Visualization for the Blind

by Mike Sententia on April 6, 2012

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LaWanda is blind, and wants to learn magick:

I am blind and am trying to learn how to direct my magic and really all of my psychic power. I get so irritated when people tell me to visualize–that just isn’t doable for me! Is there an alternative way to do this?

I’ve never thought about this before. Most sighted people probably haven’t — that’s why we keep saying “visualize,” even when it’s obviously the wrong answer. So in this post, I’m going to explore the question.

First, the point of visualization is to communicate your intent to your unconscious mental muscles. (Those are the parts of your mind that actually make the magick happen.) Really, anything that communicates your intent ought to work.

Let me ask you this: If you’re planning out what you’ll do today, how do you think about it? If you try to imagine the act of doing something, like making a sandwich, what goes through your mind as you imagine that experience — what your hands would feel, how they would move, or something else?

Here’s what I’m thinking: Whatever you normally do to imagine doing something, that should be our starting point for how to signal your intent to your unconscious mental muscles. We’ll probably need to adapt it, but I can help you with that.

Anyone else got an idea? Please leave a comment.

Also, let me ask: Is there anything I could do to make this site easier for blind or otherwise disabled users? Thanks!

If you liked this post, consider visiting my current blog at mikesententia.com.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Ananael Qaa April 6, 2012 at 10:54 AM

I would recommend that this individual take up some sort of energy work, get comfortable with the “tingly” sense that indicates bodily energy is flowing, and then concentrate on that feeling in the hand when tracing figures and symbols. This maps the magical sense onto the feeling and kinesthetic senses. The key is that the mind follows the motion of the hand, and visualizing a glowing figure in the air is not necessary for the magick to work.

With practices like visualizing spirits, instead of an image focus instead on feeling the quality that spirit embodies. With a simple example such as the Archangels in the LBRP, they are assigned elementally so you can experience them as the Greek esoteric powers that make up their elements coming from the appropriate directions. So Raphael (Air) = East = Hot and Moist, Michael (Fire) = South = Hot and Dry, Gabriel (Water) = West = Cool and Moist, and Auriel/Uriel (Earth) = North = Cool and Dry. Essentially, they can be thought of as winds of the appropriate qualities – after all, this arrangement of the elements is called the Winds Model for precisely that reason.

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Mike Sententia April 6, 2012 at 12:13 PM

Very cool. Particularly the idea with the elemental correspondences, that seems really useful.

On the energy work, I’ve always taught that by visualization, and was planning to help LaWanda come up with a method based on how she imagines doing mundane tasks. Do you have a non-visual method for energy work? Qi gung katas or something? Thanks!

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michael April 6, 2012 at 12:46 PM

I’m also interested in how she represents future events, and if her dreams are 100% auditory.

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Ananael Qaa April 6, 2012 at 3:43 PM

For me much of my magical sense happens to mapped over to the feeling side, so when I do Qigong most of what I’m paying attention to is how it feels at different points on my body. So rather than, say, imagining what energy moving along a particular meridian should look like, I move my attention along the meridian feeling as I go. The Qigong teachers I’ve studied with emphasize this approach – I’m not sure about other systems or teachers.

One of the easiest ways to practice this is the “simple Qigong set” that I use. It’s a single motion that’s easy to learn and lets you feel the energy as soon as you start doing it right. You want to do deep relaxed abdominal breathing as you touch your tongue to the roof of your mouth. To do the motion associated with this, hold both palms facing your body just below the level of the navel (the lower dantien). Then move your palms up your body as you inhale and lower them back to their initial position as you exhale. Then repeat.

The motion does need to be done smoothly and evenly, but when you get it right you’ll know. The feeling you get is like a light electric tingling sensation that will rise from the base of the spine as you inhale and bring the palms up. Once you can feel that, pay attention to your spine as you bring your palms up and to the front of your body as you bring your palms down. You should eventually sense a similar tingling in the front as along the spine, though it generally feels less intense.

This is a simple method for doing what is called the microcosmic orbit by feel and joining it with a simple movement. This is how I learned to do it, and it doesn’t really require any visualization at all. In energy work energy follows attention, and that attention doesn’t have to be visual.

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Kol Drake April 6, 2012 at 4:12 PM

Robert Bruce addressed this. Here is his page speaking on visualization as part of his New Energy Ways / energy sensing document.

http://www.astraldynamics.com/home/new-energy-ways/using-new-full-tutorial/73-part-2-no-visualization.html

Specifically — “The development exercises and techniques given in this book are NOT based on visualization. Instead, a concise non-visual imaging system called ‘Tactile Imaging’ is used. This is based on the active use of body awareness, using the sense of touch and feel. These techniques are very easy to learn and use. They are also far more effective than visualization-based techniques could ever be.

Without exception, every person is capable of easily creating the most complex scenarios in their mind’s eye. I have asked many people who have claimed they cannot visualize, if they ever fantasize or daydream or imagine things. The answer is always a resounding YES! Everyone is perfectly capable of using their imagination to build ‘detailed’ fantasies in their mind’s eye, even though they claim not to be able to visualize effectively; as discussed above. So let’s get something straight here once and for all: Imagination is visualization and visualization is imagination. These are one and the same ability.

Memory plays an important part with imagination. Have you ever lost anything: your keys, a pen, your Koala, money, etc? If you have, after searching vainly for the item, you probably tried to recreate recent actions in your mind’s eye to help remember where you lost the item. You would have replayed these actions in your mind’s eye, going over your every step. Recreating actions and events like this is pure mind’s eye imaging, the constructive use of imagination, based entirely upon memory. This is perfect visualization! And everyone has the natural ability to do this whenever they want, perfectly and with no training at all.”

*****

At the end he states, ” If you are blind and cannot imagine in a sighted way, please adapt and convert all the exercises within this tutorial to exercises using whatever perceptions you have available, i.e., tactile, sound, smell, etc. This can easily be done with any constructive imagination or visualization exercise, as given above. This can be done with any led meditation containing sighted details and instructions. Replace colours, scenes and sighted descriptions with something from your own non-sighted perception memory. Use your own remembered perceptions of a lovely walk you have taken in a park or in the countryside, and simply adapt the exercise to suit. Take advantage of your enhanced perceptions of sound, smell, texture, taste, and of spatial awareness.”

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Mike Sententia April 7, 2012 at 12:13 PM

I am so loving blogging right now. You guys are awesome. Great answers everyone.

Also, make sure to read Mr. Black’s reply on his blog. http://beyondchaosmagick.wordpress.com/2012/04/07/teaching-magick-disabilities/

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Halo April 8, 2012 at 4:08 PM

A lot of people actually struggle with the command/suggestion to ‘visualise’ because that isn’t how their minds work. I mentally translate ‘visualise’ into ‘feel’ or ‘imagine’ to encompass the other elements of experience. The Western fixation on visual experience (we are such voyeurs! TV, films, theatre, colour coding, HD technology, emphasis on design/fashion/visual beauty… the very way we structure our society favours sight and this is borne out in our language) works to the detriment of people who are not wired up to think visually as their primary mode and certainly excludes people who have never been able to see and so cannot (presumably? Necessarily?) understand what is meant by ‘visuals’!

Anyway, I agree that this is something often overlooked and a habit that many of us fall back on. The simplest and easiest way round it that I have found is to literally swap the term ‘visualise’ for ‘feel as though’ or similar – or ‘imagine’ if the ‘image’ implication of the word does not get in the way. This is helpful for folks who are primarily visual also because it encourages them to widen their efforts and experiences while including everyone.

As an example; I struggle a lot with the exhortations to ‘listen’ to one’s guides, or ‘listen’ to the gods/spirits/ghosts/inner being or whatever as I simply cannot hear things in my head. I can barely remember things like the way my mother or my partner’s voices sound – my mind just does not work that way – so to be told to ‘listen’ just gives me a blank. The word itself often triggers confusion as being in a suggestive state its harder to mentally amend the instructions – so when I lead a trance I try very hard to use multiples of sensory terms and not to focus on only one at a time.

I’ve learnt to ‘know’ and ‘feel’ instead of ‘hear’ and I can receive the information I need quite well, despite many years of trying I still don’t ‘hear’ anything. And I don’t need to. I believe that this is in principle applicable across the board – when someone says visualise, they mean ‘mentally experience’!

However your internal senses work, however, few people find it easy to mentally experience things consistently and clearly without practice, so if it’s the case that someone who cannot visualise is finding it tricky to begin it isn’t because visualising is easier than feeling/sensing/etc. it is because it needs work.

We would all benefit from being less sight-focussed, I believe! I am, however, writing from the privileged position of having all my senses working (mostly) fine so I might be missing something and I know my experiences are not quite comparable.

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GarlicClove April 8, 2012 at 6:24 PM

I have certain songs that trigger spells and help with visualizations. For example, I use song “Evenstar” from the Lord of the Rings soundtrack when I am grounding and cleansing because it has a very calming affect on me. I use Wendy Rule’s song Hecate when I am working with the Crone.

Try using songs or chants instead of visualizations. Repeat your intent over and over rhythmically.

You can also imagine feelings. Instead of using light, imagine heat or coldness flowing from your hands. If you are cleansing yourself, imagine the feeling of cool water flowing down your body and the sound of a trickling creek. I hope that helps

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Mike Sententia April 9, 2012 at 6:14 PM

LaWanda had trouble with the comment form, but wrote me:

There are really some great ideas there, and I thought the response was really good. I really liked the hand movements up and down the body, and I think that doing that would be a good focus for me and I shall certainly try it. To answer the question that one person asked, about whether I see when I dream, of course I don’t see anymore when I dream that I see at other times. Thanks for the great website, I am a fan! LaWanda

And from me: Thanks for the great replies everyone. Great additions, Halo and GarlicClove, and welcome to the site.

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Stefen September 15, 2014 at 10:36 PM

I’m blind as well, and this very thing has been a problem for me for years until I realized that “visualization” isn’t always visual. One thing that I’ve discovered is that I can sometimes pick up energy signatures by smell, and when I feel someone walking by I can feel my defenses automatically go up. Although I’m still not sure if I’m feeling their energy or their air currents. Perhaps it’s a bit of both.

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Mike Sententia September 17, 2014 at 6:48 PM

Neat! I’m always excited to hear from folks who’ve worked out a way to “visualize” that works for them. I hope this encourages other blind people to give magick a try.

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George September 18, 2014 at 12:09 AM

This is a great post & comments! It took me ages to twig properly that “visualise” doesn’t necessarily mean “pictures”, it’s more like “re-create senses”, so you can approach it other ways. NLP (in its early, therapeutic modelling, pre-sales-and-persuasion incarnation) discovered that most people have a “lead sense” they are better at, which acts as your way in.

For instance, I “feel” the object first and then I find it easier to introduce a sound and then an image.

I wonder if people with poor eyesight, rather than being blind, find their “picturing” abilities diminished, and that another sense takes priority in their imaginings?

This post on reddit is related and quite interesting: Redditor’s born deaf, what language do you think in?

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Sheela Gunn-Cushman September 29, 2014 at 3:49 AM

Hi, folks, I’m blind, too. I think there are as many ways of perceiving and processing one’s environment as there are people. I’m glad someone who could see said they weren’t visual. *sigh of HUGE relief* I think in pictures and dream in…well, not sure. Been blind all my life, but don’t only dream in audio, taste touch and smell. I have no way of making the bridge between worlds. Describing a sunset when color is not a common denominator is as hard as describing birdsong when audio is not a given. Therefore, I’m not sure how to begin to describe my dreams, but don’t know how to answer the usual questions. I have a concept of color that is beyond red-hot, blue-cold and is not as primative, but *smile* when one gets into chartreuse and cyan, I am well and truly lost. Wouldn’t mind experiments and wordsmithing to play with such things in future.

My question is: What does Mike’s sigil to dowload his etherial software look like. I groaned when I discovered it was only a picture, though an interesting thing happened thereafter. I gave it a couple minutes’ thought, read his basic description of how it was built, then created a picture of my own and linked it back to the source. It seems to have worked. I neither know what the whole looks like, nor what he chose for his components, but my picture links to his software…I chose my own icon!

As to “visualization,” most of what I would have said has already been said. I think any guided imagery should be as full an experience as possible, so every kind of stimulus…or as many as possible, should be covered. Wonder, though, if others have had the problem of not “seeing” what the narrator is trying to have you see. I don’t mean blindness, I mean that the scene they are playing out may be generally the same, but then you see other things happening than do they, or something like that. This happens to me in more of a group setting.

On a different, but related note, I have zero tolerance for monosense thinking, and am thrilled to see that it has been squashed here and other better seeds put in its stead. The eye is too oft taken for granted in general as well as in the magickal community as is the ear and other assumptions of ability or lack thereof. It’s quite frustrating and disappointing.

So far, Mike, I have found your site quite accessible with the exception that your pictures do not have alt attributs in their elements. *smile* Not needed, but helpful and enjoyable. HUGE thanks for not using one of those dreaded captshas which have caused me not to want to deal with forums and blogs. I did, however, have trouble with the comment form, too, and have had to write my comments in Notepad, then copy and paste. The edit box for the message itself isn’t labeled and I couldn’t read what I had written using my screen reader.

‘Nuff for now, *smile*
Sheela

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Stefen September 29, 2014 at 3:40 PM

My dreams are basically what I would sense in my waking hours. I’ve been blind from birth, so have no concept of sight at all.

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Mike Sententia September 29, 2014 at 4:08 PM

Thanks, Sheela! I’m so happy this is resonating for you and helping you feel unalone.

On the sigil, that’s great that you got a connection from thinking about it. I’m not sure the best way to distribute ethereal software for the blind. Maybe an audio file of a chant? I’ll have to look into it.

Also on my look into it list: A name for the comment text field. I don’t know where to do that, but I’ll look around my wordpress installation.

Thanks for writing!

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Stefen September 29, 2014 at 7:47 PM

Sheela,

If you’re using JAWS For windows and turn on forms mode, the field labels will read properly. Also, the label appears to read after the field. As an example, the first field is for your name. Name will be read directly below it. Same goes for email and such.

Hope this helps.

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