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Beholding the Black Light

The means are so varied as to be ultimately particular to each aspirant to the Black Illumination; here we present a collection of some we have found to be most effective, along with some notes as to what types of initiate, or what motivations, might find greatest rewards with each. Someone with the patience to perform all of the exercises from each category will be incredibly well prepared for future esoteric work, unless they become addicted to the process of preparing for future esoteric work, or run out of stamina, momentum, or time while preparing to begin.

The Portal of Recursion

This set of techniques is particularly oriented to those either returning to the pursuit of the arcane after an unsuccessful attempt at magical study in the past, or to those who are deliberately ‘starting over’ for whatever reason.

  • Design a personal mythology or cosmology based on some particular premise, such as an attempt to reconcile contradictions between various previously held beliefs, or contradictions between one’s beliefs and one’s aesthetics, or based on a particular series of symbolisms one favors.  Act as if this cosmology is objectively real.
  • Much of what is arcane or magical is that which seems to be so, in a self-reinforcing fashion. Seek out both those things which give one such a feeling of mystery and awe, and also those things which seem to give others that feeling.  Compare the two.  Practice combining them in various ways, and observe the different results which are gained when one uses styles of arcane or esoteric imagery which encourage the two to correspond, and when one alternative uses imageries which are incongruous (such as using one’s own preferred imagery around those who do not find it magical, versus using the imagery and style of others when one is in private.) Record all these results and try to discern some pattern.
  • Experiment with the differing consequences of pursuing esoteric and arcane work secretly, and pursuing it publically.  If one does not wish to take the risk of public arcanism, find some convenient cloak for it, but attempt a similar experiment.  (Thus, learning to hide one’s art inside of religion, science, entertainment, therapy, etc.)
  • Learn a technique of skrying and practice it until one becomes accurate to a literalistic extent.
  • Create tools or objects of an artistic nature which are imbued with personal significance or power.
  • Devise some ritual of protection and safety.  It is important that this ritual actually make the practitioner feel protected and safe.  Perform it daily, with the intention to do so every day, indefinitely.
  • Learn the art of ‘glamour’ in both the esoteric/arcane and profane sense.  This includes everything from costumes and cosmetics, to body language and tone of voice.
  • Begin to adopt the perspective of the witness habitually.  Attempt to constantly retain a portion of one’s awareness which is selected as distinct and which dispassionately records everything. It may help to keep a journal of daily events, or even carry some recording device, but don’t let the device do all the work.  Instead use it to check one’s own perceptions.   Eventually one can learn to perform arcane interventions by manipulating these type of records.   Once one has established general accuracy in this practice, complicate the practice by either setting this portion of the mind to also observe oneself, or develop a second component of awareness to perform that task.  If there is a second component of awareness, it should also observe the other observer.  If the same component of awareness, once it becomes used to observing the self (which means it can perform that task without distraction or impairment in its more usual task), it should also be set to observe itself observing the self.
  • Study ‘magical theory,’ seeking out as many references of an esoteric or arcane nature as possible.  Compare their theories and experiment to find which seem to be the most accurate. Keep a record.  Attempt to explain any inconsistencies between the theories.
  • The magician should learn a technique of ‘anchoring’ various states of consciousness and awareness to various physical stimuli.  A whole library of these associations should be built up which can then be used in ritual magic. The states and their physical associations should correlate to the imagery of one’s personal cosmology and mythology.
  • The magician should learn to explain scientific and religious phenomena as subsets of an esoteric worldview, and explain their specific effects as special cases of ‘magical’ phenomena. The aim is to identify ‘magic’ with the basic processes of causation in the world.
  • The magician should create a personal magical language and correspondence series to correlate to hir personal cosmology and mythology, using this in personal rituals, such as the protection ritual described above.

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The Portal of Beauty

Some would-be magicians have already had enough bizarre or aberrant experiences that their principal difficulty will not be in ripping themselves free from profane mundania, but rather in controlling their perceptions and remaining functional.  Others may be drawn to magic principally due to its aesthetic, or regard it as a subset of an already artistic approach to life.  These techniques are for them:

