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THE MEANING OF LIFE
To gather experience over countless lifetimes.

We Realize who and what we really are, and come to behave like That.

Ignorance of That and associated bad habits result in mistakes and consequential suffering.

The accumulation of experience eventually brings us to realize that we are not separate from others, which forms habitual devotion to the ultimate welfare of all.
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Posts Tagged ‘Mer-Amun’

Part VI: The Names of God and the Four Directions

(Due to the size of this posting, I have relegated an analysis of the points and lines on the pentagram to a future article on its own, choosing to focus here on the Names of God instead.)

Ineffable

In this article, I have used the word Ineffable in this sense: defying expression or description, incapable of being expressed, indefinable or indescribable, too great or intense to be expressed in words, untellable or unutterable.  I use this word to describe both the Here and Now, and Awareness Itself, instead of using the word “unknowable” for either.  I do this because both the eternal Here and Now and Awareness Itself are definitely knowable through certain techniques, but not as things or anything objective because they are absolutely ineffable.

Occult

Occult:  from the latin occultus (clandestine, hidden, secret), referring to “knowledge of the hidden;” Secret; Hidden from general knowledge; Undetected; Popularly meaning “knowledge of the paranormal.”  For most practicing occultists it is simply the study of a deeper spiritual reality that extends beyond pure reason and the physical senses.

I hinted at what I am about to try to explain here in the previous part called “The Sacred Pentagram.”  What I am about to try to explain is occult in the true sense of the word.  It is secret and hidden, not because of oath or tradition.  It is secret and hidden not because we are not allowed to say but because words cannot express it.  What I am about to try to explain is secret and hidden because we can only believe and truly understand it by experiencing it directly, firsthand.  The implications and uses, the meanings and applications of what I am about to try to explain, we can only grasp by personal experience and firsthand exploration of the principles.

In my writing, I am usually trying to explain the unexplainable, not in the hope of doing the impossible, but instead to say, “Hey!  Look here!  There’s something amazing and wonderful here!  It’s hidden, so you might not have guessed even to look for it, but here it is!  Right here!  See for yourself!”  I write in the hope that a reader might say, “Hey, I had no idea this even existed!  Let me investigate for myself and see.”  My hope is that readers might uncover the occult for themselves, and find there the wonder of whom and what they really are, and learning to behave like That, free themselves from behaving like what they thought they were.

Today I am writing about Names of God.  To the Ancients, “God” is that One Pure Consciousness, infinite, ageless, all pervasive, and shared among all beings and things as that core of what it feels like to exist, which is to be Aware.  There are many names for that One Pure Consciousness, each describing a different quality of That.  So, writing about Names of God, I am today writing about qualities of Awareness Itself.  This is something we can all relate to in the most intimate way.  In this part of the Pentagram Ritual, where we charge each pentagram (reminder) with a Name of God (quality of Awareness), we are charging the pentagrams to be great and powerful reminders of the qualities of Awareness.  We are charging reminders of the qualities of whom and what we really are.

Why is the nature of Awareness important to experience for oneself and remember?  Because this is what defines reality and how we create the universe.  It reveals who and what we really are.  It reveals how we are constantly creating reality.  This experience, this recognition of whom and what we really are is what we are here for.  It is the reason for existence.  Life is a rare and precious gift from great beings and a host of spirits like elementals, angels and archangels.  They offer us this gift to provide us with a stable, predictable state of being, so we might have a chance to slow down and see for ourselves who and what we really are.  Our persistent behavior of reality creation is the source and mechanism of all magic.

One might argue the mechanisms of reality creation I’m describing are personal, defining only a subjective reality.  One might argue that I’m describing the creation of a personal universe and that it doesn’t apply to the external objective world we share with others.  This argument is only possible if you have only thought about the principles I’m describing, and haven’t actually examined them with firsthand experience of your own.  Your consciousness that creates this personal reality is neither separate nor different from the One Pure Consciousness that everyone shares, and that One Pure Consciousness does indeed create the external, so-called objective universe that everyone shares.  It does so in exactly the same way as you create your own internal, so-called subjective universe.  Exactly the same way.  I invite you to see for yourself.  The techniques I am describing here can lead you to that firsthand experience of your own.

The Great Reminder

We have been following a practice, a ritual, designed to help us explore for ourselves whom and what we really are, and in making this practice a habit, learn to act like That, habitually.  The Ancients have taught that we are really the Authors of the Universe and that we can learn to act like That, instead of acting like human beings who struggle for sustenance, comfort and amusement.  My hope is that through this practice, this ritual, and through investigatory meditation (introduced later in this article) you will see for yourself whether what the Ancients taught is true.

At this point in the ritual, we have cast four living symbols, four Sacred Pentagrams around us, joined at their hearts by a circle.  There they shimmer around us in ghostly blue fire, tall, mighty and beautiful, at the edges of the Universe, in the infinite distance of the four directions.

The Sacred Pentagram is a reminder that we are Pure Awareness, confronted or surrounded by experience, all of which is a mirror of that same Pure Awareness.

The pentagram with its five points illustrates the relationship between us as Pure Awareness and experience itself, through the relationships drawn between the five points.  We have seen in the previous part of this article the top point, representing Pure Awareness, has direct lines to:

  • On the right hand, an experience of Awareness Itself as the center of everything, as the recipient of all experience, as a consciousness in the middle of it all.  This is the “spark of god” or even the Divine Fire in everything, as everything shares that same sense of being the One Pure Consciousness, as everything shares that exact same sense of being in the middle of it all.
  • On the left hand, an experience of a world that we are always touching in one way or other (all five senses are types of touch).  This Universe is at the same time what the One Pure Consciousness looks like and what it is always looking at.  Since all of it is equally aware, sharing that same One Pure Consciousness, the Universe is Consciousness Itself staring right back at you.  This is the living universe, the responsiveness or radiance of that One Pure Consciousness.

When we cast the banishing pentagram, we shift our attention away from that left hand point, away from what Pure Consciousness looks like, back on Pure Consciousness Itself.  And Pure Consciousness cannot ever be found because it is not a findable thing, but That which finds all things.  It is That which is aware of things and is itself no thing.  It is void of any referential existence.  Because objects of awareness cannot exist without this ultimately nonexistent (as an object) Awareness, everything you are aware of is itself an illusion produced by the act of being aware.

The living banishing pentagram is a reminder that wherever you look, you are That which is looking, and that you are looking at an illusory mirror of Awareness which itself is not a thing at all.  The pentagram does this reminding while you are still aware of things.  It engages your state of being aware of things into an act of Remembrance.  You need not be in some trance state to recognize who and what you really are, nor the fact that everything you see is an illusion and a reflection of Awareness Itself (which is Itself not a thing).  You need not be in a special magic circle to see this either.  You need not be in your practice room, casting pentagrams around you to see it.  The universe itself, with its permanent pentagrams in the infinite distance (whether you’re aware of them or not) is your magic circle.  Simply reach out and touch something or someone.  There, in the act of touching, the act of experiencing is the proof the pentagram is reminding you about.

What I have described is occult.  I can say it and write it over and over again until I die.  If you only go by what I say or write, you will never get it.  You can only grasp what I’m saying by seeing these things and testing them and contemplating them for yourself.  These pages are only a hint to say that these things can be seen for yourself.  They are only a hint to say that you can find for yourself in every sensory act, whether internal or external, proof and remembrance of whom and what you really are.  How are you to see for yourself?  By practicing the Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram as described here, and through meditation techniques introduced here.

Charging Pentagrams

We used a form of attention (the nourishment of all things) called life energy, to create a body for the living pentagram, giving it the ability to take part in our world and in our lives.  Now we are going to use that same life energy to charge the lives of these pentagrams with a task.  Think of it as inspiring them with a wonderful idea, something to live for, something to say, something extremely fulfilling.  This task has to do with reminding us of different qualities of Awareness, qualities of whom we are, and as Authors of the universe, how we constantly create the universe.

So I would like to spend some words describing how to do this “charging,” from the perspective of using witch-fire, prana, chi, life-energy, or etheric energy (whichever you want to call it).

As with casting a line of a pentagram, again we breathe in and soak up life energy from the ocean of it in which we live: the aura of the sun.  Performing this “pore breathing,” we allow the energy to soak into our bodies, and gather at the solar plexus.  Again, we are going to cast this energy out through our arms and Athamé (or hand, held with only index and middle finger extended).  But this time we are going to start with our hand held up at shoulder level. Then with an aggressive step forward of our right foot and an out-breath, we thrust our hand and head forward at the heart of the pentagram before us.  As we do this, we feel that we are throwing a flaming ball of energy, with flame trailing behind it, at the center of the pentagram.  (We are casting a ball of focus or attention at the heart of the pentagram.)

For a visual reference, think of the Hand of God writing with blasts of flame on the stone tablets, in the movie “The Ten Commandments” (directed by Cecil B. DeMille, 1956).  Of course, you’ll want to make your visualization more realistic, but this gets the idea across of the splash of flame you’re throwing, and how we form magical flaming lettering.  (In our case, the letters remain flaming and glowing, while in the movie they turn to stone.)  Unlike the movie, however, this time it really is the hand of God that does the writing with fire, since you have earlier in the ritual already established your perspective as That of the One Pure Consciousness, Author of the Universe.  Remember, it is not a human being that is performing this act.  It is the One Pure Consciousness working through the form of a human being.  That One Pure Consciousness is casting its attention forth in a concentrated form, as life-energy, to give inspiration and purpose in life to a living pentagram.

Now, the ritual script calls for different colors of fire for each ball of fire.  It calls to have etched in the hearts of these pentagrams, magic words of specific colors.  It is helpful to examine the magic words that we are etching, because they give us an understanding of the qualities of Awareness.  Doing so helps us to understand better whom and what we really are, because these magic words describe innate qualities of our true Selves.  They give an understanding of how experience arises before Awareness, and therefore of exactly how it is that we are the Authors of the Universe, constantly creating the universe around us.  Remember, without even knowing it, in a sense we are constantly, and have always been casting pentagrams around us, and charging them with the qualities described by these magic words.  We are doing it deliberately here, so that we have a conscious recognition of what we are really always doing, so that we can build the habit of consciously behaving like whom and what we really are.

Experience Arising in the East

Since we understand all things by reference or association to other things, we must first establish a context for the meanings of these names of God.  I mentioned that they are descriptive names for Consciousness we are about to examine.  I mentioned that Names of God are names for that One Pure Consciousness.  They are names that describe who and what we really are.

So, why are there different names?  The names describe ways to understand Consciousness, its nature, and its function.  At one time, we can say the One Pure Consciousness has three qualities:

  • It is Aware,
  • It is Empty of referential existence, not being knowable as a thing,
  • It is Responsive, radiating attention and in the act of being aware, radiating the illusion of objects of awareness, all really mirrors of Itself, which is not a thing at all.

We could bring these qualities or aspects of God, of our true selves, to mind with different Names for the same One Pure Consciousness.

With the four Names of God, we are going to bring to mind (consciously or unconsciously) four specific aspects of the One Pure Consciousness.  These relate to the nature of experience itself, and how Consciousness decides what it will experience.  These describe how Consciousness experiences Itself by creating a universe.

Two of these four aspects we have already explored, in the two lower points on the pentagram:

  • We (Consciousness) all feel like we are the center of all experience.  Every one of us feels like experience plays out for us, like there is an arrangement of experience around us, for our amusement, as though we are the king or Lord of all that we perceive.  The keyword or reminder of this aspect of experience is “Lord”.  Remember this, because this is the meaning of one of the Names of God we charge pentagrams with.  I will say more about this later.
  • Consciousness revealed as an universe of experience cast before it, in every direction.  The universe, all of it sharing in the same One Pure Consciousness, is exactly what that One Pure Consciousness looks like: an illusion of infinite variety.  It is infinite in variety because the One Pure Consciousness is not a thing, so it could and does look like absolutely anything.  It is the bounty of the Earth and the universe itself, looking right back at you.  This is the sum total of experience itself, the total illusion itself as an experience.  This sum total experience, arranged at the Feet of Consciousness like the globe of the Earth, is the key to this aspect of experience.  This image of the universe where all of time and space spread before our feet, should be familiar.  It is similar to what we experienced in the Ankh of Light that is part of this ritual.  The keyword or reminder of this aspect of experience is in words similar to those we vibrated when we performed the Ankh of Light: “Ateh…  Gebor, LeOlam, Amen.”  Remember these words, because they are the meaning of one of the Names of God we charge pentagrams with.  More about this later too.

So, what about those other two points on the pentagram that we haven’t explored yet?  Again, we are exploring here aspects of the experience of the One Pure Consciousness.  And we are beginning in the East, where the light rises at the beginning of each day.  We are beginning with the arising of experience itself, out of infinite possibilities.

The aspect of Consciousness I am about to describe is so occult, I need you to follow what I’m saying with your own experience.  I need you to sit quietly, close your eyes for a bit, withdraw your attention upon Itself, and just be Awareness, not paying attention to anything you’re aware of.  Don’t try to stop being aware of things, just be Awareness, pure and simple.

Now, if you don’t pay attention to things even if they’re still there, if you just be still in your mind, aware but not of any specific thing, notice that pure unfocused awareness is omnidirectional.  There’s a sense of immersion in Nothing In Particular.

Now, deliberately pay attention to something.  Deliberately cast forth the beam of your attention.  When you do this, like the lamp on a miner’s hat, there is suddenly an illusion of direction: the sense of experience before one’s awareness.  The act of focus, the act of paying attention draws that omnidirectional awareness to a specific direction.  The direction in which you cast your attention always feels like it’s “before Thee.”  From the perspective of Names of God, from the perspective of Awareness in the act of experiencing something, this direction, this “before Thee” is what we mean by East.  The morning sunrise (the Golden Dawn) is symbolic of experience arising before Awareness.  It happens by simply casting forth your attention.  If you stand on a hill on a calm day watching the sun rise, you might notice something very interesting.  Just as the first tip of the sun appears on the horizon, a peculiar gust of wind rushes lightly past, from the East.  This is a very sacred wind for a lot of reasons.  One of those reasons has to do with experience arising “before Thee,” blowing lightly in the face of Consciousness.  It has to do with a breeze of thought that blows through your mind when you are paying attention to anything (including the stream of thoughts themselves).

So the East is the first pentagram that we charge with a Name of God.  Now let’s start to examine that Name of God.

Always remember that all of this is truly occult and can only be understood by your own direct experience of what I’m saying.  But consider for a moment, one of the things the pentagram before you is showing you.  You are Awareness.  Looking a the pentagram, you are aware of the act of sensing, the act of experiencing.  You are not the senses, because you are aware of them.  It’s you standing there (Awareness), with the pentagram (all experiences, the senses) before you.

Now consider this proof that everything you ever experienced, are experiencing, and ever will experience is absolutely illusory.  Since we experience everything through the senses or some internal version of them, it takes time for an event to travel through the senses to reach our awareness.  I will explain further:

Consider our ability to look at the universe.  Standing on a hilltop at night far from city lights on a clear night, looking up at the universe, we see billions of stars surrounding our planet on all sides.  This is our view of the universe itself.  Ignoring our sun for the moment, if you could pick out the closest star, you would be looking at Proxima Centauri which is 4.2 light years from us.  This means that light from the closest start travels for 4.2 years before it reaches us.  The North Star, Polaris, at the end of the tail of the Little Dipper is approximately 430 light years distant.  When we look in the sky, we are seeing the past, not the present moment.  We are seeing Proxima Centauri as it appeared 4.2 years ago, and Polaris as it appeared 430 years ago.  When we look at our own Sun, we are seeing it as it appeared 8.5 minutes ago.  We see most of the stars only as they appeared millions or even billions of years ago.  Because it takes time for light to reach your eyes, nothing you see as you look at the universe around you is as it truly looks at in this present moment.  It is impossible to look directly at the stars in the present moment.

When you see something right in front of you, even this computer or paper you’re reading from, photons are bouncing off something in front of you.  Traveling at the speed of light to change direction by the lens in your eye, they eventually strike the back of your eye.  Slowly, this meat at the back of your eye called a retina, reacts to the photons with a chemical reaction.  This chemical reaction causes an electronic spark to fire in the optic nerve.  That one causes a whole chain of sparks to fire in various areas of the brain.  When the pattern of sparks roughly matches a pattern that has happened in the past, we have re-cognition (cognizing again) of what the photons bounced off.  And finally you realize that you are looking at… whatever it is that you recognize.  When the pattern in the brain doesn’t approximate a pattern that happened before, you don’t recognize what you’re seeing, and probably just ignore it.  That’s a lot of things to happen between the time the photons bounced off the thing, when what you’re looking at actually looked like that, and the time you recognized it.  Just like looking at the stars in the sky, seeing them as they looked millions of years ago, what you are looking at right now, right in front of you, is also an image from the past.  Maybe it’s not far in the past, but it is impossible to see anything in the absolute here and now.  The same applies to all the senses, even direct experience without senses, because it always takes time to recognize anything.  This is why we take time to think about something.  Otherwise, pondering a subject would be instantaneous, but it takes time.

It is impossible to experience anything as it is right here, right now.  We experience everything we’ve ever experienced, are experiencing, and ever will experience after it actually happened.  Like looking at the ancient stars, you have never experienced anything through the senses, or through internal versions of them, that wasn’t already different, if ever so slightly, by the time you actually recognized it.  Your experience is always that of a ghostly image of the way things were, and never exactly the way they actually are, here and now.  When it comes to experiences, any experiences, it’s as though you are living in the past.  The universe of experience might as well be the ashes of a burned rope: still looks almost exactly like it did, but in reality you are experiencing just fragile ashes of a form from the past.  Thinking like this, you have just now burned the illusion of reality from your experience, leaving only the ashes of the past.  (Image: A holy man smears ashes on himself.)

But look at something, anything.  There is a constant stream of photons bouncing and hitting your eye.  There is a constant stream of electrical patterns in your brain.  There is the sense of an on-going, never-ending arising of experience before thee (the “East”) like a steady breeze of conscious awareness or a steady breeze of thoughts.  Yet, because we experience everything after the fact, the actual events themselves, as they truly are here and now, we will only experience in the future.  And we experience everything that way.  The true here and now, while it is absolutely right here, right now, we can never recognize because recognition is not instantaneous.

Now think of this.  As an experience, we can never know what is happening exactly now.  It’s the same as an eyeball trying to look directly at itself, or like trying to look at one’s own awareness.  It can never be done, because any thing you find is something you’re aware of and is therefore not whatever is doing the awareness.  You’re aware of it, so there’s you doing the awareness, and then there’s the thing you’re aware of: two different things.  In exactly the same manner that you can never know awareness as a thing, you can never recognize anything that is exactly here and now either.  In this sense, you as Awareness, and whatever it is that’s happening here and now are both perfectly unknowable as things.  Think of an empty room.  It’s here right now, and you’re (Awareness is) here right now, but there’s Nothing in this room that we can perceive.  Nothing we can know. Because we can ultimately know nothing, Nothing is something we can know, but not as a thing.  See for yourself.  I’ll explore this train of thought more in a later part of this article series, because this is the ultimate meaning of banishing in the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram.

But because you cannot perceive anything right here, right now, we are always experiencing things after they happened.  Yet, you are here and now, even if you cannot directly perceive yourself, or know exactly what is here and now, you have proof that you exist here and now in the fact that you are aware.  But here and now, you perceive something that already happened in the here and now.  Perception happens in the here and now, but what you perceive is something from the past.  Awareness is real in the here and now, but objects of awareness are all illusions from the past.  You (Awareness) live in the here and now and its existence is as obvious as the fact that you are aware.  But you cannot recognize exactly what is in the here and now, because what is in the here and now is Awareness Itself: something you cannot recognize as a thing.  See for yourself.  Try to find Awareness Itself.  Anything you perceive is a thing that you perceive; there’s the you and the thing, the thing cannot be the you that’s perceiving.  Anything you feel like is a thing that you feel like.  There the you that’s doing the feeling, and then there’s the feeling itself: two separate things.  You’ll never find anything that is Awareness.  Nothing you can feel is Awareness Itself.  Yet there it is: you are aware.

Now think of this: because everything you experienced has happened in the past, the actual here and now, where the real you actually lives, is an experience you have not yet had.  The photons bouncing right here and right now have not yet even reached your eye.  As experiences go, the here and now is something you have not yet experienced, and cannot yet experience, except as the presence of Pure Awareness, and the knowledge that something is here and now to experience eventually.  What that is, that we have not yet experienced, we can never know as a direct experience, but it’s here and now, whatever it is.  This ineffable “here and now” is a function of Awareness itself.  It is part of the Holy Presence that is aware, that is the here and how, from which all experiences arise, and that you will experience in the future.  The unknowable future arises from the ineffable here and now, not from some distant ocean of possibilities somewhere in front of you, wherever that is supposed to be.

So the here and now is something we have not yet experienced.  Whatever it is that is here and now, where Awareness lives, can only be experienced in the future.  As far as experience goes, the here and now is in your future: currently ineffable and undefined, with infinite possibilities inherent that could be happening.  For all you know, the Earth might have winked out and ceased to exist, and the experience has not yet reached and registered in your brain.  Maybe you’re dead, and you haven’t accepted the idea.  But how likely is that future, where the Earth winks out and ceases to exist?  We will get into what decides the likely future (or more correctly, defines the here and now out of infinite possibilities) further on in this article, once we have examined the past because the past has a huge influence on the future.

But what this means is that, while in the realm of experiences, you as Pure Awareness are living an event you cannot experience yet… you are yourself a living, future experience.  What is actually happening around you right now is something you will experience in the near future.  So, if you focus on experiences themselves, you are focusing on the past (like looking at the stars).  If you focus on the true here and now, which is ineffable and unrecognizable as a thing or experience, you are focusing on the future as far as the experience of it goes.

These two aspects of awareness are very important:

  1. focusing on the here and now, where Awareness Itself is, there are events that you will only experience in the future – keyword: future experience.  As this Conscious Presence in the Here and Now, you are yourself a future experience.  This is explained in YHVH, below.
  2. focusing on experiences, you are focusing on the past – keyword: past. Somehow, this past defines what is Here and Now, shaping our future experience.  This is explained in AHYH, below.

These two aspects of awareness are the key to understanding the meanings of two of the Names of God.

This might sound like mincing words, and stretching a point beyond its applicability.  That is because I’m trying to describe the ineffable.  I’m hoping that these strange explanations will prompt you to investigate for yourself these qualities of whom and what you really are.

You might think I’m splitting hairs here to a ridiculous degree.  But think of it.  With this pentagram standing before us, this representation of the way we experience everything, shimmering in blue fire before us, we are seeing how it is that experience arises.  We are seeing how Awareness, that which you know when you say “I Am,” constantly creates the universe.  You are seeing in action whom and what you really are: the Author of the universe.  This splitting hairs is what it’s all about, if you want to know who and what you really are, and want to behave like That instead of behaving like a limited human.

YHVH

So of those two aspects of awareness have been described, let’s take the first one: “future experience.”  Here and now, there are only events that you will experience in the future.  Think of the stars burning in the sky right now.  You don’t see them in the now.  They have all moved by now.  God (Awareness) lives in a place, the here and now, that is yet to be experienced.  If we were to give a descriptive name to this aspect of God, this name would remind us of the fact that Pure Ineffable Awareness co-exists with a radiance of experiences that is, right now, absolutely indescribable with infinite possibilities.  The name would remind us that God lives in a time and place that is yet to be experienced (the promised land).  Such a name is YHVH.  This name is called unpronounceable, or unspeakable.  Some pronounce this as “Jehovah,” though very few Hebrews understand the word as a name for their own Awareness.  The fact that it is unpronounceable reminds us that both the here-and-now, and Awareness (God) are ineffable, indescribable, untellable, unutterable, and so unpronounceable.

The word YHVH comes from the root HVH which means “to be, to exist.”  This is the basic quality of both Pure Awareness, and of whatever it is that is actually here and happening, here and now.  To be, to exist, is the basic quality of that Ancient Presence, which is at the same time all knowing, all powerful, and present everywhere.  All we can say is that it exists and nothing more definite than that: HVH, to exist.  When Y is placed at the beginning of a root word like this, the word becomes future tense.  So YHVH means “to exist in the future” with a sense of “becoming” or “about to happen.”  This descriptive name for consciousness is a perfect reminder of the unspeakable, ineffable nature of Consciousness, and its aspect as the equally unspeakable here and now.  It stresses that whatever it is in the here and now, is something we will experience in the future. It is also a reminder that in the same way as Awareness is ineffable, whatever is actually happening here and now (Awareness is what is happening here and now) is exactly as indescribable.  We cannot know Awareness as a thing, and the Here and Now cannot be directly perceived either for the same reason.  Both are inseparable aspects of the same ineffable Presence.  So, “to exist in the future” sums up all of these ideas into a single four stage word very nicely.  It is even possible to break down the sequence of four letters into a description of experience emanating from pure Awareness.  For the moment I can say that this word is a reminder of how experience is constantly arising before us, in the so-called East, as a constant stream of experience.  It is a reminder of experience constantly arising before the Eye that can never see itself, in the Eternal Here and Now that can never be perceived for the same reason.  Neither can be directly perceived because they are the same ineffable Presence.

