The Medieval Approach to Learning Magic: a Variation on Paul Huson’s Evocation Method in Mastering Witchcraft
This is a more tangible and updated approach to this subject (from an earlier post I did). It is not written for beginners but for people with some magical experience and the willingness to test, record, and report their results.
The old fogeys here on Studio Arcanis have done evocation every way possible and that includes the author of this post, who has experimented with new-age, GoM, and NAP-style hacks as well as with traditional praxes, approaching the Verum, the Lesser Key, the Black Raven, and similar grimoires mostly “by the book.”
It is very hard to get 100% fidelity to any set of grimoire instructions, but we love the work of artists like Ashen Chassan, Frater Acher, and our own Asterion, who have shown that not only can the traditional work be done but that it can be beautiful and impressive. Jake Stratton-Kent, Imperial Arts, and Bumper here seem to take a mostly traditional but non-purist approach that is a bit more flexible. For years, I’ve blended sorcery and folk magic with the ceremonial “linear tradition” to arrive at my own hybrid methods. This camp seems to include veterans like Moonlit Hermit, who uses art as part of his work; Gilberto and Brother Moloch, who, like me, blend the high and the low; Talerman, who is exploring Bardon through firsthand practice and writing; and Wanderer, who manages to be traditional and yet completely unique at the same time. Then we have Provenant, who knows more about styles and techniques of magic than most and has a ton of firsthand experience, and our old colleagues from EvocationMagic, like Rufus Opus, Vovin, Josephine McCarthy, and members of various magical lodges who still pop in from time to time.
I drop these names for a good reason: these are people whose writings have shown up on Studio Arcanis (or previously on EM.com) and who have things to teach about the art of evocation. I’ve probably left a few key players out, too. Please add to this thread if you notice someone who should be included! Instead of posting a link farm (again, yawn), I’m going to offer these names as “leads.” Let your research and growing experience be your guide as you explore their writings here and elsewhere. Also keep in mind that my characterizations above come from my (flawed, subjective) perceptions of these practitioners and their work. Some might disagree with how I’ve presented them here, and that’s good. Put 10 magicians into a conversation and you will see 10 highly opinionated points of view. We’re a headstrong (some might say, “egregiously stubborn”) bunch. And these are just my personal points of view. Your magical mileage may and should vary.
Anyway, hopefully it isn’t too controversial to suggest that a legitimate experience of evocation (i.e. results) can come through a lot of different evocation methods, even the more modern ones. This one is fairly modern; though, it isn’t as “open hand” as some of the recent Gallery of Magick techniques. It still uses materia magica, but it shifts the focus from nine-foot circles in fully developed magical chambers and advance ritual purifications to a more portable basis.
If you follow this interpretation of Huson’s praxis, you will be able to learn evocation on your own the way medieval magicians supposedly did. In other words, you will call a demon teacher, develop a Liber Spirituum (a book of spirit signs and signatures), and, more importantly, your own subjective gnosis (UPG) about how the spirits of a particular grimoire work.
→ A grimoire (a grammar) is a perspective on the world the way a language is. For example, if you learn French, you will get a French vision of reality through the words, assumptions, idiomatic expressions, and slang unique to that culture. It will be similar but distinct from, say, Portugese or Spanish or Latin. Similarly, the Grand Grimoire has a lot in common with the Grimorium Verum and the Black Dragon. The Goetia of Dr. Rudd partakes of the same tradition as the Lesser Key of Solomon. Each is different and sometimes the differences run very deep. The best way to learn about this is to read the work of Jake Stratton-Kent, who has a keen eye for what grimoires are and can do. Also look at Grimoires: a History of Magical Books by Owen Davies. Don’t look at this basic reading as a chore. Think of it, like Obi Wan says to Luke in Star Wars, as a “first step into a larger world”—because the scope of grimoire magic can seem infinitely big even if it sometimes feels like a village with more than one idiot. So pick a grimoire and learn its worldview. Here, I will be using Faust’s so-called Black Raven because it is not very well-known and can be demanding. If you approach it with the method given here, you will see that even fragmentary or highly “implicit” magical texts can work.
