from the Abbey of Thelema
“the science and art of causing change to occur in conformity with Will.” (Aleister Crowley, Magick in Theory and Practice)
“a mnemonic system of psychology…to train the Will and Imagination.” (Dr. Israel Regardie, The Tree of Life)
“a psychological branch of science, dealing with the sympathetic effects of stones, drugs, herbs, and living substances upon the imagination and the reflective faculties–leading to ever new glimpses of the world of wonders around us…and illustrating the beneficience of The Great Arcitect of the Universe.” (Kenneth R.H. Mackenzie, quoted by Francis King, Rites of Modern Occult Magic)
THE FUNDAMENTAL CONCEPTION OF MAGICK IS…
“identical with that of modern science; underlying the whole system is a faith, implicit but real and firm, in the order and uniformity of nature. The magician does not doubt that the same cause will always produce the same effects…Thus the analogy between the magical and the scientific conceptions of the world is close. In both of them the succession of events is perfectly regular and certain, being determined by immutable laws, the operation of which can be foreseen and calculated precisely…So far, therefore, as the public profession of magic has been one of the roads by which men have passed to supreme power, it has contributed to emancipate mankind from the thraldom of tradition and to elevate them to a larger, freer life, with a broader outlook on the world. This is no small service rendered to humanity.” (Sir James Frazer, The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion)
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MAGICK AND SCIENCE IS
Magick assumes the existence of an “astral” realm apart from the known physical and energetic universe known to modern science.
THIS ASSUMED “ASTRAL” REALM…
is found within and yet interacts in definite ways with the known physical universe.
THIS “ASTRAL” REALM IS CONTACTED BY…
the IMAGINATION of the magician, but
IT IS SUBJECT TO CERTAIN KINDS OF CONTROL BY
the WILL of the magician.
THE MAGICIAN’S KNOWLEDGE AND CONTROL OF THE “ASTRAL” REALM THEN…
produces results upon the physical universe, in accord with the intent of the magician.
THE THEORY OF THE “ASTRAL” REALM IS JUSTIFIED BY…
the experience of magicians themselves for many thousands of years, in all parts of the world…
a long list of scientific researchers who have been forced by their own experience to suggest the existence of something like an “astral” realm. Among these theorists we can mention…
Franz Anton Mesmer in the 18th Century (“Animal Magnetism”);
Baron Reichenbach in the 19th Century (“OD force”);
Wilhelm Reich, MD, in the 1930s (“Orgone Energy”);
Professor Rhine in the 1930s (“ESP,” “PK”);
Recent Russian parapsychologists (“Psionic force”);
Professors Gurwitch and Backster in plant research (the “mytogenetic ray,” the “atomic consciousness”);
Timothy Leary, PhD (“atomic, molecular and cellular levels of consciousness”);
PHILOSOPHERS HAVE CONTRIBUTED…
the theory of “Life Force” (Henri Bergson, Bernard Shaw);
the “Tao” (Lao-Tse);
the “Archtypal World” (Plato);
OTHER TRIBES AND CULTURES RECOGNIZE THE “ASTRAL” AS…
“orendo” (Mohawk Indians);
“wakan” (Plains Indians);
MAGICK, LIKE SCIENCE AND UNLIKE RELIGION…
is not dogmatic, does not ask for faith, and positively encourages scepticism and original thinking/research.
THERE IS, THUS, NO NEED FOR THE MAGICIAN TO “BELIEVE” IN THE “ASTRAL”…
and it is quite possible to consider the whole “astral” realm as only a “working theory” until something better comes along.
THE THEORY OF THE “ASTRAL” IS USEFUL BECAUSE
it can be imagined, and IMAGINATION (as we have already hinted) is the great key to opening the doorway to our latent powers of magick.
Actually, it is the VISUAL IMAGINATION that is the magician’s master tool.
Some modern magicians (e.g., Aleister Crowley, Roger Conway) hold that the “astral” realm ONLY exists in our VISUAL IMAGINATION and is a distorted reflection created by our minds because we have not evolved far enough yet to form an accurate scientific picture of the energies (or entities) actually used by us in our magick.
IT IS WELL TO BEAR IN MIND…
that this latter view is almost certainly true, because everything we see is always a distorted reflection created by our minds.
Thus, the physical universe which you normally perceive is NOT the universe described by modern mathematical physics. The “solid” chairs, desks, tables, etc. that you see in your room are abstractions created by your nervous system.