Experience radiates from Awareness in the here and now, and we experience it in the future.   It is exactly this lag between the here and now, and our experience of it, that gives us an illusion of the passage of time.  In reality, there is no passage of time.  There is only the stream of input through our senses, which is actually a constant radiance of Awareness, a constant stream of attention, which is the nature of Awareness itself.  What if this constant preparation or flow of experience before us should ever end?  We would cease to experience anything new at all.  Somehow this stream of experience seems unending and limitless as a source.  Knowledge of this constant stream of experience is direct knowledge of the Unborn Radiance of ineffable Awareness, inseparable from the ineffable here and now.  It is this constant stream of acting aware, the casting attention that Awareness does, that gives an illusion of time, and the illusion of experience.  Apart from this illusion of time, there is only here and now, which is inseparable from Awareness, and equally unknowable as an experience or thing.  All experiences radiate from this Presence, in the ineffable Here and Now, which is also Awareness Itself.

This ineffable thing, this Awareness, this root of all experience, being without constraints of definition and therefore without bounds, is eventually (in the future) experienced in an infinite number of ways from an infinite number of points of view.   The boundlessness of it, the sheer wonder of it, the richness of the experience and the miracle that it happens at all is the true ecstasy of the Goddess (Experience – H), in her union with the God (Awareness – Y).  The multitude of different experiences and worlds and lives and beings that emanate from that union (YH being the union of the God and the Goddess, VH being the universe that emanates from that union) is what YHVH is all about.  But in that word is a reminder that the true here and now is yet to be experienced, ineffable for the same reason that Awareness Itself is ineffable, the two being inseparable aspects of the same Presence.

“Thou Whose Breath giveth forth and withdraweth the form of all things;
Thou, before Whom the life of every being is but a shadow which transforms and a vapor which passeth away;
Thou, Who mountest upon the clouds, and dost fly upon the Wings of the Wind;
Thou, Who breathest forth and endless Space is peopled.
Thou, Who drawest in Thy Breath, and all which came forth from Thee unto Thee returneth!
Ceaseless Motion, in Eternal Stability, be Thou eternally blessed!
We praise Thee and we bless Thee in this fleeting empire of Created Light, of Shadows, reflections and images, and we aspire without ceasing towards Thine Immutable and Imperishable Splendor.”

Excerpt from the Prayer of the Sylphs, addressing God, that (stable) Ancient Presence, in the Eternal Here and Now, as the source of all arising experience as it flits past like thoughts, as a constant stream of momentary experience.

Investigatory Meditation

This whole description being on an occult topic, barely touches on the profundity, the extent of the implications, and the unspeakable meaning of the Self-examination to which I refer here.  The only way to breach the occult nature of the topic is to explore it for yourself, to test, investigate and bask in the experience of whom you really are, firsthand.  Even then, the extent of the meaning of this experience is infinite and unknowable in its entirety.  Yet it is this ineffable quality that is the most precious aspect of the experience.  What experience am I talking about?  The experience pointed to by the banishing pentagram:  find out whom and what you really are by shifting your attention away from experiences, back on the very source of attention.  The experience pointed to by shifting attention to your own Awareness, naked, pure, and unknowable as a thing and inseparable from the ineffable Here and Now.  Do this often.  Do it slowly, and watch carefully for the subtleties of what it is you are doing when you shift attention like this.  Now shift your attention back upon experiences again, but do it slowly, and watch carefully for the subtleties of what it is you are doing when you shift like this.   You will see firsthand, all the secrets of the universe unfold before your Awareness.

Stabilizing Meditation

To have this experience for yourself, to not miss the subtleties, it helps to first train yourself to pay attention.  Most people, completely unaware of the real power of attention and the ability to focus it, are extremely weak at doing so.  After all, we’re normally not taught how to pay attention, and we might not have even thought about the idea of actually training in the skill of paying attention.  See for yourself:  Place a clock with a second hand on a table and sit down in front of it.  Relax, get comfortable, and when you feel ready to try, gaze at that second hand, and see how long you can pay attention to it without your attention wandering to something else.  Can you even make it to ten seconds?  Thirty?  Three minutes?  How about an hour or even 72 hours without a single distraction?

The ability to pay attention is essential to watching the minute subtleties of how your mind and the universe works, to having for yourself the firsthand experience I am hinting at in this article.  I said that you should watch what you are doing when you shift attention from an experience to none in particular.  The ability to “watch” this carefully and in minute detail requires a strong ability to focus your attention (pay attention) for long periods of time.  You need to be able to pay attention to what you want to, for as long as you want to, without breaks or distractions because otherwise you will miss the incredible subtleties of the machinery of the universe.

The secret to paying attention is learning to relax, not just relax your body but your mind as well.  Another secret is to find wonderment in the act of paying attention itself, without regard to what you are paying attention to.  Boredom is the first reaction of a restless mind.  That same boredom can be transformed into pure ecstasy by a simple shift of perspective.  Boredom is actually overwhelming ecstasy and bliss, but unrecognized and unfamiliar, so uncomfortable.  Are you easily bored?  Then you have a talent for trance-like immersion in the ecstasy of the Goddess, but it is unfamiliar, so uncomfortable, and you avoid it.

But this is not an article about meditation techniques, so I will get back to the topic at hand.

AHYH

So whenever we’re casting forth attention, focusing it on any particular experience as with a miner’s helmet, we are facing a metaphorical East.  And because of that casting forth of attention, we experience “before us” what seems to be a continuous stream or breeze of experience in the face of Awareness.  It is not really a stream of experience, but only seems so as a habit of what we pay attention to.  This condition of being aware, what it feels like to exist, to be Present, is itself the illusory arising of a stream of experience.  This is something that you can see for yourself, firsthand, by paying attention in the manner described by the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram.

Now, again using the analogy of the miner’s helmet (or the lamp of The Hermit, tarot card number IX), if experience seems to arise before one’s awareness, a seeming stream upon you, think of where it seems to go.  Once it’s been experienced, even though the event is already in the past when it is experienced, it seems to drift away into an ocean of past experiences or memory.  I say “ocean” of memory because memory is fluid, growing and changing with our changing perspective on things.  As new experience is added, the ocean of collected experience, the ocean of memory grows and changes, like an infinitely expanding universe, or pool of experience.

The way we use the word “experience” is a very important indication of the qualities of this pool of experience.  As a verb, it is the act of undergoing an event or participating.  Awareness experiences things and events.  This happens in the Here and Now, but the event undergone or participated in, is something from the past.  As a noun it is used in three interesting ways.  1)  It is the thing that is had by undergoing or participating.  This thing is something that collects in a pool of experience.  2)  the pool itself, of knowledge or events undergone.  Now take these three meanings (one verb, two nouns) and put them all together as a description of the act of being aware, a description of you, the Experiencer: you are here and now the infinite pool of experience from which all future experience arises, and into which all experience collects.  That collected experience changes and grows with the addition of new experience.  That expanded and changed pool experience shapes the here and now from which all future experience arises.  I’ll write more on this shaping in a minute.

“O Vastness, wherein all beings seek to lose themselves, to be continually reborn in Thee!
{re-member, re-cognize, re-legion (religion), to Remember who they really are]
O Immensity into which flow all the Rivers of Life
[streams of experience], to renew themselves ever in Thee!”

“Thee we adore and Thee we invoke!
Speak Thou unto us, Thine inconstant and changeful creatures!”

Excerpts from the Prayer of the Undines, addressing God, the One Pure Consciousness
[my comments added in square brackets]

In this ocean of memory everything seems to collect, as a seeming store of experience, like some ultimate library recording every event, every experience that has ever occurred.  This is the Akashic Records: a universal version of the Great Library of Alexandria, an idea that was the basis for the historical one.

The past, this ocean of past experience, this ocean of reference, fluid and infinite, illusory and uncertain, is how we know anything, and especially who we think we are.

Everything we know, even the things that seem to be happening right now, are all things that have already happened in the past.  Experiences are known or recognized only by reference or association with past experiences.  You can only cognize by reference to memory, to the past.  That’s why we call knowing something in what seems to be the present, re-cognition.  It’s because you are cognizing it again based on reference to previous cognizing (as when the pattern of sparks in the brain is like a pattern that happened before).  The things we think we know are all experiences in the past.  Everything we know is a reference to things in the past, experienced and remembered differently by all of us according to our ever accumulating and changing pool of gathered experience.  That this pool of gathered experience is ever changing causes an ever-shifting perspective on things in the past.  This causes an ever shifting re-cognition, understanding, or perception of the so-called present experience as well.

Everything we know about who we think we are is defined by this shifting build-up of experience.  Our illusory uncertain past, our history, defines what we know about ourselves right now, and the way we think of ourselves right now.  As the ever-shifting, constant accumulation of experience defines ourselves more and more accurately as the accumulation reaches infinitude (though never reaching exactitude) we eventually become Self-aware.  Eventually what we know of ourselves includes much more than the collected experiences of a human.  Eventually it includes an understanding of the nature of Awareness itself.  We eventually recognize ourselves as the same Pure Consciousness that pervades all of existence that pervades all experience, the entire unstable illusion of space and time, shared by all the other illusory beings throughout the universe.  Eventually, by accident or by experience or by deliberate practice (of the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, for example), our self-image includes the direct personal experience of ourselves as the One Pure Consciousness.

A human being is a collection of experiences.  A human being is like a collection of tendencies, habits and expectations.  A human being, like all other beings, is like a single ripple on the mere surface of this ocean of collective experience.  When you think of yourself as being a human being, you, the One Consciousness, are focusing your attention on but one ripple of an infinite ocean of gathered experiences, an infinite ocean of possibilities.  You are focusing on one character on the surface of an infinite ocean of gathered characteristics, tendencies, memories, and habits.  But this human is something you are aware of, and since there is a you and an it that you are aware of, this human is not you, the One Consciousness.  You are this ocean, not the ripple you are focusing on.  You cannot see the whole ocean, you cannot look at the whole ocean because, just as the eye cannot see itself directly, that ocean is the you that is looking.  Consciousness is eternally gazing at Its reflection (re-flection: to recall, remember) in the rippling surface of the ocean of accumulated experience.

In terms of the experience had by Pure Consciousness, be it all in an uncertain illusion from the past, this pool of experience is the most common reference against which we know we exist.  “I Think, therefore I Am,” or in other words, “I experience, therefore I Am.”  This unreliable illusion of what once was the present moment is where we can find referential proof that we are, and arrive at knowing what is meant by “I AM.”  It starts by saying, “I am this” or “I am that” referring to the illusory and uncertain history we have accumulated.  Eventually, it is with the realization that every experience is an illusion in the past that we arrive at the simple recognition that “I AM.”  What we experience when we say to ourselves “I AM” is the Presence of Pure Consciousness, the Presence of the Eternal Here and Now, in the face of illusory experience, all of which is in the past.  What we experience when we say “I AM” is itself unknowable as a thing.  By saying “I AM” we can know only that it is, like an Ancient Presence. The ineffable experience we have when we say “I AM” is the only absolute reality.  It exists, and yet we can know nothing else about It because it is That which does the knowing of all things, and is therefore no thing (Nothing) that we can know as a thing.  Through countless lifetimes, we think “I am this” or “I am that,” and because all experiences shift and change, but Presence does not change, we always realize “I am not this, or that after all.” This is how, with enough accumulation of experience, through countless lifetimes, we eventually arrive at a recognition of what it means to say “I AM,” without any qualifier or descriptor at all.

Eventually all experiences become permanent reminders of what we mean when we say “I AM”.  This is the meaning and purpose of life: to gather illusory experience in an uncertain and fluid store of memory.  Doing so, it is to realize, eventually, who and what we really are: that which we experience when we say “I AM,” and not “I am this” or “I am that.”  So we charge this pentagram in the West, with the purpose in life of reminding us of all these ideas, of this aspect of Consciousness, using a word that will remind us of what we mean when we say “I AM.”  That reminder is the word AHYH, which literally means “I AM.”

But this “past,” this illusory memory of what has happened that we immerse ourselves in, is full of re-cognition, with associations to the past, to memory.  Since everything is recognized by association to past experiences, these associations define what we are going to re-cognize as we are besieged with new experience.  When we see something that we cannot in some way associate to the past, we do not recognize it.  We can make no sense of it.  We often completely ignore things that don’t make sense, or don’t fit into our frame of reference.  This choosing of what we recognize and pay attention to, this choosing between the opportunities we seize upon and the ones we ignore all determine a definite course through the endless ocean of possible future experiences.  The brain is a solidification of this choosing, this accepting some experiences and rejecting other experiences.  The brain is a filter, a gate-keeper of seven gates (seven gates, seven veils: modes of consciousness, ways of experiencing things).  It only accepts experiences that we can re-cognize and filters out or ignores all the rest.  There could be a god or mischievous elemental or alien creature standing across the street or even right in front of you and you might never notice, having no reference by which to recognize it.  For example, right here in the depths of space, surrounded by billions of stars, we only notice or pay attention to the familiar Earth around us.  This is why the sky is so breathtaking when we make the exception of looking up.  All the unseen worlds are right here, right now.  We don’t see them, not because we can’t, but because we ignore them, having no way to relate to them.

In the Eternal Here and Now are infinite possibilities for our next experience.  We use our past to define our most likely future experience by using it to decide what experience we will ignore or reject and using it to decide what experiences we will accept or pay attention to.  This is the ultimate habit and the meaning of karma in the most immediate sense.  This defining habit and karma, that comes from choosing our next experience based on the past, actually controls our future to a huge degree.   But as with any boat, given enough energy to break the current trend, the course can be changed at any given moment.  Fate is only as strong as your habits, your karma.  You have as much free will as you have power over your deepest habits.  If you stopped using the uncertain, shifting, illusory past as a filter for what you will experience next, anything, absolutely anything is possible.  (Image: the Goddess in her dance of the seven veils, removing all of them one by one to reveal the naked splendor of her true nature.)

But there’s an important point to be made here.  The “past,” this “ocean of experience” doesn’t really exist.  I used the idea only as an analogy that helps explain an aspect of Consciousness in the Eternal Here and Now.  I mentioned that the ocean is Consciousness.  Instead of a past, a memory, or an ocean of collected experience, there is a current and present state of mind, or a current and present accumulated frame of mind.  There is actually a current and present frame of reference for experience, or a view, or a perspective.  Residing ever in the Eternal Here and Now, Awareness is always shining forth attention.  It does so with the precedence and expectations of this state of mind, this view or perspective, composed of accumulated experiences.

Your personal frame of mind is composed of a particular collection of chosen experiences, ignoring or forgetting all the rest, making up a personal history out of the infinite collective experience that makes up the ineffable present universe.  This trail of experiences, picked out of the metaphorical ocean of experience, is defined by your attention as it has wound through what was accepted and paid attention to, among all the rest that was rejected and ignored.  It is the path along which you have directed attention, your miner’s helmet amid the darkness of the rest of the ocean around.  This trail of experiences that defines your current and present frame of mind, right here, right now, is like a Great Serpent of Awareness amid the Infinite Ocean of Collective Experience.   This view or perspective is really a collection or chain of chosen experiences (memories) that together represent a current state of mind, frame of mind, or frame of reference, here and now, not in the past.  This Great Serpent, this view, normally determines what we continue to will pay attention to (where we will direct the miner’s lamp) out of the constant stream of experience which is really the constant stream of attention arising from the fact of being Aware, Here and Now. This view normally determines what our next experience will be, out of the unbound infinite possibilities of the ineffable here and now.  Just as the future doesn’t really exist, but is an aspect of the eternally ineffable here and now, so also is the past. The past is actually a current frame of mind, here and now, shifting and expanding with accumulated experience.

In the same way that concentrated attention can be seen as life energy, the current perspective or frame of mind could be imagined as a particular color, coloring the attention, coloring the life energy just as you do when you cast forth a ball of colored energy, colored attention.  That frame of mind in the Here and Now “colors” everything you cast your attention upon, actually colors the attention itself, deciding and filtering what you will experience next, as when seeing things through “rose colored glasses.”  Gathered experience is not gathered in some ocean, but is gathered as a present and current “color” of mind, a frame of mind, a state of mind, a view.  This “colors” everything we perceive, what we make of it, and what we will ignore.  (See “The Color Out of Space” by H.P Lovecraft for an allegory for a completely alien and unrecognizable collection of experiences, state of mind, view or perspective, drawing attention to the fact that we cling to a familiar and comfortable state of mind, view or perspective.)

There is only the eternally ineffable Here and Now.  No past, no future, only now, which is an aspect of that One Presence, that One Pure Consciousness.  This current frame of mind is a trend of experience that we have been applying, and are right now applying to shape the primordial potential of Here and Now, shaping the stuff of Consciousness.  By virtue of our state of mind, we are right here and now shaping the ineffable Here and Now into new experiences, a future that we will shortly experience as objective and seemingly real.  We are creating reality out of the ineffable or indefinable Here and Now, directed by our frame of reference, our frame of re-cognition which we can call expectation.

As an individual collection of experiences, like a single ripple on the infinite Ocean of Consciousness, we all build an individual view of the universe and focus on that, like a single world among the infinite ocean of stars that fill space.  From this individual experience, we have the sense of what is meant by “I AM,” which is what the word AHYH means.

Like the other Names of God, AHYH describes you, the One Pure Consciousness.  It is the history and the collected experience that makes you who and what you think you are and how you think of yourself.  When you have accumulated enough experience, you know yourself to be the infinitely ineffable and eternal Awareness, which is also the infinitely ineffable and eternal Here and Now.  You also know yourself to be everything and everyone you have known and will ever know.  You know their experience, their suffering and their joy, to be Your own.

My Joy is to see Your Joy.
My Ecstasy is in yours.

The Goddess, an example for us all

The present moment, and the two pentagrams right and left.

So before you, you have your experience arising from the illusion of future (really coming from the here and now), constantly coming at you because of the stream of attention radiating from Awareness, in the eternal ineffable Here and How.  Unable to know anything about the here and now except that you exist, in this ongoing breeze of experience, you trust that you will continue to be.  From that core certainty of existence in the Here and Now that will yet be experienced, you know that “I will be,” which is the meaning of the word YHVH.  Behind you, you have the experiences that have already happened (all external experiences are in the past, because when you are experiencing something, it has already happened) forming a state of mind right here, right now.  In this, you know by reference that you exist, and have the sense of “I AM” (I think, therefore I AM) which is the meaning of AHYH.

Now, let’s examine the present moment, with respect to experience.  I said that events that you experience, have all happened in the past, and are indefinable in the present moment.  But experiences aside, the present moment certainly does exist.  You may not be able to describe it as an experience (yet), but you can feel it, right here, right now.  In fact, it exists more truly than the future (which isn’t happening yet) or the past (which isn’t happening anymore).  Since all of our current experiences are actually in the past, all of our experiences are illusions.  The present moment is all there really is, even if there is no objective experience of it.  There are two pentagrams here at a position exactly between the future (before us, East) and the past (behind us, West), at this present moment.

Now think of it.  The state of mind accumulated by the past determines how we will re-cognize new events or what we will make of them, and therefore determines what we will experience.  We have the power to conjure in our memories just about anything that has happened.  With training, it is possible to, metaphorically speaking, stop focusing on an individual ripple on the surface of experience, and focus on any other, or dive deep into the depths of collective experience itself.  Because this focus, this frame of mind colors everything we experience, we therefore have the power to conjure how we will re-cognize new events, so we have the power to influence what we will experience in the future, as easily as shifting our attention to something in the past.  In this present moment, we have the power to choose what to focus our attention on (attention being the nourishment of all things), and thereby what to emphasize and empower and what to turn away from and ignore.  By merely shifting attention, right in this present moment is the power to change the course of the future, to choose what we will experience, and therefore the power to alter the on-going reformation of the past.

All magical power is derived from this shifting of attention.  All spells are elaborate methods of tricking yourself into making a simple moment to moment choice in the Here and Now.  They are methods of shifting attention in the Here and Now, to deliberately chosen states of mind that determine our future experience.  This mere shifting of attention is how the ultimate magician, perfectly aware of whom and what he or she really is, and having built the habit of acting like Awareness instead of acting like a human, is able to cast the ultimate spell by simply being aware of a need.  (But in such a non-human state of mind, exactly what constitutes “need?” In this state of mind there can be no jealousy, greed, “self” advancement, or anything to do with an illusory human self at all.  Even the sense of right and wrong, of relevant or not, are all placed in a non-human, beyond-human perspective.)  Incantations, incense, visualizations, potions, talismans, robes, timing… the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram… none of them are required for the ultimate spell-casting or attention shifting.  In terms of magical training, the use of all these props actually represents an immaturity, like the first steps of a baby who holds on to furniture.  Think of it.  Only a human uses props like these.  When using magical props, you are acting like a particular type of human (like a first or second degree witch).  You are not behaving like Awareness itself and you have not fully realized what traditional witches call the Third Degree.  When you use these things you are not behaving like whom and what you really are.  You cannot appreciate from firsthand experience the beauty and simplicity of all it means to simply be Aware, including that it means you are the Creator of all experience, of the Universe.

ADNY

Where you’re standing between “before Thee” (in the East, the future) and behind (in the West, the past), we have the sense of being at the present moment with pentagrams at our right and left.  On God’s right hand (to the right of the focus of attention), there is the One Pure Consciousness in the middle of everything, as though all experience is happening all around Her/Him as offerings for Her/His amusement.  As the One Pure Consciousness, you cannot experience anything without being Aware.  You are included in every experience blowing at you from the future, and you are present in every memory of any experience that you have ever had.  You (the One Divine Presence) are the essence of every experience.  No experience would be, could be without You.  Everything you are aware of shares the very same Awareness that is at the core of your experience.  Everything feels Presence exactly the same way as you do.

“Immortal, Eternal, Ineffable, and Uncreated Father-Mother of all things.
Thou who art borne upon the ever-rolling Chariot of worlds which revolve unceasingly;
Lord and Ruler of the Ethereal Immensities, where the Throne of Thy Power is exalted, from the summit of which Thy terrible and beautiful eyes behold all things and thy Pure and Holy Ears unto all things hearken;”

Excerpt from the Prayer of the Salamanders, addressing God, the One Pure Consciousness

Free will and the power over our own habits give us the sense that it is We that are in control of our actions.  In reality we do have control over our actions and our future, because we can with sufficient awareness and resolve, at any moment over-ride habit.  We can make a moment-to-moment choice of how we will see things and react to things, choosing what we will make of things, how we will experience things, and therefore what the future before us will be.  In doing so, we can shape new habits by changing the content of accumulated experience (our state of mind, our perspective, the expectations we impose on the future).  In the middle of all this, we are not only the focus and center of it all, but we are also in control of our own destiny, our own experience.  We are Lord and Master of all we survey.

“Thy Majesty, Golden, Vast and Eternal
Shineth above all the Worlds and the limitless Ocean of Stars!
Thou art exalted above them O glittering Fire!
O Flashing Flame, there dost Thou shine,
there dost Thou commune with Thyself in Thine Own Splendor,
and inexhaustible streams of Light and Life pour from Thine Essence for the nourishment of Thine Infinite Spirit, which Itself doth nourish all things,”

Excerpt from the Prayer of the Salamanders, addressing God, the One Pure Consciousness, shining forth attention, the nourishment of all things

We have the power of moment to moment choice.  The power to choose in the Here and Now guides the boat of Ra through the waters of the stream of life, choosing the course from among all possible future events.

“Thou hast specially created Powers which are marvelously like unto Thine Enternal Thought and like unto Thy Venerable Essence;
Thou hast established them above the Angels who proclaim Thy Will to the World;”

Excerpt from the Prayer of the Salamanders, addressing God, the One Pure Consciousness

Due to the strength of established habits rooted in the past (actually our present frame of mind), sometimes the boat will turn slowly in a long arch, but the change in course is always possible.  What we experience in the future is normally dependent on our state of mind, on precedence and expectation, on the past, but we can choose to do differently in every moment.  We can conjure in our present state of mind anything we wish by simply shifting attention.  We have a past precedence or habit of identifying with human, but in every moment we have the ability to choose to Remember who and what we really are instead, and to act like That instead of acting like a human.  By repeatedly performing the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, we can more easily shift our attention to whom and what we really are, and behave like That instead of behaving like a human.

We are charging the pentagram on the right with an ever present reminder that we are the Lord and Master, the Ruling Power in all experience.  We can do this because of the nature of the present moment, which has not yet been experienced, which is happening right now as an eternal function of being Aware.  So we charge the heart of the pentagram at our right hand with ADNI which means “Lord and Master,” or “Ruling Power.”  It is this Name of God, this descriptive name of Pure Consciousness, this power inherent in each of us as Pure Awareness, that the pentagram at our right hand will always help us to Remember.  It will help us remember the ever immediately present moment-to-moment choice we can make over what we experience, as the center from whom, about whom and for whom all experience arises.

AGLA:

The act of experiencing is an act of self-awareness, whether or not we recognize it as such.  Because the existence of Awareness includes something to be aware of (even if that “something” is absolutely ineffable in the Eternal Here and Now), the two are inseparable functions or attributes of each-other.  They arise together as aspects of the same ineffable Presence.  The One Pure Consciousness, which we cannot directly know as a thing, and the Eternal Here and Now, which we also cannot directly know as a thing are two inherent qualities of the same unspeakable Presence.  The Divine Presence, the real you, is present in every experience that you have, not only as That which experiences, but also as That which is experienced.  No matter where You look, there You are looking, and no matter what You look at, there You are looking back.

