Step Four --
With the exercises of the previous Steps, you shall have learned how to imagine any thing, being or place, and how to concentrate your mental body (conscious awareness) into any part of your physical body with ease. Now, with Step Four, you will learn how to transfer your mental body into any object or being you choose.
This is a very delicate part of the magical training and how strictly you adhere to your personal moral code will directly influence your degree of success. If your motive is to supplant your will into another being, then you will assuredly fail in these exercises. But if your motive is only to increase your understanding of others, then you will succeed.
The transplantation of your consciousness into another object or being will provide you with a deep compassion for the limitations and travail of others. Your understanding of the mineral, plant, animal and human kingdoms will blossom in a way no other experience can match.
There are four sorts or stages of transplantation of consciousness. [In a previous post to the on-line discussion board, I outlined three types of transplantation, but I believe these four types outlined here do a better job of explaining this topic than the three types I described before.] The first stage is where you experience the physical limitations and dimensions of the object or being. Here, there is no connection to the sensations, feelings and thoughts of the object or being, and your experience is limited to your own sensations, feelings and thoughts concerning the object of your transplantation. This is the most primitive and superficial sort of transference.
The second stage is where you feel the actual sensations that the object or being feels. Still, there is no perception of how the object or being itself feels emotionally or how it thinks. At best, at this stage, you are able to surmise the emotions and thoughts of the other, but you do not experience them directly.
In the third stage of transference, you experience all the attributes of the object or being you have transplanted your consciousness into. For example, if you transplant your consciousness into a bird, you will feel the sensations of the bird's flight, you will perceive the bird's emotional responses, and you will know the bird's thoughts. The same applies to any object (although most inanimate objects do not experience emotion or thought) or being you transfer your consciousness into. At this stage, you are an observer of the entire being. Of concern with this sort of transference is the personal privacy of any being you transfer your consciousness into. When it comes to transferring your consciousness into another human, you should never divulge their inner emotions and thoughts to another as this would violate their privacy and negate their right to choose for themselves what parts of their inner life they want to externalize or share with others. Think for a moment how you would feel if someone was to violate your privacy in this way -- learn from this to never cause this sort of injury to another.
With this third type of transplantation, you will have a deep understanding of the being but you will not be able to directly influence the being from the inside. What it does provide however, is a deep enough understanding of the being so that you will know exactly how to influence them from the outside. In other words, by knowing the sensations, thoughts and emotions of another, your understanding of them will allow you to predict the consequences upon them of your advice, healing efforts, etc. This is the stage associated with "mind reading" and is very advantageous for the healer or the psychotherapist.
The fourth and most complete stage of transplantation of consciousness can take years of work to master and is attainable only if one has strictly adhered to the highest moral code. With this fourth type, you switch from mere observer, to active participant. Not only do you experience the whole being (physical, astral and mental), but you also become one with the whole being. In effect, your mental body joins the mental body of the being you are transferring your consciousness into, and you thereby have access to an absolute degree of direct influence over the actions, emotions and thoughts of the being. However, the being into which you have transferred your consciousness to this degree, will also have access to your being from the inside out. Usually, the being you would transfer into in this manner, would not have the magical ability to even perceive your presence and take advantage of the connection you have established. Nonetheless, the consequences of the mutuality of such a connection should be considered beforehand.
The true magician will ask permission from the other being before initiating this most complete stage of transplantation of consciousness. Every object or being is capable of expressing (in one way or another depending upon the sort of consciousness the object or being possesses), its willingness or unwillingness to participate in this most intimate sort of melding. If you ever try to violate the privacy of another being by overwhelming their unwillingness, it will be the last time you do so. This is a very high form of magic and if violated or abused, it will retreat from you and remain elusive till you redeem [Quite literally, "re-deem" means: to give new meaning to, or return the original meaning to, something.] the negative karma this act will naturally incur.
