There are many problems that act as "blocks" to power; some are obvious, others are not. To begin with, the most powerful part of yourself is your mind, which can also be your worst enemy, if left to its own devices. Any serious magician worthy of the name must realize that in order to increase the chances of success and improve the quality of his or her work, he or she must gain mastery over the mind. By this I do not simply mean the subconscious mind, I mean the conscious mind, for this is where most of the difficulties start. Valuable though it is, the conscious mind is often the very thing that gets in the way both before, and during, a magical operation.
The Great Law ofTenfold Return
Followers of magick should be dedicated to attaining a high degree of self-discipline and control over all levels of their personal sphere of existence—physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and subconscious—and they must also control the channels by which they are linked to the rest of humanity. Negativity,
superstition, fear, and imbalance must be erased from the outer personality and from inner reality. What is erased from within cannot attract from without. Those who are afraid will attract fear. Those who are hateful will attract hate.
Everybody has a reptilian brain kernel (diencephalon), which predates humankind by countless millions of years, and which still responds to the cycles of nature.1 It has three compulsive survival urges: feeding, fighting, and sex. However advanced human society imagines itself to be, and no matter how it rationalizes its behavior, these three primordial instincts still dictate the destiny of individuals and nations. They are the demons that Solomon is said to have imprisoned with magical seals.1 1 2
Every working magical system seeks to constrain demonic forces in service of the true will. This important aspect of magick is the process of separating the spiritual gold (the angelic persona) from the human dross (the demonic persona). Anger, hatred, envy, greed, lust, fear, are emotions that control humankind; man and woman are completely at their mercy. How many times have you been angry and said something hurtful to a loved one? You may have said or done it in the heat of the moment and been thoroughly ashamed of yourself afterward. Yet, at that moment in time, you could not control your emotions; they controlled you like a puppet. People have killed in that uncontrolled moment, and all the shame and remorse in the world will not right the wrong.
At first, the magician must think about, analyze, and consciously control every thought, word, deed, and emotion. This is hard work, but in time, it becomes second nature. When the magician reaches a balanced state, then the real work begins.
Inner balance and harmony are not only achieved, but multiplied. This is the great law of tenfold return.
In order to gain power, you must first start by looking at the way you think in everyday life. Look at the way in which you deal with life, and in particular, its problems. How do you react? Do you give in, presuming that there is no hope; do you worry, do you panic, do you shy away and divert power into undesirable areas? In short, are you negative or positive? Always remember, "As you THINK—So you ARE."
The type of thinking that you generally apply toward life will always dictate what happens next. In other words, negative experiences arise when your dominant thoughts have a negative bias. The lesson is simply one of changing your thinking from negative to positive. This needs practice, but it is well worth the effort. Constantly look at yourself to see how you react, and each time you find that you are being negative, stop, remind yourself that your thinking will affect the outcome, then change your approach to positive. You will find that negative thinking is a "habit" that has crept into your life and only by adopting a new and better habit can you be rid of it. Dominant, negative thoughts are bound to impinge on your magical work, for they are part of you. By gradually ridding yourself of them, your magical work will improve enormously.
There are, however, other problems that directly affect your magical work. Some stem from habit, others are more subtle. On a deeper level, there are other problems that do not manifest until you are beginning to make progress. Effective magick is proportional not only to knowledge and expertise, but also in the ability to overcome these additional inner problems. I say "inner" because they exist deep within the subconscious mind and are usually unnoticed. Nevertheless, these barriers or blocks are very real. Until they are removed, they will constantly divert power into undesirable areas. These are the beliefs about yourself and your world that instruct the subconscious mind to set up situations that may be contrary to your conscious intent. They continue to function until altered. A classic example of this would be found in the magician who, having had some success, tries to attain greater things but who still has a deep-seated belief that success is "bad." The more the magician tries, the less successful he or she is. There seems to be some force working against this person, which there is. It would be easy to mistakenly blame karma, fate, or the intervention of some cosmic being while the problem lies within. Of course, anyone who knows the mechanism of magick will not subscribe to these silly ideas, yet many do, thereby substantiating what is already believed to be true. The net result: failure.
Magician-Know Thy Self.
So, what is to be done? The old idea of "Know Thy Self" is the key. If you wish to have greater power, then look at yourself, and in particular, your beliefs. Question these to see if they are valid and, more importantly, where you got them from in the first place. Your habits will also afford valuable clues as to what these inner problems are, and much can be done by changing bad habits. One of the best ways to enhance your life and to improve your magical work is to look at yourself and your habits and be perfectly honest with yourself. Once you realize you have a bad habit, offer yourself the logical argument that it is of no use, therefore you want to be rid of it. The moment you make a concerted effort to rid yourself of a bad habit, by systematic refusal to conform to the habit, you will eventually remove it from your being and remove the cause from your subconscious mind. The theory is quite valid and can easily be proved by anyone who has sufficient motivation and patience. In practice, however, it is not that easy. Old habits die hard. So, what is to be done? Embarking on a program of self-searching, through ritual procedures and deep meditation will help, because all things are proportional to effort. The real adept will sooner or later have to come to terms with the "self" by this, or a similar, process.
