The work of a magician is imaginal, taking place in a realm of phantasy and imagination. The Astral Temple is one of the core works of the magician. It is akin to a spiritual home base, a palace of memory, and an ever-present ritual space enabling the practitioner to perform ritual without physical tools and implements. The method of constructing and building an Astral Temple is powerful and something that every magician should begin developing early in their practice. This is a space created entirely in the imagination. From a magical perspective, it can be seen as existing in the realm of Yetzirah, the Kabbalistic world of formation.
It is possible that the Astral Temple exists in the sefirah of Yesod. This sefirah is associated with the Moon, and is considered to be the closest to the material world. As the sefirah of the Moon, Yesod embodies dreams, the imagination, and the imaginal or astral realm.
This method of constructing your Astral Temple can be simple – or at least described with very few steps. The biggest and most important hurdle is learning to trust your Phantasmic Apparatus.
The Phantasmic Apparatus
The physical form of a magical ritual can be important, but the effective elements actually happen imaginally, in the controlled and active visualization. This uses what Renaissance magicians called the Phantasmic Apparatus, the portion of the soul that translates images and ideas between the sublunary and lunary realms.1
The Phantasmic Apparatus allows your higher soul and material body to integrate and communicate. Images pass through this apparatus to be transformed into physical things, such as words and communication. Likewise, communication in the material realm passes through the apparatus and is transformed to images that the soul can comprehend.
Building the Temple
The method for building the Astral Temple is probably formally taught in some schools, but I have discovered that many independent practitioners have come across this procedure entirely on their own. The practice of building and utilizing an Astral Temple seems to be common.
Part of this process involves growing your awareness outside of your physical body and into an imaginal realm. This important initial step feels to me to be nearly identical to the experience described in book XII of the Corpus Hermeticum:
Grow to immeasurable size. Be free from every body, transcend all time. Become eternity and thus you will understand God. Suppose nothing to be impossible for yourself. Consider yourself immortal and able to understand everything; all arts, sciences and the nature of every living creature. Become higher than all heights and lower than all depths. Sense as one within yourself the entire creation: fire, water, the dry and the moist. Conceive yourself to be in all places at the same time: in earth, in the sea, in heaven; that you are not yet born, that you are within the womb, that you are young, old, dead: that you are beyond death. Conceive all things at once: times, places, actions, qualities and quantities; then you can understand God.
Corpus Hermeticum. XII.202
Here are the steps to access your own Astral Temple.
- Sit comfortably and relax for a little while using deep breaths, binaural beats, or other methods.
- In your inner vision, see yourself grow.
- Grow until the planet is just a basketball-sized thing beneath you. Continue to grow. Feel the vast emptiness of space fall away.
- Experience pinpoints of warmth as you envelope the Sun, nearby stars, as the incredible vastness of the Universe shrinks within you.
- At this point, your view might change – it may seem as though you are no longer growing, but that the Universe instead is shrinking, all of infinite space contained within a sphere within you.
- Let the Universe, the world of physical creation, shrink to a brilliant point of light within you.
- When you now direct your inner vision out again, you will be in your Astral Temple.
Once you are in your Astral Temple, you can begin the rest of your ritual work.
I can’t tell you what your Astral Temple will look like. It might be anything you’d like – it can be anything you construct! Your imagination is the limit. When you have moved your inner vision outside of the physical universe, you have entered the Yetziratic realm where formation is possible based on your imagination alone.
After your ritual is completed, you will want to close up the Astral Temple and return home. To leave the Astral Temple and return to the “normal” world, let the brilliant point of light within you grow back to its usual size. As it grows, it will envelop you, grow beyond you, and blend back into the universe of the physical world.
With time, the transition into and out of your Astral Temple can become easier and can be utilized in more casual ways, even allowing you to access a temple space when you are away from your regular ritual space.
Developing the Temple
Over time, your Astral Temple will change and evolve with your practice. It might become populated with spirits or beings or helpers who maintain it while you are gone, or who offer help and assistance with ritual. You will see – I cannot tell you exactly how you will use your Astral Temple. Its uses will come to you through practice and experimentation.
You can operate in your Astral Temple and the physical world at the same time. Trust your Phantasmic Apparatus to do this work for you. You can perceive simultaneously through it and your physical senses, allowing you to work in both worlds at once.
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- Couliano, Ioan P. Eros and Magic in the Renaissance. Translated by Margaret Cook. Chicago; London: The University of Chicago Press, 1987. 28-32. ↩
- Mahé, Jean-Pierre, ed. The Way of Hermes. Translated by Clement Salaman. One Park Street, Rochester, Vermont 05767: Inner Traditions International, 2000. 57-8. ↩