Goetia – a gateway to your hidden potential

The word ‘goetia’ is used in modern times to refer to a system of spirits or entities that are invoked by practitioners of magick to provide assistance in affecting change in one’s reality.

The word has two separate, but likely related etymologies: the Latin ‘goetia’ refers to the summoning of ‘demons’, while the Greek stem, goes was collectively applied to sorcerers, magicians, and occultist in medieval and renaissance Europe. The Roman Catholic Church, serving as both the spiritual and governmental authority over most of Western Europe at the time, conducted witch-hunts and trials that almost invariably resulted in accusations of the crime of ‘consorting with spirits’ toward such practitioners. In a society where even theurgy, astrology, and high magick – esoteric practices geared toward understanding of and union with the divine creator – were sometimes met with suspicion and raised eyebrows, it is perhaps unsurprising, but certainly no less tragic, that the punishment for participation in any low magick practice that sought to manifest practical change in one’s life was almost always death.

The propaganda dished out by the authorities in those days into the hearts and minds of common folk is based primarily on fear. Not fear of the practice or of the entities themselves, but rather a fear that the empowerment such practices offered magicians could potentially wrest control over one’s life away from the Church and into the hands of ordinary, everyday people.

As servants of a notoriously jealous and oppressive god, Yahweh (the Demiurge in Gnostic tradition), the Church and the clergy did everything they could to smear any kind of opposition. Deterrents and disinformation propagated by the powers-that-be ultimately resulted in fear by common folk of sorcery, enchantment, and witchcraft. The infernal spirits would come to be regarded as devils or monsters. They would be described as grotesque, dangerous, and murderous. And they would continue to be viewed in this way right through until the present day. Hollywood movies, for example, continue to portray the devastating effects of tampering with spells, reciting incantations, or drawing sigils of various spirits on the floor. Among the horrifying outcomes were demonic possession, insanity, poltergeist activity, sudden accidental death of loved ones, 360-degree rotations of the head, and vomiting blood.

The reason it persists is mostly for the same reason: loss of authoritarian control over humans. The only difference is that instead of the Church running the show, we now have governments and corporations – same shit, different label.

The Ars Goetia

The collection of spirits that we now refer to as the ‘Goetia’ (hereby spelled with a capital G to distinguish it from historical nomenclature) is derived from a set of demons, catalogued in an 18th century grimoire Ars Goetia, also known as The Lemegeton or The Lesser Key of Solomon. It is an anonymously-composed compilation of spirits mentioned in the Testament of Solomon which, incidentally, bears no relation to the canonical King Solomon. The Ars Goetia was, in turn, most likely based on Johann Weyer’s Pseudomonarchia Daemonum and Thomas Rudd’s Liber Malorum Spirituum seu Goetia from the previous century. These and similar works, printed over the centuries under various names and with slightly varying numbers of spirits, describe magickal operations of summoning, controlling, commanding and coercing spirits to perform favours for the magician.

Threats of damnation, burning the spirit’s sigil in an attempt to inflict pain upon it, and imprisonment in a brass vessel form part of the methodology in these operations in order to ‘bind’ the spirit into fulfilling the will of the magician. The most common of these grimoires assign the now standard 72 demons to the 72 Hebraic angels of the Shem HaMephorash, who are invoked alongside the demons to act as protectors of the ritual. Of course, only practitioners who are purified by the grace of God, and who view themselves as masters over – rather than consorts of – the spirits are suitably qualified to perform this kind of magick.

Modern Solomonic magick

Many modern day occultists who still perform this style of ‘Solomonic’ magick, to their partial credit, tend to consider the harsh, threatening approach toward the spirits of the Goetia as antiquated and brutish. Rather, they tend to adopt a ‘carrot and stick’ method, perceiving the spirits as analogous to training a wild animal. But for yet other practitioners, myself included, even this slightly more subdued approach is utterly absurd. I cast this un-poetic and shameless judgement for a number of reasons.

First, the spirits of the Goetia are appropriated gods and goddess from various pagan traditions, including Egyptian, Greek, and Sumerian, who were demoted to demon status by the authors of the original grimoires. It’s worth remembering that most of those authors and practitioners of late-medieval Solomonic magick were clergymen by simple virtue of the fact that they were almost the only ones in those days who were literate. From their point of view, any tradition that was not of the Church was declared heretical and ‘evil’. Even the word ‘demon’ is itself derived from the ancient Greek word daimon, which meant ‘divine power’, and only acquired the negative connotations that it does in modern English as part of the Church’s medieval psyop. Just to be clear at this point, while the word ‘demon’ is a loaded word for many thanks to social conditioning, I intend to reclaim its use in the spirit (pun intended) of the ancient Greeks.

When we consider that the early missionaries committed some of the most horrendous atrocities against pagan cultures in its domination of Europe, we must also ask ourselves why demons were, and continue to be, regarded as the bad guys. Astaroth, for example, is the appropriated egregore of the Greek goddess Astarte, the Babylonian goddess Ishtar, and the Sumerian goddess Inanna. She was dearly beloved and cherished in all of her incarnations across time and space as an archetype of the divine feminine mother – nurturing, protective, and life-giving. ‘Wild animal’? What hubris.

Second, considering that the goal of most esoteric practice is the balanced union of opposites, the persistent division of good and evil where angel = good and demon = evil is an antiquated dichotomy that just can’t seem to un-embed itself from western mysticism. Although I don’t practice angelic magick myself, I nonetheless have a healthy respect for its practitioners – if it works for you, have at it. But even they will admit that not all angels are cute fluffy cherubs. Some can be quite chaotic, and will kick your ass if they feel like it. By the same token, not all demons are destructive. I’ve experienced profound personal growth and gnosis as a result of goetic magick – admittedly it can be difficult, and some demons do not suffer fools or laziness. But overall, magicians who work with both angels and demons describe them as simply being from different species rather than polar opposites.

