At age five, I was diagnosed with diabetes. I've injected insulin virtually all of my life. At first, the insulin that was available was derived from animals, and I would sometimes have bad reactions. But modern versions of it are based on human insulin, so as long as I kept track of my blood sugar and injected the right amount of the hormone, I felt fine. I thought everything was okay.
Fast forward to 1992. I had been retired for several years from my job in the aerospace industry. I had traveled the world, going to many unusual and arcane rituals because of my contacts with magicians around the globe. I settled down to spend time in my beautiful home in Virginia. It had a large garden, where I loved to work. One day, as I went to tend some of the flowers in my garden, my right knee gave out and I fell to the ground.
I laughed about it, got up, dusted myself off, and worked on the flowers. "I'm just getting old," I thought. But my knee started aching. Over the next few weeks, my leg felt sore and I fell twice more. Finally, I went to my doctor. He examined me, took some x-rays, and performed other tests. A week later I came back to his office. He looked grim.
As it turns out, even keeping my blood sugars at a fairly constant level does not always completely stop the ravages of diabetes. There can be liver damage, kidney damage, damage to the eyes, and, as in my case, circulation problems.
There are about 135,000 amputations in the US per year. Diabetes is a factor in most of them. Within a few years of the diagnosis of circulatory disease due to diabetes, my right foot became gangrenous. Seven years ago, I became an amputee.
But I'm a trooper. A few months later I got a prosthesis, and with some rehab, I was getting around okay on crutches. Until my left leg started to go numb. I'm now pretty much confined to a wheelchair or a bed. I'm working on building up my upper body strength, but that's harder when you're in your sixties. Some day they're going to have to amputate part of my left leg, and by that time, I'm hoping I'll be strong enough to get around using only crutches. Maybe the technology for amputees will be good enough so that I'll be walking using computer-enhanced prostheses, but I can't count on it.
As I think you can see, I have a pretty good attitude about the whole thing. The way I figure it, these are the cards I've been dealt and I want to make the absolute best of the cards. Sure, I get depressed at times, but I have too many friends and too much to do to stay down for long. Life is wonderful and I'm enjoying every minute of it.
Being a realist, there are some things I simply can't do right now. When I was young I was a marathon runner. That's not on the menu for me any more. But as I wrote earlier, one of the things that had given my life meaning and direction was the spiritual joy and practical results I received from the practice of magic. Now, however, I could no longer circumambulate the circle. I couldn't stand at parts of rituals. When my magical friends heard about what happened to me, eventually they would ask, "So what are you doing to keep yourself busy and happy? What about magic?"
I didn't have an answer. I couldn't do the rites any more. I couldn't confidently walk around the circle, conjuring spirits or calling on archangels. Yes, indeed; what about magic?
When you've been around magicians as long as I have, you know that there are some who really do the work, and others who merely like to talk about it. The latter are called "armchair magicians." That's sort of a derogatory term, but I really don't think it should be so. There's room enough for all styles of magicians. With all my past magical work and practical experience, and since I couldn't do magic any more, I thought it might be good for me to put down my thoughts and insights so that others might learn from my history. Even if I couldn't do magic any more, I could at least help others. I decided to start by refreshing my memory about what other authors had written. I took out fifty of my favorite books on magic and decided to spend all the time I needed on them until I had re-read them all.
That didn't happen because I read something that would change my life.
So I read. The books were by authors both famous and little-known. It took a long time to go through those books, but I hated television, so I really had a lot of time. After two months, I had finished about a third of the books. I started a favorite of mine, Modern Magick by Donald Michael Kraig. I was looking forward to it because I had just replaced my well-worn copy, filled with personal notes, with a copy of the new edition. I have always liked the feeling of a new book.
One of the things that I have learned is that if we don't make use of the information we read, we tend to forget it. As I was reading all of those books, I was reminded of little things I had forgotten or clever expressions that made me smile. Sure, I had learned it all before, but because I hadn't used it regularly, I had forgotten some points.
As I turned the page in Modern Magick to 479, my eyes opened in shock, remembrance, and a sudden enlightenment that made me pant with excitement.
In bold type, across the center of the page, it read: ASTRAL LESSER BANISHING RITUAL OF THE PENTAGRAM. My revelation, of course, was that I didn't need to move around to do magic! I could do it all via visualization, concentration, and energy direction.
In retrospect, it should have been obvious. But for some reason, the idea of not having to physically move while doing a ritual had been outside of my conception. I decided to read this section and see if I could generalize the instructions for this ritual to reflect magical rituals in general.
STEP ONE. Sit in the center of your circle and relax with some deep breathing and the Relaxation Ritual. Your eyes should be closed and your arms and legs should not be crossed. (P. 479)
I knew I could do this. I had done it thousands of times before. The Relaxation Ritual, which is fully explained earlier in the book, is often referred to as an exercise in "progressive relaxation." Basically, you tell each part of your body to relax and allow it to do so. So the first step would not be a challenge.
STEP TWO. Visualize yourself (or, if you prefer, an idealized image of yourself) standing, facing you. Take some time and get the best image possible in your mind.
