The word will derives from the Indo-European Root wel- meaning to wish, will, showing its close association with desiring a particular outcome. It is not surprising that various occultists have considered the human will to be central to magic, the great art of bringing about desired changes. This article details various magical concepts and correspondences for the will that can be used in magical workings and ceremonies.
Many people believe that Aleister Crowley was the first to associate magic and will, such as his definition of magic as "the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will," and his statement that "every intentional (Willed) act is a Magical act." However, both Eliphas Lévi and Paracelsus wrote of similar ideas. For example, Lévi wrote, "would you learn to reign over yourself and others? Learn how to will. How can one learn to will? This is the first arcanum of magical initiation," while Paracelsus claimed that "determined will is the beginning of all magical operations. It is because men do not perfectly imagine and believe the result, that the (occult) arts are so uncertain, while they might be perfectly certain."
The imagination is closely linked to the will, as revealed by Paracelsus. This fact was not missed by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, with V. H. Frater Resurgam writing that "to practice magic, both the imagination and the Will must be called into action, they are co-equal in the work... The Will unaided can send forth a current... yet its effect is vague and indefinite... the Imagination unaided can create an image... yet it can do nothing of importance, unless vitalized and directed by the Will." Soror S.S.D.D. wrote a visualization exercise that uses the imagination to help stimulate the will, and is essentially a short magical working. The exercise is performed in the following manner: "imagine your head as centre of attraction with thoughts like rays radiating out in a vast globe. To want or desire a thing is the first step in the exercise of Will; get a distinct image of the thing you desire placed, as it were, in your heart, concentrate all your wandering rays of thought upon this image until you feel it to be one glowing scarlet ball of compacted force. Then project this concentrated force on the subject you wish to affect."
Paul Foster Case, founder of the Builders of the Adytum, described the symbolism of the will in the Magician tarot card. Case wrote that "the primary manifestation of Spirit is Will, of which Attention - the wand - is the essence, and to which Memory - the wallet - is closely linked. Wisdom, having for its essence Imagination - the rose - is the secondary expression." This image captures the essence of magic, and depicts the importance of by will and imagination.
V. H. Frater Resurgam gave some fairly precise details for the connection between imagination and will, and how these are the basis for the magical act:
- Imagination creates a form on the Astral or some higher plane.
- This form is as real and objective to beings on that plane, as our earthly surroundings are to us.
- This form may have only a transient existence, productive of no important results; or it may be vitalized and used.
- To practice magic, both the Imagination and the Will must be called into action.
- The Imagination must precede the Will in order to produce the greatest possible effect.
- The Will unaided sends forth nothing but the current or force.
- The Imagination unaided can create an image and this image has an existence of varying duration; yet it can do nothing of importance.
- When the Imagination creates an image and the Will directs and uses that image, marvelous magical effects may be obtained.
H. P. Blavatsky, in The Secret Doctrine, offered a similar explanation of this magical process: "The ancients held that any idea will manifest itself externally, if one"s attention (and Will) is deeply concentrated upon it; similarly, an intense volition will be followed by the desired result," and later: "For creation is but the result of will acting on phenomenal matter, the calling forth out of it the primordial divine Light and eternal Life."
Magical Correspondences for the will include the following: The planet Mars and the Sun, the pituitary gland, the element of Fire, the sephiroth of Geburah on the Kabbalistic Tree of Life, the Magican Tarot card and tarot suit of wands, the zodiac sign Aries. The symbol for the will is the astrological symbol of Sol - a circle with a dot at its center.
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For further information on the will I suggest the following sites: The Will Project and the Magick Wiki entry on Will.