A Transmutation Ritual

     A Transmutation 1 Ritual emcompasses the Alchemical essence of:     

Anagogical: from the Greek anagein: to lift up; the word denotes any entity or experience through which a prepared person's actions, thoughts and feelings are lifted up from worldly sense experience to realize an experiential participation in the spiritual realm. The aspirant must have the correct respect for Higher Knowledge.

Theurgy: from the Greek theourgia meaning "divine" and "work," thus a "divinely oriĀ­ented action;" a ritual activity that unites the soul with the Divine, the soul changing its ontological status from that of mortal to immortal, to divinity; the medium by which the embodied soul ascends to a point at which it becomes capable of engaging in a transformative dialectic with Divinity, experiencing Divinity instead of merely conceptualizing the Godhead

Maieutic : maieûtikos, midwife, one who assists in the delivery of a new being

Psychagogy: psuchagôgé, from Greek, psûché, soul, and agogé, transport to or lead out of; the science of helping to bring out (give birth to) new elements (ideas, beings) from a person's soul or to bring into (transmit to) a person's soul, elements from a higher level of being.

(To enter into the mood of this essay, contemplate the image below before proceeding.
Additional information on the drawing is available here.)

     In this essay, we'll first examine the concept and practice of anagogical theurgy as taught by Iamblicus and other Perennialist adepts and espoused by Roman emperor Julian 2 and others influenced by Perennialist teachings. The second part of the essay presents an outline for a specialized theurgical rite which prepared readers can utilize in psychogogical meditation.

      According to Perennialist sages, theurgy consists of performatory 3 rites by which the ordinary mind ascends to Higher Consciousness, becoming capable of engaging in meaningful dialectic with the Divine. The soul changes its ontological status from that of mortal to immortal, to Divinity.

     Theurgy, therefore, is not merely some verbal mumbo-jumbo that a believer intones with the hope that it may have some positive effect. It is, as Iamblicus made clear, "the perfective operation of indescribable acts (erga) correctly performed, acts which are beyond all ordinary understanding (huper pasan noesin)" and which are "intelligible only to Divinity." 4

     As with all terrestrial entities, theurgy can be debased and misused to manipulate unthinking persons. We must, therefore, distinguish between the positive use of anagogical theurgy from some of its distortions and perversions.

     Spiritual theurgy involves enchantment: an action which moves a person to an altered state of consciousness. Used in a negative fashion, enchantment imposes on the aspirant a pernicious psychological and physiological dependence on the initiator of the enchantment.

     Much of television advertising involves subliminal erotic enchantment of the viewer's mind and feelings. The process is even more powerful because the victims are unaware of what's happening to them.

     In a very real sense, our ordinary state of consciousness is one of enchantment with sensory data, a literal fascination with the terrestrial world. Theurgy can be seen as dis-enchantment from the physical domain, allowing for entry into the realm of the spirit.

     Theurgy involves incantation--the use of spells or verbal charms spoken or sung leading to an altered state of consciousness. Used in a negative manner, incantation can lead the aspirant to a vitiated state of mindless somnolence, allowing a mountebank to impose his or her depraved will.

      Currently, we find this type of thought-destroying incantation employed by religious extremists of every faith: the orthodox Christian right encouraging its devotees to intone mantras of militaristic imperialism, while Muslim extremists mindlessly recite scriptural passages commanding a jihad against unbelievers.

     Divination, the art or science of evoking hidden supernatural powers, is a facet of transmutation rituals. The perversion of divination is black magic in which the attempt is made to summon and manipulate discarnate spirits or forces to carry out the magician's will.

     Spiritual theurgy evokes spiritual powers, both in the sense of activating higher powers within the person and also invoking supersensual powers or beings. Transmuatational rituals involve what Plato spoke of as "communing with Higher Powers," since "communion" connotes both communicating with and also becoming one with another entity.

     Thus we're using the term "evoke" in a very specific sense to refer to:

  1. Calling up powers (efficacies and entities) from within ourselves and also

  2. Evoking powers in this special sense of conjure:
  • To charge or entreat earnestly or solemnly

  • To summon by or as if by invocation or incantation

  • To affect or effect by or as if by magic

  • To bring to mind

Evoking Higher Spiritual Powers

     In evoking Higher Spiritual Powers, the Perennialist teacher assists the initiate to enter into an altered state of consciousness, thereby activating a higher, inner faculty. We relax the bonds by which the soul is held down by the body:
  • To allow the soul to reunite with 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 entrancing the senses of the seeker

    • The teacher giving suggestions of mental passivity to the seeker and neutralizing his consciousness in conformity with Plato's teaching that communing with Higher Powers is possible only when the ordinary understanding or reasoning faculty is in abeyance

