All things are related. Everything affects everything. Each action has an equal reaction. There is a "collective unconscious".
These are all statements from eminent thinkers, humanity it seems has one accord. There is a fundamental connection between all events in the universe and it is upon this principle that magic operates. All things happen in more than one way, work on more than one level, there is duplicity and often higher multiplicity and as if that was not enough, each event has some effect on everything else since part exists only in relation to the whole, changing the whole by changing a single part changes all the other parts. This true of the human being also, the last of the above statements is Carl Jung's and expresses his conclusion that there is a level of human consciousness (or personality) that is the same in all individuals. What we are concerning ourselves with here is that by exerting an influence on one aspect of something we can influence the character of all corespondent entities to it. The most fundamental demonstration of this is in ritual magic where we directly influence an item or event which we have imbued with symbolic representation of something else and thus indirectly influence the second. It can be seen that ritual magic is concerned with establishing this symbolic representation (ritual) and then bringing about a change in the symbolised entity by directly changing the symbolising one (magic). For a well known example see the Christian celebration of the mass and transubstantiation where the participants symbolise the conceptual body of the Christ as a wafer of bread which they then symbolically absorb by eating the wafer. The operation achieves its objective only because the participants have made the symbolic connection between the body and the bread beforehand. The ultimate conclusion of this principle - and indeed the ultimate conclusion of ritual magic - is that by influencing the man, we can influence the universe. This seems easier to accept in light of our earlier reasoning that the man, due to his subjective perception is the world. Thus the ultimate goal of the ritual magician is the discovery of the entire cosmos, including the parts he cannot directly experience through his five senses through a journey (from the man) not outwards, but inwards. The important and often hidden point here is that there is no necessity now to be concerned that merely observing some reality changes it, we are attempting to not only deliberately change a specified reality but to change it without the need to observe it since it is determined unobservable in the first place. This simple principle brings us to the fundamental principle of ritual magic : As above, so below or the microcosm (man) reflects the macrocosm (world). Note that in ritual magic we operate the equation the other way around - as below, so above.
The correspondence we use to symbolically represent an aspect, item, thing, entity or concept is demonstrable in two forms as far as our human perception understands it. An induced or conscious correspondence and a natural or subconscious correspondence. Unlikely as it seems the magician begins his training with induced correspondences and gradually arms himself with knowledge of natural correspondences which present themselves more frequently during his training. In the ideal he should be encouraged to work with what he believes to be induced correspondences only to discover later that they are in actual fact natural ones. There is indeed overlap and the initial training of the magician makes use of natural correspondences to demonstrate the principle of inducing them. To illustrate the differences I am indebted to the excellent ritual magician and writer W. E. Butler for his fine example of tying a knot in a handkerchief as an induced correspondence and the natural correspondence of a banana and an airship.
So the magician trades in correspondences, manipulating the microcosm in order to influence the macrocosm. The ultimate whole of high magic is to allow the influencing of microcosm and macrocosm to by each other to occur dynamically and thus the man relinquishes his status as individual in order that he may experience the wholeness of the cosmos. In higher magical art it is a general principle that the "higher" consciousness will dynamically influence the lower.
We can see that, although somewhat prematurely, we have connected the microcosm/macrocosm with levels of human consciousness. In order to understand how this can operate we need to consider a model of consciousness. I had at one time constructed my own model but since I have refined it I have come to realise that it is so close to the model of psychologist Carl Jung as to make virtually no difference and since the explanation of the Jungian model is far easier than the explanation of my own model I devised I shall use Jung's model here though I have several grave misgivings about his deeper explanation of which I would wish any readers to be aware should they embark on a study of Jungian psychology - he can seem pretty silly at times and I would not wish his obvious failings in other areas to cast a shadow over the efficacy of his work in this.
Jung views human consciousness as having generally four discrete levels, the fact that these levels are discrete as opposed to continuous and blending into each other is very important. The Jungian levels are:
1. The Waking Conscious - our everyday state.
2. The Personal Unconscious - our individual personality.
3. The Collective Unconscious - Our primal and shared humanity.
4. The Super Conscious - the highest state of our soul/spirit.
These are, quite clearly shown in order of both depth and ease of access.
The first is the most common state, it is thought that most of us will spend 95% of our waking life in this state. The second is our "daydream" private world into which most of us retire when we dream at night also. It is the realm of emotions, concepts we have forced down because we do not normally wish to show them to others (and often to ourselves). As a result of our repression of them these complexes (as Jung called them - I prefer "constellations") have broken away from the mind's totality and exist semi-independently of the conscious waking mind.
The third will not be experienced during wakefulness by most of us unless we train especially so to do (as the magician surely does) and even within our dreams it is thought that most of us only spend 5-10% of our dreaming here. It is filled with the primordial and archetypal images common to humanity regardless of the individual's experiences. Culture however plays a role in determining how the principles and concepts here manifest to the individual, an American Indian may dream of Sitting Bull but an Englishman of Robin Hood, the two archetypes, although different in appearance, are cultural aspects of the same "national hero" force. This level is beyond the machinations of the two previous levels of consciousness and is a highly potent influence on the individual. It is here that our minds can no longer operate in words and it is on this level that the individual's character and personality can be most clearly observed in its reactions to and dealings with the archetypes that reside here, independent of the individual.
As for the final state it is the pinnacle of the magical arts to achieve this state in any way. It is the state the magician must, however, achieve if he is to consider himself outside the closed system of his "reality" and therefore able to observer this reality without interfering with it by the act of observation. Ironically when this state is achieved the desire to view the common reality is rapidly diminished by the discovery of higher planes of existence which can now be accessed and appear, not surprisingly, more appealing to the magician's explorative tendencies. We will however leave this state for now as the understanding of it can only be achieved through further work on the others, notably for the magician, the collective unconscious which is the level that connects and ultimately unites the (human) microcosm with the (world) macrocosm.
Although it can be demonstrated that Jung's model breaks down under many circumstances we shall accept for now that it works under the conditions which we shall use, the issue is after all not whether we can use a model of objective accuracy but that within the scope of our intent - being ritual magic and theoretical philosophy - the model "works". It is not surprising therefore that we quickly find another paradox: The model collates ideas about the nature of human consciousness to explain a set of archetypes which it demonstrates are, effectively, objective while the model itself remains, almost by definition, subjective.
Correspondences have, in magic, been noted, categorised, identified and listed ad infinitum by just about every magical system ever conceived often in contradiction of each other even at the most fundamental level. It is not my intention to add to this wealth of material or to attempt to devise an exhaustive or definitive list of correspondences, we can make use of any correspondence we care to choose provided it makes some sort of sense to ourselves, it is after all only ourselves that need to be convinced for the correspondence to be of practical use to us. I will treat as examples the simplest correspondences I can manage and the keen student will see that these are the ones common to the greater number of systems available. As an aside, Crowley's "Liber 777" is one of the best list of correspondences with which to work and this work is published in his excellent volume "Magick In Theory And Practice".
The whole point about the collective unconscious is that it contains archetypes that are built up from thousands of individuals' consciousness and the more obvious correspondences are here and will work more effectively because so many have used them before that they are ingrained into the collective unconscious - more evidence of the subjectivity of reality. We can equate the personal subconscious with induced correspondences and the collective unconscious with natural correspondences provided we accept that this is far from the whole truth and again merely a convenient convention. The magical arts demand the best of the magician and so it is generally preferable to use the most natural correspondence possible in ritual work though a judgement should be made as to whether the desired results of the work are worth the great effort of using some natural correspondences.
The most fundamental correspondences we have already encountered since we have used the four primal powers to correspond with several concepts already. The triad of fundamental life - physical, emotional and mental (personal unconscious) - can become a quadratic when one introduces "instinctual/intuitional" (collective unconscious) and this is corespondent with the triad of Earth, Water and Air being added to with Fire (or solid, liquid, gas having Energy introduced). In magic we view the four primal powers as actually being the concepts of Air, Fire, Water and Earth although this is in truth only a correspondence it is easier to treat it as a truth. This means that the fundamental correspondences of the four primal powers are what we term the Four Worlds. Before we can go on to discuss these fundamental correspondences we must first make the distinction between a correspondence itself which is a dynamic exchange of force and the two corespondent entities which are static forms. The forms are polarised in that they can be seen as separate aspects of a concept, it may be a surprise to some to learn that the magician is less interested in the static "poles" of form than in the dynamic force by which they interact for this is indeed the crude "fuel" of magical art.
This distinction becomes clearer as we make the fundamental correspondence between the Primal Powers and the Four Worlds and try to fit them onto a diagram or schematic. The problem is that contemporary science is in disagreement with traditional mysticism over the order of the progression. Science would have it that the order should be SOLID - LIQUID - GAS - ENERGY whereas tradition dictates AIR - FIRE - WATER - EARTH since the four worlds are ORIGINATION (corresponding to air) - CREATION (corresponding to fire) - FORMATION (corresponding to water) - EXPRESSION (corresponding to earth).
Origination (air) is the primary moving of nothing, void, into something. It is the spark of inspiration, the first stirring of life, it is the idea that begins the chain reaction, before even the first word or breath, it is the very beginning of all, the alpha of life. In order for this spark to move forward it requires fuel, it needs the passion to be stirred into action and it achieves this through the energy of fire. Here matter is created in the great furnace of the world's desire, flaming forces bring into being the raw material of building in order that the original spark may go to work on the material. However the raw material needs to be shaped, the pool stirs with dark water, currents shift and motion and movement occur within the material to begin the process of formation. Finally, as the spark began and the material was formed and then shaped, so at last the expression of the idea is delivered, it is here that the first breath of life issues forth, that the world is formed and brought into independent existence for this is the realm of expression.
So we have come a long way from our beginnings, we can see the quadratic pattern here in the first four chapters as living and working, the idea was born in our introduction (Air), we fuelled it with concepts in chapter two (Fire), Stirred those concepts together in chapter three (Water) and finally made our conclusions and put forward our manifested point in chapter four (Earth). This is a living example of how the system operates, we can see deeper levels also in the pattern - the idea of writing this essay was formed in my mind (Origination) , the words were created to describe it (Creation), the chapters and layout devised (Formation) and finally it was read by the readers (Expression).
As I have stated, it is not so much the Primal Powers and the Four Worlds that concern the magician but the dynamic interactions between them, force needs multiple form to flow between and it is the force we are most concerned with in magical operations and the polar forms themselves in mysticism.