Many students don't want to be tied to a particular group or spiritual tradition, but prefer to search, experiment, and grow on their own/ this book is perfect for these people. Watson discusses the principles that underlie magical practice in a veryeasytounderstand manner. She includes information on affirmations, visualization, spiritual practices, folk magic, and ritual. Safety measures and ethical considerations are stressed throughout.
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PRACTICAL SOLITARY MAGIC
By Nancy B. Watson
Red Wheel/Weiser, LLCCopyright © 1996 Nancy B. Watson
All rights reserved.
MAGIC AND THE MIND
We do not affect fate by our magical operations, we affect ourselves; we reinforce those aspects of our nature which are in sympathy with the powers we invoke.
There have been many excellent definitions of magic given over the years by metaphysicians and those who study esoteric tradition, but the best (and certainly the most complete) that I have read is Murry Hope's:
Magic is concerned with the conversion of universal energies into practical frequencies that can be utilized according to the needs of the occasion. These energies in themselves are totally neutral, having no affiliation with any belief, system or personality either here on Earth or anywhere in the cosmos, their manifestation at the magical level being coloured entirely by the nature and intention of the user.
Hope's definition makes it clear that the practice of magic is essentially nonreligious. You need not hold any formal (or even informal) religious beliefs in order to practice it. This doesn't mean, however, that spirituality plays no part in magic. On the contrary, there are important magical techniques which depend upon spirituality for their effectiveness. But the means of expressing this spirituality—whether you choose to work with deities or not, for instance—may always be freely chosen.
MAGIC AND PSYCHOLOGY
To practice magic is to set a goal and to perform actions symbolic of its achievement. Symbols have a profound effect upon the human psyche, a fact well known to psychologists and politicians. Since magicians have always made lavish use of symbols in their work, it might be assumed that they, too, are consciously aware of their impact upon mind and heart. But this isn't always the case. Many magicians do not understand the mechanism whereby psychological change produced by the use of symbols translates into desired external results. For them, magic is purely a matter of formula, strictly adhered to. As an inexperienced magician who wishes to attract a lover, for instance, you might read in some magical text that to burn a pink candle for ten minutes every day for a week will produce the desired effect. So you purchase a candle and dutifully burn it according to instructions. Your operation will almost certainly fail, however, because you haven't yet learned that it is the psychological work that accompanies magical (symbolic) action, not the action itself, which produces results.
The great magicians have always recognized the link between psychology and magic. In modern times, the practice of one discipline has frequently led to a profound interest in the other. Dion Fortune, for instance, was a psychoanalyst before she was a magician:
As soon as I touched the deeper aspects of practical psychology and watched the dissection of the mind under psycho-analysis, I realised that there was very much more in the mind than was accounted for by the accepted psychological theories. I saw we stood in the centre of a small circle of light thrown by accurate scientific knowledge, but around us was a vast, circumambient sphere of darkness, and in that darkness dim shapes were moving. It was in order to understand the hidden aspects of the mind that I originally took up the study of occultism.
Israel Regardie, another great name in modern magic, was first a magician, then a practicing psychologist. He was quite specific about the links between the two disciplines when he wrote in 1938:
Analytical Psychology and Magic comprise in my estimation two halves or aspects of a single technical system. Just as the body and mind are not two separate units, but are simply the dual manifestations of an interior dynamic "something" so psychology and Magic comprise similarly a single system whose goal is the integration of the human personality. Its aim is to unify the different departments and functions of man's being, to bring into operation those which previously for various reasons were latent.
This may sound somewhat abstract to the reader interested in practical magic, but in fact the fusion between magic and psychology of which Regardie speaks and its result are of great importance to magicians on a practical level.
HOW MAGIC WORKS
To understand how magic works, you must first understand the difference between the conscious and the unconscious minds.
We are all very familiar with the conscious mind, which is your ordinary everyday walking-around consciousness. When your body goes to sleep at night, your conscious mind goes to sleep as well, and your unconscious mind wakes up, becomes active, and begins to communicate through dreams which your conscious mind may remember upon waking. The same process occurs during meditation when both your conscious mind and your body are stilled: your unconscious mind becomes active and begins to communicate through waking visions, hunches, or significant insights. Given the opportunity, your unconscious mind is a good communicator. It constantly sends helpful suggestions to your conscious mind in the hope that they will be heeded and acted upon.
To practice magic is to reverse the process. As a magician, you set a goal with your conscious mind, and attempt to communicate your desire to your unconscious mind in the hope that it will heed and act upon it. Provided your communication is clear, your unconscious mind will take the instructions it is given and go quietly to work to produce the desired result in material reality. We don't know how the unconscious accomplishes its task, only that it does. What you need to know as a magician is how to clearly and directly communicate desire to your unconscious mind. The unconscious does the rest. This is the essence of magic.
