Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
The following is an excerpt from a recent class on Visualisation given in Toronto.
Visualisation is a magical practice whereby we actively hold a particular image in mind. It requires the same basic skill-set as meditation, which involves a stilled mind; but in this instance, a stilled mind wherein we retain that one image for as long as possible.
An image, for magical purposes, is actually a way of presenting an archetype, a deep pattern that lives at the roots of consciousness. An archetype, by its nature, isn’t accessible to conscious reflection, so we use forms and colours to represent it to consciousness.
A pentagram, for example, is an image derived from an archetypal idea. It represents fundamental principles of proportion, as well as the importance of the overriding idea that Spirit needs to become dominant over the so-called material elements of Fire, Water, Air and Earth.
An Archangel is archetypal in that it embodies certain of the qualities of a particular sephirah or nethibah (connecting path). An angel or a planetary intelligence is a visual way of representing the actions of one of these paths. And so on. (This is not to say such beings have no existence on their own planes, but we’re talking here solely about how to achieve contact with them).
When we can calm the churning, wandering nature of the mind, it’s easier to access this kind of imagery, and build it up. We first aim to gain mastery over the motions and distractions of the body. We learn to slow breath, which calms us overall, and to ignore that desperate need to scratch an ear or an elbow that the reactive parts of the subconscious produce. We learn to observe that mental turmoil that stems from the mind jumping insanely from one thought to another all the time.
We can’t easily stop the mind doing this: though we can do it. We need to train ourselves to move – I don’t have a better term – from one approach to yourself to another: from wanting, needing, fearing and worrying, to simply sitting and being. In our training system, people usually start with the seated god posture, which is relatively easy to hold for a half-hour or so, then let students themselves push into territory where they work with a half lotus, or even something like the dragon asana. In my experience, most people eventually settle for the god posture, or the earth posture, where you lie flat on the floor. However, others find the stress of needing to work harder aids in concentration.
You have to experiment for yourself to find what works. I personally get good results from the wand posture, where I’m simply standing up straight. It tells me, or it tells my prize collection of mental muddles and distractive strategies: You can’t wait 10 minutes to open up, you have to get into stilled and focused awareness right now. It forces concentration.
What we’re trying to do with all this is open up to stuff that underlies, underpins or supports the mind. So, when we ‘visualise’ we need to grasp that the image itself won’t arise entirely from conscious decision. It comes as bidden, and as noted above, we then colour in the grey areas, or fine-tune the proportions. Images are suggestive, and pushing too hard on what we allow into our inner field of vision blocks their power to operate. The sooner we get comfortable with this idea, the sooner we can do serious magical stuff, because Hermetic work is very much about the notion of a willed focus on selected, but not consciously directed, symbolism.
One of the most popular notions out there is that if you focus on one idea, or one image, you can manifest it. We merely have to imagine stuff, then we can have what we desire. I’ve never quite believed this, and I cite the fact that my lottery tickets have never yielded a big win as my primary evidence.
There has to be a deeper reason for us to be able to manifest things in real life, and it has to be connected to True Will. How do you know when you’re connected to that? When there is a carefully considered desire for something necessary for your life to progress, True Will is essential – a good English word, referring to Eth, the essence, the primal fire, the centre, the “business activities of the soul.” Sadly, lots of cash is not something souls see as essential, even if they will allow for adequate income.
True Will can appear frustrating because it isn’t about what we want unless it’s also about what we need. Only then is there a two-way connection we can build on: the central desire feeds the process of visualisation, and the visualisation draws out that desire, so that it can appear (in some fashion) in the manifest world.
“Then what,” you might ask, “about all these drills you put us through? I don’t really want to be saying Resh at dawn and midnight, or to be holding those pentagrams clearly in mind as I perform the LRP.” Well, as a matter of fact you do, because deeper down, you want to reach beyond your more irritating and limiting tendencies. Deep eventually wins over shallow, even if shallow causes lots of distractions along the way.
Spiritual work of any kind is about failing, failing and failing again until success comes. But at some point, we find that such persistence has, as its own foundation, the highest or most universal desires in our nature. At that point, the training process, which is itself being constantly visualised through our reinforcement of effort, is found to be part of True Will. And our first real magical results, the famous “success is thy proof” of the Book of the Law, are starting to come to us.
Love is the law, love under will,