The Aggression Cycle - or what to expect to find in the wild...

I am conscious The Aggression Cycle doesn't take the typical approach of introducing a new model to our magical practice. Stealing from Gestalt Psychology - a specific type of psychotherapy many magicians and even psychologists mistrust for various reasons - and applying the insights found to ritual magical practice might just push the boundaries a little too much. Well, I am not sure it does. I actually think it does the opposite - rather than introducing completely new to ritual or visionary magic, it will help us to build stronger foundations of our practice and tradition. It is much less about pushing the boundaries than building strong inner pillars or insight and attitude, that will allow to carry all the weight of our magical practice to come in a lifetime.

Either way - whatever it can do for us to become better magicians - I am conscious it will do absolutely nothing, unless I manage to take you on this journey. So with this in mind I thought it might be helpful to share a bit of background on how I came to write this article...

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Ever since I managed to create strong magical contact in my own life - probably seven or eight years ago - I was amazed by how its permeating impact continued to manifest itself after the rite was over. Yet, how to deal with the ripple effects of a successful magical rite or visionary contact seems to be an area much less explored than the grammar of how to establish contact in the first place? 

Maybe I should call out here that I am not talking about the consequences of bad or lack of banishing. I think this is a misperception that stems from the heritage of the long gone Golden Dawn era of magic - as well as its tradition’s predecessors during medieval times. What I am talking about are the natural consequences of working with powerful spirits in communion to achieve their goals more than ours. It is the work of priests or priestesses rather than Grimoire magicians that will lead us to experience such types of spiritual impact upon ourselves. 

The actual changes such type of intense magical work triggers on a mental, psychological, emotional and physical level seem to be both manifold as well as important in coming to a deeper understanding of how our human organism is meant - or not meant - to interact with the specific spiritual force in question.

As a personal example I can share that simply the physical recovery from the impact of some of the rites of the Arbatel Experience took me several months. During the period when I went through the first five rites I was in a constant cycle of absorbing the blow, slow recovery and taking the next blow when entering the subsequent rite. I taught me a lot about the fragility of my own physical, psychological and emotional structures. It also taught me that if I wanted to proceed on this path, then learning how to consciously enter into pure and direct spirit communion was only 50% of the equation at best...

Portrait of famous German biologist Ernst Haeckel - not sure he was prepared to co-create a new life with the living spirits he discovered...

The romantic image of a biologist in the early 1900s comes to my mind... Here she is - a young person willing to travel far out into regions that are still inhabited, raw and wild. Seeking for that species that rumor and legend have known for centuries, but that has never been seen in wildlife, or even caught or interacted with. So this lady sets out on her journey, her quest, that she is willing to pursue for as long as it takes, for whatever costs it will come at. She spends months on the sea passage until the boat arrives at the island. She disappears into the wild and begins to search at the coast, in the inner territories of the land, the swamps, the caves and mountain tops... until she suddenly finds the beast she had been searching for all her life. 

Yet, what she wasn’t prepared for is what comes next. Should she really kill this rare creature? Slice it open, string it to a glass plate and seal it in a glass flask filled with pure alcohol? Or shall she leave without any evidence other than some flocks of fur and droppings? Or maybe should she simply stay, settle in the cave next to its dwelling and start to live in partnership in the same realm as this beast? When faced with this choice - would she end the life of the beast and take it home into her own, or would she be prepared to give up her own to settle in with the living treasure she had discovered?

Alexander von Humboldt’s drawing of an opened ‘Sirene’ (1806) - this man is a prime example of a hunter who was all up for the trophy, rather than living co-creation.

I guess the point is: Are we actually prepared to pay the price, to face the full consequences of the journey we set out on? Just in case we should actually achieve to find what we set out to discover years ago - and the sate of living in pursuit of this very thing might have become second nature to us ever since then - are we ready to let go of our previous self once we find it? 

Once the spirits we chased through grimoires or daunting asana sessions or demanding visionary quests present themselves to us, are we really prepared to pay the full price? It is a choice every adventurer, every practicing magician might find themselves confronted many times in their lives: Are we hunters or are we seekers? Are the tracks we trace nothing but breadcrumbs that hopefully lead us to the trophies of our own fame and fortune? Are are we prepared to give up our old lives, our old selves in that rare moment when hunter and the hunted become one?

So this was the background which led me to research on the nature of Aggression. What I found was a theory of aggression as an integral part of our bodily functions and lives - explaining how it allows us to integrate new forces, consciousnesses and beings into our selves. To my surprise in this case my journey had let me to exactly what I had been looking for: an answer to the question how exactly we can go about to consciously integrate spiritual influences into our own selves. Or in the alternative case - to protect us from them in case they become overly prevalent and start to swallow ourselves. Because the truth - while we might feel like hunters or seekers all along the journey, there is absolutely no guarantee we aren’t the hunted ourselves.

I hope this context is helpful when exploring the article on the Aggression Cycle. It is a piece of insight, a practical model of practice I am very grateful to have found. It truly changed the way I look at and deal with the aggression I am hosting inside myself. It comes in ebb and flow like for all of us I assume. Yet now I know which questions to ask when it returns and we are beginning to speak the same language.

At the end of the article I am sharing hands-on advise on how to apply this model in practice. May it be when creating talismans or preparing a new magical rite. My old teacher often mentioned to me: ‘By the time you enter the magical circle the rite is already done. Your preparatory process - on the inner and outer realm - has to be so intense and focussed that the rite is nothing but a seal on the things that you have triggered already.’

The type of questions I am sharing helped me a lot to build up this focus and consciousness in preparing my practice. Often I allow them to smolder in the back of my mind for weeks. Amazing things can happen if we allow time and the forces that surround us to contribute to understanding our next steps... I hope these questions will help to slow us down, let go of preconceived notions and stereotypes and allow for new ideas to come through. At least when dealing with aggression and using it to balance and enhance our spirit contact this can be of tremendous value.

“Perhaps the truth depends on a walk around the lake.”
Wallace Stevens