Tuesday, January 03, 2012

On Visible Conjurations

Fraters Ashen and Cecchetelli, two magicians who I respect highly as individuals and co-Workers in the divine sense, have recently posted their views regarding the visible appearance of spirits to magicians when performing grimoire magic. I do not disagree with any of their statements or conclusions, but I do have concerns about their emphasis on the visibility of spirits and the ability to clearly hear the spirits speak.

Mr. Ashen has made it clear that he doesn't believe your average guy walking down the street, peeking in through a window during a conjuration is going to see the spirits the magician sees during the rite. I'm pretty sure Mr. Cecchetelli would also agree that the things the magician "sees" during the ritual are not necessarily going to be seen by anyone else standing in the room with him.

Mr. Ashen presents a cogent theory about why this happens. If you don't have the framework to mentally process the presence of the spirit, you don't see it. He gives the following example:
An excellent story I heard from my anthropology class was about a researcher who went to investigate the powers of a shaman somewhere in the south Asian jungles. The shaman was curing an afflicted boy who's disease was caused by a local demon the village people said. .... During the exorcism, the tribes folk all saw the demon fly out of the boy and break a limb of a tree with its body as it left. The anthropologist was present, felt strong winds arise and witnessed the breaking limb but could not see the demon.... A great case study as I recall, the researcher was amazed and quite disturbed but didn't have the "aptitude" or mental language to see the spirit directly.. In the realm of hypnosis and mental/unconscious comprehension ... You see this a lot.
And this is why I'm concerned about the emphasis: if you don't have the 'aptitude' or mental language to see the spirit directly, you will not see it.

Most people simply do not have that aptitude when they begin practicing magic. Mr. Ashen talks about how his ability to "see" and "hear" the spirits grew over time. He didn't start out seeing and hearing spirits clearly. Mr. Cecchetelli also talks about how he had been doing magic for a while before he began to see and hear the spirits. No one, not even Lisiewski believes the spirits are going to be visible to everyone during a conjuration. There's too much evidence to the contrary in the grimoires themselves, and all through the historic source material of the grimoires, and in our personal experiences with the spirits. The spirits appear only to the magician conjuring them, or their scrying assistants.

The ability to see and hear the spirits comes, in my experience, after you've started contacting the spirits. The more time you spend with them, the more you become like them. As you reclaim your divine heritage and come to terms with your role in existence, you get the senses you need to be able to interact with your spiritual co-creators in the hierarchy of spirits that manifest the World. The Great Work transforms you from a lump of mostly flesh and bone with some basic urges to survive and a curiosity about this whole "magic" business into a consciously aware Creator and Maintainer of your existence, the half-god, half-human fulcrum between the manifest and unmanifest realms who ascends to the heavens and returns in power to create their world.

It's a process. You develop the skills to see and hear the spirits over time.

And until you do, you aren't going to be able to see anything, or hear anything. That doesn't mean your results aren't real. If you set your expectations at the outset of your conjuration endeavors at visible appearance and audible voices, you're going to fail. If you reject all your experiences that aren't in line with this expectation, you'll reject everything that happens that leads to the ability to see and hear the spirits.

I've talked to people who have performed the very strict requirements of the Lemegeton's Goetia, including the making of the lion skin belt, who have had visible and audible manifestations of the spirits. I've also talked to a few people who bought the lion skin and made the belt the way the grimoire says who experienced absolutely nothing. It's not the belt that makes the magician.

I've never made or used a lion skin belt. The system I use is based on the Art of Drawing Spirits into Crystals. I reduced the complexity to write up the Modern Angelic Grimoire and provide new magicians with everything they need to perform effective conjurations the same day they buy the book. I did so because it's most important to me to get more people doing magic.

When I perform conjurations, I use an even more modified adaptation of the Modern Angelic Grimoire. I use a cigar box that I've got wired up to light an LED after the current passes through a metal talisman placed across two electrodes poking up through The Box. The LED lights up my crystal ball, which rests on an bezel. The crystal ball sits in the center of the Table of Practice from the Modern Angelic Grimoire.

I'm so far removed in my practice from the original Art of Drawing Spirits into Crystals that I doubt whoever wrote it originally would be able to discern that I based my practice on that manuscript.

Yet I have used this method to conjure spirits across the spectrum of Hermetic spiritual hierarchies to visible and audible appearance. I have "actually witnessed the poundings on the wall, flashes of light, smells, moans, screams, voices, and visible appearance of a spirit," as Mr. Ashen puts it, even though my methodology is vastly different from his. I've felt that divine bliss Mr. Ashen attempts* to describe towards the end of his post.

But I will still tell my students that these phenomena do not matter, at least, at first. They are not required for successful magic, and poltergeist activity does not guarantee you'll get the things you're Working towards in your conjuration. What good is it to have a haunted house if you're not getting any Work done?

And I have yet to meet any magician who has experienced this stuff from the very beginning of their work, although I've met plenty of magicians who spent hundreds on lion skins and made their belts to specification who had as much to show for their efforts as someone who printed out a Table of Practice and a Lamen and used a coffee mug full of colored water to scry into.

Yet I also understand why he says, "To me, its a cop out, I smile yet feel sorry for the new magicians who settle for these words." 

It does sell the whole experience short to say that this stuff "doesn't matter" at all. It is important, nothing transforms your perspective on what we're doing with magic quite like a visible and audible spirit manifesting in front of you. The idea that this stuff never happens, or should never be expected by the magician at best robs the student of the possibility of something cool, but at worst leaves them completely unprepared for when it actually happens. I personally believe that if you spend time conjuring spirits, sooner or later you will see and hear some weird shit. 

And that's awesome.

If you want that kind of result, if you require that level of manifestation to overcome your doubts about the veracity of your practice, and these particular manifestations in your mind will serve to prove to your skeptical self that you really are experiencing the spirits and not just imagining things, then by all means, go for it. I would advise that you temper your expectations, and not take failure to see the visions or hear the voices right off the bat as a reason to give up. Keep at it, and sooner or later you will see enough to believe.

And frankly, the closer I've gotten to the actual instructions in the grimoires, the more manifestations I've seen. Mr. Ashen made me an ebony wand to the specifications given in the Art of Drawing Spirits into Crystals, and when I use it, the air is filled with power from the moment I pick it up, and the visions of the spirits in the crystals come through with more clarity than when I do not. It's like I don't have to try as hard to see what they're trying to show me.

But to me, the proof of your magical effectiveness is not found in the visions or sounds you hear during a rite. The proof is in the transformation of your life, and the consistency of your results over time.

* I say "attempts" only because it's precisely the kind of experience that can't be described accurately; Mr. Ashen does as good of a job at describing it as is humanly possible.