For the last year and a half (or thereabouts), there have been threads made on 4chan's Paranormal board, with the topic being, the occult, magic and generally screwing with ones mind. This FAQ had become a short intro to the contents and topics which those threads touched upon, and is comprehensive enough to give anyone a kick-start into understanding of the topics.
Reading List - it's rather weak for now, however I'm working on it to bring it to a more… respectable state. It also contains links to huge libraries.
Anyway OP, the first place to start is with reading. You can find dozens of books on magic at any bookstore and thousands more online, so there's no excuse to not be undertaking extensive research if you're serious about it.
Also, don't use the word 'wizard.' It's for poseurs and fantasy RP nerds.
Just a thought on attitude: there are a lot of different opinions out there about what is and isn't true, and is and isn't possible, and they tend to contradict each other wildly. While it's hard to do, try and avoid adopting these worldviews and theories off the bat, and instead approach your studies with a clear mind and a willingness to see what you can discover for yourself and how far you can take it. Too many people get locked into weak or close minded paths because they're indoctrinated with the idea that it must be true, or they're emotionally invested in it somehow, that they never grow and expand beyond it.
Always keep your mind open to new ideas and experiences, but be intellectually and spiritually critical of and honest with yourself.
…or something to that effect. All in all, though, good starting words.
You're on a really good track if you want to start off with stuff like the LBRP and the Middle Pillar. They're exquisitely safe, LBRP being used to keep you safe itself, and they do good. The thing you will notice with the LBRP is that you will feel cleansed, that's what most accounts tend to say. I haven't done the LBRP myself but I have done other banishing rituals from the Native American systems, and the feeling of cleansing is intense. Your life will direct itself, or, you will know how to better direct your life. You won't be interefered so much with infantile madness. And, you should be kept safe, slowly, and guarded from obsession.
I don't know about the Middle Pillar or Resh, but certainly, do them. You'll find out more about them by doing them than anything else. Remember to persist every day, perhaps twice a day or more, and always be escalating. And as you perform the rituals, gradually find out more.
But, your physical life won't change significantly. It is not a physical path, it won't take you to New York or Venezuela or Bangladesh, but you may be compelled to go to those places as you advance along the spiritual path. You will know your heart well as you try to know your heart. Maybe you'll know things like; that girl is a bitch, get rid of her, she's nuts, or, that's really fucking dangerous, fucking hell, get away from that. That sort of follows. But, it's not a great change. You'll be more sensitive, more supine, more harmonious. You won't become a square or anything though, nor a rich or powerful man.
I'd reccomend having a leaf through some books aimed at beginners at practicing magick, such as Crowley's Book 4, Regardie's One Year Manual, so on and so on I'm sure you've come across them. Regardie's is good, it will take you slowly through general exercises in training your consciousness, as in, training your concentration, imagination and willpower, which will be of the upmost importance.
Occultism is the ability and art of finding meaning where there is none, and of unveiling that which most don't see.
It is certainly easier to point out that Wikipedia has a rather complete article on Occultism.
Which brings us to the next point:
One cannot be taught to think like an occultist without being driven by an irresistible curiosity. This is the prevailing quality that most serious magicians display, and it is also that which, through thousands of hours of research and mystical practice, bestows them with unparalleled insight into the human mind and it's workings. Thus, there are several qualities which are absolutely essential to success in any endeavor of this sort.
It is the very foundation of the Work. Without being disciplined, one might read a few books, or not even that, and decide this field is not the proper one for him. That is alright - we're not all born to conquer. Some are there to be conquered.
I've seen far too many people fall into delusion, both online and offline. To be brutally honest, all of those people got involved with the Occult for all the wrong reasons. Revenge, weak self-esteem, a need to be perceived as 'cool' or otherwise 'strong'. Those are not good reasons to begin the practice. The worst of them all, however, is the need to be consoled and reassured. In essence, the whole New Age movement relies on this culturally ingrained need to be comforted and delivered from feeling bad about oneself.
This brings us back to the issue of discipline. If you cannot take yourself at face value, you will come out feeling cheated once your self-delusion wears off. Hell, most of the people who invest into all the Eclectic Wicca, spirit healing, spirit animals, reincarnation, fad diets, crappy exercise programs, and all that other oh-so-comfortable industries have no ability to question themselves. It is a cultural plague, much like democracy.
Therefore, before approaching any work, it is wise to take a notebook, and write your autobiography, in as much detail as possible, listing all the good and bad qualities of your character, so that you can see where you lack balance, and where everything is fine. Which is the next point:
In practice, this means that you need to keep everything under control, and equilibrate everything you do with it's opposite. For example, if you have a tendency to throw tantrums over things people write on the Internet, it is only fitting to learn to not throw them. Because the polar opposite of throwing a tantrum isn't being happy and joyous. It's not giving a rat's ass.
One can very easily see that this is precisely the technique of mindfulness and zen. You take things as they are, not as they make you feel. With time, one can develop an extraordinary tolerance to all things stressful, which obviously allows for more control over ones life and success. Thus, the two-fold method of self-improvement is complete. Certainly, to attain to mastery of it would be a great attainment, however that is not nearly necessary, as it would take far too long to get the desired results.
