Here are examples of some of the Knowledge Papers that are issued to students.
How to write a magical ritual
A new thought or realisation has come into your head during a meditation session and you'd like to develop it, or perhaps you've been inspired by something you've read, or you've visited a sacred site and formed your own inner impressions … how can you turn these ideas into a magical ritual?
The basis of a good ritual is very simple: it is a form of communication between all the participants, visible and invisible, who inhabit the many levels of Creation. You must convey what you want to say to the participants who will be helping you to perform it, and you must also communicate the essence of the ritual to the Inner plane Beings who will empower it.
An effective ritual will probably include all or most of the following:
1. Statement of intention
2. Construction of the Temple
3. Contact with Inner-world beings
4. Pathworking or guided meditational journey ('rising on the planes')
6. Grounding and Closing
1. Statement of intention
You must be clear as to the purpose of the ritual, and this statement of purpose or intention should be written clearly and briefly right at the start. The purpose of this statement is to assist all participants to become of one mind and in one place, and is a signal to everyone involved that they should now begin to focus their attention on the specific work in hand.
Sometimes the purpose of a ritual is simple and clear-cut: 'To consecrate and dedicate a sword,' or 'To travel along the 27th Path,' or 'To make contact with Merlin,' or 'To build the Round Table.'
Other rituals can be less specific in their aim, for example: 'To gain greater reality on the Holy Grail,' or 'To celebrate the Rites of Dionysus,' or 'To explore the Mysteries of Isis.'
If you have difficulty in defining the purpose of your ritual in a sentence or two, you might need to think more carefully about what you are hoping to achieve. A ritual is very often an expression of personal realisations and inner growth, but if you have written something intended for group work it will not be sufficient to jumble your personal realisations into a script in the hope that they will somehow come together and make sense in the performance! Your personal realisations must be communicated to the participants in a manner which makes it possible for them to share in your experience without undue difficulty. Everyone involved should be clear as to what they are doing, and why.
2. The Construction of the Temple
The form of the Temple used in any ritual must be a reflection of fundamental universal principles. It goes without saying that the form and content of anything you write for ritual performance should in every way possible be in accordance with Divine Plan. The more closely the layout of your ritual corresponds to, and evokes, the harmony of universal forces, the more readily will your work harmonise with the perfection of the Divine. Thus will your ritual synchronise with the machinery of the universe rather than grating against it.
Unless you have good reason for doing otherwise, the best and most easily balanced form to use is that of the circled cross. The circle can be marked out on the floor, or simply implied by the circle of chairs and participants. Divide your ritual script into four speaking roles, and have each person with a speaking role sit in one of the four cardinal directions of the circle.
3. Contact and communication with Inner-world beings
The importance of communication with the Inner Plane Beings in a ritual cannot be overstated. They play an essential part in a ritual's effectiveness and without their active co-operation a ritual can be little more than a piece of costume drama.
A magical ritual should open gateways to, and invoke the presence of, layers of Inner plane Beings from God downwards! Assuming a layout of a circled cross with a central candle, the potential contacts at each quarter are first the aspect of God or Name of God appropriate for that quarter, then the appropriate Archangel, and then perhaps the elemental King and the elemental beings. These should be invoked at the start of each ritual in order to help build, dedicate and seal the Temple and ensure a smooth and harmonious flow of power.
There is then a second 'layer' of contacts which are chosen for their particular relevance to the ritual and these will vary according to the content. For instance, in an Arthurian ritual they might be Arthur, Gwenevere, Merlin and the Lady of the Lake, or any of the Knights and Ladies of the Round Table. Or you could use characters from Tolkien, or Saints, or Biblical characters, or totem beasts.
The importance of this second layer of contacts is that they continue to play an active part throughout the ritual, and having invoked their presence, the person mediating each of these roles should then continue to mediate their presence throughout. It is therefore important to ensure wherever possible that the words they have to speak will be relevant to the role they are mediating.
And don't forget the importance of ritual actions. Simply lighting a candle, if it is done with focussed intention, can be an extremely effective way of communicating what you are doing to the Inner plane Beings.
