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Becoming A New Hermeticist
In essence, the New Hermetics is a system for getting in touch with cosmic, universal consciousness, and eventually experiencing transcendental, ecstatic union with this consciousness. By this I mean a personal and transformational link with the source of consciousness, the creative intelligence that forms the universe. Throughout history, this has been called "union with God." However, the New Hermetics is not based on any particular theory about religion, or the nature of God or the universe. Rather it is based on the methods that humans have used since the beginning of time to establish a connection with their source. These methods form the process of exploring our internal worlds and ourselves until we eventually discover our center, the source of our consciousness itself.
Because of this, people from any background can enjoy the benefits of the New Hermetics in their lives. All that is required is an open mind and an open heart. These need not even be developed in full, because the methods of the New Hermetics will greatly assist you in opening both of these organs. It is not necessary for you to believe in God in any traditional sense or to disbelieve in God. It is not necessary for you to accept or reject any religious inclinations that you may or may not have. The New Hermetics will give you the opportunity to experience universal consciousness or God freely, in exactly the way that is appropriate for you.
The magical and mystical quest for enlightenment is an entirely personal and intimate journey. I cannot say for certain what your enlightenment will be like, any more than you can for me. The wonderful thing about the New Hermetics is that it is entirely based on process rather than dogma, so you will be free to experience your personal illumination in exactly the manner that is correct for you.
In order to become a New Hermeticist, you must adopt several new models of behavior. These will help you to actualize your powers in the fullest and most helpful and positive way possible. You are about to go into uncharted territory, and without these guideposts, it is easy to become lost in the morass of your own fears, illusions, and bad habits. We are all limited beings, and even our most profound insights are limited by our human imperfections. At our best, we are reflections of our ideals, but to mistake ourselves for these ideals is the first error of the mystic.
The basic guideposts of the New Hermeticist are simple: cultivate a natural cheerful skepticism, a sense of possibility, knowledge that truth is entirely subjective, an awareness and cultivation of the basic mystical states, and an endless pursuit of equilibrium.
The first requirement of the would-be New Hermeticist is a probing skepticism toward the whole project. By skepticism, I mean the behavior of questioning and thoroughly investigating all things before believing them. I do not mean approaching your investigation with a bias toward doubt, which can be ruinous. The true skeptic is neither credulous nor incredulous. Don't take my word for anything. Investigate every statement I make. You are the only arbiter of truth that has any validity in your universe.
Blind dogma must be rooted out of your mind completely. If you are a Baptist Christian, by all means you may continue to be one, but if you experience something outside of the limits of the letters of that faith, do not be too quick to dismiss it. If you are a scientific atheist, you may feel free to follow your inclinations, but don't be surprised if you must expand your horizons as your adventure takes you into wild new territory. Adhering rigidly to any limited concept of the universe will only serve to distort your own perceptions. Human beings, by their nature, seem to long for something to believe and there is real danger in that desire. Whether the belief is in some traditional form of Christianity, Judaism, or other faith or in a dogmatic, scientific materialism, the result is the same. Your outlook will be limited and restricted within that bubble.
And please don't confuse skepticism with laziness. As you begin to explore this system, you may ask yourself questions like, "What's the point of that?" or, "What's he trying to make me do that for?" or, "I don't think this is going to work at all." These questions do not necessarily constitute skepticism. They may merely be the tools of sloth trying to avoid any kind of true exploration. Eagerness, intentness, concentration, vigilance—these are the qualities required of a skeptic. Both the skeptic and the lazy fool may ask questions, but the skeptic begins to search for a real answer, while the fool uses the question to avoid doing anything.
When the light of illumination dawns and you experience your union with cosmic, universal consciousness, as a skeptic you will not accept this ecstatic vision as "truth" and begin to preach from the mountaintops. You will continue to question, continue to search, and that search will never end. My own search continues to this day and will continue forever.
Once you have grasped the importance of skepticism, you are confronted with a seeming paradox. In order to take advantage of the mental technology of the New Hermetics, you must explore territories that may seem, on the surface, unbelievable. You will become acquainted with an unfamiliar cosmology. You will explore seemingly imaginary things like internal energy centers, invisible life forces, gods, angels, and elemental beings. This cosmology may or may not have any scientific or physiological validity. This will give pause to your skeptical nature, and you will naturally insist upon an explanation.
The simple fact is that these inner-world phenomena have experiential validity. If you concentrate on your third eye, the space on your forehead between your eyes, within a very few minutes you will note a slight tingling sensation. You may close this book for a moment and experiment right now. Concentrate for a few minutes on this spot between your eyes.
