The development of spiritual abilities is probably some of the most sought after techniques in magical practice. Learning how to see, hear, and speak to spirits gives the magician an edge in their efforts. Some people of course are naturally gifted, but others have to work at it to become proficient.
Since my childhood I was unfortunate enough to be able to see spirits. Along with also being hag ridden as a child, which also caused horrible night terrors, I oftentimes had visions while praying. I assumed this was the case for everyone, until others informed me that when they prayed they just saw the insides of the their eyelids.
When I became a teen and started dabbling in magic, I started to get visited by spirits in my dreams. It wasn't until I was about twenty three when I finally started to focus on developing these skills. Most of my spiritual development took place during this time in my life, and these are some of the techniques that I believe aided in my development:
I had a fascination with psychism in my late teens and I learned about Zener Cards as a tool for psychic training and testing. Although largely "debunked" by the scientific community in their application, the focus on the simple symbols off the cards can greatly aide in building the imagination.
As for my own experimentation I would shuffle the deck, draw a card, without looking and place it face down in front of me. Then I would close my eyes and try to imagine what was on the card. If no image came to me I would place the card back in the deck without looking and shuffle the deck again. When I felt that I had a card that I could imagine, I would say allowed what I believed the image was then turn the card over. Eventually I was guessing 5 out of 7 draws correctly.
Donald Michael Kraig's Modern Magic was problem one the best practical magic sources that was readily available at the local bookstore 20 years ago. He had a lot of techniques that were largely based on the magic of the Golden Dawn, but there was one exercise that was an absolute gem: the scanning of the trump cards.
The exercise was simple: draw a tarot trump and scan the card slowly from left to right from top to bottom. With each scanned line you would briefly close your eyes and imagine the image you just scanned. The goal is to be able to imagine the whole card in your mind's eye.
First, I'd like to point out that this technique works best with a Rider Wait deck because the imagery and color scheme is rather bold and easier to visualize. Second, this practice will help you better connect to the tarot deck and will strengthen your intuition when performing divinations. Finally, give each card a few days of practice with this technique, focus on seeing the image clearly before moving on.
Once you have scanned the twenty two trumps you should try the technique offered above with the Zener cards. If you are a bit of scientist, you should try the technique a few times before scanning the cards, then compare your results when you attempt again after you complete the scanning exercise.
The act of gazing into an object to gain occult information from the object is an invaluable technique. Some people will take to this practice quite intuitively while others may struggle to get it. This becomes confusing for many as there is a litany of preferred materials for this technique that include: black mirrors, oxidized silver, a drop of ink, crystals, and more.
A simple way to start working without investing in materials is to start with a crystal or gemstone. Quartz is generally inexpensive and you will only need a small piece. The clarity of the quartz crystal is up to you, but inclusions do not prohibit the ability to scry, in fact, inclusions can enhance the stone.
Once you have selected your small piece of quartz crystal your first act will be to talk to the crystal. Tell the crystal that you want it to aide you in your ability to scry. Carry the crystal in your pocket day and night, and be sure to sleep with it under your pillow.
After a couple of weeks of "bonding" with the crystal sit down quietly in a dark room. Light candle and hold the crystal in your hand. Try to let the candle catch some candle light. Softly gaze into the crystal, it's okay to blink, and allow your mind to empty into the crystal. Pay attention to images that may appear in your mind and be sure to record them. As you improve you will be able to direct your visions to the subjects that interest you.
These are just a handful of techniques to help you get started in your psychic development. It's not a fast process and at times can be disheartening and boring. However, persistence at it can opens worlds of possibilities that may not have been previously available to you. The power of a trained imagination is something all magicians should strive for.