There are as many methods for communicating desire to the unconscious as there are people who wish to use them. Provided only that the communication is clear and direct, there is no right way or wrong way to give instruction to the unconscious. There are, however, some archetypal communication techniques which have proven effective for magicians for literally thousands of years. It is primarily these techniques—or variations thereof—on which we will concentrate in this book.
THE IMPORTANCE OF TEMPERAMENT
You will find that some methods presented here work for you and that others don't. This is to be expected, given that each individual is unique in temperament, interests, and skills. Finding what works for you comes only with experience—and experience can't be gained unless all techniques are tried.
At first, you may experience some failures. But you will also have some successes. Naturally intuitive types may have trouble with some of the physical techniques, but will probably excel in spiritual practices. Practical, down-to-earth people (sensate types) may find spiritual procedures difficult, but sail through the physical ones. Intellectual (thinking) types will probably find methods appropriate to the emotional plane hard going, but will find mental plane work easy. Individuals who tend to "think with the heart" (feeling types) may find purely mental work such as goal analysis difficult, but exercises involving the emotions exceedingly simple. None of this is predictable. I know highly spiritual types who revel in physical magic, as well as intellectuals who excel in emotional techniques.
Don't be discouraged when you fail. Keep trying, because you will eventually find the methods which will always work for you. You should perfect these to the best of your ability. Your education shouldn't stop, however, with those techniques which you find easily effective. In fact, the methods which initially seem difficult or out-of-character are those that will eventually bring you notable—perhaps even your greatest—successes.
Dion Fortune thought that candidates for initiation into magical societies should be sorted out by temperament. Those who were naturally psychic should receive instruction in magic, while natural magicians should receive instruction in psychism. Ideally she felt, this "cross-grain" training would develop those facets of the candidate's character which were undeveloped and therefore unreliable. Fortune's principle is sound because to develop skills which are not natural to the temperament is to develop a system of checks and balances which can help offset the dangers inherent in the path one naturally follows.
Natural psychics don't need instruction on how to be psychic; the gift and skills are already there. Psychics tend to be too receptive. They need to learn how to generate positive energy so that they don't become unwitting victims of any negative influences which happen to be floating around in their vicinity. On the other hand, natural magicians easily generate energy and tend to be willful. They need to learn how to be receptive to incoming impressions, so that they don't attempt to achieve goals in the face of subtle but insuperable obstacles.
Solitary practitioners of magic may never be forced by a magical society to learn skills foreign to their natural temperaments, but this doesn't mean they can afford to ignore this very important principle. On a practical level, learning difficult skills means greater safety in magical practice, because the use of these skills allows you to achieve a goal without being forced to deal with unexpected or unwanted phenomena at the same time. This alone makes learning seemingly difficult techniques worthwhile. But there are other benefits as well.
When you deliberately go against temperament in order to master difficult skills, you automatically develop new facets of your character, and this allows you to achieve goals in every area of life. By contrast, if you have an imbalance in your character—you may be too intellectual, for instance—you may only achieve success in certain areas of life. For practical purposes, then, it's important that you stretch yourself in every way you can. For those who aspire to the highest levels of magic, there is an additional but less practical, benefit to be gained. Magicians with well-rounded temperaments become candidates for what is termed high magic, a form of magic which has little to do with the achievement of mundane goals.
Novices should work through all the techniques contained in this and other books and, should concentrate initially on those which prove successful. This will bolster your self-confidence. When you have a number of successes under your belt and know that you are working with power, you can tackle those techniques which originally proved difficult.
Along the way, you should do everything possible to develop the intuitive, intellectual, emotional, and earthy aspects of your character so that you become a well-rounded, healthy human being, capable of achieving goals in every area of life.
MAGIC AND ETHICS
Any attempt to dominate others, or in any way to manipulate their minds without their consent, is an unwarrantable intrusion upon their freewill and a crime against the integrity of the soul.
Most readers probably realize that it is morally wrong to harm another being through the use of magic, and that there are severe penalties to be paid for such behavior. You may not realize, however, that it is equally wrong to help others without their conscious knowledge and without first obtaining their explicit permission. This may make some readers indignant, especially those who are amateur healers, or who take part regularly in healing circles.
