A few weeks ago I was sitting by the sea on the beautiful Devon coast. The day was bright, the sky magnificent blue. Meditating in that classic liminal space (where land and sky and sea meet) I took a breath of the Magical Aire. The traditional short-duration but richly decorated visions followed. Returning to awareness of my Self upon the shore, I was shown (as I was digging the spirit paradigm at that moment, though of course I might equally say ‘made up in my head’) a simple technique which I’d like to share.
One of the most powerful allies when working with these spirits is the sense of gratitude. We recognise that we are blessed to be able to have these potentially moving, healing, insightful, sometimes difficult and often exquisite experiences. What is important to understand here is that this orientation of gratitude to what is going on is quite genuine. And it’s simultaneously true that this attitude is a tactic which we, take-no-prisoners chaos magicians, are quite happy to adopt because it gets us what we want (insight, healing, power etc etc).
So having come out of my trance I wanted to recognise the sacredness of this experience. To write back into my unconscious my gratitude for the insights granted to me and to pave the way for future experiences of liberation.
Acknowledging the Triple Sangha
After a powerful moment of ritual (with or without medicines)…
Hold the hands in prayer position on the crown of the head. Bring attention to the lineage of gurus who have allowed you to get to this moment in your own spiritual development. Depending on your style you can imagine the sandals of your guru on your head, and their guru on top of them. A great line of teachers stretching into the sky. You might instead choose to imagine this as a community of Stars above you. All those wise people, cunning folk, shamans, explorers and many others who, now, in the past and in the future, have been engaged with the philosophies and techniques of magick. There may be particular teachers, living or dead, that you want to bring your attention to in this moment. This act recognises that we are part of the sangha of these practitioners, in all their myriad forms and traditions.
Next, move the hands in prayer down so that the thumbs press on the Ajna chakra. With this movement bring attention to yourself. You may think of this as the unique and indivisible diamond Atman of your existence. Or you may imagine the self as being the confluence of many forces, acting in the past, present and future. You might wish to pay attention to yourself as a ‘conspiracy of selves’ or to recognise your own unique narrative (or a combination of all of these interpretations of the Self). In this moment we pay homage to us – our individuality and sense of identity.
Finally the hands are held in prayer at the heart. Bring attention to those beings that support you. Those who love and care for us, who feed and nurture us. This could include humans and other creatures we love, what we eat, the air we breath and even people and situations we find difficult. However the key focus here is on the sense of being loved and cared for. This a moment for appreciating those aspects of the universe that provide us with this sense of being valued.
For some rites this act of giving thanks does the same job as the traditional banishing ritual. The usual rules apply. Having spent as long as you need to with this practice go and do something else. Let your awareness of acknowledging these blessings fade into the background reality of your daily life.
I remember a time when I was one of those mages who was too “cool” to have or express any sort of gratitude or appreciation. I’m happy to have moved beyond that. A fair amount of my “smaller” magikal practices involves a moment of silence before meals, to appreciate that I have food to eat, occasionally drawing up lists of things I am grateful for (porn on the Internet tends to go on the list a lot), and just generally stopping and consciously being appreciative whenever something good comes my way. Also, minimizing my complaints. No big surprise that as my gratitude increases, my complaints diminish.
The video below has relevance to this blogpost…
Tim Minchin Occasional Address and Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters