Monday, November 26, 2007

Anti-spiritual exercise


"St. Ignatius of Loyola certainly used the imagination in a magical fashion as preparation for personal prayer" - Gareth Knight "A history of white magic" (1978).


Ignatius De Loyola's fifth exercise is a meditation on Hell. It contains in it, after the Preparatory Prayer and two Preludes, five Points and one Colloquy. Here I omit the Preparatory Prayer, Preludes and Colloquy.

"First Point. The first Point will be to see with the sight of the imagination the great fires, and the souls as in bodies of fire.

Second Point. The second, to hear with the ears wailings, howlings, cries, blasphemies against Christ our Lord and against all His Saints.

Third Point. The third, to smell with the smell smoke, sulphur, dregs and putrid things.

Fourth Point. The fourth, to taste with the taste bitter things, like tears, sadness and the worm of conscience.

Fifth Point. The fifth, to touch with the touch; that is to say, how the fires touch and burn the souls."


In 'The Pleasure of Text', Roland Barthes wrote a text I've quoted a few times before in this blog: "The more decent, well-spoken, innocent and saccharine a story is told, the easier it is to invert it, the easier it is to blacken it, the easier it is to read it against the grain". The same goes for this part of De Loyola's exercises: they are easy to subvert, easy to use for unintended purposes. The fifth exercise can be used to find delight in imagining the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and textures of Hell - that is: for black magical purposes.

No comments: