The foreword to the Goetia sets out to explain some of the terminology involved and what exactly is meant by each of the spirits. To start, it is explained that the original Greek word, daimon, was derived by Plato from the Greek word knowing.
The editor points out that modern definitions, such as that by G.J. Riley suggest that
the etymology more likely stems from the root , to divide (destinies). Thus the word could designate one’s fate or destiny, or the spirit controlling one’s fate, one’s genius.
The word Goetia is derived from the Greek word for sorcery or witchcraft (), and a related word meaning a wailer or in Crowley’s etymology, howling.
The following text is taken directly from introductory essay, The Initiated Interpretation of Ceremonial Magic in the Goetia.
The operations of ceremonial Magic consist of
- sight – the circle, square, triangle, vessels, lamps,
- robes, implements, etc
- sound – the invocations
- smell – the perfumes
- taste – the sacraments
- touch – see 1
- mind – combination of all these & reflection on their significance
These unusual impressions (1-5) produce unusual brain-changes hence their summary (6) is of unusual kind. Its projection back into the apparently phenomenal world is therefore unusual.
Herein then consists the reality of the operations and effects of ceremonial magic, and I conceive that the apology is ample, so far as the ‘effects’ refer only to those phenomena which appear to the magician himself, the appearance of the spirit, his conversation, possible shocks from imprudence, and so on, even to ecstasy on the one hand, and death or madness on the other.
But can any of the effects described in our book Goetia be obtained, and if so, can you give a rational explanation of the circumstances? Say you so?
I can, and will: The spirits of the Goetia are portions of the human brain. Their seals therefore represent methods of stimulating or regulating those particular spots (though the eye).
The names of God are vibrations calculated to establish:
- General control of the brain. (Establishment of functions relative to the subtle world.)
- Control over the brain in detail. (Rank or type of the Spirit.)
- Control of one special portion. (Name of the Spirit.)
… If, then I say, with Solomon: ‘The Spirit Cimieries teaches logic,’ what I mean is: ‘Those portions of my brain which subserve the logical faculty may be stimulated and developed by following out the processes called ‘The Invocation of Cimieries.’
…Solomon promises us that we can
- obtain information
- destroy our enemies
- understand the voices of nature
- obtain treasure
- heal diseases
I have taken these five powers at random considerations of space forbid me to explain all.
- Brings up facts from sub-consciousness
- Here we come to an interesting fact. It is curious to note the contrast between the noble means and the apparently vile ends of magical rituals. The latter are disguises for sublime truths. ‘To destroy our enemies’ is to realize the illusion of duality, to excite compassion.
- A careful naturalist will understand much from the voices of the animals he has studied long. Even a child knows the difference of a cat’s miauling and purring. The faculty may be greatly developed.
- Business capacity may be stimulated.
- Abnormal states of the body may be corrected, and the involved tissues brought back to tone, in obedience to currents started from the brain.
So for all other phenomena. There is no effect which is truly and necessarily miraculous.