Seeing is an active power. We are used to thinking of it as a passive activity, something that happens to us - light enters our eyes and tells us what's there. But it takes long and careful training in childhood to learn to discern what is important or relevant in our surroundings, focus upon those things and see them. Babies have no power to focus their retinas at birth, but they develop the power within a few months. It's a matter of survival. Parents know babies are developing normally when they can follow our hand with their eyes. A similar process occurs with all the senses. The senses are trained, they do not just happen.
For example, in a place neither of you has been before, you may look up at the sky and see nothing but a few clouds; a meteorologist will see three types of clouds, the interaction of pressure fronts, the general quality of the atmosphere, and can predict the weather for the next few days or weeks. Not to mention possibly the latitude and longitude, the local geography for the surrounding few hundred miles, the time of year, and the exact time of day to within half an hour. Theoretically, you both have the same information coming to you; but you cannot exploit the information because you can't see as much - your eyes and other senses haven't been trained to see it. So you really don't see what the meteorologist sees. Another way to put it is that you don't know what the meteorologist knows. The more you know the more you can see; and when you have seen more you can know more.

Magick trains you to see what you haven't seen before, and to look again at what you don't know you're already seeing. The magickal world everyone has already seen is that of dreams and daydreams, memory, fiction, and creative visualization. Everyone experiences these things to some degree. Magick is not limited to these realms, but these are the experiences that make magick tangible for most people. It is the world of the imagination. Your imagination is a sense.

This bears repeating. Your imagination is a sense, which brings you information on different dimensions of reality. It is not a trash-can, and it is not less real than any other reality you have worked hard to establish. Common reality is as much a function of your imagination as dreams are. The magickal adventure of course works in all levels of reality, but the first task is to learn to trust yourself, to discover your point of view, and this is only possible by learning to listen to the reality that is most private, most secret, your own imagination. You must learn to see with your mind. You must learn to focus the mind's eye, to discern the reality it is pointing to. You must be patient, because reality only opens its secrets to knowledge, and knowledge is only achieved through experience; and you must be careful, because every experience of reality has many levels, and the first one may not be relevant, or the one you need to know. Reality does not deceive you; you only deceive yourself, by thinking you know more than you do. But if you work patiently, frequently, and not in a hurry, your imagination will become a doorway to discovery.

This skill in "active" imagination is a prerequisite for all branches of magick, and people in any field which demands creativity, flexibility and discipline will already have it highly developed. But imagination, visualization, and dreaming are only tools, not ends in themselves. They must, however, be practised and refined tools. Dreaming and visualization, no matter how vivid, are not the same as doing magick. Something must be learned. Magick is using knowledge. These skills are the doorways to magick.

Imagination is a faculty which everyone possesses and uses. It is the root of everything we do, or think we can do. It informs our moral decisions, because we imagine the outcome of our actions; it informs every choice we make, because we imagine its results, based upon our knowledge of causality. No one can tell you how to imagine, because you already do it all the time. Everything you know is your imagination. But you can train your imagination to be better. It can become clearer and more efficient. This skill is called visualization.

Visualization is sustained and directed imagination. It is the same as fantasy. Hearing or reading a story is a way in which we let our imagination be informed by suggestions, and visualize for ourselves the rest. Such visualizations are not usually very deep because the suggestions keep coming, making it seem effortless, as if the author is doing all the work for us. But the satisfaction we feel in entertainment is due precisely to our depth of engagement in it. It is a form of active participation, where we learn on a different level than that of simply reasoning out a problem. You have only to think of the debates friends have after a movie. If it were only passive information, everyone should have gotten an identical message and have a similar response. But because we are really doing active work in watching a movie, and we are all different people, we come to learn quite different things. We each see the movie differently.

Visualization is the most important general skill you can possess. It is by seeing, by sensing and feeling, that you have become conscious, and magick is consciouness in action. The only way to become more conscious is to learn to see more; never think you know everything. The most hopeful feeling in the world is sometimes utter confusion - at least you know you're not deluding yourself! The best thing you can know is how to ask better questions. Magick is a technique for answering old questions, and learning what to ask next. Magick is educating the spirit.

Dreaming is the one form of magickal consciousness that everyone experiences as such. You can do anything in dreams. Reality is an undulation of forms, and every form grows tired and dissolves; this is daily called sleep, and in terms of those similar forms that watch you and compare themselves to you, death. Death and sleep are the same reality; part of you relaxes, dissolves; part of you remains conscious. An important technique of magick is to remain conscious while you fall asleep. Another way is to wake up during a dream, still in the dream. In both cases, the difficulty is in keeping your body asleep when you enter into the less bound world of the dream. But when you master it, "lucid dreaming" will become the most important magickal skill you have, reaching into all aspects of magickal work from divination and spellcasting to traveling in the spirit and speaking with Gods and the dead.

Sleep and dreaming are the most extreme types of trances you can experience. You do not need their intensity for most magick. Possession and ecstasy, trances of a different type, are not the same kind of magick as visualization. Possession is not your magick, but the will of the entity who moves you. Your possession may be magick for the community you serve, but you remember and learn nothing directly from the experience. In possession you become a tool of magick. Ecstasy, conversely, is orgasm, conception and ultimately birth on a different plane; it is your ecstasy. However, ecstasy is only the by-product of the working, whose goal is union. But aim beyond the ecstasy as well, fitting the arrow of desire to the bowstring of pleasure.

In sleep then, you should aim not only to dream, but to dream for a purpose. The reality you find yourself in will then become a trusted ally in your quest, instead of a bully in the way.

All of these themes are illustrated in the following ritual. Read the ritual and perform it. Then memorize it, and perform it several times from memory. When you have performed it so that all the words and gestures are automatic, sit and visualize yourself performing it. The goal of this practice is to make you completely at home in your imaginary body. It is a sign of success when you finish the ritual and realize you've forgotten about your body sitting over there. It is also a very good sign when you find yourself doing the ritual in your dreams. The body you develop while concentrating on visualization is your primary vehicle for magickal exploration.

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