Identifying Demons
By Simon Jester

In much of the vast contemporary literature on magic today, there is a tendency to shy away from the subject of demons. There are many reasons for this, but the two that seem most relevant are a (i) a growing awareness in the magical community of the fact that our times are already too demon obsessed; and (ii) a reluctance to supply information about the dark legions that could be misused for evil purposes. Just a brief consideration of the products cranked out by our cinema and TV industries or a glance at the daily news should be enough to convince anyone that the demonic is as much a force in our modern "scientific" society as it was in the times of Hieronymus Bosch, the witchcraft persecutions, or Nazi Germany. Naturally, those who walk the Path of Light do not wish to supply data that might nourish the Shadow that currently falls upon our world, and so most printed sources of instruction on ritual magic merely hint at the subject of demons and then quickly move on to less volatile topics.
    In an important sense, instructors of things magical are faced with the same dilemma that confronts chemistry professors. In teaching students how to safely manipulate the reactions of easily obtainable chemicals like ammonia, nitrogen-based fertilizers, and fuel oils, they are simultaneously supplying all the data a young Timothy McVey needs in order to construct lethal explosives. Does this mean we should stop teaching chemistry, or water the subject matter of our classes down to the point where they will no longer be of much practical worth even to those who would use the knowledge responsibly?
    This latter approach has been the route taken by many writers on ritual magic. Out of an exaggerated fear of giving away methods that could be perverted, they only supply the basics and never stop to think that their readers may attempt to go further on their own. Without knowing anything about the safeguards needed when taking magical operations to higher levels, Bad Things can happen. And preventing the Bad Things necessitates facing all the demons that many contemporary writers on magic prefer to keep locked up in the grimoiric closet.
    The reality of the matter is this: whenever you ritually open a portal for the positive Forces of any of the Sephiroth on the Tree of Life, you are simultaneously providing an entrance for their corresponding negative forces. This is a fact in our reality every bit as unavoidable as gravity, and you cannot ignore it for much the same reason that you cannot pick up the positive pole of a magnet without also picking up its negative pole. What this means in practice is that, when working with Sephirothic Forces beyond the Malkuth level, the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Earth Pentagram, one of the most popularly used banishing rituals in the world today, is insufficient to provide adequate protection. Other, more advanced rituals are needed to banish the demons of the higher Paths & spheres.
    Before supplying a list of demons and explaining the rituals required to banish them, a little preparation seems necessary in order to help you begin thinking rationally about banishing rituals in general and how to go about preparing for them. And the best place to start is with the following common-sense advice: in order to make your banishing rituals truly effective, you have to know some facts about the demons you need to banish!
    Begin by simply identifying the demons associated with the specific Forces activated by the magical operation you intend to perform. For example, if you want to work with the Forces of Chesed, you will need to banish the Qlippothic demons that correspond to this Sephira and the planet Jupiter. Prior to invoking the Spirit Taphtartarat, you must banish the demons associated with Hod and the planet Mercury. Books on magical correspondences will be very helpful at this point and will supply lists of the names of the corresponding demons. But good banishing requires more than just looking up demonic names in a grimoire or correspondence table. You should always banish dark forces with an understanding of their specific natures or your rituals will be little more than robotic recitations of meaningless names.
    True—magical power resides in Words and Names, and there is an ancient belief that merely intoning or vibrating the Name of a being enables a magician to manipulate the forces that it embodies or symbolizes. Even words and phrases devoid of significance to those who utter them are, in the Magical Universe, capable of producing certain effects. But it pays to remember that there is also a magical force residing in a loaded gun and that absolutely anyone can pull the trigger in order to get some kind of result, regardless of their skills at marksmanship or their knowledge of ballistics. Obtaining desirable results requires a little more than simply the ability to pull a trigger. Simply chanting Names of Power without knowing anything about the natures of the beings they denote is a lot like shooting a gun while being blindfolded. Firearms are best used by those with good vision and a reliable ability to identify the targets they want to shoot. Here are a few guidelines that will help you learn about the significant aspects of the demons you intend to banish:

Opposition and Excess--Determining the natures of the demons you have targeted for banishing is a little more complex than you might imagine. Most people automatically think of demons in terms of oppositions. In a previous blog entry, I discussed the various Virtues associated with the Ten Sephiroth, and one may easily invert these in order to generate a similar list of Vices attributable to the demonic forces of the corresponding Qlippoth. Using this oppositional method when working with Chesed, the Sephira of mercy, generosity and loving kindness, leads to the formation of a picture of the corresponding demons as embodying opposite traits, such as selfishness, vindictiveness, and cruelty. But this is only a partial picture. To complete it, you need to remember that excess plays a very important role in the Qabalistic concept of evil.
    When the virtues of any Sephiroth are overdone they become imbalanced and capable of producing demonic effects. With the Sephira of Chesed still in mind, think of the abused wives and girlfriends who "mercifully" forgive their sadistic partners over and over again and unassertively submit to recurrent beatings, or the non-critical parents who "compassionately" bail their drunken children out of holding cells and pay their mounting DUI fines, thereby unwittingly enabling alcoholic sons and daughters to continue drinking. When you flesh out your concept of the demons associated with any force, always remember to include such excesses along with the opposites. Gain a clear understanding of the kinds of effects such oppositional and excessive demons would be likely to produce (.i.e., what kinds of thoughts, feelings, and attitudes they might inspire in the human mind and what kinds of behavior these psychological factors might motivate.) Getting to know a demon’s specific method of attack is one of your best defenses against it.   

     Demons de jure—After you have determined the kinds of demons that are likely to cause interference when performing the sort of magical working you have in mind, you must next determine if there will be other negatives forces afoot during the time of your proposed operation. Merely banishing the demons associated with Mercury prior to invoking the powers of Hod for a divination won’t completely safeguard your work if you don’t also counteract the influences of other negative planetary configurations that may be in effect at the time.  Forgetting to check on the magical "weather" conditions for the date and location of a working can result in problems.
       In the "Calendar of the Magi" section that I created for my main Myspace page, you will find some general astrological information about the current Decan and Quinances along with the names of the corresponding Angels and demons. This is a good way to start determining which Forces are active at a certain time period. I also provide an interactive Lunar Phase calendar to help keep track of the moon’s waxing and waning cycles. This data is good to use for rituals that are performed on a regular daily basis, but specific operations (such as initial Pathworkings) require more detailed data. 
    Obtaining really detailed magical "weather forecasts" requires some familiarity with elective astrology. Most people are familiar with natal astrology, which involves the casting of a horoscope for the date, time and location of a person’s birth. Elective astrology is not really that different. It still involves generating a chart for a date, time and place, only now the major consideration is no longer a person’s birthday. Instead, elective astrology concerns itself with the casting of horoscopes for events. Just like people, events such as weddings, battles, job interviews and magical rituals are "born" (or are scheduled to be born) at a certain place and time. The configuration of astrological forces in effect on the "birthdays" of events influences them in just the same way that people are influenced by astrological factors.
            The internet makes it much easier than ever before to use elective astrology when planning magical rituals. I provide a link on my main page, right below the Shem ha’Mephorash table, to a website that provides up-to-the-minute charts that show the positions of the planets. Thanks to the software employed by this website, you don’t even have to worry about figuring out your latitude & longitude or how to convert the time of your ritual into Military, Universal, or Greenwich Mean Time. The location of your computer and the proper time for your location are "magically divined" by this esoteric software and, within seconds, a true and accurate chart will materialize in the Astral Light of your PC monitor!
     This website also provides lots of data about aspects and dignities that will enable you to tell at a glance which planets might be in opposition to the one with which you’re planning on working, or if that planet is ill or well dignified itself. You will be able to quickly determine if any other demonic forces need to be banished first before moving on to banish those which are directly associated with the kind of operation you are going to do.    

