Thursday, April 1, 2010

What Is A Core Discipline?

Jason Miller, in his recent blog article (No Replacement for Meditation) in the blog Strategic Sorcery has stated that meditation is the core discipline in the practice of magick. He has emphasized this to the point of saying that he would give up all of his magickal practices if he were forced to just practice one thing, and that one thing would be meditation. What Jason is saying is that meditation is the core discipline to the practice of magick. I couldn’t disagree more with what he has said, even though I would agree that meditation is important and at times, even critical to the achievement of the higher ordeals of ritual magick. However, meditation is just a tool, not an end to itself. I would not classify meditation as the core discipline of what I practice as ritual magick. So, I guess the question that I must answer is, what is the core discipline for a ritual magician?

The only way that we can answer this question is first answer the question of what is the ultimate objective for the practice of ritual magick. Answering that question should allow us to quickly identify what is the core discipline. The answer, as I understand it, and have stated for some time in this blog and in my books, is to become one with the Deity. All other actions are either ancillary to this goal (in other words, they incrementally assist) or are distractions to it. How does a ritual magician facilitate union with the Deity? Through the practices of alignment, assumption of godhead, devotions, communion, and ultimately, the Bornless One invocation rite. The magician creates a personal religious cult where he or she is the sole celebrant, congregation and personal avatar of the chosen deity. Such a relationship may seem idolatrous, presumptuous and even heretical to adherents of an orthodox creed, and indeed it is! However, the assumption of the Godhead is a practice that eventually fuses the personality of the magician with that of the Deity, causing a powerful ascension of consciousness, and a corresponding materialization and actualization of the living aspect of the magician’s personal imago of God. The ritual magician is first and foremost a priest or priestess, acting as the arbiter of the Deity in the material world. This is not a new idea or belief, but is based on a long tradition of magickal practices - but perhaps lionized first by Aleister Crowley, who changed how magick was practiced in the early twentieth century.

If I were to use Jason’s analogy then and be forced to reduce all of my practices to one thing, it would be variations on Godhead assumption. All of the other practices are tools that assist the magician in mastering the mind, the domain of spirit, body and one’s material circumstances - they are, in a word, nothing more than tools. So from this we can deduce that the core discipline in the practice of ritual magick is the assumption of Godhead and all of its related liturgical expressions and practices. It doesn’t matter if one is practicing magick from either the left hand or the right hand path - this core discipline can be reinterpreted to function in many different ways, but all of them lead the magician to the ultimate achievement - at-one-ment with the Deity, however that entity is defined.

Don’t misinterpret what I have said, though. Meditation is important, but then, so is the craft of divination, the arts of earth-based magick, theurgy, goetia, operant philosophy, occult research and study - the list is endless. But all of these practices, however important, are just tools - they are a means to an end, and that end is union with the Godhead.

One thing that any practicing magician needs to be aware of is that many systems of meditation and contemplation are highly integrated into a specific religious system. Whether one is practicing Vendanta Yoga, Zen Buddhism, Christian monasticism or any of the many different disciplines, almost all of these systems take a dim view of the practice of ritual magick. They are, in a word, incommensurate systems that will cause a powerful dissonance in one who would attempt to practice both systems in a deep and ardent manner. This is why I chose Kriya and Tantra/Kundalini Yoga as my foundational practices, since they not only allow me to practice ritual magick, but seem to highly encourage it, since the objectives of these disciplines are indeed commensurate with a worldly spiritual outlook such as ritual magick. To cherry pick a system of meditation and take it out of its context in order to practice it as some kind of core discipline will certainly short circuit the effectiveness of that system, in my humble opinion.

Also, ritual magicians begin their path in an incremental manner. In the beginning of their practice, they perform short ritual workings to effect a certain change or reap an opportunity. Meditation assists them in acquiring the right mind state in order to perceive and manipulate the forces and spirits associated with their work. Meditation is a tool for them, not an end in itself.

