Monday, September 3, 2018

Regarding Magical Experiments

Over the last couple of weeks I have been asked by several people regarding differences between the work I publish here and the works of other authors, or differences between how I teach rituals versus how the various Golden Dawn groups or other orders teach them. While I would say that the majority of my work with the ceremonial forms is pretty much the same as the work done by Aleister Crowley, the original Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and the Stella Matutina, there are some differences that you will come across once you start studying my work more seriously.

I make a pretty big deal out of the "operant field," the idea that you can increase the effectiveness of practical magick by combining a general pentagram banishing ritual (LBRP or Star Ruby) with and general pentagram invoking ritual (LIRH or Star Sapphire). Most current teachers will tell you to the banishing forms of both rituals together, a combination that I personally use sparingly. In my books, I attribute the angels and cacodemons of the Enochian Watchtowers differently than most other authors. And just today, I had a commenter ask about my non-traditional use of the rending and closing of the veil signs.

In each of those cases, I have answered the question the same way. I experimented with various attributions for the different ceremonial forms and stuck with the methods that worked the best for me. That's what I publish here, for the most part - techniques that have worked best for me the way I do them. Blindly trusting in traditional teachings strikes me as unwise. Magical and mystical realization may be incommunicable, but that doesn't mean spiritual technology is not like other technology. There should be a "best way" to do everything, and the advantage of doing practical magick right from the get-go is that it helps you find out what that "best way" is for you. That's the way I teach. Learn the pieces of tech that you need to make stuff happen, and then start making stuff happen.

As a Thelemite I see the value in working towards the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel as described by Crowley, but I also don't see the need to wait until you have it before you do anything practical with all that tech. I teach the forms in such a way that in order to deal with spirits you always first identify yourself with the divine, which adds a Theurgic component to all practical work. Identifying yourself with the divine whenever you do an operation will automatically bring you closer to the HGA and make the HGA invocation work more smoothly when you finally attempt it formally. At the same time, measuring the results of your practical operations will tell you how well your magick is working in general.

Thus I employ magick and mysticism hand-in-hand, from the very beginning of my students' magical practice. More importantly, the practical piece allows students to perform experiments and see how the tech works for themselves. You need some degree of what could be called "faith" to start practicing magick in the first place - faith that if you follow the practice, you will eventually obtain the results you want. But faith ends in knowledge, and my opinion is that it should be excised as early as possible in a student's magical career. The best way to do that is to start doing practical work and see what happens, and as you do that, to vary your techniques a bit and see what produces the biggest probability shifts when you perform operations.

It's like this - if you practice magick long enough, you eventually will obtain the gnosis you seek. But in the meantime, why not do what you can to make your life fun? Then, when those practical methods work, see what you can do to make them repeatable. You're walking the magical path the whole time - you just are doing better along the way. Furthermore, as you bring your life into harmony with your will (as successful practical operations tend to do), you may very well find that the path itself becomes shorter and less impeded. The discipline of maintaining a practice is pretty much required to progress magically, but when the conditions in your life can be made more suitable for your practice you should find it that much easier to maintain.

So that's where I'm coming from as a teacher. I teach what works best for me how it works best for me. But don't take my word for it when you see something in my work that varies from the tradition, or doesn't make sense to you. Feel free to try it my way and the traditional way, or my way and the way that seems more logical. Then faithfully record your results and see what happens. I hope that someday we can get to the point with magick that the physical sciences are at, where we can be relatively certain that we are building on the most optimal body of knowledge for all or most students, but we have a very long way to go before we get there. And I will say that while many magicians have tried out my techniques and have found them to work better, my sample size is still way too small to draw anything like a firm conclusion about them.

That's why you need to do your own work, and not simply parrot whatever a teacher tells you that you should be doing. If they're teaching a variation that doesn't resonate with you, try one that does. Try stuff out. Don't fell like a difference between your findings and those of some published source are wrong or defective or anything like that. Do experiments. Report your results. When you get to the point where you want to teach, teach the methods that work best for you. If we all did that, patterns would emerge that would likely point to better and more advanced techniques, because that's how the scientific method in magick (such as it is) works. The rituals compiled here are my attempt to do just that, and I look forward to more practitioners following suit.

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valdemar antunes said...

I would like to congratulate you for the great posts I am brazilian and study magic for a few years but everything that refers to the golden daw system is very confusing so I never understood them correctly your posts made me very clear the world today needs magicians like you who clarify and teach how to use the art of magic

Scott Stenwick said...

Thank you. Much of magical practice is simpler than a lot of teachers like to let on, and I try to keep the mysteriousness around here to a minimum.