Posts Tagged ‘Visualization’

When Visualization Fails

Monday, April 14th, 2014

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A decade ago, I figured out energy orgasms. I’d be making out with a woman, send her energy, and she’d spontaneously orgasm. No genital contact, no suggestion, just energy. Worked with multiple women, including several non-mages and one energy worker who sent the energy back to me (which was fun, too).

I never understood what I was doing. I just thought about building energy in my groin, sent it to her groin and her head, and it just worked.

Until it didn’t.

I moved across the country, didn’t date much for a couple months. I also learned more about energy and shielding, which changed the way I built energy. And the energy orgasms stopped.

The visualization had been working because, through sheer luck, the natural default way I built energy happened to get a lot of things right. Wonderful. Except as I learned more, those natural defaults changed in some small way, and the same visualization produced slightly different energy. And zero orgasms.

For example:

  • What tissue do you build the energy in — nerves, muscles, something else? I had no idea.
  • Does the energy go to her aura, energy layer, or deeper layers? No clue.
  • What signatures of energy do you want? Um, the ones that my body produces when we make out?

I’m returning to this problem this month. Instead of focusing on sensations in my body, I’m using sensory connections to map the magickal structures involved in this energy, so I can make a plan. Instead of visualizing energy in my groin, I’m consciously directing my ethereal muscles to build energy in my nerves, and send it to my aura. This time, when I get it working, I’ll know why it works, so I can debug it and improve on it.

Which is really the point of direct magick.

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2 Questions on Visualization

Friday, March 7th, 2014

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Steven writes (his text in italics):

Hey there, I have two questions.

First, to practice building up energy, instead of visualizing mist going into my lungs, I find it easier to imagine static electricity going up my spine and then with each breath in it slowly grows around my body, but I’m unsure if that will work the same, I’m sure it will but I figured I’d ask.

“Work the same” is tricky. How does your unconscious mind respond to images of glowing mist? How does it respond to images of static electricity? I don’t know. Your mind will respond differently to different visualizations, but everyone’s mind is different, so I can’t tell you how you’ll respond.

Visualization-based magick is all about how your unique mind responds to images. That varies from person to person, and even from day to day, with your mood and hunger and whatever else. It’s inherently imprecise. That’s part of why I avoid visualizations, and instead direct my ethereal muscles consciously.

But you might be asking, “Will this visualization work to build energy?” Yes, it probably will. And if it feels more natural than visualizing mist, then do it. Just don’t expect your mind to respond to either visualization in the same way my mind does.

The next question is something I’ve wondered for a long time, the term “visualization” has always confused me, what exactly does it mean? Am I supposed to close my eyes and see actual images of lighting going up my spine, or am I just thinking of it (imagining) like I would a day dream? I apologize for the long message but I feel these questions are important to me growing as a mage, so I had to ask, thank you for your time, may the fates grant you fortune.

I actually don’t know. I’ve always visualized by closing my eyes and picturing the image. I relax, focusing on the images without tensing my body or face.

But I rarely use visualization for magick. Certainly not as part of my own practice. So I’m probably the wrong guy to ask.

Readers: Are any of you the right person to ask? Got tips for Steven on visualization? Please help him out.

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How Magick is Like Origami

Friday, February 28th, 2014

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AJ writes:

Hey, found your site on google. Looks like an amazing resource.

I’m really struggling with the energy breathing meditation because I find visualization very hard. I can only visualize myself in the third person. I wouldn’t have a clue how to visualize myself breathing in energy in the first person.

Can it still work if I only do 3rd person visualization?

Thanks for your help!

Thanks, AJ!

Short answer is yes, 3rd person visuals (imagining looking at yourself from the outside) should work fine.

Long answer is, most visualizations should work just fine. The point of a visualization is to communicate your intent to your unconscious, so as long as it speaks to you, it should work.

Even longer answer is, I hardly use visualizations. For at least a decade, my ethereal muscles have been conscious. It’s not that I’m aware of every little action they do, any more than I’m aware of each individual muscle in my fingers as I fold origami. But I also don’t visualize my arm moving, and I don’t visualize the finished origami crane. Instead, I watch a youtube video, see how the guy folds the paper, then consciously do that, focusing on the mechanics of each step of the process, stepping my fingers through it with a combination of conscious mind (for the way to hold the paper) and unconscious mind (for which individual muscles produce the desired movement of my fingers.)