  • The practitioner should confront and overcome fears and phobias through either gradual exposure or flooding.  (Flooding is quicker, but can worsen the phobia if the psyche fails to adapt.)  The magician should then move on to overcoming dislikes and revulsions.  Nothing should remain which can disgust  or disturb the magician on an aesthetic or sensory level, although the art of enduring and overcoming pain itself is a different one and need not be conflated with this practice.
  • The magician needs a sense of good timing.  This can be honed by studying rhythmic, cyclic, and repetitive processes, and also by paying close attention to the sensations of being ‘on time,’ ‘late,’ ‘just on time,’ ‘a few minutes behind,’ and so on.  The magician can ultimately develop an almost physical, intuitive sense of timing which will serve well in a variety of scenarios and more complex applications.
  • One can learn to understand the obscure by becoming obscure.  The magician should study and learn the art of blending in, remaining unseen, and acting with subtlety.  This is not to be confused with ‘magical invisibility’ at the outset.  Rather, the magician can come to realize the extraordinary by deliberate immersion in, and emulation of, the ordinary.
  • While psychism is not magic, the two processes are related on an intuitive level.  The magician should continually play guessing games until she becomes good at them, recording progress rigorously throughout.  Eventually one with any talent in magic can do significantly better than chance, although probably not under adverse ‘laboratory conditions.’
  • The magician should study taste and fashion, and be able to understand (and explain, the only evidence of understanding) how and why aesthetics are as they are.  The magician should then go on to learn about previous aesthetics, and how they came to transform into current ones. This pertains directly to aeonics.
  • The magician should be able to ignore or selectively forget things at will.  This should be practiced on innocuous things, carefully. Training oneself to multi-task is particularly useful.
  • An understanding of theories of consciousness is not a pre-requisite to experiencing altered states of consciousness, as any casual psychonaut will know, but it is certainly useful in avoiding confusion as they occur.  As such, the would-be magical practitioner needs to be familiar with various theories of consciousness, and then learn how to induce specific altered states of consciousness at will.  It is also helpful to learn methods of inducing them in others, which is almost an example of  arcane influence.
  • The magician should be able to do difficult things which seem unappealing and unrewarding at the outset.  This is a personality trait characteristic of the ultra-successful and of those who learn how to delay gratification.  Every day, the magician should do something difficult for its own sake, choosing something slightly more difficult each day.  It is actually helpful if this activity have no obvious benefits, and should not be fun or entertaining.  The magician stops the practice once it becomes fun or entertaining, and chooses a different one.  Two or three repetitions is probably sufficient to achieve the desired gnosis.  The magician should then choose a difficult activity which does have benefit, and do it until it becomes rewarding for its own sake.  At this time, the magician should add a second activity.  This practice can then become a rewarding and useful technique of self-improvement which will serve the magician well throughout hir career.
  • An effective belief structure should be elegant, flexible, and economical.  The magician should begin by discarding as many superfluous beliefs as possible until functioning with the minimal beliefs necessary.  From this point, whatever phenomena or experiences need to be further explained to the self should be described in the most elegant way possible.  This is the artistic, aesthetic version of Occam’s Razor.
  • A variation of the practice of emotional exploration earlier described, the magician might also gain control over the emotions of the self and others by learning to feign them without feeling them.  In order to achieve this, training in different styles of acting is particularly useful.
  • Keep a record of all coincidences, odd experiences, and uncanny events until there are so many that it becomes impractical to do so.
  • Design a ‘personal arcana’ based only on symbolism and imagery which is of direct personal relevance.  Avoid anything standardized or traditional unless such associations seem to be pure coincidence.  The system should be entirely idiosyncratic by design.

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Many readers of this site may already have begun the practice of what would be here regarded as ‘arcane’ magic, but interested in approaching the version of aeonics presented here as an independent or alternate system.  These practices may be of assistance in systematizing new aeonic knowledge into an arcane format:
  • Select a fictional mythology relevant to one’s present tastes, occupation, or study.  Endeavor to believe and act as if it were objectively and/or subjectively true.  Attempt each in isolation, and both in combination.
  • At least once a day, attempt to produce a magical result by will alone.  The practice is only complete once this has occurred in a blatant manner.
  • The magician should practice controlling and manipulating chaotic situations.  Experiment with both chaotic situations that are sought out, chaotic situations discovered by chance, and chaotic situations engineered by the magician.
  • Create one’s own divination system, the more unusual or idiosyncratic the better.  This will be especially potent and effective should the system be one with a symbolism or style very personal to the magician, or inspired by some specific feature of the magician’s daily life.
  • The magician should learn a system of seemingly materialistic magic, which works with particular physical substances or objects.
  • Do one ‘antinomian’ (that is, uncustomary) thing every day.  Record the results.  Continue the practice until one runs out of antinomian acts to perform.
  • Consult one’s personal divination system to inspire seemingly random actions, at least one every day.
  • Learn a method of rapidly entering ecstatic one-pointed concentration.  Experiment with all available methods until one is clearly found to be easier and more effective.  The goal here is rapidity and reliability.
  • The magician should also be able to enter a state of hyper-concentration or hyper-intellection, such as is useful for playing trivia games and talking one’s way out of bad situations.  Both of those activity are useful practice and useful tests of the ability.
  • Learn to project one’s emotions outward in a way infectious to others.
  • Study complexity theory until its relevance to arcane arts is obvious.
  • Select one scientific ‘heresy’ and become skilled in explaining it to a layperson.

