Monday, April 23, 2012

On Scrying

One of the things that comes up often with new students is their inability to see and hear spirits. The first thing I ask is if they've been doing their meditation and contemplation exercises. I cover it briefly in the first lesson of the Black Work course, and I wonder sometimes if I've under-emphasized how important the role of meditation and contemplation is when it comes to scrying.

I've said it a number of times over the years on this blog, but it bears repeating. Spirit voices don't sound like an audible voice. Once in a while they do, once in a very great while, but most of the time the voices of spirits sound a lot like your own thoughts. They just come from outside your head. It's easy to ignore the voices of the spirits if you don't know "where" in your own brain your thoughts and images originate. The only way I know of to learn to differentiate between your own thoughts and the thoughts of the spirits is through meditation/contemplation.

The trick isn't shutting down your mind and sitting in completely perfect zazen, attaining no-mindedness, although it's valuable to strive for this state as well. It's not about learning to hold a visualized image in your mind for long periods of time either, though that too is useful.

The trick is observing your thoughts. Where do they come from when they arise? Where do they go to when they fade and your awareness moves to something else? I think the book that helped me understand the art of meditation and contemplation the most was Heartdrops of Dharmakaya. I really can't recommend it enough.

Once you're familiar with your own mind, your own thoughts, and "where" in your head your thoughts originate, you'll be in a better position to recognize the voices of the spirits.

Even with meditation and contemplation exercises, it takes a while to get used to the difference between your own thoughts and the spirits' voices. At first it can be scary, because people have a healthy fear of deluding themselves. That's awesome. I find most of my students with issues scrying are just afraid to trust what they hear as being valid.

The best way to get over that experiential hump is a magical diary. You write down what was said, what was heard, and you check back later to see what the results were, and whether the conversation turned out to be useful. Your own mental chatter during a rite will be apparent when nothing the alleged spirit has said turns out to be useful. At the same time, you quickly learn to "sniff out" the voices of the spirits, and the things they teach and say are meaningful to you in your pursuit of the Work.

The diary gives you a place to exercise your healthy skepticism, and a means of growing in confidence. You have a record to check to see if you're crazy or actually getting anywhere. It's a useful tool.

Plus, they're a lot of fun to go back and read years later.


  1. I have experiences I have called knowings. These are not voices, or even thoughts. It is a complete lump of knowledge that I get all at once, many times with a visual image. These are not like other knowledge, or the results of contemplation. These come with a different feeling to them as something that has been given to me. It's almost never about future events, though once or twice it has been. It is usually some bit of knowledge that I need now. I have no control over when it comes.

  2. "Your own mental chatter during a rite will be apparent when nothing the alleged spirit has said turns out to be useful."

    Wait, so does this mean "if the info is correct/useful, its the spirits; if the info is wrong/useless, its your own thoughts?" Are the spirits never wrong?

  3. "Your own mental chatter during a rite will be apparent when nothing the alleged spirit has said turns out to be useful."

    Wait, so does this mean "if the info is correct/useful, it's the spirits; if the info is wrong/useless, it's your own thoughts?" Are the spirits never wrong?

  4. No, Roh'nin, it just means that there's a difference you'll be able to recognize between the two. A quality of usefulness.

    You can think useful, meaningful things, and spirits can provide you with useless information if you're asking for it.

    The spirits have never been wrong. My understanding has been off a few times, but it turned out they were right, I just didn't get it at the time.

    You can get lying spirits too. That's why it's important to test the spirits.

    Spirits are also limited. They aren't all omniscient. They tend to have a higher perspective on things, but depending on the type of spirit, you'll get more or less useful information. Genius loci are great for local events and situations, but they aren't going to be able to predict the results of your spiritual initiations into the higher spheres, unless they've had some experience in it, and know you pretty well. An archangel of the spheres will be able to tell you more about potential side effects of an initiation, but wont (necessarily) be able to tell you which neighbor is screwing whose husband.

