Disability and Praxis
I have started this thread out of curiosity.
If a physically blind person wanted to begin the practice of Magick , would there be any obstacles to them , becoming an occultist? Even though their physical eyes might not be 100% , would the abiltiy to "communicate" in praxis & ritual be a barrier?
( Would the publisher Weiser ever think of publishing Magick/Book 4 in Braille?)
Likewise for a physically deaf person. Would the inability to physically hear affect their abilty to interact on a magickal level? And if a person was in a wheelchair permamently , how could they adapt the physical rituals to their own needs?
Beethoven was deaf!
If it's possible for a deaf person to compose as he did, then why would magic be a problem?
Jorge Luis Borges was blind!
If it's possible for a blind person to write as he did, then why would magic be a problem?
Or... Derek Jarman... when he filmed his last movie, "Blue", he was already blind... I can't imagine any movie which has more magic than "Blue"!
There are more things in a human , hawthornrussell, than are dreamt of in our philosophy.
When a person is blind... or deaf... he already learnt how to perceive the world without using that sense and he had found his way to replace it; that's why it's possible.
Thats a really good question. One my husband and I have put much thought into as we are both social workers for people with physical and mental disabilities.
Many studies both academic and personal recounts have been put to the test with regards to "hightened senses" when one of them is impaired. We've found that in most cases when it is hearing or sight that is impaired it tends to highten the other ones.
For example the loss of hearing will highten the sense of sight and vise versa.
I have noticed several people with no loss of senses but rather a mental impairment to be quite "sensitive." I have worked with a woman for over 15 years now. She is concidered mentally impaired and has various other psychological disabilities. In both of my pregnancies she "knew" before me. (trust me, I was paying attention as both were planned and I NEVER discuss personal issues with my clients so she would have had no way of knowing I was even trying for children). She also predicted the gender of my children and was correct on both accounts. The list of these types of experiences is quite enormous and I'll not go on and on with them here. But it's all really interesting.
Now, am I saying that develomentally disabled people are naturally psychic? Thats a trick question for me as I think we all are to some degree but to answer it the best I can, no. I dont think that. However I do see the hightened awareness being more natural in most cases. By natural I mean no training, no reading on the subject..nothing. No awareness of what it is they are even doing or saying.
If a physically blind person wanted to begin the practice of Magick , would there be any obstacles to them , becoming an occultist?
Of course. If you were born without sight you're going to have a hard time with making a point of reference with any types of visualizations based on images garnished from corporeal sight. I've found you cant really help them "get" what you see. They do understand color and associate it with a feeling. Blue and yellow feel cold. Red and orange feel hot and so on. But even that has limits.
When you are born without the sense of hearing it hinders your ability to learn speech so there for it would be hard to help a deaf person learn to how to speak a ritual. However as we all know thought is a powerful tool so it could be performed in such a maner. I have spent many nights at work related events holding a deaf persons hand to the music speakers and clapping their hands so they can understand vibration and thus getting an idea of dance. And I'll tell you something else. If you think just because someone can hear that they dont know what your saying you better make sure they cant SEE you speaking. Reading lips is a refined art I find. LOL.
Humans have an amazing ability to take their disabilities, and we ALL have them, and accept what they've been born with and make the best of the gifts we DO have. I find inspiration in that on a daily basis. It humbles me and makes "lack of ego" an easy thing for me to accomplish. Whenever I think I've done something truly amazing all I have to do is attend an art show put on by one of my clients who has an I.Q of 63 and wracked with various physical impairments and be awestruck at what they've created. And it's GOOD art.
I'm sorry. I've gone on and on here. I hope some of this has been helpful. I'll probably come back at a later time if thats ok and add some more organized thought to this.
I believe the answer to your question is Yes. Most definately yes. It can be done. I've seen SO much be done in my 17 year career that nothing really suprises me anymore. Inspire me, yes. Humble me, oh yeah. But suprise me, no way...not anymore. It's all about Time. If you put the time into something and into someONE some good things are bound to happen.
* I would just like to add that EVERYONE I work with has a mental AND physical disability. Someone of a "normal" I.Q with a loss of a sense is not my area of expertise with regards to the ability or inability to "teach" magick. I would treat a non mentally disabled person very differently than I do with the people I support. In otherwords, I am fully aware that a lack of sight or hearing or someone in a wheelchair does not equal a lack of intellegance. Stephen Hawking is an example of this. I know quite a few people with obvious disabilities who posess a high level of intellegance and get very annoyed when people assume they "lack upstairs" because of it. I'm NOT one of those people. I assume nothing. 😉
Actually, the only thing I can think to add to this is the one quote that holds me together every single day. The one that in goodtimes and bad seems to make everything alright and helps me deal with the sadness I feel when I see my clients or anyone for that matter struggle. This, To Me, this is hope and clarity which... I need and it helps me try. If I can remember THIS I can remember that all things are possible, including helping a person in a wheelchair learn how to adapt a magickal ritual to suit their physical abilities.