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The Portal of Rule

A different series of initial practices is most likely to produce immediate access to magical power:

  • The magician should make an inventory of experiences considered forbidden, deranged, or inappropriate in three categories: culturally, familially, and personally.  Then set about indulging in as many as possible, in the order given, as quickly as possible – but also methodically.  The magician should make a detailed record of each experience: when, what happens, how it feels, and so on.  The magician should also report feelings, sensations, and experiences that continue in the days afterward.
  • The magician also needs a painstaking inventory of all personal desires, as well as impulses, habits, and urges.  The purpose, aside from self-knowledge, is to eventually reveal what underlying motivations drive these various expressions.  A period of abstinence, even isolation, may be necessary to fully uncover this, so it is important that the magician be capable of asceticism as well as indulgence.
  • In as much as the will to survive is the only innate, instinctual urge which can be relied upon to support the continuity of consciousness, the magician should contemplate, understand, and enhance it.  Although a gradual process which may take longer than expected, the magician should begin rooting out any competing instincts of perversity, which might cause self-betrayal, self-loathing, self-undermining, self-sacrifice and so forth.  Most of what is understood as ‘love’ falls into this category due to pernicious social conditioning and spurious ethical philosophies.  In as much as the basis of all sincere love is self-love, the magician must cultivate self-love as far as possible, even if it requires, at least in the beginning, consciously contrived, deliberate forays into self-indulgence and self-pleasure.  Most specifically, the magician should be capable of abstaining from all acts of altruism whether compulsive or considered.  Many insights will be gained from this practice which should not be explored here due to such commentary reducing the initiatory impact of the practice, but it is important to note that whether or not the magician desires to eventually be able to take altruistic actions without compromising survival, it is critical that the magician be at least willing to eschew them permanently if necessary.
  • In that the most easily accessible instances of acausal synchronicity seemingly involve the manipulation of apparent probability, the magician should be familiar with probability theory. The magician should also often play games involving a combination of random chance with strategy, and attempt to develop the facility of intuition necessary to excel in these situations by effectively guessing what will happen – or somehow affecting the outcome through subtle means.
  • The magician interested in power also needs to become an astute observer of people, learning what motivates them, how their motivations and actions can be influenced, and so forth.  There are many texts and philosophies concerning this art, but personal observation and experimentation is irreplaceable.  A specific type of investigation which will prove informative is that which reveals a person’s weak points.  Discover what people care about, what they cannot live without, what they would do anything for.  Also important: know your own vulnerabilities as well.  Either guard them or remove them, and never, ever, let anyone know what they are. Period.
  • Contemplations of impermanence and decay habituate the practitioner to loss and should help inure the psyche against the manifold disappointments and disillusionments that are a feature of the arcane pursuits.  Not only do these arts distinguish their practitioners from others and tend to lead to detachment and isolation from the masses of humanity, they also risk dehumanization instead of transhumanization, in that those techniques which can lead to super-ordinary states can also lead to sub-par function when misused.  Insanity is also an occupational hazard.
  • That which at first seems monstrous can, upon contemplation, also produce wonder; the experience of horror deepens the more one becomes conscious of it.  These processes make self-transmutation into the monstrous or horrific form intensely illuminating, assuming the psyche can release itself from preconceived notions of the limits of shape and identity.  There are a wide spectrum of possibilities offered by experimentations with self-transmutation and ‘transmogrification,’ ranging from the physical (various forms of body modification), to the etheric (practices of shapeshifting), to more abstract invocations of increasingly alien forms and patterns of identity.  Transformation of the psyche itself into something seemingly ‘monstrous’ or inhuman, or emulation of the psychological and psychic patterns of beings regarded as horrific by the profane, also serves to further distinguish the practitioner from the masses.   The magician should also explore the variant results between taking on the horrors of others, and taking on the form of that which horrifies the self.  The ultimate metamorphosis which can be achieved is so monstrous, horrific and wonderful that it cannot be conceived at all: transmogrification into the inconceivable ‘form of void.’
  • Related to the above is the contemplation and emulation of death, in order to achieve understanding of it, power over it, and ultimately the ability to survive and endure it – consciously.  This can be approached from numerous angles, and many simultaneously.  The magician who seeks this gnosis should surround the self with the imagery of death, frequent places of death, and learn to take on the ambience of death.  The practitioner should also be exposed to as much death in as many varieties as possible.  The process of death, the conditions of death, and the effects of death should all be studied extensively.  The magician should also contemplate death, especially of the self and all that it loves or holds dear, but not thereby neglected to also contemplate the  eventual death of everything it hates or despises.
  • The arcane patterns of cognition depend on an ability to rapidly think symbolically and analogically, conditioning the mind to apprehend ‘sympathic chains’ of association and sympathetic links.  This can be enhanced by learning code languages, sign languages, and other unusual or obscure forms of communication.
  • While transmogrification into a monstrous or horrific form offers alienating illumination as described above, it is also useful to learn to transform into more innocuous identities.  The magician should practice the arts of disguise and misdirection regarding identity, both upon the self and others.  As many layers of subtlety as the magician can imagine should be attempted, ranging from the nearly innocuous (substituting a causal lie in place of an equally casual truth) to the almost outrageous (impersonation of the important, significant, or bizarre).  The purpose of deceiving the self, as well as others, is to compare the effectiveness of both patterns individually and in combination.  The best liars often believe their own lies temporarily or to a point, but can also maintain a distinct portion of the psyche that remembers the lies and keeps them straight. Other subtle deceptions can involve not so much deceit as to identity specifically, but social role, belief system, and so forth.  The classic ‘insight roles’ of various formulations of the ‘sinister tradition’ are particular forms of a wider category of technique involving long-term ‘sleight of mind,’ and modifications to personal belief and perspective.  It is easy to become lost in this technique.  It is important to determine before any such manipulation either a duration, or the various conditions of cessation.  Before embarking on an extensive program of practice, it is wise to either lay out the various self-modifications and their associated conditions in advance, or plan a reversion to a detached perspective at select points.  The practice is to be considered complete not when every possibility has been tried (an impossibility) nor when the self is free of identity and personality entirely (a mystical goal which may or may not be desirable depending on one’s taste and disposition as a magician, but not particularly relevant to the power being aimed at here), but rather when it is possible to become anyone.  As such, one the magician is capable of performing the technique reliably, it is probably quickest and most effective to select for practice modifications selves which fall into the categories of seemingly unpalatable (but still useful), seemingly too difficult, or seemingly opposed to all of the magician’s personal beliefs and preferences.
  • The magician has to eradicate the capacity for shame without eradicating the capacity for embarrassment.  This is tricky.  The reason that the capacity for embarrassment must remain is that certain types of glamour actually depend upon it persisting on a subconscious level, but these only work when the magician can consciously defy it.  This requires being ‘unashamed.’  As such, the magician should begin by doing things regarded as privately reprehensible, and work up to doing things that are publically reprehensible.  There is no reason to get caught if it would be socially disadvantageous, and avoiding being caught is a useful practice.  The magician then proceeds to do things which would be personally embarrassing, but are not a cause of social shame.  This provides a potent increase to confidence and ambient glamour.  Finally, the magician does things which definitely are embarrassing, but in such a way as to derive power from doing them.  This opens the way to the achievement of the aforementioned powers of glamour, and is psychologically liberating as well.
  • The magician should select some technique of thought-control and apply it to the self for increasing durations until it is possible to think about anything at will, or stop thinking briefly. While the ability to do this for long periods of time is very useful, it is fortunately not necessary to beginning one’s practice of the magical art.  However, a magician who cannot achieve mental silence even for a few moments is probably going to have a very difficult time with practical sorcery.

