Toward an understanding of demonology, it is helpful to have some concept of the origins of the various demons. These are sometimes taken to suggest a sort of demonic Senate, or even a round-up of convicted spirit felons sealed in a brass prison bus; but the reality is a cultivated list of characters and their attributes. In order to make sense of everything, a basic orientation may assist in coming to terms with the substance of demonology.
I will divide the spirits into three categories. The first contains those whose origins are either completely obvious, or whose identity is easily linked to a known figure from literature or mythology. The second category will be those whose names and features align very closely with key aspects of mythic personages, and the final category are those form whom we can only make guesses. Each category happens, at this point in my career and understanding, contains twenty-four spirits.
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This should shed a little light on lingering suspicions that these spirits comprise any kind of cohesive pantheon. I believe it shows, in a somewhat indirect manner, that the list of spirits is generated from the kind of sources one might expect medieval scholars to possess, rather than from anything resembling a direct and pure transmission of spirit data. They looked through Homer, the Bible, a few other sources, and fitted them to the legend of Solomon.
It is assumed that at least a few of the speculative entries are incorrect, although some of the really far-out ones I am willing to explain in detail. It is also assumed that a few of the Unknowns might someday come to light as partaking in some particular mythic cycle as yet undisclosed. The first category, those known to correspond to existing identities, expose the skeleton of a scheme whereby certain traits and natural or social processes can be tied to one or several of these spirits.
They are not presented with anything resembling reverence, but are arranged according to their general office, so that the first spirit is concerned with the tendency of Man to see himself as God, the second is tied to the problems associated with organized labor, the third reflects on cognizance of place and purpose, and so forth for the rest.
This line of discussion repeatedly pulls out the question of “Why not ask them?” As this journal demonstrates, that's not always the best way to get answers, especially not when the idea is to find exterior sources of verification. Some of these ideas do come from the spirits, and some of the attributions dispute my own experiences in favor what appears the correct answer.
The character sketches defined by the names, seals, offices, and apparitions of the spirits are little more than hints as to the deeper elements of magic art. In public I have spoken of this as the Magical Renaissance, in which we will no longer look to grimoires but instead to the products of our work with those grimoires. For myself and all those others attempting to perform these works, it is less about identifying truths within the existing system but instead an effort to discover what has merit and value for the future.
The modern world looks on the relics of magic and demonology lore as archaic superstitions, and yet the world suffers under many of the same delusions and vices as it once did. The demonology, that sense of mystery that attracts occult seekers, will eventually give way to something which is greater than a more refined conception of demons or other spirits. It must do more than appropriate spirits from global cultures, or streamline effective working procedures.
A full understanding of demonology demands that a person can look beyond the idea that one person's god is another person's devil, and accept that each of the deity forms found in myths across the world represent some identified power in the human experience. These are at once ancestral, elemental or natural, social, genetic, and circumstantial forces that are brought to bear upon the choices we all make individually, and our relations to these forces determine our paths through life. The hallmark of mastery will not be competence in the realm of magic circles and demons, but those gains or fruits of labor which arrive from successfully navigating the pathways between the larger spiritual influences upon the human race, many of which are collected and represented in the Goetia.