Servitors, psychodynamics and models of magick
Chaos magick, at least if approached by through the Internet and conversation with chaos magicians, can appear a sprawling, contradictory mess of techniques to the newcomer. The relativistic stance of chaos magick, and it’s apparent lack of a unifying template can appear both morally disturbing and intellectually frustrating, especially to occultists coming to it from more traditional paths.
Frater U.:D.:, in a small essay published in 1991, provided a clearer approach to chaos magick by declaring it to be a meta-model, a fifth approach to magick. The other four he defined as the spirit model (used by shamans and traditional ceremonial magicians, in which autonomous entities exist in a dimension accessible to ours through altered states of consciousness); the energy model (where the world is viewed as being “vitalized” by energy currents that the magician manipulates); the psychological model (in which the magician is seen as “a programmer of symbols and different states of consciousness,” manipulating the the individual and the deep psyche); and the information model (where information is the code that programs the essentially neutral energy of the life force). Frater U.D. points out that writers on chaos magick generally subscribe to a great extent to the psychological model, but, their approach utilizes a meta-model, which is really a set of instructions on how to use the other models.
One of the most salient facts about chaos magick, and one of the most difficult for many newcomers to grasp, is that it is not really a magical philosophy at all, it is really a technology, an approach, or stance towards magical systems. The path to this was a result of chaos magicians developing and then transcending the psychological model. This essay on servitors while discussing many of the practical issues in the creation and deployment of servitors also elucidates the relationship between chaos magical theory and modern psychology.
Modern magicians, chaos magicians, contemporary sorcerers, and the other magical users of servitors appear to have adopted a modified psychodynamic view of personality, and the way in which we identify ourselves. This view, first expounded by Freud and the other founders of psychoanalysis (Jung, Adler, etc.), suggests that the way in which we view ourselves develops over time, and motivational syndromes (what we want and how we go about getting it) are critical to this development. This is quite a different view than type or trait personality theories which were in favour throughout most of Western history (man is composed of a compound of four or five elements, for example). Chaos magicians tend to display more of a situationist stance to personality, that is to say they tend to act as though the situation in which one finds oneself is the dominant factor in observable behaviours. Chaos magicians also tend to suggest that this is a good thing, since it means the personality can be used opportunistically, as a tool to achieve desires. This stance also reflects Buddhist and Eastern views of the Self, which either repudiate its existence as a permanent construction, or state that its essential nature can only be discovered through profoundly altered states of consciousness (samadhi).
Phil Hine, in his excellent pamphlet Chaos Servitors, a User Guide writes of the self:
I prefer the analogy of the self as an organic city-entity, where some portions are more prominent than others, where there are hidden tunnels and sewers, and where the under levels carry vital energies to buildings. The city-self is continually changing and growing – tear down a building of belief, and another grows back in its place.
Austin Osman Spare was clearly influenced by psychodynamic theories of the self, as well as Eastern ones, and the general magical theory he passed on to us embody these ideas. Primarily concerned with motivation (desire), Spare wrote in The Book of Pleasure:
The ‘self’ is the ‘Neither-Neither,’ nothing omitted, indissoluble, beyond prepossession; dissociation of conception by its own invincible love is the only true, safe, and free…This Self-Love is now declared by me the means of evolving millions of ideas for pleasure without love, or its synonyms-self-reproach, sickness, old age, and death. The Symposium of self and love. O! Wise Man, Please Thyself.
Note the combination of psychoanalytic vocabulary and Vedic metaphysics combined with an insistence on motivation as fundamental.
Now, a servitor is generally considered to be a part of the personality of the magician that has been severed from themselves. I would argue that this is a limited view of servitors, that they could be considered severed portions of the Deep Mind, and consequently not located in the psyche of any particular magician. In my view demons, angels, imaginary friends, poltergeists and perhaps even ghosts are servitors. Servitors can be called thought-forms (as opposed to godforms which may sometimes be servitors on steroids).
Since contemporary magical stances to personality are psychodynamic and motivational servitors tend to be viewed as functional entities, and rather easily operated. Contrast this with the type and trait theories that inform traditional ceremonial magick. Magicians up until this century (and still some today) spend what seems to me ridiculous amounts of time and effort evoking demons, using grimoires, and engaging in a paraphernalia of magick that makes a great deal of sense if you believe in type and trait theories of personalities, but very little if your approach is situational and pyschodynamic. If you believe that a demon you summon is a wholly independent entity with a personality type all of its own you may have to resort to extreme measures to force it to do your bidding. If you believe that a demon is a servitor summoned as a manifestation of your desire then a simple bargain will suffice (I’ll give you energy, you get what I want, I’ll give you a nice place to live).
What is a servitor?
Motivational syndromes (desire) are fundamental to Spare’s form of magick, hence the name of his most popular book, The Book of Pleasure. Spare and magicians, chaotes or otherwise, have adopted the Jungian expansion of Freud’s theory of the unconscious. Jung theorized the existence of a collective unconscious, shared by all. He considered it to be transpersonal and the residue of the evolution of humankind. I personally prefer Jan Fries‘ term, the Deep Mind, but it comes to much the same thing. Spare, who called the collective unconscious the sub-consciousness characterized it as follows:
Know the sub-consciousness to be an epitome of all experiences and wisdom, past incarnations as men, animals, birds, vegetable life, etc., etc., everything that exists, has and ever will exist.
Both Spare and Peter Carroll attempted to develop a technical vocabulary to describe the phenomena and techniques of the type of magick posited by Spare. Carroll, both FireClown and I believe, was trying to construct a vocabulary that could be used by magicians of any type. FireClown calls this a “discussional template”, or a way in which, for example, Thelemites could talk to Wiccans without misunderstanding each other. Unfortunately Carroll’s use of the hierarchical gambit resulted in this vocabulary becoming exclusionary.
