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Academic Areas => Articles => Magick Articles => Topic started by: Prophecy on August 13, 2004, 12:09:40 PM

Title: The First Steps
Post by: Prophecy on August 13, 2004, 12:09:40 PM
The First Steps

    For those who don't know quite where to start in the path of magic, this article is directed at you, written in a way that should be understandable for anyone not already familiar with magical terminology.  In this article my aim shall be to present to you, the reader and aspiring magician, a few of the basic concepts of magic, as well as a very brief overview of a few of the forms of magic one can learn today. In addition there is also a short F.A.Q, to answer some questions you may have before you ask them, and therein save some repetition in the forums.

Before Beginning: Things to Consider
   Before a profitable traveler goes somewhere, he must first decide two things: Firstly, where he is going, and why he is going there.  Secondly, how he plans to get there at all.  Likewise, we find these same preliminary ideas to have value to the potential aspirant who is considering the path of magic.

   Where do you wish  to go, and why?  To what end do you wish to practice magic?  Look within yourself, and find the answers to these two questions.  Some want to practice magic merely as a means of acquiring some kind of power, whereas others practice for the attainment of some virtue or inner nobility.  Some practice magic only to make their lives here a little easier, where some practice magic in order to ascend upwards and connect themselves with divine forces.  There are those who study and practice magic only to see if it is possible, or to test the limits of what a human can really do when not confined to the conformed mind-set of the masses.  Some people believe that magical study has no practice, but is merely the intellectual and philosophical examination of the universe and one's place in it, spiritually speaking.  Some magic is theoretical and speculative, some is almost entirely practical.  Some magic is meditative, some is ritualistic, some is impromptu and spontaneous, some is based on exact will.  Some people are merely looking for that fabled "something more," because they are convinced that there is a greater purpose to living and they have hitherto been unable to discover that purpose in materialistic living or in established religion.  Some people are looking for a lifestyle and destiny, some are looking for a hobby.  As a potential student of magic, you may belong to any number of those categories.   
    You may also belong to a wider group, that group of aspiring students of occultism who do not quite know why they are here, why they are reading this article right now at all.  Sometimes a person is merely drawn, in an effortless movement of the soul, to his natural place.  In that case you were always going to discover spirituality, as surely as by the same mechanics as those which cause the moon to orbit the Earth, and the Earth to orbit the Sun.  It is simply in your nature.  For such a person, there may as of yet be no defined purpose for pursuing magic beyond a simple feeling that it should be pursued.  Some people such as this will jump from system to system trying to get a general feeling of why they are interested in magic, looking for that something they know is calling them.  If I might be so bold as to make a suggestion, however, I recommend that such a person choose a path centered around self-revelation.  In learning more about who you really are, the real you and not this perishable temporary you, meaning may manifest of its own accord.
   So which of these is it?  Or is your intention not in the list at all?  Whatever it is, grasp it and contemplate it.  Think long about where it may take you.  If you seek power, remember that it often comes at a great price.  If you seek harmony, do not forget that great power may therein become past your reach.  If you seek wisdom, remember that wisdom is only intellect that has been applied, and that knowledge without application is only a waste.  If you seek to prove yourself to the world, remember that the people of this world fear change and challenge, and shall see you as a threat, forever persecuting you once you have presented yourself to the public.  Magic is very much a two-sided sword, and it was for good reason that we find in the gospels "They will hate you for my sake," and also in the Book of the Law, "They will say that you are fallen." 

   In beginning this incredible path, though, there must be a kind of disclaimer.  Throughout the course of the magician’s journey, he shall both see and learn things that shall forever imprint, taint or scar the way he sees the world.  There are walls along the path, each one impossible to see through(though you may guess as to what is on the other side), and which must be broken through if the magician is to proceed from the level of understanding he has at that point attained.  However, sometimes we see that what that wall hid from us could, and very well may, destroy everything we thought we knew up until that point.  Entire viewpoints and goals, not just in magic, but in life itself, change in the coming and passing of a light breeze against your cheeks.  Therefore, choose your path and your goals now, but remember that they may not stand once you progress in wisdom.
   Thus, allow yourself to learn.  If you intend to be a student of the path of magic, then make of yourself a student.  This doesn't mean that cocky psuedo-student in the back of your highschool classes.  It means that little child in elementary school, which more heart than mind, and not yet resistant to new ideas.  If you intend to learn, then learn!  Magic is not for people who are simply seeking validation or support for their own ideas.  Everywhere there are charlatans, there are hundreds if not thousands of websites about magic, and thousands if not tens of thousands of books available on the subject of spirituality just from this past century.  Any fool can find someone out there, supposively of authority, that agrees with his own views.  It is best for the aspiring student of these arts to humbly bow his head, and to work from the understanding that he likely has some erroneous ideas due to a lack of proper training and instruction.

The Importance of a Teacher
   A teacher, or at least some manner of guidepost, is of absolute importance to the aspiring student of the magical sciences.  Some people are "luckier" than others in this regard, in that they may have teachers from previous incarnations that will magically draw the student back to them.  For others this may be one of their first incarnations seeking spiritual wisdom or magical ability, and so they will have to find a teacher instead.  Yet others may have had teachers in pastlives, both those teachers may not be advanced enough themselves to form cross-lifetime links with their students.  In the end, there are several possibilities like this, and it is better if at least in the beginning the student just assumes he is on his own thus far, and therefore conducts his own research. 
   In this research a student must not only investigate a certain system of magic, but at least as importantly, he must investigate what kinds of magicians that path has produced.  In every system there should be at least a handful of "lighthouse adepts," adepts from that system of magic who lived that system's teachings, and were living examples of its success.  By their success, by their examples and their teachings, you can get a general idea of the power of the system itself.  Thus search for these examples of adepts within the systems you are interested in, and see if you can find any adepts who represent what you hope to achieve.  Finding such a person, or a combination of such persons, is a very valuable discovery.  It will provide a clear goal, a clear route torwards that goal, and in times of doubt will provide a glowing inspiration.  There will hopefully be examples of such adepts in the history of the system you are investigating, and if you are lucky, you may even know living examples to learn from. 
   The latter is the real ideal.  To find good examples in history of what you are looking for is fantasic and of great value, but to find a living example, a living adept of a certain system that may be accessible to you personally, is truly priceless.  The immediate instruction and mentorship of a teacher who has achieved at least a majority of the goals of his system of magic, and who's life and governing self principles set great examples for the validity of that path, ensures the swiftest and most complete success for the student.  As it is said in the Wisdom of Sirach, you should certainly wear out such a man's doorstep with your feet, and weaken his door with your knocking.  If he is a teacher by nature, he will not mind.  If he is only a teacher by circumstance, then humbly learn what he has to offer, and ensure you are no burden.
   To that end there are several kinds of "teachers," which can more or less be categorized and explained in this way:
- Mentors:  Mentors are fellow students who happen to be further along in your intended path than you are, and though they themselves still have much to learn, they can offer a helping hand.  This is sometimes called a proctor in magical circles. 
- Teachers: A teacher is more advanced than a mentor.  If he is really a qualified teacher, then he is one full "portal" beyond you.  To understand this, it should be understood that most systems have major "initiation points," or major spiritual achievements that move them up into a new level.  Imagine the public school system in the United States for example, with an Elementary School, a Middle School, and a High School.  If you are in the proverbial "Elementary School" of your system, then your teacher should be beyond Middle School, and actually in the "High School," so to say.  If, continuing the analogy, you are in 1st grade, then a mentor can be as close to you as 2nd grade, just one grade away.  A teacher though, should, proverbially, be in 12th grade at least, or have already graduated High School and moved on to significantly higher education.  It is a crude analogy, but hopefully it helps illustrate how much further than you a person should be to really be considered your teacher.
- Teaching Adepts:  A "teaching adept" is someone who has achieved all of the normal attainments along that particular path, within his system.  He is "illuminated" as far as his own system and its students are concerned, and is in a position to lead a student all the way to the end of that chosen path, and even to point the student where to go from there should he accomplish everything.  Whereas mentors and teachers have students, an adept can truly have a disciple.
- Master: In the western tradition such a person is also called a Hierophant or Perfect Illuminati.  This is someone who is literally a living, breathing embodiment of the system of magic he represents.  For all practical purposes, in the eyes of those following that path he is considered a perfect product of that path.  Masters are few and far between.  To follow a master is a weighty responsibility, and various masters sometimes demand certain sacrifices on the part of the disciple to prove the disciple's heartfelt yearning.  A master has absolute spiritual authority in his system.

