Friday, 25 October 2013

Visualisation and Audition


For successful magical work it is absolutely essential that the operator should be able to build up mental images, since, as we have seen, the forces of the Astral Light are directed and controlled by such mental images. It is therefore evident that the would-be magician must gain proficiency in this image-building if he is to do any effective work.
There are several points to be remembered when one is beginning to train the mind along these lines. One, and most probably the most important of them all, is that the mind strongly opposes any attempt to train it, and will resort to the strangest of tricks in order to prevent its owner in any way attempting to do so. These psychological tricks vary from a simple forgetting to do the exercise to a very definite feeling of headache, palpitation and general malaise. The mind judges, and usually quite correctly, that any adverse physical symptons will alarm us and so tend to make us drop our training. The reason for this trait of the mind is simply that the mind is a creature of habit, and once certain patterns have been established within it, it tends to work exclusively along those lines. Any new suggestions which tend to break up the existing state of things arouse strong subconscious opposition. But if the effort is persevered in, there comes a time when the new pattern is accepted and henceforth it will be as difficult for the person concerned to revert to the earlier pattern, as it was for him to adopt the later one.
How, then, may we best go to work in this training? Modern psychologists tell us that it is impossible to stop the flow of the conscious mental images in the waking consciousness, and still remain awake and conscious. But the Yogis say it is possible to be fully awake and at the same time to keep the mind perfectly blank. This for them is a matter of personal experience. In practice one finds it is possible to keep the mind clear of images, yet alert and ready to act But in order to do this, the mind must be trained, and the statement of the psychologists omits this consideration.
For success in this, as in all magical work, it is essential that we keep ourselves firmly anchored on the objective levels, and this is best done by building images which are mental pictures of things around us, and only when considerable proficiency has been gained should abstract and purely mental concepts be visualised.
There are two different methods of mental form-building and each complements the other. So the path of true wisdom in these matters lies midway between. Both methods should be carefully and persistently worked with, and it will be found that they both have their justification, so that one is hindered by the absence of the other.
In one case the experimenter trains the mind to construct some image, not too simple, and such construction is carefully carried out. We may term this method the "Creation of Images." The reason why the image should not be too simple is that the mind requires variety and will soon tire of a simple picture, and tend to slip away from it.
In the second case, the mind is held by the will in a quiet and passive condition, and the images are allowed to rise in consciousness. This method may be termed the "Evocation of Images."
Now the impressions received from the five physical senses provide excellent material for the work, and by the very fact that they are derived from the physical plane, they tend to keep the mind in touch with the objective realities of physical life. Although we have only referred in the title to two of the five, the visual and audible images, the images from all the senses must be worked upon. The following exercises along the two lines already indicated will show how the training works, and any amount of similar exercises can be devised by the experimenter himself. It is well to remember that the pictures seen when we are just falling asleep, or when we are just awakening, are both of the "images rising" type known to psychologists as the "hypnopompic" and "hypnogogic" images.
When the two types of exercise have been practised for a little time, it will be found that there is a very real difference between them.
The development of the power of visualisation along the lines of the "image-arising" is greatly facilitated by the exercises here given, but it must be borne in mind that the relationship between the conscious and subconscious levels of the mind, when performing these exercises, must be that of the two principals in the Tarot card "the Lovers," i.e. one of happy co-operation; not an attempt to bully the subconscious into obedience.
In this connection the remarks of a writer on Alchemy are worth remembering. He says,(*) and he is speaking of one aspect of the subconscious, "She yields to nothing but love." In the Tarot card above mentioned the woman looks to the angel above, whilst the man, representing the conscious level of the mind, looks at the woman, perceiving in her, as in a mirror, the angel she perceives directly.
(*) Coelum Terrae, by Thomas Vaughan (pub. 1650).
Some modern systems of concentration and visualisation do try to control the subconscious by force, but the results they obtain are negligible.
Since, however, the subconscious levels are affected by the unseen psychic and psychological tides of the universe (tides which work through the magnetic sphere of the earth) it will be found in practice that there are times when it is far easier to establish the necessary contact between the conscious and subconscious levels than at others, and every apprentice to the magical art should carefully note these times and draw up a chart of their fluctuations. Then by comparing his chart with objective data, he will find that the positions of the planets and the moon seem to be linked with certain phases of the subconscious life. If this work is done steadily and conscientiously, the "dry periods," when work with the images appears almost impossible, may be checked, and provided against. It is foolish to endeavour to swim against the tide (though sometimes this must be done deliberately in order to develop independence of action). "The wise man rules his stars; the fool obeys them." This is true, but in this, as in all occult work, discrimination is the first virtue. The real virtue is to know when and how to act or refrain from action, but for the beginner it is well if he observes the set of the tides and works accordingly. At a later date he can essay the deeper waters and swim against the tides if needs be.
