On Art & the Love of Life

Greetings and welcome back to Journeys! In the spirit of late October this months sharing will be about the rich world of feelings and emotions, with a special focus on their relevance and importance in the arts, magic and spiritual realisation. For students of IIH I will be sharing information on the astral body and the Water region of the mental body.

The magic circle, by John William Waterhouse

In beginning to set out my thoughts for this writing I find myself searching for a word or phrase that doesn’t seem to exist, at least in English or German, the languages I know. It’s an important word for an important thing that most of us will recognise, especially if we are involved in anything related to the arts, but really everyone should recognize it in different ways. Although some words come close or communicate parts of it I’m unable to come up with a word or a phrase that encapsulates it precisely, so instead I’m going to present you with several examples of this unnameable thing and hope that you are able to understand what I am referring to as well as to recognise it in your own experience.

Let’s start with the actor or actress preparing to take on a role using something like the Stanislavsky method wherein they have to inhabit the role from the inside. They will use various methods to explore the different aspects of the role, trying to find their own unique way into that character so that they can express it realistically, for example they might use improvisation with other actors to explore how their character might behave in various situations, creative visualizations to imagine themselves as the character in different circumstances, or practice emotional recall of their own personal experiences (love, loss, etc) in an attempt to relate those emotions to those of their character in a particular scene, and so on. In all of this work the hope is for a magical moment when everything just ‘clicks’ and the character comes to life for the performer. It might never come – and that’s ok – but if it does the circumstances under which it does are slippery. It might come during make up when they put on the long blond wig for the first time, or at some point during rehearsals, or while they are relaxing in the bath. Sometimes it can be triggered by a random event or a chance meeting, but however it comes there is no mistaking it, even though it is different every time and always just as mysterious and thrilling as it always is. Suddenly, the characterisation is real for the performer and so it can become real for the audience so long as the performer follows that guidance where it leads. Interestingly when this occurs it frequently has a cascade effect on other performers, especially those who have roles closely related to our own within the performance.

Similarly, there are the countless stories of writers who experience the same process with the characters in their novels. In the beginning of writing about these people they are near complete strangers. Gradually, like shards of pottery being excavated carefully from the ground and reassembled, they reveal themselves in greater detail and their overall shape, colour, motivation and history become clearer and clearer in the mind of the writer. The critical point occurs when these characters, which we must remember have been entirely crafted by the imagination, start to decide things for themselves and so become drivers of the plot, potentially taking the story in unforeseen directions. Like windup toys the author has invested them with life by priming their mechanisms to such a degree that what was deep inside them energetically is exposed, unleashed and made manifest, taking control of its own innate destiny. The fragmentary pottery shards have been formed into a vessel that can actually hold wine. Again, this can happen at any time and under all kinds of circumstances and it is always mysterious and thrilling. And again, interestingly, when this happens to one character within the narrative it frequently cascades over into other characters like a benevolent virus.

Another example – the dancer hears music that they have never heard before and seduced by it they begin to move their body to its rhythm. At first there is a level of thinking involved but as the dance proceeds the dancer finds himself or herself in the intuitive flow of the music, able to perceive what is coming next even when the music shifts or stops dramatically. It’s like living one second ahead of the beat. The dance itself has become a living thing bridging the dancer in some kind of entanglement with the music, and the body moves without thinking. Thinking, like plotting for the writer, interrupts the moments, chokes off the inspiration. The musician can also feel this thing happening when they ‘lose themselves’ in the playing of an instrument, a strange term for what feels essentially more like finding oneself in it.

One more example which many people will recognise – you walk into a room and there they are, someone whom you just know is going to be important in your life – a lover, partner in business or just a friend – and despite the fact that you know zero about them, somehow they instantly stand out from the crowd even without having spoken a word or even moved. It’s beyond sexual attraction or mere personality, it’s instead like you already have history. It doesn’t always have to be agreeable, but whatever it is it is just there. This is like those times when you just know your train is going to be late that morning without having checked the schedule, the times when you know seconds ahead who is calling or messaging before the phone even rings, and those times when you know what is going to happen moments before it does but not with enough time to say so, despite the fact that none of these things are logically predictable. If this is just chemistry, neurotransmitters, animal magnetism or the instincts of rivalry its pretty darn smart stuff that immediately knows all kinds of freaky details about things that it has no business knowing.


In all of these moments there is some part of us that is perceiving and recognizing emotional truth. It’s not a guess, not a fabrication, not a coincidence and not uncommon. In fact I would argue that we are doing it all the time but we fail to observe it. You might call it a bullshit detector, but it is more about detecting truth than its absence. It requires no explanation because when it happens it is its own explanation – we simply know it for what it is, which is something truthful to us. Words can be used to describe it, even to evoke it in the case of the writer, but it is innately beyond words. It feels like living poetry.