   So you’ve thought about WHERE you’d like to get.  Now how do you get there?  The paths of magic are many; more complex and in greater multitude than the secret paths of the tree of life.  Therefore, before you decide to go somewhere, consider how you wish to get there.  The roads and highways are the systems of magic which have arisen to present themselves throughout the course of thousands of years.  Some new, some old, none less efficient in its progression than the other(depending on the magician).  I, for example, have chosen the path of Hermeticism, trying always to come closer to my God, and have within that decided to exercise my magic via what is known as High Magic, which involves meditations, evocations, and invocations.  However, that I have chosen summoning, and another has chosen elementalism, does not mean that I shall arrive at power, understanding, virtue, wisdom and/or harmony before him.  The best way to begin your path into magic is to sit down and research as many different types of magic as you can, if only for a brief moment, so as to learn what they are all about, and what fruits they may bare for you.  To help in starting that, I have provided some basic bare-bones explanations of a few different systems:

Chaos Magic
   Chaos magic was founded by A.O Spare, a magician in the earlier part of the 20th century, and revolves around two things: Chaos theory, and the use of any religion or belief required for the successful casting of a spell.  The former is simply a theory which states that all things exist as chaos before they are organized into a state of completion.  So, essentially, it is viewed(for example) that before the universe was created, all that existed was the state of being known as chaos.  It is only because chaos exists that it can be organized, and therein the source of all organized existence is the chaos which existed before.
In the latter component of chaos magic, the idea is that the magician should not be restricted to any one religious belief, and therein be bound to a specific set of spells within that belief system.  It is held among chaos magicians that the magician should avail himself of any religious beliefs required for the successful casting of a desired spell.  So if for the successful casting of one spell you need to be Jewish, and adhere to their hierarchies and pantheon, then you shall do so, dropping that belief after the spell has been cast.  If the spell requires the worship of an Egyptian deity, then the magician shall adhere to the Egyptian pantheon for the entirety of the operation, and believe in it for as long as the spell requires. 
The most popular aspects of Chaos magic are sigilization and servitore creation, which are essentially the catalyzing of the magicians thoughts into some type of form, be it a symbol or a type of entity thought-form.  Its contribution to modern magic has been a large part of magic theory.
Chaos Magic has very few ethical or spiritual overtones in most instances.  Various pioneers of the system have even suggested that the "Chaote" should go out of his way to be hedenistic in some ways, and disregard moral concepts as products of religious dogma.  Towards that ends it is sometimes called Discordian or Luciferian, with a heavy emphasis on personal liberties.
Positives:  Chaos Magic is a very liberating experience for many people, and offers a certain fresh breath of air morally and ethically that many people today yearn for.  It is in some ways especially appealing to youths who grew up in households where an established religion was forced upon them, since it allows them to stretch their legs, so to say.  If you are looking for a no-strings-attached approach to causing natural phenomenon and controlling your inherent abilities, Chaos Magic may be worth a look.
Negatives:  Because of its more libertine type, it attracts alot of "rebellious youth" which often makes it difficult to take the system and its representatives seriously.  It is also, incidentally, quite "chaotic."  Many of its teachers disagree on sometimes very pivotal issues, there are few universally practiced techniques, and other such things, which makes it hard to make a brotherhood out of it.  The speed with which control over basic natural phenomenon comes to the successful Chaote often exagerates the ego as well, and makes him think he is a teacher before he is ready, causing a number of pseudo-teachers within the Chaos Magic community.  Chaos Magic is also a very new system of magic, and therefore has not produced a number of model magicians to examine, in order to grade the efficiency of the system as a whole.

   The Qabalah is an ancient mystery school within the Jewish religion.  It first began to become popular in western magic in the early 1600's with the emergence of some Rosicrucian fraternities who taught religious symbolism of the Judeo-Christian paradigm.  Simultaneously a number of so-called Qaballistic "grimoires" surfaced, which claimed to use Qaballistic symbolism for its magic.  It was taught intermittently in Masonic and branched Rosicrucian organizations until the late 1800's, when the Golden Dawn brought it together as a valid system for categorization, proposed its use as a general tool of classification for the magician, and subsequently made it famous in the field of magic.
   The Qabalah has speculative, theoretical, mathematical, practical, and mystical meanings and applications.  On a basic level, the corpus of Qaballistic wisdom was originally compiled as the means of interpreting the Old Testament of the Bible, the Tanakh, and understanding such sacred texts as the Talmud and Mishnah.  In that light the Old Testament was held to be highly symbolic, and to contain amongst other things teachings on doctrines such as the creation of the universe, death and reincarnation, and magic.  It was thought that the Tanakh was compiled divinely by master adepts, and that the most sublime teachings were codified within it for those who knew how to look.  The Qabalah was the method of searching for those secret teachings.
   Within Qaballistic circles of initiation, which there are now few legitimate groups for, there are entire sets of magical and mystical practices.  The Qaballist avails himself of the Ma'aseh Merkava, the Celestial Chariot thought to immortalize and deify the self, and bring the soul of the Qabalist to sit at the right hand of God.  This is accomplished by following "the way of return," a secret system of rituals, spiritual adherences, and meditations meant to gradually illuminate the soul.  Though there are teachings involving the control of the outer world, such as the use of symbolism and of various Divine Names, the bulk of the teachings are transcendental.  None the less such fantastic accomplishments as the prophetic golem of Albertus Magnus and the homonculus of Abbot Trithemius are attributed to a knowledge of the Qabalah.
Positives:  There are many rich texts and rabbinical writings on the Qabalah, both magically and mystically inclined.  Over at least two thousand years the system has been refined to a complete unit, and it has produced quite a number of saints and adepts about whom stories abound.  For those who are drawn to long hours of study, there is enough provided in the Qabalah and in the interpretation of the Tanakh to busy a dedicated person for the rest of his life.  There is also the western take, called the "Rosicrucian Qabalah," which provides definite templates for the use of Qaballistic knowledge for magical purposes of lower and higher natures. 
Negatives:  Since the open publication of the Qaballistic system of categorization called the Tree of Life in the early 20th century, it has been subject to a good bit of butchering from various so-called authorities.  The actual bulk of the Qabalah, which has little to do with the Tree of Life, has become more or less ignored.  This can make it difficult to find someone who actually knows what they are talking about.  Another difficulty is the problem presented of trying to become accepted by a rabbinical Qabalistic adept, with an established initiatory line.  Such rabbi are often racist, and are hard pressed to teach anyone but a sworn Jew of Jewish birth.  Unfortunately it is in such air-tight lineages that many of the greater secrets of the Qabalah are concealed. 

   Today, the Qabalah is considered part and parcel of Hermetic Magic.  In truth the Hermetic Sciences have been around for centuries, and likely predate the Qabalah by a healthy two or three thousand years.  In a way the Qabalah evolved from the Hermetic tradition of Egypt, which the Qabalah is largely a translation of.  The science is named in honor of its semi-mythological founder, Hermes Trismegistus, the great magus who so powerfully impacted the spiritual teachings of Egypt and Greece. 
   Hermeticism revolves around heavy moralistic and transcendental ideas.  The hermetic magician rejects the physical world as an illusion of ideas, a play of lights against a backdrop.  He is seen as living in a world of ignorance, on a ladder of such worlds where each new level is progressively closer to Truth.  "Truth" is seen as the First Cause, the silent, eternal, self-begotten beginning of all things that is considered the highest God, and often called "The Good."  The magician seeks union, or "Henosis," with that Supreme God.  This is achieved by proper living, the observance of spiritual principles and laws, meditation, and ritual magic.  Very little emphasis is put on magically influencing external phenomenon, though it is taught that such powers automatically develop for the hermetic magician over time, as a result of his ascent towards divinity. 
  The Invocation of God-Forces and the Evocation of Spirits are central practices of the Hermetic Science, which undertakes "The Great Work" of purifying and deifying the self.  Control over the four elements, which are seen as the most immediate stepping stones to climb out of the influence of this world, forms a bulk of the initial training in this system, according to such Hermeticists as Agrippa and Bardon.  Practices such as Alchemy and Astrology also play central roles in the progression of the system, and the creation of the fabled "Philosopher's Stone" is ascribed to this path.
Positives:  A morally strong system focused on purification and evolution, it perfectly fits those students who are more mystically inclined, and want to focus on advancing themselves in a transcendental direction.  Many of the most famous magicians of the past 2,600 years have been Hermetic Magicians, including such towering figures as Pythagoras, Hermes Trismegistus, Apollonius of Tyana, Iamblichus, Agrippa, Paracelsus, Francis Bacon, Benjamin Franklin, Le Comte St. Germain, Aleister Crowley, and Franz Bardon.  This results in there being a huge body of text available for study, and plenty of examples for motivation and inspiration.  There are also a number of Magic Orders, which serve as colleges for magical training within the Hermetic paradigm, all over the world.  This means that every hermetic student will have a place to go to learn.
Negatives:  Hermeticism is morally strict, and has a tendency to develop into dogmatism, especially in second and third-generation schools.  Likewise though much has been written about its philosophies, there has been comparatively little written about its practices.  What little has been written is often very ritualistic, which makes its practice difficult for those who have never had a teacher, or for those who have trouble securing privacy and enough space.  Because of its age, there are also many "splinters" of the tradition, which can make it difficult to decide on a good Order or Teacher to begin the path with. 

The Northern Path
   What has been labled "The Northern Path," for lack of a better term, is the pursuit of magic and mysticism through the tools and symbols of Scandinavian mythology and its initiates.  In many ways this winds up revolving around a knowledge of the runes and their uses for magic and for divination.  However the true initiate of this path must also be familiar with the symbolic meaning of the travels of Odin, with the initiatic symbolism represented by Baldur, and with the proper means of invoking the Gods of Asgard.
Today, the principle use of this path involves Runemal, the application of the 24 runes for divinatory purposes.  The Gothi ("priest") will case the 24 runes in any of a number of ways, and according to the tradition he has learned, will interpret them in a manner similar to the I-Ching, the casting of lots, or the Tarot.  Another common practice is that of making Bind Runes, which is an ancient practice of combining the runes into symbols appropriate for the task at hand.  This serves as a sort of sigil creation method for the Gothi, and is used specifically to accomplish some kind of magical effect.
Another part of Scandinavian Magic is the use of the Gladr Charms, which are a series of charms which bring about specific effects, and of which Odin speaks in the Havamal, a poetic recording of the Allfather’s words to men.  They essentially contain a combination of bind runes which will best bring about the desired effect.  The proper enaction of the Galdr charms requires that one be in turn with the runes via the Oral Galdr Incantation and Vibrations.
Positives: There is a rich and interesting mythology intimately connected to this system of magic, which allows the student to immerse himself in lore.  The runes themselves are provably very powerful magic talismans, and with consistent use natural magic can be easily worked with bindrunes and the galdr.  They also provide for a very easy but accurate system of divination which has become increasingly popular over the last forty years.  I personally often use the runes for a "morning casting," a quick and easy divinatory casting to get a basic glimpse of what the day will likely hold, though I often only do such on days of importance.
Negatives:  There is a massive circle of misinformation in the area of runic magic, largely due to a New-Age inspired, heavily Wiccan-like earth based religion called Asatruism.  Family lines of Scandinavian Magic have openly spoken against the inaccuracies of the magical practices taught by these Asatru groups, but little real headway has been made.  Unfortunately, most books available on the use of the runes come from this movement.  There is also extremely little written record of the traditional teachings and practices of runic magic, and by the time what few ancient texts we have today were finally written down they had been influenced by the migration of Christianity into the area.  This makes a genuine pursuit of this system nearly impossible today.

Talismanic Magic
   Also called Enchantment, talismanic magic is the “blessing,” or enchanting of an item to magical ends. The operation of the enchantment may involve the vibration of divine names, the inscribing of words in magical alphabets and languages, the charging of sigils and power words upon the item, the simple infusion of energy and will, or many other approaches to the same ends, each with effectiveness which vary only with the magician’s personal preferences and attitude.

   However, Talismanic magic extends as the system of enchantment to more than simply inanimate objects.  The skilled enchanter can cast what is often called a bewitchment upon a desired person, bringing love, bad luck, good luck, etc, upon that person.  In this way, the dynamics learned in enchanting can be easily applied to regular magical operations.
Most commonly, talismanic magic is used to create things such as protection amulets, to guard houses and people from attack by both entites and the malicious wills of other people.
Positives:  Usually taught in easy and straight-forward manners.  A number of occult authors over the centuries have published encyclopedic collections of talismanic knowledge.  Though recognized as a system of magic within itself by some groups today, it was traditionally a part of many larger magical systems.

Negatives: Fairly restrictive, in that one consistently needs something to carry the energy in.  However, the enchanter will gradually develop the power to manipulate energies more directly.  It also requires a considerable amount of study to become an accomplished enchanter, since one needs a vast understanding of the interrelations of complex sets of symbolism.

   The backbone of beginning magic, in my opinion.  Elementalism is the use of those energies which are associated to the four elements as recognized by Plato, which are earth, fire, air, and water.  A full and very complete look at the ins and outs of elemental magic is provided in my "Treatise on Elemental Magic," available here on Veritas.  Suffice to say here that it has long been held by many genuine magical traditions that the elements are the basic building blocks of our world, and that their mastery is the first step to liberation from the sorrows and sufferings of this world.
Elementalism entails not only the use of all those elements on a celestial, intellectual and manifest level, but also the conjuring of those spirits which are called “elementals,” and the use of them in order to enact magical operations.
Positives:  Unlike a majority of magical traditions, the practice of elemental magic for both natural magic phenomenon and spiritual evolution has been clearly outlined in a published work called "Initiation into Hermetics," written by Franz Bardon.  This has given a sort of frame of reference for practical elemental work on an effective scale. 
Negatives:  Franz Bardon's works are really the only straight-forward authoritative books available for the practice of elemental magic.  Many works, like Agrippa's, are cryptic and hard to transfer into practice, whereas those of people such as Paracelsus are largely alchemical in application.
   Shamanism is best known as the old Indian methodology of magic, in which each tribe had a “witchdoctor,” or “medicine man” of sorts.  This tribal leader was in charge of all religious rituals, making sure the tribe stayed in good favor of the gods, dealing with any diseases within the village, protecting it from outsiders and evil spirits alike. 
As great as that all is, a complete system of divination, healing and summoning within itself, most modern magicians only worry themselves with the shamanic methods of certain meditations, in which the magician will learn how to induce a state of trance, other important states of altered mindsets, as well as induce “shamanic adventures,” in which the mind is set free, residing in some place within the depths of the soul in meditation.  The difference between this and basic visualization of being in, lets say, a windy field, is that in shamanic meditation, you can actually feel the wind, hear the surrounding wildlife, and smell the grass. 
"Shamanism," however, applies to a rather wide array of spiritual practices, and not just a particular path.  The Shamanism of the Native Americans for example, which is most popular in the United States, and which has many similarities to Amazonian Shamanism in South America, is quite different from the Samian Shamanism of northern Europe.  Other "Shamanic" practices such as those of the Kahunas of Hawaii, are quite similar to the tantric practices of yogis in northern India.  Some are more concerned with phenomenon, whereas others are more focused on spiritual evolution.  Thorough investigation will bring to light which system of Shamanism is suited for you.
Positives: Regardless of where on the globe it is, a defining characteristic of Shamanism is often that it is practiced by cultural tribes that were comparatively technologically unadvanced for most of history.  The result is that it is usually intense natural, and connects its students intimately with the energies of the Earth, and of the nature spirits.  This is largely the reason for its boom in popularity amongst the New Age movement, since as the world becomes more technologically advanced, many people seek relaxation in nature.  In a full Shamanic tradition, should one be fortunate enough to have access to such a lineage, it is usually a highly diverse and practical system which will develop many magical skills across multiple levels.
Negatives:  The embrace of Shamanism by the New Age Movement has caused a flow of misinformation regarding the actual nature and practices of the tradition.  So-called "authorities" on the subject are often only people who went to a village and studied the shamans for a handful of years, and not fully initiated masters from a direct lineage themselves.  Because of the nature of the tradition, many Master Shamans are not able to write, or have no access to publishers and the likes, or simply have no interest at all in the modern world.  Thus very few real authorities have written good sourcebooks for the practice of Shamanism.  Instead, self-proclaimed shamans, usually Americans, make up techniques and publish them as being Shamanic practices.
   Though it has slowed down some in this last decade, Wicca is still likely the largest portion of the New Age Movement.  It is a nature-based pagan religion, as well as a magical tradition, since much of the religious worship is magical and ritualistic in nature.  The common nomenclature of "spells" and "hexes" is due largely to Wicca and its offshoots, and the system has essentially taken over the title "witch," a witch now being largely considered a Wiccan.  The common use of the pentagram and the appearance of "wands" and the likes as hobby shops and New Age stores is the direct cause of the success of Wicca in the west.
Wicca was founded in the 1950's by a man named Gerald Gardner.  Gardner was a student of the Golden Dawn earlier in his life, before its collapse, and blended much of what he learned there into the rituals and theories of Wicca.  By his own account, while in northern England one year he was drawn during the night to the sound of drums and celebration in the woods.  When he found the source of the sound deep in the forests, he was confronted by a group that called themselves "the Wica," and was told that this group constituted a "coven."  It is said that he was initiated into their practices, and after recieving instruction for several weeks, the group disappeared.  Gardner took the initiative and began spreading this system, into which he heavily breathed traditional hermetic practices, as "Wicca." 
The actual practice of magic in Wicca revolves largely around five elements, being the traditional four with the addition of spirit, represented by the pentagram.  Their "holy symbol" thereby is the pentacle, being the pentagram within a circle, usually worn as a necklace or a ring.  Various divisions of Wicca also incorporate some zodiacal astrology and basic alchemy (potions and the likes) into their repetoire.  The witch eventually builds up a collection of spells and recipes, commonly referred to by the Wiccan tradition as a "Book of Shadows."  Some "covens," groups of practicing Wiccans, are more influenced by folk practices, whereas others are more influenced by the hermetic tradition and the writings of such magicians as Aleister Crowley.
Positives:  Because of the enormous success of Wicca in the western world, there are more recently written books on it than probably any other system of magic.  This makes learning Wicca very easily.  Many Wiccans have published their Book of Shadows, which also makes it easy for a new student to immediately begin practicing Wiccan magic.  Another major benefit is that in most major cities there is at least one coven accepting members, allowing a student to join a group and learn from various other Wiccans.  Being a nature-based pagan faith, it is a nice break from the ordinary for many people, and gives them a sense of connection to nature.
Negatives:  Alot of liberty has been taken with defining Wicca, and therefore a number of different sects within the tradition differ quite radically in belief and practice.  Often times, a Book of Shadows will read more like a collection of superstitious folk remedies than a collection of scientific magical operations.  The image of Wicca as being for middle-aged women and teenage girls also deters a number of would-be applicants of the faith. 
  Thelema was founded by Aleister Crowley as a means of spreading the teachings of the Book of the Law, as well his own ideas about what magic should be.  In reference to those teachings, Thelemites often refer to magic with a "k," spelling it "magick," this being Crowley's addition to make a distinction between real magic and stage magic. 
  Religiously, the pantheon of Thelema is Egyptian.  The premise is that Osiris, the god of the last Aeon of Man, was giving way to the rising of Horus to be the god of this new "Aquarian" age of man.  This "changing of the guard" is said to occur every 2,000 years or so, and is held by Thelemites as indicating a new direction for humanity.  The "Law" of the new Aeon is summarized, according to Crowley, by the dictum "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.  Love is the Law, Love under Will." 
   Thelema is both magical and mystical.  Mystically, it is seen as the sacred duty of the Thelemite to unite Nuit with Hadit, and to merge into the infinitude of Hadit, and become a god himself, a "star" of the universe.  It has its own set of rituals, most of them devised by Crowley, but still based on principles he learned from his time in the Golden Dawn in his youth.  Crowley is considered by Thelemites to be the Prophet of the New Aeon.
Positives:  Crowley left behind an enormous collection of writings for aspirants and initiates of various levels.  He also used a large Order, the O.T.O, to spread his teachings, and established the A.A., both of which are still functioning today.  Many of Crowley's books can be found for free online, which makes studying easier, and a number of exercises are mystical and meditative in nature, meaning they can be easily enough practiced by most people.
Negatives:  The image associated with Crowley is often negative, and on a surface level, the Book of the Law is offensive to many people's senses.  As a result, Thelemites sometimes recieve criticism from the magical community as a whole.
   The art of alchemy is sometimes practiced as part of a broader system, as it is in Rosicrucianism and Hermetic Magic, and sometimes practiced as an individual path.  With used in conjunction with a larger system, alchemy is often used to support and compliment the training was is already undergoing.  In "Initiation into Hermetics," for example, Franz Bardon teaches some alchemical creations to aid in meditations for the development of clairvoyance, clairaudience, and clairsentience.  When alchemy is practiced on its own, then alchemical creations are used to develop spiritual energies within the alchemist, as well as to attain magical faculties and powers.
There are a number of aspects to alchemy.  Tinctures, elixirs, essences, oils, balms, and salts are employed for the accomplishment of personal, magical, mystical, and medical ends.  Some alchemists specialize in homeopathic and spagyric remedies as alternative medicine, whereas other alchemists choose to focus on purely spiritual applications.  Many choose to do both, and get the full use of this art.  Traditionally the alchemist starts his work in the vegetable kingdom, learning how to use the alcohols, oils, and salts of various plants and herbs. When he has achieved competence in that field, the alchemist may choose to advance to mineral alchemy.  This can include using mineral homeopathy, or in more advanced practice, the transmutation of metals into other metals.  The fabled accomplishment of the master alchemist is the transmutation of a base metal, such as lead, into a valuable metal such as gold.
The goal of alchemy is the "Great Work," which often means a literal and allegorical creation of what is called "The Philosopher's Stone," or the "Stone of the Sages."  On an allegorical level, the "Philosopher's Stone" is the perfect art of spiritual evolution, the "base metal" is the animal and worldly nature of the alchemist's self, and the transmutation of that base metal into gold becomes symbolic of the self illumination of the alchemist.  On a practical level, it is thought that a master alchemist really can create a stone, or in some instances a powder, which allows him to replicate gold by projecting it upon a base metal, and causing a transformation of that metal into gold.  Then gold is thought to then be purified to its highest quality by using other methods.  Ironically, however, many historical alchemists have taught that only an adept purified from the desire for wealth can achieve this, and that obtaining of the Philosopher's Stone should simply be sought after as a demonstration that the alchemist has conquered nature. 
Another famous product of alchemical lore is the Elixir of Immortality.  This is thought to be either a red elixir or a white powder, which when taken in small quantities on certain days in certain months, causes a rejuvenatory process within the body.  By its use, it is taught that the master alchemist can  prolong his life indefinately.  Incidentally it is taught that whoever can creat the Elixir of Immortality has the knowledge required to create the Philosopher's Stone, and vice versa. 
Man's greatest fear is death, and his greatest desire is wealth.  With that in mind, it becomes obvious why alchemy has always captivated the minds of men throughout all of history, since it seemingly promises a solution to both.  The stories of the "staged deaths" of people such as Nicholas Flamel, Cagliostro, Francis Bacon, and Le Comte de St. Germain, and the rumors of their ongoing life for decades or centuries afterwards, have ensured that people will still be practicing alchemy far into our future.
Positives:  Alchemy is comparatively easy to start, with a basic distiller being possible to make from home, and the surface of an oven sufficing to begin initial experiments.  With only a little bit of practice alchemy can yield immediate results, such as noticeable increase in health and energy.  Its practice and experimentation is also wide and diversified enough to promise that the student will always have "the next step" to work towards.  There is also a fair amount of written information available on the subject.
Negatives:  There is nothing inherently spiritual about doing alchemy, which means that spiritual and magical progress will really only be guaranteed after you have spent quite some time getting the various tinctures meant to cause that growth correct.  Experiments often fail for no apparent reason, and this can cause frustration.  Extensive experimentation can be quite expensive over time.  Suitable ventillation is required for metallic experiments, and this can be hard for the average person to secure.  While vegetable experiments are usually harmless, the more advanced mineral alchemy, which is seen as a necessary step in advancement, can be deadly depending on the minerals being worked with. 

