Conjuring Dark Spirits (Baby Witch Bootcamp Ch. 29)

Opened Book Near Skull
“Opened Book Near Skull” by Joy Marino, accessed via Pexels

When I made my post about the types of spirits witches are likely to encounter, I got some comments saying that it was wrong of me to discourage baby witches from reaching out to demons. On the other hand, I’ve recently been getting a lot of hate comments on my YouTube channel accusing me of “leading vulnerable young people to the Devil.” Clearly, the subject of demons and their role in witchcraft needs some clarification.

As I’ve said before, witchcraft in and of itself has nothing to do with demons, and most witches don’t work with demons at all. If you don’t believe in demons, or if you do believe in them and don’t care to bring them into your practice, feel free to skip this post.

But, to be fair, some witches do include demonic forces in their practice, and find it to be deeply beneficial. If that sounds intriguing to you, read on.

First, let’s get some definitions out of the way. When I say “demon,” I am referring to dark spirits that are malevolent towards mankind and/or directly oppose the will of the gods. This concept is older than the Abrahamic religions, dating back to some of the oldest known religions. Working with demons does not mean working within an Abrahamic system.

With that said, it follows that not all demonic witchcraft is Satanic in nature. But in reality, contrary to popular belief, Satanists don’t work with demons at all.

The term “Satanism” was popularized by Anton Levay, the author of The Satanic Bible, who was an atheist. To this day, the Church of Satan is an atheist organization that denies the existence of both the Christian God and the Devil. For Levay and the Satanists who followed in his footsteps, Satan is an archetype or symbol that represents the parts of human nature demonized by Christianity, such as pride, individualism, and ambition. Satanists use this symbol in ritual, but do not actually believe in or worship Satan or any other higher power.

Anyone who calls on demons or devils in ritual, rather than simply using them as symbols, is not practicing Satanic magic. Devil worship is a Christian heresy, and has nothing to do with Satanism, paganism, or any other religion.

There have been historical cases of devil worship — allegedly. Most accusations of witchcraft during the European and American witch hunts included accusations of consorting with Satan, performing black masses, and other nefarious deeds. Most, if not all, of these accusations were fabricated, and the people accused were never involved in such practices.

Ironically, it’s not in witchcraft and folk magic (the magic of poor people), but in ceremonial magic (the magic of the wealthy elite) that demons have historically been called upon.

Ceremonial magic, which gets its name from its elaborate rituals, is the magic practiced by Aleister Crowley, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and other prominent figures in Western occultism. Ceremonial magic is very heavily based on (appropriated) Jewish theology and practice, and most of the people who popularized it were culturally Christian. A major feature of ceremonial magic is the invocation and evocation of spiritual entities, including both angels and demons from Jewish and Christian lore.

For example, Goetic magic is a form of ceremonial magic that revolves around the conjuration of demons. Modern Goetic magic is mostly based on The Lesser Key of Solomon, a 17th-century grimoire that contains information on demonology. Like all forms of ceremonial magic, Goetic magic uses highly structured rituals with multiple sources of protection for the magician, including sacred geometry and the use of sigils. The idea here is that the magician is calling forth these demons into a controlled environment, where they have the upper hand. This allows them to deal with demons without putting themselves at risk. Even so, Goetic magicians would do well to remember the first rule of conjuration: never summon what you cannot banish!

Goetic magic is complex, dense, and not at all beginner-friendly. If you have an interest in this type of magic, I encourage you to begin by researching ceremonial magic in general. (Keep in mind that, if you are not Jewish, you will need to take care to avoid using appropriated Jewish theology in your practice.) Familiarize yourself with these concepts and perform a few evocations for more benevolent figures before you delve into the world of Goetia.

But surely deals with demons don’t only happen in ceremonial magic, right? After all, what about all those legends about people meeting the Devil at the crossroads and making a deal?

The story of the crossroad spirit who makes deals with humans is much older than Christianity, and this spirit is not always identified at the Devil, or even a demon. Several Greek deities hold this role in various myths, including Hecate, Hermes, and Pan. In several African Diaspora Religions, the Orisha Elegua is associated with crossroads. In Haitian Vodou, this role goes to the lwa Papa Legba. None of these spirits are evil, and in fact some of them are seen as protective figures.

American folk tales about meeting the Devil at the crossroads reflect a much older myth that has been adapted to fit a Christian worldview. The “Devil” in these myths behaves very differently from the Christian Satan, and witches who wish to work with this figure may find it useful to think of him as a separate entity. Author Aaron Oberon simply calls this entity “The Witch Father,” which seems like an appropriate title for someone who haunts crossroads and other liminal spaces and gives witches the gift of magic.

And that’s the thing. When it comes to working with demons and other “dark” entities, it all comes down to your intention. If you are setting out to summon the embodiment of evil, you’re setting yourself up for some serious spiritual mischief at best, and genuine harm at worst. But if you seek hidden knowledge, defiance of social order, and the healing power of darkness, you may well have a very positive experience — even if you call that entity by a name like “Satan.”


  • The Satanic Bible by Anton Szandor Lavey
  • Southern Cunning by Aaron Oberon
  • New World Witchery Podcast, “Episode 102 — Evil” and “Episode 118 — The Satanic Panic”
  • Caitlin Doughty, “DEMONIC BABIES: A Guide for New Parents”

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