Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Further Magical Musings - Ritual Magic and Magical Power

We have been talking about the theories of magic and various perspectives on magical powers and how they can be developed and defined. I would like to continue this conversation and get a bit deeper into this topic. I would like to share with you some of my creations and perspectives about magical power. In addition, we will also need to talk a bit about altered states of consciousness and symbols of transformation. This will bring some elements of the psychological theory of magic into our discussions. We will also bring an element of the spirit theory of magic into our discussion when we examine the practice of performing magic while under the influence of godhead assumption.


We talked about raising energy and the differences between the cone of power and the vortex. We also discussed how defining and shaping the energy can make it more effective. We covered the topics of imprinting the power, creating a magical link and exteriorizing that power once its qualified. However, I omitted a few other points that we should also go over, since they also greatly contribute to the effect of the magic where the energy model is used. These additional topics are using altered states of consciousness, symbols of transformation, and assuming a godhead. Discussing these topics will bring into our discussion on the energy model concepts borrowed from the spirit and psychology models.

As I have said previously, witchcraft magic is a hybrid system and it incorporates all three of the models of energy, spirit and psychology into its methodology. There are traditions of magic that use the energy model exclusively, such as Hoodoo and certain forms of ceremonial magic, where all considerations of spirit and deity are not relevant. Likewise there are traditions that use only the spirit model and/or the psychology model.

A pure energy model methodology of magic would stipulate that performing specific operations or mixing together certain elements at certain times and using them in a specific manner would be all that is required in order to successfully work magic. However, in a hybrid system such as this, altered states of conscious and aspects of the deity are employed in the magic, so we will need to cover them in this article.

Altered States of Consciousness & Mind Control

Altered states of conscious, as used in magic, is just a term that means controlling the mind. How is this done? It’s done through various forms of meditation, known categorically as asana, pranayama, mantra and mandala yoga. (These four systems of yoga loosely cover the areas of physical posture, breathing, hearing and seeing, respectively. All four areas used together allow the mind to be completely detached and unfocused from its usual activity.) You might ask why are these eastern systems of yoga employed in a western magical tradition? Isn’t there a more suitable western methodology?

There are alternative techniques in the western religious traditions of Christianity, Judaism and Islam, but these are steeped in the religious beliefs and theologies of their respective creeds. There undoubtably were techniques that were used in the pagan mysteries, but they have been either lost or incorporated into Christianity. What we use today represents the eastern traditional techniques of meditation and contemplation with all the theological underpinnings stripped away. There is also some strong evidence that these systems so deployed are similar to what the ancient shamans employed for their practice, so they represent the most simplistic and essential approach to controlling the mind.

Asana yoga is the technique of learning to sit in a comfortable posture that allows one to maintain this position for long periods of time without either succumbing to bodily fatigue or being too comfortable and falling asleep. Sitting cross-legged is probably the most basic asana, but there are others as well that assist one in stretching and maintaining bodily flexibility. Choreographed dance or free form dance could be another way of maintaining personal balance - such as the iterative dancing of the Sufi zikkar.

Pranayama yoga is the technique of controlling breathing, either by counting one’s breaths or controlling the interval of inhalation and exhalation. It can be slow and gentle like breathing during sleep or rest, or forceful, like forms of hyper-ventilation. Controlling the breath also controls the associated mental state that one is experiencing. This is probably due to the fact that breath determines the amount of oxygen introduced into the brain through the blood, and it also changes the focus of the mind to be centered exclusively on a specific bodily function.

Mantra yoga is the technique of intoning words or phrases repetitively, using the entire contents of air in the lungs to do so. Mantra yoga incorporates a kind of quick and deep inhalation so the cycle of mantric intoning is only briefly interrupted. The tone of the voice is also vibrated into the nasal passages and can go from being quite loud to a soft and internalized vibrating. Mantra yoga effectiveness has to do with the cyclic vibration of the nasal passages, which seems to stimulate the frontal lobes of the brain, causing a marked change in consciousness.

Mandala yoga is the technique of staring at a diagram or visually ambiguous pattern for long periods of time, where the focus of the mind is exclusively on the visual image of the pattern. Mandala yoga can also greatly alter the mind, although it is typically used to foster trance states, which are also very useful to the practice of magic.

