The state of our consciousness determines the state of our magic at any moment in time. Even beyond the magical circle, it determines the state of the world around us. As magicians we are constant co-creators of acts charged to bring change, of single-purposed beings, of wild and vast landscapes and even ourselves. The single one determining force of what kind of spirits and powers we are able to attract, uphold and mediate in this work, is the shape our own minds are in.
Without question the consciousness of a magician is the most potent yet also most subtle tool they possess. Cups, swords, lamens and wands are carefully crafted, cleaned in incense, wrapped in silk and stored out of public's sight and touch. If we apply so much care and craft to the objects of our art, how much more care are we ought to provide to the force that guides them?
Last year I had the pleasure to interview Walter Ogris on his practice of crafting highly effective magical amuletts. His craft and art remain unparalleled to me - in the way he achieves to positively impact our consciousness through unbiased spirit mediation.
In this guest article Mr.Ogris shares some of his own thoughts on the power of consciousness, the most common misunderstandings and dead-ends practitioners can find themselves in - as well as the voices of two of the most prominent practitioners of the Gnostic-Hermetic path in the German language tradition.
Very much like in the Quareia course, the most essential techniques can easily be overlooked or taken as pure preparatory steps. That's how the mysteries protect themselves. Often times the first steps we take on a journey determine its entire course. Because they show how much of ourselves we are willing to invest - and ultimately let go of. When the spirits look at us - through the lens of dreams, underbrushes, mountains and fires - what they see first is our intent and the hand of our conscuiousness that upholds it.
May the serpent bite its tail.
Note: as in my earlier translations on the work of Emil Stejnar I want to call out how hard it is to reflect some of the technical terms of the Gnostic-Hermetic path in English language. The concept of 'self', 'I-AM' or spiritual cells are used with much precision and differentiation in the original texts as well as in Mr.Ogris article. Should the use of these words not be entirely clear in the lines below, this is due to my lacking skills in translating them. - The article was first published in 2016 in German here.
Being awake is not the opposite of being asleep. Being awake means your self has awakened and gained continous consciousness of itself. When we refer to “I” in this context we do not mean your Ego (which is composed of bodily and environmental influences), but your I-AM, the unshakeable centre of your own spiritual being. Understanding and realising this is one of the most significant mysteries we can experience.
Many esoteric currents and psychological schools regard the true human self as a kind of Higher Self, a Divine Self, eternal or possibly even immortal in nature. If that was to be the case, we should be able to handle our lives like piece of cake! The fact that this doesn’t seem to be the case, dawns upon us latest whenever unwanted thoughts or moods hassle us or even get us into situations, which upon second thought we neither want, appreciate nor can control. Something seems to be missing within us that should allow us to consciously distance ourselves or even cut us free from our own opinions, thoughts, desires and urges.
Most people believe whenever they are not physically asleep, but active, acting and decisive, that they are already acting as an “I-AM” that has awakened.
Whenever they feel proud about themselves they phrase things positively: “I am intelligent and successful.” “I know what I want.” “I can do anything.” Whenever they are concerned or over-worked they say: “I am sad, I am lonely, I am unsuccessful, I am burned out.” etc.
What they do not realise is that it is not their I-AM that consciously controls and desires such thoughts or emotions. Instead at any moment of time a particular emotion or thought holds reign over the centre of their being. And in every single moment it is this emotion or thought that either carries them forward or monopolies their consciousness. A conscious I-AM instead commands the aspects of its being according to its own will - just like we steer a car towards a destination where we want to get to and be.
Many also confuse the true state of their I-AM with their bodily sensations (“I am this body”, “I feel strong”, “I feel unpleasant”) or they even confuse their bodily self with an object. For example when we ask: “Where have you parked?” And they reply: “I am standing on this and that parking place.”
In addition to these everyday misunderstandings new scientific opinions emerged recently which deny the existence of an individual self (let alone of an I-AM) altogether.
Yet, none of this ever describes the actual I-AM, a kind of self that even survives our physical death.
Maybe even you, just because your body is not asleep, believe that you already act as a conscious, truly wakeful I-AM? Let’s take a look at what two extraordinary esoteric practitioners have to say on this matter.
Both authors, whose voices we will be exploring in this context, have spent the better part of their lives with meditation, occult reflections, mental exercises and practical experiments. Still, even they discovered the secret of true wakefulness - of the I-AM - only towards the very end of their own journeys. Reflecting on their insights is therefore even more fascinating.