Third, almost all of the negative reports I’ve heard from people working with demons are the ones who approach them with that Solomonic self-righteous or fearful attitude, where they feel a need to protect themselves from and/or threaten the spirits. You wouldn’t go to an electrician or plumber and command them under threat of fire and divine wrath to fix parts of your house, would you? Of course they’d be pissed off and do a half-arsed job. So why do it to non-human entities? It’s rude and offensive. Negative outcomes from the Solomonic approach to goetic magick are, in my view, the result of assumptions and fears projected toward the entity – garbage in, garbage out.


My preferred style of magick, and the one I describe on this site, is that of demonolatry. Demonolatry is the magickal and spiritual paradigm of practitioners (demonolators) who dedicate their practice to the worship of or, more accurately, working with demons. The interpretation of what demons actually are varies among individual practitioners. Some regard demons as powerful ancient gods and goddesses, as energies that are either internal or external to the self, as egregores, as archetypal aspects of the human psyche, or any combination of these. I will give my own interpretation later in this article.

Irrespective of what demons actually are, demonolators approach demonic entities, forgotten by the sands of time, with reverence, respect, and sincerity. They make offerings to the spirits in exchange for assistance, much like one would when working with gods and goddesses from any other pantheon. To that point, many demonolators describe themselves as neopagans or chaos magicians, since they may also work with angels, deities from other ancient pantheons (eg. Nordic, Hindu, Greco-Egyptian, etc.), or even Christ. The Goetia by far, remain the most commonly approached ones, perhaps due to the fact that they are so thoroughly-documented. In addition to the original 72 demons of the Goetia, most, if not all, demonolators acknowledge a hierarchical structure to the demonic realm, at the top of which are the more well-known entities, such as Lucifer, Lilith, Satan, Leviathan, etc. When I speak of Goetia, I refer also to demonic entities not included in the ‘original’ 72.

While the coercive approach is universally rejected in demonolatry, the Ars Goetia in its various iterations remains a useful source of information in terms of sigils and seals for the demons, as well as a very basic overview of their respective characteristic. In keeping with the grimoiric evolution, there are an ever-increasing amount of resources available, both print and online, that contain this information from a demonolatry perspective. Some are elaborate and detailed, while others offer a more simplistic approach to working with the entities. Notable among them is S.Connoly’s Demonolatry Goetia and Corwin Hargrove’s Goetia Pathworking. Well-documented and established nowadays are the use of incantations or enns: mantras that add an auditory component to spellwork.

Demonolaters make offerings of some kind that are appropriate to the entity they are working with. These might take the form of food, drink, incense, a drop of the magician’s own blood, or simply just giving public props and praise. The most sincere offering, however, is to take life by the horns and do the work required to improve oneself. When people talk about ‘sacrifice’, this is what is meant. Not a human or animal sacrifice (yet another Hollywood myth), but the sacrifice of expending the emotional energy required to get one’s shit together. Demons seem to really enjoy assisting responsible humans in their conscious evolution and helping them grow. While demonolators often seek one-off assistance with a specific issue in life, many prefer to cultivate an ongoing relationship with the entity, allowing it to imbue the magician’s aura with its qualities.

This is actually one of my favourite aspects of demonolatry. Where there is identified room for improvement in your life, rather than invoking a demon to fix it for you, a much more rewarding option is to ask for assistance in cultivating the skills, knowledge, and abilities for you to go forth into the world and fix it yourself. The demons can provide inspiration, enthusiasm, and clarity, guide you to self-introspection and shadow work, shine a light on sticking points that you need to overcome, help you let go of that which does not serve you (sometimes dramatically), or manifest situations and people in your life to act as teachers. It is sometimes challenging, never sugar-coated, but always profoundly rewarding.

As an example, let’s say you want to manifest physical intimacy into your life. You could create a ritual to Prince Sitri, make an offering and petition him to bring you a lover. You go out, meet someone, have a mutually pleasurable time, end of story. Alternatively, you can meditate on Sitri’s sigil and, much like a prayer, ask him – or her if that’s how Sitri appears – to help you develop charisma, self-love, and authenticity in your interactions. The first option is a one-night stand; the second is a lasting change in yourself to attract the right people naturally.

My interpretation of demons

As a result of my own work with these entities, my understanding on the nature of demons is that they are a part of our collective and, subsequently, individual unconscious. They are strands of the grand tapestry of existence that represent nuanced characteristics of potential within the depths of our psyche. Their corresponding sigils and incantations act as keys to unlock and tap into energies pertaining to specific life domains. When these energies are tapped, we are able to direct them outward, with focused intent as the fuel, into the quantum field. This, in turn, creates around us a resonance that attracts what we want into our lives.

When I say that we tap into the demonic energies via our own inner spring, I’m not at all suggesting that they do not simultaneously exist in the external world. We, as humans, are the fullcrum – the event horizon – between inner and outer reality. As sparks of the infinite source, we possess the source of all potential that can manifest in our own being and in our physical reality. The hermetic axiom ‘As above, so below. As below, so above’ reflects the cosmic principle that what we create within ourselves subsequently manifests without, and vice versa. Goetic magick is a powerful tool with which that creative potential can be activated. Being afraid of or arrogant toward this source of potential represents a real self-loathing of our innate human nature.

The idea that the gateways to demonic energies lie within each of us rather than out there in the collective space may explain why demonic magick often works so fast – it is simply more readily accessible. The snake in the Garden of Eden is symbolic of this inner space, serpents being an archetypal representation for the unconscious. Lucifer, the light bearer on this journey inward, asks us to step away from oppressive structures, to reclaim individual sovereignty and responsibility, and to know thyself.

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