I hold a meditation gathering for the magical experiments community each Monday. At one of the recent meetings, a question was brought up about pathworking. The person mentioned that she had trouble with narrative pathworking, because as she would start to do it, it she'd get caught up in some detail which would distract from her from the rest of the pathworking. She wondered if there was an easier way to do a pathworking that didn't involve using a narrative structure. It was a fair question to ask and consequently we decided to try an experiment out, which I'll get into more detail below.
It could be argued that part of the purpose of the narrative is to allow a person to have experiences that may be relevant to the pathworking. In other words, if a person gets focused on a detail in the narrative, it may be due to the fact that the person needs to get some message from that detail. On the other hand, it could also be argued that if your learning style isn't ideally optimized around a narrative or audio learning then it may be harder to get something from the pathworking.
I've used narratives for pathworkings before, and you'll find that in hypnosis a narrative is typically created as a way to help direct the person's imagination in the creation of the environment they'll work in. That said I've sometimes found such narratives to be cumbersome and I question how essential they are, especially if the purpose is to connect a person to a particular space/energy that already exists. If that space already exists, shouldn't the person be able to connect it to via means that are less complicated?
My personal pet theory about the astral realm is that its comprised of the superconsciousness of humanity and the spirits and is accessed through the imagination. I think the same applies to any given space a person is trying to access through such methods as pathworking. I'd also argue that if specific entities are associated with a given space they don't need the narrative of the pathworking to appear in that space. The narrative can be useful for creating an impression of the space, but there may be other ways to accomplish this as well.
The mansion of memory technique involves the use of symbols to store information, which can then be recalled when the symbol is focused on. A variant of this technique can be used with pathworking. Pick a narrative for a pathworking and pick out the key imagery and themes. Then create a symbol that is representative of the imagery and themes and use that symbol to call up the particular space and associated spirits. It's an instant pathworking without the narrative. For example, the picture above is my painting of the crossroads. I use that symbol to access the metaphysical space of the crossroads as well as connect with the spirits associated with that space.
In my meditation group we experimented with this technique. I passed the painting around and had each person look at the painting for a few moments and then we meditated on the symbol, using it as a door that would unlock the crossroads to each person. Each participant was able to access the crossroads instantly. The symbol was representative of the energy, information, and meaning of the password and that was enough to open the door for the people involved. However the people at the group were already familiar with the crossroads.
At the next meditation group night, we tried the same technique. This time there were a few people who weren't familiar with the crossroads and I didn't tell them what the painting represented. While the previous participants did go to the crossroads, using the symbol, the other participants did not. What this indicated to me was that some type of context was needed to provide a destination of sorts for the people using the technique. To test this further I showed the participants another painting and provided some contextual details about what the painting represented. When we did the pathworking technique with just the painting as the focus everyone went to the specific space it represented and several picked up on details not shared by myself.
I think the instant pathworking technique can work but participants need to know what and where they are going. Some contextual information must be provided to establish a connection. On the other hand, a full narrative is likely not needed, especially if you have a symbol you can use to represent the core concept people are seeking to connect with.