You see “solidity” because your eye is not built to see the actual “mad dance of electrons;” you feel “solidity” because your fingers are not built to feel this atomic and sub-atomic energy mesh that the physicist knows is “really” there…
THUS, IT IS UNWISE TO LITERALLY “BELIEVE IN”
either the universe of normal perception or the universe of astral perception.
HOWEVER, IT WILL NOT DO TO CARRY OUR AGNOSTICISM TOO FAR…
because, even if the “solid chair” only exists in our minds, the atomic process out there is enough like that image to bang our leg painfully if we try to walk through it. And the entities of the astral realm, although found through IMAGINATION originally, are yet real enough to jar us seriously if we treat them as “only imagination.”
ALBERT EINSTEIN POINTED OUT THAT…
there are two ways of conceiving the relationship between external reality and our mental images of reality.
The first way sees reality as something like beef and our mental concepts as beef-broth, produced by a process of extracting the essence.
The second way sees reality as something like like a hat and our mental concept as the claim-check used to identify the hat. The claim-check has no essential relation with the hat at all; it’s just the kind of symbol the human mind uses to deal with the hat.
THE FURTHER ONE ADVANCES IN MAGICK, OR ANY OTHER SCIENCE…
the more likely the second view of the matter will seem. Einstein, for instance, believed that his own theories, and all other scientific theories, were more like claim-checks for the cosmic hat than like beef-broth from the cosmic beef…
IN SHORT, MAGICK MAY BE DEFINED ANEW AS…
“a science in which we never know what we’re talking about, nor if what we are saying is true.”
Does that alarm you? It shouldn’t. We have borrowed it; it is the definition of MATHEMATICS given by mathematician-philosopher Bertrand Russell to jog his own pupils out of the literal-mindedness which, in all sciences, is the chief block against Creative Imagination.
MEDITATE ON THE FOLLOWING PROVOCATIVE THOUGHTS…
“Within the province of the mind, what is believed true is true or becomes true, with-in limits to be learned by experience and experiment. These limits are further beliefs to be transcended. Within the province of the mind, there are no limits.” — John Lilly, MD
“All that we are is the result of all that we have thought.” — Gautama, the Buddha
“Man is not the body but the mind, and mind is a star entire.” — Paracelsus
NOW GO ON TO THE FIRST TWO EXPERIMENTS…
Sit in a yogic asana (if you’ve already had some yoga training) or just in an ordinary chair with your back very straight.
Center your mind in the pit of your belly, then move it upward to the chest, then the neck, then the top of the head. Hold. Now move down at a 45-degree angle to your right nipple, then over to the left. The pattern is a backward 4: 4
Repeat with the following words: “There” (belly) “is” (chest) “no” (neck) “God” (head)–and pause, considering the meaning of that statement, the blasphemy against all religion, the denial of the Great Architect of the Universe to Whom magick is supposed to lead you (according to Brother Mackenzie). Now go on: “except” (right nipple) “God!” (left nipple).–Isn’t the end a relief?
Repeat with a strong vivid VISUAL image of light flowing with your mind, tracing the backward-4 design, as you concentrate simultaneously on belly-chest-neck-crown//right nipple-left nipple and on “There is no God“//“except God!” Keep the pause long and feel the emotions of both atheism and, after the pause, as much sense of real contact with God as you can IMAGINE or provoke. Keep the light flowing, and repeat for at least ten minutes. If you begin to feel a warmth along with the light, you are doing well.
This is a traditional Sufi exercise; it activates several “chakras” in the alleged “astral” body. Don’t think about that–just see what happens. If you must think (and the effort of concentration and visualization should keep you too busy for thinking) try to understand that “There is no God–in all the directions we usually look for God; I must look in a different direction–in-ward.”
Repeat this experiment at least once a day for two weeks. Twice a day would be better.
Buy a notebook and keep it beside your bed. This is your Magick Diary and will gradually prove to be very important in your progress.
Each morning on awakening, record any dreams you remember.
If you remember no dreams, INVENT some. That is, remain in bed with your eyes closed and let your imagination drift, while (a) breathing slowly and deeply, and (b) trying to think in PICTURES not WORDS. Keep at it for several minutes, until some visual fantasy has occurred.
Continue this practice for at least one month. Record also any unusual, interesting or spooky thoughts, impressions, intuitions, etc. that may arise during or after each day’s session of Experiment One, during the first two weeks.
mosprobably by Robert Anton Wilson appeared in Green Egg, Vol. 8, No. 75, in December 1975