Summoning spirits of Deceit

Bombast and Flitterflop investigate the deceitful and dangerous fascination with magical evocation

PART ELEVEN of Astral Conversations—an unusual series of investigations into the occult with a humorous twist.


Nothing good can come of the modern fascination with summoning so-called 'spirits'. Nor is there anything new in attempting to contact the dead. Necromancy is as old as man. It has been practised in every part of the world among all peoples, and rightly condemned by every true teacher as black magic. Moses enacted cruel and murderous laws against necromancers as you can read in the Bible, but Jesus, being more merciful, healed those obsessed by evil spirits.

The subject of Magic is a vast one, and although we discuss it in our occult studies course, we do so briefly. What we shall now put before you will fill in many blanks that may have puzzled you before. However, we feel compelled to warn sensitive readers that Bombast and Flitterflop encounter some very unpleasant scenes in this investigation, but this is unavoidable given the nature of the unsavoury subjects they explore and discuss. You can also find further information about Magic by following the links in the Further reading list at the end of the sidebar.

FLITTERFLOP: "Guess what some numpty sent me today?"

BOMBAST: "An empty cup with insipid tea leaves clinging to the bottom?"

FLITTERFLOP: "Very funny. Actually I've received quite a few of those since I published our chat about divination with requests for winning lottery numbers and how to tell if someone is cheating on you."

BOMBAST: "And did you?"

FLITTERFLOP: "No I bloody didn't! I told them to bugger off back to New Age la-la land."

BOMBAST: "You've learned something from me at least. So what was it then? A dead rat wrapped in newspaper? A wax Flitterflop look-alike doll with pins stuck in it or just the usual death threats?"

FLITTERFLOP: "Nothing so dramatic. A package addressed to 'Bitterboast' and 'Flimflam' containing a book on how to summon the dead."

BOMBAST (laughing): "At least the sender has a sense of humour. I take it the book is satirical and not serious?"

FLITTERFLOP: "That's what I thought too until I read it. Sadly, it's deadly serious. It claims that all you need to summon the dead is an Ouija board, some candles and mystical incense."

BOMBAST: "Really? How?"

FLITTERFLOP (rolling his eyes): "You won't believe it."

BOMBAST: "Try me. My belief in the credulity and stupidity of would-be chaos magicians knows no bounds."

FLITTERFLOP: "The book begins with the astonishing statement that summoning the dead is easy, fun and enlightening."

BOMBAST: "Next you'll be telling me the author claims anyone can do it."

FLITTERFLOP: "How did you guess?"

BOMBAST: "It's not that difficult. It's probably the same lunatic who wrote 'Advanced Magic for beginners."

FLITTERFLOP: "You've just made that up."

BOMBAST: "I assure you I haven't. You can buy it on Amazon. A snip at only $17.91 for the Kindle edition. The nincompoop who wrote it is one Alan Chapman, a leading British chaos magician if not a full-blown magus or 'Ipsissimus'. In an interview he gave he said that lots of people would find his claims delusional, insane, impossible or egotistical. So it seems that whatever else he may be he's a true prophet."

FLITTERFLOP: "He sounds to me like a complete ignoramus, not an 'Ipsissimus'—whatever that is."

BOMBAST: "It's a magical grade invented by several 20th century occultists to lend a spurious authority to their teachings. Would-be adepts like Chapman and his ilk simply adore the honorific titles, robes and all the rest of the gaudy trappings of the pseudo-magician, and of course, it impresses the hell out of their deluded followers."

FLITTERFLOP: "Well, Chapman didn't write this book, though he probably wishes he had as 'Necromancy without Tears' has sold a mint."

BOMBAST (chuckling softly): "Catchy title. It's enough to make any self-respecting snake-oil salesman choke on his own advertising slogans. So who did write it?"

FLITTERFLOP: "As I don't want to receive any dead rats or wax dolls in the post I'll pass on that if you don't mind."

BOMBAST: "I can't say I blame you. There's nothing harder to eradicate than the stench of a decomposing rodent. So what advice does this anonymous magus have for would-be necromancers that makes summoning the dead such a doddle?"

FLITTERFLOP: "He says that although you can contact the dead with little or no equipment it's much easier if you buy an Ouija board, candles and incense."

BOMBAST: "Presumably from the 'highly recommended' suppliers named in his book?"

FLITTERFLOP: "Exactly. Kudos is all very well, but cash and kudos are even better.

BOMBAST: "You're learning!"

FLITTERFLOP: "The first thing he tells his readers is to make themselves scared."

BOMBAST: "Priceless advice!"

FLITTERFLOP: "Oh it gets better—or worse—depending on your point of view. He says it's fine to feel frightened, because, as he puts it, 'necromancy is kinda creepy'. Then he tells you to choose a night when you're alone at home, to turn off all the lights and sit in the dark and light some candles to heighten the 'scary mood'. Then you're supposed to imagine people you can't see such as some unsavoury bloke in a macintosh lurking outside in the shrubbery, an invisible person standing right behind you, or scary ghosts from films you have seen. He emphasises that you should really go to town on this and frighten yourself absolutely shitless. Then you are supposed to get your Ouija board out, light some incense and choose some famous dead person to summon—preferably someone who can do you a favour!"

BOMBAST: "You would do ME a favour by stopping right there."

FLITTERFLOP: "Oh, but you haven't heard the best bit. If something should go wrong and the spirit won't leave, all you have to do is to light some 'exorcism' incense, mutter a 'banishing' spell, and the nasty spook will take to its heels as if all the fiends of hell were after it."

BOMBAST: "And of what, pray, does this marvellous magical nostrum consist? I may want to use it myself the next time an Irishman comes knocking on my door offering to resurface my drive."

FLITTERFLOP: "Equal parts of cinnamon, garlic, cloves and turmeric."

BOMBAST: "Is he making a Balti or banishing a Bhut?* Surely, he's having us on?"

FLITTERFLOP: "No, he's dead serious. As he says in the book 'summoning and evocation are the two cornerstones of the magical path."

BOMBAST: "Banana skins to the Looney bin more likely."

FLITTERFLOP: "It never ceases to amaze me that these lunatics treat these subjects with such breathtaking levity. I mean, you'd think he was discussing the recipe for apple pie or how to find your way to the nearest tube station, not pierce the veil between the seen and unseen! It's a wonder idiots like him don't all end up stark, staring mad."

BOMBAST: "Well, quite a few do, as you will recall from our conversation about Shamanism. Fortunately, most of them, including the amusing author of 'Necromancy without Tears' are simply playing exotic parlour-games. They haven't got the intelligence, concentration or patience to summon up anything more than their own fantasies. Those who take it more seriously, and do succeed in evoking some elementary are generally so frightened by the experience that they give up all interest in the occult and go back to masturbating or playing computer games. One would-be necromancer once told me that after his first ritual, what he described as 'a brooding sense of evil' pervaded his house for several weeks. During the third ritual furniture inside the circle started moving across the carpet, his robe spontaneously caught fire and an appalling stench——"

FLITTERFLOP (interrupting): "——Well it would, wouldn't it, if you'd just shat yourself with terror!"

BOMBAST: "I can assure you it was no laughing matter for the poor sod."

FLITTERFLOP: "Sorry, I'm sure it wasn't. It's just that I can't help laughing at the unbelievable stupidity of these people. Why ever do they do it?"

BOMBAST: "Curiosity, boredom, a craving for excitement; the number of reasons are as variable as human nature. In most cases they get over their fascination, either because they don't get the results they expected, or, like the chap I mentioned, because they get their fingers badly burned."

FLITTERFLOP: "I've read so many contradictory teachings about white and black magic that I'm not entirely sure what the differences between them are."

BOMBAST: "I'm not surprised as most modern books about Magic are written by people who haven't the slightest idea what it's all about, whilst classic authors such as Cornelius Agrippa, Baptista Porta, Francis Barrett and Eliphas Lévi concealed more than they revealed through the use of archaic terminology and weird phrases which can only be unravelled by initiates."

FLITTERFLOP: "What about the Key of Solomon? Isn't that the bible for would-be magicians and necromancers?"

BOMBAST: "It may well be, but it wasn't written by the Biblical Solomon and the only things it unlocks are some of the lesser secrets of black magic. The Clavicula Salomonis—to give the book its proper name—dates back only as far as the 15th century and was considerably edited and revised by a pretended 'magus' in the 20th century. It's basically a cook book for would-be sorcerers, much like the Book of Abramelin. Although the latter book dates from two centuries later it purports to be nothing less than the genuine ancient Egyptian system of Magic. Given that there were no native Egyptians left in Egypt during the 17th century, the last of them having died out 2,000 years earlier, this claim is about as plausible as the poppycock spouted by the author of 'Necromancy without Tears."

FLITTERFLOP: "So black magic is mainly concerned with summoning spirits for personal gain?"

