A rose by any other name is still a rose, but what about a spirit by any other name? In a recent interview on Inside the Magick Circle, I was asked a question about spirits which seem to have a correlation to each other but have different names. Sometimes these names may be corruptions but there are indeed times we see totally different names all together. The question went on to inquire as to why someone can use one name and have success while another can use a different name and can also have success. I had a direction in which I was responding, but felt in the end that we were speaking past each other. So I thought I’d take a few minutes and address it more fully here.
He asks, “We do see it in a sense going all the way back to the magical papyri and even further than that, but, what’s fascinating to me about it is there is very little connection amongst the names as time goes on.” He continued to explain how the directions and the functions they serve and such all tie these spirits together but there is a disconnect among the identity of them. My answer in short was that it doesn’t really matter, and I say that because my interest is in about a 200 year window and what these things were named before and after means nothing to me. Also it doesn’t matter because it’s not important. It’s not important because in my experience belief plays no role in results. I have been a practitioner in Solomonic magic as a hard atheist and got great results. I have been a practitioner as a theist and got great results. I’ve even been unable to tell if a spirit was there at all, so I continued as if it was and got great results. That is because the important thing is the process. When you do things in a certain way you get certain results. Why it happens is of little consequence to getting results and that is what I’m primarily interested in. As the interviewer states, he knows people that use several different names and they all get success. After persisting I attempted to use an example of the four kings which did not get expressed as clearly as I’d like due to a variety of questions and topics in rapid succession. So I’ll address my answer to this question here in more clear detail.
Summa Sacrae Magicae is a 14th century grimoire which in one of its many pages states, there are four kings in the four parts and names them, Beel in the east, Eney in the south, Modyl in the west, and Laber to the north*. Upon first thought we see these are definitely cardinal kings but they certainly are not the names we know. Most folks are more familiar with the names Oriens to the east, Amaymon to the south, Paymon to the west and Egyn to the North. So it’s easy to say that this is just a conflict of names speaking to the same cardinal spirit likeness. After all there are several other grimiores which have similar conflicts.
But in accepting this assumption as true, a great error is made. If we look at this same work it states that these four kings are under a set of seven ministers who serve at the behest of Beelzebub. And upon closer inspection we see that Satan also has seven ministers who serve at his behest and under those seven are four other cardinal kings by the names of Oriens, Amaymon, Paymon and Egyn. So quick assumptions like those of variations in names being simply mistakes due to the consistency in likeness of their qualities results in an overall misunderstanding. To further this point, working under a different set of cardinal kings can result in success. It is no wonder to me that by working with names with wide variance but with seemingly similar qualities deliver success. Just because we don’t recognize why there is a difference between spirit names does not mean there is no reason. It would be too dismissive in my opinion to assume in such a scenario that they are the same.
- So it’s important to a practitioner who is seeking results not to get bogged down in the distraction of the unknown.
- It’s important to the researcher to not jump to conclusions without appropriate evidence.
- And for those who may be firmly rooted in both of these points it’s important to be able to accept that you just don’t know and continue to practice while you continue to seek substantiated conclusions.
Dr. Stephen Skinner has an excellent response to this very subject.
*Translation by Andy Foster
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