We earlier examined the meaning of activity in the spiritual domain. Here we are investigating how to call into being and operation the higher powers of the spiritual world.
In the metaphysical tradition, the concept of "powers" includes both:
Mental, social, physical, or spiritual efficacy -- capacity, authority, or right -- and
Entities which possesses such efficacy
I hesitate to use the term "evoke" in this essay because such a great deal of nonsense has been
written about "magical evocation of spirits" and other such deliberate confabulation. One of the twentieth-century works of
charlatanry was Franz Bardon's The Practice of Magical Evocation. This book, as well as his Initiation Into Hermetics,
were pretences at explaining the phenomena of evocation and initiation. Bardon worked within the pseudo-scientific arenas of
astrology, cabala, and tarot, obfuscating important metaphysical topics and trying to pass off simplistic nonsense as the veriest
truth. To review Bardon's The Practice of Magical Evocation, go here.
A Completely Different Approach
In contradistinction to such nonsense as Bardon's, I'm using the term "evoke" in a very specific sense to refer to:
Calling up powers (efficacies and entities) from within ourselves and also
Evoking powers in this special sense of conjure: 1
To charge or entreat earnestly or solemnly
To summon by or as if by invocation or incantation 2
To affect or effect by or as if by magic
To bring to mind
"For man is demonstrated to be an epitome of the whole mundane creation, and was generated to become wise above all terrestrial animals; being endowed, besides those powers which he commonly exerts, and by means of which he is able to contemplate the things which exist around him, with the germ of a higher faculty, which, when rightly developed and set apart, reveals the hidden Forms of manifested Being, and secrets of the Causal Fountain, identically within himself. Nor this alone; not only is man reputed able to discover the Divine Nature, but, in the forcible language of the Asclepian Dialogue, to effect It; and in this sense, namely with respect to the Catholic Reason which is latent in his life, man was once said to be the Image of God."
Mary A. Atwood, Hermetic Philosophy and Alchemy, 1850, 1960
When I speak of evoking spiritual powers, I refer both to effectuating higher capabilities
within our inner essence but also
to invoking supersensual dynamisms (beings and forces). This is essentially what Plato meant when he spoke of "communing with
Higher Powers." As we saw in an earlier essay, communion connotes both
communicating with and also becoming one with another entity.
Perennialist savants such as Hermes, Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato, Plotinus, Iamblicus, and
Porphyry spoke of hierarchies of spiritual and terrestrial beings: divinities, higher spirits, guiding spirits, and souls.
All humans have their own
level of being that determines their life experience. Each of us has been assigned our
own guardian spirit. This guiding spirit has its being on the level immediately above our own. If we discover and work within
the spiritual domain--as guided by the guardian spirit--we can achieve higher levels of being while on earth and after passing to
the next realm. Until, as Plotinus, puts it, one "reaches the heights."
"There is, therefore, in each of us one peculiar presiding guiding spirit . . . The invocation of him is
effected through The One, who is the lord of spirits; who from the first defined to every one his peculiar spirit; and who, in
sacred operations, unfolds to every one his proper spirit, according to his own proper will . . ."
Iamblicus, De Mysteriis
Power in World Cultures
Historically, most cultures have used a special term to delineate powers which they considered supernatural:
Astral Light, Arealoha, Archeus, Baraka, Bioenergy, Bioplasma, Qi, Ki, Ecknakar, Elma, God, Huna, Ka, Kerei, Mana, Mumia,
Mungo, Nervous Ether, Numen, 3 Odic Force, Orenda, Paraelectricity, Pneuma, Prana, Reiki,
the Sacred, 4
Spiritus, Syntropy, Tinh, Tondi, Vis Naturalis, Wakan, and Wisdom.
Spiritual forces were believed to be associated with special persons, places, and objects, so seekers
traveled to these entities to gain supernatural power and capabilities.
known pilgrimage site is Mount Kailash in Tibet. Located at an altitude of 18,000 feet, it has been the destination of holy
expeditions for an astounding 15,000 years. Walking the 32-mile trail around Kailash takes about three days. Buddhists say the ritual
circumambulation erases the sins of one lifetime, and 108 times around the mountain will enable you to reach Nirvana automatically.
In ancient Greece, sages built an Earth Goddess shrine at Delphi because of the abundance of plenum,
an energy they believed bubbled out of the earth on the slopes of Mount Parnassus. The Chinese believe in a similar life force
called chi. Sufis call it Baraka and Hindus know it as prana.
"A man of knowledge is one who has followed truthfully the hardships of learning; a man who has, without rushing or faltering,
gone as far as he can in unraveling the secrets of personal power. Only be concerned with the idea of storing personal power."