A fine example of this is the term servitor. The time predates chaos magick and can be found to refer to bound spirits in the fiction of Clark Ashton Smith, who was writing for Weird Tales in the 1930s. “Servitor” is actually a word referring to entities that actualize through evocation, a magical technique as old as magick itself. Carroll writes:
These beings have a legion of names drawn from the demonology of many cultures: elementals, familiars, incubi, succubi, bud-wills, demons, atavisms, wraiths, spirits, and so on.
Spare seems to indicate that these entities are bound to obsessions, that is to say the magician, experiencing an obsession (a way the psyche tells the magician that it desires something), forms part of the sub-consciousness into a semi-independent phenomenon that will do the work needed to actualize the magician’s desire. Carroll disagrees somewhat, although he allows that such beings have their origin in the human mind. Phil Hine whose interest in his User’s Guide to Servitors is the creation of such beings writes:
By deliberately budding off portions of our psyche and identifying them by means of a name, trait, symbol, we can come to work with them (and understand how they affect us) at a conscious level.
So at least in the type of magick developed by Spare, Carroll, and Phil Hine, a servitor is a part of the magician’s psyche, or a part of the Deep Mind that the magician evokes to perform a task. Do these entities have an existence prior to their evocation? Perhaps. Magick is trans-temporal, trans-spatial. If the Deep Mind contains all experience that has been or ever will be then the question is meaningless, or as William Blake wrote:
Everything that can be Believed is an Image of the Truth.
I do think that the use of servitors is widespread among many people who would not dream of considering themselves magicians. People personalize their cars, have imaginary friends as children, or give personalities to their toys, carry objects they consider to be lucky with them or allow their obsessions to absorb their personalities so they turn into demons. Many movies deal with servitors, Natural Born Killers being an obvious example, Tetsudo, a fine Japanese flick being an even more obvious example. In NBK the demons are eventually reintegrated and the two killers stop killing. The fine film Seven is essentially a magical ritual in which the murderer uses people as the material bases for servitors, in this case representing the demons of the seven deadly sins.
To my mind these are all examples of the use of servitors because they follow Hine’s simple definition of servitors as budded off portions of the psyche or personality developed for a simple or complex purpose which gain a semi-independent existence. Of course in the case of demons absorbing the personality the act is hardly adaptive, although it may have started out that way.
I’ll tell you a story. I had a friend about 12 years ago, a charming, handsome young man, intelligent, athletic, and sober. He used to baby-sit another friend’s teenage daughter. It turned out that he was a serial rapist. He would stalk women, rape them, and beat them nearly to death. He got caught because he fell asleep in his car outside his last victim’s apartment and was found by the police covered with his victim’s blood. I have no doubt he would have ended up murdering his future victims. Fortunately he is unlikely to ever have that chance.
Now, what I think had happened with this man was that, perhaps as a result of some inability to integrate his rage towards women, he budded off a part of his personality, the violent, woman hating part, which became a demon, a semi-independent servitor. When his obsession was triggered it activated the demon which then completely possessed him and he became an utterly different person. For all I know he wasn’t even conscious of the demon himself.
None of his friends ever saw this demon, didn’t even have a glimpse, but his victims surely did.
Modern magicians have expanded on Jungian ideas of the collective unconscious to assert that magick occurs within what Spare calls the sub-consciousness, and Fries the Deep Mind. Servitors are semi-autonomous beings that are summoned from the Deep Mind and charged with the performance of some magical task. Stephen Mace, in his monograph Stealing the Fire from Heaven, calls this sorcery. He defines it:
Sorcery is the art of capturing spirits and training them to work in harness, of sorting out the powers in our minds so we might manipulate them and make them cause changes both within our minds and beyond them.
Most writers are unanimous in their opinion that the magician must develop a clear statement of intent before proceeding in acts of magick, which presupposes the magician understanding the nature of their original desire. In many cases there is simply no need to create a servitor. A simple spell might suffice, a desire sigilized and cast into the Deep Mind in a state of vacuity. Summoning servitors for the sake of psychic adventure might also be ill advised, although, judging from the grimoires of medieval literature in the absence of television it was a popular way to pass the tedium of an evening. Teenage “satinists” (so called in tribute to their innovative spelling) are also apparently fond of this sport. Chaos magicians, it is to be hoped, and the readers of this essay, would create servitors for more practical reasons.
If the magician does not believe the desire can be actualized by sigilizing, either because of lack of success in the past, the inability of the sorcerer to forget the desire, or because the task is repetitive, or complex then a servitor may be appropriate. Servitors can be used for finding rare books, for developing sales in business, for aiding in gaining employment, for irritating an enemy, for protecting a house, for, really, any number of jobs. Servitors can also be used to aid in the deconstruction and reconstruction of a magician’s personality. On the zee-list servitors have been described that compress and expand time, that attack spam mailers, that assist in speedy passage through rush hour and that are soldiers in magical wars.
I suggested above that the use of servitors is widespread throughout humankind. Magicians and sorcerers, however, consciously create servitors, extruding them from their own psyches for specific magical purposes. Most people create servitors unconsciously. Sometimes, as I recounted, this can have poisonous results both for the creator of the servitor and for society. Servitors that contain elements of personality that the sorcerer finds maladaptive are usually known as demons. Mace writes in regards to demons:
Demons: reflexes that generate uncontrollable moods, fantasies, and even actions. Demons are often acquired as a response to a twisted environment that had to be endured during the weakness and dependence of childhood. The adult, empowered wizard will realize they are inappropriate to his current situation, and make every effort to bind them so they will no longer bother him.
In fact, bound demons can be quite useful.
Since many servitors are available for use by the magician through grimoires, or the use of elementals, sylphs,incubi, and the like, it might be reasonably inquired why the sorcerer should go to the trouble of creating one. Mace answers this:
There’s a problem with using preexisting spirits. They invariably come equipped with enormous amounts of moral and theological baggage, bundles of belief and righteousness that you must carry with you as you make your way through the world.
