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The Magickal Memory

This post was written by Donald Michael Kraig
on February 23, 2012 | Comments (11)

Aleister Crowley thought that developing the “magickal memory” was an important part of magickal training. The magickal memory is the ability to recall past lives. In Magick Without Tears, chapter 37, he points out that one of the values of remembering past lives is that it helps you overcome a fear of physical death. In Liber ThIShARB he goes into methods for remembering past lives, but for a different reason. Here, there is far more than merely overcoming the fear of the inevitable. Rather, remembering past lives has the goal of seeing a thread that unites all of the past lives and how those lives apply to your current life: “let him apply them [memories] to his own career, forging the links of memory into the chain of necessity.” He also advises that you be aware that the mind can create fantasies. You should check out your memories of the past for validity, and “avoid as if it were the plague any speculation sentimental or fantastic.”

Crowley believed that he was the reincarnation of John Dee‘s assistant, Edward Kelly, and famed occultist Eliphas Levi. However, he speaks little of his past lives in his voluminous writings. Even though he felt remembering past lives was important, and he felt he had famous past lives, the important thing is not the past, but how the memory can be used to give guidance, direction, and clarity to your life today. Dion Fortune wrote that a famous past life doesn’t add glory to this life so much as make one wonder what you did to end up in this lower state!

Both Fortune and Crowley grew up in the late Victorian period. The vast increase in scientific knowledge during this area resulted in a desire to “prove” everything. This reached its apex, perhaps, with their contemporary, Houdini, who spent much of his later years trying to disprove the paranormal (primarily as part of getting publicity for his act).

Which Side Are You On?

So do you side with Crowley and Fortune or Houdini? Do you think past lives are real and valuable, or do you think they’re fake or false memories?


I’ll give you a second to think about it….


My guess is that some of you will think they’re real and amazing aspects of the past, some of you will think they’re real but no big deal, and some of you will think they’re not real at all.

Do you agree with one of those concepts?
Have you clarified your thoughts?
Feel free to make your comments known to readers.

Now, I’ll share mine. It’s what I call…

The Tripper Solution to the Reality of Past Lives

Do you know who Tripper is? Tripper is the character played by Bill Murray in the movie Meatballs. In the film, he gives a rousing speech to a group of discouraged campers, getting them to shout, “It just doesn’t matter! It just doesn’t matter!”

When it comes to whether past lives are objectively real, it just doesn’t matter. While interesting—and perhaps able to produce some new historical information—whether or not a past life is “real” is of little importance to a magician. Often, you’ll read about some debunker who says, “Why is it that everyone who remembers a past life was someone famous?” Well, I’ve helped over a thousand people remember past lives and none of those past lives were famous ones. To a magician, being famous in a past life isn’t important.

Uh, Wait a Second…

You may have noticed a real contradiction. First I point out that according to Crowley, developing the magickal memory, remembering past lives, is important. Fortune was a believer in past lives and both wanted people not to become enamored of a belief in a famous past life. It really wasn’t that important. But if they’re not that important and, as many debunkers accurately point out, could be the result of false memories, why deal with them at all? And why have I bothered to help over 1,000 people remember past lives? The reason is simple:

The objective reality of a past life may be questionable,
but the experience of a past life is undeniable.

In fact, it’s quite common for people to have experiences of past lives. The objective reality of that past life may or may not be accurate, but the experience of that past life, whether it’s “real” or not, can be of vital importance.

Crowley, I think, had an idea of what was going on. He wanted those past live to be real and help point a direction in your current life. But even if they’re not objectively real, the experience is real and that experience has meaning and value.

Experiencing a past life is, at best, interesting. Determining why you’re having that memory now, and how it applies to issues in your life now, can help you through rough times, overcome challenges, get added insight, get over old issues that are holding you back, and much more. So even if a past life isn’t objectively real, the experience of a past life can be highly valuable.

How to Experience Past Lives

The memory of a past life can occur in dreams, can be triggered by some current event, can present themselves during meditation or ritual, or through the use of hypnosis. There are other means to discover past lives, too. You can meditate on the meaning of the past life experience and how it applies to your life today. This, as Crowley points out, can be invaluable. If you’re looking for guidance, here are some great books for you:

Doors to Past Lives & Future Lives
How to Uncover Your Past Lives
Hypnosis for Beginners

Practical Guide to Past-Life Memories

There are many other books that have sections on past lives, reincarnation, and even on how to experience your past lives, but the above books specialize on the practical aspects of the subject.

