“Spirits are powers, powers of mind, and their domain is the unconscious. For the average person they thus remain inaccessible, and so our encounters with them can be vague and unconvincing. Spirits can appear as knacks, as talents, and as emotions. Spirits can hide in complexes that trigger automatic responses to the situations we encounter. Spirits show themselves in dreams and dare us to understand them. But a sorcerer uses techniques that make the unconscious accessible, and so may he (or she) meet his spirits face-to-face. If he has the strength, he can ascertain their true forms and bind them so they’ll do his will. If he does not, there is a very real risk of obsession. All powers carry risks. Whether wheels spun by falling water or electricity from split atoms, the energy has to be kept in its place or it can hurt someone. We cannot expect the power in sorcery to be any different, but you may be assured there are methods for keeping spirits under control, and exercises to give you the strength to use them.
The unconscious mind, being the domain of spirits, is also their medium, and so its nature determines their nature. The unconscious is the image pool beneath our waking minds; all our conscious thoughts come out of it, all our experiences of the external world sink into it. Passing events, those of little power, disintegrate after a time, but repetitive experiences and those of great power or emotion build up psychic structures – spirits – which have lives of their own. Hence a woodsman will find that he carries within his psyche the spirit of the forest, an adolescent will germinate (through the emotions generated by his rush of hormones) a spirit of lust, and a sexually repressed neurotic will create a demon to keep his lust ‘in check.’
So we see that we may create spirits on our own, and when we all do it together as one, they can become as gods. The neurotic’s desire to appease (say) his possessive mother creates his demon, a being that roosts in his mind alone. But the aspirations of a group of people can produce a common power that will affect the thought and action of everyone in it. The Phoenicians’ desire for safety in a risky world created their awful god Moloch. The Jews’ desire to keep their tribe united brought forth the jealous Yahweh. And the human desire to keep the ‘I’ intact brought beyond the gates of death generated the redeeming spirits variously known as Osiris, Orpheus, Mithras, and Christ.
Now, I must stress that in saying this I do not denigrate these gods, neither child-eating Moloch nor the Jesus whose Body and Blood the Christians consume. These gods have the power their worshipers give them – whether through devotion, ritual, or the spilling of blood. If this energy is given with sincerity and directed with competence, it will cause change. This happens most obviously within the unconscious mind of the worshiper, but also – since the unconscious has its root in the Mind of the Absolute – in the external world. This is the mechanism behind the power of prayer.
But there’s a problem with using preexistent 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. If you believe in Moloch, you know he can be satisfied with neither prayer nor incense nor honest living – only your first-born son will do. If you believe in Christ, your sacrifice will be more subtle; you must forsake your ‘human’ will and submit yourself to his divine one if you are to be saved from Eternal Damnation. And even many sorcerers have to give up some freedom to practice their art. In the West the most common school of magic is that of the Rosicrucians. Rosicrucian magicians structure their powers of mind according to a map of power called the Tree of Life, a geometric arrangement first drawn centuries ago by Jewish mystics devoted to the tradition known as Qabalah. Before you can work Rosicrucian magic you must brand this scheme onto your unconscious mind, defining all your perception and powers of mind in its terms. So whether you pray to bloody Moloch or strive to be a mystic wizard, you’re still stuck with the ancient formula, and if you should find things are truly different, your problem may be unsolvable.”
– Stephen Mace, Stealing the Fire From Heaven