BOMBAST: "Correct. White Magic elevates the soul of man to facilitate communion with the Divine. Black magic degrades the soul of man by encouraging commerce with the lower, material denizens of the astral world. White Magic may be summed up as the Art and Science of knowing all things, identifying one's Higher Self with them, and using them for good only. It's principal doctrines comprise of the real nature of the astral world and its inhabitants, the hierarchy and classification of superior spirits, psychology, philosophy, ethics and religion, the mysteries of creation, numbers and their virtues, and the knowledge and practical application of the hidden laws of Nature."

FLITTERFLOP: "And black magic?"

BOMBAST: "Consists of the great Arcanum of death, or spiritual devolution, the hierarchy and classification of inferior spirits and their conjuration, the mysteries of the pentagram and other symbols, magical ceremonial and the manufacture and consecration of talismans, the secrets of the witches' Sabbath and black mass, witchcraft, spells, curses, divination and hypnotism. These are some of the principal subjects that come under the heading of black magic, but there are many others. An impressive list—you will agree, and each item can be made the subject of years of intensive study. Some subjects, such as symbols, talismans and hypnotism are studied by White magicians too, though in a different manner, and for good purposes only. This is why it has been said that the difference between white and black magic is but a hairsbreadth. This is true, for all it takes to turn white magic into black is a selfish thought or evil intention."

FLITTERFLOP: "That's a sobering thought. So there can be evocations of love, as well as hatred; of light as well as darkness?"

BOMBAST: "Exactly. In black magic we find the dark deity of the black Sabbath; the dreadful goat of Mendes, the Typhon or Set of the Egyptians, or the Baphomet of the Templars. All these are the distorted and inverted copies of the sacred symbols of white magic. All the inferior initiates and betrayers of the Great Arcanum have always adored, and will ever continue to do so, the frightful figure of the sabbatic goat, seated on a throne with a flaming torch between his horns. They call him the great god Pan. In addition to this horror we have the bull and the dog. The bull representing the earth, or salt of the philosophers, the dog, or Hermanubis representing air and water, and the goat fire, or the symbol of generation. These are the three symbolic animals of Hermetic magic, perverted by black magicians."

FLITTERFLOP: "Is there really such a thing as the dreadful black Sabbath?"

BOMBAST: "Most definitely. Eliphas Lévi divided it into three categories. Rites which are connected with a fantastic and imaginary Sabbath; rites which betray the secrets of the occult assemblies of real adepts; and the revelations of lunatic and criminal assemblies whose object was the practice of black magic. Baptista Porta in his Natural Magic, gives the pretended recipe for the sorcerer's unguent, by means of which naked witches were able to fly to the Sabbath. It was composed of children's fat, aconite boiled with poplar leaves and several other drugs; the whole noxious brew mixed together with soot!"

FLITTERFLOP: "I should have thought that any witches who rubbed that cocktail into their bodies would be the exact opposite of attractive!"

BOMBAST: "Ah, but such drugs only induced hallucinations, so that the witches imagined they were present at the Sabbath, just as they imagined they were attractive to their lovers, so all was well! But the Sabbath is not always a dream. Secret nocturnal assemblies exist even today, where the real rites of black magic are still celebrated, and to see them is certainly no laughing matter, as I know only too well."

FLITTERFLOP: "You've seen them? How? Can I see them?

BOMBAST: "If you really want to, but I warn you, it won't be pleasant. Are you sure?"

FLITTERFLOP: "Yes, I trust you. What do I have to do?"

BOMBAST: "Nothing. Relax, close your eyes, still your mind and wait. And remember—no matter what you see or hear—on no account speak to any beings we may encounter."

(Flitterflop watched Bombast surreptitiously from under his half-closed lids for some minutes. His friend's lips were moving but no sound could be heard. Was it a mantra? Flitterflop did not know. Suddenly there was a loud rushing noise. Flitterflop closed his eyes and felt himself hurled through space. When he opened them again he found himself at the head of a shallow valley, dotted with sparse vegetation, scattered rocks and a few stunted, twisted trees. In front of him he saw a number of roofless, abandoned cottages bordering a narrow, muddy track. Above, a huge sickly moon illuminated the landscape with an eerie purple light.)

FLITTERFLOP: "Where on earth are we?"

BOMBAST: "Somewhere in northern Scotland judging by the lack of vegetation and the ruined crofters' cottages."

FLITTERFLOP: "Is that an ancient stone circle just ahead?"

BOMBAST: "It looks like it. Such places are favourite spots for the celebration of black magical rites on account of the strong psychic vibrations associated with the holy worship which was once offered in them. Sadly, most have long since been desecrated by the followers of the left-hand path."