Carlos Castaneda, Journey to Ixtlan
People believe that this biophysical energy can be accessed or generated through such techniques as meditation, fasting, and breathing techniques. It is said that these supernatural forces
can infuse a person with tremendous dynamism and make him or her extremely powerful in action, much more so than power developed through the ordinary body or mind alone.
This supernatural power is depicted as a transferable quality of personal blessedness and spiritual force said to lodge in certain individuals, places such as the Peruvian Andes,
and objects such as crystals or monoliths.
"It is from understanding that power comes; and the power in the ceremony was in understanding what it meant . . ."
John Neihardt, Black Elk Speaks
Power in the Perennial Tradition
Perennialist teachers contact, store, and project higher spiritual powers for specific,
They teach advanced students about these phenomena in terms which the initiates can understand. They explicate a reality which
has little in common with ordinary life. Transcendental forces have only an approximate resemblance to ordinary human powers, so
the teacher must use similes, myths, and allegories to explicate these phenomena which reside in another dimension.
Perennialist teachers are able to concentrate and project a completely higher spiritual energy through means which are taught
only to advanced students.
Persons can make themselves open to this transcendental force and can also, through their behavior or attitudes,
impermeable to it. It is a force which can be lost once it has been received, through thoughtlessness, immorality, or disbelief. This
force often works through persons without their being aware of its operation, either in part or in full. When this extra-dimensional
operates through persons it can appear that they are consciously performing certain activities when in fact they may be only
partially aware--or not at all aware--of what is happening. Such persons may appear to be predominantly positive, conscious agents of a higher spiritual power when, indeed, they may be primarily negative in their effect, being used by a demonic force in spite of themselves.
"Sufi tradition has it that 'intermediaries' often prepare the ground for the Sufi message. The strange thing about this
doctrine is that the 'intermediary' is someone who is temporarily or permanently endowed with a minimum of Baraka (power):
and such a man or woman is largely unconscious of what he is actually destined to do."
O. M. Burke, Among the Dervishes, Octagon Press, 1973
One of the primary means of distinguishing the Perennial Tradition from degraded and corrupted
systems is its understanding and use of spiritual power. In such aberrant systems as shamanism, black magic, witchcraft,
metallic alchemy, and sorcery, a species of extra-normal power is invoked to be used for personal--often negative--purposes.
To denounce degenerate systems in this way is completely different from how, say, a bigoted and dogmatic Christian would anathematize any practice outside his purview in these terms: "To seek spiritual power outside a submissive
relationship to the Roman Catholic Church is to practice witchcraft."
Higher spiritual powers, as we are here exploring this phenomenon, only appear to the uninformed and
ignorant to be similar to the forces which are invoked in debased systems. We must
from lower, debilitating forces which depraved persons can learn to summon and utilize. Humans at present are so
immature that they're unaware that they
can be manipulated by a charlatan through emotional stimuli, causing these persons to believe they have been involved in
a spiritual event when it's nothing more than a heightened, subjective, counterfeit experience.
We call such charlatans charmers, enchanters, entrancers, or spellbinders. We also refer to charms,
spells, chants, and amulets as verbal incantations or objects supposed to endow occultists with magical potency. Persons who allow themselves
to be duped by such frauds are merely seeking stimulation, not understanding or personal and social transformation.
The essential difference between higher spiritual powers and black magical or occult forces is that a person
learning to contact and cooperate with higher dynamism must of necessity attain advanced
moral understanding and rectitude. It is
simply impossible to contact or work with higher spiritual forces unless one has attained the state of high moral purpose and discernment. Higher
powers, by their very nature, are indiscernible and incomprehensible to persons who seek to use them for negative purposes.
"The deeper secrets and laws of our being are self-protected; to
learn them requires an adaptation of
character and purpose, and a humility of mind and spirit, inconsistent with those displayed by the perverse or
merely curious enquirer. To understand, let alone practically to explore, the Hermetic Mystery is not for
every one--at least, at his present state of evolutional unfolding . . . Only to those whose spiritual destiny has
already equipped them with a certain high measure of moral and intellectual fitness will even a rough notional
apprehension of it be practicable."
Walter Leslie Wilmhurst, Introduction to M. A. Atwood, Hermetic Philosophy and Alchemy
Just as our current civilization uses electricity, magnetism, and electro-magnetic waves, Perennialist savants use and manipulate higher spiritual energies. These subtle forms of power function in reference to certain laws of nature, just as electromagnetism operates by certain
laws. Spiritual energy can be contacted and utilized only through esoteric knowledge, which is preserved for those who demonstrate
the prerequisite moral and intellectual qualities.
