Introduction To Scrying – Pathworking

Introduction To Scrying


The term “pathworking” is used for several different practices, ranging from simple meditations through programmed visualizations to visions and astral travel. What they all have in common is the use of symbols traditionally associated with the “paths” of the Tree of Life, e.g., the Tarot trumps. These symbols have been in use for long enough that stable regions reflecting their power have been established in the inner planes. By using the symbols in these practices the person connects to those regions and can learn something of the realities behind the symbols.

Preliminary Steps

1. Pick a visual symbol for the path you want to explore. Tarot cards are good starting points. The cartoon-like images of the Rider or Wang decks are preferable to detailed images like Crowley’s deck; the bright, flat colors of these cards encourage your imagination to fill in the blanks. We’ll use the Rider deck’s “Fool” card as an example.

2. Review what you know about the correspondences of the card. Read what your available sources have to say about the card. Then go on to some unconnected activity for a while and let your unconscious absorb the information; let it make its own connections and conclusions without any effort by your conscious self.

Using the example card, what comes immediately to my mind: The Fool is generally attributed to the element of Air and the path of Aleph. In the Golden Dawn version of the Tree, the path of Aleph connects Kether with Chokmah. In Achad’s version of the Tree, it connects Malkuth with Yesod. The Fool is a primal form of Air, more cosmic and less “earthy” than the Tarot suit of Swords. In the cabala, it represents both the “mind” or “intellect” aspect of being, and the Yetziratic, “formative”, or “Son” aspect of the IHVH sequence. In the Enochian elemental sequence it represents the creative Ideal manifested by the divine, which is the basis for further development and full manifestation through the other elements. In the structure of the planet Earth, it is the atmosphere which lies between the spirit-aspect of the planet’s magnetosphere and the water-aspect of the oceans. And so on.

3. Study the card and note the details, and also note any connections that come to mind. Consider the figure in the card; what does his/her posture, gestures, expression, etc. say about his attitude and emotional state? Where does his attention seem focused? Try to get some idea of the type of personality being expressed.

Ex: The cliff on which the Fools stands seems to be colored using three of the Malkuth colors: black, olive, and russet. The Fool’s boots are citrine, completing the foursome. The mountains in the background are in a Yesodic violet, with snowy tops reflecting the light of the Sun, which is colored in Kether’s white. The sky, dominant in the picture, is an Airy yellow, slightly darker than the citrine of his boots.

The Fool’s outer garment is green with ivy patterns, reminding me of the Green Man of Celtic mythology and Malkuth again. The lining is red, reminiscent of both Fire and the sexual energy of Mars. There are wheels embroidered on the garment, which brings to mind another card, The Wheel of Fortune, attributed to Jupiter, who is Lord of the Air. There are also Fleur-de-Lys on the garment, which are either Lilies (Malkuth, according to Crowley) or Irises (Yesodic by color and shape).

His inner garment is white, again suggesting Kether. A feather is mounted at the front of his hat, and its shape suggests the Uraeus serpent of Egyptian costume, or the feather of Maat. He carries a rose in his left hand and a staff with a bag at the end (rather phallic) in his right.

The Fool’s head is bent back, his eyes focused on something in the distance that only he can see. His posture is somewhat pretentiously “sensitive”, the sort that you would see the French Sun-King use in one of his dances. Overall he reminds me of a Galliard poet of the 13th century, a noble’s over-educated younger son, wandering and pretending to be a minstrel while eschewing mundane tasks. He is about to walk over a cliff. The dog at his heels seems either playful or trying to call his attention to his immediate danger.

You don’t have to go into such detail as in the example; if you are just starting out in magick, you probably won’t have the resources to do it. The important thing is to note the details, and try and interpret the figure’s expression and posture, and the acts in which he seems to be engaged.

These first three steps are preparatory, and should be done before beginning the main part of the practices. Once you have done them, let the information float in your unconscious for a few hours or a day while you do other things. The idea is to gently focus the unconscious on the subject matter, and to let it absorb the information and ideas without your conscious interference. This makes it more willing to participate in the practices, and enhances its ability to make connections with the magickal region behind the card.

Main Practice

4. Sit down and do the relaxation exercises, as described in the earlier section.

5. Place the card in front of you so that you can look at it without straining your eyes or changing your relaxed position. Look at the card without deliberately focusing on any one point; let your eyes move from point to point within the picture in their normal scanning motion.

6. Now enter your magickal space and get your awareness firmly established there. Go to the place where your magick mirror is located and stand where you can view it head-on. Imagine the image from the Tarot card in the mirror, so that it completely fills the frame. Then look at the landscape in the picture; think of what it would look like if it were real and not just a cartoon image. Try to see the image as a three-dimensional world behind the glass of the mirror. Think about the parts of the landscape that are hidden beyond the window frame and fill them in. Keep the colors more or less the same, but fill in the details; build up a picture as if that world were a real place that you can see. Feel free to incorporate details of real places you have seen in your life. (But DON’T use real people as models for the figures.)

Ex: The mountains in the Fool card remind me of the Swiss Alps, violet-tinted rock with permanent snow-cover at their summits. I fill in the picture with the appropriate details of ravines, rockslides, etc. The cliff on which the fool stands looks to me as if it is some sort of moss-covered granite, and the sharpness of the drop suggests that it was carved out by a glacier. The same glacier would have carved a deep, rounded valley below, and I imagine it being there, with fields of grass and copses of pine and fir trees, perhaps with the rooftops of a village small in the distance.

