Recently, someone asked me, “what is an evocation triangle?” It took me by surprise at first because it seems so obvious at this point, but in hindsight, I remember being confused by this when I first got involved in the occult too. What is an evocation triangle or a “triangle of art” and what’s the point? Like many things in magick, it depends on who you ask and what traditions they follow.
Because of this, I’m going to talk about the evocation triangle in general. What is the purpose of an evocation triangle? What are some popular styles of evocation triangles? Why would you want to use one? What are some other ways you could use the triangle?
Evocation Triangle = “Home” For Spirit
In the most basic sense, the evocation triangle is the place the spirit is supposed to manifest. It’s a literal or imaginary triangle plotted out into space. Often, it has some lettering in it and a central space for the spirit to appear. Some people put a crystal ball or a scrying mirror there. In many forms of ritual magick, when you evoke an entity, you demand it appears there.
Demanding the entity appear in a triangle makes the ritual simpler for some people because then, they know where to focus their attention in the evocation ritual. It makes some people feel safer as some teach that using a triangle means the spirit is only able to access a small section of your environment and you control where it is. It keeps you and the spirit separate they say. Some people believe that the triangle holds some sort of power to create a gateway to the spirit. It all really depends on your beliefs and tradition.
Contrary to the beliefs of a lot of people who practice personal spiritual paths like chaos magick or Lucifierianism, which is often approached like chaos magick just focused on the left hand path, I think you should study at least one tradition and get good at it. From there, you can explore how well it works and then have a basis to critique other systems/approaches. Chaos magick works far better and makes much more sense once you have a basis from which to explore it. [This is why I write about chaos magick as a form of meta-magick…]
Goetia Style Evocation Triangle
One of the most famous evocation triangles is the one laid out in The Ars Goetia (the book pictured to the left–the triangle is pictured below). It has three Hebrew names written in Greek transliterated into English on the outside edges (one of many pieces of proof that this text was likely written in the Middle Ages): Tetragrammaton (“consisting of four words”, i.e. YHWH or Yahweh), Anaphaxeton (a debated word which may be a name of God or the name of an angel, Anaphiel), and Primeumaton (again, could be an obscure name of God or an angel).
Inside of the triangle, the name Michael is broken into three pieces. Of course, Michael is an archangel, specifically the one who is said to defeat Satan in the Book of Revelations (again proof this was likely written in the Middle Ages, at least A.D.–even though some people make arguments that The Goetia is older, I’m highly skeptical of these arguments). In this vein, Michael would have some power to subdue demonic influences, hence his place in the triangle of art. The three segments of Michael surround an empty circle. Some people create it as a big black circle when they create their own triangles or place a black crystal ball or scrying mirror there. Many of the triangles available for sale like those on Etsy have a black circle in the triangle.
LHP Style Evocation Triangles
While there are plenty of people who practice left hand path magick (LHP) that use The Goetia style triangle, some left hand path practitioners use evocation triangles a bit differently.
Some put pagan god names around the triangle to create a similar effect to the Abrahamic names around the triangle in The Goetia. This allows them to keep the power of the triangle, but to divorce it from Abrahamic mythology.
Others use a blank triangle just as a focal point for their rituals. This allows them to know where to focus their intent and intention during a ritual. There are many LHP occultists, myself included, who believe that coercing demonic influence is disrespectful and unwarranted. Especially for those of us who take a position that “demons” are actually older world gods like those of Canaan or Babylon. For this reason, the triangle would be blank as it’s more about opening a space for the spirit, giving them an easy path into this plane, or just having a space to focus thought.
And of course, Crowley and some others have done possession rites where the person being possessed went into the triangle of manifestation. This seems to create a greater possession experience for some. Though, on the other hand, people who practice Voodoo/Voudon/Vodou/Vodun and other forms of folk magick often are able to get strong possessions without the use of a triangle. And there’s reason to argue that not using a triangle or circle could create greater possession experiences like those created by people who practice rituals in groups or during festivals like those in Bali.
Do You Need An Evocation Triangle?
Honestly, you don’t really need an evocation triangle in order to have a successful evocation. They don’t make or break the ceremony, but can be helpful–especially if you’re trying to create a semblance of tradition or make the ceremony “accurate” (to the grimoire).
I rarely use evocation triangles and when I did, I would create a triangle made of lit candles. As with pretty much everything in the occult, I experimented with triangles pretty extensively and found that they were not necessary. They have their benefits like I said above, e.g. giving you a space to evoke, focus of intention, keeping the spirit in one area, making evocations easier, etc.
You can definitely summon a spirit without them. And I find that wherever I focus my attention, the spirit usually appears.
If, however, you wish to constrain the spirit or feel the “safety” that using God’s names and angels affords, this could be a very helpful practice for you. Many people swear by it–I just haven’t seen it to be necessary. I’m also not convinced that something that powerful is forced to stay within the confines of a triangle. That seems foolish and over-simplified in my mind. Take it how you will.
A piece of unverified personal gnosis I received is that the triangle works sort of like a portal. Looking through the base is a way to improve the connection to other dimensions sort of like a Skype call into the dimension. In other words, it opens the material plane to see into/access the spiritual plane(s). So, the triangle opens up space to other dimensions, which is why it’s easier to evoke within a triangle. [Though, again, I’m not convinced it’s much easier to evoke a spirit with a triangle than without one.]
What other ways could you use a triangle?
While working with Lilith, I received another piece of unverified personal gnosis about triangles. Lilith told me that if one does magick within a triangle themselves (rather than a circle) facing out toward the base that it creates an opposite sort of doorway: one that opens the spiritual plane onto this one. This allows the spiritual to flow out into the material plane.
For this reason, I often do magick within a triangle and face toward the base. I’ve found this to be a very powerful way to do magick. Like many things, this is not the only way to do things.
There are many reasons to use a circle or no shapes at all. Depends on your needs as a magickian and what you want out of the ritual–e.g. circle for protection or to create an energy vortex; triangle to open this plane up as a doorway of sorts to another plane; and nothing to open oneself up for possession or because you just don’t fear the entities you’re working with. Each works and has its own benefits and problems.
What’s your experience with triangles of art been? Have you found them indispensable in your practice?