What Are Higher Spiritual Powers?
Spiritual powers consist of subtle inner forces which we activate or external dynamic energy found in persons, events, or places which we evoke. We'll first examine two inner spiritual powers which require an altered or heightened state of consciousness in order to discover and understand them. Then we'll look closely at external spiritual forces and how we access their energies.
The ordinary consciousness is incapable of recognizing inner or external powers, because such powers are too subtle and seem to common awareness to be too powerless and insignificant for any serious consideration. Higher spiritual forces possess and utilize power in ways we would
"There exists in you, indefinitely developable, an engine of power, dynamically creative, capable of impressing and molding your material world according as you give out from your inner being in creative force."
Stewart Edward White and Betty White, Across the Unknown
We develop genuine spiritual power by establishing a propulsion of the vitality we accumulate through spiritual awareness. This force is fundamentally a sensation of throwing out from ourselves--not an idea to be expressed but an active, superabundant sort of energy that naturally overflows and helps to do for others what has already been done for us.
It's like a magnetic or chemical attraction that draws out of other people a similar quality, and
gets them started with their own effort. This spiritual power involves continually throwing off from ourselves the surplus
vitality of understanding and sympathetic awareness.
"It is just this gentle distribution around you of the spiritual heart force, as you feel its expansion within you, that will teach
you the actuality of spiritual faculties."
Stewart Edward White and Betty White, Across the Unknown
The more we ally ourselves with the subtle higher spiritual powers, the more we become aware of even
greater forces to be cooperated with in order to gain still more comprehensive empowerment.
Self-Control and Self-Improvement
Along with the development of a propulsion of the vitality we accumulate through spiritual awareness, the second transcendent "power" we work to achieve is self-control. As all Perennialist savants have taught, we gain dynamism through our efforts at self-awareness and self-improvement. If you're not appalled at who you were last year--last week--then you're not developing the absolutely essential spiritual powers of self-control and self-improvement.
"Surely the resolve that moves the Sufis towards abandonment is their realization of the evil ways that control them."
Abu-al-Mawahib al-Shadhili, Articles of the Maxims of Illumination
If who you were ten years ago--or fifty years ago--doesn't seem entirely alien to you, you're not effectively working at self-awareness and self-improvement. You're not paying attention, not learning what you need to change in yourself.
Such self-cleansing and self-improvement aren't merely optional courses of action in achieving
spiritual empowerment, they're prerequisites for higher discernment.
"Cleanse us from our blemishes that we might see your attribute in the mirror of our existence which is drawn from the
existence of your existence."
Abu-al-Mawahib al-Shadhili, Articles of the Maxims of
While self-improvement requires honest recognition of past errors, you need to forgive
yourself for what you have been and done--just as you need to forgive others.
It's inadvisable to try to associate with people
who cannot forgive you for what you were. Such distortion of personality arises from their inability to forgive themselves.
As the Perennialist sage al-Ahadhili reminds us, "While you live avoid those folk who are supposed to
be 'the good.'"
"Faults will turn to good, provided we use them to our own humiliation, without slackening in the effort to correct ourselves.
Discouragement serves no possible purpose; it is simply the despair of wounded self-love. The real way of profiting by the
humiliation of one's own faults is to face them in their true hideousness, without ceasing to hope in God, while hoping nothing
Self-control and self-improvement are spiritual powers necessary for any higher understanding.
The pleasure of the true seeker, Al-Ahadhili explains, consists in opposing self. Part of self-opposition is to avoid any sense of
self-importance or fame.
"The higher the station of a gnostic, the smaller he appears in the eyes of
Abu-al-Mawahib al-Shadhili, Articles of the Maxims of Illumination
"If any man desire to be first in spiritual attainment, the same shall be last of all and servant of all."
Jesus of Nazareth
The Spiritual Power of Discernment
Discernment is the power of comprehending a phenomenon with ordinary physical and mental senses
as well as with higher intellectual faculties. Most humans have no conception of discernment's extraordinary, transcendent potency,
because they mistakenly believe that it's easy, indeed automatic, for a person to apprehend what reality is.
"The ancient Gnosis we may define as that knowledge of the nature
of Man and of his place in the Universe which transcends the mere appearance of things as presented to the senses
and the intellect, and which contacts Reality in a region of pure Truth. The beginning of this knowledge, therefore,
is the realization that things are not what they seem; and no one who is a crude realist--as are all orthodox
Christians, both in respect of the physical world and of their own Scriptures--can make any approach to this
William Kingsland. The Gnosis or Ancient Wisdom
in the Christian Scriptures
We begin to gain the elementary powers of discernment when we see that our ordinary view of reality is
a deadly delusion, that comprehending reality requires our awakening and developing specific capabilities enabling us to
fathom a veiled unknown actuality.