   Those are a few of the more well-known systems of magic, to give you a short head start in the research.  I strongly advise examining the aforementioned systems to see if any of their dynamics appeal to you on a personal level, and seem to easily compliment your intended goals.

F.A.Q: My advice in light of certain questions

Q: Which system is the easiest to learn?
A: None of them are “easy” to learn.  They all require a great deal of dedication on the part of the magician, from the time the path begins, and onwards until it ceases.

Q: Which system do you think a beginner should start with?
A: Personally, I strongly advise taking up studies in the field of elementalism while a novice in the field of magic.  The reasoning for this is that it will provide the aspirant some very simple, yet invaluable, magic theory, as well as get him into the habit of feeling, identifying, and ultimately working with those energies of the universe which shall be called upon time and time again by the magician in his future operations.  If pursued in connection to a larger paradigm, such as Hermeticism, then elemental work can blossom into the safe and effective practice of invocation and evocation, and will give the student to accomplish essentially anything.

Q:  Is magic evil?
A:  I refer you to another article, "Introduction to Magic," which provides a more thorough look at what magic is as a whole.  Suffice to say here that magic is simply a tool, and it is the wielder who defines whether that tool is used or abused.  In general, though, you would have nothing to lose by experimenting with magic yourself, and seeing first hand if it is evil, or if it is a very positive and uplifting practice. 
Q:  How can you tell if a teacher or master is the real deal, or a fraud?
A:  Until you develop skills such as clairvoyance and clear psychic intuition, this can be difficult.  It is best to rely on experience.  If you have been around that person enough, there will be clear signs that will indicate whether he is genuine or a charlatan.  Until you know for sure, act with reserve and caution.
Q: Is ritualism needed?
A: Ritualism is not necessary, but its value as an aid can not be ignored by an intelligent student.  No matter where you are in your progress, the application of a well thought-out ritual will likely be of some further use.  In the beginning, though, it is usually recommended that the student learn basics that have nothing to do with ritual work, such as how to calm his mind, and control his thoughts.

Q: You said that elementalism is a good place to begin.  That’s all good, but there are four elements.  Which one should I start with?
A:  You should develop a spiritual practice regime wherein you will be able to practice with all four elements an equal amount.  Even if this means that Monday you practice with fire, Tuesday with air, Wednesday with water, etc, due to time constraints, that is fine.  However practicing too much with a single element over the others can cause imbalances in one's character, and in the lower spiritual bodies.  This is called an Elemental Imbalance.  An initiate should seek Elemental Equilibrium instead by working with all four elements.

