Tag Archives: dion fortune

Books for Beginners

Recently I asked the question:

What book(s) would you recommend to a complete beginner on magick? Shameless plugs only if genuine.

I now present some of the answers I received.

Wicca

Enchanted: Titania’s Book of White Magic comes recommended from Facebook fan Diane J Reed, who says:

 I absolutely love this book … (it’s out of print, so you have to get a used copy). The book is just gorgeous and only deals with “white” magic used for good purposes, but the photography is so beautiful it will make you drool.

I personally am not cognisant with this work, but Titania Hardie, the author, describes it as being within the Wiccan tradition. Whilst on the subject of Wicca, another FB fan, Philip Dean Fox, recommends Witchcraft: A Beginner’s Guide by Teresa Moorey, and two books by Susan Bowes: Life Magic – The power of positive witchcraft. and Notions and Potions: A safe, practical guide to creating magic and miracles. Meanwhile, another FB friend, Adrien, recommends Christopher Penczak’s The Inner Temple of Witchcraft: Magick, Meditation and Psychic Development (Penczak Temple).

Hermetic Magick

Oliver St John recommends Hermetic Qabalah: A Foundation in the Art of Magick by, er, Oliver St John. He assures me:

 I still use my own copies for reference, tables, correspondences and other information stored all in one place and easy to find. When I started out I had to have 6 books open at once to find all this stuff.

Oliver also makes the point that:

… plugs to one side, it is a really good question. Where on earth do we start? The milestones like “Complete Golden Dawn” and Crowley’s “Magick” are useless to a complete beginner. I would recommend getting a grounding in at least the basics of astrology and setting up a horoscope. It amazes me how many occultists don’t know the first thing about astrology.

Indeed! Several months ago I gave myself the task of doing a short ten-minute talk to members of a highly secretive branch of the Illuminati (nb: they are not secretive at all! They just don’t want it publicly known that they have a scruff like me as one of their members!) outlining a number of basic reference works for people who might, for all I know, be complete beginners to the mysteries. I remember that many years ago I read a remark by Israel Regardie about the first Knowledge Lecture of the Golden Dawn, recommending to just get any old book on astrology to look up basic terms thereon – so that is exactly what I did, and what I recommended in turn to the members of this order. As it happens, when I went into Waterstones that fateful day, the first book on the subject which I picked up was Teach Yourself Astrology.

Apart from that, there are a few other old favourites that I would personally recommend, e.g.

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“The Magical Battle of Britain” by Dion Fortune, a review (vlog)

In which I review The Magical Battle of Britain by Dion Fortune, and give it five stars (nb: this was originally recorded for Amazon). What I like most about this book is that it reveals details of the practical methods of occultism which Dion used, which ultimately were inspired by an encounter with telepathy at the start of her magical career.

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What Is Visionary Fiction?

Dion Fortune

Dion Fortune: an early proponent of Visionary Fiction

Stone the crows! I read this,  What Is Visionary Fiction? and apparently I’ve just discovered that I’ve been writing in the Visionary Fiction genre all along! Actually, from the description of Visionary Fiction, I believe it is a new name for something which has antecedents going back at least a hundred years or more. Visionary Fiction is here defined as:

Characteristic Features of Visionary Fiction:

  • Growth of consciousness is the central theme of the story and drives the protagonist, and/or other important characters.
  • Oftentimes uses reincarnation, dreams, visions, paranormal, psychic abilities, and other metaphysical plot devices.
  • Is universal in its worldview and scope.

This pretty much describes all of the occult literature of Dion Fortune (e.g. The Winged BullThe Sea Priestess, Moon Magic, etc) and arguably works like Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist. It also describes my own humble efforts with The Magus and its sequels (particularly in the character development of Nichola, the central character). Now it appears that there are an increasing number of emerging authors who specifically identify themselves under the “Visionary Fiction” banner. Let us hope that it is not too long before one of them (us) achieves major cross-over success!

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Reincarnation: A Hermetic Approach

So Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Matthew 19:28 (emphasis added).

Reincarnation, metempsychosis, palingenesis, past lives, etc, has cropped up in the Western Mystery Tradition since at least the time of Plato. In the Phaedrus, he *cough* I mean Socrates believed that it was man’s destiny to be successively re-born in all walks of life until he was re-born in the highest, which was obviously as a Philosopher, before re-joining the gods.

The New Testament offers evidence that the Jews of Jesus’ time thought that it was theoretically possible for a dead person to be re-born – because nothing is impossible to God – but there is no evidence to suggest that they thought it occurred on a regular basis. However, the writers of the New Testament did believe that future re-incarnation would occur at least once: in the Resurrection on the Last Day. Note the biblical passage at the top of this article – in the Greek New Testament the word for “regeneration” is actually Palingenesis or “re-birth.” The same word has been used for both personal re-incarnation and re-birth of the Universe (like a re-setting of The Matrix!) by some pagan schools of thought, although such usage was hushed up by the Church.

So that was the Western appreciation of re-incarnation… until the 19th century, when Theosophy introduced a decidedly Eastern approach – which from personal observation seems to be what most people understand by the term today. One finds it in the work of Dion Fortune, both her fiction and non-fiction work. Aleister Crowley delighted in it, especially if it meant he could claim just about every kewl person from history from Edward Kelly to Eliphas Levi via Swinburne was one of his prior incarnations. Less frivolously the concept of re-incarnation was adopted, from Theosophy, by a large number of occult groups, from Martinism to Wicca and beyond.