I suggest readers who question this use a grimoire to evoke a lesser demon like Belphegor (not an archdemon like Belial), visit a channeller, or a medium for a seance. Apart from entertainment value I doubt that the reader will experience significant or lasting change from these experiences. Belphegor, I should note, has been credited with assuring regular bowel movements, so perhaps he might have a lasting effect on constipated mages. Apart from this possible exception, creating a servitor and charging it with a magical task can have a profound effect on a sorcerer’s life.
This is why a fairly rigorous intellectual analysis of the desire of the sorcerer should be undertaken before evocation. The magician can use any number of techniques to do this, but the discussion of the magical intent with other sorcerers is probably the most helpful. This is especially true when the servitor to be created is to effect a change in the personality of the magician since it is very possible that excising an apparent vice may also remove an intertwined virtue leaving the sorcerer weaker and poorer than before.
Once the magical intent has been determined and the magician is fairly sure that no unwitting damage to the psyche will ensue, then the actual process of creating a servitor can begin.
Servitors can be easily divided into two classes, those that come from identifiable areas of the magician’s psyche, and those that issue forth from the deeper levels of the subconsciousness ( and hence may not be recognizable to the magician as deriving from a property of the sorcerer’s psyche). If, for example I create a servitor to afflict an enemy this can be easily seen to originate in my own rage. On the other hand, if I summon an elemental because I want rain this spirit may have no apparent connection with my own psyche. Of course it does, but perhaps at such a deep level that it is held in common by many others. Ghosts are another example of beings that issue forth from deep levels of the subconsciousness and are often perceived in very similar ways by different people. Whether the sorcerer creates a servitor from scratch, as it were, or summons a preexistent spirit may depend on the task to which the servitor is put. Servitors may also be created which have components of both the individual magician’s psyche and of the Deep Mind.
Psycho Zippy and servitor creation
I’m in business for myself and my business depends on the timely receipt of payments. I’m in the process of creating a servitor to facilitate payments made to me through the mail. The servitor I imagine to look like Zippy the U.S.P.S. mascot but carrying a large hand gun – Zippy the psychotic postal worker. He will be charged with the specific job of speeding up my mail, particularly checks to me. Of course, part of Psycho Zippy is budded off from my own personality and includes my frustration with the mail, my anxiety over money, my dislike of bureaucrats, and my own violent tendencies. Part of Psycho Zippy, though, comes from the good work of the USPS’s advertising staff who imbedded this image in the American consciousness and the American media that publicized the mass murders of numerous postal workers by their coworkers over the last few years. Psycho Zippy is a hybrid servitor in this sense, and so will derive its energy from both sources. Psycho Zippy may also be considered a bound demon, since he derives from obsessive (and maladaptive) elements of my own psychology which have been extruded and harnessed to perform a particular role. The development of this servitor is useful therapy since it frees me from these maladaptive elements.
So let’s review the process of creating a servitor like Psycho Zippy. First I become conscious of obsession, manifesting as a repeating pattern of anxious thoughts about payments which I know have been mailed but which for reasons quite beyond my ability to understand take a random number of days to reach me. This obsession clearly indicates a desire…I want my payments in a timely and consistent fashion. Now I could do a sigil to actualize this desire, but the problem is persistent and I doubt that a sigil done once will be enough to solve it. I could also use a godform, like Ganesh, or Hermes, or Legba or even Nyarlathotep, but I’ve tried this and the gods seem fairly fickle about it, and, in any case, I keep having to go back to them to bargain with them every time a payment gets lost. I have concluded that a servitor, charged by my own obsession, is the most appropriate magical response.
Now, in my case the USPS’s admen have come up with a sigil that I only have to modify by adding a large hand gun. For many servitors, however, it may be necessary to develop them from scratch by first forming your magical intention into a sigil and then using your imagination to turn this sigil into the shape of servitor (which can be anything you consider appropriate to the task at hand). This process is greatly facilitated if you have developed a magical alphabet that contains in sigil form the properties of your personalityand the powers of your mind. Automatic drawing, a common way to develop this type of alphabet, can also be used to develop the shape of the servitor. These alphabets are also known as alphabets of desire.
On alphabets of desire Mace writes:
Each letter (actually an ideograph) represents a power…an unconscious structure or variety of energy that the sorcerer recognizes or wishes to recognize within his deep psyche.
In essence, the sorcerer sigilizes a desire and then uses automatic drawing until an ideograph is created that is, as Mace says, “perfectly apropos.” Letters from this alphabet can be combined to form the shape of a servitor, again using techniques of automatic drawing.
An alphabet of desire is a set of personal magical symbols that describe or trigger certain powers of the mind or aspects of the sorcerer’s personality. Although the AoD is generally considered to be graphical there isn’t any reason it can’t be gestural, or a set of sounds, or a group of familiar emotional states or states of consciousness. The construction of an alphabet of desire also does not need to be nearly as formal as suggested by Spare, Carroll, Phil Hine, Jan Fries, Stephen Mace and others. It can develop organically as a result of, for example, repetitive gestures or sounds a sorcerer makes in rituals. Moreover, it is not necessary for the sorcerer to be able to define the elements of the AoD outside of the ritual space. The conscious mind does not have to know the meanings and attributions of the alphabet since the sorcerer uses it in an altered state of consciousness induced by ritual.
FireClown and I, who have similar varieties of magick, actually don’t have much of a conscious understanding of our personal alphabets of desire, which are linked more to repetitive gestures, sounds, and subtle states of consciousness rather than graphic symbols.
Although most sorcerers working in the tradition of Spare are indebted to the theoretical structure he developed, slavish adherence to Spare’s techniques would be quite contrary to what Spare himself would have wanted.
Of course, if you want to create servitors from graphical sigils then an iconic alphabet of desire will certainly help.
