Saturday, 24 September 2011

Allowing magic to do its magic - or learning through absence

These days I am still learning a lot of lessons on the nature of Tiphareth and the Olympic Spirit of Och (Sun). After conducting the Arbatel Ritual for Och in July I shared some thoughts on the direct aftermaths in a post back in August. Overall it has been three months now during which I have been working through the impact of that single rite - emotionally, mentally and on the material realm. 

As I am getting closer to integrating the forces of Tiphareth into my daily life and setting out to prepare for the next Arbatel Ritual I want to share something that turned out to be a major learning while going through this experience.

It's an insight into how the spirits or planetary forces I engage with teach me about their actual nature and mode of action. Maybe this is just the way it works for me or maybe it is something that turns out to be helpful in your own practice? Either way, the question is: If we look at live outside of our temples what is nature's way to integrate new spiritual forces into our life and consciousness?

Here are the two cents experience taught me: a new and yet unconscious force is best taught through experiencing its opposite. That means the modus operandi of any force we haven't come to consciously recognize yet is best taught by its complete absence. 

Only when we are hungry do we understand the essential nature of food. And once we are lonely and isolated, we immediately understand the nature of companionship and partnership. Many of us only when they are at war do understand the value of peace. And only once our spouse has left us for good do we recognize the true value and beauty of the relationship we have lost... 

A spirit teacher I found on a wall in
East London (early 2011)
The same principle applies in magic: if we ask to be taught a certain force or create relationship with a spirit being our journey might kick off at the exact opposite end. This opposing experience creates a void of the force we aimed to relate to - and it is this void that is realized by our conscious. It is the void that teaches us about the space and function this force normally holds in our lives. By taking away what we take for granted we dissolve the blind spot and gain consciousness.

Here is the thing: grey isn't a good teacher to understand the dynamics of light. We need a high contrast of dark against light to truly understand the dimension and dynamics of these polar forces.

It was in this way that I got to learn about the forces of Hagith (Venus): I was taught the value of life by the experience of illness. The ability to share love as long as we are sustained by the spring of our physical health was taught to me by drying up this well and showing me how fickle the fundament of my love had been built...

The same principle applied over recent months during my OCH experience: Once you take away any direction or goals in your life all rush and urge to control subsides. What emerged initially was a deeply felt fear of being lost and at the end of my magical tether (i.e. the opposite experience of what people would call Sun-related forces).

Once I had given this force room for contact and experience, however, what followed was hubris. From one end of the dimension I was lured to the other: moments of grandiosity. Thoughts that once the winds returned I could set my sails completely anew and travel anywhere I wanted, set and achieve any goals I chose freely... (i.e. experience of the force what people would call Sun-related forces, yet still imbalanced or distorted by my Ego).

It took me a couple of weeks to allow these thoughts to pass through me. I needed to accept them, yet not to identify with them. The only way to do this was not trying to control them, but to welcome them like passing boats on a river, like birds visiting a dovecote or foreign animals passing through the forest of my mind... Non-idenfitifcation.

After a while a third stage followed. This was when I understood that it is not me at all who sets any goals - neither in life nor in magic. That on entering the Sun, on stepping into the burning fire of continuously new born life I had turned myself into a mean through which forces higher than myself could work. That entering the centre of life hadn't come with more or a new direction of power, but with a request to me for complete service.

So here I am - deeply humbled by the experience and still stupid but a bit smarter than before. I now know that unfamiliar forces are taught to us by use of their opposites. And I know how much time, patience and openness it takes to move from initial contact to full integration. It's the journey of a lifetime.

On a final note, I found that my old passion for syncretism was rewarded once again. By not caring about how useful resources had come to me - through friends, books, Gestalt, magic, work or any other open source - I had found a wonderful crutch to support my little brain in understanding what was actually going on with me...

Take a look at the picture below and take a moment to follow the sequence of steps. What you see is a slightly amended form of Zinker's Contact Cycle. It shows a wonderful model to help us understand how we move from initial sensation to contact and finally integration. While this model had been developed as part of Gestalt Therapy it completely reflects the experience we go through when engaging with and getting to know new spiritual entities.

Life simply doesn't care wether we go through an encounter with our neighbor next door, with an ancestor from a previous life or with an entitiy high up or low the eternal chain beings. Every encounter is an invitation to adventure.

