When non-magickal folk think of using mental techniques to become invisible the image that comes to mind is something similar to the old superhero “The Shadow” who used hypnosis/mesmerism ‘To cloud men’s minds’. In the Shadow’s latest film incarnation, in 1997, the villain who had the same training used this technique to make a whole building invisible to the population of an entire city!! Although this was fiction, this technique has some basis in fact. There have been hypnotic experiments where people in a trance have been told that one of the people with them isn’t there they can apparently ‘see’ right through them and describe items, and titles on bookshelves blocked by the supposed invisible person.
In most cases this effect can be explained by the persons’ mind filling in the details from when they saw the objects unobstructed before the experiment began. However, there have been instances where the object had been introduced while the person’s eyes were closed, or the subject was already in a trance when they walked into a room they had never been in before. This raises questions on perception that are under investigation by several branches of physical science and psychology at the present time.
In the first article we saw how colour and stillness could be used to blend into the background and become difficult to notice. The Ninja art of Saiminjutsu takes this a step further by using suggestion, in verbal and non-verbal forms, to cloud the perceptions. For example the Ninja would use items from their surroundings to break up the individual outline of their body and stop registering as ‘human’ when someone was looking in their direction. Instead the perceiver would see a tree, undergrowth, rocky hillside, or wave-swept beach, depending on the surroundings. This aspect of camouflage is called “In-Ton” and has roots in Tibetan magick, in addition to the Chinese and Japanese Five element esoteric systems.
Shinobi Aruki, or ‘Stealer in’ walking is one of the trademarks of the traditional Ninjutsu.. These skills came from Taijutsu, ‘body skill’, which was a way of integrating mind and body through action to move in an efficient and effective way. Both for combat and as an ability to move quickly, quietly, and unnoticed, which added to their mystique and legend. There were many ways of walking, depending on the terrain they had to cross, and the time in which to do it. One of the most famous was “Yoko Aruki” or sideways walking, literally travelling sideways by crossing and uncrossing the legs, placing the outside edge of the foot down first and rolling it across to the inside edge. Because of the area of the foot being used it is both quick and quiet.
Once attuned to the land most modern Pagans move much more quietly than their urban friends. In the past most country people would learn to move silently, particularly when hunting or fishing and these techniques have been passed down to the modern day in many traditional Craft groups. Some of the techniques use the same principles of the Ninja and both groups use ambient noise, be it the sounds of nature or human activity, to cloak any noise they may make. Both groups took advantage of the fact that we look/see forward, with only a limited amount of peripheral vision to either side so that what happens behind us is effectively invisible. Distractions in the form of noise, or movement just within peripheral vision were used to ‘manage the mind’ of the person they were used on, to making them look in a direction that left the practitioner of this technique free to move unseen using this massive ‘blind spot’.
Spying and disguise played a key part in Ninja tradition, whether they were working for a client, or just keeping abreast of any potential developments that would affect their lives as farmers and merchants. There was a brief historical time when the Ninja were a professional class in the employment of the Japanese military classes, but for most of the time they were mainly looking out for themselves. In the West many practitioners of magick and followers of Pagan paths were also involved in espionage, in their case mainly for the State. Two of the most famous are Dr John Dee, Queen Elizabeth the First’s spymaster, and the original holder of the official title of “007”, and Sir Francis Walsingham, who was also a member of the intelligence services in the same era.
In this context invisible becomes less about being noticed and more about managing your appearance, so that you become part of the environment or situation and people see what they want, or expect, to see. In eras that Pagans were particularly persecuted, the so-called “Burning Times”, they appeared to be ordinary members of the peasantry or appropriate social class. Many Pagans don’t realize that until well into the 19th century many of the ‘Landed Gentry’ were practicing Pagans- particularly in the less well-travelled areas of Europe and Britain. On the Continent the Inquisition were particularly motivated to discover people with lands and wealth practicing a non state-sanctioned religion as their goods and chattels were forfeit to the Church and State. A goodly portion of this going directly to the Inquisition itself to motivate them
In Japan similar feelings were held about the Ninja, both because of social attitudes and the aura of magick and mystique that surrounded them. The latter was built up a lot of the times by the practitioners of Ninjutsu themselves as a form of psychological warfare that would give them a mental ‘edge’ in any confrontation. However, it could be fatal if they were discovered – especially without protection from higher up the social hierarchy as most Ninjas came from the ‘commoner’ class. Indeed most were farmers or artisans with a few masterless Samurai who had fallen on hard times. So it was important to appear to be someone whose only skill was working the land, or an artisan.
By de-mystifying Saiminjutsu in this way we can see that both Ninja and Occidental Pagans used very similar techniques to achieve ‘invisibility’. Bypassing the critical sense of the people looking at, or for, them both could blend with their environment, or hide in plain sight. This worldview also enabled them to see through illusion to perceive the reality of the situation or circumstances they were in because of the self-development involved in learning these skills of manipulating situations and events. This is a skill well worth cultivating today for both these outcomes as self-created, and external illusions can affect your life in many negative ways. But effective use of mind-managements can add to your prestige and help you direct events to your advantage.