What Is A Core Discipline In Magick?
ason Miller, in his recent blog article (No Replacement for Meditation) in the blog Strategic Sorcery has stated that meditation is the core discipline in the practice of magick. He has emphasized this to the point of saying that he would give up all of his magickal practices if he were forced to just practice one thing, and that one thing would be meditation. What Jason is saying is that meditation is the core discipline to the practice of magick. I couldn’t disagree more with what he has said, even though I would agree that meditation is important and at times, even critical to the achievement of the higher ordeals of ritual magick. However, meditation is just a tool, not an end to itself. I would not classify meditation as the core discipline of what I practice as ritual magick. So, I guess the question that I must answer is, what is the core discipline for a ritual magician?
The only way that we can answer this question is first answer the question of what is the ultimate objective for the practice of ritual magick. Answering that question should allow us to quickly identify what is the core discipline. The answer, as I understand it, and have stated for some time in this blog and in my books, is to become one with the Deity. All other actions are either ancillary to this goal (in other words, they incrementally assist) or are distractions to it. How does a ritual magician facilitate union with the Deity? Through the practices of alignment, assumption of godhead, devotions, communion, and ultimately, the Bornless One invocation rite. The magician creates a personal religious cult where he or she is the sole celebrant, congregation and personal avatar of the chosen deity. Such a relationship may seem idolatrous, presumptuous and even heretical to adherents of an orthodox creed, and indeed it is! However, the assumption of the Godhead is a practice that eventually fuses the personality of the magician with that of the Deity, causing a powerful ascension of consciousness, and a corresponding materialization and actualization of the living aspect of the magician’s personal imago of God. The ritual magician is first and foremost a priest or priestess, acting as the arbiter of the Deity in the material world. This is not a new idea or belief, but is based on a long tradition of magickal practices - but perhaps lionized first by Aleister Crowley, who changed how magick was practiced in the early twentieth century.
If I were to use Jason’s analogy then and be forced to reduce all of my practices to one thing, it would be variations on Godhead assumption. All of the other practices are tools that assist the magician in mastering the mind, the domain of spirit, body and one’s material circumstances - they are, in a word, nothing more than tools. So from this we can deduce that the core discipline in the practice of ritual magick is the assumption of Godhead and all of its related liturgical expressions and practices. It doesn’t matter if one is practicing magick from either the left hand or the right hand path - this core discipline can be reinterpreted to function in many different ways, but all of them lead the magician to the ultimate achievement - at-one-ment with the Deity, however that entity is defined.
Don’t misinterpret what I have said, though. Meditation is important, but then, so is the craft of divination, the arts of earth-based magick, theurgy, goetia, operant philosophy, occult research and study - the list is endless. But all of these practices, however important, are just tools - they are a means to an end, and that end is union with the Godhead.
One thing that any practicing magician needs to be aware of is that many systems of meditation and contemplation are highly integrated into a specific religious system. Whether one is practicing Vendanta Yoga, Zen Buddhism, Christian monasticism or any of the many different disciplines, almost all of these systems take a dim view of the practice of ritual magick. They are, in a word, incommensurate systems that will cause a powerful dissonance in one who would attempt to practice both systems in a deep and ardent manner. This is why I chose Kriya and Tantra/Kundalini Yoga as my foundational practices, since they not only allow me to practice ritual magick, but seem to highly encourage it, since the objectives of these disciplines are indeed commensurate with a worldly spiritual outlook such as ritual magick. To cherry pick a system of meditation and take it out of its context in order to practice it as some kind of core discipline will certainly short circuit the effectiveness of that system, in my humble opinion.
Also, ritual magicians begin their path in an incremental manner. In the beginning of their practice, they perform short ritual workings to effect a certain change or reap an opportunity. Meditation assists them in acquiring the right mind state in order to perceive and manipulate the forces and spirits associated with their work. Meditation is a tool for them, not an end in itself.
Meditation is therefore defined as the practices of asana, simple forms of prana-yama, mantra and mandala (yantra) and contemplation/concentration, stripped of their spiritual context. Anyone who has performed the simple fourfold-breath while maintaining an internal state of “being the witness” will tell you that doing that for just ten to twenty minutes will produce altered states of consciousness. What are those altered states of consciousness? Greater and more subtle awareness of oneself and one’s environment, sensitivity to spiritual and paranormal phenomena and a greater alignment with the Deity as the union of all being. From this vantage point, the magician can begin the ritual work that he or she sought to do in the first place. The more often these practices are performed, preferably at least once a day, every day, then the magician will be more sensitive and in tune with the magickal processes that he or she is attempting to engage. A regular meditation session is the repertoire of the competent magician - thus, it is tool and nothing more.
Jason has cleverly put a picture of the Buddha meditating at the top of his blog article, but the fact is that the Buddha would have found any and all magickal practices as superfluous. Christian mystics would be horrified at the thought of the magician assuming the Godhead in an obvious aggressive manner, and even Indian mystics would find the worldliness of ritual magick to be highly problematic. None of the adherents of these disciplines would either agree with or look kindly upon the practices of the typical ritual magician, but then they are operating in completely different spiritual context and could not be expected to either agree or condone such an obviously different spiritual discipline. Therefore, practitioners of ritual magick must carefully choose the components of their spiritual regimen so that everything that they do is harmonious to the practice of magick. My Tantra teachers not only know full well that I am a practicing ritual magician, but they also highly condone what I am doing and how I am doing it. I know from personal experience that this is more of an exception than the rule. As a ritual magician, I am often open to criticism, disapproval and sometimes, even hostility from those who are adherents to a spiritual tradition that is quite unlike mine. I consider it one of the perks of my avocation.