Yes, that’s the real You looking back.  This is why absolute compassion is inevitable: every act of suffering that exists is just as much Your experience as is every act of joy and ecstasy.  Remember though, when I say “You” I’m not referring to a limited human being, I’m referring to the One Pure Consciousness at your core.  I’m not referring to a human, but to that which calls Itself a human, that is aware of the experience of being human, and is therefore Itself not the human that it is aware of.  I’m also referring to that same One Pure Consciousness that all beings share.  It is because we all share that same One Pure Consciousness that I can say “You” and know that I’m referring to the same Consciousness in every single reader of these words.

So, your whole experience of anything in the past, present, and future are all pervaded by Your Presence, Your Awareness.  It’s all You, looking back at You, reflecting your own infinitely varying nature.

“O King invisible, [can never actually see Itself]
Who, taking the Earth for Foundation,
[for a stable state of being]
didst hollow its depths to fill them with Thy Mighty Power.
[Awareness]
Thou whose name shaketh the Arches of the World.”
[strikes at the very core of the everything]

“O Stability and Motion! [stability: always Present.  Motion: always gathering experience]
O Darkness veiled in Brilliance!
O Day clothed in Night!
O Master who never dost withhold the wages of thy workmen!
[constant stream of attention, the nourishment of all things]
O Silver Whiteness!
O Golden Splendor!
O Crown of Living (and) Harmonious Diamond!”

Excerpts from the Prayer of the Gnomes, addressing God, the One Pure Consciousness
[with my comments added in square brackets]

These ideas are a summing up of the total experience presented by the other three Names of God.  You are the source of the stream of experience arising from the future (East), the collective whole of the past (West), and Lord of the Here and Now (South).  One way to express this summing up of the other three perspectives on experience is with four words: “Ateh Gebor Leolam ADNI”.  As we learned in the Ankh of Light commentary (earlier in this series of articles), “Ateh” means at once, both: “Thou Art” and “I Am”, reminding us that God is the One Pure Awareness at our very core of being.  “Gebor” refers to ultimate power, as in the power of the present moment described above in the meaning of ADNY.  “Leolam” means “forever” or “throughout all ages” or “throughout the three times” referring to the combination of past, present and future (corresponding to all three of the other names of God).  And finally, “ADNY”, refers to or reminds us of the One Pure Consciousness, for whom all experience is offered as entertainment, as the “Lord and Master” of all of it.  This sentence could be translated as: “The Presence we know when we say ‘I AM’ is God, is everything experienced in the 3 times, and is lord and master of all experience.”  In short: everything is this Ancient Presence, this Ancient Presence is all there is.  It’s the Universe aware of Itself through us.  If you take the initials of these four words, “AGLA” you have the idea of what we charge the heart of the pentagram at our left with.  We make it a living ever present reminder that there is One Consciousness, One Ancient Presence, all knowing, all powerful, and present everywhere.  We are reminded that the earth itself and everything we experience is what that Ancient Presence, our true selves, looks like.  We are reminded that it is whom and what we really are, looking right back at us.

The Circle of Pentagrams

So, before us: a pentagram charged with YHVH to be a living reminder of the pressure or radiance of Awareness, creating an on-going stream of experience, where in the future we will experience what we choose out of the infinite, ineffable and eternal Here and Now.

Behind us: a pentagram charged with AHYH, to be a living reminder that everything we actually experience and know, is all an illusion from the past, all of which is an accumulation of experience into a state of mind, habit, and expectation.

To our right hand: a pentagram charged with ADNY, to be a living reminder of our place at the center of  every experience, the power of choice in the eternal here and now of what to turn our attention upon, thereby define the course of our future and shape our experiences.

To our left hand: a pentagram charged with AGLA to be a living reminder of the fact that the sum total of all experience, is in its entirety us conscious of it, and also it conscious of us, because both it and us aspects of the same Ancient Presence we know as Awareness.

I described these four by following meridians: East and West, then South and North.  But the ritual calls for a clockwise motion.  As with everything in the ingenious design of this ritual, this sequence is significant.  By going clockwise from the East we have a step by step description of creation.  Here is exactly how we are constantly creating the Universe:

Center: Standing in the center, in the unknowable (as a thing) here and now as the ineffable Presence of Awareness,

East: by casting forth attention (as with the miner’s helmet) experience arises in front of us, seemingly appearing out of the future, but really originating in the stream of Awareness radiating from the indescribable here and now.

South: As the indescribable Awareness in the ineffable Here and Now from which everything emanates, we feel like the center of it, the center of all experiences, the recipient of it all, and the real power behind it.

West: As the origin of all experience, experience accumulates (as in accumulated experience) into a habitual state of mind.  This current and present state of mind, this frame of reference, this current and present frame of mind, this karma filters our experience by recognizing, interpreting, accepting and rejecting according to memory, familiarity, and expectation.

North: In this way Consciousness appears before itself in a particular way.  Being an objectification of Consciousness Itself it is all perfectly aware, responsive, and it all participates in reality creation.  Every creation is itself The Creator.   As more is created, the newly created all participate in Creation.  The whole of Creation is exploding at an infinite rate, so the infinite universe is always expanding.  Yet how does infinity get bigger?  It only seems to expand with the ongoing stream of Awareness, the on-going act of creation.  It’s all an illusion like God seeing his own infinite reflection in his infinite self.  Being All and Infinite, there is Nothing in particular to be seen or distinguished in essence from anything else.  This is about whom and what you really are.  This is what you look like: an entire universe of infinitely expanding variety.  This is the end result of Creation: how the Universe experiences itself through all of us.

East Again: What seems to be real is only the focus of Attention on a tiny part of infinity (miner’s helmet again).

By casting these pentagrams clockwise from the East, and charging them with a particular descriptive Name of Consciousness in this particular order, we recognize and celebrate the act of cosmic creation as Authors of the Universe we truly are.  The living Pentagrams become living reminders of all of this.  Through the archangels, winds, and protectors, these living Pentagrams take part in our daily lives to arrange for coincidence and feedback constantly demonstrating and reminding us of whom and what we really are.

By this ritual, by revealing the mechanism of reality creation and exposing it all as an illusion, by revealing ourselves as the Authors of the Universe in this act of self-awareness, we are withdrawing or contracting focus from illusion-creation or expansion back to That which creates.  In this ritual is the ultimate banishing: the dissolution of the Great Illusion into a state of Simply Being, without attributes, as the One Pure Presence, perfectly Aware in the ineffable and Eternal Here and Now.  In this ritual, the fires of Realization dissolve the illusion of the universe without changing anything at all.  As with the ashes of a burned rope, the illusion is dispelled while still participating in the illusion.  This fiery realization is the fiery dance of Shiva, the destroyer of the universe.  Shiva, whose devotees smear ashes on themselves.  Shiva, who’s symbol is the pentagram in a circle (the witch’s pentacle).  The Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram is a practice of a Western tantra.

Summary:

Here is a summary of the magical words of Power in the ritual, assembled into a descriptive English sentence:

Ateh (I Am/Thou Art) – Our own core being, our own core existence is an Ancient Presence, all knowing, all powerful, and present everywhere

YHVH (to exist, future tense) – that exists in the Eternal Here and Now as a future experience, the ongoing breeze of experience, the origin of the future,

ADNI (Lord) – seemingly as the center of all experience, for whom and to whom all of it happens, with the ultimate power of the moment-to-moment choice,

AHYH (I AM) – is known both by reference to and as an ever shifting ocean of collected experience, memories, habits and expectations which define the experiences we pick out of the unknowably infinite ocean of endless possibilities present in the Here and Now,

AGLA (Ateh, Gebor, Le-olam, Amen) – and appears all around our own core being as its own reflection perfectly aware and radiating attention and experience: appearing as a Universe that is itself an Ancient Presence, all knowing, all powerful, and present everywhere.

“Holy art Thou,
Lord of the Universe.
Holy art Thou,
Whom Nature has not formed,
Holy art Thou,
The Vast and Mighty One,
Lord of the Light,
and of the Dark.”

What’s Next

In the next part of this series, we will look at how these living beings, the pentagrams around us, charged as reminders of whom and what we really are express themselves as living, intelligent, and powerful influences in our daily lives.  We will look at the manifestation of these pentagrams as archangels, winds, and protectors making the pentagrams constant living companions, helping us to explore what it means to be whom and what we really are.

Mer-Amun MerAmun

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Ultimately, there is no difference between spells and prayers.  Here’s a way to understand what I mean by this:

Like everything else in a Wisdom Tradition like Traditional Wicca, it’s all about who and what we really are, and learning to act like That.  We are the authors of the Universe we experience, constantly and continuously creating our entire experience.  Some of that created experience is personal (subjective), and created personally, while some of it is collective (objective), created collectively.

As authors of the universe and of reality, we create everything we experience by directed attention.  We are constantly faced with an infinity of possibilities, an infinity of potential experiences (the Goddess).  By directing our attention (the God) at a selection from that infinity, picking out what is expected and familiar (the elemental children of the God and Goddess), by force of habit, we create our personal perspective on reality and our personal experience of it.  Some of that personal experience matches to some degree the experience of others (but never exactly) because we agree on the meanings of the words we use, and we agree on the construction of some of our environment.

But in an absolute sense, reality (the elemental children of the God and Goddess) is an arbitrary selection (the power of the God) from infinite potential (the Mother Goddess) we are always faced with.  Every time you direct your attention, by any kind of deliberate act you are molding your perception, your reality, and creating your experience of the universe out of the infinite potential that is always there.  This is partly because directing your attention has two effects: it selects from infinite potential a) what you will be aware of or pay attention to (this is the realm of Life, and Light, and Love, the realm of the ecstasy of the Goddess) and b) what you will ignore or exclude from your experience, which is the vast majority of the infinite potential (this is the realm of the God, of Wisdom and the Knowledge of the Secrets of Death).

This infinite potential, undefined and indescribable, is in its entirety unknowable and indescribable for the exact same reason that Awareness can never know itself, as the eye can never directly look upon itself.  It is unknowable and indescribable because it is infinitely greater than the scope of our limited mechanisms of perception.  (These mechanisms of perception are not designed to provide awareness of the true here-and-now, or of the true infinite potential with which we are faced.  They are instead designed to be mechanisms of focus, and by definition that, means exclusion of all that is outside our directed attention.)  This infinite potential is the infinite Presence of Awareness Itself.  This Presence can be experienced in any way desired by simply directing attention accordingly (applying the mechanisms of perception accordingly).

So, not only are spells and prayers exactly the same in that they are both ways of deliberately directing your attention (and creating reality), they are also exactly the same as any deliberate act, such as making a phone call, or deliberately triggering the engagement of your capacity for unconscious, self-fulfilling prophecy.  All deliberate acts, be they conscious actions, prayers or spells, by directing attention, create reality from infinite potential which is the “thing” aspect of that Ancient, infinitely unknowable Presence (which is also perfectly Aware).

So much for what is the same between prayers and spell-casting.  Their difference is very profound.  In prayer, you engage your ability to direct attention (create reality) by treating this creative power you have as an external thing that can be prayed to, and thereby engage the unconscious magic of self-fulfilling prophecy, which is ultimately simply directing your attention, just like casting a spell is.  In spell casting, you do not treat this creative power as an external thing to be supplicated, but rather take charge as the creator yourself, using reminders or mental triggers to get yourself to direct your attention in a particular way, which is exactly what you are doing when you pray.  The difference is only in the way you view yourself, the author of the universe: a) in prayer, as something external that you can supplicate or b) in spell-casting, taking charge and owning the power and responsibility of reality creation.  These two approaches: “other-power” and “own-power” are essential perspectives in the training of Traditional Wicca.

The training involved in the traditional Three Degrees of initiation are in turn based in these two perspectives, and finally on their union.  The traditional First Degree is all about “other-power” and emphasizes prayer and spell-casting from the perspective of asking the Great Mother Goddess to help you with your life and your magical work.  You spend at least a year systematically and step by step exploring all the aspects of this perspective on doing things, both mundane and magical.  The Second Degree is all about “own-power” when you, like the Horned God, realize that you are yourself the author of the universe, and your prayers and spell-casting shift in emphasis, to the 1st person perspective, where you are yourself the Goddess or the God, creating and altering reality through your prayers and spell-casting.  You spend at least a year systematically and step by step exploring all the aspects of this perspective on doing things, both mundane and magical.

Neither of these two perspectives of “other-power” or “own-power” is completely correct by itself.  The error in either of these perspectives alone (the error in emphasizing either the God or the Goddess alone), is the basis for the whole argument about prayer vs spell-casting: both are equally true and can be argued as true, yet neither is true by itself.

In the traditional Third Degree you have a perfect balance, a Perfect Harmony between: a) the “other-power” perspective embodied in the teachings of the Goddess and the traditional First Degree, and b) with the “own-power” perspective embodied in the teachings of the Horned God and the traditional Second Degree.  In the traditional Third Degree, both of these perspectives are realized as simultaneously present and correct in every thought, every action and every experience.  It is only through spending time exploring each of these perspectives in the First and Second Degree initiation and training, that one can truly appreciate the nature of the eternally present moment, which is at the same time both objective (other-power, prayer) and subjective (own-power, spell-casting), based on the two aspects of that Ancient Presence (Ancient Harmony) which has two simultaneous aspects, properties, or qualities: It is at the same time both perfectly Aware, though impossible to experience directly (the God), and it is also an infinite ocean of experience, though also impossible to know or describe in its entirety, being infinite (the Goddess).

In this manner, learning prayer and learning spell casting is learning about Who and What you really are, and learning to act like That.  You are this Ancient Presence, That’s who and what you really are.  You are both what is prayed to, and what does the praying.  You are the Creator, the ultimate spell-caster.  Learning to pray and learning to cast spells are learning to act like who and what you really are.

This describes the meaning of the top point of the Sacred Pentagram of the witches: the top point represents the Ancient Presence (the Ancient Harmony).  It both radiates, and is supported or described by two lines (the God and the Goddess, or own-power and other-power, or spell-casting and prayer).  The line on the right is the fact that this Ancient Presence is perfectly Aware (the God, own-power, spell casting).  The line on the left is the fact that the Ancient Presence is an infinite ocean of potential experience (the Goddess, other-power, prayer).  These two lines radiate from the Ancient Harmony, to define the four points which are the Elements, the Children of the God and Goddess.  The four points which are the Elements, the Children of the God and Goddess support these two lines, the God and Goddess, which together define the Ancient Harmony.

Hopefully this gives some insight into the exact nature of both prayer and spell-casting, to their similarities and differences, and to the fact that they are inseparable: when you pray, you are also casting a spell, and when you cast a spell, you are also praying.

Mer-Amun MerAmun

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Part V: Casting Pentagrams

Giving Life Energy to a Symbol

We are about to pay attention to this ocean of attention (life energy) that we live in (the aura of the sun).  We are going to use organs and veins that are part of our make-up that are specifically designed to work with life energy.  We are going to use these to manipulate that life energy to feed a type of being that is alien to most people who have not done this before.

The type of being I’m talking about here is that of a living symbol.  There is a plane of existence (a classification of modes of existence) that pervades our present universe, all around us, right here and right now.  Symbols are living beings in this mode of existence.  They are aware, responsive living creatures of meaning or principle. The life and responsiveness of a symbol involves expressing that meaning.

We are going to give life energy (on our plane of existence) to one of these symbols so it can express itself in our lives, so it can join in our lives.  We are going to offer it a body created of pure life energy (concentrated attention).  With that life energy we are not going to create the being called pentagram, but we are going to create a form or body for it to take part in our ordinary every-day lives.  In creating a living body for the symbol, we are also going to give this new instance of life, an inspired purpose in this life.  We are going to give it a specific purpose or context for expressing its meaning in our lives.

In fact, we are going to create 4 different bodies for the same symbol.  Each will have a different purpose in life so the symbol may express four different Reminders, one in each of 4 different ways we have of experiencing things.  Remember, the pentagram with its 5 points is reminding us that we are Awareness experiencing things, and of how we experience everything.  So far, in this article, we have explored the meanings of three of the five points.  We have explored how two of the points represent ways we experience the tangible world.  One is as a “self” involved in the center of everything like a lord or king, as the cause or purpose of it all (Fire).  The other is as the entirety of Creation that emanates from and mirrors Awareness: the Earth on which we live.  We have not yet explored the other two points of the pentagram expressing the other two ways that we experience everything.   But these four pentagrams that we cast and give life to, will be living reminders of these four ways we have of experiencing, and that we are who or what it is that is doing the experiencing.  The pentagrams will be able to use their special skills and talents, expressed in our lives with the life energy we give them.  They will express themselves in our lives to help us build the habit of Remembering and behaving like who and what we really are, all through our daily lives.

Witch-Fire as Nourishment

As embodiments of the One Pure Consciousness, the Author and Creator of the Universe, beings have many abilities related to creation itself.  One of these abilities is to create life itself.  Since Awareness is the cause of all existence, and directed awareness (attention) nourishes all existence, directed attention is the key to creation, including creating life itself.  (There is more to creating life than directed attention, such as bestowing autonomy, but irrelevant to the current topic.)  Further, since attention nourishes all existence, attention has an expression as life-energy.  As a living being yourself, directing your attention in a certain way allows you to direct life-energy as part of creating and feeding life, and otherwise giving energy to living beings.  This is the case in healing, which is simply the renewal or balancing of life energy.

We call the expression of attention as life energy by different names in different cultures, among them being chi, witch-fire, etheric energy and prana.  Directing this life energy is a practice of directing attention to nourish existence.  Because life energy is the form of attention itself, directing life energy is as easy as directing your attention.

In this part of the Universe, we exist in a field of the attention, the awareness, and the Being of that which we call the Sun.  Another way of saying the same is that we exist within the aura of the Sun.  The Sun’s aura, its field of awareness, its field of attention, is for us an inexhaustible ocean of life-energy.  Our bodies are born in it and of it.  We are constantly breathing it in and out (besides the air we also breathe in and out).  All forms of nourishment that our bodies depend on ultimately come from the Sun, and get their energy from the Sun, as the Sun nourishes the entire food chain.  But the aura of the sun also nourishes us directly.  We have a network of veins and organs throughout our bodies that store, direct, transform and otherwise leverage this life energy to make up the body.  It gives mobility and expression to our bodies, which is Pure Consciousness in a human form.

We are going to use this network of organs and veins by which we direct, transform, and leverage the life energy of the Sun.  We are going to use them to give life energy to a living symbol, so it may also express itself and move among us in our daily lives as constant Reminders of whom and what we really are.

How to See and Work with Etheric Energy

Casting attention as nourishment (casting life energy, etheric energy, witch fire, chi, prana…) is important in all forms of magic, because any act of magic is an act of casting or shifting one’s attention.  But what if you don’t have clairvoyance (psychic sight) by which to see this etheric energy?  Actually, it is not important or necessary to see it to be able to work with it, as long as you have had guidance or training from someone who can see it.

Because casting attention as nourishment is so important, early in traditional training we spend time learning to see and cast this etheric energy.  One starts in a completely dark room, with hands held in front of one’s chest, with palms almost together (about ¼ inch apart).  One breathes slowly and regularly.  With each in breath, one feels that one is soaking in etheric energy from the ocean of that in which we live, feeling it soaking in through a network of “pores” that cover our bodies.  These pores are part of the network of veins and organs that our bodies have for storing, directing and transforming life energy.  We call this breathing technique, “pore breathing.”

So with each in breath, one is soaking up life energy, and one feels it gather in the solar plexus, within our chests, behind the sternum.  Then with each out breath one feels life energy coursing through one’s arms, out through the palms into the small space between them.  Since life energy is a form of attention, by casting our attention on a feeling that this energy is moving, we are directing it to do so.

Doing this for a few minutes, one starts to feel definite warmth between the palms.  As this happens, one slowly and very slightly moves the palms apart, moving the hands as though holding a ball of energy between.  Then, as this ball of energy collects and becomes denser, the warmth clear and definite, one opens the eyes in the complete darkness.  Slowly moving the hands apart about ½ inch, we watch the space between the palms and between the fingers of one hand and those of the other.  Then, one can slowly move the hands further apart, until they’re an inch or two apart, and see tendrils of this whitish etheric energy stretching and expanding as your hands move apart just a little bit.

What one sees here is the Witch Fire, the prana, the etheric energy that one is learning to cast and to nourish the beings and symbols with, when one performs any kind of magic.  Through an act of deliberate imagination, powered by focused attention, one can give it various colors as needed.  For the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, we cast this same energy, the form of attention, in a blue color like the color of burning alcohol.  This color transforms the raw energy to carry love and creativity, respect and compassion as nourishment that makes up a living body for a living symbol.

It is important to note here that we are breathing this life energy from the ocean around us, the aura of the Sun, and then casting that through our arms and out our hands like a flamethrower.  The point is that we’re using energy from the ocean around us, and not using the energy that we naturally store in our bodies.  Casting the life energy stored in our bodies reduces the amount stored in our bodies.  Of course, one’s body will slowly and naturally renew this, given time.  However, because one is forcibly casting life energy in a deliberate and direct manner, it can take a lot longer to refill naturally than it takes to cast it out in magical operations.  This can be dangerous, as this store of energy in our bodies is important for healing.  If one should have an accident or undergo surgery, this store of life energy is extremely important.  So always remember to use pore breathing to breath in life energy from around you, and to cast that out through your arms and hands.

Technique for Casting the Pentagrams

So, the script for this ritual has us start facing the East, to cast the first of four pentagrams there.

As described, with a slow and deep in breath, we draw from the ocean of life energy, filling ourselves with it, and concentrating that in our solar plexus.  We cast our right arm forth, holding a ritual daggar or as a traditional witch, an Athamé (a consecrated double-edged blade, purchased only for this purpose, and never cut anything).  Without a ritual dagger, one uses one’s hand, with only the index finger and middle finger extended together.  Then, pointing at the lower-left area of the wall or space before us, we slowly breathe out.  With the out breath, we will that Witch Fire or blue etheric energy to flow from the solar plexus, down our arm which we feel is like an accelerating tube.  It flames out the extended fingers or dagger like a flamethrower.  We cast the fire in a line on the wall or into the space before us, as we slowly move from the lower-left corner to the top-center.  We will this to happen by focusing our attention on the feeling that it is happening.  Imagination allows us to use our focused attention as a motivating force, nourishing an influence on reality, causing what we imagine to happen.

If you are not psychic (like me, I am not psychic) then don’t worry about not being able to see the blue colored flame before you as you draw this line of prana.  Simply know it is there, and picture what it would look like if you could see it: a line of flaming blue, like burning alcohol.

Many people who cannot psychically see etheric energy, or who do not understand the reason for casting this etheric energy, make this movement swift, so they easily see in their “minds eye” a line traced before them.  They see an optical-mental illusion created by the swiftness of their hand. But traditional training shows us how to be more careful, more deliberate, and more respectful in this important act.  The training directs us to move slowly and carefully, with mindfulness of what we are doing and why, as we cast the blue fire carefully in a line before us.

There are important reasons for doing this slowly and carefully.  First, etheric energy or Witch Fire itself moves slowly when cast out of the body like this.  Second, there is a huge difference between seeing the trace of your swiftly moving hand, and actually seeing a glowing line of etheric energy in front of you.  Third, the act should be a loving and respectful motion, rather than a mad dash, because you are creating a living, breathing body for an important being.  You want that body to last as long as possible, and with as much energy as possible, so it can get as actively involved in your life as possible.  A Pentagram has no organs by which to eat or gather energy by itself, on our plane of existence.  You want that body to last at least until your next performance of the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, when you will restock that body with more energy.  You want to focus on casting as much raw etheric energy as you can into each line of the pentagram and making it stay as long as possible.  So, according to what our teacher has repeatedly taught us, each line of the pentagram should take at least 3 or 4 seconds.  There is a limit to how slow you should go, and you want to go as slow as possible, without being slower than this limit.  You do not want to run out of breath, going too slowly, or you will not be able to concentrate your attention on the act of casting this blue fire.  Each distraction or break in attention as you are casting a line before you creates a break in that line.  I cannot count the number of times our teacher made us start a line again.  He would do this because he could psychically see the energy lines that we would cast before us.  In these, he would see that we were either moving too fast, not focusing the flow of blue fire, spreading it too thinly, or that our attention wavered to something else while we cast the line.  Our teacher himself, as practiced, accomplished and powerful as he was, never cast a line in a pentagram that took less than 3 seconds.

Seeing this energy requires psychic sight and is not the same as seeing the optical illusion of trails we create by quickly whipping our hand along a path.  If what we’re seeing is truly etheric energy and not an optical illusion of trails, then we should be able to move as slowly as we wish, mindfully pouring a thick and steady flow of energy.  If one is seeing the real thing, one can move as slowly as the exercise just described, and still see that etheric energy all the more obviously, not less obviously.  If one sees it less obviously when moving slowly, then one has undisputable evidence that one was watching the optical illusion of trails.