It sets me straight EVERY time.
"All words are sacred and All prophets true; save only that they understand a little...Remember all ye that existence is pure joy: that all sorrows are but Shadows; they pass & are done; But there is that which remains." Liber Al
Thanks for your replies Kym.
Some of the questions it has raised in my head , is the issue of "the law is for all". So obviously this includes people with physical disabilities. On a ritualistic level if someone only has one arm , how would they adapt a physical ritual where they are expected to use 2 arms in praxis? And to make degree signs at the quarters? With one arm? Another example would be how would you relate the concept of "the assumption of the godforms" to a person who has been blind since birth?
There are no right or wrong answers here. I am just thinking how rituals can be adapted to a persons physical needs.
I think you've raised a great question here with implications for EVERYONE on the Path of Magick. As I work professionally with adults who are both physically and cognitively disabled, I'm quite experienced in being part of overcoming limitations in order to live the fullest and most self-directed life which one may.
I'm quite fond of Blake's statement that "One Law For The Lion & Ox Is Oppression" and find that there is no clear cut theoretical answer to addressing the above mentioned limitations, for they are as unique as the individual so concerned. As much as we address physical limitations and the need to maintain bodily health with the approach of "adaptive fitness," so Magick must be, of necessity, "adapted" to the needs of the person so involved. There's just such a vast difference between an amputee and someone who is blind and...well, another amputee and another person who is blind! Is the loss of limb necessitating a wheelchaired circumambulation or the use of prosthetics to enact the forms of ceremony? I think someone with a hook for a hand would have a different challenge to surmount than a paraplegic. And where True Will is activated, its impulse will not be denied.
Here's where "Necessity" is really the "Mother of Invention" and Thelema certainly holds no fascist sway over how an individual may contact, celebrate and channel the Aeon.
I could cite all kinds of ideas for speculative situations but it's the person involved who counts...one could circumambulate in a wheelchair-or astrally-or be assisted by a Frater or Soror-or...???
I think it would be quite interesting to hear from anyone with an actual "disability" who might feel moved to share how they've creatively addressed their own Magickal Challenges.
Even those of us who are without a technical "disability" certainly face our own challenges with limitations imposed on Praxis. Inadequate space, supplies, uncondusive schedules etc. And this has "forced" a lot of us (I'd imagine) to "adapt" and find a WAY to make it happen. George Washington used a battle drum turned on its side in a tent for a Masonic Altar...Crowley used SALT in place of a nicely painted PANTACLE when mountain climbing.
I think the "invention" aspect of Magick also catapults the Magician to the Heart of the Work Itself rather than a "standardized" form. And to achieve this is to really "own" it, to rely on oneself and one's authentic standing as a Star in the Body of Nuit whose course is not to be bent or hampered from without.
We also have our own natural abilities and inclinations which may even be born of and enhanced by our limitations...but here I'm being theoretical again. It all comes down to the person concerned.
May I ask if you are thinking of certain people you know who are challenged in their work after a particular fashion?
I'm thinking such challenges can be surmounted-and I'm thinking its a joy to be part of the creative process of figuring out how and offering our heads and hearts in doing so.
I'd say they should "know" the missing arm is in the correct place, and doing the right thing. Kinda like when someone does their first LBRP, they should "know" the pentagrams are there even if they can't see them.
Another example would be how would you relate the concept of "the assumption of the godforms" to a person who has been blind since birth?
Let them feel a statue of the desired God.
Not entirely pertinent to the current thread, I thought it worth taking the opportunity to record my great respect for Derek Jarman - a film maker of some genius. It has always surprised me that The Angelic Conversation is, by and large, ignored these days.
Maybe he's worth a separate thread here...
Owner and Editor
How would a blind person (from birth) adapt and practice the "assumption of the godforms"? Would it be the case of feeling the god surround them like armour ? Or would it be the case of them "hearing" the god surround them? Also the issue of colours being used in the Golden Dawn correspondences. How could this issue be adapted for a blind person?
Any and all suggestions welcome.
I know this thread is kind of buried but I have to bite on this one.