If you really just closed your eyes and concentrated, you discovered some strange sensations coming from this area. The New Hermetics calls this an "energy center" only because that is the most convenient way to describe it, if you hope to get anything out of it. It could just as easily be called a fantasy, but that wouldn't really take us very far. However, you must also avoid falling into the trap of believing that this truly is an "energy center."
The only thing you must maintain is a fierce, ever-questioning desire for knowledge, and an endless sense of possibility. There may come a time when you will accept as fact the existence of energy centers, spirits, and invisible worlds beyond the physical. When performing the New Hermetics program, these phenomena are necessary for the process, because they lead us inward and give us places to hang our experiences. But there is really no reason to attach any philosophical importance to any of it. Self-actualization is the goal, not religious or philosophical conversion.
Truth is a subjective experience. Is there even such a thing as objective reality? Objective reality is by far the most improbable of all of humankind's abstract ideas. In order for anything to be objectively real, it must be able to be isolated from any context and still be itself. Comparison of any kind would then be impossible, because all methods of doing so would be removed in the process. Once you place anything into a context, it loses every drop of its objectivity, becoming simply another subjective quantity in the palette of your existence.
Take, for example, an apple. The first time you see an apple, you instantly notice a million things about it. To each of these observations you attach different degrees of importance. These simple observations place the apple completely outside the realm of objectivity. All of your further relations with that apple are in the context of those opinions. If the observations match past observations that please your aesthetic sense, you may eat the apple. If not, the apple may be avoided. Either way, the apple does not exist except within the context of your opinion. There is no way to objectively view it. The same may also be said of the qualities that are observed. The color, shape, texture, and smell of the apple only exist in the context of your experiences with those qualities. This can be extended forever.
The same also holds true for mathematics and the physical sciences. The number 2 is only meaningful in the context of 1 and 3. Without a context, 2 is simply a meaningless glyph formed with ink on a piece of paper. A star is only big and bright when compared to something that is smaller and more dull.
To say that any idea is more real or true than any other idea, while fair from the perspective of subjectivity, is a completely meaningless statement. Nothing in this universe is real, and nothing is unreal. There is no correct answer to any question, because both question and answer are subjective. "Is the sky blue?" This simple question has no clear answer. While it may appear blue to the eye, it is not blue at all. Its apparent blueness is the result of the relations between our atmosphere and blue light waves. The sky is anything but blue. From a poetical perspective, it is many colors, reflecting the mood of the ever-changing human spirit. After all, it is violet and orange when romance fills our souls, golden at the dawn, and black when our hearts are low. Moreover, all of this is subject to an infinite number of interpretations.
It is from this standpoint that you must approach the mysteries of the universe. You can never really hold onto any idea as being true. Instead, you must merely decide which ideas are useful at the moment for your purposes, and be ready to cast them aside as soon as they are no longer necessary.
Mystical states are experiences that are outside of normal reality. They are inwardly directed experiences that can be colorful, wonderful, and usually transformative. There are many different mystical states, corresponding to the depth of our state of consciousness. The deeper we travel within, the more profound our mystical experiences tend to be. There are, in fact, five or more distinct phases in the evolution of mystical phenomena. The first five levels of the New Hermetics systematically introduce you to these phases.
Phase 1: Internal Images—The Aethyr
The first stage of your internal mystic awareness is the pictures, sounds, and sensations that you experience when you close your eyes. These experiences have been called the astral plane, the astral light, or the ethereal plane. I have chosen to call this area of awareness the aethyr, which I think to be the most elegant of its names. The images in the aethyr are usually shadowy and meaningless, comprised of the dreams and memories that pop into your mind. These are often random images that intrude upon you, as well as images you call up when visualizing, daydreaming, or meditating. This phase is marked by the appearance of all sorts of astral creatures, which you may begin to see even with your eyes open. There are infinite shapes and beings that you can and will see. These shadowy forms are not particularly important in and of themselves. They will be easily observed with the techniques of astral travel and visualization that are explained in the Initiate level of training. In the Initiate level, you will learn to master these images and create them at will.
Phase 2: Sensual Images—The Emotional World
The second phase of mystical awareness is your emotional world. You will explore this phase in the Zealot level of New Hermetics training. In this phase, you become intimately aware of your internal experiences, your feelings, and your processes of emotion. This phase is often marked by astral or aethyric visions accompanied by strong emotional feelings, or mystical energy. As you explore your body's energy centers, you may unlock all kinds of emotional experiences. You may even experience visions of godlike beings or other archetypal figures that produce euphoric states. You can also experience formless emotional ecstasies and visions of beauty and harmony at this phase. The emotional exercises and the archetypal explorations in the second part of this book will introduce you to this phase.
