In my book Tarot Magic I demonstrate how it is possible to do ritual magic with nothing other than a pack of tarot cards. But what if you don't have tarot cards? What if you don’t have anything to work with at all? Can you still do ritual magic? Yes, you can, because you still have your mind and your body. No one can take that away from you as long as you remain yourself. If you were trapped on a deserted island or thrown into a prison or lost in the woods, you would still have all you need to work what I have called kinesic magic—the magic of the mind and body.
Kinesis is a Greek word meaning "movement" or "motion." Kinesics is the study of the use of body movements and gestures to communicate information. Hence, kinesic magic is the magic of gestures and postures.
When dealing with occult energies, two things are required. We must be able to manifest those energies, and we must be able to manipulate them. That is to say, we must be able to call them forth, and also apply them to accomplish what we want them to do.
In conventional Western magic, occult forces are represented by physical materials. Elemental Air, for example, is made manifest by using an actual feather to express its nature, or a rising column of incense smoke. These physical representations of Air provide a focus for the imagination and the will.
In a more abstract way, we can represent such forces using symbols to express their natures. The usual symbol of Air in magic is an upright triangle with a line through it, which derives from alchemy. An alternative symbol is the blue circle, from the Hindu set of elemental symbols known as the tattwa (or tattva). In Golden Dawn magic, the four lower elements are symbolically represented by ritual objects that are based on the suit symbols of the tarot—a rod for Fire, a cup for Water, a dagger for Air, a disk for Earth.
Once we have embodied an occult force in some way, we must apply it to the work we wish to accomplish with it. In conventional magic this is done through the ritual fulfilment of our purpose using various consecrated instruments and objects, such as the wand, the sword, the altar, the sash, the ring, the magic circle. We enact a kind of drama with these or other tools that expresses what we intend to accomplish, and in this way direct the evoked energies to fulfill our purpose.
But what happens if you have nothing to represent the forces you wish to call forth, and no ritual instruments with which to direct those forces? Can you still do magic? That was the question in my mind that formed the seed of my latest book Kinesic Magic. I asked myself, "Can magic be worked without anything at all? Can a person stripped naked and locked in a dark cell with no furniture still do magic?" The answer is yes—provided that person has prepared mind and body beforehand.
As I demonstrate in my book, it is possible to define and embody the essential occult forces by means of hand gestures. There are 24 fundamental energies used in Western magic, which are the forces of the five philosophic elements, the seven planets of traditional astrology, and the twelve signs of the zodiac. Each is given its own distinct hand gesture. Collectively they represent the basic vocabulary of kinesic magic.
The forces manifested by these hand gestures are directed with the use of body postures, which guide the flow of occult energies the way a network of pipes guides the flow of water. In Kinesic Magic 24 distinct postures are described. These represent the grammar of this new system of magic, and by uniting them in various sets and sequences, together with the hand gestures, it is possible to enact the fulfillment of virtually any ritual purpose using no other materials, furniture, instruments, robes, or tools of any kind. The energies are particularized by the hand gestures, and they are applied to their purpose with the body postures.
Writing this book took me over two years. Each gesture, each posture, had to be experimented with and fully tested, not only individually but in combination with other gestures and postures. The system of kinesic magic did not spring from my mind fully formed the way Athena sprang from the forehead of Zeus—it was a long and at times painful process of organic growth during which many possibilities were tried and discarded, and many pathways followed that led to dead ends. During this time I was guided by spiritual intelligences that informed my mind and enabled me to choose rightly. Without their guidance this system of magic would never have been perfected.
Foremost in my consideration was the need for a system that was both simple and flexible. It needed to be adaptable enough for almost any ritual purpose, yet not involve complex esoteric studies such as the tarot or the Kabbalah. That is why I chose to limit it to the 24 basic occult energies of Western magic. All of the ideas in the human mind can be expressed using this many letters, when they are linked together into words and sentences. The Greek alphabet has 24 letters, the Hebrew 22, the modern English alphabet 26. Yet with so few individual parts all of human learning can be set down in books or expressed in spoken words.
Another prime consideration was that the system must be practical. To this end, eighty practice workings are included in the book, each a ritual in its own right, along with numerous meditations. These exercises are designed to give hands-on experience and to demonstrate the scope and flexibility of kinesic magic as a system for building your own personal rituals.
As far as possible I have avoided the use of hand gestures that have distinct meanings in our culture. By this I mean such gestures as the "OK" sign, the "peace" gesture of the Hippie Generation, the Vulcan salute, the gesture known as the "bird" that involves the middle finger, and so on. I did not wish the conventional meanings of gestures to conflict with their magical meanings.
In designing the postures, I endeavored to avoid any that might be difficult for the average person to assume and hold for a number of minutes. This system of magic is intended for everyone of any age, weight, or level of fitness, not only for contortionists. I sometimes think of it as the "yoga of Western magic," but it has this difference from the hatha yoga of India—it is not difficult. Anyone can adopt all 24 of the postures without prior training.
The design of the postures was guided by some very basic principles. In general terms, when we wish to call down energies from the heavens during rituals, we instinctively reach up our hands to receive them. When we want to focus energies into a person or an object, we point at that person or object. When we wish to banish an energy, we point toward the ground. Blocking, retaining, or binding energy is done by crossing the arms or legs. To project force we throw our fingertips forward and step forward, but to ward off force we raise our hands with the flattened palms turned to the front and we take a step back.
