The Worldview Driving Visualization

By: Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. John Weldon; ©2012
Because the practice of visualization can be adapted to almost any philosophy and uniquely colored by it, there is no well-defined worldview we could present that would be comprehensive. But if we restrict our discussion to popular and occult visualization, we can see a broad outline emerging.


The Worldview Driving Visualization

Because the practice of visualization can be adapted to almost any philosophy and uniquely colored by it, there is no well-defined worldview we could present that would be comprehensive. But if we restrict our discussion to popular and occult visualization, recognizing the potential for cross-fertilization into other types, we can see a broad outline emerging. Some principal components include the following:

  • Pantheism or monism: Everything is interconnected by divine energy, the One power, or ultimate cosmic reality.
  • Man is divine in his true nature and controls his personal destiny; he is an integral part of this divine energy and can realize this experientially through proper technique and instruction.
  • The mind of man has “infinite” potential; the “higher self” or unconscious mind provides the connecting link to the infinite and is believed to be the repository of vast wisdom and ability.
  • Visualization is an important technique that initiates contact with the ultimate cosmic reality.

For example, Andrew Wiehl writes in his Creative Visualization, “In all the Universe there is but one power, the power within yourself.”[1] Shakti Gawain claims that we are linked to “divine omnipresence and omnipotence,” and that our “higher self” is “the God-like being who dwells within you.”[2] Because of this, “There is no separation between us and God,” in that we are “divine expressions” of God, the creative principle.[3] Thus, “Imagination… empowers [us] to tap the endless and unborn potentials of universal mind.”[4] And, “Visualization allows a person to travel into the mind to a space where the possibilities of matter, time and space are unlimited.”[5]

Thus, when used in an occult program, visualization techniques become powerful instruments for securing New Age goals:

At a practical level, visualization has an uncanny ability to improve the quality of our lives. It does this through its power to heal the body and spirit, to reconstruct the past and to reveal our hidden truths…. The most dramatic visualizations touch the deepest part of ourselves—our essence, our core, and allow us to experience connections beyond ourselves, what some describe as cosmic consciousness.[6]

Indeed, the visualization process itself may alter a person’s worldview. Dr. Mike Samuels discusses the mechanics of the process and the implications:

When a person consciously visualizes he gains the ability to hold his mind on one object, to concentrate. This one-pointedness of mind is a state [of meditation] that has special properties: alertness, clarity of thought, identification with the object, and a feeling of participation in the visualization.

The feeling of identification-participation causes the person to be less involved with himself as an entity separate from the world around him. He goes beyond the boundaries, the limitations of his physical body, beyond the awareness of his personality….

Time and space disappear…. A person who has the experience feels that it unites him with the universe. He feels he is a part of creation rather than an observer of it…. This purity of vision… is associated with tremendous energy surrounding both the visualizer and the image, and the unity of the two. Such energy cannot help but affect the world around it.[7]

The “worldview” of visualization just discussed is obviously not Christian. The Bible denies that man is potentially one essence with God, the universe, or cosmic reality, because it declares that only God has inherent eternality—for He “alone is immortal” (1 Tim. 6:16), and only He is an infinite being. Furthermore, this one and only God (John 17:3), who existed from eternity (Psa. 90:2), created from nothing. God did not emanate something of Himself in the process of creation so that everything in creation is part of God. To the contrary, as the following biblical verses declare, God created the universe merely by speaking it into existence: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1), and “the universe was formed at God’s command” (Heb. 11:3). “By the word of the LORD were the heavens made…. For he spoke and it came to be” (Psa. 33:6, 9).

Man cannot be one essence with God or a god because “You alone are God” (Isa. 37:16), and, “Did not one God create us?” (Mal. 2:10). “You alone are the Lord. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you” (Neh. 9:6). Deuteronomy 4:32 refers to “the day God created man on the earth,” and Deuteronomy 4:35 declares, “You were shown these things so that you might know that the LORD is God; besides him there is no other.”