Are You in the Los Angeles Area?

If you are, and if you’re interested in actually experiencing one or more past lives, I’ve got great news for you! This Saturday, February 25, from 3:00–6:00, I’ll be giving a workshop on how to experience your past lives with hypnosis at The Green Man in North Hollywood. Here’s the information on the workshop:

Experience Past Lives
The Green Man
5712 Lankershim Blvd.
North Hollywood, CA 91601

You may have read about past lives. You may have even taken workshops on past lives. But have you ever actually experienced a past life? In this workshop you’ll discover what past lives are and have the opportunity to experience one or more with the aid of hypnosis. You’ll also discover hypnosis and the techniques of past life regression therapy, the ability to learn lessons and change your life today from those experiences. You can observe or participate. All people who want to be hypnotized will be able to experience this wonderful state and have a true past life experience.

Reader Comments

Written By Raven WindStone
on February 24th, 2012 @ 12:07 am

Hi Donald,
I’ve had past life memories come through in dreams before, and have also had them triggered in waking life…usually through some type of skill I was engaged in.

For instance, many years ago I ran a clothing alterations business from my home. My work repairing people’s clothes, and making alterations to them was like second nature. I learned some of the skills from my mother, but was mainly self taught, especially when it came to the more time consuming, difficult alterations.

Often while working late into the night, and especially when hand sewing, the action of putting needle and thread to cloth would cause a deeper part of me to remember that I had done this many, many times before. I understood, on a soulful level, that this skill was an old part of me. Its familiarity was unmistakable from the very beginning, and I just knew that I was re-living something that I had done before. I knew I had been a seamstress, or taylor, in a past life because it was all so familiar, and easy for me.

This triggered past life experience gave me alot of pride in my work, as well as a lot of confidence in what I was doing each time. I knew I could get most any sewing job done, and done properly, because it was second nature already. I knew, well, what I was doing! It was a very good feeling.
I had plenty of repeat customers, too, because of my skills, and so I felt that sensing this particular past life had been an advantage for me in this lifetime while running my business.

Thanks for the article!
Raven WindStone

Written By Scott
on February 26th, 2012 @ 2:53 pm

I’m disappointed I missed this class. I will keep my eyes and ears open for future events since you are so close it is a bonus to be able to have good talks, classes, etc.

I have a question for you. Sort of avoided Mr. Crowley for some time, only because I didn’t have resonance with his work but around the last few bends of life I’ve been pointed towards his writing.

Would you mind? Where does one start with Aleister Crowley?

Written By Donald Michael Kraig
on February 26th, 2012 @ 4:48 pm

Crowley did not pop from the womb as an adept. His ideas and approach evolved over time. Therefore, I would contend that it’s valuable to start by learning about him. I used to suggest that people start by reading his autobiography and a couple of biographies, especially Regardie’s Eye in the Triangle. Now I suggest people read Perdurabo by Richard Kaczynski. After that it depends upon what you’re looking for. His magnum opus for direction in magickal training is the book Magick: Liber ABA (Book 4) by Aleister Crowley (with Mary Desti and Leila Waddell edited by Hymenaeus Beta).

Written By Dove
on February 27th, 2012 @ 12:16 pm

From what I’ve experienced, we’ve definitely had past lives. One student intuitive (retired engineer from a well-known organization) was the first, as I recall, to share with me a past life he saw during a meta class we were both attending. The death part was really bad. Another reputable psychic told me of another, again, it was very sad what she shared. Now I could take those with a grain of salt, but I did have an experience that brought it home for me. During a chiropractic treatment, while on the table, I had gotten some visions (but not sure they went with the following), and then started hearing bits of stuff. Note, this was me as a newbie psychic (had just been “introduced” to this ability). Anyway, I “heard” something about a king, and that he died, and they burned him…(have more details written down somewhere), but then I was confused, because I then heard something like he was alive. At that beginning point, I was writing everything down, so I wrote that down and description of the visions. About a year later, I went to my very first psychic fair (not a participant, just a visitor). I don’t think I’d been there very long when I walked up to this one woman at her booth. Don’t really remember what I said to her, I think I asked about my health(that’s usually my main focus, life-long health issues). She was telling me stuff about my aura, and then seems out of the blue, she started telling me about a past life she saw. It sounded familiar. She said I’d been a queen, and my husband the king died. She said it was tradition for the wife to be burned with the deceased king… She said I went willingly. Tradition. So both times this came to me, it was in seeking answers/remedy for my life-long health issues. So yeah, I kinda think past lives can carry over and affect subsequent lives.


