This category, in terms of inside the PGM and outside them, is extremely broad. You might say that there are many 'supernatural assistants', and that they form a range or continuum of potential for the magician or witch. Some of daemons, some are the dead, some are deities (treated like daemons). At one end of this range we would have the ghosts of executed felons, with whom the magician has an agreement, and at the other end the HGA.
Most spirits encountered by the magician will fall somewhere in the middle, depending on the context of what's happening, what's been done, & etc.
I do not assume the spirits I have on hand are the HGA. In fact, I'm sure that none of them fulfill the requirements of Abramelin of Worms. To say that the HGA and 'Good Genius' are the same is... Potentially misleading, as R.O. has recently noted. Saying that they fulfill similar functions is the best we can do.
I felt like, with regards to a comment that Conjureman Ali made on Mike C.'s recent entry on certain topics, he hit the nail on the head:
“Yet the point that I believe is important to realize is that there are enough spirits to confuse the HGA with indicates that there is more than one guiding spirit. It is this point that is lost in the debate. While many are in the rush to cultivate a relationship with the HGA, the personal djinn and other guiding spirits are entirely neglected.”Ceremonial Magicians have been taught, especially in the last century, to only draw from the highest. This is most obviously seen in the form of finding the Holy Guardian Angel. One of the reasons so many people feel compelled to insist that they have found their HGA is because they have, in fact, found a tutelary spirit. It may not match the attributes of the HGA, but they know how it functions and that it has led them in some way or another to what they needed. (Note that I say needed, not wanted.) This is a self-created blindspot for many - because, if they don't realize how many other types of tutelary spirits there are in the historical record and record of practice of magicians worldwide, it leads them to assume some sort of universal process must be at work. And then - bang! “It must be the HGA!”
Unless we distinguish categories of spirits based on function, on the history of practice, and on the precursors of the idea they embody, then we will never manage to be able to discuss these topics with any line of coherence.
In his comments, Mike C. did say something I disagree with, in regards to the HGA: “I'd say, really? I mean, really? No. The HGA does not "provide a path" for us, nor does it create situations in our life. It just doesnt. Ever. Remember the whole concept of free will that God gave us?”
I, uh, disagree entirely on that matter. That we have a hand in our destiny is by no means untrue; but that we 'create' or 'control' it? Or even the belief in true Free Will, at all? Not a belief I personally hold. In fact, most of my experiences have made me suspect that I had less free will than I initially believed I did.
On the other hand, if he's found a way to reconcile the belief in Free Will vs. Fate, I'd genuinely love to hear the theory. Because I've crunched on it for a long time, and find myself sitting somewhere in the middle. There are things we can change; but I don't think we can change some things - in ourselves or the world - at all. We can at best counter-balance them.
I've gotten off topic, however. My point: the idea of supernatural assistants, ESPECIALLY in the PGM, embodies a range or continuum of entities, not a single source of pure Awesome.
EDIT: And if the spirit the magician had on hand was the “Demon of a Dead Man,” and that dead man was a convicted criminal, the magician would likely insist he had a Good Daemon anyway. Because otherwise he was worshiping a criminal in the ancient mind, and that also made him a criminal. Note that this was also problematic for early Christians, who worshiped a condemned criminal (Christ) and faced similar accusations to magicians acting outside the scope of the law.