Whirling Gnosis - The Psybermancer

Basic Sigil Magic - Phillip Cooper 2001

Whirling Gnosis
The Psybermancer

Magick IS THE art of INFLUENCING the subconscious mind in order to gain information or obtain physical results. There are many methods that give the magician access to the subconscious using sleight-of-mind techniques. Within the paradigms contained in this book, I will call this gnosis. This means that the conscious mind can be raised to a high pitch, or gradually silenced, allowing the magical part of the mind to be contacted. There are many varied routes to achieving gnosis.

Magical Gnosis

Gnosis is the Greek word for "knowledge" or "means of knowing." It is used particularly in an esoteric sense. In the pragmatic interpretation, it is applied as much to a straightforward intellectual investigation as to any paradigm of consciousness modification or direct experience.

Among present-day magical practitioners, there is some consensus that the inducement of a state of gnosis is an essential prerequisite for any useful magical activity, be it divination, evocation, invocation, or simple spell casting. In this chapter, we will examine a number of techniques by which such a modified state of consciousness may be induced. As mentioned earlier, these can be divided into two broad categories: "inhibitory gnosis" (Hermetic Magick) and "excitatory gnosis" (Orphic Magick). Ultimately, I will focus on one technique, that of "whirling" to induce a gnostic state.

Inhibitory Gnosis

Inhibitory techniques are generally contemplative or yogic in character and are aimed at reducing sensory stimulus. In inhibitory gnosis, consciousness is subsumed, as in measured hypnotic conjuration.1

Excitatory Gnosis

Excitatory techniques, in contrast, depend on hyperstimulation as a means of modifying consciousness. This mode favors extremes or persistence with some energetic physical activity (such as a whirling dervish dance or the emotionally stimulating abandonment of circle dancing). Carried to the point of exhaustion, these can be effective, but sexual climax, as the ultimate expression of life, represents the pinnacle of excitatory gnosis.

Even though there is an apparent dichotomy between inhibitory and excitatory techniques, they achieve similar results. Both methods imprint the subconscious mind with a desired intention or release a specific suppressed component of the personality to be cathected or controlled.

The art and science of magick is a powerful psychodynamic system, even in an exclusively subjective or objective, phenomenologically conservative sense. The practice of magick is not as dangerous as credulous Christian critics contend, but neither is it frivolously dysfunctional as psychologists would suppose. In magick however, most magical transitive operations tend to fail because the aspiring magician does not understand the gnostic nature of the art.

Naturally, a little practice is in order before gnosis can be utilized in a ritual situation. A good deal of magical practice, therefore, revolves around developing the ability to enter gnosis and perhaps in some cases, to recognize it. Gnosis is generally understood to be the ''peak" moment of any tranceinducing exercise wherein desire may be successfully phenomenized. The material, physical universe is, of necessity, a finite space. Gnosis will propel the magician, momentarily, beyond its confines. By this definition, anyone who is really concentrating on something, like reading a book or even watching television, may be said to be in gnosis or a trance of sorts.

  • 1 am sure that most people are familiar with the freeway driving trance. Musical trances, especially drumming, displacement trances using dancing, and whirling dervish dances pursued to the point of exhaustion can all be effective along with other energetic physical activity. There are even general everyday trances. Trances are different and they have different levels of intensity and sensory selection.

Certain forms of inhibitory gnosis were known and used in ancient Egypt, where magiciian-priests officiated at secret temples in which sufferers of various afflictions were cured by invocation during visitations of the gods—most probably while the- patients were in a somnambulistic trance. The ancient Greeks used similar practices, in which patients slept in the temple of Asclepius hoping for a dream-cure from the god.2

The Psychic Censor or Ego Filter

The ego level or censor is 'a filter that prevents the totality of information held in the subconscious from overwhelming the conscious mind. It also acts as a bridge that permits creative thinking to be impressed into tlhe subconscious mind. When the ego filter or screen becomes soft and easy to penetrate, you can impress your desires upon the subconscious mind using symbolism. Before going any further, I want to dispel the idea that magical gnosis implies a similarity to the posthypnotic demonstrations of the stage hypnotist. If that concept applied, a magician could hypnotize the subject and then instruct them (as in the following analogy) to see some spirit or god-force in the Triangle of Art3 when the magician says the "key word," Abracadabra! Granted, such a procedure would probably work and might have some value in an experimental sense, but it is not the way that magick is practiced. This is a gimmicky approach at best, and, at worst, it can raise serious ethical questions.

