The Second Step: Joy
1) Why Joy matters
So what does the term Joy make on this list? Achieving communion with your Holy guardian Angel was supposed to be hard magical work. It was supposed to be about leaving our comfort zones and striding out into unknown territories of our souls. Why would it matter if we can experience joy along the way? Well, it matters a lot. Let me try to explain why...
"I both have exhorted, and do exhort unto a solitary life, which is the source of all good; it is true that it is difficult to accustom oneself thereunto; but once thou shalt have obtained the Sacred Science and Magic the love for retirement will come unto thee of thine own accord, and thou wilt voluntarily shun the commerce with and conversation of men; for the pleasure and contentment thou wilt enjoy when thou shalt be the possessor of this Science will be so great that thou wilt despise all amusements, excursions, riches, and every other thing however attractive such may be." (Book Abramelin)
"Depression hurts. It is the 'Black Dog' of the night that robs you of joy, the unquiet mind that keeps you awake. It's a noonday demon that only you can see, the darkness visible only to you." (Mark Williams et al. The Mindful Way through Depression)
The type of Joy we are talking about here is the answer to the riddle that the juxtaposition of these two quotes creates. Achieving communion with your Holy Guardian Angel will require recurring periods of isolation and withdrawal. And as Abraham of Worms, the alleged author of the Book of Abramelin mentioned already isolation "is difficult to accustom to". He also mentions that it gets easy once you have "obtained the Sacred Science and Magic". But he fails to point out the actual duration inbetween - from when you embark on this journey until you reach its invisible finishing line - it can take several years easily. And it is this period where most of the dangers lie in secret and where support is most necessary. It's the time before we acquire access to one of the most powerful tools of sacred protection when we need to be able to guard ourselves sufficiently. And it is Trust and Joy that will form the cloak of safety and protection against all the pitfalls on the way.
So what type of Joy exactly do we refer to here? Simply put, it is the Joy that comes without a cause. It is the Joy that doesn't spring from external events that happen to us, but that springs from our inner experience only. Finding and opening the sources of these inner experiences is the goal of this chapter.
Think of yourself as a vessel. Normally this vessel is being filled with waters from all sorts of sources and constantly overflowing in experiences. New water is added while old water is flushed out and there is a constant coming and going of new experiences, some of them delightful and some of them painful, some of them indifferent and many of them invisible to our conscious minds. When we move into isolation we basically stop the continuous intake of new experiences, we seal off the sources that used to fill our vessel. We deliberately create emptieness and openness within us. An untouched space, an open vessel that attracts the attention of all sorts of beings who would love to take residence in it and fill it with their waters. Any such open vessel works like a lighthouse on the astral realms. It offers shelter and food and richness to all the beings that cannot provide these things for themselves, who prey on carion. And that is exactly what open, undirected human energy is to them.
So in isolation we strive to empty the vessel that we are of impressions. We strive to empty the vessel of our body, of our minds and souls. We create an open space, a new interface that in the future will be used by our Holy Guardian Angel to create conscious communion with us. However, up until that point it is us who need to guard this empty vessel and ensure we don't get tricked and abused by other beings that prey on our openness. This is why we seal this open space with Joy.
The type of Joy we refer to here is the most wonderful protection lock, the most organic yet powerful filter to ward off any being that isn't supposed to take residence in the emptieness we created. Joy is the shield that shines like the sun, it is the warm cloak that covers us from the weathers. This type of Joy flows from the anticipated presence of all the good things to come.
Now, beware: I am not talking about melancholia here and I am not talking about nostalgia or daydreaming either. All of these emotional states are equally silent and often can be encountered in remoteness as well. However, neither of them will work as the protection seal for your empty vessel mentioned above. Quite the opposite: melancholia, nostalgia and daydreaming are the red carpet you can roll out for unfiltered beings to take residence in the empty vessel of your mind and body. Quite frankly - as long as you are attached to these emotional states in isolation your vessel hasn't become even empty yet.
It is hard to explain the Joy that comes without a cause if you have never experienced it. Therefore let me share some exercises that will allow you to experience it yourself firsthand - rather reading my words trying to portrait it by the things it is not. One final thought on Joy though: It is true that when you encounter your HGA an incredible source of Joy and wellbeing is opened for you. However, this source doesn't open like a floodgate that suddenly springs open - at least not in most of the cases I have heard of. Much more often this source works like a small creek. First it only muddies the ground, then you might realize it's waters between the rocks and plants and only after a while it starts to form a visible creek which then broadens and broadens. Until it is broad enough for you to swim in it.
