Probably the most important element in the preparation for magick is a solid subjective synthesis. EA calls it preparatory immersion. Unfortunately it is also the one element that many neglect when they set foot in the path. They will scribble down a sigil and stare into it while chanting gibberish, all the while wondering if they are doing it right, and then they wonder why nothing happened. Or, they will lay out their tarot that they only halfway studied and wonder why gnosis isn’t forthcoming. The reason for much failure is neglecting to lay the groundwork with a solid subjective synthesis.
Given that much of what is done here revolves around evocation I will discuss it in that context. So what is this subjective synthesis nonsense and why is it so important? For the definition of it, I’m going to rip off Joe Lisiewski:
A state of Subjective Synthesis is produced through the conscious study, understanding, comprehension, and acceptance of the theory of all elements that compose a given magical act. As a result of this synthesis, an integrated belief system is taken up in the Practitioner’s subconscious mind. This allows the individual to perform the magic and obtain the results desired from the magical act.
What this means is that if you are working a ritual you need to understand every element of it and the operating theory that it is based upon. If there is a part of the ritual that you don’t understand and you try to perform it anyway then you will get to that point and then your subconscious says “I don’t know what I am supposed to do with this.” It creates an immediate disconnect. The magick in a sense shorts out and the result is failure either in whole or in part. Without adequate subjective synthesis, you go into your ritual with a sense of uncertainty that only becomes magnified during the performance of the work.
Establishing your subjective synthesis is an intellectual act. If you are planning a ritual to summon a particular spirit, then you need a solid grounding in the theory of how evocation works, the system of evocation being used, what spirits are, as well as the meanings of the words and symbols used. In the case of incantations in the demonic tongue, you at least need to know what they are meant to do. You need to know what every element of the ritual is meant to do and you need to know it inside and out.
Then there is the spirit itself. You need a clear understanding of who and what that spirit is and what it’s powers are. EA suggests that one avenue for researching a spirit is to look up other people’s experience with that spirit. I don’t agree with this. There is just too much fuckery out there for this to be a reliable method. The reason is that some people’s methods tend more towards the creation of thoughtforms rather than genuine spirit contact. This means that they are only reporting experiences with thoughtforms. Potentially getting sucked into someone’s fantasy world is not remotely useful. Stick to more reliable historical sources when you can.
Some modern grimoires such as Kingdoms of Flame have no historical lore regarding the Spirits contained within. It is enough to study the grimoire itself. Read and study the description of the spirit as it is written in the book until you know it by heart. Once you have a solid subjective synthesis established you won’t go into your ritual with doubt. You will enter your ritual space with a sense of certainty and the ritual will just seem to flow out of you. Results will be forthcoming.