than 100–150 years ago, but it is possible that a change of perceived odors can indicate a successful evocation, although I wouldn’t entirely depend upon this sense for this purpose. The same is true with an astral kinesthetic sense or feeling that the spirit is there. I would consider these two senses to be indicative of success but not complete proof.

Where Is That Angel?

While such discussions are fascinating to both practical and armchair magicians who are also magickal philosophers, it is, in the long run, as important as figuring out how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. I mean, really? Is this what you want to spend your time on? For me, the important part is doing the work. Magick is about change. Did you get the change? If not, why not?

Evocation is fascinating, but it is just one form of magick. I find it a fascinating practice. There are many books with information on how to do it, and they’re all good after you develop your astral senses.

In the meantime, Duke Zepar and I are going to hit some clubs!

 

Reader Comments

avatar
#1 
Written By Patrick
on January 3rd, 2012 @ 9:18 pm

I find myself ambivalent about this whole thing, because when pressed most people who talk about visual manifestation end up talking about either purely physical ocular effects (such as retina burn — which some people call “auras”), or they seem to be talking about hallucinations. Can you have hallucinations during rituals? Of course, but you can have hallucinations during anything, if you know how to induce them. I think the danger in insisting on visual manifestation is in building up confidence in our perceptions to such a degree that we forget that all of our senses, physical as well as spiritual, are able to be deceived.

On the other hand, I agree with you and the OP that wishful thinking doesn’t cut it. Magic is real, and it has real effects, and if you’re grubbing for proof in the detritus of random events, you’re not doing it right. It’s a real danger, and even after years of magical practice and lots of success, I sometimes find myself falling prey to it even now.

I guess my biggest issue with the whole thing is the scythe-like approach. I know some incredibly successful magicians who have never seen a spirit, and I wouldn’t discount their success just because of that one thing. I think it’s a bad idea to make shibboleths out of any particular magical experience or doctrine, without knowing that they’re rules of thumb at best. Which is why I appreciate your mention that there are other ways for spirits to manifest other than visually.

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