Journals are one of the most useful tools in a magician’s temple. Writing down events, ideas and progressive achievement can prove to better ones skill in any category. While memory is powerful, it would be foolish to assume that we remember everything all the time. Our journals can serve to remind us of our goals and aspirations while simultaneously serving to bring them to life.
Writing is the physical manifestation of thought itself. If mind is the ultimate force of creative energy, then transcribing its contents serve to shape reality to the mold of its beholder. When we use the symbols given to us through words to align thoughts with our creative insight, something very powerful happens. That correspondence between mind and matter serves to create a resonance within an individual and the once ephemeral thought becomes a tangible substance. Where there was once nothing, there is something.
Magicians create and manifest results
The most fundamental part about being human is our ability to translate our thoughts through this medium and create. This is also an essential aspect of practical magick. The power of chants and incantations have been around for as long as we have been able to utter them, whether to call for rains for harvest, seeking protection, or creating surplus.
These ritualistic practices work to concentrate energy into a definitive area of focus: manifesting results of a desired intent. Think, then, how powerful words can be when written into a form that is solidified in the physical realm with ink — readily referenced at any time. You now have physical record of a pursued thought, emotion, desire, and goal — whatever it is you are intending to produce.
The act of inscription takes an ephemeral thought and transforms it into a solidified substance, aligning the world of the mind into matter. Intent behind the word or symbol resonates with the cosmos, serving to further each individual purpose. The gratification that comes along with creating a magical journal is reward in and of itself. Bearing fruit of your intentions and seeing the correspondence between the world and your writing is the foundation of cultivating significance.
It is also important to note that our failures are a central aspect of our practice, and failure is often one of the most motivating and instructive circumstance that anyone can experience. Victories in our practice inform us as to what is working, while failures can teach us what is not. Both are equally important.
Record dreams and symbols
Symbols and dreams are also significant to inscribe as they can give us great insight as to a specific area of focus. One symbol can mean different things to different cultures, and some may have a unified perspective no matter how wide its influence may carry. We understand, however, that no matter what cultural interpretation we perceive, there are symbolic references to just about any archetypal scenario.
Life seems to be an endless spectrum of experience, with both dichotomy and unity in its expression, and through our observation, we find structural concepts of both symmetrical and asymmetrical properties. The beautiful thing about symbolism is its ability to morph and express itself in whatever perspective the observer intends it for. Some are defined by certain interpretations due to the nature of cultural significance, and immediately make connections concerning prior conditioning. It is only when one reaches past these preconditions and discovers connection and contradiction of symbolism itself throughout various culture can an individual begin to appreciate the seemingly endless spectrum of experience.
What your mind focuses on in the waking state and in the dream can elucidate we are in and what we might be able to expect from the messages we receive from ourselves and the cosmos. Whether in the arts of divination or just a metaphysical analysis of a situation, keeping record can be the difference between a powerful practitioner and a sloppy one, following the whims of immediate desire and assuming the memory will serve to provide a vigilant perspective. More often than not, this approach will lead to subconscious pitfalls, falling into convenient patterns of behavior that serve only to keep an individual stuck in stagnation.
Sigils, incantations, goals, and symbols are all elements that are imperative to our record keeping. The act of drawing a sigil is the very thing that gives it so much power, striking resonance in the subconscious between the mental image and physical form. The process is relevant to any form of inscription. The mind creates a bond with its creation, cementing a connection ripe with personal significance, although it is often recommended to burn a sigil after its creation. This serves to create a subconscious drive within the individual without allowing the ego to obsess or perpetuate unnecessary desire, as again, this only seems to complicate the process.
Symbols can be attributed to animal totems, tarot cards, metals, elements, astrological signs, plants, etc. How far you want to involve yourself is up to you as one can easily get lost in tables of correspondences. I recommend paying attention to the recurring elements, and the symbols that seem to be the most significant to you. Even if meanings may not present themselves immediately, I have often found that, before you know it, patterns begin to replay themselves, and give you an opportunity to arm yourself with the attitude and tools that will lead to growth.
Pay attention to synchronicity
Synchronistic phenomenon is a major factor in my personal experience when keeping records. Whether I am attempting to produce a desired outcome through written intent or logging meaningful circumstance, the process of doing so seems to instigate synchronicity in the areas of focus. It becomes a circular expression of sorts, recording thoughts and then watching them manifest on physical plane, to record again and watch it perpetuate itself.
For example, a particular symbol that I have had extensive interest in lately is that of the raven. In several cultures, this bird is the source of wisdom, guidance and clairvoyance, only to name a few. These motifs are usually witnessed in Native American shamanism, while western alchemy (my personal area of interest) views this bird in a similar respect, but holds a more sinister tone. It is the bird of the nigredo phase, or blackening of the alchemist’s initiation. This means that the bird is the symbol for separating the practitioner from physical desire in order to prepare them for a spiritual ascent. This process involves a deep melancholy in which the individual must suffer in the throes of hopelessness in order to carve a threshold able to experience its oppositional counterpart of hope for spiritual bliss. As above, so below.
In my research, I began to note the appearance of this animal and its seeming involvement in emotionally charged situations. Suddenly, whether through my own subconscious willing or by some metaphysical force, this bird began to crop up everywhere — manifesting its influence into every corner of my perception. I continued to watch the influence of this symbol and what meaning it could bring into my life. By recording these experiences, this bird has indeed become a totem of guidance and creative inspiration.
I recommend looking into repeating themes in your practice, and how they present themselves to you. More often than not, the appearance of a totem or symbol can further elucidate the path of growth, and even bring us answers in a way that few other mediums can offer.
Record more, learn more
In the end, your records may serve for more than you originally intend. In the eyes of empirical philosophy, all we know is the conglomeration of what we have learned from what others have learned before us.
History is made purely of the records from past generations, learning from their mistakes and benefiting from their victories. We read the records of greatest practitioners, teachers and philosophers to incorporate their insight into our own. We communicate through language and literature to continuously further our purpose, perpetuating knowledge and instigating novelty. Where would we be without the records of those that came before us? If we tried to capture the essence of history through verbal communication, we would be playing a game of generational telephone, distorting its original meaning. We would not be able to progress without transcribing our experience and insight for others. Early tribes designated storytellers to translate myth and important archetypal metaphor to the generations that followed them, but even then they had use of symbols and art to solidify their meaning.
Keeping a record for ourselves can better our ability to fully utilize our potential, but just as important, can teach others what we have learned and share our insights, then paying it forward to those they inspire.
Image credits: Barry Silver, xJorgiimx, Joel Montes de Oca
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Michael Reese is an artist of many shades. His time is spent writing, learning, playing and creating from every corner in Salt Lake City, Utah.