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Kissing the Limitless
Great Magic and the Great Work of Transforming Yourself and the World
By T. Thorn Coyle
Red Wheel/Weiser, LLCCopyright © 2009 T. Thorn Coyle
All rights reserved.
Beyond anger, beneath fear, past numbness and alienation, there rests within each of us the possibility to be more than we are now. Magic is available. Wholeness is just around the corner. The power of wholeness is the power to change the world.
Our walking through life as internally splintered human beings with compartmentalized lives has compromised human dignity, whole cultures, and the precious biosphere. Humans live in a crisis of our own making, and living in this way is not necessary.
These are times when all humans need to be the best beings we can. Every day, a new species goes on the endangered list. Every day, war is waged, or a child starves. None of this is inevitable; it has just grown to seem so because of epidemic states of disconnection and isolation. The time to reconnect is here.
We can become fully present in our lives: present to self, to others, to work, to joy, and to Deity. Our current condition of dissonance, disparity, and scattered self is not a condition that need persist. Simply because it is the common human experience does not mean it is the only one. Living a disharmonious existence is not our lot in life. But to shift that, we need to learn to choose something different.
Included in this book is a lot of work on becoming more self-aware, examining our unconscious, looking at thought and emotions, and getting our everyday lives in full working order. One may ask why a book on self-possession—coming into Godhood—contains so many "mundane" exercises.
I have done this for specific reasons. We can buy books or do practices that only focus on awakening or on enlightenment. While I advocate doing these practices and reading these books (and include practices from my own work to this end, later in the book), we must use caution and not only do these things. There are too many people who enter this work only partially prepared and walk around spiritual and magical communities with shattered auras or egos puffed up out of proportion to their beings or great "powers" they use to manipulate others. These are often the direct products of the type of work toward self-possession that does not include thorough self-examination, deepening of ethics and the shifting of priorities to bring all the parts of our lives into balance.
A significant shift often does happen within these people, but the complexes they had before awakening become stronger, more tenacious, and much harder to move. Blind spots remain blind spots but are exacerbated by the new power flowing through the person. Until we bring ourselves closer to what priest and teacher Ivo Domínguez, Jr. calls "health," we should be wary of taking on the Great Work. Better yet, we should realize that the Great Work includes body, emotion, mind, practice, our jobs, our families and relationships, and our studies and work in every facet of our lives. Nothing is excluded in the realms of magic and spirituality. Everything is necessary for the task at hand.
A phrase that comes to us via the alchemists of old, the Great Work is literally the turning of base metals into a product of gold. Alchemists do this in a physical laboratory, with alembics and flames. We can use our everyday surroundings as laboratories, forming something of lasting value from the variegated stuff of our lives. This lasting "something" is Gurdjieff's immortal soul and the alchemists' philosopher's stone, the act of becoming fully possessed of our own divinity: autonomous, creative, and living a full life unconstrained by mere convention.
Becoming fully who we are is the greatest work, and the greatest service, we can do for the world, the Gods, and all the realms seen and unseen. All of our other work must stem from this. This process of becoming wholly who we are and entering the state of full integration that I call the "I am" is sometimes brutal and sometimes meticulous work. Great excavations must happen within, while we simultaneously cultivate detailed attention.
Perceiving the Levels of Magic
... the Western ideal is not to escape from the body but to become involved more and more in life, in order to experience it more adequately, and in order to obtain a mastery over it. The ideal is to bring down godhead so that one's manhood being enriched may thereby be assumed into godhead.
—Israel Regardie (IN The Middle Pillar)
When we first begin our spiritual practice, particularly the practice of magic, we may fall into two tendencies. The first is a strong inclination to believe everything and to hope for instantaneous changes in our lives, or that we, by burning a piece of paper, can simply do away with whole swaths of personality. The second tendency is to psychologize everything, working only in the realms of archetype and metaphor. I want to challenge us to move beyond both of these, to deepen our practice, our relationship to Deity and magic, and to come into full possession of our own lives and authority.
If we move beyond basic spell work and the very real self-help qualities of magical psychology, we stand the chance of accessing the deeper work on self and the expansion into the work that touches that which lives beyond our skin. Spells and prayers become more real, a form of connected attention, and psychology becomes part of a larger whole.
