“In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order.” – C.G. Jung
The psychological aspect of Scientific Illuminism seems to be much neglected in most esoteric traditions, and this, I think, is where the Science of Thelema has the advantage. Scientific Illuminism incorporates the many Schools of Psychology – Psychodynamic, Behaviorist, Humanistic, Cognitive, Biological, Evolutionary and Psychosocial. There is no one school of psychology that can fully identify, explain, predict or control behavior or mental processes; and even those which I have listed have their shortcomings. Alchemy, Ritual Magick, Mysticism, Philosophy and Physical sciences all come together with a universal connection. Success in these arts requires knowledge of the inner workings of the mind, for indeed the key to these arts is as a germinal vesicle within the infinite depths of the human mind. From a psychological perspective the Pantacle is the Bread, the Disk, the Earth that is the food for our initiation; it is our body and mind and all the ideas that come to our awareness. It is the First Matter and the Object of our Science. Crowley writes that the pantacle must include everything, as it is the universe itself of which man is a microcosm. Due to the extraordinary work of Sigmund Freud and his successor Carl Jung, we know that the psyche of a ‘normal’ healthy individual consists of elements of which we are readily conscious, and also of elements which elude our awareness, or are un-conscious- yet still active and affecting the totality of the psyche. The obverse of the magick pantacle is a symbol of the totality of the conscious mind, and on the reverse, the totality of the unconscious, both collective and individual. With this correlative association of principals (the Pantacle and the Conscious/Unconscious Mind) we are confronted with some interesting questions. First, what does this association mean for the work of the Scientific Illuminist? Also, how does one go about taming the wildness of the unconscious mind, and how, if at all, is this related to the Work? I propose during the course of this essay to give a degree of insight into the subject in order to equip one with a fresh outlook on occult psychology. In the course of this essay I also propose to explain the use of psychology in magick.
Impressions on the pantacle, which are in essence elements of the psyche, are real in that they exist in the astral effluvium of the mind and are the target of the knife in the Zelator grade. The Neophyte builds this pantacle throughout the grade, psychologically by his or her theory and practice of the astral realm and through reflection upon these visions. Note that the Astral Realm would equate to the Unconscious Mind in psychological terms. Further, the impressions received by the consciousness in normal waking life and dream life build the pantacle. The necessity and supreme importance of a written record is self-evident. So it seems we take (2) symbols and work our way into them, “continually varying and increasing” building the magick pantacle, or, psychologically, examining the contents of the mind. The Great Work of Jungian psychology is the integration of unconscious elements within the psyche. Jung as well as Gurdieff gives great practical advice for the collection of impressions in the normal’ state of sentience.
Aleister Crowley writes in his New Commentary to Liber AL that Hoor-Pa-Kraat is the “Lord of the Silent Self” and “contains everything in Himself, but is unmanifested”. Crowley goes as far as comparing Freud’s idea of the Unconscious to Harpocrates and considered the Holy Guardian Angel that same Lord of the Silent Self. Jung, in this author’s opinion, comes even closer than Freud to an exact equation of the Unconscious and the esoteric symbol Harpocrates. Harpocrates is the personification, or general symbol of the Unconscious Mind, which is all-inclusive. Counter-positioned to this idea is Ra Hoor Khuit, who could be considered the Lord of the Conscious Mind (or should be unless usurped by the lower ego). Horus then is the Individuated Psyche, or the Adept in esoteric terminology.
