These are notes from an old course we ran nearly 15 years ago now and were part of a sequence we did which included the notes on boundaries, posted not long back. You really should read them too. Not much editing has been done, so if you have any problems I suggest you find a TARDIS, a DeLorean or the original Time Tunnel and discuss it with a much younger Peregrin Seriously, this is an important topic and I plan at some stage to re-write these notes to include glamour and the Internet, which is essentially a Yesod based method of interaction and therefore open to all sorts of distortions. The notes hear may help explain why some folk continue to show allegiance and support to leaders who are obvious…well a bit dodgy. The use of the word ‘charisma’ refers to a lower or debased ‘power’ not the higher gift of the Holy Spirit, though sadly the two can sometimes exists within the same spiritual leader. Go figure that one …
Our discussion here will focus mainly upon the art of charisma and clamouring from a magical point of view, looking at how it works on the subtle bodies and inner realms. The psychological understanding can be found in any number of books on fraud and messianic cults.
The most important and fundamental understanding you can possibly take away with you from today and these notes is that you too can be glamoured and placed under the spell of charisma. We ALL can. Hopefully this may never happen, and if it does from what we can learn today and our own sense and resources (include here our community), the effects and damage may be slight. Please do not underestimate this possibility. An informative example:
A senior Anthropologist (PhD and all that jazz, a very smart and intelligent, together woman), author of seminal book on Australia Paganism once visited Perth to interview folk for her post-doctoral work . As part of her academic career this lady lectures on cults, false-gurus and charisma. She has several lectures where she lists the signs of being effected by charisma etc.
Whilst in Perth she stayed with a very public, very flamboyant leader of a large Pagan ‘community’. After a spending a few days there she came to our house for dinner and a chat. Shortly after arriving she sighed and expressed thanks at being able to “get away from there” and recounted how even though she lectures on the subject, she felt herself being sucked into the whirlpool of glamour surrounding her host. She found it wonderful to be around “normal” folk for the evening (our conversation ranged from exorcism to the Faery, so one can only wonder at the types of conversation at her hosts). The point here of course is that despite our knowledge on these matters, we can all be affected by glamouring and charisma.
One of the reasons we can all be affected by charisma and glamouring is that we are all human living imperfect lives in an imperfect world. In short, we all want and desire something and many of these things we may not even be consciously aware of. Glamouring and charisma work directly upon our desires and also our fundamental and basic needs. Everyone can feel its affects. I want to stress this as much as possible, so another example.
In 1968 a very famous Spanish forger of classical paintings, Elmyr was jailed for two months. Upon his release he co-wrote, with Cliff Irving, a book Fake, that detailed how he managed to convince so many people that his fakes were real. A couple of years later Cliff Irving, who had obviously learnt from Elmyr, managed to convince a New York publisher to advance him, as agent, $750 000 USD (value of $5 million now) sight unseen for a supposed auto-biography of Howard Hughes.
Now there was a document with a forged signature from Howard Hughes. But the most amazing thing is that even though Irving had co-written a famous book on the forgery of signatures, he still managed to persuade (we would say glamour) a group of professional business men out of an incredible sum of money. How? Because at that time most publishers would have gnawed their own arm off to get the rights for Howard Hughes’ autobiography. Their own desires led the publishers into this glamour and fraud, even when Irving detailed how he met Hughes’ and signed the contract in the dead of night, on top of a pyramid in Mexico. If we desire something, we can be fooled and we are open to glamouring and charisma. Even you and I.
In our specific context, this training course on magic and Paganism, we need to stop and examine what do I want? This may be training, it may a “higher” grade, it may be “secret” unpublished knowledge, it may be healing ability, magical power or whatever. But if we want something from our smaller, ego self, we are open to being glamoured. These exact examples, magical power, grades, knowledge have been and still are the hooks that open many magical students to putting up with all sorts of stuff and basically being glamoured by their leaders. It can and does happen.
The Guts of The Matter
Charisma can be defined as:
The aggregate of those special gifts of mind and character which are the source of the personal power of exceptional individuals and upon which they depend for their capacity to secure the allegiance of, and exercise decisive authority over groups of people. (Funk and Wagnalls).
