Page 3 – The Unconscious Mind
This idea that we have an unconscious aspect to the self and that it is intelligent AND able to act before conscious awareness (I.e. independent of ego/conscious awareness) has significant implications to our magical and spiritual practices.
We’ll discuss those later, but first I should cover some of the core principles the idea of an unconscious mind brings to the practice of magic and spiritual work.
The principles we need to concern ourselves with in this discussion are:
- The unconscious mind is the astral plane or sidereal universe.
- The unconscious mind is peopled with intelligences that the magician can interact with.
- The language that the unconscious mind speaks is the language of symbols.
- The unconscious mind tends to focus itself around 3 specific functions.
- The unconscious mind provides the place for the self image to reside.
The unconscious mind is the astral plane
The earliest use of the term astral that I’ve been able to trace is to the writing of Paracelsus. He used the term to describe the stars (astral means of the stars), but also used the term to describe the inner world of humans. He used it specifically to mean forces or intelligences which exist in man as a reflection of the greater world.
“What is Mars but the principle of Iron, which is found universally distributed in Nature and in the constitution of man? What is Venus but the power which excites the Vasa Spermatica in men and in animals? What is Melissa but a power which exists in the astral light and finds its material expression in the herb Melissa, which grows in our gardens? What are the animals but the personifications of those characters which they represent? Everything is an expression of the principle of life in a material form, and the life is the real thing; the external form is merely the house or Corpus in which it resides.”
Paracelsus And The Substance of His Teaching, Franz Hartman
Another way folks like to say this is “as above, so below.”
The unconscious mind is peopled with intelligences that the magician can interact with
I usually lose people here. So, heads up.
Remember earlier when I said that the only thing we can interact with is what is in our mind?
Same goes for the so called spirits. The only place you can interact with them is in your mind. I therefore like to say that the unconscious mind is filled with intelligences that people can interact with.
This actually is less crazy than it seems. The whole basis of psychodynamic theory is that the various parts of the psyche have some sort of independence and interact with all the other parts. These parts are also referred to as ego states and the process of working with them psychologically is called ego-state therapy.
The psychologist Carl Jung noticed through dream interpretation and analysis, various symbols seemed to crop up again and again. Wise Women, Healers, Orphans, whatever. He called these symbols which had myriad expressions but an unchangeable core Archetypes.
Most other folks call them gods, angels and spirits. Same difference to me. The meeting place of these are ego states…i.e the unconscious mind.
the language that the unconscious mind speaks is the language of symbols
So if you’re a disembodied idea living in a non-physical world, how do you think you would communicate?
Depending on the interface being used there could be many, many ways.
Well, what if a human mind is the interface, how would you communicate?
If it were me, I’d look into the contents of said human mind and start rearranging or bringing awareness to certain thought patterns or idea’s that were similar to what I was trying to communicate.
So for instance if I wanted to say “I’m safe and trustworthy and care deeply about your wellbeing.” I might make the human mind have a thought about “Mother.”
That symbol of a mother would definitely convey those ideas, of course it will also convey other meanings based on your personal experience of “mother.”
In fact, everywhere you see a “mother” concept you’re going to be stimulating a whole network of concepts personal, societal and archetypal related to mother. It doesn’t matter if the concept was presented in meditation, an advertisement or a conversation.
It also doesn’t matter if you’re conscious of the activation or not. The whole network will be activated. This can create serious problems for communicating through symbolism. But, more on that later.
the unconscious mind tends to focus itself around 3 specific functions
Everything that exists, exists to perform some specific function. That’s just how life is I suppose. Bees have a function in an ecosystem. So do otters and ants.
In the human psyche all the various parts perform specific functions. When taken as a whole (seeing as it can be broken up into parts), the unconscious mind performs 3 basic functions:
I’m just gonna put that out there and leave it for now.
Suffice it to say that, generally speaking, almost all of our problems in life go back to HOW the unconscious is going about fulfilling these 3 functions.
the unconscious mind provides the place for the self image to reside
Now we’re looking at the nitty gritty of magical results. A lot of people run around talking about making their partner do this or that, or messing up their boss or their in laws.
