According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary Sight is defined as:
the sense through which a person or animal becomes aware of light, color, etc., by using the eyes; the ability to see; and or the act of seeing someone or something.
and the physiological actions of sight provide …
the process, power, or function of seeing; specifically : the physical sense by which light stimuli received by the eye are interpreted by the brain and constructed into a representation of the position, shape, brightness, and usually color of objects in space.
If we think about the function of sight and the components that engage this action, the esoteric implications of the visual sense of sight and its potential offer the gift of greater clarity. When we engage ourselves at a spiritual level the sensations we experience are often those of light. More importantly the vibrations and energy that we sense are the direct products of our response to the patterns of light that surround, whether we have our eyes open or not. I particularly like the definition as one of awareness. Just as we are continually surrounded by various smells (as we discussed last post), the amount of visual stimuli we receive on a daily basis is profound both in its quantity and in its scope of effect. Even behind the lid of closed eyes, we are able to visualize within the initial darkness that sends the signal to the brain that rest and reflection are at hand.
This is the cue that you are removing yourself from the physical world and its visual distractions. As we further relax into this intention, patterns form in this darkness and beads or bursts of light or color, albeit very small at times, begin the dance of wave and motion. We may discount these as floaters resulting from over used and tired eyes. Sometimes this is true but when you simply relax into the paintings that arise from mind and consciousness to inner screen, you soon become aware that this is the precursor to a journey of sleep, meditation, a simple daydream or a revelation of clarity opened by an unknown inner vision.
Inner Sight and The Esoteric Path
The eyes are often thought to be the “Doorways to the Soul”. They are indeed the gateways through which information is sent throughout the brain and nervous system. Having crossed the threshold of physiologic response this information is then processed and interpreted via the specific states of consciousness you are focused upon when receiving this information. During deep states of meditation or trance work, what is seen and then perceived and interpreted is often not what can be seen with physical sight. The illusory veiling of the physical world is parted as consciousness and awareness have shifted and the resources for interpreting what is coming through the lens of eyesight are from a much deeper reservoir of information than would normally be drawn upon in a normal state of consciousness or awareness.
In our personal practice we learn to trust what can be sensed in this inner landscape and use the imagery of our waking and conscious mind as the library from which we find the book of mystery that lay hidden as a waking dream. As our perception of both the physical and inner worlds changes the images that we encounter evolve and expand in accord with the adding of more points of visual reference. This is the cycle that moves us forward in growth. The aperture of our inner camera opens wider and wider, letting in more light as the worlds of the astral and ethereal sit at the periphery of what we normally take time to notice.
The Third Eye
The Awakening of the Third Eye is a concept used within the context of mystical and esoteric pursuits as a means to enlightenment and stimulating the intuitive senses. This Eye of the Wise is placed at the Ajna or Brow Chakra and sits roughly at the space between the eyes externally and the pineal gland internally. This is the seat of energetic fuel for those who have “Second or inner” sight. When we strive to open to this place of inner vision we are connecting to the storehouse of images that form the language upon which our interpretation of those intuitive “knowings” may be expressed. Sometimes, this information will play out on our inner screen, similar to watching a movie run through the visionary landscape of our dreamtime.
Great care is taken in the development of the Third Eye in most mystical practices. Specific meditative and visualization techniques may be employed to encourage the opening and healthy flow of energy through this particular chakra point. One of the keys however is in the focus on all of the chakras. Those rare states of awareness where we feel completely at one with our Gods and the world are those when the flow of energy through our chakras is running in a smooth and complete circuit connecting us to all parts of ourself and thus enabling our deeper connection to all that is around us. Additionally, as we move upwards in the line of chakras, the upper centers work in tandem with one another. Developing our intuitive nature also requires that our heart center (where compassion and understanding arises) and throat center (the way in which we communicate through the breath of word) are in sync so that we work from a place of integrity, especially when the need arises to share an intuitive vision or insight. As this inner sight opens information is received from the Crown Chakra and intuitive insight has now risen to a place of Divine wisdom that parts the veil even further for us to peer into the mysteries we seek. this is the wellspring of simply “knowing” and not having the need to explain what or why you know, you just are in a state of trust and flow.
The Pineal Gland
Our pineal gland is located deep inside the middle of our brain. René Descartes was a French philosopher who believed it to be the seat of the soul. This simple crystalline like structure within our brain is thought to have been exposed at one time, enabling those earlier versions of ourselves to interact directly with the cosmos and the beings that inhabited a much different type of world than we know now. As humans evolved and our physiology took a form that was more conducive and in alignment with the evolving physical world to which we were to inhabit, the skull thickened and covered this gland which lay dormant awaiting a new awakening. It, of all of the glands is the least known as far as how it relates to daily physiologic functioning. All of the glands within the physiological body have specific areas of focus to insure health and vitality. Stimulating the glands through specific spiritual practices to enhance and awaken their ethereal properties ( much like the comparison of our physical bodies that have specific intent and the subtle bodies that work in response to the ephemera around us).