Diary entry of Gustav Meyrink
Gustav Meyrink (*19th of January 1868 Vienna, 4th of December 1932) was a very experienced practitioner and highly acclaimed author. Only two years before his death did he write in his diary about the subject of self and wakefulness:
“Today on August 7th, 1930 at 10 am after a long, most agonising night, it occurred to me and suddenly the scales fell off my eyes and I know now, what is the purpose of all existence in reality. We are not supposed to change ourselves through yoga, but we are ought to be building a new god, or in Christian terms: ‘We are not supposed to follow Christ, but to take him down from the cross.’
So the old man whom I always see in a distance, it is him that I shall crown and coat in crimson and make him the ruler of my life. I can even see him now crowned and in a crimson cloak! The more perfected he becomes, the more likely he is to help me. So he is the adept. And I’ll only partake in him in so far as one day he and I will blend into one, because in its deepest essence he is my inner self. ‘He must increase, but I must decrease.’ (That is the meaning of the Baptist’s speech!)
What has been wrong until now and the source of all my suffering is that I had not been fully conscious about these things. Instead I believed it was “I” who had to be perfected, myself and not him. The tantric exercises therefore like all ascesis are wrong, they lead towards downfall and in their innermost sense are the purest black magic.
Now I also understand why the old man always stood so unmovable, frozen like a picture! It was precisely because I was working on myself and not on him. Bo Yin Ra explained it to me in way that made me belief, anything one comes across in such manner had to be devoured and one had to feed off it! Yet, it is precisely the opposite! The old one is Christos and we have to unbind him and to empower him; only then will he be able to do wonders! Only then will the ability to act wonders come upon us, when we have resolved this schizophrenia and once we have been fully absorbed.
Take the Konnersreutherin for example (Meyrink is referring Therese Neumann of Konnersreuth who displayed the stigmata of Christ; *9th of April 1898, 18th September 1962). She would need to aspire to unbind and take down from the cross the one she beholds suffering - instead of sharing his suffering. She is walking in circles. Now all of these insights I should be working into a new novel. It would be the possibly most fascinating topic. Maybe our circumstances will change soon so that I will finally be able to work in a way that I envision.
There is no way I can call everything I have spent my life trying to achieve in Yoga a fallacy. Yet, I do believe that such efforts are what it takes to realise what I have understood today on the 7th of August.’
There is no “I”? But here I am!
Some thoughts by Emil Stejnar
“The self is a fairy tale.” proclaims the American neuroscientist David Eagleman in a recent interview with The Spiegel and concludes that there is no such thing as a consciously working mind. The brain is largely run on autopilot, the self is snoozing on the co-driver seat.
These insights do not contradict the experiences of esoteric praxis. The self indeed is only a small part of a larger mental system on which our consciousness rests. Mostly it’s thoughts, emotions and a broad array of impulses that guide us through our everyday lives and who are in charge of determining our lives’ course. One has to grab and hold on to one’s self consciously, one has to identify with it completely, otherwise we will turn into a reactive spectator of one’s thoughts, emotions and desires instead of the active centre of one’s personality. Living under such storm and violent competition of ideas, imaginations, projections and emotions, it is no wonder we ask ourselves: “Who am I? And if so, how many?” (Richard Precht)
The answer can be found in an eternal bestseller (the Bible, Exodus 3:14) where the protagonist asked for his identity acknowledges: “I am who I am”. The idea of “I-AM” in fact is a magical formula that calls to life both one’s self as well as consciousness as such.
Anyone who concentrates on nothing but the thought “I-AM” will awaken to a new life. The self is being shaken and will realise that it is. It does no longer ask, who am I, but it will say to itself: this is I! No longer then is this about the question who one is, but about the fact that one is.
However, unfortunately getting to this stage is not as simple as it sounds. It requires the highest levels of concentration to maintain the thought “I-AM” as the carrier of one’s consciousness. One has to show significant effort in order not to immediately drown again in the waves of cognitive chatter and emotional moods. One has to outright train one’s state of wakefulness. Ideally several times a day, at one’s desk, on the tube, while lying in bed. No philosophy, no science, no argument as perfectly crafted as it may be, can help one realise that one is. The exhilarating mystical realisation that “I-AM” has to be achieved within each one of us and by each one of ourselves. That is the mystery of any initiation. No intricate ceremonies are required. Everybody can realise it at any moment in time.