Your success in life (however you define that) is intimately tied in with your self-image. And how far you go, is determined by how you interact with that self-image in any given moment.
I’m not one to run around talking about “you just need to love yourself more” (even though all of us probably do) or any of that Law of Attraction stuff. This idea of the self-image though is fundamental. If you cannot conceive of a world where you make 100k a year, or you don’t feel you’re worth it, no matter how much magic you do, you will fail. If you make money you’ll piss it away or make a stupid mistake and lose it.
The unconscious mind is the part that’s in charge and how she see’s herself is how you will act, whether you’re conscious of it or not.
I’m going to be talking around this concept and this point a lot, so it’s an idea to explore and get comfortable with.
I’ll say it again another way, in any conflict between the conscious and unconscious mind, the unconscious mind wins.
To change the self-image, we need to speak to it in it’s own language. To quote Dr. Charles Henderson:
“Self-image is not a simple picture. Think of it as a sensitized, three dimensional image that has the full range of all five senses. This can make it difficult to visualize the self-image, especially as it relates to change. It is often most fruitful to use metaphors, symbols, or other visual stand-ins in our imagery. Like a flower, for example, to symbolize an “opening up” of a person to more experiences, or to be more creative. Or to stop being so afraid of the world. There are lots of meanings that can be ascribed to images and we will be using them as very influential tools shortly.”
All In Selling: Master The Art Of Subliminal Persuasion, Charles Henderson pg. 202
How the unconscious learns
One of the secondary functions of the unconscious mind is keeping track of all of our learning, and storing that learning as memory and habit so that it can either be recalled or acted upon when necessary.
There are two ways we learn:
- Repetition: We do something over and over.
- Pain: Emotional, Physical or Financial, as it was put to me once "it hurts like hell or costs a lot of money."
This is why tradition tells us to repeat spells for multiple days. When you repeat a spell you are impressing the symbolism of your desire on the unconscious over and over. We also tend to fixate on the spell during this time which causes more repetition (from a different angle though) of the spell goal.
In the case of the 7 day candle spell for instance, the fixation tends to be towards the physical materials involved in the spell (i.e. you’re reading the candle flame or the wax leavings etc.) instead of on the end result itself. This essentially creates a two way interaction with the ego-state/archetype/spirit which governs the outcome of the spell and essentially an unconscious negotiation ensues.
Hopefully the negotiation turns out favorably for all and your desire is fulfilled.
As far as “it hurts like hell” learning, well, I actually know a technique to make that happen for the self magically as well.
It’s… inadvisable. 😉
A Little Deeper Into The Rabbit Hole
“Mans soul consisteth of a mind, reason and imagination; the mind illuminates reason, reason floweth into the imagination: All is one soul.” – Three Books of Occult Philosophy, Bk 3, Chapter xliii.
Speaking of negotiating with parts, let’s talk for a minute about ways of dividing up the unconscious and why we would want to do that.
As Agrippa notes above, he divides the mind of man into three parts, Mind, Reason, and Imagination. When we get into the nitty gritty of his concept we could say that his divisions are roughly analogous to the Higher Self, the Conscious Mind, and the Unconscious Mind.
Or as Agrippa later calls it, Spirit, Mind, and Soul.
For much of Western thought, this has been the working breakdown and I see no reason to change it.
It’s important to understand this break down because as I was writing about earlier all of our learning “exists” in our unconscious mind. So if we want to consciously do something for which we have no unconscious learning in our blueprint, there’s almost certainly going to be some conflict.
And as we know “in any conflict between the conscious and unconscious mind, the unconscious mind wins.”
This is where our negotiation skills and our imagination comes into play.
We have to use our imagination whether we believe it our not. (Some people who practice evocation believe that they are not using their imagination or creative visualization to speak with the unconscious intelligences they are conjuring.)
As stated above by Dr. Henderson, the easiest way to communicate with the unconscious is through some sort of symbol which represents the end goal we have in mind.
How to do that is what we’ll cover now.