    • The seeker gazing at specified objects to entrance the eye and the conscious mind

  • The teacher speaking directly to the seeker's subliminal or subjective mind--the soul--to guide his experience

  • The teacher and the seeker conversing with the powers within

  • Setting the mental framework as the experience of the moment of death followed by rebirth
  • The teacher working with the seeker's Force Field

    • To activate the psychic force field within which the seeker resides

    • To bring all facets of this life force into harmonious interplay and homeostasis

  • The teacher's psyche leading the seeker's psyche through suggesting actions, feelings, and thoughts
     A transmutation ritual is essentially the words and images selected (or created) by a Perennialist teacher to act automatically on the seeker's consciousness, independently of the teacher's physical presence.

In performing the Transmutation Ritual below, speak the words aloud to yourself as though a Perennialist teacher is speaking through your voice to your subliminal consciousness.

A Transmutation Ritual

     Through speaking these words and contemplating the images, you are awakening a faculty in your consciousness which is immeasurably superior to any you are aware of. As you awaken this faculty you are attaining union with your Higher Consciousness, raising yourself above the scenes of this earthly life and partaking of the higher existence and supersensible powers of the celestial sphere.

     Enter now the psychological state of the moment of your death. Reflect on how it feels to be dead.

      Feel your complete detachment from your body.

      These words are placing you in a state of anaesthesia. While in this condition, your consciousness withdraws from externals, restricts itself to and focuses upon your mind's internal content.

     Enter more deeply into the psychological state of the moment of your death. Feel your complete detachment from your body.

As once the winged energy of delight
carried you over childhood's dark abysses,
now beyond your own life build the great
arch of unimagined bridges.

Wonders happen if we can succeed
in passing through the harshest danger;
but only in a bright and purely granted
achievement can we realize the wonder.

To work with Things in the indescribable
relationship is not too hard for us;
the pattern grows more intricate and subtle,
and being swept along is not enough.

Take your practiced powers and stretch them out
until they span the chasm between two
contradictions. . .
For God wants to know Himself in you. 5

"Unless you make yourself equal to God, you cannot understand God: for the like is not intelligible save to the like.

Make yourself grow to a greatness beyond measure, by a bound free yourself from the body; raise yourself above all time, become Eternity; then you will understand God.

Believe that nothing is impossible for you, think yourself immortal and capable of understanding all, all arts, all sciences, the nature of every living being.

Mount higher than the highest height; descend lower than the lowest depth.

Draw into yourself all sensations of everything created, fire and water, dry and moist, imagining that you are everywhere, on earth, in the sea, in the sky, that you are not yet born, in the maternal womb, adolescent, old, dead, beyond death.

If you embrace in your thought all things at once, times, places, substances, qualities, quantities, you may understand God." 6

"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 being." 4

You are beyond your body and your earthly existence. You are residing in eternity in your Higher Consciousness.


1 "Despite the soul's fall there lingers in it, although in a condition of atrophy and enchantment, a residual germ of that divine principle which once wholly actuated it; a germ capable of being so stimulated into activity as to raise the personal consciousness even to the point of unity and identity with the Universal Mind and through the healing efficacy of that principle's transmuting potencies, to effect such an organic change in the psychical, and even the physical parts of our present frail and imperfect nature as will bring them into a divinised condition." Mary A. Atwood, Hermetic Philosophy and Alchemy, 1850, 1960

2 The Roman emperor Julian did not practice normative civic paganism of the earlier empire, but a kind of magical approach to classical philosophy sometimes identified as theurgy and also neoplatonism. In 362 CE, Julian promulgated an edict to guarantee freedom of religion, reversing 353 CE and 356 CE edicts by Constantius II which had made Christianity, de facto, the most influential religion in the Roman Empire. This edict proclaimed that all religions were equal in the eyes of the Law, and that the Roman Empire had returned to its original religious eclecticism, according to which the Roman State did not impose any religion on its provinces.

3 Performatory: Any statement of the form "I hereby. . ." is explicitly framed as a performative verbal ritual; the speaker is declaring that the utterance itself has accomplished the act it describes. In some cases, such a performative utterance is immediately followed by supporting actions or statements: for example, a magician might say "I hereby consecrate this ground and invoke the power of the runes inscribed about my magic circle." He might then sprinkle a powder, potion or simple water around the circle, similar to the consecration of a Catholic altar with holy water, and pronounce the names of the runes he had inscribed on the earth.

4 Iamblicus, On the Mysteries

5 Rainer Maria Rilke, "As once the winged energy of delight"

6 Hermes, Asclepius