In the artistic examples there is also something going on as a result of this recognition of emotional truth – something intangible or imaginary takes on a life of its own and the artist becomes its midwife, partner or instrument. This is a more magical phenomena which arises when enough emotional truth and enough resonance with something that feels significant to us is accumulated that we connect with something fundamentally transcendent and apart from ourselves and it expresses itself as a living intelligence with a will, an act of astral animation. For the film maker this often happens in the editing process – the film itself comes to life with the assemblage and orchestration of its musical score, cuts, effects, choice of takes and more importantly through the sincerity and truthfulness of the creators with respect to a guiding vision that calls all the shots.

When audiences then witness something that has been invested with enough emotional truth, they recognise and resonate with its significance and the living force of the creation leaps off of the page, screen, stage or recording and grows in power as it is freed into the world to reproduce. Every person will be free to draw their own particular nuances and draw their own meaning and truth from that experience, but it will all be facilitated by the combined work of the artists and creators in initially doing the same thing. In my view, it has ceased to belong only to them. It now belongs to everyone who encounters it as well. What they make of it may be very different to what the creators intended, which is called controversy, or more rarely creative genius because it is open to various interpretations, but the creators can always be grateful and satisfied if people perceive meaning and significance in their output.

In every act of true magic there beats this moment, this unnameable conviction that what we are doing is undeniably true, for it is this faculty that causes the magic to feel real to us, and thus to eventually become real in substance to others. In the hermetic view this faculty is intimately connected to the Akasha principle as it manifests through our ongoing astral experience, which is perceived through the Water Element region of our mental body. In other words it is a property of our having an astral body or soul which is able to directly experience the truth of the astral realm, and our ability to perceive and then correctly interpret the truth we encounter with this astral awareness is a property of the Water Element of our spirit or mental body. We can have a very strong and highly developed astral body capable of coping with a vast array of astral force, but if the Water Element of the mental body is not clear and strong then we will lack the ability to discern the truth of what we feel. It can also easily overwhelm us because we will not have the discipline of detaching from the experience to actually observe what it really is – we will just be taken by it, like a swimmer in a riptide or whirlpool. This could make us vulnerable to manipulation by resonant astral intelligences that are able to deceive or delude us. Most commonly these people conflate their own subjective truth with objective truth – they assign meaning to the experience which is theirs and theirs alone, meaning which represents personal truth and is instead perceived as a universal truth. To see the deeper, more universal truth of the astral we have to have a maturely developed Water Element awareness in our mental body, the body which perceives and thus informs. This comes through enlightenment, through lifetimes of spiritual contemplation and practice, but there are a vast number of techniques for training both the power of the astral body and the clarity and purity of the Water Element region of the mental body. I am going to share some with you here.

First, I want you take on board some concepts so that what follows will make sense. The first of these is that human awareness can be said to have three fundamental parts, a physical part which relates directly to the physical senses of the body and all its sensations as well as to interacting with the material world, an astral part which is largely made up of its personal experience (including thought and feeling), which we can call our awareness of nuance and significance, and a mental part which is engaged in the perception and interpretation of meaning, truth and notional concepts. The astral part is an intermediary between the mental and the physical part of the awareness, a transceiver serving to bind the mental to the physical and thus allow both to interact together.

We can conceive of each part as a circle wherein everything inside the circle is a part of us and everything outside of the circle is an unknown or unfamiliar part of the physical, astral or mental realm. Now if we imagine an expansion of our awareness as an expansion of the size of the circle we see that not only is there now more inside of the circle and therefore more awareness of ourselves but also that the circumference of the circle has also expanded so that the boundary of the unknown and unfamiliar has also increased, in other words the more we know the more we learn there is more that we do not yet know. This makes sense, because broader horizons give you more to think about. A closed mind is like a tiny circle that refuses to expand into the unknown, and may actually be collapsing in on itself. An unfit body cannot enable all the things a powerful mind wants to do, and an exhausted or burdened astral creates a blockage between mind and body. The three bodies are not interdependent since the awareness in our mental body will survive our death while our physical and astral body will not, but while we are physically alive we will experience a triple state of awareness composed of all three bodies of sensation occurring simultaneously. This is the great school of life that has souls metaphorically queuing up to take part in it, drawn to the invaluable and irreplaceable power of the tri-fold experience and its lessons, its potential to develop the full integration and expansion of the awareness of these bodies and the realms they pertain to.