I don’t think I can explain what it’s like to do magick consciously except through physical skills like origami. But hopefully that gives you some idea. And in Book 3 of the Initiation, (maybe Book 2), I’ll show you how to start doing magick consciously, too.

Back to AJ’s question: Do whatever visualizations feel natural to you. Don’t worry too much about the details. You probably won’t be using visualizations for long, anyway.

(And I don’t actually do origami. But anyone else re-watch the first season of House of Cards? It’s the first example that came to mind.)

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Over-Thinking Visualizations

Monday, December 9th, 2013

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Last night, a friend asked, “For energy meditations, what exactly should I visualize?”

My answer: It doesn’t matter how you represent energy, just pick something that speaks to you. Fire, water, light, glowing mist, they all work roughly the same.

Here’s why: Your visualization communicates your intent to your unconscious. Your unconscious mind then does whatever it does to create the actual energy. And, in general, actually creating the energy has very little to do with what you visualized.

So, just pick something. See how your unconscious responds. Then pick something else, and see what’s the same, and what’s different, in how your unconscious responds. Learn what speaks to your unconscious, and how to produce the results you’re looking for.

Her summary: “Stop over-thinking the visualization.”

Two more notes:

  • Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that, just because your unconscious responds a certain way to a particular visualization, that anyone else’s unconscious will respond the same way.
  • What’s next? For me, it’s taking the unconscious parts parts of the mind that drive magick — the “ethereal muscles” — and making them conscious, so we can become aware of what they actually do to perform magick, (which often has very little to do with what we visualize), and adjust how they do it.
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Don’t Visualize

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

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Responding to How to Begin Magick for Complete Novices, Rose (who we’ll assume is a novice) asks:

I was just wondering… how to I make myself visualize? I have been trying to study up on it, and sometimes when im meditating i see random colors and shapes, but nothing is clear..? what can I do?

And John asks:

Why is visualization or sensing important? Can’t magick be done without visualization, or is visualization necessary, or is visualization simply a technique to empower yourself?

Here’s my advice: Don’t worry about visualizing.

I give visualizations on some beginner posts because beginners like them. They’re easy to write, generally easy to do, so authors write them, people expect them, and they make beginners happy.

But visualizations aren’t important for magick, and I personally avoid using them.

A visualization works like this: You make some assumptions about what’s out there in the world. If your friend has knee pain, you might imagine a ripped tendon repairing itself. You focus on it really hard, and you hope something happens.

Easy. But not very effective, because there’s no way to know what your unconscious mind, ethereal muscles, and ethereal software actually did in response to those images. You’re hoping they picked up your intent to heal your friend, and you’re hoping they know how to implement that intent — what energy signatures will nudge the atoms in your friend’s tissue to bring about that result. But both of those are mere hopes. Any one of those steps might fail. Those resources might not know what you want, or they might not know how to do it. Try and see: Visualize your end table turning into gold, and see how your ethereal muscles and software aren’t able to make that happen.

In short, I’m not a big fan of visualization because it doesn’t guide your ethereal muscles and software on how to implement your intent. And they often need that guidance.

Here’s what I do instead:

First, I engage my ethereal muscles. (That’s my term for the parts of your mind that drive magick.) They’re the key to doing magick, engaging them is what makes the difference between imagining vs magickal visualization, and between theater and magickal ritual.

Second, I guide my ethereal muscles in some way. You could use a visualization for this, but you don’t have to. When I want to connect to a piece of ethereal software, I engage my ethereal muscles for communication, then think the name of that software, such as “my manifesting software,” or “reiki healing software.” Or to adjust my shielding, I focus on the feeling of the connections around my body. There’s no one right way to guide your ethereal muscles, so as a beginner, do whatever feels most natural to you.

Third, I sense what’s out in the world using sensory connections. This lets me ensure that, when I guide my ethereal muscles to connect to that ripped tendon, they (1) actually find the right tendon (because I can consciously feel the energy I’m connecting to), and (2) the tendon actually is ripped, or at least, has the energy I associate with heavily injured tissue. (You wouldn’t want to send healing energy to the tendon, only to discover the pain was from a cartilage injury, right?) Sensory connections help me ensure my actions actually line up to the outside world.

