© 2007, 2008
copyright Jonathan Zap, Harald Kleeman photo copyright Jonathan Zap
Jonathan’s First Entry:
I have long wanted to engage in dialogue (or trialogue or quadrilogue) with people schooled in the principles of Magik on some basic principles and applications of the art and science of manifestation. As you know, Crowley’s primer book on Magick, Magick without Tears, took the form of letters to a particular student, so it was a kind of monologue/dialogue where he responds and reiterates questions and issues, but the other side of the conversation is silent. In this new Aeon we won’t be so patriarchal, and I propose opening the dialogue to three others I have in mind (Tyler Bennett, Freddy Abrams and Rob Brezsny if any of them cares to participate) so that we can have a more diverse range of perspectives and consider what some of my other white male friends have to say about Magick.
This opening entry will be a bit free form, its purpose is not to deliver any finished ideas I have on the subject, but to present intuitions and questions I have and to get the whole Magickal orb rolling so to speak. I have some techniques I have developed, but I don’t have a series of glowing, self-congratulatory anecdotes about how well my techniques have worked. If I did, it should only serve to heighten skepticism because so many who inflate and oversell their techniques ( The Secret, etc) always pile on the self-congratulatory anecdotes with the manic superfluity of a trailer park sociopathic meth-head pathological liar who can work into the first five minutes of any conversation that he is an ex-Navy Seal, has a seventh degree black belt and is doing classified work for the government he can’t talk about. And of course this type of inflated loser is particularly annoying to those of us who really are ex-Navy Seals with seventh degree black belts doing classified government work and who understand the strategy of stealth and need-to-know so that we never advertise any of those things, but at most imply them with ever so clever obliqueness while running quirky websites as a form of cover. And those of us gifted with in your face grandiosity, not the inflated delusions of grandeur, but the real thing (authentic grandeur), are, of course, the best able to understand the best known heavy weight in the area of Magickal inquiries, the one, the only, from Warwickshire, England, ladies and gentlemen, in the black silk wizard’s robe with the embossed red silk pentacle, let’s hear it for Aleister “the Beast” Crowley, and in his own private corner wearing the baggy black nylon sweat suit from the Bronx, New York, inquiring into the Crowley principles, seventh degree black belt ex-Navy Seal taking time off from classified government work to engage in Magickal Multilogue, your humble narrator, who is discovering, almost against his will, that the whole Magickal morphogenetic field is incredibly contaminated with narcissistic inflation and grandiosity such that I can feel it starting to take feverish manic possession already, such that if I don’t start to put the brakes on it really soon I can feel myself getting sucked into the path of adolescent Crowleyite obsessive playing Led Zeppelin records backwards and discovering myself to be the Anti Christ and such that even though that is a rather played out cliché, even so it is still so dangerous that if I open myself to it at all, if I once put my fingers on that well-oiled planchette, then it will only be a matter of time before I start to slide into the dark undertow of Crowleyite obsessiveness. Such a moment of classically seductive Crowley synchronicity already happened a few years ago when I was reading Israel Regardie’s Crowley Biography, The Eye in the Triangle, with an introduction by Robert Anton Wilson (in which R.A.W. disses Ken Wilber and those who take him seriously) and as I read The Eye in the Triangle I could feel, could feel a synchronicity approaching, a synchronicity approaching that would confirm my Magickal sense of self-importance. I could feel the synchronicity approach like a great ring of power glittering and tumbling in slow motion in the night of time, approaching me, ready to fall on the imaginary stone flagon steps at my feet with that distinctive metallic clinking sound that only metal rings of power impervious to anything but the fires in the Cracks of Doom can make when they hit a flat, stone surface as I neared the end of the book. But then it was the last chapter, and I feared deflationary anti-climax, feared that the sense of impending Crowley synchronicity would Y2K on me, would leave me with Magickal egg on my face, would reveal me as some sort of pathetic narcissist. The fear of Y2K deflationary anticlimax only intensified as I was almost done with the last chapter, only a very few pages to go and then, kazaam!, the Crowley synchronicity exploded in my face in a shower of sparks and magickal glyphs and I read that Crowley was cremated on December 5th, 1947 and I was born exactly a decade after on December 5th, 1957, which meant, of course, that I was the Beast Reborn, Crowley Reincarnate in the New Aeon ready to finish the Beast’s Great Work! At least this is what I would have thought if it weren’t for reading Jung (not to mention my classified Navy Seal Psy-Ops training) which of course forewarned me about the possibility of archetypal obsession and inflation and the seductive Crowleyite synchronicites ready to waylay anyone on a path of Magickal inquiry.