"It seemed to me as though I was listening to a Voice, not human but celestial, and I felt a joy in mine heart such as I could not express." (Book Abramelin)
"(...) for it is absolutely necessary to perform this Operation unto the praise, honour, and glory of God." (Book Abramelin)
2) Exercises in Joy
The type of joy we are aiming to practice here is the blitheness that anticipates the succesful work to come. It is being bounded to the goal of achieving communion with your Holy Guardian Angel in joy and happiness. It is also the type of joy that fully transcends our own mortal affairs, that is not bound to the physical state we are in, the pleasures of life or the luck that we encountered. The Joy that has no cause often is experienced most easily where we would never look for it in the first place... In the following paragraphs we will explore a few examples of where it might be found. As mentioned earlier already - the Everyday Path to your HGA is not a handbook and you will need to adopt and adjust it to match your own circumstances of live and personality. So the main goal of the following exercises is to guide your thinking yet leave sufficient room for your own inspirations and creativity in bringing this work to life. Most of all - at this point the magic that you do has to be joyful.
I) Cultivate Mindfulness
Walking the path towards your HGA sometimes can get you dangerously close to states of mind you don't want to be in. Depression and anxieties being the two most prominent ones. Thus before we progress to more advanced magical work we have to ensure we are working from a safe fundament. At this point it doesn't matter at all wether you look at this path from a purely magical, psychological or scientific perspective. It doesn't matter wether you think of depression as a neuronal dysfunction, the effect of an unhealed trauma or an astral being sitting on your chest. As so often in magic we are less concerned with the 'why' and much more concerned with the 'how'. Or as my teacher always used to say: anything that works is good.
Mindfulness is something that clearly works. It works to protect our minds from sliding down the slippery slope of sadness and depression - especially when we walk a path that leads through remote areas and even needs us to confront our own fears. If you have never heard of Mindfulness I recommend listening to this wonderful podcast for a start. Mark Williams is doing an outstanding job here in explaining the dynamics of depression - and how to overcome them by practicing Mindfulness. Listen and you will immidiately get it.
If you then decide that this is something that has relevance for you than I recommend to buy Williams' book 'The Mindful Way through Depression' that comes with a companion CD of guided meditations. I haven't worked with the CD myself but the practice of Mindfulness as Williams explains and teaches it is one of the most powerful tools that allows you to change direction from sadness towards joyfulness. One step at a time.
II) Learn how to meditate
I know this one sounds incredibly boring and dusty. Since the times when Blavatsky & Co. started to adopt Eastern spiritual practices and adopt them to fit the path of the 'Yoga of the West' this trumpet has been blown a thousand times. Learn how to meditate, learn how to calm your mind, practice Dyana, practice Dharana, etc.. Unfortunately it is just bloody good advise. And if you haven't done so already there is absolutely now way around it.
You will hear, feel, see and speak to your Holy Guardian Angel in no other state than in a state of deep mental concentration or focus. While there are Western ways to achieve such a state as well - feel free to dive into the thorny path of Ignatius of Loyola for a start, but I am sure you will be back pretty soon - none of them are as pragmatic and accesible in todays Western world as the path of basic meditation practice.
To get started there are many ways. If you don't want to go and sit in meditation classes then I recommend the following two books.
- As a general starting point I still recommend Crowley's Book Four, Chapters I to VII. While the description of the different physical and mental stages of meditation are abbreviated and the required results per stage are often unachievable it still gives a good introduction from a magical point of view.
- Once you have found and mastered your Asana the real trick lies in getting your Pranayama right. It's the rhythmic flow of breath that will do the job for you and still your mind. Iyengar's wonderful book 'Ligh on Pranayama' is still the best resource on this topic I know of. Dive in and find out.
Now, learning how to meditate isn't something we can easily tick off the list. It will actually stay on the list for most of our lives - as progression can be made into infinete levels. The goal with regards to successfully pursuing further on the Everyday Path can be summarized like this: advance your meditation skills to a level where sitting down in your asana is like entering into a hot bathtub. Learn to meditate at a level that meditation actually becomes joyful. For me it took me about a year of daily practice to get there; yet I know many people who were much faster.