Leaving Ra Hoor Khuit and the conscious mind for later discussion, I wish to expand further upon Hoor Pa Kraat and the unconscious mind. According to the cosmology of the Book of the Law, humanity is currently in the mundane Aeon of Horus, and this very complete and ancient god, Horus, gives a formula for the work at hand when we consider the fact that Heru Ra Ha (a form of Horus, and the specific form expressed in Liber AL) is the composition of Ra Hoor Khuit and Hoor Pa Kraat. This expresses perfectly the idea of the Individuation coined by Carl Jung and again asserts that the Pantacle is the First Matter of the work of the occult scientist. Carlos Castaneda, the twenty-first century Shamanic author, establishes this very same idea in his work. The aim of his philosophy is the shifting of awareness from the routine, conscious attention, to the “second attention”, the awareness of an entirely different set of phenomena, which we could associate, rightly, to the unconscious. Keep in mind that once impressions are observed, they are no longer considered “unconscious”, having gained the momentum and attention of the mind to break the threshold of consciousness. The Silent Self, in all seriousness, is not really that silent. It speaks to us in dreams, fantasies, and even in our daily routines. Anyone who has undergone a length of psychotherapy can corroborate this thought.
To the beginner, Crowley offers this program:
1. Furnish your mind as completely as possible with the knowledge of how to inspect and to control it. The general theories of psychology eastern and western philosophy, and the practice of Magick. Particularly, behavioral psychology and consistent rituals of banishing and invocation. Practices of Resh are also important, as along with the others, it modifies a current behavior with one that is foreign to the consciousness. For instance when one is at work and pauses briefly for Resh- the routine is broken and a new behavior is performed creating an alternate thought pattern and reality construct.
2. Train your body to obey your mind, and not to distract its attention. Particularly Thelemic Magick, Psychology, and Castanedian Shamanism. Eastern Mysticism is an indispensable practice for learning control of the body and of the mind. Another, deeper level of the practices mentioned in # 1.
3. Control your mind to devote itself wholly to discover your true Will.
4. Explore the course of that Will till you reach its source, your Silent Self. The Unconscious Mind reveals the nature of the totality of the Self, including all complexes and tendencies; hidden therein is the Holy Guardian Angel, the Master of the totality of the psyche.
5. Unite the conscious will with the true Will, and the conscious Ego with the Silent Self. You must be utterly ruthless in discarding any atom of consciousness which is hostile or neutral. Jung’s Individuation.
6. Let this work freely from within, but heed not your environment, lest you make difference between one thing and another. Whatever it be, it is to be made one with you by Love. A.C. gives insight into the axiom “Change equals Stability”. On a psychological level, the refraining from ‘heeding one’s environment’ suggest that one does not let external stimuli, social ‘standards’, or racial consciousness interfere with or prohibit the work flowing freely from within. This of course must be understood in an initiatic way and not be misunderstood as advocating criminal or self-restrictive behavior.
We can see here that the work of Jungian psychology is very much in the same tone as Scientific Illuminism, and the Work of the A.’.A.’. in particular is structured accordingly. Let us now see how this is so.
Priming in psychology is the method by which particular connections or associations are activated in memory just before carrying out an action or task. These associations are often unconscious. Research has often used Priming as a technique to trigger these automatic processes. A “prime” is a stimulus that biases further processing of the same or related material. Television commercials are an everyday example in the fact that they could cause one to unconsciously or automatically purchase something that contains a symbol of the prime. The symbol of the prime is either something internal related to memory, impressions, etc., or an external experience like going to the beach then buying Tide laundry detergent next time one is at the grocer’s. The prime is the cause and the reaction or subsequent action is the effect of that prime.