I avoid visualizations because they don’t work well with sensory connections. When I visualize, I dream up some images, focus on them, and hope they work. Because I’m focused on those images, I’m not feeling what my muscles and connections are doing, so I miss out on that sensory information, and can’t easily adjust my magick to suit this particular situation. Visualization, along with rituals and other approaches to magick that direct your focus to your actions or images, make it hard for me to use sensory connections, so I avoid those methods.

(Instead, I let my ethereal muscles place their info into my mind in whatever way they prefer. It might be abstract data, or tactile feelings, or even visuals. Whichever way they represent the information, I use that representation to guide that bit of magick.)

There’s a catch, though. Sensory connections are themselves non-trivial magick. I started magick at age 11, and didn’t develop sensory connections until my 20s. Now, you have blogs and books to guide you, so you can learn sensory connections with a few years of experience, but they’re still not a novice technique. So, if you’re a novice, feel free to use visualizations until you get to the point where sensory connections make sense for you.

And if you’re like Rose, feel free to not use visualizations. Instead, guide your ethereal muscles in whatever way feels most natural to you.

(Want more? I discussed this topic a few months ago, too.)

Do you have some other novice-friendly way to guide your ethereal muscles? Leave a comment.

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What I Use Instead of Visualization

Monday, March 18th, 2013

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I often talk about consciously engaging your mental muscles, guiding them through each step of a technique, watching and adjusting as they work. I’ve advised you to do this instead of visualization. And recently, in a post on grounding, I talked about visualizing my energy going into the earth, how ineffective that visualization was, and how consciously guiding my mental muscles through that same process worked better.

But I haven’t explained why it matters if you consciously guide your magick instead of visualizing it.

Simon has been wrestling with this. Specifically, he wants to understand the difference between visualizing an image vs working with a similar image directly:

It seems, as you’ve described it, that ‘establishing a connection’ still involves making a mental representation — which is what I understand as visualization. You say we should ‘engage our mental muscles’ but in terms of how we actually do this it still seems to involve visualization – just a different kind. In my limited practical experience of your methods it certainly feels that way. Just like talk of chakras, meridians, the ‘triple heater’ and the upper/lower Tan Tien – whatever the reality of all this esoteric anatomy the actual method of interacting with it seems to be visualization. They just claim that their visualizations are accessing something ‘real’ (in the sense of a psychic/magical/archetypal/liminal structure) rather than just visualizing an image that is supposed to represent your goal ‘to your unconscious’ in some way.

But..isn’t that really what you are doing?

Its not just more word play about how we categorize visualization – I’m trying to understand what, if anything, makes ‘sensing connections’ and ‘engaging mental muscles’ something fundamentally different from ‘visualization’. Not the explanation of what esoteric anatomy the visualization is supposed to affect – but when you actually ‘engage mental muscles’ what is going on in that moment? Why is it not visualizing – or making a mental representation?

Indeed, everything we do involves a mental representation. To throw a ball, you need a mental representation of how gravity will curve its flight. To comb your hair, you need a mental representation of where your head and hands are, so you don’t accidentally comb your face. Everything needs mental representations.

But do this for me:

  • Close your eyes and imagine what you look like, sitting there. Visualize yourself lifting your arm over your head. Make it as clear as possible, or at least, as clear as you do when you do magick visualizations.
  • Now, close your eyes and actually lift your arm over your head. Notice how your arm feels, and how you innately know where your hand is and how each finger is pointing, even though you can’t see it.

Both of those involved mental representations. When you visualized, you imagined a scene, thinking about how you would expect it to look. When you actually moved your arm, there was a different sort of mental representation, called proprioception. That’s the feedback your arm gives you brain, telling you where the arm is, how you’re holding it, and so on. It’s all part of normal neurology, and almost everyone has it. (It’s also the cause of the tingles in some exercises that claim to show you energy.) Both activities involved a mental representation.