I'm not officially disabled but I may as well be. I've had several surgeries on my right knee from a major injury when I was still pretty young. I didn't go through with the physiotherapy, which wasn't intentional and I regret that I couldn't. That factor and the surgeries themselves results in my walking with a cane, and a very persistent limp at a still young age.
hawthornrussell, you asked what the obstacles are for people in this situation and how they work with things Magickally. It all depends physically what you can do but I'd say even if you can't walk at all you can still progress and find alternatives mentally. Imagination is the key, I figure. And being that it's the mind we have to work with to imagine things, I think one of the biggest obstacles we find here are self-confidence, and emotional issues due to constant physical pain, mental strain, social difficulties, literally and psychologically, etc. The pain, whatever sort is one thing but we can learn to deal with it when our minds' become disciplined and once that happens, the body isn't an issue anymore. Allen Bennett is a great example. I try to heal myself, mentally and emotionally using methods for building confidence, raising esteem, and dealing with physical pain appropriately which can be tough. You might be imagining a ton of rituals to help with these problems that only involves standing still, or moving slightly. Meditation helps.
I think Magick can assist with helping to overcome disability and aids mental stability tremendously. Without Magick, and what I've done with it, walking down the street would be difficult.
Thank you for sharing!
One thing I really believe is that the 93 Current cannot be stopped-and where it meets obstruction or challenge of whatever degree, if one's Being is moving with it, it either slams through the blockage or finds a NEW ROUTE of expression. This strength and adaptability of the Current yields up all kinds of new approaches and expressions of itself and every breaking of the mould is a cause for rejoicing and excitement.
I don't mean to be flip here-physical challenges can cause a tremendous amount of pain (inwardly and outwardly). Out "Terminal Mortality" tends to evoke this regardless. The common cold can evoke this. Crowley's diaries are filled with problems in Praxis related to all kinds of things-he's sick, he's hacking, he's constipated, he's going in for asana and then having diarhea...temp "disability" but he logs in how he deals with it and keeps on aspiring. Frater Progradior, too, at the Abbey, has several pages of being physically vexed-but his aspiration to his Angel doesn't wane one bit. And he hits it! Richard Maurice Bucke (who authored "Cosmic Consciousness") lost one foot and part of the other, walked around in pain with a cane-and attained much more than visualized pentagrams and tattwa visions. The lists of unique challenges and unique ways of expressing the Current is endless. I personally really enjoy hearing of how folks have customized, created and worked around "roadblocks" on any level.
Again, I'm loathe to offer my own creative spin on suggestions for general categories of blindness, deafness and such because even these things are so related to the individual dealing with them (do we ASSUME that our hypothetical blind Thelemite is following out specifically "Crowleyan" Magickal Practice?)
The Law's for ALL-the Law IS All-and Nuit joys to see our joy.
I hope members here who feel so inclined continue to post about how they've creatively adapted their practice to ANY level of challenge. It's not just me being idly curious-as mentioned above, I have spent many years in the field of working with both physical and cognitive challenges and have had discussions with folks who could very easily be "docketed" in various categories of "disability" (and who have dealt with their own share of prejudice and alienation because of it). It's great to cut down to being in a one to one relationship on equal footing and realize that the great and unique powers we have as Stars is what comes shining through and defines the things we DO.
A few of the posts here got cut out during the "power down."
Hoping a few more "resurge!"
Similarly, I just have to post here.
I am totally blind, and have been since the age of 4. These are the exact things I am battling with right now. It is often disheartening, because a lot of ritualistic magick is so very visual, and reading about Godforms, etc, isn't really helping in the assumption of them because there is no actual description. I'm assuming there are images, but of course I would not know.
I'm just starting, really. Right now I do Liber Resh vel Helios, the LBRP, pranayama, meditation using mantra, daily. For Liber Resh, i don't know the "sign" or the "form" to assume, so right now I leave them out. I do as much as i can, which includes turning to the correct direction (I actually got a braille compass just for this purpose), and reciting the adoration at a whisper, since I'm usually around people, or even just mentally if I'm in a situation where I can't say it out loud.
I'm also pretty bad at visualization, only being able to hold together the most basic of images. This includes even the pentagrams in the LBRP. But what I do instead is literally feel the energy. When I draw each pentagram, I try to visualize them to the best of my ability as flaming lines forming the pentagram, but of course it's not a clear image. Then when I vibrate the God name, I imagine it vitalizing this pentagram and strengthening it and brightening it, and focus all my energy on doing that. I can't visualize it, but I just focus on it happening. And when it happens I know it is done and that I've done it properly, because I can literally feel the energy (usually as heat).
When I call the four archangels, I try to feel or imagine as best as I can the elements of each, like wind or a cool breze for Rafael, a stream of water (the sound of it) for Gabriel, fire (heat) for Michael, and just, earthiness (I try to imagine trees, etc), for Oriel.
that's just how i've done one ritual. Again I'm not really that far into it yet to know how I will adapt other rituals, but one thing that makes me nervous is how I will deal with candles and incense. Fire makes me nervous, for obvious reasons. Do you think it'd be acceptable to replace these with appropriate substitutes?
So, in short, I do what I can, and try to figure out ways to work around other things that are difficult or impossible for me.