To grasp how powerful discernment is, let's examine a phenomenon that many Americans feel they comprehend just through ordinary experience: President Barack Obama. They believe they know that he is a well-intentioned, brilliant, leader who is basically a humane person trying to do his best by the American people.
People who believe that about Obama are at the mercy of suicidal delusions. Most such people are unaware that they're suffering from mental derangement. Their ignorance of their own self-destructive ignorance has led to their allowing themselves to be used as cannon fodder in wars started only for the purpose of corporate profit and militaristic domination. They're allowing their own country to be ruined by debt, globalistic transfer of American jobs to cheap labor markets, Constitutional freedoms being destroyed wholesale before our eyes, and rapidly increasing poverty and debt for the middle and lower economic classes.
Unfortunately, Americans and citizens worldwide are NOT
awakening from their delusions and developing powers of discernment. They're increasingly embracing mindlessness, ignorance, and self-gratification, leading to their being duped by Obama and his
controllers: an insane, demonic group of moneyed persons who will sacrifice anyone to gain more power and wealth. What gives us hope is the realization that--even in this murderous Dark Age--Higher Knowledge is currently being preserved, protected, and disseminated by persons working within the Perennial Tradition.
"In reality cognition is . . . spiritual struggle for meaning . . . It is decided by the intensity of the will to truth and meaning . . ."
If you don't recognize that we're living in the time of a transcendent, spiritual struggle of Truth against devastation and falsehood, you're simply not awake enough to have much hope for survival. At this point in human history, we either overcome our deadly delusions and work to attain the spiritual power of discernment, or the human race may descend into increasing barbarism and ultimate extinction.
Spiritual discernment allows us not only to see through social delusions but to gain an
awareness of transcendent realities as well.
"The illusion from which we are seeking to extricate ourselves is not that constituted by the realm of space and time, but
that which comes from failing to know that realm from the standpoint of a higher vision. We are at length restored to consciousness by awakening in a real universe, the universe created by the One Mind as opposed to that perversion of it which has been created by our egocentric selves. We then see the visible world as the expression of the immanental life of God, the Divine in manifestation. In relating ourselves to it we live in that Presence subjectively in the depths of our mystical being. And in the properly integrated personality the two processes have become one."
Lawrence Hyde, The Nameless Faith, (1950)
Evoking Higher Spiritual Powers
In evoking Higher Spiritual Powers, the teacher must assist the student to enter into an altered state of consciousness, thereby activating a higher faculty within. We relax the bonds by which the soul is held down by the body:
To allow the soul to reunite with the Higher Consciousness
To release the soul from the spell under which it is held in bondage in the body
To bring the body and the mind to quiescence
To free the Higher Consciousness from the enthrallment of the ego consciousness
To reunite the soul with its lost universality
To separate the higher subtle feelings from the gross sense feelings
To free the soul from any misconceptions
To allow the soul to travel to higher realms
In bringing about this altered state, these factors are involved:
The teacher giving suggestions of passivity to the student and neutralizing his consciousness: Plato says that communing with Higher Powers is possible only when the understanding or reasoning faculty is in abeyance
The student gazing at a specified object to entrance the eye and the conscious mind
The teacher speaking directly to the student's subconscious mind to influence and control his behavior
The teacher and the student conversing with the powers within
Setting the mental framework as the experience of the moment of death followed by rebirth
The teacher manipulating the student's Force Field
to activate the psychic force field within which the student resides
to bring all facets of this life force into harmonious interplay and homeostasis
The teacher's psyche leading the student's psyche through suggesting actions, feelings, and thoughts
"The aspirant therefore would be placed in the condition of a person at the moment of death or in anaesthesia; but with this difference, that, whilst thus reduced to subjectivity, he would be at the mercy of the compelling will and direction of the operator into whose power he had committed himself. His consciousness, withdrawn from externals, would be restricted to and focused upon the mind's internal content, and these inania regna he would be directed to explore and to consider."
Walter Leslie Wilmhurst, Introduction to Mary A. Atwood, Hermetic Philosophy and Alchemy
To evoke Higher Spiritual Powers, the teacher and the student must be thoroughly conversant with the various levels of being and consciousness.
