Posts Tagged ‘Visualization’

Directing vs Perceiving Magick

Sunday, September 2nd, 2012

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I’m home and (sort of) rested. Let’s dive back into visualizations, and why I avoid them. It’s been a few days, so here’s a quick recap of the series:

  • Like any other process, a magick technique has many substeps.
  • You generally aren’t aware of the substeps. Your mental muscles know how to do a lot of magick already.
  • But some techniques don’t come naturally. You have to consciously design them out of substeps and sub-substeps, then consciously guide your mental muscles through that technique.

Directing vs Perceiving Magick

Remember that first post, on directing vs perceiving magick? We’re ready to tie that in now.

First: If all you want to do is magick that comes naturally, you only need to direct your mental muscles. Just tell them what you want, and they’ll do it. But remember, that’s only a fraction of all the magick that’s possible.

Second: Most mages only do magick that comes naturally. (Remember, natural might be difficult, but it doesn’t require consciously designing techniques, substep-by-substep.) So, most books and teachers focus on ways to direct your magick, even if they’re not great for perceiving each substep.

But, if you want to consciously design a new technique, you need to know which substeps you can use, and how they work. And, speaking from personal experience, you’ll also need to debug that new technique, because this stuff is complex and the first design rarely works. And to do both of those, you need to watch everything your mental muscles do, and all the external structures they act on as they do it. In other words, to consciously design techniques, you need to perceive all the details of your magick.

Perceiving Requires Relaxed Focus

Listening to your mental muscles requires a relaxed focus. It’s unlike any other activity, but let me try some comparisons:

  • Like daydreaming, you need to be open to thoughts entering your mind.
  • Like listening to a liar, you need to feel each of those thoughts and discard the false ones. (“False” = Came from your own expectations, rather than your mental muscles).
  • To do both of those at once, you need to be alert and present and un-distracted.
  • And you also need to keep track of your goals, and direct your magick.

Now, you don’t have to do that all perfectly, but it’s where we’re trying to get. Particularly if you want to design new techniques, you need to be able to hold that mental posture reliably most of the time.

By this point, you probably see where I’m going: Visualization focuses on the goal, to the exclusion of the listening. Rituals aim to distract your conscious mind, which is great for intuitive, natural magick, but terrible for perceiving the substeps of your mental muscles. Both are designed for natural magick, not consciously designed magick. We’ll discuss that tomorrow, then get into ways to listen to your mental muscles later in the week.

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Visualization is Overrated

Saturday, August 25th, 2012

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So, how exactly does one [do magick], if not through visualization? -Arthur

I’ve talked before about why I don’t use visualization in magick, and what I do instead, but I’ve never done justice to the topic. This is truly the key difference between direct magick and other forms of magick, even those based on rituals rather than visualization, so it’s worth at least one more discussion.

This series will span a lot of topics. Conscious vs unconscious magick. Automation vs precise control. Commands, perceptions, and underlying mechanics. And more. It’ll actually take a while before we talk about visualization or rituals, but that conversation will work much better once we lay this groundwork.

Today, we’ll start with sending instructions vs receiving sensory feedback.

Directing vs Perceiving Magick

If you’ve been here for any length of time, you’ve read about mental muscles. That’s my term for the parts of your mind that drive magick. Note: That’s the mind, not the brain — the mental muscles connect to your brain, but they are not part of it.

And that’s one of the keys to understanding magick: Your brain doesn’t drive it. Non-physical parts of your mind do. They take guidance from your brain, but they are separate.

This means that information needs to flow two ways: From your brain to your mental muscles (to direct them to do what you want), and from your mental muscles to your brain (to perceive the world and how you’re interacting with it).

If the information only flows from your brain to your mental muscles, you can ask for things, but you can’t watch your magick operate. And if your magick doesn’t work, you won’t know why, and so you won’t be able to debug it.