Q: Do I have an element that I’m associated with?
A: No.  A common misconception amongst the uninitiated is that each person has a particular element which they are most related to.  The reasoning for this exists within the realm of psychoanalytics, not elemental association.  You do not possess within you more of the air element than someone else, etc.  However, it shall perhaps be worthy to note here that many people have a particular element which they find easiest to work with, and which resonates nicely with them.  The reasoning for this is, as mentioned, not etheric, but intellectual.  If your traits correspond with the intellectual manifestations of water, then you may find it easier to work with water.  You are the cause of this, not the element. 
Such aspects of the personality will cause certain elements within you to manifest more visibly.  This will give the appearance that you have too much of a particular element, and some occultists and teachers will even refer to a person as having "too much fire" or the likes.  This is more a matter of convenient phrasing, however, since technically such a person would have just as much fire as anyone else.  It is simply that the personality expresses that element more dramatically.

Q: I’m an otherkin!  Shouldn’t I be naturally more inclined towards a specific element?
A: Herein exists another large misconception amongst particularly the young audience which graces the OEC(Online Energy Community).  The physical vessel, which is called the human body, and furthermore the etheric vessel were created to compliment one another, and exist in both form and characteristics in a way that causes a parallel between the physical self and the etheric double.  Basically what that means is that the human body is designed for the human soul, and vice versa.  Likewise, any disruption in this natural order causes an inability to manifest.  In other words(once again speaking in lay-man’s terms), if the pieces of the puzzle don’t fit(the soul and the body), you have no puzzle(the existence of an individual human).  I tell you, unless the earth, the sky, the fires or the waters of this world made you themselves, with no woman as a medium for birth, you are a human.  Nothing less, and most certainly nothing more.
Q: Should I tell my parents?
A: This is a common question, since much of the online community is young.  The answer depends on your parents.  If you have a very catholic family, for example, it may not be a good idea.  If your mother or father studies anything occult, then of course.  However, I will say this much: Eventually, your parents will find out.  Are you going to let them do it by sneaking around your room and looking through your computer files, or are you going to come out and tell them, and therein sustain a level of suspect later on down the road?  Somewhere down the line, you’ll have to come out of the closet.  When that happens is up to you.  You may be pleasantly surprised, even, and learn that your parents do not care about it as much as you thought they would.

Q: If I’m not going to do any ceremonial magic, should I still read the esoteric texts, such as the works of Solomon?
A: In my personal opinion, yes.  I’ve read almost every esoteric text that is accessible to the public, and some which still aren’t.  There have been many great minds in occultism before this modern time.  Why should you not benefit from them?
Q: How long before I will start seeing real progress?
A:  This depends on the goals of that system, as well as the intensity of your own dedication to it.  There is not set or guaranteed timeline that works for everyone.  Some students, for reasons usually to be found in previous incarnations, will advance very quickly with comparatively little work.  Others will advance slowly with lots of work.  Most advance normally with good dedication.  Likewise if you are practicing a system which involves less tangible phenomenon at first, such as a path more mystically inclined, then you will need to search out the positive changes you are seeing in your life, as these are harder to see sometimes.  As a general idea, though, most students have experienced real progress within three months.

   Those are a few of the questions I find myself to be asked quite often.  If you’ve read through them and still have more concerning starting magic, please contact me and ask.  I can assure you of an answer, and if the question is particularly valuable, I will edit this article and add your question to the F.A.Q. 
Title: The First Steps
Post by: Orthas on August 14, 2004, 05:47:46 AM
brilliant just what I and (i'm sure) many other people have been looking for.
Title: The First Steps
Post by: Aurora on August 14, 2004, 07:07:15 AM
This article is exactly what I needed.  Btw, are you sure that Mysteria Magica is by George Llewellyn?
Title: The First Steps
Post by: Tsumaru on August 15, 2004, 12:32:52 AM
Mysteria Magica on Amazon is by Melita Denning and Osborne Phillips. I think that's what Proph is referring to since it has such high reviews and all. But if it's not, just tell us Proph.

Oh, and for those who don't realise, a couple of those books aren't actually published and can only be found online. Doing a google search with a bit of determination should find all of them, so dont worry. It only took me 10 mins tops to find all those listed either in google or straight off amazon.
Title: The First Steps
Post by: Prophecy on August 15, 2004, 08:22:13 AM
Aye, didn't realize I put George Llewellyn.  It was part of Llewellyn's Aurum Solis series.  Thank you for the correction.  And yes, several of those can be find easily in PDF formats.
Title: The First Steps
Post by: killthedream on August 16, 2004, 12:37:46 AM
Just adding that its franz Bardon, just incase someone does a search and cant find it cause they were looking for barton
Title: The First Steps
Post by: prt1 on August 21, 2004, 05:16:32 AM
i live in a country where i do not get those books what should i  do then
Title: The First Steps
Post by: Aurora on August 21, 2004, 06:24:42 AM
Find them online.  My parents are heavy duty catholics, I can't buy those books either, but every single on ecan be found pretty easily online, except for art and meaning of magic.  I had to hunt that, and Mysteria magica, I couldn't find that one at al.
Title: The First Steps
Post by: Tsumaru on August 21, 2004, 03:42:23 PM
Gah. Did nobody listen to me?

For the books which are actually books, go to Amazon.
For the books which aren't actually books (just online essays), do a google search.

All of them can be found quite easily. Aurora - Mysteria Magica is on Amazon. The Art and Meaning of Magic is on Google. Just type into Google "The Art and Meaning of Magic" and the very first link that pops up is the right one! Jesus people, it's so simple!
Title: The First Steps
Post by: AMF The White on August 25, 2004, 02:07:38 PM
Title: The First Steps
Post by: Adept on August 27, 2004, 07:12:26 AM
Exelent article. Brovo. Tsu- Aurora said he/she can't buy the books. that rules out
Title: The First Steps
Post by: Anima on October 16, 2004, 02:35:00 AM
I love this Article. It certianly has started me thinking about where i want to go. Is there another specific article i should read after this ? Or is it just up to me ?
Title: The First Steps
Post by: Prophecy on October 16, 2004, 11:49:58 AM
"Introduction to Magic" is a good follow-up.
Title: The First Steps
Post by: BlackAnt on January 16, 2005, 05:13:03 PM
I have found amlost all in internet. I´m from Argentina and I can´t spend a lot of money in books. Think that the argentinian peso is equeal a third part of a dolar, aucchh.
Title: The First Steps
Post by: sargon on May 07, 2005, 03:39:49 AM
I know how you feel BlackAnt, the Chinese yuan is an eighth of the American dollar. You can however hope to find some texts online, most probably.

