The purpose of ritual within Esoteric Study, Religion, and Psychology

This paper by Paul A. Clark explains the importance of ritual in spiritual advancement and how it is superior to mere visualization. Also available as a pdf in the Yahoo group: ClevelandAMORC

Magic: The Path of Inner Transformation.

by Paul A. Clark

The Adept Dion Fortune defined magic as “the art of causing changes in consciousness at will.” Another Adept, Paul Case defined the subject as “the art of determining the forms and shapes which shalt be taken in the outer world by the veil of Reality…” And the Fraternity of the Hidden Light defines Magic as “the art of producing desired effects, initiated by changes in consciousness, by directing or aligning with the secret forces of the Cosmos.” One of the first things that is readily apparent from even a casual reading of these definitions is that what the average person thinks of when he hears the word “Magic” bears very little resemblance to what the Initiate of the Western Mystery Tradition means by this term. The effects of the Stage Illusionist or the Black Mass as found in Occult Thrillers bear little relation to the science of inner creation of the Adept. The word Magic is commonly thought to come from the ancient Persian language and have its origin in the term “Magi” the priestly caste of the Zoroastrian religion. The Three Wise Men in the Epiphany Legend in the Bible were -traditionally Magi. In the 10 grades of initiation in the Western Mysteries, assigned to the Tree of Life, the next to the highest is called “9=2, Magus.” The activity assigned to this level is Wisdom, Thus we may infer that Magic is the Science of the Wise. As studied and practiced in the Esoteric Orders it is very similar, in many respects, to a very advanced science of Psychology. To properly understand how Magic works it is necessary to examine one of the cardinal principles of consciousness postulated by the Arcane Fraternities:
“Causation is always internal.”
We continually create ourselves and our world via the images we habitually hold in our consciousness. Never does the world of effects cause us to do or be. Our reactions to these stimuli sometimes may give this impression, but this is an illusion. The more our images are in harmony with the essential reality of the oneness of being the happier we will be. If we are unhappy with our circumstances we need only restructure our inner universe and our outer world will remold itself to fulfill that model. Our link with the inner universe is through that part of our mind called the Subconscious. This is, in some respects, identical with the Jungian concept of the Collective Unconsciousness. This monograph will not include an in-depth discussion of the awesome powers of the Subconsciousness save to state that it is through the Subconscious mind that we are put in touch with the resources and people necessary to achieve any goal – those who desire further information may find it in the course “The Threshold: a Guide to Initiation”. This power is controllable, provided the Subconscious is approached in the right manner. The Emerald Tablet of Hermes states the Great Work (the Regeneration of Consciousness) is performed “…suavely and with great ingenuity…” Subconsciousness tends to resist demands but will respond readily to hints and suggestions, especially when those suggestions are presented in visual form through symbols. Such suggestions become especially potent when the symbols presented depict
archetypal levels. For example, a suggestions to enhance the acquisition of Wisdom will be more effective if the symbol of the “Wise Old Man” is used. A properly constructed Magic Ceremonial will present a multi-sensory symbol that will provide a potent image to the inner mind. Ceremonial Initiation (a form of Magic) attunes and adjusts the physical vehicle and its subtle counterparts (including the subconscious) to desired rates of vibratory force. Those corresponding parts of the aspirant’s vehicles may be awakened and developed through a process similar to resonance (as with a tuning fork and a piano string). A thorough knowledge of which symbols correspond to which archetypal energies is a fundamental necessity in order to be able to construct these “Ritualistic suggestions.” These symbolic correspondences and their tables of cross-reference are among the more closely guarded secrets of the Initiates of the Esoteric Fraternities. (Although some have been published during this century, many of the attributions given are false, possibly to confuse or sabotage the untrained.) While it is certainly true that in the more elaborate forms of magical ceremony certain implements, furnishings, etc. are used, none of these outer reminders are indispensable. The experienced practitioner does not depend upon these aides for successful results. While the true magician will develop a love for and will certainly