Progressing in Magick

So this is a question I’ve given some thought to: how quickly should one progress in magick? How far, how fast? What should you get into?

Having tried several things in magick, I can recommend the following:

1. Meditation (at the beginning and throughout your journey, perhaps to be foregone towards the end). Vipassana & Raja (one or the other), once or twice a day. I also recommend using simple pranayama techniques to relax one’s mind and emotional state, and then mentally confronting emotional triggers (i.e., “Why do I get angry about this? Is this really me, or am I just attached to [XYZ]? Does my emotional intensity match the situation?”) at least once a week for at least a year. Don’t be afraid to go deep. This will start clearing your mind of identifications that do not match who you are, and the best part is, you’re doing the clearing, so you are in control. It’s also good to talk through your insights with good friends.

Allllsoooo…therapy, especially as you get to the weirder stuff: find a therapist who doesn’t judge the woo.

Congratulations, your mind is now on a path towards healing.

2. Groundedness practice. (added) I recommend also doing some groundedness meditation (such as imagining roots growing from your feet into the earth and drawing in from the infinite amount of energy available that which you need). To complement this, spend time walking outside, gardening, etc., to stay in touch with the real world.

Congratulations, you’re able to live in reality.

3. Hatha yoga. The mind and body are intimately connected. In general, you will want to be in excellent physical shape, so if you can, Hatha yoga regularly, do cardio at least twice a week, and add in strength training (always talk to your doctor about exercise). Give yourself a couple of months to get in good (or better) physical shape. Obviously this depends on whether you are disabled, but think about how you can get in touch with your body.

Congratulations, you’re working on integrating your body and mind.

4. Sigils (as needed). After about a month of meditation, teach yourself to make a sigil (the Austin Osman Spare method is easy to learn, but others exist). They are easy, they are cheap, they will work with beginner’s luck. Start with something simple at the “5% probability” level and charge it the easy way (look at it during the “big O“).

Congratulations, you’re empowering yourself.

5. Learn (and DO) banishing (regularly, but eventually to be largely eschewed). A few weeks after your sigil, note the degree to which it was successful (you can do more, but for serious things). Then learn the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram (LBRP). After you have started a daily meditation practice, for at least a month, start learning the LBRP. It’s not that complicated. Use flash cards to memorize directions, angel names, and the like.

Then do it for the first time. Don’t be surprised if you experience some clairaudience: I definitely did my first time and I had a huge WTF moment! Once you have it memorized and can perform it fluidly, it should not take more than five minutes. Start off doing that on a weekend, then add it to your “stack” and do it once a day (ideally before a meditation), then twice a day (morning and night). If you’re not in your own place, do it silently. If space is an issue, you can do it imaginally. Later, learn the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Hexagram (LBRH).

Congratulations, you’re starting to determine your circumstances.

6. Study the elements and astrology. The classical elements are fundamental to the LBRP, and now is the time to understand what they are about. It’s good to learn about them in conjunction with astrology, because there is some overlap. For that, The Astrology Podcast is excellent. Take their significations of the signs (parts 1 & 2), the planets, the houses (parts 1 & 2), then the ones on sect, essential dignities, and then look into the aspects. This will help you understand the LBRH. It will also help you understand the astrological forces, whether they are “good” for a working and invoked, or whether they are bad and should be banished. This will take some time, definitely no less than three months, probably no less than six.

Congratulations, now you understand how circumstances can arise.

7. Raising & balancing consciousness. (added) At this point, I also would recommend slowly adding in the Middle Pillar Ritual at this point. Once a week, then twice, then daily. The idea is to start raising your awareness. It’s very important to balance this with the groundedness meditation I previously mentioned.

Congratulations, you’re developing perspective on circumstances.

8. Start thinking about your True Will. Your understanding of astrology will come in handy now. Jason Louv offers a course on this, which is excellent.

Congratulations, now you know how you want to change circumstances.

9. Holy Guardian Angel ordeal. By now you should at least have a couple of years into your studies. I really can’t recommend this enough, but I probably wouldn’t recommend this for someone who hasn’t yet had their Saturn return. Knowledge and Conversation of your Holy Guardian Angel is the first great feat of the Western magickian, according to Crowley. I recommend the Abramelin operation (I was told by my HGA to forego the demon-binding portion of the operation, as was James Eshelman). It is an ordeal, and should only be undertaken when you can. Modify it as you can for your circumstances: the original presumed so much wealth but a sincere effort to have the key aspects of the ritual (isolation, prayer, etc.) is vital. Congratulations, now you have an ally in reaching towards your true nature.

10. Enochian. Having done all of this work, you might decide to take up Enochian. It’s complicated. It’s a lot of work. But it’s worth it, soooo worth it. I’ve written before that I consider it the key to plugging in to the great Western and Eastern accomplishments (such as a Chokmah initiation and the rainbow body–a Tibetan Buddhism arising–respectively). Congratulations, you are now on the path to reaching your true nature.

You may be surprised that I have left off this list other things such as talismans (I do them, but these are not necessary), alien contact, past-life regression, and so many others. I just don’t think that they are necessary, and may even side-track from paths to some core insights. I’m willing to change my mind on this, and I’ll let you know if I do.


Simple Shortcut When Ascending the Tree of Life

There are shortcuts to things in life, though shortcuts are not always the best or cleanest way to get things done. Yet when you’re starting from a low point and want to get to a higher point, rather than practicing the same old techniques in drudgery until the slow accretion of effort pays off years later with achievement, or its opposite of a shortcut to the trophy that is devoid of mastery, it’s probably better to use both practice and the occasional shortcut to make your empowerment work faster.

