Came across this from their 1982 debut album. The lyrics actually describe a method of Tattva exploration by clairvoyance, although the Golden Dawn did not recommend holding “the symbol to your forehead.”
Tag Archives: Clairvoyance
This is a follow-up to the article I posted on Thursday concerning David Bowie, in which I made the point that he incorporated esoteric symbolism even into the last video he released before his death.
In the 1997 interview quoted at the top of the article, Bowie revealed that he was influenced by Arthur Edward Waite and Dion Fortune, and briefly described the kind of occult practices in which he indulged. Now, it’s obvious to me that he was simplifying it for a non-magical audience, but from what he said it is clear to me that he was practising what I would call proper occultism – specifically the kind of Clairvoyant experiments undertaken by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.
In Golden Dawn terms, Clairvoyance does not involve somehow seeing what is occurring elsewhere in the normal, physical world, beyond the range of ordinary sight: this instead is nowadays known as “remote viewing.” Instead, Clairvoyance, of the type Bowie described in his interview, involves seeing magical phenomena on the Astral Plane. The Astral Plane is a nebulous continuum which, in its lower reaches, is nothing more than the world of dreams which we all experience, but in its upper realms is where magical and spiritual forces manifest as phenomena which one can observe and with which one can interact.
This would imply Bowie would have had to have spent a lot of time studying the Qabalah, in order to gain the requisite background knowledge, but most of all, it would have meant learning to master the art of Astral Projection.
A typical Clairvoyant exercise would be what is known as a Tattva-journey. A “Tattva” is a symbol derived from Tantric art representing one of the metaphysical Elements. These symbols the Golden Dawn appropriated for itself to express the Elements known to western occultism. For example, this symbol represents Fire:
So, the kind of thing that Bowie would have done would go like this:
Firstly: stare intently at the tattva-symbol chosen for that particular Tattva-journey.
Secondly: suddenly transfer your gaze to looking at a plain white surface, e.g. the wall. If you have been staring intently enough, you will see a negative image of the symbol appear on the wall. Thoroughly familiarise yourself with this image so you can visualise it before your mind’s eye.
Thirdly: astrally project, imagining that the image you are visualising is a doorway to the astral plane, and you are projecting yourself through it.
Fourthly: you should now find yourself in a magical realm – it is the astral equivalent of the force whose symbol you have just been visualising. At this stage, remain perfectly still – do not attempt to move about on the astral plane, but instead start chanting (or “vibrating” as it is termed in Golden Dawn literature) the Divine and Angelic names associated with your chosen Tattva-symbol. This is where prior knowledge of the Qabalah is essential. One should also make the appropriate grade-sign at this point. Technically, these would have only been taught to you if you had gone through the corresponding Golden Dawn initation ceremony, although they have been published for getting on for over 80 years now.
Fifthly: a creature or being should appear, and respond well to your chanting (if it doesn’t respond well, banish it, and wait for one that does). This is your Spirit Guide for this realm, and with its assistance you can now go exploring and find out all about the magical and spiritual implications of the realm you are visiting.
Sixthly: once you have finished exploring, return to the point of entry, thank your guide, and come back out of the Astral Doorway, back to the physical plane, your body, and to normal consciousness.
Speaking from personal experience, the Spirit Guides that one meets when going on these Clairvoyant-excursions can become valuable allies for performing magical operations in the future. For example, if one were to venture into the Fire tattva, pictured above, and made contact with a Fiery spirit-guide, and returned on subsequent occasions so as to build up a relationship with it, one could get to the point where one could call on this spirit-guide to help you with some other ritual involving the element of Fire, such as consecrating a talisman, or something similar.
Or, depending on which symbol or symbols you chose to work with, you could ask the spirit guides you meet for help with various aspects of your life – such as deriving inspiration for creating a new work of art – or even for composing a new song.
In the Stella Matutina, which was a magical order which succeeded the original Golden Dawn, papers were circulated amongst members who attained the grade of Adeptus Major and higher, which made the point that the same Tattva-journeys which the members had already learnt to make could be extended in scope for advanced magical projects – such as attaining knowledge of one’s past lives, learning the occult history of this planet, and making contact with discarnate spiritual masters.