We are not a part of God, nor does our mind have the “infinite” powers attributed to it by visualization philosophy. Neither is our mind a source of true spiritual wisdom, apart from spiritual regeneration or rebirth (Mark 7:20-23; Prov. 28:26; Jer. 17:9; James 3:14-17). Visualization has no power to initiate contact with God or knowledge of Him. Biblically, those who wish to know the one true God personally must come to him by faith through the true Jesus Christ (John 17:2-3; Col. 1:15-20; 2:9; 1 Pet. 2:24; Heb. 11:6).

People cannot know God by trusting in their own inner vision, a spirit guide masquerading as a false Christ, or by an alleged mystical union with some abstract impersonal concept of the divine. The Scripture declares, “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” (John 17:3). “We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, ‘I know him,’ but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:3-4). “We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true—even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life” (1 John 5:20).

The Occult

Coauthor Weldon became interested in evaluating visualization a number of years ago while examining the latest semi-divine trends at a local metaphysical bookshop. A large, bright, yellow text with a colorful caduceus had caught his eye: The Well Body Book,[8] which was a New Age health home medical handbook. (It was right next to The Well Cat Book and The Well Dog Book.)

He began thumbing through the book and noticed that it stressed visualization exercises. In fact, the ability to visualize was said to be necessary “for understanding many parts of the book.”[9] In the acknowledgments, author Mike Samuels, M.D., gave thanks to “Rolling Thunder,” a well-known Native American shaman, “who taught me about healing,” and to “Braxius, my imaginary doctor.” However, “Braxius,” it turns out, is Samuels’ personal spirit guide and, quite obviously, not imaginary. The story of their meeting is found in Samuels’ book Spirit Guides: Access to Inner Worlds,[10] a text for utilizing visualization techniques to encounter spirits. (We relate this story in our Knowing the Facts About the New Age Movement, eBook.)

To date, The Well Body Book and Spirit Guides: Access to Inner Worlds have sold over a half-million copies. The authors have received a “large number” of letters “from readers who have begun to use spirit guides in their [own] lives.”[11] Visualization was the basic method used to contact the spirit world, and this is why the relationship between visualization and the occult is our greatest concern. If visualization can lead to spirit contact, it should concern everyone. As we will later document, the spirits themselves often recommend visualization practices as important components for securing occult goals, including spirit contact.

In the following material we will examine the occult potential of visualization by showing:

1) visualization can develop psychic abilities

2) the use of visualization in occult ritual

3) the relationship between visualization and spiritism.

Psychic Development

Visualization is often used to develop psychic powers. This fact is recognized by numerous experts in both the occult and visualization. For example, “The capacity to utilize visual imagination is a regular part of the training for psychics and healers in the Philippine spiritist churches.”[12] And lifelong occultist J. H. Brennan acknowledges the importance of successful visualization for contacting the astral realm where spirits dwell.[13] As a leader in modern visualization observes, “People who have experienced astral travel say they do so by visualizing themselves separating from their physical body, then floating away from it.”[14]

Parapsychologist Milan Rzyl states that “the ability to visualize sharply is central to good psychic performance.”[15] And psychic Jack Schwarz utilizes visualization and creative imagery in a meditative context to develop and use his psychic powers.[16] Mike and Nancy Samuels write, “The receptive visualization state is a state in which a person can receive extrasensory perceptions of another person’s mind (telepathy), of objects or events (clairvoyance), of future events (precognition), and of psychic diagnosis.”[17]

Occult Ritual

Occult magician David Conway devotes an entire chapter, “Visualization and the Training of a Magician,” to the importance of visualization for magic ritual in his Magic: An Occult Primer:

… The technique of visualization is something you will gradually master, and indeed must master if you are to make any progress in magic…. It is our only means of affecting the etheric atmosphere. It enables us to build our own thought forms, contact those already in existence and channel elemental energy we need down onto the physical plane.[18]


Conway also provides an example of a visualization practice used during magic ritual whose goal is to “produce, in reality, the spirit, god, or demon imagined through ritual.” No one knowledgeable in occult ritual has any doubt about the dangers here, least of all Conway.[19] Visualization at this point becomes an integral component fostering spirit possession:

… The adept imagines that the god-form or the most congenial of the planetary or sefirothic forms is materializing behind his back. He visualizes this in as much detail as possible. Slowly, as the altar candles flicker, he will sense with a sureness which precludes all doubt that the visualized form is in fact towering inside the circle behind him. On no account must he turn his head to look at whatever is there; any temptation to do so must be sternly resisted: the form may be unbearably hideous or else possess a beauty that may literally be fatal.