The instruction of moving as slowly as you can without breaking attention was not instruction just for beginners.  This was emphasized by our teacher as late as 2005, when I and others had been studying for more than 30 years.  This was when our teacher was showing people who have all completed their traditional training, a variation of the Pentagram Ritual to celebrate what we had learned.  Our teacher was watching and correcting the careful, slow, loving, focused concentration of as much blue etheric energy as possible, even for people who have been doing the Pentagram Ritual all their adult lives.  That’s because whether you’re a beginner or an advanced practitioner, when casting a pentagram you’re still trying to build an etheric body with as much life-energy as you can, as a loving, careful, attentive offering.  This offering of blue etheric energy as I have said, is a concentrated offering of the nourishment of all things: attention.  By slowly, carefully offering as much attention as you can, you are providing more of that nourishment, in as attentive and loving a way as you can.

Always remember that attention is the spiritual nourishment of all beings, be they spirits, gods, symbols, or your own family.  This is why we should perform all ritual acts with as much and as long a focus of attention as we can afford.  This is why we should, with every interaction that we care about, pay as much attention or mindfulness as possible.  This is why we should spend as much attention as we can on those who are close to us, as we would with our children.  And as one learns to behave like the Author of the Universe that one is, one will want to spend as much attention as one can on any beings, needs or celebrations that cross one’s path in life.

So, let’s summarize and think about what we’re doing here, in this part of the ritual.  We take five deep breaths, each time soaking up energy by pore breathing.  We exhale five times, each time slowly and attentively casting a line of a body for the living pentagram before us.  We should see each line both before us on the wall or space immediately before us in one sense, and in another sense, in the infinite distance at the edge of the universe.

We are creating a living body for a living symbol.  Like gods, angels, and all kinds of spirits, symbols are already living things whether they have bodies or not.  When we worship gods, we offer them our concentrated attention (the nourishment of all things), and give them the means by which to take part in our experience.  What does this concentrated attention, this nourishment look like?  We could go into more detail on this subject than is fitting for this article, but attention in its most “bodily” form is this etheric energy that we see between our hands in the dark room.  This energy is the same as the aura of the Sun, the ocean of life energy in which we live and from which makes up our own bodies.  When we offer attention, we are making offerings of many types on many levels of interpretation, but in the most tangible way, concentrated attention has the form of blue etheric energy.  How much attention are we paying, how much of an offering we are making if we whip our arms around, so fast that we actually make traces in our minds eye?  Instead, a slow and careful, respectful, loving and mindful build-up of an etheric body, an almost physical body is what we’re trying to do here.  We do it so that, like gods we might pray to and make offerings to, the Pentagram might live in our daily experience.  We do it so the Pentagram can participate in our daily experience as a constant Reminder and Celebration of whom and what we really are.

With this offering of a living body, the Sacred Pentagram is going to be present around us, at the edge of the universe, throughout the day, with the power to share in our lives.  It is going to participate by revealing its incredibly profound message and presence through hints, coincidences and if given enough life energy (concentrated attention, mindfulness) even speaking to us right out of the mouths of people in our daily experience.  This activity of gods and spirits and symbols in our ordinary every-day life needs energy of a type that a god or spirit or symbol might not readily have.  So you want to provide this body with as much life energy as you can, though remember, not your own bodily energy.

But we are not creating the symbol itself.  That is timeless and infinite in its omnipresence.  For example, how could we say we invented the number five?  What we are doing is giving that principle a body by which it can move and express itself.  We have a body with hands, and because of that, we can express our will by directing our hands.  Our hands are not us, but we express ourselves through them.  If we lose a hand to disease or an accident, we are still ourselves, but we can no longer express ourselves through that lost hand.  Likewise, we are offering a Pentagram Being metaphorical hands by which it can express itself in our lives.

Ok, so we’re creating a body, which is a form of life.  And the life we’re creating is not a human, nor animal, nor spirit, but a living symbol.  Again, the details are beyond the scope of this article, but part of creating life involves charging it with an inspired purpose in life.  As human beings, our purpose in life is to realize that we are living embodiments of the One Pure Consciousness, and to learn to behave like That.  Once we have carried out this purpose, we will no longer be merely human, nor any longer embodied in human form unless we arrange to be.  What is the purpose in life of a living, breathing, intelligent and perfectly aware symbol?  Well, it depends on the context in which we find the symbol, as with the context of a word or letter of the alphabet.

In this act of life creation, having finished tracing the shape in a particular way, we are going to give that body an inspired purpose for this life.  We are going to define what it is that this symbol is going to express in our lives.  And, you guessed it, that purpose has to do with realizing who and what we really are and the nature of what our experience really is.  The Pentagram can do this because the Pentagram is a symbol or reminder that involves how we experience everything, and how the Awareness relates to objects of Awareness.  The Pentagram, being what it is and what it symbolizes, has special skills and talents to remind us of these things, and help us celebrate these things in every single experience we might have.

Charging with a Purpose in Life

Now, in this part of the ritual, we are actually casting four pentagrams around us, joined at their hearts by a circle that encloses us.  Remember these are actually in the infinite distance, so the circle includes the entire universe: all possible experience.  Immediately after casting each pentagram, we charge it with a magic word.  Here I’m using the word “charge” in the sense of “appoint: assign a duty, responsibility or obligation to,” and “fill or load to capacity.”   So in charging the living body we are providing for this pentagram, we are also defining its purpose in this life.  The magic words with which we charge the heart of each, are words that define a particular role that each pentagram will play in constantly reminding us.

What’s Next

In the next part of this article, “The Habit of Bahaving Like Who We Really Are,” I will explore the meanings of the four magic words or Names of God, that we charge the Living Pentagrams with.   I will explore how those particular charges help us to understand exactly how we are constantly creating all of our experiences.  I will explore how those Name of God reveal us all to be Supreme Magicians, even if we don’t know it.

With this understanding, we will be in a position to examine meanings of the final two points of the pentagram.  We will see how all four of those points describe the relationship of the topmost point, the One Pure Consciousness, to all experience.  We will then see how the pentagram can be such a skillful reminder of whom and what we really are, and how it so perfectly represents the manner in which Awareness has experience.  While it is beyond the scope of this article, with an understanding of how the pentagram reveals us to be such magicians, we can in turn see other ways the pentagram can help us.  We will see what a difference drawing them in a different direction can be, or charging them with other inspired purposes to provide other specific influences on experience and reality.

We have started casting these four pentagrams in the East.  This is the direction we normally face in all magical workings within the plane of the tangible universe.  This facing is significant, because it gives us a clue to the real meanings, powers and purposes defined by these four magic words or Names of God that we charge the pentagrams with.

Given energy by which to move and act, they can take part in our daily lives through hints, arranged coincidences, and even talking to us through the people around us.  They can express what we charged each one with doing in our lives (charged with the Names of God).

Mer-Amun MerAmun

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Part IV: The Sacred Pentagram

Summary of What We Are Doing:

Let’s  summarize what it is we are doing, when performing this ritual:

  • Part of realizing who and what we really are involves learning to behave  like That.
  • We can use powerful techniques developed by those who already have the habit of Remembering and acting like That, to shift our attention away from identifying with being a limited human, toward identifying with who and what we really are.
  • We can use repetition (one meaning of “ritual”) of these techniques to build a habit (the most powerful force in the universe) of always Remembering and behaving like That.
  • This particular ritual, called the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, is one such ritual designed by those who already have the sacred habits.  These beings designed it to help us do the same.
  • While there are other interpretations and levels of meaning, we have been exploring the ritual from a perspective that you can relate to from your own personal experience.  Enough practice along these lines will give you the ability to assume that perspective on your own, without the use of ritual.  From there, with enough practice, other levels of meaning will become evident.

So far, we have seen the re-arising of the universe and your place in it as Pure Consciousness.  In the previous phase of this ritual (the Ankh of Light) we established (focused our attention on) the inseparability of Awareness from That which Awareness is aware of.  In this, we placed an emphasis on the Awareness side of that imaginary duality.  As part of that Ankh of Light, we have addressed the first glimmerings of differentiation or classification of Awareness as God in His Glory (Gedulah) and as God Almighty (Geburah).

We have seen in the Standard Preliminaries to ritual, as Pure Consciousness, you exercise your power to create and act as Author of the Universe through the casting forth of your Awareness as attention (the Divine Light).  Attention being the power of Pure Consciousness, and nourishing all existence, is what causes the entire Universe to arise before your Awareness.

How does this One Pure Consciousness emanate an entire universe?  It’s all about focus, or directing attention.  Think of that One Pure Consciousness as wearing a miner’s helmet with a lamp on it.  In the darkened depths of a coal mine, or the midst of the Primordial Void, the surroundings are not empty, something is there.  In the dark void, there is no telling exactly what is there, except to say the One Pure Consciousness is not in any particular place, so it pervades infinity.  At any point in space and time, an infinity of the One Pure Consciousness surrounds itself in all directions, in all possible universes.  But when Consciousness focuses on anything around it, shining forth the Divine Light of attention reveals things out of the darkness like the lamp on a miner’s hat.  Exactly what this reveals depends on re-cognition or association with things seen in the past.  This means that everything we might see is an illusion based on habit (karma).  In the space between thoughts, out of the infinite possible illusions we can call out of the emptiness, out of the infinite quantum possibilities available for our attention, we cast our attention (the nourishment of all existence) upon those possibilities that are familiar, that make sense based on our history, or conform to what we expect.  By focusing attention, and by expectation, something seems to arise out of the darkness.  But we all (every conscious point in space and time) see something different, based on our own past experience, so there is no empirical absolute experience.  What we experience is all an illusion based on past illusory experiences.  This relationship between the past and what arises is extremely important and we will explore this in more detail in the next part of this series.

The miner analogy is profound because, as points of that One Pure Consciousness in an infinite ocean of that same Pure Consciousness, we are the eyes of god: what we see is reality.  By seeing things out of the soup of infinite possibilities, the Author of the Universe creates or defines itself through our “eyes,” based on our experiences.

At this point in our ritual, we have accomplished half of our goal: experiencing who and what we really are.  We are Authors of the Universe, Gods in our own right, and the constant Creators of reality. 

Now we are going to watch exactly how we unconsciously create our realities out of an infinite universe of possibilities.  Then we can start to do so consciously, knowingly and deliberately, behaving like who and what we really are.

Normally, we behave as though we have little power over our environment, our lives, and our destiny, and little power to help ourselves and others who might need help.  Yet in reality we do have ultimate power over those things.  Humanity’s natural attitude to the Earth and the environment shows that we have a hint of this fact, but only a hint.  Our reckless assumption that the Earth and our environment are here for us take advantage of, to capitalize on, and change as we please demonstrates this hint.  But even as individuals, we are all omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent magicians, constantly creating our own limits.  The goal is to always Remember that we are Authors of the Universe and to start behaving like we have this power over our destiny, and power to help ourselves and others.  This change in behavior is a change some of us would like to make habitual, and even automatic.  Then, knowing that a Sacred Universe of our own device surrounds us, if even for an instant, we will be free to do, experience, or be anything we want.  The more times we practice this, becoming habitually aware of our role as Creator, that One Consciousness, the easier it will be for us to always be aware that we are behaving like That.  With this habit, we will be able to make our choices according to that Perspective, instead of making our choices as limited creatures absurdly struggling and fighting for survival, comfort, and amusement.

The Meaning of the Pentagram

At this point our ritual directs us to cast 4 pentagrams.  If you don’t have a copy of the script for the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, you can download a PDF copy of the ritual here(TIP: this PDF was formatted to fit on half-sheets of standard paper, so you might want to do these two things when printing:  1) When the Adobe Reader Print dialog appears, turn off “Rotate and Center”, and 2) beside your printer choice on this dialog, click the “properties” button to set the printer on “landscape mode” and not “portrait mode”.  Doing these things will force the document to print on the left half of each sheet of paper.)

Let’s consider why we are going to cast 4 pentagrams. 

We have seen Pure Consciousness reflected throughout the universe as an infinite number of points of light.  Among the types of embodiments of these points, the types of creatures throughout the universe, human beings are members of a unique status.  There are two ways that could describe that unique status.  First, humans are those that, whether they are paying attention to the fact or not, live in, and have bodies on all planes of existence.  Each body is simultaneously present right here, right now.  You have bodies that are physical, astral, symbolic, and abstract.  Unlike other beings, as a human you can work in any worlds and with the beings that inhabit them using these bodies.  This gives you a tiny glimpse of your the potential of whom and what you really are, if you should only pay attention to your true self.  Second: humans have the ability to become self-aware, aware of whom and what they really are as Pure Consciousness, the Authors of the Universe, the “eyes of God” watching itself in every experience.  http://www.ted.com/talks/henry_markram_supercomputing_the_brain_s_secrets.html

Humans actually have the ability to begin in complete ignorance of all this, and through trial and error or through study and practice, transform their behavior before the eyes of all the Mighty Ones.  Humans can transform their behavior, from being members of a pitifully helpless, selfish, self-centered, angry, manipulative and destructive race, into beautiful, compassionate, creative, and loving gods in their own right.  It is for this reason that the host of spirits, angels, archangels, gods and enlightened masters are all in awe of the incredible potential in humanity.  It is why they eagerly await and aid the moment when any individual inches toward that transformation.  They celebrating with overwhelming joy each time someone achieves that incredibly rare transformation, which for us, is a mere shift of behavior born of a mere shift of attention.

What do these two unique qualities in humans have to do with casting 4 pentagrams?  We are going to categorize all the possible quantum universes in which we simultaneously exist for the sake of watching how it all happens.  We are going to surround ourselves with 4 pentagrams, surrounding ourselves with an awareness of all those planes and universes.  As unconscious Authors of the Universe, capable of a godlike transformation by paying attention to what we are always doing, we are going to pay attention to the act of Creation by making a habit of casting these 4 pentagrams. 

To have a look at how experience arises (we create the universe) we are going to classify the characteristics of experience into 4 categories.  We could easily classify them into any other number, but 4 happens to be convenient for our current purposes.  (Later in this article it will become clear why the Ancient Masters, in designing this ritual, chose 4 categories, by which to show us who and what we are, and how to behave like That.)  Just as we have seen in this ritual already, the arising of experience as a function of Consciousness Itself, we are now going see how that experience arises in its characteristics, step by step.

But, why pentagrams?  Why not other figures such as points, lines, triangles, rectangles or hexagrams?  Why did the Ancient Masters choose this particular shape of 5 points to show us who and what we are, and how to behave like That?

Remember, this whole ritual is an exercise in recognizing, exploring, and expressing who and what you really are, out of your personal experience, right here, right now.  So we should be able to look into our own immediate experience for an understanding of the Pentagram.

We have established that this next step in the ritual is an examination and celebration of how we create an illusion of Reality.  In consideration of the questions about why pentagrams, that symbol must have something integral to do with experience itself, so casting pentagrams before us is like casting experience before us.

Now, what is experience?  How do we experience?  Through what mechanism do we experience?  These questions must be related to the meaning of the pentagram itself.  There is a hint of the answer in the Sacred Pentagram’s five points.  What is it about the number five that brings to mind the mechanism of experience?  It is said that we have five senses.  Because we think of ourselves and normally identify with being human, as humans, we experience everything through the mechanism of five senses.  We experience all external phenomena through our senses and we experience all internal phenomena through internal versions of them.  Normally, we have no other way to experience things.  Everything that happens in our minds is experienced as either a sight in our mind’s eye or a sound in our thoughts etc.  We describe all feelings in terms of senses.

But wait.  Which exactly are the five senses?  Are taste and smell basically the same, since the total experience of tasting something inextricably also involves smelling it too (through the back of our nasal cavity)?  And since both tasting and smell are really an act of touching molecular structures, does that mean that taste and smell are all really actually the sense of touch?  Furthermore, when we hear things, we are actually touching disturbances in the air with our ear drums.  And when we see, we are actually touching photons or wavicles of electromagnetic energy. 

Since taste, sight, hearing and smell are all types of “touching,” then is it possible to see the structure of a piece of music, or smell a color?  There are people who are not bound to seeing things as limited humans who can do both of these things and more.  Some people also speak of an intangible (not involved in any form of touching) sixth sense, where information comes to them directly, without the use of any kind of touching whether specialized or not, internal or external.

So why do people generally say that we have five senses?  I believe it is a tradition that originates with an ancient association with the pentagram.

Regardless of how many senses there are, how can we classify them in order to understand what we mean by “senses,” sixth sense included?  Remember, this is crucial to our goal, because we are trying to understand the nature of all experience, to follow that back to constructing all experience.

As was the habit of the ancients with the tangible world, we can divide the tangible senses (whether internal or external) into four categories.  The ancients loosely labeled this categorization by four with the names of the elements (Earth, Air, Water and Fire).  We continue this same categorization by assigning the sixth intangible sense as belonging to a fifth category called Spirit.  We have five categories of ways we experience all experiences.  So from the perspective of this point in the ritual, with its five points the Pentagram represents the mechanisms by which Awareness can experience anything, tangible or not.  Since an universe of experience surrounds Awareness, with this meaning, we can say that pentagrams constantly surround Awareness.  This perspective is extremely important because with it, the ritual helps us understand how our minds and the universe around us actually works.

The next step in our ritual directs us (the One Pure Consciousness) to surround ourselves with pentagrams, connected by a circle that runs around us (meaning, a continuum of pentagrams totally surrounding us). 

Casting pentagrams is a ritualistic recognition, expression, or celebration of exactly how we create the illusion of reality.  In this ritual, we do now draw these pentagrams in just whatever random, hap-hazard motion that happens to pop into our minds.  We deliberately draw them in one specific way.  Examining a pentagram, we see that besides having five points, there are two lines intersecting or defining each of these five points.  This means that from any of the five points, you could start drawing in either of two directions, making ten possible directions to start your drawing. 

In the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, we always start from the lower-left point and move toward the top.  Pentagram Arrow2What does this tell us about creating experience and creating the universe?  What should this specific choice and act bring to mind?  Since all acts of ritual are acts of shifting attention, what should we be shifting attention away from, and what should we be shifting attention toward?  It would seem the first two points we use in drawing define a definite starting point that we shift away from, and a definite choice of what state of awareness we move toward.

So, what do the points mean then?  What does it mean to shift attention away from the lower-left point, and move our attention toward the uppermost point?  To understand this, we need to know the meanings and attributions of the points of the pentagram.

As mentioned, the Ancients had a habit of categorizing the tangible universe into four, with another category left to what we cannot describe by reference to the senses.

The key to understanding the meanings of the five points rests in this fifth category, with the nontangible experience.  That which is not part of the tangible universe, and cannot fit into categories for the experienced universe is of course That which itself experiences (Consciousness).  So if we have to pick one of the five points for this exception, that stands separate or outside, or beyond, or removed from and “above” all others, we would naturally pick the topmost point.  Looking at the pentagram, we see that some points are on the right, and some are on the left, while only one point is in the center, between the right or left extremes. Pyramid Pentagram Again, since experiences surround that which experiences, it makes sense to assign that which experiences to the center of the extremes, neither to the left, nor to the right.  So again the topmost point would be our natural choice.  Attributing this uppermost point is significant because in the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, this is the point toward which we are shifting our attention.  This represents a shift of attention toward the One Pure Consciousness itself. 

Attributing Pure Consciousness to that top point in turn dictates the meanings and attributions of all the other points.  That top point radiates two lines downward toward the lowest two points on the pentagram.  One is on our left, and one is on our right.  It’s like these two lower points have a direct line with That which experiences.

On one hand (the right side), everything you experience is itself aware, and shares that same One Consciousness as you do.  That which experiences seems to be present in, and at the center of the experience itself, feeling like you do:  that you are a center around which everything is happening, because you truly are the eyes of the entire Universe.  Everything feels like that because everything you can experience is itself also Aware, and shares the very same Consciousness as you do.  We are all the “I”s of God.  This is the very presence of God in the entire tangible universe.  Everything feels like it’s at the center of it all, and that everything is happening to it, around it, and for it.  This is how God feels, through you and everything else, when She’s venturing out into the Universe that She has created.  This core experience that everything shares is the Divine Spark, the Divine Light and the Eternal Boundless Fire in everyone and everything that exists.

On the other hand (the left side), since everything is Aware and shares that same One Consciousness, when you see anything (and smell, hear, taste or touch anything) you are seeing what that One Consciousness actually looks like.  Your own Awareness (the One Awareness), seems reflected in the experience itself, mirrored in the experience itself, as though anything is what Awareness itself looks like (and smells, sounds, tastes, or feels like).  There can be no Awareness without something to be aware of.  The two arise simultaneously as functions of each other.  As a function of Consciousness itself, Awareness radiates something to be aware of and in doing so, creates an entire universe of experience as an expression of itself, of what Consciousness is.  Where the point on the right side emphasizes Awareness in the center of all Creation, this left point emphasizes all of Creation itself.  It represents what the eyes of the universe sees when it is looking at itself.  While the right point is the same everywhere in everything (that same One Pure Consciousness), the left point presents infinite variety, an entire universe of experiences.  This is the entirety of Creation that emanates from God, the very Earth on which we live, the bountiful infinity of creatures and lands and universes, the Splendor of God and Her Creation.  All of this emanates directly from the One Pure Consciousness as an inevitable expression of what That is, or as the expressions of Awareness Itself: the objects of awareness.

These two lower points on the pentagram, the lower right and the lower left, have direct lines to the topmost point because they are directly related to Awareness itself.  They are how It feels (on the right, Fire), and what It looks like or is looking at (on the left, Earth).  These two points are the lowest points on the pentagram because they are the basis and foundation of the entire tangible universe.  They are also the basis and foundation by which we have knowledge that we Exist, and can say “I Am,” so they are also the basis and foundation of the fact of Awareness Itself (the topmost point).

So casting pentagrams is casting experience itself.  We have seen what three of the five points of the pentagram mean.  We have seen how Awareness Itself (the topmost point) feels (the lower-right), and we have seen what It looks like (lower-left).

While casting a pentagram is the ritual of casting of a Reminder of experience before us, there are 10 ways to start drawing that pentagram.  So we need to understand why this ritual starts at the lower-left, and moves toward the top.  We need to recognize what kind of Reminder of experience it is we’re casting before us, and surrounding ourselves with, because this Reminder seems to be the whole point of the Pentagram Ritual.

So let’s cast our attention on the point of the pentagram from which we start, and what point of the pentagram we shift our attention to, when we cast this Living Reminder.

Awareness is inseparable from, and cannot exist without objects of awareness.  Now think of this for a long moment.  Objects of awareness (the lower two points – self as a thing among things on the right, and our universe of objects on the left) are a necessary aspect of awareness itself (the topmost point).  If the universe is an experience projected by Consciousness itself, an integral aspect of what Consciousness is, then there is no objective reality.  If the objects of experience do not exist outside a reference from Awareness, having no objective reality, then there is nothing that is truly objective, and everything is an illusion created by the act of being aware.  Since the existence of Awareness itself depends on the presence of objects of awareness, which are all illusions having no objective reality, then Awareness itself is also an illusion and has no objective or referential existence either.  This is why, even though its presence is indisputable you can never find a thing called awareness within yourself no matter how much you meditate, no matter how deeply you withdraw your attention to the source of experience, to Awareness Itself.  (There is no top to the pyramid with the all-seeing eye.)  The One Pure Consciousness isn’t really there at all as a thing.  Something is definitely there, and something is definitely happening, but we can never know it or describe it.  It is absolutely unknowable as an objective reality.  As far as objective reality goes, even the One Pure Consciousness, does not really exist.

By starting a pentagram from the lower-left point, shifting our awareness toward the topmost point, we are withdrawing our attention away from objects of awareness, away from our world of experience.  We are shifting toward That which Itself experiences, toward Awareness Itself.  Casting the pentagram (casting all the ways that we can experience) in this particular way is using the senses, all of them, and anything you might experience, as a powerful Reminder of Awareness itself.  This is a reminder of whom and what you really are.   By shifting away from anything that you experience, toward something you cannot experience, something that is unknowable and indescribable, this pentagram is a Reminder that everything you experience is an illusion, ultimately unknowable and indescribable.  In this way, we use the pentagram to perform the ultimate banishing.  We banish everything.  (Hence, the name of this ritual: the Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram.)  Everything is gone, even if it still appears before your very eyes.  In the presence of the pentagram drawn in this particular way, everything you experience becomes a Reminder of your own true nature as empty of objective reality, ultimately indescribable, illusory.

It’s like saying, “Wherever I may look, I may see only Thee.”  In the presence of this Reminder, this pentagram, you should experience everything as a living, aware, responsive mirror of whom and what you really are: Pure unknowable and indescribable Consciousness, the Author of the entire illusion we call the Universe.  Using the presence of this pentagram, using every experience to turn attention away from That which we experience back upon the Experiencer itself, we are banishing all phenomena by paying attention to its illusory nature.  We leave in our focused attention only Pure Consciousness Itself, without ever leaving phenomenal experience.  Because of the presence of the Sacred Pentagram every experience is our Reminder and our confirmation of whom and what we really are.  Go ahead.  Touch something or someone.  The Pentagram reminds you to ask, “Who’s feeling this?”  That’s proof of who you are.  That’s what the pentagrams are constantly saying to you.  Like the owl who constantly asks, “Who?” the Pentagram can make every experience a tangible Reminder and tangible proof of Awareness Itself.