It is thus possible to extrapolate some general principles regarding a “Hermetic” approach to re-incarnation, if one is for one moment prepared to indulge the fiction that “Hermetic” refers to the practices of the Occult revival of the late 19th century, and not to actual Hermeticism as it was at the time it was first invented.

The first and most important principle for going in search of one’s past lives is this:

Have prepared in advance a strategy for dealing with the Dweller On The Threshold when you meet it.

Keep Calm And Ask the Dweller On The Threshold For Your Karmic Lesson

Sensible advice for all initiates seeking knowledge of their past lives.

The “Dweller On The Threshold” (or “DotT” as I shall hereinafter refer to it) is a nasty beasty that you will meet when trying to uncover your past-lives. It is so terrifying that it is likely to put you off attempting to discover your past lives if you don’t realise what it really is. The DotT was first described Bulwher(“It was a dark and stormy night…”)Lytton in his book Zanoni, and seems to have been adopted as gospel by Blavatsky, so that it was repeated in hushed tones by the likes of Dion Fortune, Rudolf Steiner, etc.

The DotT looks different for every person who encounters it: it might appear astrally as a thing, an entity, or a disturbing situation; or instead of appearing astrally it might manifest in your life as something disturbing or challenging. It is described in Theosophical texts as an astral double which each person leaves hanging about on the astral plane from the last time they incarnated.

It is this which gives the key to understanding its true nature: the DotT is in fact an astral representation of all of the Karma you have accrued from previous lives, and a DotT-experience amounts to suddenly having to deal with all your Karma all at once. The Dweller on the Threshold is, thus, you.

The ignorant person thus comes up against the DotT and, not knowing what it is, is put off following the spiritual path for the rest of their life. These people can be found spending their days writing highly cynical and depressive texts for Llewellyn or Weiser or New Falcon about how futile the spiritual path is! The true Initiate, however, recognises the DotT for what it is and takes ownership. By not losing ones nerve and by carefully interrogating it, the DotT successively reveals the Karmic lessons which the individual must learn, and the tasks that the individual must perform in order to free him/herself from his/her Karmic burdens.

This leads to the second important principle that a Metempsychonaut should observe: one should first

Be an Adept of all forms of practical magick.

By finding out from the DotT what one’s Karmic lessons are, one is inevitably tasked with list of things to do. It therefore follows that one should be well versed in practical magick, as one can then use one’s skills to resolve one’s Karmic issues.

Logically therefore, the ideal time for going in search of one’s past-lives is only after you have obtained Adepthood. Indeed, Franz Bardon strongly advises the new initiate not to go seeking for one’s past lives, because as soon as you do so, you will become responsible for them.

Unfortunately, from my own observations I see people everyday attempt past-life regressions with no thought of what they are going to do when their past-lives are revealed to them. This is not a Hermetic approach, this is just an astral junket – or spiritual tourism.

Conclusion

However there are at least two positive outcomes which will arise from the whole business of going up against the DotT. The first is in the realisation that the DotT is not the Shadow, because it represents all of ones Karma both good and bad. Hence, although the DotT might appear off-putting to some, to those who have lead saintly lives so-far or at least not terribly bad ones, the DotT may well prove far less traumatic than one might have first feared.

Secondly, the authorities all predict an optimistic outcome for those that go through with the ordeal of confronting the DotT and rising to the challenges that it sets. Rudolf Steiner, for one, says that as one resolves each Karmic issue that one has, the DotT appears less and less like a horrible monster and more and more like an Angel of Light, so that eventually it becomes not a barrier but a Spirit-Guide. Most importantly however, it leaves the Initiate with an idea that Death is not the End, and that the terrors of the grave are purely illusory.

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Z’ev Ben Shimon Halevi

The “Great Tree.”

To London on Saturday to attend a talk on the Qabalah by Z’ev Ben Shimon Halevi (which is the Hebrew name of an English gentleman named Warren Kenton). Interestingly enough it was being held at Dion Fortune’s place in Chalk Farm, London. We were even privileged to use Dion Fortune’s own temple room, though I understand this was only because it was a special occasion – the Society of the Inner Light’s Director of Studies told me they don’t usually let hoi polloi in there as it is “consecrated ground.”Anyway: Z’ev, who has mixed Sephardic and Ashkenazic ancestry, teaches what he calls the “Toledano tradition” of the Kabbalah, which is a particular form of the Sephardic school which derives from mediaeval Toledo in Spain. Z’ev said that he was first moved to study the Kabbalah after having lived in Toledo in a past-life. From what I can make out, the Toledano tradition is fairly similar to the conventional Kabbalah though with a few peculiarities such as their focus on the “Great Tree,” which appears to be a concatenation of the regular Tree of Life in the four worlds of Atziluth, Briah, Yetzirah and Assiah (see picture).

I picked up the following tid-bits from Z’ev’s presentation:

  • Despite the Kabbalah being the mystical tradition of the Hebrews, its inner meaning is a Perennial tradition which has been known to different cultures at different times, even those unconnected with one another: e.g. China, Tibet, Babylon, etc. This is even shown in iconography from these regions which all purport to show variants of the Tree of Life.
  • The story of Noah’s Ark is metaphorical: the real Ark was in fact knowledge of the Kabbalah itself, whilst the various animals that were saved were particular aspects of that knowledge, which Noah managed to preserve for posterity. In that respect the Great Tree (left) was the blue-print for the Ark described in Genesis. (Alex thinks: Hmm, I wonder if the Royal Ark Mariners have ever considered this?)
  • Z’ev takes a curiously wary view of Angels. He used the metaphor of a corporation: God is the boss of the company; Man is the boss’ son; whilst the Angels are the boss’ employees. Thus whilst it is entirely possible that if one were to approach God directly, He would instruct one of His Angels to help: but an Angel would not necessarily be helpful if it were approached directly. In fact, according to Z’ev, an Angel might be downright troublesome. Z’ev took the view that if one asked an Angel to help, one might end up “paying with one’s soul.” At first this makes it seem that Angels are hardly any different from Goetic spirits: although by viewing angels this way it might explain why e.g. Enochian angels are often reported to be troublesome when invoked.
  • Z’ev believes in the existence of spirit guides – Maggidim – but avers that they are they are human spirits, rather than “Holy Guardian Angels” (this is probably connected with the dim view that he takes on Angels generally – see above). Z’ev himself claims that he is guided by the spirit of a Kabbalist who lived in the 11th century. He also believes that everyone has within their psyche an “Inner-Teacher” which is equivalent to Daath. From the way he described it, the Inner Teacher seemed to be equivalent to Freud’s notion of the Super-Ego.
  • Apparently, in every age at any one time there is an “Alpha-Qabalist” (Aleph-Qabalist?) living, who is like a Secret Chief, world teacher or Qabalistic version of the Messiah. The identity of this Alpha-Qabalist is always secret: he or she always keeps him-or-her-self to him-or-her-self. Z’ev was far too modest to hint in anything other than the mildest terms that it was himself! 😉

After lunch, Z’ev led those assembled on a Qabalistic pathworking exercise. From the ease with which he interpreted peoples vision-experiences I very much suspected that he had done this kind of thing many times in the past, and consequently knew every type of symbolism that commonly cropped up!

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Inception – An Initiated Review

Inception star Leonardo Di Caprio

Inception is the 2010 blockbuster from Christopher Nolan and starring Leonardo Di Caprio as a rather unusual burglar: he breaks into people’s dreams to steal information. This talent he uses as a highly sophisticated form of industrial espionage. The main action of the film comes from when he is challenged to break into a businessman’s mind, not to steal information – but to plant a false idea at the behest of the victim’s business rivals: the so-called “Inception” of the title. Needless to say, a lot of mayhem involving gunfire and potential brain-damage (and worse) ensues. I won’t give away the ending although anyone who is reasonably intelligent can guess what the ultimate fate of Di Caprio’s character might be. He wakes up from the dream and lives happily ever after. Or does he???

The film’s premise is an interesting one for yours truly for, being a seasoned Oneironaut, I wanted to see if it is true to life.  “What’s that?” I hallucinate that I hear you say. “How can something so fantastic be anything other than science-fiction?” Because, my imaginary friend, it happens to touch on one of my favourite subjects, that of Lucid Dreaming.

Inception and Lucid Dreaming

There is a scene early on in which Di Caprio’s character (“Cobb”) is attempting to recruit a young lady named Ariadne (played by Ellen Page) into his team, and he suddenly reveals to her that she is in fact dreaming. This causes her world to explode, though not entirely, as she is able to recover her wits and get used to existing in this dream environment.

Nolan, who wrote as well as directed the film, takes some cinematic license in this scene – and a good thing too, because otherwise to depict what actually happens when a lucid dreamer first gets lucid would not really fit into a fast-paced action thriller. Ariadne is in effect being taught to lucid dream – and picking it up extremely fast. It is possible in to learn to lucid dream oneself, however it usually takes weeks or months of practice if one is a complete beginner. Moreover when one first becomes Lucid, the surprise is enough to cause one to suddenly wake up. However, after becoming lucid several times one eventually gets used to the sensation, and remain in the dream state for some time without waking.

Ariadne then goes on to spontaneously create the landscape of the dream as she is walking along. This too is possible in Lucid dreaming although again this would take considerable practice: it is a skill which would need to be honed over many nights. To be fair to Nolan, one could say that Ariadne could have been able to do this right off the bat assuming that she had had prior coaching in lucid dreaming, possibly at the instigation of her teacher (portrayed by Michael Caine).

Drug Use

In another scene, Cobb recruits a pharmacist (who despite being Kenyan is played by an  actor of Indian ethnicity) because he can tailor-make the particular drugs that they will need for this operation. Which leads to the question: can drugs actually affect dreaming states in the manner the film suggests? Unfortunately the answer is yes.

The concoction which the *cough* African *cough” pharmacist shows is a murky brown colour suggesting it is some kind of opiate. Now it so happens that in her greatest novel The Sea Priestess Dion Fortune needed a plot device whereby the central male character was able to quickly go from being just an ordinary bloke to being able to loose the bonds of the physical world and journey in the astral. So she had him become an asthmatic. Why? Because before the invention of the Ventolin inhaler, the most effective way of relieving the symptoms of asthma was a shot of Heroin, as one of its side-effects is that it suppresses the cough-reflex. Hence: because he is under the effects of powerful morphiates he is able to loosen the bonds which the bind his astral body to his physical one.

I have not even begun to mention the vast number of entheogenic substances used in shamanism and related practices, although given that the character in Inception refers to his concoction as a “sedative,” the idea that it is in fact an opiate or morphiate is the one that seems most likely.

Shared Dreaming, Telepathy, Etc

Central to the plot of Inception is the notion that it is possible to enter someone else’s dream. Also that it is possible to communicate with one or more others within a dream – a form of dream telepathy, if you will. I have written in other blog posts that although machine-assisted telepathy might well be possible in the future, the state of the art is currently far too crude at the moment for any hope of reliability (see for example here, here and here).

