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.


  1. I would like to add to your well thought out response. This idea of a necessary framework needed in advance of the work seems to fit into the idea of getting information from the entities as well. If someone that has never seen a computer were to ask an angel for the schematics to the most powerful computer ever to be built in the universe, they likely would not have the framework needed to receive this information.
    If someone can not comprehend a topic in the least, how ever do they expect to receive anything from the experience. If someone asks for a billion dollar a year income, but does not have the skills or the knowledge necessary to run with such an opportunity should the universe grant them it, why would the spirit even bother to attempt it in the first place. This is not to say that spirits/angels/etc are not capable of performing physical experiences beyond our comprehension/ability, but most people tend to ask for things they are not ready to receive. Including physical manifestation of something that has no physical appearance. I knew someone that DEMANDED the entity show itself in "all its glory"... needless to say, the individual is no longer a magician and all but ran for the hills when he received that for which he asked.

  2. In the quote you used with the tree, all of those villagers weren't magicians. Yet you later say that the way to adapt your self to seeing and hearing spirits is to become more like a spirit via the Great Work or something similar. Though I am well aware that you were quoting from an others argument, these two perspectives seem to be in conflict, could you elaborate?

  3. This is an extremely interesting post. I have been dabbling with magic for a really long time and have seen some things that I certainly wasn't expecting, but I haven't been seriously involved until recently and have barely begun calling spirits on a regular basis. I'm obviously not getting any physical manifestations, but I do sometimes get flashes in my mind of what the spirit looks like or a message it wants to get across. Right now, that's more than enough for me. Most people (myself included) probably aren't ready for a full manifestation anyway, and it would probably scare the crap out of them!

  4. @Andrew, good question. I had written a few paragraphs explaining it, but it got too long.

    The villagers had the "mental language" to process the visible appearance of the spirit, while the Western Anthropologist did not. They were raised in a culture that believed in the spirits. Their minds were prepared to accept the existence of the spirit, so when their minds were exposed to it, it had the symbols necessary to turn what it "saw" into an image that the villagers could comprehend.

    In my discussion on the perfection of the magician through the Great Work, I'm talking about how we are made more like the spirits through our Work with them. We get the mental language to process spiritual insights. We develop the senses that would allow us to perceive the spirits.

    The villagers didn't need to get the mental language, but the anthropologist would have needed something like the Great Work to get the mental language.

    Most of my students are from the modern Western World, where they are spoon-fed secular atheism all through their childhood education.

    Then they get their hands on the Occult materials from the 80s and 90s that tells them that spirits are just imaginary shells that they fill with some aspect of themselves.

    So when they get in the Magic Circle and start conjuring spirits, and the spirit shows up, what's really going on can't be processed by their mental framework, so they don't see anything happening. But the spirits are changing them, and eventually they can see.

  5. It is refreshing to see an experienced magician express this idea. Fortunately when I first began my evocation experiments I resolved to out less emphasis on what I could see or hear, and more on what I could "feel" or sense. This seems more important for someone starting out in my opinion, especially in regards making sure spirits stay contained in the space set aside for them, or depart when given the license to.

    I find it frustrating when I see people telling newcomers that they are not doing work with the spirits if there is no visible appearance, or that the ability to see the spirits is somehow tied into the success of the operation. Few seem to mention that it does in fact take time to have that ability and instead throw out the tired "then you didn't do it by the book" line or something similar. Results are what matter.

  6. As a non-imager (with respect to all the sensory modalities, not just to sight), I found this post quite encouraging.

    For a long time, I was discouraged by the heavy emphasis on visualization that one often encounters in popular works (astral traveling, "body of light," evocation to visible appearance, etc), and the fact that I could't force myself to "see" those luminous pentagrams in the L. B. R. P. led to frustration and a listless paralysis.

    As I see it now, however, if a spirit can "poke" somebody's visual cortex and communicate by generating pseudo-sensory impressions, I see no reason why a spirit couldn't poke whatever part of my brain is responsible for "just knowing" something (I can't close my eyes and generate a mental image of my car, but I "just know" that it's a blue Honda Civic). Working on that assumption, I'm trying to "get out of the armchair" now.

    One a slightly different note: Human beings don't have the sensory equipment for detecting beta particles directly. That hasn't, however, prevented us from deducing the existence and behavior of beta particles, or from reliably putting them to good use (e. g. using radioisotope-labeled probes in molecular biology) by following carefully developed experimental procedures.

  7. Great post R.O. From my experience it appears that the greatest aid to seeing spirits is believing that 1.) spirits exist and 2.) it is possible to see them. Disbelief is the single greatest barrier to psychic perception.

    I saw all kinds of things when I was a kid effortlessly. As I got older, even though I was into the occult my whole life, I began to doubt the reality of the spirit world. Doubtlessly this was due to my study of psychology and acceptance of that model of the world for a while. What helped me as an adult was working on my beliefs via hypnosis. My subconscious needed to be re-educated.

    Then one day it clicked and my inner sense were open again. I still am working on getting the clarity and ease I had as a child but it is better than it was.


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