There is self. And there is unity. Neither can be accessed without the other, not on this plane and within this lifetime. Our whole lives are brought to bear in the magic of the Great Work. Whether we see that as using physical or metaphysical alchemy, whether we are working on energetic levels or on gross material, every aspect of our lives is brought to bear in the work at hand.
In this way, magic changes to a path of integration. As integration slowly occurs, the levels of perception about the self and all the realms seen and unseen will naturally change. We become aware of forces and Gods beyond the archetypes, and of the true power that arises from the development of engaged will rather than the simple good feelings that come from more facile, wishful-filling spells. Our wishes become deeper and broader, and our magic opens into spaces we could only imagine before.
The keys to this are found in self-knowledge, soul alignment, and cleansing. Deep self-knowledge always leads to relationship outside of ourselves. Through this work, we begin to sense our place in the world, our purpose, and the reality that the fabric of all holds us, just as we are part of the fabric of all.
Look at the path that has led you to this place. What is your wish for your life? Examine your current work. What do you notice about yourself right now? Think five years back. Look at the questions above in the light of your life as it was then. What were your perceptions during that time, and how have they changed?
Do you want further self-knowledge and mastery? Are you willing to attempt the work of integration and autonomy? Do you long for full integration?
The knowing of one's self in totality and honesty brings us face to face with the infinite potential within.
—Frater Omen (in "Om Mani Padme Hum: The Buddha and the Holy Guardian Angel" by Hermeticus Nath [Denny Sargent])
When we see a person who seems collected, confident, and stable, we may say that he or she is "self-possessed." That meaning reflects some internal mastery cultivated by the individual. This mastery is a large part of what I mean by self-possessed. I am speaking of an individual who has done the work to know himself, and who has faced himself unflinchingly and learned to love what he sees. This person has integrated many of her parts, and remains essentially the same in any situation or in the midst of any emotion. By self-possession I mean all of this and something more as well.
In various magical and shamanic traditions, people become "possessed" by Gods or Goddesses. Even in Charismatic Christianity there is the concept of being "filled with the Holy Spirit," which is another form of divine possession. What these traditions do not stress is that seekers can become both possessed by and possessor of their own divinities, their own full selfhood. In fact, without this self-possession, possession by any other force can be dangerous to mental and physical health at worst, and at least, can sometimes derail a person's quest for spiritual wholeness. Feri Tradition Grandmaster Victor Anderson insisted that we not do possessory work without having clear contact with our own God Soul first.
When given prime of place, the quest for spiritual wholeness leads to self-possession, to full human health and integration, coupled with one's own divine potential. Without self-possession, there is no chance for full and balanced enlightenment to occur. As I have mentioned, flashes of enlightenment or moments of grace may happen, but there is no foundation for them to rest upon, leaving people hungry for things beyond their ken. This is the cause of transcendent thinking: "Things will be better after I lose weight or find a new job or get the right partner or go to heaven." In these scenarios, something always gets left behind. That something is often the seeker herself. With self-possession, seekers open themselves to inclusive consciousness, a new concept that argues for the embracing of all parts of human existence into the fold of the spiritual quest. When all of life is included, all of life can aid the Great Work of coming to know our own divinity and our life's purpose.
There is nothing that lies outside of this quest. Our magic includes our whole lives and, in time, will come to include the life of everything in the universe, everything held in the fabric of God Herself, the limitless divine.
Remember my definition of magic: the marriage of breath, will, and desire. By exploring these components and applying them to the self, we arrive at a place internally—and in relationship with the world—where the processes of integration will unfold. At that point, the universe steps forward to greet us.
Opening to inclusive consciousness enables us to grow to have fully integrated, magical lives and to have consistent conversation with our own divine natures. This conversation will in turn help us to reach toward spiritual Adepthood and the even larger inclusiveness of this reality, that immanence and transcendence are one. The microcosm is the macrocosm. Further work can, in the few who are called on, open a permanent channel to the non-dual, the great All, enabling the magic worker to become the Lover, the bodhisattva, she or he who brings extension back into form, sowing love. But the latter is the subject of yet another book, which perhaps I will write someday.