attempt to surround himself with beautiful things – these are not required for the exercise of his art. The “things” do not have any inherent magical power in and of themselves. This author knew an Adept who worked most of her rituals in her Imagination while lying down in her bed! And she was consistently successful! Remember, all of the symbols of ritual are designed to reinforce a sharp mental image (or suggestion) of the effect we desire. These images become thought-forms that act as patterns through which the power of the Inner takes form in the outer. An effective ritual presents a potent suggestion to our consciousness. It forms a thought-form through the utilization of all the senses. Vision is stimulated by symbols; taste by wine, salt and bread, etc.; hearing by the chants; smell by the perfumes and incenses. Potent mental images are evoked in a multitude of ways. A ritual’s efficiency depends to a large extent upon the operator’s understanding of what (s)he says and does. A caution is appropriate here for the would-be magician. Many novices (or especially groups of novices) decide to “do ritual” without a firm grounding in theory. They attempt to become experts by reading a few books on the subjects. Just as ritual can provide a strong suggestion for good, an incorrectly constructed or poorly executed ceremonial can be harmful. While it probably just won’t work, it might, in some instances, cause definite problems through a bad suggestion. Color and sound are particularly potent for healing or harming. As my friend Robert Wang (author of The Qabalistic Tarot) remarked to me, “Many people think Color and Sound are merely symbolic, but they aren’t symbols — they are actual forces !” Another warning is appropriate. The force invoked by Magic is neutral. It may be used for good or for antisocial behavior. Initiates realize that misuse of these potencies carries a horrible price. The excuse that the ends justify the means is a trap which leads to “the Left Hand Path.” When we remember that the personal vehicle of the Magician is the
amplifier of these forces we understand how “the left-hand path” also called “black magic” leads surely to a physical and psychological deterioration of the false Magician. Some people object to the use of a fixed pattern and find it distasteful in relation to their efforts of spiritual unfoldment. And it is true that unless we have a firm idea of why we are doing each step, the practice becomes an act of simple superstition. Another objection voiced is that by using ritualistic magic we are over complicating matters. Some say why not just meditate and “affirm” our intention. While we would not discount the importance of either the practice of meditation or affirmation, we should realize that few people are good visualizers, or can express themselves adequately in verbal form to make the necessary impression upon the inner consciousness. When we make a symbolic gesture we tell our subconsciousness what would take pages to put into words. Paul Case once wrote that when a magician performs a ritual “…he makes a mental pattern which is like a painting in full color, whereas visualization or spoken words is like a pencil sketch.” Let us “build” an example magical ritual and apply our previously discussed theory. The first point to examine is known as “The Intention” of the rite. It is the purpose of the ceremony. Most failures occur because the goal of the endeavor is not clearly formulated. When we don’t know where we’re going, we shouldn’t be surprised if we don’t get there The intention is the key, because it guides all decisions In the following points. The entire ritual is built around this central core. In our example we choose for our intention the attainment of increased spiritual awareness. By referring to a set of “tables of correspondences” (we will use those published by Dion Fortune in her Mystical Qabalah) we find that this goal is governed by the activities of the sixth Sephirah –Tiphareth or Beauty. Thus we may proceed to compose a ritual using Tiphareth’s correspondences. Our temple and altar, therefore, will be draped in yellow and golden colors. The number six should be featured, perhaps in the knocks, circumambulations, or the number of candles. Our incense would be olibanum, frankincense or cinnamon, the incenses of Tiphareth and the Sun. We would wear yellow robes and upon our breast we would display a golden (or gold colored) six sided lamen, bearing the symbol of the Sun. This should give the average aspirant an idea of how to use the correspondence tables. We would start our ceremony by meditating on our goal and by reading inspirational writings on its theme. We would look at the appropriate Tarot Key (in this case Key 14, Temperance, assigned to Knowledge and Conversation of our Holy Guardian Angel). A purificatory bath, using water and a little salt is traditional. Our intent should be to cleanse our mind as well our body as in preparation for our ritual. We then don clean clothes, and then our robe, remembering why we are doing it! Every act should be done with remembrance of our Intention. Entering our Temple (or whatever prepared place we are using), we should state our intention aloud. The following formula is an example; “I will apply all my powers to align myself with the Divine powers of the Cosmos to achieve the following aim: To gain further awareness of my Spiritual Nature, and I hereby perform this Ceremony to this
