Magical Ritual Methods

Inner Transformation

In Magical Identity, I discussed at length the importance of internal work to the magical process, and to creating an empowered identity for the magician. I also noted that at least in Western Magic there seemed to be a tendency to gloss over the internal work in favor of achieving practical results. Or on the opposite end, the focus would be on a model such as the Tree of Life, but with little focus on doing internal work. I've found a couple of exceptions, and one of those is R. J. Stewart's work. Actually reading him, in some ways, is like reading William G Gray's work, which makes sense when you consider that Gray was one of Stewart's mentors. But I think the difference I see is a much more articulate focus on internal work.

In Living Magical Arts, Stewart discusses the following about transformation: "Magic begins by changing yourself, but eventually it changes the whole world if enough selves partake of it." He goes onto to note the following about magical symbols (which would includes physical tools such as your cup, rod, sword, wand, etc.: "The main, indeed the only, real function of magical symbols is to transform the magician." This is where he reminds me of William Gray, especially in Magical Ritual Methods, because Gray discusses at length that for the magician to master a tool, s/he ultimately needs to make it part of his/her consciousness.

Now on an aside, one of the reasons I favor a paintbrush as a magical tool is because there is a level or practical work that can be done with it that goes beyond being a symbol. A paintbrush or pen for that matter is a more potent tool and symbol precisely because it offers a level of transformation that goes beyond the symbolic. There is something very magical about touching a pen on paper or a brush on canvas and consequently transforming something into something else. In fact, there's a level of internal work that occurs in such artistic expressions (more on that in a later post).

But getting back to the original topic, I think that magic becomes truly effective when you understand that it fundamentally involves change through intentional transformation, and when you also realize that the most effective magic works by changing the internal reality of the magician first, and then changing the environment around him/her. Results based magic that doesn't factor in the needed internal work is typically reactive magic, done more as a reaction to a problem and as an attempt to solve said problem. Results obtained through a reactive approach to magic don't last long. The magician will sabotage him/herself because some part of his/her internal reality doesn't agree with the obtained result.

To truly understand transformation and change, you must be willing to shape yourself as well as shape the environment around you. It might even be argued that you need to be willing to be shaped by the magic, in order to truly benefit from it. Fundamentally what is being asked is: "Are you truly ready and willing to handle the responsibility of changing your reality?" You can only answer yes when you've done the internal work that allows you to critically examine your place in the universe and willingly change that place by changing your internal reality. Place, or space isn't just a physical is a metaphysical, emotional, and mental place as well. It is the embodiment of your relationship with the universe. To change your place, work from within, and let it manifest without.

In the majority of the magical work I currently do the focus is on embodying the magic, starting from within, or bringing the desired possibility into my space, and choosing to become it and letting it move me accordingly. Genuine transformation is the understanding that you are moved by the magic and by your own commitment to doing the necessary internal work that paves the way to the new expression of reality that expresses your connection with the universe and the space you embody.

Patterns of Reality

"Mind patterns could be 'woven' like cord patterns, and these mind patterns were what 'move' spells. Different coloured threads indicated different kinds of consciousness, and their physical arrangements had to be projected into equivalent Inner patterns of power" -- From Magical Ritual Methods (affiliate link) by William Gray I pulled this quote while doing a bit of research for Neuro Space/Time Magic. The concept is interesting, using different colored threads to represent specific patterns of thought and being. I was once part of a ritual where we used silver threads to create a tesseract matrix of time. The thread represented the journey to access temporal possibilities, but what I find interesting with this concept isn't even that, but rather how the mind can be organized into different states that can then be evoked using a simple prop such as a colored thread, and a pattern or shape to bring it forth.

This concept can be replicated with other methods as well, such as using an alphabet of desire to embody different states of consciousness and patterns of reality. The key, however, is to recognize how you will actually use a specific state of being to change a pattern of reality you are in. Lets say you are doing a habitual behavior that you want to change. You are aware of it, and you can name it, and provide a symbol/shape to embody it. Now you could take this embodied shape and destroy it, but would that really solve your problem?

An alternate approach would be to devise a symbol and/or shape that represented a desired state of mind/being that you could use to counteract the habitual behavior. Ideally, this symbol/shape could even be the same color of the initial symbol you developed to represent the habitual behavior. Thus when you started to do the habitual behavior, you could visualize the shape and letter of that state, and even vocalize it. Then you could change the shape and letter to the new state of being, even as you also changed the vocalization, imprinting the new behavior on the habit, in order to change it into the new behavior.

All of this I got from a quote by Gray. If you haven't read his books, give them a try. They offer a lot to any occultist lucky enough to find them.

Integrating concepts into your life through your subconscious

One of the skills I've picked up over the years is one where I integrate magical concepts into my life on a practical basis by imprinting those concepts into my subconscious and then allowing those concepts to integrate into my life via my actions and life occurrences. Sounds really similar to sigils, right? The main difference however, is that instead of focusing on a specific desire, what I'm actually focusing on is a concept that isn't focused on a desire, so much as it's focused on attuning myself to a particular energy or force. William G. Gray wrote about this practice in Magickal Ritual Methods, describing how you could take a ceremonial tool and imprint that tool into your mind so that you would then understand and embody the conceptual force that the tool as a symbol represented.

I've taken that approach and used it lately to integrate the Chinese Element model and classical Planetary energy model into my life. For example, I've worked with the planetary energy of mercury through my networking. By integrating that planetary energy into my subconscious, I'm using it to influence my conscious decisions when it comes to attending networking events. This kind of integration allows me to work with these types of concepts and energies on a deeper level, while also gradually aligning them with my conscious mind, for when I can work with them more overtly. And how I do this? I have a table of correspondences tacked to my wall that I look at each day for a couple minutes in order to imprint those correspondences on my mind. I've found it useful for not just memorizing, but also integrating those correspondences/concepts into my life, so that I'm more open to their influence in my daily activities.