In conclusion, this is basically what Bowie would have done. I presume this must have been in the earlier part of the seventies, before his excessive cocaine use started making paranoid about witches, and Jimmy Page, and so forth. NB: Bowie was afraid that witches were trying to steal his semen. I rather suspect that any witches that were, were not doing so for some nefarious purpose, but because they simply wanted to have sex with him! 🙂
Recent developments in my magical work have convinced me that the art of discerning the Aura is a hugely under-rated discipline, especially when it comes to applying it to ceremonial magick. I believe that the faculty of Auric vision is essentially the same discipline as catching a glimpse of whatever lies within the Triangle of Art in an evocation, or for discerning whether a talisman is effectively charged as a result of a consecration ceremony.
I even have a working hypothesis that Auric phenomena tie in with some of the more fantastic visual manifestations in magic, such as Invisibility and transformation. I argued this point with two magical colleagues recently: after all I reasoned, if some people can see the human aura – which is a paranormal visual phenomenon – is it so unreasonable to claim that invisibility and transformation can also take place, which are other types of paranormal visual phenomenon? This divided my audience: one guy admitted that it was at least an interesting idea, but the other attempted to tank the plank from my argument by claiming that although the Aura is real, it isn’t “paranormal”!
Well, whatever. I don’t believe that arguing that the aura is a non-paranormal but lesser-known natural phenomenon can sufficiently explain some of the things I have witnessed in my time. I do not claim to be the world’s greatest aura reader myself, but I have definitely seen people light-up, especially when they were engaged in magical activity. One of the most remarkable incidents which occurred to me was when I attended a talk on Reiki. The speaker, a Reiki master, said that as a result of practising Reiki for several years he had found his own psychic abilities increase and improve of their own accord. He then staged a little demonstration.
He got several volunteers – including myself – to attempt tofeelour own auras by the simple method of rubbing our hands together and then holding them close together – varying the distance between them, so as to detect any differences. Then he came round to each one in turn. “Now notice what happens when I put my hands between yours,” he said.
He placed his hands between mine: there was a flash of golden light in the air between his hands as he did so. “Ooh!” I cried. “I saw that!” It transpired that the speaker had indeed been attempting to send a current of Reiki between his hands, and wanted to know if we could detect it, either by noticing a change in temperature or, as in my case, by beholding a strange ethereal glow in mid-air which could not be explained by any light-source or reflection.
The thing is, the ability to gain at least a basic level of Auric-vision is both remarkably easy and fast. Developing it to a high degree however is what takes a lot of practice. Another magical colleague of mine showed the ease with which it was possible to teach basic auric vision by demonstrating it in the pub one evening (which of course is where all the best magic takes place!). The first step was to acquire a plain black surface to view the results against: we improvised by hanging a black leather jacket on the back of a chair. He held up his own hands and got me to stare past them, and then got me to hold up my own: I noticed that a glow was hanging around them which I had not noticed before. The total time taken was less than a minute.
A magical system like, e.g., the Golden Dawn, presupposes that Adepts will possess “spirit-vision” – most obviously in the analysis of the Neophyte ceremony, where it is claimed that symbols appear in the aura of the candidate at key points in the ritual. Yet there is no teaching on how to attain this spirit-vision! There is plenty of instruction in regard to the use of Tattvas to develop clairvoyance, although this is more akin to seeing visions on the astral plane than ones which occur in physical space. This is why I believe that more emphasis should be given to training people up in basic psychism, before expecting them to accomplish tasks of ceremonial magic.
Working on a new book recently – i.e. the one I intend for publication after “Licence To Depart” comes out on May 11th – I wanted to create a story that combined elements of science fiction and fantasy with the occult. More specifically, I wanted to create a plot-device which would enable one character to teleport from one place to another. The actual method of teleportation was essentially a MacGuffin to introduce the main action of the plot, i.e. the various adventures that occurred at the destination points, and the implications in terms of character development arising therefrom. I therefore threw together something off the top of my head, which as far as I was concerned was unrelated to anything of which I had previously conceived in my study of the occult, but was instead pure fiction.
Then, that night I had a lucid dream about my fictional plot-device – and it worked.
I hasten to add that of course I did not physically teleport from one place to another, it was all action taking place within my lucid dream. Nevertheless using this fictional plot-method in my own lucid dream I realised I had invented a new method of Clairvoyance.
At this point I shall just digress on the nature of Clairvoyance. In the Golden Dawn Clairvoyance is not the same thing as “Remote Viewing” or “Auric Vision.” It is not so much about seeing things which are occurring on the physical plane as it is about discerning the contents of the Astral plane. This is why I have to chuckle when I hear about doctors in hospitals putting things on shelves too near the ceiling, so that only disembodied spirits would supposedly be able to see them. When people who have an NDE inaccurately report what is on those shelves, these doctors claim that clairvoyance must be a hoax. To which I have to say, “No: your own definition which you have made up of Clairvoyance is a hoax. I could have told you before your experiment started that it would not provide valid evidence of real Clairvoyance.”