Think of making this reminder an automatic habit.  Imagine as long as you are aware of anything, no matter what, you will always know you are the Author of it all.  No matter what happens.  No matter what.  No matter.  Naught.

This is one reason so many Wisdom Traditions throughout history have revered the Sacred Pentagram.

In the next article in this series, we will examine the technique of giving the Sacred Pentagram the power to take part in our daily lives.  Always present in our daily lives, it will even have the power to speak to us, helping us Remember and build the habit of behaving like who we really are.

Mer-Amun MerAmun

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Part III: Standard Preliminaries

As detailed in the previous part of this series of articles, for commentary I have divided the procedure for the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram into three phases.  The first phase, I am describing as “Standard Preliminaries.”  I am describing the steps in this phase that way because they represent a condensation or simplification of a similar phase in almost every ritual in almost every wisdom tradition on the Earth, both Western and Eastern.  While the steps in this phase are probably not used in other rituals exactly as they are described here, some variation or equivalent steps are probably employed. 

Throughout the following commentary, remember that I am focusing here on how you can use this particular ritual for:

  •          Exploring and getting familiar with whom you really are
  •          Getting accustomed to identifying with That, instead of identifying with being human
  •          Behaving like who you really are, beyond behaving like a human
  •          Expressing your true self, and celebrating that

You should experience the whole ritual as a kind of play or dance, in which you play the part of the real you, the part of Pure Consciousness.  This is the author of all experience and of the illusion of the entire universe.  Even rituals that are different from this one, like spell casting for example, are exercising your status in the universe as author of reality.

Remember that for beginners, this ritual is designed to be practiced as often as possible, at least once each day if possible, to provide the opportunity to build the habit of identifying with Pure Consciousness.  It offers the opportunity to build the habit of expressing oneself as, behaving like, and celebrating the truth of whom you really are.

Always, before you begin your practice, start by quieting your mind.  If you know how to meditate for tranquility, do that.  If you know how to enter what is called an “alpha state,” do that.  If you know a relaxation breathing rhythm or visualization, do that.  Otherwise, simply sit quietly in the dark for a few minutes, and try to free yourself of worldly concerns, for the time you are doing this practice.  You should start in a peaceful, tranquil, relaxed state of mind and body.

Step 1 – Watchers Benediction

(The word Benediction is equivalent to “Blessing.”)

stars_smallThe first step in this progressive shift of consciousness involves becoming aware of and paying attention to two things.  (Recall, as explained before, paying attention is a form of offering, the purest offering, because attention itself is the food of all things.)  First, we pay attention to those beings that have brought the teachings to us, and whose example we endeavor to follow.  This is referring to the Goddess herself, the first and supreme teacher of magic and mystery.  This also refers to all the magi and witches who brought the teaching to you, handed down through the centuries.  More immediately, it refers to your own teacher. (If you do not have one, do not visualize me as I am not a teacher and am only repeating here what I have been taught – see About on this website.  If you do not have a teacher, then visualize a multitude of ancient wise ones, male and female).  Second, we pay attention to the final purpose in our magical operations, called “The Great Work” which involves benefit for oneself and for others through realizing whom we really are, learning to behave like That, and helping others to realize the same.

So we start our mini mystery play in a darkened room.  Turning our attention upwards toward the sky, we pay attention (pay homage) to the awareness of The Watchers who pour their love and help on us.  For an idea of who The Watchers are, see the article on this blog site entitled The Mighty Ones.  We are here focusing on certain beings who have long ago realized who and what we really are.  They have been behaving like That for so long, that they are barely recognizable as human in the ordinary sense of the word.  They do not incarnate out of habit as we do.  If they incarnate at all, they do so out of loving devotion to helping the rest of us understand the nature of Reality, so we don’t take the bad times so seriously.  They don’t necessarily incarnate as a single person like we normally do.  Depending on the needs of the times, and their urge to help, each might incarnate as several people at once, or as animals, shelters or bridges, or as beings that are ethereal, non-terrestrial, and supernatural.  One of the many meanings of their name, “The Watchers” comes from a practice they do each night.  Hovering over the earth, casting their attention (food) down on us with a shower of love and interest, they “watch” us.  They “see” the teeming masses of life gleaming with light.  Here and there, certain among us shine brighter than others, having the wish to help others too.  To these, The Watchers offer particular help and inspiration, to aid in their growth and performance of the Great Work.

(It is suggested that in reciting, a slight pause is made at the end of each line shown here, and a greater pause between paragraphs shown here.  Obviously, use singular or plural, depending on whether you are practicing alone or with someone else.)

The Watchers Benediction

May those
Who are the Great Guides and Guardians of Humanity
Bless every one of us.

(Contemplate a shower of light and love upon the Earth in response to your prayer.)

May they find in us (me)
a willing and pliable instrument
for their sacred purposes.

And may they grant us (me)
the Help and the Benediction
with which,
we (I) will be able to accomplish
All the things that need to be accomplished.

 

 

In our progressive shift of consciousness, we are now no longer thinking about work, or noises around us, or money or anything like that.  We are focused on becoming a Watcher ourselves, and all the fascinating and beautiful things that means.  We are focused on joining a team of powerful and transcendent beings who, by virtue of their identifying with all things, constantly work for the benefit of all creatures.  As one of them, imagine knowing without a shadow of doubt, with evidence in every act of awareness, that you are Pure Consciousness and that everything is an illusion caused by That.  Imagine becoming an invisible extraterrestrial helper of some civilization in a distant galaxy, or even this civilization right here!  Imagine gazing down on the ocean of life, finding not only those brightly shining seekers of Reality, but also those with the mistaken idea that their nightmare is real.  Imagine drifting among these people, unseen or even appearing as an angel, secretly arranging things to help them, heal them, and changing their luck.  (See Invisible Helpers, a link to which is shown at the left of this web page in the box entitled “Books.”)  This imagined life will become less and less your own imagination, and more and more your reality, as you practice identifying with Pure Consciousness, and learning how to act like That.  Because this whole ritual helps you do both of these things, the more you practice this ritual with the right intent, motivation and knowledge, the closer that will come to being your reality. 

(NOTE: the word “extraterrestrial” means “not of the earth” or “beyond the earth.”  It does not necessarily mean “alien.”  There are extraterrestrials all around us, some seen and some unseen, who are not aliens, but who are also not of the world as we normally think of it.  For example, a street bum might be a disguised wise man who has transcended this world, and simply refuses to take part in our society.  As someone who is beyond our world, this street bum might be extraterrestrial, but not an alien.  That being said, the word extraterrestrial of course also applies to aliens in the typical sense of the word.  Some Watchers are from here, and are not aliens, and others are not from here at all.  Still others were originally from other worlds but have chosen to be born here among us for several tens of thousands of years, like interstellar immigrants, working closely with us, as one of us.)

(Further NOTE: It has recently been asked: why are these Watchers not successful in preventing or eliminating wars, hunger, disease and acts of predatory inhumanity?  One answer is this: every one of us is an incredibly powerful magician, whether we know it or not.  We constantly create our reality, based on wisdom, compassion and selflessness, or based on ignorance, greed and anger.  We are, in fact, as powerful as the Mighty Ones themselves, including the Watchers.  While the Watchers may have skillful techniques for being able to reduce the suffering of thousands of people at a time, there are limits to how much more skillfull they can be against several hundred thousand “magicians” who are all involved in fighting a war for example, or supporting a policy in ignorance for another.  So the Watchers are always looking for help to perform the Great Work of enlightening people and reducing their suffering.  By performing this part of the ritual, and the final dedication described later, you are adding your efforts to this end.)

Step 2 – Light Candle

candle_of_art_smallThe next step in this progressive shift of consciousness involves lighting a single candle, called the Candle of Art (or a Kether Lamp if you have one).  Typically the Candle of Art is always a clean, new votive candle in a cleaned red votive glass, as may be bought at any church supply store.  (This should be lovingly cleaned before each practice as part of your deliberate preparation for the practice.  To clean a used candle out of a votive glass, simply put it in a sink under running hot water for a few minutes, allowing the hot water to overflow the sides of the glass.  After a few minutes the candle will pop out easily with a bit of pressure from a dull knife.  While the glass is still hot, a paper towel will easily rub away any remaining wax, leaving the glass as clean as new.)

Beginners of this type of prayer often think of it as a Remembrance of something like the “Big Bang.”  This is not untrue.  But what the practitioner should keep in mind is this: the “Big Bang” is a constant, ever present event that is happening in every quantum (instant or instance of existence).  It happens constantly on subatomic levels, and constantly on macroscopic levels that encompass the entire universe.  It happens constantly in your own awareness when you blink, sneeze, have an orgasm or wake up in the morning.  It happens between every two thoughts.  It happens between every two instances of cognition.   The entire illusion of existence constantly arises out of an ever-present Nothingness that is the Reality behind the illusion.  The illusion of existence is constantly being built and rebuilt with every “Big Bang” that we call a “moment” of experience.  So, with this prayer, we are taking a step further in our progressive shift of awareness, further than the wish to become a Watcher, drawing our attention back to the ever-present endless source of experience and existence itself.

You have to ask yourself: Who or What is it that can possibly be present for the “Big Bang,” since Nothing existed before that?  In fact, this is a question you should always be asking yourself, throughout every ritual, and throughout every moment of existence.  This is the question that we are always eerily reminded of by the owl:  “Who?”  The answer to that question is unspeakable.  Awareness is what That feels like.  It is not a person.  It is not a mind.  It is Nothing you can name, because it is That which names all things.  That is “Who.”  That is the real You.   (See the 4 page essay, Nothingness by Alan Watts, a link to which is offered on the left side of this web page.)

So, standing in the darkness (facing East), with match or lighter in hand, say softly aloud the following prayer,  paying attention to the Nothing before the Beginning, which was not long ago, but is Now and Ever. 

(Your instructions are on the left, and the commentary is on the right.  Words on the left should be softly spoken aloud by you.)

Lighting the Kether Lamp or Candle of Art:

[Contemplate primordial Emptiness]  
“In the beginning…”
“Before the Elohim created the heavens and the Earth”
Remember the “beginning” is the eternal NOW, the present moment that is always at hand.  Remember the word “Elohim” (pronounced el-oh-heem) breaks down into three syllables: El, oh, and him (pronounced heem).  “El” refers to Supreme Deity (the creator of the illusory Universe) and refers to the One Consciousness, with which you are intimately associated, as your own awareness. “Oh” is a singular female suffix.  “Heem” is a plural male suffix.  So “Elohim” includes innate divinity, which is at one time both the male and female, One and Many.  (There is one infinite environment [female], filled with an infinite number of points [male].  When the extents are infinite, each point is at the center [each of us equally aware as though we are the center of the universe]) 
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“Everything was Formless,
And Darkness was upon the face of the Deep.”
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This refers to the Nothingness out of which all experience is constantly appearing.  See “Nothingness” by Alan Watts, for an explanation of this.  Click on the link under “Books” on the left of this web page to read his 4-page essay.
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“And the Ruach Elohim moved upon the face of the Waters and said:
Yehi Aur… let there be Light!”
[Light candle]
“And there was Light.”
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Ruach Elohim (pronounced roo-agch eloheem) adds to the idea of Elohim already described, the notion of an identity, as in a soul or divine spirit.  (Ruach meaning “breath” and implying life, as in the breath of life, here the “breath” or live spirit of the Elohim.) You experience this as your own sense of being something, your own sense of existing.There is an inherent quality of Consciousness, and that is an urge, pressure, desire, or tendency to experience something, anything.  It’s like a primordial habit, energy or force behind the coming into being of experience itself.  This inherent drive is symbolized as a wind, or more intimately: a breath, the breath of life.You intimately experience these words, “Yehi Aur,” casting your attention forth, at every moment.  You gaze into the emptiness. Since attention is the Divine Light of Consciousness, the act of being aware is an act of casting Divine Light into the Emptiness.  This act of casting light into the emptiness is the “Big Bang” that is happening in every quantum or instance of existence.

This act of casting forth your attention is the original primordial experience that is ever happening on the crest of the wave of the eternally present moment.  Experience has spontaneously arisen out of the emptiness.

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“And the Elohim saw the light,
That it was good,
And all the morning stars sang together,
And the Children of God shouted for Joy.”
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“Saw the Light:” That candle, shining into the darkness, causing all visible experience in the previously darkened room to arise, is symbolic of your own awareness that likewise causes experience to arise out of Nothing.  Just looking at that particular candle is an incredibly profound act.  You are looking at your own awareness, shining forth.  You are aware of your own awareness.  This is “Ruach Elohim.””That it was good:” “Good” is a word for “God.”  (Good-Bye means “God Be With Ye.”)  In this special setting, in this ritual act, just as you see the candle, Consciousness becomes aware of its own nature.  Consciousness becomes aware of the fact that it is aware.  This simple state is a blissful experience.  A “good” and joyful experience indeed.”Morning stars sang together…:” With the casting forth of the light of awareness, a billion galaxies of stars (candles) shine forth out the emptiness, in that light.  Every single one of them is that same One Consciousness, each like your own candle, each perfectly aware, reveling in the Cosmic Drama that is Experience.  (Referring back to the Watchers, these are the points of light that they see, gazing down upon the Humanity.) [For more information on this Cosmic Drama, see the essay called Cosmic Drama by Alan Watts.  You can click on the link at the left of this web page under Books, to read this 5-page essay.]
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[Raise hands with candle to the heavens]

“Holy art Thou, Lord of the Universe!
Holy art Thou, Whom Nature hast not formed!
Holy art Thou, the Vast and Mighty One!
Lord of the Light… and of the Dark.”
 
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And as one of that infinite number of “Children of God”, you too shout for joy in this adoration.  And whom are you addressing here?  “Who?” That Pure Consciousness that creates Nature but is not created by Nature.  Note that “Dark” here refers to the Nothingness that is still ever present while the illusion of experience seems to play on.

 Having lit this special candle, you are now in a sacred space, devoted to recognizing and celebrating Pure Consciousness.  You are aware of everything around you through the light of this one candle, this One Consciousness.  In our progressive shift of consciousness (our ritual) we have reached a shift to where everything is for you brand-new, newly arisen from an ever present “Big Bang.”  Notice the power of habit, which remains past the end of illusion, and the resulting ever present rebirth.  Everything is still there as you last saw it.  This is the principle of reincarnation in your immediate experience.

Just as all of experience emanates from the one light of the One Consciousness (of which your awareness is an immediate instance), so are all the lights in your sacred space also lit from this one candle.  So if you have both a Kether Lamp, and a Candle of Art, you should now use a small taper to draw the light from the Kether Lamp to the Candle of Art.  When you have both candles, the Kether Lamp represents the One Consciousness and the Candle of Art represents the Ruach Elohim:  the One Consciousness’s sense of existing, of Being.

Step 3 – Light Incense

incense_smallSmell is an interesting sense.  It has the ability to call up long forgotten memories and associations with a vividness like none of the other senses.  Some say it is the last of the senses to fade at death (others say hearing is the last to go).  No one currently knows for sure how we smell, but it is known that through smell we are aware of not only the shapes of molecules, but also of the different atoms that make up those molecules.  Somehow, through smell, we are able to touch and feel atoms and groups of atoms.  Through smell we are touching the building blocks of the physical universe, and identify them and easily associate them with vivid memories and experiences.  The presence of a smell in an environment powerfully taints our experience, coloring it with a particular emphasis.

In the next step in our progressive shift of consciousness, we light a taper from the One Light (our Kether Lamp or Candle of Art lit in the previous step).  We use that to light either self-starting incense charcoal, or stick or cone incense.  If charcoal is lit, then we make an offering of resinous incense (like frankincense) to the fire of Awareness.  Either way, a beautiful smoke rises up, up, always upward, away from the mundane world of objects and concerns, upward toward space, toward the Nothingness that is Consciousness Itself.  As this offering is made your environment starts to smell special.  It is a special smell that is not of food, nor of fuel exhaust, nor of body odor, nor anything in your typical world.  This fills your environment with something special, something sacred. 

Depending on the incense ingredients, the specialness can be focused on different aspects of existence.  In this case, using frankincense, or incense of the four Elements, your environment becomes an overwhelming and enveloping experience that is dedicated to Pure Experience, Pure Consciousness. 

While this should not be an obsession, the practitioner should be ever mindful of the incense, being sure that it does not go out.  There should be some small wisp of smoke rising at all times, throughout the practice.  This mindfulness is one of the ways that one’s attention is kept on the point to the whole practice: to be mindful who and what you really are.  The mindfulness of keeping the incense going is mindfulness of your practice.  It is keeping from straying into other less profound thoughts.

NOTE: when using charcoal and resinous incense, if you are going to keep a wisp of smoke going at all times and there is not open window with a constant draft, it is easy to smoke out your room, to the point of coughing and stinging in the eyes and throat.  This is because a few grains of resin on the charcoal burn only a minute or two, and quickly fill the room.  Therefore, if there is no constant breeze of fresh air, the best idea is to abandon the thought of keeping a wisp of smoke rising, and instead pay attention to the presence of the scent in the room.  At first, put only a tiny amount of incense on the charcoal, enough to fill the room with scent.  Then pay mindfulness to that scent in the room.  During your practice, you will notice the scent beginning to fade.  Only then, put a grain or two more on the charcoal, noticing the smoke rise as a further offering.  In this case, it is the presence of the scent that you are being mindful of keeping up, and not the constant rising of a wisp of smoke.

Think about this current state for a minute.  You have taken the familiar room around you, and you are seeing it in a “different light.”  You are seeing it the Light of the Pure Consciousness, which is what you really are.  You have extended that One Light to a fire (incense or charcoal), and this fire has filled the world (that you are seeing in a different light) with a sacredness, focused on something special.  You have filled the world with a focus on Consciousness.  You did this by lighting a slow-burning fire.  So, when you see the charcoal light up, or the stick incense begin to glow, you should see and feel the whole familiar world is also lighting up, and being burned away and consumed.  But notice that if undisturbed, the burned stick incense is still there, as ashes, after it has burned.  The ash holds exactly the same shape as what was burned.  The charcoal, after the sparkles of fire have run through it is also still there, in the same shape as before.  So you should see the world around you, in this special light has also been burned away, yet appears in the same shape as before.  Though, like the ashes which are a fragile appearance of what was there before, so is the world around you also a fragile illusion.  By lighting the incense, seeing everything in this “special light,” you have burned away the normal world.  While it still appears exactly as before, the smell of the incense is a constant reminder that it is all like ashes, holding a shape, but void of any inherent reality.

The pervasive scent then, is your Consciousness basking in an infinite emptiness, which appears around you like the ashes of burned incense.

So, let’s recap the steps so far.  You have empowered the Watchers to help you, and dedicated your practice to the Great Work.  You have done this in darkness, before you did anything else.  Next, you paid attention to the on-going Moment of Creation, and seen your world arise anew, as it does in every moment.  While the world constantly arises out of habit nearly the same every time, you are aware of it now through the One Light of Consciousness, just as you always are.  But for this practice, you know about it and are thinking that way.  Next, in the step of lighting the incense, you have seen the world as ashes and filled this newly created and familiar world with a special Presence of Consciousness.  It’s like you are basking an infinite ocean of emptiness that seems to have form and is perfectly aware.

This is the state of mind that you are practicing in the hope of never leaving.  This “special light” by which you are seeing things, being aware of the fact that everything is an illusion that seems to have shape, like incense ashes, is a state that you never want to leave.  With enough practice, you will not need these steps to help you think and see this way.  These ritual steps will instead become celebrations or forms of self-expression, like a dance of joy for being who and what you really are.

Step 4 – Ankh of Light

An Egyptian Ankh

An Egyptian Ankh

At this stage, in our progressive shift of consciousness, we have seen the universe arise anew.  The universe has arisen out of Nothing, and being born of Nothing, is still ultimately Nothing.  For the next step: what about you?  What are you in all this?

Like some other rituals in traditional Western Mysticism, the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram includes in its progression of shifting consciousness, the performance of another simple, yet profound practice.  It is called by traditional witches “The Ankh of Light”, also known in other Western Mystery traditions as “The Qabalistic Cross.”

With this step, we withdraw our attention from our sacred environment, and turn it on that which is most sacred: the Creator, the Author of the Universe.  We turn our attention on Pure Consciousness itself, and its place in all the illusory Creation.

So, let us go through this next step which is performing the Ankh of Light.  As I did with the lighting of the candle, I’m including here a commentary on the right, with the script on the left.

The Ankh of Light, or Qabalistic Cross:

 

[Contemplate primordial Emptiness]Your hands should be folded at your solar plexus (just below where your bottom ribs meet, on the front of your chest).  This position of the hands is called the “kavach mudra.” .
The hands of the traditional witch or practitioner of Western Mysteries become powerful conduits of life force, prana, witch-fire, or chi (all words for essentially the same thing).  Your solar plexus is a main center of this energy.  By folding your hands at this center, you are conserving and getting ready to direct that energy through your hands as a magical act.  During ritual practice, whenever you are not doing something specific with your hands, this is where they should be.
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Become aware of a globe of brilliance above your head, larger than your head, and resting on, or slightly into the crown of your head. 
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The globe of brilliance is one of 4 specific centers of energy, or psychic organs that you will activate, by paying attention to them (since attention is the food of all things, you will feed them and activate them).  This particular energy center (above the crown of your head) is a psychic organ by which your “individual” consciousness resonates most closely with that of the Universal Consciousness.  (The two are not separate or different, but only seem so.)
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Breathe deeply of pale blue prana (life energy – the aura of the Sun) from the ocean of it around you.  Leaving your left hand at your chest, bring your right hand from the kavach mudra down to your side briefly, then up to the top of your head as you take a deep breath and “vibrate”: “Ah-Teh”
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To “vibrate” a magical word means to intone it slowly, in a low key, drawing out the sound of the word.  It’s a low droning or chanting.  Words of power in any magical language such as Aramaic, Enochian, or Sanskrit, are formulae of vibrations, composed of a specific and powerful sequence of syllables. So as you intone the words of power, you pay attention to each individual syllable, and the vibrating sound of each.  You should hear and feel the vibrations coming not from your throat, but originating deep within your chest, and emanating from the energy center you’re focusing on (the one above your head in this case).  Further, you should feel those vibrations emanating out from the energy center, throughout the Universe, echoing in the depths of space.  Try to hear (in your imagination) the echoes of the sound of each syllable as though the universe were an infinite cave, echoing the sound back and forth throughout.The word “Ateh” has a dual meaning that creates a direct reminder of your relationship with the One Consciousness.  It means at the same time “Thou Art” and “I Am”. These words “I Am” are powerful triggers for the practitioner of high magic.  Just thinking “I Am” brings one’s attention straight back to the core of one’s being, to that core of Awareness that is Pure Consciousness.  Think of it.  The fact that you can say or think “I Am” proves that you are aware.  It proves that you exist right here, right now.   

Thinking “I Am” is a simple and direct expression of Awareness, and knowing that you are aware.  Knowing this is an act of recognition of your true being, of whom and what you really are.  After all, everything seems to exist, and everything shares that exact same quality of existence, not a different quality of existence.  Awareness is what it feels like to exist.  Since everything shares the same quality of existence, everything shares that same feeling, that same Awareness, that very same experience of “I Am.”  In thinking “I Am,” you are aware of being an instance of the Ultimate Deity.  You are aware of your personal relationship with That to whom you refer here with the words “Thou Art.”  (See Be Yourself on this website.)

So, as you vibrate this word, you should be aware at once of:

  •          who you are (as just described),
  •          who you are paying attention to,
  •          the globe of brilliance above your head, and
  •          the vibrations emanating from your diaphragm out through the globe above your head and throughout space. 

All the while, feel that you are a direct manifestation of that One Consciousness, that your awareness is a direct expression of that One Consciousness.  You are making this sound as a proclamation and celebration of Consciousness, filling the universe with this expression.

Practice drawing all of these ideas and experiences into one act of sacred self-recognition and self-expression.  You’ll get better at it each time you practice, until vibrating “Ateh” is all you have to remember, and it all happens together.

Paying attention to this globe of brilliance, and expressing yourself in this way is a direct practice of identifying with Pure Consciousness, with the origin and existence of all things.  You should be absorbed in the experience of Pure Consciousness.

This experience can be extremely blissful.  If you are practicing alone, do not hesitate to stop for a bit, and bask in this experience.  It is among the most Holy of experiences.

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Now move your hand down before your face and on down to your solar plexus as you visualize a pillar of white light, about the thickness of your neck, descending from the globe above your head down through the middle of your body to your feet where another globe, smaller than above your head, forms below your feet.  You are either standing on it or slightly into it, and it is either black with green swirls or a swirling mixture of the four elemental colors: citrine, olive, russet, and black – the colors of the four seasons.  As you bring your hand down to your solar plexus from above your head, visualizing thus, vibrate: “Mal-Kuth” 
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Now, extending the “point” of awareness into two dimensions (a line), you are recognizing that the existence of Awareness implies something to be aware of (even if it is an illusion that you are aware of).  And that objectification of Nothingness, of Pure Consciousness, appears as an infinite universe. The globe at your feet (the metaphorical feet of Pure Consciousness) is called here Malkuth, which means “kingdom” and refers to the entire expanse of the universe of all experience.  The globe above your head is faintly reflected at your feet and objectified as the entire universe itself, with all of its galaxies and worlds.  This universe too is you… it’s how Pure Consciousness expresses and celebrates itself.  It’s how Pure Consciousness hides from itself, to make the illusion seem real.In this exercise, you are focused on your place in the entirety of experience.  You are at one extreme (above your head) the primordial origin of everything, and the center from which everything emanates.  At the other extreme (at your feet) you are also shown forth as all existence and all the ways in which that manifests.  This is part of what it means to know who and what you really are.  (By “you” I am clearly not referring to a human being.  I am referring to the core of your being, that core of Awareness, which is Pure Consciousness.) 

