When I first saw Eris Kallisti’s delightfully demonic goetia dolls, I knew I had to contact her for an interview. She hand crafts each adorable demon, and sells them on Etsy. Much of her work is custom, but I just had to know how this whole thing got started.
Psyche: How did your interest in the goetia come about? Where did the idea come from to create these dolls?
Eris Kallisti: That’s a weird question even for me, because this all started with my boyfriend who wanted a Baphomet statue. It was very expensive. I was learning how to needle felt, because I’m a craft addict, and as a joke I made him a Baphomet plushy. I can’t afford the bronze one, but you can have this one.
I showed it to a couple of friends online, and people asked me in private message if I could make one for them. It was so fast, because I thought it was such a silly thing. I thought no one would like it, but everyone started to ask for their own custom one.
I work with the goetia, and they are one of my favourite collections of spirits. I had this idea to make goetia doll, I don’t even know why, but I said, oh it’s so silly, nobody is going to want it, and everyone loved it. It was insane. The shop just took off really fast. People have been loving it, I love doing them, so I decided to set up shop for real.
Why the goetia specifically? What attracted you to that particular collection of spirits?
I’ve been into the occult for 15 years. I’ve always been interested in a lot of things. I’ve never had one specific path or religion or anything.
When I finally made it, I spent a whole year trying to evoke. It was something that was difficult for me. When I finally got the hang of it, it was like, oh, I found home. You know? I really enjoyed it. It was really a surprise for me how most people say goetia is such a dangerous thing — the spirits are evil, whatever. I’ve found they are actually quite cooperative and they’re cuddlier than people think. It really hit home for me. When I started working with them, I felt, ok, this is what I’m supposed to do.
The dolls just came about. I’m not a demonolater. I’m not doing this as a tribute or anything. I’m just fascinated by them. No one else is doing dolls like this, so I started doing it.
How would you describe the goetia dolls to someone who hasn’t seen them?
It depends if people are occultists or not, but usually for non-occultists I just say they are baby demons. To occultists, I don’t know, I usually just say they are cuddly demons.
They’re so cute.
Everyone says is it bad I want to hug them? No, it’s not wrong. That’s what they’re supposed to be for.
Each has their little sigil stitched in or otherwise affixed. They’re incredibly detailed. How do you go about constructing one?
They are needle felted. I don’t know if you know the technique? Basically, you get yarn, it looks like wool cotton when you buy it, and then you stab it with a little needle until it starts to get stronger. It gains shape.
It takes a lot of time. It’s really time-consuming. I usually spend around 12-30 hours on each doll. Back in the day I used to take about a week to do each one.
Then everything I can find that has to do with the spirit I just stich it or paint it or whatever. It’s a bit of a mixed media thing.
I think the coolest thing is that most people buy them use it as a ritual object. They put it in the altars and they use it for evocation. I try not to put any blood or saliva or whatever in it, because I never know what they are going to do with it.
The people who use it are mostly occultists.
Has anyone who bought one of the dolls told you what they use it for?
They tell me. Actually, I’m really fortunate, they’re really nice people. They’re insane, but in a good way. Well, aren’t we all?
Usually they tell me, oh I’d like you to make me a doll of this this or that one, I’m planning to use it in an evocation on the full moon of whatever. I’ve made a custom one that is actually the brass vessel for the goetia. Someone used the doll instead of the brass vessel.
Usually they have a favourite spirit and they have an altar for it, and it’s for altar decoration, but some people use them as fetishes.
I don’t know if you saw goat bird? It’s the slowest one I’ve made. That is a fetish, it’s supposed to house a spirit. Of course, I only make the fetish, I don’t do any ritual on the dolls. But people tell me, I want it done this way or that way, and I usually try to oblige. Some want it hollow so they can put something in there. I think it’s great. I like to do custom stuff.
I’m looking through a few of the pictures of the different goetia dolls, and they have this sinister but really cute look to them. How do you go about choosing which ones you want to make? Are they mostly custom these days, or do you also choose which to make?
The ones that I have in my store, they’re custom in the sense that you ask for them, and they are made to order. They usually start by me making one and saying I’ve done this one, someone wants to buy it, and they usually it’s bought in the same day. Then I just say ok, if anyone else wants it, I’ll make it.
I have some people who collect them. I have a very nice man from Australia that has at least four of mine. He sometimes asks me, oh could you do this one, could you do that one, and I’m like, you know, when I feel like I have to do it.
I’ve done a couple of them where I’m working with the spirit, and I feel the spirit wants it. It’s a funny thing about the goetia, I think they are — and I say this in the nicest possible way — publicity whores. They just want people to hear about them, which is something seems to go against what most people say about magick: that it’s supposed to be secret and it’s the whole mystery thing.
I don’t know if you know Carl Nagel, the author? He’s done a few pamphlets for Finbarr, and that’s how I started working with the goetia. I actually sent him a Bael as a thank you gift for helping me find my path. He told me something I thought was very funny, he said, “You know the 72 are very pleased with you.” I said, “Well, the store is going so well and it’s so successful, it must be.” He said, “No, trust me. They’re very happy.”
There was never a plan, just one of those ideas. You think, well, no one else is going to like this because I’m probably insane, but I really like felting goetia dolls, so I’m going to make them.
I think they’re fantastic. They’re absolutely adorable and sinister and cute at the same time, which is so great.
I put a bit of my personality in them. I don’t take myself seriously at all. I’m very playful, even where magick is concerned.
I could make them scarier, but I like the duality in them. You don’t know if you want to put them in a closet or hug them.
Which is how all toys should be.
Where should someone who wants to start with the goetia begin?
A lot of people have been asking me that. I’m not a guru, I just make dolls.
I know some people say the way I work with the goetia is so very dangerous and insane. I don’t think it is, but to each their own. The first time I actually had really good results was with Carl Nagel’s book, The Black Seals of Solomon the King.
Do you know Miracle of New Avatar Power, the book? It’s from the ‘70s, and it’s written like, oh, this girl she did this ritual, and she found a very rich husband who found her on the street, and they’re married, and rich, and three children, and their children are lawyers, and so on. It sounds really silly, but the rituals are very good. They are very simple, so I usually recommend that.
Stephanie Connolly’s work, which is The Complete Book of Demonolatry. I usually call myself an “accidental demonolater,” because I end up working a bit like them, though I don’t consider myself a worshipper of demons.
So, that’s the way I work, and usually those are the books I tell people to go to. You don’t have to be a scholar to actually work the goetia. They are very accessible, and I think they are a bit like most spirits, they want to be known. They want people to work with them.
I’ve been working Clauneck lately, and it seem to me he is really looking for followers. I think that’s why the dolls are selling so well, because they themselves have an interest in them. It’s funny, because the dolls that are more successful are the spirits that I’ve worked with.
That makes sense.
They have an interest in it. There are dolls of spirit who will not communicate with me. They don’t like me, and they don’t sell. It’s a funny thing.
I just do this in a very playful way. I see people in the occult and probably — I don’t know if you think this too, because I know you’ve also been into the occult for a number of years — I think people take everything very seriously, and they forget not everything has to be doom and gloom, even if the goetia are involved.
I really like them. That’s all I can say. I do it because it’s a labour of love.