But there’s one critical difference: The visualization is entirely about your expectations. There’s no feedback. If you have an incorrect view of the world — if there was a shelf over your head, but you didn’t realize it — the visualization will match your view of the world (no shelf) rather than the actual world (arm hits shelf).

When you actually move your arm, though, you actively sense where it is. If your arm bumps a shelf, you know it. If you touch a light switch, you’ll feel whether it’s up or down. You’re not just sitting there imagining the world — you’re reaching out and feeling it.

That’s the key difference between visualizing (where you focus on what you want and what you already believe is true) and consciously guiding your magick (where you feel your mental muscles and the external world each step of the way).

Yesterday, I did a healing session for a friend’s back. I made a network of connections throughout her back and felt where the injuries were. It was like a change in the texture of the material my connections were touching. Then, as I did the healing technique, I felt where each connection went (in much the same way you feel where your hand is, even when you can’t see it), felt each change in her signature, and felt how the power was flowing as a whole. The point isn’t to memorize the steps or to imagine them correctly. The point is to feel what’s going on this particular time, with these particular connections in this particular person, so you can adjust your magick to this particular situation.

I want to make that clear: The goal isn’t more accurate visualizations. I can tell you what I felt in my friend’s back, and you can imagine it. You will have an accurate visualization, but without feeling where all your connections are — without the tactile feedback you get by sensing each connection and processing that into a picture of the world as it is right this second — you won’t know if your connections go to the right spots in her back, and you won’t know what happens as you start changing things. You can imagine a bunch of connections sending healing energy to her back, but what actually happens is anyone’s guess.

I’ve made that error, by the way. I’ve taken a healing technique I know how to do, one I’ve done a dozen times, and been lazy with it. Instead of consciously stepping through everything and feeling where each connection went, I just imagined the injury, imagined the connections, and imagined the good result. I knew what each step would look like because I’d already done the healing technique a dozen times, and I expected the healing energy to work this time too. But it failed, because I wasn’t actually feeling where anything was, wasn’t delivering the energy to the right spots, and generally wasn’t guiding my mental muscles through the process.

Consciously feeling and guiding your magick is hard. It takes practice, and I don’t have a single exercise to teach it to you. We won’t get there until Book 2, and we won’t focus on it until Book 3. And until you’re doing conscious magick yourself, the concepts can be hard to grasp.

But feeling each step is what makes the difference between sending out your intent and hoping for the best vs stepping through a technique, knowing how the external world is responding to everything you do, and adjusting and debugging your magick as you go. That’s what we need to grow magick into a mature, respected discipline, and that’s why it’s worth talking about.

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Grounding #2, and Why I Don’t Trust Visualizations

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

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This post is about changing the way I ground: Going from a visualization to a conscious technique, and why that’s worth doing.

I started working with energy in 1991. Back then, I did magick via visualization. My grounding visualization was something standard, like energy out my feet. I don’t remember the details, but they’re not important.

Some time in the early 2000s, that basic technique stopped working. I mean, it worked OK, but it wasn’t sufficient. I can’t recall exactly why, but it was around the time I started awakening more mental muscles, working with more energy in a broader range of signatures, and generally shifting from playing around with ethereal software to really doing magick. I needed something better to clean up afterward, and particularly to clean up after being drained by the more-skillful spirits that were starting to take notice of me.

Last post, we fixed that problem by building energy as you ground. If someone had handed me that post in the early 2000s, I would have used that technique. It’s simpler and easier than the one I came up with. But at the time, I didn’t fully realize that grounding is about signature, not quantity of energy. And, lacking that understanding, I couldn’t see the better technique. My model just wasn’t good enough.

That’s one reason I’m sharing this technique: It’s a concrete example of how a weaker model results in worse techniques.

Here’s the technique:

  • Establish a connection through the room you’re in, through the wall, and into the area outside your house. (You could also establish a connection into the earth, if you prefer.)
  • Maintain that connection, and connect the other side to the energy layer of your body.
  • Energy flows from high pressure to low pressure, so you’ll expel the energy. And because you’re sending the energy far away, you can expel a lot more of it than you can by just releasing the energy into the area around you. (Or at least, I can.)

Hold on, didn’t I just describe a standard grounding visualization? “Imagine a pipe, going from your chakras to deep inside the earth, draining away the bad energy.”