In order to remove bad habits you want to get together a plan of action based on sound principles and symbolism. The magical way to achieve success is to first have an intention that the subconscious mind will accept as an instruction. The intention is quite obvious—to get rid of a particular bad habit. How to gain the cooperation of your subconscious mind is another matter! The color of magick, or the four elements, may be used to act as a symbolic link, by using ritual procedures and by grouping habits according to the corresponding element or color and using these to target the problem.
Washing Your Ego Clean
Your first task will be to know yourself. Each initiation system, no matter which kind it may be, begins with this training. Without self-knowledge there can be no real development in magical training.
In the first days of your magical training, you should concern yourself with the practice of knowing your "good" (angelic) and "bad" (demonic) points. For this, you need to start a magical diary. Make a list of your bad points, so you can look at them. This diary is for your use only, and must not be shown to anyone else. In your search for your failures, bad habits, passions, instincts and other ugly character traits, you must take a long hard look at yourself. You may have to be a bit severe. Be merciless! Don't embellish or ameliorate any of your failures and deficiencies. Think about yourself in quiet meditation, put yourself back into different situations in your past; remember how you behaved and the kinds of mistakes and failures that took place in the various situations. Make notes of all your weaknesses, down to the finest nuisances and variations. The more you discover, the better for you. Nothing can stay hidden, nothing stays unrevealed, however insignificant or great your faults or frailties may be. Some people have been able to rediscover hundreds of failures in the finest shades. People like these possess good meditation skills and are able to penetrate deeply into their own ego. Wash your ego perfectly clean, sweep all the dust out of it.
This self-analysis is one of the most important magical preludes. Many mystical and magical systems have neglected it, and that is why they do not achieve good results. Self-analysis is indispensable to obtaining a magical equipoise, and without it, there is no regular progress of development. You probably will want to organize a regime and put aside some minutes for self-criticism in the morning and at night. If you have some free moments during the day, use them to do some intense thinking and remembering. Are there still some faults hidden anywhere? If you discover some, record them on the spot so you won't forget a single one! Whenever you happen to remember another deficiency, note it down immediately.
If, within a week, you do not succeed in discovering all your faults, spend another week on these inquiries until you have definitely established a list. Having achieved this task within one or two weeks, you are ready to begin the next exercise. Now, by intensive thinking, try to assign each fault to one of the four elements. Appoint a rubric, or title, in your magical notebook to each element and enter your faults under each one. It will be difficult to assign some faults to a particular element. Record these under the heading of "indifferent." As your development progresses, you will be able to determine the element corresponding to your deficiency. For example, you can ascribe your faults as follows:
- 1. AIR: Frivolity, self-presumption, boasting, squandering, gossiping;
- 2. FIRE: Jealousy, hatred, vindictiveness, irascibility, anger;
- 3. WATER: Indifference, frigidity, compliance, negligence, shyness, insolence, instability;
- 4. EARTH: Laziness, conscienceless, melancholy, irregularity, anomaly, and dullness.
In the following week, meditate on each single rubric, dividing it into three groups. In the first group, enter the biggest failings, especially those that influence you the most—or happen at the slightest opportunity. The second group will encompass faults occurring less frequently and in a lesser degree. In the last group, you should record those faults that happen only now and again. Categorize your indifferent faults in the three groups, as well. Work conscientiously at all times; it is worth while! Repeat the whole procedure with your good qualities, entering them into the respective categories of the elements. Do not forget the three columns here. So, for example, you assign the elements as follows:
- 1. AIR: Diligence, joy, dexterity, kindness, lust, optimism;
- 2. FIRE: Activity, enthusiasm, firmness, courage, daring;
- 3. WATER: Modesty, abstemiousness, fervency, compassion, tranquillity, tenderness, forgiveness;
- 4. EARTH: Respect, endurance, conscientiousness, thoroughness, sobriety, punctuality, responsibility.
By doing this, you will get two types of personal qualities— good and difficult character traits. You must endeavor to evaluate your ego precisely and conscientiously. If, in the course of your development, you remember any good or difficult quality, you can still record it under the appropriate heading. These two personal opposites will allow you, as a magician, to recognize exactly which elements are prevailing. This recognition is absolutely necessary to attain a magical equipoise, and further development depends on it.3
1 Frater U. D., Practical Sigil Magic: Creating Personal Symbols for Success (St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn, 1990), p. 85.
2 See Aleister Crowley, ed., and S. L. MacGregor Mathers, trans., The Goetia: The Lesser Key of Solomon the King (York Beach, ME: Samuel Weiser, 1995).
3 A useful technique for influencing aspects of human behavior is selfhypnosis. See Leslie M. LeCron, Self-Hypnosis: The Technique and Its Use in Daily Living (New York: Signet, 1970).