Can dream telepathy occur at all? The late Montague Ullman conducted a series of experiments to investigate just that, which he detailed in his paper Dream Telepathy – experimental and clinical findings. The procedure was that a “sender” concentrated on a picture in one room, whilst a receiver fell asleep in another and reported on what dreams occurred. There were no recorded results of 100% correlation between the dreams and the target picture – however in several cases the dreamers managed to dream about key characteristics of the paintings – though without identifying the full paintings. So for example in one picture the composition of the figures was in a semi-circular arrangement: the dreamer meanwhile dreamed of a completely different scene which nevertheless featured a semi-circle prominently therein.

Clearly then there is no scientific evidence that dream telepathy can be done on a consistent, reliable basis of the kind featured in the movie. However the evidence does exist that it might nevertheless occur and could possibly be developed to a (high) degree if a group of individuals worked hard enough. Occultism already asserts that it is possible through control of the astral plane – i.e. by forming an astral image of the receiver and then speaking to it, it is possible (so occultists say) to send the receiver a telepathic message.

Inception itself

The ultimate question really is whether the film’s central premise of planting an idea into someone else’s mind is possible. I have already mentioned one scientific study which suggests that it might be possible to transmit an idea telepathically – however the most promising results suggested that only vague, general notions can be implanted this way. Note also two important factors: firstly, the participants in Ullman’s experiments were all willing volunteers; secondly the ideas were all essentially harmless* – they were just paintings and drawings of various things.

* – Well, I assume they were harmless. Ullman does not say whether he kept track of the volunteers in the years after his experiments, whether they lived euthymic lives or whether they developed psychotic symptoms, suicidal tendencies etc etc.

The film Inception concerns whether it is possible to implant a potentially harmful (or at least unwelcome) idea in the mind of an unwilling victim. From the point of view of both a writer and an occultist I must say that Nolan at least works out the most sensible method of achieving this within the frames of reference of the plot. I.e. – attempt to trick the victim into accepting the idea by making him think it was his own all along. It is the basis of “glamours,” the casting of illusions and enchantments. And of course, due to its highly manipulative and intrusive nature, an example of Black Magic of the most serious variety.

I would also say that Nolan’s idea of defence mechanisms is well observed – by simply taking a logical point of view. I once attended a talk by the scientist Rupert Sheldrake, who pointed out that there is as much evidence for saying the mind exists within the brain as there is for saying that TV programmes exist within a TV set. Yet the fact that Telepathy is not more common than it is points to two alternative conclusions: one, that it does not exist at all; or two, it does exist but it is extremely difficult to do. Assuming that the second alternative is true, I believe that the reason for the difficulty is that there is a natural bond between mind and brain which causes only one mind to be associated with the one brain and excludes all others from interfering.  Thus if one mind tried to invade someone else’s – firstly there is the difficulty of getting over one’s own Mind-Brain defence mechanism; secondly one would be naturally resisted by the Mind-Brain defence mechanism of the other person, quite possibly leading to images of violence.

A far more interesting notion, to my way of thinking, is not whether it is possible to implant a harmful idea in the mind of another person; but whether it is possible to implant a benevolent idea in one’s own mind – for example, an idea that will cause one’s life to change for the better. This is in fact the essence of real Magick. It is what occultists are trying to do all the time through works of self-transformation: some through ritual, some through more contemplative practices, whilst others through working with dreams themselves.

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Vampires – the Truth

As the world’s greatest expert on the occult, I often hallucinate that people are asking me whether there is any truth to this vampire mullarkey. Well, gentle reader, the answer is Yes … though not in the way depicted by certain books and films.

The modern vampire as a literary concept (“modern” here being the operative word) – of which Dracula is the definitive example, and the Twilight movies the latest continuance – derives from Eastern European folklore of the seventeenth century onwards. However the more general concept of bloodsucking monsters or demons (in humanoid form) dates right back to ancient times and spans the globe – to such an extent that one is tempted to speculate that each culture, no matter how remote, has evolved its own version of a Vampire or vampire-like monster.

It is here that the occultist ought to be on guard. If different cultures do independently come up with Vampire myths, this would suggest either or both of two possibilities. Firstly – the Vampire-idea is an archetype of the collective unconscious. Secondly – all these separate Vampire-like beings are actually based on something from real-life.

Now we may scoff at the second possibility easily enough by saying “where’s the evidence?” The first though is somewhat more serious, because it tends to suggest that in a certain way “there is a vampire in all of us” – lurking in the dark and mysterious depths of the psyche.

There have been various attempts made – in real-life – to release this “inner vampire” with varying degrees of success. On the one-hand witness the Vampire subculture which is a part of the Goth or S&M scene – which in extreme cases apparently involves actual blood-drinking. Bizarre though this lifestyle choice appears, there are however occultists who allegedly use black-magick  to transform themselves into actual vampires. There was a method published by the occultist Dion Fortune, who described it in her novel The Demon Lover (and less explicitly in her previous book The Secrets of Doctor Taverner) and also wrote about it in her non-fiction work, Psychic Self-Defence.

The method apparently is this: it requires great control of one’s astral body. Whilst astrally projecting, the putative-Vampire attempts to absorb the life-force of a victim. In this way the putative Vampire can (it is alleged) live on independently of the physical body. The Vampire in question in Doctor Taverner and described more fully in Psychic Self-Defence attached itself to a living host (i.e. not its original self) who was its regular source of “nourishment.” As you can imagine, this left the host feeling tired and run-down all the time, however it also led to a more serious side-effect: the host started having blood-cravings himself, in order to restore his own vitality.

