A thought-form is a mental image created by the mind. It is given substance within the etheric astral material and is animated by the indwelling consciousness of whatever is invoked within it. This is the metaphysical basis of the magickal servant or witches' familiar. Basically, thought-forms are built up by a combination of raised energy from the physical body and mental images from the mind (concentration/visualization).
Each entity is created from the thought. Every thought is said to generate vibrations in the aura's mental body, which assume a floating form and colours depending on the nature and intensity of the thought. These thought-forms are usually seen by Clairvoyants; and may be intuitively sensed by others.
Theosophists and Clairvoyants Annie Besant and C. W. Leadbeater placed thought-forms in three classifications:
Thoughts which are of a low nature, such as anger, hate, lust, greed, and so on, create thought-forms which are dense in color and form. Thought of a more spiritual nature tend to generate forms possessing a greater purity, clarity, and refinement.
Through the creation of thought-forms, a person can transmit influences, establish temporary protection around a place, object, or person, and generally create a useful servant on the mental or astral plane (the spheres of influence).
Thought-forms can be directed toward anyone, but to be effective they must latch onto a similar vibration in the other person's aura. If they are unable to do so, they can boomerang back on the sender. Thus, working according to the occult theory, one who directs evil toward another runs the risk of having it return.
The thought-form must be routinely fed energy in order to continue its existence in the early stages of its creation. According to occult beliefs, the danger here is that if the form does not receive energy from its creator then it may draw it from another source on the planes. This is undesirable because it may become possessed by a consciousness dwelling on the planes (or an earth-bound spirit) or it may become a type of Incubus or Succubus. In the latter case it will draw energy from its creator and may cause severe fatigue or even illness.
Therefore, when a thought-form is created it should be performed in a manner that will determine the length of its existence and the method of its termination.
Thought-forms, in Magick, are also called "artificial elementals," which are created through ritual involving intense concentration, repetition, and visualization (see EGRIGOR). They can be directed toward individuals to protect or heal, or to harm. Also, thought-forms can be created to perform low-level tasks and errands.
Other thought-forms can occur spontaneously, for example, "Group Minds" that emerge whenever a group of people concentrate on the same thought, ideas, or goals, such as a team of employees or a crowd of demonstrators. To a certain extent the group-mind possesses the group, such is seen in psychic bonding and power that coalesces in crowds, and in the synergy of a close-knit working group. Usually when the group disbands the power of the group-mind dissipates too.
the image of the thinker (see BILOCATION);
an image of a material object associated with the thought; and
an independent image expressing the inherent qualities of the thought.
One of the major problems with 'defining' Paganism and/or its beliefs and practices is that it is an 'organic' movement, in that it is undergoing constant change and re-evaluation from within, and as such any 'one-size-fits-all' approach to understanding Paganism will be found wanting.
Due to the very 'organic' nature of Paganism, and the many differing Paths and Traditions within it, in many cases no one definition may be universally accepted by all Pagans. Therefore, where such cases of possible conflicting and/or contradictory meanings of certain terms occur I have endevoured to give not only the generally accepted meaning, but also any major 'variations' in belief and/or practice.
Christians who believe this difference in meaning of certain key terms, beliefs and practices to be unique to Paganism need to remember that such conflicts also arise within the Body of Christ - the Church. Take for instance the differing practices amongst Christians concerning Baptism and the different attitudes towards women in the clergy.
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