In addition, the practitioner may also concentrate on a spiritual concept or ideal using breath control, mantra and mandala yoga together to create a very deep altered state of consciousness. In this state, one passively notes the various associations and thoughts that occur in conjunction with the spiritual concept, but without analyzing or examining them; just passively being aware of them. This technique is called contemplation, and it is used to concentrate on spiritual concepts within a deep meditative mind state. The purpose of this state is for searching the soul for inner revelations and insights.

All of these above techniques can be used individually or together to build a powerful system of meditation, which will enable the magical practitioner to enhance and greatly increase the effects of working magic. You can work magic without using any of these mind control techniques, but experience has shown me that the magic is typically less intense and effective. So I include them in my repertoire of practices, whether I work alone or with others.

The reason that these mind control techniques make magic more effective is that they foster a powerful altered state of consciousness, where the “as if” propositions of magic seem quite real. Trance and meditative states of consciousness also open the door on the deep inner self and allow communication between the conscious and unconscious minds. It is for this reason that altered states of consciousness are considered one of the most important elements in performing effective magical rituals. However, the mind state is only one of the elements, and by itself will not generate magical effects.

(The next two sections are distilled from my book “Disciple’s Guide to Ritual Magick”.)

Symbols of Transformation

If the adoption of a powerful altered state of consciousness is considered the foundation for practicing ritual magic, then the trigger or operator for magic is discovered in the symbols of transformation. The most effective type of meditation is where the meditator focuses on a religious Mandela or contemplates on religious ideals or concepts, and correspondingly, the most effective magic is where religious images or concepts are used.

This is because religious iconography and ideals are steeped in symbols of transformation and these act as triggers when a corresponding altered state of consciousness is adopted. The combination of a deep altered state of consciousness with a symbol of transformation unlocks the deepest aspect of the spiritual self and makes it powerfully available to the conscious mind. Symbols of transformation used during the adoption of an altered state of conscious together precipitate the transformation of consciousness, which is an important objective for any magical ritual working.

In the most basic forms of magic, there are six different categories for the symbols of transformation. These are: the point, line, circle, triangle, cross and the star. These geometric forms may seem very rudimentary, and indeed they are, but they also contain basic philosophical meanings and psychological effects that are powerfully meaningful and significant to the unconscious mind. Most religious symbols and iconography use a combination of these forms to produce sacred symbology and iconography, and they are rarely seen in their more simplistic forms.

Point represents an event, a position, a definition, a quality of self.

Line represents a relationship between self and other, the conduit which exists between heaven and earth or the place of spirit and the place of matter. A line connects as well as divides and it can denote direction.

Circle symbolizes a domain, a world, and a point within a circle symbolizes location. Two spaces are delineated by the circle, and these are inner space and outer space.

Triangle is a symbol of the nature of spirit (Deity), which represents the fusion of self and other, creating union; so the triangle symbolizes union. A triangle is also a gateway. It’s also the definition of a plane (three points) and a symbol of the three dimensions for objects that exist in space (reality).

Cross represents the intersection of two lines, dividing space into four quadrants, symbolizing the four Elements, the four directions and the four seasons. The cross also symbolizes the joining of heaven and earth, feminine and masculine, light and darkness, to produce the manifestation of earth and all that it contains. The cross, like the triangle, can assume many variations that augment and extend its basic meaning and effect. The cross and triangle are used extensively in religious iconography, both in the East and the West.

Star is a symbol of transformation itself, where the self is opened up like a flower to behold the full awareness of Spirit in Self. The star assumes many forms, and each one has its own symbolic qualities. Examples of the star are the pentagram, hexagram, septagram, octagram, eneagram, decagram, undecigram and the duodecagram. There could be numerous others, but once a star has more than ten points, it becomes less distinguishable, and therefore, less significant.

One could also categorize colors, sounds, scents - all things of the senses, and these, added to the basic symbols of transformation would be used to formulate icons, talismans, amulets and other symbols of magical power. The use of such a device would cause powerful alterations in the nature of an altered state of consciousness, which is their purpose. They are used in rituals as tools, ritual structures, devices, formulas, incantations, and contemplative mandalas. The key point is to powerfully impact this altered state of consciousness so that one’s higher self or spirit is drawn down into one’s conscious world and where the self is completely immersed within the domain of Spirit. This is the point where magic becomes capable of bending and transforming one’s physical reality - making the potential for the miraculous a probable outcome.