This is the hardest part of writing about conscious magick: Indeed, that is the standard visualization. But what you visualize and what your mental muscles actually do are two different things. Of course, I wasn’t able to spot that until after I switched from visualization to conscious magick.

For me, the standard visualization just releases energy into the area immediately around me. (That was last post.) But consciously engaging my mental muscles (the ones that handle connections), then consciously connecting out (not to the area immediately around me, but into the air outside my house), then using that connection to ground — consciously doing all that results in entirely different, more effective magick.

Yes, that more effective magick happens to match the standard visualization. And maybe someone more experienced with energy (and visualizations in general) would have gotten their mental muscles to do this full technique with just the standard visualization. But the question is: How would you know? If you aren’t directing your mental muscles consciously, how would you know if you’re getting the full technique or a simpler, less useful one? And if all you have are visualizations, and your best visualization isn’t working — where do you go from there?

That’s why I focus so much on consciously directing my mental muscles, and why I generally find that intent and visualizations are not enough.

Even today, even though my mental muscles know how to do the full, more effective technique, the standard visualization still just dumps the energy into the area around me. To get the proper technique, I still have to consciously step through each step. That’s part of why I don’t trust visualizations.

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The 3 Ways I Direct My Mental Muscles

Saturday, September 8th, 2012

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Last time we discussed visualization and why I don’t use it, I talked about asking my mental muscles to do this and directing them to do that. Today, let’s wrap up this series by discussing my 3 approaches to asking and directing my mental muscles: Words, diagrams, and (when I’m sloppy) visualizations.


To connect to Lisa, I’ll think the words, “connect to Lisa,” while thinking of the feel of her energy signature. (If you’ve never thought of a signature, think of it like remembering the scent of a flower: Hard to put into words, but clear in your memory.) Words are great for common, simple tasks, particularly:

  • Tasks I’ve done a million times that require zero focus, like connecting to people and ethereal software.
  • Tasks my mental muscles simply know how to do, like checking my shielding for openings. If the mental muscles know how to do something better than my conscious mind does, I don’t even bother trying to guide the details.
  • When communicating with spirits and ethereal software, I think the messages in words.

Remember, the magick isn’t in the words, and there’s nothing special about the phrases I use. The magick is in engaging your mental muscles. I just use words to communicate my intent to them.

So, words are great for simple or heavily-practiced tasks. But for more complex or detailed work, I need something more expressive: Diagrams.


Last time, I talked about taking a small step, then listening to my mental muscles to see how that step changed the external world. I often “see the change” as a diagram, showing me the paths, signatures, and other magickal forms my mental muscles are working with. And I can then use that diagram as I direct the next step.

For example, when I do energy healing, I’ll engage my mental muscles for physical effects, then touch the person, think about wanting to see the energy of their tissues, and receive a diagram of the tissues, from skin to muscle to tendons to bone, each with a different feel to denote healthy vs inflamed vs another energy signature. I’ll then use this diagram for the rest of the healing session, with my mental muscles updating it as I go.

To zoom in on a particular tissue, I focus on that tissue in the diagram. There are no words involved, just focus. If I had to explain the feeling, it’s a bit like mentally double-clicking on the diagram.

To do the healing technique, I might think the words, “What signature would you recommend for this tissue?” while focusing on the tissue in the diagram. My mental muscles would zoom in on the tissue, and show me which signatures are applied to which spots. As I focus on each spot, I can feel the signature, and I can adjust it based on that feel, or move some signatures to different spots. Then I approve the signature, and the healing energy starts. Depending on the situation, there are a lot of different techniques from here, but it’s all the same pattern: My mental muscles show me a diagram, which I manipulate to guide the magick.

Why Diagrams Aren’t Visualizations

Aren’t diagrams just images in my head? How are they different than visualizations? Simple: Diagrams correspond to magickal forms in the external world, and visualizations don’t.

Visualizations come from your imagination, based on symbols and correspondences and abstractions. You create the visualization before you do any magick, and often use the same visualization for multiple healing sessions with multiple people (or doing other similar-but-not-identical-magick). So, the visualization is unlikely to correspond to the actual forms your mental muscles are manipulating. It’s a single, static image, designed to convey your overall intent — visualizations aren’t a dynamic feedback mechanism.