And I have also seen that when I have focused my Magickal intentions on manifesting something, one of those lesser rings of power like my Nikon D200, the manifested object seemed to arrive with a sulfurous aura, dark synchronicities attached to it suggestive of the Faustian bargain, and so my Magick is not without tears, and I am still perplexed about how I should be going about it that would improve the manifestation to tears ratio.
But before I get into my own intuitions and questions about Magik I want to give the Beast his due. I am not widely read in Crowley, but I did reread most of Magik Without Tears, and using my own truth sense as filter, and Crowley does need to be filtered, I have come up with a couple of pages of essential Crowley thoughts and principles of Magik that seem to have a gilt-edged precision to them, the jewels of Crowley’s genius and his superlative capacity for conceptual penetration and linguistic accuracy. Here they are (page numbers from MWT follow most quotes):
From Magik Without Tears
All life is conflict. Every breath you draw represents a victory in the struggle of the whole Universe. 5
The moment you have understood these thoughts for what they are, tools of the enemy, invented by him with the idea of preventing you from undertaking the Great Work—the moment you dismiss all such considerations firmly and decisively, and say: “What must I do?” and having discovered that, set to work to do it, allowing of no interruption, you will find that living peace which…is a dynamic and not a static condition.
…your Qabalah is not my Qabalah: a good many of the things which I have noted may be useful to you, you must construct your own system so that it is a living weapon in your hand. 14
AL, I: 44 condenses the whole magical technique. It makes clear—when you have understood it—the secret of success in the Great Work. Of course at first it appears a paradox. You must have an aim, and one aim only: yet on no account must you want to achieve it!!! 20
The main point seems to be that in aspiring to Power one is limited by the True Will. If you use force, violating your own nature either from lack of understanding or from petulant whim, one is merely wasting energy; things go back to normal as soon as the stress is removed. 20
No, there is this factor in all success: self-confidence. If we analyze this, we find that it means that one is aware that all one’s mental and physical faculties are working harmoniously. The deadliest and subtlest enemy of that feeling is anxiety about the result; the finest gauze of doubt is enough to dim one’s vision, to throw the entire field out of focus. Hence, even to be aware that there is a result in prospect must militate against that serenity of spirit which is the essence of self-confidence. 20
I Magik is the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will. 27
II. Postulate ANY required Change may be effected by the application of the proper kind and degree of Force in the proper manner through the proper medium to the proper object. 28
1. Every intentional act is a Magical Act.
2. Every successful act has conformed to the postulate.
3. Every failure proves that one or more requirements of the postulate have not been fulfilled.
4. The first requisite of causing any change is thorough qualitative and quantitative understanding of the conditions. (Illustration: The most common cause of failure in life is ignorance of one’s own True Will, or of the means by which to fulfill that Will…he may really be a painter, and yet fail to understand and to measure the difficulties peculiar to that career.)
5. The second requisite of causing any change is the practical ability to set in right motion the necessary forces.
6. “Every man and every woman is a star.” That is to say, every human being is intrinsically an independent individual with his own proper character and proper motion.
7. Every man and every woman has a course, depending partly on the self, and partly on the environment which is natural and necessary for each. Anyone who is forced from his own course, either through not understanding himself, or through external opposition, comes into conflict with the order of the Universe, and suffers accordingly.
8. A man whose conscious will is at odds with his True Will is wasting his strength. He cannot hope to influence his environment efficiently.
9. A man who is doing his True Will has the inertia of the Universe to assist him.
10. Nature is a continuous phenomenon, though we do not know in all cases how things are connected.
11. Science enables us to take advantage of the continuity of Nature by the empirical application of certain principles whose interplay involves different orders of idea, connected with each other in a way beyond our present comprehension.