The literature of the Golden Dawn also suggests that “astral vampires” can be created accidentally, by creating an astral form and allowing an evil spirit (or possibly just a socially-maladjusted one) to take possession of it. This is said to be one of the things that can go wrong if the order’s rituals for Invisibility or Transformation are performed badly. Such an astral vampire would then attach itself to a human host – causing the same sort of unpleasant effects as that described by Dion Fortune.

So, how does one actually get rid of Vampires? Well, one could theorise that if the Vampire-idea is archetypal, then so too are traditional Vampire-defences. However, if the theory that Vampirism is caused by unpleasant astral entities is valid, then a more scientific method is to exorcise the alleged fiend. The Golden Dawn suggests that the Supreme Banishing Hexagram of Binah Ritual should be powerful enough to get rid of even the toughest bloodsuckers: although Dion Fortune states that the method used by Doctor Taverner’s real-life counterpart involved absorbing the astral being into his own aura and then digesting it – a method so strenuous that he was left unconscious for three days after attempting it.

(This gives me an idea of how to establish its validity by experiential proof. Kidnap a Goth from off the streets of Camden and perform the Banishing Hexagram of Binah Ritual at him. If he loses all his taste in clothes and music and turns into a Chav, it obviously worked!)

More seriously though, if the Vampire-idea is indeed an archetype, a far more constructive approach would be delve into the unconscious and confront the inner-Vampire, in a sort of active imagination cum quasi-shamanistic type venture. Perhaps that is indeed the real-truth behind Vampire stories – the quest to tackle the Vampire in its lair is actually a metaphor for finding the Darkness within oneself.

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Psychic Self Defence for Footballers (and the rest of us).

Cristiano Ronaldo, Read Madrid footballer and Portuguese international has apparently been cursed by a Voodoo priest with the intention of ending his career. Pepe, the Voodoo priest in question (presumably no relation to the Real Madrid number three), claims that he is not doing it because he has a thing against Real Madrid or Ronaldo personally, but because he has been paid good-money to do so. Well, you can’t fault the man’s ethics!

But the real question is who hired Pepe to work this evil magick? Journalists have come up with a short-list of likely suspects. They have narrowed it down to Ronaldo’s ex-girlfriends, and several million Barcelona / Man City / England / etc fans.

“But Alex,” I hallucinate that I hear you say, “can you not provide some magical help or advice for those of us who might find ourselves caught in the same situation? Even if we don’t play for Real Madrid?” Why certainly! Here is my quick guide to Psychic Self-Defence.

By far the most lucid and sensible account of the subject is the book of the same name by Dion Fortune. Unfortunately, from the cases I myself have heard about, this book is obviously far too sensible for anyone to take any notice of! Basically, Dion’s gist is this: at least 90% or more of cases of alleged psychic attack are in fact nothing of the sort – instead they are far more likely to be either imaginary or symptomatic of a psychoneurotic condition (or worse).

Hence the first step in warding off a perceived magical or psychic attack is to seriously consider whether it might not be as bad you first thought. I have heard from people who claimed that they were being attacked and cursed and hexed right left and centre – and then casually admit that they had been hospitalised for schizophrenia in the past, and not make any connection between the two.

So let us assume that you have been able to dismiss every possible mundane explanation for the run of misfortune you are experiencing, and suspect that it may well indeed be a psychic attack? What then? The simple answer is that just as a psychic attack starts from somebody else’s mind, so a good psychic defence starts from your own. You basically have to fervently Will that you are protected, and it is so. There are a number of methods which facilitate this.

Essentially by visualising a magical barrier surrounding oneself, and concentrating on the idea that it will protect you from malicious influences, this has the effect of actually repelling such forces. The most famous method of forming such a magical barrier is the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, which was originally devised by the Golden Dawn.

The casting of the circle in Wicca is itself a circle of protection which protects all the participants whilst they are taking part in a particular ritual.

In his book, Auras: What They Are and How To Read Them, the author Joseph Ostrom describes several Aura meditations which are effectively protection rituals. For example, visualising oneself in a gold-metallic aura: this not only protects from unwanted external influences, but also energises and perks up the individual thus protected.

There are many other such protection rituals which are based upon the same principal e.g. the meditation on the Cloak in Martinism, numerous variations on the Pentagram ritual itself, etc. One important fact is that these rituals not only protect from external malign forces but also close down ones own psychic sensitivities if one has negligently left them open.

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Lucid Dreaming

This is the text of a paper which I presented recently on Lucid Dreaming. It is an abbreviated form of the extended treatise which appears on my website and in many ways it is more autobiographical.


Lucid Dreaming

Introduction

In this paper I intend to speak about a method of attaining an altered state of consciousness which is almost as easy as falling asleep – literally.

“Lucid Dreaming” is a special type of dreaming in which one is aware that one is dreaming, but without waking-up. This is only a very basic and incomplete definition, because there is far more to lucid dreaming – as I will explain presently.

As a phenomenon, Lucid Dreaming has been known to occultists like Dion Fortune, Ophiel, and more recently, Carlos Castaneda[i] for many years. It is my contention that Lucid Dreaming is actually a form of Astral Projection – and that occultists of the past have recognised it as such.

Speaking personally, it was through Lucid Dreaming that I first became interested in the occult. I was into Lucid Dreaming even before I was into the Golden Dawn. Way back in the distant-past (1995 actually) when I was a student, there I was, reading an interview with ambient musician “The Aphex Twin” in Melody Maker. I didn’t particularly care for the Aphex Twin’s music at that time, although one thing he said piqued my curiosity: he claimed that he used something called “lucid dreaming” to compose his records. He would have all his equipment set up in his studio, and then he would fall asleep and dream lucidly, coming up with a new piece of music which he could immediately record on waking. Apparently he was able to create a lot of material in this way: at one point he claimed that he was able to come up with several albums’ worth of material every week. (Compare this with Kate Bush who is currently averaging one album almost every four years!)