This ability is significant to the advanced magician. The advancing magician will do well to consider the implications of this ability in regard to the Step Ten work of merging with (i.e., "assumption of") a chosen god-form; with healing work of the most intimate level; with the merging at THE most intimate degree with a lover, friend, or guru/master; with advanced control of physical substances within the parameters established by Nature (remember, each physically manifest thing has an astral and a mental body as well, to which the advanced magician may connect in this manner); and, with the connection that two (or more) equally advanced magicians are capable of establishing. The possibilities are truly infinite and when explored to their fullness, they lead the magician to The Infinite.
At any rate, these exercises are well worth any effort you put into them. They form the foundation of many of the higher magics that IIH guides the student towards. For the purposes of Step Four however, the attainment of at least one experience of the third sort of transference that I described above, is sufficient, as long as one remains committed to pursuing the transference without rest, until the third type is mastered. It is even better if you have completely mastered the third type before passing on to Step Five, as that Step deals directly with the entry into the fourth type of transference.
The Step Four magical schooling of the spirit exercises follow the same pattern established in Steps Two and Three. The student begins with a few simple, inanimate objects and learns to transfer their conscious awareness into them one at a time. The goal here is to establish the first type of transference mentioned above wherein the dimensions of the object, its relationship to its surroundings, and its intended use, are perceived from the inside out.
When this first type is mastered with inanimate objects, the student shifts to objects from the plant kingdom. Here the goal is to establish the second type of transference wherein the dimensions as well as the sensations experienced by the object, are perceived. For example, if you are transferring your consciousness into a tree, you experience not only the form of the tree, but also the way in which the tree senses its rootedness and senses its surroundings through the atmosphere.
Once this second type of transference is mastered with creatures from the plant kingdom, the student moves on to working with the more animate beings of the animal kingdom. Start with animals (including insects, etc.) that you can observe with your own physical eyes. Aim for establishing at least the second type of transference with them. [Establishing the third type of transference with an animal at this stage is quite difficult due to how different the thinking and emotions of an animal are from those of a human. It is best if you learn the third type of transference with a human before trying it with something so foreign to your experience as the inner workings of an animal.] For example if you transfer your consciousness into a bird, you should experience the limitations and advantages of its form and experience what it feels like to be in the bird's body. Once you have mastered this basic technique with animals you can experience first-hand, then move on to animals you imagine.
When you have mastered the second type of transference into an animal form, then shift your attention to other humans. Begin with humans who are familiar to you (preferably with someone you are observing with your own eyes at the moment you are doing your experiment). At first, establish the second type of transference wherein you sense the similarities and the differences of their particular form, and feel what it is like to be in their unique body. This type of transference should present no problems by now since you have mastered the exact same degree of transference with other sentient creatures such as animals and insects, etc. It is best if you begin with stationary people and then work with people in motion, sensing how it feels to move about in their bodies. Then do the same with people you imagine.
Once the second type of transference into other humans is mastered, begin expanding the depth of your transference until you establish the third type of transference. This comes easiest with someone who is already familiar to you, as you already experience some degree of mental and emotional connection with them.
Achieving the expansion of contact from the merely sensorial to the emotional and mental levels comes differently for each magician. I could say, "visualize your own consciousness expanding within the other human until it makes contact with their emotional being and their mental being", or "quiet YOUR self and listen closely to the interior workings of the other human until you hear THEIR emotions and thoughts", but this would not begin to cover the various ways the magician can find to accomplish this third type of transference. Each student must devise their own best method -- if at first you don't succeed, try again with a new tact.
It is especially important here for the you to differentiate between what YOU think the other person is thinking and feeling emotionally, and what THEY actually are thinking and feeling. It is easy to imagine what they are experiencing and then falsely assume that our imaginings are actually the factual perception of their thoughts and emotions. To reach the genuine third type of transference with another being, the student must look beyond their own imaginings and perceive the actual thoughts and emotions of another.
Concurrent with this perception of another's present true thoughts and emotions, comes the perception of all their past experiences, thoughts and emotions. This is one way to tell the difference between your imagining of their thoughts, etc., and the actual perception of them. In other words, if you do not sense the person's past at the same time that you are experiencing their present moment, then you have not yet attained the third type of transference.
