Each sensual cue we add to magical processes geometrically improves the accuracy of spells and rituals. Many people don't understand why this happens, or how to use their senses more effectively in a spiritual setting. They relate the senses too strongly with the temporal world and can't seem to move beyond that barrier.
Think about how much reality is shaped by what you see. We often say, "seeing is believing." This indicates a strong tie between vision and faith: If we see something, we believe it is possible. How does this apply to magic?
Let's start with spellcraft. Look at the old spell, abracadabra. The ancients wrote it in the form of a slowly decreasing triangle and the word itself means "diminish like the word!"
Put these two visual cues--the shape and the meaning--together and you have very powerful sympathetic magic to help banish sickness or other problems.
How are visual components used in spells and rituals? We burn or bury symbolic objects so they literally disappear from our view as part of bindings and banishings. We make sure that the final condition of our components somehow relates to our material goals, like gently joining poppets together in a love spell or taping a torn heart back together to heal a broken heart. In all these spells, seeing the symbol taken away or transformed helps release the magic within us to direct our power more efficiently.
In ritual space, all the decorations are for our benefit, not the deity's. Anything that you can put around you that keeps your mind on the task at hand and your thoughts centered on Spirit can be considered a "good thing." And these items need not make sense to anyone but you, unless you're working in a group. When you work in tandem with others, it's important to remain sensitive to what visual cues the others respond to so you can all reach the same place together.
Simpler still is the visual cue we can create with our own bodies. When a priestess raises her arms, it helps guide the cone of power on its way. Some practitioners cast a circle using the pointer finger to channel energy, as opposed to a wand. Sitting on the ground at the end of a ritual helps us return to normal levels of awareness. These examples show how we can create physically meaningful postures from which we can see and feel the desired effect.
Visualization is a form of seeing that takes place in the theater of our minds. Here we create imagery to help attain a heightened level of awareness, integrate an idea or lesson, clarify something, improve perspectives, and the like. Your thoughts are very powerful and, while visualization might be considered a will-driven form of imagining, its potential for magic shouldn't be underestimated. Zolar, a metaphysical writer of some acclaim, once said that the power to make and change the mind lies within. Visualization helps with that process. The fact that you are "seeing" inside with your spiritual eyes instead of outside with physical ones doesn't change anything. Since the goal is to become the magic, visualization improves results, especially with psychic matters that require a keenly honed sense of inner vision.
Visualization has the additional benefit of releasing us from material constraints. When you can't come up with the best combination of tangible changes physically, with symbolic objects or acts, you can often create the right setting in your mind. Here, anything is possible. For example, a visualization aimed at personal liberation could take the form of seeing yourself floating or flying without any external aid. So, when circumstances don't allow a lot of external imagery, make what you need internally!
We refer to eyes as "the window of the soul." When we get creative about how we open this sensual window, it similarly opens the way for some marvelous, personalized magick.
Patricia ("Trish") Telesco is an eclectic folk witch and an initiated Strega, and the author of numerous spiritual self help books, including the popular "Goddess in my Pocket." Her current project is coordinating Goddess-centered tours to Hawaii and Italy/Crete. For more information, see her web page.