Meditation is therefore defined as the practices of asana, simple forms of prana-yama, mantra and mandala (yantra) and contemplation/concentration, stripped of their spiritual context. Anyone who has performed the simple fourfold-breath while maintaining an internal state of “being the witness” will tell you that doing that for just ten to twenty minutes will produce altered states of consciousness. What are those altered states of consciousness? Greater and more subtle awareness of oneself and one’s environment, sensitivity to spiritual and paranormal phenomena and a greater alignment with the Deity as the union of all being. From this vantage point, the magician can begin the ritual work that he or she sought to do in the first place. The more often these practices are performed, preferably at least once a day, every day, then the magician will be more sensitive and in tune with the magickal processes that he or she is attempting to engage. A regular meditation session is the repertoire of the competent magician - thus, it is tool and nothing more.

Jason has cleverly put a picture of the Buddha meditating at the top of his blog article, but the fact is that the Buddha would have found any and all magickal practices as superfluous. Christian mystics would be horrified at the thought of the magician assuming the Godhead in an obvious aggressive manner, and even Indian mystics would find the worldliness of ritual magick to be highly problematic. None of the adherents of these disciplines would either agree with or look kindly upon the practices of the typical ritual magician, but then they are operating in completely different spiritual context and could not be expected to either agree or condone such an obviously different spiritual discipline. Therefore, practitioners of ritual magick must carefully choose the components of their spiritual regimen so that everything that they do is harmonious to the practice of magick. My Tantra teachers not only know full well that I am a practicing ritual magician, but they also highly condone what I am doing and how I am doing it. I know from personal experience that this is more of an exception than the rule. As a ritual magician, I am often open to criticism, disapproval and sometimes, even hostility from those who are adherents to a spiritual tradition that is quite unlike mine. I consider it one of the perks of my avocation.

Frater Barrabbas


  1. Jason Miller, in his recent blog article (No Replacement for Meditation) in the blog Strategic Sorcery has stated that meditation is the core discipline in the practice of magick.

    No I did not. I absolutely did not. In fact I went out of my way to say that most magicians do NOT meditate regularly and still work magic.

    I said it was one of the core disciplines of magic as I teach it, and that people who claim that X can stand in for meditation are incorrect.

    I havent even read your full post yet, but had to comment because you represented me incorrectly right in the first statement!

  2. Becoming one with deity is not a discipline. It's a goal.

    I never stated that people should accomplish this goal through one method and one method alone. This is you putting words into my mouth.

    Since I myself use multiple methods, as you could see from my blog overall, your diatribe makes no sense at all and I am offended by your mischaracterization.

  3. Would Christian mystics be upset at your desire for union with godhead? That is what they were ALL ABOUT. Might they have questioned your methods? Probably as they would mine. But I brought them up to show that meditation was not this eastern thing.

    Since the branch of Buddhism that I belong to, Vajrayana, specializes in RITUAL MAGIC as part of the path, I think your comments about the Buddha are pretty unfounded.

    I have read your blog in the past. You are not a moron. What the hell got into you today?

  4. @Jason - Pace! (Peace).

    I was not mischaracterizing you or your blog, I only sought to make a distinction and a clarification between your point and my own. Also, seeking union with the Godhead is the "core" of the discipline of the kind of magick that I work. Of course, that is just my opinion, nothing more.

    I have neither insulted you nor intended any insult. I have a great deal of respect for you and your writings, which I obviously read with great relish. If I seek to diverge from your statements that you wrote in your blog, but over all agree with you, that's not any form of character assassination. Also, Tibetan Buddhism is not at all like traditional Buddhism. It is, in fact, more similar to the Indian system of Tantra that I work with. So the traditional Buddha would not have agreed with a practice of magick - or Tantra for that matter. (See the book "What the Buddha Taught" by Walpola Rahula)

    Nothing got into me, my dear sir. Your friend Rufus Opus of "Head for the Red" also disagrees with your blog. This is just simply a matter of different opinions and perspectives. Nothing more. If you are going to write books and blogs and state your opinions in public, be prepared for differences of opinion - and be open and respectful of those who may disagree with you.

