Thursday, December 30, 2010

High and Low Magic

It is an unfortunate tendency in Occultism to refer to two types of magic as Low and High. Too often this is interpreted as being a moral judgement rather than a technical descriptor. Low and High do not indicate moral value but technical quality.

We use the terms High and Low to indicate source, yet this is still based on a medieval cosmology rather than true analysis of the energy. High Magic is that which uses pure energy drawn directly through the Source mitigated by very specific forms and ritual in order to shape the force in accordance with the intent of the magician. Low magic draws energy up from the earth, energy which has been softened (for lack of a better word) by existing within the manifest world around the magician. One might better be called "Gaia Magic" or "Earth Magic" and the other "Sun Magic."

In fact this works much better as an analogy. The High Magician draws his force directly from the center of Life and Light which manifests as the Sun in our cosmos. The Low Magician draws on the same energy but after it has been absorbed and mutated within the living earth upon which he stands.

If one takes a sick person and applies Colour-Sound therapy this is High Magic. To make them a draught of herbs and giving them certain stones is Low Magic. Neither of them is better or more effective, they simply work on different parts of the individual in question. One works more directly with his physical vehicle, the other more directly with his Astral and Ethereal vehicles. Would I say one is better than the other? Depends on the ailment. Personally I'd say that both are better than one or the other and that together they have a greater chance of success.

I believe that the problem has originated in the difference in overall approach. The Low Magic is the magic of the common folk. This is the magic of plants and flowers and stones and trees, the magic of the old wise woman or the elderly apothacary. It is common because it is gentle and easy to work with.

The High Magic tends to be the province of the intellectual, the educated, those who are willing to learn the nuances of dealing with direct current power. To modify this takes great concentration and nuance. Not unlike being a low-level computer programmer vs. an apps user.

It also depends on how you define magic. Our tradition uses the definition of "making changes in consciousness at will" which is slightly different than the popular definitions of changing the universe in accordance with one's own Will. With Low Magic the work is very practical, we're dealing with candle magic, herbs, stones, etc... With High Magic we are altering the basic operating code of the Subconscious mind, implanting new programs and even altering perceptions, personalities and reality tunnels.

This has lead to a definite separation between practitioners which I find sad, but too often it is true. Low Magicians see the High Magicians as self important snobs, and many of them are. High Magicians see Low Magicians as hicks and hippies, and there is some truth to this as well. But as with any generalisations, there are always exceptions and the rare individual who is capable of seeing the value in both approaches. Perhaps the stereotypical High/Low magician is what happens early on, when they discover that they are special and have yet to realise that they are more a part of the whole than separate therefrom.

The division is a sad one since it often seems a self fulfilling prophecy. The Low Magician often goes out of their way to be folksy and hip, the High Magician goes out of his way to show off his intellectual prowess and how stunningly appointed is his Ivory Tower with grades and seals and titles. They create these images which are then observed and drive further the separation between the two types.

To my mind Witches and Wizards really should get along better, look for the similarities and see how the different methods can benefit a total person rather than finding ways to drench one another in derision. Legitimate traditions have value, whether they work primarily with Nature Magic or directly with the One Source. One great Adept I once knew said to me that he felt very strongly that the Wiccan and Magician traditions need to be blended into a single working tradition, and that in the distant past, this was the original intent. I have always agreed with him.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Why Ritual Magic?

I was recently asked the question "why would I be interested in Ritual Magic" by a friend in the Wiccan tradition. This is a very difficult question to answer since Western Occultism as studied by our tradition is not limited to Ritual Magic. Rather this is but one facet of the great jewel that is the Western Mysteries.

It seems to me that there are two ways of interpreting this question. It could mean, "why would I study the tradition which uses ritual magic (including Tarot, Qabalah, Alchemy, Etc...)" or it could mean "for what purpose would you employ ritual magic as a method?" Both of these are very good questions and I will attempt to answer both as well as possible.

For me the tradition we work with is a path of spiritual evolution. It is not simply a way to get stuff, but it is also a way to reshape the consciousness of the individual in question. When visualising an outcome one may use meditation or ritual. Paul Case once described the difference as meditation being like a pencil sketch with ritual being a painting in full colour, at least to the Subconscious into which we are implanting the image.

Others may use ritual magic as a way to contact parts of the subconscious directly through something called Evokation. The Grimoirs of old are examples of this type of magic. In the end, though, the goal is the same, to shape the universe to conform with an image we have constructed on some level. Personally I find that using forms which have negative connotations within the Human/Western egregore is only asking for trouble as they tend to act on their own, often to disastrous results.

Knowing the methods of constructing and executing a ceremonial with reference to the correspondent symbols of your desire can be a very valuable tool for anyone. Subconsciousness can be trained to work with the symbols of a tradition and can cause change in the universe according to the symbols it is given. In fact, it is already doing it, every day. The fact that most minds are undisciplined enough to give often conflicting instructions is what saves us from manifesting every idle whim which crosses our thoughts.