Level of Being
Forms Higher Spiritual Powers
Higher Consciousness Communion
Higher Concepts Higher Symbols
Higher Intellect Inspiration
Persons Objects Concepts
Lower Consciousness Sensing, Feeling, Thinking
In evoking Higher Powers through effecting an
altered state of consciousness, the teacher speaks directly to the student's subconscious mind, which is malleable, capable of
being controlled by the suggestions or commands of the teacher.
As described by Plutarch, the altered state involves the deactivation of the
consciousness, separating it from awareness of objects and matters that are immediately present to our ordinary experience,
allowing us to enter a new order of being.
Iamblicus, The Egyptian Mysteries
"There exists a faculty in the human mind which is immeasurably superior to all those which are grafted or engendered in us.
By it we can attain to union with superior intelligences, finding ourselves raised above the scenes of this earthly life, and
partaking of the higher existence and superhuman powers of the inhabitants of the celestial spheres.
"By this faculty we find ourselves liberated finally from the dominion of destiny, and we become, as it were, the arbiters of
our own fates. For, when the most excellent parts in us find themselves filled with energy; and when our soul is lifted up
towards essences higher than science, it can separate itself from the conditions which hold it in the bondage of every-day
life; it exchanges its ordinary existence for another one, it renounces the conventional habits which belong to the external
order of things, to give itself up to and mix itself with another order of things which reigns in that most elevated state of
Why An Altered State of Consciousness?
To evoke Higher Spiritual Powers, we place ourselves in an altered state of consciousness
that activates the higher faculty described by Iamblicus above. An altered state of consciousness is necessary because only in this
higher state are we able to activate clairvoyant powers such as clairsentience, sight, and clairaudience, and understanding. We ultimately learn to utilize these supranormal powers even while in our ordinary state of consciousness.
"This third vision of light [anagogic] is in Elysium: where the eye of mind, no longer as heretofore looking from without inwardly, beholds its object through the atmosphere of the natural life; but contrariwise, having passed through this, purifying to the centre, is converted and raised; and, as a Unit, now regards the circumference transitively, including it as an understanding or reflector, as it were, to the focus of her light."
Mary A. Atwood, Hermetic Philosophy and Alchemy, p. 237
To achieve these powers requires that a person be initiated by someone who herself has attained them and understands how to instruct in fundamentals, train for attainment of capabilities, and to place ceremoniously or formally in an office or a position of power.
"Plato was initiated into the 'Greater Mysteries' at the age of 49. The initiation took place in one of the subterranean halls of
the Great Pyramid in Egypt. The ISIAC TABLE formed the altar, before which the Divine Plato stood and received that which was
always his, but which the ceremony of the Mysteries enkindled and brought from its dormant state. With this ascent, after
three days in the Great Hall, he was received by the Hierophant of the Pyramid (the Hierophant was seen only by those who
had passed the three days, the three degrees, the three dimensions) and given verbally the Highest Esoteric Teachings, each
accompanied with its appropriate Symbol. After a further three months' sojourn in the halls of the Pyramid, the Initiate
Plato was sent out into the world to do the work of the Great Order, as Pythagoras and Orpheus had been before him."
1 As defined in Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 10th Edition
2 Incantation: enchantment, use of spells or verbal charms spoken or sung as a part of a ritual of magic,
a written or recited formula of words designed to produce a particular effect [Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary,
3 Numen: a spiritual force or influence often identified with a natural object, phenomenon, or place
How did "numen," a Latin term meaning "nod of the head," come to be associated with spiritual power? The answer lies in the fact
that the ancient Romans saw divine force and power operating in the inanimate objects and nonhuman phenomena around them. They
believed that the gods had the power to command events and to consent to actions, and the idea of a god nodding suggested his or
her awesome abilities--divine power. Eventually, Latin speakers began using "numen" to describe the special divine force of any
object, place, or phenomenon that inspired awe (a mystical-seeming wooded grove, for example, or the movement of the sun), and
"numen" made the semantic leap from "nod" to "divine will or power." English speakers adopted the word during the 1600s.
4 The SACRED is that which is the object of veneration and awe. The term comes from the Latin sacer
meaning restricted or set off. A person may be designated as sacred, and so can an object or a place which is regarded as
extraordinary, dynamic, magical, or unique.
5 In his book The Secret Teachings of All Ages, Manly P. Hall says that a manuscript by
Thomas Taylor contained the remarkable paragraph quoted above.
Evelyn Underhill, Mysticism -- Anyone genuinely interested in mysticism will want to read Underhill's excellent book. Though Underhill's bias of Christian orthodoxy sometimes colors her discussion, in general her book is thoughtful and beneficial.
There are countless phony shamans and gurus who write unreadable books on the mystical life. Among the more prolix and syncretistic is Iona Miller.