In the meantime, the adept should endeavor to continue his mantra, although by now his heart will no doubt be beating furiously. Whatever else happens he must not move, even when he senses that the form is so close as to be almost touching him Above all he must not panic [!] but should comfort himself with the thought that he is safe enough provided he stays where he is.

At last—and he will certainly know when—the god-form will take control of him. To begin with, the adept will feel an exquisite giddiness somewhere at the base of his skull and quickly convulsing the whole of his body. As this happens, and while the power is surging into him, he forces himself to visualize the thing he wants his magic to accomplish, and wills its success. He must put all he has into this [effort] and, like our friends the Bacchantes, must whip himself into a veritable frenzy.

It is at this point that the force evoked will be expelled to realize the ritual intention. As he feels the force overflowing inside him the adept, while still visualizing the realized magical intention, bids it go forth to fulfill his wishes.[20]

In magic ritual we see the full power of visualization: directed imagery, meditation, force of will, and certainly(!), faith. What many do not realize is that although visualization can be used deliberately in magic ritual for spirit contact and spirit possession, the very same things can be encountered in normal visualization practice or even through purely make-believe fantasy rituals.


  1. Andrew Wiehl, Creative Visualization (St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn, 1958), p. 81.
  2. Shakti Gawain, Creative Visualization (Mill Valley, CA: Whatever Publishing, Inc., 1983), pp. 55,81.
  3. Ibid., p. 149.
  4. R. Eugene Nichols, The Science of Mental Cybernetics: How to Lead a High-Voltage Life (NY: Warner Paperback, 1975), p. 126.
  5. Mike Samuels, M.D., Nancy Samuels, Seeing With the Mind’s Eye: The History, Techniques and Uses of Visualization (NY: Bookworks/Random House, 1983), p. 279.
  6. Adelaide Bry, Visualization: Directing the Movies of Your Mind (NY: Barnes & Noble Books, 1979), p. 14.
  7. Samuels and Samuels, Seeing With the Mind’s Eye, pp. 65-66; cf. Herbert A. Otto, James W. Knight, eds., Dimensions in Wholistic Healing: New Frontiers in the Treatment of the Whole Person (Chicago, IL: Nelson-Hall, 1979), p. 100.
  8. Mike Samuels, Hal Bennett, The Well Body Book (NY: Bookworks/Random House, 1982).
  9. Ibid., p. 5.
  10. Mike Samuels, M.D., Hal Bennett, Spirit Guides: Access to Inner Worlds (NY: Random House, Inc., 1974).
  11. Ibid., pp. 27, 55.
  12. Alfred Stelter, Psi-Healing (NY: Bantam, 1976), p. 41.
  13. J. H. Brennan, Astral Doorways (NY: Samuel Weiser, 1972), pp. 11-17.
  14. Samuels and Samuels, Seeing With the Mind’s Eye, p. 282.
  15. Ibid., p. 274.
  16. Jack Schwarz, Voluntary Controls (NY: E. P. Dutton, 1978), pp. xiii, 77, 95-101.
  17. Samuels and Samuels, Seeing With the Mind’s Eye, p. 270.
  18. David Conway, Magic: An Occult Primer (NY: Bantam, 1973), p. 59.
  19. Ibid., pp. 180, 196-201.
  20. Ibid., pp. 130-31; cf. H. V. Guenther and Chogyam Trungpa, The Dawn of Tantra (Boston, MA: Shambhala, 1975), p. 52.

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