The classic method of achieving Clairvoyance in magic is to astrally project through a “magic door” which consists of a symbol of a magical force – e.g. a Tattva. What one sees beyond that door will be an astral representation of the qualities which that symbol represents. Ultimately, by undertaking this astral journey, one may come to learn how to manifest that magical force in physical life.
The Tattva-method of Clairvoyance is a well known practice in western occultism, but it has a potential draw-back, in that all the phenomena encountered will ultimately remain within the paradigm established by the Tattva symbols. What if, for example, one wanted to explore a magical force which was unrelated to the Tattvas – which was outside the paradigm? I keep talking about “Tattvas” but of course they are only one set of symbols in use in occultism. It is entirely possible that instead of a Tattva one could substitute something else which is more appropriate to the magical force which one wants to explore – and then use the astral projection method on that instead.
However, what if one had exhausted all the known sets of symbols in all forms of occultism … and one still wanted to explore something that was outside the paradigm-limits of all of them – what then? What if, indeed, one wanted to explore the outer limits of what is possible and impossible? It is here that the creative use of Fiction as a Magical Tool comes in useful – as I believe I had inadvertently discovered with my experiences with my plot-device.
Philosophically this is somewhat difficult to describe fully, as ultimately the only way to satisfactorily describe something which is capable of transcending all paradigms of thought is to stand outside all paradigms. But if I do that, am I not then speaking from another paradigm, albeit a new one? Whatever – I shall describe it in terms of the astral plane, as that is what I am comfortable with. What is fundamental to realise is that the so-called astral plane is not tied to any particular belief system, but applies to the entire Universe – the Known, the Unknown, Past, Present, Future, Alternate, Potential, Speculative, Fact and Fiction. From Earth to the far reaches of the Cosmos and all points in between. On the Astral Plane, it does not matter whether something is true or false in Physical Plane terms, but whether it is a Real Astral Phenomenon or not. Moreover, its reality as an Astral Phenomenon again does not depend on truth or falsehood – because if it is perceived it must exist in some sense or other – but on how important or significant it is – which is a subjective value judgement.
To illustrate my point: take for example the Archangel Michael. Is he true or false? Fact or fiction? He is undoubtedly a Real Astral Phenomenon. I imagine that fundamentalist Christian might go further and claim that he is actually true – because the Bible says so, and the Bible as we all know is not fiction. 😉
What however about Cthulhu – an entity created by the author HP Lovecraft, who is on record as stating that he himself knew that this Great Old One and the rest of the Mythos were fictional? Is it then valid for people like Kenneth Grant or Phil Hine to go and perform magic rituals based on the assumption that Cthulhu is in fact real? In a certain way – yes it is, because it is no more outrageous than claiming it is possible to create an Artificial Elemental, which has been an established magical practice for more than a hundred years. If we assume that creating Artifical Elementals are possible, then it should certainly be possible to create Artificial Elementals out of characters who are fictional creations, whether they be Cthulhu, Gandalf, or whoever. In fact, it should be easier to create an Artificial Elemental based on a fictional creation – as opposed to say one who has been invented de novo – because the former will have a back-story already written which helps the magician to fully realise them.
The only qualification I would have to make is that whilst such a Fictional Magical being or indeed thing may produce effects on the physical plane – as indeed we must hold out the possibility of it being able to if we subscribe to the validity of Artificial Elementals working at all – the Fictional creation remains on the astral plane. It is not a paradox between truth and falsehood, it is just that truth/falsity only applies to the physical plane, whilst different rules applies to the Astral. So whilst I might be impressed by someone who was able to take a piece of Fiction and make a successful magical operation out of it, I am less than keen on people rabbiting on and on about their astral experiences as if they were “true” in the physical-plane sense of the word.
So the moral of this blog-post is: if you want to achieve anything in magic, do not get hung up on whether it fits in with any particular milieu – or whether you are comfortable working with that milieu at all. The creative magician can always find a solution, because in a very literal sense, you are only limited by your imagination.
Hang on! If artificial elementals are real, perhaps that means the Archangel Michael is an artificial elemental? Perhaps that means that … whisper it… God is both Fictional and Real! If this statement does not get me lynched by both Christians and Atheists then nothing will! 😉