Symbols Evolve

by Mike Sententia on April 29, 2011

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What should you visualize, exactly?

If you do ritual magick, you have books telling you exactly what to say and do. The full recipe for the ritual.

Through your school years, books told you exactly what answers to recite and exactly how to solve math problems. They gave you recipes.

So you might reasonably expect me to provide recipes for direct magick. A pre-packaged series of visualizations for each technique.

What The Common View Misses

Visualizations are the language that your conscious mind uses to talk with your unconscious. That isn’t just a trite metaphor. Visualizations share 2 important features with spoken words:

  • Words have no inherent meaning. There’s no reason “stove” means what it means and not something else. We learn words through repeated use, until they feel natural, until we no longer realize they’re arbitrary. You’ll do the same with visualizations.
  • Words evolve over time. When you only do energy meditations, you only need to communicate “energy.” Then you’ll want to say “connection,” to make a path for that energy to follow. Then, difference between “healing energy” and “normal energy,” and between “energy in my signature” and “energy in my friend’s signature,” and so on. Like the Eskimos, who have 32 words for “snow,” you’ll develop visualizations for different types of energy and connections and structures as you learn magick.

That’s why I don’t tell you exactly what to visualize on most direct magick techniques. Because magick isn’t in the visualization. Magick lives in the thinking that lets you create the visualization.

What Those Details Let You Do

Creating visualizations is a skill. Here’s how I do it, and how this process will help you learn magick better.

First, a couple of terms, for the 2 kinds of things I visualize:

  • Components of magick: Connections, energies, etc. The moving pieces you act on.
  • Procedures: A series of steps using those components, like building energy in your chest or tracing a path to see who is connecting to you.

Visualizing Components

To make visualizations for components — signatures, energy, connections, etc — I think about what the component does, and let that suggest a metaphor to your mind.

For example: Energy powers things, so when I started magick, I saw it as a glow. Connections carry energy, so I represented them with wires. Remember, the details don’t matter. I could have seen connections as a tube or a string. As long as the behavior you’re trying to represent (“connections carry energy”) makes visual sense, it’ll work fine.

What does matter is what that visual says to your unconscious. You need to associate “magickal structure that carries energy” with imagining a piece of wire / string / etc. I have 2 methods for this:

  • Ask your unconscious what it wants you to use: Meditate (quiet your mind, clear your head). Think about the behavior of a connection. Let the visualization enter your thoughts.
  • Tell your unconscious about the association: Pick a visualization that makes sense to your conscious mind. Engage your mental posture for magick, use that visualization to do a simple task, while holding in your head what the visualization represents (“Wire = connection”).

When I teach mental posture, students use the second method to create new visualizations. I prefer the second method in my own work, too. But if you’re new to magick, you might not have a strong mental posture yet. So try both and see which works better for you.

Both methods have you focus on what a connection does. But before you can do that, you have to intuitively grasp how a connection behaves, so when you think “wire = connection,” you’re not just thinking the word, you’re thinking  the concept. That’s why copying my visualizations won’t work: Because the important part isn’t the image, it’s the concept.

If you want help figuring out what a component does, read about it. Click on a topic in the tag cloud to the right for a list of posts.

Visualizing Procedures

Once you can visualize components, you can make procedures. To sense someone else’s energy, visualize a connection without any energy moving along it, with your energy staying steady inside your body, and their energy flowing up your connection into your brain. Once you have the language of energy and connections, you can easily turn those steps into specific visualizations that speak to your mind.

With practice, my unconscious learned that “connection without energy” procedure, so now I don’t need to tell it every step, I can just visualize a connection without energy and my unconscious knows do the rest.

Evolving Visualizations

As I used connections, I noticed that some were bundled together in paths. I visualized those bundles as a co-ax cable (like you use for your TV), which bundles together a lot of wires. Now I had two “words” for connection: A single connection (a wire) and a bundle of connections (a cable). Let your visualizations adapt to what you’re working with.

I made new procedures with those bundles, acting on some wires and not others. Again, with time, my unconscious learned to do the procedure without much guidance, and I simplified the visualization until I was just telling my unconscious the goal, not guiding it through the process.

Several years later, I no longer distinguish between single connections and bundles for most tasks. My unconscious simply knows how to handle both of them, and doesn’t need my conscious guidance anymore. So I’ve let the visualization simplify back into seeing connections as lines.

But telling you to “see connections as lines” is completely unhelpful. It only works if you’ve already trained your unconscious about what connections are, how they behave, and how to use them. Training your mind is what matters.

So let your visualizations evolve. Let them become more complex as you pay more attention to certain parts. Let them simplify until they’re symbols, a shared shorthand for your conscious and unconscious minds.

Don’t worry that your visualizations aren’t the same as mine. They’re not supposed to be.

Non-Visual Visualizations

Visualizations don’t need to be visual. I feel signatures. You might hear the pressure of a connection. Communicate your intent and your instructions to your unconscious any way that feels natural. You’ll probably find methods that work for you but don’t work for other people. That’s part of the fun of exploring magick.

Other posts in this series: If you liked this post, consider visiting my current blog at mikesententia.com.

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