By Charles McBride
The oldest debate in magick is possibly what we are working with when we do evocation. I’m only focusing on evocation in this respect as magicks that work on direct will using other symbols (runes, elements, chakras, chi, sympathetic magicks, and rituals that don’t work with a power considered to have personality) ARE practiced quite a bit. There is a whole subset of mystics who refuse to work with ANYTHING other than raw will and focus. Some even disdain symbols, elements, and other representations as crutches.
So with that tidbit out of the way.
That debate is broken into the following general points of view.
Separate Intelligence: This idea holds that whatever we work with is separate from ourselves, just as our neighbor is not ourselves, and we are calling down – or up – it’s aid in our actions. It relies on a concept that certain rules, ideas, or actions rule these forces. That these forces are somehow beholden to us, and that we ourselves have some power/influence/reason they should manifest. Those hailing from this point of view OFTEN warn the risk of calling upon external powers.
Personified Self: The idea of the personified self is that all such beings we might call upon are actually aspects of the subconscious self. In this philosophy anything called into being is a part of US, brought forth, given form, and beholden to us. It works strongly along side old shamanistic traditions which use the shadow self as part of the workings and may have some basis in Buddhist concepts of demonology. Regardless of where it hails from the personified self theory implies that you do NOT call upon outside forces, but instead are personifying your greater self/power/mind toward a task.
Personified Universe: The personified universe theory implies that ALL of life, us and all other things, are a personification of the universe as a whole. In this respect we ARE all things, and separate from all things and in this respect all powers we call upon are us, and yet are not us. This theory holds to the “all is one” theory of mysticism.
Personified Other: In the concept of the Personified Other we see a concept of the Separate Intelligence theory, but that we ourselves only ever make contact with a part of a vaster intellect. In this view we are merely placing our filter over a vaster intellect and what we interact with is partially our view of it, and partially what it truly is. This is a hybridized theory which implies that external forces are somewhat influenced by our perception.
The Fully Hybridized Theory: This theory combines in some ways all of these. It implies that such beings have a separate intelligence, and that we initially connect with a personified form of it. It also works under the understanding that we are all interconnected as intelligence, and as such our thoughts are one with the universe and the beings we choose to work with. It further holds to an idea that there is a core truth in each being, despite being part of the greater whole, or a core self which we must work to better understand to make full connection. The Full Hybridized Theory is the most recent view taken by modern mystics on some level and implies that all explanations have some small part in understanding the greater mystery.