I should mention here that it is important for you to keep track of your own limits. Do not engage in so deep an empathy that you lose yourself in the other person's emotions and thoughts. Here, you are to remain an observer and not involve yourself directly, especially in their emotional state. It is all too easy to disrupt your own emotional state when you make this sort of contact with another's. An easy way to achieve this degree of control is to establish this sort of transference for only brief moments in the beginning. As you get used to keeping your own emotional being separate from another's, you can safely increase the amount of time you spend in this state of communion.
Once you have mastered this third type of transference with one person, begin experimenting with others, even those unfamiliar to you and those who you only imagine. It is always easiest to achieve this type of transference with people who are in front of your eyes at the present moment. With practice you should, for example, be able to sit in the middle of a busy restaurant and establish this third type of transference with any of the other patrons. Remember to ALWAYS respect the privacy of others and NEVER reveal the details of what you have learned about another being in this manner.
When you have achieved this third type of transference with humans, return to your work with non-human life forms (such as animals and plants). This is somewhat more difficult because these other life-forms experience their worlds quite differently than humans do. Thus, experiencing their astral and mental bodies will reveal things that are foreign to your normal experience and which may be difficult for you to understand at first. In essence, you must learn how to translate their emotions and thoughts from animal- or plant-terms, into human-terms. This is no small feat but it is well, well worth the effort!
This constitutes an important step in the expansion of the advancing magician's consciousness. The ultimate goal of the magician is to encompass ALL consciousness or Being within the own consciousness. This is an infinite expansion of consciousness until one's own consciousness merges with The Unity of All Being.
This third type of transference into non-human life-forms expands the human consciousness to a great extent -- it is, so to speak, one finite step along the way to infinity. But take heart, we cannot encompass an infinity by taking an infinite number of finite steps -- at some point along the way, one takes a quantum leap from the finite into the infinite. When and how this occurs in the life of a magician is in the hands of Divine Providence. It is not something that can be forced -- all one can do is be patient and persistent.
The work of the Step Four magical schooling of the spirit is truly complete when you are comfortable with the third type of transference of consciousness into any human you desire to explore. Some headway should be made in the same degree of transference into plant and animal forms. At the same time, you should commit yourself to continuing your exploration of your fellow beings in this manner.
1) How does the transferal of consciousness work?
The transference of consciousness is actually the relocation of one's mental body or conscious awareness into an external object or being. In the first type of transference, your mental body does not make an actual connection with the mental, astral or physical body of the object or being into which you have transferred your consciousness. In the second type, your mental body does make a slight connection with the physical sensoria of the subject. In the third type of transference, your mental body makes a slight connection with the mental, astral and physical bodies of the subject. And in the fourth type, the connection between your mental body and the mental, astral and physical bodies of your subject is complete and crystal clear.
2) When I transfer my consciousness into another person I feel afraid that I will lose myself in them. What should I do?
This is a normal sensation with the third and fourth type of transference. This occurs in the early stages of mental and astral wandering due to the fact that this action of separating your mental and astral bodies from your physical body imitates the death process. Thus, the fear stems from a very primitive part of your physical body's own rudimentary consciousness. In the transference of consciousness (a form of mental wandering), this presents a lesser obstacle than it does in the astral separation (which more closely resembles death to the physical instincts).
In truth, there is really very little chance of your actually losing yourself. Each of our bodies is connected by a subtle "thread" or "cord" and it is only when those threads are severed that true dislocation occurs. But this fact does not negate the physical body's instinct for self-preservation.
The way to overcome any reticence invoked by this sort of bodily fear is two-fold. First is that you must meditate upon the fact that your fear is unnecessary in this case. Try to convince your inner self that there really is no danger even though it reminds your body of the death process. Secondly, you should approach the third and fourth types of transference incrementally. Make your first experiences very brief and build slowly from there. This will introduce your physical body's rudimentary instinctive consciousness to the idea that this is a safe, unthreatening practice. As your physical body gets used to the idea that this is not as dangerous as it instinctively suspects, this fear will recede and will no longer be a barrier to your progress.