Self-possession is my hope for all people. I believe that individuals can become more than they are now and that some of us possess a strong enough wish, with enough openness and dedication to see this process through. If you are reading this book, you are likely one of those people.
To do this work with the fullness of our beings, we must be simultaneously voracious and calm, and also filled with enthusiasm, the inspiration of the Gods, for this work is the unfolding of the great mysteries. The mysteries are only hidden to us because we lack practical, applied knowledge. Engaging the work held in all deep spiritual traditions—whether Western Occultism, Witchcraft, Taosim, Sufism, New Thought, or any esoteric expression—will give us a way to touch the mysteries and come closer to understanding.
So much is possible we can scarcely comprehend it. But when we close our eyes, take a deep breath, and reach with our whole being, we catch a glimpse, a glimmer, a sense of hope. And then we move through the layers of darkness and light that are ourselves, in order to better touch the All.
God Herself is the building blocks of all creation and the movement of all destruction. We are pieces of these processes, and reflections of workings more vast. If we can first come to know ourselves and then connect out, we will better serve the processes of All. We will come to help all beings, animate and inanimate, visible and obscured.
It is easy to say that the seeker must just stumble upon this stage in the midst of her work. Why? Because self-possession cannot be planned. It isn't something a spiritual aspirant can schedule, unlike some other initiatory rites; rather, all the preparation he has done makes the aspirant ripe for the experience. He has laid the ground with meditation. She has primed the cosmic pump by aligning her soul. Zen teacher Baker Roshi once said, "Enlightenment is an accident, but [spiritual] practice makes us accident prone." The same statement can be made for self-possession. No one can tell us how to do it; even Abramelin the Mage couldn't tell us how to say the necessary prayers. We have to figure it out for ourselves. All that can be offered are maps. I offer what was helpful to me, cobbled together from the maps of others and that which I wrote myself along my stumbling way. There are also signposts and insights that have come from the work that followed integration.
I hope these are of help to those still seeking or those who wish to confirm the strength and stability of their own work.
So, while there is no guaranteed outcome, the map provided by this book can strengthen you, open you, and generally prepare you to receive the grace of your own Godhood.
Everything opens to he who is open. Nothing is closed to she who dares.
To know yourself is to know your Lord.
Feri Tradition artist Anaar says simply that our goal is becoming self-possessed, not initiated, not holding power over other people, not commanding forces outside of ourselves. Our goal is to possess ourselves fully in every moment.
Self-possession is the quality of being fully in touch with all of our parts and aware of the relationship those parts have to our own divinity, known as our God Soul, or our Sacred Dove. Since the God Soul is connected to all things, establishing a constant link to it places us in concert with the All-encompassing. Self-possessed, we open fully to an awareness of ourselves as a point of matter, anchoring the endless flow of spirit and energy. In this stage we not only have knowledge of our divine nature, we have active conversation with it.
This can feel as if we are open to a being outside of ourselves who is a helper or guide, which is both true and untrue. The nature of our God Soul is that of being linked to the macrocosm, having access to all space and time, in the present moment. This is beyond the awareness of my body and personality parts, which are settled into time and space as discrete units rather than in constant flow. Because this feels beyond the scope of understanding of the rest of my human parts—my instincts, my physical form, my thoughts and opinions, my personality—it can seem that this divine and fully connected nature must be solely distinct from me. Actually, once joined with us, it makes us more fully ourselves. All the things called "I" before are shown to be simply component parts of this vital, shining whole of grace and light, matter, form, and formlessness.
In some metaphysical and occult circles, what I call self-possession is known as "Knowledge and Conversation with our Holy Guardian Angel," and because of the macrocosmic quality of this part of our soul, the Angel is also sometimes talked about as an outside entity. However, Victor Anderson used to quip, "'Thou shalt have no other Gods before me,' means you!" He related this to the Sacred Dove, our God Soul, and he was talking obliquely about the state of self-possession and the processes of alignment that lead up to it. Still others call this "finding the Authentic Self," and recognize the importance of its function on the road to enlightenment.
