Over a year ago I made a post where I shared this story about Aleister Crowley:
There is a story of a young man, sitting in a café (I’ve heard of different locations where this story occurred), when all of a sudden, a strange man, dressed in yellow, comes darting through the café, babbling in a strange, foreign language. To his surprise, nobody was paying any attention to this obviously crazy man. The shocked café-goer asks the head waiter if something should be done. The head waiter replies, “Oh no, sir. That’s just Mr. Crowley being invisible again.”
Like him or hate him, there are many things you can say about Crowley. Claiming he was an idiot is not one of them.
Assuming this story is true, does anyone think Crowley was so dumb that he thought he had turned himself transparent? I don’t. And yet, the story continues that when he came back and talked with some of his followers, he told them that to the people in the café he must have been invisible. After all, if you saw someone dressed in yellow robes running around and babbling, wouldn’t you say something about it? I would. And yet, no one there did. Therefore, Crowley assumed he had achieved invisibility.
Invisibility ≠ Transparency
Today, most people think the ability to become invisible would mean that people could see right through you, that you would become perfectly see-through. In H.G. Wells famous book from 1897, The Invisible Man, as well as in James Whale’s classic 1933 movie of the same name staring Claude Rains, a principle aspect is not how amazing being invisible would be, but rather, how difficult and even disgusting being transparent is. First, you’d have to run around naked, and if it were too hot or cold you’d suffer. You’d easily be seen in fog, rain, or snow. And since you had to eat, you would end up having to hide while the digestive system slowly—and visually disgustingly—breaks down the food. Only when it was assimilated could you go out naked again. There are just too many problems being transparent to make it useful. Harry Potter’s “Invisibility Cloak” is just a bad idea.
But it’s bad only if you equate invisibility with transparency. If you return to the original concept of the term invisibility as “the inability to be seen,” we can have a very practical magickal tool. In my book, Modern Magick, I describe the concept of using the Rose Cross ritual to draw your aura toward your spine, making it smaller and smaller. By doing this your aura doesn’t come in contact with that of others, so unless someone is specifically looking for you, you won’t be noticed.
You may have experienced something like this accidentally. Feeling down and depressed tends to bring your aura inward. Perhaps, while feeling this way, you decided to go to a party and cheer yourself up. Unfortunately, it didn’t work. The next day, a friend calls you and tells you about the wonderful time she had at the party, saying, “You should have been there.” When you tell her you were there, she responds, “That couldn’t be so. I’d have seen you.” And yet, she didn’t. You were right there but even your friends didn’t see you. For all practical purposes you were invisible.
So I guess you have to ask yourself which is more important to you: becoming transparent or becoming invisible and having nobody realize you’re there. While the former is leading to interesting scientific research, on a practical level for today, it is the latter that is valuable. For invisibility, it’s more important that people don’t see you, not that you physically fade away.
Becoming invisible this way sounds as shamanic as shape shifting. And yet, The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, a group dedicated to ceremonial magick, has elaborate instructions on how to achieve this goal. The technique is given beginning on page 387 of Israel Regardie‘s book, The Golden Dawn, where it’s called, “The Shroud of Concealment.”
Guard the Mysteries—Reveal them Constantly
Many years ago, the New York store known as Magickal Childe, owned by the late Herman Slater, published a magazine titled “Earth Religions News.” The motto of the magazine was “Guard the Mysteries; Reveal them Constantly.” That has always impressed me. One of the best ways to guard magickal secrets is to reveal them. If a person isn’t ready to understand and use them, the student will be unable to put the secrets to practical use. Therefore, one of the best ways to guard magickal secrets is to simply reveal them. People with the knowledge and skill to use them will be able to do so. They’ll keep the mysteries alive. Those who can’t make use of the information will ignore it or make fun of it. It’s an odd reversal, but by revealing secrets you keep them available to those who can use them and ignored by those who cannot.
The Shroud of Concealment is not a long or complex rite. Regardie shares the entire rite in less than two pages. I could publish it here, but that would just be a way to guard the mysteries by revealing them. You see, the ritual is based on a complete understanding of the Order’s Neophyte initiation ritual and how to work with all of the energies within that ritual. Most people, looking at an initiation rite, think that’s all there is to it. However, each of the initiation rites of the Golden Dawn Order form the outline for the creation of powerful and practical magical rituals. As MacGregor Mathers, co-founder of the original Golden Dawn wrote,
In the true knowledge of the application of the symbolism of the “Enterer” [the Neophyte Initiation Ritual] lies the entrance to the knowledge of Practical Magic: and therefore all the Formulae drawn from the Ritual classed under Five several heads [the five general types of magick performed by Golden Dawn members], according to the Letters of the name Yeheshuah.
So to be able to effectively use the ritual for invisibility requires knowledge and ability that requires a minimum of about two years of training and practice.
I’m not trying to hide anything here. You can go into any bookstore and turn to the page in The Golden Dawn and read the ritual for yourself. But without practical knowledge of the previous material of the Golden Dawn tradition, it won’t make much sense. And as Eliphas Levi wrote, “Telling the truth to someone who can’t understand it is tantamount to telling that person a lie.”
For example, instruction part “R” states, “Still formulating the shroud, say, ‘Before all Magical manifestation cometh the knowledge of the hidden light.’ Then move to the pillars and give the signs and steps, words, etc…” And in step “W”: “Having obtained the desired effect, and gone about invisible, it is required that thou shouldst conjure the Powers of the Light to act against that shroud of Darkness and Mystery so as to disintegrate it, lest any force seek to use it as a medium for an obsession, etc.” If you’re familiar with the Golden Dawn tradition and are skilled in the Order’s techniques, doing this rite is almost simple. Without that knowledge and skill, however, you won’t accomplish a thing.
So invisibility—not transparency—is absolutely possible. However, it takes preparation and work. If there is no group around you that can guide you, I would respectfully suggest working through Modern Magick and then working through The Golden Dawn so you can obtain this ability. Why? Well, this virtual form of invisibility is a cool ability to have. Plus, as it says in the ritual, the result of doing this successfully is also “…a certain Divine Exstasis and an exaltation desirable, for herein is a sensation of an exalted strength.”
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