I want to reconnect with my inner self. I practiced magic and was led down a path for a few years that wasn't for me and there were some sketchy people involved. Long story short I was told that I was an incarnation for numerous beings, and there were so many things that didn't add up that I got lost and confused. I thought it was my best interest to stop until I had a better idea of who I was.I know I want to start learning and practicing again, but I want to do it authentically and in a way that is right for me. Any suggestions for how to connect with my inner spirit would be awesome!
Your goals can be met so very many ways. There are entire traditions dedicated to meeting one's true self. I do have some suggestions.
There are some beginner instructions which suggest going to a place where the practitioner is unlikely to meet someone they know, and just be a completely different person. Why? It breaks down barriers of the mask we present to the world as well as to ourselves. It also demonstrates the mind's ability to express thoughts, and take on a persona other than the usual, without changing who the inner self actually is.
Another suggestion is shadow work. This is somewhat more introspective in nature, though there are aspects which reflect on the external as well. There is a ton of information online, both in line with the practice as originally described, as well as some pretty far out-there ideas. The reality of shadow work is that it reveals hidden aspects of the self. Shadow, in this case, simply means that: Hidden. It does not mean the "dark" side of someone, their evil portions, or anything of the sort. It is a means of getting to the root of certain emotions and aspects of the personality. There are parts of shadow work which involve inner searching, analyzing, considering, and labeling. There are also external aspects, comparing others' behaviors to one's own, as well as gauging one's reaction to the behaviors of others.
Some people believe the Goetia each represent a different part of the Self, and the ritualized work to call upon them can be a means of self-hypnosis.
The list goes on and on.
I think something a lot of people never consider is that the Inner world is often reflected in the Outer world, not just spiritually, but emotionally. Doing magical workings for self-improvement can be helpful. But doing workings for external results can also be useful for self-discovery because one's action may very well display aspects of the true self. For example could be a hesitation to cast a certain type of spell, while deciding to change an aspect or do a different but related working for a similar result. These decisions can help decode one's deeply embedded sense of morals and ethics.
Again, this could go on for a very long time. The journey into the Self takes a lifetime. Enjoy the ride!
Shadow work is something I also recommend, and I also recommend "Shadow Magick" by Raven Digitalis. It is an excellent overview of shadow work from a balanced magical perspective i.e. one that incorporates energy and spirit work with Jungian psychology.
Also, ignore anything you have been told. The only measure/evidence you can be certain of is your own experience which is backed up with repeated information gained from within but also outside of yourself.
As for the Goetia being parts of the psyche, that is a notion which came from Aleister Crowley during an atheist phase and many modern magicians have ran with it. Although, ask the same magciians years after they write those opinions and have gained more experience and most of them will tell you there is more to it than that. I mention this as I don't think you should go messing with spirits for your own psychological issues and Self-discovery. unless you believe all spirits are part of the mind please don't assume these particular spirits are. The people who created the system didn't believe that, and most modern magicians who actually practice the system regularly do not believe that, or at least, believe there is more to it.
Astral work may help- you will find that the astral begins with the subconscious mind, and as you progress outside influences will enter. Experiences of the astral reside somewhere between genuine spiritual experience and projection of your inner Self. Exploring various realms of the astral can help you understand yourself quite profoundly if you use a good map such as the QabalisticTree of Life.
Another thing you may want to look into is Astrology, I like tropical astrology, others like Sidereal. I recommend Marion D March's "The Only Way to Learn Astrology" volume 1. Use this to analyse your own chart and you will begin to understand yourself, why you are here, and what you need to work on as well as what strengths you need to enhance. All in all, if you follow a path suited to you, your inner Self will flourish much more easily.
And my last recommendation is meditation. Meditation simply focusing on the breath is good. You may also want to work on mindfulness, and stripping away the layers of perception right back to the core of who you are- the being perceivingeverything and identifying with that instead of the perceptions themselves.
Honestly, you will not find your true Self by researching and doing nothing. The learning happens in the going, not before the journey begins.
Look for The secret of the golden flower, translantion by Richard Willhelm. Is free on net. Try google.
Meditation about three months on "Heaventy heart = cakra Ajna in yoga, zhen years meditation on "heart" = chakra Anahata. Until is not open. There is your inner self.. ´
Sometimes journaling can help. Start a notebook of things that inspire you. Write things down during the day like your thoughts and things you notice. Keep it close and write down what you remember from your dreams. It may help you to understand more of what you are searching for.