When using magick, being able to control one's primary tool, oneself with all the different sides and features one has, is very important. By being able to harness one's whole essence including the mind, body and language to the working at hand gives the magick worker a more powerful set of tools than what a mage with less self-control and weaker self-awareness has.
One method of training yourself to be a more effective for magick is to use Aleister Crowley's Liber III vel Jugorum1 as your tool. At the same time, you are also able to get yourself more under your own control -- thinking what you are saying and doing, as well as controlling your thought patterns.
Jugorum, "Book of the Yoke" divides the fields to be trained into three beasts: the unicorn, the horse and the ox. All these should be yoked "in a triple yoke that is governed by One Whip" instead of having them running wildly. Jugorum can be used not only as a stand-alone practice, but also as a part of preparing for larger workings; especially before starting more complex and continuous operations requiring not only self-control but also self-awareness - for example larger invocation/evocation projects or starting to learn a new system/technique.
As a stand-alone practice Jugorum works well as a periodical "re-gaining self-control" and a working intended to be compared to previous results of practicing the Liber III. It can also be used as a changing point between one phase of life and another -- to create an intermediate period of "no phase", devoted to self-contemplation, in preparation for the next phase. Furthermore, this versatile exercise can be used to pulling oneself back together when one's practice has turned sloppy and to stop a working that has started to pall on you or is going badly, in order to study possible reasons for things not going the way they are expected to go.
Being wild and unruly can be interpreted as pointing out how "automated" people usually are in their day-to- day life. Their speech is littered with unnecessary refrains like "you know" or simpler "umm", as well as with fixed expressions and points of view. Certain stimuli trigger always the same kind of response, without thinking. Even mannerisms repeat the same habits -- you sit down and lift one knee over the other, fidget your pen or your hair... All in all, there are many kind of mannerisms you don't usually pay any attention to. Thoughts are ruled by old and tried trains of thought and strong but often unquestioned ideas of who "I am" and how "I" usually do things.
Jugorum's exercises make you pay attention to your own actions, remove what you've deemed unnecessary, map yourself and train yourself to be your own master. Each of the exercises last a week minimum and in addition to the exercises given in Liber III, Crowley advises you to make up your own exercises.
Jugorum isn't a quick route to magickal innovations or stronger capabilities and the results gained vary according to the goals set by each practitioner. However, the exercises do help along the way. There's no use in starting an exercise and then stopping in the middle of it, even though you might feel like you weren't gaining anything from it. Even though the changes would be small and even unnoticeable, in the long run (the only one that really matters) they can be remarkable.
Rule thy Speech! With the speech (and other communication) exercise, you start by picking a target, which is then removed from use of language. In the first form of this exercise, you'll avoid a word you commonly use, for example "and", "but" or "the". In the second, you'll avoid using a certain language. In the third one, what's being removed is "self" -- the every pronoun and adjective referring to first person. With each of these, you will not simply miss the word to avoid; you'll work your way around it.
The level of difficulty can be fine tuned from very easy to such difficulty where you need to shift the gear of your brain completely. Very easy -- too easy to be of any practical use and also too easy to be in accordance to the spirit of Jugorum -- would be, say, to choose to remove "i" or "oui" and then communicate solely in English. On the other end of the scale would be removing a whole set of concepts or means of expression from your speech. In any case, you should reconstruct the thought patterns affecting speech and to really pay attention to what you are about to say or write, before the words get out of your mind. The target should be a word, letter or concept (like "I") you are using constantly, maybe even too often. For this exercise to be of use for you, do communicate with people as much as you usually. Spending a week alone and in silence gets you off easy, but you won't gain anything from it.
While following the speech part of Jugorum, you'll notice how much you are actually using a certain expression in your daily life without actually thinking about it. At the same time, you'll likely start noticing other people's methods of communication better then before, how much others are (over) using the expression you are avoiding -- which is naturally where your attention will most likely be concentrating on in others -- and how much of their communication is "automated". Insights upon yourself and finding new points of view are rather common "by-products" from doing Jugorum. The over all results will vary according to the exercise and the practitioner.
My own standards set for myself when doing a communication exercise, be it Jugorum or Jugorum-based, is that people who are not aware of the exercise going on, would not notice anything being different from normal. Going around the target should happen skillfully enough to not draw any attention towards itself. The slightly longer pauses in speech can be noticed, but it shouldn't be too obvious as to get people asking questions.
Generally speaking, you'll just return to your normal language usage after the exercise. Exceptions from this rule are the occasions, when the target has been those manners of speech or expressions you intended to rid your speech from, completely or partly.
This kind of communication exercise is a useful tool for training, as language affects the mind, mind affects the reality, reality affects the language and vice versa.
Rule thine Action! The examples given in Liber III point your attention to ordinary everyday gestures and motions -- the kind of which you don't usually pay any attention to. The first example advises avoiding lifting your left arm above your waist, the second mentions avoiding crossing your legs.
As the gestures are so common, controlling them can be surprisingly difficult. Our bodies "live their own lives" and small everyday motions come naturally. When you're thinking, your fingers may fidget with your pen. When you sit down, you'll adjust yourself to your favorite position. When you're feeling puzzled, you may start running your fingers through your hair. When your spouse walks by, you may give him a little pat on his bum, etc. Being aware of your own gestures brings along an extra loop of thinking to your daily life, even when there is only one gesture you are focusing on avoiding. When you're focusing on gestures that are usually controlled not by thought, but "come from your spine", you are also training your mind to be more focused and alert.