Personal Demons--Personal demons are the negative forces that most immediately impinge upon our lives. For that precise reason, they are also often the most difficult to recognize and define. This is usually a case of being too close to the trees to get a good view of the forest, and learning how to identify personal demons requires developing intuition, insight, and objectivity. For many people, learning how to utilize such skills requires the services of a good analyst. But although personal demons are easy to overlook or simply deny, any magical operation you perform must take their influence into account.
     The traditional method of identifying personal demons is to once again turn to astrology and generate a complete natal horoscope for the exact time and location of your birth. Too many people trying to practice ritual magic lack even rudimentary astrological knowledge and still think of horoscopes simply in terms of Sun Signs. While a familiarity with your Sun Sign is very important, there are numerous other factors that condition astrological influences in a person’s birth chart, and all of these must be considered in order to get an accurate astrological reading. To get your money’s worth if you pay someone to do your natal chart, make sure that they at least include an analysis of your Rising Sign, the positions of the moon and the planets in the various Signs and Houses, and a determination of the various aspects and dignities of the moon and planets.
     As noted above, it is now easy to generate remarkably thorough astrological charts online in a matter of seconds. Such online astro-services provide all the information you need. For a natal chart, you have to give the exact hour, minute, and location of your birth. If you don’t know these facts, just ask your family members or consult your birth certificate.
     A good natal chart will allow you to see the positive and negative astrological influences at work within your current incarnation. If you were born at a time when Saturn was adversely aspected, then any magical work you intend to do with this planet and the sephira Binah, with which it corresponds, must incorporate measures to counteract the karmic negativity Saturn exerts upon you. If Mars was opposed to Venus in your birth chart, then any love magic or other work with Netzach that you might be planning must first be magically insulated from your karmic Martial energies in order to prevent them from working against your efforts. Learning these facts from your birth chart enables you to personalize your interpretation of an elective chart drawn up for the time of a pre-scheduled ritual. Knowing about a Mars-Venus opposition in your natal chart, you would probably postpone operations of love magic if you saw that you had inadvertently planned them to occur at a time when Mars will be exalted in Aries, for that planet’s energies will then be at their strongest. Better to wait until Mars is falling in Cancer or deterred in Libra or Taurus.
     Even magicians who consult astrological charts prior to their rituals may still be caught off guard by certain kinds of negative influences. Although astrologers like to describe their Art as all-inclusive, astrology is, after all, only as good as those who interpret its data. Unless you are a highly gifted and experienced astrologer, your ability to derive thoroughly comprehensive data from natal and elective charts will naturally have limits, and you might miss certain things. This is where intuition comes into play.
     Sometimes it’s possible to just feel an evil presence. With magical experience, you can begin to sense such negative forces whenever they begin to stir in the area or even within yourself. Often, such malignant vibrations seem to emanate from a person or a group of people. Sometimes a place or an object exudes such a strong aura of menace that it becomes anxiety producing simply to remain in its vicinity. All of these intuitive alarms indicate the presence of some kind of demonic force capable of adversely effecting magical operations. But you can effectively counter such amorphous, nameless miasmas of dread (to use a Lovecraftian description!) once they are properly identified. The Nameless usually becomes much more manageable once it has been given a Name. This requires some research of course, and can be augmented by the use of other divinatory methods, such as Tarot readings. Given sufficient practice, you should be able to diagnose the Qlippothic cause of a mysterious malaise relatively quickly, and begin to wage magical warfare against it.

     Visualizing Demons—Just as you should visualize God Forms, angels, and spirits when performing invocations, you must also visualize demons while banishing them. But what do demons look like? We’ve all seen countless supernatural horror films that portray the legions of Darkness as hideous monsters, or peered in fascination at the intricately crowded canvasses of late Medieval painters while wondering at the protean grotesque shapes of the demons that overpopulate them. There are also books, such as the famous Dictionnaire Infernal of Collin de Plancy, that supply artistic renderings of demons, or The Lesser Key of Solomon and Johann Weyer’s Pseudomonarchia Daemonum that provide written descriptions of demonic entities. But such pictorial and descriptive information must be used with common sense.
      Most people who examine the descriptions of demons in the grimoires make the assumption that, at some point in the past, a magician conjured a demon that appeared visibly before his eyes and looked exactly the way it was subsequently described in the grimoires. They assume that anybody else who conjures the same demon will see the same thing. But common sense alone shows that such assumptions are misleading. Demons are spiritual entities lacking in physical bodies. They are forces that touch our minds and try to direct our thoughts and feelings. Consequently, they do not really make appearances here in the physical world in the same way that other people and objects do. Instead, demons (and angels, too) subtly caress our imaginations and awaken images in us, and we ourselves adorn them with visual symbolism gathered from the depths of our own minds. Although there do undoubtedly seem to be certain universal aspects to the representation of spiritual entities we form in our imaginations, we flesh out these archetypal skeletons with personal details.
     What this means is that the descriptions supplied in the magical literature only give us a notion of what a demon "looked" like for the person who wrote the description. But when you begin to personally interact at a deep, meditative level with the idea of that same demon, you may "see" something different. In visualizing demons for ritual banishings, try to avoid binding your imagination too tightly to preconceived images and concepts. I’m certainly not suggesting that the traditional demonic imagery of the grimoires be abandoned, but only that it should be used like a painter uses colors on a palette. Allow your imagination to fashion this material into a personalized composition that expresses what a particular demon is to you, based on your understanding of that demon’s nature and of the kind of corrupting influence it tries to exert over human lives. You will eventually discover that only other people’s demons are hideous and horrifying when first seen with the eyes of active imagination. Your own demons, unrecognized as such, will seem very beautiful. They will only begin to appear grotesque after you have discerned their true motives.