→ It is a good thing to stick with a particular grimoire until you feel comfortable with it. You don’t have to evoke every spirit in the catalogue, but the work should become part of you. In other words, you should feel like it has become part of your magical life. If this idea makes you nervous, it should. Working with a grimoire of demons and their magic means taking that magic into yourself and your life. That is a serious commitment that the Gallery of Magick or the latest new age evocation hack doesn’t always disclose. But it’s also pretty much true about anything. If you want to be a good carver of wooden ducks, you will be bringing the praxis of wooden-duck-making into your life. For years, I wrote scripts for television and I can tell you that it was a magical process like no other. It ruled my dreams and conditioned my outlook. It’s still part of me. As with wooden ducks or teleplays, so with evocation.
→ Accept failure as a precondition for success. This means that if you are interested in grimoire magic primarily to get things or draw affection or influence those around you, it might be good to develop a system of low magic (sigils, folk ways, even something wacky like “radonics”). Personally, I recommend New Avatar Power as a great system to keep you going as you study the deeper mysteries (and it will lead to and help you learn those as well). But another system that seems to fit really well with Huson’s method is Donald Tyson’s use of the tarot deck as a tool for ceremonial rituals in Portable Magic. (It is really the only Tyson book I like.)
Basics and Paraphernalia:
→ Get a wand. I prefer a simple witch method of finding magical tools; though, you may want to make or purchase a fancy ceremonial wand. My method goes like this. Go to a wooded area. Raise power and invoke, something like: “Oh thou creature of wood, my companion in the Is-to-Be, fellow servant to the Art, come forth that we may partake of the mysteries divine.” Then go for a meander through the area and see if a suitable stick or twig presents itself. You may need to do this for up to nine consecutive days (or more), but eventually you will find a spirit companion-servant in the shape of a wand who wants to work with you. You can then clean, purify, and decorate this in the ways you find powerful and appropriate or not at all, as you wish. Consecrate it to the Art.
(Note: you can adapt the above invocation for finding any tool of the Art. Experiment with it.)
→ Get a metal mixing bowl (unless you have a black mirror or a crystal shewstone). Mixing bowls are inexpensive. Spray the inside with waterproof black paint (enamel works with a water sealant) such that it creates a thick dull coat. Consecrate it.
→ Get two thick altar candles (color is not important, though for aesthetic reasons you might prefer red, purple, or black). Carve a sigil (or more traditional magical markings) in them that encodes your intention to use the candles for evocation. Note that these are not absolute beginner instructions. So I am not spoon-feeding you a sigil. It’s better if you formulate your own. You should know how to do this, how to decorate your wand and other items, etc. If not, there is a wonderful world of 101 ceremonial magic books out there for your reading pleasure. After the sigil, consecrate the candles.
→ Get some clean sheets of high-quality paper (doesn’t have to be the skin of a goat slaughtered with a silver blade at an oasis in the Valley of the Kings—we love goats and prefer to feed them and pat them on the head, since goats are often better company than people). Also get a magical-seeming pen. It doesn’t have to be any sort of pen in particular. I personally find quill pens to be a bit absurd in this day and age. But follow your inclinations. Purify and consecrate everything.
→ Get a cheap incense burner. Use myrrh for demonic work. You can substitute champa, lotus, or sandalwood if necessary. Self-lighting hoodoo incenses also work. But avoid frankincense, dogwood, dragon’s blood when working with a grimoire like the Black Raven. Do some research and determine why I’m suggesting these types of incense. As far as quality is concerned, my preference for this kind of work is to avoid the fancy granulated incense and charcoal. Yes, it smells better and is very “ceremonial-y” feeling. But Auroshikha makes a very satisfying myrrh in stick form which is inexpensive and non-aggravating / non-distracting during ritual. Check it out: https://www.auroshikha-incense.com/auroshikha-myrrh-incense-p-60.html. Consecrate.
→ Get a blank journal. This will become your book of spirit signatures. I find small moleskine unlined notebooks very useful for this. Consecrate.
→ Decide if you are going to use magical days and hours. Personally, I have come to feel that the hours are more trouble than they're worth, preferring to use my intuition as to when a particular operation is most appropriate. But I do believe that the hours can add potency. In this, as in all else, do as you will.