The Gestalt Contact Cycle from Zinker (adopted). Apologies for the
low resolution of the picture. I am working on a full article on this
model to be published on
Thank for your patience.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

How to enter your Inner Realm - or 3 exercises on elastic awareness

In evocation magic we strive for conscious contact with specific spirits. Sometimes this happens through visible appearance. Other times we allow the spirit to chose the best way to manifest - may it be in our inner realm, in dreams, in inner sight, etc. However, I guess we'll all agree an unsuccessful rite is a rite without any conscious contact.

In my recent posts on Ancestral Magic I shared some adventures I encountered while exploring a type of magical contact that's new for me. To embark on such a journey the magician needs two keys mainly: 
  1. A technique to enter into the inner realm and access the stream of ancestral consciousness and
  2. the ability to maintain what I call an 'elastic awareness' that maintains an unintentional and open state of consciousness.

Josephine hands over a great key for the first point in her Void exercise. However, it is the second point that will make your journey through the void a successful spirit encounter or just plain daydreaming. So it seems there is something to be said about how we use awareness in magic - may it be in rituals or in expeditions into the inner realms? 

Funny enough, the best teacher on it I found so far is Fritz Perls. This man certainly knew a lot about contact, awareness and how to bring these two together in order to travel to places we haven't known before. Perls didn't apply his techniques he created to magic or any type of spirit communion - but to commune with ourselves. 

So let's take a brief look at contact and awareness in Perl's own words: 

"It emerged that we had to shift the concern of psychiatry from the fetish of the unknown, from the adoration of the 'unconscious', to the problems and phenomenology of awareness: what factors operate in awareness, and how do faculties which can operate successfully only in the state of awareness lose this property?" (Perls, Gestalt Therapy, p.15)

"Contact as such is possible without awareness, but for awareness contact is indispensable. The crucial question is: with what is one in contact? The spectator of a modern painting may believe that he is in contact with the picture while he is actually in contact with the art critic of his favorite journal." (Perls, p.15)

"In the struggle for survival the most relevant need becomes figure (or better: Gestalt - ed. Acher) and organizes the behavior of an individual until this need is satisfied, whereupon it recedes into the background (temporary balance) and makes room for the next now most important need. In the healthy organism this change of dominance has the best survival chance. In our society such dominant needs, for example, morals, etc., often become chronic and interfere with the subtle self-regulating of the human organism." (Perls, p.18)

Well, sounds like a lot of psycho-bullshit? I guess Perls would agree pretty much. So let's give it a try and turn it into practical experience...

Step 1:

As you are reading these lines become aware with what you are in contact already. Scan through your bodily emotions while reading this. What does your stomach tell you? What contacts are your legs and feet picking up? Read this with minimal brain activity and allow your conscious to meander through your body... Can you feel your blood rushing underneath your skin? What type of awareness is present in your chest? What type of awareness is in your mind? 

Perls said: contact can happen without awareness but never the other way around. The first step in exploring our Inner Realm is to create what I called an elastic awareness. An awareness that rather than pursuing it's own intent and direction is open to be approached, to accept and to explore without desire... Our awareness needs to learn to sit still and perceive. Full of contact. Then we will realize how much we have ignored before. And that rather than trying harder, trying not all often can be the key.

Please don't get me wrong - this has nothing to do with replacing your magical strive with a strive for Nirvana. The goal of this exercise is not emptiness, but fullness. It is to perceive and become aware of the richness, the diversity and multitudes of contacts we are engaged in at any moment. This exercise is a fundament in order to be able to listen to the spirits. Because the spirits are talking to us through the contacts in our bodies.

Step 2:

When you are in bed and before your fall asleep create contact with your bodily senses again. Walk through your body, limb by limb and pick up the emotions and sensual impressions that are already there. Don't try to create any contacts. Just allow your awareness to flow through your body and discover the things that are present already... Once you have explored your entire body allow your conscious to rest and come to a halt in your chest area. Now all impression merge into a single vibrant perception of your bodily field of contact. Full presence. You feel the energy in your body, undistinguished from your conscious. 

Did I first listen to this song or
first think of this post? Does it matter?
Then slowly expand your field of awareness beyond your bodily borders. Allow your senses to expand beyond your skin... I normally do this by listening to the things around me. The wind on the leaves of a tree through the open window, a passing car, the slow breaths of my dog in the room next door. Whatever ambient sounds there are, just allow your senses to merge with them. Your field of awareness expands. And after a short while you will find it has become a sphere of consciousness, expanding beyond the room you are lying in, into the night, including street lamps, concrete and cars... all contacts presently waiting for my conscious to find them.