The regular and conscientious performance of allowing the images to rise will tend to establish a channel by which many mental conflicts which were hitherto held in the unconscious, may come up into the daylight of the conscious mind. This is all to the good for it enables the self-consciousness to deal with such repressions, to break them down and to restore the locked-up psychic energy which ensouls them, back to the general river of energy, thus increasing the available force of the individual.
There is in magical work, an operation known as exorcism, whereby "evil" spirits are driven out of the individual or place infested by them. The Christian Church, in its older branches also practises such exorcism, as also do many spiritualists. But whether it be the magician or priest or leader of a spiritualist "rescue circle," one thing must be done if the exorcism is to be effective: the spirit to be exorcised must first be brought into material conditions as fully as possible. It is not possible to exorcise a spirit who isn't there! So evocation must always precede exorcism.
Now the practice of allowing the images to rise does mean that the repressed complexes, which are semi-independent mental groups, and may therefore be legitimately personified as "spirits," are evoked and begin to rise, and at first it seems likely that the waking consciousness may be drowned in the rising sub-conscious sea. At a later date such a submergence, but a willed submergence, of the "flyer," i.e. the waking consciousness, in the "sea" or subconsciousness, must be attempted, but at the commencement of the exercise this must not be done as it usually leads to a form of trance which is not in itself productive of anything worth while.
Notes should be kept of the complexes which arise during the period when we are doing these exercises, and it must be remembered that as the psychic energy which was locked up in those complexes is released, there will be some pretty violent emotional fluctuations taking place in consciousness. This phase, which is a definite stage on the "path of self-knowledge," must always be expected and arrangements made to deal with it. It is the period when the "dross and scum" mentioned by the alchemists begins to rise to the surface.
But the apprentice must not think that, once this mental scum has ceased to rise, the purifying process is completed. There will always be a purging process as the self advances to higher levels, but the first purging is the most obvious, the later ones are far more subtle.
Here we come to one of the uses of the method of the "creation of images." If the mind has been trained to build definite images at will, then it can build up barriers which will prevent the unwanted intrusion of these uprising thoughts and emotions, and so keep the mental field clear for whatever may arise from the depths or descend from the heights of consciousness.
The two methods employ distinct and different mental powers. In the case of the "evocation of images" the mind is brought into a controlled state of passivity and the images arise on the blank mental screen.
In the "creation of images," such images are deliberately built up by the conscious mind. In the first case, what is required is a certain psychological knack of controlling the mind. In the second case, the steady application of the will and the visualising faculty is needed.
Let us now consider the first exercise in image-building. It is a very simple one, being "Kim's game" as recorded in the book Kim, by Rudyard Kipling. A number of articles are placed on a tray and covered by a cloth. Then the cloth is removed and the experimenter looks at the assorted objects for one minute. Then the tray is again covered, and the student writes down the description of as many of the articles as he can remember, and their position on the tray. This sounds so very simple, but in actual practice it is much more difficult than it appears.
This exercise very often reveals to the student some of the weak spots in his mental functioning. For instance, if he finds that certain articles are almost invariably forgotten when used in this exercise, he may be fairly certain that this is due to some psychological happening in his mind, and is not simply chance.
By using the object thus indicated as the starting point of a meditation, he may be able to draw up from the depths of the subconsciousness the particular thought-complex which is causing the trouble. When the repressed emotion locked up in this complex has been discharged, it will be found that the object connected therewith has ceased to be in any way different from the other articles used in the exercise.
When comparative efficiency has been reached with this exercise, the next may be commenced. Actually it may be started at the same time, if the apprentice magician has the necessary time to devote to it. Incidentally, these exercises may be attempted at any time which is convenient, but if a regular time can be set apart for them, so much the better. There is much to be said for using a definite time for the work, but under the conditions prevailing around the student it may well be impossible to do this. This should not be regarded as a great drawback, but the exercises should be carried out when it is possible to do them. The ingenuity of the apprentice can be used to adapt the exercises to his daily work. For instance, a storekeeper could make his work one long exercise in "Kim's game," and as proficiency is gained, he would become a better storekeeper.
The next exercise is somewhat different. It consists of gaining the peculiar knack of the re-focussing of perception, a cardinal mental power, and is performed thus: —"Transfer the vital effort from the optic nerve to the mental perception, or thought-seeing as distinct from the seeing with the eye. Let one form of apprehension glide on into the other. Produce the reality of the dream vision by positive will in the waking state ...."(*)
(*) Instructions given in The Golden Dawn, Vol. 4, page 16.