Or you might like to choose some symbols such as a wand for Merlin, or a crystal ball for the Lady of the Lake, or whatever is suitable for the speaking roles in your ritual.
4. Pathworking or guided inner journey: rising on the planes
This is the main part of the ritual. The purpose of this section is to take the participants together on a journey upwards in consciousness from the physical plane to a location on a higher plane of creation. Here, you can experience the Inner reality which lies at the heart of the ritual. Without this journey, you will literally find it difficult to get your ritual off the ground. There are many possible Inner locations: Atlantis, a Sephirah on the Tree of Life, the Hesperides, Venus, Camelot, the Duat, Elysium, Avalon, the Pleiades …
Having decided on the destination appropriate to the purpose of the ritual, structure your journey towards it in gradual stages, steadily travelling up through the levels of consciousness and the Inner planes. Many myths and legends incorporate a structured journey to an Inner location and it is simply a matter of re-writing the story in ritual form. Many legends are memories of actual rituals, and once you have extracted the core material from them they readily lend themselves to being represented as a magical ritual.
If you feel confident in constructing your own inner map rather than using a tried and tested one, you can for example climb the floors of a tower, or sail in a boat around the starry constellations, or travel up the Nile, or through the desert, or up a mountain, or down into the Underworld, or slowly walk round a Temple or Abbey. The number of levels you climb depends on your subject matter, on your skills and experience as a ritual-writer, and on the skills and experience of the participants. Generally, seven levels of consciousness/Inner planes are the maximum to aim for, and many legends are built around this structure. But three well-differentiated levels will often be sufficient.
You may also like to give thought to providing a 'vehicle' in which the ritual participants can travel. For example, a boat works well as an inner construct.
It is in this section of the ritual that you can use your imagination and creativity to best effect. The other participants will respond well to clear, well-painted images which make the journey come alive. It is through the collective building of images on the Inner planes that the magic comes alive.
If creative writing does not come easily to you, there is nothing wrong in using words that others have written, and many good rituals have been constructed from carefully chosen passages from a wide variety of sources such as myth and legend, the Bible, ancient texts, poetry and visionary prose.
When the participants have been taken to the ritual's inner destination, the purpose of the ritual should finally be 'realised,' i.e. made real in the consciousness of those taking part. It will be up to each participant to gain his or her own realisations, and you cannot necessarily prescribe them. But if you have constructed your ritual with a view to its final intention, you will have satisfactorily created the opportunity for such realisations to be made. You will also have helped to create a balanced and empowered structure on the Inner planes which can be used for the furtherance of the Divine Will in the continuing Great Work. The participants will have reached a place of spiritual truth not normally accessible in waking consciousness, made it real through their own perceptions and understanding, and then brought those realisations back to earth. This is the ultimate aim of any magical ritual.
6. Grounding and Closing
When the destination has been reached, the reality which is perceived and experienced there must be ritually brought back to earth, and then grounded through the consciousness and actions of the participants in their daily lives. So the journey back home must also be carefully written into the ritual. It is not necessary to slowly retrace every step of the outward journey, but it should be taken at a speed which will allow the participants to gently return to normal waking consciousness without any disconcerting bumps. The 'homeward journey' also allows for the build-up of Inner forces to disperse through the appropriate channels within the Temple and out into the world, and sometimes a final section of imagery can be used in order to fully earth the ritual experience. For example, this could be a visualisation of four sacred rivers flowing out from the centre to the corners of the land.
Keep these principles in mind, and your magical ritual will be an effective act of service to humanity.
Inner 'Contacts' – and how to contact them
Like other magical groups which work at similar levels, The Avalon Group is what is known as a 'contacted' group. This means that the outer group which the world sees is, like an iceberg, only a part of the complete whole, and the outer group are aware of this. The outer group operates like the earth terminal of an electric circuit in the overall scheme of things, but the greater vision and guidance of its work comes from higher level inner beings who are not physically incarnate.
Fantastic though this claim may sound (at least, to those outside psychic environments), the truth and reality of it can be verified by experience. Indeed, successful teamwork depends on it.