*I know it's an old post but hey*

Great article, I'm interested in learning about elementalism and hermetics as well.
Title: Re: The First Steps
Post by: block_head on August 09, 2005, 09:25:21 PM
The backbone of beginning magic, in my opinion.  Elementalism is the use of those energies which are associated to the four elements as recognized byPluto, which are earth, fire, air, and water.

should this be plato or am i confused
Title: Re: The First Steps
Post by: ChezNips on August 10, 2005, 09:23:18 AM
You are mistaken.  Pluto refers to the ruling planet, not of the Plato of philosophy.
Title: Re: The First Steps
Post by: block_head on August 11, 2005, 08:38:56 PM
ok, thanks
Title: Re: The First Steps
Post by: SolidVenture on November 16, 2005, 10:29:30 AM
this is a great article Bravo!!
Title: Re: The First Steps
Post by: kakkarot on November 17, 2005, 02:58:36 PM
block_head: you got it right, actually. It should be plato instead of the pluto that prophecy accidentally wrote it as.

Title: Re: The First Steps
Post by: Dragón_del_abismo on July 01, 2006, 11:01:23 AM

I want to know how many paths for a magician exist?

If I want to be a magician, can I continue studying in the University?

Title: Re: The First Steps
Post by: Maleus on October 24, 2006, 04:14:00 PM
even though elementalism seems to be a good start, it all seems to have a lot of hermetic influence. and my religious point of view isn't compatible with hermetics (not that it's too important anyway, I'm very open minded), and I'd like to start with non-hermetick magicks. maybe later, when i'm more experienced, I might try hermetics for a change =)

anyways, great article =D
Title: Re: The First Steps
Post by: ameth on June 08, 2007, 06:33:48 PM
Iv'e been interested in the occult for a while, and until now have only been reading alot about it , but never actually accomplishing anything, but this has gotten me started . :) 
Title: Re: The First Steps
Post by: Prophecy on April 11, 2010, 07:24:56 PM
The article has been heavily revised, and additional content has been added.  Some more Q&A's were also added, the explanation of each different system was expanded upon, and each system now as a "positives" and "negatives" review.
Title: Re: The First Steps
Post by: codyfromhell on October 01, 2010, 12:44:56 PM
Brilliant post!  :biggrin:
Title: Re: The First Steps
Post by: mesmer_14 on October 23, 2011, 09:47:47 PM
WOW! Thank you for this orientation. Just what I needed.
Title: Re: The First Steps
Post by: White Lily on April 15, 2014, 05:19:45 AM
Hi Prophecy, I am new to this forum, hoping that it is never too late to ask something related to your older articles …  :)

My question would be: Is there a specific path of magic or spirituality fitting best for someone who mainly seeks to realize love in its plenty forms? By this I mean, among others, love towards all beings and realms of nature, true human love of deep compassion, confidence and faithfulness as well in a relationship as to oneself, awakening through and working in sexual alchemy, and the unconditioned love of God.

Let me shortly outline my inquiry with some personal details just to give you a little background and make it easier for you to answer. Hope this is ok … My situation is what I would call of a confused beginner. Almost 2 years ago I have been given the Pentagram rituals as a means to heal myself and thus be able to continue with my profession – assumed that any ill-being is caused by an elemental imbalance inside. While I practiced them continuously I wasn’t aware of them being a magical doing. After some time I found out what I was doing and the teacher who only shows up once a year presented himself happy about my findings, and gave me more rituals. He never says much about them, he rather lets me find out on my own.

However, the symptom which I wanted to heal initially has not changed. To be honest, I do not know where I am going with all this, and really feel I need some orientation. The teacher states that he sees some great force behind me, but I have to find out myself. So far I don’t have any idea what this might be. It has become obvious to me that I have a strong spiritual longing, but am not much interested in gaining powers. Now that I found your article, it has opened my eyes with regard to the necessity of finding out FIRST where we want to go (before we start doing anything) and then how to get there. I wonder why the teacher never told me …

Following your suggestion, I have examined my motivation and found that in the first place it is about living in harmony, real love, and union with God. I want to awaken to the true nature of self, life and death. Also, I am looking for a consolidation of equilibrium in my life, body, mind and soul, as well as some stability (meaning profession), the ability to heal myself and help others. To a magician, these may perhaps sound like very simple wishes. I feel partially drawn to and have experimented a bit with Hermetics, Quabalah, the 4 elements, Shamanism, Holy Geometry and the patterns hidden in sound/voice, as well as sexual transmutation, pranayama, mantra japa, meditation. I am not after performing miracles, wielding power, accumulating money or bewitching people. The most important thing to me is the mystery of real love and virtues connected to this. Despite much daily practice following different spiritual approaches, it sometimes really saddens me that I don’t know how to get there, or which path to consistently tread.

Anything you could recommend to me in that situation?
Would it mean I have wasted these 2 years by practicing something I had no real clue of?

Also, why are there only few women on the path of high magic and evocation/invocation?

Thank you very much for your consideration.
Title: Re: The First Steps
Post by: Nyktelios on April 15, 2014, 11:28:17 PM
You sound like the ideal student for Prophecy's school. Check out the link under his post.
Title: Re: The First Steps
Post by: Constructman on April 16, 2014, 01:44:51 PM
@White Lily: Prophecy rarely visits the forums anymore, so like the person above me suggested, it would be better to contact him through his school. You can contact them here, though it may not be him who responds:
Title: Re: The First Steps
Post by: White Lily on April 16, 2014, 02:43:54 PM
Thank you Nyktelios and Constructman. I will do so.
Title: Re: The First Steps
Post by: Iatros on May 17, 2014, 10:04:22 AM
Since I've been drawn to threads concerning The Divine Science recently I may as well reply here too. I am a student there as well, so I would also love to establish communication with interested people where it might not otherwise happen directly with the school's teachers, since they are naturally more focused on their students than public relations.

Obviously if Prophecy (or someone else) finds the time to reply, consider whatever they say with more weight than what I say.

You do sound like you would do very well in The Divine Science. Love in its divine aspect is indeed discussed there, and eventually in a very thorough way - it is in fact one of the five central pursuits of magic as we view it - the others being Truth, Liberty, Peace, and Light. So your interest in Love is a very good thing which you can safely hold without any fear of "wasting" your time with it. From how you yourself have described Love I am particularly confident in this, because you are not identifying it with strictly erotic love (which has a part to play but which our culture tends to overemphasize).

As far as your feelings of wasting years of time - don't worry about this. Every experience we have has a part to play for us, even if we change our opinions later, because even our errors help to refine our understanding of our path. How could that not be valuable? Don't worry too much about the name that you give to your path. You can start one, switch to another, and land permanently on yet another - if you do this, you haven't really followed three different paths; YOUR path simply travelled between three places.

I do not know what the symptom you wish to change in yourself is, but I can make a recommendation. The Pentagram rituals are great, but the downfall of ritual is that they rely on certain foundations (visualization, understanding of symbolism, relationships with certain intelligences and forces) which may or may not be present in the person performing the ritual to begin with. They will certainly eventually develop if you consistently practice the ritual (I myself did the LBRP consistently for a time and observed great progress) but if you are specifically trying to heal yourself elementally, there are quite simply more direct ways to do it, like Franz Bardon's Soul Mirrors, which The Divine Science also uses. If you are unfamiliar with this, here is the practice:

1. Introspect for a long while and write down every characteristic of your personality that you can think of, positive virtues and negative vices alike. Be as thorough as possible, and keep adding to this list whenever you identify something new.

2. Separate the virtues and the vices. Naturally the vices require the most work, but you should be aware of the virtues as well for the purpose of elemental balance.

