Personal Development as an Essential Pre-Requisite to Spiritual
by Andy Cooper
All magical work should start
with the magician preparing himself or herself. This is a much
discussed subject but little practical instruction is given on
exactly how to make this preparation or the real benefits that
can be gained physically, mentally and spiritually from such a
At this point let us make no
distinction between magical results and spiritual development.
Essentially they are one and the same, as no real magical work
can be manifested on the physical plane if the magician is not
himself or herself developed to the point at which magic can be
performed. By development we mean, ideally, physical, emotional,
mental and spiritual development. These four areas of development
correspond to the three minds/four bodies' model of the human
being which is found in nearly all esoteric systems.
Whilst physical development and
care of the physical body is self-evident, emotional, mental and
spiritual development is not so clear. By emotional development
we mean the clearing out of past "emotional baggage"
so that these past emotions no longer affect the way we operate
in the present or in the future. Mental development teaches us
how to ask questions, develop new ways of thinking and apply new
models to old ways of approaching problems. It also teaches us
development of skills such as visualisation and "clean"
precise language. Spiritual development is really aimed at developing
and deepening our connection with, and understanding of the "Creative
Force of the Universe", "God", "Goddess"
or whatever term we wish to apply to our concept of the Divine
Creator and as such includes (but is not limited to) handling
energy systems such as those used in Reiki, Huna, etc.
Spiritual Energy : "Sekhem"
Personal preparation and clearing
of negative emotions was an ongoing and vital part of a neophytes
training in Ancient Egypt. Much time was devoted to this and in
the higher initiations which priests and priestesses experienced,
if negative emotions and limiting beliefs were not cleared, at
best the initiation would not be achieved and at worst mental
and/or physical damage could be experienced by the initiatory
candidate. This is because magical work requires the nervous system
to be able to handle greater and greater amounts of spiritual
energy, "Mana" or "Sekhem" as the Ancient
Egyptians would have called it and this is a core function of
In order to handle more Mana,
the nervous system needs to be tuned to do this. Handling more
energy means raising the Kundalini energy (Sekhem as the Egyptians
called it) from the base of the spine, up through the chakras
to the crown. As the energy rises, it hits "blocks"
in the nervous system. These blocks are essentially negative emotions
and limiting beliefs that do not support us. This is why we all
have the experience of things "coming up" for us when
we start on magical training. It is also why Dion Fortune believed
that all students undertaking occult training should also undergo
a course of psychotherapy.
The Three Minds and Four Bodies
"The mind above controls
the body below"
As a Hawaiian Kahuna once said
"There is a rain barrel of water over your head, and you're
trying to fit it through the eye-dropper of your neurology. You
need to practice and expand your capability."
So, the ability to handle greater
levels of Mana or life force energy means that we are increasing
our power magically. Handling greater levels of Mana means the
ability to put more energy into our creations on the Astral plane
and hence more power to manifest physically what we first create
astrally. In ritual, the ability to channel greater levels of
energy means that more power can be brought through the ritual
and hence the ritual's objective is much more likely to be achieved.
Three Minds & Four Bodies
This concept is common to many
esoteric systems, including the Egyptian, Hawaiian and the Indian
systems to name but three. The model is shown above. In essence
it illustrates the human being as made up of four distinct "bodies"
which interleave and co-exist with each other. Modern authors
such as Michael Talbot have suggested that these bodies all co-exist
in a Holographic model.
For balanced personal and spiritual
development all of these bodies need to be worked on and developed.
Development of any of the bodies out of step with the others can
lead to serious imbalance and possibly mental illness or worse.
An ideal methodology would be development of the bodies in order
from the physical towards the spiritual.
Hence development of the physical
body would be followed by emotional maturity, the clearing out
of "old" negative emotions and complexes and the ability
to develop control over the emotions and have a high degree of
emotional flexibility. Alongside development of the emotional
body comes development of the mental body - developing flexible
ways of thinking, asking probing questions, and understanding
the importance of language as a way of expression and of creating
and holding mental concepts. Following this would come spiritual
development, a yearning to "know God" and an urge to
understand the true nature of reality.