In the early stages of magical training, students are given teaching and exercises by their appointed tutor as a foundation. However, this is only a temporary arrangement and ultimately the aim is for members to receive guidance and teaching independently from the inner plane adepts responsible for the group and its incarnate members, as this will go far further than any material offered by incarnate teachers. As well as providing a general source of magical projects and inspiration, these inner adepts may also introduce individuals who naturally resonate with a certain type of theme, to inner specialists who may train and work with them in specialized types of magical work of common interest.
A fundamental skill, then, is to learn how to contact and communicate with these higher level teachers. Because our level of consciousness is generally fairly mundane in orientation, and theirs is based on a much more elevated level of intelligence, in order to communicate at all, we are going to have to learn to raise the level of our own consciousness up towards theirs. Except in rare cases of unusually outstanding natural psychic talent, this normally requires training.
Describing the process involved requires attempting to describe inner states of consciousness, which our language is not well equipped to do. However, we could use the metaphor of radio broadcasting. The inner plane adepts could be conceived of as transmitting on a certain high frequency radio band. If we regard our own consciousness as a radio receiver normally tuned to a lower frequency, the first aim would be to re-tune it to the appropriate waveband. When we have got that far, we can search along the correct waveband for the station we are looking for.
In terms of consciousness, we are thus aiming to raise the level of our own mental vibrations to a higher level of mentation, and then tune into the identity of a particular inner contact. Although the latter are able to come down towards our level a little, we still have to raise up our own level of consciousness some way above the norm to at least meet them half way, as it were.
Students in the physical group practice techniques from their first year of training which will enable them to raise consciousness at will. As part of the process, these same techniques also 'open' the (non physical) 'heart', as described in numerous mystical texts. For in this tuning process to contact higher beings, a combination of both heart and mind are necessary.
It is the open-hearted desire to connect and the unconditional love which flows as a result, which propels consciousness upwards to the correct 'waveband'. Once there, the mind fine-tunes to focus upon a particular contact.
The student knows what they are looking for, of course. They will have done research on the inner plane teacher, and memorized any available images of them. They will almost certainly have read words from the inner plane adepts which have been recorded by other individuals who have spoken with them, and this in itself will enable them to probe around mentally, trying to define the energy behind those communications, ready to recognize it again by feel. This latter technique is particularly useful, for if the student can memorize how abstract energies feel, having once contacted them, recalling the feeling will serve as a 'homing beacon' as their mind scans the waveband to contact them again in the future. The student is also aware that the inner teacher knows what they are trying to do and wants them to succeed, helping as far as possible to get the communication process off the ground.
How will one know any results are genuine? Initially it is possible that the student may not, particularly if they are using the technique of 'astral psychism' described below, which is more prone to interference from the student's own mind than the second of the described techniques, conscious channelling. A good rule of thumb is always to coolly examine and appraise the content of any received communications - 'by their fruits shall ye know them', as they say. If the supposed communication consists of drivel and/or information with which the student was already familiar, more practice may be required.
The channelling technique involves a direct link between the consciousness of the inner plane adept and the student, and the experiential result where it is genuine is far more distinctive, putting the student into an elevated and open-hearted state of consciousness in which they intuitively know it to be genuine and true. After the communication has finished, there remains with them a 'residue' of that same state, and a sense of a link of unconditional love with that inner plane being.
Let us take a look in more detail at how the two aforementioned methods can work in practical terms. Both are used by modern occultists to establish and develop conscious communication with elevated inner contacts, the first technique often leading to the second, and this latter being the more preferable of the two, for reasons described:
1. Astral Psychism
A rather grand term which refers to the technique of visualizing the inner plane being in one's imagination in a suitable pictorial context and then having a telepathic conversation with them, seeing them articulating and responding, and showing you relevant symbols or performing relevant actions as appropriate. An imagined 'meeting place' is usually invented or borrowed, based on the 'personality' of the inner plane being. For example, to meet an inner being who presents himself as a Victorian engineer, the interior of a Victorian workshop might 'set the scene' for this meeting well.
Perceived advantages: This is a technique widely used by psychics and development groups which can be operated without very high levels of consciousness. Visually imaginative people (e.g. the astrologically Neptunian or Lunar types, and water sign types generally) tend to find this method particularly easy. Visual symbols can be received readily.
Perceived disadvantages: This technique is an indirect, reflected, one in that one's own High Self (or 'super consciousness'), which forms the interface with the consciousness of the inner plane contact, is feeding down into one's subconscious ('Low Self') from whence it is then being retrieved second hand into conscious thought by the thinking 'Middle Self'. The operation can thus be akin to wanting to observe the moon, but instead of looking upwards into the sky, trying to focus instead on a clear image of the moon on the surface of a pond with a light breeze rippling the surface, and the occasional leaf or twig floating by, as one's own emotional nature and imagination tend to keep trying to intrude. It therefore requires quite a sustained effort of concentration to keep the communication clearly tuned, plus holding the visual imagery and articulating it, pushing aside one's own thoughts, and listening telepathically to the communication itself. However, it can produce valid results for shorter length communications in particular, and in the early stages of practice can act as a springboard into ......
2. Conscious Channelling
This method is more abstract and consists of one's own super conscious 'High Self' (the interface with the consciousness of the inner being) primarily feeding direct into the thinking, 'Middle Self' of the recipient. It thus tends to bypass the interference and the pictorial imagination of the subconscious 'Low Self', and information is received more intuitively as telepathic words forming in a stream, sometimes with flashes of perception or energy flows.
One way to locate this rather abstract state of consciousness is to begin with the technique of astral psychism, engage the inner being in conversation, and focus increasingly on keeping the exchange and flow of words going (keep asking questions!) At the same time as one is holding the link in this way, one raises up consciousness, allowing any visual imagery to fall away but focussing increasingly on the flow of the conversation and the energetic link with the inner contact. As consciousness rises up to become a direct High Self–Middle Self channel, the stream of thoughts and words from the contact will seem to form spontaneously like bubbles in your head from a perceivable, high level, abstract energy beyond them.
Visually orientated people who might find the abstract perplexing, may find it helpful to visualize a vague horizon line or horizontal layer in front of them and just a little above eye level. Accompanying efforts to travel into it in imagination (which doesn't actually happen) should tie up the visual faculties whilst one focusses on holding the verbal and energetic link.
Perceived advantages: Inner plane beings have expressed a preference for this type of communication. Once mastered, long transfers of information and energy can take place with little effort and inaccuracy. Those of an Aquarian or Uranian astrological type tend to find this method particularly easy.
Perceived disadvantages: Requires elevation of consciousness to an appropriate level. Relocating the inner energetic 'coordinates' at will can take a little practice. Occasionally information may seem to originate from one's own super conscious High Self, rather than passing through it from a higher source. The nature of the material and the feel of the energy should indicate if this is the case.
The techniques above are conscious methods of communication – that is, the practitioner is aware and participating in the interchange, and in charge of their own consciousness. A formerly popular unconscious technique of receiving inner plane communications was trance mediumship. In this process, a suitably trained trance medium who is able to raise consciousness high enough to contact the level of an inner plane adept, allows the inner plane being to temporarily possess them so that the being is then able to articulate the medium's vocal chords and speak through them. During this process, the medium enters a sleep-like state, and on awakening usually has little or no conscious recall of the communication. Other people present in a waking state are able to question the inner contact by addressing the medium, if appropriate. Much valuable magical material has been brought through in this way by mediums of a suitably high level of consciousness and calibre, such as Margaret Lumley Brown and Dion Fortune in the last century, who were able to control and use their skills in a balanced manner.
Today, however, trance mediumship – and the training available to become one – are far less common. Mediums who are naturally gifted tend to be psychically very receptive and absorbent, and most remain within spiritualist circles where they do not have to contend with strong magical forces which could impact on their psychic sensitivity. In addition, many modern occultists dislike the principle of giving up control of their own consciousness when they can participate more fully in other, conscious, methods of receiving the same material.