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The Portal of Wisdom

Some practitioners will by choice or disposition regard magic as a subset of some greater pursuit, such as philosophical inquiry.  The following methods of magical training are designed to be of use to those who intend to draw on arcane power without making it the focal point of their practice.

  • It is useful for the magician to be able to hold multiple perspectives simultaneously; at its extreme, this opens the way to ‘omnijective’ insight in which the relationship between subjective and objective reality can be directly, gnostically apprehended.  To begin to achieve this practice, the magician should attempt to balance all thoughts, perspectives, and opinions with equally valid contraries.  At first, only the most blunt and obvious biases can be located, but these are also the most difficult to oppose, so the magician should begin by seeking out the manifold arbitrary but insignificant slants placed on things daily.  Hence, if the magician is an ardent liberal, adopting the perspective of a conservative might seem an obvious choice, but will be challenging. Contrarily, very subtle biases such as subliminal assumptions about others based on first impressions will be hard to even locate in the psyche.  Medial things, like stereotypical beliefs about the ‘best’ way to do a certain thing, are probably the easiest place to start.  The magician should not be satisfied, however, until an apparently objective position can be taken on any subject, and any subjective position can also be projected or introjected, at will.
  • Multiple and mutually conflicting patterns of desire, taste, preference, and intent are a feature of every self; to do away with this does not make one superhuman, but sub-human.  Nevertheless, the chaos of impulses must be organized, so the would-be magician needs an ‘inventory of impulse,’ categorizing all desire.  Include everything between instinct and subtle spiritual aspirations or ultimate goals, including the extremes as well.  Once the magician has a working arcane system, it is useful to perform spells or devise sigilic patterns for each and every such desire.
  • The magician should be familiar with logic, critical thinking, and the ‘liberal arts’ generally, particularly rhetoric.
  • Choose the symbolic correspondence system most personally and culturally appropriate based on heritage, cultural upbringing, and present circumstance, and learn it well enough to function with this system as the basis of one’s worldview.  It should be as or more familiar than the basic tenets of either materialism (the default) or the religion of one’s childhood.
  • Confidence is such an important trait in a magician that it ought to be deliberately cultivated. The magician can build it by repeatedly indulging in public excellence in cultivated skills, and should seek competitive scenarios of optimal difficulty, creating tailored challenges that can be continuously overcome. The magician should also study excellence itself, learning about the personality traits and habits of those who are supremely confident and successful, learning to model these as completely as possible until they are internalized as basic habits of the self.
  • Epistemology and theories of knowledge are essential for developing and maintain perspective on the relationship of the arcane arts to esotericism in general.  As such, the magician should study epistemology until confident of hir own.
  • Every anthropology various in regard to the clarity of division between body and psyche, and the various components of the psyche.  Selecting the anthropology most suitable based on the same criteria as used for choosing an arcane system, the magician should explore each component of body and mind until confident of its boundaries and its distinction from the others. The magician should then experiment with purposely crossing those boundaries with consciousness, attempting to achieve both conscious control of various faculties and establish relationships and correlations between them.
  • The magician should develop the ability to correlate and refer any experience to the terms of hir arcane system.
  • Such a practice of arcane immersion should be continued with formal series of meditations, pathworkings, or self-imprinting rites in order to internalize the arcane system.  One of these should be done per day until the whole system has been ritually adopted into the psyche of the practitioner.
  • The magician should know what triggers a state of calm, relaxed, alert awareness, and be able to use those triggers to induce it at will.  Having accomplished this, the magician should be able to distinguish various states of awareness and levels of alertness, individually and in combination.  These states should then be correlated with concepts from the arcane system in order that they can be activated at will.
  • The magician should be familiar with esotericism in general, and select at least one school of thought the works of which to study.  She should be able to compare hir own arcane system to others and see how it relates to the field of esotericism in general.  This ensures that the magician does not accidentally blunder into some solipsistic corner of esoteric alienation, or lose context with other modes of thought than hir own.
  • Considering the prevalence and persistence of scientific thought, as well as the relentless increase and complexity of technology, the magician should be familiar with the latest scientific studies as they relate to that which is considered paranormal and/or cutting edge. Parapsychology, noetic sciences, cognitive enhancement, life extension, and so forth, are all potentially useful fields of study.

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The Portal of Tangence

For some, adaptation and facility with the arcane may become a necessity, particularly if one is being subjected to its influences in a malefic way, or if one has been initiated against one’s own inclination. Particular techniques may make this adaptation more effective:

  • Choose a traditional system of magic based on heritage, setting, and personal background, but attempt to adapt it to the contemporary setting and the rest of the suggestions herein.  Learn its techniques and symbolism, but personalize them each step of the way, endeavoring to fit this system into a broader esoteric and arcane framework.
  • Observe the currents of one’s luck and fortune.  If one begins to have a seemingly ‘lucky streak,’ follow it out until one has the sense of one’s fortunes beginning to change.  Repeat this process until one can catch the lucky streak just before it begins, or even more successfully, until one can observe the conditions correlated with such a lucky streak and begin to purposely promote them.
  • Learn how to locate and correct personal inefficiency.  However significant or insignificant the task, think critically about the easiest way of doing it, and put this into practice.  Find something new to simplify and streamline every day, and record the method.  It will be particularly useful to apply this skill to traditional magical systems, which are often unnecessary baroque.
  • Chronicle the physical sensations accompanying different intuitions and hunches.  Correlate them to the symbolism of the traditional system of magic one is learning.
  • Observe one’s own quality of sentimentality, or one’s peculiarities and fetishes.  Keep a record of them, and compare them to the odd behaviors and techniques which characterize arcane magical systems.  Develop novel methods of magic which utilize these personal oddities creatively.
  • While many practitioners will need practice in inducing a strange or magical state, it is equally important to be able to revert to a scenario of apparent normalcy.  Such scenarios, for magicians, are usually maintained by magic itself, and thus creating them is its own special skill. Some magical traditions regard this activity a ‘banishing,’ although that term should really be reserved for more specific, targeted acts of anti-magic.  The magician should learn what makes hir feel ‘normal,’ comfortable, and stable, and then develop personal rituals that induce this feeling to a heightened extent.  Once a few techniques of this have been developed (perhaps one that can be used at home, one that can be used away from home, etc.), at least one should be ‘practiced’ every day.  The technique should also be used any time the magician begins to feel uncomfortably weird, unless this discomfort is unavoidably occurring during some other specific magical practice as an indispensable component of that practice.
  • The magician should learn the various techniques of detecting deception.
  • Practice developing a good sense of time and an accurate internal clock.  This can be begun by randomly guessing the time at various intervals of the day.  One might wish to eventually stop wearing a watch in order to make getting good at the practice more necessary.  Another interesting variation is to train oneself to wake up a few minutes before one’s alarm goes off.
  • Learn skills of leadership and dominance; study social hierarchy, and its primate roots.  Learn to give the signals of dominance in various social situations and observe the results.
  • Trances of automatism can be particularly useful in magic in a variety of applications ranging from channeling artistic inspirations to actualizing states of abandon, ecstasy, or possession.  The magician should learn such a technique of automatism and practice it until it can be activated at will.
  • Learn a traditional means of exploring other realms of consciousness which would be appropriate to the cosmology of a traditional magical system, then systematically explore all its various realms or worlds at least once, keeping a record of one’s experiences.
  • Seek out places reputed to have a paranormal quality, to be haunted or psychically active, to have some traditional esoteric significance, and so forth. Conduct various rites at each in different categories: those which are themselves traditional to one’s chosen system, those which are particular to the site, and those of one’s own design.  Record the results, compare them, and then perform some magical ritual at each site designed to attune oneself to it for the purpose of future working to some specific aim.  Then follow through and do at least a few operations along the intended lines at each site.