The functions of these three bodies are very complex but here is a simple exercise you can do right now to demonstrate them to yourself. Choose an object in the room with which you are personally familiar. Check out size, shape, colour, texture and (if applicable) the way it smells and tastes. This is your physical body interacting with the physical universe, the universe we pay most of our attention to. It’s simple enough at first glance but actually incredibly complex, as any physicist will tell you. Now think for a moment about what the purpose of this object is, why it was created if it was created by human hands or what its function is in nature if it was not. This is your mental body interacting with the mental realm – human beings perceive the mental realm in terms of the purpose or meaning of things. If you object was a monitor, the purpose or meaning is one of displaying things. It is also pretty simple, and the concept of a purpose or meaning is something that most people will share in common. Yet like the physical universe the mental universe is infinitely vast and thus composed of an infinite variety of meaning so what appears pretty simple is again mindbogglingly complex once you scratch the surface – all ideas ultimately connect together and finally coalesce into one singular idea, the idea of infinity and hence eternity Finally, consider what your object communicates to you personally, your personal connection to its meaning and physical form. It is composed of all of your personal experience as well as what all of that signifies, its connotations. These connotations are how our astral body perceives the substance of the astral realm and because it is a deeply private and personal experience the nuances it has for you resonate only with you, although you can still find common ground over its meaning with other people who have had similar experiences with a similar object. It is also, as any amount of refection on your chosen object will demonstrate, profoundly complex and evocative of a response that we feel. It touches and stirs us on a mysterious sensory level – the astral body.

Finally take another look at your object with this understanding of these things and note how you are seeing them as one integrated experience each time you look at the object but that you are habitually focused so much on the physical input that the other parts slip into the background. Then, close your eyes and think about the object, noticing that while you are now only imagining your objects physical form its astral and mental nature is intact and unaffected. Also, notice that when you perform these exercises with animate living things the situation is more complex – with plants the meaning or purpose of the plant is not so easy to define, it requires much deeper reflection to get beyond the surface meaning that we attribute and which is really part of its significance and nuance, its astral nature. This is even more complex with animal life forms, including humans. This is because of the increasing complexity of the mental body of these things compared to inanimate human created objects. Their astra-mental body circles are bigger. Consider this fact alongside the evolutionary idea of chemical and mineral components making up the basis of carbon based life forms, with increasing biological complexity in plants and animals. The physical body is an expression of the mental (and astral) bodies. The physical form of a thing is an expression of its innate nature, its meaning and purpose. Simple concepts form simple bodies. 

Each of the bodies can also be examined through the lens of the 4 Elements, the Fire, Air, Water and Earth regions of the respective bodies, physical, astral and mental. The Fire region of each human body is situated in the head and neck area, the Air region in the shoulders, upper arms and chest, the Water region in the abdomen and the arms from elbows to wrists, and the Earth region from the hips to the soles of the feet. These Elemental divisions also occur in the physical, astral and mental realms.

Now we have to add the concept that each of these realms is filled with living beings many of whom are in their own way capable of being aware of us while we ourselves are currently largely blind to their existence, in denial actually. One of the ways that they have of communicating with us are the arts, but others include mediums, psychics, shamans and other sensitives who are able to act as intermediaries and interpreters. The astral realm is particularly powerful because it exists at the intersection between the physical and the mental realm like a cosmic crossroads or an exhange rate mechanism. 


Finally, we can now see an explanation for the examples I gave at the start of this post. If a human being is putting out a particular thought with a strong enough feeling, beings will come to play. But the human has to put in all the work, or the muses wont show. If you are doing something you love and you are consistently disciplined about doing it, they will eventually come and give life to what you are doing, whether it is with words, music, dancing, art or life in general. This does not deny you the source of creative power in your work, that’s all still your work, it’s just that the moment when it comes alive is always involving the drawing of one of these beings into the process. It’s their intelligence that possesses the imaginary character and drives it, effectively attempting to persuade its author to follow it to an innate, immanent destiny which only it may know until the appointed time comes to reveal it to the writer. It’s their power that bridges the body and soul of the dancer and musician with the living intelligence of the music itself, so that they become one. Cupid is essentially real, being an intelligence of the art of love who is drawn into the radiation of light created by two lovers who are innately destined to be joined. When these beings do show up you will know it’s not just you anymore, and you should be grateful that they are there. Some of these dwellers in the astral sea are little fish but some are leviathans, and when we are patient and quiet and blessed enough to get the attention of one of those it can be very difficult to bring it to the surface, but very joyous too, and this is the creative process. It’s also what we are attempting to do in life, our lives intended to be works of art in its highest form, creative expressions of love for life.


All this being understood, the astrology depicted in our natal charts focuses on our astral body but because our astral body is an intermediary body our astrology expresses all three levels of life, the physical astral and mental, as a singular and unified whole. Astrology doesn’t communicate all of our physical circumstances (for example it doesn’t describe our physical gender or our skin colour) nor does it describe all of our mental circumstances (it doesn’t display our degree of enlightenment or maturity, for example), but it does describe some physical and mental things because some of those things arise from or involve significant astral circumstances, and it fully describes our astral circumstances. For example our experience of poverty may arise from a blockage in our astral body which will be depicted in our birth chart. The birth chart will also show our relationship or attitude to those things which it does not directly show, for example even though it does not show our skin colour or gender it could easily show our attitude to and personal experience of being that skin colour or gender. Astrology literally does not care what skin colour or gender you are, only how you personally relate to that.