In fact left to normal development
processes this is very much what happens. The physical body reaches
maturity in the teens, the emotional body starts to mature around
the early twenties, by the end of the twenties our mental body
has started to mature and into our late thirties and early forties
our spiritual body starts to mature. This model and timeline of
maturity is borne out by both Astrology and by common experience.
Many people reach a "mid-Life Crisis" around their early
forties, a classic example of their spiritual body starting to
"wake up" and mature. However it is the degree of maturity
that each of these bodies reaches which is usually left to chance.
The purpose of magical or occult training is to accelerate the
maturity of these bodies and to achieve this through conscious
control and use of exercises and techniques designed to accelerate
the natural process of evolution. This is what Dion Fortune means
by "Stepping out of the life wave."
All too often modern occult training
focuses on the development of the mental and spiritual bodies
whilst neglecting the development of the emotional body. In the
long run this can be a recipe for disaster and there are many
examples of magically mature people who are emotionally a mess.
Ultimately this lack of development of all the bodies can lead
to the person never reaching their full magical or spiritual potential
in a given incarnation.
Development of the Emotional
A very important requirement
of the Egyptian priesthood was purity. The symbol for the lowest
rank of priest in depicted in the picture; the water of purification
being poured from a vessel with a man behind it. It literally
translates to "Pure Man." In Ancient Egypt priests shaved
off all their body hair (because lice were a common problem) and
washed at least twice a day. Washing and ritual baths before great
temple rituals were an important pre-requisite to taking part
in a temple ritual. This is one example of physical purification.
But purification meant purification in all its aspects - physical,
emotional, mental and spiritual.
We have already mentioned the importance of personal preparation
in terms of emotional clearing, and both Dion Fortune and Israel
Regardie believed the psychotherapy was an essential component
of esoteric study. In addition it is frequently referred to in
both ancient texts and modern "channelled" or "past-life
recalled" writings that emotional clearing was an essential
pre-requisite to initiation into the Mysteries.
To return to this in more detail,
we have already mentioned why it is important to clear negative
emotions. In summary because:
Negative emotions block
the flow of spiritual energy and therefore limit our ability
to grow spiritually
Negative emotions block
our creativity and ability to think "out of the box"
Negative emotions block
communication between the conscious mind and the higher self,
which has to take place through the unconscious mind
Negative emotions and unsupportive
beliefs limit our ability to perform "magic" and
manifest our creations on the astral plane in physical reality
In the long term storing
negative emotions in the body can lead to illnesses such as
heart attacks, cancer and other life-threatening conditions
Traditional Western esoteric
techniques for dissolving negative emotions have focused on the
use of visualisation techniques, affirmations and rituals such
as writing down on paper events that trigger negative emotions
and then burning the paper. Whilst these have some utility, in
general they are not techniques which produce fast, effective
and permanent results. It is perhaps the most significant reason
why full development of magical potential in many students of
the occult has not been realised.
However in the last thirty years
psycho-therapeutic techniques have been specifically developed
to address these issues and enable fast, permanent and non-traumatic
clearing of negative emotions and unsupportive beliefs. Much of
this work has evolved under the general name of Neuro-Linguistic
Programming or NLP.
The Unconscious Mind is also
the body mind. It runs the body and is the storehouse of our memories
and of our emotions. It also is the route to communication with
the Higher Self. This is why it is essential to clear out negative
emotions and limiting beliefs from our unconscious mind - because
these negative emotions and unsupportive beliefs literally block
communication with our own higher selves. Hence the Ancient Egyptians
believed that there was a process of evolution that all neophyte
priests and priestesses needed to experience before they could
be fully initiated as a Priest or Priestess of Light. This process
is of the following form:
Clear out the body/mind (the
Unconscious Mind) of all negative emotions and limiting beliefs
- Balance the male/female energy
- So it can handle the higher vibration energies
The techniques employed to achieve this include breathing techniques,
energy healing systems (like Reiki) and visualisation exercises.
In some of the higher level initiations of the current Hermetic
Order of the Golden Dawn energy healing techniques are used to
manipulate the subtle bodies to enhance the initiation process
and accelerate personal change as a result of initiation. This
was certainly a practice employed in Ancient Egypt and by many
other ancient traditions too.
