“Who am I? Why am I here?”
Beyond a political in-joke about the bottom of the third-highest-popular-vote presidential ticket of any third-party in U.S. politics, this question is one that cuts to the core of an individual’s search for meaning. The intensity of this question usually starts getting asked around adolescence and there are large sub-fields in psychology devoted to it. However, it should not be taken lightly, nor thought of as an “adolescent” (i.e., immature) question, because it cuts to the core of how we spend our limited lifespan, doesn’t it?
So as one starts their journey into adulthood, one of the first things to do is to get started on where one is at the moment, then, if one has the luxury, move on to other questions as they become pertinent. Usually this means stabilizing the circumstances (basic needs) and becoming self-sustaining (either working or on the path to working via education). Along with this requires growth, but–all too easily–it is here that what I would deem major mistakes begin to be made.
The mistakes that can be made are simple: starting work or education at something that one doesn’t like or has other misgivings about: selling dangerous products, not making the world better as a result of one’s work, or simply not feeling one’s job or field in one’s heart. This is not always easy: some professions or fields are difficult to discover, or haven’t been invented yet (there were no YouTube stars who make all their money off of videos when I had my high school career counseling!). Another possibility is that one wants to do with their life may have very little to do with one’s career. The best that one can do is approximate what they want to do and learn what it is they really want to do via trial and error. Of course, this presumes a completely “balanced” and “head on their shoulders” personality!
The magical traditions of the West (and those of the East as well, but these are not the focus of this post) focus on the possible steps of development and usually lay them out in a sequential order. This is slightly problematic, because people often have some degree of initiation later stages, but overall the system works well. One learns how to integrate the tools that they need in order to progress, and these are metaphorically labeled as elements: earth (both physical and the metaphorical structure of security and routine), water (physical and the metaphorical emotions that a person carries, which can leak out or be put to positive use), air (physical as well as the tendency of the mind to blow from place to place like the wind), and fire (the dangerous passion that can nonetheless be used to accomplish will). Those familiar with the Golden Dawn can see these elements in the lowest Kabbalistic sephira, Malkuth.
Once these are established and recognized, it becomes important to see how important it is to balance these; doing so can provide the foundation (Yesod) for further work, as one discovers the tendency of the mind to discover splendor (Hod) of possibilities of form, and finally to victory, Netzach, of using one’s energy to pick a general possibility to work towards…but which one?
This is where the middlemost sephira, Tiphareth (Beauty), comes in. Anyone who has had to leave a career path that they discovered wasn’t for them (or leave the idea that a “career path” is the focus of what they should be doing) can understand at least one of the following thoughts (I’ll add the associated sephiroth and the Kabbalistic ruler for reference): I need to stay at this job I dislike just to scrounge together rent (Malkuth/elements). I’m kind of stable but I don’t know how to get my life ready for change (Yesod/Moon). I don’t know all of life’s possibilities or how they even work or fit together (Hod/Mercury). I don’t know how to pick a possibility, and how to make it work for me (Netzach/Venus). Ideally, you would know exactly what you would want to focus on and, like Jimi Hendrix at the age of five after seeing a cartoon character playing a guitar, you would know exactly what you were supposed to do.
For most of us, this sense is not so easy. There are techniques to answer this question, and of these, those proposed by a teacher of mine, Jason Louv, are excellent (and during a pandemic, when everything is being questioned, is as good a time as any to ask if one is doing the right thing with one’s life). Another technique is to seek heavenly guidance, that offered by the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel (K&C HGA, for short). This highly personal entity is unique to each individual (and is not to be confused with the Natal Guardian Angel/good daimon), and is the beginning of initiation into Tiphareth, wherein resides the True Will, that which the individual feels compelled to do with their life. Aleister Crowley considered K&C HGA the essential work of a magician, and for good reason, as it was to lead the individual–among other things–to understand and carry out their True Will.
