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Unless one has a groundwork of this sort to start with, one must get back to one's life as best one can by the methods above indicated. {53} It may be of some assistance to give a few characteristics of genuine Magical Memory; to mention a few sources of error, and to lay down critical rules for the verification of one's results.

The first great danger arises from vanity. One should always beware of "remembering" that one was Cleopatra or Shakespeare.

Again, superficial resemblances are usually misleading.

One of the great tests of the genuineness of any recollection is that one remembers the really important things in one's life, not those which mankind commonly classes as such. For instance, Aleister Crowley does not remember any of the decisive events in the life of Eliphas Levi. He recalls intimate trivialities of childhood. He has a vivid recollection of certain spiritual crises; in particular, one which was fought out as he paced up and down a lonely stretch of road in a flat and desolate district. He remembers ridiculous incidents, such as often happen at suppers when the conversation takes a turn such that its gaiety somehow strikes to the soul, and one receives a supreme revelation which is yet perfectly inarticulate. He has forgotten his marriage and its tragic results<<It is perhaps significant that although the name of the woman has been familiar to him since 1898, he has never been able to commit it to memory.», although the plagiarism which Fate has been shameless enough to perpetrate in this present life, would naturally, one might think, reopen the wound.

There is a sense which assures us intuitively when we are running on a scent breast high. There is an "oddness" about the memory which is somehow annoying. It gives a feeling of shame and guiltiness. There is a tendency to blush. One feels like a schoolboy caught red-handed in the act of writing poetry. There is the same sort of feeling as one has when one finds a faded photograph or a lock of hair twenty years old among the rubbish in some forgotten cabinet. This feeling is independent of the question whether the thing remembered was in itself a source of pleasure or of pain. Can it be that we resent the idea of our "previous condition of servitude"? We want to forget the past, however good reason we may have to be proud of it. It is well known that many men are embarrassed in the presence of a monkey. {54}

When the "loss of face" does not occur, distrust the accuracy of the item which you recall, The only reliable recollections which present themselves with serenity are invariably connected with what men call disasters. Instead of the feeling of being caught in the slips, one has that of being missed at the wicket. One has the sly satisfaction of having done an outrageously foolish thing and got off scot free. When one sees life in perspective, it is an immense relief to discover that things like bankruptcy, wedlock, and the gallows made no particular difference. They were only accidents such as might happen to anybody; they had no real bearing on the point at issue. One consequently remembers having one's ears cropped as a lucky escape, while the causal jest of a drunken skeinsmate in an all-night cafe stings one with the shame of the parvenu to whom a polite stranger has unsuspectingly mentioned "Mine Uncle".

The testimony of intuitions is, however, strictly subjective, and shrieks for collateral security. It would be a great error to ask too much. In consequence of the peculiar character of the recollections which are under the microscope, anything in the shape of gross confirmation almost presumes perjury. A pathologist would arouse suspicion if he said that his bacilli had arranged themselves on the slide so as to spell Staphylococcus. We distrust an arrangement of flowers which tells us that "Life is worth living in Detroit, Michigan". Suppose that Aleister Crowley remembers that he was Sir Edward Kelly. It does not follow that he will be able to give us details of Cracow in the time of James I of England. Material events are the words of an arbitrary language; the symbols of a cipher previously agreed on. What happened to Kelly in Cracow may have meant something to him, but there is no reason to presume that it has any meaning for his successor.

There is an obvious line of criticism about any recollection. It must not clash with ascertained facts. For example — one cannot have two lives which overlap, unless there is reason to suppose that the earlier died spiritually before his body ceased to breathe. This might happen in certain cases, such as insanity.

It is not conclusive against a previous incarnation that the present should be inferior to the past. One's life may represent the full possibilities of a certain partial Karma. One may have {55} devoted one's incarnation to discharging the liabilities of one part of one's previous character. For instance, one might devote a lifetime to settling the bill run up by Napoleon for causing unnecessary suffering, with the object of starting afresh, clear of debt, in a life devoted to reaping the reward of the Corsican's invaluable services to the race.

The Master Therion, in fact, remembers several incarnations of almost uncompensated wretchedness, anguish and humiliation, voluntarily undertaken so that he might resume his work unhampered by spiritual creditors.

These are the stigmata. Memory is hall-marked by its correspondence with the facts actually observed in the present. This correspondence may be of two kinds. It is rare (and it is unimportant for the reasons stated above) that one's memory should be confirmed by what may be called, contemptuously, external evidence. It was indeed a reliable contribution to psychology to remark that an evil and adulterous generation sought for a sign.

(Even so, the permanent value of the observation is to trace the genealogy of the Pharisee — from Caiaphas to the modern Christian.)

