Many different systems and traditions of magic, divination, spirituality, and esoteric religion exist, but at their core, they share the need for practitioners to safely and successfully experience the reality that lies beyond the physical senses.
Keys to Perception: A Practical Guide to Psychic Development is a collection of proven and tested methods, rituals, and systems that will help you deepen and clarify your capacity to sense and understand the rich worlds beyond the veils of the ordinary. The material in this book derives from decades of work by the author and his students.
Dominguez offers the reader practical techniques for increasing psychic aptitude and ability. Methods featured include chanting and working with crystals, chakras, oils, herbs, and potions, as well as a variation on the Middle-Pillar Ritual.
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About the Author
Ivo Domínguez, Jr. has been active in the Wiccan and the pagan community since 1978 and has been teaching since 1982. He was a founding member, and past High Priest, of Keepers of the Holly Chalice, the first coven of the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel a Wiccan Tradition. Ivo is also one of the organizers for the New Alexandrian Library. You can find him at www.ivodominguezjr.com.
Read an Excerpt
Opening the Inner Senses
Clearing and Brightening the Mind
How well and how crisply you perceive the world can vary dramatically. Most often, you notice this variation only when you are at one of the highs or lows of perceptual acuity. Sometimes the colors of a flower that you have seen before become especially vivid and nuanced. Other times, when you are listening to a favorite piece of music, you can distinguish the role of every instrument and hear the slightest tremble of emotion in a voice. There are also times when, although the external reality is almost the same, your perception seems wrapped in fog and cotton. In part, this is a result of your emotional state of being, but that is not the only or even the primary determinant.
The clarity and strength of your perceptions are strongly regulated by the amount of attention, or the proportion of your mind's power that is allocated to your attention. This allocation of mental resources is often unconscious, but it can be done with conscious effort as well. When you focus in on a single voice in a crowded room or look closely enough at an apple to see the specks and streaks of color on its skin, your attention shifts the balance of your mental resources and thus your strength of perception. This variability in sensory and perceptual sharpness also applies to your inner senses, although this is not as apparent. Since the inner senses are decoded and interpreted through your physical senses, efforts to focus more of your mental processes on sharpening the physical senses also refine the inner senses. Perception occurs in the mind, and by clearing and brightening the mind, we open more fully to our inner senses. What follows is a sampling of methods that reliably help prepare you for making better use of your inner senses.
The suggestion that you make meditation a part of your regular practice is very popular in most magickal and spiritual teachings and traditions. In part, the reason is that meditation supports self-knowledge and encourages spiritual development. Meditation also helps clear and brighten the mind so that you become more aware of your inner senses. In the context of opening the inner senses, my working definition for meditation is the art of changing waking consciousness into a higher active state of being with the goal of expanding our capacity to remain in that state. Although it can start with relaxation or produce relaxation as one of the results, that is not the goal of meditation. Meditation is not intended to be sedation; it is how you exercise and condition the Self.
I have encountered many people who say that they've tried to meditate and that they just can't do it. Their most common complaint is that they can't quiet their mind. Have you ever seen a person in the middle of a bout of hard crying or had one yourself? It is neither easy nor useful to try to stop the crying until it runs its course. For many people, when they try to make meditation a part of their practice, every stray thought and feeling that they have held back pours forth. This is not a sign of failure in meditation; it means that the meditation is working and is a part of the cleansing and purification that come with the work. Others find fault with their attempts because they can't meditate very long or deeply. Meditation is a form of exercise; as such, it is reasonable to have the expectation that your beginning efforts will be short and of low intensity and that over time you will become more capable of duration and depth.
If you have a hard time sitting still, then try to meditate while standing or walking; alternatively, look into forms of moving meditation such as tai chi, qigong, kinhin, or labyrinth walking.
If you are worried about falling asleep, don't worry; it happens to everyone sooner or later.
If you are always falling asleep during meditation while seated, try placing your fist against your chin so as to prop up your head for just a moment. Then move your fist away and keep your forearm perpendicular to the table or chair arm. Should you begin to get drowsy, your arm will drop and rouse you. You can do roughly the same thing while lying down, so long as your elbow is supported.
There are many types of meditation, and I encourage you to seek out books, groups, and online instructions. Two of the major branches of meditation are open and focused meditation:
Open meditation often starts with attention on your breathing, then with a focus on your thoughts and feelings, without judgment, with the goal of being without doing in order to clear away the chatter we normally call thoughts. The aspiration is to become like a transparent, still ball of awareness that senses the whole universe.
Focused meditation starts in a similar way, but focuses on an idea, a phrase, a symbol to more deeply understand it, or a single external focus such as a candle flame or a simple drum beat.
The intention of the repetition or fixation is not to zone out. It is not the same as a trance, which is a more passive state in which you prepare yourself for receptivity. Also, do not confuse pathworkings or visualizations with meditation. These tend to be tools for teaching, healing, and so on, and the focus is on their content and a process with a specific purpose rather than the refinement of the mind as a primary goal.