Additionally, although the Moon and Sun stand as overall indicators of the astral (soul) and mental (spirit) awareness respectively, and the ruler of the ascendant can be taken as an indicator of physical awareness, it’s not as simple as that and these indicators are not the sole indicators of astral, mental and physical awareness in the chart, these things are spread throughout the chart and are present in every part of it. Some parts have more affinity for the mental and some for the astral, but no part of the chart is without an astral, mental and physical expression, or solely focused in one realm of expression. While we live and breath in a physical form, every part of us is physical, astral and mental, in differing degrees.

In the course of instruction provided by Franz Bardon the magician is training themselves to perceive astral truth all the time but is primarily directed to develop in this respect at two steps, step 2 and step 7. During step two the astral exercises are focused on developing the astral body and the astral equilibrium and part of this involves transformation of the Water Element, refining the character through various methods. Step 2 in respect to the topic of this post is really about purifying and establishing the power and force of the astral body, which is to say it’s about building up the muscles which allow us to swim in deeper astral waters, muscles which are necessary for later steps. Step 7 however concerns itself with the mental equilibrium and it’s here (in the mental exercises) that Bardon instructs us to develop the Water Element of the mental body. This is the specific part of initiation in which the magician develops their capacity to perceive the objective truth of things, in this case (with the mental Water Element) the objective truth (Akasha) of the astral realm. Thus the two parts involved in the experiences I have described above are specifically addressed and developed during step 2 and then during step 7. Step 2 is mostly about clearing out, sweeping up and putting in order, while step 7 is about broadening the horizons of the Elements, opening the spirit to new levels of interaction with them. It’s the latter part that enables us to apprehend the deeper realities of what we encounter with our various bodies and to recognise truth when we encounter it, among other things. In terms of astral experience the Water Element of the mental body is the detached, perceiving part and the astral body is the receiving and immersive, entangled part.

However this training is to enable a person to perceive and ultimately animate astral significance at will, and to understand this fully. It does not mean that this can only happen when this is the case. So called psychic and spiritual experiences of any kind do not completely depend on a certain degree of development because ‘higher’ (subtler, more ethereal or more illuminated) planes of awareness can always interact with ‘lower’ (denser, more mundane, or less illuminated) ones, most especially through the unifying astral quality of unconditional love. This means that sometimes our Greater Selves and sometimes other entities can enable these experiences for us. Sometimes they just happen because we are working intensely and with focus, like the writer, the dancer or the actress. Other times they are simply thrust upon us or temporarily arise as various factors align. Some of these factors are astrological. Depending on what these astrological factors are they can be affecting just us or millions of people at once, each in a different way, either at birth or at some point in life within a specific time frame.

Venus is one of the major astrological factors in this area because Venus represents the flow of astral force, and being in this flow is a key enabler of these experiences. With a strong and powerful connection to astrological Venus our emotional body, which is the engine of our astral body, is made capable of profound resonance. This means that it will be able to sense the movement, energy and quality of the astral in its immediate environment, so that the person will be able to feel what is happening very directly. Some people are born with this ability to resonate emotionally with what is around them, to strongly sense it with their emotional body, and from an astrological perspective they will typically have Venus in a prominent position in the chart. This means Venus will be in one of her own signs (Taurus or Libra), in her exaltation (Pisces), powerfully positioned in terms of aspects and/or accidentally dignified by her position (for example, conjunct the ascendant or the midheaven or in the 1st temple).

Additionally anyone can temporarily experience a major boost to their connection with Venus as she progresses and transits or is activated by progressions or transits. For example someone who was born with Venus in Aquarius will likely have their Venus progress into Pisces (and so reach exaltation) at some point in their life and then experience an extended phase (lasting many years) of greater flowing connection to what Venus represents, essentially providing a boost to their astral force and their ability to sense resonance. More commonly and universally, transiting Venus will visit each of her signs and her exhaltation every year as she follows the Sun in its course through the zodiac, and every day she will rise and culminate at the ascendant and midheaven respectively, giving rise to short periods every 24 hrs when every living thing at certain locations upon the Earth is made more sensitive to what is resonating in its environment, especially when she is in Taurus, Libra or Pisces. This ‘wave’ of astral force crests at different times in different places but every location on the Earth receives it once every day for about 30 minutes or so, and in the case of Venus on the ascendant it is always within a few hours either side of daybreak. This means it can happen in the early pre-dawn hours of the morning, at dawn, or in the morning hours following dawn. For Venus on the midheaven it is in the few hours either side of the time when the Sun reaches its highest point in the sky for that day (not always midday, but often close enough). This is because the position of Venus is tethered to the position of the Sun so that she is only ever a couple of signs at most away from the Sun, often much closer. You can easily figure out when this occurs each day for your location by checking out when Venus rises and culminates there using an on-line ephemeris or chart software. In this way you can begin to observe the ebb and flow of astral force and so begin to develop your sensitivity to it. Magical work designed to increase your astral capacity and to refine it can be timed directly to the times when Venus is in any of the three aforementioned signs and rising or culminating at the place of the working. Doing so can provide a very powerful experience wherein you can feel the magic happening around you in ways you may not have noticed before.