For more than 60 years have I been working with magic and mysticism and I have practiced the most diverse exercises and rites. According to my experience, gaining consciousness of the thought “I-AM” is by far the most important responsibility of any mystical education. Every meditation, every act of concentration or exercising of our will is meaningless and probably produced more lunatics than adepts, unless it opens and closes with the thought “I-AM”.
“I think I am and then I am”, is what Descartes would say today. Even if the conscious self forms just a tiny fraction of the complex control centre called our brain, even if consciousness including all thoughts, emotions, desires and actions is pre-programmed by neuronal processes, experience still teaches us that one can develop one’s consciousness. Just like any other skill and capability so the state of “I-AM” can be continuously revived by use of targeted imagination. Until one day it rises above all other traits and aspects of one’s personality. And that will happen not alone on the physical plane through the help of the frontal lobe, but also on a spiritual plane.
Where the neuroscientist sees neuronal networks, the gnostic Hermetical understands such electro-magnetical phenomena as physical manifestations of spirit-cells that form our inner organs (Wesenszellen) - so called ‘elementals’. It is these elementals that form one’s consciousness, mostly without any active involvement of the self. Sunday roast, sex, and other smart or stupid thoughts suppress the self. While it is traceable as a compound of cognitive thinking from the age of three years, most people couldn’t care less about it even once they have turned into adults. Such self, however, should be nourished, protected and raised like a toddler in order for it to grow to its full potential and size.
Gnostic Hermetism, a tradition that is closely interwoven with Christian symbolism, understands this process as the mystery hidden within the idea and principle of Christ.
The self in our body is surrounded by urges and impulses like Jesus the child was surrounded by animals in the stable. It has to grow in strength and outgrow all the instincts, desires and emotions that directly connect into our spirit.
While the ‘child in the cradle’ symbolises the still unconscious self, ‘Christ resurrected’ symbolises the fully awakened self. Let’s take a look at how John, the first Gnostic Hermetical described this Christ (Gospel of John, chap. 8 verse 12, chap. 10 verse 7, Chap. 11 verse 25): “I-AM (is) the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. I-AM (is) the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. I-AM is the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.”
Every time we unbind our selves from our thoughts, desires and moods like Christ was unbound from the cross, every time we re-identify with the I-AM we experience a resurrection and a re-awakening. Gustav Meyrink is giving a vivid description of this in his novel ‘The Green Face’:
‘Being awake is everything. Be awake while doing anything. Do not believe you are already. No, you are asleep and dreaming. Stand tall, pull yourself together and for a single moment force yourself to experience the all-permeating emotion: “Now I am awake!” Once you manage to experience this, you’ll immediately realise that the state of consciousness you have just pulled away from compares to this like being drugged and sleepwalking. Such is the first, hesitating step towards a vast journey that leads from servitude to almightiness. Step forward like this from one awakening to the next. There is no kind of torturing thought you could not overcome in this manner. They fall back behind you and cannot ascent to the same height. You stand above them, like the crown of a tree towers over its dire branches. Suffering will fall from you like autumn leaves from a tree - once you have progressed sufficiently for this wakefulness to also take hold of your physical body.’
I-AM and you?
The state of such wakefulness cannot be described. Just like the first time one experiences the feeling of balance when riding a bike - one has to experience it oneself. But how can you become conscious of the I-AM and train your wakefulness?
Traditionally as part of their hermetic training the student is given a specific pentacle or amulet as well as a daily ritual. Through such means the student begins to realise quickly what it means to be awake.
One’s entire life will improve and become much more focussed - once the student takes every decision and steers their life from the viewpoint of their true I-AM.
Even in their daily routine they can practice simple consciousness triggers. They observe themselves several times a day and look at their own body as if they were standing behind themselves. They look at their surroundings, at the experiences that are present on the outside as well as the experiences that are present on the inside. Then they say to themselves: “Am I awake, am I asleep, am I dreaming? How did I get here? What happened just a moment ago?”
And quickly they realise there is so much more present at any moment than their thoughts and emotions alone. And with every time they stand still and practice, the consciousness of their I-AM is strengthened and grows. Until it becomes unshakeable, like a tall tree with deep roots underneath the ground. That is their awakened I-AM.