To be able to shift your awareness or perspective at will from a hypothetical normal consciousness to a hypothetical magical consciousness is the trademark, test, and raison d'etre of the genuine magician. Every individual will, and must, have a personal way of keying-in to altered states of awareness, otherwise termed magical gnosis. This can only be achieved through experimentation and practice using some form of ritual paradigm to induce a magical trance. Ritual magick is a valid art, not a psuedo-science. I define the magical trance as a state of heightened or subdued suggestibility in which the mind is totally centered on one idea or intention to the exclusion of everything else, including sensory perceptions that are unwanted or distracting.

Aleister Crowley defined magick as 'The Science and Art of causing change in accordance with the will."4 I'm defining it as the science and art of causing changes in consciousness to occur in magical operation in accordance with the will. The emphasis is on a change of consciousness or magical trance of sorts. Remember: magick is the art of causing changes in consciousness to occur in accordance with the will.

Having established that ritual magick needs some form of altered state of consciousness to be effective, we are ready to consider practical application and techniques.

The VWhirlingMagician-A Ritual Paradigm

Write out your intention or wish and form it into a graphic sigil. Spend several days concentrating on its form, so that you can easily hold it in your imagination. Prepare your temple and altar. Incense and a bit of drumming can also assist, but is best done somewhere where you are not likely to provoke an interruption.5

After a suitable period of calmness, approach the altar and light the central candle. This can be the color of the power being conjured. Place your sigil on the altar so it is visible to you from every part of the temple. Erect the Cosmic Sphere (see page 32), and open the ritual space, invoking the four gateways. Conjure the appropriate power, systematically, through each of the four doorways (see page 35). Initially, this should be done using the four doorways that equate to the four elements, which is the way in which power symbolically enters the theater of operations. There are points in this ritual at which each quarter is addressed. At each point, the doorway is opened and the power allowed in, finally impinging in the center of your own magical universe. At conclusion, reverse the procedure.

Charging Methods

In order to preoccupy your conscious mind, you can use two methods simultaneously, drumming and whirling.6 Modern recording and playback equipment affords many opportunities to bring sound into the temple, particularly drumming at the correct tempo. Prerecord a drumming tape, leaving the first part of it silent to enable you to erect the Cosmic Sphere and the four doorways. You can also use incantations using a sigilized mantra made from your desire sentence. This can be combined with the drumming and whirling dance by chanting it throughout the ritual. It, naturally, will take a little practice, especially the whirling, before all three methods can be utilized in a ritual paradigm. Both sonics and, in particular, the correct incense should be worked into the ritual. Incense is used as an aid to concentration and as a key to a particular level of consciousness. Sonics may be classified as out-sound and in-sound made by singing, or what is termed "vibrating," a word, verse, or divine name in a ritual. These can be linguistic or nonlinguistic utterances. A ritual sonic is more than just sound and is used rhythmically and intentionally to create a magical atmosphere, combined with incense, ritual paraphernalia, meditation music and/or drumming.

When the drumming starts, begin to whirl, building up speed gradually, until your arms begin to rise by the force generated and a rhythm is established. Maintain the speed throughout the ritual. Begin to chant the mantra and hold the sigil firmly in your imagination throughout the entire ritual.7

After a period of whirling, your conscious mind closes down and leaves a channel direct to your subconscious. Putting it another way, momentary suspensions of the conscious mind occur at points in the experience of whirling. It acts as a bridge that permits sigils to be encoded in the subconscious mind.8

As soon as you believe that the sigil has been imprinted on your subconscious mind, stop whirling, not suddenly, but slowly, to avoid becoming giddy. When you have stopped and recovered equilibrium, destroy the sigil or prepare it for disposal. For instance in summer it can be burnt, in spring it can be ripped and scattered to the four winds. In autumn, throw it into a river or plunge it into a bowl of water. In winter, bury it in a bowl of earth prior to burying it outside. Use whatever you feel to be correct for you. Your imagination and a little ingenuity will supply answers.