The ascension of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life is the purpose of many magickal orders. While I have no grand techniques for preparation for initiation, and initiation itself (the LBRP or the Abramelin Operation still work as they should!), I have an “all-of-the-above” approach to magick, and believe that cross-pollination has interaction effects. Hence, the shortcut: sigils.

Sure, you may already know about sigils, but why not create a sigil to enable old-fashioned initiation? Sometimes we don’t think to put “new wine into old wineskins,” but we do it all the time, we just don’t think of it that way. Meditation is used in concert with being a good person, magick is used in concert with meditation, and sigil magick can be used in concert with Tree-of-Life magick.

The technique itself is rather simple: create a sigil with the intent along the lines of “I initiate into [name of sephirah, e.g., Yesod].” Charge it, don’t obsess about it, then continue going about your normal efforts to initiate into that same sephirah. What you should find (as I did) is that new techniques to initiate into a sephirah appear, or that your current efforts accelerate. I myself used sigils to assist with initiation into Binah, Chokmah, & Kether.

Get creative and clear with your intent, and don’t be afraid to iterate: “I deepen my initiation into [name of sephirah]” and “I complete my initiation into [name of sephirah]” are wise additional sigils to fire off after you surmise that you have succeeded in your initiation into a given sephirah. You must still do the hard work, but the hard work should pay off more quickly.


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Planets ruling Sephiroth on the Tree of Life

Perhaps it’s Uranus transiting over my natal sun right now that’s inspiring me to write a bit about the Kabbalistic Tree of Life. For beginners, I’ll just mention that the Tree of Life is an interesting model of consciousness. Based on the mythical tree in the book of Genesis (from which one could eat and live forever), the Kabbalistic Tree of Life (often abbreviated as ToL) metaphorically explains how divine energy can move from the heavenly to the earthly.

Most sephiroth on the ToL are considered to be ruled by celestial aspects or by the elements; the tenĀ sephiroth, or spheres (i.e., of consciousness/spiritual states) on the ToL and their respective rulers are:

  1. Kether, “The Crown”
  2. Chokmah, “Wisdom,” ruled by the Zodiac
  3. Binah, “Understanding,” ruled by Saturn
    (Da’ath, “Knowledge,” is considered to be a false sephirah; in some traditions it’s also thought to be all sephiroth at once, though I find this unhelpful and somewhat incorrect)
  4. Chesed, “Mercy,” ruled by Jupiter
  5. Geburah, “Strength,” ruled by Mars
  6. Tiphareth, “Beauty,” ruled by the Sun
  7. Netzach, “Victory,” ruled by Venus
  8. Hod, “Splendo(u)r,” ruled by Mercury
  9. Yesod, “Foundation,” ruled by the Moon
  10. Malkuth, “Kingdom,” ruled by the four elements

The rulership of these sephiroth differ from the astrological essential dignity of domicile, which holds that planets have greatest effectiveness in zodiacal sign (e.g., Aries, Taurus, etc.): the Sun is strongest in the royal sign of Leo, the Moon in the nurturing sign of Cancer, etc. There are further essential dignities including

Sephirothic rulership, however, is less about what brings the planet strength, but rather what brings the sephiroth completeness. The Splendor of all the possibilities of form to be made in the physical world is brought to completion by Mercury, which can flow from idea to idea, configuration to configuration. The Triumph of any given form, moreover, is brought to completeness when it is in fact a pleasurable one (for what is the point in Victory without the thrill?).

One consideration is whether to re-assign the planets Uranus, Neptune, or Pluto to the final two sephiroth. From personal experience of the higher sephiroth, my judgment is not to do so. Uranus, the planet some folks consider to rule Chokmah, is commonly considered among astrologers as a “wild card” planet and a rebellious planet. My experience of Chokmah (“Wisdom”) is that it provides an individual insight into an optimal approach to reality. Wisdom is an optimal means to govern one’s life because it is an incorporation of an undeniable aspect of nature, which can be succinctly declared in a Law. Rebellious Uranus doesn’t seem to fit this idea, though one could argue that the newly declared Law is a necessary reflection of a previously unseen aspect of reality.

Nonetheless, more fundamental to my judgment is the contrast between Binah (“Understanding”), ruled by Saturn, the greater malefic and Lord of Time, and Chokmah. Binah occupies the top of the pillar of Severity on the ToL, while Chokmah occupies the top of the pillar of Mercy (ascending the Middle Pillar of Mildness is often considered a standard goal of the Kabbalah). Saturn reflects the need for discipline and patience, and brings Binah (often described as all possibilities and thus bringing the initiate the Vision of Sorrow) to completeness by imposing its cold order and a logical connectivity of these possible states into a coherent flow (eliminating–bringing death!–to nearly all of them!). If feminine Binah is ruled by the Lord of Time, then masculine and protruding Chokmah, it follows, should be ruled by Space itself. Space and time being essential aspects of the universe, the Zodiac seems like the superior choice of ruler.

What rules Kether, the Crown? As you might guess, I don’t believe it is ruled by either Neptune or Pluto. My argument is that it lacks formal rulership, except that it is existence itself, which does have limits. Therefore, I would argue that perception rules Kether–reality perceives itself, no matter what, and therefore perhaps the best way to put it is that the Divine rules it, for the Divine is the Complete Perceiver, and initiates into Kether may partake of the perception of the Divine.

Some scholars suggest that the Biblical Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil are the same tree. Eating of the Crown this Tree, I can tell you that the answer is yes: as I put it when first scrying the Enochian Aethyr of LIL: “This is the End of Death.”