3) I'm too empathic. How do I avoid adopting someone else's mood?
True empathy is the result of your mental body establishing a direct link with another's mental and astral bodies. For some (natural empaths), this connection is an easy matter to accomplish, but for others, it must be learned.
The intimate link established during true empathy can only be invoked when the vibrational frequency of your mental body is in sync with another's. This provides the clue in both how to control and learn empathy.
The ability to establish an empathic link is a great boon to the magician. Yet to the natural empath who has not learned how to control their empathy, it can be a great burden. So, if you find yourself adopting another's mood through your empathic connection, you must learn how to control your empathy.
The first step in controlling your empathy is to take stock of your own mood. Clearly define your own state of mind and root yourself there. This gives you the ability to clearly distinguish between your own mood and the mood of the person you are empathizing with. As you enter into empathy with another person, keep a tight hold upon your own mood and act as a mere observer of their mood. At first, keep your distance and do not establish a direct link.
Once you have identified the differences between your mood and that of your subject, slowly begin to alter your mental frequency till it matches that of your subject. You'll recognize when you reach vibrational parity by the fact that you will be able to directly feel their mood.
To avoid becoming consumed by their mood, you must make your time of empathy very brief -- only a second or two at first. I call this "dipping" as it is a process similar to dipping your finger in to test the waters. Repeat this dipping until you are comfortable with maintaining the empathic link without totally merging with another's mood.
Essentially, what you are doing is matching only the exterior of your mental body with the frequency of the other's mental body while retaining your own frequency at the core of your mental body. This places you in the position of being able to directly control how deeply the other's mood penetrates into your mental body.
If you are a natural empath and find that you are empathic with just about any person you pass on the street, then you will need to shield or restrict your mental body during your daily life. A shield is simply an energy vortex that keeps your mental frequency stable and prevents you from unconsciously modifying your mental frequency to match that of another person. A shield acts as a barrier between you and another person's mental body.
To erect a shield you must first take stock of your normal mental frequency. Then wrap an appropriate blanket of energy around your whole being and fill it with the idea that it will act to contain, and preserve the frequency of, your own mental being. Have it constantly replenish its energy by drawing it directly from the universe and instruct it to remain in place for as long as you consciously desire it to do so. In other words, make sure it stays intact until you wish to consciously establish an empathic link with someone.
With practice, shielding will help you regain control over your empathic ability and preserve your own state of mind. With even further practice you may be able to retain your shielding of the core of your mental body and then extend the periphery of your mental body in order to establish a safe empathic link.
No matter how unwieldy your natural empathy may seem at the beginning, you CAN learn to control it.
4) How do I prevent someone else from transferring their consciousness into me?
By this stage of IIH, your will has become quite formidable. No one can transfer their consciousness into you without your allowing them to do so. So, if you feel that someone is trying to establish a mental link without your permission, all you have to do is willfully deny them entry. In extreme situations or if your natural empathy is untrained, you can always resort to shielding yourself and this will prevent invasion by another.
I must say however, it is very, very rare that someone else will even attempt to transfer their consciousness into you without your permission. There is no need for paranoia in this regard.
Many folks talk about being under "psychic attack", etc., but this too (when it is an actual attack and not just self-delusion) requires a certain degree of culpability or consent on the part of the person being attacked. Without your consent, any true attack will fail. Unfortunately, one has to make sure that there is no un-conscious consent as well as conscious consent. It is far easier to deny conscious consent than it is to ferret out any unconscious consent, and this is why some folks find themselves succeptable to an attack even though they believe they've consciously rebuked the attack. Again, there is no need for paranoia in this regard. True psychic attack is a very rare thing -- it is usually a matter of self-delusion.
5) Can I really control someone else in this way?
Only with the fourth type of transference are you capable of directly influencing another person or being from the inside. The third type will provide you enough of an understanding of another that you can alter their behavior from the outside in much the same way that you do in daily life. In either way, but especially with the fourth type, you directly share in the karmic consequences of your interference.
