October 14, 2019
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The Suit of Wand symbolizes the Mystic Path.  The mystic gift – the ability to find divine awareness directly through human awareness, rather than through the intermediaries of body, mind and heart – is a rare one.  Few aspirants walk this path.

The mystic searches for God directly, turning the high beams of his trained awareness upward.  Kabbalistic scholar Gershom Scholem (1897-1982) points out, however, that the mystic is a man who has been favored with an immediate, and to him real, experience of the divine, of ultimate reality, or who at least strives to attain such experience.  His experience may come to him through sudden illumination, or it may be the result of long and often elaborate preparations.” [6]

The eastern version of this path is Raja Yoga, described here by Huston Smith,”… a determined refusal to allow the pitter-patter of daily existence to distract from the unknown demands of some waiting urgency within: a kind of total strike against the term of routine, prosaic existence.  The successful yogi succeeds in carrying life’s problems to this plane of new magnitude and there resolving it.  The insights of such people will pertain not so much to passing personal and social predicaments as to the unquenchable source by which all peoples and societies are renewed, for their inspiration will be drawn from direct contact with this primary spring.;  In body they will remain individuals.  In spirit each will have become unspecific, universal, perfected.” [7]

Evelyn Underhill (1875-1941), whose book Mysticism: The Nature and Development of Spiritual Consciousness, originally published in 1911, remains a seminal text on the subject, explorers the nature of the mystic gift. “The true mystic is the person in whom such powers [spiritual awareness] transcend the merely artistic and visionary stage, and are exalted to the point of genius: in whom the transcendental consciousness can dominate the normal consciousness, and who has definitely surrendered himself to the embrace of Reality…  As other men are immersed in and react to natural or intellectual life, so the mystic is immersed in and reacts to spiritual life.  He moves towards that utter identification with its interests which he calls ‘Union with God.’  He has been called a lonely soul.  He might more properly be described as a lonely body: for his soul, peculiarly responsive, sends out and receives communications upon every side.” [8]

Underhill’s description of the mystic as a “lonely body” is an accurate one.  The mystic generally regards body, mind and emotions as impediments to the full flowering of his gift.  The body gets sick and becomes useless, the mind weakens and becomes forgetful, the emotions are a veritable roller-coaster – none of these are fit instruments for the mystic on his journey.  The mystic’s goal is to do away with form entirely and focus on will and awareness.  He employs his will to block out distraction, while his awareness searches the heavens for Grace.

It’s worth noting that another, less well-known version of this path is the Path of the Magician.  While exoteric magic seeks change in the practitioner’s external world, magicians on a spiritual path, like mystics, concentrate the trained will and awareness on internal change, believing this path to be the shortest and most direct route to God.  As Israel Regardie asserts, “Herein lies the value of magic.  Under ordinary conditions, months may be required for the flowering of a plant, but the use of a hot-house will produce identical results within a few weeks.  An understanding and application of magic can telescope the time required for man to acquire the realization of his won divinity.” [9]

Magic attempts to actually “reprogram” the human mind to encompass the spiritual realm.  Bill Whitcomb, contemporary author and student of the magical arts, argues that, “From a neuropsychological standpoint, traditional magic is a collection of rule-of-thumb techniques for altering the focus and content of consciousness.  Magic could be described… as a larval technology for programming and metaprogramming the human biocomputer.  Some of the techniques used to alter the focus of consciousness include breath control, celibacy, dance, drugs, exhaustion, fasting, flagellation, music (drumming, signing, etc.), sensory deprivation, sexual activity, sleeplessness, and visualization.  Techniques used to alter the content of consciousness include the use of hypnotic language structures, the visualization of colors and archetypes, manipulation of symbolic alphabets, and sensory saturation (through chanting, incantations, mantras, and visualization of symbols.)” [10]

The techniques described by Whitcomb have been used in spiritual systems throughout history; the difference is that magicians ragard these techniques as part of a scientific endeavor, with predictable and repeatable results.  Most of our discussion of the Mystic Path and the problem encountered as we move through the Suit of Wands may also be applied to the Path of the Magician.

billwallace

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