The First Step: Trust
1. Why Trust matters
Over recent years a messenger substance has become increasingly popular among researchers and modern day gold-diggers of the pharmaceutical industry alike. It’s name is Oxytocin. Despite its well know role in sexual reproduction its significant role in regulating social behavior only hit the limelight relatively recently... Animals with a higher amount of Oxytocin receptors proved to be significantly more social in their behavior than their peers; they also showed significantly reduced levels of fear and stress under similar conditions. Researchers concluded that Oxytocin actively reduces stress and fear (i.e. cortisol) and thus triggers increased levels of pro-social behavior such as empathy and trust.
The really interesting point here is that trust in this context is considered an independent variable. It is an attitude that we chose to assume - or don’t. Dependent on our level of fear and stress we can chose to embrace trust as an inner attitude - or reject it and continue to follow down the spiral staircase of fear and stress into deeper levels of mistrust. Mistrust that is against our capabilities to serve our own needs as well as mistrust against the ability of our environment to support us in doing so...
I guess that’s the vicious circle: fear and stress breed mistrust, mistrust shown to others makes them withdraw from us, which justifies our fear and stress levels and allows us to breed more mistrust which in return isolates us even more... And so our spiral staircase of withdrawal is built as we descend it, step by step it into deeper and deeper levels of isolation. And it all starts with a choice. A choice to trust or not to trust. In my humble opinion that choice depends on the fact wether we have a stable point to hang our trust onto. A fixed point, a guiding star, a hand that we trust to never let us down.
From my experience this is the real veil of Paroketh, this is the real guardian of the threshold - our fear to trust. Because before we can knowanything about, long before we can commune with our Holy Guardian Angel we have to trust that it exists. We have to learn to believe. And the way we do this is by practice. By practice with the things that surround us, that we can touch, fear, feel, kiss, smell and breathe in. We practice on ourselves and with the people that surround us. Only then can we proceed to the things that we cannot touch, that are out of reach for our physical senses. So in order to lift this first veil we have to become experts in trusting.
To return to the role of Oxytocin in our minds - that is exactly what this substance does on a neuronal level: it makes us ready to believe. It softens our fears and strengthens our faith that the hand that will not let us down is in ours already... Oxytocin is no Alkahest, it is no perfect formula to dissolve our fears. Researchers had to learn that Oxytocin alone cannot cure social phobias and its effect can vary strongly according to the test subject both in strength and duration. Yet, they did also find that in most cases it significantly increases the level of trust that people are ready to show towards others.
So Oxytocin doesn’t cure but it facilitates taking the first step. It allows us to see a path when before there was just darkness. It is still us who need to take each step... And from my personal experience this is how communion with my Holy Guardian Angel changed my life. Luckily I didn’t had to start from a level of social isolation, phobia or mistrust - but from the average level of everyday phobia and sickening mental stereotypes. Yet where my HGA has led me is a level of trust in myself and the resources around me that I hadn’t ever imagined to be possible. It simply never dawned on me how much support there was out there - once I asked for it. And while I started to take more and more of it I also was given the ability to give back more and more of it...
Now, here is the pitfall: While the level of Oxytocin can be raised in our bodies to any level we chose to it is really the amount of available Oxytocin receptors that decides about the amount absorbed into our minds. While the substance always carries the same potency, the realization of the potency depends on the ‘readiness’ of the subject. So if we want to increase likelihood of contact with our HGA we have to do exactly that: increase the amount of receptors in our bodies to get in touch with it. And trust is received through openness. Openness is the receptor for trust.
In case you are looking for a way to make the first step towards communion with your HGA here is what I recommend: become more open. Have the courage to face whatever is keeping you closed. I guess these are your fears?
The journey of all mystery traditions started exactly at this point: to face your fears, to learn how to let go, how to give up protection. When Regardie mentioned every magician should take up psychotherapy in parallel to his magical training I guess this is what he aimed at: To go through a facilitated process of continuous opening, of letting go of fears, of unfolding like the leaves of a flower. And becoming ready for contact - becoming ready to trust.
