The theurgical practice called τελεστικὴ (telestikê) is a means of ἐμψύχωσις, ensoulment or “animation,” of a sacred image (ἄγαλμα), such as a statue. It is accomplished by placing in or on the image appropriate sunthêmata, including stones, plants, animals, scents, and figures. These material sunthêmata are supplemented by immaterial sunthêmata, such as invocations, chants, and prayers intended to “persuade” the god or daimôn to descend into the image.
Of course, as Iamblichus explains (De myst. 47, 6), theurgy does not compel a deity or daimôn; rather it prepares a suitable δοχή (receptacle or receiver). This is like preparing an object to better reflect a particular color of light; a golden object does not “compel” yellow light to appear, but it allows the presence of the yellow in white light to become manifest. Similarly, although the archetype is ever present, it is not normally manifest to consciousness. Therefore appropriate sunthêmata (i.e., symbols linked to a complex or archetype) invite projection of the daimôn or god onto the image, which becomes numinous. In this way, the theurgist is in a conscious archetypal relation with the divinity, and the image becomes a medium for interaction, that is, for exploring specific archetypes and complexes residing in the unconscious.(continue to next page)