Whether it is physical or psychic exertion, warming up to prepare yourself for the effort is a good idea. Often people skip over this step due to impatience, a feeling of being rushed, or the urgency of a situation. My answer to that reluctance is that there are swift and simple ways to prepare for inner work that can be learned and executed quickly. The two methods I share here can be used individually or together. In both cases, a physical action is performed. Some warm-ups use only visualization, but the more levels and parts of the Self you involve, the more the inner senses will be integrated into your awareness.
The intoning of IAO (Eeee-Ahhh-Ohhh) is used for a wide range of magickal and spiritual purposes. Intoning IAO is an effective and simple technique to awaken your psychism, your inner senses. Before we see how to use it in opening the inner senses, let's look into its meaning and history. IAO has been said to mean numerous things depending on which practitioner is asked.
Esoteric Christians would tell you that IAO is one of the ways that the early Gnostic Christians intoned the name of God.
IAO is also associated with the gods Hermes and Iac-chus, and is also the name of a Phoenician god of light.
In various streams of Ceremonial Magick, IAO is understood as a formula or an acronym, as, for instance, for the names Isis, Apophis, and Osiris, and thus represents creation, destruction, and restoration.
IAO may be understood to be I as the God, A as the Divine Child, and O as the Goddess.
I have also heard it described as representing the three pillars of the Tree of Life with I being force, A being synthesis, and O being form.
It may be all these things and more, but I think that these are associations and descriptions to connect the IAO to a specific system, rather than being inherent properties of IAO in themselves. My perspective is that it is from the vowel sounds themselves that the power arises. To be able to intone IAO (Eeee-Ahhh-Ohhh), the mouth, the tongue, and breath move through the three positions from which all other vowel sounds arise. When someone intones the IAO, the focus of the physical sensation of vibration moves from the head to the throat to the chest. I believe that what is being activated is deeply rooted in both our neurology and subtle bodies. In the same way that intoning AUM moves energy and modifies consciousness, so does intoning IAO, but with a different assortment of changes in energy and consciousness.
Before doing exercises, rituals, divination, or any activity that uses the inner senses, take three deep breaths to prepare yourself, and then intone IAO three to five times. When you breathe to prepare yourself, and during the toning, breathe from the belly. Many people tend to breathe from the chest, perhaps from habit or because of a concern that their belly will look bigger if they breathe from their diaphragm. Belly breathing is better for this technique as well as many others. The duration of each vowel sound should be one full breath. Aim for a clear, resonant tone that is loud enough so that you can feel it in your body. When possible, do this while standing, and if that is not possible, then lift your chin slightly as you tone.
It is important that you follow the pattern of IAO. In other words, sound out Eeee, then Ahhh, then Ohhh and count that as one repetition. I have observed people sound out the Eeee several times and then move on to repeating the Ahhh several times, but this technique does not have as strong an effect. Focus on how the energy descends from the top of your head and fills your body. Pay attention to the sound, your breath, and your sensations to maximize the impact of the IAO toning. When you are done toning, take three deep breaths and proceed with your work.
The mind is the king of the senses, and the breath is the king of the mind.
— Hatha Yoga Pradipika
Four-Fold Breathing, also known as Square Breathing or Samavritti, as is presented here, is a simplified version from Pranayama Yoga. Breathing is both an involuntary and a voluntary process, and as such is both a threshold and a bridge between different levels of consciousness. When you focus on breathing, you are also focusing on your body, the flow of life energy, your awareness, and more. Four-Fold Breathing recognizes breath as having four phases: inhaling, lungs full, exhaling, and lungs empty. The goal is to make each of these four phases of breathing of equal duration.
When you engage in Four-Fold Breathing, the various rhythms in the body such as the heartbeat, breath, and the pulse of cerebrospinal fluid fall into alignment with the movement of energy in your aura. The result is a greater sense of calm and a greater sense of alertness. If symbolic connections make it easier for you to invest yourself in the process, then think of Four-Fold Breathing as representing natural cycles such as sunrise, noon, sunset, and midnight. Other possible correlations include cycles of the moon — first quarter, full, last quarter, and dark — or any other four-station patterns.
To engage in Four-Fold Breathing, you count to keep time for each of the four phases. Try a count of four or five in your first efforts. Depending on your lung capacity and how fast you count, you will need to adjust the number higher or lower. When your lungs are empty or full, you hold your breath for the same length of time as the inhalation and the exhalation. Ideally, continue with your counted breathing for one or two minutes before proceeding with the work at hand. If you are short on time, complete at least four cycles of Four-Fold Breathing. When you hold your breath, hold it with your belly, not your throat. Once again, for magickal and spiritual purposes, please use your diaphragm to manage your breathing. When you hold your breath in Four-Fold Breathing, your throat should feel relaxed. Be gentle and careful with yourself if you have asthma, high blood pressure, are late in pregnancy, or have any other condition that may have an impact on your breathing and blood pressure. In general, if there are difficulties, they arise during the lungs full or empty phases as a result of holding them by clenching the throat or compressing the lungs. The empty and the full lungs should be held by the position of the diaphragm, and the air passages left open.