end.” Other words may be used, but it is important to state it clearly and in an audible voice. We now proceed with the “preparation of the place.” By this we mean to symbolically cleanse and seal the Temple. By doing this we are mirroring an inner process. This is a cardinal principle of Ritual: all outer actions represent an inner process. In this case we are concentrating and purifying our inner consciousness in preparation for the work ahead. We should walk around the perimeter of our working space first with Water, sprinkling towards the East, then South, West, and finally North, with the intention of cleansing the “atmosphere” of the place. Next we cense, with the incense, in the same manner for the purpose of consecration (making sacred) the area. It is important, that in both of these activities to complete the circle of the place. What we mean by this is simply to finish where you started, in the East, so that we will have walked a complete circle in each of these operations. With this preparation having been accomplished, we now turn to the Invocation. The Invocation is basically a prayer of petition, calling down the particular aspect of power corresponding to our intention. In our example, we would feature the Divine Name, Tetragrammaton Eloah Va Daath. The technicalities of how to properly intone these Names has never been published outside the Orders and we may not discuss it in this paper, save to say that it is part of the training given to Initiates of the Fraternity of the Hidden Light. The effect of the Invocation should be to so exalt the consciousness of the Magician and “enflame with prayer , as Abra-Melin (a semi-legendary Adept) says, that his concentration will become one pointed, making a doorway between the Inner and Outer worlds. At this point, we would visualize the Magical Image of Tiphareth, which is a small child with arms outstretched, vividly standing before us. This image acts as what it technically known in the Mysteries as a Telesmatic Image (similar to an energy converter). Here we wait. If we have done our job well, a potent suggestion will be made. Even if no immediately apparent effect is consciously produced the ritual will have done its work which will manifest later in our dally life. We should not be content to perform this ceremony only once. If we repeat it on a regular basis more dramatic results will occur. We may arrive at the climax of the ceremony many times, with no obvious results until, one day, poised between the worlds, we will experience the descent of the influx of the power. Then we will look at “spiritual awareness” from an entirely different viewpoint. WE WILL KNOW! We will speak as one who is in authority, for we will have, for possibly only a split second in eternity, become SPIRITUAL AWARENESS! From that point on we will not need to read or be taught about the subject — for we will have found the ONE TRUE TEACHER. After we have finished with this part of the ceremony an act of “thanksgiving” and intentionally releasing the energies is necessary. This frees the currents to return to their normal functions. To expand the consciousness in the Temple is one thing. To attempt to drive down the freeway in a busy city In this condition Is quite another. To forget this point will, at the very least cause you to have trouble falling asleep. Also, for the energies to do the greatest good they must be “earthed”, This means worked into the densest of our vehicles — the physical body. The practice of eating following the ceremony and of going through a series of exercises to tense and relax the
muscles in order to integrate the effects of the ceremony is important. Then we should sit down and write a record of our experiment. Just as exoteric scientists keep careful journals of their work so should we, as esoteric scientists, follow this practice. By doing this immediately following the ritual we may catch many insights that, like dreams, will rapidly fade with the passage of time. In the end, our awareness of the magical nature of all Life becomes enhanced. We see and understand the Dance of Creation, Preservation, Transformation, and Resurrection that goes on around and through us. Then we will experience continually the miracle of Being

— The Magic of the Moment. © 1986, 1996, 2001 Paul A. Clark


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