This is a representation of how the Psychological model of magic would be used, drawing altered states of consciousness and expanding them with the magical devices and constructions that function as symbols of transformation. So we have the energy model of magic, and the psychological model, and there is also the need to consider the spirit model of magic as well, although that model uses the construct of the personal godhead instead of actually invoking external spirits.

Alignment and Godhead Assumption

I practice ritual magic through the guise of my personal Deity, and all that I do is colored by that assumption. What that means is that the assumption of the godhead rite is the prime ritual in my repertoire. Included are devotions, invocations, communion, and focused contemplation on that aspect of Deity and its image or imago. I can have statues of my godhead, where its spirit can reside, and I can also attempt to psychologically and spiritually become one with the Deity both in my spiritual liturgies and my magical practices. Why is this a part of the magic that I work? What is the function of assuming a godhead in the practice of ritual magic?

These are good questions, and the answer is that godhead assumption is fundamental to the type of ritual magic that I work, but it is not important to many other forms of ceremonial and religious magic. To assume the godhead is rather heretical to most forms or religion, with perhaps the exception of some forms of earth-based spirituality, most notably, Wicca and Neopaganism. If the purpose of ritual magic is to ultimately become one with the godhead, then what better way could one adopt than performing a ritual to assume the godhead? What this represents is a spiritual discipline incorporated within the magical discipline of practicing ritual magic.

A spiritual discipline within one’s practice of magic is a very unusual concept, and some magicians do not even feel that it is important and discard it as superfluous, seeking to reap the rewards of practicing magic without any spiritual considerations. To practice magic is to engage one’s spirit as the elements of higher consciousness, whether one realizes that fact or not. Therefore, a spiritual discipline involves the Self and its relationship to Deity, and includes spiritual exercises and even magickal rites that define and amplify that relationship. A spiritual discipline will enhance a magician’s ritual magic because it will cause the elements of higher consciousness that are engaged in the magic to be more intense and evolved, pushing the realizations from the psychic level of consciousness to the subtle, and even the causal.

A magician must develop a personal religious cult of one’s self as God, and perform within it as its priest, congregation and corporeal representative. As this relationship between Deity and magician is developed, the magician begins to become more profoundly altered and begins to assume more conscious aspects of one’s own spirit. The rites of alignment are particularly those that a magician practices and develops in order to facilitate a closer and immanent relationship with the nature of one’s Godhead, or God/dess within. So invocation, communion, devotion and assumption are the rituals of a spiritual discipline that are assiduously practiced by the ritual magician. A ritual magician would also perform meditations and contemplations on the nature of that Deity, which would change and evolve over time. Therefore, one can see that the merging of a magical and spiritual discipline represents the integral approach to the practice of ritual magick.

A magician is able, over time, to determine personal destiny. This is an evolving process, and one that is not usually answered with any immediacy. In order to know one’s destiny, magicians are compelled to know and define themselves, not in any tangible way, but only in a spiritual manner. So a magician must develop a spiritual identity even before beginning to realize what must be done for one’s life vocation.

Developing a spiritual identity is something that lies within both the magickal and spiritual discipline of the magician, and occurs through the process of gaining a greater perspective by realizing one’s spiritual dimension. This can only occur through an iterative exposure to magickal phenomena, and the immersion and transformation of the magician’s conscious mind by the powers and insights revealed through one’s spirit. What is progressively revealed is the magician’s higher self, and it is through this aspect that one realizes the inner truth to one’s self.

To foster this process, the magician will adopt a magical persona and identity that will link to one’s perspective of Deity, becoming an important part of a spiritual discipline and a personal religious cult. As time progresses, and the magician continues to assiduously practice ritual magic, that magical persona or identity will go through many changes and alterations, and eventually, it will become the vehicle for the higher self to manifest and superimpose itself over one’s being. Once magicians know themselves, then they can understand all that one has undergone as a preparation for that moment, so aiding the magician in perceiving and realizing the role and ultimate vocation in life, which is one’s destiny.

Thus the magician has a personal religious cult representing one’s personal aspect of Deity, and uses this as a mechanism to empower and potently charge the magic worked with the numen of the godhead. This is a variation of the Spirit model of magic, and it is used to empower the self and one’s magic, since it is through the godhead that all ritual is so executed.

Frater Barrabbas Tiresius

No comments:

Post a Comment