In our normal everyday lives, we are influenced—mentally and emotionally—by many things. We absorb and shed these influences, giving them no thought. As we enter into the study of magic and the occult, we lose the protection that our ignorance provides. We may also begin to expose ourselves to people who may not be particularly well disposed toward us. We need to learn to protect ourselves as our awareness of the divine reality gradually increases.
There are a number of ways by which we are influenced by others. The most obvious way is through conversation. And we are all aware of advertising and that it influences us. But how many of us are really conscious of the effects of advertising and persuasion in our daily lives? When we are not aware of how we are influenced by something that is so apparent in our lives, is it any surprise to find that we completely ignore the more subtle influences which daily impinge upon us?
Human beings exist mentally and emotionally as well as physically. When we are influenced, either by another person or by an advertising campaign, we are responding to conscious mental influence. When we are influenced by another person (or by a group of other people) to behave in an uncharacteristic way, we are usually responding to subconscious mental influences. For example, how many times have you “gone with the group” to another bar when you really just wanted to go home? Cheering wildly at a sporting event is an obvious case of conscious emotional response. But feeling sad or lonely without apparent cause is an example of subconscious emotional response—in this case we are feeling and displaying an emotion, but we are not consciously aware of why.
Once we become consciously aware of the various parts of our being, we are able to understand how we are being influenced, and whether we are being influenced by another person. While working toward the goal of conscious awareness, we should follow a regular program of self-protection and spiritual cleansing. This will serve to assist us in our development while keeping the influences of our daily lives away from us.
You should familiarize yourself with two books that provide information regarding the process of spiritual cleansing and psychic protection, Spiritual Cleansing and Psychic Self Defense.1 Follow the program for spiritual cleansing given on page 91 of Spiritual Cleansing. This will protect you as you open yourself to a greater awareness of the divine reality.
There are two basic kinds of protection you can learn. The most important is a passive type and involves protecting yourself against the influences that come from life in general. The second type is the reversal of spells, or “work,” consciously sent to you from someone else. In this chapter we will discuss the more passive forms of protection. In the next chapter we will discuss reversing spells and negative magic.
The magician's primary instrument is him- or herself. The development of your own natural abilities is the first step in any form of magical training. This is a process that begins with the repetitive practice of certain exercises. It also involves understanding certain things through self-observation. The information I am giving you here is the same information I was given by my first teacher many years ago. While it may seem very introductory, even childishly simple, it must be followed through to obtain success.
Throughout the course of each day you are surrounded by the forces of the divine creation. Some of these forces are visible, in that they impact upon your senses. We see the brightness of the sun, or the haze of an overcast day. We can hear and feel the wind in either gentle gusts or gales. We can feel and smell the rain and the earth. Other forces of the divine creation are invisible, in that they do not impact upon our senses. We cannot physically sense the motions and interrelationships of the planets in the heavens or the energies radiated by those around us, but we are influenced by them, nonetheless.
The sum total of the forces of the divine creation manifest themselves in each of us individually. They manifest themselves in the flux of our emotions or changes in our mental states. The fact that our emotions fluctuate inexplicably, or that our mental states change from moment to moment, is an indication that neither relates to our real personality.
One of the first principles to understand in any occult study is that you are not just mind or emotion. This is a basic tenet of any religious practice, whether you study Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, or whatever. It is also a very difficult concept for most people to accept.
Once we are able to observe ourselves, we can sense those conscious influences much as we sense the physical presence of wind, rain and sunlight. The attempts of others to sway us mentally are brought out clearly and we see them for what they are. Subconscious influence we can sense emotionally. We can feel it—and know that it has a quality that differentiates it from fear, apprehension or the emotional blockage of inhibition.
Once we are able to sense these influences upon us, we will realize two important things: first, they cannot harm our true essence; and second, our accepting these influences into the self is our own conscious choice. We can deny others any influence over us.
This is obviously not something that we can do initially. It is a state that we must develop. We develop this state through conscious effort.
