There must be some distinctions made in regards to the mind. Most specifically with the parts of the mind commonly known as the conscious mind and the unconscious mind. There are, of course, many more parts and we will mention some of those when necessary.
First, there is the primitive mind. This is what controls the automatic functions of life. It is also where the only two unlearned fears reside, these being the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises. All humans are born with those fears. They are hard wired into us. All people are born with this mind. As we start to take in information our mind creates a storage center for all the experiences we have. As we draw in more and more information our mind begins to make connections. These start off as being simple like ?If I cry then someone will feed me? and become more complex, forming the understanding of language. Of course, as anyone with children has seen, language does not always equate to comprehension. So, more connections are required. Hence is the origin of the subconscious mind.
As the mind continues to grow, it starts to develop ideas and understanding. This is when the mind goes ?A actually means ??. This is usually when the understanding starts to develop that says ?I am me? as a separate entity. This self awareness marks the beginning of the conscious mind. The personality then starts to develop by stating ?This is how I feel?. This one phrase is so powerful, yet at the same time so limiting. It works under the presupposition that I am separate. I am not connected. Because it now knows that it is not connected, it begins to establish what it is and is not. Thus begins reason, which is the realm of the conscious mind. Awareness is now fully developed and allocated properly. For example, until you read this you were not aware of the temperature of the air in your socks, but your subconscious was as the information was transmitted via nerve impulses to the brain. More on this momentarily.
To use some modern analogies, the subconscious mind is like a hard drive on a computer. It stores data, programs and keeps the computer running. The conscious mind is like the processor. It accepts input, runs programs, computes and analyzes according to the programs stores on the hard drive (subconscious).
Now, as people who work in magic, there are some things we need to understand. First, there were forces at work from before we were conceived. Angels, God, gods, Buddhas, nature or whatever you want to call them, it makes no matter. What is important is that these forces worked to see that you were born with the tools and abilities you need to fulfill your purpose in life, whatever that is. That work is realized in the primitive mind. This is the deepest connection that we have to the source. The subconscious mind is also connected to the source, as the primitive mind lies deep in the subconscious. The not-so-deep subconscious and the conscious have learned separation.
Second, the conscious mind communicates in words. The subconscious mind communicates in symbols. These symbols are based on the data that your subconscious mind has in its data storage. If you have filled your subconscious with TV and comic books, that will be how the subconscious mind communicates. If it is mathematical formula, same thing applies. If there is an emotional connection to the symbol, it is more potent as emotions come from the subconscious.
Now, earlier we talked about all the signals that are brought into your brain by the nerves. When you look at all the physical nerves, hearing, taste, smell and sight, it is estimated that there are over 10 million bytes of information coming to the brain per second! Whether or not that is a true number, it is still a lot of data. Not to mention all the computations, thoughts and ideas of the conscious mind. With all this data, the mind has a big job to sort through it all. Enter the Critical Factor. The CF is partially conscious and partially unconscious. Consciously, you are able to reject some things, especially those that originate in the conscious mind such as ideas. Also, anything you are actively focused on you are able to choose to accept or reject. Other data is compared to the data already in the data bank, and if it matches, it is accepted. If not, it is rejected. This happens without conscious thought.
Feelings, beliefs, emotions and habits all come directly from the data banks of the subconscious mind. They are not conscious choices. Because of this, they are difficult to change. Think about how hard some addictions are, especially those with a high emotional connection. This is why will power is the least successful method to break a habit. It is estimated that only about 12% of the mind is conscious and 88% is unconscious. Thus, imagine you have 12 solders as the conscious mind and 88 for the subconscious. All are equally trained and armed. Obviously the 12 will lose. (Unless one of the 12 is Chuck Norris, but that is a different discussion.) So, how does your brain get rid of what it does not need? Simple. The same way it came in. We take in information through our senses. Information that is not needed is sent out the same way, via sight, smell, taste, hearing and touch. Our mind releases this data in the third of the three phases of dreaming (future article). As the mind is dumping this data, we experience it as part of our dreams.
Now we come to the problem with magic: your subconscious mind?s programming overrides your conscious mind. It says ?No, that can?t happen?. If your subconscious is doing this, it doesn?t matter how long you chant, burn candles and call upon the deity you believe in. So, the first step to doing this is to bypass the Critical Factor. To do this, you must produce an altered state of conscious that will bypass the CF. Not all altered states of consciousness will do this. Some, such as those produced by drugs or sex, can actually be counterproductive if not used properly. This could actually do more harm than good. Meditation and hypnosis are two ways of doing this safely and effectively. This works great when trying to change something about ourselves, but what about something beyond ourselves? Well, that requires something different.
Deep in the subconscious mind are the memories of before we knew that we were separate. (Whether we really are separate, or whether that is just a limitation of our conscious mind is going to have to wait for another article.) This level is where we need to go to achieve those results. This is deeper than most people go when meditating. Deep hypnosis can get down to that point, but it is difficult to do alone. It is possible with great amounts of practice to get to that level by yourself, but most people of today do not have the patience or the drive to get to that point. So, we have ritual. Proper ritual is designed to take you into a deeper level than is normally possible. A really good ritual will take you there and you will never know it. It uses symbolism that you have set up in your subconscious to delve deeply into the subconscious mind and make changes at that deeper, connected level. But, some things still are not changeable at this level. For the biggest of changes, we must go further down.
Way back down to the primitive mind. Back to that connection to the source. It is here that you can communicate to the forces that shape reality. (Again, the nature of these forces are for another discussion.) To get down to this level requires something even deeper than symbols. It requires devotion. Therefore, most magical practices call upon a higher power. This is different from worship. You are communicating with another part of yourself. This level is beyond separation. It is accomplished through association with deities. Connecting to a deity at a deep level of ritual or trance is extremely powerful. Of course, you are like a germ trying to move the Empire State Building if you do it consciously. But, from this state, new vista?s are opened to you. Perhaps, you world view will change and you will not even need to change what you were trying to change before. Problem solved. Perhaps you will see how it is already changing simply by your connection. Or, if steps require it, that deeper force will know how to make the change.
There are so many other possibilities at this level than I could write about here. This is, after all, only an introduction. Hopefully it will give some new perspectives on magic and how it can be worked.
Just my humble research and opinions,