After a significant period of stagnation here at The Lions Den, I've finally been motivated to get back into the swing of things and resume posting, largely due to a topic of conversation begun on the blogosphere that is of great interest to me personally.
The discussion in question began with EA Koetting's assertion that "The Grimoires are dead wrong", having been modified from their original form, to wit inclusive of true demonic conjurations that bore no resemblance to the judeo-christian themed examples now found in them. His rationale for this assumption does make sense, and the fact that some of the Grimoires we now know and love were at some point modified to lend them an air of piety, however false, is something I spoke on in Crossed Keys years ago. As EA correctly states, many of these works have their roots in a period in history where the tyrannical and repressive roman church was at the peak of its power, and merely the accusation that one was a heretic was in many cases sufficient to warrant a death sentence. For that reason, many of the conjurations, entreaties, and the overall "flavor" of some of the classics was altered to demonstrate pseudo-piety.
Although this is the case with some of these works, I think EA is incorrect in assuming that is true for all. The fact is that many of the Grimoires wherein we find the practitioner calling on judeo-christian deity were working handbooks akin to the authors personal book of shadows, in which they documented for posterity's sake their own workings, and many of the magicians of the day did believe that the Magick they accomplished was made possible only by the blessings and intervention of the "God" on whom they called. Asterion does a far better job of explicating this than I, and I'd suggest that anyone with interest in this topic head over to his blog and give it a read through.
While I do agree with EA that some of the Grimoires on which we now rely may have been altered and/ or diluted over time due to the prying eyes of inquisition and the church of Rome, I do not agree in the least that this makes them "dead wrong" or ineffective. On the contrary, I assert that this is not at all the case. My own experience has been that what makes a particular working from any Grimoire ineffective is when the rite itself or the conjurations of which it makes use are contrary to what the practitioner truly believes. If, like me, you abhor the roman catholic church and understand that its interpretation of Yeshua as "Lord and Savior Jesus" is an entirely fictitious representation of the Master Yeshua and wholly in contrast to who he actually was, then making use of a Grimoire wherein you propose to command the denizens of hell in the name and by the authority of that man made god is likely futile. If you cant even convince yourself that in his name you have authority over those you summon, how likely are they to respond any differently? This is another aspect Asterion touches on quite well, and I again refer you to his blog for his point of view.
The Grimoires with which we work are truly living things. They represent "what worked" for our predecessors, and as such can go a long way to teaching us how to developed a system which will work for US. Indeed this is how my entire practice is built, and I have enjoyed a greater degree of success than I could have imagined. The key to the Grimoires is not to feel locked in to even the smallest detail simply because it represents what worked well for others, but rather to understand WHY it worked for them, the mechanics by which it was so, and then apply the same principles to your own work. If you dont share the same belief system and level of faith that the author of a given Grimoire held, copying his work detail by detail is going to be less effective for you than finding out why he structured his system as he did and adapting it to your own beliefs.
One caveat to this posting - I am NOT a Chaote who thinks all you need to do is believe in whatever paradigm or pantheon you're working with in the moment and it will work for you. In fact I find that concept foolish. In saying "If you do not recognize X deity, you cannot evoke another in his name" I am not saying you can reverse the principle and succeed in evoking superman by believing in jorel, nor Harry P by the authority of dumbledork. What I am saying is that the spirits, gods, demons and daemons of old do exist - not in your mind or as part of your subconscious as AC would have you believe, but in as real terms as you or I. Despite that, though, if your own sincerely held belief is that the judeo-christian god is the "one true god", you're not going to have a hell of a lot of luck evoking Aphrodite in the name of Zeus Anaximenes.