Mirror Mirror Seeing through a Glass Darkly

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In maGIcal, religIous, and occult practice, cryptic references are often made to mirrors. Folklore, superstition, and myths from many cultures mention the use of mirrors and not just for scrying. Lao's mirror reflected the mind and its thoughts. Merlins mirror informed him of treason, secret plots, and other dangers to Arthur's kingdom. Vulcan's mirror showed the past, present, and future. Tezcatlipoca spoke to his Aztec supplicants as the Lord of the Smoking Mirror, and his mirror had the property of continually bringing faces to its dark surface as if seen through smoke. Practitioners of Zen refer to "polishing the mirror" as their actions are a reflection of the state of their souls. Ninjas do kyojutsu (weird air combat skills to subdue the demons).

Vampires and yidam cast no reflection and their shadows are thinner and lighter. (No self?) Many so-called primitive societies believe reflections, like shadows, are projections of the soul and avoid gazing into water or having their photographs taken as it may endanger their spirit. American Indian shamans often practice "face-dancing" in a mirror to demonstrate their degree of enlightenment. St. Paul looks "through a glass, darkly," and Aleister Crowley gives specific mirror-building directions to catch all the subtle nuances of the experience of reflection. There is more going on here; the word itself, reflection — illusion-deep thought, has many elusive meanings.

It seems to me that much smoke must reflect some fire. "Darkly" is the key to the experience. Usually when you look in a mirror, it's well lit. Light washes out what you are trying to see unless you are schizophrenic or under the influence of a hallucinogen. Drugs are not necessary but good night vision and control cf your breath are. I discovered this on my own, but I've run into ninjas who have face—danced with teachers of shamanism. Brugh Joy makes the usual cryptic reference to mirrors in his book Joy's Way. If you were working a large group in a ballroom with mirrored walls, dim lights, and meditative music to increase the feelings of relaxation, what you might start to get in the mirrors after everyone was suitably relaxed would be well worth the creative energy necessary to be surprised again. My editor tells me this isn't real clear. Just do it. It has to be experienced.

The kundalini experience is not requisite to some of the phenomena I'll describe, but I'm fairly certain that it relates to some of the more bizarre aspects. First let me state strongly that this can be a very scary experience, and you will be much farther ahead if you've developed your powers of positive thinking, because what you get in the mirror is a reflection of your most basic self. The workings of the id are not always pretty nor do they always fit normal consensual reality.

My first mystical experience with a mirror was when I was stationed in Germany with the Third Medical Battalion. I was on guard duty, and during my off shift I set up a small mirror with a candle behind me and went into a meditative trance. Tolstoi describes a similar use for scrying with mirrors in War and Peace. I contemplated my girlfriend who was attending Northwestern University. In the mirror I saw her sitting in a large room with burnt-umber furniture and she was weeping. I wrote her a letter and she responded that she had just broken up with someone she'd been dating there and the room I described was the student lounge in her dormitory.

That was thirty-some years ago, and I never tried that one again, as wisdom has taught me it is better not to check into the private affairs of your lady loves. A voyeur's life is not necessarily made happier by his curiosity. What I'll describe next seems to be much easier to replicate, as it deals with self-revelation. Here's the recipe; the results have to do with how well you cook.

Set up a mirror in a darkened room. Provide enough light to see yourself faintly. Begin skin breathing, or pushing your energy out from your body. (This will work better if you meditate for a while and wait for your eyes to adjust to the dark.) Watch the mirror with minimal blinking and no expectation. Wait for whatever appears or scarier yet, disappears. Be as relaxed as possible and try to hold onto no particular train of thought. Let your normal consciousness become quiet so that your subconscious can more easily emerge. And just like Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, your face might change. Sometimes it's helpful to put a candle to one side (Musashi recommends the right), as the flickering makes you work harder to see subtle differences and the flame will bend as you begin to increase your energy. That's all it takes. A quiet mind, no expectations. You don't have to invoke the demon gods or sacrifice your children or suck anyone's blood to disappear in a mirror. (I showed Suzanne Carlson's father how to do this one night in London and he was able to get it in a couple cf minutes with no prior experience. He now entertains his friends this way at cocktail parties. His wife has not forgiven me.)

If you've been meditating sufficiently to alter your body's electrochemical system and have become pretty good at stilling your ego, you may just fade right out. No reflection. In primitive societies this particular genetic proclivity toward night moves and skill is of great service to hunters, scouts, spies, and the righteous who have to flee and hide in the night.

