One of life’s greatest lessons is that nothing stays the same. Everything changes due to deliberate plans (one would hope), accidents or the fortunes of fate (whether good, bad or indifferent). Attempting to stand still and maintain one’s world is the surest way to get overtaken and completely run over by changing fortunes. The world doesn’t wait, and it would appear that it doesn’t sleep, either. We indulge in hubris and stasis at our own future peril!
So, if you are engaged with a progressive system of magick or esotericism, you are expected to at least attempt to incorporate the power of change as a means of evolving, growing and ultimately, achieving self-mastery. This is the only thing that can coerce an impending transformation to be progressive instead of regressive. Let me explain what I am talking about here, because I believe that it’s one of the more important topics in which any occultist can engage. It is the literal expression of “To be, or not to be.” To ascend, or to descend! And this pivots naturally on our choices, whether explicit or implicit.
Change is guaranteed to happen, it is therefore, imminent, and our life is buffeted by these changes. Human beings are self-conscious about their lives, and so we experience the calamities of good and bad fortune with the overarching need to find reasons and explanations for it all. Often, such explanations are nothing more than ad hoc explanations, and at times, even these tailored rationales seem weak and artificial, leaving us to ponder and wonder (and never satisfactorily answer) why things happened the way they did.
Still, those of us who are attempting to engineer a more empowered and self-determined future can be assured that even the attempt to do so is met with at least some positive outcome. This is because we have in our hands the tools of our very apotheosis, if we can but learn to recognize and use them. We are not chaff being blown every which way by the wind, and over time, a deeply contemplative existence will reveal to the spiritual seeker patterns and archetypes that parade through the inner mental lives of all humanity, often unknowingly and invisibly. These archetypes are symbolic portends, showing that deep inner processes are constantly at work, even when we are asleep. Harnessing these powerful symbols is the whole key to learning to control and master the processes of inner and outer change, which progressively empower and spiritual evolve the one who has learned to activate them. Even catastrophe, short of death and destruction, cannot turn back or defeat someone who is armed with this knowledge.
What are these mysterious symbols and archetypes that are active in the deeper psyche of humanity, and how can they be directed? These symbolic structures that mysteriously guide and fortify the self are the archetypes of the cycle of transformative initiation, also known as the Hero’s or Heroine’s Journey, since these cycles have a certain gender orientation. We have already covered the Hero’s Journey, and how the twenty-two stages match up with the twenty-two Tarot trumps of the Major Arcana. Seventeen of these stages represent the actual process of the inward and outward psychic journey of transformative initiation, and the other five represent the greater Cosmogonic cycle, which represents the whole cyclic history of the world and the universe (divided into five ages or aeons). You can find a synopsis of that comparative cycle here. Yet this cycle is the most essential cycle of human existence, characterized by the diurnal cycle of life on our planet - the constant round of light and darkness, life and death, wakefulness and sleep. Within the various stages of sleep are found dreams, and within the psychic tumult of existence are found flashes of inspiration, insights, visions and answers to life’s most perplexing questions. It would seem that life and its fortunes does indeed have meaning and significance, but it’s up to us to ultimately determine the nature of that meaning.
Since we have in our possession the all important Tarot deck with the twenty-two Trumps of the Major Arcana, we have both the tools and the mechanism of not only understanding our own process, but also controlling and directing it as we see fit. Armed with the Devil’s Picture Book, and knowing the secret of the cycle of transformative initiation, we are able to understand, know and direct ourselves towards the most inspirational and profound level of being possible to us. All we need to do is to apply this archetypal cycle to our own process, through divination and through applied theurgy, and the very process of spiritual ascension becomes our immediate and most valuable possession. Of course, building up these tools and deliberately using them to foster transformational initiation is not an easy task, and it is one that few either know or fully comprehend. In some ways, it is a very simple matter to develop a system of magick that causes progressive transformation, yet it is a practice that requires time, patience, deep inner insights, dogged persistence, and something more important than anything else, a rapport with one’s higher self.
Transformative initiation is nothing more or less than the activation and periodic use of the temple of the mysteries, and in this special case, the Mystery of the Self. There are the mysteries of the moon and the sun, and there is also the mystery of the self. The archetypal cycle of light and darkness is also found deep within the psyche, and it is the key to progressive transformation. However, there are other components to this kind of working, and these are the typical ritual structures associated with the mystery rite. As in the mystery temple of the moon and the sun, the mystery temple of the self is performed within the sacred space of a consecrated circle, and activated through the ritual power structures of the spiral vortex, double gateway, cross-roads and the inner circle. Yet within that inner circle are imprinted the twenty-two stages of the transformative initiation, arrayed in the sequence in which they are to be experienced. There are certain signs, portends and preparations that must be noted before the mystikon of the self is erected, but once engaged, the process must be fully experienced, from beginning to end, without interruption. The alignment of the Deity is an important aspect to this process, but then so is the pattern itself, starting with the underworld gateway, and ending with the gateway of ascension. The combination of these two attributes, the activated Godhead, and the pattern which leads to ascension, ensures that the transformative process, however difficult, will be progressive and foster spiritual evolution.
