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The man who writes books on a Thelema that no beast shall divine. Founding member of Ordo Astri, Thelemic Magical Collegium. Member of Ordo Typhonis since 2000 e.v. More articles and essays are posted at https://ordoastri.org/ and https://tantrika.co.uk/

Friday, 9 May 2014

Magical Yoga for Beginners

Yoga means ‘union’, and traditionally that means union between the person and God, or a God. In broader terms it means the union of the subject with the object. When the subject and object are united to the exclusion of all else, then an illuminated stream of knowledge or dhyana is experienced. Dhyana is the first sign that we are getting somewhere with yoga.

Hermetic Tantra-yoga is sometimes termed, ‘Yoga of the West’. The method owes to the Qabalah, which is the basis of ritual magick. The ‘Middle Pillar Exercise’ is also based on the Tree of Life. Quantum Yoga, or Hermetic Tantra-yoga is not  by any means identical to the better known Middle Pillar Exercise, but both methods have a basis in the Qabalistic chakras.
1. The asana or meditation posture is to be seated like an Egyptian God (not cross-legged on the floor or in a ‘lotus’ mudra).

Sekhet in seated posture for Quantum Yoga: Magical Hermetic Tantra-yoga
2. The Breathing or pranayama is a continuous cycle; a full breath is taken in and a full breath expelled. The cycle does not involve counting in fours, holding the breath or breathing through one nostril only. The object is to induce deep relaxation combined with a state of mental alertness. Hyperventilation is definitely to be avoided.
3. With Eastern Laya Yoga, one begins with the base chakra and works upward. In our Tantra-yoga we begin at the crown and works downward to the base. Only then do we ‘rise on the breath’. The magnetic force is brought upwards to the crown on the in-breath, and is then sent downwards to fountain around the astrosome on the out-breath. This is repeated in a cycle. To assist the creation of the chakras or sephiroth, corresponding names or words of power are sonorously sounded or vibrated. The various centres are seen to glow and pulsate with colour. We use the King Scale (Atziluth) for the paths and the Queen Scale (Briah) for the sephiroth or chakras, as according to the tables of correspondence.

Correct Motivation

The purpose of yogic union is to ‘know God’, or know Reality directly. There are now many schools of thought that claim yoga is to improve your sense of wellbeing, help you relax, or even improve your bank balance or worldly status. New Age spirituality delights in self-indulgence—energy healing, special diets, special treatments, therapies and courses in self-hypnotism. The focus is on the physical body, the emotions and the endless quest to be psychologically better, healthier, wealthier and more powerful.

Let us assume that we are really serious about this. According to Patanjali’s Eight Limbs of Yoga, we need correct motivation, study and intense aspiration. There is no use in doing magick and yoga without a philosophical basis or at least knowledge of the magical correspondences. The systematic use of ritual magick greatly accelerates progress in yoga.
The beginner is often overwhelmed by the sheer amount of technical information associated with the hermetic tradition. The knowledge serves a practical purpose: while the mind is engaged with understanding complex layers of symbolism it is at least focussing on the subject and has less time for egotistical preoccupation or other distractions.
Broadly speaking there are two kinds of beginner. There is the one that studies and engages their mind intellectually with the matter of the work. Then there is the one that does not afford time for this. The lazy student will not get very far as the yoga practice must to be supported by training of the mind. The structures of thought and reason require reorganisation to withstand the pressure encountered when deeper levels of consciousness are plumbed. One must actively and energetically seek the real. It is not about getting ‘answers’ from a book or guru that will satisfy a list of questions so it can all be put away in a box.
The four powers of the Sphinx must be practiced and understood: To Know, to Dare, to Will and to keep Silence. The aspirant must overcome their natural inertia—the desire to watch television, develop their social life, listen to the random chatter of their own or other people’s thoughts or simply go to sleep. They might also need to resist the temptation to foolishly broadcast their occult experiments on the Internet. The fourth power of the Sphinx does not only apply to the meditation itself. By managing to do all this, even the veriest beginner will very likely get some early results.

