Visualization is one of the most important skills to master when it comes to magick, yet many have said that this is one of their greatest challenges. I hope to offer you a bit of help through my own insights here. Don't give up because you cannot do it as of yet. As with anything, practice, work and patience will get you there.
In Wicca, we use visualization to see the portals to the elemental realms, the elementals that stand at them, and the circle as it is cast around us. Witches use it in practically all magicks that we work. We visualize our desired goal, empower it with the energy we gather from the earth, the moon, the planets and stars, and direct it into a channel for it to manifest on the physical plane. Without skill at visualization, we'd have a hard time getting much of anything done. Visualization is essential to the proper working of the psychic senses. It's an essential skill for any witch or magician to know.
In our circle, we say "as above, so below." That statement has been used by magicians ever since the days of Hermes Trismegistus. Anything that you expect to have in the physical world, you have to see in your mind's eye first. Even in the most mundane of tasks, this is true. A builder doesn't just get a bunch of boards and nails and start hammering them together and expect to get a nice house out of it. She starts with a plan, a blueprint. Even an expert chef, who might not follow a recipe, can see in his head the end result of what he wants to make before mixing the ingredients. The point of visualization is to create something on the "above" so that it may manifest on the "below." Create it in the spiritual realm, the realm of possibility unmanifest, and the magick sets the wheels in motion so that it may manifest in the physical realm.
You can start developing your ability to visualize by working with known objects. To get good at visualization, you must first get good at paying attention to your own senses. If you aren't in tune with your senses in the below, how can they work well in the above? It's easy to get lost in one's own head, and to be so wrapped up in our thoughts that we don't pay attention to our bodies. The point of this exercise is to get you back in tune with your senses, to learn to work with them more effectively on a plane that you are familiar with - the physical plane, so that you can extend that familiarity to a less familiar plane - the astral plane.
This is a little group spell that I put together in which I invited everyone at my Yule party to participate. At Yule, we're so busy with gifts for one another, that we forget to ask for a gift for ourselves. It's a hectic time of year where we sometimes forget our own needs.
The purpose of this spell is to remember that we need to ask for things for ourselves, too, and know that we deserve success and happiness in our lives, and we make room to receive them. As I see Yule as the Pagan new year, I think it also appropriate at this time to focus on our dreams and goals for the upcoming year. So we carve them on candles, visualize our goals, light them, and know that they'll manifest in the future. It's a gift you, and the Gods, give to you. Enjoy it - you deserve it.
My partner, Onix, in the middle of his high school years, moved to a very rural area in the deep south where the value placed on education wasn't nearly as high he was accustomed to in his hometown of Long Beach, California (talk about culture shock). He told me that his principal, at their graduation, made the following remark which made Onix cringe. He said:
Perhaps what the principal should have said was, "This represents the end of your formal education." Then he might have been accurate. Ideally, the day you lay on your death-bed should be the day that represents the end of your education. Until then, you should be learning something new all of the time. The idealist in me loves, cherishes, and respects learning in all of its forms, whether formal training or teaching, learning by experimenting and exploring on my own, or gathering that often dreaded, often wonderful life experience that causes one to spontaneously develop in a new direction. Keep growing. Keep becoming.
I have always found it wise to make my magicks follow the path of least resistence. One of these is working with that which is in a proximity to you that you can most effectively control it. Closest to you, moreso than any other physical object in the Cosmos, is your body, your mind, your heart, your spirit. From there on out, more and more energy into the reach to achieve the goal is required. The more spiritually far from you the target is, the more focus one must dedicate to affecting it. This is why we use sympathetic links in magick - to bridge these distances. Still, if the energy needed to bridge distances is zero, then all of the energy can be poured into manifesting the change through the body-mind-spirit that we have right here.
When working magick to find a new job, for example, you can create a commanding and compelling spell to bewitch your potential employers into hiring you. However, I find that in doing so, you're setting yourself up for a sub-optimal situation. Why would you want to work in a place that otherwise wouldn't have hired you? And is this preventing you from being in the kind of working environment that will be truly fulfilling in your life? Are you setting yourself up to drudge away in a situation that you hate while not being in the situation that you love?
Yes, you could do all of that if you really wanted to... but me, I'd rather play straight for the big prizes. With magick, you can have your cake and eat it too. Working on others can set up situations which prevent you from being in the situation you really want. Wait for it - it will come.
