A big problem for many budding magi is a faulty sense apperatus. It was a HUUUGE obsticle for me. So I started to think, and think, and think, about the senses and how we percieve.
We have our five physical senses: Taste, Touch, Smell, Hearing, Vision
And we have our Consciousness that we operate from.
OK, A warning. This is very stream of consciousness, and rough.
We get enviornmental input from our five senses, and they are processed in our consciousness. Now, we also have five sense consciousnesses. Those things we use when we dream. In dreams and daydreams we see, smell, taste, feel, and hear. We also use those same subtle senses when we deal in the astral, go into trance, otherwise try to communicate with the unseen. The sense consciousnesses are the playing field of the symbols we use in our magick.
I cannot remember what perception was like when slick from the womb, so I do not know if I came with sense consciousnesses already installed or they were built from sensory interaction with the enviornment.
Various traditions and authors have attatched elemental attributions to the senses (this is especially signifigant in the Tibetan Yoga of the Intermediate State aka The Yoga of Dying), i thought it would be a neat idea to do myself, and here is how things seem to go from my perspective.
Touch and Proprioception - Earth (What is more grounding than feeling?)
Taste - Water (To me it's self explanatory)
Sight - Fire (You cant see without Light)
Hearing - Air (Sound is vibrating air against the organs of the ear)
Smell - Somewhere between Air and Water (Plays a big role in taste, and you cannot smell without air)
I am not saying these attributions are objectively correct. I am saying this is how they make sense to me intuitively.
Why didn't I add Spirit or Akasha to one of the senses? Because to me the ability to process and apprehend them is what consciousness DOES. The Elements flow out of spirit, and the sense consciousnesses are different modes of perception. You can Perceive without them, but that is Direct Perception, and that is linked to Spirit/Consciousness in my view.
Now, you can actively use these sense consciousnesses, and you can passively use them. Consciousness in general is a two way street. Consciousness and Energy/Manifestation are linked. Two sides of the same thing. I've heard the Tibetan phraise, "Blind Horse, Lame Rider" to describe the situation (as well as others.. its a really deep statement)and I think the goal is to get to be a Centuar. One thing, two sides, all awesome. Where there is consciousness there is energy, where there is energy, there is consciousness.
The first way to start to hone your senses is to go out and first, physically sense things. Smell stuff, touch stuff, taste stuff, etc. Then go back into your meditiation space, temple, whatever, and recall those things. Every time you use your senses, you use your sense consciousnesses. Every. time.
The act of smelling something, is an active use of your physical senses, and a passive use of your sense consciousnesses. Recalling the smell of that rose, or cake, or wet dog is an active use.
Do that with all of your senses/sense consciousnesses.
Now you have a pretty honed imagination. That's good. You'll need that.
Those sense will aid you in the temple, in the street, and in the astral. Many times our intution works that way. I was never able to passively see auras and do all that wank when I was starting out. But I could always tell when someone "smelled bad". I could not follow the trail of someone's bodily light, but I could track their psychic smell so to speak.
And when speaking to a spirit, they exist however it is they exist, but you apprehend them through your sense consciousnesses for the most part, and whatever they are like is translated into a symbol set you can understand. Unless they are deliberately trying to mislead you, which happens.
The more you use them, the better you will get at it.
It's also an aid in meditation. Like that damn song that just wont leave your head.. past conversations.. the peppermint smell of your first girlfriend.. All happening in your sense consciousnesses. The more you work with them, the more you can control them, and quiet them. It's like getting control of a muscle that you haven't used in months because there's been a cast on it.
Eventually with enough knack from use, you'll be able to learn how to switch from the sense consciousnesses, to direct perception, which is a whole different trip.
For More Information see Franz Bardon's Initiation Into Hermetics. FB says it better, and trains you more thoroughly than I could.