First Glimmering

We are instructed to keep a diary Record on a strict daily basis and to note down any sensations experienced, whether physical or otherwise. One of the first things the persistent practitioner will experience will be a sensation of tingling in the hands, feet, head or other parts of the body. So long as we are sitting properly and the ‘tingling’ is not merely a symptom of poor blood circulation, it is a sign of progress.
With continued practice the tingling or ‘electric’ sensations will begin to feel like muscular rigidity. The rigidity is a non-physical phenomenon. The sensations reflect the stirring of the Occult Force. The mind will translate entirely new sensations received from the nervous system into something that it already knows. Although it may often seem as though physical sensations are being encountered, the phenomena owe to a plane other than the physical.
A person can go on for some time experiencing such peculiar sensations in the body and yet think all the while that nothing at all is changing in their consciousness. The sensations are, in reality, impressions received from the subtle electromagnetic body of light or astrosome. Quite often the person will note down in their Record, “nothing experienced” or “no change”. Yet it is more than likely a great deal is going on at deeper levels of the psyche.
As the Occult Force stirs and begins to awaken at the base level, there is a stirring at the subconscious levels of the mind. Aggregates of thought, along with the emotional power that has been invested in them, rise to the surface much in the way that dredging a river brings up old bicycles, prams and all kinds of unwanted junk that has been thrown in there. How does one get beyond that stage?
1. Persist in the practice. Don’t give up.
2. Increase the time and energy you put into this.
3. There must be a philosophical basis to the work. Studying the right materal supports the meditation and ritual practice.
When these conditions are satisfied, the Occult Force will eventually break down the aggregates that were causing the disturbance and release the energy held by them. If too much attention is paid to the aggregates, or they are mistakenly assumed to be something spiritual, meaningful or real, then there is a danger of obsession.
The Thelemic Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram will not, in itself, guarantee immunity from obsession. Published works often place far too much emphasis on the so-called ‘banishing’ form of the ritual. It is a mistake to assume that the magician banishes away everything outside the magical circle, including elemental spirits. If anything, it is the magician that needs to be banished.
There is a warning about the Occult Force in Liber AL, II: 26–27.
I am the secret Serpent coiled about to spring: in my coiling there is joy. If I lift up my head, I and my Nuit are one. If I droop down mine head, and shoot forth venom, then is rapture of the earth, and I and the earth are one. There is great danger in me; for who doth not understand these runes shall make a great miss. He shall fall down into the pit called Because, and there he shall perish with the dogs of Reason.
Consciousness can do two things, it can contract and it can expand. Both modes are required in magick and yoga.
Concentration is the power of Saturn. This means holding and fixing attention on the desired object. When contraction comes about involuntarily and through fear, then the “rapture of the earth” manifests as uncontrolled obsession, the demonic aspect of Saturn.
Expansion and release is the power of Uranus, characterised by various mystical trances and ecstatic states. When expansion comes about through magnification of a particular thought-form or aggregate then megalomania and paranoia are the result. These are demonic aspects of the expansive power of Uranus.
Real yoga involves encountering all the darkness of the soul at every step of the way. We need to face up to the facts of nature before we can even begin to comprehend the greater mysteries of life and death. Spiritual or magical work is work, and to earn the right to do that work the aspirant must first be prepared to fight a war or two. The first battlefield is getting the meditation done. The opposing armies on that battlefield are the countless distractions and other demands on time and attention that must be overcome before even one foot is placed on the path.


Notes

This article was not intended to be a ‘how to’ on the Hermetic Tantra-yoga. We wrote it to address the many questions that arise whenever anyone makes a serious start with ritual and meditation. For a more advanced (and practical) study of the praxis, see the article, Quantum Yoga, Way of the West.

© Oliver St. John 2014, 2019

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