Monday, January 23, 2012

On Visible Manifestations

After a busy couple of weeks I'm looking back over some of the topics that have come up on the blogosphere during this last month. One of these is the discussion of visible manifestations during evocations. The discussion was started off by an article from Frater Ashen, which was followed by two others from MC and one from RO. The general consensus is that visible manifestations of spirits do occur in the course of the work, and usually people who say otherwise have little experience with working grimoire magick. I would agree with this, which may seem a bit surprising at first in the context of my published work. On page 112 of Mastering the Mystical Heptarchy you will find the following:

The determination of a ritual’s success or failure should depend on only one factor – whether or not the objective of the operation is achieved. It should not make any difference whether or not you see the spirit, whether or not you hear unexplained sounds, or even whether on not your spell focus explodes as you complete the conjuration. Such things are side phenomena unrelated to the operation at hand, and obsession with them can lead to a profound misunderstanding of the nature of the magical arts.

To clarify this a bit, with the Enochian angels you generally have to use some sort of scrying device like a mirror or crystal in order to see them. This lines up perfectly with the the history of the system, as this is how John Dee and Edward Kelley originally communicated with the angels and I assume this method would not have been necessary had the visible manifestations associated with those angels been more strongly perceptible. Furthermore, I would not necessarily characterize an interest in evoking spirits to visible manifestation as "obsession." While such manifestations are rare when working with Enochian angels, I also know from experience that they do occur when working with other grimoire systems.

The first Goetic ritual I was involved in was quite different from the Enochian work I was more familiar with, at least in terms of visible effects, as the Goetic spirit we evoked was visible without a mirror or scrying device of any sort. We were using a triangle suspended vertically from the wall, and once the conjuration was complete there was a definite visible form that seemed to manifest within it. It looked like the rough image of a face constructed from the shadows of the room, except that I was able to move my head from side to side, change position, and so forth and still see it, as though it were physically drawn within the triangle.

I was impressed enough by the image that after the ritual I tried playing with the lighting and so forth in the temple to see if I could duplicate what I saw, but after a whole lot of experimentation found that I could not. Furthermore, during the ritual the visible manifestation did appear following the conjuration and seemed to vanish along with the license to depart, so I can only conclude that this was in fact the visible manifestation of a spirit. For the ritual we had carefully followed the instructions from the grimoire, and so I have to say that like Ashen, MC, and RO my first question for somebody who did a Goetic evocation and didn't see anything would be how carefully those instructions were followed. It seems that adherence to the source material has a lot to do with whether or not you get a visible manifestation at all, as most authors on the subject suggest.

The thing about that ritual, though, was that other than the manifestation it was a complete bust. The information we got from the spirit was inaccurate and the charges we gave it were not carried out. So here's where I differ from some practitioners - I don't consider that a successful evocation even though the spirit was clearly successfully evoked. To me magickal success is about the results, not the phenomena, and I have yet to see much evidence that there is a direct correlation between the intensity of a spirit's manifestation and the successful achievement of measurable magical objectives. That's what I mean when I say that I judge magical rituals from their results.

In this regard it seems my perspective is quite different from that of practitioners like Frater Ashen, who considers the experience of evoking spirits profound and well worth the effort for its own sake. I don't see it that way in the context of my personal magical practices, but its also true that from the standpoint of magical practice as a whole visible manifestations are certainly an area in which there's a lot more research to be done. I'd be interested in seeing if the intensity of a manifestation corresponds to any sort of physical measurement, like an EMF detector, and whether or not the images can be photographed or recorded like some ghost phenomena can be. If anyone's done that sort of work and is willing to discuss it, feel free to share.

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Anonymous said...

I found this post while surfing some forums some time ago, looking for information, previous to finally (re)finding your blog.

This guy stated that he successfully achieved physical proof of the Archangel Tzadkiel. He has uploaded photos of the supposed apparition, although I've failed to open the links, both on my phone and on my computer. I only get errors.

Take a look for yourself if you're interested

Scott Stenwick said...

The image server that the guy used no longer exists, so there is no way for me to inspect or validate the pictures. From what people on the forum who did view it are describing, it might be the sort of visual distortion that I sometimes see with entities. One of the Goetic rituals I participated in produced an effect that I swear was visual. I would have very much liked to a have a camera at the time to see if the image showed up in a picture, because I think it might have.

Now despite that manifestation, the ritual otherwise was a complete failure, but we did see something! That was one of the experiences that led me to disagree with the argument that the strength of a physical manifestation corresponds to the effectiveness of the ritual. I also have performed plenty of other rituals with minimal manifestations beyond a sense of "presence" that proved highly effective.

So as far as I can tell, manifestations during the ritual proper seem completely unrelated to how effective the ritual is at achieving its objectives.

Anonymous said...

I wanted to create an account to try to get in touch with him back then, in order to ask him for the pictures. But I got involved with other stuff and I forgot.

I've also noticed that spells work even if the presence in the room is slightly felt, or not felt at all.

There are some photos circulating on FB here in Romania, that depict some sort of fire upon a table in church, during an orthodox religious service. The added comment was that the fire could do be seen with the naked eye. The person took the picture of the priests performing mass, and was later amazed to discover that the fire had appeared in the photo.

I can't seem to find it right now, but i could send it to you on FB in the future ifyou want, once I'll find it.

Scott Stenwick said...

Right, that is the main point. Manifestations during a ritual do not have anything to do with how the ritual works, or at least that's what it seems like. It's an important point because Joseph Lisiewski argues the opposite - that if you don't get a physical manifestation, your spell won't work. But as far as I can tell, he's totally wrong.

Maybe what he's talking about is sort of true for novice magicians who may or may not be able to call up a spirit at all. Then if nothing obvious happens, it maybe means nothing happened and no spirit was successfully conjured. Still, that's being awfully generous to the guy.

Anonymous said...

I have noticed some strange things even after a few days I had performed a certain ritual. I removed the piece of paper containing personal data to a target of a curse, from the containment structure, a few days after the the spell was cast. Upon picking up the paper, I felt strange sensations in my fingers, such as tingling pain and a slight electrical sensation. I've felt similar sensations upon holding a small therapy crystal, in which the low bikes of a person were transfered by an energy worker.

That's not all. I had left a small glass of liquor as an offering for the angel of Virgo, after performing a ritual to help a friend both his sciatic nerve problems. Beneath the glass there is the sigil of Hamaliel and beneath it, two hairs from that person. Yesterday I wanted to perform another ritual for him. Since I didn't have other pieces of his DNA, I took one of his hairs from under the glass. The moment I picked up the glass and touched the sigil, I felt a strange tickle in my finger tips :)