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The Portal of Proximity

The magician may already be involved in some pursuit relevant to the esoteric or occult, but be unfamiliar with arcane magic particularly.  These practices can most readily rectify the lack:

  • Study and meditate on the significance of ‘interdependence,’ both with particular fields of study like ecology and economics, and also in one’s personal life.  Learn the interconnections between various fields and phenomena.  Discover a new connection of interdependence every day, and write it down.
  • Another written practice is a daily inquiry into the will.  Recall as many of one’s own decisions as possible, both the important and insignificant, the seemingly instinctive and the seemingly intentional.  Attempt to discern why each action or decision has been taken, and write it down.
  • Study strategy, tactics, game theory, and the phenomenon of competition.
  • Become familiar with statistics and how they can be manipulated.
  • Attempt to achieve self-sufficiency as far as possible.  The most extreme version of this practice would have the practitioner revert to a condition of total self-sufficiency by necessity even if in isolation; the most gradual would involve learning at least one new thing each day that the practitioner can do for the self, independently.  The practitioner should continue the practice until the certainty of total self-sufficiency has been achieved, or found to be impossible, whereby ‘impossible’ means that doing the practice any further would damage the practitioner in some immediate way.
  • The practitioner should learn at least one means of self-defense.  This can be a martial art, a weapon, or another skill which would help the practitioner to defend the self physically as well as socially.
  • Learn first aid.
  • Make a study of cultural rituals as an initial practice in the study of aeonics.  Learn the history and rational behind them, then observe them.  The practice is complete once the magician can go a year within the culture in which s/he resides and be able to understand and explain any such ritual s/he observes.
  • Learn neuro-linguistic programming.
  • Study both charisma and seduction.  Learn the techniques of appearing charismatic both to groups and individuals.  The practice is complete when the magician can demonstrate to the self and to others that a chosen target person or group can be won over to a certain position or decision within a single performance.
  • The magician ought to be more educated than the average citizen of hir own society, as a pre-requisite to aeonic practice.  This does not mean exposure to the prevailing system of civil or ‘higher’ education is necessarily recommended, but rather that the magician should at least be competent in the equivalent.  As such, let the magician design a course of general study and prove its effectiveness by competing in some arena against those who possess the relevant qualifications.
  • The magician should develop what seems to be a plausible theory of how magic might ‘work,’ and proceed to test this theory scientifically until it is either demonstrated as successful to hir own observation, or demonstrated to be false and unworkable.  Repeat until a satisfactory explanation of arcane processes is discovered.  Then attempt to demonstrate that the ‘opposite’ explanation is equally valid.  Whether it is or is not valid, the practice is complete by a third attempt to test an alternative but unrelated proposition.

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The Portal of Ambivalence

These methods are especially suitable for those who have a specific reason to study the arcane arts despite a lack of personal disposition toward them otherwise.