Processes of this nature show their effectiveness on the three planes of existence. First, on the physical plane, the gross physical impressions are transmuted as the subconscious mind recalls various passages of the holy book, providing a new rapture in the consciousness as all impressions are traced to the Aspiration. Further, this facet of priming is the first establishment of the Thelemic doctrine of the Holy Guardian Angel and will prove its value as the career of the student develops. On the Astral Plane, as will be shown later in this brief essay, the priming goes a step further as it becomes active. What I mean here is that the primed symbols, whatever they may be and related to the qabalah, proceed as if in a dream. On the spiritual plane, as can be observed under proper conditions, the symbols take the role of an active transmutative agent. Metaphysically, transmutation has a very Hermetic definition. It can be described as the changing of a gross energy into a finer one, and also refers to the transformation of sexual/instinctive energies into intellectual and spiritual ones, thereby bringing the totality of the luminous being into a higher nature. The symbols and practices are as acid that eats into steel- LXV I; 16; in one aspect as they reposition the “assemblage point” (cf. Castaneda), or in other words subtly deconstruct the aspirant’s cultural and racial foundation of reality. Symbols of an esoteric nature, and utilized as keys, reveal the nature of the unconscious mind. Archetypes such as the forms of ancient gods, myths, and mathematical expressions are access points into the Collective Unconscious that has been evolving generation by generation since the emergence of Homo Sapiens Sapiens.
(I once heard an animal rights activist conjure the argument that apes should be given the same rights as humans, with the premise that they communicate, use tools, establish social groups, etc. My counter argument was that while her premises contained a hint of validity, my companion’s logic was faulty. The human organism under normal circumstances possesses the faculty of understanding, a higher development of conscious awareness, and this demonstrates the fact that apes, moneys, and other non-human primates do not know that they possess the qualities my companion exampled. Therefore they, as we currently understand the capacity of non-human primates, are not aware that they hold the responsibility of their intelligence. Can an ape possible drive a car, hold a job, fulfill their financial and moral obligations as a house holder? When a human being loses the ability to understand its actions, it is considered psychotic and locked away either for torture or for study.)
To get back to the point, I stress the fact that scientifically, impressions affect the mind that receives them. It has been researched in modern science that subliminal messages in the media affect the psyche of individuals. On the level of the personal unconscious, which comprises a good portion of the astral realm of the beginning aspirant, the symbols are expressed through journeying in the “spirit vision”, the fortification of the body of light, and through dreams and the stalking of the routines and tendencies of the personality. The nature of these impressions is typically and consequently emotional. The Moon pertains to both the body as well as the emotions, and has for Its occult Name “The Treasure House of Images”. Emotions are intimately connected with the body, with the intellect being a secondary reflection. In effect, the intellect is the emotion of the emotion. As the emotions interpret sensory data, the intellect interprets emotional data. This should give the student a good general view of the various impressions and their diversity. Observation of any of the functional centers of the organism will yield much material for analysis and research.
Intentional priming using esoteric and universal symbols will, if given proper attention and study, gradually manipulate the consciousness towards higher aspirations. I use the word “higher” here to indicate the alchemic principal of the three kingdoms. Mineral, Plant/Animal, and Spiritual and the fact that initiation must take place on these three planes (Physical, Mental/Soul, Spiritual). The use of personal symbols gained in the above mentioned applications will allow the aspirant the opportunity to analyze elements of the personality, also of the Shadow. On the unconscious level, the symbols we are speaking of gain energy as the conscious mind focuses on them. They then emerge into the conscious mind with some activity, receding then back to the unconscious where they continue emitting their energy behind the scenes. During their usually brief stay within the attention of the conscious mind the symbols of the unconscious bring about physical innervations which are sometimes likened to pain or trauma to the lower ego. I warn the reader that the unconscious elements tend to rise into consciousness of their own volition. The messages these emersions contain are invaluable to the study of self, yet can cause quite a bit of distress to the ego. The conscious seeking of these impressions with the aspiration as the purpose will give the scientist the upper hand, preparing him or her for the onslaught of impressions from the unconscious. According to Jung’s interpretation of the Tao, (cf. Commentary on the Golden Flower, C.F. Jung) the realization of symbol-ideas which are opposite to our conscious, egoic disposition constitutes a reunion with the unconscious laws of our being, and this brings about what Jung calls the conscious-life, or the Tao.
