Monday, January 7, 2019

Magicians Do Magick

There has been a steady slew of articles over the last year about how witchcraft has been going more mainstream and becoming more popular. You would think that would be a good thing for occultism and it probably will be in the long run, but it also has led to the rise of witchcraft as a fashion statement rather than a system of magical practice. I'm not going to link to one article in particular, as it shouldn't be too hard to Google up a long list. I am firmly of the opinion that if your "magick" is little more than a fashion statement, you shouldn't call yourself a magician.

There have always been people whose idea of being a "witch" consists of wearing lots of black Renaissance fair garb and running around with crystals and maybe a Tarot deck, neither of which they have any idea how to use effectively. But the mainstreaming of witchcraft seems to have brought them out in force. As I don't really think of myself as a witch I will leave it to practitioners who do to comment more directly. I will say that as I see it if you don't do magick you're not a magician, regardless of what you call yourself.

To be clear, I don't mean that you have to follow my philosophy of using practical magick for everything, all the time, for your work to qualify. I think that works of illumination designed to expand and enlighten your consciousness count too, though with operations of this sort there's a fine line between magick proper and mysticism. Basically I don't really have a problem describing a mystic as a magician, since in the Thelemic system ceremonial magick and mysticism work hand in hand and our definition of magick is broad enough to include both microcosmic and macrocosmic change in conformity with will.

There's also a flip-side to this that yields the same results. Let's say you join an allegedly magical tradition and ask how to do magick, but nobody will tell you. Instead, they insist that you have to do all this psychological and "self-development" work and maybe even pass a bunch of tests before you ever pick up a wand. That's just silly - you're still not doing magick. While it's true that a lot of those internal practices will make your magick better, you can still do cool stuff without having mastered them.

The caveat applies that as I said above, I do consider mystical work performed with the objective of causing change in consciousness to be just as magical as a healing spell or a money spell or whatever. But whatever you do should be performed with change in mind and should be done as effectively as possible. An example - some practitioners will tell you that you should go through a course of psychoanalysis before starting magical practice. But not only is the psychoanalytic model of the mind entirely wrong, it doesn't even work. In controlled experiments, so-called sham therapy yields identical results.

No, that doesn't mean I'm saying that you shouldn't get psychotherapy if you need it before working with magick. What I do recommend, though, is to go through a course of therapy that works. Cognitive-behavioral approaches do produce better results than sham therapy in the same studies. So I would recommend working with a therapist who is at least familiar with the method, even if he or she combines it with other more psychodynamic techniques. But again, that's if you need it. I don't subscribe to the Freudian idea that everyone is fundamentally broken and can't function well without it.

If you go through my Magical Instruction program I start by presenting the practical work and then moving on to the path of initiation. This is deliberate and is a feature, not a bug, and is a reaction to the idea that you need to do all sorts of preliminaries, maybe for years, before you can really do the work. The latter approach means that to learn magick you have to do all sorts of things that really aren't magick before you have any idea whether or not magick is for you. Do the magick right away. You'll be thanking me later if you follow that advice.

Your first few spells will probably fail or not work as optimally as they could. But so what? I'm convinced that the key to learning magick is to practice doing magick. Evaluating your successes and failures will often give you some insight into the nature of your will, and it is completely reasonable to require certain material conditions to facilitate mystical work like union with the Holy Guardian Angel. I highly recommend that you not listen to anyone who tells you otherwise.

And whether or not I'm right about this, keep in mind that my practical rituals combine theurgic and thaumaturgic techniques as parts of their basic structure. What that means is when you use my stuff, you get enlightened whether you like it or not. But you also should get powerful and effective probability shifts that will help you deal with almost any life circumstance that comes your way. As the Buddhists put it, they will bring you the two kinds of benefit, happiness and enlightenment. Isn't that what we all want from the spiritual path?

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Scott Stenwick said...

You are very welcome. I try to keep it interesting around here.

Frater OEN said...

