I just read a beautiful recollection of a spirit walk at The Druid of Fisher Street. One of the things I find really interesting in magic is how no matter what path we take or model we use, the types of experiences we have when we go spirit walking is similar to all of us.
I'm working on writing up the Green and Black Work courses, and I'm at the part where I'm talking about the spirit walking exercises. In my courses, I'm calling them contemplation rites. It's an exercise that combines conjuration of specific spirits with the kinds of visions received by Hermes Trismegistus in the Corpus Hermeticum and St. John of Patmos in Revelations in the Bible. Paul went through the kinds of vision work I use too.
In these examples, the people were all taken up by the spirit, whether in the flesh or in the spirit, they don’t recall. It wasn’t on purpose. The spirits took them up and showed them what they needed to see.
In the Red Work courses, I’m teaching what I do in my own pursuit of the Great Work. I go to the astral temple, and then conjure the spirit, and then ask it to take me where I need to go, to show me what I need to see, and then the visions begin.
My experiences in the seven heavens and beyond are a lot like Gwynt’s. There’s a dreamlike quality to them, and I see things I don’t always understand. I ask questions, seek clarity from my spirit friends, and I don’t always understand the answers, and get “all will be made clear” type responses to further probing. While that has so far always been true, I feel the same kind of emptiness and frustration that Gwynt seems to feel when things don’t make immediate sense. I get scared of what I don’t know, and what it might mean when I see terrible things.
Fortunately, since I stopped my work with demons, my visions have no longer been set in post-apocalyptic cityscapes. That’s helped a whole lot with me getting restful sleep, too.
In ceremonial magic circles, there’s not as much attention paid to this kind of work. There’s more focus on learning the map and then using it to analyze experiences. There’s not a lot of instruction or discussion about the rituals used to get into the visions, or what to do with the information gained. There’s even less public discussion of the visions themselves, the content of the things we see, and I don’t know if that’s an indication of the personal nature of visions received, or an indication that people aren’t generally going on spirit walks in the CM community.
Some of the best source materials for magicians are the diaries of the magicians that record the results of the workings. Soror Acitha’s vision from the Amalantrah working, for example, provides more insight into the magic of Aleister Crowley than all of Book IV. The material from the “Merlin Temple” during WWII is fascinating stuff, providing all kinds of techniques that inform magical practice. How many times have you read of magicians conjuring the Archangel Michael to aid a naval battle off the cost of Great Britain?
Maybe CMs don’t talk about it much because it can be a distraction. I’ve seen people go off the deep end chasing after phantoms from their dreams. I’ve seen people obviously posting their dream work and ritual visions for self-aggrandizement, little “I’m enlightened, see!?!?” posts that are designed to feed the person’s self image more than anything else.
But I’d be willing to say that the bulk of the Great Work occurs in these visions. The time we spend talking about conjuring methods and cosmological models and philosophical implications is grossly disproportionate to the time we spend talking about the actual effects of the magic, the instant experiences during the magical procedures. It’s during these visions that the spirits extend their hands and power flows from them into our spheres. It’s during these visions that we learn techniques to better influence the reality around us. It’s in these visions that we receive guidance on where the next phases of our Work will take us, which spirits we need to conjure, and what applications of these lessons will bring us the things we need to make it to the next level.
Going forward, I’ll try to post more about what I experience in my Work for posterity’s sake. Some of it won’t make sense, some of it might be meaningful to me personally and be completely out of context for you. It’s not about pointing out how advanced or special I am, it’s only because reading other people’s experiences helped confirm my own.