The Three Missing Senses
By Frater Palamedes
In the early stages of magical training, great emphasis is placed on developing the practitioner's ability to produce concrete visual and auditory cues on command, as dictated by the necessity of the ritual. But what about the smell of pungent incense or the feel of a ritual tool in your hand? Or the taste of consecrated salt on your tongue? There are whole chapters of sensory vocabulary left out of standard meditative technique, all of which can be put to wonderfully evocative use in meditation and pathworking, raising the level of your work accordingly.
As an exercise, imagine yourself standing in a scene of your choice. The setting is not important at this time, but it should be something you are familiar with in real life, so you can produce with great vividness the sensations of the experience. Once you have built up the standard level of body awareness to which you are accustomed, ask yourself, "Do I feel my entire body? What parts of my body am I not paying attention to?" Most likely, your legs and feet will be lost in the sensory imagination of your upper body. Now, look around within your chosen scene.
What do you see about you? How would your environment feel on your body? Do you feel the grass of a field beneath your toes, or perhaps the crunch of gravel underfoot? As you walk, can you feel your hips sway slightly, as they would normally? Also, what kind of smells and tastes might you be experiencing in your environment. Are you near a seashore, with the smell and tang of salt air on your tongue? Or a dank cave where the feel of the humidity on your skin is overpowering. Or are you standing within your temple space, where the recalled sense memory of sweet incense and feel of the carpet against your feet will instantly remind you of rituals gone by?
After learning to develop a hyperrealistic sense of your surroundings, you can begin to play with that imagery. For example, you might start by visualizing yourself standing in the Temenos of the House of the Winged Serpent; an experience which nearly all of us in the Order have still shared at this point. Perhaps you imagine yourself standing before the altar, facing the House of Sacrifice, feeling the floor beneath your feet, and the smell of the incense. Working with these hidden subtle sensory impressions while you perform your own rituals in your own temple space can serve to hook you in powerfully to the egregore of the Order. It can also serve as a strong astral temple for you to use when you cannot have a dedicated temple space. Try imagining yourself moving through the Temenos while you perform your ritual, since you already know how that feels. Your body will remember, and its memory will feedback into your consciousness in wonderful and unexpected ways.
These bits of sensory input are the somatic cues which will build up a sense of absolute realism within your mind's eye. They may be easily forgotten in lieu of the more powerful visual and auditory 'visualizations', but with a bit of practice, the three missing senses can be put to work for you as well.