There are multiple techniques for obtaining this (and I have an ongoing study trying to suss out how people obtain K&C HGA–contact me if you ware interested); some, I am sure, have come to it completely spontaneously, others after massive trauma. I’m not one to recommend seeking out trauma, but if one finds oneself in the midst of it (such as, say, a global pandemic), I believe that this can actually be a catalyst for an otherwise longer process.
When I requested a topic for my blog, I was asked specifically how to go about obtaining the K&C, including modifications to existing rituals necessary for the modern age. For this, there are no easy answers, but I would start with the essays in the Holy Guardian Angel anthology by Nephilim Press, especially Scott Stenwick’s, which provides techniques to get you started straight away. Stenwick also provides additional information on HGA initiation on his website.
After this preliminary, there are two famous classic techniques for K&C HGA: Abramelin and Liber Samekh. The former has several requirements, including Abramelin oil and incense, but also a separate room, restrictions on sex, as well as thrice daily prayers. Being written from an esoteric Jewish tradition, there is also the matter of aligning to the Jewish calendar, specifically Passover. My recommendations on this for the modern practitioner, whether Jewish or not (and I am not) are as follows: try to balance the elements externally (Abramelin oil, interestingly, balances both yin and yang ingredients) via the Abramelin oil and incense (if it’s in your budget) or via the gratis LBRP and/or LIRP; focus on self-isolation (did I mention we’re in a pandemic?) to maintain this elemental balance (i.e., others’ drama doesn’t throw your delicate elemental balance off); and devotional prayers (three times a day at a minimum) and the self-abnegation quality of the technique. Going to a closet or if need be even a bathroom for a short time to make a sincere prayer is sufficient (Scarlet Magdalene reports going to her car over her lunch hour, a technique I copied). Wash your hands (did I mention we’re in a pandemic?) and continually reflect on the outward cleansing and isolation from human affairs as a means to more clearly attune yourself to the purity of the Divine and the messenger thereof. As I have hinted, this pandemic is actually something of an ideal time to begin K&C HGA work!
As far as Liber Samekh (adapted by Crowley from an exorcism ritual known as “The Bornless Ritual” from the Greek Magical Papyri), so in another manner, this also isolates you from spirits–and eventually the delusions surrounding yourself that have accumulated. I would also recommend no less than three times a day for this technique as well.
Both the Abramelin ritual and the Liber Samekh ritual can be done silently (the latter requiring more memorization and visualization of one’s astral body completing the techniques–but it can be done). It is possible, for people with a great deal of cleverness and insight into the technical aspects of magic, to create their own ritual for the K&C HGA (the key features of this from a technical perspective seem to be elemental balance, crowding out things that throw off that balance, and a powerful technique to petition–or take upon oneself–the celestial). Regardless, from a practical perspective, the essential is to pick a technique and make sure that the people in your life expect to see less of you for many months. This is a unique task that few in the West undertake, and taking it on deserves respect, a great deal of reflection, and no small amount of testing of the spiritual breakthroughs you may think you achieve along the way (false insights are the worst!).
What are the advantages of K&C HGA, as opposed to just learning your True Will via an audit technique (or other means)? The biggest advantage is that your HGA is also an interface with all other entities (including people) and can help you navigate an otherwise confusing landscape. The HGA is your biggest ally and works to evolve you after K&C is reached (to the extent that you actually engage with this invaluable resource). Regardless of what you encounter, your HGA will do its best to lead you down an optimal path and has heavenly authority to protect and guide you along it. The only downside to this is that the HGA is not human, and so keep your rationality, practicality, and common sense handy! Furthermore, the HGA can accompany you only so far on the path–crossing “the Abyss” has its own, ah, “pitfalls” that the HGA must temporarily step aside for the aspirant to face.
Is K&C HGA necessary? To end on the positive note requested by the other suggestion for a blog entry: it is a gorgeous first step toward calling forth one’s own divinity, one that I never regret having taken. Yet others have not needed this step in order to reach very high states of spiritual development. So, if it seems right for you, then explore it.
I wish you good luck either way.