Copyright © 1997/98 Benjamin Rowe
Part 4. Testing Your Visions
(This is part four of a five part series of articles entitled “A Short Course in Scrying” written in response to requests by participants of the “enochian-l” and “Praxis” internet discussion groups; it first appeared as a series of posts on those groups in early 1997. The current version has been slightly rewritten to enhance the clarity of the presentation, and to include a small amount of additional material.)
It is usually a good idea to apply tests to the images you get in scrying, and to the various beings you might encounter. The ultimate test is, of course, a critical appraisal of the quality, consistency, and value of the results you get from your work; but that test can only be applied after the work is done. Other methods allow you to get some sense of whether there is something wrong at an early point in the session. You can then take appropriate efforts to correct the problem, or if necessary end the session and save your energy for another time.
The most reliable testing method makes use of the symbols in the Golden Dawn’s Greater Pentagram and Greater Hexagram rituals. But the effectiveness of the method requires that you have some experience in performing those rituals, and in getting a good response from them. If you are not already experienced in their use, you should practice using them in your magickal space for a while before implementing this testing procedure.
A limitation of this method is that it only works where the powers being scryed are among the traditional, conventional powers used in magick. That is, the powers are elemental, planetary, or zodiacal in nature. Where the nature of a power is unknown, or it is of an inherently mixed nature, other methods must be applied.
After attaining a steady image of some magickal region in your mirror, you draw the invoking pentagram or hexagram appropriate to the power you invoked, using white lines in the air in front of you. Vibrate the god-names of the power a couple of times, then cast the symbol into the mirror. If the mirror is correctly "tuned" to the power, the pentagram or hexagram will be absorbed and will either have no effect, or will cause the image to become sharper and brighter. If the image becomes darker, becomes distorted, or breaks up entirely, then you know that something is wrong; you should banish and start over.
Similarly, if you have used the mirror as a gate and entered into some region, you should cast the appropriate symbol against any object that appears prominent in the area, and always against any being who appears to serve as your guide. In either of these cases, the being or object should show no effect, or should grow brighter, larger, or more solid as a result of the contact. A false or deceptive being will shrink, or its appearance will become distorted, or it will disappear.
No magickal being worth speaking to will ever object to being tested in this way. There is no reason that it should, since by doing the test you are, effectively, blessing it. If a being attempts to convince you to not do the tests, that in itself is a sign that something is wrong.
Note that you should always use the invoking pentagram or hexagram for tests, never the banishing versions. Using a banishing figure is the same as commanding the forces you invoked to disperse again, nullifying your efforts.
Two secondary types of testing seem to depend in some way on the magician having an intent that they will work correctly; there is no obvious reason why they should work, but they usually do, just the same. The first of these is the use of the G.D. grade signs; the second is the use of the Hebrew letters of the planets.
The idea behind the use of the Grade Signs in scrying is the same as their use in Masonic rituals and greetings. By displaying a sign to a spirit you encounter, you claim a right to the "secrets" of that grade and its corresponding element. The spirit should answer back by repeating the sign, thus showing that it is also qualified to deal with the secrets of that grade. (Illustrations of the Grade Signs can be found in Crowley’s Liber O, and in Regardie’s The Golden Dawn.)
If a spirit can perform the appropriate sign for the invoked element, this indicates that your vision is on-track. If the spirit cannot perform it, performs it improperly, or its form becomes distorted, this is an indication that something is wrong. However, it is not necessarily proof that you are dealing with a deceiving spirit, particularly if the same spirit has already passed the pentagram/hexagram test. Rather, it is more likely that there is insufficient magickal power present for your communication to be clear. The best course is to vibrate the divine names for the power you are invoking several times, and then repeat the signs again. Only if the spirit is still unable to perform the signs correctly should you end the session.
The exchanging of signs also contains an implicit agreement between you and the spirit being tested. That is, by doing this you are agreeing to deal with the spirit on a basis of equality and brotherhood, neither dominating that spirit nor being subject to it. You are also acknowledging that both of you are "members of the same fraternity", operating within the general community of workers seeking to align themselves with "god" (or with divinity in whatever form you conceive of it). You should never try to exchange signs with a being you know is not within that community, or with which you must maintain a position of dominance -- e.g., a demon or a true "elemental". Conversely, you should never try to dominate a spirit with whom you have exchanged signs; assume instead that it will assist you willingly and without coercion, and treat it with the same respect that you would wish it to give you.
It sometimes happens that in answering your sign, the spirit will add other signs after repeating the one you used. This is an indication that the spirit is of a mixed elemental nature, or is intrinsically of a higher "grade" than that at which you are working. As an example of the first case, if you were invoking an angel from one of the Lesser Angles of the Enochian Tablet of Earth, you would perform the sign of Set. The angel would be expected to respond with the same sign, but if it were an angel of the Lesser Angle of Fire, it might add the sign of Fire (the goddess Thoum aesch-Neith) as well. As an example of the latter case, a Senior from the Earth Tablet might add the LVX signs after the sign of Set.
The LVX signs are a special case. Their use indicates that the spirit is aligned with the divinity, is of a "good" character; but does not test for any particular elemental or planetary nature. They should be used in conjunction with the appropriate hexagrams for testing spirits related to the planets or zodiac, or in any case where the benevolence of the spirit is in doubt. All of the Enochian angels will be able to perform these signs, as will any Hebrew-system archangel.
There are no Grade Signs specifically associated with the planets in the Golden Dawn system; one must make do with the LVX signs, and these are usually sufficient. However, those who wish to assemble a set of elegant and effective planetary gestures for testing spirits should consult Planetary Magick by Melitta Denning and Osborn Phillips.
The final form of testing is, in my opinion, the least reliable. I do not use it myself, preferring to trust my own judgment. But I note it for those who might wish to experiment with it.
The Golden Dawn adepts acknowledged that in this sort of work there is always a danger that the visions one sees will not be a true reflection of the forces invoked, but may rather be constructions or projections of the seer’s own mind and emotions. They classified these projections according to an association with the planets:
The theory is that if you suspect that one of these factors may be influencing your vision, you can project an image of the corresponding Hebrew letter or Tarot Trump into the scene. It will cause the scene to darken, diminish, or disappear if the scene is in fact the sort of projection you suspect it to be.
My personal feeling is that introducing extraneous powers into a vision in this way will cause more problems than they will solve. As well, it seems to me that invocation of a force related to a type of projection would tend to enhance the projection rather than eliminating it. However, this may not be the case for you; try it if you wish and see if it works.
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