This question was asked at a Q/A session of magicians, Wiccan Officers and novice Wiccans. Here is the transcript of my reply.
This is a much more common problem in magickal circles than it often appears to be, mainly because those who cannot visualize easily usually give up very soon in their magickal work and fade away from the ken of those who remain.
Those who are bold enough to go against the common assumption that EVERYBODY can visualize require special treatment simply because they have overcome one of the major conditioning forces that humans face, the apparently universally held assumption.
I have been in magickal assemblies where over a hundred people were sharing their incredible visual experiences after a ritual. When it was my turn I could only say the truth, "I don’t ever see pictures in my head during rituals or meditation." This was true up to the time I was fifty years old.
The wave of disbelief that arose without a word being spoken must be experienced to be believed. Most of the people there knew of my reputation in various orders and magickal societies, and in their hearts they assumed that such a reputation must come from amazing powers of visualization and consciring. They were silently accusing me of not sharing some valuable insight. That I could not do what they could do so easily was beyond their powers to grasp. The same thing happened in several meditation groups that I encountered.
Even in my work in the Atlantean Society I was believed only by the High Priest, who had experienced working with many initiates, among whom I must say I was not the least, though unable to visualize.
Now I can visualize in three dimensions, though the ability to do this as easily as ‘normal’ people did not occur until I had earned my way through many different groups and magickal societies. It is not necessary to wait until you are fifty or older, and if my Superiors, Priests, and Initiates had told me what I’m going to tell you, it would have happened much sooner.
How ordinary people react to this handicap is obviously not a model for High Priestesses and Priests to follow. They should know better in order to help their covens and groups. Here is some data that will help.
Poor vision, inner and outer, often comes on suddenly at about the age of seven years. This is the point in the development of consciousness where the child begins to separate the outer and inner world and to become acutely aware of the me/not me dichotomy.
It is at this age too that the beginnings of taking responsibility for self and others occur. Very intelligent, or very open children often acquire poor vision then because for the first time they begin to take responsibility for family affairs and the state of the world generally, yet they are without the judgment to perceive the limitations of their power and their duty.
One of the ways in which the tension of taking responsibility for the world problems is eased is by fixing it so that the world cannot be clearly seen, either inwardly, or outwardly, or both. The extreme case results in physically very myopic children who cannot make internal pictures. I was one of them.
Myopia among young and intelligent children is not uncommon at this age, and it is obvious to the world at large, in developed countries anyway, because the child wears glasses, if their parents noticed the problem. The harassment that occurs from other children because of having to wear glasses often used to push the myopic one into books and daydreaming as an escape from the lousy world out there. And then the adults in the child’s life blame his or her poor sight on the number of books he or she reads. Now of course we have video games.
If the original impulse not to see is strong enough, the inner vision fails too, and the child would grow up able to read extremely well and to hear perfectly, and able to feel and to smell, and often has an acute inner awareness of what other people are feeling and thinking. It is a paradox that with poor sight there is often a very acute power of observation and dot connecting. So the child knows what the adult is thinking or feeling, apparently by intuition, but cannot see any of the pictures that others see when they read wonderfully descriptive passages in a book. And they probably won’t be able to make up pictures in their heads by just willing to do so as many others can.
Note carefully, if you are one of these people, that the dim sighted one does not realize that not everyone can read people or circumstances as clearly as they can. To perceive easily the inner workings of the mind of another by interpreting very subtle clues is not a skill shared by the bright eyed, unspectacled children who are taunting the four-eyed one.
These children look at things with their 20/20 vision but they don’t perceive them. Their vision is perfect, but they don’t notice things. Don’t make the same mistake about them as they are making about you.
So, what to do about it when the innate sensitivity invoked by the lessening of the power of sight leads a person into the magical world where people who visualize easily move effortlessly among the lower levels of the magickal Trees, whether the Birch of the Celts, the Ash of the Norse shamanka, or the Tree of Life of the Kabbalists and ritual magicians.
The most important two things for Officers of Orders and Groups to understand are :
Firstly this phenomenon of non-visualization actually exists, and secondly it is not an impossible impediment to advanced magickal work.
It may too be a very good lesson for an Officer who is a fine visualizer to realize that he or she may have been relying on one talent to the exclusion of many others, like an athlete who can curl a two hundred pound dumbbell with one hand, in the curling club, but can’t run a mile because his/her legs have atrophied with non-use.
Aggressiveness gets people a long way in the sales world, and by looking at the top people it seems as if it may be a necessity because they all have it. What happened was that the sensitive, aware and truth conscious people didn’t get through the bottom layer, so of course they are not at the top.
When it is possible for people to express other talents in selling we get the Japanese who are wiping out the aggressive competition because they focus on what the customer is feeling. To the aggressive salesman that’s passive. Their industry makes what it wants to make and then spends millions persuading the customer to buy it. This system doesn’t work any more against people who first find out what the customer really wants and and then provide it and constantly improve on it. I shall never buy an American car or motor bike after my experiences of the Japanese variety. Dollar for dollar there was no comparison. The Oriental thought about my needs first and my pocket book second.
The analogy with the society of magickal practitioners is clear. Replace aggression with a talent for visualizing and you have a picture of much of the current crop of magickal fraternities, sororities, and revived religions. All of them emphasize visualization. The people at the top are generally fine visualizers and consider no other ways of doing what they do.
