March 14, 2019
A Goetic Reading List
By: Samuel McCabe
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.
The Ars Goetia is a book within the Lesser Key of Solomon grimoire that provides a list of spirits and the methods for invoking them. This is the simplest definition, but goetia (lowercase) also describes a whole genre of grimoires, as well as a spiritual tradition that influenced these grimoires originating in ancient Greece. This complicates things slightly, as practitioners of goetia vary in their perspectives and methods. The books on this list were helpful in my studies and have since become resources for me. This list is a good place to start digging around with goetia. My only caution is to approach conjuration of goetic spirits with respect and courage. Goetic spirits are both extremely helpful and terrifyingly austere. For those with a clever mind and a strong resolve, goetia can be an indelible practice, leading to years of accomplished spiritual growth. These are my recommendations:
Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica. Edited and translated by William H. Race. Harvard University Press: Loeb Classical Library, 2008.
-A little mythology for inspiration and further understanding of goetia, this book describes a necromantic shamanic journey featuring chthonic deities of the Greek pantheon.
Belanger, Michelle. The Dictionary of Demons: Names of the Damned. Llewellyn Publications, 2010.
-This is a thorough encyclopedia of demons. It resolves different spelling among spirit catalogues across the various grimoires and provides descriptive entries for each spirit.
Karlsson, Thomas. Qabalah, Qliphoth and Goetic Magic. Ajna, 2004.
-A classic Left-Hand Path title at this point, Karlsson elicits one of the best presentations of goetic technique. This book goes in and out of print from time to time, but there are demons that can assist you in acquiring any book on this list.
Luck, Georg. Arcana Mundi: Magic and the Occult in the Greek and Roman Worlds. Johns Hopkins University Press, 1985.
-I highly recommend this book even to people not interested in goetia. It’s a great primer for magic studies in general.
The Greek Magical Papyri in Translation. Edited by Hans Dieter Betz. University of Chicago Press, 1986.
-The origins of Western magic. This is essentially a grimoire of potent magic from ancient Graeco-Egypt. Necromancy and aggressive love magic give this source text a little edge, but the rituals for evocationary bowl scrying will change your approach to divination forever.
Ogden, Daniel. Magic, Witchcraft, and Ghosts in the Greek and Roman Worlds. Oxford University Press, 2002.
-Daniel Ogden basically made a reference book with all known accounts of magic, witchcraft and ghost in Greek and Roman literature. It’s an impressive work. I’m still reading Ogden’s Greek and Roman Necromancy, so that review will have to wait for now.
The Orphic Hymns. Translated by Apostolos N. Athanassakis and Benjamin M. Wolkow. John Hopkins University Press, 2013.
-Invocations to the chthonic deities of your goetic rituals.
Osborne, Ariana. The Daemon Tarot. Sterling Ethos 2013.
-Not much of a tarot, and not much of an oracle. The saving grace is that you have all the spirit illustrations of the Infernal Dictionary on cards. These cards become useful in goetic ritual.
Peterson, Joseph H., editor. The Lesser Key of Solomon: Detailing the Ceremonial Art of Commanding Spirits Both Good and Evil. Weiser Books, 2001.
-For me, this is THE definitive version of the Ars Goetia. Move over, Crowley. Peterson also translated a version of the Grimorium Verum, which I consider to be a goetic grimoire and recommend.
Russell, Jeffrey Burton. The Devil: Perceptions of Evil from Antiquity to Primitive Christianity. Cornell University Press, 1977.
-The history lesson you’ve been needing for so long.
Skinner, Stephen. Techniques of Graeco-Egyptian Magic. Golden Hoard Press, 2016.
-Pair this book with Betz’s Greek Magical Papyri and you have a complete course in ancient ceremonial magic.
Stratton-Kent, Jake. Geosophia: The Argo of Magic. Scarlet Imprint, 2010.
-This is not a book of rituals and rules, but a treatise on conjuring spirits within the geography of Hades. I fell in love with goetia all over again.
My own path with goetia began fifteen years ago with the Mathers/Crowley edition of the Lesser Key of Solomon, and comprised the first magic I ever performed. Essentially this ritual was an improvised incantation that reached some netherworld entity who then tormented me for the duration of the night. My success has greatly improved over the years with subsequent practice, and practice I must stress, along with the concept of forming pacts and relationships with these spirits. To cold-call a spirit in the middle of the night to appear inside some vessel in the stench of your parents’ basement is downright rude. To then demand that they win the lottery for you is brazen. When they do show up, why do you think these spirits appear so miffed? How many times have they had to listen to some quivering magician butcher their names? If you conjure a spirit, you are both swearing together under an oath you both agree upon. This is the etymological meaning of con-jure. Make pacts with these spirits, and make offerings to them for their service.
Love is the law, love under will.