Introduction to Tattva Vision
Tattva (also transliterated as tattwa) (तत्त्व) is a noun, meaning “true or real state , truth , reality” and is said to comprise the two words tad (तद्) and tvam (त्वम), to give the literal meaning of “that [art] thou”. It is also called mahā-vākya (महा-वाक्य), “the great word by which the identity of the whole world with the one eternal Brahma [tad] is expressed.”2 The tattva vision exercise is based on the information and exercises of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Therefore it can be considered to be of the Western Magical Tradition and it may not be historically or philosophically correct from the original Eastern teachings of the tattvas3. The basics of the technique are the same as for shamanic journeying and pathworking. It can be considered a type of astral projection or astral scrying. For a background to the Western Tradition interpretation of tattvas see the article ‘An Introduction to Tattvas‘. The tattvas are said to be the ‘astral’ forms of the magical elements: earth, air, fire, water and spirit. The following table lists the correspondences:
|Akasha||black vesica pisces / black egg||Spirit|
|Tejas||red equilateral triangle||Fire|
|Apas||purple half circle / silver crescent||Water|
The Golden Dawn taught that the tattva vision exercise assists the development of astral clairvoyance. It is considered one of the easiest, fastest and most effective methods of exercising and enhancing the clairvoyant abilities. I have intentionally left out various aspects taught by the Golden Dawn, such as the astral currents, use of a tattva tide clock, other methods of choosing a tattva to work with, and ritualized aspects of performing the technique. Read the original Golden Dawn documents4 if you want the Golden Dawn methods.
The tattva cards can be any size. In general the size is about that of a tarot card, but square instead of rectangular. A larger size could be used if you wished to mount it on the wall, at a greater distance, for practicing the tattva vision exercise. The most basic set of tattva cards contains the five tattva symbols, one on each card. A more advanced form consists of 25 cards. It can be considered as five suits, Akasha, Tejas, Vayu, Apas, and Prithivi. Each suit has a card for the main tattva symbol, plus 4 additional cards containing smaller images of the remaining tattvas. For example, Akasha suit contains: Akasha (main card), Tejas within Akasha (Fire of Spirit), Vayu within Akasha (Air of Spirit), Apas within Akasha (Water of Spirit), and Prithivi within Akasha (Earth of Spirit). You can construct the cards using white cardboard, and either painting the symbols directly onto the cards or by cutting the shapes of the tattva symbols from coloured paper or card and gluing these to the white card. You can also print the tattva symbols directly onto white card or photographic paper. While it is recommended that you construct your own cards, you can download PDF files of cards suitable for printing from the following links:
- Coming soon– Tattva cards (Golden Dawn)
- Coming soon – Tattva cards (alternative design)
Tattva Vision Exercise
IMPORTANT: Before attempting this exercise read the following set of instructions two or three time to ensure you have a good understanding of it.
- Find a quiet place where you will not be disturbed.
- Sit comfortably with a tattva card positioned at an appropriate distance.
- Gaze fixedly at the tattva symbol. Try not to blink.
- Breathe deeply and regularly5.
- Allow the image to fill your consciousness. Imagine that you are soaking in the energy associated with element. Feel the qualities and sensations associated with it. You could use a mantra to keep your mind occupied while visualizing6.
- Continue this until you see the astral colour7. It may ‘flash’ slightly around the edges of the symbol. Experience will teach you how long it is necessary to stare at the image for.
- Put aside the tattva card and close your eyes8.
- Allow the astral version of the tattva symbol to glow strongly in your minds eye.
- Imagine the symbol glowing on a doorway, or that it is a portal through which you can pass.
- Enter through the symbol doorway.
- On passing through the gateway observe the scene around you.
- Take time to let the scene build up before you. Use all your senses to take in the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and tactile sensations of the place.
- You may summon a guide to help you explore. Do this simply by requesting a guide appear to assist you. Alternative you could call upon your Higher Self to assist you.
- What you explore, and how you interact is your choice9.
- When you have finished exploring return to the portal, and return back through it.
- Start to bring your attention back to the physical world by listening to any sounds.
- Take a few deep breaths, and when you are ready open your eyes.
- Record every detail in a journal10. This is essential for improving your skills, correcting problems, and gaining some insights into certain symbols and events which occur during a session.
Notes on Tattva Vision
- Form on the astral is symbolic11. The appearance of entities or objects is not only interpreted literally, open to any method of symbolic analysis. There can be many layers of interpretation and meaning. There can be cultural and archetypal interpretations as well as personal interpretations.
- The ‘true’ nature of anything on the astral can be sensed, rather than ‘seen’. An intuitive approach and ability to ‘feel’ or ‘sense’ the energy associated with an entity or object is necessary, and it is through practice that this skill is improved.
- If in initial sessions the scene does not come spontaneously, use constructive imagination and picture a landscape or scene as you imagine it would look. Use all you know about the elements so that the scene is in harmony with the element.
- It is also possible for tattva vision to be performed as a guided meditation. One person can lead another individual or a group by adapting the exercise, and allowing those experiencing the journey plenty of time to explore. With a one-on-one situation the external guide can assist by suggesting questions to ask, or suggesting certain objects or entities be examined in more detail. It can be of great benefit, as initially it can be difficult to think ‘logically’ while in the meditative state, and sometimes golden opportunities to ask something specific are missed. An external guide may see things from a more logical and rational perspective, adding an extra level or dimension to the experience
- It is possible to use more complex symbols such as tarot cards, glyphs, runes, or the Hebrew alphabet.
For other information on tattvas and tattva vision see the following links:
- The first version of this article and exercise is can be found here.
- Monier Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary (2008 revision).
- Tattvas is the commonly used plural for tattva. Previously I used tattvum as the plural, however I haven’t been able to find the source I originally used, so have gone with the standard English method of pluralization by simply adding the final ‘s’.
- The Tattwas of the Eastern School; Tattwa Flying Roles
- One method of breathing that you may find useful is the connected-breath. This is used in rebirthing and holotropic breathwork. Breath deeply, and as soon as your lungs are full breathe out. Ideally you breathe from the diaphragm, pushing the air out of your lungs by contracting your stomach muscles, and allow the air to ‘fall’ into your lungs rather than sucking it in.
- One possible mantra is Tat Tvam Asi – “Thou art That” from the Chandogya Upanishad 6.8.7 of the Sama Veda.
- This is the complimentary colour, and will appear as an afterimage once your eyes are closed. See the Wikipedia entries Complimentary_colours and Afterimage for more details.
- Some people suggest tilting your head back to improve the effect. However as you will journey into the astral for a period of time it may be more suitable to lie down.
- A suggested starting point for exploration is to summon a guide and ask to be taken somewhere, perhaps to meet someone who can teach you an important lesson. If you do this, you can also ask the person or entity for a gift that symbolizes the lesson.
- You can also record your session onto a tape, mp3 player, or computer by speaking out loud during the session. This is most useful when you are familiar with this kind of astral journeying and you can take on the form of the entities you encounter and speak as them.
- For more detail on symbolism see the article: Symbolism: What Does It All Mean