Keeping this in mind, it is wise to consider that this is but a very abstract view of how things are done. In fact, going over this practice for even a few weeks will show you that it's not nearly as easy as it sounds, and therefore we have to resort to more complex and drastic measures in order to secure our understanding and expansion. However this demands that we attain to the four Powers, which are to Know, to Will, to Dare, and to Keep Silent.
This then is the Adept, who doth Will with solid Energy as the Bull, doth Dare with fierce Courage as the Lion, doth Know with swift Intelligence as the Man, and doth Keep Silence with soaring Subtlety as the Eagle or Dragon. Moreover, this Sphinx is an Eidolon of the Law, for the Bull is Life, the Lion is Light, the Man is Liberty, the Serpent is Love.
–A. Crowley, Liber Aleph: De Natura
Research, reading, analyzing, thinking. This is the foundation, the groundwork of all understanding. With no knowledge, how can one be wise but in an ignorant way? Researching and finding information are the most valuable skills one can have. For this reason, one needs naught but a list of places where things may be found, and he is bound to fall upon the information he seeks.
For this reason, I have compiled a small page of quite useful links: LVX/NOX Resources.
Another very important element of the process of learning is to take efficient notes. You don't need everything, but you do need to be clear about what you're doing, and what the various relationships between your notes are. That said, learning is best done when you focus on a particular topic, and research everything that pertains to it. In this way, you get a coherent view of all the elements and their functions in relation to each other, which might sometimes be difficult to figure out if you're just taking in everything as you go.
This is the drive, the aspiration, the poison of the infinite2), which causes us to strive for-ever-more. This is the Oxen that has to be driven by the yoke. Discipline strengthens and purifies the body. In this context, we are speaking of yoga. In it's simplest form, it can be seen in Liber 9, where we see that it is essentially a regimen of self-discipline and inducing a greater understanding of ones own body.
However, there is also another connection, with the currents of Kundalini, being sometimes called the “evolutionary force”. This is the coiled serpent which rises when we allow it to, and yoga is how we get it to rise. It is irrelevant here to explain more, save for mentioning the processes of internal alchemy which are kick-started by performing yoga on a regular basis.
This is the expression of the Will. Since we already Know what we Want to attain to and How to do it, it's only reasonable that we put those powers into action. However, as yoga relies on stillness, we enter motion with the application of magic. Regardless of whether you choose to perform ceremonially or not, you will be confronted with things which may or may not be too much for you to handle. The forces involved in the practice of magic are not to be taken lightly, especially if one is driven for conflict.
To Dare is to Do. And this is where you put your knowledge into action.
Initiation is the process of de-programming and simplifying oneself, until one reaches one-pointedness.
However, initiation is not only those rituals which are performed once and confer formal recognition. Initiation entails much more than that, and it can most certainly be found in every ritual whatever. For example, in the A.'.A.'. system of attainment, the Probationer is to perform the Star Ruby on a daily basis. In the Golden Dawn one was given the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram. Both of those rituals are commonly called “banishing” rituals, however this is very much a misnomer.
In fact, those rituals do little else than invoke the forces of their current, which by necessity push away all other influences, as shortly shown in the following examples.
I will only analyze part of the ritual, and give some minor notes on the rest, as it is not in my best (or yours, dear reader) interest to divulge all the meanings and forms that you will find in the ritual. That said, here are the main ones that everyone should be aware of.
First of all, you start with the Qabalistic Cross, which says: “Unto Thee The Kingdom, Power and Mercy” etc. As you say “unto Thee”, you're touching the forehead, which is the Ajna cakkram 3), which is attributed not to Kether, but to Chokmah. Since you are saying it, who are you directing your words to? Chokmah is the sphere of the demiurge, as well as the last place where any internal division exists. Thus you can easily see that the cross itself describes the very creation of the Universe. You begin from One in Naught, which divides itself into Two (“Unto Thee” implies a relationship of two elements), and proceeds further. Thus, by bestowing the internal Wisdom with these qualities as you mention, you also re-assert yourself as God within your own realm.
Further, the “Banishing Pentagram of Earth” as it is called4), is in fact the invoking pentagram of Spirit. The two are essentially as One to Minus One. There can be no void in the world, and as such, we have but a choice of qualities which we wish to deal with. This point is furthermore reinforced by the invocation of the Archangels the clockwise tracing of the circle. Of course, the ritual still deals with initiation up to Tiphareth, however there are no very good anchors for it to initiate further up.
The Star Ruby, on the other hand, works together with Liber Resh vel Helios in relation to the Chaldean Entities invoked towards it's end, to allow one to attain to the grade of Magus (9=2) in the world of Assiah. At the very least, that is my current understanding of the process.
[to be expanded more still]
As a wise Anon put it:
While someone could possibly explain it in layman terms, those who are able to also acknowledge that the reader wont understand some things unless he experience it.