I will warn you now to NEVER attempt to directly influence another being from the inside without their fully conscious consent -- you do NOT want to incur the negative karmic debt inherent in such an act. Even if you are effecting an innocuous, seemingly harmless, sort of influence, to do so from the inside without their consent is an abuse of your power that will surely incur some very unsavorable consequences. Not the least of these consequences is that your magical abilities will suffer an extreme set back!
With the Step Three magical schooling of the soul exercises, the student learned how to inhale the Elements into their whole body through the pore breathing technique. Now, with Step Four, the student learns how to dynamically accumulate the Elements in the individual body parts and organs. This is similar to the previous work with the dynamic accumulation of the vital energy.
At this stage in your development, you must be certain that you have established a clear Elemental balance, AND you must be able to maintain your balance. This means that you must by now be able to perceive the state of your balance at any given moment, and have the ability to correct any transitory imbalances you encounter. This is of vital importance and you should not, by any means, proceed with the Step Four exercises with the Elements until you have achieved your Elemental balance. If you proceed without this inner balance, you risk great harm to your psyche and your physical health.
As with the accumulation of the vital energy, the student is warned against accumulating the Elements into the brain and heart. Again, it is only the 'dynamic' accumulation with its building of pressure that is to be avoided. Merely bathing the heart and brain with the Elements or vital energy will do no harm, but when the Element or vital energy is condensed and the pressure of a dynamic accumulation is invoked, harm can easily be done.
The student begins in much the same manner as with the accumulation of the vital energy. Begin by accumulating seven breaths of the Element in the whole body through the pore breathing technique. Then shift the consciousness to the chosen organ or body part and condense the accumulated Element into that specific area.
This action of confining the accumulated Element into the smaller space of the body part or organ, condenses the Element and establishes a more dynamic accumulation of it. You should feel the attributes of the Element and a degree of pressure clearly in the chosen organ or body part.
When your contemplation of this accumulation in the chosen organ or body part is complete, then expand the condensed Element back to the whole body, spreading it evenly throughout the body and releasing its dynamism and pressure. When the Element is thus spread again throughout the whole body, release it back to the universe by means of the magical pore breathing exhalation.
Starting with the Fire Element, repeat this procedure with each of your body parts and organs (except your brain and your heart). Then move on to the Air Element, then the Water Element, and end with the Earth Element. Seven whole-body breaths will suffice until you have familiarized yourself with the accumulation of each Element into each body part and organ. Only then should you increase the number of inhalations and thus increase the pressure that your dynamic accumulation exerts upon your body parts and organs.
This exercise is significant for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it introduces the student to the technique of "condensing" an Element. This is an important part of the magical use of the Elements.
Once the release of the accumulated Element through the whole body has been mastered, turn your attention to the technique of releasing the accumulated Element from the organ or body part directly back into the universe. This is no different than what you learned regarding the release of the vital energy. Simply exhale the condensed accumulation from the organ or body part directly, without first dispersing it throughout the whole body. With practice, you should eventually be able to release the accumulated Element in a single explosive expulsion, directly back to the universe from each organ and body part. This is a faster, more convenient technique and should be mastered with each Element and each body part and organ.
When the above has been mastered, attention turns to learning how to inhale the Elements directly into the body's parts and organs, without first inhaling them into the whole body. This is exactly the same exercise you followed in the section on accumulating the vital energy.
Beginning with the Fire Element, place your consciousness into the chosen body part or organ and, from there, inhale the Element directly into the organ or body part and dynamically accumulate it. Start with seven breaths and increase from there till you have reached your limit of a comfortable level of tension. Do not over stress your body by accumulating too much of an Element at any given time -- work your way slowly as you increase the dynamic pressure of the condensed Element and stretch your limits carefully. Again, avoid the dynamic accumulation of an Element in either your brain or your heart.
When your accumulation is complete, release the Element back to the universe directly from the organ or body part itself. Start with a paced exhalation of the Element and work your way up to the explosive release.
