Conjure magic, jumping through hoops, hubris

Devi recently made a good post about the important skill set she suggests one should acquire before evoking anything. Not  much can be said against this approach - it's a measured, sensible way of going about this business of conjuring up spirits. Rufus Opus responds to some of Devi's points and the essence of what he is getting at, I think, is that whilst all these skills are of course very good and useful to have - that one should not have to jump through too many hoops before one gets started conjuring. I think he is right. It's possibly a tad over cautious, and there is something highly instructive about burning your fingers. Once you have mistakenly called the wrong spirit and have it mess your life up for a few months and had to deal with getting its influence detangled from everything, you know that you really are getting some valuable on-the-job training. Sometimes stuff going wrong is the best thing that can happen - because, dammit, at least something is happening!

However, Rufus slips in something stupid that truly annoys me:

Spiritual Cleansing is a nice thing to know how to do, but once you figured out how to light a sage bundle and waft its smoke around, you've done enough to start conjuring. The floor washes and baths and such are nice things to know about too, but if you can sprinkle Holy Water, you've got the same thing. Pretty much. 

PUH-lease, dude. Haitian houngans, santeros, paleros, rootworkers and south african sangomas to name a few (who routinely make use of holy water btw) all, without exception, use floor-washes and baths extensively in their work - for a very good reason. Do you honestly think that if sprinkling a bit of holy water around and waving a sage bundle would do it, they wouldn't? Have you ever done an actual house cleansing the traditional way with washes? Do you have any idea how much work it is?! It takes a good few hours in an average home - it's exhausting and onerous, to say the least.  Getting up before sunrise for days on end to do baths, similarly, is tough going. There is one very good reason that so many practitioners from the living traditions of the world go to the trouble: there is no substitute. 

It was being done for millennia in africa and egypt as part of an ancient unbroken tradition before the Goetia was a twinkle in Solomon's eye. Modern solomonic magicians would do well to look to these living spiritist traditions to inform their own practices, rather than dismiss tried and tested cleansing techniques out of hubris. Spiritual baths and washes are the corner stone of my spiritual work and I neglect these at my peril. What's more is that there is plenty of evidence to support that in solomonic magical genre that 'ablutions' were of great importance.

Sage and a few drops of holy water!!? Sheesh, remind me to never ask for your help to drive out evil spirits...


  1. Are you fucking serious? Did you even read what you quoted? I said to get fucking started, jackass. The spirits tell people to do all the floor washes and shit when it becomes necessary. Devi had people thinking they needed to spend four years in preparation getting ready to even think about maybe performing a bit of evocation, oh noes! Fuck that.

  2. I think it's plain I am responding to the part where you said: "The floor washes and baths and such are nice things to know about too, but if you can sprinkle Holy Water, you've got the same thing. Pretty much. " No you don'y have the same thing - not even close. It's called criticism. oh noes!

  3. Criticism is fine when it's accurate. This is bullshit. The "pretty much" part clearly indicates that there is more to it than sage and holy water.

    You missed the point.

  4. Good post Balthazar.

    Can you manage to clear a house with water and sage? Yes, if you have the proper connection and/or realization you can clear a house without even that. Is that "pretty much the same" as the traditional formulas? No.

    Its like saying that riding a bike from California to NJ is the same as Driving a car or taking a Flight.

    In Tibetan magic, which has tons of similarities with Rootwork BTW, you do learn how to exorcise with only ritual. You also learn how to use the most concise rituals so that you can if you need to. But when you really need to get the job done for real and right, the Monks and Ngakpas use a lot of materia in their work which tend also to be the more elaborate ceremonies.

  5. I agree that floor washes and baths are a pain in the ass but if you want to be a successful conjuror you sure as hell need to know how to do them correctly. Sometimes I think we can be too impatient with developing our own initial skill set...it's understandable, i guess

  6. Yikes! I suppose perhaps the use of the word "mastered" has caused the biggest kuffle here.

    Perhaps a much more accurate way to phrase that would have been something more akin to "get competent at the following skill".

    I certainly don't claim to be a Master (with a capital M no less) at all of those thing. Competent, yes. And it takes less time to become competent than a master.

    And I do still stand by my personal opinion that being competent in those things is important to safe and reliable evocation. I know that others' mileages may vary.

    I also agree that mistakes are amazing teachers. Cleaning up a spiritual mess you made is a valuable learning experience. I've certainly gone through that!

  7. Hi Jason - sure, I believe you can clear a house with sage alone (or nothing other than prayer for that matter). Provided you worked with sage as someone who had allied that plant's spirit and had a grounding in a tradition surrounding the herb, such as those of the native americans. This is quite different to waving it around though, and probably not within the purview of a beginner. As you say it's not the same as traditional formulas anymore than flying and driving are the same.

    RO, I hear you when you say that you meant to express that those cleansing gestures could be a workable starting point and that you weren't necessarily intending to diminish the value or power of washes, which is fine - because in essence then we are having a communication lapse rather than a true disagreement.

    My tone could have been more collegial, so that is something to take into account.

    Devi, I think your advice is solid and certainly covers everything that someone approaching conjuration should keep in mind and work toward, even though it might not be possible to master the whole shabang before the get-go.

  8. It's nice to see that everyone is now getting along.

  9. I have been a ceremonial magician for ten years, and independently concluded that ritual cleansing alone was not sufficient to enable me to do the Work with sufficient frequency to keep my life from falling apart AND remain sane. I resorted to Hoodoo baths and floor washes, not by considering it part of my tradition, but by realizing that there were certain things my tradition did NOT do very well but Hoodoo did. I am glad to see others concluded that the ablutions are necessary for a frequent practitioner.