12. Man is ignorant of the nature of his own being and powers. Even his idea of his limitations is based on experience of the past, and every step in his progress extends his empire. There is, therefore, no reason to assign theoretical limits to what he may be, or to what he may do.
The question of Magik is a question of discovering and employing hitherto unknown forces in nature. We know that they exist, we cannot doubt the possibility of mental or physical instruments capable of bringing us in relation to them.
13. Every man is more or less aware that his individuality comprises several orders of existence, even when he maintains that his subtler principles are merely symptomatic of the changes in his gross vehicle. A similar order may be assumed to extend throughout nature.
14. Man is capable of being, and using, anything which he perceives; for everything that he perceives is in a certain sense a part of his being. He may thus subjugate the whole Universe of which he is conscious to his individual Will.
15. Every force in the Universe is capable of being transformed into any other kind of force by using suitable means. There is thus an inexhaustible supply of any particular kind of force that we may need.
16. The application of any given force affects all the orders of being which exist in the object to which it is applied, whichever of those orders is directly affected.
17. A man may learn to use any force so as to serve any purpose, by taking advantage of the above theorems.
18. He may attract to himself any force of the Universe by making himself a fit receptacle for it, establishing a connection with it, and arranging conditions so that it’s nature compels it to flow toward him.
19. Man’s sense of himself as separate from, and opposed to, the Universe is a bar to his conducting its currents. It insulates him.
(Illustration: A popular leader is most successful when he forgets himself, and remembers only “The Cause.” Self-seeking engenders jealousies and schism.)
20. A man can only attract and employ the forces for which he is really fitted.
21. There is no limit to the extent of the relations of any man with the Universe in essence; for as soon as man makes himself one with any idea, the means of measurement cease to exist. But his power to utilize that force is limited by his mental power and capacity, and by the circumstances of his human environment.
22. Every individual is essentially sufficient to himself. But he is unsatisfactory to himself until he has established himself in right relation with the Universe.
23. Magik is the Science of understanding oneself and one’s conditions. It is the Art of applying that understanding in action.
24. Every man has an indefeasible right to be what he is. (Illustration: To insist that anyone else shall comply with one’s own standards is to outrage, not only him, but oneself, since both parties are equally born of necessity.)
25. Every man must do Magik each time that he acts or even thinks, since a thought is an internal act whose influence ultimately affects action, though it may not do so at the time.
(Illustration: The least gesture causes a change in a man’s own body and in the air around him; it disturbs the balance of the entire Universe and its effects continue eternally throughout all space. Every thought, however swiftly suppressed, has its effect on the mind. It stands as one of the causes of every subsequent thought, and tends to influence every subsequent action.)
26. Every man has a right, the right of self-preservation, to fulfill himself to the utmost. (Illustration: A function imperfectly performed injures, not only itself, but everything associated with it.)
27. Every man should make Magik the keynote of his life. He should learn its laws and live by them.
28. Every man has a right to fulfill his own will without being afraid that it may interfere with that of others; for if he is in his proper path, it is the fault of others if they interfere with him.
(The order of Nature provides an orbit for each star…But as to each man that keeps his true course, the more firmly he acts, the less likely are others to get in his way. His example will help them to find their own paths and pursue them. Every man that becomes a Magician helps others to do likewise. The more firmly and surely men move, and the more such action is accepted as the standard of morality, the less will conflict and confusion hamper humanity. )
39 …every act of your life is a magical act; whenever from ignorance, carelessness, clumsiness, or what not, you come short of perfect artistic success, you inevitably register failure, discomfort, frustration.
…the Universe…is an arrangement of symbolic characters. 41
Why should you study and practice Magik? Because you can’t help doing it, and you had better do it well than badly.
Listen to Eliphas Levi! He warns us against a type of person, fearless and cold-blooded, who seems to have the power to cast a sudden chill, merely by entering the room, upon the gayest party ever assembled. Tete-a-tete, they shake one’s resolution, kill one’s enthusiasm, devitalize one’s faith and courage. (Letter 66 on Vampires p.397)
Sex is, directly or indirectly, the most powerful weapon in the armoury of the Magician; and precisely because there is no moral guide, it is indescribably dangerous. 129
Accordingly, the most important preliminary to any Magical operation is to make sure that its object is not only harmonious with, but necessary to, your Great Work.
