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Personal Development as an Essential Pre-Requisite to Spiritual Development

by Andy Cooper

Introduction

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 process.

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" or "Mana"

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 spiritual development.

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 Body

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 Body

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.

Conclusions

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 Cooper

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.


Bibliographic references
"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: 0060922583

"Esoteric Orders & Their Work"
Dion Fortune, Aquarian Press, 1987.
Out of print, but some available second hand on the web.

"Initiation"
Elizabeth Haisch

"Introduction to NLP"
Seymour & O'Connor

"Inside A Magical Lodge"
John Michael Greer, Llewellyn, 1999, ISBN 1-56718-312-3



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