Glamour is mostly referred to as being “an illusory, alluring charm and fascination”. For most of our purposes here we will examine the two as one. From the magical point of view, glamouring and charisma occurs mostly in two realms – the astral body and/or the etheric body. Often the two go hand in hand.
Looking at the definitions we see that there are (1), special “powers” which are the basis for the (2) control of groups or individuals. There is also (3) an illusion occurring and (4) a fascination with that illusion. What is not explicitly stated here but which is essential is that a successful glamourer has to (5) both give something and offer something more to the person being glamoured (often called a ‘mark’), but never fully deliver the goods. These are the five components of a successful glamouring which we will now examine with reference to the astral and etheric bodies.
Anatomy of Charisma Charming and Glamouring
Many of the “special powers” of a glamourer are largely psychological and these can be found in any scholarly study of gurus and cult-leaders. Much of these “powers” stem from an absolute belief in themselves and their work, regardless of any data to the contrary. However, separating psychology from magic for a while, we can see clearly some magical qualities and processes involved in glamouring.
The Etheric Level
On the etheric level a successful glamourer will have the ability to generate large amounts of excess etheric energy. Indeed they often sparkle with energy and much of this is sexually based, though not always expressed sexually. Adaptations of so called ‘kundalini raising’ exercises produce this quality quite readily in most people, though the side-effects can, as we stated in our previous notes, can produce mental disturbance. Good glamourers also know how to consciously direct this energy, through eyes and touch. This is NOT the same thing as the blessings of the Holy Spirit, the Goddess or the divine expressed through touch by contacted and healthy spiritual leaders, but uses the same inner mechanisms by which the energy is transferred.
Most charismatic leaders will use this energy and will often engage their followers and ‘marks’ in ways that are more intimate than the personal space of their culture. (The boundaries we naturally, that is without conscious effort, place around ourselves are dependent on culture). That is, when they talk with you they stand a bit closer to you than other folk in regular interaction. This allows them into your etheric (and astral) aura. They can then direct energy and illusions much easier. Psychologically it also enhances the feeling that they are close to the mark, that the mark is somehow special and on intimate terms with them. Do not underestimate this simple technique – it works remarkably well.
The transference of ‘sexual’ and etheric energy is the key here and most marks leave the presence of a charismatic leader feeling alive or faintly sexual, even if they do not talk about it or admit it to themselves. This helps develop a fascination with the glamourer as the mark wishes to get more of the energy, which seems to be given freely. The correct stimulation of the etheric body can create an opening and longing for the energy directed by the glamourer. The mark keeps returning, not only psychologically hoping for more but because there is an unholy etheric rapport between her and the glamourer. Also of important here is the concept of control. The need for a successful glamourer to be in control of the situation and group is not only psychological, but etheric. The power imbalance allows for the strengthening of the etheric rapport and link. The mark being passive and waiting to be filled up helps to draw out of the glamourer the energy required. Without the passivity on behalf of the mark, the glamourer would need to direct their own energy and this would soon deplete them.
The Astral Level
On the astral realm the most especial ability the glamourer has is to create images. We have already talked about the ability to consciously form images and bodies upon the astral realm in this course (see notes on Artificially Created Astral Beings). The glamourer in effect, whether conscious of this or not, creates the idealised image of themselves as teacher, healer, trusted one etc., and wears it over themselves on the astral plane. This obviously is illusory and can be very fascinating to the mark. Thus our astral senses do not (as our physical eyes do) see the grubby, slavering man, pawing our breasts but rather the golden teacher of light opening our heart centre. This may be called astral confusion and is crucial to remember, and whereas we all know we do this sort of thing ourselves in our perceptions of loved ones and others we are in relationship with, the glamourer does it in reverse and creates what s/he wants people to see and react to. They then believe and live this out. This is similar to the creation of a magical personality from the Western Magical traditions. The enforcing of this image upon the astral perception of the mark is one of the crucial skills required by the charismatic leader. Again, there are exercises to develop this skill so that we can more fully know when it is being tried on us.
