"Just as an individual may possess exceptional mental or physical abilities, so too may they develop spiritual abilities." Professor Chua was the color of tea, from the dark limpid pools of her eyes to the faded brown-gray fingertips, from the tight steel-gray bun of hair on her head down to the sandel-clad feet with their long nails. Her stout, maternal frame was draped in a dress of milky brown raw silk that swished slightly as she walked. "Or perhaps we should call these philosophical abilities, as they do not always extend to theological applications. In any event, as with Olympic level athletes, practitioners at the highest level of ability are specialized by the narrowness of focus. A bodybuilder is not built like a marathon runner; a linguist need not be a chessmaster. So it is likewise with adepts. Before you realize your potential, you must determine your potentialities."
Practical Metaphysics the marker scrawled on the board. Students were scattershot in the mostly empty room, bored and impatient and enthralled in turn. The institutional red brick, wooden floors, and heavy tables gave it the air of an old chemistry lab, abandoned by the sciences for riper hunting grounds.
"Before we begin this preliminary exercise, I would like to remind all of you that whatever your particular spiritual talents, all of them can be improved, with study and training. This is not a matter of whether one has a gift, but whether one chooses to develop and hone their own spiritual strengths."
It was a guided meditation. No trances, no occult verbiage. Her smooth tone walked them through the first steps to crafting a sigil, had them trace and retrace it in their minds eye, and finally with pen and ink on notecards.
"The sigil, is a core element of this semester's project. Do not discard it. This is a symbol of self, which you will charge with meaning; for some purposes, it will be you. As you learn to manipulate it, to work it through its variations, you will also make alterations to yourself. The external transformation will be mirrored by internal transformation. This project is one of becoming. You will take out of this class exactly what you put into it."
She pursed her lips and looked out at the handful of young men and women. "And if you are diligent and fortunate, you will survive the examination."