Saturday, February 11, 2012

Visualization, and the Traditional Art of Magic??

Now, I like to consider myself as being a more traditional magician rather than a "modern magician" as the latter usually comes along with some preconceived notions of Golden Dawn techniques and fringe-freemassonic styled occultism. Though there are some who are much more hard-core traditional than me, as I will never own a lion-skin belt any time soon. But, for the most part I would say I am traditional.

I like to create a dividing line in the history of magic by the use of Mesmer. So occult practices are usual either considered (by me of course) to be be pre-Mesmer or post-Mesmer.

The reason I do this is that it seems to me that Mesmer's Animal Magnetism was the starting theory that led to the modern use of "spiritual energy" (not to be confused with philosophical "energia") in the west. This then was carried onward by the Theosophists, to Lodge-occultists, to the new-age section of your bookstore.

Prior to Mesmer there was no concept of energy as a form of spiritual force like we hear about today in the occult field, but instead what we had were the concepts of Soul, Passions of the mind, and Phantasy. These concepts at times have similar results and actions.

According to Agrippa, the phantasies work upon the passions of the soul, and the soul of course works upon the body. And certainly when the phantasy works upon one's soul it could definitely produce effects called today as self-hypnontic states of hypnotic auto-suggestion. Agrippa hints at this in his opus, Three Books of Occult Philosophy.

"So the soul sometimes is, by a vehement imagination or speculation, altogether abstracted from the body, as Celsus relates of a certain presbyter, who, as often as he pleased, could make himself senseless and lay like a dead man, so that when any one pricked or burnt him he felt no pain, but lay without any motion or breathing; yet he could, as he said, hear men's voices, as it were, afar off, if they cried out aloud."--Agrippa

Not only that, but one's own phantasies and passions can certainly work on another's soul and thus their body.

"The passions of the soul which follow the phantasy when they are most vehement, cannot only change their own body, but also can transcend so as to work upon another body"--Agrippa

So where am I going with this? Well what I am eventually trying to illustrate to some hard-core traditional magicians is that visualization(phantasy) is still a useful part of traditional magic, and its effects are pre-Mesmer even when spiritual energy of the modern magician school is not.

So while I agree that visualizing an entity during a conjuration is purely mental-masturbation and useless, I also know that visualizing the divine names while uttering them or visualizing Christ while speaking of his divine attributes can and often does raise the passions and exert a sense of enhanced divine authority by its action upon the soul/body.

"and, lastly, they have much greater power in the mind; for this, when it is fixed upon God for any good with its whole intention, doth oftentimes affect another's body, as well as its own, with some divine gift. By this means we read that many miracles were done by Apollonius, Pythagoras, Empedocles, Philolaus, and many prophets and holy men of our religion, which things we shall now consider."--Agrippa

This definitely does not mean that circles drawn on the ground via phantasy(visualization) will protect you from ghouls. And it certainly does not mean visualization is the key to make magic work, but within its context can in fact be helpful to those working within the traditional magic field.

P.S. This of course also has an import on scrying, which I will try to get to later.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Via Media Evocation

Ok there is a lot of talk on the blogosphere about whether physical manifestation of spirits during evocation is necessary and or needed. And I have to say that I agree mostly with what Inominandum stated on his blog here:

I agree with his stance and levels of experiencing spirit contact during evocation. I would like to add that within the levels, as he puts it, there are also sub-levels in each one. For instance in level three he says that the spirits are external to the magician's mind. But this can also happen on several sub levels. Lets say that S1 of 3 means that the magician sees a misty form of the spirit, but the other attendants in the ritual space can not. SL2 of 3 would mean in my opinion that the magician sees a fully complete form and the attendants in the space see perhaps a mist or shadow. SL3 of 3 would mean that all of them see/experience the same image of the spirit evoked.

And then Inominandum turns the topic from physical evocation into the actual practice of evocation. First let me state that I do not agree with his stance that the word "Tetragrammaton" on the wand was meant as a clue for the magician to write YHVH on the wand instead. If this were the case, why wouldn't they just write that. Clearly YHVH(even the form of Jehovah) is written-out in other grimoires of the same era. And the word "Tetragrammaton" itself is used in the text some grimoires of the conjurations themselves, which means that particular word was deemed as powerful in its self. Basically I don't buy into the theory that "blinds" were included into grimoires to throw off casual readers. That is such a victorian after-though to reconcile errors and or changes in various grimoire manuscripts.

Ok moving back to the topic. I do agree with Inominandum that there are currently different approaches to using evocation, and that it isn't necessary to have all the traditional tools, though the traditional tools do create more spirit activity(paraphrasing here).

Yes there are in fact different approaches to evocation and I will give my personal definitions to each practice below:

1st: The Traditionalist will go completely by the book(which ever grimoire he is using), and will not make any substitution or deletion in any tools, conjurations, and or curses.

2nd: The Modernist may either dispense with some of the traditional tools and combine the instructions of grimoire with massonic/lodge style occultism, or the modernist may in fact dispense with the book(which ever grimoire used) and lodge style altogether and just "wing" it in a minimalist style.

3rd: Then there is what I like to call the Via Media Magician. This VMM will more often than not go by the book, but is not afraid to make small tweaks and changes when needed. These tweaks and changes has nothing to do with laziness or short-cuts, but instead is based on a knowledge of what those elements being changed really mean and making appropriate alternatives using sound reason and logic.
For instance, when we look at Lemegeton's Goetia with its requirement of the lion skin belt, obviously there may be future magicians out there who will have no way of obtaining that. Afterall it is illegal to hunt lions in most countries(some countries allow for it but in unethical means), and the remaining antique lion skin rugs will eventually be gone or stored away in private collections.

So, a wise magician would break down what the lion-skin belt means, its associations, its practical aspects, and then formulate an equal alternative which s/he can use effectively in its place(making sure to stay within the spirit of the grimoire). That and I would say that a reasonable VMM would try to keep from making tweaks and changes if at all possible.

I would almost say that the Via Media Magician is probably even more traditional than the Traditionalists, because it is a fact that even the same grimoire(take your pick) had variations from one manuscript to another manuscript.