Hi Scott, I was delighted to find your website a few weeks ago, magickally of course ;)I've been experimenting with your operant field technique, and had some results to offer for feedback. I like to re-consecrate my Elemental tools at the beginning of every year, and the opportunity to test a ritual technique with a bit of added oomph was too tempting to pass up. This is from my journal:

"During all of my experiments on 1/4, 1/5, 1/6, and 1/7 I experienced a fairly marked distortion of my astral sight. The worst was on 1/6; I Astrally Projected straight to the Adam Kadmon body at the Kabbalistic Cross that opens the LBRP, without wiling it. In other words, I didn’t rise there as I usually do…. I just appeared there. That’s never happened before. My usual procedure when something unexpected happens during a ritual is to follow through and see what happens. Sometimes it backfires, but usually it's instructive. So, since I was already there, I just proceeded with the ritual. Unfortunately, on the return to the physical body, I got stuck outside of the Milky Way and was unable to proceed. And this wasn’t just a little visualization thing where I could just open my eyes and end the projection, this was a full out of body experience. I actually had to call on (a familiar) and ask her to return me to my physical body! Again, it was a first, but it’s what she’s for so I was glad to have made the contact years ago. It was a pretty marked and unpleasant experience, and I was fairly confused and discombobulated in a way that doubtless affected the rest of the ritual. On 1/7 it was *very* difficult to hold the visualizations on the pentagrams and hexagrams in LBRP and LIRH, and I wasn't able to astrally project at all. At least the Astral images were somewhat stabilized by the TOL afterward. Every time I’ve done this, the chaos and astral distortions are fairly severe and make it difficult to proceed with the ritual."

Do you have any thoughts on this?

Scott Stenwick said...

The operant field is sometimes a little disorienting when you first try it out, especially if the first time you try it out is in a real ritual. I generally recommend doing it as part of your daily practice for a period of time, maybe a couple weeks, before trying to combine it with your usual ritual method.

Also, were you trying to perform this process astrally? I generally never do that for real rituals and only do it for daily practice when I'm sick and can't vibrate. I'm of the opinion that real world movements are better. If you're just talking about the QC, I don't do or teach any sort of projection with that either. So it's possible some of those elements interacted in an odd way.

If you'd like to share your full ritual process I could see about debugging it further, but those are the only observations I have here from what you've posted.

Frater OEN said...

Hi Scott. No, not ONLY only astrally, but astral work is a component of every ritual I do. In the example I gave with the Kabbalistic Cross, beginners are usually told to *visualize* the astral body growing until they have the Universe at their feet (Malkuth in Yetzirah, because it's a visualization)and Kether in Yetzirah floating at the top of the head- this is the first link to the microcosm. However, once I had done this several hundred (thousand?) times, it began to actually (subjectively) happen as a full out of body experience. To me this is linking with the macrocosm (the Universe at the Feet is Malkuth in Assiah and Kether in Assiah [which is Malkuth in Yetzirah] is at the head). When the ritual concludes, I return to my body, and proceed with the LBRP having linked it to the macrocosm (in Assiah)through the astral projection at the opening of the ritual (the Adam Kadmom experience I just described).

Although it doesn't entirely jive with your model, in that I never had questions about whether or not I was linking the microcosom and macrocosm, it is my experience that the actual out of body experience seems to have a more solid characteristic than a mere visualization... as does true astral sight which incidentally was also very borked by the operant field procedure (at least for me).

When you say "full ritual process," that shouldn't be too hard since I was working with the standard rituals as set out in Regardie's The Golden Dawn. The difference is that I don't walk through the rituals. Most of the time these days, when I'm asked to visualize, I actually try to open my astral sight at the third eye, and when the magician is instructed to do something with the astral body, I seldom have trouble actually getting out of body and doing it, rather than just visualizing with the imagination.

As writing out an entire ritual process for consecrating an Elemental Tool is quite lengthy, I'll do a schematic and write out the Kabbalistic Cross procedure in detail since that's what we're discussing.

1. Baptism by Fire and Water- a literal baptism in the bathtub
2. Dressing the Temple- donning robes, anointing with oil, raising banners, lighting candles etc.
3. Warning away the profane- "Hekas Hekas este Bebeloi!"
4. LBRP (opens and closes with the Kabbalistic Cross I'll detail below)
5. LIRH (for the Experiment)
6. TOL- Awakening the Tree of Life- full version of the Middle Pillar that opens all of the Sepheroth and Paths impressed on the Auric egg
7. Invoke HGA
8. SIRP- I know you like the GRP but they are pretty similar
9. Consecrate the Tool- standard invocations from The Golden Dawn by Regardie
10. License to Depart and LBRP

more to follow...

Frater OEN said...