What is the upshot of this? What are we making, with this choice, this practice, and this spiritual life? A full self—not just our disparate personalities or drives, or our physical needs, but all of those, along with the part of us that touches something even larger and includes everything.
Self-possession is integration; we step into our Godhood. With self-possession, we can leave personality behind for something greater, and meet the challenger at the threshold of space and time, entering a place of unity. And from a stage of self-possession, it becomes possible to return back into personality and maintain that constant connection with the All. In this way, self-possession is the necessary precursor to a stage, rather than simply a state, of enlightenment and effective magic.
Excerpted from Kissing the Limitless by T. Thorn Coyle. Copyright © 2009 T. Thorn Coyle. 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
Part 1: Breath—The Star Goddess
Chapter One: Discovering Possibility
Chapter Two: Tapping into Life Power
Chapter Three: Awakening the Vital Breath
Chapter Four: Accessing the Stable Planes
Part 2: Will—The Divine Twins
Chapter Five: Tapping the Unconscious
Chapter Six: Honing the Will
Chapter Seven: Living in Greater Strength
Chapter Eight: Unlocking Emotion and Intellect
Part 3: Desire—The Peacock Angel
Chapter Nine: Reaching Balance
Chapter Ten: Desiring Beauty
Chapter Eleven: Drawing Up Life
Chapter Twelve: Kissing the Limitless
Appendix A: Doing the Work
Appendix B: The Triple Soul
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
ANother fine book by T. Thorne Coyle. Unlike her Evolutionary Witchcraft, this book is not a self initiatation book, it is also not a spell book, or a Wiccan 101, or soft fluffy New Agey book. This is a guide to the Great Work, the work of transformations of connecting yourself back to the divine and manisfesting in your life. Kissing the limitless is a series of spiritual, magicakal practices, that help build the foundation that leads to the transformation of the individual. Ms., COyle, leads the reader through mediations, purifications, self-examination and walking into the inner realm, meeting, and owning their personal demons and shadows. While the flacor is laced with Ms. Coyles personal training as a Feri initiate it offers tools that could easily be adapted to any spiritual seeker wanting to bring themselves in alignment with the Divine.
Building upon the work of Evolutionary Witchcraft, Kissing the Limitless is a challenging and inspiring guide for the spiritual seeker who wishes to further their work of self-knowledge and deepen their spiritual practice. Coyle writes with great clarity of prose, which is very helpful when she delves into theology and mystical concepts that are difficult to fathom for some of us. Her voice is authoritative, and challenges the reader to engage with the text and their own lives.
You can read through this fairly quickly to get a sense of her approach and the wealth of experience and information she brings to bear in her work. But this is only the beginning. My experience with Coyle's writing is that as I work through each section, each exercise, every re-reading reveals a new facet of truth in her words. This is a book that will grow with you, from a spiritual practitioner who has offered a hand to help us rise.
Thorn Coyle writes books which are generally lacking for magical practitioners, covering ideas and a tradition (originally Feri) often glossed over in what's currently on the shelf. Kissing the Limitless is a text meant for any person involved in magic(k) who wants to take their practice to a new level and truly "advance." And that advancing can be for anyone at any level of practice who is willing to make the time and effort to work through her exercises and take responsibility for what occurs.The text is divided into three sections: The Star Goddess, The Divine Twins, and The Peacock Angel, spirits/deities from Feri. While each section is ostensibly meant for newer, intermediate, and advanced practitioners, the material in each is meant to build on the other and will serve anyone at any level very well. It's heartening to have a Pagan/magical book which at no time talks "down" to the reader or repeats the same trope which can be found in a thousand other titles (or Geocities web sites). Coyle presumes that her reader already has some grounding in these ideas so she is not hampered by having to hash out yet another 101. The author also does a good job bringing in philosophical ideas and applying them to magical practice, which takes one's work to a level where it becomes interwoven with the practitioner's life. This should hopefully be the goal of anyone who practices magic in some form: making their life a seamless whole, and something which can better the world around them.Kudos to Thorn for writing such an excellent book.
Life changing book !!!