    If you are upset at what I wrote, then I humbly apologize, for that was not what I intended with my blog article.

    With High Regards -

    Frater Barrabbas

  5. My point was to rebut this statement made by Jason. How else could it be construed other than his core practice is meditation?

    "I am quite serious when I state in my books that I would give up every scap of arcana, every spell, every ritual, every energetic manipulation and astral venture for the practice of meditation."

    I'll let the public be my judge.

  6. "I am quite serious when I state in my books that I would give up every scap of arcana, every spell, every ritual, every energetic manipulation and astral venture for the practice of meditation."

    This is not saying that meditation is a core discipline of magic(k). Rather, it's a statement of the author's personal preference, that he'd rather practice meditation than magic.

  7. First, I should not have gone so far as to take offence. I just don't like it when people put words in my mouth or mis-characterize what I say. I always let it go unanswered in book reviews (such as the guy who was upset that I didn't have anything about energy shields in P&R M, when in reality I have a whole section on it.) but not in the blogosphere

    Tibetan Buddhism is certainly not what the Buddha taught, but neither is anything else. People that claim to represent the exact teachings of the Buddha are usually Theravadists who point out that Mahayana developed later. They conveniently forget the Mahasanghikas and the split between them are Shariputras crew. They also present Pali Suttas as if they were the words of the Buddha, they were written much later. The Buddha did not speak Pali, he spoke Mughadi. Read Edward Conze for a different take on what the Buddha probably thought about magic.

    The whole point is ridiculous anyway because no matter what the Buddha taught, in todays world there are ooldes of Buddhist magicians in Tibetan, Japan, India, Mongolia, Bhutan, Thailand, and a host of other places. All of which might have pictures of the historical Buddha.

    Now, in your post you claim that I state that Meditation is the core discipline of magic. This is not correct. I did not say it. I said it is one of the core disciplines of my system of doing things AND that i value it above all others. This is very different than saying that it is the core discipline of magic itself.

    You than go on say "If I were to use Jason’s analogy then and be forced to reduce all of my practices to one thing". This would indicate that I think magic should be the ONLY thing one practices which is just asinine, since my blog is about Sorcery! This IS mis-characterization.

    In my post I went out of my way to note that it is NOT necessary to meditate in order to do magic, and that most of the worlds magicians DO NOT meditate. Your post treats mine as if I was trying to say the opposite.

    Lastly, Frater R.O. and I are not in much disagreement at all. In his original post he indicated that communing with angels was a substitute for meditation. My post was aimed at refuting the treatment of other disciplines as if they were a stand in for meditation. In his most recent post, he backs off or further clarifies his position, and we are pretty much in agreement.

    I appreciate your reading my work, and that you like it in general. I actually like it when people disagree with me and want to flesh it out. The art is furthered by such exchanges. But if you are going to do it, than actually read what I wrote and understand it. Do not claim that I make statements that I don't make.

  8. The great irony is that as far as your own points, we are not in disagreement at all. I agree with every one of them. Other than the statements that you claim I make.

  9. @Jason - well, there's lots of irony today, since it is the fool's holiday! As I said, I just responded to your impassioned second to last sentence - that's all. And yes, we are actually quite close in our opinions and probably our practices. I do both admire and respect you, so it's not that I have an axe to grind. Often times the last thing that you say to a group in the most impassioned manner can have the greatest impact. Would you like a clarification from me posted to my blog?

  10. Wow, I agree with you Frater Barrabbas, for the most part :). Now the definition of Godhead can be kind of tricky and differing amongst various people, but I agree on the concept of it being extremely important. I would most definitely 100% agree that oneness with Godhead is a discipline as it does take work, or would that be lack of work? ;) I find it to be a discipline though. Now the question is if it can be done without meditation at the same time?

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