III) Chose a magical name
Your magical name defines the course you have set your life to. It is the inner compass that gives direction in times of confusion and need. It is also the source of energy you have decided to align yourself to for any given period of time. Thus in your magical name you are actively anticipating the future state of your magical self. This next version of yourself will first come through on an inner or magical level only and over time materialize on the outer or everyday level of your life as well. So your magical name still signifies yourself with all your inborn traits and the individuality that makes you unique. However, it does this in a magically altered, much more mature state.
“Whatever method of ‘Magical Naming’ is used, the Name chosen as a vehicle must be an adequate one for exchange of energy between its Inner Sponsor and the Emerging Entity into which the Initiate seeks to identify themselves.” (Gilbert, Inner Traditions of Magic)
Choosing your magical name has to be done with great care. Should you already have a magical name now is a good time to ponder how it reflects on your journey towards achieving communion with your Holy Guardian Angel? Your magical name is a statement of intent towards the person you will to become. Thus you need to strike a fine balance and need to avoid making it unrealistic, overly ambitious or simply unspecific. If your magical name is the inner compass, the course you set your life to it will guide you irrespective of the conditions you are in right now: it will pull you forward when life is joyful and it will shelter you when storms or cliffs surround you.
In essence your magical name is the vision of who you strive to become next. Thus a good question to ask yourself might be the following: What is the specific obstacle that hinders me most from advancing on this path quickly? Once this is clear, ask yourself which beneficial trait would be the direct opposite of such obstacle? Once this is answered you have identified a dimension of polarities: your obstacle trait and your perfect solution trait. Often when chosing your magical name you don’t want to go for either of them. Instead you want to find the third force that transcends this polarity altogether. Because this is what we strive for in our magical names: to free ourselves from current dynamics or games we play that otherwise might get us stuck without hope for future progress to be made.
Let me illustrate this with a personal example: When I had to chose my first magical name I was relatively young and just started taking up classes at university. I was deeply invested in my magical progress and dedicated several hours per day to building magical knowledge and skills. Magic at this point was a source of constant joy, curiosity and happiness and I could see myself spending most of the time in my life with it. Simultaneously it was a time when I needed to decide on where to go with my professional life and what to do for a living? I actually despised the idea of going into economy and ending up in a corporation. However, I lacked any sort of compromise or alternative vision. I simply felt deep mistrust and fear towards a normal working life. So this was the polarity I was caught in: a passion for a life directed inwards and a fear of a life that seemed to be directed outwards. Thus my magical name had to transcend this polarity - and allow me to step out of this dynamic completely. Or in the words of Austin Osman Spare - instead of ‘either or‘ it had to become ‘neither neither’. I found the answer in the Nuctemeron of Apollonius of Tyana. It had been published as an Appendix to Eliphas Levi’s Transcendental Magic and I had pondered about its meaning and origins many times. When I had to chose my magical name I instantly knew the answer would be in this book... So I opened it and found my magical name on the list of genii of the fifth hour. Camaysar, the genius of connection of opposites. The name was my inner compass for several years and long into the first phases of my work-life. Camaysar was a wonderful guide and I took a lot of benefits from allowing my magical as well as everyday personality to learn and develop joyfully under his guidance.
IV) Practice Magical Singing
Ok, now that you know how to meditate and have chosen a magical name it is time for the next step. And this is to learn to sing. Actually, it is to learn how to do mantras first - but you will already have stumbled across this in Crowley’s Book4. Generally also I find people start experimenting with mantras long before they are ready for it and often compromise time here that would be much better invested in building up sufficient Pranayama skills. Consider myself guilty of this. But anyway, now it’s time to learn magical singing.
What I mean by this is allowing your mind, body and soul to enter a state that is completely directed towards a single goal. And what provides this direction is the melody we are singing. Call it a state of gnosis, magical trance or something else - I just call it magical singing. The easiest way to learn this is to take any mantra you are familiar with already and instead of repeating it in long unpronounced loops to start adding melody to it. Don’t think of the melody consciously but just allow it to flow out of yourself and mingle with the words as you practice... The magic here is in the sounds that come naturally.
When you practice magical singing you will make some interesting observations: your mouth, your lips, your vocal chords and lungs can produce sounds that will make your entire body vibrate. Not through loudness or volume that is but through presence alone.
Don’t fall into the trap of trying to sing ‘nice’ for someone else’s ears. Your magical singing should never be recorded. The intent of such singing is not at all to please anyone’s ears except for your own and that is in a state of meditation trance. Normally I practice my singing towards the end of my meditation when my body is already deeply relaxed, my mind is calm and in a light inward directed trance. This is when I experience the best results of inner vibration.
