Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The First Skill of the Magician

So you want to be a mage? Many people will tell you to start performing something called the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram. Those people have been exposed to ceremonial magick. The practice of that ritual is foundational to that style of magick. In doing that ritual, you will learn many skills that will serve you well.That said, it is only one style of magick. I am not expert on anything other than what I do. However, I think there is a more foundational skill that cuts across all or many types of magick.

Step one in becoming a magician is knowing your thoughts and emotions. Why is that important? Because being a magician means that you will deal with unseen spirits and energies and if you do not know the difference between yourself and them, you can wind up in quite a bit of trouble. Even if you choose never to do magick, knowing your own thoughts is valuable and will lead you to a better life.

So, how do we learn our thoughts?

1. Pay attention. Pay attention to the phrases you use internally. Do you say to yourself, “This guy is a jerk” or “That guy is an asshole.” Do you say, “Awww, that is so cute” or “How adorable!” Are your thoughts, “I need to make more money” or “I need to find a way to get these bills paid.”

These pairs of thoughts mean essentially the same thing but they do not express those meanings the same way.

2. When you start to realize how you speak internally, make a written record. This not only reinforces the memory of the exercise but it gives you a way to check back later. We all forget things.

3. Quantify the types of thoughts you have. You may come up with a list that looks like this

Thoughts on Sex -- A lot

Thoughts on work when I am not there – Nightly

Thoughts on that guy that pissed me off in the ninth grade, once a week

Or this:

Thoughts on sex: 60%

Thoughts on work when I am not there – 10%

Thoughts on that guy that pissed me off in the ninth grade, 1%

The first type of list is more practical to me but do what works for you.

What does this do for you?

First and foremost it makes you start paying attention to yourself. Most people pay attention to other people and project their thoughts onto them. The more you know your thoughts the quicker you will realize how often you project your attitudes onto the other rather than seeing them as they are. The realizations about yourself, the other and the peculiar way that influences your view of the universe will be worth the effort.

Secondly, you will realize how much time you waste on that guy that pissed you off in the ninth grade. Seriously, why are you still thinking about that? There may be something you are working out or it may be a total waste of energy. You have to decide.

Thirdly, this leaves you with a map of where your uncontrolled mind goes. If you want to guide it to a particular point, you now have a tool to use to help you. You can begin to interrupt yourself when start thinking about work when you should be learning how to do something else.

Fourth, it lets you see your general default mindset.

Fifth, you eventually learn to pay attention to others. For example, a new in-law asked me what tarot ‘was supposed to be’. To my mind, that phrasing was insulting as in “That is not real. How do you sell it to your clients?” I gave him a short, non-committal answer. As I paid attention to him, he asked the same question about medication and a movie. It is just his phrasing. No insult was intended at all and he likely had no idea his phrase could have been taken that way. Had I not learned to pay attention, I may have come to resent this fellow.

Magickally speaking, it gives you a tool to recognize undue influence. Let’s say you normally use “This guy is a jerk,” or “That guy is an asshole,” when you are displeased with someone. When you are in a meeting at work and suddenly you thoughts are “What a dill weed!”* You should be on high alert. That may not be your thought! This may be that dangerous fire spirit you conjured last night exercising its influence. You may start to become unnecessarily angry or your verbal words may cause you more of a problem in this meeting.

On a more positive note, as someone that does a lot of spirit work, I have found it very helpful to recognize phrases that I do not use when speaking with spirits. Here are some examples.

The other day, I skried the spirit of asafetida. I heard the phrase, “astral acid…hydrochloric acid.” I do not think I have ever thought of anything on the astral as acidic. Chances are I am dealing with a spirit and not talking to myself. Self-delusion is a common problem for magicians. It can strike no matter how experienced you are. If I heard “Astral Windex”, I would be listening to my own head, not a spirit. Not knowing the difference can get you in trouble. Some days, I just do not have 'it'. I know my internal markers and that keeps me from becoming self-deluded.

If I were working with a spirit and heard, “That is colossally wrong.” I may recognize that I do not use that word internally or externally. I may also associate that with my father who used “colossally” during my teenage years. Maybe I am dealing with a spirit that sees itself as paternal in nature.

Some spirits impart totally new information. Others are only capable of putting things together in your head in new ways. So, the spirit may have used ‘colossally’ or my mind interpreted the vibe as that. Either way, the same message comes across.

I verbally use the phrase, “well, that would smack of effort” to indicate something that may be good or fun to do but that I am never really going to do. Most likely, the item in question is just not high on my priority list. Should I ask a spirit, “Can I learn to skry common household items to learn if pens or toasters have an egregore?” I may hear, “Well, that would smack of effort.” The conclusion should be obvious there.

Knowing your thought patterns is essential for personal growth and for being a magician.

The same thing applies to emotions.

Write down your most common emotions, even better if you can add your thoughts to them. Find a way to quantify them just like the thoughts above. Add to it what circumstances aids in creating emotions or what you do before, during or after them. All of the same ideas apply as above.

Doing this sort of thing takes a measure of discipline. It is well worth the effort.

Let's go back to the LBRP. You are evoking angels. Eventually, you will speak to them. Doing the exercise outlined above is critical to that process. Solid evocation and skrying skills require strong internal skills.

*I had a friend use that in high school. I have no idea why that phrase is a pejorative.

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Matt Van de Ven said...

Working, and constantly working on the basics is essential! I really appreciate this post. I've recently done one on the LRP and how I've had to re-approach it mindfully after examining myself and my path. The evaluation of and identification of personal features, temperament and skills (Internal and external) is essential to our magical path.
I appreciate this post and love your work!


WAR said...

Some interesting insights; of which I agree wholeheartedly! The skills which I consider "fundamental" are all about knowing self and recognizing outside influences before connecting to the outside universe in a partnership relationship while employing a non dogmatic, and non traditional framework. These fundamental skills start with Grounding, Cleansing, and Protection along with different views of the Elemental systems and working toward a digestion of thought, such as discursive, and active meditation. Like all skills sets, the most important in hindsight, for me, would be dedication of practice.