Recently there was a post on the Golden Dawn World Wide Forum concerning the importance of diet in a magician's path. Since this is a topic that seems to come up on a fairly regular basis (especially since we in the U.S. are finally starting to get on the health-kick) I thought I would re-post my reply to the gentleman here. My comments are based on my years spent as a yoga teacher and how I melded it with the energies surrounding magic and the beliefs of Rosicrucianism.
It is an eternal debate within spiritual circles, how do we treat the body? Should it be ignored as and all our intention on the spiritual realm, should we keep it strong as a way to help us maintain focus on our studies and practices, is the answer somewhere in between, or does it really not matter at all? After having studied a wide breadth of spiritual traditions around the world, what I have found is that the answer to this question solely depends upon the tradition and the focus of its practices.
In Kabbalah we use the Tree of Life as the map of the universe and as our guide on how to return to the Divine. If we study the correspondences on the Tree of Life we will find that Malkuth is associated with the Gu'ph or physical body and the material world. However, it is also associated with the Shekinah aka the presence of God. Our physical bodies act as the temple which houses our consciousness as well as that which expresses the presence of God within us. Here she continually strives to be connected to her bridegroom the Spirit so that it can be manifested in the world. Therefore in the Kabbalistic tradition, the body takes on an important role, however due to our need to overcome the physical realm when astrally projecting, traveling in the spirit vision or in spiritual goal of not being attached to those things which are not of the spirit, it is essential in the path of a magician learns to take on a special attitude about the body. It cannot be overly exulted through vanity or gluttony nor overly emaciated through intense fasting.
Although intense fasting is this is a tool used in many traditions, it has limited use in the nature of magic. Whereas in the internal traditions (Buddhism, Vedanta, Sufism, etc.) , fasting is key in purification and in overcoming the desires of the body so that one's consciousness can be solely focused on in meditation, breathing techniques, and sense-withdrawal this does not work for the magician. Magic is expressive rather than internal and the magician must be strong enough to deal with banishing forces in the Temple, controlling and directing one's Will and other energetic forces so maintaining a balanced and strong constitution is key. Keeping your body clean from impurities helps the energy to flow more freely as it allows that which reflects the Light within to be less weighed down, but making sure to keep your body strong and vital will help with things such as long skrying sessions, healing work, banishing rituals... essentially any work the magician seeks to do, as one is raising and maintaining power.
In comparison, using fasting from time to time can help when you are doing astral work or engaging in a Vigil as in those instances overcoming the pull of the physical body becomes either needed or symbolic. As a magician it is your goal to find what works best for you as we are all our own expression of the Divine. Magic is an art, and after the rubrics have been learned and mastered it is that aspect of being an Art which denotes that you must now take these rubrics to express the Work properly within you. What works for some does not always work for others, and having a cookie-cutter diet or practice is more like training wheels for someone who is learning to become more adept at knowing their body or spirit. However, Here are some suggestions that might help you on your magical journey.
1. Keep a food diary- write down what you ate, the quantity, and how it made you feel afterwards, also right down your energy level. In magic, energy is currency...so try to pinpoint what foods give you the most energy and which make you feel weighed down, lethargic, or ill. I guarantee there are many foods which may not be compatible with your body, but which you may not realize since we pay so little attention to our body in this culture, eating in front of the t.v., while talking, or working on a project.
2. Experiment with foods for ritual. For example if you are working with Mars eat some red meat before hand, Mercury- fish, doing a Vigil-fast, Jupiter- fruits and nuts. Look up correspondences in magical manuals or commune with angelic beings to figure out what will empower your magic the most.
3. Combine your diet with exercise. Purifying your body by adding heat helps to clean out the deeper energy channels. Don't exercise to exhaustion, this actually depletes the body of energy reserves and nutrients (remember energy is our currency and must be protected)...exercise until you feel as if you've just pushed past what you feel comfortable with then stop,this will build your endurance slowly overtime. (yes, that may mean over-coming the ego and not training "as hard" as others) When you are done exercising you should feel energized not depleted. Trust me, I was training for a triathlon for awhile and going into the Temple after you have wasted yourself at the gym does you no good.
4. Oil massage- this is something that I learned while studying Ayurveda and I still practice it, it's called abyanga. Its not magical and its not a part of the Golden Dawn..but I love it. Get some organic sesame oil or olive oil, cure it by heating it to 212 degrees, let it cool, then store in a glass, not plastic container. Massage your body focusing on your hands, feet, and scalp (I massage my scalp without oil) then take a hot shower...the oil helps to flush toxins out of the body and calm the vata dosha (air) which I have found is often out of balance in magicians... plus its a super relaxing way to start the day! I only take about five minutes to do it..but I really focus on how it feels and visualize the energy channels opening and the toxins leaving my body.