Signs mislead, from "Painless Dentistry" upwards. The fact that anything is intelligible proves that it is addressed to the wrong quarter, because the very existence of language presupposes impotence to communicate directly. When Walter Raleigh flung his cloak upon the muddy road, he merely expressed, in a cipher contrived by a combination of circumstances, his otherwise inexpressible wish to get on good terms with Queen Elizabeth. The significance of his action was determined by the concourse of circumstances. The reality can have no reason for reproducing itself exclusively in that especial form. It can have no reason for remembering that so extravagant a ritual happened to be necessary to worship. Therefore, however well a man might remember his incarnation as Julius Caesar, there is no necessity for his representing his power to set all upon the hazard of a die by imagining the Rubicon. Any spiritual state can be symbolized by an infinite variety of actions in an infinite variety of circumstances. One should recollect only those events which happen to {56} be immediately linked with one's peculiar tendencies to imagine one thing rather than another.<<The exception is when some whimsical circumstance ties a knot in the corner of one's mnemonic handkerchief.»

Genuine recollections almost invariably explain oneself to oneself. Suppose, for example, that you feel an instinctive aversion to some particular kind of wine. Try as you will, you can find no reason for your idiosyncrasy. Suppose, then, that when you explore some previous incarnation, you remember that you died by a poison administered in a wine of that character, your aversion is explained by the proverb, "A burnt child dreads the fire." It may be objected that in such a case your libido has created a phantasm of itself in the manner which Freud has explained. The criticism is just, but its value is reduced if it should happen that you were not aware of its existence until your Magical Memory attracted your attention to it. In fact, the essence of the test consists in this: that your memory notifies you of something which is the logical conclusion of the premisses postulated by the past.

As an example, we may cite certain memories of the Master Therion. He followed a train of thought which led him to remember his life as a Roman named Marius de Aquila. It would be straining probability to presume a connection between (alpha) this hieroglyphically recorded mode of self-analysis and (beta) ordinary introspection conducted on principles intelligible to himself. He remembers directly various people and various events connected with this incarnation; and they are in themselves to all appearance actual. There is no particular reason why they, rather than any others, should have entered his sphere. In the act of remembering them, they are absolute. He can find no reason for correlating them with anything in the present. But a subsequent examination of the record shows that the logical result of the Work of Marius de Aquila did not occur to that romantic reprobate; in point of fact, he died before anything could happen. Can we suppose that any cause can be baulked of effect? The Universe is unanimous in rebuttal. If then the exact effects which might be expected to result from these causes are manifested in the career {57} of the Master Therion, it is assuredly the easiest and most reasonable explanation to assume an identity between the two men. Nobody is shocked to observe that the ambition of Napoleon has diminished the average stature of Frenchmen. We know that somehow or other every force must find its fulfilment; and those people who have grasped the fact that external events are merely symptoms of external ideas, cannot find any difficulty in attributing the correspondences of the one to the identities of the other.

Far be it from any apologist for Magick to insist upon the objective validity of these concatenations! It would be childish to cling to the belief that Marius de Aquila actually existed; it matters no more that it matters to the mathematician whether the use of the symbol X to the 22 power involves the "reality" of 22 dimension of space. The Master Therion does not care a scrap of yesterday's newspaper whether he was Marius de Aquila, or whether there ever was such a person, or whether the Universe itself is anything more than a nightmare created by his own imprudence in the matter of rum and water. His memory of Marius de Aquila, of the adventures of that person in Rome and the Black Forest, matters nothing, either to him or to anybody else. What matters is this: True or false, he has found a symbolic form which has enabled him to govern himself to the best advantage. "Quantum nobis prodest hec fabula Christi!" The "falsity" of Aesop's Fables does not diminish their value to mankind.

The above reduction of the Magical Memory to a device for externalizing one's interior wisdom need not be regarded as sceptical, save only in the last resort. No scientific hypothesis can adduce stronger evidence of its validity than the confirmation of its predictions by experimental evidence. The objective can always be expressed in subjective symbols if necessary. The controversy is ultimately unmeaning. However we interpret the evidence, its relative truth depends in its internal coherence. We may therefore say that any magical recollection is genuine if it gives the explanation of our external or internal conditions. Anything which throws light upon the Universe, anything which reveals us to ourselves, should be welcome in this world of riddles.

As our record extends into the past, the evidence of its truth is cumulative. Every incarnation that we remember must increase {58} our comprehension of ourselves as we are. Each accession of knowledge must indicate with unmistakable accuracy the solution of some enigma which is propounded by the Sphynx of our own unknown birth-city, Thebes. The complicated situation in which we find ourselves is composed of elements; and no element of it came out of nothing. Newton's First Law applies to every plane of thought. The theory of evolution is omniform. There is a reason for one's predisposition to gout, or the shape of one's ear, in the past. The symbolism may change; the facts do not. In one form or another, everything that exists is derived from some previous manifestation. Have it, if you will, that the memories of other incarnations are dreams; but dreams are determined by reality just as much as the events of the day. The truth is to be apprehended by the correct translation of the symbolic language. The last section of the Oath of the Master of the Temple is: "I swear to interpret every phenomenon as a particular dealing of God with my soul." The Magical Memory is (in the last analysis) one manner, and, as experience testifies, one of the most important manners, of performing this vow.

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Fundamentals of Magick

Fundamentals of Magick

Magick is the art and practice of moving natural energies to effect needed or wanted change. Magick is natural, there is absolutely nothing supernatural about it. What is taught here are various techniques of magick for beginners. Magick is natural and simple and the techniques to develop abilities should be simple and natural as well. What is taught on this site is not only the basics of magick, but the basics of many things.

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