→ Lastly, you may want to purchase Huson’s Mastering Witchcraft, which will give you a lot more to work with than my brief outline here. If you are following my Black Raven praxis closely, you will want a copy of that, which can be had for free here: https://grimoires.com/Faust/introfst.html
1. Because Huson is teaching the evocation of Vassago, a demon of divination, he makes use of the square of Mercury. Magical squares are wonderful tools, but you don’t need such things to call a demon. You do need to know how to banish an area before and after the work. Learn how and then return to these notes.
2. Set everything up on an altar table. Get a chair. Face East (by default, though you will want to experiment with magical quarters as you call different spirits). Fill your scrying bowl with water. Light the candles and incense.
3. Banish your area.
4. Draw the sigil of the demon, Marbuel, on one of the sheets. Smoke the sigil in the incense as you invoke: “Creature of Paper, I name thee Marbuel. Thou art Marbuel.” Trace Marbuel’s sigil in the air over the sigilized paper and then repeat the invocation. Set the paper down on the altar before the scrying bowl.
5. Invoke (this is Huson’s invocation): “By Satandar and Asentacer, I conjure thee, O thou great and holy Marbuel! Marbuel! Marbuel! Vouchsafe to descend from thy abode, bringing thy influence and presence into this medium of water, that we may behold thy glory and enjoy thy society and aid!”
(Personally, I vibrate spirit names, but it’s not strictly necessary and can be counterproductive if you don’t know how to do it right.)
6. Chant (or vibrate) the demon’s name until you feel your perceptions shifting somehow. Be sensitive to this. You're not doing a mantra per se. You're opening a "transvocational" space for the manifestation. Research: "transvocation."
7. Gaze at the surface of the water in the bowl and address the demon. Ask it to make itself known through that medium or in your mind’s eye. Be totally receptive to the form it takes. If you start seeing nightmarish things, speak over the water and ask for the spirit to come in a fair and pleasing shape.
8. Request that Marbuel teaches you the art of evoking the other spirits of the book (without harming you or anyone else—this is important as some demonic instruction is dangerous, at least in my UPG and maybe in yours). When you have received a lesson, ask the demon to sign the spirit book. An image may appear in your mind’s eye or through some other means. Make sure it is recorded clearly. Then ask for a short invocation to call Marbuel forth again (without a full ceremony). Having received those, give the license to depart: “O great and holy Marbuel, we license thee depart into thy proper place and be there peace between us evermore by Satandar and Asentacer. Be thou ready to come again when we call. So mote it be!”
(Note that we always refer to the demon as “great and holy” because we are stepping outside the simple binaries of Judeo-Christian moralistic theology when we call on a demon to work for us. In this, we are much in the tradition of Solomon the King.)
9. Add notes and a description of the working after the spirit’s signature in your little journal. If your evocation was unsuccessful or the demon was impolite or evasive, don't torture it with a curse or yourself with doubt. Follow these instructions to the end and try again in a few days. Persist.
10. Banish the area and burn the sigil of the demon, sprinkling the ashes outside your home (or, if you feel particularly vulnerable, at a crossroads or in a river—but don’t do this often because it can be counterproductive—again, this is my folk magic UPG creeping in, but keep this in mind just in case your experience is similar to mine).
11. Make sure your tools are clean and well cared for and stowed where the eyes of the unwashed will not hold them in contempt. This is an important part of magical hygiene.
Work with the demon until he has taught you many things, especially about the other spirits in the book. If working with the Black Raven, I would also evoke the following.
Aziel to bring wealth and needful possessions, also working with magical “fire.”
Ariel to get rid of debts and bring magical books, also working with magical “air.”
Mephistopheles to teach the art of pacts and various additional forms of magic, black and white. Mephistopheles can introduce you to spirits of other grimoires the way Marbuel introduces you to the spirits of the Raven. He is a magical gatekeeper, among many other things.
Barbuel for favors from "kings" and great / powerful people, alchemy, and working with magical “water.”
Aziabel for increased status, fame, and the love of groups, also working with magical “earth.”
Anifel for lust, seduction, and how to enjoy things that do not seem enjoyable on the surface.
And this is only the beginning. These spirits have an abundance of capabilities that you will need to discover for yourself, as with all grimoire entities.
You can apply this approach to any magical book with success. You will need to keep learning. It’s not a one-shot process, not, as a friend of mine recently put it, “a magical gumball machine.” This is only one way to take first steps into the work.
Do that and share your methods and experiences with us here on Studio Arcanis.