So yesterday the topic of meditation came up. This, as most of you know is something that I recommend highly and talk about in every book and course I have written. Clearly I value it highly, but is it necessary for magic?
The first problem we have in answering this is that the word meditation is an English word that can be stretched to mean just about any mental activity at all. The terms in other languages that it get translated as meditation are vast and varied. What I mean by it, and what most other people mean by it these days is single-pointed concentration. This is linked to the practice of contemplation which both Theresa of Avila and Namkhai Norbu refer to as more formless resting in the natural state. Other activities like tai-chi, ice-skating, prayer, long walks by the beach, and baths where Calgon takes you away can technically be considered meditation, and are certainly relaxing, but are not what I and most people mean by it these days. Single pointed concentration is different and develops other muscles than just relaxation.
So sticking with this definition: Can you be a wizard without meditation?
The answer clearly is yes.
Magic can be done without meditation. There is no evidence that the writers of the Grimoires meditated other than in prayer. No evidence that the conjurors who penned the PGM had a practice of silent meditation. There is no meditation like this in Hoodoo or European Folk magic.
So you can do Magic without meditation. And if you are one of those people who automatically reject everything brought into magic in the last 150 years, you will probably consider it some modern poison polluting your pure approach from whatever time and place pitches your tent.
It’s also worth noting that there are some people that react badly to meditation. This is not the “I am bad at meditation” argument, which I have dealt with elsewhere, but a distinctly negative reaction like a panic attack or overwhelming sense of ennui. This is most often caused by a sense of boundary deteriorating. As blood flows from the parietal lobe (controling sense of self and other) and into the frontal lobe (bring increased analysis of everything happening) it can be jarring. If people want to continue meditation after episodes like this, I strongly recommend a VERY qualified teacher who can help you one on one, in person. Otherwise I recommend another discipline. Not many meditation teachers talk about this possibility, but I bring it up in my first class of my Take Back Your Mind course. This applies to probably less than 1% of the population, but it does happen.
Like just about every other technique and method in the corpus of magic, you can do magic without it. But why would you?
The argument not to do it because its not traditional in western magic or written about in the Grimoires doesn’t really hold water. There are lots of things that these very same people do that is not written in the grimoires: training in scrying, yogic practices (which often have WAY less historical basis than meditation), inner heat, and all sorts of other supplimental practices that are not in the Grimoires. And besides, shunning all innovation is as silly as thinking anything written before 1904 is “Old Aeon”.
The overall benefits to physical health and mental acumen are well known. Unlike some other areas of spirituality, this has been studied tremendously at universities and the results are overwhelmingly positive. (Note: prayer has been studied heavily over the last 10 years, and the results are also kind of amazing. I will do more on this later, but expect oodles of articles hitting mainstream outlets in about 5 more years).
The benefits for the magician are immense, especially, those who traffic with spirits. Meditation IS the act of getting distracted from your focus, recognizing that when it happens, and returning to the focus. This builds a knowlege of your own mind and mental process that will greatly aid with discernment. Discerning a spirits voice from your own mind (and even if you hear it with you physical ears, unless it shows up on a recording, its happening primarily in your mind). Discerning fantasy wishful thinking from real contact. Discerning the voice of softer spirits (especially local spirits) who maybe do not go in for the whole blood running down the walls “Why hast thou summoned me?” response.
The control and knowlege of mind also helps in being able to shift into different states of awareness so that a gigantic “lets break reality” evocation to physical appearance, which can be the psychic equivalent of fracking, is not necessary every single time you want to talk to the spirit you have a relationship with.
If you consider magic as more than just communication with spirits, but a process of initiation and unfolding towards divinity, then how much more important is this process? Perhaps I rely on more mystical than esoteric methods in this area than many occultists, but meditation is no less important.
I get it, meditation is hard. It feels like anti-magic. Magicians want to shout invocations, meditation tells you to shut up. Magicians want to stand forth and wave wands, meditation tells you to sit the fuck down. Magicians want to have visions and visitations, meditation tells you to ignore the scenes on the inside of your eyelids and tell Atargatis to fuck off until you are finished. But it is precisely by doing these things and cutting through the surface chatter and habitual patterns that all these things happen stronger and clearer when they matter.
So, no, you don’t need to meditate to do magic. But it helps a whole lot.