The impetus to begin writing this much postponed essay was prompted by a question from a member of the zee-list, a list for the use of the z(cluster), a loose international association of chaos magicians, ontological anarchists, and the like, primarily mediated through the internet.
A listmember posted the following question:
<< In my work with sigilizing desire, I have frequently come across strange beings which seem related to the sigils. Sometimes, these beings have names and its gematrias are relevant to the object of desire. What are these beings? Can I create servitors out of them? >>
As the reader will have probably gathered, the original question that precipitated this essay has now been answered. In sigilizing desires the magician inadvertently encountered servitors that were in some way born from these sigils. The magician now needs to discover what these servitors are, what their relationship is to the Deep Mind and how they can be used.
Other relevant questions relating to servitors concern servitor dependency and using a bound demon’s energy to reinforce personality elements that the magician wants to strengthen. I’ll deal with these questions as this essay continues.
In creating servitors, once the magical intention has been formulated an appropriate container for it can be developed. This can be a sigilized figure, an amulet or talisman, a fetish, a computer program or script, or even, possibly, an electronic pet. I advise against using living creatures as containers for servitors, partly because of their complexity, and partly because it is done all too often by parents wih their children, owners with their pets and bosses with their employees, to mention just a few cases where human beings extrude parts of their own psyches and attempt to ram them into other human beings. Manchurian candidates notwithstanding most attempts to do this are qualified failures. Animal familiars, such as cats, are arguably not servitors at all, but rather, associates of the magician or witch, voluntarily participating in magical work.
There is some argument that a material base for a servitor may not be necessary, but, as Phil Hine points out:
It does help to further construct the Servitor’s personas an individual entity, and is also useful for focusing on when you are recalling the Servitor for reabsorption or reprogramming.
Let’s return to my Psycho Zippy servitor. Zippy-with-a-gun is designed to speed checks written to me through the U.S.Postal Service. I do not need to time limit the existence of this servitor since the problem is evidently continuous. I have decided that Zippy-with-a-gun should have a specific aetheric shape, which will be attached to a material link. This link will be an envelope with Psycho Zippy’s icon in the place of a stamp. The envelope will be addressed to me and will contain a check payable to me for as much money as I want and signed by the Universe. This envelope talisman will live on my altar and will also be a resting place for Psycho Zippy when he’s not out terrorizing postal and U.P.S. employees into sending me my checks. I’ve also developed a list of instructions for Psycho Zippy constraining him to this one task, of facilitating payments through the mail. I don’t, obviously, want Psycho-Zippy infecting a postal worker with the notion that murdering as many of his coworkers as possible before blowing his own brains out would be a fine way to spend the day.
These are the preliminary tasks that need to be done before launching the servitor. Phil Hine suggests a servitor design checklist including deciding general and specific intents; sigilizing the initial desire; deciding whether time factor, material link, name, or a specific shape is needed; deciding what will happen when the task is completed; and, finally, making a list of instructions.
Again this is a fairly formalistic approach to developing servitors, and I have to admit that most of the time I use servitors that are nameless, have no particular shape, no material link, and are created almost instantaneously for a specific purpose. Over a period of time these servitors have taken on personalities, or at least the shadows of such, if I use them repetitively. I have a few of them I send out to speed me through traffic jams. I have another that gets me tables in crowded restaurants before I walk through the door. I didn’t develop these beings, but as a result of repeating spells (through gesture and sound) to achieve these results the servitors just seemed to develop of their own accord. Since I don’t banish servitors but house them when their tasks are completed I think I have a pack of shiftless, and probably loutish servitors hanging around my aetheric environment who leap into action when I need them. My demons need work.
Most modern authors strongly recommend banishing prior to engaging in any magical ritual. The word “banishing” in this concept is something of a misnomer since the purpose of this technique is to centre the magician within a sacred space, banishing negative influences being a secondary effect of a banishing ritual.
Uncle Al (Aleister Crowley) writes:
The first task of the magician in every ceremony is therefore to render his circle absolutely impregnable…If you leave even a single spirit within the circle, the effect of the conjuration will be entirely absorbed by it.
Now that’s certainly definite enough. And a wonderful declamatory statement it is!
Crowley’s banishing rituals include The Star Ruby (Liber XXV) and The Star Sapphire (Liber XXXVI), although he assumes that his readers have an understanding of the most famous banishing ritual, the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram (LBRP). One of the clearest descriptions of this can be found in Donald Michael Kraig’s “Modern Magick.” The LBRP and its derivatives involve invoking godforms or angels at the corners of the compass as protective agents.
Chaos magicians, such as Peter Carroll, Phil Hine and Stephen Mace, also strongly suggest the use of banishing rituals, although their centering techniques are somewhat simpler. Phil Hine suggests that banishing rituals are necessary because they allow entry into altered states of consciousness, they dispel psychic debris, and the act to order the universe symbolically, allowing the magician to stand at the axis mundi. Peter Carroll writes that a well cosntructed banishing ritual enables the magician to:
resist obsession if problems are encountered with dream experiences or with sigils becoming conscious.
By the latter Carroll clearly is referring to the inadvertent creation of servitors through sigil techniques. It also has the advantage of having a basis in Spare’s theory of magick and the transformation of obsessional energy into organic energy.
Carroll, Hine and Mace all suggest magicians develop a glowing magical barrier around them when engaged in ritual. Carroll and the IOT used the Gnostic Pentagram Ritual (GPR), a deconstruction of the LBRP, in magical work.
Curiously, I have not been able to discover if Austin Osman Spare used banishing rituals. The omission of such from his Book of Pleasure may quite likely be deliberate since he was certainly aware of them. I would suggest that Spare may have considered banishing rituals contrary to the free flow of magical symbolism from the Deep Mind to the magician’s psyche, that is to say an artifact that may not be useful. But Spare’s magick, to this day, remains more radical, more controversial, and more audacious than most practiced by modern magicians.
