In our modern society we think of ‘magic’ as something fantastical and impossible. But societies have, since the dawn of time, have used “magical” techniques to affect their realities, and more and more are waking up to the powers that lie within. What we are quick to dismiss as nonsense are actually powers of the subconscious mind!
Magic is the study and direction of certain powers of the human mind, and a study of the “mind side” of Nature. Being a Magician depends upon the possession of the capacity to make use of these little understood powers of the human mind and to perceive the mind side of Nature.
Symbols and the Subconscious
The Subconscious is described as a Great Ocean and the Mother Deep. It’s because the ocean represents a picture of depths upon depths, a vast substance in which all things are contained and connected.
In his incredible life-long career of studying the human mind, psychoanalyst Carl Jung discovered what he came to call the “collective unconscious”, the great reserve of all the archetypal experiences of reality out of which our dreams, myths, stories, religions and visions come.
In his sessions, Jung again and again found that the dreams of his patients often had motifs, images and figures that seemed to be referencing stories from folklore, myth, legend and religious texts— yet upon questioning the patient, he would find that they had no knowledge whatsoever of these stories.
He came to conclude that there is a reserve of symbols— almost like a Universal library— which is accessible to everyone, regardless of their education or cultural background, that we all partake of through dreams, instincts, visions and other mysterious means. The same characters that appeared thousands of years ago to inspire a myth still visit people today, independent of any rational connection.
Whether this awareness is somehow genetically handed down, or whether we have some kind of telepathic connection to ancestors of our cultural heritage, or whether there is simply some part of your mind which is able to access this Universal record log of images and symbols— the point is clear: your subconscious mind is a portal to reserves of wisdom that are quite beyond what you consciously learn in your life. All humans throughout the ages are interconnected through this mysterious, bottomless sea beneath the threshold of consciousness, just as we are interconnected through our shared experience of the most profound, foundational emotions, like love, fear, courage, ambition, etc.
It is useless to try and drive the subconscious mind by the brute force of the conscious will. The subconscious mind is like your pet dog— he responds more to the pitch of the voice than to the actual command, and when bidden to come to heel, will dive down the rabbit hole.
Trying to appeal to the subconscious logically is to talk to it in a language it does not understand, like when a foreigner makes a long speech to us in his own tongue. This is how the subconsious feels when the usual methods of mind training are applied to it! It can make neither head nor tail of the commands and, if pressed too hard, may turn nasty.
But when it is approached in the right way, the subconscious is exceedingly responsive. The only way to talk to the subconscious mind is through the pictorial imagination. It has a very archaic mode of mentation that developed long before speech. It is as unresponsive to logic or argument or appeals to its better nature as a deaf man. But show it a picture, and it understands and is only too ready to cooperate now that is knows what is required of it.
We must speak to the subconscious in the language of symbols in order to communicate effectively with it and use the powers latent within it. Often images used in magical exercises are ordinary items and forms from the physical world which have been invested with a significance beyond their own immediate use and purpose. Thus, they serve as reflections of higher modes of expression, which is to say, they serve as a symbols. Much of esoteric training consists of learning to identify, to fashion, to interpret and to channel the higher forces represented by symbols. In esoteric work symbolic characters and dramas can be formulated deliberately to invoke and harness spiritual forces.
Training the Faculties of the Mind
The first step to becoming an effective Magician is to train the mind. A magician needs tremendous powers of concentration, heightened sensitivity and skill in the technique which makes the subconscious content available to consciousness. A magician needs to hone his power to pay attention to one thing at a time and to refuse to be distracted.
A magician must master both contemplation and meditation. In meditation the mind follows a train of thought that circles round a central idea. In contemplation one excludes everything else from one’s mind and just looks at the central idea, allowing it to expand and fill one’s whole being. It is best to start out with meditation, which strengthens, disciplines and brings stillness to the mind.
A magician needs a strong audile, visual and intuitional imagination. These are the three ways in which the mind works. Most commonly we think in words, and in series of picture images like a film. The third and higher type of mentality is a thinking in terms of pure idea, in which the idea arises in the mind complete and does not have to be thought out. It comes as a flash of realization that we apprehend in a sudden glimpse of insight and then gradually unfold and realize in all its implications.
People usually incline to be either audile or visual in their type of mind-working, just as they are either right- or left- handed. When we train the mind we pick out one faculty at a time and concentrate upon strengthening it.
To train the audile imagination— the power to think in words—you can practice giving imaginary lectures for five minutes on simple subjects with which you are familiar, imagining that you can hear yourself speaking.
To train the visual imagination, you can create an inner film of walking somewhere familiar. Practice summoning up every small detail along the path, and after some time you will be amazed at the vividness of your inner world.
Intuitions may be expressed in words but not always so. The practical way to approach this level is by way of meditation upon a particular idea rather than a pictorial image. To begin with, many related ideas will tend to come into mind. (In one form of meditation, these can be pursued and meditated upon in their turn and this is perhaps closest to our usual mode of concentrated thought when we are trying to solve a problem.)
The aim of mental meditation of this type is however not so much to solve mental or physical problems but to bore a hole, so to speak, in the shell of concrete mental ideation to the formless levels beyond. Then intuition may flow in bringing seemingly irrational but spiritually valid impulses to action or further realization.
This kind of thing is perhaps most commonly seen when we decide to “sleep on” a problem. If we are lucky, the solution comes into mind the next morning.
In sustained and systematic esoteric training and development, we aim to open up access to this intuitional level at will. This should produce the person who can do the right thing at the right time largely based upon hunches or at higher levels a sense of spiritual destiny, even if to the rational mind circumstances seem to advise against this particular mode of action.
Training these faculties will form a direct link not only between two levels of the mental plane, but between the Higher self and the lower self. This is sometimes called “the rainbow bridge”. We are opening the consciousness of the personality to the world of souls, or form consciousness to the formless worlds.
Practice these techniques and enjoy the greater strength and dexterity that lie within you!