Transits of Venus through your 5th temple, especially at the time she activates your 5th temple key, are times in which the creative power you have to bring things to life becomes infused with strong emotional power and awareness, and if you are born with powerful planets in the 5th temple you will certainly feel this as a creative draw within which never really goes away. The 5th temple of any chart is transited by Venus in this way about once every year so it is a common enough occurrence to build a ritual around. Such a ritual could involve developing your ability to recognise emotional truth and to give it expression in art or other creative acts. Usually, and I say this from experience both personal and from clients, the annual transit of Venus through the 5th temple is a time in which we fall in love as a way to funnel or express this heightened emotional power, and it doesn’t have to be falling in love with a person it can just as easily be falling in love with a place, a thing, a concept or literally anything. Here there is a subtle queue from the universe about what is really important in life and what the key ingredient is which brings a creative act to life. The Venus sphere (Netzach) is referred to in many kabbalistic writings as ‘the secret of all spiritual activity’ and this is no vain boast.

Venus also has four phases like the Moons lunar phases, a fact which is often a surprise. Like the lunar phases the phases of Venus arise from the interaction with our star the Sun. If she is behind the Sun in zodiacal order (e.g. if the Sun is in Taurus and Venus is in Aries) then she will cross the eastern horizon before the Sun every morning and perhaps be visible in the east as a morning star. If she is ahead of the Sun in zodiacal order however (for example if the Sun is in Taurus and she is in Gemini) then she will cross the western horizon after the Sun every evening and perhaps be visible in the west as an evening star. Additionally, she can be moving in either direct or retrograde motion as either an evening or morning star. The phases of Venus indicate broad phases in the expression of the emotional content of the astral realm, phases which determine the manner in which resonance is experienced and perceived. Her appearances as the morning and evening star divide between those who feel and act on those feelings spontaneously and are thus more Electric in their emotional expression (Venus Lucifer, the morning star) and those more Magnetically focused who feel after the fact (Venus Hesperus, the Evening star), in the dusk of the event, so to speak. Furthermore, the motion of Venus – direct or retrograde – divides emotional expression along external/internal types, i.e. between those whose emotional reactions are internalised and those who typically externalise them instead – so that there is a reflection of the quadrapolar magnet of the Elements in the 4 Venus phases:

• Venus Lucifer direct – spontaneous, consequences are external (Fire analogy)
• Venus Lucifer retrograde – spontaneous, consequences are internal (Air analogy)
• Venus Hesperus direct – premeditated (feeling after the event), consequences are external (Earth analogy)
• Venus Hesperus retrograde – premeditated, consequences are internal (Water analogy)

Further nuances are then added to this in consideration of the Element of the zodiacal sign that Venus is in at any given time. Venus Hesperus direct in Aries is very different to Venus Hesperus direct in Virgo, for example. Both people will tend to realise what they feel after events transpire and to externalise those feelings in some way, but the Aries Venus person may then react in a more direct or combative way while the Virgo Venus person might throw out some criticisms.

Another way Venus can be temporarily accentuated in our awareness is when our natal Venus is strongly aspected by a slow-moving transiting planet like Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune or Pluto or the centaur Chiron. A conjunction, trine or sextile from any of these activators can serve to put us ‘in the zone’ wherein we feel more connected emotionally to what is present around us. Even Saturn can be productive here as it enables ‘endurance creativity’ and pressure often produces more. Saturn is also the very definition of keeping it real, and so can greatly assist in being objective. Progressions from the slow moving planets can also have a similar effect on natal Venus or progressed Venus as well as occasionally adding more Water to our dynamic. As normal it is the faster moving planets that have the greater effect by progression and in this the Sun, Moon, Mercury and Mars as well as the progressed ascendant making an aspect to Venus can bring us into greater contact with our own emotional body and so also that of those around us.