All this talk about Lucid dreaming struck a chord with me: as soon as I heard the phrase, it just sounded as if it were the kind of thing that I could do myself. I therefore read up on the subject and started practising nightly. It took several months of practice for me to get the hang of it, after which I was rewarded with a short dream in which I became aware I was dreaming right in the middle of it, and managed to remain asleep. It was not a particularly interesting dream, and I did not actually do anything with it – it being my first time.

However, after that, as I became used to it, I found I was able to lucid-dream more often: also, the quality of my lucid-dreaming improved. I was able to do quite ambitious things with my lucid dreams, for example: to decide the content of my dream beforehand, whilst awake; to alter details within the dream whilst dreaming, simply by an effort of will; and generally to do all kinds of things like the character Neo was able to do in the movie “The Matrix.”

Around about this time I was becoming interested in the Western Mystery Tradition, and the system of the Golden Dawn in particular. I read Dion Fortune, who claimed that Out of the Body Experiences were just like lucid dreams;[ii] I read Ophiel, who explicitly described lucid dreaming as a means of performing astral projection.[iii] I therefore wondered to myself: can I use my own lucid dreaming to do all the things in the Golden Dawn system, for which astral projection is recommended? The result of my researches was that generally speaking, the answer was yes.

Prior to getting involved with the Golden Dawn system, my lucid dreaming had merely been about self-indulgence. However, as I began to incorporate magick into it, I found I was able to access new dimensions of awareness. I was able to do things like perform rituals such as the LBRP and the Middle Pillar Ritual; develop clairvoyance in the form of tattva-journeys; perform magic spells; commune with angels; and experience heightened states of consciousness. On one or two occasions I even experienced a rudimentary form of pre-cognition, although it did me no good whatsoever – I have never predicted a winning horse or set of lottery numbers, unfortunately.

I also came close to wrecking my health – which is when I discovered that it is possible to do too much lucid dreaming. As a result, nowadays I have cut-down on my lucid dreaming. Whereas when I was starting out I was practising literally every night, nowadays I only attempt to dream lucidly on two or three nights every month. I have found that this is usually quite adequate for all the lucid dreaming which I need to do. I have actually spoken out in public forums, saying that too much lucid dreaming can be bad for you, although I was not received particularly well, as most people in those forums wanted to hear about all the benefits of lucid dreaming, and closed their minds to someone alerting them to the possible dangers.

However, I believe that lucid dreaming, when done in moderation, is fairly harmless and indeed can be quite good for oneself. I also believe it is a very interesting phenomenon because it is one that a complete beginner, with no other talent for psychism, can experience with only a little practice. I myself started out as just such a complete beginner.

I shall now go into detail about what lucid dreaming actually is, the kind of things you can achieve with it, and some practical suggestions which you can take away with you.

Lucid Dreaming: What

Among the types of possible brain-activity in existence, there are four which are relevant when discussing Lucid Dreaming. These are:
· Beta Waves – in excess of 12 Hz i.e. twelve transitions or cycles per second -which correspond to normal waking consciousness;
· Alpha-waves – between 8 to 12 Hz – which correspond to when one is awake, but relaxed, with a stilled mind;
· Delta waves – from 1 to 4 Hz – which correspond to deep sleep; and
· Theta waves – between 4 and 8 Hz – which is between deep sleep (Delta) and relaxation (Alpha).

Researchers have found that phenomena like lucid dreams, out-of-the-body experiences, etc, occur when an individual is in a state of Theta-wave brain activity. In other words, in order to dream lucidly, it is necessary to attain a state of consciousness which is somewhat deeper than deep relaxation, but somewhat lighter than deep sleep.

I contend that the real difference between astral projection and lucid dreaming lies in the way that the individual attains this state of “Theta-Consciousness.” A lucid dreamer will start by descending into a Delta-wave state (i.e. fall asleep), and then ascend into a Theta-wave state. An astral traveller on the other hand would descend into a Theta-wave state from deep relaxation (alpha), without necessarily falling asleep first.

From my experience, there are several different types of dream or non-lucid dream, some of which are easier to achieve than others. They are:
0. Ordinary non-lucid, unmemorable, dreaming – of the kind that most people experience every night.
1. Non-lucid but memorable dreaming.
2. A non-lucid, memorable dream, the topic of which one has successfully “incubated” i.e. decided whilst awake before going to sleep.
3. Basic Lucidity – in which one becomes aware that one is dreaming, but does not necessarily do anything with the dream, apart from observing what goes on.
4. “Wilful Lucid Dreams” – in which one not only dreams lucidly but takes control of the dream whilst it is in progress.
5. Magical Dreams
6. (What I call) “Trans-Lucid Dreams.”

“Non-lucid but memorable dreams.”

Anyone can have an unmemorable non-lucid dream, indeed most people do every night. Even people who claim not to dream probably do, it is just that they forget them. Memorable non-lucid dreams are rarer. People who are not attempting to dream lucidly will only have memorable non-lucid dreams if they are particularly vivid or unusually interesting.

