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Solomon's Magic in The Goetia


This is according to Jewish tradition which like other tradition pertaining to Solomon is mostly based on legend. Such tradition is surely suitable for magic. For example, the magick of The Goetia is based on the belief in Solomon's spirits or daemons. Some of these spirits are classified as day spirits while others are night spirits; they perform good and evil feats. Their natures are like that of Solomon's, good and evil making him attractive to magicians. He both praised God and defied him. This contradictory aspect is especially appealing to magic for it partially describes magic. For during the Middle Ages few have said there was at times little distinction between magic and religion, a conclusion which might be applied by some even today. The magician is actually attempting to defy the laws of nature, a definition of a miracle.

With the view that most knowledge of the spirits and daemons of King Solomon is legendary as expressed in the Views of Solomon's Magic it is not difficult to comprehend the reason for its predominance in much current ceremonial magic. Such influence is illustrated by Aleister Crowley in "The Initiated Interpretation of Ceremonial Magic, Clacicula Solomonis Regis," an Introductory Essay by Aleister Crowley in The Goetia, The Lesser Key of Solomon the King, translated by Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers. In this short essay Crowley amply points out magic like in the Bible and The Arabian Nights must eventually be placed in their proper order or prospective in one's life, give the individual this may be sooner or later. Generally both eventually fall into the categories of folk-tale and anthropology. It was Crowley's intention to raise The Arabian Nights to its proper place again.

He meant to do this with his explanation of magic. He was not concerned with the denial of all "magical" phenomena, be they illusions they are as real as some unquestionable facts of ordinary life; and following Herbert Spencer's statement they are evidence of some cause.

This cause, real or imaginary, becomes fact. In this instance the fact is the individual magician seeing the spirit within the Triangle of Art, the hoisting or capturing of the spirit. Is this concept very much different than saying as some Christians do that the body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit? Not really, although the latter is called an act of faith while the former is an act of psychology, both are mental acts. Results of mental acts are what the brain sees, or perceives, through the "Third Eye" which are caused by brain-changes.

This phenomenon is true of all sensual impressions reaching the brain coming from the Universe. Such phenomena produce changes in the brain. Magic may be thought of as working in a similar manner; however, it is in a different category because the brain-changes are willed. Their cause is a series of "real" phenomena called the operations of ceremonial Magic.

Crowley specified these operations:

Sight- the circle, square, triangle, vessels, lamps, robes, impliments, etc.

Sound- the invocation.

Smell- the perfumes.

Taste- the sacraments.

Touch- as listed in (1).

Mind- the combination of the above and their significance.

These universal impressions (1-5) produce unusual brain-changes; hence their summary (6) is of unusual kind produced back into the world. This unusual kind of production refers to the magician's experiences; the appearance of the spirit, his conversation, possible shocks from imprudence, and so on, even ranging from ecstasy to death.

These effects describe in the Goetia can render a rational explanation of the circumstances. Crowley claims the spirits of the Goetia are portions of the human brain [1]. Their seals represent (Mr. Spencer's projected cube) methods of stimulating or regulating those particular spots (through the eye).

The names of God are calculated to

General control the brain. (Establishment of functions relative to the subtle world)

Control over the brain in detail. (Rank or type of the Spirit)

Control over one special portion of brain. (Name of the Spirit)
The perfumes aid this through smell. Usually the perfume will tend to control a large area; but there is an attribution of perfumes to the letters of the alphabet enabling one to, by Kabbalistic formula, to spell out the Spirit's name.

For example, Crowley explains, the Spirit Cimieries teaches logic. The portions of the brain concerned with logic may presently be dormant by can be developed with the processes involved in the "Invocation of Cimieries."

Crowley goes onto reiterate the promises of Solomon:

Obtaining information by bringing up facts buried within the sub-consciousness.

Destruction of enemies; this seems to rely on the personal viewpoint. Noble deeds can be speared by apparent vile ends disguised by sublime truths.

Understanding the voices of nature, this is the careful listening to and the comprehension of nature. Such comprehension is sometimes easily and quickly developed, a child often knows the difference between a cats's meowing and purring. However, this ability can be greatly perfected.

Obtaining or finding treasures, such adventures are a business and can be perfected.

Exhibiting healing effects, abnormal body states can be corrected such as restoring tissue tone as directed by brain currents.

Crowley sees these points as basics of Ceremonial Magic, they worked for him and he assured those practicing them that they would work for them. He did not defend them against the scrutiny of science; the magician's perfection is the proof. He said he achieved this by reaching the end, the goal.

Perhaps for Crowley himself and for magicians he had placed The Arabian Nights as well as The Goetia in their proper positions. Both are based upon legend and both are useful when believed. Their efficiency may not be able to be objectively observed but the true magician observes it when sensing an internal personal transformation and so does the object of his magic when undergoing a similar effect. A.G.H.


Sources:

[1] It is possible that Crowley's claim that the spirits of the Goetia are portions of the human brain was influenced by Herbert Spencer's attempt to reconcile the associationist psychology of John Stuart Mill's A System of Logic, the notion that the human mind was constructed from atomic sensations held together by the laws of the association of ideas, with the apparently more "scientific" theory of phrenology which located specific mental functions in specific parts of the brain. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herbert_Spencer>

The Goetia, The Lesser Key of Solomon the King, Lemegeton, Book I Clacicula Solomonis Regis, translated by Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mather, edited and illustrated by Aliester Crowley, ed. Hymenaeus Beta, San Francisco, CA/Newburyport, MA, Weiser Books, 1995 pp. 15-19