A strong Venus, however, will only get you so far – it will be able to feel what is present and to resonate with it, but it lacks the ability to figure it out or to recognise its truth or lack of it. Astral conflation can occur wherein what you resonate with becomes difficult to discern properly because it is tangled up in your own stuff, clouded by your own subjective feelings which are often being played upon by the environment without your cognition. It becomes difficult to separate who you are from what you are feeling or experiencing. This is where the Water signs and other astrological factors can help, like a strong Mercury (which enables our comprehension of astral forms and promotes an ability to detach from the emotions) or Air signs (which add greater detail and detachment to our perception of things). A strong development of these factors of astrology is part of what helps to clarify the Water region of the mental body. The astral body is woven from our mental bodies perception of and interaction with astral substance, from its repulsion and attraction to astral qualities and by how it reacts to various kinds of emotional significance. The Water signs expressed through our mental body are the major parts of our being that make sense out of these astral sensations, while Venus is that part which directly encounters them via the emotional body. This means that by bringing out the purest and greatest expression of the Water signs and by developing your connection with Venus you will be pouring energy into the process by which our unnamed phenomena occurs.


Of course this is a great simplification and all of our astrology plays a role in all of our experience, and there are various factors which greatly complicate this matter, but it is still helpful to understand the core mechanics in astrological terms. You can use conduction to explore all of this when your Venus key is activated or when your Water signs are being emphasised, but you can also explore it under other activations of other keys. Jupiter activation is particularly helpful, and Neptune activation is also very helpful in this respect though it comes with a great risk of the astral conflation described earlier. Understanding the sign qualities of your Venus provides you with signposts pointing to how you can more safely and easily develop your awareness of emotions, while the sign position of Mercury does the same for your ability to accurately observe and figure out astral circumstances. The Sun sign is overall an indicator of the mental body and the mental matrix, the connecting cord between the mental and astral bodies, while the Moon sign is an overall indicator of the astral body and the astral matrix, the connecting cord between the astral and physical. Both of these cords also have powerful roles in the communication of our resonance with truth between the astral and the mental body.

A brief note here about the use of substances like Ayahuasca, LSD, mushrooms, alcohol, etc. – these mind altering substances can temporarily loosen the hold we have over our consciousness (often at a heavy price) so that it is more receptive to being ‘in the flow’ (just think of any time when you were dancing while heavily drunk), but they take away our control over the experience by overwhelming our awareness and with repeated use the addictive behaviour erodes the ability to be creative at all, therefore they are ultimately damaging to the artistic process and our ability to feel things. They need to be treated with the greatest of respect and never be mistaken as the source of the inspiration they initially facilitate – that source is within us. Creative and artistic inspiration does not come from the lines of cocaine or the cans of beer or bottles of vodka, and thinking that way is a fast track to burnout of all your creative fuses.

A far better way to train your capacity to perceive astral force and to learn how to control it is to adapt some of the mental and astral exercises from IIH by giving them a focus on emotional development. Bardon did not provide specific instructions on emotional development in his book, probably because a) he did not feel the need to write this way for an audience of readers living in the 1950s where the concept of personal feelings held far more emphasis on the ‘personal’ – especially in eastern Europe rather than the US, and b) the exercises of the first book gradually mature the emotional awareness of the magician anyway by exposing it to spiritual realities. For example the process of learning how to transfer yourself mentally into other living beings greatly increases your empathy, and when you learn to sit in one position ignoring any sense of discomfort you are gaining mastery over the emotional state of being comfortable. Additionally the mental chatter we have to deal with in the early mental steps arises from the reactions we have to what we feel about things that are happening, so by attaining discipline over the chatter we are automatically also increasing our emotional discipline. These are all indirect ways the course develops the magician emotionally. However as mentioned above he does specifically instruct the magician to make their spirit more emotional during step 7, he just doesn’t provide any explicit ways to do that because he rightly assumes that anyone actually practicing at this step will be brimming with ideas about how to do it. However even students practicing at step 1 can adapt their practice to include a more specific degree of emotional development and in the modern age I feel that this is actually appropriate to do. The structure of human awareness has greatly changed in the last 70 years with the introduction of electronic technologies and the opening up of psychology and the expression of feelings has created a world in which more explicit guidance might be necessary for some people.

Fortunately this is an easy matter to do. The first exercises of the mental steps of step 1, often labeled as “thought observation” or “thought control”, can easily be adapted towards development of the emotional body simply by giving them an emotional focus. Learn to spend as long as you can simply observing what you are feeling, starting with the goal of 10 minutes and continuing to practice until you can observe it for as long as you wish. Once you can focus your attention on your emotional body for about 10 minutes, begin to learn how to detach yourself and reattach yourself to what you’re feeling. This is a matter of developing a certain ‘muscle’ in your astral body that is able to detach from what you are feeling and simply observe it without being drawn into it and immersed by it. With practice you will discover how to move in and out of your emotional experience at will. It is simply a matter of feeling what you feel, and then stepping back from engaging in it so that you can watch it happening without being swept along. You dance with it, then you stop and rest in the void, listening, then you rejoin it, all under your own control. Outside of meditation you can use music, which has a very direct impact on the astral body, to perform a similar exercise wherein you first learn to focus intently on the way the music is affecting you emotionally and just let it happen, and then develop the ability to detach from that manipulation so that you can observe why and how it affects you. Go to the theatre or a live concert, leave your phone at home, and do the same during the live performance. Live performance is much more vivid and, well, alive than recorded events, and this is important when it comes to the astral force which they communicate.