The witches' ladder hangs on my patio, where I often sit to write, work, read, or let my thoughts wander. It sway and spins with the slightest breeze, yet the little charms at the bottom give it just enough weight that it stays in place. I like to lean back in my chair and get lost in the slow, hypnotic motions of the bright feathers, while meditating on the purpose for which I built it.
The witches' ladder is easy to make. Three pieces of yarn, braided together with nine feathers braided into the cord is the basic idea. I use red, black and white to represent the middle, lower, and higher souls, but any colors that contribute to your goal are great. I add some charms to the bottom of mine to add decor as well as to give it weight, and I tied nine knots with nine pieces of ribbon along the length of the cord.
When built with magical intent, it can draw something desirable into your life, whether it's something specific or general blessings. The constant, gentle twisting of the feathers collects those natural energies of the earth, continually sending and directing them toward your goal. For this reason, I consider witches' ladders to be excellent for long term magickal goals - the kind that may take months or years to manifest. I also consider them excellent for blessing magick, as amulets that protect or draw blessings to the space they inhabit.
I've got a great astral homestead set up. On it, I have a wardrobe of astral clothing, a workshop full of astral gadgets, a tool locker filled with astral tools, the astral lab filled with experiments, and, of course, the Astralnet, which is sort of like the internet. There are the astral temples, the sacred groves, and the hedge, beyond which the mysterious wildwood arounds. There is technology, logic, and creativity here. And there are faeries, lots of faeries.
When I create a talisman in this world, I travel to my astral workshop and forge its astral component. The astral labs and workshops are open 24/7/365, whenever, whereever I can get a quiet spot to get there. And, of course, the laws of reality are a lot more flexible there, so any crazy thing I want, I can make.
Putting it together might require a quest. Perhaps one of the components I determined my astral component to need for a talisman of cleverness was the feather of a very smart bird. I can wander through the astral landscapes to find such a bird from whom I can receive that feather. A little quest onto itself, one that bestows cleverness to the one who completes it, yields the treasure I need to create this item.
Some of the simplest techniques are often the most useful. Throughout my magical life, I have found pore breathing to be a straightfoward, simple, and extremely powerful way to pull elemental energy into myself and use it in a number of ways. I have used pore breathing as a way to balance and unbalance my elemental energies, either bringing myself into nice balanced alignment or going out to one extreme when I need a lot of one particular element for a situation or task at hand (and, of course, remembering to re-balance after the fact).
If you're new to pore breathing, I suggest doing a full body relaxation exercise before pore breathing, at least for the first few times. In doing this, you make your body a more open channel, relaxed so it can easily breath in, receive, and retain those energies that you will be pore-breathing in.
One of the well-known effects of working with the Craft is that the practitioner's psychic senses start to open up. Newer practitioners will often notice astral happenings - spirits, energy, psychic impressions and the like - with a greater frequency than ever before. Doing a spiritual cleansing bath is an excellent way to remove unwanted spiritual energy and keep entities and energies from unwantedly attaching to you. Just like we wash our hands before cooking and after using the restroom for good physical health, so do we wash our auras regularly for good spiritual health.
The spiritual cleansing bath removes unwanted energies and strengthens the aura. The salt creates a thin shield around the bather which acts as protection against spiritual energies - a flexible, yet effective shield. The earthing and grounding properties of the salt pull out unwanted spiritual energies while the water purifies and cleanses the energies that naturally belong around the human aura. What's left is a sparkly clean aura, strengthened, clarified and refreshed. I rarely feel so good as I do when I get out of a nice long spiritual cleansing bath.
I like to ponder the various channels through which I can make my magic manifest. There are many channels through which magic flows, all at once, bringing the goal into reality. Some work on the astral level, moving things around in the universe to open the roads and bring the opportunities. Magical also works through channels directed by the hand of the spell caster, relying on the effort and attention put forth to bring the goal into her reality. One such channel is the channel of perception, which in a way, is a fine-tuning of the psychic sensors.
An opportunity you don't see is an opportunity lost. Much of the success in one's goals, whether it's finding a job, a lover, for health or protection, relies on seeing and taking advantage of opportunities. If we don't see those power-ups further ahead on our journey, we can't use them to propel us to our destinations.
We are constantly inundated with information. In that sea of information, it can be hard to lose one's way. Through defining the goal and wishing for it, visualizing it, creating it over and over in your mind, your mind tunes to that psychic wavelength. Your perceptions start seeking it out.