Is banishing actually necessary? I do it in an abbreviated form, singing the vowels (Eeh-Aye-Aah-Oh-Uuh-Uuh-Oh-Aah-Aye Eeh) in a scale down and up while following, generally, the chakras with hand movements. I do it because I feel better after I do. Other magicians I know don’t banish at all, while others won’t leave their house without doing an LBRP. My banishing ritual takes a few seconds, can be done with groups, and is a deconstruction of the GPR. I also tend to use drumming, incense, and the strange sound of a Nepali tiger thigh flute to set the scene and move myself into an altered, magical state of consciousness. I also use the LBRP, but almost never for private ritual. In public rituals, especially before audiences who may never have seen ceremonial magick before, the LBRP has a comforting, a soothing effect. After all, it does contain the end of the Lord’s Prayer and it does call the archangels. I don’t usually disturb such people with the fact that demons are sometimes classified as angels by another name.
But if the aim of banishing is to create a sacred space and center the magician then perhaps this can be done just with a hand gesture, with a slight shift in consciousness, or perhaps a declaration like Jean-Luc Picard’s “Make It So!”
Modern magical writers, to my mind, seem terribly concerned over the sanity and well being of new or neophyte magicians. I’m not sure if this is motivated by fear of litigation, higher primate hierarchical motives, or genuine concern that new magicians will actually go crazy.
My suggestion is…try it both ways. Do rituals without banishing and do rituals with banishing. Then do what you prefer. After all, if you get infected by some strange denizen of the Deep Mind because you didn’t bother to banish, you could always ask one of us to exorcise it. There’s always a hearty welcome at my house for demonic entities! I like them. I like to make them work for me, and I like to eat them. They always have a choice, and demon heart is a lot tastier than angel heart!
Free belief and vacuity
A technique explored by Spare and discussed at length by Stephen Mace but strangely absent from many other discussions of chaos magical techniques is the state of mind called “Free Belief” by Mace, and generally referred to by Spare as the “Neither-Neither principle.”
When the mind is nonplused capability to attempt the impossible becomes known.
Spare’s magical approach is reductionist. He wrote:
Magic, the reduction of properties to simplicity, making them transmutable to utilize them afresh by direction, without capitalization, bearing fruit many times.
Spare believed that acts of magick were most likely to succeed when the mind had attained a state in which duality had been extinguished through a process in which dualistic notions were systematically eliminated by counterpoising them against each other. He called this the Neither-Neither principle. Students of yogic techniques will recognize this as the neti-neti meditation, a meditation in which the seeker questions their self-identity by discounting all that they are not. For example:
I am not my name.
I am not my body.
I am not my genetic structure.
I am not my mind
Mace gives a simple method for applying Spare’s technique:
To apply this principle to conjuring, wait until you are absolutely positive something is true, then search for its opposite. When you find it, oppose it to your ‘truth” and let them annihilate one another as well they may. Any residue you should oppose to its opposite until your truth has been dismembered and the passion behind it converted into undirected energy-free belief.
FireClown explains this in another way. According to his theory on the formation of entities, obsession naturally creates thought forms which soon achieve a form of independence and turn into demons. Now demons, and semi-detached parts of the magician’s psyche in general, do not wish to be re-assimilated, or destroyed. Consequently they will seek energy from any source in the magician’s psyche, but primarily from long running maladaptive sub-programs such as resentment towards one’s parents, one’s spouse, or ex-spouse, feelings of inferiority, or whatever tape loops are recurrent in the magician’s psyche. The generation of free belief presents the magician with a source of psychic energy, originating in obsession, that allows the actualization of magical intentions. Without generating free belief the energy the magician summons is eaten by demons and used by them for their own self-perpetuation. Consequently the magical act fails.
When by the wish to believe-it is of necessity incompatible with an existing belief and is not realized through the inhibition of the organic belief-the negation of the wish, faith moves no mountains, not till it has removed itself.
Or, if wishes were horses beggars would ride. Mere wishing is rarely sufficient if obsessional energy is at play. Simple spells, such as those used to get a table at a crowded restaurant, can succeed because of their simplicity, and because obsessional energy has not created demonic entities.
The bar against success in magick is the contradictory opinions the magician holds of his or her capacity to succeed. Spare suggests that this very process can be used by the magician to create a state of mind in which magick will work. Correct use of the Neither-Neither principle brings about the state Spare calls Vacuity, which is, as T.S.Eliot suggests, is
A state of complete simplicity Costing not less than everything.
To return to servitors, then, once the servitor has been developed, and a banishing ritual performed, the magician must achieve a state of vacuity, a state in which free belief exists. One way to achieve this is the Neither-Neither. As Mace writes:
By applying the Neither-Neither we can gut the meaningless convictions that obsess us every day and use the power released to cause the changes we desire.
Peter Carroll calls this state of vacuity gnosis. He wrote
Methods of achieving gnosis can be divided into two types. In the inhibitory mode, the mind is progressively silenced until only a single object of concentration remains. In the excitatory mode, the mind is raised to a very high pitch of excitement while concentration on the objective is maintained. Strong stimulation eventually elicits a reflex inhibition and paralyzes all but the most central function-the object of concentration. Thus strong inhibition and strong excitation end up creating the same effect-the one-pointed consciousness, or gnosis.
The Neither-Neither technique is primarily inhibitory, although, through the artificial manipulation of emotional states attached to obsessive energy there is no reason why the method could not produce an excitatory effect.
Achieving this state ensures that the servitor can be charged. Not achieving this state runs the risk that the care the magician has put into developing the servitor will come to nothing because the energy developed will end up feeding the magician’s unbound and perhaps unknown demons.