However the nature of the astral means that recorded events still carry an echo or resonance of the original event which they recorded, a kind of shadow soul which can be accessed and felt again many years after it transpired. It loses much of its power from being recorded but it is still a fragment which if nurtured can be kindled and give off more of the original light it contained. During a genuinely live event where millions of people are witnessing the same thing on screens while some are actually physically present, the laws of space are almost completely breached and all participants share in a singular astral experience, although each will resonate with it differently and so have a different personal reaction or response which makes the experience uniquely theirs. Even more importantly, the fact that the laws of space do not confine the astral as firmly as they do our physical universe means that astral magic can pretty much ignore the whole concept of space when it comes to being able to affect things from a distance, although it will still be bound by the rule of time.

Think about this next time you’re watching the news. Next time you see something awful happening in our world to someone somewhere else or to some other place, take time to be grateful that you can see the faces of the victims, the devastation to the environment. Be grateful too when you are shown the faces of those accused of such things, rightly or wrongly. Your ability to witness all these dreadful things pretty much as they are happening is also your ability to comfort those who need to be comforted and to provide guidance to the misguided and cruel. The power of your feelings is directly proportional to your ability to actually impact their astral experience, although you may never become aware of it. Learn to empathise with every crying face, with every travesty being visited upon your family. Yes, there are many, but do not let yourself fall into despair, let this instead be the spark that makes your compassion burn brighter. Do not be disheartened by the dark storms and catastrophes that suggest that the human race is beyond redemption and everything is already doomed – it is only that way for people who have seen too much and lost touch with their faith in humanity. There is every reason to scold ourselves for what we do to one another and our world, but never any reason to give up on hope, love and redemption. Indeed, we have far more power than we have ever given ourselves credit for, for it is within us to fill the local astral realm with light and, chaotic though it may be now, bring meaning to it all.

8 comments on “On Art & the Love of Life

  1. As a traditional astrologer, I’m struggling with the concepts in the paragraph starting “All this being understood, the astrology depicted in our natal charts focuses on our astral body….”. The basic idea seems to be that the natal chart does not (mostly) describe physical or life circumstance.

    As Ben Dykes says in his “Introduction to Traditional Astrology” –

    “The main distinction (between traditional and modern astrology) is this – In modern astrology the chart is taken to be a picture of your mind. … The traditional approach says that most of the things in your natal chart are not in your mind. They are part of your life, you experience them.

    The seventh house is (traditionally) about your partners and spouse, not your feelings about them. The eleventh house is your friends and friendships, not your feelings about them. And so on …”

    Robert Zoller and the Persians (Mashallah and others) seem to take roughly the same approach. And since these are the people (their books!) I learned from them, I find “astral body” etc somewhat dizzying. Not your fault at all, but I am (as a classically trained astrologer,not a practising magician though I have read through the Picatrix etc) trying very hard to understand the wonderful material here

    At first glance, when you say that the natal chart is a picture of the astral body, it seems as if this flatly contradicts traditional astrological approaches, and seems to say that this is a map of significances (Ben Dykes’s “feelings toward….”) various aspects of life as experienced by the native., thus the 11th house, and any planets therein would be about (in the astralvisions approach) how friendships are (or are not) felt to be significant by the native, not about the actual friends themselves (as traditionally).

    Please correct me if I have misunderstood the idea. Is there any way of reconciling a more traditional approach to astrology with the approach taken here? I’d hate to have to choose between traditional and modern astrology.



    • Hello again! And thank you for this very intelligent and thoughtful response. I will share some of my thoughts with you.
      Firstly, please read the article again reflecting on the comments and hints I make concerning the role of the Akasha principle.
      Then, consider what I have said about the role of the astral as an intermediary between mental and physical reality, AND the tri-fusion of these dimensions in our life experiences.
      You should then perceive that the chart IS able to symbolically show BOTH the astral reality and its corresponding physical form.

      “The main distinction (between traditional and modern astrology) is this – In modern astrology the chart is taken to be a picture of your mind. … The traditional approach says that most of the things in your natal chart are not in your mind. They are part of your life, you experience them.”

      What is in your mind IS a part of your life, you experience it astrally and physically too. So I dont agree with the distinction in the analysis here. And I definately would not agree that the traditional way was only focused on your mundane life issues – it held room for intangible and spiritual concepts that we call today psychology, but which were to our ancestors called curses, divine punishment, possession by evil spirits, etc.