This was the instruction given in The Golden Dawn in connection with what are known as the Tattva visions, but purely as a mental exercise it is of the greatest value. Actually it is twofold, for it should also be practised "in reverse," i.e. efforts should be made to transfer a mental picture into apparent objectivity so that it may be seen, apparently, by the physical sense. Actually of course, it is not seen by the physical eye (except in certain rare cases) but it appears to be observed. The vision seen by a clairvoyant seer in a crystal or black mirror is an example of such a "projected" mental picture. It is well to remember that this is a willed or voluntary projection, since it is a characteristic of certain forms of psycho-pathology that such projections of mental pictures occur to the sufferer, but are involuntary. It is well, therefore, if the student always so arranges this particular exercise as to make it an entirely voluntary happening. It should never be done except when he wills to do it, and this must never be when he is occupied with the ordinary mundane duties. Also, and this too is important, he must carefully select the thought picture which he wishes to project, and must not allow (at least for this exercise) any chance mental picture to be used.
The present writer has found that one of the best ways of carrying out the first part of this exercise is to place the object in a good light on a monochrome surface, either dark or light, and use a paper or cardboard tube some eight inches long and two and a half inches inside diameter, through which to gaze at it, using the left and right eyes alternately. Or the tube may be made rectangular, so that both eyes may be used at the same time. Then, as the object is being steadily held in the field of vision, the eyes should be slightly thrown out of focus, as we sometimes do when we are "day-dreaming," and the visual picture now apparently brought mentally within the head. This is a psychological "trick which is usually only acquired after a great deal of effort and failure. It is analogous to the knack of learning to balance when we first attempt to ride a bicycle. Once the knack has been gained, it will be found increasingly easy to bring this visual image into mental apprehension. A further development is to close the eyes—during the first attempts only slightly, then more fully in subsequent ones, until the final stage is reached when the student is able to see clearly inside his head, as it were, the picture of the object concerned, his eyes being closed in the meantime.
Once this has been accomplished, and practise has made it fairly easy, the complementary half should be essayed. The object chosen should be observed, and the perception transferred in the usual way to the subjective mental screen. Meanwhile a monochrome surface, such as a white disc on a black surround, or a black disc on a white surround, or a crystal or black concave mirror, should have been placed so that the student can use it as a screen upon which to project his mental picture.
He should now open his eyes sufficiently to see the disc or mirror (which should be in a dim light) whilst still holding the picture on the mental screen. Then by a quiet, calm effort of will he should project the picture outwardly onto the screen.
Again, there is a psychological knack to be gained, but once it is gained, and stabilised by subsequent practise, a very great step forward has been taken. It must again be emphasised that this projection should only be done deliberately at the will of the apprentice magician, and any involuntary projections should be sternly resisted.
When the knack has been gained, it is possible to project such a mental image so clearly that it is to all intents and purposes as though one were perceiving it with the physical eyes.
A further stage in this mental projection is one which is not often met with outside the occult lodges. It is possible, if the magician has the materialising type of body, or can employ a materialising medium, to cause such mental images to be clothed with ectoplasmic substance and become visible to the physical senses of all present
Another way in which an apparent objectivity can be given to the projected images, is by a process of "telepathic radiation." Here the projected image, localised in one point of space, becomes what the psychic researchers term a "phantasmogenetic centre," and the simultaneous telepathic radiation by the magician induces what is known as a "collective hallucination" in those around. Again, this is not usually experienced outside the lodges, except apparently accidentally.
The technique of this latter method depends upon certain training which allows the conscious mind to be more closely linked with its subconscious levels. The magical feat known as the "Operation of Invisibility" is based on this technique, though, in some cases, something more enters into it, for the ectoplasmic substance can produce some very unusual effects. The present writer once took a photo of a high grade occultist. On developing the film, there was no trace of the figure of the person concerned, though all the chair in which he was sitting at the time showed quite clearly. It was just as though a photo had been taken of an empty chair. In the East there is a tradition of such "akashic shields" which can produce invisibility, and it may be that further research into the properties of the substance we know of as "ectoplasm" will bring new facts to light, bearing upon this subject. In the case of the purely mental operation of invisibility, it is to be remembered that we normally notice those things which either strike us forcibly, or in which we have some definite interest, or which are sufficiently isolated as to attract our attention. But a great deal of what we see is not noticed consciously at all, though, as hypnotic experiments prove, the memory is retained in the mind and can be brought up into consciousness.
If, therefore, the one who wishes to be unnoticed adapts such mannerisms, or alters any unusual appearance he may have, it is quite possible for him to pass in a crowd without being noticed by us. If, in addition, he has gained the knack of telepathic suggestion, then he affects those around him as the hypnotist affects his entranced subject, when he tells her that she will be unable to see another person who is in the room.*

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