Development of the Mental Body
Visualisation exercises, learning
to ask questions and understanding the importance of language,
developing problem solving methodologies are all key aspects of
mental development. The ability to make "new connections"
between seemingly disparate pieces of information and to hold
apparent dichotomies in our mind and understand the true meaning
and elegance of that dichotomy are all aspects of mental development.
There are many systems that develop our mental capacities and
the gradual process of visualisation exercises focused on the
Tree of Life as employed in the SOL course is just one example.
Once again NLP contains a powerful set of tools and techniques
for mental development.
Development of the Spiritual
Once negative emotions and limiting
decisions have been cleared, then the way is open to handle greater
amounts of spiritual energy. One way to enable your neurology
to accept greater amounts of energy is through breathing exercises.
The secret of how to use the breath to increase the amounts of
elemental energy in the body (fire, water, earth and air) has
been one of the most closely guarded esoteric secrets.
Breathing exercises are taught
in all esoteric schools and in addition to increasing the amount
of energy in your nervous system, breathing together as a group
dramatically deepens rapport between the participants and enhances
the experience of ritual. Another essential component of developing
the neurology to handle greater levels of energy is through chanting.
Meditations, Pathworkings, energy
work and emotional clearing all contribute to development of the
spiritual body. Regular practice of techniques such as the "Higher
Self Connection" is essential to the development of and communication
with the spiritual body.
In Ancient Egypt the High Priest
would accept no candidate for initiation until he was satisfied
that the candidate had completed, to an acceptable level of development
the physical, emotional and mental bodies and was a long way towards
developing the spiritual body to accept the higher levels of life
force energy. In fact, premature initiation would do the candidate
a considerable disservice. During the training of the neophyte
if it was recognised by the Priests that a neophyte would never
be able to develop to the degree necessary to receive initiation,
then another role would be found for that person and initiation
would not be offered to them.
Opening up the neurology to greater
levels of spiritual energy when it was not yet ready for that,
would cause the energy to hit blocks in the candidate's nervous
system and "bring up" many emotional issues to be resolved
immediately - a healing crisis of enormous proportions. The impact
of such an influx of energy could cause mental instability and
possibly stroke or even deathiv.
Emotional and Mental Development
(what is often referred to today as "Personal Development")
are not "optional extras" along the route to spiritual
development. They are an absolutely essential pre-requisite and
the gateway to attaining increased magical powers and receiving
initiation into the Mysteries. It is to the detriment of the students
if magical schools do not offer an effective way of providing
development of all the bodies and indeed it is their obligation
to do so.
There are many effective therapies
and approaches to personal development and what suits one person
may not suit another. There is no "one size fits all"
approach. As a student of the magical arts if you realise that
a part of your own development is missing then take the time to
find an approach that works for you. NLP, Jungian psychotherapy,
Transaction Analysis, etc are all different approaches aimed at
achieving the same result.
The author happens to believe
that NLP is an approach that probably provides the fastest and
most complete methodology for development of both the emotional
and mental bodies without having to spend years in psychotherapy.
However "years in psychotherapy" works for some people
(and certainly for the therapists!). Whatever the approach taken,
the final proof is in the quality of our lives, our relationships,
our "spiritual connectedness" and our ability to manifest
our true desires in the physical plane.
Andy is a full-time trainer,
a certified Hawaiian Huna Teaching Assistant, a certified trainer
of Neuro-Linguistic Programming and a 2nd Degree Initiate of the
SOL. His commitment is to blend the modern and effective approaches
of emotional and mental development with traditional occult training
and practices to create a truly effective system of magical training
enabling students to have "undeniable experiences" of
magic working in their lives.
"The Training Work of the Initiate"
Dion Fortune, Aquarian Press, 1987.
Out of print, but some available second hand on the web.
"The Holographic Universe"
Michael Talbot, Perennial, Reprint edition (April 1992), ISBN:
"Esoteric Orders & Their Work"
Dion Fortune, Aquarian Press, 1987.
Out of print, but some available second hand on the web.
"Introduction to NLP"
Seymour & O'Connor
"Inside A Magical Lodge"
John Michael Greer, Llewellyn, 1999, ISBN 1-56718-312-3