You may have noticed that in previous explanations I frequently referred to the "unconscious" into which sigils are "implanted," after which they start working like good fairies. The unconscious makes sure that sigils "will flesh" (to use Spare's own term). Regarding this "incarnation," we must never forget that the sigils themselves play nothing but a secondary part in the overall process of magic. Spare even goes so far as to state that each evolutionary step has been an unconscious, literally "corporeal" act of will. Thus, for example, animals only started to develop wings when their desire to fly had become "organic." This may seem a weird proposition, but basically it is nothing but a rephrasing of the old theory that all creation is based on an act of will of the godhead or of Chaos, or incarnated Will. The sigil is the "flesh" of the magician's will, so its successes are "incarnations" of the glyph itself.
If we really want to explain why sigils start to work, we would have to explain magic as a whole,
but, unfortunately, a lot of it is at sixes and sevens. It's not as if there were no explanatory models; indeed, they seem to come cheaper by the dozen. But they are nothing but just that—models which do not really prove anything; in the best cases, they only illustrate the process. Back in the earliest days of psychology (which is still struggling for acknowledgment as a "science") there existed a model of explanation for the human soul which has its shortcomings but still serves us rather well. I am referring to the model of the consciousness, the censor and the unconscious. Furthermore, there is the Id, the Self and the Superego. Some writers differentiate even more accurately between the unconscious and the subconscious, etc., but the model consciousness/unconsciousness/censor has become established nearly everywhere. But this, as said before, is only a model and not a scientifically objectified fact in the sense of physics or any other "exact" science. Neither Freud nor Jung went so far— as many modern occultists tend to do—to confuse an explanatory model with a law of nature.
Certainly, Spare may be accused of having stuck too closely to what was in those days (1909-1913, when the Book of Pleasure was written) Freud's brand-new psychoanalytic model. If we read Spare's attempts at an explanation, we get the impression of a near fanatic hostility against the consciousness. In his opinion, only the unconscious possesses magical abilities and powers. This is the reason why he stresses so strongly the necessity of forgetting sigils. The consciousness is considered a continuously lurking enemy which has to be parried all the time.
This may have been justified in Spare's days, and laaybe it still is. Many a sigil magician has come to the inclusion that it is best to construct a multitude of Is, let them lie around for weeks or months, and Activate/internalize them only when the contents |(and the purpose for which they have been construct-have been completely forgotten. This technique Vkeems to be reasonable, but then, of course, it is suited ' only for long-term operations. Nevertheless, it cannot ;be denied that sigils are more effective in relation to how completely they have been obliterated from consciousness.
Ray Sherwin has presented an explanatory model 'which is quite enticing.13
To explain the illustration it should be mentioned that Sherwin considers the Holy Guardian Angel (cf. ■ the Abramelin system) as being the psychic censor (a 'somewhat unconventional interpretation which has its source in Chaos Magic). The term Kia is taken from Spare's system and is explained by Sherwin's descrip-'4 tion of point k.
Now, a and b join to construct the sigil, which then has to be implanted in d. If d refuses to accept the sigil, it is probably because it does not understand it. The reason may be that it is either too complicated or that a and b use symbols, pictographs and ideograms ; which are not compatible with those of d. Sherwin ^ points out that, according to Aleister Crowley, only a magician who is capable of direct communication 5 with the HGA will achieve a direct connection to the - unconscious. The altered state of awareness, c, marks 1 the point of intersection between a, b and d. It may J switch off the censor completely and thereby provide I direct contact between these areas of the psyche.
a = Ego, Will, Belief b = Awareness, Perception
Consciousness: Individuality, Awakeness
HGA = The Holy Guardian Angel = Censorship Mechanism
Reactive Mechanisms c = Altered Consciousness, "liminal state of consciousness" d = Sub/Unconsciousness, Sleep, True Will e - Macrocosm, Chaos k = Kia, Soul, Individuality without Ego
To begin with, this model suffers, like most models do, from being overly one-sided. It pretends that the barrier of the censor is absolute, a "semi-permeable" membrane or filter which permits movement in one direction only (from d to a/b) while blocking everything in the opposite direction. This is certainly an exaggeration because within this model we could not explain why conscious perceptions may be stored in the unconscious (a fact which our dreams prove all the time with their digestion of the day's unresolved events; the same can be said for our memory and our programmed emotions, etc.). Furthermore, it does not take into account that the unconscious is engaged all the time and in all human acts, even when consciously constructing a sigil. After all, it is the only part of our psyche which is active 24 hours a day (as opposed to consciousness which needs its daily breaks), encompassing the stage of the consciousness.