To continue with the example of the Psycho Zippy servitor I am creating to facilitate payments through U.P.S. and the Postal Service, I can create free belief by choosing a recurring tape from my own psyche. I know, for example, I still resent my father for sending me away to school in England. I believe he did it because he was jealous of my mother’s affection for me. I can counterpoint this belief by reminding myself that sending me to boarding school was not only very expensive for him but that he believed he was affording me an education that he had been denied due to the poverty of his parents. On the other hand I truly hated the institutionalized cruelty of English boarding school. I can counterpoint this with the fact that when I was old enough to enumerate the problems with the type of school to which he had sent me he removed me at once and placed in a school that was actually enlightened. I can continue in this way counterpoising one belief with a contrary argument until finally I am left with nothing to which the obsessive resentment can attach. At this point I am ready to charge the servitor. I have moved myself to a calm and one-pointed state of mind that is nevertheless suffused with psychic energy.
The actual launch
To recapitulate: I have created a sacred space by means of a banishing ritual. I have created the appropriate energy to charge the servitor by using the method of Free Belief. I am in a state of vacuity. At this point I can bring the image of Psycho Zippy to my mind and create it as a living form. I can visualize it racing, wraithlike, through the information systems of UPS and the US Postal Service. I can visualize it making the hands of postal workers touching my mail move just a bit faster, see it increasing their concentration and visual acuity, revving up their hand-eye-body coordination for the apparently arduous task of getting my checks back to me on time. I can then dispatch the servitor into the aether with a stern admonition to do my will or suffer the consequence of psychic dissolution.
In actual fact I did none of these things. Instead I hosted a ritual, an invocation of Baron Samedi, and before the invocation, but after the banishing, had the participants gaze at my rendering of Psycho Zippy. I then gave this rendering to a friend who was off to a Fire Performance Art that evening, but was unable to stay for the invocation. She had the rendering burned with a flame-thrower while a large group of onlookers chanted “Zippy, Zippy, Zippy.”
A few days later I turned my rendering of Zippy into labels which I have since placed in every package I ship. Zippy has, by and large, worked very well since then, and I would estimate that the speed of return payments has increased by about 30 per cent.
Zippy is a servitor with a material base, the laser printed image of him that sits on my alter and is reproduced on my labels. Although it is by no means necessary for servitors to have material bases, in this case, it seemed appropriate. Phil Hine in his User’s Guide gives as examples of material bases:
rings, bottles, crystals, or a small metal figurine
In a way Zippy can be termed a fetish servitor. I believe the image I have drawn of him to have magical power, thus fulfilling the definition of fetish.
To give you another example of a fetish servitor, FireClown, who was having difficulty during job interviews, developed a bear servitor, which he created with a material base made out of wood. It looked something like a wood carved zuni bear. FireClown wore this amulet within his shirt during job interviews. He visualized the bear as a large, somewhat comical, somewhat threatening, form dancing behind him as he sat before his interviewers. He reported that his prospective employers became quite confused during the interviews, ceasing to pay attention to him, and frequently glancing behind him. His interviews were concluded rapidly and cordially and he shortly found himself employed.
Phil Hine also suggests that time is a factor to be considered in servitor design and creation, and suggests that the life cycle or periodicity of a servitor be included in its creation. I have not found this to be the case in my own work, but then this may just be because I tend to create servitors for perennial needs and use sigils or godforms for ad hoc situations where I must respond rapidly to a crisis or momentary desire.
Hine suggests a technique that my local chaos group — the TAZ, New Orleans node of the Z(cluster) — has used successfully. He calls it “The Airburst Exercise.” In this technique for launching spells, including group sigils and servitors the participants in the ritual first develop an altered state of consciousness through whatever means they choose – chanting, breathing, group groping…whatever. They then visualize energy flowing to and from each other and finally crystallizing in a sphere within their circle. They visualize the sigil or servitor within the sphere. This sphere is then launched into the aether (perhaps after a countdown).
The TAZ, New Orleans group, in 1993, decided to celebrate Mardi Gras into perpetuity by launching a chaos satellite, which they named the Zerbat. This satellite was sent into geosynchronous orbit 30 miles above the spire of St. Louis Cathedral shortly before Mardi Gras of that year. The group visualized the satellite as a chaosphere with a top hat, smoking a cigar. On Mardi Gras Day since then members have distributed Reichian orgone collectors throughout the French Quarter, and, at 6 pm discharged these collectors to the Zerbat satellite through a group ritual performed in Jackson Square. The orgones are visualized as a stream of energy containing the revelry of Fat Tuesday in the Vieux Carre. The Zerbat send these streams of orgiastic energy to other satellites launched around the world by other groups. The energy is then received by magicians using satellite receivers (either images of such, old hubcaps, metal bowls or, for the brave, their computers) who use the orgones for their own magical works. The Zerbat is, of course, a group servitor and was launched using a variation of Hine’s Airburst Exercise.
Other methods to launch servitors
Stephen Mace, in his Stealing the Fire from Heaven, refers to another form of servitor, known as the Magical Child. This is a technique described at length by Crowley (and forms the central theme of his turgid work of fiction Moonchild) in which a couple of magicians have intercourse to produce
an astral being whose power is devoted to carrying out the purpose of the participants. It is empowered by the white heat of orgasm and embodied in the ‘elixir’ generated by intercourse. The participants must give this child a name in advance and also agree on its astral appearance, for it must fill their imaginations throughout the rite, until climax sets it in their mingled fluids.
Mace continues with the usual Thelemic caveat:
Any loss of concentration upon it or independent thinking during copulation can be deadly, for then their child will be monster. The two participants must therefore agree on the symbolism they will use, making this formula much more relevant to traditional magick, where common imagery is easy to come by.
I can’t help but ask what, in these days of protected sex, one must actually do to “mingle fluids,” but perhaps we shouldn’t go there. It does occur to me that this ritual is not too far removed from normal intercourse between would be parents anxious to conceive. Mace states that this is a heterosexual ritual, but I can see no reason why it would not be quite as effective, and, in the long run, probably a great deal less stressful to society as a whole, if it were not a same sex rite. After all, if the heterosexual couple does not use protection and a child is the issue of the ritual, the result might be an actual monstrous child, rather than a servitor. Oh, the puzzles entrenched in Thelemic logic!