It is necessary that you develop a base within yourself—a base that is not affected by your changing surface emotions or your changing mental states. This base must become a point of contact for your real personality, the essence of the divine which is within you and within everyone else. From this base you can reach out to know your emotions or to quiet your mind. This base, once established, gradually becomes a place of stability, allowing you to develop an internal awareness that cannot be disturbed by influences from any external source.
The development of this internal base takes a great deal of time—years, actually. Once this base is developed it will pay great dividends in terms of personal development. Obviously, some of you will find your internal base more quickly than others. This development cannot be left to chance, nor can you assume that it is naturally present. This base is brought into being only through concerted effort. The easiest way to develop your base is through the daily practice of the following exercise: For half an hour every day relax your body. Relax by letting all of the tension out of your muscles. Allow your mind to run free, without paying the least attention to any thoughts that may enter it. Do this as part of your daily routine until it becomes second nature to you.
By using this exercise, you will eventually begin to understand that there is more to you than just your body, emotions and mind. This may start as an intellectual understanding, but it will become a deep inexpressible truth. When you contact this part of yourself, focus your attention on it when you are in a relaxed state. Gradually you will find it possible to contact it in your normal waking state. Gradually allow this part of yourself to enter your daily life. Direct your attention to it whenever you are able to do so during the day and you will discover that it can guide you. If you follow the guidance it gives, you will discover that it can become an active participant in your life, and it can make your life easier in many ways. This part of you is the true eternal you. You may commune with that part of yourself on a daily basis, casting off all the influences which may come to you during the day. After you practice this for some time, you will find that you no longer accept external influences and you have actually begun acting in harmony with your true personality.
If you have any religious practice, regardless of what it is, you should make a daily routine of praying. Every religious practice has its regular prayers, and these should be made a part of your daily routine as well. If you have no religious practice, you should return to the religious practice of your childhood and enter into it with new perception that it is valuable and worth-while. If you grew up in a home with no religious practice, you should look around and find one that is comfortable for you. Enter into the practice and use the prayers from that practice. If the practice uses prayers in a foreign language, you should learn the language, at least well enough to understand the prayers.
Popular opinion to the contrary, it really doesn't matter which prayers you use or what form they take. What matters is whether or not you pray regularly. Prayer (and the attempt at praying) acts to stabilize and keep you protected from various forms of external influence.
True prayer is the most magical act there is, and if you are in communion with the divine, you live your life in a state of continual prayer. Prayer is a real force in the universe, and the process of learning how to pray is one of the most important lessons you can learn.
If you want to take a more active part in protecting yourself from conscious influence, you can learn to close your aura. You can close off your aura deliberately and willfully to prohibit external influences from impinging on it. Men who regularly wear belts may do this by using the buckling of the belt as a deliberate action that seals them off from any external influences. People who do not regularly wear belts may close themselves off by obtaining a length of small cotton cord about a foot longer than their waist measurement. Tie the cord around your waist as you dress in the morning. This becomes a deliberate act (or ritual) to protect yourself from external influences and the ritual will seal you off. The cord should be tied around the waist and worn under your clothes.
You may also seal your aura through the process of a regular morning and evening prayer. Any number of prayers have the effect of limiting the kinds of influences which you accept during the course of the day. Any prayer may be used for this purpose, including a prayer of your own devising. The following prayer is typical of those which may be employed for this purpose:
The Lord surrounds me with light, love and protection. I am safe within this sphere of love from all which may seek to harm me.
Your own belief that you are protected is one of the most important factors in any form of protection. The stronger and more certain your belief, the more you are protected from external influence.
The effect (either intentionally, or as a secondary effect) of many spiritual exercises given to students is the removal of many external influences which have affected them. These influences are both conscious and sub-conscious, and they must be removed in order for the students to progress on their paths. For example, The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola have this result.2
People committed to a program of spiritual development find they are no longer subject to the types of influence which formerly afflicted them. Eventually, as the students develop, they are no longer subject to any external influence whatsoever. This is a rare achievement, for it means that they are no longer suggestible in any way. To limit suggestibility is one of the goals of our evolution. Like everything else in the development of the soul, it is reached by one person at a time.