A Brief Look at Guided Meditation
Guided meditations, or pathworkings as they are sometimes called, aren't a new technique; some claim they were used in very ancient cultures. However, they have increased in popularity since the 1980's when a certain occultist by the name of Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki published a book on the subject. The book was entitled The Shining Paths, which comprised a collection of pathworkings based on the Cabbalistic Tree of Life. The term 'pathworking' is actually one word, but can be understood more easily if we consider it as two separate words - 'path' and 'working'. A 'working' is a term used within some pagan traditions to describe the act of casting a spell or conducting a magical undertaking, and the word 'path' in this context means a journey or process using the power of the imagination.
When we participate in a meditation of this sort the narrator takes us on a verbally guided tour that tries to engage the use of our senses, such as touch, sight, taste, hearing, and smell. In this way the listener can use his or her imagination to the fullest, which means that the power of the listener's mind is able to generate powerful magical energy. A guided meditation is also sometimes described as 'active imagination', 'thought building', and even fantasy role-play. What exactly does it involve?
The technique is often comprised of four elements: a descent, a journey, an encounter, and a return to one's starting point. The descent, for instance, might consist of going down a series of steps and making your way along some kind of path to a particular destination. Eventually you'll meet a figure there that might represent a deity or perhaps an archetypal being. Sometimes the narrator might pause at this point to allow the listener to construct his or her version of the story. As the meditation draws to a close the listener is guided back to the starting point.
If the purpose of all this is to create magical energy, then what is this energy used for? The short answer is a guided meditation can be used for a variety of purposes, one of which in Nature-based paganism, is to attune the listener to the seasonal changes of the Wheel of the Year. Because we are all part of the Natural World our spiritual connection to Nature is reinforced when we learn to harmonise ourselves with its ever-changing energies, rather than merely celebrating them in the rather superficial way that many individuals might celebrate Christmas in our modern secular society.