If you have difficulty believing it's wrong to help someone who is in obvious need, but who has not requested assistance, try putting the shoe on the other foot. Imagine that you have a friend who, being very conservative and perhaps religious in the traditional sense, disapproves of metaphysical pursuits in general, and of magic in particular. This person discovers with great alarm that you are reading this book and privately decides to save your soul from damnation. To this end and on a regular basis, your friend mentally beams to you the thought that magic is dangerous and should be given up. If you discovered these efforts to "save" you, how would you feel? Those who have no knowledge of, or belief or interest in, the powers of the human mind might be faintly amused or mildly contemptuous, but others—you, presumably, since you are reading this book—might feel quite differently. For who has the right to intrude upon your thoughts, even if the motive for doing so is "good"?
The same principle applies to "absent" healing. As Dion Fortune unequivocally stated:
It may be laid down as a maxim in spiritual healing that no one has the right to apply any alterative mental treatment to another without that person's consent.... It has been argued that surely anybody would welcome relief from pain. But this is far from being the case. Many people have profound religious convictions, and would consider such interference blasphemous. Even if we do not agree with them, we ought to respect their opinions.
Religious convictions aside, people don't like to be manipulated. Furthermore, people know on some level (perhaps not conscious) when an attempt is being made to manipulate them, and they pull away from the manipulator. The fastest way to lose your friends is to practice magic on them.
I once knew a man who, despite considerable knowledge of healing and magical techniques, was unable to find a way to practice his skills professionally. Frustrated, he attempted to fix his friends' problems on a psychic level. Sometimes he did this in the presence of the person, more often not. He never asked permission to help, and apparently didn't consider his actions intrusive. I was one of his targets and, when I realized what was going on, my reaction was to carefully conceal any troubles I might have had, and to avoid him. Desperate to uncover information about my personal life, he tricked a mutual friend into giving him my horoscope, presumably with the hope that it could tell him what I would not. That put an end to our friendship. Since then, he has lost other friends for similar reasons, and no longer has any standing in the metaphysical community.
As this story suggests, the desire to help others often stems from something other than purely altruistic motives. Compulsive do-gooding usually masks a deep need for power, which may manifest as a desire to control others, or as a desire to attract admiration. Either version of the power motive creates problems for victim and perpetrator alike.
As anyone who has studied history or mythology knows, saviors usually end up as martyrs to the causes they have espoused. Power-types who manage, by whatever means, to control the thoughts and actions of those around them eventually find themselves so burdened with responsibilities that they have little time to meet their own needs. When the man mentioned earlier found his source of "patients" drying up, he single-handedly attempted to heal the entire planet and to prevent, through magic, its destruction by "threatening" groups. It's no coincidence that he was constantly ill and that his marriage was in trouble. The demands made by an inflated ego can be prodigious and exhausting.
Unwilling victims of power-types suffer from intrusion into their personal lives, but it's much worse for willing victims. Those who are very happy to hand their responsibilities over to someone whom they see (or claim to see) as superior pay a great psychological price, because the level of their self-esteem drops each time they ask to be rescued.
The metaphysical law which underlies the problems attendant upon magical meddling is known as The Law of Rebound, which states that if you direct a force—any force, even a benign one, such as love—toward another human being and it is not accepted or absorbed by that individual, the force boomerangs back to you with three times its original power. The results are invariably unpleasant.
To illustrate this law with an image, imagine that you, the magician, are standing at one end of a long, dark, and narrow corridor. At the other end of the corridor is a door opening onto a room belonging to one of your acquaintances. Because of the darkness and length of the corridor, you can't see whether the door opposite you is open or closed. You project a magical force toward the person at the other end of the corridor. It travels down its length. If the door is open (as it might be if your friend has asked for help), the force enters freely and is absorbed by the person. If the door is closed, however, the force slams against the door and makes its way back, hitting you with three times its original power. And you are ensnared in your own net.
Excerpted from PRACTICAL SOLITARY MAGIC by Nancy B. Watson. Copyright © 1996 Nancy B. Watson. Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
PART ONE: THE PSYCHOLOGY AND ETHICS OF MAGIC
Chapter 1. Magic and the Mind
Chapter 2. Magic and Ethics
PART TWO: THE ARCHITECTURE OF MAGIC
Chapter 3. The Four Planes
Chapter 4. The Mental Plane
Chapter 5. The Spiritual Plane
Chapter 6. The Emotional Plane
Chapter 7. The Physical Plane
PART THREE: THE PRACTICE OF MAGIC
Chapter 8. Timing and Tides
Chapter 9. Ritual
Chapter 10. A Prosperity Rite
Chapter 11. Continuing Your Studies
Appendix A: Temperament Questionnaire
Appendix B: Personal Symbol Exercises God/Goddess Symbol Exercises
ABOUT THE AUTHOR