Qabalah and Psychological Development
In the Lesser Mysteries we need to acquire some occult knowledge, but also need to round off and stabilize our personalities, preparatory to handling the higher voltages of the Greater Mysteries. Many of us have engaged in some self-improvement activity, from analysis to acupuncture, from meditation to massage. Indeed, Dion Fortune was first a therapist. All these activities overlap, yet differ. As a therapist I offer some reflections on them in terms of motivation, structure and methods.
Motivation is the fundamental issue bearing on results. For progress in psychotherapy, it is widely accepted, the client must want to improve and must be willing to do whatever this requires. Some therapeutic processes do not necessarily involve personality change, for example being supported through a crisis. Others require deeper change. But to give up cherished attitudes requires a stance in values beyond oneself, from which one can exert leverage. For example, the Lesser Mysteries affirmation, "I desire to know in order to serve".
Many secular therapists give priority to self-development, but this can be problematic. For example, should a woman in a difficult marriage situation leave, or struggle on for the sake of the family? Paradoxically, either choice might be best, and also might lead to more self-development, for a particular person. But in my experience in a psychiatric hospital about 90% of patients just wanted to feel better, with the minimum of trouble. This is self-limiting.
Humanistic and Freudian-based schemes have two levels: the rational human world and the lower world of instincts and animals. A third, higher level is found in Greek and Christian philosophy, shamanism, Taoism, Buddhism, and indeed in almost all spiritual viewpoints. (Freud's "super-ego" is a poor substitute for this.) So we have:
Upper World of gods and archangels, theology. The Tao of Heaven. Qabalah: the upper five Sephiroth, roughly.
Human World of psychology and sociology. The Tao of Man. Qabalah: Tiphareth, Netzach, Hod, Yesod.
Lower World of physics and biology. The Tao of Earth. Qabalah: Malkuth.
To this simple three-level scheme we add the two side Sephiroth of Hod (thinking) and Netzach (feeling). The human level now contains all the basic structure we need to describe therapy, except for Ego. The Sephiroth are inbuilt sources of energies and attitudes. The lines between them are built up by human experience and choice. The Ego is not a Sephirah but is constructed during childhood and can be altered later. I locate it at the centre of the human level, at the intersection of the two lines.
Medical treatment is at the level of Malkuth. Acupuncture, Hatha Yoga and the like act on the line: Malkuth–Yesod. Freudian and related therapies operate in the triad: Yesod–Hod–Netzach. Jung-related therapies add a spiritual dimension represented by Tiphareth. Such therapies concentrate on the four lines radiating from Ego. (The other lines represent spontaneous, less controllable processes; e,g, falling in love and the line Malkuth-Netzach.)
Psychologists have established that we have two decision-making systems. One is fast, inaccurate, and always active. I identify it with Yesod, based in the primitive brain. The second is more rational. It works more slowly, takes more energy, and is not always on. I identify it with Ego. I would add a third decision-making system, identified with Tiphareth. It operates rarely in most people, giving rise to peak experiences of wide insight.
All the hundreds of varieties of psychological therapy have had some success in some cases. A comparative study is out of the question here. But psychological development can be a lifelong, open-ended process. This goes beyond therapy. Recall the Chinese proverb: “Give a man a fish and you keep him alive for one day. Teach him to fish, and you keep him alive forever.”
I will suggest a minimal model of ongoing self-development, which has two components.
1. A regular open-ended practice, perhaps some form of daily meditation.
2. A handful of methods for dealing with difficulties that do not dissolve readily. These tend to clump round the Sephiroth.
Hod – A problem-solving process of analysis and clarification.
Netzach – A way of resolving compulsive dislikes (or likes) of others.
Yesod – A method of dissolving compulsive images, e.g. of traumatic incidents.
Malkuth – Actually carrying out one’s decisions.
Tiphareth – Understanding dreams, visions or images, which may be expressed in obscure symbolic language.
All this is an art more than a technique. One needs an ear to hear sour notes in one’s life, and the ability to articulate these in concepts or images. Wide reading is a help. Qabalistic theory is very much to the point, as I have tried to show.