Repeat this exercise with each of your body's parts and organs and with each of the remaining Elements.
The following, final exercise of this section is of immense consequence to the advancing magician. I urge you to proceed in this exercise with gentleness. Go slowly and take your time as this exercise should not be rushed. The healing and balancing effects of this technique cannot be overstated.
The balancing effects of this final exercise are achieved through the accumulation of the Elements into their corresponding bodily regions. The main difference in this exercises compared to the work you have already done, is that here all four Elements are held within the body at the same time.
The technique begins with seven inhalations of the Earth Element, accumulated in its proper region of the body. This is held and then one inhales seven breaths of the Water Element into its region, etc. Eventually, seven inhalations of each of the Elements is accumulated in its own region and held there.
It is as if you are building your own little planet within your body. First you set the foundation of Earth. Then you allow the Water to flow over its surface. Upon this you let the atmosphere built of Air, rest gently. Atop the Air, the Fire flames, radiating its light out into the depths of space.
Spend several minutes (at least five) in this state and perceive the balancing effects as your whole, microcosmic being realigns itself with the universal, macrocosmic balance.
When you are ready, gently release each of the Elements from their regions, following the reverse order (i.e., Fire, Air, Water, then Earth). At first, master the release through the seven-breath pore exhaling of the accumulation and then slowly progress, in the usual manner, to the explosive release.
The question arises, regarding the four bodily regions, of what one does with the arms and hands. Bardon is silent on this subject so I will relate to you what I have found best in my own experience with this exercise. I relegate the shoulder, down to the elbow, to the Air region; the elbow to the wrist, to the Water region; and, the hand, to the Earth region. This seems to express their relative use and nature, as well as their interaction. Each modifies the movement of the next, with the hand (Earth) being the most complex modification of the initial motion of the shoulder (Air).
When the above seven-breath passive accumulation of the Elements into their regions has been mastered, it is safe to proceed with working towards a dynamic accumulation. Increase your accumulation by one inhalation in each region each time you practice -- retain the balance of the Elements. Slowly build the condensation and dynamism of the accumulated Elements and gently stretch the plasticity of the regions of your body.
Again, work with the two types of release: the magical exhalation and the explosive release.
Aside from the healing, balancing effects of this exercise, the student will also benefit as it prepares one for the later work of dynamically accumulating the Elements into external objects.
This exercise Equilibrates the Elements in all three of the magician's bodies (mental, astral and physical). The implications of this upon the magical ascent are uncountable. This is one exercise that you will doubtless repeat with joy throughout the remainder of your life!
1) Is this supposed to be a dynamic accumulation or a condensation of the Elements?
In these Step Four exercises, you start by establishing a dynamic accumulation in the whole body, and then you condense the entire accumulation into the smaller space of an organ or body part. Once this process is mastered, you turn to condensing the Elements into your organs and body parts directly, without first passing it through your whole body. Then, in the accumulation into the four regions of the body, you are working with a dynamic accumulation directly into each region, followed by a building of the accumulation into a highly condensed state.
2) Why should I avoid accumulating or condensing the Elements in my brain and my heart?
These two organs, more so than any other organs in the human body, depend upon the body's own electrical charge to function properly. Their electrical balance is fairly sensitive to irregularities and when this is toyed with, damage can easily occur. Since each of the Elements carries its own particular electromagnetic charge, accumulating the Elements into either of these organs risks disruption of their normal electrical balance.
However, when an Element is accumulated in, for example, the Fire in the head region (in the Elemental balancing exercise), the electromagnetic charge of the Element is spread throughout all the organs of the region and there is thus no resulting disturbance of the balance within the brain. The same holds true when the Air Element is accumulated in the chest region and when the Elements are accumulated in the whole body.
3) What is the practical use of this work with the Elements?
First of all, the Step Four work with the accumulation of the Elements into your body opens you to many new options in maintaining your bodily health.
Secondly, the Elemental balancing exercise will have a great impact upon your goal of achieving an overall Elemental equipoise.