(As they approached the stones, they saw a group of men and women sitting in a wide circle around the imposing figure of a hooded magician wearing a black robe embroidered with various strange, mystic signs. From his shoulders depended a necklace of miniature skulls, whether human or animal, it was impossible to tell. One of the women stood up and after drinking from a silver goblet, began whirling around in a mad frenzy, shedding her clothes as she danced. She was soon joined by several others of both sexes, while a group of drummers beat out a weird and throbbing rhythm on their instruments. Faster and faster the frenzied dancers turned, foaming at the mouth and tearing madly at their clothes, their nails digging deep furrows in their flesh.)

black sabbath

Gustave Doré — Detail from La Danse de Sabbat — copperplate engraving, 1880

FLITTERFLOP (horrified): "So this is the real magic I wanted to see. I wish to God I had never asked."

BOMBAST (warningly): "Not so loud. If they hear us we will no longer be invisible."

(Flitterflop watched in mounting horror as the dancing degenerated into an orgy of unbridled lust and blood-letting that culminated in a loud drum roll. Moments later, the Magician held up his hands and began to mutter a long conjuration under his breath. The men staggered to their feet, some barely able to stand, and began rhythmically beating the ground with their hands while the women cut themselves with knives until the blood spurted in streams from their writhing bodies.)

FLITTERFLOP (softly): "Why are the men beating the ground and the women cutting themselves?"

BOMBAST: "The main ingredient in black magical rites is always blood. Blood begets phantoms, and its emanations furnish evil spirits with the material required to fashion their temporary bodies. Beating the earth and frantic dancing makes it easier for the demons to take possession of their victims."

(As Bombast spoke, shadowy forms, too hideous to describe, began to materialise within the circle and mingle with the congregation, whereupon the Magician uttered a loud, guttural cry.)

FLITTERFLOP (aghast): "Dear God...there is some horrible, huge demon with horns and glaring red eyes materialising above the altar stone!"

BOMBAST (whispering): "I've told you before. Don't raise your voice. I should have thought you learned that when we encountered the Tibetan Lama in our previous excursion into the lower astral world."

FLITTERFLOP (sobbing): "Look! Oh no——don't look. The magician is going to sacrifice one of the women. Oh——it's too horrible for words."

BOMBAST: "Now you've done it!"

(Hearing Flitterflop's stifled exclamation, the Magician dropped the knife that was poised over the breast of his victim and flung her naked body aside. His dark face empurpled with rage and frustration, he spun around to face them.)

MAGICIAN: "Hah! Two would-be 'adepts'! Come to spy on mysteries they haven't the wit to comprehend! How like you our little celebration in honour of my master, my brave peeping-toms? Too rich for your pious blood, is it? Too refined for your oh-so-holy souls, unharnessed from the flesh to poke your sanctimonious noses into my private business! But you are just in time, my curious jackanapes, to take the place of this silly young woman, whose sinful body isn't worthy of my master. He much prefers to dine on purer flesh and you do pride yourselves, do you not, on your purity!?!"

CONGREGATION (howling in a frenzy of unholy lust): "Kill them! Sacrifice them to Baphomet!"

FLITTERFLOP (whimpering with fear): "I...we...I meant no harm."

BOMBAST: "Don't speak to him! How many more times do I have to tell you!?"

MAGICIAN: "Your friend is wiser than he looks. You should have heeded him. Now it's too late. You have seen forbidden things and will die the second death."

FLITTERFLOP (whispering): What does he mean? What can he do? How can we get away? Oh, Bombast, do something!"

BOMBAST (firmly): "He can't do anything unless you let him. Remember, we are not in our physical bodies, and he can't possibly hurt us so long as we stand fast without fear. Do stop shaking."

MAGICIAN (chuckling menacingly): "Brave words my little cock-a-whoop who fancies himself a Magus in the making. What can I do? What can't I do? The blood on this knife is real enough, is it not? It can slit your miserable 'astral' throats no less painfully than your physical ones as you shall shortly learn. I shall snap your threads of life as easily as I crush the dry twigs beneath my feet!"

BOMBAST: "A dry twig in the hand of God is mightier than any instrument of death you can conceive. . .go on kill us—if you can!"

MAGICIAN (grimacing): "Don't mention that foul name in the hearing of my master—you simpering saint!"

BOMBAST: "Your 'master' is nothing more than a bag of noxious odours as insubstantial as the emptiness of your idle threats."

MAGICIAN (advancing resolutely toward them, his knife glinting redly in his hand): "Is that so my presumptuous prater of pious platitudes? You will soon discover just how 'insubstantial' you are when he sends you both into a state of pleasant nullibility—neither here nor there—but nowhere."

