Practicing Death as the Path to Illumination, Part One

Practicing Death as the Path to Illumination

by Mark Stavish, M.A.

31 October 2021

“Initiation essentially aims to go beyond the possibilities of the individual human state, to make possible the transition to higher states and finally to lead the individual beyond any limitations whatsoever.” – Rene Guenon, Glimpses of Initiation

The advantages to ‘taking death as the practice and the path’ is that it automatically will involve and synthesise the Paths on the Tree of Life below Tiphareth and several above it as well. It takes us out of the overly, or even excessively symbolic domain of these invisible dimensions and places us closer, if not into direct contact with the experience as it actually unfolds and instructs us on why certain practices are more important than others if we wish to have self-awareness and self-destiny.

The Italian Hermeticist Giuliano Kremmerz writes the following on the purpose of initiation and why mental training and equilibrium is critical to our path.

“In order to understand the real nature of things, we need a state of perfect neutrality, which is produced by a perfect equilibrium within ourselves.

Let us approach things very simply: the God we create for ourselves is a way to reach the limit of our own mind to a degree far superior to any human power; however, when the creation of a sovereign mind has been achieved in us, then we ourselves become the last step on the road of visible perfection.

Now, in occultism, or better, in Magic, the work of the magician is twofold: first, to come, by every means possible (graphic, signs, visions, hearing, intuition) into contact with the other world; and second, to move actively in it so as to obtain reactions and effects in everyday real life.” – Guido Kremmerz

This last line, “contact with the other world; and second, to move actively in it so as to obtain reactions and effects in everyday real life” is by far the single most important result of practicing death as the Path of Illumination.

If practices of the Middle Pillar, as specifically given in Kabbalah for Health and Wellness (use of the Elements), are included, then a more precise rarification of our solar and lunar or male and female energies will be experienced giving some degree of alchemical purification of the physical body as well. The purification will take place primarily on the blood, and thereby facilitate our capacity for various types of exteriorization of consciousness as detailed in Between the Gates – Lucid Dreaming, Astral Projection, and the Body of Light in Western Esotericism.

Regarding this force or energy, Jean Dubuis writes: “There is an element, a subtle force that animates nature and assumes the creative process. This force is what the alchemists called “the Secret Fire”, also called “Universal Fire”, “Solar Fire”, and “Steel”. The Secret Fire (Fire and Air of Alchemy and Qabala) needs moisture, water, to exercise its creative and animating function, so it will act quickly in the animal body rich in water, slower in the less humid plant, and even more slowly in the almost dry mineral.” Thus, the energies we are experiencing are the very energies of creation that bring forth the support for our consciousness during our Path of Descent and our Path of Return.

The Easiest Way to Take Death as the Path

“Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.”

Here, death is approached in the manner of the believer. One must have a clear faith in something other than one’s self, and regular practice is critical. Given that the mind and its capacity for imagining various scenes and settings is the basis of all these works, this should be seen as foundational. Regardless of how well one does or does not visualize, the intensity of faith or confidence in the practice is most important.

Since many in esoteric groups are encouraged to undertake dream practices wherein as they fall asleep they imagine themselves waking in a chamber, temple, or sacred location of some kind that is in the ‘astral’ that can also be used. Otherwise, one simply imagines a deity or human teacher with whom they have a deep and profound connection and relationship.

As this visualization is strongly developed, one imagines with relaxed and focused attention that they are leaving their body through the top of their head, this can be the crown or area of the third eye or forehead. As this happens you immediately enter into the presence of the person or deity you are imagining. This is an entirely new realm you are in. There is no longer the physical world. Some will even imagine entering into the heart of the being or teacher. For many the above is sufficient, but is not complete enough for those on an esoteric path. Here, we enter into the realm of our own creation, as self-created beings, as the Egyptian god Khepri says, “I developed myself from the primeval matter which I made, I developed myself out of the primeval matter.” Some will place the teacher, deity, or holy figure at their heart center, but above the head or before one’s self is the most common – as if moving out to greet and meet an old friend.

What is important is the strength of your conviction and confidence. After resting there a while, think that it is time to return AND WHY. This last part is very important for here, we are shaping the direction of our mind for any future incarnations we will have. Here, you may imagine yourself in the Godform of your prefered deity, or as a brilliant and clear being of Light, Life, and Love (see our previous lecture Unfolding the Rose for elaboration on these three points), and entering into the womb of your future mother. While some will state that full incarnation does not take place at the time of conception, karmic energies do come into action, and with them the formation of the physical body and its psychic architecture. It is very important that our ideals be strong, clear, and of high motivation so that we may realize them and continue progressing on our Path of Return.

This process is the same for meditation, and for dream work, even if the visualizations are not clearly formed. The intention is clear, the emotions that come with it. As we arise from our chair or meditation throne, we feel the energies of the god or teacher we visualized in our very bones. We go into the world with purpose and renewed commitment to our Path and to assist others with theirs. We see ourselves as the god of our devotions, fully capable with all they are able to do, for just as we are a microcosm, so too are we a miniature -Thoth, Zeus, or Christ. We see and experience the world through our mind and senses as THE world or domain of our deity. All belong to him or her, and all our actions are their actions and for them. This way we combine the practices of Assumption of the Godform, Dream Practices, Death Practices, the Magical Worldview, and “Karma Yoga” or Acts of Devotion into a single method across the day.

“The eternal [Logos] is the Power of God, and the work of the – eternal [Logos] is the world, which has no beginning, but is continually becoming by the activity of the eternal [Logos]. Therefore, nothing that constitutes the world will ever perish or be destroyed, for the eternal [Logos] is imperishable. All this great body of the world is a Soul, full of intellect and of God, who fills it within and without and vivifies everything.

Contemplate through Me [the Divine Mind], the world and consider its beauty. … See that all things are full of light. See the earth, settled in the midst of all, the great nurse who nourishes all earthly creatures, All is full of Soul, and all beings are in movement. Who has created these things? The one God, for God is one. You see that the world is always one, the Sun, one; the moon, one; the divine activity, one; God, too, is one. And since all is living, and Life is also one, God is certainly one. It is by the action of God that all things come into being…” (Chapter LXXXV, Papyrus of Ani)

In the words of Saint Isaac the Syrian: ‘When the Spirit takes its dwelling-place in a man he does not cease to pray, because the Spirit will constantly pray in him. Then, neither when he sleeps, nor when he is awake, will prayer be cut off from his soul; but when he eats and when he drinks, when he lies down or when he does any work, even when he is immersed in sleep, the perfumes of prayer will breathe in his heart spontaneously’ (Mystic Treatises, edited by Wensinck, p. 174).

When we encounter a problem it is not us that encounters it, but our self as deity. When we solve the problem it is not us, but us as divinely illuminated beings. We bless all we touch, see, or speak to, and our aura is that of the deity – a radiant sphere of blessing – or energy of actualization for all that comes in contact with it. In the end, as we wake, sleep, dream, or enter into the depths of profound awareness, we are the point of light, the sphere, and it is our desires that color, shape, direct, and bring it into being.

One comment

  1. I’ve recently shared this with a Brother who had a family member die suddenly in the hopes that it would help give them some context (and ultimately, hope);

    I myself read it (I believe it fittingly has 13 pages) and found the information radically elucidating, perhaps especially the focus on the dissolution of the elements and the corresponding psychical phenomena during the dying process [“not our first rodeo, so, it doth feel familiar”];

    This may be one of the most important foci/meditations/reminders out there – truly – thank you very much Mark.


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