Monday, August 27, 2018

The Beginning Magician :: Lesson 1, What is Magick? by Adam K

Forest magick
Magick in the woods

The Beginning Magician, Lesson 1

Continued from the Preamble

by Adam K.

Seriously, though... what is magick? Because surely this would be a helpful thing to know before one begins a study of it, right?

Crowley defined magick as “the Science and Art of causing Change in conformity with Will.” This doesn't just apply to metaphysical things, but also to one's everyday acts of conscious will. But how does it apply? 

Well, here is an example, which is this author's standby as it's so concise. Say that you have the goal of losing fat and gaining muscle. Obviously your goal may be more precisely defined, but for our purposes this will suffice. In order to accomplish this goal, one must dedicate to a change in habits and behaviors that are conducive to a change in oneself and/or one's environment. This requires one to have a will strong enough to remain dedicated to such changes.

But then let's say said individual also has the desire to eat jelly donuts and chocolate chip cookies like they are going out of style. Obviously, that sort of desire is going to be in conflict with the fitness and health goals they've set. Magick in this case is changing oneself in accordance with one's will, and being able to do so despite the contradictory desires one is facing.

Will is Dual Aspected

In the above example we can also see an illustration of two types of desire. One is the desire we call the will. It is action. The other is the desire of impulse; it is reaction. Thus for practicality of purpose, one's will and one's desires will thus be seen as two different things. In order to perform magick successfully, one must learn to harmonize one's desires with one's will. If this cannot be done, then one must choose between accomplishing the goals of one's will and simply doing whatever one wants at any given moment. In the words of Liber AL vel Legis, the primary holy book of Thelema, “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.” This means to do your will, and not to just do whatever you want. And that, my friends, is Magick.

This concept we call will is central to the practice of magick, and more so to the concept of Thelema. In fact, Thelema is Greek for Will. It is one's will, rather than one's belief or faith, that fuels magick. In fact, like gravity or any other natural phenomenon, magick doesn't require faith to work. It requires only willed action. The proof that magick works is its success. As Liber AL says, “Success is thy proof...” The magician has no convenient excuse if his magick stalls. He cannot say that a lack of faith is why one fails, as is the excuse for why prayers so often go unanswered.

Oddly, it does require a great deal of faith to believe magick does not work. That, coupled with a tendency to put no real effort into the task of performing or practicing magick, will guarantee failure. Like any task, if you don't perform properly or to completion, you will not get the desired results. If you want your magick to work, you must actually do the work!

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While that may seem simple enough, it tends not to be so easy. It should come as no surprise that if will is the key to magick, one should develop exceptional willpower in order to more readily succeed. Try to see will and willpower as separate but related things. The will is that which is to be accomplished. Willpower is the driving force and determination--the power, necessary to get it done.

There are a number of ways to strengthen one's willpower, and, naturally, they are not easy. We will attempt here to describe one method of accomplishing this task in a fairly straightforward fashion. We'll launch straight into the solution in the next section.

What are Pranayama and Asana, and how can they help with magick? 

These two terms come from yoga. Pranayama can loosely and poorly be defined as the yogic control of the breath. Asana can also loosely and poorly be defined as proper posture. While these can be simple, they are, like magick, not so easily mastered. It is this simplicity which makes them a fantastic way to strengthen one's willpower, however. So here we will give a rather simple, straightforward routine for doing just that.

Crowley once proclaimed in Yoga for Yahoos, Fourth Lecture, Asana and Pranayama, that he had once reduced the whole doctrine of Yoga to this simple phrase: “Sit still. Stop thinking. Shut up. Get out!” That does pretty much sum the whole thing up. So we will start with a simple asana called God Posture, because sitting still is what this one is all about.

A chair will be needed that allows the feet to be flat on the ground with the inner ankles and big toes just barely touching one another. The forelegs should be flat to the chair as well, with the knees together. The back should be straight as if at attention, with the elbows tucked in at one's sides. The hands should be laying palms down and flat on the corresponding thighs, fingers and thumbs together as in a military salute. The head should be facing directly forward and slightly tilted up. The mouth should be closed, and the eyes should be focused on a point just above the horizon. Picture the manner in which Egyptian gods are often portrayed as sitting and you will get the idea. And there you have the reason it is called God Posture.