While the alchemist will readily assert that transmutation takes place on all planes of existence, psychologists can identify this with individuation- the integration of conscious and unconscious psychic elements. The Ego is the center of the psychological being, and indeed can suggest the ideas of Tiphareth, the center of the Qabalistic Tree of Life. (cf. The Beasts of Power, by this same author) While on the subject of the Qabalah, I must refer to the nature of the Hebrew Soul. The Nephesch located in Yesod, the Rauch centered in Tiphareth, and the Jechidah located in Kether. These three centers are each the quintessential ego of the three planes of human existence. Alchemically, the process of Thelemic Priming and transmutation will have equal affects on each. It must be borne in mind that introspection and shadow investigation are indispensable to healthy psychic development, but are not without risks. The archetypal symbols of Scientific Illuminism facilitate the integration of the opposites in human psyche in the same manner that the physical exercises bring about development on the physical plane. As we know that the physical body and the soul (defined here as Mind, Ruach) are mutually affective in their intimate embrace, the physical processes generate activity in the mind of the same vibratory level- of the same quality. The attention of a great majority of westerners is centered in the intellectual mind, and therefore this is the area of occult training that will take the most effort, under normal circumstances. The assimilation of archetypal symbols as well as the investigation and assimilation of symbols of the personal unconscious will bring about a greater sense of self and a more completely integrated and balanced psyche. The conscious mind, and in particular the ego, will prove itself the greatest obstacle in the development of the aspirant. A state of tranquility and fluidity of conscious mind will be experienced as the most productive way to approach the work we are discussing. The unconscious must be allowed to surface as it will into the mind, of course under controlled conditions- at the proper time and the proper place. The ego will do all it can to oppose and devalue the work of the aspirant, and while analytical thinking is a great tool, it must at times be shut off to allow true symbols of the Self to be illumined and assimilated. Students of occult psychology should also be mindful of danger the unconscious poses to the structural integrity of the ego. One must not take the symbols of the unconscious and their related ideas as absolute truth, mistaking these road signs for the destination of psychological, initiatory work. “Debate not of the image, saying Beyond! Beyond! I who am the Image on an Image say this. ” – LXV I; 7-9. Aleister Crowley’s The Wake World demonstrates this perfectly. Assimilate completely the contents of the unconscious in your striving to that “Beyond”, the yew groves of Yama. The light, spirit, or source is Not- the image of the self- which has no image. Failure to protect the health of the psyche during these undertakings could result in schizophrenia, neurosis, or psychosis. Remember that the lower ego is a fragile character, and until it has been infused with the spiritual ideas – ie. Practices of Equilibrium, Contradiction, Ritual, and Yoga – and fortified harmoniously with the soul and the Aspiration, it can easily succumb to illusion and false attainments. As spoken in Liber Resh vel Helios, “Tahuti standeth in His splendor at the prow;” the Aspiration must guide the entire process, and for the student of the A.’.A.’., the Knowledge and Conversation of one’s Holy Guardian Angel is the sole purpose. The grades of the Outer College are presented in an order that will give the aspirant the correct tone and fortification, as well as the tools necessary for the processes.
The performance of the Star Ruby is another act of priming that is of the utmost importance. The banishing ritual has always been the fundamental practice of all students of hermetic science as it brings ideas from the astral matrix into the conscious mind of the student. These ideas pertain directly to the foundation of the science. The elements are established, the squaring of the circle and the astral guardians are also brought into consciousness (and subsequently the subconscious), and the principal Thelemic gods make up the greater part of the base-ideas. These images and ideas are imprinted onto the subconscious fabric and penetrate into the spiritual plane, though as yet still beyond the awareness of the student. Essentially, one is breaking the boundaries of one’s current world-view and beginning to step into a new world-view. The mind absorbs all impressions to a greater or lesser degree, and by constant repetition of the practices a new groove of thought-pattern is created.