I've tried this on different "wavelengths" and received interesting insights. When one practices chi kung or breath control as part of their meditative agenda it activates the parasympathetic nervous system and enhances the body's immune system. One cf the effects of this is increased resistance to disease, and it is perhaps also the cause of a major change in the electrical fields that surround the body. In folklore this may be referred to as the aura or "vibrations." The trick to seeing it is being relaxed and using your night vision in the daytime which requires dilating the pupils, which also takes you slightly out of 20/20. Many people have noticed the glow around others, but as no one talks about it in terms cf utility it soon becomes a part cf our perceptual world we choose to ignore. (I discuss this in more detail in the chapter on aura seeing and feeling.) After all, the visual mechanisms of the brain have enough to do processing upside-down to right side up, as well as sidedness. (The way our optic nerves operate may have something to do with when we were fishlike, because as an adaptation to arboreal binocularism it seems awfully inefficient to me. A good physical anthropologist could probably give a more detailed explanation, but take it for granted the eye/brain linkup has some amazing filters to information-processing.) If one is rigid, no new information need apply. The rule "we hear what we want to hear" also applies to the unmindful observer in that "we see what we're supposed to see." When your mind is open you may see some things you are not supposed to see, or at the very least have forgotten or never learned how to see. The angling in ninjutsu and a few other arts takes advantage of a little-known blind spot in our eyes. Study on this.

The animal or biological aspects of human beings are more potent than the learned personality, but this unrecognized shadowy intelligence hides in the body's electric fields—probably from the days of toilet training when the young human being begins to be truly socialized. However, the id is with you, grown up and hopefully toilet trained, as this aspect of yourself has been observing your situation for all the years of your particular existence. It is still a child regardless of age, represents itself with icons, and is moral to a mythical degree. It is also a force of nature and thus recognizes its duality. When it shows you one side, like Janus or the Hindu gods, it also shows you the other. Joy is balanced by regret.

When I described the kundalini experience, I mentioned the unwinding of one's memory. I had an experience that might be analogous to Vulcan's mirror and which I hypothesize as genetic memory. I was "face dancing" in deep meditation one night but instead of the usual holographic shifts I began to see very clear faces and upper bodies superimposed one over the other: mostly male figures, a few females, some with long hair, some short, some bearded, some not, some heavily muscled, some clothed, some naked. As the faces changed and time passed (it seemed to go on for quite a while), the brows and chins became heavier until it seemed a parade of knuckle-walkers. Nobody was old; they all seemed to be in pretty good shape if a mite intense of aspect. It might be explained as genetic memory of one's forebears contained in the DNA/RNA, as all these figures were relatively young, cf child-bearing age. It might be a confirmation of Nietzche's plagiarism of the wheel of dharma in that we keep coming back until we get it right. If so, I've been on this ride for an awfully long time. If there's such a thing as an old spirit, mine is decrepit. Some of those knuckle-walkers looked like neanderthals. What I'll describe next I perceive as more ordinary and have been able to demonstrate to students, friends, and (usually a mistake) lovers. Same process, different intent, different result. I've shown numerous people how to erase themselves in the mirror. A strange side effect of this for which I've no real explanation (a problem of being self-taught) is that sometimes the people I'm showing say that not only does the image fade out of the mirror but the person being reflected disappears as well. This could definitely put a damper on a romantic candle-lit dinner. I don't recommend it as a way to win friends and influence people; however, I suspect it has something to do with the fields occulting the light in some way because from my viewpoint only the mirror image fades. Sometimes when I'm doing this with a friend they will describe not being able to see themselves or me, but I still see them in infrared. We're experimenting with different light frequencies now. I think it is a camouflage adaptation for the more nocturnal primate. Nin-jas are sometimes referred to as shadow warriors, and this cloaking effect might add another level to that description. "Shadow warrior" can also be interpreted as one who engages the darker side of one's self, as well as indicating a preference for engaging in battle in what lesser men and women would consider handicapped conditions. I have often trained in a darkened ninja dojo.

Sometimes when you observe this strange phenomena in mirrors you see the body surrounded by what appears to be colored flame, somewhat like the pictures in Tibetan icons. Sometimes you get faces that you can be pretty sure aren't you. Different sex, different age, different race, different species. And most interesting, if you focus from a particular chakra you may get the appropriate archetype. Depending on your propensity for positive thought as well as ferocity, you may not be too pleased at meeting your motivating demon and shadow self.

When sparring or engaged with particular martial artists able to project their spirit or who have acquired martial spirit guides, what you see coming out of the night at you besides their weapons and fists can definitely be a shock to the system. The person being attacked will feel regardless of whether he or she can "see." A spirit warrior can project this image before him or her. The image is either the archetype, or something that scared the opponent as a child. 1 rather fancied projecting the crypt keeper from the old horror comics that were banned, you may remember the one with the melting eyeball. I gave him up when friends started avoiding me. The archetypes that come up are often different variations cf the trickster. I've seen Japanese tengu, which correspond to the Hopi horned god. When face dancing with someone of American Indian extraction, the tulpu (Tibetan for living apparition) are related to Indian mythology. Egyptian animal heads, particularly bird heads, seem to be common; it probably relates back to totem poles in some way that has been lost from the oral tradition. (The inner energy deities' archetypal nature could be represented hierarchically on a raised pole or phallus.) One of my students of Celtic extraction can project a great-looking tree king rather like Huon of the Horn complete with antlers, and she fades out real well too. For those who prefer Western "magick" I once got on the wavelength of a rather Elizabethan-looking gentleman who resembled a painting of John Dee, so if these are indeed spirits or spirit guides, some of the old-time European practitioners seemed to have escaped the wheel of return. I have had students project spirits wearing war masks. I haven't the faintest clue, except the masks resemble Tlingit artifacts. It's evident to me that these rather odd side effects could be easily exploited by a priesthood concerned with dominance and power.