If the information only flows from your mental muscles to your brain, you’ll be able to receive intuitions, but won’t be able to guide the intuitions, ask about particular topics, or ask for further details. I’ve met psychics like this, it’s usually more terrifying than it is useful.

So, we want information to flow both ways. Next, we’ll explore some ways to make that happen.

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Energy Meditation: The Right Start for Magick?

Friday, June 1st, 2012

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In my step-by-step guide to learning direct magick, I have beginners start with an energy meditation. I did it because, well, I didn’t know what else to do. But today, I was updating the energy meditation for my book, and I just feel like there should be a better answer for how to help beginners find their mental muscles.

What’s wrong with that energy meditation? Well, if the person doesn’t have any mental muscles engaged, I don’t think it will do anything at all. They won’t get any energy, they won’t get any practice using their mental muscles (because they’re not using them in the first place), and they’ll probably give up. Or maybe they won’t — it’s fairly easy to make someone feel tingles through proprioception, so with the right visualization, you could probably make a person feel tingles without any energy involved. Which means they’ll spend even more time trying to learn magick while all their mental muscles are still hibernating.

One alternative is to start with a traditional ritual, like the LBRP. Get that ritual’s ethereal software to connect to your mind, start awakening your mental muscles, and go from there. But I don’t do rituals myself, and it feels odd to tell a newcomer to direct magick to start by learning a traditional ritual.

I have a solution in mind: Program the ethereal software I’m shipping with my book to awaken a few mental muscles. You connect to it through the sigil, or possibly through a ritual, think or say a command, and it would help get your mental muscles online, like other ethereal software does.

But, my heart’s not set on that solution. So I want to open it up to you, dear readers: How would you get a newcomer started?

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Visualization for the Blind

Friday, April 6th, 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!

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Visualizing Curing Cancer Doesn’t Cure Cancer

Friday, February 24th, 2012

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Just beause you visualize it, doesn’t make it so.

If I visualize a friend’s cancer evaporating, that may create some magick that helps them feel better. But it doesn’t mean their cancer evaporates, or otherwise goes away.

If I explain the magick as “It evaporates cancer,” that’s a huge over-promise. And it shuts down discussion about what the magick actually does, because now we’re focused on that over-promise. It shuts down proper research.

But I see this all the time. In books on chaos magick (Phil Hine, I think), he talks about magick that goes back in time. Not “I visualize changing the past as a way to communicate my desire to my unconscious,” but magick that actually goes back in time. No testing, no real evidence, just “This is what I visualized, so this must be what happens.” In his defense, his book is about temporarily adopting beliefs, so maybe he was temporarily adopting an unrealistic belief, but it’s hard to tell. In the end, readers start talking that way, too.

To be taken seriously, we need to speak clearly, and match our promises to our results. Which means keeping clear on what visualization does, and doesn’t do.

Visualization asks for something to happen. Specifically, it asks your unconscious mental muscles, which interpret the request as best they can (perhaps symbolically), and do their best to make it happen. That’s very different than actually making the thing you visualized happen.

Understanding this distinction — between what you visualized and what you actually get — is probably the most important step to exploring how magick actually works.

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Reader Questions: What if I Don’t See Magick?

Friday, January 27th, 2012

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Shadowmist asks:

Visualization is something that I have more or less struggled with for years while trying to learn about magick. I feel more than I see. […] I was wondering if you had any advice on how to better experience a visualization without “seeing” clear images.

I don’t do much visualization myself. Definitely not of the detailed “Imagine a glowing mist filling your lungs” variety.

For me, it’s more of seeing paths (lines, basically) and feeling the signatures* of those paths. So when I talk about seeing some part of magick, I just mean “sense” or “observe,” or a metaphoric “See what I mean.”

*Energy has a signature, but so do structures like paths. The signatures of structures determine which types of energy interact with them.

Same with auras. I’ve never seen auras. But I can feel the signature of the person’s energy and get the same information as psychics who see auras, which is what really matters.

