Mars wrote: ↑Wed Sep 04, 2019 11:27 pmThe world has become too corrupt and wicked for the practice of that which such holy and learned men as Ammonius, Plotinus, Porphyry and Iamblichus (the most learned Theurgist of all) could alone attempt with impunity. In our day theurgy or divine, beneficent magic is but too apt to become goetic, or in other words Sorcery.
So these warnings combined with my own struggles with prayer practice have made me drop it, for now at least.
A keen observation! I am glad that this has awakened such insightful responses from everyone, and that we can explore the subject in such depth.
In her Theosophical glossary Blavatsky discusses first "Theurgia, or Theurgy", and the next "Theurgist". While the first one of these is easy enough to undersign for the meaning of the SoA's theurgy as well, the second isn't. And this latter definistion of theurgist can be taken to indicate why exactly Blavatsky was against the use of theurgy as such:
Theurgia, or Theurgy(Gr.). A communication with, and means of bringing down to earth, planetary spirits and angels—the “gods of Light”. Knowledge of the inner meaning of their hierarchies, and purity of life alone can lead to the acquisition of the powers necessary for communion with them. To; arrive at such an exalted goal the aspirant must be absolutely worthy and unselfish.
Theurgist. The first school of practical theurgy (from qeod, god, and ergon work,) in the Christian period, was founded by Iamblichus among certain Alexandrian Platonists. The priests, however, who were attached to the temples of Egypt, Assyria, Babylonia and Greece, and whose business it was to evoke the gods during the celebration of the Mysteries, were known by this name, or its equivalent in other tongues, from the earliest archaic period. Spirits (but not those of the dead, the evocation of which was called Necromancy) were made visible to the eyes of mortals. Thus a theurgist had to be a hierophant and an expert in the esoteric learning of the Sanctuaries of all great countries. The Neo-platonists of the school of Iamblichus were called theurgists, for they performed the so-called “ceremonial magic”, and evoked the simulacra or the images of the ancient heroes, “gods”, and daimonia (daimovia, divine, spiritual entities). In the rare cases when the presence of a tangible and visible “ spirit ” was required, the theurgist had to furnish the weird apparition with a portion of his own flesh and blood—he had to perform the thepœa or the “creation of gods”, by a mysterious process well known to the old, and perhaps some of the modern, Tântrikas and initiated Brahmans of India. Such is what is said in the Book of Evocations of the pagodas. It shows the perfect identity of rites and ceremonial between the oldest Brahmanic theurgy and that of the Alexandrian Platonists.
The following is from Isis Unveiled: “The Brahman Grihasta (the evocator) must be in a state of complete purity before he ventures to call forth the Pitris. After having prepared a lamp, some sandal-incense, etc., and having traced the magic circles taught him by the superior Guru, in order to keep away bad spirits, he ceases to breathe, and calls the fire (Kundalini) to his help to disperse his body.” He pronounces a certain number of times the sacred word, and “ his soul (astral body) escapes from its prison, his body disappears, and the soul (image) of the evoked spirit descends into the double body and animates it”. Then “his (the theurgist’s) soul (astral) re-enters its body, whose subtile particles have again been aggregating (to the objective sense), after having formed from themselves an aerial body for the deva (god or spirit) he evoked And then, the operator propounds to the latter questions “on the mysteries of Being and the transformation of the imperishable ”. The popular prevailing idea is that the theurgists, as well as the magicians, worked wonders, such as evoking the souls or shadows of the heroes and gods, and other thaumaturgic works, by super natural powers. But this never was the fact. They did it simply by the liberation of their own astral body, which, taking the form of a god or hero, served as a medium or vehicle through which the special current preserving the ideas and knowledge of that hero or god could be reached and manifested. (See “Iamblichus”.)
This latter definition gives so technical and "manual" interpretation to the rituals of a certain kind of theurgy that it is easy to see why Blavatsky rejected its use in the modern day. We can recall her teaching that the intention solely makes the difference between the so-called black and white magic, and from the passage above it is easy to see how even a slightest impurity would make such technical summoning harmful. On the other hand, the spell prayer work without an aim of quick disintegration of one's astral body & cetera works very differently, much more gently & calmly, in the SoA's theurgy.
Yet, I understand very well that even though "I wouldn't hesitate to call the difference aspectual or even superficial", someone else very well might. I see as part of my work to bridge this gap between, say, Western ritual magic and Blavatsky's "anti-magic" attitude, like the gaps between the Left Hand Path and the Right Hand Path, between Satanism and Christianity, between the Western and Eastern focus of thought, between intelligence- and intuition-centeredness.
Mars wrote:[---] during periods of prayer work I find that my inherent tendency towards escapism and gnostic "will to leave the world" intensifies considerably, so for some time now I have given up all forms of prayer and meditation so that I can function in this world and everyday life at least to some degree...[---] If there are some thoughts from anyone concerning my aforementioned problem I'd be happy to hear them, though it might be hard to give such advice on a forum.
The thoughts shared by the participants here seem, at least to me, to be answers to this problem exactly. And this comes back to the Blavatskyan difference mentioned, that there is a prayer work that is less technical and less "otherworldly" as well, and is conversely trying to fit around the apparently (seemingly) immanent and mundane practice. Actually, mundane it is not, but in a tantric way (I take "tantric" and "gnostic" to be in a way complementary terms in esotericism) taking the spirit & otherworldliness as something that continually and gaplessly manifests itself on this side. This kind of thought & this kind of practice, SoA's take to theurgy included, is thus a magic of Compromise, meaning the magic of Sacrifice. Since the door of annihilation, or even escape in spirit, is barred from us to enter through, this "sacrifice in compromise" is something that must be done, and I take it to be the cross of the adept and the via dolorosa of a neophyte.
But you are wise to listen to your feelings in this regard, and refrain from doing magical/prayer work that feels not right at the moment. Likewise in the Star of Azazel, no such practice is demanded from anyone; it is simply one of the possibilities. (The prayer work works under the Stone aspect, one of the seven brotherhood aspects.)