I come from what I believe to be a fairly grounded tradition of hatha yoga, for which the serious and scientific study of the body and its sensations (both internal and external) is the goal. I am also a student at university, and therefore am continuously exposed to evidence-based thinking. I have done some research into Buddhism and the Sankhya system from India, as well as studying the OBOD Bardic course. The purpose of letting you know this is to give you an idea of where I am coming from when I ask: how much of 'magick' and aspects of ritual/meditation (e.g. imagining that I have an animal who leads me on journeys or imagining that I can send energy to other people across the world) are really tools and tricks that the ego plays on us?
There are many levels on which to think about this question. The examples that I gave above are obviously quite base but they form an inherent part of what many people would call spirituality today. But take, as another example, the western infatuation with the so-called 'chakras' (those spinning whirlpools of energy that lie on certain points of the body's axis). I am more inclined to think that many of these ideas are symbolic with some attachment to subtle sensations in the body. The dilemma is that, in our effort to think 'rationally', do we risk losing these possible real experiences? but at the same time, how do we justify 'magickal' practices that we become attached to and which could lead down a path of falsehood?
Let's bounce some ideas around!
'But whoso that, qwakynge, dredeth or desireth thyng that nys noght stable of his ryght, that man that so dooth hath cast awey his scheeld, and is remoeved from his place, and enlaceth hym in the cheyne with whiche he mai ben drawen.'
Chaucer Boece (Book 1, Metrum 4)