As before, you should vibrate the word of power, feeling each syllable echo throughout the emptiness around you, now proclaiming and celebrating your issuing forth as the universe itself.

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Bring your hand now to your left shoulder, in which forms a blue globe of light (embedded in and around your shoulder), also smaller than the one above your head, the same size as the one under your feet, and vibrate:”Ve-Geh-Doo-Lah”
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“Ve Gedulah” means “And the Glory.”  So far you have said “Thou art (I Am) the Kingdom and the Glory.”Here you are beginning to recognize the patterns within the expanse of Mind that Pure Consciousness creates around itself by virtue of experience.I have said that attention is the Divine Light that causes all things to seem to emerge from the darkness of Emptiness.  Now we’re getting a bit more specific.  You can cast your attention in many different ways.  You can look at something with anger, or love, sadness, understanding, fascination, excitement, boredom… the list is endless. Among the endless “flavors” of attention (food) that we’re capable of, we’re focusing on that of Glory, which includes things such as the splendor and bliss of great beauty and magnificence, love, expansion, birth, growth and compassion.  Continuing the symbolism of attention being Divine Light, here we are seeing that Light as blue in color.  

As before, the word of power is vibrated, filling the universe with the bounding and rebounding sound and light of love and compassion, birth, expansion and growth.  All this (the sound, the light, and the experience) emanates and radiates from the globe of light at your left shoulder.

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Bring your hand to your right
shoulder, as a shaft of white light the same size as the one descending from above your head extends from the blue globe at your left shoulder to the red globe that forms in your right.  Vibrate:”Ve-Geh-Boo-Rah”
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“Ve Geburah” means “And the Power.” Here you recognize a polarity of types of attention (types or colors of Divine Light).  Where at your left shoulder there is blue light, here is red light by contrast.  It represents the type of attention that is complementary to the previous.  Where the blue was compassion, this is severity.  Where the blue was birth, this is the death that makes rebirth and renewal possible.  This is the clearing away of the old to make a place for renewal.  Where the blue might have been attraction, by comparison here we have rejection.Between the blue light at the left shoulder and the red at the right, you have the most fundamental polarity at the root of all classifications or specific ways that you can cast your attention.

So when vibrating this word of power you should feel the universe bounding and rebounding with the red light, the sound and the feelings of severity, contraction, power, and selective intelligence.

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Slowly clasp both hands together, with arms outstretched before you, slightly above shoulder height.  As your arms raise to meet each other, Vibrate:”Leh-Oh-Lam”
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Up to this point you’ve said: “Thou Art (I Am) the Kingdom, the Glory and the Power.”  Now, the words “Le Olam” mean “throughout the ages” suggesting all time, all worlds, all dimensions, and all experiences throughout existence.  While vibrating this word of power you should consider your form of a glowing cross, flaming up brilliantly, filling the universe with that light. So you should feel that you are a glowing cross of white light, with globes of light at all four ends, shining brilliantly.  With the uppermost globe of brilliance larger and brighter than the others, you are in the form an ankh of life.  Archetypal symbols are living entities, and here you are, recognizing yourself as just such a living symbol.   

Ankh sandal strap

Ankh sandal strap

The shape of the ankh is based on an ancient Egyptian sandal strap.  There’s a loop that goes around the ankle and the opposite end attaches to the sandal sole between the toes.  The other ends attach to the sides of the sole at either side of the foot.  Here the ankh, the sandal strap, means “going” or on-going-ness.  It is therefore a symbol of progressing events and experience that we call “life” so some people say the ankh means life.  It represents the continuing experience that creates the illusion of life.  The ankh is therefore a “Stream of Consciousness.” 

What you have paid attention to (fed with your attention) is the fact that you and your experience of life is an endless flow of experience.  You have recognized it extending from Pure Consciousness (I Am) and shown forth as the whole universe (the Kingdom).  You have recognized it as the source of ultimate Glory and Power (and all that those imply).  You have recognized that this applies throughout all time, all worlds and dimensions.  There are no exceptions, and there is Nothing outside this on-going-ness.

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And without breaking from the previous vibration, as you bring your clasped hands to your solar plexus again, vibrate:”Ah-Men”
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With the word “Amen” you draw this whole expression to your heart, drawing it to you as your personal experience, not some philosophical description.  It’s like saying “all this is me, this me right here, right now, right here.”  This is a magical “grounding” of the experience.  You are bringing it from an ideal fantasy, to an immediate reality, as real as everything you are aware of, proved by everything you are aware of, by your simply being aware at all.
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Contemplate your form as a brilliant ankh of light.
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So this is your place in all the illusion of existence.  You (referring to Pure Consciousness, not to you as a human) are this Ankh, this living being that is a cross of light that includes and originates all experiences.  This is one way to focus on, pay attention to, and bask in whom and what you really are.  This is one way to sing forth and celebrate whom and what you really are.

 

So far we have covered, in this Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, four progressive shifts of consciousness on our way to a state that is one of the most profound in Western Mysticism.  I have mentioned that these four progressive shifts of consciousness are found at the beginning of nearly every ritual in wisdom traditions, whether Eastern or Western.  These four progressive shifts of consciousness are:

1.       Paying homage to a traditional lineage (Watchers Benediction)

2.       Declaring and focusing on one’s intention (Watchers Benediction)

3.       Recreating the Universe and purifying that by recognition that it is illusory (Candle and incense.  In more elaborate rituals, this step will include an additional purification by water.)

4.       Establishing the significance of Consciousness in that (Ankh of Light)

Hopefully you can see how these steps, when done with the intention and attitude described here, can acquaint you with who and what you really are, and help you build the habit of thinking of yourself as That. 

Next, in Part IV of this series, we will continue this journey of consciousness, into recognizing a pervasive, more detailed magical universe that is perfectly aware of you, and responsive to your every thought.

Mer-Amun MerAmun

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Part II: Re-Introducing the Pentagram Ritual

For training in typical traditions of Western Mysticism, among the first daily rituals practiced is one called “The Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram.”

Because the trainee is often anxious to get into some “real magic” and views the first exercises as merely “preliminary,” this ritual is often misunderstood and its profundity overlooked.  That is, until the student reaches the end of the training.  At the end of training the often surprising discovery is made that, like the proverbial philosopher’s stone, the most profound ritual practice throughout training happened to be there from the start: that simple “Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram.”  It is often the only ritual practice used by masters who have completed their training.  Tiny variations on this often overlooked ritual contain all the magical techniques one needs. For example, see the article on this blog site about The Thunderstorm.  The powerful magician conjured the thunderstorm before our very eyes, using nothing other than a small variation of that same Pentagram Ritual we had all learned in the beginning of our training.  For a more important example, consider the rituals designed to bring enlightenment, called “initiations,” which are themselves sometimes elaborations on this same “Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram.”

I will not go into the variations of this incredibly profound ritual, but I will try to point out some of the inner-work and significance that is often unknown to, or overlooked by practitioners.  It is hoped that this explanation might bring new appreciation for what is often mistaken as merely preparatory, and brashly rushed through as being less important. 

The name of the ritual implies that it is about banishing or “clearing the air” in a sense.  But what does this really mean?  There is a banishing happening here, but banishing of what?  Why?  How?  By what power and authority is this done?  And what is left-over after this banishing is finished?  Rituals lead to new states of being, so what is the significance of the state reached, after this banishing is complete?  Hopefully, by the end of this series of articles, the answers to these questions will be clear.

When one realizes the true meaning and effect of this ritual, one realizes that it should never be rushed through as a “formality.”  It should always be performed slowly, like a meditation, with careful contemplation and respect.  This is because, as I will try to show, it carries, invokes, and asserts the core truth by which the practitioner has any magical power at all.

As explained in Part I of this series of articles, ritual can be a progressive and systematic redirection of one’s state of mind, self-definition and self-identification.  If the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram is performed with the correct meaning and emphasis, with appreciation for its effect, no other ritual is necessary from the perspective of spiritual growth.  This particular ritual carries the secrets of omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence.  At the completion of training, when rituals become unnecessary and even childish in a sense, this “Lesser” Banishing Ritual remains as a celebration and expression of whom and what we really are: the authors of reality.

As explained in Part One, ritual is a progressive shift of one’s state of mind.  We are here concerned with a progression to an extraordinary state of mind where we can become accustomed to, and explore who and what we really are.  We then almost return to the ordinary state again, though not quite the same, having gathered new experience and familiarity with each repetition.  With each repetition, we bring into the ordinary every-day state of mind a greater understanding of our true nature, and build the habit of behaving more like That all the time.

In this series of articles I would like to take you through the progressive shift of your state of mind as you would perform this Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram.  So, before I move into a commentary on that ritual, let me first give you an account of the “script” for its performance.  It should be noted that this ritual exists in different forms in all wisdom traditions on the Earth.  These steps have been carefully chosen and handed down in some form or another through thousands of years and are by no means arbitrary in their order and composition.  The actual wording used in each step has also been carefully chosen by fully trained masters to match the effect and intent handed down through the millennia.  This is important because the procedure has undergone thousands of years of testing and adjustment, to ensure the greatest benefit and effectiveness.  You can partake of all that experience by adherence to tradition.

Script: The Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram

Setting:

A light snack has been prepared and set aside for consumption after the practice has been finished.

A darkened, if not completely dark room. 

There is a small table or altar in the center of the room.

There is a red class containing an unlit candle hanging overhead in the center of the room (called the Kether Lamp), or a red glass with an unlit candle in the center of the altar (called the Candle of Art). 

On the altar, there is unlit incense. 

The incense should represent the four Elements of alchemy (Fire, Water, Air, Earth), or could be pure frankincense to represent spirit itself.  (Refer to the Magical Alphabet for incense ingredients assigned to the elements.  A beautiful stick incense of this composition was at one time sold in Theosophical bookstores.  Among other ingredients, it had sandalwood for Earth, and camphor for Air.)

The operator is dressed only in a black hooded robe, representing the “conscious nothingness” out of which awareness arises. 

The operator begins Step 1 in darkness, standing before the altar, facing East.

 

Procedure:

Phase I: Standard Preliminaries

Step 1: Recite Watchers Benediction

Step 2: Light candle reciting the appropriate prayer

Step 3: Light incense from the candle, quietly but mindful of the meaning of incense.

Step 4: Perform Ankh of Light (also known as the Qabalistic Cross)

 

Phase II: The Pentagram Ritual Proper

Step 5: Use “witch fire” or “solar energy”  or “chi” to trace out the eternal presence of the four great pentagrams, charging each with an acknowledgment of the purpose and soul that makes them living beings.

Step 6: Recognize the eternal presence of the four Archangels

Step 7: Recognize the eternal presence of the four Elemental Winds

Step 8: Recognize the eternal presence of the four Elemental Guardians

Step 9: Recognize the entire scene

Step 10:  Ponder this completely “banished” state of being

 

Phase III: Magical Activity

Step 11: Perform some act, expressing yourself as the author of reality, omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent.  (for example: meditate, basking in the original state of Being, or perform the Middle Pillar Exercise – a comment on this exercise will follow this series of articles – or perform some act of magic.)

 

Phase IV: Standard Closing

Step 12: Licence to Depart (necessary only in variations where any intelligence is invoked, during the Magical Activity phase, that was not present before.)

Step 13: Begin the return to ordinary every-day life by performing the Ankh of Light again, with a small difference, recognizing the added experience you take back with you.

Step 14: Douse candle.

Step 15: Dedicate the results of this practice to the Great Work

Step 16: Restoring normal lighting, change into normal clothing.

Step 17: Immediately eat and drink a light snack

 

In the next part of this series of articles, I will begin to describe and explain each of these steps in detail.  I will try to do this with an emphasis on how these steps transform your state of mind, help you practice thinking of yourself as who and what you really are, and help you build the habit of always identifying with and behaving like That.

Mer-Amun MerAmun

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Part I – The Meaning of Ritual

Part of Realizing who and what we really are is learning to behave like That.  This is one of the meanings of “The Great Work.”  Realizing who and what we really are actually compels us to certain behavior.  For example, realizing that everything is an illusion, and that you share the same Consciousness with all other beings throughout space and time, compels you.  An extension of self-preservation compels you to try to relieve the illusion of suffering experienced by anyone or anything else.  This is why we often associate the “wise ones” throughout the ages with healing or heroism, whether medical or magical or mental.  This endless work of helping others is another meaning of “The Great Work.”

From the moment of birth some people are fully aware of whom and what they are, and naturally live and behave like That without giving it any thought.  They do so having Realized this in past lives because this Realization transcends life and death, birth and rebirth.  As the One Consciousness goes on after one’s death, by identifying with That instead of identifying with a dead or dying person, the Realized One does not die when the person dies.  They do not identify with a newborn baby as they reincarnate, but remain firm in their identity with the One Consciousness Itself.  The habit of identifying with that Eternal Consciousness, and not identifying with any one incarnation, past or present dictates their behavior.  We normally incarnate as humans again and again by habit of identifying with being “human.”  When we finally identify with the One Consciousness we break the habit of this mistaken identity and there is no habitual compulsion to rebirth, ever, as anything.  But this same adjustment of identity to the One Consciousness makes us acutely aware of the seeming suffering of others as though it were our own suffering, because we share the same Consciousness.  It is not through a habitual compulsion, but instead from deliberate choice that some Realized beings take rebirth among us.  They choose to do so to help relieve our apparent suffering, never losing sight that it is all an illusion that might seem painfully real to those who suffer.

While some people are born with Realization, most of us obviously are not.  Most of us typically take the illusion of our lives and deaths all too seriously.  Some of us would like to know what these Realized being know, and would like to experience existence the way they do.  Some of us wondering “who am I,” and “why am I here,” would like to experience who and what we really are.  For our benefit, throughout the ages some Realized beings have tried very hard to help us experience this for ourselves.  Some have taken rebirth each time they died, to continue a work of thousands of years, building collections or systems of techniques for realizing who and what we really are.  They have left their mark throughout history, teaching, refining, and evolving these systems.  Traditional Wicca refers to these beings as “The Mighty Dead.”  Another Western Mystery Tradition knows them as the “Ascended Masters.”

Mystical systems are examples of such collections of clever techniques for realizing who and what we really are, and for building the habit of behavior that expresses and celebrates That.  Such collections include deliberate experiences and practices such as initiation and meditation by which one can recognize for oneself this reality.  Besides oral explanations and profound alternate meanings of seemingly ordinary wording, the collections also include examples of Realization and the resulting behavior in the form of myths and legends. 

In addition, these collections include practices that, like mystery plays, allow one to follow a scripted procedure for enacting, exploring, and celebrating the truth about whom and what we really are.  These scripted procedures were designed to be performed again and again, to help create the habit of an attitude and outlook that carries over into our daily lives.  In this manner they can permanently transform our behavior and our perspective to be more than human, to be more like who and what we really are.  They are designed to help us create a permanent habit of identifying not with being “human,” but with the One Consciousness.  They are designed to help us develop the habit of seeing everything as an illusion produced by Consciousness itself.  These repeated scripted procedures are typically called “rituals.” While there are many rituals, designed and scripted for different purposes and reasons I am here referring to certain special rituals.  I am referring to those that have been deliberately crafted to bring us to a realization of who and what we really are, and to help us build the habit of acting like that.

Let’s consider exactly what a ritual is and how it works.  This should provide some insight into why rituals are composed as they are, and in turn how to perform a ritual as intended.  This way, when performing the special rituals, we will know how to use the ritual to practice shifting our identity to the One Consciousness, and make this our habitual perspective.

Consider that within the scope of the One Consciousness there is One Universal Mind.  Consider that, exactly like “your own” mind, this One Mind encompasses many thoughts, ideas, attitudes, habits, dreams, memories and feelings.  You have many thoughts, ideas, etc, and they all share your consciousness, being part of your own mind. The phenomena in your mind do not have separate awareness, they are all in your mind, and they all share your consciousness.  In exactly the same way, you and everything else in the Universe is a thought, idea, etc in this One Universal Mind.  Consider further that everyone and everything shares that same One Consciousness, being the activity and phenomina of the same Mind.  Finally, consider that in the same way that thoughts and ideas in your own mind have no tangible reality, neither does anything in the Universe either.  What goes on in your head is stuff that dreams are made of.   So is everything around you, including the person you think you are.  All of this is a dream or thought or fantasy of the One Consciousness that we share.  You are a dream in the One Mind.  Death is simply waking from that Dream.  Reincarnation is simply the habit of the One Mind thinking of itself, dreaming of itself in a particular way.  You are a recurring habitual dream that you and the One Mind keep having over and over, yet with more experience each time.  You will continue this habit until you gather enough experience to realize that you are the dreamer and not the dream, thus realizing who and what you really are.  Then you’ll start to act like the dreamer, instead of acting like something in the dream.

So, if everything is really a thought or idea, what’s the difference between me and you, and a table?  Everything is thought-stuff, or idea-stuff in the same Mind, with different emphasis, emphasizing different qualities and characteristics.  The incredible diversity in the universe comes from the incredible number of variations of emphasis that are possible. 

“Our own” minds are ideas or “trains of thought” in that same Mind, but with a particular emphasis that includes specific memories, activities and habits.  This particular emphasis produces what we normally think of as “ourselves,” and is no more than a short-lived idea in the grand scheme of the universal dream.

In the following question lies an incredibly powerful secret: If our own mind is no more than a train of thought in The Mind, and our individuality is only a particular emphasis in That Mind, then what else could we emphasize instead?  The answer is boundless.  By shifting to another emphasis, we could experience a different state of being, with different qualities, knowledge, thoughts, capabilities and events.  By shifting to another emphasis we could be anything, do anything, and experience anything we wish.

But here’s the catch and the reason most people don’t do it: if you want to experience anything outside the possibilities of this human that you identify with, you have to stop identifying with this limited human.  You have to be able to shift emphasis such that this limited human is not you, does not really exist.  For some people this is terrifying, like self-annihilation.  It might be terrifying unless, you Realize that you were never actually this limited human being after all, that you were never this dream at all, that you have all this time instead been the One Consciousness, the Dreamer.  If you identify with the Dreamer and not the dream, then you are free to dream anything you like without fear and without limits. 

But understand this incredibly important point: Realizing who and what you are does not make you who and what you are.  You are the Dreamer whether you realize it or not.  You are right now “dreaming-up” your experience, these very words you’re reading.  If you’re finding this personally interesting, you might be right now dreaming, through these dream words, that you could realize that you’re only dreaming.  You might be dreaming that you could wake up.  You might be interested in shifting your emphasis to Realize who and what you really are (the Dreamer).  You might be interested in dreaming a different dream, where you are the Dreamer.

So, how do we carry out this “shift in emphasis” that could give us infinite freedom to be anything, do anything, and experience anything we wish?  How do we learn to dream “awake” and alter what we experience at will?  The Mind changes emphasis simply by shifting attention.  The shift could be to something objective (as with something in your environment), or to something subjective (as with something imagined).  It is the emphasis that defines your experience.  It is the shift of attention that changes your experience.  It is the object of attention that defines exactly what the experience will be. 

Attention is like a flashlight in the dark.  Whatever you shine the flashlight on, out of the darkness, it comes into being in the sense of becoming part of your experience.  In the analogy of the dream and the Dreamer, attention is the Divine Light and the “food” of all things, by which all find seeming existence.    The more attention (food) given, the more “real” it seems.  By shifting our attention, we shape our experience.  When the Universe shifts attention, it also shapes our experience through the same mechanism because there is only One Dreamer: the One Consciousness.

Let me repeat and stress an important point: Attention is the “food” of all things.  This Divine Light (attention) makes the entire Universe and everything in it seem to exist.  It gives “presence” to all things.  It gives life to living things.  Like the lamp behind a movie projector, attention is the power of the Creator, the lifeblood of the dream itself and everything in it.

So, what has all this got to do with ritual?  Ritual is a deliberate scripted procedure for shifting attention.  It is a procedure for shifting attention to a specific experience.  It can be designed to shift our individual attention, and it can be designed to shift the attention of the Universe (actually, the difference is only an illusion that comes from emphasis).  Either way, ritual is a concerted act designed to focus attention to a specific emphasis.  As described before, this different emphasis, the effect of ritual, can produce a different state of being, with different qualities, knowledge, thoughts and events.   This ritualized state of being can be subjective and mind-altering, or it can be objective and reality-altering.

The most direct ritual is as simple as focusing one’s attention on the right object (Assiah), mood, atmosphere (Yetzirah), symbol, archetype (Briah), law, or principle (Atziluth).  If you want this shift of attention to seem as real as your every-day experience, your whole mind and whole of attention must be as focused (engrossed or convinced) as it usually is on the illusion of your every-day experience.  All you have to do is shift and focus your attention.  This is a direct mental ritual.  The key to this mental ritual (simply focusing one’s attention) is recognizing one’s true nature: we are not the mind, we are not attention, we are the Awareness behind all things, the Dreamer not the dream.  While habitually associating with That, and not with this individual, and habitually acting only from that Perspective, total immersion in any chosen state or experience is as easy as simply “looking.”  This is the “highest” form of magic, or in other words, the most subtle and easiest magic, but it is available to you only when you identify with the Dreamer and not the dream.  The Mighty Dead, or Ascended Masters never leave this state of mind unless they choose to.  Their every thought is a powerful direction of Divine Light, a powerful act of magic.  (In the final stages of traditional mystical training, one learns an advanced form of spell casting.  In this technique, the simple act of becoming aware of a need, is at the same time, a powerful act of spell casting to ease that same need.  Clearly this type of automatic spell casting requires a special mind.  It is the Mind of the One Consciousness.)

Most of us have not yet recognized our true nature, or have not developed completely absorbed and habitual identification with Consciousness itself.  For us, focusing attention in an engrossed way can be accomplished with more elaborate rituals than simply thinking of the desired experience.  We can make use of patterns and associations in the makeup of the Universal Mind which is reflected in our own minds.  This means we can make use of powerful “triggers” or “Reminders.”  Clever use of these triggers can create effective ways of focusing our attention on specific experiences.

The Magical Alphabet is a list of symbols, associations and patterns described by the Tree of Life.  It is one description or map of the triggers inherent in the Universe and the Mind it reflects.  In such a map of triggers are directions for guiding all the senses and imagination to specific experiences, objects, moods, atmospheres, symbols, archetypes, laws, and principles.  Where the senses and imagination go, the attention can easily follow.  By deliberately combining such triggers (like combining the letters of an alphabet), the Mind can be led to pay attention to any specific experience.  The more immersed the imagination and senses, the more easily engrossed the attention can be, and the more “real” the experience becomes.  When used skillfully, these triggers can alter our experience, our dream, and ultimately our experience of reality.

So with something like the Magical Alphabet, rituals can be composed that will again and again draw the attention to, and engross one in a specific experience.  Sometimes the target experience is extraordinary.  When the wanted focus of attention is especially unfamiliar, a ritual can be designed to lead from the “normal” state of mind to the desired one in steps or sequential mini-rituals.  First, a mini-ritual is performed that brings a mental state not far from “normal.”  Next another mini-ritual is performed that brings a state a little further away from “normal,” and so on.

As mentioned, this principle applies whether the focus is to be that of the individual mind (subjectively mind-altering) or of the Universal Mind (objective reality-altering).  In the former, it is possible to make something subjectively real, in order to provide direct experience of a state of being (such as being the Dreamer, or the One Consciousness).  Repeat performance, making this ritual a habit, by definition changes one’s “typical” state of being.  In the latter it is possible to make something objectively real, as in producing magical changes in one’s environment.  The comprehensive use of ritual is where both of these techniques are applied, in stages.  In this case, the operator is led to a personal experience, possibly of a state greater than, or other than normally human.  Then the Universal Mind is engaged to empower that state in an externally real sense.  Not only is the operator completely absorbed in the focus of attention, but the seemingly greater Universal Mind is too.  The experience becomes completely real both subjectively and objectively.

So ritual is the act of focusing attention (the “life-blood” of all things), typically through “triggers” that engage the imagination and the senses, according to associations and correspondences inherent in the mind.  For the nose:  there are specific choices of incense.  For the ears: specific words of power, music and prose.  For the eyes:  specific colored symbolic objects and visualizations.  Added sensations can be included for touch (eg. a kiss on the cheek), and for taste (eg. wine)  if wanted.  For the imagination, all of these are combined into a subjective experience that further directs one’s attention.  With the right combination of imaginary and sensual components, an atmosphere is built up.  This can be enhanced by a particular location, as in a cave or cliff-top for example.  The rational mind can be engaged through mechanical or mathematical components such as technical symbols like numeric squares and sigils.  The “habitual” mind can be engaged through long and exact preparation, timing and repetition or practice.  (Engaging the habitual mind is important, because habit is the strongest force in the universe, and the strongest force in our own minds.)  A progression of sensations can be assembled that play out archetypal themes or myths, engaging the mind in the experience of the associated archetype, deity or principle.

