I just recently finished reading a new pamphlet from Hadean Press by Jake Stratton-Kent titled A Prince Among Spirits. I was keenly interested in acquiring this book as it is about the Verum spirit Surgat. And those of you following along will note that I have been working with Surgat off and on for a while now.
I thoroughly enjoy Stratton-Kent's writing. The style that I came to appreciate in the Encyclopedia Goetica series is continued here; intelligent but not obscure, balanced in terms of considering practice, deeply researched, and written to an audience of practitioners. It is an excellent addition to the Guides to the Underworld series and, in my opinion, superior to a few of them.
The information in this book is a whole other direction from where my own received Personal Gnosis was taking me. At the risk of giving a spoiler away the main thesis of A Prince Among Spirits is along the lines of Surgat=Forcas=Aquiel=Aziel. And Aziel is all over European and Semitic spirit work in very high ranking positions, including King of the West (cardinal direction) in Agrippa's Three Books of Occult Philosophy. So Surgat, under a variety of names, is one of the more powerful and ubiquitous spirits of the grimoires.
I have little doubt as to the academic rigors of Jake Stratton-Kent's research. Some of his deductions about spirit names from different eras and books being related seem tenuous at times but never without merit or logic. From a practical standpoint I'm still processing how, or if, I will incorporate this new knowledge into my practice with Surgat.
Here is my difficulty: I have always been under the impression that the various names of an entity are really different entities. Venus is not Aphrodite. Does it help me to work with Venus knowing the depth of Aphrodite? Yes and no, in the same way that it is instructive to know something about a person's family before you meet them. But I don't think it tells me very much about Venus specifically. This has been my difficulty with syncretism in general.
I do appreciate that the interwoven strands of Surgat's mythology have been laid out in front of me. The way they seem to have joined and separated over time is the inspiration of this blog title.
I think I will continue to work with Surgat for his own sake, at least for now. A Prince Among Spirits has not greatly changed my attitude about Surgat. I was never much thinking he was a subordinate spirit in terms of esteem anyway and, if anything this book has confirmed that notion. We'll see if Forcas or Aziel make their way into my work with Surgat.
I'll be talking with Surgat and Scirlin about this at length.