Monday, July 25, 2016

More Thoughts on Daily Magical Practice

I got a couple of questions this past week about daily magical practices, and while I've posted on that topic in the past, the most recent of those was back in 2008. My general opinions have not changed that much, and I still use pretty much the same practice sequence as I did back then.

Here are my previous two posts, one from 2006 and the other from 2008. The basic arrangement that I perform today is as follows:
  1. The banishing form of the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram.
  2. The invoking form of the Comselh Ananael Lesser Ritual of the Hexagram.
  3. The Elevenfold Seal from Liber V vel Reguli, substituting the name of my own Holy Guardian Angel for that of Aiwass.
  4. A brief invocation of my Holy Guardian Angel, which includes my prayer of intent: "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."
As you can see, it's not that different from what I was doing years ago. I've kept these practices because they work.

To elaborate a bit, points (1) and (2) create the operant field. I am convinced that this is absolutely vital to get the most out of your practices, and in fact started working on the operant model because it made such a big difference when I went from the banishing to the invoking Lesser Ritual of the Hexagram on a daily basis. You need to (1) clear out your sphere of consciousness with the banishing pentagram, and (2) call into that space the forces of the macrocosmic elements so that your magical intent can engage the external world on a daily basis.

As always, you should do the work in the way that works for you, and if you've tried the operant method and it just doesn't, so be it. But most of the people who have tried it find that it works better, so I highly recommend at least experimenting with it briefly to see for yourself. My explanation for why it works might not even be correct, but folks who disagree with certain aspects of my model still seem to find that the invoking Lesser Hexagram just works better.


The Comselh Ananael version of the Lesser Ritual of the Hexagram is quite different from the standard version, but I've found that the improvements are much more incremental than the results I saw going from the banishing to the invoking Lesser Hexagram. I use this revised form of the ritual because, as a Thelemite, I am of the opinion that it aligns better with Thelemic symbolism. The standard form recapitulates the myth of Osiris, while the Thelemic system is more strongly based on that of Horus. Still, I was still using the origal back when I figured out the operant field, and it worked fine.

I use the Elevenfold Seal from Liber V vel Reguli instead of the Middle Pillar for the same reason. It is built around the principle Thelemic godforms and therefore feels more suitable to my personal magical path. But the Middle Pillar also works fine, and like the original Lesser Hexagram I did it for years before switching over. The Elevenfold Seal in fact predates Israel Regardie's Middle Pillar, and he probably would have been exposed to it while working with Crowley. It's possible, therefore, that the former may have inspired the design of the latter.

I replace the name Aiwass with that of my own HGA because Aiwass was Aleister Crowley's Holy Guardian Angel, and using the name thus has always struck me as problematic, or at least incorrect. That's a controversial opinion, though - a number of other Thelemic magicians don't accept it, and I can't say that I have any empirical evidence that supports or refutes it. I started doing it after I obtained the name of my HGA as part of the invocation process so I actually don't have much experience with the "Aiwass" version. It just never felt right to me, and your mileage may vary.

Obtaining your HGA name in the manner that I did is detailed in my article The Descended Angel, published in the Holy Guardian Angel anthology from Nephilim Press. It involves using Tarot divination at the beginning of the K&C process to get the name that you will use in your subsequent invocations, and then from there working to make a direct connection.

The HGA invocation I do on a daily basis is short and simple, but I'm not going to detail it here because it is particularly suited to my own work and this is a case where you really do have to write your own. However, feel free to incorporate my closing prayer if you happen to like it. It's a solid statement of intent, mostly assembled from publicly available text found in Crowley's Gnostic Mass.

One of the best things about this practice sequence is that it can also serve as an opening procedure for any operation whatsoever, and practicing it daily makes it easier to memorize. It's quite impressive to be able perform an effective ceremonial operation right off the bat without consulting a bunch of books. If you have likewise learned the forms of the Greater Ritual of the Pentagram and Greater Ritual of the Hexagram for the planets, signs, and elements, you have most of what you need.

Applying this method, a practical ceremonial ritual would look like this:
  1. Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram or Star Ruby.
  2. Lesser Invoking Ritual of the Hexagram or Star Sapphire.
  3. Middle Pillar or Elevenfold Seal.
  4. Greater Invoking Ritual of the Pentagram or Hexagram for the quality you are invoking.
  5. Conjuration of the Spirit, Charge, and License to Depart.
  6. Closing, by repeating either the banishing pentagram ritual or the Qabalistic Cross on its own.
So as you can see, you should already have a good chunk of the opening in the form of your regular daily work.

You do need to know the Greater ritual you will be working with, the name of the spirit, and its controlling name, but you can simplify the latter by using the same godname as in the Greater ritual. You then compose your charge, with both injunctions and limitations, and license the spirit to depart by the same godname that you used in the conjuration. Having the sigil of the spirit and a proper Table of Art is helpful here, but I have been able to get results without them.

Finally, if you want to send the conjured force on its way, you close with the banishing pentagram ritual to detach it from your field of consciousness. On the other hand, if you want its influence to remain as part of the operation, close with just the Qabalistic Cross on its own. Notice that with this method you don't have to go through a bunch of elaborate ritual steps to "undo" everything you've done, as some of the modern groups teach.

There are two other practices that are extremely useful for any aspiring magician to do on a daily basis. Keeping a magical diary is extremely important, especially early on. It doesn't need to be ridiculously explicit or detailed - my own entries are usually fairly sparse. You should note that you did your practices, what time you did them, and any particular insights you received during them that stood out.

These days if you note the exact time, you don't need to record a bunch of astrological information. You can just run it through an astrology program if you ever need to check anything out. Likewise, if you did your practices the way you always do them and nothing out of the ordinary happened, that's all you really need to record. Everything else is extra, but if you feel like recording something, by all means do. Sometimes those seemingly random additions can prove helpful later on.

The other practice is sitting meditation. If you can set aside about 20 minutes to meditate every day, you will find that it helps your other practices immensely. The exact style of meditation is not that important - as far as researchers can tell, the difference between the various is negligible. I usually recommend something simple like the "mindfulness meditation" that has become trendy in recent years.

Meditation sessions, like ceremonial sessions, should be noted in your magical diary. Keep track of the time of day, any insights, and how well you feel the session went. Buddhists recommend that you practice either in the morning when you wake up or at night before you go to sleep. I've always done my practices before I go to sleep, since I'm totally not a morning person - totally like you wouldn't believe.

So all of this, the basic ceremonial sequence followed by a 20 minute session of meditation, is not really that arduous. The whole thing takes about a half hour, the length of a single short television program. This is a good thing - the problem with long and involved daily practices is that even if you can get yourself to do them for awhile, you eventually will get fed up and quit.

Magical development takes years, so you want a practice that you can stick with over the course of that time frame. If you do many hours a day for a month and give up, you haven't really "proved" anything - you've just wasted much of your effort because you couldn't stick it out. The point of these practices is to keep at them, and ideally maintain them for the rest of your life.

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3 comments:

Dacia Pacea said...

It's interesting that you talk about your HGA. I've been meaning to ask you this for a while. Have you undertook an ordeal in order to unite with your HGA? If so, could you post about it? It would make a great article about mystical work.

I understand if you wouldn't want to share that, though. I mean it's about your intimate experience.

Scott Stenwick said...

There are a few details about it that are not really suitable for sharing, only because they are personal enough that I doubt they would be of much use to other practitioners.

However, the general method that I used is explained in my article "The Descended Angel," published in the Holy Guardian Angel anthology from Nephilim Press.

Dacia Pacea said...

I'll keep in mind to get that book in the future. Thanks!