This begins, as I have mentioned, on the physical plane with the monotony and tedium of studying the Holy Book, Banishing Rituals, and particularly the practice of yogic meditation. The student of yoga will understand the great challenge it is to master the beginning stages of the science. The daily repetition of Liber Resh, the saying of Will before meals and the use of the “Spells” of Liber AL are other ways in which the physical process of priming is begun. The practices admittedly can be quite difficult to stick to, especially for the beginner who might not see the benefit of such exercises. Gradually, the physical work will extend into the astral realm, building a new thought-system in the unconscious. It should be understood at this point that the only way to access the Unconscious is to do so Consciously. If I have failed to make this clear my work is irrelevant. The physical processes set in motion the astral processes, which in turn will set in motion the spiritual processes. As one takes another step into their new world-view, the Double, or body of light begins to work with these pre-established thought-patterns. The Eastern Adepts considered this the development of the Diamond Body which symbolically exited the body through the top of the head during deep meditation. The student then has the opportunity to work directly with the Thelemic archetypes that have been primed in the physical practices. A student of Freud once wrote that “sublimation creates culture”, and I wholeheartedly agree! These archetypes have a great implication in Jungian psychology; they activate elements of the collective unconscious and are intimately related to the mysteries of Harpocrates as it is His nature the symbols reflect. The archetypes and unconscious contents are essentially parts of a whole just as sense impressions are only parts or elements of the whole perception, and have their correlative in the simple and complex impressions received from the environment- inner and outer. The subjective side of the work must not be neglected. Any processing of the archetypes and the methods of priming will have consequences in the personal unconscious, and these must be ardently observed and sought after by the conscious mind (Ra Hoor abideth at the helm!) or one is prone to obsession and compulsion. The work the student undertakes in the astral matrix is then very closely related to ordinary dreaming, with the only difference being the willful control of one’s consciousness. Jung says the unconscious material gained through Work could be continually varied and increased until a kind of condensation of motifs into more or less stereotyped symbols takes place. “From the living fountain of instinct flows everything that is creative; hence the unconscious is not merely conditioned by history, but is the very source of the creative impulse. It is like Nature herself – prodigiously conservative, and yet transcending her own historical conditions in her acts of creation.”- Carl Jung
The methods and modes of Thelemic Priming are diverse and many. Any attempt to list them all would be futile, as the student must devise their own practices based on the general scheme of the A.’.A.’., according to his or her own creative energy (and the perception of their very own personal and collective unconscious!). Aside from the rituals of Banishing, the occult schools of various traditions recommend the student work on the assumption of God-forms. The forms of the gods, especially those of ancient Egypt, are archetypal in nature and very important in Scientific Illuminism. As discussed earlier in this essay, the repetition of impressions in consciousness creates new thought-patterns. These thought patterns take on the essence of the particular impression. So, in the field of god-forms, the student identifies a part of their consciousness with the consciousness of a god- this god (or goddess) is in reality a fact of nature, of the universe- and this is the beginning of the process which will ultimately lead to the Knowledge and Conversation of one’s Holy Guardian Angel. The essences (or essential energy) of these gods lay deep within the collective unconscious, and while the images may be new to our conscious mind, the unconscious mind will readily identify with them, priming the mind towards the characteristics of the god, as well as toward the exercise of the transference of consciousness. The Body of Light is closely related here for obvious reasons. It is the magickal persona that is the link between behavior in the external environment of consciousness and the behavior in the internal, unconscious environment, or what Jung called Active Imagination. Transference of consciousness into the Body of Light allows the aspirant to directly interact with elements of the unconscious mind, collective and individual. During these interactions, the aspirant can see, in picture form, the structure and behavior of their own body, mind and soul. Other examples of priming practices are the study and use of Pentagrams, Hexagrams, Planetary symbols as well as Number and Letter formulae. Study of the Qabalah is a great practice of Thelemic Priming. As Crowley writes, one should be able to automatically recall of the symbols of Binah, for instance, when seeing the number 3. The Qabalah is in fact the glia or glue that holds the occult mind together, and without it, there would be no structure of consistency to the Science. The Major and Minor Arcana of the Atus of Thoth are extremely important Ideas to assimilate, for obvious reasons, and I can do no better than refer the reader to Aleister Crowley’s The Book of Thoth.
