Creativity and ritual practice
In Step Four, Bardon dedicates a single section to Physical Training aimed at studying personal rituals. The rite, at the basis of the performance of a ritual, is etymologically linked to the Greek ἀριϑμός (arithmós), number, and to the Sanskrit ऋत (Ṛta), cosmic order or principle that regulates universal operations at a natural, moral and sacrificial level.
The rite can therefore be understood as a rhythm which places the physical, soul and mental states on a similar vibratory sequence to be able to act on the different levels according to the laws of analogy, using the appropriate rituals for the purposes to be obtained. And that’s just what Bardon means when he says:
However, it is necessary to distinguish the rituals organised according to the principles proper to the various initiatory or religious institutions, which follow a form – often complex and articulated – dictated by the reference tradition. Bardon does not deny the usefulness of an organised ritual, which has its raison d’être in unifying and channelling the energies and thoughts of those who participate in it; he underlines the fact that any ceremony has a function of support and coordination of the mind of the participant and that thanks to it channels of communication with certain subtle states of reality are opened.
And here, we come to the concept of personal ritual. What differentiates it from the organized ritual is the degree of freedom that the practitioner can exercise in choosing the gestures and positions intended to represent the result he wants to obtain. Here we enter the creative sphere of occult practice, which links the individual’s acts to the higher degrees of being; creativity, in this context, is the ability to draw on one’s uniqueness and to express it exclusively. As a side effect, this implies maintaining confidentiality on the work carried out because even just talking about it would jeopardize the final result. Bardon explains, in this regard, that sharing a personal practice would allow others to exploit the energy potential created thanks to the repetition of the ritual, weakening its outcome.
A final note should be made on the sense of personal ritual. It is, in fact, a shortcut, a tool used to speed up an operation that would otherwise take longer to finalise. The practitioner must already feel confident in manipulating the Elements, as explained in the soul training of this Step; lacking this competence, obtained gradually, the fastest ritual techniques would have no effect.
As far as practice execution techniques are concerned, Bardon offers very little guidance, and the reason is apparent. The creative action requires a personal approach that the student, having reached this stage of preparation, must be able to manage independently. The guidelines are these:
- Think about the idea you want to make. Remember that the practitioner of Hermeticism is ethical; actions and desires are always aimed at the good, yours and those around you.
- Condense the Elements you want to use for the realisation of the idea in your fingers, according to this association: thumb-Water, index-Fire, middle finger- Ākāśa, ring finger-Earth, little finger-Air; the right hand represents the Elements in their positive or active phase, the left hand those in the negative or passive phase.
- Study a series of gestures which, depending on your nature, may represent the chosen idea or desire. Bardon emphasises hand and finger work such as mudras, hand gestures and movements that ‘seal’ the authenticity of the practice.
- At the same time, associate the idea with the Element or Elements that you deem appropriate for its realisation through the imagination; you can express the idea aloud or silently, but always in the present tense as if the wish has already been granted. In this, you follow the guidelines already given for self-suggestion.
- The explosive release technique frees the Element or Elements into the surrounding environment, making your will effective.
Practice takes time to be refined and become effective and fast. With exercise, the energy potential created by frequent repetitions will automate the process; at that point, with the ritual synchronised with the imagination, the gestural movement will be sufficient to release the effect. It’s worth initially experimenting with one Element, sticking to a single desire, and then trying a combination of Elements. Only time, practice and intuition can suggest the correct associations of Elements and the appropriate gestures to act effectively. Depending on the circumstances, one can develop simple rituals to perform with finger movements alone and complete in public without being noticed.