So what exactly is the first step on this journey?
The answer is as manyfold as our lives, just as all the fears that keep us closed. In every case, however, the first step is a small step rather than a huge one. It is a tiny confident step, a calculated yet playful one - as we will need breath for a long journey. Don’t push yourself too hard. Don’t try to overachieve or to change your life. You are in the place you are in for a good reason. Don’t try to escape but to understand. At the end of the day it is the same spiral staircase that led us downwards that also leads upwards on the other end.
This is the first veil that covers contact to our Holy Guardian Angels. They can only reach us once we are ready. The first step towards readiness is to become more open and to learn how to trust.
"I solemnly swore to change my lifestyle and not to live under the false dogmas of our society, but on the way and the law of the Lord." (Book Abramelin)
2. Exercises in Trust
At no point will anybody be bale to tell you how to exactly take the first step in becoming an expert in trust. But there are many possibilities and some of them might not meet the eye at first glance. So let me share a few of them - especially the ones that I know worked well for me. Also, let me preempt the prejudice and common stereotype again that the first step would come in the form of any type of magical ritual: That isn’t even the case in the original Abramelin book - but the rite is advanced by more than a year of ‘inner preparation’. I tried to clarify this point earlier already in this post on the difference of magic according to a saturnian vs. venusian point of view: the physical ritual is the last step in the process, it is the manifestation on the physical realm. It is the moment when we connect the dots on the material plane long after we have allowed for this process to start within us and on the inner realms. Realization on the inside comes before realization on the outside. Or as W.Gilbert put it:
“In a sense we are always being conceived at our deepest levels, gestating at nearer ones, being born Outwardly, and dying from what we passed beyond. This process also works the opposite way (as every Circle must) with our energies returning to their Single Supreme Source.” (Gilbert, p.42)
So what makes for good conceiving on an inner level as a first step? Well, it is anything that gives you reason to trust more. We have to find and conduct exercises in finding our own strength and accepting our own needs or flaws. Because any aspect we hide from ourselves or others is a veil that covers up an important receptor for our HGA. Veils breed closeness instead of openness.
- I) Train your physical body
This is as easy as it gets for most people - that is unless you are severely disabled. By training our physical body we trigger a process that can release immense amounts of trust. Trust that is in our own bodily strength to give good shelter to all that’s kept inside... Muscles spanning over our skeleton, skin spanning over our muscles, energies spanning over our skin - these are pure layers of trust that have been given to us from birth. And they can be easily activated and increased by physical training.
Don’t underestimate the power of training your body. Gaining knowledge and conversation with our HGA for many people is triggered by a desire to advance towards a better version of themselves. That’s a perfectly fair and ethical motive. But why not start this journey by supporting our body to advance to a better version of itself first? I always used to be a friend of proving my ability to take care of myself on a physical level before advancing to more abstract ones. Because when we start this journey the most important levels of trust are built from the power we can see and feel and experience for real.
So start with the smallest step - not the most a alluring one. Get a membership in a gym, take up ballet, dance classes, power yoga or simple team up with your mates for weekly football games. During these training hours don’t pursue anything that is aimed at inner levels, e.g. meditation, chakra exercises, etc. Learn to value the pure physical exercise as it is the process of gaining strength that you need to trust. At the end of the day our body will be the rope we hang on to while climbing this mountain.
"The chief thing that ye should consider is whether ye be in good health, because the body being feeble and unhealthy, it is subject to divers infirmities, whence at length result impatience and want of power to operate and pursue the Operation; and a sick man can neither be clean and pure, nor enjoy solitude; and in such a case it is better to cease." (Book Abramelin)
- II) Learn to say ‘Thank You’
If you want to advance to a better version of yourself a great first step is to acknowledge all the people who have helped you to become who you already are. Wether you are months, years or decades away from making contact with your HGA nobody starts this journey from scratch. We all carry strength and qualities and talents within us; and there have been people along our journey who helped us to discover and develop these.