  • The practitioner should attempt to adopt a stance of total skepticism, not specifically toward the esoteric (although not excluding it), but toward beliefs in general.  A study of skeptical philosophy may be helpful, but chiefly in finding the limit to which one can go in this pursuit without becoming less functional.  Once that limit is achieved, the practice should be formally discontinued, although it can be maintained at that limit as long as the practitioner finds it useful to do so.
  • The practitioner should also study philosophies of realism, and attempt to become objective and unbiased as possible in all arenas of life.  As soon as the practitioner believes that the world makes complete sense according to the model developed, the practitioner should begin seeking out phenomena and experiences that do not make sense, in an attempt to invalidate the model.
  • The practitioner should develop the ability to act contrarily to expectation, both of the self and others.  Begin by making an inventory of traits and styles which seem to be invariant.  Then vary them, but at random.  Choose some seemingly arbitrary signifier (preferably from a randomized list, at random) and when the signal arises, do that which is out of the ordinary.  Also make a list of the expectations of others, both significant others and social groups in general.  Perform the practice in these contexts as well.  Maintaining this skill habitually can itself be a tool of power.
  • Take an inventory of patterns in one’s life one has difficulty explaining.  Put it under your bed. Forget about it.
  • Learn some model of psychology; then attempt to invalidate it.
  • Historically, the art of magic has been filled with fraud, deception, and bunk.  The magician should become skilled in the art of debunking, which may include skills in the arts of fraudulent magic and stage magic as well.
  • Learn some method of having lucid dreams at will.  Record dreams nightly.
  • Cultivate an attitude of non-attachment, but remain interested in one’s life.  Adopt various related stances, such as those of the sportsman, the gamer, the ‘player,’ which partake of this attitude.
  • Set aside some time every day for introspective contemplation, and keep a diary or journal.
  • Modify one’s habits, at first arbitrarily, and then significantly.  The practice is complete when any habit can be altered, at once.
  • The magician should study one totally unfamiliar field, then learn how it relates to the subject of hir greatest expertise.
  • The magician should also choose one area of unexplored knowledge to pursue.  It can be as obscure, fringy, or sensational as the magician desires, but must seem to be uncharted territory to human thought or research in general, not just to the magician.

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The Portal of Mystery
Those already of a mystical disposition, or whose quest is primarily motivated by curiosity, might consider attempting some or all of the following, beginning with whichever seems the most appealing:

  • Consider which esoteric cosmologies seem to be the most relevant to one’s personal setting, circumstances, background, and heritage. Learn a trance-induction technique derived from the relevant tradition, or synthesize one based on whatever cross-traditional themes, elements, and factors combine to influence one’s mystical orientation or magical disposition. In the course of practicing this trance technique, seek to make contact with consciousness beyond the human, with the aim of liberating oneself from the constraining anthropocentrism inherent to most contemporary people.
  • One of the most significant factors in developing arcane perception is the ability to narrow and focus one’s attention. A useful practice in this regard is to deliberately simplify one’s life, which expands one’s attention in unforeseen dimensions while narrowing it in others. Monks utilize the effects of this habitually, but a ‘householder’ has plenty of opportunity for creatively and productively abstaining from whatever factors in life do not support or enhance esoteric work. Those factors which cannot be so abandoned can instead be put to service – in the same way that monks are taught to pray or meditate while they work. Attempting such austerity even for a fixed period of time is extremely rewarding as an initial esoteric practice.
  • Given that most perceptual faculties have developed in the human being in the context of adaptation to, and survival in, a hostile world, the arcane faculties are also likely to emerge most blatantly under conditions of stress, danger, and adversity. As such, the prospective magician is advised to seek these situations out. The best results are likely to be gained from this if the would-be initiate endeavors to maintain a perspective of humor and entertainment throughout. Threatening situations should be a approached as a game of skill and preferred to the familiar alternation of numbing monotony with frivolous diversion that characterizes the contemporary.
  • There is evidence for the use of natural omens and physical auguries among very primitive animistic tribes, which have nevertheless very developed animistic cosmologies and esoteric systems of a magical nature. That such technical experts in these arts would continue to utilize such indirect means of intuition emphasizes their importance as a fundamental tool of the art. In being totally physical, such natural omens, even if artificially produced through some means of sortilege divination, cannot be misperceived, although they can be misinterpreted. They therefore form an excellent bridge between intellectual knowledge of arcane symbolism and correspondence, and real magical intuition. Anyone wishing to function as a magician should learn some such set of correspondence in order to read the omens when desired. Such a practice should be done between ‘daily’ and ‘as often as possible,’ and especially in the beginning of practice no major decision should be made without consulting a divination system once it is completely learned effectively. Otherwise, there is no substitute for a trustworthy and competent diviner. In any case, reliance on personal common sense and judgment is likely to lead to serious misadventures of an esoteric nature should a new practitioner suffer the delusion that familiar rules apply to this very unfamiliar territory. Everything can become very strange, very quickly once arcane influences are considered as a factor relevant to personal experience.
  • Various mystical and monastic traditions advocate that their adherents should learn and enjoy at least one material or practical craft. This has many merits in the pursuit of more arcane arts and crafts, being useful in the production of physical tools of Art, a possible context for association with groups sharing a similar “craft” of some kind, an opportunity to enter both robotic states of mind at will but also aesthetic and artistic trances of inspiration, a means of self-support or livelihood should circumstances require it, and a means of instilling a sense of comfort and self-control even in the midst of esoteric unpleasantry.
  • It is of paramount importance for the practitioner to develop the personal will in tandem with the faculty of conscious intent. Only doing things that make sense, for a good reason, tends to erode this faculty, since the mind can convince one that something is no longer a good idea even when it is for a variety of reasons which all seem very rational at the time. Further, altered states of consciousness can alter one’s ability to reason in a fashion which can be quite deleterious to the unprepared. Thus, the best way to train the will against these deceptive scenarios is to train oneself to follow through on one’s intentions even when they seem to be arbitrary or useless. A possible means of doing this is occasionally taking actions that either do not appear to make immediate sense or were randomly determined. Training in obedience is often a characteristic feature of mystical paths, particularly those directed by gurus, for similar reasons – but unless one has the benefit of the tutelage of a magical superior who exemplifies the traditional current one seeks to align oneself with, it is just as well (and probably safer) to devise practices to hone the will through one’s own ingenium.