Charismatic leaders and teachers often have a reputation of being able to get people “high” in their presence. What is occurring here is the connection and mediation of “higher” mental body energies through the astral body of the leader. One of the qualities of this sort of contact is bliss and feeling high. By mediating these energies the leader basically sparks off the same process in her/his followers. Because of the etheric rapport and astral confusion already established this can occur easily and freely. What is occurring here is not channelling of energy, but a sounding of a note so to speak from the leader to the marks. Just as a powerful drum beat on a large drum will cause smaller drums around it to vibrate also, similarly the powerful state of consciousness in the leader will spark of the same energy in those marks and people around her open to the energy – and the etheric rapport and astral confusion greatly promotes this opening. The charismatic leader will then, of course, declare that such experiences happen because of his energy, skill, spiritual advancement etc., when in reality the marks did all the hard work themselves. The marks, because of their desire and passivity will readily accept this. This in turn keeps them coming back and dependant on the leader.
Natural glamourers and those who have trained themselves well also have another ability on the astral realm, one that is the most “dangerous” of all. To explain this I will use a little Qabala. The astral light in Yesod is plastic and malleable. It is able to be formed into literally anything by will and imagination. As we have discussed previously this is also the realm of the unconscious, and our unconscious needs and desires can sometimes be formed before us when we travel there. This is why we need to analyse our visions carefully.
The natural or well trained glamourer functions in the Yesodic sphere extremely well. They often carry within their astral/Yesod selves oodles of spare, unformed plastic astral light, often created by their powerful sexual energy. When they engage with a mark, moving into her astral aura, her desires, conscious and unconscious get impressed upon this unformed light and an impression or form is made. The glamourer then quickly connects to this impression or form and speaks it out loud, or in some other way earths it. The mark is then amazed and becomes impressed and glamoured and so the dance begins. Often the glamourer does not know from one sentence to the next what she is going to say to impress the mark. She merely reports, often intuitively what she sees etc. This is why it is often the case that individual marks of groups will be told very different things about the group’s purpose, intention, future changes etc. The glamouring leader literally caters her words to fulfil the ambitions and desires of each member. Each of them thus in turn feels that it is all wonderful for them, that they are very special etc. and the glamouring continues.
Incidentally, this ability to sense and receive the impressions of a person’s desires and wishes and thoughts can be used constructively. The map above gives one explanation for the amazing work of Milton Erickson, the father of modern hypnotherapy. When working with clients he would place them into a light trance and then talk about all sorts of things which explained their “problems” and then simply alter one or two and the problem would go away. In each case the “map” of the psyche or subtle bodies he used were completely different, but he talked as if they were real and established fact. What he was doing was receiving the impressions from the conscious and unconscious of the patient of what was wrong and providing the ideal map and imagery that suited them personally. In doing so he convinced the subconscious of the patient to change the map and fix the problem for themselves.
Protecting Ourselves from Glamour and Charisma
There are several ways to increase our protection from glamouring.
- Self Observation. Knowing more about ourselves will mean we know more about what we secretly want and need and if we are acting like dickhead. Glamouring then can effect us far less. We cannot stress the importance of this enough.
- Make Some Rules and Stick to Them. Accept the fact that you, and all of us, can be glamoured. In owning our weakness here we can make a list of rules of acceptable behaviour from leaders, groups and friends. Make a list of the sensible ways you think you should act in spiritual groups and other situations. Make a list of danger signs and things which, from your perspective now, you do not think would be wise to engage in. Make the list and commit to sticking to these rules in all situations, even though they may at some point seem pointless and no-fun and out of date.
- Enter Into Agreements With Your Community. Basically this is an extension of the rules point above. Make the rules and ask at least two very trusted friends from your community to point out in no uncertain terms if you break these rules. Ask them also to help you remove yourself from the glamouring if it arrives. Please bear in mind however, one of the very first things a cult or charismatic leader will do is to try and separate you from your community – so make sure that this is the top “danger” sign your friends respond to.
- Be a Cynical Bastard. In magic, as in life, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is, whether that be instant magical power, membership of the One true and Holy Order of XXX, being the Chosen One in a long line of Covens stretching back to medieval times etc.