Kabbalistic Cross
1. Standing before the altar facing East- Temple and magician are fully dressed
2. Full Astral Projection (out of body)
3. Will the Astral Body to expand- watch the light show- see the city I live in recede as the Astral body grows- pass whatever planetary bodies are in the way as I leave the solar system (rare but breathtaking)
4. Leave the Milky way- continue to expand past numerous galaxies (these actually seem to move into the astral body as the body expands)
5. End with the entire ovoid Universe at the feet
6. Seek the Divine Light at Kether- it's a blinding white light
7. Touch the light of Kether with a tool (I never do this with my Astral Fingers)
8. Touch the Forehead at the third eye with the blessed tool
9. Vibrate the entire expanded Astral body- "Ahhhhhhhhtaaahhh!" Done right and Malkuth and Kether vibrate also, harmonizing with the Astral body
10. Point the blessed tool at the Universe at the feet- Vibrate "Maaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhlkuuuuuuuuuth!" Again, Malkuth and Kether harmonize with the Astral Body.
11. Holding the tool upright (never pointing it *at* the right, as above so below) move it to the right shoulder- "Vigeburaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhh!" See the Sepheroth of Giburah enliven as a Red Sphere at the right shoulder and it will vibrate and "sing" in Harmony with Kether, Malkuth and the Astral Body
12. Move the Tool to the Left shoulder and vibrate "Vigeduuuuulllaaaaaah!" Chesed enlivens as a blue sphere that vibrates in harmony with Kether, Malkuth and Astral body, but *not* Giburah.
13. Hold the tool in front of the center of the chest and vibrate "Leeehhholaaahhhmmm, Aaaahhhhhmeeeeeennnn!" Tiphareth is enlivened in golden yellow in the shere at the chest- Kether, Malkuth, Giburah, Chesed and Tiphareth all harmonize with the Astral body- I have often wondered if something like this was Pythagoras' "Singing of the Spheres"
14. After enjoying the divine harmony for as long as I like, I withdraw the Astral body back into Malkuth (shrinking it back down to Earth) until it is in Malkuth in Assiah. I take care to bring the energies that have been awakened with me, with the intent of using them to enliven the other rituals (if any) that I intend to do.

That's pretty much it. As an aside, I thought all of this was standard practice once a GD style magician begins to actually work on Astral Projection. I do perform some rituals only Astrally, but nearly everything I do is Astral, Physical, Etheric Body etc. I try to involve every World I can, although Atziluth has eluded me all but once... which is why I never touch Kether without a tool, but that's another story.

Scott Stenwick said...

The whole thing with the astral body becoming large, rising, and so forth is not standard GD. It is from Donald Michael Kraig. It only is treated as "standard" because so many people bought Modern Magick. The first publication of the LRP was in Aleister Crowley's Liber O, which is a compendium of the GD practices he received from Mathers around 1900. Here's how it reads in that source:

(i) Touching the forehead say Ateh (Unto Thee).
(ii) Touching the breast say Malkuth (The Kingdom).
(iii) Touching the right shoulder, say ve-Geburah (and the Power).
(iv) Touching the left shoulder, say ve-Gedulah (and the Glory).
(v) Clasping the hands upon the breast, say le-Olahm, Amen (To the Ages, Amen).

That's it. You also see nothing like the giant-astral-body thing in the Star Ruby or Liber Reguli, so it's pretty clear he was never taught it. I don't teach it to my students that way either and none of them have ever had a problem like this, even though one or two are folks who do a lot of out-of-body/astral stuff.

This is actually an important discussion for me because up until now, I've told people who already know the Kraig method that it doesn't really add anything to the ritual, but they can keep doing it if they want. I may have to revise that if it turns out to be incompatible with the operant field method in some way - because it sounds like that may be what you're running into.

As a point - I'm not saying that the way you're doing it is wrong. If it works for you it works for. However, if it's incompatible with the way I use the forms you might have to pick one method or the other going forward.

Frater OEN said...

This is a fascinating conversation for me, so no worries about "right ways and wrong ways," this is Magick after all; where will becomes reality (and a fine example underscoring the point of your article BTW). At any rate, it may be that the methods are incompatible. I'm doing some research on the project and according to Perigren Wildoak's "By Names and Images," (and other traditional sources but his is the book I have in front of me), the LBRH is intended to "cleanse the 32 Path of Tau." I know you are already aware of this point (whether or not you agree), but since Tau corresponds to Saturn, and connects to Yesod, I wonder if this might not provide a key to understanding the issue:

For my purposes LBRH may make it easier to open and use astral sight and projection, since it clears everything from that path. I then go out onto the Macrocosm with the TOL (an expanded version of the Middle Pillar) and bring back the energy I want for my magick. The advantage is that it is precise, but the disadvantage is that manifestation relies on my efforts and ability to perform a fairly difficult operation for many people.