However, it has been found that a necessary first step to lucid dreaming is to be able to remember ones dreams in detail – even the uninteresting ones. This is in fact extremely simple to achieve: it is as simple as keeping a notebook on your bedside table, and writing down everything you can remember as soon as you wake up. This act of making a conscious effort to remember your dreams will in fact have the effect of making your dreams more memorable! You may not be able to write down anything, or anything more than a few sentences at first, but if you keep at it, within a few nights you will be able to fill a whole page or whole pages with the contents of one night’s dreaming.

“Incubated Dreams”

The next level of mastery is to be able to choose what you dream about. This can be done quite simply – for example, by formulating your chosen topic into an affirmation, and repeating it silently to yourself as you drift off to sleep. E.g.: “I will dream about the Taj Mahal.” Repeated practice increases the likelihood of success. However, if the affirmation can give rise to ambiguity, then your unconscious mind may become unco-operative. For example – if you did try to dream about the Taj Mahal in India, and it so happens that you have a Tandoori restaurant down the road from you with the same name, you may find that using an affirmation like “I will dream about the Taj Mahal” will in fact cause you to dream about the wrong thing! Hence, you might learn from experience to be more specific when formulating an affirmation: alternatively, you could try to visualise your chosen topic, in addition to making an affirmation about it, as you fall asleep.

“Basic Lucidity”

The next-step up is actual Lucidity, the quality of being aware that you are dreaming whilst the dream is in progress. This can take some time to achieve for the beginner, but in my experience it is like learning to ride a bike: it becomes easier after one has experienced it the first time.

There are a number of different techniques for achieving basic lucidity, but most of them have in common a method for programming your unconscious so that when a certain event happens in your dream, it will act as a trigger to make you realise that you are dreaming.

For example, one can condition oneself to continually look for differences between dreaming and real-life, so that when something strange happens, you realise that you are in the middle of a dream. You could also make it a daily habit to periodically do “reality-checks” whilst you are awake – i.e. deliberately stop and try to work out whether you are awake or dreaming. The theory being that if you make this a waking habit, you will carry on doing it whilst asleep. A third method is to program your unconscious with a suggestion, that you will realise you are dreaming when you see a specific thing or object within your dream – for example, your own hands. There are numerous other methods which I will not go into now.

When I first started practising, it would be the case that when I realised I was dreaming, I woke up immediately. However, after becoming used to the surprise, and a lot of telling myself “I will remain dreaming,” I was able to become lucid, even though I had no control over the dream’s content. So although it is possible with practice to achieve basic lucidity, there is actually very little difference to start-off with between a basic lucid dream and a non-lucid one: although lucid dreams always seem to be more vivid and more memorable than non-lucid ones, and even more important. Note: they only seem more important because your ego is telling you that they are.

“Wilful Lucid Dreams.”

What I have been describing up to now I consider being relatively easy to attain. However, the next logical step is to take control of ones lucid dreams – for example:
· To improve their quality;
· To lengthen amount of time you remain dreaming before waking up;
· To avoid lapsing from lucidity into non-lucidity;
· To change the content of the dream whilst it is in progress;
· To change what you are able to do in the dream;
· To be able to consciously choose one thing or another;
· To be able to play out sophisticated scenarios of your choosing;
· To be able to do all manner of ambitious or creative things with your dreams.
All of this takes practice – years of practice. I myself have to practice all of this. I have found that if I get sloppy, I have to re-practice to get back to a proper standard. However if I am practising regularly, I can usually succeed.

Generally, it is possible to do absolutely anything in a lucid dream – so long as you convince yourself that your dream-self is capable of it. A problem I found, however, is that if I had not prepared myself before going to sleep, I might not realise that I had unlimited powers in the dream-world.

For example, because in waking-life all objects are solid, I had unconsciously accustomed myself to thinking they were always so. However, it was after one lucid dream in which I felt boxed-in by something that I remembered: “Dreams are fantasy. I can do what I want in them. Hence, I can give myself the power to pass through solid objects!”

Incidentally, although becoming lucid in a dream is no guarantee that you will be able to think completely rationally in your dream. This takes some effort as well.

In my experience, training oneself to improve the quality of your lucid dreams will involve a lot of programming your unconscious to remember things, that you can stay lucid, that you can stay dreaming, that you have all manner of super-powers and so forth. In this regard it is probably helpful to also have an understanding of self-hypnosis, so that you are able to control you unconscious satisfactorily.

“Magical Dreams”

Everything I have described up to now relates only to the Astral Plane. Non-lucid dreams are in the realm of the lower-astral, whilst lucid dreams are higher up the Astral, so to speak. However if we, as Golden Dawn practitioners want to do actual Magical things in our dreams, it is necessary to reach up and make contact with the forces which lie above and behind the Astral Plane – i.e. the Mental Plane and beyond.

Actually this is not really that much more difficult than attaining the kind of control over ones lucid dreams which I described a moment ago. It is all about practice, training oneself to remember the correct procedures, and being brutally honest with oneself.

You can get a good indication of the standard you need to work to by reading the chapter entitled “Clairvoyance” in the “Black Book.”[iv] Essentially, in order to access a particular magical force, you need to have symbol for that force, which you can conjure before you in your lucid dream. You then project through that symbol as if it were a magic-doorway. You will also need to know the Divine and Angelic names associated with that force, which you then vibrate, and also the appropriate magical signs. The combined effect of symbol, names and signs will serve to attract the actual magical force into your lucid-dream.

