As a budding new theurgist, I often heard that theurgy was nothing more than psychology. I knew this was incorrect but I never had an argument that could hold water. I could share definitions like those below but I had no experience to back them up.
Psychologists attempt to understand the role of mental functions in individual and social behavior, while also exploring the physiological and biological processes that underlie cognitive functions and behaviors.(1)
Theurgy describes the practice of rituals, sometimes seen as magical in nature, performed with the intention of invoking the action or evoking the presence of one or more gods, especially with the goal of uniting with the divine, achieving henosis, and perfecting oneself.(2)
Henosis is the word for mystical "oneness," "union," or "unity" in classical Greek.(3) In Platonism, and especially Neoplatonism, the goal of henosis is union with what is fundamental in reality: the One (Τὸ Ἕν), the Source, or Monad.(4)
Any long time reader of this blog will have seen that psychology has a part to play. I would say that huge part of my work was personal psychology. I do not think other people would necessarily be the same. It is possible to mystically hop up levels of awareness. My path was and is more like a snake, twisting, turning, revisiting, clearing etc. A lot of that psychology had to do educating myself on thought processing and expression. This had behavioral results which granted social benefits. That process also helped to get myself out of my own way, at least partially.
Being in your own way means that one is preventing one’s own progress by clinging to idea or behavior that would be best discarded. This is because the perceived benefits of the idea are greater than the benefits of growth. The other possibility is that the fear of the pain involved in separating from the idea. This occurs because people identify with the idea as part of themselves rather than understanding the false and insubstantial nature of thought. The trade their true worth for the dubious value of an idea of self.
This is made harder because most people do not understand they are living an idea not enjoying a behavior. For instance, the non-alcoholic that gets drunk at parties is living the idea that one is supposed to get drunk at parties. It never occurs to him that he is the only one nor does it matter that he feels miserable the next day or worse have to apologize to someone. He is capable of real change only after he gives up the idea of proper party behavior. Maybe to do so, he has to give up the self-perception of I am the life of the party.
What most people really do not understand that severing one’s allegiance to an idea is easier than clinging to an idea that no longer serves. That understanding is where theurgy becomes easier to differentiate from psychology.
Theurgy has nothing to do with healing as we commonly think of the word. Theurgy does not care directly about changing the behavior. That is the specialty of behavioral psychology. Theurgy has to do with living by the ideas that express the highest level of your soul. These ideas are not based on human morals, ethics or religion. Instead, they are based upon what your soul needs to manifest in this world.
Thuergy took me to a place where I could see the Perfection. That was a moment of mystical union.
Mystical union takes place when one is not simply invoking deity but allowing there to be no difference (or very little) between oneself and that deity. The “I” of self can be discarded and reclaimed in an efficient manner. This means a completely alien presence speaks and exists within you and it is not only totally normal but a reality deeper than most get to experience. This experience can become so deep that I have witnessed a person’s eyes turn totally black like a deer’s. I have been told my skin complexion changes during the invocation of certain deities. A very experienced Native American that attended the Cult of Hermes told me that my eyes turn ‘other worldly’. Those observations are not the result of psychology or pharmacology for that matter!
So how do you transition between working psychologically to theurgically?
I was afraid you were going to ask that.
My first thought is that one reaches theurgy through intense focus. Psychology often involves the milieu of people in your life, their reactions to you, yours to them, associated thought process etc. As introspective as it must be this is broad spectrum thinking. Hyper focusing thought upon the deity being invoked, even if that deity is nameless or nearly nameless like Aaoz, opens the doorway to contact. Once deep contact is made, the psychology for further exploration is brought back with you. The more you do this the less barriers you face.
The psychology allows the theurgy which enhances the psychology.