In these circumstances, the non-visualizer willing to persevere actually has a great asset in his or her handicap. When visualization occurs, as it will, the other talents and senses that have been used instead are already honed to a finer pitch than for those who have relied almost entirely on inner sight.
Here are the main points of instruction that Officers can give their non-visualizers.
First of all the candidate should STOP trying to make pictures on the inner screen of their eyelids. That isn’t where the pictures are formed. It’s merely where they usually appear when the apparatus is without a programming problem.
When they do their own personal and private meditation work on moving currents of energy through their body they can place the point of concentration by simply knowing where the body part is. They don’t need to be able to visualize it. Visualizers are not likely to know this, and it’s a great comfort to the non-visualizer to hear it.
Instruct them to lie in bed and become aware of their left foot, right foot and so on, until they feel an increase in warmth in the area. They do not have to see their feet in an inner vision to be able to do that. Students who can visualize should do it without visualizing to develop the propriokinetic sense.
When the feet and hands can be contacted then have the dedicant move the awareness up the spine to the back of the head. Have the dedicant move it up and down from the base of the skull, the collar, to the crown and back several times.
When this can be done easily have them enter the skull and try to feel the awareness at the back part of the brain and medulla.
This may take a little while as the dedicant realizes that moving energy doesn’t have to be visualized to be aware of it. As soon as movement in the head is easy have them move a wave of energy from the back of the head to the forehead and eyes. Then have them move the energy down the body to the lowest chakra you use in your practices. Then they can push the energy through to the back and up the spine and make a circuit.
But becoming aware of the back of the head is the important thing because that is where the visual centers are, and it was in this area that the visualizing powers were turned off in the first place. The conscious act of moving around in this area will switch them on again, sometimes immediately, always after a while. It takes as long as it takes. Don’t let them drop into a competitive mode with these exercises. They would be fighting against themselves again if they do that.
Next get embedded in the minds of the frustrated ones that when the residing officer says "See in your mind’s eye….." They must interpret it as a verb from a foreign language, the language of the Visualist. In the student’s language it means, "Become aware, in any internal way of…….." Some people hear, others sense or feel. Non-visualizers only have to become conditioned to change the language and know that a tree or a flower or their own way of being aware of redness, is in their consciousness, and then the magick works because they are contacting the same forces as the visualizer.
Remember the Elephant and the Blind Men story. They all had different ideas of what an elephant was. The visual, audible, or propriokinetic perceptions are all of the same thing using different avenues of awareness.
If the non-visualizer can consider her/himself as a linguist who can interpret the language of the visualizer into their own language, then the battle is half over.
The non-visualizer who TRIES hard is just wasting time, pushing against the river. It’s like the behavior of those who shout at foreigners to make them understand. A gentle voice using the language of the foreigner gets better results. Interpret the visualizer’s instructions. Say them gently to yourself. Let it happen. You don’t need to shout.
The next step is to have the student walk all over the inner body and feel the awareness. Then have them pause inside the back of the head and say to themselves, "I can see pictures clearly in my dreams, so I certainly have the ability to see them when awake." This is often the turning point for the student, but don’t get out of sync. Wait until they at this point before saying it to them. The visualizer must NOT give the non-visualizer another failure, and jumping the gun in this case can do that.
Then have them contemplate the fact that they have been seeing inner pictures for years in their sleep, when the impediment doesn’t apply, and then have them bring the energy forward again to the eye region and down the front of the body and complete a circuit. It is helpful to have the student touch the tip of the tongue to the hard palate, just behind the teeth. Doing this stimulates brain centers just above that help energy move across the optic chiasma in the brain. It’s the switch used by yogis for Third Eye work.
Relaxing about what seems to be a problem in this way finally produces, in extreme cases, a sensation of light against the inner eyelids. In less extreme cases the sudden ability to make pictures manifests. The extreme case who perseveres finds the light forming swirls and circles like logarithmic spirals, and then one day they cohere into recognizable shapes.
Exactly the same work applies to those other unusuals who have switched off the color in their pictures and who can only visualize in blacks, whites, and greys.
If you have any such you might point out that this ability of theirs is the hardest thing for a natural color perceiver to do when they are working on the top levels of the Tree of Life in some ritual Kabbalistic paths. It’s easier for them to go natural than the other way around, AND they have the advantage of knowing that the black, white, grey mode is possible, unlike the high grade student who thinks that his or her officer has set an impossible task because no matter how hard he or she TRIES, it doesn’t happen. This is just what the non-visualizer feels like when asked to do the most simple thing in the world, "Imagine a red apple." Point this out to the color expert. It may generate some compassion instead of scorn.
Officers in groups can play their part by a simple change in their semantics when they lead guided meditations. Instead of saying, "Imagine a red apple on a white cloth" say "Become aware of a ripe apple on a clean sheet of writing paper." The non-visualizer will be able to do this and can know that they are contributing to the group energy, whereas before, if they were contributing they didn’t know it.
It will be a very good discipline for the Officer too, for they must put themselves in the shoes of a person with an apparently different sensory system. This is an invaluable loosening of assumptions exercise, and if the Officer ever works the magick involving entities from other worlds or planes, it may be a life saver too.
I have dealt with this at a much greater length than usual because many non-visualizers have star potential in the work as soon as they drop the self imposed and totally survival oriented program of their earlier years. They MUST have had intrinsic magickal abilities for the order ‘Switch off!’ to be obeyed. Those abilities weren’t lost with age.
The next question here is "How can I improve my feeble will power?" we’ll deal with that one after a break.