Monday, March 9, 2009

The Astral Temple

Ever since reading Lavanah’s post “Renovating the Astral Temple  I have been meaning to post something about it.

 

I am curious: How many of you out there use an Astral Temple in your work? I think that some people may write this type of work off as mental masturbation or just plain fantasy, but they shouldn’t. I find the astral temple to be quite a useful piece of my magickal world.

 

I actually didn’t start building my astral temple, I discovered it. This was back when I was something like 15 or 16 and Don and I were mucking about with anything occult that we could find at the Ocean County Library, which for some reason had a curiously extensive occult section. Don may even remember us each discussing the tale below on the phone one night. We were both working through a book about channeling of all things, and the first step was to visualize a vase and than blend your own astral body with the vase. Not really quite realizing at the time that the idea was not really to visualize a vase, but to get your astral body to feel empty so that it could be filled, I visualized a very detailed Egyptian style reliquary that I can still see quite clearly the moment I recollect it. It was the first visualization I had ever done. When I blended the vase with my astral body, I literally fell in the vase. I remember the feeling of traveling through a tunnel and suddenly arising in a Library.

 

I looked around the library, and though I may have arrived via an Egyptian vase, the Library was a style that I now recognize as rococo. My attention was instantly brought to a book at the center of the room on a pedestal. It was in French but the moment I touched it changed to English and I could read what it said. It explained that the Library was part of a large mind-temple from one of my past lives and was the only room to survive the reincarnation process intact. I saw doors at each end of the room and opened one of them to find nothing but white space outside. After exploring the library a bit for a few weeks, I began to build rooms, some of which I use even now.

 

So what is the Astral Temple and what is its use?

 

To start with, the astral temple is a bit of a misnomer as it’s not quite on the astral plane. It’s in the mind, which means that the temple is you. It is not significantly different from a dream. When you dream you may appear in the dream as yourself. But you are also the environment that you appear in, the other people you meet, and the interactions that you have. It’s all you. This makes the astral temple an excellent gateway to Onieric Sorcery and vice versa.

 

While the temple may be in your mind, it is rooted in your deep mind, where you connect to the Astral and Causal levels of reality. Like certain special dreams, though it may take place in the mind, it can open up to the reality outside the mind. In a way it exists on the borderland of the self.

The more you work with the astral temple, the more solid it becomes. To this day, the most solid room in my temple is the library because it has a whole other lifetime of use before my own. All these years later it still feels like a room that has a life of its own.  Some times when I intend to enter the temple via another room, I end up in the library by accident. That’s how strong that presence is.

 

Rooms like the grail temple, chantry, and so on that get used fairly often also feel like real rooms. They even get dusty when I haven’t used them for some time.  Rooms that I created to do some kind of one shot work or play around in, have the least solidity. I visted a room I haven’t used since college before writing this to check it out, while it is certainly still there it feels like my observations are creating it as I go. The other rooms definitely feel that they exist whether I am paying attention or not.

 

Because the astral temple does exist on the border of the self (which doesn’t really have a border – a deeper mystery than I feel like getting into here) you can connect it to other astral temples. When Brownlee and Vitale and I created the Iadnama Lodge I linked it to my astral temple. They haven’t been there in years and I can tell. We started to do some more of that kind of work in the Old Snake Cabal, but when that project evolved into a prolonged pharmacomagickal sessions, I locked the doors to the space we created.

 

I plan on writing a part 2, to this essay eventually, but will stop for now. If you are looking for something good to read on getting started building an astral temple I recommend the essay “Constructing the Castle” by William Gray which was one of the chapters in his book “The Sangreal Sacrament”.  At least that should hold you over until my Strategic Sorcery 52 Week course is launched this summer.

 

8 comments:

Qabalier said...

I do a lot of visualization stuff, so I was a bit worried about it being "mental masturbation",
but then, I guess it's not so different from visualizing a complex tridimensional mandala
(and then there is the Sodality's pathworking)...
Maybe the key is striking a balance between visualizing-building and seeing-perceiving
(as you actually "discovered" your temple), I'm afraid that as an artist I tend to do the former.

Lavanah said...

The only Astral Temple room that I've ever deliberately built was to the specs in a book. I think its pretty clear now, that it wasn't really "mine."

Dohmnaill said...

I do remember that.
You know, it is really funny how many odd books that library had. I remember that the upstairs HS library had that 'man, myth, and magic' set of encyclopedias - hardly serious, but it was better than nothing.

I recall that conversation. I think that my experience brought me into a library of some sort as well... It might have been influenced by your retelling of your experience. I dunno. I sometimes thought it was because of our initial studies in the library. Or just the fact that we are bookworms. That was also the place that we discovered H. P. Lovecraft.

I too had issues with worrying about both magickal and mental masturbation. I think every serious magician wonders if what they are doing matters.

I can't honestly say that I use an astral temple, but due to time/space limitations, I employ a great deal of mental magick. I have used similar imagery as locations, so I suppose that might count as something of an astral temple.

onespider said...

This entry has come at a rather synchronistic time for me...I've just been reading about this very subject and have been revisiting the astral temples I created in my teens, wondering whether to put either of them to use, or to create a new one. Why I'm compelled to revisit the practice, I don't know, but your own reminiscing looks like a sign that I'm on to something. Thank you!

-Nicole

Theo Huffman said...

Benjamin Rowe's A Short Course in Skrying (http://www.hermetics.org/pdf/scrying.pdf) is a good introduction to the creation of astral/mental temples.

Rose Weaver said...

Like you, I didn't build mine, but discovered it by chance. It's not a typical "temple" per se, but more of an outdoor nature temple and it's a powerful place. I have added little things too it the more I use it, and I've found that each time I visit it becomes more powerful and enchanting.

Great post!

kadesha said...

This post was reassuring. Thank you.

Michael Ellis said...

I know this post is a few years old but I have a question and I hope you read this comment and answer it. If we can do all the magick we would normally perform in the astral temple, then what is the fundamental difference between evocation, invocation, scrying, and pathworking. It seems to me that if those are performed astrally then they are fundamentally all similar practices. I only ask this because I have always read that one should only invoke angels, archangels, gods and planetary spirits. On the other hand one should only evoke demons and other such lower or evil entities. But if everything can be performed astrally then it seems like the differences between evocation, invocation and pathworking are just how we choose to use our imagination.