Okay, that's a really shitty definition but it's the best laymen's description for what has some complicated history behind it.
One of the more well-known types of magic is sympathetic magic (which is essential to the workings of voodoo dolls). The magician sets up a magical connection between two un-connected objects (for example, a doll and a person). Manipulation of one object produces changes in the other.
Scientists have found sympathy between atomic particles whereby scientists divided an atomic particle in half and separated the two halves, only to find that changes made in one half affected the other despite large distances.
More pseudo-scientific theories have abounded, from morphic fields to Odic force, that claim there is a physical or energy interconnection between the life force of all living creatures, and to take the idea a step forward, an interconnection between EVERYTHING, including man and natural forces.
I don't know how far I would go in believing these pseudo-scientific hippie claims but I have seen more valid models related to the Summoning concept.
First, I know from pure experience that art has an effect on the consumer if the consumer is able to make a connection with the art. After watching a movie (or actually usually during the movie), I often find myself having brainstorms of creative ideas. Similarly, while listening to a particular genre of music, I am also emotionally affected, so heavy metal might increase my anger and adrenaline while New Age relaxes me and lets me focus better.
Second, I've also seen in neuro-linguistic programming a ritual called modeling which I have seen to be effective. With modeling, the nlp-er or magician imitates the body language of a person for the purpose of creating some type of cognitive change in the nlp-er. The theory is that body language affects thought and emotional processes. Walk, talk, move, or act like a person and you begin to assume that person's personality. For example, I dated a guy who was just morbidly depressed. One day out of boredom and curiosity, I modeled his physical posture, in particularly his way of sitting. He sat stiffly and tightly with his arms tucked to his stomach like he had a stomach ache, leaning forward. Try this posture and tell me how you feel after a minute or two.
Theoretically, then, art, modeling, sympathetic magic, etc, can be used to bring about changes within the magician's behavior, personality, or life in general.
To engage in Summoning, the magician needs first to consider what results he or she is looking for. Recently, I was undergoing therapeutic magic to help deal with my constant brooding, sulky behavior. Currently, I am developing some anti-depression magic rituals.
Once a statement of intent is formulated, the magician gathers together materials that best symbolically capture the intent or final goal. These objects or materials should represent a variety of senses.
For my brooding ritual, I gathered together the following materials:
- A video clip of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series titled "Innocence" when Buffy's vampire boyfriend Angel turns into a bad guy after they have sex.
- A photo of Lord Byron
- A painting depicting a scene from Lord Byron's poem "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage."
- A copy of the poem "Childe Harolde's Pilgrimage"
- The wikipedia entry describing traits of the Byronic hero
- A page from James O'Barr's comic book The Crow
- MP3 clips from Nirvana, Nine Inch Nails, the Cure, and the Doors
- A copy of Neil Gaiman's The Sandman issue 42
Photos and paintings are used for visual appeal. Comic books combining words and pictures provide both visual and linguistic reinforcement. A video clip is audio visual while the MP3's are audio. Poetry and expository writing provide different forms of textual representation. Additional sensory information involving touch, smell, or taste could also be provided.
The purpose of the collected items is to build an immersive multi-sensory abstract persona or mood. With Summoning, we are summoning the essence of an abstract idea to possess us like a demon.
Each of the items provides a modeling ritual. For example, pages from The Crow provide body language clues to imitate, as well as a general pattern of behavior to model. Likewise with The Sandman and BtVS. The music of the Cure, the Doors, Nine Inch Nails, and Nirvana also channels audio mood-makers and psychophonic influences: listen to the Doors for a short while and notice the changes in mood. Our heads are filled with a particular language that takes over our normal style of thinking. I find that just a moment or two with someone with an accent, I begin imitating the person's accent.
Typically, these moods and models were once the gods of ancient cultures. The magicians of old created godforms that represented aspects of nature that the magician wanted to understand and control. Through ritual worship of these gods, the magicians attuned themselves with the nature of the god's symbols. Similarly, Norse Berserkers would dress in animal skins to gain the power of animals like bears or wolves in battle. Totems are a type of summoning.
Listening to Nine Inch Nails while reading The Crow is a modern type of ritualistic worship of contemporary godforms.
Grant Morrison in his “How To Chat Up Gods” section of Pop magic explains
People tend to become possessed by gods arbitrarily because they do not recognize them as such; a man can be overwhelmed with anger (the Greek god Ares), we can all be "beside ourselves" with passion (Aphrodite) or grief (Hades). In life we encounter these Big Ideas every day but we no longer use the word "god" to describe them. The magician consciously evokes these states and renames them gods in order to separate them from his or her Self, in order to study them and learn.
To summon a god, one has only to concentrate on that god to the exclusion of all other thought. Let's just say you wish to summon the Big Idea COMMUNICATION in the form of the god Hermes, so that he will grant you a silver-tongue. Hermes is the Greek personification of quick wit, art and spelling and the qualities he represents were embodied by Classical artists in the symbol of an eternally swift and naked youth, fledged with tiny wings and dressed only in streamers of air. Hermes is a condensation into pictorial form—a sigil, in fact—of an easily recognizable default state of human consciousness. When our words and minds are nimble, when we conjure laughter from others, when we make poetry, we are in the real presence of Hermes. We are, in fact, possessed by the god.
You may wish to connect with Hermes if you're beginning a novel or giving a speech or simply want to entertain a new beau with your incredible repartee.
The form the Big Idea takes depends upon your tradition or desire. The beautiful electric youth of the Greeks is a well-known image in Western cultures, having been appropriated for everything from Golden Age FLASH comics to the logo of the INTERFLORA chain of florists.
Call fervently upon Hermes. Luxuriate in his attributes. Drink coffee or Red Bull in his name or take a line of speed, depending on your levels of drug abuse. Fill your head with speedy images of jet planes, jet cars and bullet trains. Play "Ray of Light" by Madonna and call down Hermes. Surround yourself with FLASH comics and call down Hermes. Tell him how very wonderful he is in your own words, and then call him into yourself, building a bridge between your own ever-growing feelings of brilliance and the descending energies of the Big Idea.
I am mentioning Summoning during my focus on sigils because in the concept of the ultrasigil that I introduced a couple weeks back, I've found Summoning to help increase the magician's focus on a sigil. I create file folders on my computer and then load them up with paraphernalia related to my statement of intent: I fill the file folder with pictures, movie clips, music, artwork, and such so as to have these instant mood makers. I change the icon of the file folder to an appropriate sigil and work my magic from there.
The Summoning doesn't last forever and rituals are meant to temporarily harness the godforms to accomplish a specific task, like a mother's adrenaline pumping to lift up a car. Summon and worship your gods but don't forget to take a lunch break and come back to the real world.