Techniques of Active Imagination
author: Nick Farrell
I was very excited to have this book in my hands - and it did not disappoint! I have been on a couple of Internet e-lists that also included Nick Farrell, and he always came across as very knowledgeable about his craft, but, more important to me, he also came across as a very grounded, centered, "human" person who is well spoken and considerate of others. These same qualities shine through in this excellent thesis on pathworking. Thesis? Does this qualify as a thesis? I think so - the quality of the research, as well as the manner of presentation honor the venue of pathworking as well as the man himself.
Magical Pathworking is a work that has found its own time. In layman's terms, Farrell gently but firmly lays down the structure for the work to be done. Many people will come to this work - some through the formal structure of one of the Mystery Schools, some through Qaballa work, some through the world of High Magick, some through the world of Tarot, and others through walking a path of personal/spiritual growth.
Pathworking can be done on a personal, solitary basis, it can be done one on one with a leader/mentor, or it can be done in a group setting. What is of most importance is that the work only be done after serious consideration of the consequences. Pathworking - on whatever path you choose to walk - will bring about change and transformation. The Seeker must be ready to accept the transformation in their lives - however it occurs. The Seeker needs to thoroughly understand why they are doing the work, and have some idea of what they expect from it. They need to be aware of the nature of all of the entities and energies that they will encounter - as some of them will be in the "not so nice" category. Pathwork needs to be done under protection of some kind for this very reason. This is a work to be done in humbleness, and with care and gratitude to the energies that the Seeker is accessing.
Accessing our imagination is a vital key to pathworking. Farrell gives credit to authors Marion Green, Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki and John and Caitlin Matthews for opening him up to believing that the worlds that we find in our imagination are real, and have a direct magical purpose. Once we understand about the magical purpose of imagination, we can access the techniques used by the Western Mystery Traditions to refine who we are as individuals so that as Seekers we can make the internal changes necessary to forge a strong connection with the Divine.
Farrell postulates that there is a direct link between our psychological states and the environments that we create in our imaginations. He also states that when doing active pathworking, it is best done at a time when we will not be doing anything afterward - such as in the evening, or just before we go to bed. In this manner we gives ourselves a chance to come to terms with the changes that we have invoked, and give our systems a chance to "settle".
Farrell defines magical imagination as "the art of changing your consciousness to rebuild aspects of your life and self to bring about a transformation of your environment." Symbols play a large part in this process, as they stimulate the mind to contact the deeper, more powerful realms of the Universal Mind. They do this by their ability to link associations together. He goes on to discuss the difference between primary (archetypal) symbols and secondary symbols, which are an expanded version of the primary symbols, and which, through the use of added details, stress certain meanings which may remain obscure in the primary symbol.
One of the first techniques that Farrell presents is a very basic visualization, meant to act to bring something into the Seeker's life. From the book:
1. Sit in a chair. Make sure your arms and legs are not crossed, and relax as deeply as possible.
Farrell Indicates that the last phase of the visualization is the important one. Your conscious mind must believe that this already exists int he present - not that this is something coming in the future. Several more exercises of this nature are included in this book. They are all clearly written, step by step processes for working with one or another aspect of your life.
The Four Worlds have great consideration in the process of entering the mind for pathworking. Farrell posits that they all exist at the same time, but that we access them separately. Any change that is made in one world carries over to all worlds. The Four Worlds that we are working with are defined as: the Material level, the Angelic level (Planetary intelligence), the Archangelic level and the Divine level.
There is a very interesting relaxation technique that is addressed at this point in the book. Each individual part of the body is focused on in turn until all are relaxed. Sounds simple, but this is one of those areas where the mind can tend to wander, so having a simple procedure that is easy to follow is important.
The relaxation techniques leads into meditation, with two distinct types of meditation (passive and active) being discussed. Here is where images and symbols come into their importance. Part of this section is concerned with Planetary images and symbols. From the book:
A man leaning on a staff, with a bird on his head and a flourishing tree before him. A horned woman riding a bull, a dragon with seven heads, or a crab. She has in her right hand a dart, and in her left hand a mirror. She is clothed in white or green and has on her head two snakes with heads joined together.
One of the reasons that I respect this book is evident in this section: caution is given to the Seeker about the answers that the magical image you are accessing is giving you. It may not be right, or you may not have heard it correctly. One of the problems here is that the lower, unconscious mind of the Seeker may intervene and put the words that it wants the Seeker to hear in the mouth of the magical image.
There is an excellent pathworking given from the Golden Dawn tradition (Farrell heads his own Golden Dawn organization in the United Kingdom, and is also an initiate of the Builders of the Adytum, the Servants of the Light, and the Order of the Table Round) for working with the Moon. Another pathworking exercise that will appeal to anyone doing pathworking is the Universal Library of Consciousness. This allows the Seeker to access and work with the akhasic records - quite an innovative and interesting section!
In pathworking the Seeker creates their own Inner Kingdom, through which they have access to the many worlds of their imagination. Farrell discusses at length how each Seeker can go about creating their own kingdom, whether it is based on existing myth (each kingdom is a structured entity), or a structure that the Seeker births themselves. It is interesting to note that the structure that is worked with in this book (the Hall of the Hero) is based on the Tree of Life, although one would perhaps not guess that at first glance.
At the end of the book Farrell presents examples of metaphysical symbols that can be used as focus points for meditation and pathworking. He gives the symbols for the four elemental gates (Fire, Water, Air, Earth); the five tattvas, with their corresponding element and color (Tejas/Fire/Red, Apas/Water/Silver, Vayu/Air/Blue, Prithivi/Earth/Yellow, Akasha/Spirit/Black); and the twenty-two Hebrew letters with their name, meaning, and numeric value. He also gives the Golden Dawn system for planetary "flash" cards, listing planet, background color, gate symbol and symbol color. He does the same thing for the twelve signs of the zodiac, listing sign, background color, gate symbol and approximate flashing color of the symbol.
This book is an excellent beginning for pathworking. Well, it is more than a beginning. There are enough resources here to go deeply into pathworking in a systematic, respectful manner. Magical Pathworking is a definite resource for those wishing to work on themselves. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Kudos to Nick Farrell for making the pathway safe for all comers.
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