Normally I come to pause once the sphere of awareness has grown to roughly 100 feet in diameter. I then rest in the present awareness of all things inside my consciousness now. My body, the body of my wife, the darkness, the body of our dog, the house, the night sky, the streets... It is a wonderful feeling, liberating, without any intent or tension, completely calm. All stress from my workday has disappeared as I myself have vanished. What is left is a glowing sphere of consciousness, allowing the night wind and ambient sounds and wandering cats to pass through it. 

Step 3:

Combine Step 1 and 2 into a single exercise and perform at any moment throughout your normal workday. Make it a habit to discover contacts you were involved in but not aware about. Make it a habit for your senses to expand beyond your body. Feel the grass on the front years behind the window, feel the electric buzz of computers and coffee machines around you, feel the rush of a street car and the energy fields of 40-something people in it passing by... Allow your awareness to become an open system, to become the Linux version of consciousness. 

Once this third step works well for you in random situations you shouldn't have any problems to explore your inner realms. Well, you might have problems at your work place now instead though. Cause sitting in your chair, eyes closed and drooling isn't really the picture of a high performer many bosses have in their mind. But hey - there is a price to be paid for any big achievement!

Let me close this on a final note that connects back to the journeys into my own Ancestral Magic I had shared before...

Last week I was at an airport, tired and exhausted, arriving at night, standing on the escalators and watching the commercials passing by. When suddenly I felt Immar's presence within me. This had never happened before - I hadn't even considered the possibility that Immar might contact me on her own initiative! Yet while I was ascending to the next floor I could clear feel her gaze through my eyes. There was a significant amount of surprise and astonishment going on on her end... Maybe that is how I looked to her when I gazed at the ziggurat? She stayed with me on my entire journey through the belly of the airport. Only when I entered the taxi and spoke to the driver I felt her presence withdraw. Probably because I had left the timeless entrails of the airport, these synthetically lid passages of glass and commercials, of silence and polished floors. A space without any intent except for passing through it. An open system, a passage of time.

When I had entered the taxi my mind had closed again. I started to re-focus on my journey to the hotel, showing the address to the driver, watching passer-bys and starting to think about the day to come...

I learned it early on in my Arbatel Experience and am still so much working to get it right. My angel told me in no ambiguous language: "Everything will be good, as long as you don't have a plan."

But when he swam out
in this black void of nothing
he was anxious, but excited
and he didn´t know
he wouldn´t come back
to shore again.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Learning the Magic of my Ancestors - part 3

The third trip to the city of clay started from my actual temple. It was a week of vacation, the sun was shining bright and warm outside, I had finished my standard meditation and left the communion with my angel. At this point my mind and body are charged and radiant with energy yet very quiet and peaceful. It's the perfect mindset to continue an exploration into the unknown, ready to accept anything that might come along...

I entered the Void through the flames on the altar before which I was sitting. Their fire burned away all outer shapes and pulled me into the darkness I had come to appreciate so much. After a while of getting acquainted to the emptiness within and around me, I raised my right hand in front of my eyes, used a knife to make a deep cut into my palm and saw the stream of blood emerge... Then I sank backwards, just like the two times before, and allowed the stream to carry me through the Void and out into the desert.

Doreen Valenza: Vision Seekers-Memento Mori-
The Ancestors of the Family speaking to me #3
As the current was carrying me backward I tried to be mindful of the environment and catch glimpses of the shore, the sky and the colors around me. However, all impressions remained blurred and somewhat faint. The only clear sensual impression was my own being in the river, rushing through its waters... I guess traveling through the stream of blood is a journey through time. It makes sense that unless one stops and climbs out of the stream all impressions remain somewhat distant and faint. Otherwise the influx of memories would be huge and completely overwhelming...

Just like on my two previous visits I got caught in a fish trap after a while. The water was pushing me to the back of the trap and rushing past me. Then the trap got pulled out of the river, it was emptied into another basked fixed to the back of a carrier and we set in motion on our way through the desert. This time, however, the basket didn't have a lid and I could see snippets of scenery and the bright sky above as we were walking towards the city. I also remember the walls of the city looked really colorful... 

