The fiction vs real god/spirit thing stirs up and rages on again. Go to Jacks blog here, as well as the next several posts he makes. His thoughts on this are golden and you can follow his links to see the rest of the debate in other forums and blogs. This time it is a much wider conversation because it hits the Pagan blogs. That makes it more complex because we are not just talking about magic and results, but religion as well. The issues are different. Magicians are largely just concerned with results. Pagans however are also concerned with defining their religious movement and having that movement taken seriously on the world stage. If you don’t think it looks bad for Paganism to have people defining themselves as Pagan, and then explaining to their neighbors and co-workers that they worship Batman and Wonder Woman you have some real blinders on.
This is not a pagan blog however, so here we only have to deal with Sorcery and Results. 15 years ago I wrote a piece for Behutet suggesting that the reason not to invoke Superman is a matter of sacredness. That no-matter how much attention and even fervent fandom such a figure receives, it is not the same as actual belief and faith. That is not to say that there is no energy there. It is to day that it is different.
More recently in my posts on Post-Chaos magic, I suggested that rather than argue that working with Spock is the same as working with Mercury, we start to take a look at them and see if there are things that Spirits do well that thoughtforms don’t (something that Jack gets at in his posts) but also if there are operations that thoughtforms are more suited to than traditional spirits such as personal behavior modification, and enchantment. From my experiments, spirits and gods are much more suited to effecting events than they are to changing peoples minds and habits, whereas a character from fiction seems to get a pretty solid result in the area of psychological change. This is true when trying to effect myself as well as others.
My ideas on the actual nature of Gods and Spirits is pretty fluid and my view differs a lot from that of the western magical community at large. Though I don’t push my view on others, it certainly does effect how I teach.
1. The names and descriptions of spirits are names that humans have given them. How do you pronounce their actual names? Can you speak in 12 tones at once and speak words backwards and forwards in time? No? Then don’t worry about it. Names like Michael, Ekajati, Legba, and so on all have traceable etymologies from human cultures. It may be names that a single being has responded to for centuries, or it may be a name that legions of spirits answer to.
2. That said, some names and images have power that others do not. Names that have been used widely for long periods accrue a certain amount of power. Names established by great mages and yogis who are able to bind that name on many levels at once have a different sort of power, and may be known only to a few.
3. I don’t believe in divine beings in the sense that they are immortal, or that they are creator beings, or that they are the rulers of thunderstorms childbirth or any other such thing. In this I follow my Vajrayana training. Buddhists have never suggested that the gods of other people don’t exist, just that they are not really gods and not worthy of taking refuge in or making yourself subservient to.
4. That said, not all beings are equal. A being that lives for 500,000,000 years and is fully aware of itself in 9 dimensions certainly will appear as a god to us. Spirits that are connected with a specific river or tree will probably not seem as LARGE, yet might actually be more useful to us in some ways than a far removed being.
5. Just as people can have certain genetic pre-dispositions, so can certain classes of spirits. Thus I do believe that there are spirits that are largely benevolent towards humans, others that are largely malevolent towards humans, yet others that are neutral and so on.
6. Some non-physical beings seem to be contained in three-dimensional space like us. Others are not. When you can point to where they are in a room it tends to be what history calls nature spirits or ghosts. When it is not contained that way, or needs to be contained such as in a triangle during an evocation, we tend to think of them as divine or semi-divine like angels or demons. Magicians often think of the former as less powerful and effective than the latter, but I disagree.
7. Just as we exist on mutiple levels at once, so do spirits. It is entirely possible to tap into the Zeus that is a transcendent and wise being. It is also possible to appeal to the Zeus that is egoistic, petulant, and at time a bit rapey. Don’t confuse them.
8. Consciousness is not contained, not for the spirits and not for us. Rather than asking whether your HGA is a part of your mind, it might be worth asking if you are part of its mind. Or perhaps if you are both manifestations of a stream of consciousness that is beyond both manifestations.
9. We are spirits. Going to spirits for help is great, but there is much we can do for ourselves. The work on internal alchemy and realization can be aided by the intercession of spirits, but it cannot be done for you. If all you do is call up spirits to zap you, or fly around the astral getting initiations from god, you are missing a large piece of the puzzle.
10. We not only do not currently know for sure the nature of what we deal with, but we currently do not have the capacity to know for sure the nature of what we deal with. Therefore every operating theory, including the ones above, might be wrong. Keep this in mind whether you are doing traditional work or experimenting.