  • While seeking out dangerous experiences is one way to activate the arcane faculties, it is also important to seek out strange experiences in order to get used to functioning while extremely disoriented, confused, and alienated, because that is what one will be as one’s esoteric quest proceeds. While the most obvious technique, that of entheogenic chemognosis, has the advantage of combining danger with disorientation, that might also be regarded by many as a disadvantage as well. There are plenty of other possibilities, including but certainly not limited to: playing unfamiliar games, traveling to unfamiliar places (this might also be dangerous), generally doing new things one has no idea how to do, having varied sexual experiences outside of one’s normal comfort zone, doing weird things socially and observing the results, learning a foreign language, meeting and interacting with people from very different social groups or classes, and perhaps most oddly, pretending to be someone else. Another interesting and related exercise would be attempting to emulate some kind of psychological deviance. This can be much more dangerous and much less entertaining than it sounds initially; readers are referred to the famous research study of mental institutions which involved an unexpectedly long, and eventually involuntary, ‘infiltration’ of such an institution.
  • Continuity of memory has critical importance in esoteric work, in that various perceptions from diverse states of consciousness need to be recalled with equal clarity. Long- and short-term patterns need to be remembered and compared. In that the practitioner will, at various stages of work, need to plumb the depths of the personal psyche, it will be important to be able to recollect early childhood memories, even the birth trauma. Access to primal or pre-natal memories is also a significant component of certain initiatory methods. In addition to keeping a precise, accurate, and consistent journal, the practitioner will also want to record all dreams (and also learn to encourage lucid dreams) as well as learn techniques of memory enhancement, such as the ‘Memory Palace’ method popular in the Renaissance.
  • In addition to developing the faculties and powers of concentration, one aspiring to arcane knowledge should also learn to observe and understand his or her own mind. This includes both scientific and intellectual study, such as cognitive psychology, and experiential study, such as insight meditation. It is also important to learn how to relax the mind (and body) as well as focus and stress it. As such, the practitioner should experiment with as many various relaxation techniques, and forms of recreation, as possible, in order to learn what is most effective in diverting and unfocusing the mind when necessary.
  • Continuing the theme of exploring extreme states of consciousness, the practitioner should also be inured to emotional intensity, able to endure it and retain consciousness throughout ecstatic states whether averse or pleasant. It is also important that the practitioner not artificially inhibit or repress emotional responses, a mistake that can only serve to stifle growth and ultimately deprive the would-be magician of a fuel of power. The best way to achieve the desired skill is deliberate habituation to intense emotions beyond the range of what ordinary experience will offer, at least ensuring that most events will not phase the practitioner, and that the faculties of emotional response remain engaged. As such, the practitioner should learn to purposely induce as many different emotions as possible, and learn to purposely embrace each one, even abandoning restraint, under appropriately safe conditions. Similar to techniques of emotional acting, the practice actually creates a kind of internal detachment as a portion of the magician’s awareness almost automatically distinguishes itself in order to monitor the exercise. The magician might also experiment with taking an emotional inventory, recording what stimuli are most likely to cause what emotion. All this should be recorded, as should extreme emotional experiences that arise either spontaneously or by design.
  • The physical body should also not be neglected in the course of arcane work. While specific physical training and enhancement is a different area, it is important for the magician to be functioning at a natural peak of health. Only the most personalized regimen will accomplish this, and the advice of experts is probably necessary. Failing this, the magician would be better off making do with personal experimentation than incomplete half-knowledge of traditional health or dietary systems.
  • Finally, a detailed knowledge of the setting, world, and environment of the practitioner will be quite helpful in remaining oriented during the quest. The aspiring magician should know the local area and become completely the master of personal home and territory. The safer and more secure the magician within the working environment, the better.

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Enkindling the Black Flame

Having mastered the practices pertinent to at least one of the Portals, the magician should devise a ritual of self-initiation combining whatever methodology and imagery discovered and internalized so far with the specific symbolism of enkindling a Black Flame within.  It ignites from a seed or kernel of Black Light, and grows until it is co-extensive with the magician’s conscious awareness.

Feeding the Black Flame

A repeatable version of the self-initiation should be designed utilizing the imagery of ‘feeding’ the Black Flame.  It should be performed at sunset, true midnight, sunrise, and high noon for at least a year.

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