3. Get a good understanding of the elements (and try to avoid pop culture interpretations) and assign an element to each of the virtues and vices as best as you can - you can always go back and change things as your understanding deepens - this is an ongoing process.

4. Assign a degree of magnitude to each of the virtues and vices. I, for instance, assign a 5 to Distraction, which influences me constantly, but a 1 to Anger, which very rarely really struggle with.

5. You now have an elemental roadmap to your personality which you can use to more or less objectively work to improve yourself, and heal your mental and astral bodies, which will in turn improve your material life.

6. Choose a prominent vice, consider a virtue which represents the healthy functioning corresponding to the absence or conquering of that vice, and work to embody it and make it a new part of your being. Update your Mirrors regularly (maybe once a month, maybe once a year).

7. It may be useful to consider how certain vices give rise or support others, so that by healing one vice which supports many, you can accelerate the process.

Now, concerning women... obviously culture has not been kind to women due to patriarchal society and such. This same cultural idiocy unfortunately has also occurred in esotericism, with specifically fraternal orders and such existing. This inequality is completely unnecessary, and everyone would benefit from its disappearance. There is nothing precluding women from the mysteries whatsoever - but because of patriarchal bigotry, history itself has not been kind to female mystics. Study people like Moina Mathers, Helena Blavatsky, Mary the Jewess, and Hypatia of Alexandria if you'd like. In any case, if you are female, I strongly encourage you to help turn the tide by becoming a successful mystic yourself. Women actually tend to be better at metaphysical perception (which is why so many seers have been female and the whole witch stereotype exists), and this is not only tradition but has recently been supported by modern scientific inquiry and psi studies. It is only a general trend of course due to energy body differences.

Anyways, I hope this has been helpful. Don't abandon trying to contact my teachers, obviously, but if you have any other questions you think a student might be able to answer, feel free to ask me.

Title: Re: The First Steps
Post by: White Lily on May 17, 2014, 12:24:36 PM
Hi latros, thanks a lot for your sensitive and encouraging reply. I too find it nice to be in contact and communicate with other students … this is actually something I have been looking for some time. After Bardon and other Masters recommend one should not talk much about it to people, not even to friends, I have found the path being sort of lonely, so to speak. Lonely till one reaches communication with beings and forces of the so-called invisible world. Then everything changes, but the way to firstly get there can be long and lonesome … So, your response to my questions is, of course, very welcome.

Your idea sounds nice: to consider every trial and experience, even when leading into different directions, a part of one’s own path. This really gives me some confidence back, to know that I am on my path. :-) You have found wonderful words. Thank you!

The symptom mentioned – in case you find helpful to know it – is an undefinable swelling and pain in the joint of clavicle with sternum. I use the right arm for rituals like Pentagram and other stars, so the symptom results in being a hindrance in ritual as well as in daily life. I know that the collarbone is a key, this maybe karmic. But there should also be an elemental imbalance to it that caused the manifestation, since the whole shoulder is a pair of scales (I think) and the symptom is located at the very crossing point.

The soul mirror you suggest to elaborate can be a good means I guess but in my case did not suffice. I’ve already worked it out, however, I found some difficulties in thinking black and white or telling this is a positive feature while another is negative. To me, classification is really so much flexible, always depending on parameters such as culture, epoch, gender and the use one makes of a given trait. So I got stuck in there. Also to me, auto-suggestion (using the beads) has not been sufficiently effective in eliminating vices, even if the picked vice is as simple as chocolate.  :)

Perhaps a stronger force than this will be needed. A comprehension maybe required, a reminiscence, whatever. I hope the rituals will one day bring me there. Love is the greatest force in universe. Love has many most beautiful faces. Sacred sexuality is just one of them, nevertheless, it is a very special one because it creates in body, spirit and soul.

May I ask you who your teachers are? From what you tell I would assume that Prophecy is one of them, and who else? I am watching the Theurgy site, to see when a new enrollment will start. Do the students ever meet each other in person, or does everyone continue his/her work separated from others, the only direct contact being the teacher?

Thank you again for all of your ideas.
White Lily
Title: Re: The First Steps
Post by: Iatros on May 17, 2014, 01:05:28 PM
Hello again White Lily,

I do not know enough about healing yet to give much advice for that symptom. Still, I agree that the areas you describe are loaded with metaphysically significant things - if it isn't something that a doctor can do anything about then I am sure your continued esoteric practices will eventually address the issue. Have you looked into traditional chinese medicine? It seems like a good middle ground between the physical and the subtle and has pretty good specificity for different parts of the body - you could look up what organ energy channels run through your problem area and try some corresponding herbs or acupuncture / acupressure if you haven't already. Past that I should really continue my training for a few more years before I offer specific remedies.

Ramose (Prophecy) and Veos are the main teachers but not really my direct teachers. Most classes are instead taught by their direct students, but their names wouldn't mean anything to anyone here and since they haven't come forth I would rather not point people to them. However you will eventually tend to meet everyone and Ramose and Veos visit all the classes and do school-wide stuff pretty regularly.

After the introductory class (the Probationer course), students are allowed and very much encouraged to visit the teachers in person, because not everything in the school is written down - only the most important parts - in order to protect it from people who are completely missing the point and intend to just infiltrate, copy everything, and give it to everyone without the appropriate context or proper training. I have visited on three occasions and it has always been a wonderful experience and a great opportunity to meet like minded people and names that I had only seen on the class forums beforehand.

Since TDS has ended up being extremely international, many students have started regular local get-togethers as well to make friends, discuss, and practice in person. This is great because naturally it's very difficult to buy a plane ticket to the U.S. if you are a student living in, say, Turkey. There is certainly no emphasis on being a hermit whatsoever.

I'm glad what I said before helped put your mind at ease, and am willing to answer any other questions.
Title: Re: The First Steps
Post by: White Lily on May 18, 2014, 02:23:47 AM
Yes, I have tried acupuncture and other alternative therapies. They have helped to alleviate pain, however, did not cure the symptom. I am now at a point where I think that just the same as a flower is a manifestation of sunlight, brought into existence by intelligent reason, the same is true with a symptom that manifests in anyones physical body. A symptom that cannot easily be healed has got a profound meaning, a message if you want. With major acceptance and a little patience one will perhaps be able to see the fruit it has come to bring about.
Since I live far from the U.S., local gatherings sound good. Thanks for the hint. Are they only accessible once you are a part of the school, meaning a student of them – or can one seek contact and/or meet up with people while not (or not yet) inscribed to TDS? I suppose there are more students of magic who are not directly studying at TDS but learning from someone else or by themselves who would love to meet up, too. Just in case this would be possible, are you aware of any such gathering in Germany, or could you perhaps ask around to find out for me?

Thank you so much for your help!
Title: Re: The First Steps
Post by: Iatros on May 18, 2014, 05:00:26 AM
I think that the groups would prefer you were in TDS in order to go to their specific gatherings, but I don't see why they wouldn't just want to chat. And of course, it's always good to get to know your local magical community in general - there is really no point to limiting it to TDS even if you are a student. I certainly don't, any more than I refuse to have friends outside of my university.

I'll see if there are any German students that would like to chat with you.