The Nutty Professor asked a question regarding the Pagan Blog Project Post on Affirmations.
Can you say a little about the relationship between affirmations and visualization? is there a difference between prayers, verbal rituals of evocation/invocation and affirmation when you boil it down?
It should be noted that I am not a scholar. My response is how I work with these concepts and my understanding of them.
Affirmations basically a consciously selected repeated thought are often performed by people that believe that the power of positive thought can achieve anything. I believe things are more complex.
Let us say that I want to make more money. If I fully believed in affirmations, I may repeat to myself, "I am attracting wealth every day. My wealth will attract even greater wealth. I am rich today and every day." There are so many ways to analyze this that I am at a loss to pick which one.
Would this work if I just repeated it while watching Dodger games and made no effort to get the education I needed, a second job to start the ball rolling or some other investment of time or money? Maybe but only if I had a business set up and operating. The universe just may open up a stroke of luck in the form of new customers and more income. The profits from that may be sufficient to take something successful and propel it to new levels.
A different goal may only need the affirmation alone. For instance, let us say I lack confidence. I am afraid to talk to strangers. Repeating, "I am strong and valuable. People want me to speak with them. I have the courage and confidence to speak with those I meet." Repeating this often enough just may create a thought form that encourages and reminds me to talk to people. Such an affirmation can be a life changing experience. Especially, if the reason you are not making money and need the first mantra is that you are too shy to get employed or not forceful enough in selling your product. In such a case, layering affirmations like those above may indeed be useful.
Personally, I'd rather just create the thought form magickally.
Prayer is a hugely neglected technique in pagan spirituality and magick. I believe this is because so many pagans have Yahwehitis that they feel prayer is too Christian. This is hogwash. The smallest amount of research will reveal prayer used outside of Christendom for thousands of years.
The main difference between a prayer and an affirmation is that the latter is strictly using the power of the mind and potential minor bits of living energy called thought forms to accomplish a given task. The former is asking a deity or deities to intercede. The prayers most closely associated with affirmations are called prayers of petition. "Hermes, please aid me in this business venture."
There are other types of prayer. This article, The Top Five Types of [Catholic] Prayer, points out other types of prayer. Keep in mind the list offered is not all inclusive.
Rituals of Evocation and Invocation
I am going to start with Invocation as it has two main forms. The first is a general prayer asking the deity in question to bless or be present at an event. You can see this type of prayer before many city council meetings, high school graduations and the like. Normally, this type of prayer is very weak. Unless, the people around the prayer are of great faith and respond emotionally to the call. In that case, a deeper connection to the deity in question may be formed. Nonetheless, this sort of prayer of prayer is so general that it is like inviting Bill Clinton to a party and never asking him a question on politics and world affairs. It would be nice to have him show up but at the same time a bit of a waste not to learn from the man.
Another form of invocation is the the calling of a deity into your spirit/body. This means you are literally sharing your body and mind with the spirit in question. For all practical purposes, if you do this intending it to have a mundane impact on your life, you are saying this. "Deity X, change my internal structure, change my actions, change my mundane life, change my spirit in such a way that will allow this into my life." If you qualify things as less than that, you will diminish the chances of getting what you want.*
This is majorly effective but the massive change potential here is more than most untrained people can handle. The possible impact of that may be more temporarily difficult than the dark night of the soul I just passed through. Though, if your brain doesn't snap, you'll likely get what you want in the long run.
Evocation is the closer to a prayer of petition but has elements of magickal invocation. In this case, the mage evokes a deity or spirit outside his circle. He then asks or commands that a given thing happen. If you're calling a deity, I suggest asking. While this type of practice is very effective, not everyone can pull it off. Often things have to be done exactly right to get an appearance. If you do get an appearance, can you handle your first physical sighting of a spirit manifesting in your temple space? This does have a psychological impact.
One more word about invocation/evocation. An Alexandrian Wiccan elder once told me about a deity that showed up angry. The elder's words were, "Oh Shit, I am trapped in circle with this thing?" Oh Shit is right, an angry deity is nothing you want to deal with. My advice is do the research necessary to make sure what you are asking for does not conflict with the deity's nature. Make sure its lore does not contradict your desires. A pissed off god can have a lifetime impact.
*I do expect some of the magicians that read this space to have some issue with this paragraph.