FLITTERFLOP: "O Heavenly Father, help us!"

MAGICIAN: "Again that hated name! You shall pay dearly for your filthy blasphemies my reckless young interloper. I can send you to the place of eternal wailing from which there is no return. I can snap your miserable neck in an instant...unless..."

FLITTERFLOP: "Unless w—wh—what?"

MAGICIAN (fingering the blade of his knife): "You choose to render me some trifling service. You have brains and your friend has courage, which is more than I can say for my witless flock of sex-perverts and idiots who only follow me in order to learn MY secrets. Being greedy and ambitious as well as stupid, they continually try to acquire MY powers and take MY place in the end. . .which then turns out to be THEIR if you get my meaning, as that foolish slut was about to discover when you intervened. But you are different. You may join with me and have a place of honour among the servants of my master. Together we shall plot and scheme and devise even better ways to snare the lusty seekers after power and fame into our nets. What say you, my oh so wise and courageous friends?"

BOMBAST: "Spare us your boastful blandishments. You are only a grubby little sorcerer with no power to harm pure souls or you would have done so before now."

(Flitterflop exchanged a frightened look with Bombast but remained silent)

MAGICIAN: "So, you would defy me would you? Then you must pay the price for your folly. You will both die the second death!"

(So saying, the Magician began to mutter an incantation under his breath while making weird symbols in the air with his bony fingers).

FLITTERFLOP: "What do we do now?"

BOMBAST: "Pray, and keep quiet."

FLITTERFLOP: "How?!" To whom, or what?"

BOMBAST: "Just pray!"

(The Magician continued to advance slowly toward Bombast and Flitterflop, his claw-like hands making passes in the air, a guttural curse spilling from his writhing lips. Behind him, his hellish crew of semi-naked acolytes beat out a slow, repetitive rhythm on their drums, malevolent and cruel: a plea to their dark master who presided over the scene in grim anticipation. Flitterflop crumpled to his knees sobbing into his hands whilst Bombast remained standing, his eyes fixed firmly on a spot between the sorcerer's hooded, back eyes. Time seemed to stand still as the air about them grew heavy with menace. Dark clouds streamed towards the Magician and his congregation, trailing lurid yellow streamers of fiery cinders, as if a host of malevolent demons were gathering for an apocalypse of death and destruction. Out of the corner of his eye, Flitterflop noticed a faint light approaching from the East. Slowly it increased in brightness until suddenly, and without warning, the familiar figure of 'M' stood between them and the Magician.)

BOMBAST: "Praise be to God."

FLITTERFLOP (rising, only to kneel at M's feet in utter devotion): "Oh thank you, thank you!"

M: (kindly): "Do get up my lad or you will soil your nice trousers. You were never in any real danger as Bombast told you. As for this black magician, he has no power over righteous souls, only over those who attune with him and his dark plots."

('M' waved his hand and the form of the sinister sorcerer dissolved into oily smoke, to be dispersed by a refreshing breeze that blew away every trace of the monstrous, goat-headed demon, the congregation and the stone circle they had defiled. Before Flitterflop or Bombast could utter another word, our chastened astral travellers found themselves standing before the open door of their familiar cosy, astral villa with 'M' smiling upon them.)

M: "You will both be quite safe now. Until we meet again do try to keep out of mischief!"

(With that, 'M' departed as suddenly as he had arrived, leaving Bombast and Flitterflop to meditate upon their remarkable experience. What they discussed we may learn when we meet them again to share in their final conversation.)

*NOTE: Balti is a type of Indian curry popular in Britain served in a pressed-steel bowl. Bhut is a word derived from Sanskrit widely used in Hindi, Punjabi, Bengali and other Indian languages for a supernatural being, usually the spirit of a deceased person.


Bombast and Flitterflop have learnt that Magic is not what most people think it is, and the impossibility of summoning the inhabitants of bright Heaven down to darkling earth—though we may rise up in thought to them. If they have convinced you to have nothing to do with evocation as it is taught in books and on the Internet, we shall be well content.

Until we hear from our friends again—whom we have got to know so well—we wish them and you, dear reader, the wisdom to discern the right-hand-path from the left, the courage to defy evil in whatever form it may manifest itself, and the faith to trust in the protecting love of our Father in Heaven at all times.

You can find a complete list and brief descriptions of all the conversation between these two colourful occult students on the introductory page to these Astral conversations. Although these conversations can be read on their own, they are best read in chronological sequence as they form an ascending scale of revelation.

© Copyright Article added 29 November 2016. Updated 22 July 2023.

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