I passed a sign today on the way into New York City: "Lincoln: great President, crappy tunnel." Indeed.
I went into New York today for a workshop on Goetia with Lon Milo DuQuette. Lon has that gift of imparting real learning and information while being entertaining at the same time.
Before I get into that, no doubt some of you are wondering about Mother's Day. Did I blow off my Mom for Lon Milo DuQuette? Actually, no. We went to dinner on Saturday night, and I visited her on Sunday morning before catching my train. She told me this wonderful story: In the early years of her marriage to my father, they were out shopping and looking at flowers. My mother saw some daffodils, and told my father, "Oh, we should get these for your mother." My father replied, "Oh no. Daffodils aren't good enough for my mother." Fast forward to Mother's Day. My mother was in the kitchen visiting with my aunt and uncle. My father walked in with--daffodils. He said, "Happy Mother's Day. These are for you." My mother did not forget that these were not "good enough" for his mother. She laughs about it now.
As for me, the cat didn't get me anything for Mother's Day. Not even a dead mouse. But he has the sniffles, so I'm assuming he's distracted.
Back to Lon's workshop. I had lots of questions about Goetia. Why would someone invoke demons? It didn't make a whole lot of sense to me. I'm mired in the imagery of the unconscious, so I was sure it had something to do with that. But the notion of pacts with evil spirits is a weird idea. And if it goes wrong, what does one do? I didn't have to ask Lon a single question, and he answered all of these.
By drawing on his own experiences, and explaining things with very useful metaphors, he clarified Goetia for me in a way that other writers have not. The best metaphor had to do with machinery. He started with Solomon. In the Bible, Solomon is called upon to build the perfect Temple for the Most High. He appeals to Jehovah, as he has no idea how to begin such an operation, and asks him for the wisdom to build the Temple and rule his people. God responds by giving him the wisdom, and as part of that he gives him the "key" to his Temple building labor union. This happens to be 72 legions of demons. Demons are the heavy-lifters of the universe, and are as much a part of things as anything else. He drew comparisons with the Titans in ancient Greek mythology--these are a race of giants. (I think the Bible also has a race of giants--nephilim--the spawn of human women and angels. It's the reason for the Great Flood--God wants to destroy them). Psychologically, demons are our "problems". They are externally real in some sense, but don't manifest except through our weaknesses. Solomonic Goetic operations often allow the operator to confront their own weaknesses, and stand up to them. The idea of making a "pact" with them is absurd--you don't make "pacts" with your problems.
But I have not told you the brilliant metaphor. He compares demonic evocation to operating heavy machinery--bulldozers, backhoes, Caterpillar equipment. If you turn them on and let them run amok with no operator, they will charge along and destroy things. However, if properly operated, they can build useful structures. A woman in class raised her hand and asked, "Is the only difference between angels and demons that angels already have a job?" And Lon laughed and said we could end class with that comment. (We didn't, but it summed up a lot). Angels apparently are connected with specific forces. Demons have to be assigned tasks. They are the blind, chaotic (Qlipotic) forces of the universe, but they are part of it nonetheless.
Psychologically, the demonic relates to our Shadow. It is the weak areas of our psyche, and performing evocations is one way to confront these weak areas. I would still submit that it's not for everyone, but giving it a psychological context makes it less fearsome. The demonic are the things we do to ourselves to limit ourselves. And we can tell it "no" and not give in to it. And it will generally say, "okay".
Lon also talked about an experience where he was asked to exorcize a school building, and this answered my other question, because he described how he went about the operation, and what he confronted as a result. Every evocation is a confrontation with oneself and one's weakness. Each one is like an initiation.
I would recommend Lon's book, "Low Magick: It's All in Your Head...You Just Have No Idea How Big Your Head Is" for more discussion of Goetic operations. I can say that I learned a lot.