I tend to regard with deep suspicion those who pursue Meso-american shamanism. Let us not forget all those virgin sacrifices (fear is a great source of energy as is innocence), and the members of winning basketball teams that got to meet their maker as a reward for their skill (so is religious exultation).

Under difficult light conditions a mirror or darkened window allows one to see projections. The mirror trick may also serve as a diagnostic device for seeing someone's motives or intention when you walk him or her by a mirror when it's dark. What you see may lead you to change your mind, but then again, fear no evil. Forewarned is forearmed. The dark is and can be your friend.

When Jesus meditated in the Garden and his face changed to that of one of the prophets, it might have been an example of channeling or the manifestation of a spirit guide. When describing the kundalini experience in chapter three, I mentioned my reservations toward channeling. However, prejudice aside, I seem to have acquired some curious Oriental fellow travelers that don't fit my preconceptions very well. When I project onto the mirror while doing deep belly breathing, I often get an old, wispy-looking Chinese who resembles pictures I've seen of the mythic Yellow Emperor. He comes through quite clearly and I've shown him to many of my friends who have esoteric interests. I've always liked Chinese art and poetry in translation, and the basic principles of kung fu make sense to me, as do the refinements of ninjutsu. Somehow, I feel very comfortable with this odd spirit (odd for a white preacher's kid from Pennsylvania). He usually floats slightly to the left in front of me.

When I hold my shoulders back with my head high while using a sustained exhale, my reflection becomes greenish and through me comes a fattish, shaven-pate Oriental who looks a lot like statues I've seen of Kobo Daishi, who I understand was the founder of Shingon Buddhism in Japan. He may have caught my train at Koya-san. This one is dressed as a Japanese and comes in two versions, middle-aged and about twenty-five: both feel the same. There are also three samurai types with ornate hairdos that seem to be close associates of the fat one. Once I got a Kuan Yu lookalike (Chinese war deity for shamans and artists). The more androgynous, shape changing beauty of Kuan Yin has eluded my search. I have no idea why these "people" are hanging out with me. I certainly don't live anything like a consecrated life. I've consciously avoided learning Japanese and Chinese to the embarrassment of my friends who feel learning the language is important to the study of ninpo. For them it is: for me, I'm a little worried that f I learn their language the spirits may learn mine, and f I were to start babbling in Enochian (the language spoken by angels, according to the Golden Dawn Society) while working with a bunch of managers, they might just throw a net over me. Channeling an ancient Oriental wouldn't add much to my credibility with the conservative organizations that hire my services. I think I'll wait, continue to be distant but interested, and work on my telepathy. I suspect I'm not unique.

The ancient Taoists said the number and type of spirits one acquired were reflections of his or her perception and power, as like attracts like. As I've seen little to indicate a Western slant to these apparitions, I reluctantly reject the concept of it all being genetic. It could be learned or worse yet acquired. IF I had my druthers I'd rather bring through Falstaff or even John Wesley, who I would understand even though he wouldn't be much fun. I've always admired Ben Franklin.

There does seem to be an exchange of information that takes place on a feeling level between me and these disembodied playmates. As I said, I enjoy Oriental art, friendship, music, and food. There is definitely a sensual connection and appreciation of aesthetics not acquired at high school, college, or graduate school. I often know how to use ancient religious articles in nonordinary ways and understand the hidden meaning in rituals and paintings. It's very hard to verbalize. But I suppose it has something to do with how Tibetans identify a reincarnation. I'd like to observe that process. John White informs me that Eastern reincarnations are becoming quite common in the West and he links it to the Tibetan diaspora. I've had friends who thought the Hippie movement was an Indian ghost dance. I don't know. It appears heaven can wait.

As time passes, the energy of a particular spirit manifestation seems to merge with my own and the others. It becomes harder to draw out as a separate entity from yourself, but with a little mirror practice you can use the reflection as a feedback device as to whether you're able to sustain a particular attitude in depth. As you lose the mood, the spirit fades. As it/he/she becomes more in tune with your reality, it becomes more a part of you—thus spirit guides. There are situations where subtle suggestions from another realm cf experience can be useful, particularly when it comes to fighting for your life or the situation has decayed to include fighting for your family. It is this heartfelt plea for survival to which the hormones respond, summoning the archetype, and it is only with total openness not demand for power that one gets to use the subconscious or spirit to solve the problem. The Muses are similar.

I have had "the fighting spirit" respond to an insult, and it was pretty funny to me if terrifying to the person who catalyzed it. It occasionally over-reacts or reacts in a way more appropriate to a less sophisticated society. I suspect that is why Sun Tzu suggests that the wise man will sometimes ignore the admonition of the spirit. These boys didn't have to contend with modern police methods. The violent spirits are triggered by the adrenals. They are easiest to see and feel. You don't waste this on what tie to select unless your guiding spirit is into fashion.

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