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Posts tagged ‘Practice’

  1. ordering-machine: meaning & mapping

    One of the reasons that I was drawn to studying occultism in the nineteenth century was its relationship to the colonial enterprise – something which first struck me when watching Adam Hart-Davies’ 2001 BBC series What the Victorians did for us was how much of the Victorian enterprise was bound up with the drive to order the world – be it through colonial management and its practices (census-taking, fingerprinting, anthropometry), mapping, and the emergence of new disciplines such as sexology, anthropology, and comparative religion. Ordering – and thereby managing these emerging ‘territories’ underwrote the great projects of the Victorian age, and I began to think of Victorian occultism as another example of this trend. Continue reading »

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  2. Theorising Practice II: Habitus/Hexis

    One of the consequences of the mind (theory)-body(practice) divide in contemporary approaches to magic (and more widely, spiritual development in general) is the notion that the spiritual/magical is set apart from the material/everyday world. There is a pervasive belief that materiality (and the concerns that relate to it) is a burden to be overcome; that development requires that the concerns of the body be transcended. This kind of discourse tends to privilege abstracted knowledge over bodied experience. Yet all practices (including those understood as inwardly turning, such as meditation or visualisation) involve our bodies. Continue reading »

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  3. Playful mind

    Meditation is often thought of in terms of stilling the internal dialogue, of calming the endless fluctuations or whirlings (vrittis) of cognition. Often, beginners in meditation find this difficult, and its easy to get into the routine of making meditation a seperate space from the rest of our lives; of practicing it at times when we won’t be disturbed by too many sense-distractions. It is difficult to still the endless flow of cognitions – to lengthen the gap between thoughts. Why not do the opposite? Let the mind play. Continue reading »

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  4. Deity Meditation: Lalita

    Meditating on the image of a deity is a very old practice (its generally thought that it emerged from early Buddhist practice around the 5th century BCE). Meditation is not really a seperate “technique” as its often presented to be in contemporary writings (more of which another time) but is an aspect of one’s overall sadhana – inseperable from the visualisation/recollection of any interiorised image or form. The root of the Sanskrit dhyana – often translated as “meditation” is dhi – “to see”. Indeed, the seperation of “meditation” from other forms of sadhana is a relatively recent one, and can be seen emerging at the turn of the twentieth century with the prioritising of internal mental practices over bodily-oriented practices and external ritual. Continue reading »

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  5. Scented bodies

    This morning, descending the pristine stairwells of the office, I’m hit by a blast of smells from the restaurant on the ground floor. Continue reading »

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  6. “That which gives Joy to the Heart”

    Many years ago, I was involved in a panel discussion on magic at the Oxford Thelemic Symposium. Someone asked each of the panelists to say why they did magic. My own answer was simple: “I enjoy it.” onwards…

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  7. Embodied knowledge – an opening shot

    Last Saturday, wandering into Treadwells whilst on one of my pre-xmas rounds I had an enlivening conversation with Ellie and Suzanne – mainly about what Suzanne’s recent (9th December) “Interview with a witch” evening was like. One theme that we batted around was that it’s fairly common for occult books to present information such as theories, correspondences, rituals, etc;, but still people appear to find it difficult to practice this information – to make it meaningful within their day-to-day lives. Continue reading »

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  8. Dialogue

    When I first met Vishvanath (the guy who I affectionately refer to as my “guru” – knowing full well he squirms when I do this), we started a conversation about tantra (and everything else) which went on for a year or so. A conversation shaped through walks through local woodland and parks, in and out of pubs and each other’s rooms, criss-crossing the city night and day. It was the beginning of friendship; a forging of affinities. Continue reading »

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  9. A meditation on Lalita

    The Saundaryalahari (“Flood of Beauty”) is a key Srividya text, sometimes attributed to Sankara. Composed of 100 verses, it is usually divided into two parts – verses 1-41 and verses 42-100. The first section, sometimes called the Anandalahari (“Wave of Joy”) is concerned with the facets of Lalita sadhana – her image in external worship, but also her Yantra and mantra-modalities The verses can also be read in such a way as to relate them to the subtle mapping of chakras, nadis, etc. The Anandalahari is sometimes seen as originating directly from Siva, or Lalita Herself. Continue reading »

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  10. Mantra bodies

    “Then, established in the body of the mantra, he should practice the supreme concentration. The supreme mantra body is manifested in the succession of letters.”
    The Purification of the Body, Gavin Flood, Tantra in Practice, p517

    As one might expect, occasionally in my practice I encounter things I don’t quite understand. I put them aside for later and, occasionally, understanding ‘bursts’ forth at a later point. I’ve been practicing various forms of Bhuta Suddhi for some years now, and from 2004 have been working from various versions of this practice, of which the main two are the chapter by Gavin Flood in Tantra in Practice; the second in The Lakshmi Tantra. But, until recently, I’ve failed to grasp the idea of the mantra-body. It wasn’t really until I read Loriliai Biernacki’s Rewnowned Goddess of Desire: Women, Sex, and Speech in Tantra (Oxford University Press, 2007) that understanding went from a trickle to a flood – the stream joining other streams, as it were. Continue reading »

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