I was recently reading Stealing Fire, which is a book that explores states of ecstasy and how people are harnessing those states deliberately. If I have one complaint about the book its that they never really touch on ecstasy shows up in magical practices, but it got me to thinking about the place of ecstasy in magic and why ecstatic states of being are so important to magical work.
I’d argue that any altered state of consciousness can be lumped under ecstasy of some sort because what seems to be a defining characteristic of ecstasy is an the experience of altered consciousness. And ecstasy of some type seems to be essential to magical practices, because what ecstasy necessarily provides us is the suspension of the everyday conscious mind with its attendant disbelief. I think of an ecstatic state as a state where your perception of possibilities and reality is intertwined, where your awareness of past, present and future combines to create a singular moment where you are, and you can connect a desired possibility and provide it a path toward manifestation. An ecstatic state of consciousness is a state of flow.
How we achieve that state of ecstasy is dependent on what methods we’re using. A person could use entheogens, sex, breathing meditation, ritual, art, music, dancing, etc. to put themselves into an ecstatic state of consciousness. Regardless of what method we use, what is important is that we let that state permeate our awareness and at the same time recognize how that state contributes to our magical working. An ecstatic state allows us take all our doubts, emotions, thoughts and put them into an activity so they don’t get in the way of the magical work, and in fact contribute to the magical working. We forget ourselves and just become and from that magic happens.
Seems pretty simplistic, but the point of ecstasy is that it takes us out of our heads and into our bodies and into the world around us. It gets us into the visceral experience where the everyday divisions, categories, and definitions don’t matter. All that matters is the experience. And while technique and method has its place in magic, if we aren’t coming to a place where we experience this communion with the universe where all things become possible, we’re missing something fundamental in our magical practice. We’re missing that sense of flow, of aligning with the Eros of the universe.
Our magical process ideally includes an element of ecstasy in the work we do. It may not be overt or huge, but it just needs to be something which gets us to a place where everyday life is on the outside, and ritual reality is the only reality, allowing us to interface and connect with the realm of the imaginal, in order to bring possibility into reality. If you don’t have that ecstatic element in your magical work, you want to explore how you can bring it in. It could be as simple as integrating meditation or sex or something else along those lines that puts you into a different space and time. The key is that whatever it is, it helps you let go and flow into the experience and let that experience carry you to the imaginal.