Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Suggestions for Daily Practice

Daily practice is absolutely vital to any practicing magician. This point cannot be emphasized enough. As I've mentioned, trying to be an effective ritual magician without doing daily practices is like trying to be a professional football player without doing any sort of exercise or conditioning during the weeks between games. It just doesn't work. Unfortunately this point is hard to get across - a number of popular authors in the occult field are researchers rather than actual practitioners, and I have also met a number of magicians who reached a certain point in their practices and just stopped because they felt that they no longer needed those practices. Naturally, if you were to decide at some point that you no longer wanted to work magick, stopping your practices might be appropriate - they take time and energy that could be spent doing other things. Still, the point of learning to do magick is not that once you learn it you realize you don't need to do it. The point of learning to do magick is so that you can do magick! Otherwise it wouldn't be worth the trouble.

So that being said, what sorts of daily practice should the aspiring magician undertake? Here are some suggestions from my own practice.
  • Meditation. If you can do nothing else, meditate. There are many different meditation techniques, and in my experience there is not that much difference between them. You should select a style or technique that appeals to you and go with it. I personally practice Tibetan Vajrayana meditation, but that is a personal preference on my part based on how my mind tends to work. I do think that Vajrayana appeals to many of the same people who find ritual magick a compelling spiritual path - it incorporates mantras and visualizations and because so much is going on in the practice there is little room for the mind to wander.
  • The Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram or equivalent. This ritual is the foundational ritual of the Golden Dawn tradition for a reason - it works. There are many rituals that are constructed along similar lines, such as Aleister Crowley's Star Ruby, Sam Webster's Milk of the Stars, and others too numerous to list here as the basic form can be adapted to just about any pantheon or set of symbols.
  • The Lesser Invoking Ritual of the Hexagram or equivalent. I have found that opening the operant field on a daily basis using the LBRP-LIRH combination is the fastest way to get noticeable results from any subsequent practice. There are also a number of LRH equivalents, such as Crowley's Star Sapphire.
  • The Middle Pillar Ritual or equivalent. The Middle Pillar Ritual was written by Israel Regardie and is a method by which the names of God corresponding the spheres on the middle pillar of the Tree of Life are vibrated while the magician visualizes energy of the appropriate color filling the point on the body related to each sphere. There are also equivalents to this ritual, such as Crowley's "Elevenfold Seal" which appears in Liber V vel Reguli. As a Thelemite, I use Crowley's version which invokes the Thelemic deities rather than the Judeo-Christian names of God used in Regardie's Middle Pillar. I suspect that Regardie was thinking of the earlier Elevenfold Seal when he wrote his ritual, which would mean that the Middle Pillar is in fact a variation on Crowley's ritual rather than the other way around. Nonetheless, I give the Middle Pillar here as a "standard" because I am of the opinion that more magicians are familiar with it.
The above set of practices is completely adequate for the aspiring magician. Daily meditation practice should be done in a separate session from ceremonial practice. Ceremonial practice can consist of the three rituals shown in the order that they are given, and of course more can be added. When it comes to practice, more is usually better. Here are a couple of other pieces that I add to my own practice that may or may not be applicable to yours.
  • Holy Guardian Angel invocation. This is fairly free-form and I add it following the Animadversion. I vibrate the name of my Holy Guardian Angel and visualize celestial light raining down from above and filling my body until I can imagine it glowing from within. I then say the following benediction adapted from Crowley's Gnostic Mass:

    Fill me with the Divine Light, set my True Will in motion, and bring me to the accomplishment of the Great Work, the Summum Bonum, True Wisdom and Perfect Happiness.

  • The Prayer of the Aeon. This is from Crowley's Mass of the Phoenix, and is not a mere parody of the Lord's Prayer as it may at first appear.

    Now I begin to pray, thou child
    Holy thy name and undefiled
    Thy reign has come, thy will is done
    Here is the bread, here is the blood
    Bring me through midnight to the Sun
    Save me from evil and from good
    That thy one crown of all the ten
    Even now and here be mine
    AMEN.

    It is a prayer of aspiration to the attainment of the sphere of Kether, the crown of the Tree of Life, in which all opposites dissolve into unity. I use the prayer as the conclusion of my practice, ending on the final vibration of AMEN.
Hopefully this will give you some idea of how to assemble your own practice. Sticking with the practice is what is really important, so you should not try to incorporate anything that doesn't appeal to you. That will only lead to you dropping the practice, which obviously is not desirable.

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3 comments:

Dacia Pacea said...

I've wanted to ask you this for some time, but I keep forgetting. So daily practice keeps the practicioner in shape for when you do ritual work. But what if they were to perform a ritual every day for a week or more. Wouldn't that count more than the daily practice? Because they would be exposed to the energies of the spirits they would call upon, besides going through the regular set of rites.

Scott Stenwick said...

Yes, it does. On days when I do larger rituals I often skip the daily practice sequence. The point of daily practice is to keep you doing magick every day, and when you are doing other rituals instead you are still fulfilling that requirement.

The way I teach practical magick is that you basically open your larger rituals with the same sequence from your daily work. So then, you really have done your daily ritual set for the day if you do any larger operation.

Dacia Pacea said...

Just as I thought :) Thanks!