Focus, Concentration, and Flow Exercises
Let's begin with a straightforward focus and concentration exercise before adding flow of awareness to the work. Ideally, this exercise should be done as a daily practice, but at the very least, it should be done every other day. Place two small bowls in front of you, with one empty and the other filled with small pebbles, beans, or something similar. The bowls should be easy to reach so that you can pick up the pebbles. Select a target thought that you will hold during this task. The target thought can be an internally generated image such as a triangle, a circle and dot, and so on. It can also be an external image such as a candle flame, the point of a crystal, or some other simple object. Regardless of whether this target thought is visualized or observed, it should be relatively plain to minimize the potential for distraction. Set a timer (an egg timer or your phone, for example) for five minutes. Take a breath and clear your mind; then focus on only the target thought. Every time that your thoughts stray, take a pebble and place it in the empty bowl. When the timer goes off, count the number of times your thoughts wandered.
For the first week, keep the timer at five minutes. At the beginning of the second week, increase it to seven minutes. As the number of pebbles drops with more practice, consider lengthening the duration of the exercise. Try not to get preoccupied with the number of pebbles after each session. Look for the trend of improvement and be aware that some days you will do better than others.
Studies conducted at world-renowned museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Louvre have shown that the average length of time visitors spend gazing at each piece is somewhere in the range of fifteen to seventeen seconds. As a response to this, there is a slow art movement that encourages people to spend longer periods of time with individual pieces of art, rather than flitting from piece to piece. Having experienced this slow approach, I have discovered that it is very helpful in developing focus, concentration, and flow in awareness, which heightens the inner senses.
This exercise involves looking at one piece of art for fifteen minutes. It would be lovely if you would do this at a museum, but you can do it at home with a print as well. The first time you do this exercise, use a piece that you have not already studied at length. If you choose to use an image found online, please print it out because the distractions provided by the objects and associations near your screen are not compatible with the exercise. Place the print against a blank wall or table so that it is the primary visual stimulation in your field of sight. Make sure that your phone's ringer is turned off and other sources of interruption are minimized. Arrange yourself in a position so that you will be comfortable for at least fifteen minutes. Set a timer for fifteen minutes, but place it so that you will not be able to glance at it and thus disrupt the exercise. If your physical sight is significantly impaired, you can adapt this exercise, using an intricate piece of fiber art, a quilt, embroidery, or a deeply textured oriental rug, for example. A complicated piece of music that you can repeat and pause will also work well.
Now start contemplating the art, by identifying the features that draw the focus of your eyes. Then look at the features again and focus on each one until you can distinguish each detail of line, color, texture, tonality, and so on in sharp detail. Begin again and spend time concentrating on each feature, trying to understand what is being communicated, what it signifies, how and why the artist chose to express in this specific way, and so on. Then start again with focusing on the features; you may also discover ones that had gone unnoticed. This pattern of focusing and concentrating will probably take longer each time it is repeated. After you believe that you have extracted all you can by focusing and concentrating, let your eyes move over the art and find the motion, the rhythm, the currents of interest that conduct your gaze. You can start with the order that you first noticed when you picked out the important features, and then allow yourself to follow little eddies and swirls of interest. Let your gaze and attention follow the movement and circulation in the art at different speeds because some things become apparent only when viewed at the right speed. Make note of any patterns or repetitions of elements that you see. After a time, stop and look at the piece in its entirety with a soft, unfocused gaze and see what insights and reactions arise within you. Repeat your flow observations and soft gaze contemplation until the timer goes off or you reach the limit of endurance, whichever comes first. Ideally, you should then write down an account of your impressions.
Excerpted from "Keys to Perception"
Copyright © 2017 Ivo Dominguez Jr..
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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Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Opening the Inner Senses 1
Chapter 2 The Engine of Memory: Opening the Far Memory 31
Chapter 3 The Three Selves 41
Chapter 4 Divination, Prophecy, and Oracular Vision 55
Chapter 5 Managing Psychic Sensitivity 63
Chapter 6 The Eternal Now Exercise 85
Chapter 7 The Bridge of Fire and Water: A Ritual for Speaking for Spirits 95
Chapter 8 A Variation on the Middle Pillar Ritual 105
Chapter 9 Three Methods for Collective Visioning 117
Chapter 10 Working with Minerals 129
Chapter 11 The Cord Ward 157
Chapter 12 Strengthening the Spiritual Immune System 165
Chapter 13 Skrying Methods 177
Chapter 14 Herbs, Oils, and Potions for Psychic Work 191
Chapter 15 Chakra Journeys: Pathworkings for the Chakras 205
Chapter 16 Closing Thoughts 233
Recommended Reading 237