There's also the problem that either the chosen language or the writer's skills might bring confusion into the student's head, be it because of lack of terms or just poorly written ideas (which is one of the reasons for symbol/image usage).
Meditate before reading (do dharana & pranayama in particular) . Take notes, both separately and inside the text you are reading. Use a highlighter egregiously. Re-read a passage or a paragraph as many time as you need to for it to sink it. So on and so forth.
Those are dodgy terms, none of which capture the essence of the experience.
The ability to perform miracles is inherent in everybody, with or without a link to the divine, which means that it's rather an incidental element of initiation than an inherent part of it.
Thaumaturgy, at least before K&C (so-called) is extremely draining. I've had to deal with long-term depression, depersonalization and a psychosis when I used it successfully the first time. Or rather, THAT used me.
I've no idea whatever. I used to pray fervently (about 4-6 hours daily for about 20 months), and have removed a brain tumor at the peak of 'power' so to speak, with good (proven) results. I've healed bruises, cuts and hemorrhages with a touch, etc. But those things I attribute to God working through me, as I was in such trances and states that I couldn't possibly act alone. Confusion was a big element of the whole, and I believe that it's what really allowed me to just let go and allow THAT to flow into matter through me.
Yes, however I must stress that I do not claim that the 'thing' was in any way objective, subjective or otherwise. I can only say that I perceived THAT and it made an impression.
You do yoga. The instructions from Liber 9 are decent for starters. Keep in mind, however that those are far from perfect, and going in too fast may injure you. Begin with a little bit of everything, and work at it consistently over a long period of time.
In the end, your own body will teach you how to do proper yoga.
You test the spirits and charge them to tell only the truth in the name of God (or any other Authority). Remember also to invoke this Authority. For all practical concerns, you ARE the Authority once you invoke it. Use this to your advantage.
The tests are generally done by tracing the invoking hexagram of the supposed nature of the spirit, so that you don't end up with Bartzabel when calling for Tzadkiel by accident. If the hexagrams are harmonic with their nature (as it should be), they will be unaffected. If they're not, most often they will leave, however every now and then it happens that they'll try and fight you. Not that they can do much, since you can just curse them (see the Bible for good examples), and they'll be in a world of hurt.
Well, this is a tricky thing, in a very literal meaning. To understand what is happening here, you first need to understand the concept of liminality. In general, for any real magic to happen, there needs to be a certain flux in awareness and consciousness. A state of “inert” boundary-crossing. By actively disbelieving in something, you're essentially constricting this tendency, because liminality is, in essence, the art of ignoring limits. You become the limit, and you can just move around with more freedom than that which you deline.
But then, consider the so-called Magician Perfected, Hermes. He was the dude who essentially broke all possible boundaries, from crossing to the Underworld and being the Messenger of the Gods, to even stealing from other Gods. This is the attitude of the Magician, and the Trickster. For these two are, in fact, one. It all depends on how well you know the rules - breaking them skillfully is magic.
In the same way that you learned the LBRP. That is to say, you do your research, find or design a ritual, and practice it a few times to get what it does.
This is a more complex issue. In short, you will want to have a clear idea of what you want it to do. Then you will have to decide on the framework that you'll use. The Hermetic Qabalah is most common. Then there's the issue of whether you're going for dramatic or strictly symbolic work, which will affect how your ritual feels. If you're working with other people, dramatic ritual is much easier to work with.
Then, you will want to grab Liber O vel Maus et Saggitae, and see the instructions for building a ritual there. From the elements you find, you will then begin piecing together a string of actions, words and signs which will represent the path towards the goal of your choosing (i.e. the Formula).
In general, one would go about this in the form of getting a well-paying job. This can be arranged with the help of several entities, most readily those of the Goetia. Bune is known to be the “money primadonna” there. Or one could perform an evocation of Tzadkiel or Sandalphon, who would also be able to procure those things.
Your best bet would be the Goetia, or a Martial spirit. If you have no experience doing this sort of stuff, you will want to take care to come as close to the ideal described in the book, with the pentacles, circle, triangle, incense, hours, etc.
Most often than not, regret, doubt, paranoia, psychoses, etc. Those are all, however, caused by internal dissonance - if you go against yourself, that is what happens, especially in such extreme actions.
Some knowledge of mythology would come in handy. Apollo, Thoth, Hermes.
Depends. If you know what the magical link is (for example, you know the photo they're using for this), you might want to banish the photo from yourself (i.e. cut all connections to it).
If you don't, your best bet would be to perform your daily rituals, be it the Star Ruby, LBRP, Resh, or whatever else that bestows initiation, so that you can over time overcome this influence.
Also, you will want to consider going to an adept or other initiate who will have the skills and experience needed to help out in such cases. It just so often happens that a word from a person who knows what they're doing can accomplish more than extreme struggle by the troubled one.
Pan is a reflection of the all. Pan is nature. Crowley liked the beast. Pan is the sex and dance and seduction. The Christian Satan. Crowley considered his Hymn to Pan to be his greatest poem, if I remember well.
Also, consider Kokopelli.