Updated: August 9th 2023
So over the past two weeks I have had multiple people approach me who were just starting out with working with the Goetia looking for tips, pointers, or where to begin. Some of these individuals were relatively new to Magickal practice, others were more experienced, but ultimately it got my mind working and I thought it was probably a good idea to make a post about this I could point to for anyone interested in starting this sort of practice.
First, I want to say right up front that Goetic work is not for everyone.
There are plenty of advanced practitioners who are very effective at what they do who never go anywhere near Goetia. If this style of practice does not resonate with you, then there is no reason to go any further, focus on what you feel called to instead. If, however, you do feel a calling toward Goetic work, then my first piece of advice would be to take things slow, start with the basics, and make sure to pay attention to the details. Goetic work can be dangerous. Don't become a horror story on the internet. Please.
How I started.
Before I get into actual practice I want to share how I started Goetic work. When I was in high school I was introduced to Sacred Texts shortly after it launched (this is an excellent reference website and if you have not explored it I would highly encourage you to do so.) I was a typical angsty teenager, full of hormones and vitriol and thoroughly convinced no one in the world could ever understand the vast array of life problems I suffered through daily (you know, things like homework, and parents, and girls.) Having grown up in a very strict Christian household my rebellious instincts drew me toward the thing I knew my parents would be most displeased with me for exploring. Books about demons.
I read through several of the grimoires on the site before ultimately zeroing in on the Lesser Key of Solomon. I read the text, picked out a few spirits, and traced their sigils into a notebook I kept hidden under my mattress. After a few days of reading I worked up the courage to try some of the incantations. Nothing happened. I tried a few more. Same result. I got frustrated, went down a rabbit hole of experimentation, and within a few weeks I got my first result.
It wasn't what I was looking for. At all.
I am not going to detail exactly what happened, but suffice to say for several years afterward I dealt with a range of mental health issues, up to and including self harm and suicide attempts.
So when I say this stuff is dangerous, I'm not kidding.
The main reason I came back to this practice in the way I did was to master my personal demons and conquer my own destructive tendencies. Now, having the experience that I do with Goetic spirits, I feel like I have a duty to others who might explore this path, to point out where the danger is and help guide people who feel drawn to this toward a more positive experience than my initial forays led me to.
Anyway, enough about me. Let's talk about how to do some Magick.
Before you start actively working with the Goetia it is important to develop some fundamental skills. Trying to run a marathon without ever exercising is at best going to get you a cramp, but it also might result in a heart attack. Do your exercises.
First, meditation. Meditation is an important skill to develop for any Magickal practice, but more so for working with Goetic spirits. When you work with the Goetia the primary medium you are using to establish a connection with the entities you are working with is your mind. You need to be able both to control your thoughts so random ideas don't distract you during your workings, and also to distinguish between your thoughts and those of an entity or spirit that might be either communicating with you or attacking you. This becomes especially important if you botch a ritual and come under any form of psychic attack. Meditation will give you the tools you need to stay calm, filter out as much of the negative energy as you can until you can ground or banish it away. I would recommend practicing mediation at least once daily, with twice being preferable and if you can manage to sneak additional sessions in that would make it even better.
2. Energy Work
Next, energy work. In order to successfully make and maintain contact with spirits on the order of magnitude you find in the Lesser Key of Solomon you need to be able to direct and channel flows of energy. At a basic level you can develop these skills through breathing exercises and yoga. There are also a number of channeling and power building rituals that many practitioners will use prior to a ritual. Pick one of these that appeals to you and work on directing your own internal energy, as well as energies in the world around you. As you become more adept at this you will discover you can tell a lot about the environment you are in by the subtle energetic forces in the world around you. Typically you will find your intuition heightened, as well as other affects. Different individuals have different sensitivities, and you will find as you do energy work that you will find experiences that are unique to you. Don't reject them or be scared of what you encounter. Ultimately these are all important aspects of yourself you are going to need to overcome if you want to successfully work with Goetic entities.
Also, keep in mind, calling up a demon takes a lot out of you. If you don't have a solid grounding in energy work you are going to feel sluggish and hungover for several days afterward.
Third, divination. What form this takes is going to be different for everyone. Popular methods are pendulums, tarot cards, and runes, but use whatever speaks to you. If you want to interact with a demon in a meaningful way you are going to need a method of communication, and becoming as familiar as you possibly can with a method of divination that calls to you is an invaluable tool, both in Goetic work and in Magickal practice in general. Also it is fun to do. Try it, learn it, explore it.
Fourth, offerings. This is pretty basic, but it is important ground to cover. You don't always have to use offerings in order to work effectively with Goetic spirits, but it can absolutely grease the wheels and make the process miles easier. What form your offerings should take is going to change based on your practice and on the spirit you are working with but it is important to learn some do's and don't's. For instance you need to be able to dispose of old offerings in a respectful way, that is not going to negatively impact your relationship with the spirit, or harm and ongoing workings. Learn what to offer, learn how to offer it, learn what to do with any physical leavings afterward so as not to cause offense.
5. Start Small
Last but not least, before you start working with the Goetia, start small. Find some local spirits in your neighborhood that you can interact with. Leave them some offerings, ask them questions. If you don't know where to find any scout out local landmarks. Churches, graveyards, and parks are all good places to start. Statues, monuments and memorials are also typically good, and there are typically a wide range of spirits just found outdoors in nature. If you can't find a good place to start consult your pendulum or your cards. If you are open and sincere in your efforts to contact your local spirits, sooner or later they are going to show up. Be respectful when they do, these are your neighbors, after all. Make friends with them, learn how to interact with these local spirits, learn how to ask them questions and how they interact with you when you try to contact them. Get a feel for their energy, and how you feel after connecting with one. Typically a Goetic spirit is going to be a much more intense experience than a local one, so trying out what you have learned in a less high-pressure setting will be beneficial.
It is worth noting that some places can have very powerful local spirits. Be careful around old battlegrounds, or anywhere you encounter energy that is intense and makes you feel uncomfortable. It is important to challenge yourself in order to grow, but know your limits and take things slow. Sometimes local spirits can be every bit as threatening as Goetic ones. Learn your local history and stay away from places that have overly negative stories or rumors circulating about them (at least for now, you can always go back and discover a truly frightening spirit later, if you feel a need to).
If anyone would like additional tips, or if you are unsure where to begin researching or learning any of these topics I would be happy to point anyone in the right direction.
Happy spell slinging!
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