So, I guess my advice is: Don’t worry about visualization or seeing-in-the-literal-sense. Focus on understanding. And if feeling magick is more natural for you than seeing it, that’s fine. That’s how I am too. Go with what feels natural.

Edit: Be sure to read Ananael’s comment below.

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Symbols Evolve

Friday, April 29th, 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.

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3 Things You Don’t Know About Visualization (But Should)

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

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Visualization seems so simple: You imagine something, focus on it, and let it happen.

But because it seems simple, we don’t examine it properly. “Think it and it happens” describes some magick, but it doesn’t explain how it works. It doesn’t answer questions like:

  • What’s the difference between an experienced mage visualizing effectively and a non-mage imagining the same thing?
  • When do visualizations work, when don’t they, and why?
  • How can you create better visualizations to do magick more quickly and reliably?

Here are my answers, based on my experience with the unconscious parts of magick. They should be useful to novice through intermediate mages, plus with anyone who teaches them.

Visualization = Imagination + Mental Posture

To most people, visualization means “focusing on images.” It’s the more serious cousin of imagination.

What the Common View Misses

Magickal visualization starts by engaging the parts of your mind that drive magick (your “mental muscles”), making sure they’re paying attention and ready to respond. Then you focus on images.

That preparation is critical. It makes the difference between wishful thinking and reliable magick. Which is roughly the difference between playing air guitar and real guitar.

That preparation is also the hard part. Anyone can focus on an image. But you need practice and training to find the right parts of your mind to create magick. I call that skill “mental posture.” It’s what makes magick work.

What Those Details Let You Do

By learning to consciously control your mental posture, you can engage the right parts of your mind to make magick work anytime. I explain how in this post. (That post gives several options for “Next” at the bottom, but this post isn’t one of them. Just hit “back” to return here).

Continue to Part 2

This post was short, so I’m posting part 2 today also.

Continue to Part 2: Why some visualizations fail, and what to do about it.

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Why Visualizations Fail – And What to Do About It

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

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This is post 2 in a series. Start with the first post here.

Once you’re sending instructions to your mental muscles — the parts of your mind that drive magick, analogous to how your arm muscles drive arm movement — what do you tell them?

If you follow most guides, you’ll tell them your intent. Visualize money coming to you. Visualize a shell protecting you from harm. Visualize energy entering your body and healing you.

The problem is, it doesn’t work reliably. Here’s why.

What the Common View Misses

Those visuals only tell your unconscious what you want to happen, now how to make it happen.

But maybe your unconscious already knows how to do everything. What’s that? You can’t draw a portrait, play a guitar and construct a house without training and practice?

OK, that was sarcasm. But it’s so obvious in every normal skill: You need to practice each step first. You learn to draw lines and shapes before drawing a portrait, play chords before playing a song, read architecture diagrams and pour a foundation before constructing a house.

So why do we expect the unconscious to simply know how to do magick?

I think it’s because we accept unreliability in magick. As though that’s just how it works. Which is a deeper problem for a bigger post.

What Those Details Let You Do

Once you accept that you weren’t born knowing how to do magick, you can teach yourself the skills to make magick work.

Think about playing a guitar. What’s the first thing you learn? Chords and notes. That is, how to move your fingers (something you can already do) to play a particular chord (something you can’t do yet).

Once that becomes easy, you learn to string together a series of chords (which you now know) to play a song (which you can’t do yet). Then you learn another song the same way, but it’s a little easier because you’re a little better.

Once you master the instrument, all these things become unconscious and you simply play the notes you see. But that’s the end point, not the start.

Let’s apply that pattern to magick.

Say you want to shield yourself properly. That works by closing the connections you have to everything around you — things you touch, look at, think about, etc.

A standard visualization would be “see a white bubble surrounding you.” Notice it doesn’t tell your unconscious anything specific about connections. It just tells the intent, not the method.