A simple yet effective breathing exercise that can be used as a sort of beginner pranayama is this. While seated in God Posture, with the mouth closed and the tongue sealed against the roof of the mouth, slowly and steadily inhale for a count of a full two seconds. Fill the lungs from the bottom to the top. Then, exhale slowly and completely for a count of four seconds, this also from the bottom to the top. Do this for sixty seconds without moving any part of your body, maintaining your visual focus on the spot in front of you and above your horizon while emptying your mind of all other thoughts except “breathe.” After the first sixty seconds, begin inhaling for four seconds and exhaling for eight seconds in the same way as before. While breathing, try to do so without making any sound. Just breathe calmly, smoothly, and evenly.

If it helps, use a metronome to keep the count for the breathing exercise. Metronome apps can be downloaded for free on most devices. The amount of time spent on this exercise should progressively increase as the practice of it moves forward. A recommendation would be to do it for ten minutes a day for one week, then increase the time spent in the posture one minute per week until one hour can be spent in the posture with proper breath control and a complete lack of movement. It can be guaranteed that a great deal of willpower is required to accomplish this.

It is advisable to keep a journal of progress in this and all other practices throughout the magical journey. This allows one to gauge progress and results in a more efficient, scientific fashion. The following is an example of how to keep such a journal.

What is a Magical Diary, and how do you keep one? 

The Magical Diary or journal, whatever you prefer to call it, is a record of your daily magical practices, your dreams, and all the things that directly or indirectly may affect you practices. These things may include, but are not limited to, the weather, foods and liquids consumed, the time of day, moon phase, your emotions, the ritual or action performed, an objective description of how well or poorly you performed, the results of your performance, and so on. Each entry should indicate the date, day, and time of the entry. There exists a vast variety of instructions for how to keep a journal of this kind, and many are actually quite good. I would recommend one called Aleister Crowley and the Practice of the Magical Diary by the author James Wasserman, who is a respected member of the Ordo Templi Orientis, a primarily Thelemic magical order.

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In the opening of every issue of Crowley's periodical, The Equinox, there is the phrase “The Method of Science, the Aim of Religion**.” This means that a scientific methodology is used to arrive at the results hoped for in religion. Part of that methodology involves the keeping of clear and detailed records of one's experiences within magical practices; it should be clear why the keeping of a journal of this nature is important. Furthermore, it is recommended for one to gain a clear understanding of scientific methodology. In short, the steps of the scientific method are as follows:

1. Ask a question for which you desire an answer.
2. Do background research relevant to the question.
3. Construct a hypothesis that explains what outcome you believe will result, meaning what you believe the answer to your question will ultimately be.
4. Test the hypothesis with experimentation.
5. Determine if the procedure of experimentation is working.

a) If yes, the procedure of experimentation is working, analyze the data and draw conclusions.

- If results align only partially or not at all with the hypothesis, use the gathered data as background research for a new project and go back to step 3.

When results do align with the hypothesis, #ad-journal the results and communicate them.

b) If no, the procedure of experimentation is not working, troubleshoot the procedure and carefully check the steps and set-up, then return to step 4.

In science, one learns as much from failure as from success. The same is true in magick. It is not necessarily a bad thing when a hypothesis is proven wrong. Many incredible things have been discovered by accident or by “failure” in scientific experimentation. So do not become discouraged when results are not as expected. Rather, repeat the procedure numerous times and note whether the results are the same each time. If they are, then a way has been discovered to achieve those results. If the results might be considered useful in some way, then a success has been had. If the same results are not accomplished each time however, there is a variable that is not being controlled or accounted for. That's what step 5 above is all about.

This should be plenty to keep the fledgling magician busy for a week. The next segment of this article will be out soon. Until then, keep to the practices and be sure to journal, journal, journal.


**The aim of religion, at least from the thelemite perspective, is Union with God, or the collective soul, or the universal consciousness, or whatever you ultimately discover to be the truth. The method of science is to discover things through experimentation, the gathering and objective observation of evidence, and the goal of disproving what you hope to prove.

If through serious, concerted, relentless effort, you cannot disprove a thing, it may be true. Then your task becomes to, through the same effort, prove your hypothesis. If you consistently reach the same conclusions through repeated and repeatable experimentation, your theory becomes legitimate until such point as it is disproven. The method of religion is to believe in a thing entirely based on faith, with no real evidence to support your belief. See the difference?