      A life is made up of parts you can change by changing yourself and your behaviour patterns, and a part you cannot because it is already your choice and thus your karma to experience it. Astrology can display the karma you have chosen to work with, but its main focus in western astrology is to empower you to change the expression of the astral. Thats why they use the tropical, seasonal zodiac. Vedic astrology, however, bases its zodiac on the fixed stars simply because it is focused instead on the part you cannot change but must learn to live with, and the fixed stars express that as a zodiac better because they are fixed.

      “Please correct me if I have misunderstood the idea. Is there any way of reconciling a more traditional approach to astrology with the approach taken here? I’d hate to have to choose between traditional and modern astrology.”

      You really DONT have to choose between them, you can use both if you wish, but you MUST as an astrologer reconcile for yourself the unanswerable debate that has been present in all astrology for millenia:

      1) Fate or Free will?
      2) Planets cause, or planets just describe?

      This results in four basic philosophical positions, and to function as an astrologer you will ultimately have to pick a side.

      For your information, my position is and has been for a very long time

      1) Free will, but Fate and Free will are two sides of the same coin which ultimately resolve themselves when viewed from a nontemporal perspective.

      2) Planets describe, they do not cause anything.

      • This is a brilliant answer, so thank you. I need to re read and re think.

        I’ve never encountered the differences between Vedic (and traditional Western, I guess, with minor modifications, notably no concept of karma) and Tropical (so mostly Western from Hellenistic, Persian etc roots) being explained this way before! It is worth a blog entry of its own! This makes a lot of sense, and gives me even more to think about.

        I am not sure if Vedic astrology is concerned solely with fixed life circumstance, and while I’m not an expert, I think they have a lot of remedial measures, mantra, gemstones, rituals etc which seem analogous to the Western (Picatrix, Ficino etc) tradition of petitions/astrological theurgy and electional talismans. The existence of remedial measures seems to imply that the vedic astrologers’ philosophy includes the idea that “unalterable” destiny can be changed with effort, specifically with astrological magic.

        That said, your notion of how the use of tropical vs sidereal zodiacs bias the systems of astrology that use them in one direction or another is brilliant, and very thought provoking.

        Now that I think about it, Vedic (and traditional western) astrology does seem, in retrospect, to focus on first nailing the concrete details and then worry about how to change or deal with those concrete manifestations of a planetary force, and modern western astrology seems to focus first on the psychological impact and posit that changing one’s mind changes the manifested reality. I need to think about this more, but thanks for this illuminating perspective of how the underlying zodiacs might have formed these distinct approaches. It is very obvious you have thought deeply about this.

        I really need to dive deeper into Hermetic theory to make sense of the magic terminology in this post – water of mental body, astral plane etc etc. What is a good starting point? IIH? (I have a copy but have only skimmed). I’m handicapped in comprehending these lovely blog posts since I don’t have magical experience. (I know how to elect a good moment for a Pictarix ian talisman, but have never made one and that’s the extent of my “magical” knowledge, so close to zero). I can follow the astrological parts, but am lost in the magic parts.

        The last two questions are great too. I have roughly the same perspective as yours – fate and free will, both, but I happen to believe in reincarnation, a perspective lost in Persian/Medieval Western astrology, so I think of them as time staggered points on the same “incarnation line” – today’s free will is tomorrow’s destiny, and today’s destiny is yesterday’s free will, as a fellow astrologer put it.

        With respect to the second question I also don’t think planets “cause” anything, but they do seem to deliver effects, like the postman delivers mail! I think of them as bureaucrats who channel karmic results to the native, somewhat as the IRS sends out notifications of taxes owed! They are just doing their jobs, and it is nothing personal (though sometimes it feels that way!!)

        So our perspectives seem to align, more or less, but the key difference is that you are also a magician, in addition to being an astrologer, and I lack that perspective, which makes some of these ideas – Akasha operating in astral plane etc – hard for me to understand.

        Thanks again for the great reply. I’ll go think about all this for a while.


        • To be clear the choice of zodiac is not an exclusive one, meaning that the tropical zodiac can display our karma as much as our character, and the sidereal zodiac vice versa. It’s just a matter of better suitability, tradition and cultural significance.
          The theory section of IIH is a good place to start with hermetic theory, yes. The Elements, three planes plus the Akasha are the core theoretical parts to grasp. The 7 hermetic principles in the Kybalion are also useful starting points. After that, dive into the older texts.
          I like your grasp of the planets as messengers, this is accurate in my experience. Also, karma is not entirely ‘fixed’ otherwise we could not redeem it, it is better to say that it is relatively fixed compared to the continuous flux of the astral.

    • Thank you! You know that I don’t use those labels with myself, seeing myself as just an astrologer using all the available information, and I worry sometimes that astrology is fracturing into different ghettos, rather like magic sadly did, and that we are losing the ability to undertsand one another, so I deeply appreciate your effort to build bridges between different approaches.

Leave a Reply to astralvisions Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s