But a diagram comes from the external world. After your mental muscles connect to the thing you’re magicking (that’s a word, right?), they create a diagram representing the specific forms in the external world. Every line in the diagram corresponds to an actual connection, and every region corresponds to an actual signature. You can select individual connections in the diagram, and it’ll correspond to an individual connection in the external world. And you can adjust a signature in a diagram, and your mental muscles can translate that into a specific change to a single signature in the external world.

A visualization is like sitting in a room with the blinds closed, trying to draw a map of a city you’ve never seen. A diagram is like walking the streets, and drawing a map as you go.

Another analogy: Imagine you’re a doctor, using a surgical robot. A diagram is like the live feed from the robot’s camera, showing you what the robot actually sees, minute by minute, giving feedback on each action you take. In contrast, a visualization would be like a single, unchanging image of the robot doing some surgery on another patient.


But despite all this, I do occasionally use visualizations. And each time, I’m reminded why I avoid them.

Recently, for a healing session for a friend with PTSD, I had to break some connections, then prevent the connections from re-forming by locking the paths those connections followed. (Imagine wires going through a pipe — the wires are the connections, and the pipe is the path.) I went through three visualizations:

  • Symbolic: I imagined a padlock on each path. This felt fine, but then I checked the results with another diagram, and saw that it didn’t work.
  • Literal (but inaccurate): I imagined a glowing band tied around each path, which also didn’t work. I realized, it guided my mental muscles to try to add something to the paths to seal them, which is the wrong way to do it.
  • Literal (and accurate): I used the wire-in-a-pipe image, and imagined twisting the wires inside the pipe, so they couldn’t reconnect. This worked well.

That wire-pipe visualization came from work on connections in 2003. It corresponds well to how paths and connections actually work, so it works well for directing my mental muscles. But it would have been much simpler to just use the diagram, rather than messing around with visualizations.

So why did bother with visualizations? It wasn’t a conscious choice. I was focusing on finding all the paths that needed to be locked, and “lock the connection” sounded so simple that I barely thought about it. But if I had, I would have used a diagram, found the right solution faster, and maybe even locked the paths more thoroughly than I did.


That’s the end of the series. Leave any questions / thoughts / other comments below.

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What I Do Instead of Visualization

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

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So far, we’ve talked about why I don’t use visualization in magick. Today, let’s talk about what I do instead.

First, I engage my mental muscles using mental posture. Then I connect to whatever ethereal software I want to use, based on its name. (The first time I encounter ethereal software, I name it, and to go back there, I just think the name while engaging the mental muscles for communication). I know the steps my mental muscles take to connect to the software, but I do this so often that I don’t have to consciously guide each step anymore.

(At some point, I’ll have so much software that naming each one won’t work. I’m not there yet, though.)

If I’m working with another person, like for healing sessions, I also connect to them. Usually, I focus on their signature, or on a picture, though sometimes I use a special ethereal software to help with these connections.

Then I listen: What message is the ethereal software sending me? (Usually it says, “Ready to go.”) Has the software connected to me properly? What part of the person have I connected to? (More on that below.) On the whole, what is the state of my connections to the things I want to work with?

Usually, the ethereal software is good to go, but my connection to the person is in the wrong location. So, I’ll connect to other areas of their energy body until I find something I recognize (like the energy of a particular organ), then move from there to the area of the injury. Today, looking around is a single thought that encompasses both seeing and directing the action, but let me step you through the process, the same way I stepped through it as I was first learning to look around the body:

  1. Direct my mental muscles to make more connections to the energy of adjacent tissues in the person’s body. (This is itself a technique I had to develop and practice, involving tracing paths and broadening signatures, but that’s too much detail to go into here.)
  2. Listen to all the energy signatures of tissues you’re now connected to. (Note: It takes practice to recognize different tissues based on their signature. I’d already learned that skill by the time I developed this procedure.)
  3. Consciously decide which tissue to connect to, based on the type of tissue and your best guess at the location. Hope it’s in the direction you want to travel. (I usually pick nerves, orienting myself based on the spine and brain.)
  4. Repeat this until you’ve found what you’re looking for, which is either a particular tissue to orient yourself (like the brain) or the area of the injury.