    There aren't a lot of things in this that can be summed up in a single either-or sentence.

  5. Wait, when I say, "The spirits have never been wrong," I meant the spirits I've worked with have never been wrong about what they can rationally be expected to know. The Lemegetton's Goetia spirits would consistently tell me they could do things that were beyond their defined abilities, and while they could, eventually, it was weaker and took longer to manifest than if it was within their descriptions.

  6. Couple of things, for knowing where your thoughts come from: Would you mean "physical location." For example, I've had some 'psychic' thoughts that come in a try to notice where they came from. And one in particular came from the left side location. Am I on the right track with that?

    Secondly, aside from the notebook, is there a way to set up an immediate practice session with spirits? Say for example I want to devote the next 30 minutes to practice, how might I arrange it so all know I'm trying to determine a difference in my thoughts and others?
    THank you :)

  7. @Anon, yes, physically, where in your head is the thought originating. I go into this in more detail in the Black Work Course.

    Second, no, you don't want to jump right into spirit conjuration without practicing the meditative and contemplative work. In the course, I introduce students to conjurations a little at a time as their knowledge base grows.

  8. I understand what you're saying about the voices of spirits. What about vision, seeing spirits? Does that follow the same kind of principles? Do you have to learn to distinguish between images in your head and those that come from outside?

  9. @Joao: I speak only for myself, but there is a clear difference between the vision state and internal fantasies. The vision state is closer to lucid dreaming while awake. And the spirits move differently than people or images move in one's mind. Some seem to move "sideways"... I wish I could describe it better than that without sounding like I've read too much Casteneda. Heh. The responses in dialogue are also instantaneous, and even have aspects of personality to them. When I first met Hermes, the God seemed to move around me constantly, all the while responding with what were like thoughts, but were clear and distinguishable responses. Each of those responses "felt" as if they originated from the point of location that the deity was standing in at the time. Other spirits have been different; I know a lunar spirit that will begin talking as soon as I call it's name, and it arrives, but it may not choose to manifest. If I ask it to back up what it tells me, however, I will almost always be rewarded with a source containing the same information within a week of the conversation... Assuming I provide a means for that information to enter my hands. (E.g. look for the information, visit a bookstore, talk to a friend about it, etc.) Sometimes it will give me a vision, sometimes just a thought. It really depends on the spirit, where it exists macrocosmically, and how it transmits the knowledge. I consider "vision" a lunar attribute, and "speech" a solar attribute. But that's still just a theory of mine.

  10. Ah, yes. This was always one of my greatest struggles. But it's funny, your approach with me was something like, "Here's this grimoire. Here's why I'm giving it to you and why it makes sense. Here are the appropriate times to call the spirits. Now get to work and deal with it, pussy!"

    I agree that magical journaling is one of the best ways to test the communications of the spirits. It proved most useful to me.

    Interestingly, I was getting pretty decent communications from the very beginning. The problem was that I didn't know what to expect and there were a lot of mixed opinions from grimoire magicians. Of course, different results are to be expected from different grimoires, which is something I didn't realize at the time since I was a n00b.

    I had a long trial and error process that led me to understanding the difference. I get varied results depending on a lot of factors: celestial positions, time of day, weather, mood, general state of being, time constraints, etc. I didn't understand back then to expect varied results also. But one thing I've learned to expect, at the least, are results.

    Once I learned to adjust my expectations and get to know the spirits modes of communications, personalities, and approaches, it became easier to know the difference. It also prepared me for communicating with my HGA: some of those communications have been life changing shifts of perspective and understanding.

  11. Fr. SEA, LOL, those were the days. I don't think a lot of my students today could handle the early RO teaching approach.

  12. In my limited experience, you sorta let your mind go out of focus -- I don't know better how to describe that -- and just observe (or speak it, if you've got someone recording) what comes thru. In case of images/symbols, you can use something like Godwin's Cabalistic Encyclopedia to check them for correspondences. Hope this helps.


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