As to the purspose of doing all "this," Draja Mickaharic once indicated that magic's aim was to prepare one for death. Unlike other people magicians are startled by waking up and realizing they've passed on. They are the ones that are able to function in death, continuing their purpose and helping man, with the most skilled and powerful becoming guides for other magicians. The ATRs hold to this view as well.
That's exactly right, exactly the point of Hermetic Magic as I understand it. It's a Secret Chief factory. It's my intention to go directly into that phase of being after this. Can't say I'll make it, but that's the goal. The process fascinates me.
For example, take the first step of the Hermetic transformation through death in the Divine Pymander:
Man-Shepherd said: When the material body is to be dissolved, first thou surrenderest the body by itself unto the work of change, and thus the form thou hadst doth vanish, and thou surrenderest thy way of life, void of its energy, unto the Daimon. The body's senses next pass back into their sources, becoming separate, and resurrect as energies; and passion and desire withdraw unto that nature which is void of reason.
That's from the Hermetic.com translation by G. R. S. Mead. Check it out in John Everand's translation on the Sacred-texts.com site:
First of all, in the resolution of the material body, the Body itself is given up to alteration, and the form which it had becometh invisible; and the idle manners are permitted, and left to the Demon, and the senses of the body return into their Fountains, being parts, and again made up into Operations.
So the first thing it says is, "When you die..." right?
No, not at all. First it says when the material body is to be dissolved/resolved, you give it up. It's not a passive process. It's an active decision made by the magician. When it's time. The magician knows when it's time, apparently. It becomes obvious. I don't know if that means they sense death is coming, or simply that they have accomplished everything they need to take the next step, including meeting all obligations and responsibilities here in this material realm as it relates to their current incarnation. I don't see how it could be time to move on until all that stuff was taken care of. In Saturn, as you manifest, you acquire a debt to Fate, a list of things you've got to do before you can pass through this Gate again for a final time. When that debt is paid, you're free to go.
And there's the whole cycle of the Hermetic Alchemical Cycle that has to be gone through in its black, white, green, red, and projection phases. You'll have to finish all that first too.
But when you're ready and the time to dissolve/resolve the material body has come, you consciously turn the material body over to the process of transformation. It is transformed. It dissolves. It's a process that happens to it, and it seems like the process is just waiting to happen at that point. It's been waiting offstage for a while, or it's been knocking on the door waiting for you to give it the body so it can start its job. I think it'll be something like just saying, "Ok, I'm done, you can have it now" to the entity that transforms the body.
This entity is the "Daimon." Agrippa talks about the Daimon as being one of the Three-Fold Keepers of a Man. He gives a description of the three fold keeper, and then gives instructions in a later chapter for getting its name from your natal chart. The Genius spirit. Your Daimon.
And then the form it had vanishes, and the senses of the body are transformed into their essences. Can you imagine what that would look like? At first thought I picture Yoda or Ben Kenobi getting struck down and coming back from the Force as blue ghost versions of themselves.
I never would have considered this to be a literal transformation if it weren't for the Rainbow Body phenomenon in the tradition of Dzogchen. The best description of it I've seen is in Heartdrops of Dharmakaya. There are documented cases of a transformation after death that look like what Pymander says happens to those who are about to become Powers among the Powers. Could be a coincidence. I'd love to go out in a shower of colorful sparks as my body dwindles away.
See what I mean? Fascinating stuff.