Written By S. Q. Brett
on February 27th, 2012 @ 1:33 pm

I definitely believe in past lives. I have a theory that is based on C.S. Lewis’s quote: “You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.”

If I am a soul; then, in order to experience the physical world, I need to use a body. My body is a shell that my soul must use to experience objective reality.
The experience of objective reality is the purpose of each life experienced by my soul; for without a body, the soul exists on a subjective, universal plane-just as in your dreams. It is there, it is real, but you can’t touch or hold on to it, taste it, smell it, feel it.

This is why a body is needed; to experience the beauty and be attached to the five physical senses; sight, touch, taste, smell, sound; and learn and experience emotions…live by the golden rule; find balance.

Why would one want to be stuck in the same body forever? Boring…and redundant. What fun would that be? People don’t want to wear the same clothes every day; why would a soul want to experience the same body every life?

I think of each life of mine as a chapter in a book.

Visit the Chapel of the Chimes in Oakland, CA. Take a stroll through the corridors…

Written By Sarah Brett
on February 27th, 2012 @ 1:40 pm

I forgot to mention; my great-great grandfather was Thomson Jay Hudson, Phd, LLD. He was the author of the Law of Psychic Phenomenon, The Evolution of the Soul, and other works from 1892 to the early part of the 1900’s.

Written By Donald Michael Kraig
on February 27th, 2012 @ 2:30 pm

Thank you for your comments, Sarah. I think what you state presents the feelings of many people: we’re a soul within a body, not a body that has a soul. However, I’d like readers to consider a third alternative. What if the body and soul are simply parts of a single thing, that which we call “me?” If that’s true, our uniqueness extends beyond just what we have learned in our souls. Rather, it’s the combination of the body/mind/spirit whole that makes every one different. That might also indicate why, if reincarnation is real, you don’t simply relive the same life. Rather, your life as an individual body/mind/spirit whole is fresh and new.

Written By Rebecca
on February 27th, 2012 @ 2:31 pm

I’m terribly disappointed that I couldn’t make it…will you be giving a workshop in Portland, OR any time soon?

Written By Donald Michael Kraig
on February 27th, 2012 @ 2:51 pm

Hi, Rebecca. Right now I don’t have anything for the great Northwest U.S. In fact, my next workshops will be across the country in Florida. I’ll be announcing it here, soon, but you can also find out more on my website at http://tinyurl.com/3czcg7t . Of course, if you know any shops in your area that would like to bring me out, please let them know that many Llewellyn writers, including myself, love to come out and give workshops!

Written By Sarah Q. Brett
on February 28th, 2012 @ 1:34 am

I often wonder why it seems that the there is a philosophic trend that is driven to simplify the infinite potential of life into One.

Man and woman. Both are required for life. From two…comes 3. Nothing can be, if there is only One. It is interesting to debate and ponder about; but objectively speaking…not possible. At least, in my opinion.

A whole is not one; it is composed of an infinite potential of being…one that cannot now, nor ever will be decoded by humans. We do not have the experience required to know or to prove in objective terms that anything exists beyond life as we know it. We would use and abuse that knowledge and it would defy the very basis and purpose of being…of life.

This is only what I have observed…I do not know for sure; I don’t want to. Then the game would be over. No one would appreciate the life they are living; care about the present…the purpose of existence wouldn’t be. There would be no value to the present…which, is in fact, the only reality that should matter to those of us fortunate to “be”.

Written By Donald Michael Kraig
on February 28th, 2012 @ 1:48 am

Indeed, Sarah, your presentation of the concept that we need dualities is a common belief. It would have to be—we live in a world of dualities and would have difficulty even thinking of non-dualities. Try to describe “up” without using the idea of “down” or “me” as separate from “you.” Curiously, though, modern science would question this. Everything is composed of vibrating energy, and differences are only the frequency of that energy. The ancient Tantric realized this and saw that understanding of vibration as the reality that underlies our false impression of what is. We need our dualities to exist in the physical world because we cannot easily see the underlying reality. The cause of this false image of the universe is said to be the hypnotic dance of the goddess Maya, and it is maya (Sanskrit for “illusion”) that results in our seeing dualities rather than unity. Fascinating, isn’t it?

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