You can use the horse-training part of Jugorum to train yourself out of addictions and other so called bad habits, but the results may be considerably weaker than using the same exercise for culling out automatic gestures for a week or more. If you're a caffeine addict, a cup of coffee may well feel worth the punishment you get from slipping. When it comes to bad habits, you are usually aware of them even before the exercise, so focusing your mind to concentrate on something you don't usually think about doesn't happen.
This exercise of gestures or motions helps to heighten awareness of your own body and to train it to act more according to your will. Extending your consciousness to the smallest gestures of your body fine-tunes not only your mind, but also your body to be better in using magick. Many rituals include certain gestures and signs, which aren't there only to bring flamboyance to the ritual and to help the Mage to move from one point to another. By fine-tuning your mind to be more aware of your body, you can gain more understanding of these gestures and make them more meaningful for you. You aren't just doing the gestures or signs, you are starting to be more aware of them and to experience their meanings on a practical level, instead of just reading the meaning of a gesture from a book and thinking in some level of your consciousness the meaning if it while doing it. Furthermore, gestures and signs used in rituals may appear in your dreams while doing this exercise, giving you more information about themselves, possibly providing you with better insight than before.
Rule thy Thought! Jugorum includes two differing exercises for training the mind. The first one is similar to those controlling speech and action: you are avoiding thinking about a certain subject and everything connected with it. You're advised to pick a target you are usually thinking about rather often, something that sensory input or other people's conversations stir in your mind frequently.
The other example given differs from the earlier ones. This one advises you to create two clearly different personalities (A and B) for yourself. What personality is "on", is defined with some type of tool, for example by switching a ring from one finger to another. The created personalities should be distinct, with the main features being connected to the basic needs of life. When the ring is on the Person A's finger, you shouldn't let any Person B's thoughts to enter your mind and vice versa.
In Crowley's example person A is passionate, skilled in Qabalah, a vegetarian and "reactionary" politician. Person B, in turn, is an ascetic thinker, occupied with work and family, eats meat and progressive politician. You can choose the opposites better suiting yourself by looking at everyday issues important to you and then dividing your opinions in two camps.
In effect, you can choose between a paradox and a paradigm. The paradox is created by completely avoiding thinking about something, but still being aware of it. The paradigm is connected to controlling the paradigms of two different personalities, without unbalancing your own mind.
The mind is the most important tool of the Mage, so training it shouldn't be considered of minor importance. Looking closer at the example exercises given by Crowley, you can spot benefits of doing the ox-part of Jugorum to your magick usage. Shutting a certain subject out of your mind trains yourself to be able to shut out of the reality of your mind thoughts, thought patterns and frames of mind that could be negative from the point of view of your different magickal workings. Having trained with working with two different "I"s, you may be better able to "put on your Mage's personality" when you switch from everyday reality to the reality of magick use, helping with the change of the state of consciousness for those who do not differentiate between everyday life and magick, too.
With the paradigm exercise you can also allow your more skeptical sides to exist without disturbing the usage and results of magick. You do not need to cull your skepticism -- that doesn't pay, it is a useful too -- when you can allow it to manifest, separately from the strong belief in magick while practicing.
Tools of Control
Earlier on, I mentioned the punishment you get from slipping. The main tool of control in Jugorum is very primitive -- physical punishment you are giving yourself. In addition to this, you should keep a diary on your exercise.
The advice given by Crowley is grim: "On each occasion you slip to say/do/think that what you have sworn to avoid, cut yourself sharply on the wrist or arm with a razor blade." Advancement is monitored in two ways: "Your arm then serves you both as a warning and as a record. You should write down your daily practices, until you are perfectly vigilant at all times." (Quotes paraphrased.) Perfectly vigilant. That is, no avoidable words should come from your lips or your pen, no forbidden gestures from your body, nor uprooted thoughts should enter your mind.
Razor blade as a punishment is very demanding and most people who do Jugorum exercises aren't using it. The most common form of punishment seems to be a rubber band around the wrist. When you slip, you snap the rubber band, hard. I have used that method and while doing my first exercise, I sometimes considered switching to the razor blade method as a less painful option...
Other methods I've heard or read about include a pocket-size gizmo which gives electric shocks (which truly isn't advisable!), slapping yourself on the cheek and one apparently very effective method (probably due to the embarrassment factor included) of dropping down to do push-ups no matter where you happen to be. Some consider the embarrassment you get from knowing you've slipped to be punishment enough.
If you choose to use rubber band or other methods of punishments that do not leave marks on your skin, the "book keeping effect" (counting the number of mistakes from your own skin and comparing different times of doing Jugorum with each others) is lost. The rubber band will leave red marks, but they are hard or even impossible to count. However, you can take to carrying a pen and drawing a line on your arm after each punishment. You can then mark down the lines into your diary daily and keep an eye on your development this way.
1) Liber III vel Jugorum is a class D publication, official rituals and instructions, in the classification of Thelemic literature.
Originally published in Finnish in Vox Paganorum
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