The other important thing to remember is to continually test everything you see and experience – and banish everything which tests badly. Spirit guides which do not recognise the Divine names, or give the wrong ones, or make the wrong sign or give the sign with the wrong hand, or which fail any of the other methods of testing – banish them all! Be brutal. And if you only realise there is something wrong with vision after the fact, when you are awake, discount it all, and give it up as a bad job. There is a danger here, in that although your vision might be faulty, it may nevertheless gratify your ego, and you do not therefore want to disregard it. Disregard it! It will hurt you and be a pain for you to think you will have to do it again, but, disregard it! If you start to overlook one little thing in your vision which is out of place, just for the sake of gratifying your ego, you are on a slippery downward slope to self-delusion. Your unconscious will lose all respect it has for you, and your dreams will start lying to you indiscriminately. It is better to have one magical dream which is of an impeccable standard, than a thousand flawed dreams – because the one true dream will always be of a higher quality than any ego-gratifying dream which has a flaw in it.

However, if you do accustom yourself to brutally disregarding false and flawed dreams, you will find that the genuine magical dreams will more than make up for them. It is possible to experience tremendous power and receive genuine insights from bona fide magical dreams. I believe it is possible to use such magical dreams to follow the magical and / or spiritual path, in a manner similar to the way that one would use astral projection to do so. I even believe it is possible for magical dreams to cause effects in the waking world. It is all a matter of years of practice, self-discipline and hard-work.

“Trans-Lucid Dreams”

The final type of dreams, which I will mention very briefly, are what I call “trans-lucid” ones, i.e. lucid dreams in which one experiences transpersonal states of consciousness. I cannot say too much about them because I have very limited experience of them indeed: I merely theorise them to exist.

You ought to be aware that a number of Eastern sources claim that lucid dreams, or astral visions, are most definitely not the highest form of consciousness attainable. For example, in Tibetan Dream Yoga, lucidity, far from being the end-result, is in fact a mere side-effect which arises as one attempts to attain what is described as “clarity” – a state of perfected contemplation.[v]

Furthermore, Ramana Maharshi describes the ideal state of consciousness as akin to dreamless-sleep, though conscious[vi]. Following this line of reasoning, the ultimate perfection in lucid dreaming would be to dream lucidly about absolutely nothing – to hold the mind completely still. Which of course is extremely difficult because as soon as one thinks of something one has broken ones line of consciousness.

Practical Dream-work

As promised I will now describe some practical work which you can undertake in your own time. The magical power of dreams has been known or suspected since ancient times – it was certainly known to Henry Cornelius Agrippa, author of Three Books of Occult Philosophy, a key sourcebook of the Western Mystery Tradition: in fact most of the Golden Dawn knowledge lectures are taken more or less directly from Agrippa.

In that book, Agrippa described a method of “Dream Divination” which has the benefit of being both astrologically and qabalistically sound.[vii] The method is as follows:
· Firstly, draw up your natal horoscope, and make a note of where your ninth house lies.
· Secondly, using a current ephemeris, find out exactly when the Moon transits your ninth natal house. Given that the Moon makes a complete circuit of the Zodiac in a lunar month, it will usually transit your ninth house for a period of two to three days each month.
Agrippa contends that one can attempt dream divination during those two days when the Moon is in your ninth house. This is because your ninth house represents, amongst other things, occult visions; whilst the Moon is the planet of dreams: according to “777” it is associated with the magical powers of clairvoyance and, not surprisingly, dream divination.

Hence, what I recommend is that on the night or nights indicated by your calculations, you “incubate” as a subject for your dream, the question which you want answered. I also recommend that you make a note of the time, date and place where the question occurs to you: that way you can cross-check the results of your dream divination with Horary Astrology.

It would also help if you invoke Luna as best you know how, immediately before retiring. I personally like to use the following Graeco-Egyptian invocation.[viii] It is quite short, but it is meant to be repeated nine times, the effect of which, combined with vibrating the barbarous names of invocation, do lead one into a kind of altered state of consciousness by itself.

Hail, Saks Amoun! Saks Abrasax!
For thou art the Moon, the great one of the stars, he who formed them!
Listen to these things which I say!
Walk thou in accordance with the words of my voice!
Hear me now:
Than
Thana
Thanatha
Thei
For this is my true name.

Bibliography

Agrippa, H C, Peterson, J H (ed.), 2000, Three Books of Occult Philosophy,Twilit Grotto – Esoteric Archives, http://www.esotericarchives.com/agrippa/agrippa1.htm, accessed 25/06/2008.
Betz, H D, 1986, The Greek Magical Papyri in Translation,including the demotic spells – volume one: texts, University of Chicago Press, Chicago & London.
Castaneda, C, 2004, The Art of Dreaming,Thorsons, London.
Crowley, A, 1987, 777 and other Qabalistic writings of Aleister Crowley, including Gemetria & Sepher Sephiroth, Weiser, York Beach ME.
Fortune, D, 1987, Applied Magic, Thorsons, London.
Ophiel, 1961, The Art & Practice of Astral Projection,Weiser, New York.
Regardie, I, 1989, The Golden Dawn, sixth edition, Llewellyn, St Paul MN.
Rinpoche, N N, 1992, Dream Yoga and the practice of Natural Light, Snow Lion Publications, Ithaca NY.
Wilber, K, 2000, One Taste: daily reflections on Integral Spirituality, Shambhala, Boston & London.

Notes

[i] See bibliography.
[ii] Fortune (1987) – see bibliography.
[iii] Ophiel (1961), chapter 2.
[iv] Regardie (1989), p456 et seq.
[v] See Rinpoche, N N, in Bibliography.
[vi] “That which is not present in deep, dreamless sleep is not real.” Quoted in Wilber (2000).
[vii] Agrippa, Book 1, Chapter 59.
[viii] Betz, pp232-3.

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