One other important factor is the attitude of the seeker, since sentiments can skew the process in one direction or another. Thus it is important for the seeker to be positive, to act as an unmitigated optimist buoyed by a belief (even if it is ridiculously false) that everything that happens is meant to happen as fate, and that one’s ultimate objective in life will be achieved, as if aided by all of the powers of the universe. This ambitious and powerfully inspired way of living life is encouraged by a constant activity of self improvement, education, meeting and exceeding expectations, seeking challenges, and forever striving for excellence. One of the ways that the seeker can achieve this buoyant state of mind is to periodically commune with his or her chosen Godhead. In that communion, the seeker obtains secret knowledge, self affirmation and empowerment. To live in the aura of the Godhead is to know the power and majesty of living a charmed life. Another name for it is “serendipity.” If and when the seeker is able to obtain this empowered sentiment, and maintain it no matter what happens, then he or she will ultimately realize perfect union and the exalted apotheosis of the grace and favor of the Godhead. It is the Godhead that lies at the center of the mystery of the self, reflecting as if through a mirror darkly, the visage of the individual mortal human being.
The core of the mystery of the self is one’s relationship with the sponsor Deity, that aspect of the Godhead that most closely represents the magician’s higher self. That relationship begins with a certain attraction and fascination to a specific cultural pantheon, and over time it starts to focus on one specific Deity within that pantheon. The magician begins to personalize the Deity, and establishes a devotional relationship with it. If the Deity reflects an idealized polarized mate, then there is also an element of love and desire blended into the devotion. Otherwise, the Deity can assume a Godhead reflection of the magician, becoming, over time, the perfect representative of the magician’s higher self. We have already covered in extensive detail the nature of the magician’s personal Cult of the Deity, where he or she is the priest, spiritual mediator and the congregation, all as one. As this relationship becomes ever more important, the image and character of the Deity begins to be assimilated by the magician.
Therefore, the core of the mystery of the self are the various operations and rites that establish an alignment with a specific Deity, and develop it within the mind and soul of the magician until it becomes coexistent with the Higher Self. The rites and techniques of building and maintaining a potent relationship with one’s sponsor Deity have already been discussed, but that list is simplistic and quite obvious. Alignment with a Godhead is established through the artifice of the following practices.
- Devotions and various cultic practices (meditative contemplation upon the beloved Deity),
- Oblations, offerings and sacrifices,
- Invocations, orisons and paeans,
- Communion (sacred food and drink - sacramentation),
- Godhead assumption (can include sacred sexuality).
Spiritual service should also be included in this list, since the personal cult of the Godhead maintained by the magician also requires him or her to be an active spiritual force in the community at large. To function as a priest/ess requires the ability and periodic necessity of mediating and channeling the Deity for the benefit of others.
Of all of these practices, the rite of Godhead Assumption is the most important, since it forges a potent, intimate and direct relationship between the magician and the target Deity. Over time this practice will cause a blending of the Deity with the personality, mind and soul of the magician, until the distance between them becomes ever more diminished. The reason that this rite is so important is that it reveals the Godhead as an image of the macrocosmic self, the self as godhead. Godhead assumption assists the magician to realizing his or her inner deity, which is the key to awakening and becoming conscious of one’s higher self. Later on, this simplified rite assumes a more complex configuration, as found in the rites of the Bornless One invocation, the Lunar Abramelin ordeal, and the Talismanic Portae Lucis working.
Ritual magick, by definition, specifies that the magician performs magickal rites while under the assumption of the Godhead, and this done even in the most simplistic and earth-based magickal workings. Not only does this kind of innate assumption exercise protect the magician from any adverse impact, psychic attack or hostile aggression from some spirit, but it also empowers and instructs the magician each time he or she performs an assumption. Thus, in this manner, all magick becomes a form of theurgy, since every magickal operation is done through the assumption of the Godhead. It is this constant immersion within the aegis of the Deity that the magician also achieves strategic and progressive triggers for transformative initiations. Also, by performing ritual magickal ordeals, the magician undergoes certain incremental challenges and is forced to evolve, grow and to learn about the techniques of magick; but also the very process itself reveals many inner psychic structures as well. The overall effect of this kind of theurgic ordeal based magick is to consistently and potently pull the triggers of one’s own inner process of spiritual evolution.
Magickal ordeals also cause one to experience the domain of magick and all of its spiritual entities, Godhead attributes, powers, and the associated visions, insights and profound phenomenal apparitions. The magician is powerfully influenced on all levels of his or her being through the theurgic ordeals that the magician is performing. These visions, insights and apparitions are written down in the magician’s journal, and then they become the intense subject of meditation, contemplation, research and mystical speculation. Through a combination of known spiritual and mystical lore, as determined by study and research, aiding one to examine and make sense out of various magickal experiences, the magician will learn new things about his or her deeper self as well as develop new magickal lore. One important tool that is used in this process of examination and analysis is the Power of Allegory, where certain motifs or symbolic constructs experienced in a magickal working are used in a contemplation session. It is through contemplation where symbols and constructs are given free reign in regards to cognitive associations and even projected fantasy.
All of these elements are a crucial part of the practice of the ritual magician, but one element is of even more critical importance, and that is establishing a spiritual discipline. A spiritual discipline consists of the iterative and periodic practices, where all of the above rites and forms are performed in daily, weekly, monthly and seasonal variations. These various practices must be performed on a regular basis so that they become embodied in the mind and soul of the magician. In time, a spiritual discipline becomes the very foundation of life itself for the magician, and there is a blending of the mundane aspects of life along with the spiritual, until eventually, they become one and the same.
We have covered the elements of a magickal and spiritual discipline, and you can find that article here. However, while all of the above rituals are important, practicing them in an iterative and cyclic manner, diligently and consistently without fail, is the true key to acquiring the ability to control and direct transformative initiation. By assiduously adhering to a magickal discipline, a magician is all but guaranteed to experience a series of profoundly meaningful, significant and progressive transformative changes. Through the power of the spiritual discipline, all things become possible for the magician to contemplate and achieve.