The Fool is walking towards the window, so there must be a trail down into the valley hidden behind the outcrop. I imagine a trail following a curve upwards around the end of the valley to end at the outcrop. I imagine this outcrop is on the side of a mountain the summit of which is somewhere to the right of the visible area.

7. Next, imagine that you have jumped through the window frame and are standing in the world you have been looking at, but at some moment in time just before the living figures of the card appeared on the scene. Don’t try to move through the mirror, just make an instant transition to the place you just imagined. If you have to, build the landscape up again from scratch, but with you inside it.

Turn around and look at the surroundings from your new viewpoint; get a 360-degree view, and fill in the parts of the landscape that were behind your original view through the window. (The window, incidentally, should not be visible.) Imagine what your other senses would tell you if you were in a similar physical location, and add those in to your impressions of this place.

Ex: Looking back towards the window’s position I note that the mountains get lower in that direction, and gradually fall off into rolling farmlands in the far distance. A large lake (like Lake Lucern or Geneva) can be seen just at the edge of visibility. I can see the mountain on whose side I stand, and can see directly the path I had previously imagined behind the outcrop. This path comes up to my current position, then curves around the mountain and up to a pass in the middle distance. Looking down into the valley below, I see that there are light clouds between me and the village, giving the impression that I am in a world above the normal world. I can feel and hear the wind blowing around me, and there are faint scents of pine, grass, and flinty rock in the air, as well as an ozone freshness. Faint sounds of human activity come from the village.

8. Spend some time getting the scene and your viewpoint firmly in your imagination. Don’t worry if details change or shift, and don’t expend any effort trying to change them back. Just get the major outlines and positions firm and let the small detail change as it will. Think of how places look in your regular daydreams; often there is very little detail, and what detail there is is more often understood to be there rather than actually seen. As you continue the practice over weeks or months, your unconscious will gradually learn to fill them in and keep them steady without conscious effort.

9. The next step is in some ways the most difficult, and in some ways the easiest. We have all had daydreams in which we invented face-saving dialogs for some embarrassing past occurrence in our life, and others in which we imagined the events and interactions we would like to see happen in some future meeting, or in some situation we would like to be in but cannot attain in the mundane world. What you do in this step is basically the same. The only difference is that you shouldn’t have any particular desire to control what the other characters say, but instead want to see what they say of themselves.

What you want to do is imagine a scenario by which the Tarot card’s person arrives at the location where you are standing, and begins to converse with you. Using our example, you could think that you hear someone singing in the distance behind you. You turn and look down the trail, and see the fool climbing it, followed by his dog. He sings a cheery tune as he walks. As he comes close enough to hear you, you call out and wave to him; he looks up and waves back. He comes closer and steps onto the escarpment where you stand. He smiles and walks to the edge of the cliff, looking outwards. He stretches his arms and takes a deep breath of the fresh mountain air, and for a moment he is posed in exactly the way he is shown on the Tarot card. Then he turns to you and asks, “Where away, traveller?”

The idea behind this is to give your unconscious mind a credible reason for believing you to be in a situation where you can talk to the card’s character. The part of your unconscious that touches the imagination doesn’t believe in hypothetical situations; to it, things are either real or they aren’t, but anything that is reasonably consistent will be accepted as real. This part of your unconscious mind plays the character’s part while your conscious mind plays yourself. This same part reaches out into other parts of your minds and into the magickal realms and pulls in information to use in building it’s characterization.

9. Now that the character is present, you can ask him questions about himself, the various symbols of his clothing and appurtenances, and about the environment in which you find yourselves. Always act as if the character were a real person, independent of yourself. Treat him with the respect of equals; never act superior to him, and never, ever threaten. If he doesn’t want to answer a particular question, don’t press. Answer any questions he poses honestly, to the best of your ability. But at the same time don’t allow yourself to be threatened or cowed; demand that your interactions be on a basis of equality and nothing else.

Another thing to remember is that in this phase of the exercise there are no wrong results, only results you don’t understand. If something seems out of place with the nature of the card, don’t reject it. Simply admit that you don’t understand and file it away for later consideration. Generally you should follow along with whatever happens; there is no way you can be hurt, so there is no reason not to do so.

10. When you start to tire, or the character indicates he has had enough, it is time to end the exercise. Say goodbye to the character, turn and walk away until he is out of sight. Then “jump” back through your magick mirror and turn around; see the point you just jumped from through the mirror, even if this is not the same point that was there at the start. Then imagine closing the mirror so that it only shows its usual deep blackness.

After leaving your magickal space again, spend a few moments focusing your attention on various objects in your physical environment. Get up and walk around, stretch yourself, get a drink or go to the bathroom, or some other mundane task. Then sit down again and write down what happened during the exercise, in as much detail as you can. Note what was said, any ideas that happened to pop into your mind, any changes in the scenery or movements into other scenes.

It sometimes happens that unexpected things occur during this exercise. For instance, the character might come up behind you and say hello while you are still working on the landscape. Usually it’s best to go along with these happenings rather than insist on following the various stages in order.

Once the character appears, then the rule is to allow whatever wants to happen, as in the “mystery tour” exercise. You should not worry much about keeping the environs steady. The character might change the landscape to make a point, or introduce creatures or objects. Other things might appear and disappear spontaneously. You sometimes find yourself and the character transported to an entirely different scene. All these things are acceptable, and should be taken in a spirit of non-judgmental interest. Remember that the logic of visions is the logic of dreams, where such events are not at all unusual.

After you have worked with this method for a week or two using various Tarot images, try again to invoke a force using a ceremony and getting a response through your mirror. The practice of creating landscapes in the mirror should have overcome any difficulty in that regard. If you still have trouble, try combining the invocation with an appropriate Tarot image.