Monday, April 26, 2010

A course in magic rituals: prepare your body

Before we begin let’s remember: tarot is not a magical activity (lesson 1). As much as some readers pretend to wear a supernatural aura, tarot is a discipline with methods that require study and therefore is available to everybody. Some people, indeed, have an extraordinary ability to read the cards without having studied them formally or informally but that is a hyper developed intuition which for some reason, unknown as is the case in most intuitions, is triggered by a deck. It is a special gift, but not magic.

Curiously, those who having that gift use it unscrupulously begin to lose it. I would like to say that is a divine punishment for acting improperly, but the truth is more prosaic: intuition requires concentration. When the magician diverts his energies to the farce, intuition doesn’t have enough fuel. If they do this long enough they’ll lose contact with their gift as the brain adapt to new requirements, such as making money and pose as the reincarnation of Merlin.

Magic is a discipline like a sporting event, is the celebration of human capacities, the most extreme ones, the least used, but available to everybody since the main instrument is the body and everybody has one. And just like a tennis player can get a boost from hi-tech shoes, racket and even steroids if he wants to cheat, that will only give advantage over a similar opponent: if that opponent is an Olympic champion and the owner of the NASA racket is a weekend player then hi-tech is not a safe bet at all. So it doesn’t matter if you buy expensive oils by catalog, bring your candles from the Basilica of Lourdes and buy the robe wear by the hierophant of the Orphic mysteries three thousand years ago; if you don’t treat your body properly and prepare yourself for a major effort, which can lead you to exhaustion, I strongly advise you not to waste time or money in rituals.

To produce energy we need to be in the right physical condition. I don’t mean you have to join a gym (although in extreme cases it might be necessary) but watch your diet before and during the ritual.

There’s no special scheme, all religions have been concerned about the food. Personally I have always wondered, why the same God who gives us the recipes needed to reach a happy eternal life also created animals which he put out out reach afterwards in spite being delicious meat rich in protein? It would be a lame and mean joke. Behind alimentary approvals and taboos there are historical and public health considerations (rather than divine, which enhance them in my eyes, because they give meaning to the prohibition different from to see if we can resist temptation) and a fundamental message: "Eat healthy."

It is advisable to start preparing yourself a week before the ritual. No junk food, no alcohol and reduce the consumption of red meat without removing it completely form your diet (unless you are vegetarian), eating natural fruits and waive any drug unless it is included in a medical treatment: only if the pain prevents you from acting prefer these days tolerate a headache or use naturist substitutes instead of taking an aspirin. I'm not encouraging you to abandon modern medicine nor am I implying that there is something wrong with synthetic medicines, I’m simply saying the fewer foreign substances in your body the better. Now, psychotropic substances, synthetic or natural, must be banished these days unless there are medical or religious reasons and you are not using them as recreational substances. If you want to dodge this point invoking precedents like the Sibyl of Delphi and the priestesses of Kali be my guest but I kindly suggest you go to have these learned discussions elsewhere, with an opium pipe if you want to honor the shaolin deities, but you shouldn’t engage in a ritual.

During the twelve hours before the ritual do not eat refined sugar or refined flour; prefer whole wheat bread and honey. Do not smoke. Do not have sexual activity, including masturbation. A clarification is necessary here: this is not a moral prohibition and I am not implying that sex is bad in any way or that masturbation is sinful. Sex just release a major amount of physical energy you will need, so if you can refrain from sexual activity throughout the whole previous week, the better.

Your ritual begins with the bath the night before (or at dawn, unless otherwise specified) At that very moment your body, with all that it contains, becomes the instrument of your work. This bath is not a soap and water one; if you need a bath like that take it before. You will need some salts and herbs but sea salt suffice if you don’t have anything else. If possible use a tub where you can dip, if you do not have one do your preparations in a container that can be easily pulled over your head to pour the water.

If using a tub: as unpleasant as it seems, prefer cold water. Pour the sea salt into the tub and put the herbs and salts in thin cloth bags as an infusion (a bag for salts, another for herbs) and put them in hot water not boiling. When the vapors are released, pour the still hot water in the bathtub. If standing in the absence of a tub, you pour the contents of the container where you put the salts and herbs over yourself. While doing this think all the time about the objective you want to achieve with the work you’re starting.

Does the bath have some mystical power? Is the spirit of the sirens living in the sea salt? Well ... no. But is not less useful for that. The bath, the candles and oil and the whole preparations will notify your body, mind and brain that the next days there will be some minutes radically different from usual and they’re exempt from ordinary logic. It’s not enough that you believe it: you need to do things. In fact, it is easier to get results from the ritual by performing small acts with discipline even if you have doubts (there’s a difference between having doubts and being incredulous; if you’re are in the second type and are doing this to demonstrate it doesn’t work spare your time and money: it won’t, I’ll concede the point) than if you believe blindly but only do meditation, for as though your mind produce energy, and I use the term knowing it is inaccurate for lack of a better one, it needs the body to conduct it.
In the next post we will discuss general accessories, if the series keeps interest. Then we’ll discuss time of day or times of the month or year more appropriate. And then we’ll be ready for some examples of rituals

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