Links to the Segments of This "Lessons in Magick" Series
The Preamble :: How to Become a Magician
Lesson One :: Elementary Level Knowledge (this page)
Lesson Two :: Basic Rituals
Lesson Three :: Deities and Supernatural Beings in Magick
Lesson Three Continued :: Deities
Lesson Four :: Yogic Breathing

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Obsidian Metaphysical and Healing Properties

various types of obsidian
Obsidian pieces. Wikimedia Commons file, [Public domain]

What Obsidian Is

Obsidian is a naturally occurring glass, that forms from molten lava when it is cooled very quickly. Minerals that have a crystalline structure usually develop it over time, unlike obsidian, which does not have a crystalline structure as it is formed so very fast. Thus it is not a crystal, but an amorphous glass and a mineraloid. Glass-like obsidian is opaque but for in shallower areas of a stone. It is most commonly black, but comes in a range of other colors, including brown, tan, green, and grey; far less common are golden sheen and silver sheen obsidian. Such sheens are brought about by tiny gas bubbles trapped under a stone's surface. Rainbow obsidian is formed in a similar way to silver and golden sheen obsidian, but requires nanoparticle inclusions of magnetite to produce the rainbow quality. Other uncommon colors include orange, yellow, blue, and red.

When brown and black obsidian are both present and somewhat interspersed within one stone, you have what is called mahogany obsidian; black obsidian spotted with grey, or grey and white, is called snowflake obsidian. There are a fair few black stones that look similar to black obsidian, including jet, onyx, black tourmaline, and black jasper; but they are all remarkably different in their qualities. Obsidian is relative to the Base chakra, and also to the Earth Star chakra.

black obsidian rough
Black obsidian rough (public domain image, Pixabay)

Black Obsidian

With its blacker than black coloration (or lack of color really) and its silky smooth finish, it is a spiritual rush even to look at black obsidian. It shields us to negativity, from others and from our respective environment. It guides us to embrace honesty and truth, and to act with discretion and self discipline. It brings an awareness of inner truths, and guides one towards achieving inner harmony, and of course subsequently outer harmony. As well, black is symbolic of all that is unknown and all that can potentially be; thus black obsidian's energies encourage us to engage in new adventures, to investigate new opportunities without fear, and to discover and work with new aspects of self.

Black obsidian creates a prime setting for mental acuity by cleansing the mind of negative energies. Emotions relative to past traumas are eased away, along with fear. With negativity gone, one is free to act from a perspective of truth, and will be more caring, understanding, and tolerant. Black obsidian will also help one to overcome feelings of weakness due to perceiving themselves as faulty or somehow inferior. Some blockages are hard-wired, and meditation on this stone can speed up the process of healing them over. In relationships black obsidian helps keep things real, as it filters out energies other than beneficial, compassionate, and caring ones. And, if you have a super-toxic relationship that you cannot step aside from, when you know you must meet up, carry black obsidian to shield yourself.

Black obsidian can be a valuable tool to keep peace in a family with rebellious teens and children. For a job interview, keep some in your pocket (especially along with blue quartz), as it will help you communicate effectively and present as more authoritative and classy. As well it is a grounding stone; and one of it's lesser touted properties, is that it speeds things up. In physical healing it detoxifies and supports healthy blood flow; also it alleviates pain and inflammation, thus helps with arthritic conditions.

One point when working with black, and also grey stones--they both take energies to some degree, and thus need to be dealt with in ways to prevent too much energy from being siphoned away. One way to avoid problems in this sense, is to program such stones wisely. Another way, is to not have black and or grey stones, be the bulk of stones present over a long period of time.

Highly polished black obsidian has a mirror like quality to it. Thus it helps one to find answers upon reflection and meditation, and allows them to see themselves as others see them. In magick, this quality is great for sending magick back to sender, also for energy conversion, and any magick relative to dualities. As well, black obsidian is appropriate for use in void magick. This stone can be used to support baneful magick where something is taken from another, or where someone is being brought to experience loss (which naturally are suitable lessons for someone who takes from others).

In the marketplace, you will find that some so-called black obsidian is in fact colored glass.

