It makes sense that the Grimm fairy tale Snow White has the evil queen gazing into a mirror. Were she to be speaking with a talking magical toad or working with a wisp of magical smoke the story would not carry the same effect.
Gazing into a mirror and being infatuated with ones self is the key to the story. It’s a very tempting and possibly ensnaring thing when we have the chance to become fascinated with aspects of ourselves.
It’s an effective tactic to reflect people back at themselves. By mirroring their attitudes and behaviors subtly back at them they tend to feel comfortable and complimented. A simple example of this might be showing an interest in fishing as they tell you about their last fishing trip. A more sophisticated example might be matching their tone and using similar vocabulary, matching their bodily stance and mimicking their smile and demeanor while interacting with them. The individual interprets both of these as a kind of compliment and a familiar impression is created often leading to trust.
I think the reason this is effective is because we are hard wired to be enamored with ourselves. In my opinion it’s a matter of self-preservation. An example of this might be how as parents we tend to find our children irresistible no matter how homely they may appear to others. In effect we are looking at little versions of ourselves and we are entranced at seeing our nose or our lovers eyes or a behavior we taught in the little human we just made. It makes caring for our young that much easier.
This tendency towards narcissism must remain in balance. When we pray or consult the gods, or seek wisdom from within or use any method of reaching for insight beyond our present capability we must be careful. It makes no difference who you pray to, it is easy to fall into a situation where you are unwittingly telling yourself the things you would like to hear. I have seen both the God fearing Christian and the well-meaning psychic leave reality and go wandering in their visions, playing in the mirror as it were.
In our martial art of Hoshin Budo we study and practice the healing and esoteric side of living and combat right along side the physical. It is easy to get swept away playing in front of the mirror as we have some neat experiences via meditation, or begin to grasp the potency of the Hoshin punch. Luckily we have the luxury of testing our work and our discoveries in front of each other’s fists. Delusion can be easily removed by tangling with an angry, dangerous adversary. We need to test ourselves every chance we get. If your footwork and guard cannot withstand a few rounds in the boxing ring it is safe to assume your esoteric studies lack real world grounding as well. If you cannot get out of the way of the uke’s training knife your precognitive abilities are not the only thing that need further development.
I don’t think you can fully have one without the other when it comes to the esoteric and the physical. We are physical beings with something not physical inside of us. Merging these two, and each of their capabilities, can be a road to realizing and actualizing the human experience.
There is a reason that the purely physical practitioners view the nonphysical with suspicion. And there is a reason the purely nonphysical or metaphysical practitioners won’t step into the “cage” or the “ring”. They are both missing the others’ half of the human equation.
In the same way we strive to maintain a state of mushin in our day-to-day experience we must also have no expectation as we explore the deeper parts of ourselves. Being open to the incoming attack without anticipation is not so different from exploring the chakras and elements, via meditation, without expectation. In both cases success is had when we allow what is happening to happen then move think and behave accordingly.
I’ve been finding mirrors interesting lately on many levels. Its no coincidence that Alice went “through the looking glass” to learn her lessons and have her adventures.