Call one of them right now and say thank you. Pick up your phone and say Thank You without any immediate reason. I am not joking - this is part of the exercise... Most of us will realize that they hesitate before they press the dial button, that there is a level of uncomfortableness in calling your close ones and saying thank you without a reason. Why is that?
If you cannot trust your strength to appreciate, to welcome and say thank you - how can you trust your strength to fight for who you aspire to become? -- When you put down the phone after you have spoken to your friend, your spouse, your child or parents, realize what happens within you. Something will shift and change. Something that is not to be said before you realize it yourself.
- III) Endorse your shortcomings
This is a crucial step in advancing towards communion with your HGA. We are all caught in desires and wishes to become something that we aren’t yet. Often, however, this is more of a flight from what we think we are today than a progression towards what we want to be tomorrow. And often this journey proves to be incredibly arduous and hard-bitten. Because the disfunctional traits or habits we acquired simply won’t let go of us.
The way to move forward in these cases is to let go. It is to simply accept the presence of what we perceive as being faulty, ugly or unworthy within us. You don’t have to start loving your shortcomings as they can be painful and embarrassing. Yet, you will need to welcome them like guests in your house.
Because that is what they are. When there are people in your house that you cannot throw out but that seem to leave at some point and on their own terms only you can just start accepting their presence as a matter of fact - rather than a fault that has to be fought everyday without a chance of success. Save your powers for the fights you can win. Don’t waste it. Accept the flaws that are too hard-wired to be changed for now.
Because once you do - something really strange and wonderful might happen. They might disappear. Many of our perceived shortcomings are fed by the energy that we waste to fight them. The more we fight, the stronger they become. And once we let go, they will let go as well.
"Briefly stated, it is this: that change occurs when one becomes what he is, not when he tries to become what he is not. Change does not take place through a coercive attempt by the individual or by another person to change him, but it does take place if one takes the time and effort to be what he is -- to be fully invested in his current positions." (Arnold Beisser, M.D. on the Paradoxical Theory of Change, 1970)
- IV) Give away your secrets
"Morning and Noon ye shall wash your hands and your face on entering the Oratory; and firstly ye shall make Confession of all your sins." (Book Abramelin)
Most forms of magic require secrets to breed results. The problem is that non-magical secrets equally breed results - and most of them unintended. In sigil magic, rituals and other methods alike the results achieved through magical secrets are made to align to our intent. The results achieved through non-magical secrets work exactly the same way: Yet in these cases the reason why we keep things secret most often is mistrust against ourselves. Mistrust against our ability to deal with the situation that was unleashed if the secret was uncovered. Thus the simple fact of keeping everyday secrets is testament to our inability, our seeming vulnerability or fear of not being ready to face the consequences of our own actions. It’s all the things we don’t want in preparing for more openness.
So if secrets are the most powerful evidence of our mistrust towards others and ourselves, we have to release as many of them as possible. Giving away what you fear might make you vulnerable will make you stronger in the long run indeed. But it will also change you in the process. And that's perfectly okay.
Start with the small secrets to gain practice. Think of the past and where your buried them. Then speak to the people who were involved and let them know what really happened, what you felt and why you behaved in the way you did. Uncovering secrets is practice in Radical Honesty. Read Brad Blanton's book; then work your way up to the more heavy-weight secrets of your life... If uncovering them comes with shame, with guilt, with loss of prestige, of identity or friends and loved ones, in many cases that is still a fair price to pay. However, if you need to keep some secrets then still ensure you don’t add new ones to your life. Living a truthful life, a life based on clear values that allow you to be visible, full of character and conviction is essential for connecting to your HGA.
If you have done this exercise well there are a lot of reasons to be proud of yourself. Not many people get there. That’s why only few people experience conscious communion with their HGA's - and it's also why we live in the world we live in.