The pineal gland, until recently was one that scientists were unclear regarding its purpose. Scientists have now found that it produces melatonin, which has an affect on sleep patterns. The Medical profession describes the pineal gland as being:
“a small endocrine gland in the vertebrate brain that produces the serotonin derivative melatonin, a hormone that affects the modulation of wake/sleep patterns and seasonal functions. Its shape resembles a tiny pine cone (hence its name), and it is located near the center of the brain, between the two hemispheres, tucked in a groove where the two rounded thalamic bodies join.”
I find the pineal gland’s regulation of the circadian cycle as an indicator of the deeper levels of importance it has on the subtle physiology. The patterns of waking and sleep are also the states of consciousness that allow us to move through the “other” worlds. Our attunement to the seasons and the waxing and waning of the Solar year’s light- our Sun- and the impact of solar energy on our nervous system and spiritual centers are all states of awareness and function that are key to spiritual practice.
The Inner Screen
Our inner screen is the space of consciousness onto which we project the images we have stored, created or just seen. As we sit with eyes closed we enter our own personal internal space, upon which we may imagine, create and visualize the experience we wish to have. It is from this portal that we may then move our consciousness to the inner planes or astral levels to receive or retrieve information.
Visual artists instinctively use this inner screen as their metaphorical palette of inspiration when creating a new piece of art work. They are able to “see” the finished or in process project and then transfer this image to whatever medium they are working with. Our inner screen is the space of consciousness onto which we project the images we have stored, created or just seen. As we sit with eyes closed we enter our own personal internal space, upon which we may imagine, create and visualize the experience we wish to have. And, it is from this portal that we may then move those images of our consciousness out into manifest form through the act of creativity.
One of the basic practices for successful spiritual practice is cultivating the ability to clearly and accurately visualize within the landscape of the mind. If your practice is a path of magickal work, visualization is a requirement. And, apart from its use in the spiritual realms, being able to visualize the events of a business meeting, the route that was taken to get from point A to point B or the faces of those you’ve just met in a social setting is a very handy tool.
Candle gazing or similar focus of attention on a select object is a very good exercise to enhance and strengthen your abilities to recreate on your inner screen what you see in manifest form. The goal is to eventually bring the exact replication of what you have stored in your visual memory into clarity of form and shape on your inner screen without having to have the object in front of you. It is actually very similar to the process of having a “photographic memory”, and can prove to be very useful when trying to remember something that had been written down. You imprint the memory of that paper in your mind’s eye, recreate it and then retrieve whatever the bit of information is that you need.
Journey of the Senses
A Basic Practice to Develop Visualization Skills
Sit comfortably with a lit candle approximately 18 inches away from you. A tall white pillar candle works well for this or a taper in a 2-3” candle holder. Try not to use a tea light or flat candle as you don’t want to have to tilt your head and gaze down while doing this exercise. Relax with a few concentrated breaths and allow your gaze to soften while staring at the candle. Begin by taking the entire candle and its holder. Then, draw your gaze in and up towards the lit wick and the blue white flame. Hold this point of gaze for several minutes. Then, close your eyes. You should be able to see the outline of the flame and light. Try to hold this image on your inner screen as long as possible. In the beginning, it is natural for it to dissipate, but with practice, you will experience a lengthening of the time you can hold the clear, bright image behind closed eyes.
When you have mastered doing this with the candle in front of you, begin to practice conjuring up the image without the candle being there in physical form. How much of the image can you bring to life? You can move on to a variety of objects, using the same basic principles. Have fun and remember to relax while doing this exercise. Relaxing puts you in a more receptive state of mind, which translates to drawing more of what you see into the storehouse of images.
About this Series:
Our spiritual work relies on our physical and subtle states of being working co-creatively and collaboratively. We engage the senses in this work continually, but rarely give equal importance to them all. The sense of sight is commanded into presence through practice of visualization techniques. Sound is stimulated with drumming, chanting and toning. Touch is engaged as we handle tools, light candles, and more. The sense of taste is only accessed as a means of grounding with cakes and ale. And, we are alerted to awareness and being fully present in ritual space or meditative practice as the heady scent of incense and oils purify and set the stage for the work at hand. There will be collaborative posts speaking to the Physical experience of each of the senses in the Magickally Human Blog.
Part Three: Touch (Somatic Senses)