Maybe I should share some context here? Since the last journey I had received instructions from an inner contact to research on a specific aspect of the magic of the Arabs, Greek and Chaldeans. My studies had pivoted on the magic of the Chaldeans for several weeks now and I had refreshed a lot of my understanding of their cosmology and spirit realm. One of the things I remembered clearly from the studies was the fact that in Chaldean times the ramparts of rich cities were adored with small, colored domes which were attached horizontally to the walls. Maybe it were these domes that were shining brightly in the sun and creating the colorful view of the city we were approaching? Or maybe my imagination and astral perception simply mingled? Either way, it was a stunning sight and I wondered why I had missed it on previous trips to the city?

Then we approached the huge gate. Again I saw the guarding spirit standing on an elevated post in the shadows under the main arch, staring straight in front of him and chattering his teeth. Once we passed through the gate I was surprised to catch a glimpse of my ancestor: She was approaching from the right side of the gate, walked towards the carrier in whose basket I lay and grabbed me right out of it. Nobody seemed to realize her burglary or at least no one complained... Through dusty streets filled with market stalls Immar carried me back to her hut. 

In the small room of her hut Immar puts me down on something she has carved on the floor. I don't get to see it clearly, maybe it is the spirit gate she showed me on my last visit? Then smoke appears and washes over my fish body. Is Immar blowing the smoke over me from a bowl of burning incense? As the smoke covers my body my shape changes and I turn into human form. I am not a naked boy anymore; this time my human form is much closer to my actual shape and age.

Immar is sitting on her bed. I take a seat on the low chair opposite her. Now I can sense her sadness, it's incredibly present and strong. Immar isn't crying yet sitting quietly on the bed of straw. Something inside her seems to be the source of constant pain and grief, but she has become too used to it to complain or cry... I hold out my hand and she puts hers into mine. We sit there quietly for a while holding hands. Now I can feel that it's her heart that's weak.

  • Immar: I need water.

I understand that water to drink will not stop her thirst; it's her heart that has run dry. I open my own heart and allow the waters of my heart to stream into hers. Through the physical connection of our hands I can see a rush of energy pouring into her. Immar's shape changes. As my heart-waters start to fill her heart she turns younger. After a while her skin has become firm and radiant again. She looks much better now, yet I know that we haven't cured the source of her sadness yet... There is something else we need to do.

Immar turns over and lays down on her bed. She seems to be very tired. I get up and stand above her. Without knowing the words that I am saying, I am starting to sing. My words, the melody, everything is flowing out of my heart in its own way and form. I try not to control anything. The melody of the song to washes over Immar's tired body... Then I hold out my hands over her heart area. Immar is lying crouched on her right side, eyes closed, her face turned to the dark clay wall in front of her. I don't know if she is still awake or sleeping? Suddenly I can feel the presence of my angel standing behind me in the small room. His presence is strong and bright, his light shines through my body as if I am made of glass. My glass body bundles his rays into my hands and his light is streaming through my palms over Immar's heart...

At this point I have become a tool, a spoke in a process that is much larger than myself. My angel is working through me; I don't have to do anything except for remain calm and present and allow his force to use my body as a channel. I can see his light working on Immar's heart. Then something is extracted from Immar's heart. It leaves a hole and my angel fills it up with a shining force or presence I do not know. Like a wound that is filled with healing herbs Immar's heart is filled with a bright, living light. The presence that has been extracted from her heart is held tightly in a ray of energy next to her heart. Looking back I cannot tell whether it was a dark substance or simply a shadow. I know I remember my first thought: ‘It must be a worm.’ Without having prepared anything in advance I know what to do next.

Beside her bed I can see a small stack of green leaves with a dark paste greased upon them. I take the substance or shadow extracted from Immar's heart, pull it out of her body and put it onto the paste of the leaves. Then I roll up the leaves and lash them up with a cord that had been prepared underneath them. I hold the roll of lashed leaves in my hand; they are filled with a vibrant presence I do not know and don't want to know any better... I step outside of the hut and burn the leaves. Their ashes fall down and I catch them in a small clay pot.

For a short moment I am unsure what to do with the ashes. They are not secure yet, they still carry the imprint of the energy caught in the leaves... I look back into the dark room, Immar’s silhouette on the low bed. A moment later it's completely clear what to do with the ashes. 