Instead, try this:

  1. Learn to recognize a connection. For example, quiet your energy, and have a friend connect to you, so you can learn how it feels. Then, have your friend sometimes pretend to connect but not really do it, so you can verify you’re noticing it correctly.
  2. Visualize grabbing and blocking that connection. Visualize closing it. These are simple steps your unconscious probably knows how to do. Practice this until it becomes easy.
  3. Now that your unconscious knows how to block a connection, simplify the visualization you used, and apply it to your entire body. If you saw the connection as a wire, and blocking it was cutting that wire, then visualize cutting all the wires all around you.

But wait. Why not just skip the first 2 steps and visualize cutting all the wires?

Simple. Because you need to train your mind how to cut one wire before you can ask it to cut them all. Just like you would practice each chord separately before trying to play a song, you should practice each skill separately before trying to do a complex technique.

You can do this with the core skills that separate novices from experts, too. My entire series on sensory connections — connections that let you accurately see the moving parts of magick — is based around teaching you a skill, letting you practice it, then using that skill as a building block of a more complex skill. That’s how I’ve always learned magick, and I think that’s how I always will.

Not sure what the steps are for a particular skill? No problem. In most of my posts, I’ll explain the steps to construct each technique. If you don’t know how to do a step, follow that link, and that post will explain that step’s sub-steps. Just keep following links until you get to magick skills you’re familiar with, then work your way up.

I know, it’s much less sexy than “visualize money and it will come to you.” But it works.

Part 3

Come back next week for part 3.

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How To Prepare Your Mind for Magick Visualization

Monday, July 26th, 2010

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In this post:

  • How to get your mind in the right state to do magick anytime, at will
  • How to know you did it right


Last post showed you how to begin doing magick with a specific visualization.

This post will show you how to do magick using any visualization by consciously engaging the parts of your mind that control magick.

Once those parts are paying attention, they’ll quickly respond to any visualization you use, so you can get new visualizations to work on the first try.


Your mental muscles are the parts of your mind that drive magick.

Your brain’s posture is the state of your brain for a specific task.  Your brain’s posture for magick is the state your brain enters when you do magick.

How To Get the Right Brain State for Controlling Magick

Before beginning these exercises, learn a simple visualization (like the energy meditation from last post).  For ritual mages, use a simple ritual instead of a visualization for these exercises.

For each step, practice it until it becomes easy.  Novice mages will probably practice 10 minutes 2x a day for a week.  Experienced mages can usually move faster.

Step 1: Recognize Your Brain’s Posture for Doing Magick

If you’ve ever worked on your posture — standing up straight, head erect, etc. — you know how thinking about it makes you aware of muscles you never thought about before.

We want to do the same for your brain states, to make you aware of what parts of your brain you use when you do magick.

Think about your brain state as you practice the simple visualization. It’s easiest to see the relevant mental muscles as change what parts of your brain are active, so pay particular attention as you begin and end the visualization.

Don’t worry about controlling anything yet. Just watch what your brain is doing.


Imagine parts of your brain networked together.

Step 2: Maintain That Brain Posture

Now that you can feel your brain’s posture, hold it there consciously.

Use your visualization to get your brain into the posture for magick, then focus on your brain’s posture and stop visualizing. Just hold your brain in that state.

Another options is to use a simple visualization to control your brain posture.  For example, imagining parts your brain networked together.  Make sure the image is general enough to incorporate into other visualizations later.

Step 3: Consciously Engage That Brain Posture

Now you’re ready to consciously engage the brain posture for doing magick. Just think about the same mental muscles as in step 2, or use the visualization you made (the networking image).  Only do this, don’t also do the energy meditation.

Once this becomes easy, you’ll be ready to create your own visualizations and magick

How To Know You Did It Right

Engage your brain posture for magick, then do a different energy visualization. Ignore breathing, motion, ritual, etc. Just imagine incandescent mist (or whatever represented energy) entering or building in various parts of your body.  You should quickly feel energy in those parts of your body, just like if you’d done a full energy meditation.


Learn the 3 key skills to controlling magick consciously.

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