So, with the knowledge of certain “triggers,” it is possible to direct one’s attention, one’s experience to anything at all.  What would be the most important experience to have?  What would the most important ritual be for?  Of course, that would be a ritual that helps you and others to escape suffering.  In the jargon of Western Mystery traditions, that would be a ritual that helps you complete The Great Work. 

What is it that gives you the power to alter experience and reality?  Not ritual.  You have this power because you share the same One Consciousness that continually creates the illusion of an entire universe.  You are creating your own reality right now, you just might not notice that you’re doing it.  In fact, without realizing that you are the Dreamer and not the dream, as the perfect magician, you will continue to work your habitual magic of experiencing what you are accustomed to experiencing.  Out of pure habit, fear of change and fear of the unfamiliar, with absolute magical power you will go on as you are and unconsciously influence (or limit) the success of any ritual or magic you might attempt.  You will naturally impose a limitation to that which is familiar.  This habitual self-definition and self-limitation, as it powerfully interferes with any out-of-the-ordinary intentions you might have, is called “the Negative Will.” 

[Applying the Magical Alphabet to the Concept of “Habit”
 Habit is assigned to the sphere of the Moon, the sphere of cyclic rhythm.  This tells us that habit is built of repetition and that habit creates repetition.  This tells us that building and breaking repetition gives power over habits.  The cyclic sphere is Yesod, which means “Foundation.”  So habits are the foundation of the illusion we call reality.  The archetype that embodies this sphere is called Gabriel, which means “Divine Strength”.  So habit is the strongest force in the universe.  Repetition is the most powerful technique in the universe.  (One might think of love as stronger, being a direct expression of Consciousness itself, arising from the act of recognition.  But there is a mystery in the relationship between love and habit that is beyond the scope of this article.  For the moment, suffice it to say that love and habit are equivalent forces, habit arising from pure primordeal love.)  Yesod is called “The Storehouse of Images.”  So habit is memory, and memory is habit. Repetition creates memory, and memory creates repetition.  The magical vision of Yesod is “the Vision of the Machinery of the Universe”.  So when one understands habit, memory and cyclic rhythm as the Foundation for the illusion of the universe, one understands the machinery of the universe, or how the Great Illusionworks.
]

Negative Will is a manifestation of habit.  Being the strongest force in the Universe, habit is what keeps the whole illusion going, keeps it from changing too drastically and too quickly, and makes things seem real.  Habit is not an enemy therefore, but a part of the Dream that makes it convincing.  Without it you would stop your rhythmic breathing as you slept.  You wouldn’t seem to exist.  But if you want to perform the magic of transforming yourself into something other than human, you need to shake the habit of thinking of yourself as human.  For this reason, many rituals engage clever techniques to bypass personal habits, and bypass interference by the Negative Will.

One of the best ways to bypass the Negative Will is to turn your attention to who and what you really are.  Most of us who are not among the Mighty Dead, or Ascended Masters need help doing this.  We need triggers to help us turn our attention this way.  For this reason, the most effective rituals always emphasize the ultimate Perspective: that you are Consciousness manifesting itself by casting the Divine Light of attention, that you are expressing its Will through the act of directing Divine Light.  The ritual will not confuse you by making you think that it is a human being that is directing Divine Light.  The ritual will instead speak of some Ultimate Being doing so.  But the secret is: That Ultimate Being you are talking about when you perform the ritual, that Ultimate being is you.  It is who and what you really are.  All the prayers and salutations, descriptions and reminders about the Ultimate Being are about the real you, about the One Consciousness. The ritual is not talking about someone other than your true self.  So next time you pray to that Ultimate Being, know that you are reminding yourself with the words of that prayer, reminding yourself of things that describe the real you that is not human, but so much more.

So to bypass Negative Will, the first act in a well designed ritual is always a reminder of who and what you are, amid your ordinary every-day life.  An example of this first step is the mini-ritual called the Ankh of Light, often used as the first preparatory exercise in rituals of Western Mystery systems.  The first word in that ritual, “Ateh,” means at once both “I Am” and “Thou Art” (referring to the Ultimate Deity).  Saying this word aloud must be for you an immediate reminder that the sensation of “I Am” is the same as Ultimate Deity.  The rest of the Ankh of Light ritual extends that experience of Ultimate Deity through all experience.  This initial emphasis created by the Ankh of Light asserts that the Ultimate Deity is the real operator of the ritual, who utters the Word of God, not a limited human individual.  It is the Mind of the Ultimate Deity that focuses attention (directs Divine Light) on the desired end, not the limited human individual.  This is what you must have in mind as you perform the rituals, and this is the perspective from which you must act, at first in ritual practice, and then throughout your daily life.

Ritual therefore can be simultaneously both operative, and instructive.  It can be instructive in that it can point out the actual experience of being the One Consciousness, and not merely human.  It can be operative in that it can help you behave, even for a time, like you are not a human being, but behave with the knowledge that you are Consciousness itself. 

As we all know, repetition is the way to direct habit.  Repetitive ritual can direct even this most powerful force in the universe (habit).  It can change not only the environment (which seems solid and objective only because of habit), but also one’s character (another form of habit), and most importantly, who or what one habitually identifies with. 

There is only one difference between you and me, and the Mighty Dead or Ascended Masters: they have a powerful habit of identifying with the One Consciousness (and nothing less), which is also a powerful habit of behaving like That.  All you need to do, to escape suffering and relieve others from suffering, in other words, to complete the Great Work, to join the Mighty Dead, is to build the same habit.  Repeatedly performing the right ritual can help you do this.  Luckily, the Mighty Dead or Ascended Masters have crafted for us many such rituals over thousands of years.

One such ritual is modestly entitled “The Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram.”  In following parts of this article, we will closely examine in this ritual, its performance, meaning and significance, and the way to perform it to make the most of its clever and beautiful design.

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Mer-Amun MerAmun

Nearly all of the material on this site is about, or mentions “Who and What we Really Are,” and learning to behave like That.

But Who and What is referred to here?

A very important passage from the Book of Shadows begins to explain:

“In the beginning – which was not long ago but NOW and EVER, was and is Consciousness, the One Being.  Everyone knows this Consciousness, because everyone is it, but no one can truly describe it for the same reason that the eye sees but does not see itself.  Moreover, this Consciousness is what there is and all there is, so that no name can be really given to it.  It is neither shaped nor shapeless, but both.”

(Book of Shadows)

The chapter goes on to describe what the God and the Goddess really are, but what does this particular passage mean?  What are the implications of this definition of Who and What we really are?  How do we learn to behave like That?

The answer to these questions is what a Mystery Tradition is all about.  Discovering and exploring the implications is an infinite adventure of discovery.  Learning to behave like That is at the same time ridiculous, and of supreme importance because you cannot act any other way, and yet, your behavior may or may not be celebrating or demonstrating the fact that you are that One Being.

This web site is all about trying to bring Remembrance to what has (for many) been forgotten: what traditional Wicca and Western Mystery traditions are all about.  It is all about why we study and practice what we do.  It’s about why we learn to meditate, and why we learn to perform magic.  The idea is that if you know why you’re doing what you are doing, you can do it more effectively, and reap the benefits intended in the design of the traditional Wiccan and Western Mystery systems.  Future posts on this web site will examine specific meditations, magical practices and magical studies, from the perspective of Who and What you really are, and how they relate to That.

So, what does that mean, to be the shaped and shapeless, nameless Consciousness that is all there is?  There are three qualities that describe That:

  1. Empty or Void, Nothingness: That Consciousness, as a thing, is indescribable is mentioned in the Book of Shadows, including the passage quoted above.
  2. Aware: That Consciousness is Aware, is probably the most evident quality of all. How are you reading these words?
  3. Responsive: That Consciousness is Responsive is what makes up the illusion of a whole universe around you, and a whole life inside you. Whether or not it’s all an illusion, and whether or not you have an absolute name for it, you have to admit, that something is going on, that this One Being is appearing in a vast manner. That’s supreme responsiveness.

In Consciousness, you cannot have any of these three qualities without the others.  Any two of these qualities defines and describes the third.  If you take the perspective of any of these qualities, the other two qualities define and describe the God and the Goddess, and your chosen perspective is described and defined by their union. 

These are the secret keys to understanding the meaning and method behind all of the meditations and magical practices in traditional Wicca and other Western Mystery systems.  The better you understand, meditate on, and explore these three qualities, the better you will understand the hidden meaning in those systems.

It is the nature of a Western Mystery tradition, like traditional Wicca, to use cleverly designed mystery plays and initiations to help you experience for yourself these three qualities of who and what you really are.  If I were qualified and able to perform these for you, I could not do such things through a web site.  But I can help you to some degree through your reading.

If you haven’t already, I invite you to start your adventure of exploration (of who and what you really are) by reading two essays.  There are links to both of them at the left side of this web page, in the box entitled: “Books”.  The essays are called:

  • Nothingness by Alan Watts
  • Cosmic Drama by Alan Watts  (It helps you understand the Responsive quality of Consciousness, and how that’s You.)

If you haven’t read them yet, please do so, starting with Nothingness, and then moving on to Cosmic Drama.  They’re not long: only 4 and 5 pages respectively.

Always remember these three qualities of Consciousness, and that these describe who and what you really are.  Do all of the meditations and practices in traditional Wicca and other Western Mystery systems, do them all as acts of Remembrance and Celebration of Who and What you really are, of these three qualities.  If you haven’t already been doing this, you will be astounded by the profound meaning that suddenly “jumps out at you” from even the simplest of exercises. 

If your practice involves worship of a god or goddess, Remember that it is this real You that you are describing and talking to, with these three qualities, and that they (the gods) are divine examples of how you could behave like Who you really are.  If you do this, they will help you act like them, like who you really are, like an incarnation of these three qualities, of That One Being.  And how will you behave, knowing that all beings are One Being and that there is One Consciousness?  Like the Goddess herself, you cannot help but feel what others are feeling, and care for them as though they were aspects of your very self.  Because they are.

Mer-Amun MerAmun

Here is a description of a system for associative thinking used in Western mysticism, based on the Tree of Life of the ancient Qabalah or Kabbalah. It is essential in occult training.

Click “The Magical Alphabet” under “Western Mysticism” on the menu above.

I think we can all agree that before 1940, nearly all occult activities, save very few, were performed in complete secrecy, so little of what is published today was available then.

Now, there is a word for “witch” in nearly every language on the planet.  While “Wicca”, as we know it today, did not exist until after 1940, there were certainly “witches” of some sort practicing throughout history, all over the planet, as evidenced in many more sources than the contents of a mysterious room in the Forbidden City, certain initiatory secrets in the ancient Bön religion of Tibet, digs in the Indus valley, and refrences in ancient Egyptian papyri. In Europe, this practice has been heavily affected by a “Burning Time” that no-one can deny occurred during the time of the Inquisition.  This event drove such practitioners into secrecy, and only survived in a significant way in remote mountain regions of Germany, Eastern Europe, Italy, France and Spain. The secretive witchcraft practiced in these remote locations became culturally isolated versions of what we call “Wicca” today.  In these parts of the world, what we today call “Wicca” became a very secret family or community tradition.  Due to the violent forces that created this state of affairs, the tradition that survived in these fragmented and isolated conditions itself became fragmented and differentiated over time.  In most cases, very little of what was a genuine and complete mystery tradition before the Burning Time survived complete and intact.

As a result of all this, a “witch” before 1940 would have been more likely a follower of a “family tradition.”  Such a person would have snatched up whatever occult literature could be found at the time, while hand-copying whatever notes that could be had through family friends and associations. People involved in such family and cultural traditions tended to be attracted to other occult activities that slowly re-emerged over the centuries.  These people were naturally attracted to, and heavily influenced such occult orders as “The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn”, the Fraternity of the Inner Light and the Ordo Templi Orientis , besides other separate and more secret orders.  It is known that such magical orders influenced Gerald Gardner, and through him, the influence came round full circle into the English version of “witchcraft” that we know today as “Wicca.”

This paints a picture of a pre-1940 European occult practitioner, who may or may not have called himself or herself a “witch”, and probably never heard the word “Wicca”.  After 1940, while Gerald Gardner affected English Wicca, the other “witches” hiding throughout Europe had not been so affected. In many cases these people still do practice in absolute family or community secrecy.

In American History, an interesting example of secret European family traditions surviving through an immigration to the New World, is the story of the “Pennsylvania Dutch”, or rather, “Pennsylvania Deitsch” (“Pennsylvania Germans”). From the Black Forest hexenmeisters (folk magicians, or spell-casters) of Germany, a group of families emigrated to the lands which are now called Romania, near Transylvania. Kaiser Wilhelm promised them land, in return for settling there. These farming families continued their secret traditions, with an outward appearance of Christianity. They might hang a rosary on the wall, for the neighbors to see, but they continued to practice their own faith in secret. As time went on, they mingled their faith with the practices of Romanian healers. In the early 1800s, they came to America, where they settled in Pennsylvania, and became part of the community which came to be known as the Pennsylvania Dutch. Among these Pennsylvania Dutch, to this day there remain extremely secretive practitioners of very old family traditions (not to mention cooks of great food!)

In the “New World”, Janus-Mithras was trained in a different family tradition by his own mother, who was a Spanish “bruja” pronounced “bruha” , male form is “brujo” – the Spanish words for “witch”).  Not surprisingly, due to the cross-influence between family traditions and secret occult orders already described, Janus Mithras also received training in various secret German occult orders through his own father’s papers.  The “traditional” Wicca described on this web site, that of the Isis Urania covens, is a direct confluence of these sources – the family tradition, and the secret European occult orders.  

Living in Vancouver in 1960, Janus-Mithras was called upon to teach what he had learned from his parents.  As the raw European material Janus-Mithras grew up with wasn’t very useful to English speaking Canadians, he received help from a Gardnerian witch in Vancouver that year, and together they adapted the Gardnerian language to the European family tradition.  Thus, in Vancouver, 1960, Janus-Mithras formed the first of the Isis Urania covens.

Of the “traditional” Wicca described here, while the language is new (post-1940), the teaching behind the language is from a far older family tradition.  It is this older tradition of explanation, Initiation and Realization that is referred to with the word “traditional”.

So, while “Wicca” was invented by Gerald Gardner in a sense, at the same time in another sense, it existed long before Gerald Gardner was ever born, and in many more cultures than the English.  The language of “Wicca” has changed around the world for thousands of years.  Gerald Gardner’s writings simply present yet another new cultural expression of the very old tradition.  The essential teachings, the mysteries, the meaning and significance of those, and the central myth behind it are all much older, and more pervasive than what we today call “Wicca”.  Wicca, the Ancient Way, is a very old system of Initiation and Realization, older than the word “Wicca” itself, and far older than the actual prayers and rituals we use in English today.  It is this Ancient Way that we refer to with the word “traditional” as in “traditional Wicca”.

Mer-Amun MerAmun

There are three motivating paths in Occult Arts:  Power, Knowledge, and Love.

Those motivated by power cannot realize their own true nature beyond their individual ability.

Those motivated by knowledge cannot realize their own true nature beyond an idea.

Those motivated by love realize their own true nature in every way, because their motivation includes both knowledge and power, and more besides.  It also includes the power to identify with (sympathize with) anything and everything, including Ultimate Deity, because that’s what we are (with all the power and knowledge implied).  It’s one thing to engage the elementals with stern authoritarian commands, and another to feel as the Ultimate Deity does, and entreat those elementals to help, with tears in your eyes, and sympathy in our heart.  (As an elemental yourself, which would you be more likely to do everything in your power to help?)

Often, the motivation of love is an underestimated principle in Wicca (and I do not refer to love spells here, but to caring and compassion for others).  We have the wiccan rede: “An it harm none, do what thou wilt”, and we have the Law of Threefold Return.  Both of these hint at the importance of caring for others, but don’t quite emphasize the importance and significance of compassion in Wicca.

But it is essential, this emphasis on compassion and love for others.

The most obvious place we find this is in the motivation that Aradia herself had, for studying the occult arts, and for venturing into the Underworld, to find and confront Death himself.  Being immortal, she was tormented by the continual loss of those she loved, all of whom died, every one, every time.  She was tormented by the suffering all of her children endured, helpless to make a lasting difference, all of them dying eventually.  It was caring for others that drove her to study the occult arts.  This caring being foremost, demanded that she gain power and knowledge, but those only in service of her prime motivation: to end the suffering of others.  Wicca itself exists only because of this motivation in Her: she came back from the Underworld with the Secret to the meaning of life, and devoted herself through eternity to easing suffering in others by teaching what she learned.

Suffering.  The great motivator.  People eat, ultimately because they are suffering from hunger.  They work, ultimately because they are suffering from lack.  Suffering of one’s own, or of others is the most common motivation for studying the occult arts (more often, one’s own).

We find hidden on the Wiccan altar a great reminder of the all-important motivation of love.  It is the Scourge.

Attributed to Aradia, it is a whip with 7 knots, symbolic of suffering, ritually administered lightly as possible to prostate participants.

Aradia, motivated by death and suffering, studied the occult and confronted Death, necessarily removing seven prized obscuring veils.

Etymology:  “Sourge” comes form Latin “ex – corrigia” meaning “break attachments”.

The scourge is Aradia breaking attachments, reminding of four things:

  • Alleviation of suffering is the necessary motivation for studying the occult.
  • Attachment to loved ones, health or possessions causes the motivational suffering.
  • Breaking attachment to prized ignorant habits and self-opinions brings necessary suffering.
  • Occult training eases suffering, through emulating Her.

“Art thou willing to suffer in order to learn?”
(Book of Shadows)

Readers primarily motivated by power might ask, how does power arise from love?  The answer is simple.  The Law of Three Fold Return holds the secret.  There is such a principle as cause and effect in this universe.  One only amasses anything by first giving that same thing to others.  Only by doing things for others, and enabling others will things happen for us, and will we be enabled ourselves.  (Obviously, motivation counts.  If you give something solely to get something, you are demonstrating greed, and greed will be demonstrated right back at you, threefold.  You have to really care, to be shown care in return.)

Readers mainly motivated by knowledge might ask: how does knowledge arise from love?  Again, the answer is simple.  Direct personal experience is the quickest and deepest way to learn or know anything.  Love includes sympathy.  If you have considerable love and  sympathy for others (things as well as people), by simply casting your attention on something, to the degree that you really care, you will know what it’s like to actually “be” it or them.  You will learn from personal experience, not books, everything you care to know about anything you turn your attention to.  Sympathy is possible because you are a direct expression of the entire universe.  By turning your attention to anything, you are simply becoming aware, subjectively, of being that thing (to the degree by which you are capable of perfect sympathy).

“I wish to know, in order to Serve”
(Book of Shadows)
 

Love and compassion are the automatic inherent qualities of realizing that you are a direct expression of the entire universe.  If you’re everyone and everything at heart, how can you not feel for every single suffering experienced wherever you turn your attention, feeling for it as though it were you suffering?  After all, it is you that’s suffering.  So, if you’re wondering why it’s important to be a witch, look to Aradia: it’s to help others from their suffering.  If you’re wondering what is the secret to making your spells work, look to Aradia: it’s the Law of Threefold Return.  If you’re wondering how to learn anything, look to Aradia: care enough, and you’ll automatically know what matters.

So, if you want to be a witch, if you want to know the secrets of the universe, and be able to do powerful magic, look to Aradia.  Be like Her, and devote yourself to easing the suffering around you.  The more you do this, the more you’ll be a powerful, wise, and loving witch like Her.

Mer-Amun MerAmun
Mer-Amun MerAmun (October 21, 2007)

 

 

This is a pictorial.  Click here to view. 

(Don’t forget to read the captions under the photographs, as they are not obvious, and they tell the story.)

Mer-Amun MerAmun (January, 1985)

 

 

I was so tired that I felt dizzy, but I couldn’t sleep for excitement.  The 747 was circling Cairo waiting for landing clearance.  I could smell the ancient city.   I could see the haze in the air which was aglow from the city street lights.  That haze was the reason we weren’t landing immediately.  It was a type of sand storm that had engulfed the whole of Northern Egypt, and threatened to shut down the airport.

Hurray!  Ours was the last plane to land before the airport was shut down.  My business partner and his wife, due to land in another hour and a half, was re-directed to Mecca, the closest airport with a strip big enough for a 747, that was also not affected by the storm.  So, I was alone for 4 days, on my first trip outside of North America.

As we drove through the city, I thought everyone must be mad for the disregard of lanes, speed limits, and road courtesy, and the incessant honking of horns that would have been thought maniacal at home.  The Taxi driver and his brother joked about the “City of the Dead” as we passed by the necropolis – a huge graveyard of tombs – alight with the lanterns of homeless people who spent their nights in there.  They joked that the homeless were actually “the Dead” more than the bones that those people sat upon.

I stumbled into my room at the Holiday Inn Pyramids, in the suburb of Cairo called Giza.  I barely had time to glance out the window into the night, and see looming over the horizon, the night-lit pyramids I had always dreamed of visiting.  I fell into what seemed a long deep sleep, filled with fantastic dreams.

Hungry, and needing to pee, I slowly woke, groggily looking around me, and out the window at the same night scene.  I thought I’d slept more than a few hours, but evidently not, as it was still night, and the pyramids were still right there lit up as when I fell asleep.  Then I realized: I had slept a full 24 hours!  Wasted one of my precious days on this fabulous trip!

I rushed down to the lobby, hastily throwing on my 1980’s black leather jacket, grabbed a candy bar for breakfast, and rushed out into the night, determined not to waste another minute.  I could see the giant pyramids right there, seemingly only a few blocks away, and naively assuming that the city streets would be arranged in an orderly grid, set out in the general direction of them, thinking that sooner or later I’d find my way there.  As you can imagine, I quickly got lost, and unfortunately, in a dangerous part of town at that.  Eventually I found my way at a barbed wire fence that bordered the ancient necropolis  that is beside the pyramids themselves.  There was a small tent with a small fire, around which huddled two or three Egyptian soldiers who were part of the guarding of the site from plunder.  They waved their guns at me menacingly, yelling at me in Arabic, gesturing for me to leave the area at once.  Before I could leave, one of them, speaking clear enough English that I could understand, asked what I was doing there.  I asked for directions to the pyramids.  He kept saying that I should simply follow the “street that leads to the pyramids”, and I kept saying “which street is that?”  After we repeated this to each other a few times, we gave up, and I said I’d go back to my hotel.  Why would he tell me to go to the “pyramid street?”  How was I supposed to know which street that is?  Geeze.

Still suffering from jet-lag, I decided to have some food in the hotel.  From years of accompanying my ex-wife to her belly-dance gigs, I was accustomed to good Arabic food.  There was none of that to be found here.  Terrible falafel, and something horrible that was supposed to pass for tabouli.  Oh well, I thought, I’ll hunt for some good food tomorrow.

Again I slept through the entire following day, so that again it was night when I woke.  I had yet to see Cairo in daylight!  Again I set out into the night, determined to see the pyramids, this time taking my camera strapped around my neck, and hidden under my leather jacket.  This time, I followed the main street in a tangent to where I could see the pyramids, and eventually came to: “Pyramid Street”!!  So this is what the soldier was trying to tell me!  The street itself is named “Pyramid Street”.  I felt like a dummy, but excited, followed it up onto the famous plateau, and straight to the foot of the Greet Pyramid!

I was awestruck by the sheer size of it, looming up into the dark sky above me.  The alien landscape with the other pyramids looming in the distance, and the strange noises that filled the night air felt really eerie, and yet extremely exciting.  I started toward walking around the pyramid, when the night lights suddenly switched off.  I guessed they don’t keep the lights burning all night.  Looking at my watch, it was 10:20pm.

An Egyptian wearing a caftan approached.  In broken English he said I wasn’t to be there and asked me to leave.  I looked at him, dressed like a beggar, and figured he was one of the homeless people the taxi driver was joking about.  I ignored the man and pushed past him, determined to be alone.  He followed quite insistently, and when he saw that I wasn’t going to listen to him no matter what he said, he held out his hand and said “Baksheesh!”  Well, the word I didn’t understand, but the outstretched hand was obvious.  I gave him $20 U.S. hoping he’d be satisfied and leave me alone.  Instead, he immediately started offering me a tour, offering to show me the “quick way” to the top, pointing to take me around to a dark place behind the smaller pyramids, where none of the other figures shuffling around the area could see.  Yeah, right.  The “quick way”!  Figuring I was about to get mugged for whatever other $20 bills I might have in my wallet, I started trying to get away from the man again.

I decided to circumambulate the pyramid three times saying prayers before ascending, and began to do so quickly enough that I would stay ahead of this nagging individual.  Eventually, I came upon a construction wall, with a watchman’s cabin.  This watchman wouldn’t let me pass, but mysteriously, the beggar who was still following me, said something to the watchman, and I was allowed to continue.