Possibly safer for all concerned by far is the ritual described by Mace that Austin Osman Spare used to create servitors, which he and Mace call, creating some confusion, “elementals.”
Mace describes a technique he asserts that Spare used called “The Earthenware Virgin.” This is a clay vessel with an opening that fits snugly around the sorcerer’s erect penis and into which the masturbates. At the bottom of the vessel is a sigil incorporating the attributes of the servitor. Needless to say this is a technique for male magicians, although I am certain that inventive female magicians could develop effective variations. On orgasm the magician charges the sigil and then buries it, doing the whole operation during the quarter moon. (Ask Mrs. Patterson why!)
When the moon passes full, the wizard digs up this clay womb, replenishes the sperm and -‘while repeating suitable incantations’- pours it out as a libation on the ground. Then he reburies the urn.
Sounds pretty raunchy to me, rather like a pornographic Clark Ashton Smith story. Does the sorcerer clean the vessel before ejaculating into it a second time, or does the grit add an ascetic tinge to the operation?
In any event Mace states:
Spare cautions that though this technique never fails, it is dangerous, and so he leaves much to be guessed.
Rather too much in my opinion. What if the sorcerer gets the dimensions a little wrong? What if the sorcerer has been using Viagra? Will he get stuck? Then what? Never mind. Back to Mace:
…one may suppose that the urn acts as a clay womb in which the wizard breeds a familiar spirit. Such help can be as risky as it is effective, however, for if the wizard is in any way unable to control himself, he will have an even harder time managing a semi-independent power such as this. He must always keep the initiative over it, never allow it any scope for independent action, and always maintain a strict separation between its form and his own. He must never invite it into himself.
This curious tendency among magicians from all traditions to warn of the dangers of magical operations may be no more than stagecraft (“Kids, don’t try this at home!”), or perhaps it is more of the strange conservatism that magicians sometimes manifest. Mace’s comments seem, from my perspective, to be quite contradictory. If the semi-independent power is not completely autonomous how may one maintain “a strict separation?” I’m afraid I’m puzzled.
The care and feeding of servitors
Servitors feed from the obsessional energies of the magician that created them. In some cases, vampiric servitors, for example, the servitor may be charged with feeding from the energies of the individual or entity that is its target, but even here, the magician that created it both launches it and controls it with his or her own obsessional energies. A book-finding servitor, for example, can rest dormant until the magician’s desire for a certain book sends it on its way.
Servitors that do not perform according to the magician’s desire need discipline. This can consist merely of a warning. On the other hand a servitor that consistently fails in its duties obviously needs to be recalled. Chaos magick is, after all, results oriented magick. Servitors can be dissipated by destroying their material base, by visualizing their dissolution, or by any other means the magician finds effective.
Servitors may be domiciled on the magician’s alter. I tend to return mine to a number of crystals strewn about my alter, or to some other material base there residing. Since servitors are semi-independent most authors caution against allowing them to exist in an uncontrolled form, since, at least in theory, they will continue to subsist off the life energies of the magician, which may, over a period of time, debilitate the sorcerer. Jaq D. Hawkins, in her book, Spirits of the Earth has the following, fairly typical admonition about thought-form elementals (her name for servitors):
these artificial entities have survival instincts. Once a thought form is created, it will generally continue to take spiritual energy from its creator until it is dissipated or reabsorbed, which is something which should be kept in mind when deciding to do this in the first place. The energy to sustain a single thought form may go unnoticed, but sending streams of thought forms off to do one’s bidding could sap one’s energy to depletion and lead to illness. It is always prudent to have a plan in place to reabsorb the entity, and therefore one’s own energy, once the purpose is accomplished.
Again, the validity of this admonition has more to do with the magical model to which the magician subscribes rather than natural law. Certainly magicians using the spirit model, the energy model, and even the psychological model to an extent, might agree. Magicians using the information model, in which the servitor is essentially self-replicating code programming energy, might disagree, since this model does not require the magician to use his or her own life force, except perhaps to launch the servitor. Readers of this essay are advised to determine which paradigm, or which combination of paradigms they are using in a particular operation, and act accordingly in determining whether to reabsorb or dissipate the servitor.
Binding demons, elementals, and other entities
As stated above, this essay is primarily concerned with creating semi-independent entities out of the mind of the magician. However, it is possible to use the vast variety of independent entities that populate the Spirit Model as servitors. As indicated earlier, these entities tend to be less manageable for a variety of reasons. They are products of the group consciousness of planet Earth, tend to be more self-willed (and consequently require more energy to be controlled) and are often contaminated by conflicting instructions placed upon them by prior sorcerers. However they may be used, particularly if the magician has a personal bond with the entity, through memory, propinquity, or a recognition of psychological characteristics within the magician that the entity in question also possesses. Some of these entities, however, are really godforms, or extrusions of such, and need to be handled in a quite different manner, but that’s a topic for another essay. I would encourage magicians wishing to use these entities to use lesser demons, minor elementals.
I do not intend to go into detail on the methods the magician can use to evoke and control these entities. The annals of magick are already full of extremely detailed instructions.
However, the question posed earlier, whether one can use a bound demon’s energy to reinforce personality elements that the magician wants to strengthen, should be answered.
Traditional ceremonial magicians, of course, habitually do this, summoning, for example, a demon of lust and charging it with the task of causing an object of his or her amorous attentions to fall in love with the sorcerer. In this case, from the viewpoint of the theory of servitor dynamics outlined in this essay, the magician has bound the demon of his own lust and converted it into a type of glamour attractive to the object of his infatuation.