Yet when we want something to stick out, it can be difficult to get the subconscious mind to tell the difference between one thought and the next. This is where Ritual Magic comes in very handy indeed. As you begin to open the circle the subconscious mind is alerted and begins to pay attention. If you have worked with ritual for a long time it knows immediately that the following symbols are important. The following instruction is an expression of the conscious mind's true desire. It makes a greater impact than the stray thoughts that float across the mind from day to day.

As an extension of this, we study and work with the symbols of Qabalah, Alchemy, Astrology and Tarot in order to better understand our Selves, better communicate with the system behind our conscious minds and learn to create changes as we desire. Through these associated disciplines we learn HOW the system works and then we can use Ritual in order to influence that system.

But what of the person who is very Taoist, who doesn't want to influence external systems, who wants to just let it flow. They may find that parts of themselves do not conform to this ideal. Through ritual they may refine themselves, create new patterns of thought and behaviour. Yet as a path it can also teach us about ourselves and that, perhaps, we are not the ideal after all and need to re-adjust our view of ourselves as well as how we interact with the universe. In the end, one may become "most him/her Self" rather than trying to conform to artificial personality constructs.

It may also be that one is seeing the artificial separation which the community has imposed between "High Magic" and "Low Magic" interpreting Ritual Magic as being something entirely separate from the ritual work expressed within the Wiccan traditions. In this case I can only say that our tradition's teachings give one a wide range of tools with which to understand the individual, both the self and others. One who truly pursues these subjects will gain greater insight into the nature of the human mind and the personality masks which it creates making them, in turn, a greater counsellor and Priest/ess. Once one begins to truly know themSelves they also know that everyone else is an expression of that same True Self and therefore can better understand others as well.

Ritual Magic, as a method, is very powerful when it comes to embedding symbols into the subconscious mind. As a part of our great Western Mystery Tradition, it helps form a practical link between the various symbol structures and methods we use. Ritual can open the gateways to meditation, human metaprogramming or just allow us to slip beneath the mask of personality. There are many reasons to consider both aspects of this tool, but in the end, like so many questions worth asking, one must really answer the question themselves.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


Meditation is one of the most valuable tools and powers of the Occultist. In the balance of the Three Rays approach to training it is the Love/Devotional aspect of our work. Yet there are many types of meditation and those who have begun training with a school might already have some experience in one or more methods. This may make it difficult for them to approach new methods as they have trained their minds in a specific way.

Most common methods of meditation tend towards the passive. Transcendental and ZaZen meditation tend to empty the self and seek passivity. ZaZen especially allows one to observe without judgement or thought. Some may have experience in guided meditation or Pathworking, but again, in this case the images given are from an external source.

Early in the training of our school one is exposed to a very active method of meditation. This is a focussed meditation often using words, phrases or images as the center of work. For those who are used to totally stilling their minds when they being to meditate this can be difficult at first, especially if one is used to working cross-legged with eyes closed.

Since the instructions, at least in our school, are to assume the God-Form posture when meditating it is an easy thing to change the environment a little in order to aid in this form of meditation. Rather than sitting in an empty room in a chair, add a small folding table to your workspace. On the table place a note-book, pen and the focus of your meditation, preferably on some kind of stand to make it easy to observe while in the God Form posture.

Begin meditating as normal. Breathe as instructed and clear your mind of extraneous thoughts. Once established though, open your eyes and engage the meditation focus. Read the passage over and over. Allow yourself to digest it. You may even read it aloud if you will not disturb others. If it is an image, trace the lines, allow your eye to dance over the image, really look at the different elements and get a feel for what is before you.

Once you have done this, begin to formulate questions in your mind. At this point, begin writing. Write anything, write questions, write out the passage, write something to open the door of the subconscious and say "I am listening." Write what comes to mind. Do not analyse it too much, just let it flow. Whatever it seems good to write, write it down. If it is an image, imagine the figure is speaking to you and you are recording what it has to say.

This may be difficult at first but with practice it will help you to connect to your focus of meditation and not fall into the silent reverie of ZaZen or Transcendental Meditation. You have a pen in your hand, a focus before you and words to record.

I will tell you now, it feels different than passive meditation, yet there is a similarity of consciousness. It is a higher state of vibration, the brain is operating at a different rate than in normal waking consciousness. Engaging the focus feels different than just looking at it or reading the words. There is a sensation of something more.

You may feel that this is strange, or that you're talking to yourself. Well you are. The personality is only one part of the whole. You are trying to engage the focus will your whole Self, not just the part that's conscious most of the day. Project a consciousness, a personality upon images (especially Tarot since these are representations of your Inner Self anyway) and 'hear' what they have to say.

In some ways what you are doing is using a pass-phrase or image to unlock part of yourself which has always been there. The Inner School transmits truths all of the time and there are keys to accessing that information. You are literally accessing parts of yourself which are normally closed off, hidden, buried. You are not "talking to a picture" but using projection to talk to some part of yourSelf which you may not have access to in day-to-day life. It is a very valuable tool to learn.

Hopefully this makes it a little easier to make the transition to focussed meditations. I may update this article based on any questions or comments in order to make it more helpful.

in LVX
Bro Greg