Now I was between the Great Pyramid, and the seemingly larger (though actually slightly smaller) pyramid of Kephren.  The strange noises in the dark night air echoed really strangely between these pyramids.  I asked the beggar what that noise was.  He explained that college kids from the University of Cairo come there each night to sing and dance in small groups as teen-agers have done for thousands of years.  Then I realized that was what I was hearing: the chanting and very Egyptian clapping, from at least three groups somewhere out in the dark.  I started walking and praying again.  I came across the construction site, that the guard had let me near.  The beggar explained that this was the newly excavated site of the Boat of Ra, and while the boat had been discovered a long time ago, a building to house it was being created, and new discoveries were being made while digging in the area.  I was grateful for the company of the beggar after all, as he had defended me against the construction site watchman, and he was explaining very interesting stuff to me.  When the beggar saw my attitude change, he again began to offer to show me the top of the pyramid, but this time, he said, he wanted to show me the right way to climb the pyramid.  Not wanting this, I ignored him again, and told him I was going to climb by myself.  He said ok, but just stay with the corners, and not to try to get near the middle of a side.  Soon after this, I guess he gave up, because he disappeared into the night, and I finished my subsequent two turns around the pyramid.

Now I was standing at the North-East corner, and began to climb.  At first, I didn’t know how I was going to manage it, the blocks being too large to scale very easily.  Then, squinting in the dark, I saw that the blocks were actually of irregular size and placement, and if I was careful, I could pick out a route that wasn’t so bad.  Soon, I fell into a rhythm, scaling block after block after block, always looking at my next foot-hold, and deliberately not looking up or down.  I didn’t want to know how hopelessly far from the top I was, and I didn’t want to get dizzy from the height.

After a while, I realized that the rhythm had become so engrossing, it took me a while to notice that I had been quite out of breath for some time, and was about to faint, possibly falling all the way down!  Alarmed, I immediately stopped and sat down, struggling to regain my breath, as I surveyed the view.  The night sky

Looking up into the darkness at the climb ahead, from my resting place about two thirds of the way up.

Looking up into the darkness at the climb ahead, from my resting place about two thirds of the way up.

wasn’t completely dark, as the sand-storm was still around the city, and the orange glow of the street lights lent a faint glow to the haze all around.  The storm just have been subsiding, because I could see stars above.  I looked across the Northern slope at the edge to the West.  That edge, while ragged, looked so stark against the night sky, stars and space immediately upon it.  It looked like the very edge of the Earth. In fact, I became alarmed that I was slowly leaning, leaning toward falling, because of an illusion created by the immense size of the rocky side of the pyramid, which seemed more and more like the ground, and “up” seemed more and more like a vertical from that plane… a false illusion of “up” that would have caused me to tumble to my death.  Quickly I became aware of how vulnerable I was on the steep side of this alien plane, and that the wind was so strong, I had to hold on to keep my balance, my leather jacket flapping in the wind.

Quickly, I looked away from that unearthly horizon, and down at the true ground from which had I started my climb.  And as I looked, creeping out of the dark and gloomy necropolis in the near distance, two packs of wild dogs emerged, slowly advancing on the pyramid, at my feet.  The leaders of each pack advanced upon each other, growling and barking menacingly at each other.  When they met, they were right at the very stone I had first set my foot upon, and as they began a ferocious tearing fight right there, all of the other dogs in the packs began a senseless melee all around.  The terrible sound of this war of dog-fights rose and engulfed me, echoing off the pyramids in the distance, and mixing eerily with the sound of the college kids still partying in the distance.  I wondered, what are the chances that these two packs of dogs should meet to war, exactly at the very spot I had set foot on the pyramid.  Surely, this was some kind of very bad omen for my journey.

I watched the dogs fight below my gaze for a few minutes, and then resolved to turn and resume my climb.  I noticed I had already gone two thirds of the way, and if I got back into that rhythm, I would be at the top before I again lost my breath.  I went only about 10 blocks up, and noticed that the dogs had disappeared, dispersed into the darkness from which they crept.

Block after block, level after level, they all passed in the rhythm of my climb. Again, I neither looked up, nor down, always focusing only on the next block , and the next… and then, to my surprise, there was no next block.  In surprise, I stood, gazing at the plateau at the very top of the Great Pyramid of Cheops.  All I have to do, I thought, was  to climb one more block, and I’d be on top… but then, what would I hold on to, to keep my balance against the wind?

And then, what the hell is that?!!!  I suddenly noticed the sound of something else flapping wildly in the wind, besides my jacket.  It was coming from the center of the plateau… a plastic bag of some sort.  Who would litter on the top of the… wait, it’s not a plastic bag.  It’s something wrapped in plastic, something heavy enough to keep the plastic from completely blowing away… judging by the length and width of it, as the plastic flapped around it, the thing looked to be about the same shape and size of a person, lying on the top of the pyramid, wrapped in plastic that flapped wildly in the wind!  What the… ?!!  And is that chanting I hear coming from it, or is that the sound of the wind whistling around the rocks?

My mind raced with possibilities, trying to grasp the situation, and determine what my reaction should be.  On one hand, it could be someone dead.  But who could labor to carry a dead person up here, without being noticed?  Maybe they were noticed, and were somehow allowed!  What would that mean?!  Maybe it isn’t a dead person, but someone who climbed up here just like me.  But then, how could they breath from inside that plastic, and why on earth would they be doing that?  Maybe it’s someone who’s meditating, maybe meditating on death and imagining what it would be like to be dead.  I’ve seen stranger things, and I’ve gone to graveyards myself with that same intention.  But the top of the Great Pyramid?!  I thought of the beggar down below, who might have mugged me earlier.  Maybe this is someone who is lying in waiting for me, to mug me and throw me down to my death!  Oh come on!  How likely is that?  Ok, but how likely is what I see right before my eyes!  How can I explain that?!  Whatever it is, I reasoned, there’s something very wrong here.  That thing is actually lined up exactly North-South, with the “head” to the North, and in the exact center of the plateau!  Something’s not right, whatever it is.  The sense of danger won over me, and I turned, scurrying down the side as quickly as I could, assuming a “crab-walk” to keep all my limbs in contact with the pyramid, while moving as quickly down as I could.

Quickly snapped a picture of the downward journey into the darkness, from near the top.  Note the sand on each level, from which a foothold might easily slip, start a surely fatal tumble.

Quickly snapped a picture of the downward journey into the darkness, from near the top. Note the sand on each level, from which a foothold might easily slip, and start a surely fatal tumble. (click for full size image - note the haze in the air from the sand storm.)

I glanced up at the edge of the plateau above me every few seconds, in case someone were to suddenly appear, and come after me.  My heart was pounding so hard, my croutched body jerked each time with its force. Then, seeing nothing move at all, I stopped, and realized, “wait a minute.”  Just wait a minute.  Think.  Certainly there’s no need to actually endanger myself against the wind by standing up there with nothing to hold on to, and certainly there’s something weird up there… but who on earth would believe this story?  I’m right here, and I’m already starting to doubt what I thought I saw, and what I thought I heard.  I thought, I’ll never forgive myself, if I don’t get my camera ready, and go back up there (gulp), and take a picture of whatever it is.  Then I’ll know that I really did see something up there, and I can show it to others, who might not believe the whole weird story.

So I steeled myself, climbed back up, heart still pounding in my chest, watching my way through the camera view-finder in case something should peer down at me from the edge of the plateau, in which case, I’d quickly go “click!” and run like hell.  But nothing did peer down at me.  So when I got to the top, I carefully aimed, and was about to click, when I realized that the flash in the night was certainly going to draw attention to me where I might have gone luckily unnoticed before!  I decided I had to take my chances… the idea of getting a picture was just too great, so I looked down at my escape route, focused, and snapped the picture.  I scurried down the side of that pyramid like nobody’s business, and upon reaching the bottom, ran all the way down into Pyramid Street, and all the way back to the hotel. 

The next day, I woke in early morning this time.  I befriended a taxi driver who showed me the sights  around Cairo, took me to the perfume shop my Teacher told me to visit, and took me into his home where his wife sheepishly made us a delicious lunch of tomatoes, cheese, and couscous with tea.

I asked the taxi driver, various guards, guides, and officials about my adventure throughout my journey through Egypt in the following weeks.  With one exception, I invariably got one of two responses: a) you’re lying, you didn’t and couldn’t climb the pyramid, especially at night, b) you might have climbed, but you certainly didn’t see that!  (In asking, I discovered that there are signs near the pyramid, warning of the illegality of climbing, and of the certainty of prosecution and probably jail term.  I further found out that the “beggar” was actually a paid guard, whose job it was to keep people like me from going there at night.  I had unwittingly bribed this guard when I gave him the $20 “baksheesh”.)

The exception was on my last day in Egypt.  The Cairo-based travel agent who was in charge of my stay throughout Egypt.  When I told him, his eyes went wide, and he was obviously trying to calm himself for some reason, and he said in a shaky voice at first, “That’s not supposed to be happening anymore.”  When I said “What?” he acted like he never said anything, and simply told me that the “Tourist Police” must be told of my experience, and that they must have a copy of my photograph, as soon as I get it developed.  He wouldn’t say why, and he couldn’t explain what I’d heard him say.  He simply repeated over and over again that I should tell the Tourist Police immediately, and that I should promise to send them a copy of the photograph.

It’s weird that, while I’d been there for more than 56 hours, more than two full days and nights, I never saw daylight in Egypt until after I saw, whatever-that-was, on top of the Great Pyramid.  No matter that I wasn’t believed, those first two days (or rather, nights), in Egypt set a tone or a mood for my entire visit, that lent magic and mystery to everything I did and saw.  

When I returned to Toronto, I had the photo developed, and sure enough, there it is: something roughly man-sized and shaped, inside plastic, that is distorted by its flapping in the wind, lying on the ancient stone blocks that show graffiti from centuries of visits including ancient Romans, Napoleon’s soldiers, etc.  I showed it to a Vietnam veteran, who said it looked exactly like the hundreds of body bags he’d seen.

I showed it to my Teacher.  He said nothing at first.  Then he simply said that it was a warning from the spirit of the Pyramid, and would speak no more about it.

I never did even try to send the photo to the Tourist Police.  I just didn’t want any part of whatever trouble I might be stirring up by doing so.

That’s all I know.  Here’s the picture.  See for yourself.  See what you think.  Maybe it’s nothing and I conjured for myself an adventure out of the sheer excitement of being there, alone, at night, at the top of the Great Pyramid of Cheops.  Still, what on earth is that in the photograph…?  

As you examine the picture, remember, there’s a strong wind blowing up against it from the direction of view, up against the side in view.  Notice the creases in the plastic… it’s a kind of rigid thicker plastic than garbage bags are.  It made a “crackling” sound as it was flapping in the wind.  It’s about 6 feet long, from the “head” (at the right) to the “feet” (at the left).  If you click to look at the larger image, and look closely at the right end, you can’t help wondering what’s inside that the plastic is being blown so strongly against.  Is that really a head inside there?  The “hump” in the middle was only there as the plastic was flapping in the wind, against the weight of whatever is inside.  That “hump” is part of the “flapping”, and between flapps actually lays down flat, even with the top of the left end.  Maybe it’s just a chello, or harp in a plastic bag from the music store.  At almost midnight.  In Giza.  On top of the Great Pyramid.

Top of the Great Pyramid of Cheops near midnight, Jan.11, 1985  (click for larger image)

Top of the Great Pyramid of Cheops near midnight, Sun.Jan.13, 1985 (click for full size image)

(If you’d like to see more pictures from that trip to Egypt, click here.)

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Mer-Amun MerAmun (Summer 1984)

 

 

I had been married to a world-famous belly dancer and because of that I had become a great fan of belly dancing with knowledge of and respect for the best known dancers in Egypt.

Nagua Fouad

Nagua Fouad

One day it was announced that one of the most famous Egyptian belly dancers, Nagua Fouad, would be dancing in Toronto at Seneca College, partly sponsored by the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism. My ex-wife got tickets for me, and our Teacher, and a couple of other mutual friends. We were all excited to see such a famous woman dance, especially since she was still so highly respected, even in her 50’s.

 

 

When the day of the performance arrived, and we were ushered to our seats, we found that the tickets were not in the same row, but that one of us had to sit in a row behind the others. I took that seat, so that I could be closer to our Teacher in case he had anything to say that I wouldn’t want to miss. I sat next to an elderly Canadian couple who had obviously been to Egypt themselves, and who had great respect for the dancer too. I believe my seat was K73 and they were sitting in seats K71 and 72.

Well, the show was billed to start at 8:30, but 8:30 came and went and everyone was wondering: “what was the hold-up?” The audience was getting loud and restless. Our Teacher was studying the Egyptian hieroglyphs that decorated the program card that everyone was handed at the door. He remarked that these hieroglyphs were not randomly chosen simply for decoration, but that someone who understands hieroglyphs had chosen and arranged those particular ones for a specific effect. I was, as always, amazed by the breadth of our Teacher’s knowledge.

When the show still hadn’t started by 9:30, an announcer came on stage to explain that the dancer wouldn’t be ready for another hour, possibly two. This raised uproar from the audience. The announcer went on to say that a tourism office was offering in consolation, as prize for a draw of ticket stubs, a free trip to Egypt. The condition was that we had to be in our seats to qualify for the draw, and that the draw would be held at the end of the show.

We waited another 20 minutes or so for the show to start. During that 20 minutes it was explained by my ex-wife that famous dancers in Egypt don’t normally go on stage until about 3:00am and that the night-clubs where they perform don’t normally even open until 1:00am. This, apparently, was why the dancer was not prepared for an 8:30 show, as no-one had explained to her the different expectations here in the West. While we waited, I saw our Teacher scan the crowd, and at the far section of the audience he pointed out a group of people who knew my ex-wife very well, who were acting quite hostile toward the group of us sitting together where we were. Our Teacher looked at me and motioned for me to come closer. He said, “If anyone in this room deserves that prize, it’s you. I’ll see what I can do,” and he winked at me with a nod as if to say “it’s a sure thing.” I was flattered and deeply touched that he felt so much for me, regarding all the pain I’d been through as a result of my divorce.

Nagua Fouad

Nagua Fouad

The show came on and I completely forgot the incident. The music, the dancers, and Nagua Fouad were all spectacular. Our Teacher mentioned that he was especially impressed with the subtlety of muscular control that Nagua Fouad had, especially considering her age, and I had to agree entirely. None of us could see how she could possibly have been older than 30 or 40.

 

 

I was so involved in the show and the excitement of it that I didn’t notice the elderly couple sitting beside me get up and leave, it evidently getting too late in the evening for them to remain. It was a long show after all, and it ended very late, especially for a show that was billed to have started at 8:30.

After the last encore by Nagua Fouad was finished, and our cheers and applause would not coax her to the stage again, the announcer came on stage and said that it was time for the ticket-stub draw for the free trip to Egypt. I had completely forgotten about it. I remembered what our Teacher had said, and felt deeply warm that he thought of me again, but put that out of my mind, not really expecting anything to come of his promise, feeling unworthy of such attention from him.

The announcer asked a little girl to come on stage to pull a ticket stub out of a hat he had in hand. The little girl must have been 4 years old. She was shy and reluctant, but eventually the announcer got her to reach in and pull out a ticket…… K72! “Would the person in seat K72 please come to the stage to accept your prize! Your free trip to Egypt!”

My mind was reeling. I couldn’t believe how close to me the winner actually was! It was the seat right beside me! It was one of that elderly couple right beside me! “What are the odds?” I thought in excited amazement. I bent down to say to our Teacher: “WOW that was amazing! Right beside me!” But he was already stretching around to speak to me. He was apologizing profusely, saying again and again, “I’m so sorry. I thought for sure it was yours. I thought for sure you were the winner. I’m sorry. I don’t know what went wrong,” he said. I was shocked. I didn’t realize he was so very serious about making sure that I got that prize. I’d never heard our Teacher apologize like that before. I felt so very badly that he was upset about something to do with me. All I could do was to express my amazement that whatever he had done, had landed the prize RIGHT NEXT TO ME!

Then, as people started yelling that the winner wasn’t in his seat, that they had gone home, I realized that there was no-one sitting in that seat anymore. It was only then that I realized that the elderly couple must have gone home. So now what? The announcer confirmed with everyone in the audience that yes, that draw was disqualified because the winner wasn’t in his seat any longer, so another draw must be made.

I thought “Wow, how lucky I was to have been so close to winning, and how lucky I was to have been so close due to the efforts of my teacher!” “What a magician!” I thought. I realized that my chance at winning was granted but that for some reason or other I didn’t get it, and that was that. I thought “I’ll never forget how close my teacher brought the draw to making me the winner!”

So the announcer asked a little boy to come on stage this time. I thought of the impossibility that out of two draws, that they should be adjoining seats, and that the adjoining seat should be mine after my teacher said “I’ll do what I can” with a wink. The impossibility of it made me give up completely the notion that I could possibly be the winner.

The little boy reached into the hat, pulled out a ticket….. K73! My seat! My ticket! Right after the seat just next to me had been pulled! Impossible!

But everyone around me was yelling “congratulations” and “good for you” and our Teacher had turned around to face me and was laughing, and everyone seemed to be laughing, and I realized, Oh my God! I better get down to the stage to get….. I WON! I thanked our Teacher as best as I could amid everyone’s yelling and presented my ticket stub on stage. I actually received a voucher for what turned out to be one of the most spectacular trips of my life, second only to traveling through Katmandu and part of India with our Teacher and friends many years later.

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Mer-Amun MerAmun (Summer 1974)

 

 

It was late one evening in our Teacher’s apartment in Toronto. He had just finished teaching some of his students (including me) a class about Wisdom and Skillful Means. We were all a bit tired from the intense interest peaked throughout his discourse, and as always were closing the day with fascinating discussions generated by his teaching, while sipping tea and munching snacks (which he always provided).

I remarked that I was having trouble with the notion that the study of Skillful Means was merely an intellectual exercise. One of the students asked our Teacher for some tangible proof that Skillful Means really exists and that what we’re studying has a basis in physical reality besides the reality of the imagination. Our Teacher asked what would constitute “proof” of such reality. All at once, students began calling out different effects he could perform in front of us, any of which would be “impossible” without Skillful Means. One called for him to levitate something. Another called for him to make a spirit to appear in physical form before us. Another person mentioned that our Teacher had once (jokingly) promised to create a rainstorm inside the apartment.

To my surprise (and that of others I’m sure) our Teacher agreed to create a rainstorm! But not inside the apartment, though only due to the calamity of getting everything wet. He said the rainstorm would happen outside instead.

I remembered that in another meeting, out Teacher had mentioned that weather magic had always come very easily to him, describing an incident where in his early childhood (6 years old or so), his mother (who was also one his first teachers) had taken him to the top of a hill, overlooking the ocean, and asked him to perform a simple technique for creation of a storm. When he did so, there had immediately appeared in the distance a black rolling cloud moving very quickly, boiling and thundering straight toward them, throwing lightning bolts all along the way. There immediately followed one of those tropical “flash storms” the residents are so accustomed to. Our Teacher mentioned that his mother was very impressed, even shocked at the immediacy and intensity of the reaction to what she thought was her son’s first attempt at creating tangible phenomena. Our Teacher remembered that she tried to hide her amazement, in hopes that our Teacher wouldn’t get a “big head” over it.

As I was thinking of this, I was sitting in a chair right next to the open Western window, laying my arm on its sill. Watching our Teacher get up from his chair, moving to the “meditation” area of the room in front of us, I also looked out the open window. I could easily see the completely clear sky, and the few stars that shone through the city glow of downtown Toronto. I remember thinking that this would be a spectacular trick indeed, as not only was there not even a single cloud in sight, but there wasn’t even a haze in the air, normally so common in the inner city of Toronto.

I watched our Teacher with utter interest and fascination as he began with preparatory prayers of “Remembrance” (which we now call “Recollecting The View”) when lighting a high candle in the nearly complete darkness of the room. I keenly witnessed him perform the same preparatory ritual and mantra that we were all practicing on a daily basis at the time… but he made small adjustments, each accentuating some presence from each of the four Buddha Families, one in each quarter. I savored the sound of his magical sword being dragged on the floor to form a circle around the practice room, which had its Southern wall completely open to us as we sat transfixed in our chairs and couches, our eyes following our Teacher’s every move.

Every few seconds, I would tear my eyes away from the “master at work” before me, whose every movement and utterance was firm, direct, and carefully controlled. I would tear my eyes away to glance out the open window beside me to see if anything was happening outside. To my amazement, as he drew the circle around his place of “working” with the sword, I could see the air thickening before my very eyes into a haze that had not been there before, obscuring the few stars that I had seen only seconds before. The hot night air that was the reason for having the window open in the first place, quickly cooled and a chill ran through me as I thought the window aught now be closed.

Then, our Teacher took a position in the West, facing whatever imagined forces he had summoned there, facing them with a head held high and a look of power and authority that sent shivers up my spine and made the hair on my forearms stand on end. He powerfully thumped his sword into the floor before the West as he mentally addressed those Western entities he faced, making us all jump in our seats with the suddenness and the power in that “Thump!” Quietly then, he stood there, obviously exercising some part of the “operation” inwardly with his irresistible imagination, and I glanced again out the window. To my amazement I saw far off in the Western distance the haze giving way to clouds visible in the partial moonlight, gathering there out of nowhere in the now cool night air.

Suddenly, but smoothly and carefully our Teacher raised his sword, pointing it high toward the top of the Western wall, and he began to trace in the air with the sword a clockwise circle toward the West three times. As he did this, the clouds gathered up and began to move at an incredible speed, directly toward us, forming a dark and undulating ball. By the time he finished tracing the third circle in the air, I could see the clouds were immediately overhead. The timing struck me with awe, and I realized this was no foolish matter I was witnessing. The atmosphere of playfulness we had all been in when chiding our Teacher to perform some visible Skillful Means was wiped completely from my mind.

Immediately upon finishing his tracing the three circles in the air, he powerfully thrust his sword at the top of the Western wall, suddenly and loudly blurting out a word of prayer in a low and resonant voice. I was shocked and frightened for a second, because at the same instant he thrust his sword, and the same instant that he blurted out that word of prayer, a brilliant and deafening thunderbolt of lightning crashed from the sky directly over our heads. I saw the brilliance of the lightening light up the entire sky and the entire Toronto skyline visible from that open window.

His mantra chanting continued slow and low, resonating with authority, and I realized that his sword had been at the top point of an imagined symbol as he moved it in strong lines past all of its parts. Then he once again thrust he sword to trace in the air part of a different symbol chanting a different mantra in a similar low and powerful voice. As he moved his sword around that figure in the air, I was startled again when my arm became immediately soaked before I could pull it away from the open window, for huge raindrops, the largest I have ever seen, began to pour down from the sky, instantly drenching anything caught in the open. I could barely see across to the next house, only 20 feet away, for the thickness of this torrent of rain.

Our Teacher began some closing prayers and mantras, and the rain began to lighten in its downpour. He came back to the part of the room where we were all sitting, and laughing, took his seat again amongst us. All of us were very impressed and a chatter of amazement erupted in the room. “How did you do that?” “Is that difficult to learn?” “Did you do that yourself, or ask a deity to do it for you?” “What were those differences in prayers and mantras from what we practice every day?” “Is it raining everywhere, or in a specific area?” “Were you just helping something along that would have happened anyway?” “Did your work cause the rain, or did the coming rain cause you to do the work?”

Our Teacher explained that the circle he had drawn with his sword on the floor had actually described a specific area in Toronto where it would rain, and there would still be clear skies outside that area. He explained that what we were practicing every day was not an empty intellectual exercise, but that it formed the foundation for all of the practitioner’s powers through minor variations like those we had seen that night. He explained that there was really nothing special about him in his ability to do what he did, but that all of us were capable of such things and much greater things if we simply stuck to our daily meditation and ritual practices. He expressed his worry about having done this for us. He was worried that maybe we’d now be practicing only to impress other people in the way he’d impressed us, instead of practicing in order to help others in need of help. He explained that he thought we needed something to show how serious and truly “real” our practice was, so having weighed the benefits and consequences had decided to do something tangible in front of us.

It continued to rain for only about 15 minutes, after which, through the open window, I saw the clouds dissipate into a haze, and then the haze disappear, leaving only the perfectly clear night sky again.

I feel luckier than the others in the room that night, because I was the only one able to see out the open window into the night sky. I was the only one who saw the instant effect that our Teacher’s every gesture and prayer were having on the real world outside. I’ll never forget the exact timing of the thrust of his sword and the crash of that bolt of lightening. I was the only one to get part of myself soaked because of the suddenness of the torrential downpour of huge raindrops that immediately answered his prayers. For me, since that day, his teachings have never again been “an intellectual exercise.” I know that I was not tempted to continue the study in order to do things that impress others, (I have only once been tempted create the same effect – all alone – and to my amazement, was actually successful to a degree!), but that the effect of this night on me was to “ground” in my being in an irrefutable way the “truth” and “reality” of what our Teacher was offering to teach us. This effect has never left me, and never will.

The next day I was further shocked at the depth of the “reality” of what I had seen when my best friend remarked on the “freak” rainstorm that had soaked him and his girlfriend the night before. I laughed with excitement when I heard that. Again I laughed when I saw a small clip in the Toronto Star newspaper that day in the weather section, describing a “freak” rainstorm that had occurred the night before in only part of Toronto, during what had until then been a completely clear sky, raining for only 15 or 20 minutes, and then abruptly stopping when all the clouds suddenly disappeared.

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