Green Obsidian

Green obsidian provides energies similar to those of nature, so it provides an uplift similar to what spending time outside and in a rich green setting would. Thus it is an invaluable stone for those who are housebound, or for pets who must spend much time indoors. It draws affluence and supports fertility; too it can be used in money magick rituals. If you are feeling stuck in some way, this stone will help you get unstuck--starting with assisting you to change the perspective that got you there. Protects against psychic attack, and also supports plant growth. Green obsidian creates balance with in the overall chakra system, beginning with the heart chakra. Furthermore it creates ease within volatile interpersonal situations. Green obsidian is rarely a naturally formed crystal, but even so the fake variety is made of mica, and thus is fine in that sense--if it is fine for you personally.

Blue Obsidian

Blue obsidian is relative to the higher heart and throat chakras. It supports effective communication, and assists in maintaining a state of calm. It reduces stress and anxiety, and urges one to grow away from fear based thinking and related blockages. Blue obsidian encourages thoughtfulness and consideration in interactions with others, and also loyalty. Furthermore, it assists in overcoming the grief of heartbreak. In health it supports the immune system, helps with throat health issues, stimulates overall healing, and reduces pain and inflammation. This too is rarely other than a man-made glass.

Golden Sheen Obsidian

Golden sheen obsidian supports divination; also, when a person sees their world primarily from a perspective relative to their own ego driven needs, this stone guides them towards creating balance and harmony in interactions with others. Additionally it provides a connection with divine source energy, which brings about efficient problem solving abilities and awareness. However, keep in mind that this relates to the masculine side of divine energies, which is half of them. Silver obsidian would provide a natural balance, giving one tools to engage in a wider range of workings.

Mahogany Obsidian

Mahogany obsidian is beneficial for those who have experienced abuse and trauma, both emotional and physical. In healing emotions, it allows one to see damage to their psyche sustained from hardship endured from the actions of others; it urges them to discover how to work through it and heal. When a person has suffered ongoing abuse, their aura weakens, and this stone serves as a special aura shield and strengthener for them as they heal. It is a strongly protective stone, and is ideal for someone undergoing psychic attack. Additionally, it discourages one from repeating past mistakes. In physical healing mahogany obsidian supports blood flow, reduces pain, and encourages toxins to leave the body.

snowflake obsidian tumblestone
Snowflake obsidian. Wikimedia Commons file. By Benjamint444. GFDL

Snowflake Obsidian

Snowflake obsidian brings wisdom upon meditation. The type of knowledge it brings, addresses when one is looking to grow away from a negative outlook and related peripheral problems, onto awareness and spiritual peace and harmony. It urges us to integrate shadow self aspects, assists as we work to re-integrate into society, and supports a positive attitude when dealing with change. Snowflake obsidian supports blood flow, and also healing within the vascular system and bones. It alleviates fear, and supports subtle communications from one's spirit guides. In non-contact method made healing waters, snowflake obsidian can be used to heal the skin. Furthermore, snowflake obsidian is a strongly protective stone, that also provides energies of stability.

Rainbow Obsidian

Rainbow obsidian helps one move beyond habits and behavior that is detrimental to themselves, and assists those that are emotionally oversensitive to create harmony and stability within themselves. It supports positive energies, thus helps manifest happiness, love, compassion, healing, abundance, etc. Furthermore, it alleviates fear; and through times of hardship, this stone's energies urge one to see the brighter side of things and maintain hope.

Peacock Obsidian

Peacock obsidian supports all metaphysical, magickal, and shamanic abilities and processes.

Apache Tears

Apache tears quickly and effectively clear the aura of negativity, and assist one to work through grief, emotional trauma, anxiety, and distress. Once one has removed hardship, trauma, and toxicity from their life, this stone helps them find ways to heal more fully--to fill in whichever voids that remain. Additionally it supports one to keep a calm demeanor and avoid confrontational behavior, and as well influences those around them in the same way.

Silver Sheen Obsidian

Silver sheen obsidian is highly protective stone. It is an asset to protection in OBEs and soul travel; and also allows one to see the qualities they possess that create conflict for them within their world, that thus are better moved away from. It encourages patience, and also clarity in speech and communications. Additionally it serves as an effective tool in divination, and provides grounding during meditation. See Golden Sheen Obsidian above, for more insight.

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