Next, I would like to introduce two more models of my own, which also have shortcomings, but might help to illustrate the whole procedure.
Even though the threshold of the censor in Model A is seen as (if only slightly) more permeable than in Sherwin's model, there is usually no (or just a minor) direct contact between consciousness and unconsciousness. (Imagine it to be like a sieve, where only the smallest particles can slip through the holes.) The channel of ecstasy goes around the filter of the censor, and the pressure of ecstasy (meaning magical trance) gets rid of the membranes at the mouths of consciousness as well as of unconsciousness for a limited period of time. Thus, it creates the possibility for an exchange
"on a large scale" whereby the shield of reality, i.e., the limited area of perception and evaluation which are required for normal everyday reality, is bypassed and sometimes even undermined. This model is purely inner-psychic and does not explain why altered states of consciousness or whatever type of communication between consciousness and unconsciousness (read MAGIC) may have an effect on the material plane.
Such models are also termed psychologistic. I have followed them in this study for convenience and accessibility, not because of any particular belief that magic can only be explained in psychological terms.
Finally, I present another model, which has been adapted from Theosophy (and is still widely appreciated in magic) and is oriented to the sphere structure while also integrating the psychological pattern.
Levels, which have formerly been seen as hierarchically stratified, are now understood as "states of oscillation" overlying one another which, of course, cannot be illustrated in a two-dimensional drawing. The probes a are inlet ventiles which work in both directions. Point a* is a double probe through which not only the direct, censor-independent contact between consciousness and unconsciousness is controlled but through which the consciousness also gets in direct contact with the mental sphere (while avoiding the censor-filter and the astral plane). Channel c is only permissible in a state of "altered awareness." The two "dream levels" of the consciousness and the unconsciousness have direct access to the astral level. (Lucid dreaming would imply an intersection point with the mental level, which is very rare.) To be effective, sigilization should take place in c (the altered state of consciousness). Be a ware that the consciousness does not have direct access to the causal plane and the unconsciousness has only got indirect access to the physical level via the causal plane. According to the Theosophical model, the causal plane presides over all the other levels and controls them. On the causal level, the causes are planted by magical means, which often manifest themselves on the physical level
= "ventile" or "probe"
= "double ventile" or "probe"
= channel of communication/altered state of awareness as "unexplained miracles," "strange coincidences," etc.—everything we understand as magic.
Eventually, such models do not have any real value of cognition; all we are doing is trying to explain the unknown (in this case, the way in which magic works) by the suspected (here, the structure of the psyche), achieving, however, little more but illustrations. Nevertheless, such illustrations are quite useful to satisfy our reason and to soften the censor, which in one way or the other truly seems to exist. (One could also term it the "unknown barrier" that makes it difficult for us to seize and manipulate the magical universe.) Of course, we may quite consciously rape our own reason to achieve a gnostic trance. This, for example, is practiced by the order of the Jesuits with its magical technique of the "credo quia absurdum est" ("I believe in it because it is absurd"), as does Rinzai Zen with its koans, but in doing so we are already returning to the field of procedural techniques, leaving the area of rational cognition.
If you find it fun to do so, you might develop your own models of explaining magic. This would have the advantage of establishing a stronger commitment to magic in your consciousness and unconscious (to remain persistently within psychologism), thus making it easier for magic to be integrated in everyday life. But don't forget that this is nothing but an—admittedly quite amusing—way of fiddling around.
You may perhaps be a bit disappointed now if you had expected to find the final explanation for magic, life, the universe and everything in this chapter. In that case, try to get over it with one of Crowley's favorite aphorisms: "He who knows the HOW does not care about the WHY." You can achieve certainty over the HOW mainly through practice—and practice is much more productive anyway than vague speculations of dubious value.
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