Once you have gained experience in singing personal mantras you can almost practice on anything. A good starting point can be your magical name itself. Formulate a statement of intent that includes your magical name and start singing it... One of the beauties of magical singing is that it doesn’t require any equipment. Theoretically you can do this on lonesome walks or hikes just as in your kitchen or under the shower. Practically, however, the best place to learn is your temple or meditation place. For one because you can ensure nobody will hear you there. And second because your body can assume a state of deep muscle relaxation in your Asana - something that I found essential for good results.
The next and final stage to practice is to take Psalters from the Bible and start singing them. I am not a Christian at all and I guess you can take many other sacred books and start singing their magical hymns and prayers. However, for some reason I have achieved some of my best results by singing the Psalters. Simply chose one that has meaning with regards to the personal situation you are in and walk with it... The results will be amazing.
You know your are done with this exercise when you discovered a new source of joy. I guess in old times what I call magical singing would have been called simply prayer? Names don’t really matter here. What does matter is that we create a direct connection between our hearts and the melodies that flow out of us. Once we achieve this, we have found a wonderful source of joy and purification that will always stay with us. It is one of the purest forms of joy that simply flows from the anticipation of what we strive to become.
V) Enter the Sacred Space
As you embark on your journey towards achieving communion with your Holy Guardian Angel it is essential to find your own Sacred Place. It is not unlikely that this is the place where you will first meet and encounter your HGA at a later point... Your Sacred Place is a place on the inner realm first and foremost and therefore doesn’t require any physical space or equipment on the material realm. All you need is a quiet and undisturbed space for your daily meditation practice.
Now, how do you find your sacred space on the inner realm? The answer is I don’t know. But I can help you start searching for it. Your Sacred Space is a place of complete safety, calmness and focus. It is a place that often is located in monotonous landscapes, i.e. a desert, a mountain top, a cave, a platform on top of a vast forest, etc. It always is a place that allows access to the elements and ideally to the underworld as well as the sky. Josephine McCarthy gives instructions on how to enter one of the most powerful sacred spaces that can be found anywhere, i.e. the Void. Yet, from my personal experience this is a special place that goes beyond the features we need for our personal sacred space.
Go searching for your Sacred Place once you are in meditation. You can do this by simply allowing images of places to come through that are saturated with the feeling of safety, calmness and life. We all might see different pictures. You might have visited some of the places before in your dreams and possibly - but rarely - you have been there in person. Visit several places before you settle on one, try out how your meditation is shaped and formed by the energies of the place before you decide to return.
Once you have arrived at your Sacred Place create contact with it by breathing in its air, touch the ground, the soil, the stones, and allow your sight to slowly adjust to the light present in that space. I normally pick up a broom and start sweeping the entire space. It’s a wonderful, slow way of getting back in contact every time I get there. And as you do so many qualities will come through and start filling your body and mind. Allow them to come up and leave again when they are ready. Don’t try to control this experience, but simply be present in your space. Then sit down in the middle of the space and start meditating... That’s all we need to do for now: finding our sacred space, making deep contact and building a relationship by meditating in it.
You know you are done with this exercise if your Sacred Space has become a source of deep joy in your daily meditation practice. We will return here at a later point in our journey for additional work to be carried out.
VI) Practice Drunvalo Melchizedek's Merkavah Meditation
Now, do we have time for one last hint at becoming experts in joy without a cause?
For me it was only after I had made conscious contact to my HGA that I discovered the strange writing of Drunvalo Melchizedek through a good friend. While I am still confused today by much of what he writes in his two-volume work ‘The Flower of Life’ it contains one of the biggest magical gifts I ever received. These are the instructions to the ‘Merkvaha Meditation’ according to Drunvalo Melchizedek as part of the second volume of the series.
I won’t go into the details of it. Because at this point you either found sufficient sources of joy without a cause in your magical practice and are ready to move on to the next stage. Or you haven’t in which case you will either leave this path altogether - or buy the damn book and start praciting.
The meditation consist of consecutive eighteen breaths only. Yet the instructions on what to do during each of these breaths are very precise and cannot be altered. So rather than following abbreviated guidance - which you will find easily by googling the name of the meditation - I recommend buying the full 2nd volume and practicing the technique laid out there.
What you will get in return in is one of the most stunning methods of magical protection, healing and joy in eighteen consecutive breaths only.