For the Operant field method, which doesn't require that kind of "micromanagment" of the energy via astral projection, Invoking Tau might bring Saturn's influence to the table, which is of course a force concerned with time, stability and manifestation. In other words, maybe you get a powerful method for manifestation, and you rely on the rituals that follow to draw the energy you want, rather than going out and getting it yourself.

I'll keep experimenting and check in with results.

As a side note, the evidence doesn't indicate that Kraig made up the Adam Kadmom portion of the Kabbalistic Cross; Regardie was talking about it in 1937 with the first publication of the Golden Dawn, "The prime factor toward the success in that exercise is to imagine that the astral form is capable of expansion, that it grows tall and high, until at length it has the sembalance of a vast angelic figure, whose head towers amongst the distant stars of heaven." That at least marks it as part of Stella Matutina's teachings, and Whare-Ra also does it according to Perrigren Wildoak. I don't think Don was quite that old or influential! :)

Alex Scaraoschi said...

If I may, I used to perform the whole enlarge-your-body-of-light thing using Scott's ritual sequence. I found the whole procedure of visualizing myself growing larger and larger was helping me stabilize my mind and concentrate more on the ritual I was about to perform - I used to do it for the first QC of the whole ritual only. With time I was pushed (some time after encountering my HGA via Samekh) into performing things somewhat differently when it comes to the QC, when it came to the godhead assumption.

My ritual follows the same steps as Scott's, with no visualization of body of light enlargement. The difference is that when I perform the MP I do add extra visualizations: the circulation of light is done from the right side of my feet, up to the right side of the top of my head, then down the left side of my body to the left side of my feet. I do this x4. Then I do the same from the front of my feet, up to the front of the top of my head, and down towards my heels. I also do this x4. It later came to me that standing inside the circle and facing East, I have the positive (projective) elements to my right and front, and the negative (receiving) elements to my left and back. Therefore, the beams of light that go up reflect the positive quality of the element toward that side, while the beams of light that go down reflect the negative quality of the element towards that side. I visualize this 4x4 because it came to me that 4 is a number representing materialization, and thus I am creating a material base within my sphere for the godhead to manifest itself into. I also visualize the light in the appropriate color of the force I am about to invoke later on, whether it be elemental, planetary, or zodiacal.

Then I perform the fountain by visualizing light (in the appropriate color) going up from the soles of my feet towards the top of my head, and from there cascading all around me. This gives me the impression of the material base I had created is reaching towards the godhead in order to draw it down in and around my sphere. I visualize the fountain in the number of times attributed to the elements (5 because Spirit too), planets, and planets ruling the zodiac signs. When I'm done with that I visualize the appropriate symbol of the force I am about to invoke above my head, in the appropriate color. I vibrate its godname, then I draw it down with the QC, and visualize the light of the QC in the appropriate color.

Hope that made sense.

Scott Stenwick said...

My point is that most people got it from Kraig, and that the ritual was changed sometime after 1900. I haven't gone through the whole "pedigree" of the thing, and it's really not that important otherwise.

Peregrine and I interpret this ritual slightly differently, as I recall. though he's not as far off from the way I do things as Kraig was (he and I had a big go-round about the operant field and the forms about year before he died, and he was insistent that I was using a totally different map of how the forms work).

It sounds like whatever is going on here would have something to do with the Path of Tau if I was going to map it onto the Tree of Life. But I'm still kind of at a loss to explain why somebody who's been doing LBRH as part of daily practice for years (so their Path of Tau should be REALLY clear) would suddenly develop some kind of blockage or static when changing to LIRH.

Jason said...

We are what we repeatedly do. Success is therefore not an action, but a habit.

Or another way, neurons that fire together, wire together. But that neurology has to be grown.

I've just begun my work with the sephira and their attendant path workings, so I find this thread timely and these comments insiteful, as a beginner.

Thanks, Scott & Frater OEN

Scott Stenwick said...

Thanks for your report on your experiences as well. Prior to this discussion I had no idea there might be potential problems with the "astral expansion" bit and the operant field. I'll keep an eye out to see if there are any similar reports from others going forward.

"The method of science, the aim of religion" is where it's at.