Return to normal by closing the four doorways in reverse order, and then allowing them to fade from view. Finally, close the Cosmic Sphere in the customary fashion and think no more of it.

Gone, but Not Forgotten

Gone, but not forgotten, is not the way of sigil magick. Whatever method you use to empower your sigil, once it has been emblazoned on your subconscious mind, it should be destroyed. This act is actually the most important part of the process. By destroying the sigil (which may be done in any number of ways, as already suggested) your desire is forgotten.

Learning to Forget

Forgetting what you want to happen is vitally important. Magick works best when the subconscious mind is left to its own devices to do its job. The sigil floats away from conscious awareness and into the depths of the subconscious. If you do not forget the desire, it is as though you have planted a seed, but keep returning to it every day to dig it up and see how it has grown. Naturally, an attitude that keeps asking, "Did it work?" serves to keep the desire and the sigil firmly fixed in the conscious mind and away from the subconscious powerhouse. Again, this is a "lust of result" problem. You need to forget what you want in order for the subconscious to get to work and materialize your desire.

Free Belief

Lust of result can be dealt with by taking on board another lesser desire and sigilizing it, after engrossing yourself in this lesser desire. The free energy of the lesser desire and its emotion is channeled into becoming more fuel for the original sigil and the purpose of the original sigil itself is forgotten. In this way, the free belief is directed toward the sigil, the purpose of which is not recalled by the conscious mind. Methods such as free belief often work well when there are a number of magical projects brewing, or when you are doing multiple workings for other people. This makes forgetting the purpose of the sigil easier.

It is always a good idea to keep a magical notebook in which you can record any important information about your magical work. There is no need for long-winded essays, brief notes will suffice. These notes can be extremely useful at some future date. This is one of the most important steps in building a powerful magical system that is truly your own. In Part II, you will learn how to charge your sigils with color associations, using eight types of magick that can be attributed to the seven classical planets, plus Uranus, which corresponds to the very concept of magick itself.9

1 An example of how to use measured hypnotic conjuration, better known as measured gnostic conjuration, is given in chapter 15.

2 Ann Faraday, The Dream Game (New York: HarperPerennial, 1976), p. 63.

3 Sometimes a circle is used in ceremonial magick operations to summon visions of spirits, god-forces, and other entities, which are actually archetypes evoked from the deep mind via magical trance induction. The magicians of old tended to be more reactionary and superstitious—especially with their strongly Christian attitudes—and suspected that anything other than God was likely to be dangerous if summoned into the material world. They did not understand the operative technique, or had forgotten the essential principles of the art, and overlooked or co-opted its origins. These magicians used the Triangle of Art, as well as the magick circle, as an additional protective device to give them support. The magical instructions nearly always implied that you were likely to be dragged off to hell in an instant if anything went wrong!

4 Rodney Orpheus, Abrahadabra: A Beginner's Guide to Thelemic Magick (Stockholm: Looking Glass Press, 1995), p. 5.

5 See Part II, The Psybernemicon, for this information.

6 Shamanistic drumming tapes are ideal as a musical background. My favorite piece is titled: "Drumming for the Shamanic Journey," an audio cassette tape distributed by The Foundation for Shamanic Studies, Box 1939, Mill Valley, CA 94942. Write to this address for this and other tapes. (I advise that anyone with epileptic tendencies avoid using drumming tapes.)

7 The likely duration of the whirling is subject to the effect created by the lighting, incense, and music/drumming. Also, the time period can be anything from thirty minutes to one hour. Experiment yourself, starting with ten minutes and gradually extending this as you gain experience.

8 Here is another technique you can try. It is fairly simple, but may require a good deal of practice. Revolve around, using one foot as a pivot. In other words "whirl," while looking at the sigil drawn on the palm of one hand.

9 Ray Sherwin contends that, "The gnostic state has been entered when awareness of the body disappears and self is centered in or totally exterior to the body." Ray Sherwin, The Book of Results (Sheffield, England: Revelation 23 Press, 1992), p. 43.