Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
Excluding situations where a magician is advanced enough to be interrogating spirits and angels, there are still many instances where occultists get information of one kind of another. For the visually inclined, it might be imagery that communicates something important, and for the verbally oriented, it’s messages in words.
But how do we sort out the valid stuff from the mental static? I know of several people who have been informed that they are of great and rare significance, and have gone off the deep end pursuing grandiose fantasies. Equally, I know people who get such a constant internal flow of put-downs, echoing the lingering hurts of troubled childhood, that they cannot recognise valid suggestions about their true worth and dignity.
Sticking for the moment with Jung, who has been the inspiration for the past couple of posts, he writes in several places that a primary task in individuation lies in coming to terms with the anima or animus, the ‘soul’ image of the opposite sex to our biological one, that feeds us many ideas and suggestions that can be more problematic than practical. When we finally have a grasp of how to manage this pervasive and potent presence within us, we acquire a sense of power, undergoing an ego-inflation and becoming what Jung calls a ‘mana personality.’
I’ve just simplified a very complex issue into a couple of generalisations; and I must admit the anima concept has never gelled for me in quite the way Jung describes. But as he describes them, these archetypes have a parallel in Hermetic work, as much of what we call the work of the First Order, from Malkuth through Netzach, deals with aspects of what he groups under anima and animus. Or at least, the system has evolved to do this in the past half-century.
When we finally move on into the Second Order that begins at Tiphereth, we go through the inflation of personality as Jung describes, and there is a further adjustment to be made towards what he calls the Self, which Qabalists might variously term the Neshamah, the Yechidah, or the Holy Guardian Angel.
But making this journey takes time. We have to unlearn many of the things that underpin our personalities, and that reinforce our attitudes and philosophy. Qabalistic progress always involves a backing-out of old modes of being, thinking and believing, as much as it involves moving into a great Light – or great Darkness, which is how the Supernal Light appears to consciousness. The two processes are inseparable, and recur and recur in the work.
And it’s through all of this that we have to sort out what is valid information and what is perhaps valid from an anima or animus perspective, but not from the viewpoint of our overall experience of life and process of growth. In some cases, such as meditating on Tarot cards or ritually opening a sephirah, the lineaments of the experience are already laid out, and we can relate what comes to what we know already about the card or sephirah. But occultism constantly pushes us up against the big issues and stabs at our personal buttons. What is the real formula of my True Will? What practice, or change in practice, do I need to adopt to progress further? What aspects of reality am I not recognising? What might this elusive ‘HGA’ really be about? And so on.
Subconsciousness, to use Paul Case’s preferred word, functions as a reflex mechanism. Feed it affection and positive things, and it will respond with healthy energy. Feed it orders, restrictions and criticism, and it will reflect these with sternness and a consistently negative attitude. Thus, occult training involves extensive use of colour, energetic imagery, bold geometrical forms and affirmative statements that re-align subconsciousness so it can tune into higher, more energised ideas.
But that only sets the stage. What do we do when the insights come, but are at variance with what we understand about reality even in its non-physical forms?
It comes down to trial and error in the end, but there are certain things to watch for. First of all, never neglect your magical diary, so that memory can’t distort what occurred to you. If you use pen and ink, as I used to, put notes in the margin of the page so that you don’t spend half an hour being distracted by irrelevant entries when you want to check back.
Secondly, recognise that your anima/animus, or subconsciousness, is likely sending you a partial message: a correction of a conscious attitude, rather than something necessarily true in the deepest and broadest way. That, after all, is a key function of opening up the inner pathways, so that we can balance ourselves and gain perspective on who we are, or aren’t.
Thirdly, look to the affect – that is, the feeling-tone or quality of the message. The most reliable things I’ve ever been told – the things that proved to come from the HGA – were like throwaway remarks, devoid of any urgency or compulsion. I got my True Will formula that way, one morning when I was relaxed but wondering what it might be. The statement, which came as a brief sentence, was planted in my brain before I registered anything out of the ordinary. It was only when I stopped to consider what had just come to me that the emotional reaction cut in, and I realised the significance, the scope, of what had just been said. True Will works on multiple levels, so that the way we realise it in ‘the world’ is quite specific, and fully within our overall abilities. But the key thing was, I could see I had been trying to do this for many years.
Lastly, take nothing at face value. I think Crowley offered the best practical advice here when he received the Book of the Law. He played around with it for a while, trying to make sense of it, but eventually decided it was high-flown gibberish, a kind of astral prank that had been played on him. He put it aside for a period of years, and actually thought he’d lost it. The Book itself had to force itself on his attention, so that it ‘spoke’ in its own way, and confirmed its significance to him. And that speech came from outside Crowley’s own psyche, via Captain Fuller’s approval, and other events.
Anything of value will prove that value after the initial excitement is over, and the gematria and synchronicities we find have faded. It will simply fit into an expanded view of ourselves and our lives, so that we forget that it was ever unconscious for us.
Love is the law, love under will.