The question was asked, however, by someone who wanted to use a personality defect as the energy source for a personality asset. To give an example, resentment towards one’s parents, if fed frequently enough (and isn’t it usually) creates demonic energy that can crystallize into a thought form. Can this demon can be bound and its energy then used to charge a servitor whose function is to increase the personality asset of, say, self-confidence? The process this would occur would be whereby, every time the magician feels resentment towards his or her parents, the energy from this resentment is directed towards the servitor whose task is to increase the magician’s self-confidence. The answer is that the energy from the resentment must be clarified, or filtered, as it were, before it can be of use to the character enhancing servitor. An effective method for doing this would be the Free Belief technique outlined above. Thus the energy would not be contaminated by the emotional charge of resentment, but be pure psychic material, suitable for feeding a servitor.
A final word about the therapeutic techniques of psychodynamic theory would be useful here since the above technique would be more properly classified as the use of servitors as a form of magical psychotherapy.
Magick and psychotherapy
Modern magick and psychotherapy share a number of commonalties. Both attempt to empower the individual, both attempt to discern the relationship of the individual to the universe, both attempt to make that relationship as functional, in terms of the individual’s goals, as possible. Although many magicians might disagree, magick is also an attempt by the magician to integrate disparate elements of his or her personality into a unified whole, which is, of course, a primary goal in psychotherapy. This is not to say that magick is psychotherapy. Magick is clearly a quite different field of human endeavour. Psychotherapy generally has a sociological goal, that is the development of personality assets that allow the individual to function within society in an easy and comfortable manner. Magicians generally could care less about social approval, although they might well seek the approval of their magical peers.
Psychodynamic approaches to psychotherapy (also known as psychoanalysis) seek to overcome defences so that repressed materials can be uncovered, insight into personal motivation can be achieved, and unresolved childhood issues can be controlled. Psychoanalysis, probably because of its dismal success rate and enormous expense, has now pretty much given way to psychopharmacological interventions among psychiatrists. However, servitor creation and deployment certainly uses psychoanalytic techniques, to the extent that the magician attempts to discover obsessional thought patterns, tries to find out exactly what it is that he or she wants, and uses the material of his or her own psychological history as part of the material in the development of the servitor. The primary difference is that psychoanalysis seeks to bring repressed materials to the surface so that they can dissipate (if, in fact they do), while chaos magicians mine their own repressions and obsessions for energy to empower creations of their own imaginations, a goal that many psychiatrists might regard as being quite contrary to mental health.
Rather than looking at chaos magick in terms of its therapeutic uses as a psychodynamic form of therapy it may be more accurate to define it as a modality that looks remarkably similar to that adopted by situationalist or contextual psychologists. Situationalism, a view of personality championed by Walter Mischel argues that whatever consistency of behaviour that is observable is largely determined by the characteristics of the situation rather than any internal personality types or traits. From this somewhat radical perspective it is arguable that personality does not actually exist, but is a construct placed by an observer on responses that an individual has to his or her environment. In other words, personality is contained in those behaviour patterns the observer chooses to regard. Similarities in patterns of behaviour result from similarities in the situation the individual encounters rather than any underlying traits or characteristics the individual might contain.
This fluid conception of personality is integral to chaos magick, which argues that it is not so much any internal validity (or consistency!) of belief structures that a magician may adopt that are important, but rather the tenacity with which the a magician can hold a belief during the period contained by the magical rite. Chaos magicians tend to be results oriented, more concerned, that is, with whether a magical rite works than with its consistency with any encompassing belief structures. Consequently the Chaos magician is quite content with adopting radically different personality characteristic than those with which he or she may find comfortable outside the space and period of the magical rite. Phil Hine, for example, cites a magician, who, wishing to pass a test in mathematics at college adopted the personality (to the best of his ability) of Mr. Spock from Star Trek for three days before the exam, and then passed the test with no problems. The magical practice of invocation, in which the practitioner adopts the personality characteristics of the deity or entity he or she invokes, also suggests that possession rituals are primarily situationist in underlying theory. The situation here is the expectation that the invoked God, demon, or entity will act in certain ways. Jan Fries, one of the clearest writers on magic derived from Spare, writes of the nearly epileptic seizures of contemporary Japanese spirit mediums:
Dramatic healings have much to do with play acting and giving the audience the entertainment it desires. The medium or shaman pretends the eternal ‘as if’ which becomes the ‘as is’ in the act of doing.
To summarize, then, chaos magick is distinguished by its empirical approach to magick (techniques that do not actualize the magician’s desires are discarded), by an assertion that personality is a construct comprised of belief structures the individual chooses to regard as containing consistent and constant elements, and by the idea that the primary obstacle to the actualization of a desire through a magical rite is the interference of the conscious mind.
The underlying concept here is that there exists an unconscious, perhaps even a collective unconscious, termed by Jan Fries the Deep Mind and by Spare kia, but an acceptance of this idea, because of the situationalist approach of Chaos magicians, not necessary to the successful fulfilment of desires through magical rituals. It is, rather, part of the argument, a method to persuade chaos magicians that the techniques may actually work, but the primary function is rhetorical, not substantive. This is, of course, a radical approach to magic, not to mention psychology, but it can be substantiated as an effective approach among certain individuals. To be sure, chaos magicians routinely use chaos magical techniques for personal psychotherapeutic goals.
Phil Hine recognized this in his User’s Guide:
A purely psychodynamic model of Servitor operation would state that our psyche is made up of a very large cluster of forces which can be projected as intelligences, complexes, or subpersonalities (whether you’re into magick, NLP, Jungian Psychotherapy, etc). These mental forces enable us to do some things but prevent us from doing others. By consciously realigning and redirecting these energies we can create Servitors which will enable us to do things which we couldn’t do before, such as refrain from compulsive behaviours, thoughts, or emotions. In these terms, a Servitor is a conscious form of redirecting these largely unconscious entities so that they work for us.
I believe that chaos magical techniques would actually prove quite valuable to psychotherapists in the treatment of abnormal behaviour, but that, I’m afraid, is a topic for an entirely different essay.
New Orleans, 1998
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Image credit: Torley
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