The Scientific Illuminist uses a variation of priming throughout the work of the Outer College. The Probationer begins the process by the memorization of a chapter of Liber LXV. Holy books, after repetitious conscious utilization, become automatic and alive! This memorization essentially is a form of auto-suggestion. Franz Bardon discusses this at length in his fatty but nutritious book, Initiation into Hermetics. The essence of auto-suggestion, from a psychological point of view, is to re-condition the organism – human or otherwise- into new or modified behaviors. (Note also that a behavior can be physical or mental). Bardon recommends nightly chants as one lie down to sleep. He suggests chanting wishes of health, equilibrium, tranquility, etc. While this certainly sounds well and good, it does not do much for the practitioner other than reinforce their need to become healthy, balanced, tranquil, etc. The idea is taken further by Bardon as he suggests auto-suggestion methods aimed towards curbing unhealthy behaviors. His shift towards more specific behaviors adds more meat to his bread and condiment sandwich. It is generally agreed upon in the psychological world-community that auto-suggestion does have an affect on an organism’s behavior, as demonstrated by the commercial priming discussed earlier in this essay. Holy Books, Thelemic or otherwise, present a different level of auto-suggestion and broaden the scope of Priming. It is a wonderful Comment our Prophet wrote to the manuscript of The Book of the Law, condemning the discussion of the Book. This has its importance in the way religious dogma is formulated from Holy Books of every culture. The aspirant would do well to read and study the Holy Books alone and allow the words to permeate his or her inner being and germinate. “Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol, morphine or idealism.”- Carl Jung. Spiritual experiences are near impossible to describe- to one’s self or to another, due to their transcendence of rational thought. Poetry, Art, Writing, and Silence are the few ways in which these experiences can be at all externalized. Memorization of the Holy Books of Thelema create within the aspirant the Prime which will act as both the cause and effect of any spiritual experience- how appropriate it is to advocate Balance and Equilibrium! Adepthood would be a mere delusion should one only master the higher spiritual trances, yet be unable to advance in a career or hold any social relationships. Scientific Illuminism teaches one to embrace all aspects of their being, and the Holy Books speak to one’s Beast and one’s Soul together as One.
Plasticity denotes the change in the performance of the brain. New synapses are created utilizing various neurotransmitters. Priming potentially can create these changes in the structure of the brain. These changes in brain structure have their affects on the mind and consciousness as well through the process of transduction. Simple impressions from the physical environment are received through the astral matrix into the systems of the body, where they are converted by the brain into mental impressions again via the astral matrix. New thought patterns and mental processes are created. The work of the Knife in Zelator initiation relates here as the impressions that do not serve the Aspiration are eliminated. This includes the restructuring of synapses- the forming of new synapses, or the alteration of communication between existing synapses. These ideas tie together inseparable the mind and the body. It has also been researched by modern neurophysicists that environment plays an important role in the ongoing development of the brain and its neurons. Rich, stimulating environments and experiences facilitate brain growth (and corresponding mental growth, as well). The Secret Chiefs certainly understand this and hence the instructions in the A.’.A.’. to seek out diverse experiences, study classic literature, art, etc. We as initiates can create our destiny and create order from the chaos, and need not be mere products of happenstance environment. We can choose our associations, experiences and behavior to a degree, but we must maintain balance. Neglecting the dark side of human nature will produce an unbalanced individual, and so we build and reformulate our behavior according to our purpose, and the resulting effects will come about of their own accord- and this is scientific fact. “Deem not of change”, says the Book of the Law, and indeed our personalities and behaviors are a result of genes and childhood experiences- these we cannot change, but they can be directed towards our goal and utilized to foster growth- physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.