Thirdly, this work is what makes the finger rituals possible.
Fourthly, these exercises introduce you to the technique of condensing the Elements. This is a rudimentary part of true magic. Condensing the Elements into your own body is the first step in learning how to condense the Elements into external objects.
Step Four closes with a section on personal ritual. Here, the student must be creative and design rituals that are of intimate personal relevance. Of course, the abilities already learned and the personal morality of the magician play an integral part in just how effective any ritual may become.
A ritual, for the true magician, is a short-cut. All it does is compress the hands-on labor into a short gesture. If the magician is not capable of performing the hands-on labor, then the ritual will be useless. Furthermore, the compression of the hands-on labor takes a good amount of labor itself. In other words, creating the short-cut takes repetition. At first, this is not a short-cut, but given time and effort, it becomes one.
A lot of fancy ceremonial is taught in many of the magical groups, lodges and schools, but to the well trained "Bardonian" magician these are relatively unproductive practices. Prewritten ceremony does have its place, but true magic is spontaneous. It must come from the heart of the magician and fit the demands of the moment. The true magician has no need for public display nor theatrics -- there may be times when these are appropriate, but the magician does not NEED them to effect their will. This is the lesson to be found here at the end of Step Four.
The magical rituals that you create for yourself, no matter how simplistic, will serve you far better than those you learn from someone else. Enjoy yourself, be inventive, and always work for the betterment of all!
1) What is the point of creating these rituals?
The path that Bardon lays out in IIH involves first learning the basic techniques of magic, followed by combining those techniques in ways that render them more useful. The idea here is that you must first gain the ability to do things the slow way, by hands-on, manual labor, and then learn to employ these techniques in a faster, less labor intensive manner. The creation of these simple finger rituals represents a faster way of doing the same thing that you can achieve through hands-on labor. It is a short step from mastery of these small rituals to the later work of creating beings that will carry out your will without your immediate attention. Throughout IIH you will see this pattern of taking simple things and making out of them more complex forms of magic.
Creating this sort of ritual takes lots of repetitive practice and this is the primary lesson to be learned through their mastery. Once you've gone through this process and mastered it, the creation of more complex rituals and learning the higher magical practices is made just that much easier.
2) How does a finger ritual work?
This is similar to the practice of managing intruding thoughts during the mental discipline exercises of Step One. By repeating the ideation process over and over, it becomes quicker and quicker, and eventually it reaches such a degree of rapidity that it becomes almost automatic. With the finger rituals, the employment of the Elements at first takes time and extra thought, but with steady repetition, the whole process becomes so rapid that all you have to do is move your fingers in the predetermined way and your will is immediately carried out.
Of course, these rituals are completely useless if you are not already capable of manipulating the Elements. They are only short-cuts to the performance of things that you can already accomplish through the slower, hands-on labor. In other words, a ritual will not give you more power to do things -- it will only speed up the accomplishment of your will.
The technique itself is very simple. If you condense the Elements into your fingers as outlined by Bardon, all you then have to do is touch the appropriate fingers together to release their Elements and thus accomplish your will. This requires that you predetermine how the Elements will interact and how they will be directed to carry out the desired effect. So, there is a combination here of four factors: the condensed Elements; the physical movement; the building of the ideation; and, the explosive release of the condensed Elements. In this way, you can very quickly fill your surroundings with an Element, or combination of Elements, and through their attributes, effect your will.
Just how effective your ritual will be depends upon your abilities. At first you will be able to only effect the mental sphere of your surroundings, but with practice your effectiveness will reach into the astral and eventually, into the physical sphere.
3) How many rituals should I devise?
Start with one ritual and when that has been mastered, expand your repertoire by one ritual at a time. Be sure to master each ritual before you initiate a new one. I recommend no more than four rituals total as this gives you the opportunity to devise a series of rituals that depend primarily upon each one of the four Elements, while avoiding the dispersal of power that too many rituals can incur. It is good to devise enough rituals to meet your needs, but unwise to devise an endless number of them.