3. Imagination & Will

The concepts of Imagination and Will are frequently recurring themes in the philosophy of magic. They are also some of the least understood, or neglected, aspects of spiritual development. Developing an understanding of these two faculties of the human psyche is essential for the successful practice of magic.

Imagination

There is no such thing as “only your imagination”. Imagination is a type of reality; it is so much more than an illusionary, dream-like condition. The Imagination becomes active in many ways, and its effects can be seen in the physical world through the many clever inventions and creative works (music, paintings, poetry, and prose). You may be familiar with your Imagination through dreams and fantasies – any state where you ‘see’ images in your minds eye. However, while the word Imagination derives from the word ‘image’, it is important to realise that we can imagine all the physical senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch, as well as stimulate physical feelings, sensations, and emotions. By learning to use your Imagination in a focused way, and combining it with the Will, magic happens. To begin using Imagination is easy, and you can do it with your eyes open or closed. You can begin by imagining familiar things: people; places; object; music; smells; tastes. You can start to imagine more abstract symbols such as geometric shapes (triangle, circle, square, tetrahedron, pyramid) or letters of the alphabet (Roman, Hebrew, Greek, Enochian). Once you can imagine these simple things you can start to develop moving images within your mind, for example by recalling a dream you had and visualising it again, and exploring it in more depth. You can always find ways to be more imaginative, and develop your skills. It is this creativity, through the Imagination, that is essential in any magical work. Imagination is always more important than what you are taught to believe about magic. A willingness to diverge from ‘accepted’ practice, and be spontaneously creative is a valuable attribute for successful magic.

Will

The concept of the Will is generally misunderstood, if they are consciously aware of the word or faculty at all. Often it is purely associated with will power, and the strength of determination possessed by an individual. While it is possible to look at many aspects and concepts associated with the Will the important thing to understand is the function that the will has from a magical perspective. The Will is the psychic[1] faculty that transforms thought into action. Here is a good point to stop reading and put into practice Exercise 1, which is given below. After performing the exercise below you will realise that your arm did not rise until you actually ‘did it’ – that is, the moment you actually willed your arm to rise, it indeed rose. This is, for many people, the first direct experience of associating the Will with the part of them that translates their thoughts and desires into physical actions. In magic, the Will is the part that transforms the desired outcome into a physical reality, when engaged in conjunction with the Imagination. It is not necessary to delve into intellectual ideas about the Will. To begin with, practical experience and reflection on the process of willing is far more valuable.

Exercise 1 – Imagination and Will

  1. Stand comfortably with your arms by your sides.
  2. Now, think about raising your right arm above your head.
  3. Imagine the feelings and sensations associated with raising your arm.
  4. Visualize where your arm and hand will be, once you have raised it.
  5. Now, raise your arm.
  6. Write about this experience in your journal.

Exercise 2 – Beliefs about Will and Imagination

Find a quiet place where you will not be disturbed for the duration of the exercise. Read through the instructions several times before performing the exercise. Explore the concept of Imagination.

  • Sit comfortably and close your eyes
  • Take a few deep breaths and allow your body to relax
  • Allow your mind to focus on the concept of Imagination.
  • What immediately comes to mind?
  • What feelings and emotions are present while you think about the concept of Imagination?
  • What experiences do you recall relating to this concept and the beliefs you hold?
  • Where did you learn about these beliefs?
  • Who are the people who have influenced the development of these beliefs?
  • What things do you believe to be ‘true’ regarding Imagination?
  • What things do you believe to be ‘false’ regarding Imagination?
  • Allow your mind to focus on various physical sensations relating to Imagination. What tastes, sounds, smells, physical sensations, and images do you relate to this concept?
  • What do these beliefs and thoughts tell you about yourself?
  • When you are ready, open your eyes, and write in your journal about your beliefs and thoughts relating to this concept.
  • Close your eyes again.
  • Take some time to think about the concepts again, and see if anything else comes to mind.
  • Allow a single image to form in your mind that summarizes your current understanding of Imagination. See it vividly in your mind’s eye.
  • Open your eyes and draw the image you saw relating to this concept.
  • Write any final thoughts into your journal.

Repeat this exercise, preferably on a separate day, for the concept of the Will.

Exercise 3 – Imagination

This exercise is to be performed with the eyes open. Initially, you might find it helpful to look at a relatively neutral surface such as a blank wall or the blue sky. Spend time going through the alphabet and seeing before your eyes each letter of the alphabet. Imagine it clearly before you, and hold that image for approximately 5 seconds before moving on to the next letter.

Exercise 4 – Will

For this exercise you will need a piece of paper (approximately A4 / Letter size) and a small container such as a matchbox.

  • Tear the paper into at least 100 pieces.
  • Slowly and deliberately take each piece of paper and place it in the container.

[1] Here the word psychic is used in association with the psyche, rather than the common association with clairvoyance and mediumship.

Last modified: 09 August 2014