Phase 3: Intellectual Symbols and Concepts—The Mental World
The third stage of the internal mystical process is the mental or intellectual world. It is the world of symbols and systems. You will explore this phase in the Practitioner level of New Hermetics training. This phase of mystical experience is marked by formless experiences that may be pure symbols or ideas. Although intellectual in nature, the states of consciousness in this stage are subtle enough that your rational mind may not really understand them. This is marked by an experience of knowing something important, but not really understanding how to express it or even how to think about it. The consciousness-expansion exercise and the belief-changing exercises answer to this mystical phase to some degree.
Phase 4: Awareness of Self as Self—The Causal World
In the fourth phase, you will begin to gain a sense of the entire universe as one thing that you fundamentally are on all levels. You will explore this phase in the Philosopher level of New Hermetics training. At this stage, you will begin to understand yourself to be intimately connected with and in a greater sense identical with everything. More simply, you begin to gain access to the collective unconscious and begin to realize your identity within it. The practices of Supercharging Your Intuition and Rising on the Planes, as well as Invoking the Gods awaken the states of consciousness associated with this phase.
Phase 5: Cosmic Awareness, Enlightenment, Illumination
This phase is pure consciousness. Your consciousness slips into the gap between your thoughts, "stopping the world." You move into a state in which all becomes one, without differentiation, and disappears beyond comprehension. This is the state of bliss known as samadhi to the yogis. In the West, it has been called "The Knowledge and Conversation of Your Holy Guardian Angel," "illumination," or "union with God." The practice Conscious Communication with Cosmic Consciousness is the main New Hermetics tool for this experience, but many of the tools in this book may result in this state if you are willing and able to experience it. You will explore this phase in the Adept level of New Hermetics training. My first book, 21st Century Mage, offers many alternative methods for experiencing this transcendental consciousness.
There are actually many further developments of the mystical phenomena, but they are in the realm of Mastery and are beyond the scope of this book. As a New Hermetics Master, you may find these further states of refined bliss and states beyond bliss if and when you are ready.
As you begin this inward path to illumination, the single most important instruction is to strive constantly to establish equilibrium in yourself. Before the Temple of King Solomon there stood two pillars, equal in size, to demonstrate this fact. These pillars represent the polarity of the universe. In other cultures, these have been represented as yin and yang, Shiva and Shakti, and many other words and ideas. You must remember that the sum of two equal and opposite forces is zero. All forces in the universe demand this balance of zero, and this is, of course, the basis for the Newtonian axiom that every action is followed by an equal and opposite reaction. When imbalance occurs, nature seeks to rectify the disparity with cold precision.
However, change, evolution, and progress can only occur in imbalance. Any action, at least temporarily, must destroy equilibrium. Therefore, you must balance every experience with its equal and opposite. It is only then that both progress and equilibrium can coexist. An unbalanced approach to anything will only end in the universe demanding its toll, and this most often results in catastrophe. I wish I had more fully understood this concept when I began my own work.
Traditional morality argues that some things are right, and others wrong. Moralists claim that some people are good, and others bad. These weighted terms are in fact ridiculous and in direct contradiction to nature. Morality has no real place at all in the life of the true mystic. Without the Satanist, the evangelist would be out of a job, having nothing to denounce. Without the evangelist, the Satanist would have nothing to rebel against, and would quickly tire of wearing so much black. Morality is entirely subjective. There is nothing that should be denied, disregarded, or shunned. All of your being must be explored. All of your being must be balanced to perfection.
The truth of illumination is beyond the capabilities of the rational mind to understand. Every rational statement contains a contradiction.
Discover the contradiction in every situation. Seek to balance every part of your being and personality, and spiritual light will then dawn inside of you. Equilibrium is key.
Excerpted from the new hermetics by Jason Augustus Newcomb. Copyright © 2004 Jason Augustus Newcomb. Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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List of Figures
List of Tables
Part I: The New Hermetics Program
Chapter 1: Becoming a New Hermeticist
Chapter 2: Ancient Models for the New Hermetics
Chapter 3: Modern Models for the New Hermetics
Part II: Using the New Hermetics
Chapter 5: The Initiate Level
Chapter 6: The Zealot Level
Chapter 7: The Practitioner Level
Chapter 8: The Philosopher Level
Chapter 9: The Adept Level
Chapter 10: Beyond Adepthood
Appendix 1: A Note to the Studious Qabalist on Errors Found in this
Appendix 2: Scientific Illuminism Omissions
Appendix 3: Movement and the New Hermetics
Appendix 4: New Hermetics Sex Magick
Appendix 5: The Bornless Ritual
Bibliography and Suggested Reading List