The left side of the body is receptive, the right side is projective. We receive energy into the body from the left, and send it out from the body on the right. Of course we can receive or project from either side, but these are the natural occult tendencies. Reception in general is done by opening the arms wide as if to embrace. The balanced focus of prayer or meditation is accomplished by bringing the palms together. Raising the gaze above the line of the horizon inclines the mind toward supernal or spiritual matters, whereas lower the gaze below the horizon shifts the attention to material or infernal matters; a gaze directed at the horizon balances the mind.
The 24 fundamental occult energies not only act in the greater world of the macrocosm, but also affect the microcosm of the human body. The four lower elements define the four humours of traditional European medicine that determine the general physical health and emotional disposition. The seven planets are associated with the seven energy centers of the body aligned along the spine, which are known as chakras. The influences of the twelve zodiac signs have been assigned from ancient times to twelve zones of the body, from Aries in the head to Pisces in the feet.
Because of these links, kinesic magic lends itself not only to the manipulation of occult energies in the greater world around us, but to balancing and strengthening the energy levels of the body and mind—both our own bodies, and the bodies of others who may seek us out for our healing abilities. Manipulating energy flows in the human body is a natural function of the esoteric healer. For this kind of work, kinesic magic is superior to all other occult systems.
The main focus of my book is on what are known as the blind forces of magic—the occult energies that may be observed in Nature and within ourselves. They are called "blind forces" because they are not self-aware. They are neither good nor evil in themselves, but are like electricity, which may be used for both good or evil purposes, depending on the intention of the user.
Since Kinesic Magic is the introductory text to this new system of Western magic, it made sense to focus it on the basic forces, such as the energies of the elements, which are known as the workhorses of magic. However, the methods of kinesic magic are easily applied to the manipulation and control of spirits during both invocation and evocation. Spirits may be scryed by the scrying posture, evoked by the manifesting posture, bound by the binding posture, commanded by the commanding posture, warded by the warding posture, and banished by the banishing posture. Kinesic magic is not limited to blind forces, but is a complete system of magic.
If Kinesic Magic is well received, I will of course publish additional texts, which have already been written, elaborating and expanding on various aspects of its use in spirit communication and spirit manifestation. Those familiar with my use of the banners of Tetragrammaton and the spirits I have named the Wings of the Wind, as set forth in my books Tetragrammaton (Llewellyn, 1995) and The Power of the Word (Llewellyn, 2004) will be interested to know that kinesic magic can be fully integrated with Tetragrammaton magic.
In closing, let me design for you a simple kinesic magic meditation that you can use every day at the same hour to balance your mind and body, and to awaken spiritual awareness. This exercise is original and exists nowhere else—I composed it for this article. There is not space enough here to fully explain and justify the postures involved, but they are so simple that you should be able to form them well enough for the purposes of this meditation.
Meditation: The Sun, the Moon, and the Silver Star
Close your right hand into a fist with the thumb on the outside of the fingers—this is the hand gesture of the Sun.
Flatten your left hand with the fingers together and curve your palm slightly—this is the hand gesture of the Moon.
Widen your stance to about twelve inches and raise both your arms above your head so that they form a V-shape. At the same time, tilt your face up and gaze upward at an angle, but not so far upward that you strain your neck or your eyes. This is the Invoking Posture.
Visualize the yellow disk of the Sun above your right hand, and the purple crescent of the Moon above your left hand.
Using your imagination and the power of your will, draw the disk of the Sun down until it surrounds your right hand. Feel its warmth and dryness. Now draw the crescent of the Moon down so that it covers your left hand, and feel its coolness and moisture.
When you have strongly visualized the Sun around your right hand and the Moon around your left hand, slowly lower your arms and bring your hands together in front of your chest, at the level of your heart. Cup your flattened left hand around your right fist to unite the Moon with the Sun. This is a modified form of the Balancing Posture.
Visualize the yellow Sun and purple Moon unite and transform into a blazing star that is pure white in color. Flatten your right hand and spread the fingers wide. This is the hand gesture of Mercury. Make the same gesture with your left hand and press your two palms together with your wide-spread fingers touching. Visualize the white star between your palms.
Bring your feet together so that they touch, and as you do so, raise your united hands until that they are about six inches directly above the crown of your head. Roll your eyes to look slightly upward while keeping your head level. This is a modified form of the Macrocosm Posture.
Widen your stance so that once again your feet are separated by about twelve inches, and as you do so, separate your flattened hands while turning your palms upward at an angle until the heels of your hands are about twelve inches apart from each other above your head. Imagine that you are releasing the silver-white star of Mercury upward in the same way your would release a white dove. This is the Loosing Posture.
Close the gap between your feet until they are around four inches apart and lower your arms to press your palms together in front of your chest with the fingers together and pointing upward. Gaze over your fingertips at a slight downward angle. This is the Prayer Posture.
Visualize the blazing white star, child of the united Sun and Moon, shining down its cooling, soothing radiance upon the top of your head at it floats above you. Let this balanced radiance sink down through your entire body, and feel its pleasant coolness even down to the soles of your feet. Hold this visualization for a minute or so.
Bring your feet together so that they touch and close your hands into fists. As you do so, cross your right wrist over your left wrist in front of your chest. Face straight ahead, but gently close your eyes. This is the Closing Posture.
Visualize the blazing white star rise upward through the roof of the building you are in with ever increasing speed until you lose sight of it in the starry heavens.
Open your eyes, open your hands, lower your arms to your sides as you separate your feet by about four inches. Gaze at the infinitely distant horizon that lies beyond the walls or other obstructions in front of you. The is the Standing Posture.
Take a slow, deep breath, release it slowly and silently, and go about your normal day.
Donald Tyson (Nova Scotia, Canada) is an occult scholar and the author of the popular, critically acclaimed Necronomicon series. He has written more than a dozen books on Western esoteric traditions, including Tarot Magic, ...