Over time, this procedure became natural, and today I don’t really think about each step. Kind of like how you stop thinking about a dance move after practicing it a few dozen times. Of course, if you never consciously stepped through the movements and practiced it slowly, you’d never be able to do it quickly — you can’t just skip to the end.

Once I find the energy of the injured tissue, I’ll ask my mental muscles what signatures they instinctively want to use on it. Then I’ll look at the injury and consciously think about what signatures look right, ask my mental muscles about those changes, and repeat a few times until I’m happy with everything.

That’s really what my magick looks like: Listen, take one very small step, listen some more, and repeat. When you actually set those healing signatures into the tissue, it’s the same idea: Ask your mental muscles to make a small change, watch what they do, verify it was correct, and repeat. With practice, the process becomes unconscious (just like a practiced dance move), and the ask-watch-verify cycle speeds up. Today, it takes about one second, and I’m not aware of each individual step. But they’re still there, handled by my mental muscles, just like the steps of a well-practiced dance move are handled by the dancer’s motor memory.

What about magick based on ethereal software? Same thing: I send an instruction, receive a reply, then send another instruction. Again, I take very small steps, verifying each one (based on the software’s reply and whatever I can watch of what it’s doing).

At this point, you’re probably thinking, “Visualization seems much simpler.” And indeed, it is. This approach was never designed to be simple, it was designed to let me consciously guide my mental muscles through new techniques. As a result, it’s more precise than other approaches, and with practice, also faster, because you’re not tied to rituals, and you don’t have to focus on symbols for long periods. But it has a difficult learning curve.

Tomorrow, we’ll wrap up this series by discussing how exactly I direct my mental muscles, and why I don’t use visualization there, either.

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Visualizations Direct (But Don’t See) Magick

Monday, September 3rd, 2012

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And now, five posts into the series on visualization, we’re finally ready to talk about visualization, and why I don’t use it in my magick.

What Is Visualization?

Here’s my basic model for visualizing:

  1. You figure out your intent — the end goal, like “send healing energy to this person” or “bring money to me.”
  2. You figure out a representation for that intent, like imagining the wound healing, imagining green light flowing from the sky into your wallet, or whatever.
  3. You focus on that visualization, do something to project your will out, and let the magick happen.

Sound about right? (Since I’m the author, I’ll just assume you said “yes.”)

Where’s the Feedback?

Clearly, visualization is good for directing magick: Your image communicates your goal to your mental muscles, and if they know how to implement that goal (that is, if the goal is intuitive and natural), you’re all set.

But what if your mental muscles don’t know how to accomplish that goal? In that case, you need feedback from your mental muscles to design and debug the technique. And that’s the problem: There’s no feedback here.

  • In step 1, you pick your goal. No feedback here. (Nor should there be.)
  • In step 2, you dream up a symbolic representation. You might get inspiration from your unconscious, but most visualizations are totally unrelated to how the magick actually works. There’s no actual green light (or even magickal energy) actually flowing into your wallet.
  • In step 3, you hold that visualization in your thoughts. This means your mind isn’t relaxed and open and flexible, so you can’t receive feedback from your mental muscles as easily.

In short, visualization only directs your magick. It doesn’t help you watch your magick as it works. And so, visualization seems to be designed for intuitive magick, and seems poorly suited to consciously designed magick, which requires a 2-way flow of information.

Intentionally Distracting Yourself

It’s not just visualization. Most approaches to magick are designed around directing the magick, not perceiving it. For example:

  • Rituals also pick symbols before doing the magick. The rules are more formal than for visualizations, but there’s still little room for feedback.
  • If you intentionally distract yourself to let your unconscious do the work, you’ve lost the chance to watch your unconscious work. There’s no feedback step, so again, it’s only good for intuitive magick.
  • Chants, runes, or anything else that fills your focus operates much like a visualization, making it harder to watch your magick.

In the end, I think most styles of magick focus entirely too much on directing magick, and entirely too little on watching it, and therefore are suitable only for intuitive magick, not for consciously designing techniques.

Next, I’ll share the approach I use to simultaneously direct and perceive magick.

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