I walk out on the street and follow its path to the base of the ziggurat. There, beneath the stairs leading up on the huge building I find large pots of clay that look like immense cauldrons. They are filled with earth. As I come closer and look inside them, I see that it's not earth they are filled with but ashes of multiple shades of grey. I empty the ashes of the leaves into the clay pot. From somewhere I gained a clear understanding of what will happen with them: at certain times priests descend from the temple on top of the ziggurat. They empty the clay pots and carry the ashes to the top of the ziggurat (well, to be precise I guess some slaves will do the carrying for them?). Then they perform rituals over the remains of the ashes, banishing the wicked spirits still caught in them from the city. Planetary beings assist them in these rites.

I walk back to Immar's hut. She is sitting on her bed, looking very happy.
  • Immar: What can I give you in return?
  • Acher: Can you teach me something about your gods?

She gets up and stands close to me. In her hands I can see an oblate - or maybe it is a coin? Without hesitation I open my mouth and Immar puts the oblate underneath my tongue. I turn around and look outside. The night sky has changed. Or is it really night or simply a different, darkened visions of my eyes? As if painted with broad brushes I can suddenly see the presence and work of the spirits in the city. They are shining like moving rays in the dark; their predominant color is a silver-white-blueish radiance that is moving over the flat roofs of the city, swirling and working on multiple places. There are so many of them? I can see them rise into the night sky and shoot down into the city again. It’s a busy coming and going. I am thinking: ‘There are probably as many spirits as human beings in this city...` Then I turn back to Immar. To my surprise I find that we are shining as well. Our bodies look like complex nettings of irradiating twigs. It's breathtakingly beautiful! I feel like a walking, shining lamp in the astral realm...

Finally we depart and leave Immar’s hut. Above the ziggurat I can now see a huge tower of light raising up into the night sky. The massive building of the ziggurat is dwarfed by the sheer size of this shining, vibrant, living tower of spirit presence. Without understanding any of the techniques or details, my heart immediately gets it: all physical objects in this city are potential interfaces between the material and spirit realm, potential focus points of energies. And the tallest building erected by humans is just the base of a much larger manifestation in the astral realm. One building is built upon the other, interconnected, like Yin and Yan, yet existing in two different realms. Is this the nature of every true temple? I have never seen something like this before.

Then I leave the city without turning back. I return to the river in the desert and flow upwards through its current, back into the darkness of the Void.

A ziggurat (also: ziqqurat) is a type of step-pyramid temple first built by the Sumerians 5,000 years ago in southern Mesopotamia, made of sun-dried mud bricks. The peoples of Mesopotamia – the Assyrians and Babylonians continued building ziggurats for thousands of years. (source)


These experiences are becoming so intense, so intimate maybe I should stop reporting openly about them? I should ask Immar about her opinion on my next visit... Looking backwards now the most striking thing is the way magical teaching seems to work on the inner realms? It seems to be less verbal, less focussed on speech or writing than we know it from the manifest realm. Immar doesn't show me any books and she doesn't give lectures. She just shares experiences. When I am with her everything is alive, fluid and emerging. Nothing can be fixed and all structure evades in light of the living presence of the experience itself... When it comes to teaching on the inner realms words don't seem to matter that much? When I asked her to teach me about her gods, she didn't tell but she showed me her gods. 

I wish we could achieve a similar state of instantness, of presence and sharing of vision on the material realm... How would a school, a study group or an occult order look like if we were capable of sharing our visions like Immar does? Well, and maybe without drugs? These seem to be an essential ingredient of her magic so far... 

My experiences in the city of clay also raise questions about the Grimoires and forms of written magical tradition for me: How much magic can we actually share and pass on by writing things down? Doesn't the written word kill or at least confine the living spirit? Is it possible to share anything more than just the 'grammar' of a dead language by passing on written knowledge? And how much arduous work is it for all of us to re-create dead languages from dusty books of grammar - rather than traveling to the places where languages are still alive and spoken by living beings?

I'll leave you with one thought that has come back to me repeatedly since my third visit at Immar's hut: Maybe the whole Western Magical Tradition of the past 2000 years has been dominated way too much by men? Maybe it's a predominantly male trait to look for patterns, structure, grammar and everything that can be fixed and pinned down first and foremost? Weren't it male biologists who traveled the world, hunting for unknown species  and drowning them in millions of glasses of pure alcohol? I haven't heard of a lot of woman taking such an approach to exploring the unknown... Maybe it's as simple as that: Less structure and more living. Less science and more art. Less obsession with objectivity. And more experiences in our own inner realms?