STEP THREE. Once your double (frequently called a doppelganger) is complete, use your will power and have it turn to face the East, the same direction in which you are looking. This procedure should take no special ritual techniques. Simply tell it silently to turn about and it will. Of course, it should still be standing.
STEP FOUR. Now, without audibly saying anything, will your twin to do the entire Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram. Your physical body should be in the center of the area, the position where your physical altar would normally be located. Try to hear, feel, smell, sense and visualize everything your double does. Keep your physical eyes closed. (P. 479)
Now, I had done part of this many times before in preparation for astral projection. But I had never tried to work with the astral double as if it were virtually a separate entity. As I tried it now, the image kept fading in and out. I kept losing my place in the ritual. Over the next few days, it got a little better, but not much. I went back to the book for more information.
The Astral LBRP... sounds a great deal easier than it really is. This ritual takes as much or more concentration than any rituals you have done so far... If you have trouble concentrating to a level where you can do the entire LBRP in this above, Astral fashion, try practicing the following concentration exercise:
Needed: a timer and four cards. On the first card place a large dot, and on the second place two dots side by side. On the third card make a row of three dots and on the fourth card, a similar row of four dots...
Set the timer for five minutes. Look at card one until you have a very good idea of that single spot. Now close your eyes and only think of that spot. If any other thoughts come into your mind, simply bring back your focus to that one spot. Cease the exercise when the timer goes off. Your goal in this exercise is to keep that single spot visualized for five minutes and allow nothing else to interfere with your concentration.
When you have very few breaks in your concentration, move on to card two with the two spots and repeat the exercise. Continue this practice until you can keep the two dots in your mind for the full five minutes. When you can do this with card four and its four dots, you will have excellent concentration abilities.
Although this exercise sounds easy, it is not. (P. 480-481).
Boy, was Kraig right! It took me two weeks to master the third card that I had made, and another week to master card four. Along the way I strained and sweated until I realized I needed to simply surrender to it. Eventually, I could hold the image of the four dots in my mind for five minutes with almost no breaks. I was ready to try the Astral Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram again.
I reread steps one through four again. This time I continued on to the last part.
STEP FIVE. Once you have completed this astral performance of the LBRP, have your double sit in your lap and allow yourself to reabsorb it. Take some deep breaths to unite yourself. Clap your hands loudly three times. The sound will help bring you back to normal consciousness. Now you may open your eyes. (P. 479-480)
With the accomplishments of my concentration exercises, I was anxious to begin. Relaxation followed the deep breathing. Then, I created an astral double of myself. It was clearer than it had ever been before (probably due to my recent work). My double looked young and energetic. It stood on two strong legs. To my surprise, it actually smiled at me. I had never been good enough (nor needed) to really see any facial characteristics before. Now they were as clear as if they had been etched in granite with powerful acid.
I willed the doppelganger to do the ritual. I directed it in every phase and motion. Many times, I felt I was actually seeing through its eyes. When I was finished, I reabsorbed it per the instructions. I was elated! I had achieved success.
At this point, you may wonder how I knew so quickly that the ritual had been a successful banishing. In my experience, if a person is psychically aware (as a result of development or natural abilities), he or she can go into a room and simply "know" if it has been banished. I worked for years doing the LBRP a minimum of two times daily. One result of this work was that I developed the ability to tell the difference between a room that was banished and one that was not.
I could feel that the room was banished and clear.
I repeated the Astral LBRP twice a day for two weeks. By the end of that time the ritual was easy for me to do. In fact, it felt even more powerful than the LBRPs I used to do daily (and they were pretty good, if I do say so myself!). I tried to figure out how this could be. As I thumbed through Modern Magick I think I found the answer on page 219:
"For anything to exist on the physical plane it must first exist on the Astral Plane!
"Therefore, in order to create anything and bring it into your life, all you have to do is create it in the Astral Plane."
In a moment of clarity, I realized that although learning to work directly on the astral plane via an astral double may be more difficult to learn, you bypass the filter of the consciousness and physical plane to create directly on the Astral Plane. It is like eliminating one entire step, resulting in faster effects and often more accurate results. In short, doing a ritual via concentration, visualization, and if possible, astral projection, can actually be more powerful and effective (desired results occur more quickly) than a physical ritual.
Of course, if a person is not practiced at doing astral rituals, the physical ritual is going to be far more effective than any attempted astral ritual.
I continued doing the Astral LBRP regularly without trying to go any further. I wanted to get to be an expert at this technique. Then I had yet another curious revelation. As I wrote above, I was able to detect if a room had been banished. I called this a "mind feeling" of how things should be and feel when an area is banished. What I began to notice was that as I prepared to do the Astral LBRP, that mind feeling of banishment would begin before I did the ritual.
I wondered what would happen if I simply tried to create that feeling, visualize it as a sphere and expand it with my Will to fill my area. With very little practice I realized that I could quickly banish the room by doing exactly that; filling it with the "mind feeling" of banishment. I could virtually instantly and effectively banish a room.
I do use one physical trick to help me. I clap my hands together with my arms extended to trigger the sensation. I have learned that hypnotherapists refer to this as an anchor, a fancy term for a triggering device. One clap with the intention to fill the room with the "mind feeling" of banishment and the room I'm in feels clear, fresh, and banished.