“Thou has no right but to do thy will.” Every act, therefore, with the thoughts and words which determine its performance, is a sacrament. 131
To refuse to fulfill any of one’s possibilities is the direct negation of the Great Work. 136
Trial and error. You must observe. That implies, first of all, that you must learn to observe. And you must record your observations. No circumstance of life is, or can be irrelevant. 140
I want to insist most earnestly that concentration is not, as we nearly all of us think, a matter of getting things right in the practices; you must make every breath you draw subservient to the True Will, to fertilize the soil for the practices. 140
For pure will, unassuaged of purpose, delivered from the lust of result, is every way perfect. … People generally suppose that ‘will’ is the slave of purpose, that you cannot will a thing properly unless you are aiming at a definite goal. But this is not the case. Thinking of the goal actually serves to distract the mind. 142
Invisibility— Roughly, this is how you do it. If one is concentrated to the point when what you are thinking of is the only reality in the Universe, when you lose all awareness of who and where you are and what you are doing, it seems as though that unconsciousness were in some way contagious. The people around you just can’t see anybody. 190
All such achievements are barren unless they be regarded as the means rather than the end of spiritual progress; allowed to infiltrate every detail of the life, not only of the spirit, but of the senses. The Tao can never be known until it interprets the most trivial actions of every day routine. 237
These excerpts seem like Crowley at his best. I have some of my own intuitions about Magik, but they are not gilt-edged, they are up for negotiation. I never sat down trying to think up principles of Magik, they just seemed to arise and the first one arose about twenty years ago,
Magic is something to reach for when you’ve gone to the furthest limits of what’s possible through ordinary means.
I had a lot more confidence in this principle in the past and now have some major doubts about it. There seems to be a rather middle class work ethic implicit—you should only reach for magic when you have exhausted all ordinary effort. At this age, however, I’ve got more of a sense of just how exhausting it can be to go to the furthest limits of what’s possible through ordinary means and I also see a bit of a value judgment here that is questionable. If you need to chop vegetables I wouldn’t say that you should only reach for a knife after going to the furthest limits of what you can do with your bare fingers. If the knife is the best tool, why not go for it first? I could completely exhaust myself trying to go to the furthest limit of what’s possible through ordinary means and then be too tired to do the magic. For example, I’m finding it nearly a full time job trying to keep in a working state my modest number of digital gadgets. I’m not trying to do anything too fancy, just what you would need to run a website, make phone calls, do some digital photography and watch movies with decent sound and image quality. But PCs are now so damn complex that there is an instability factor we would never tolerate from other objects. Can you imagine someone saying, “My rake locked up so I called tech support in India and they told me I need to reformat the rake’s hard drive and reinstall its operating system.” The present situation is far worse than the early days of television when people needed to have a television repairman come over and replace vacuum tubes. I never know what my ten month old computer will pull next, and every computer I’ve had has been like that. So what would the furthest limits of ordinary means be in a case like this? I could spend my whole day with tech support, I could read computer repair manuals, I could take courses on computer maintenance, maybe go back to school to learn programming and electrical engineering, or maybe I could work like a maniac at some career just to make large sums of money so I could hire computer experts or keep buying new hardware. I can wear myself out with ordinary means, and pursuing even the most minimal ordinary means to keep my essential gadgets going recently has been taking up inordinate time and created tremendous frustration and stress without satisfactory results. If there were a magical practice that could help reduce digital gadget entropy, and that didn’t cost me my entire soul, I would like to reach for it right now. I’m wondering if the you create your own reality folks ever have problems with their computers? Acquiring and keeping the digital gadgets going does seem like it is in accord with my True Will because I need that stuff to keep up my website, to do my photography, to participate in the current era. I don’t feel I’m just reaching for a spoiled yuppie life style because if I can get where I need to go without these tools I would consider that. For example, I don’t own or drive a car, Boulder has lots of bike paths and all year round, rain, snow or whatever, I ride my mountain bike and haul my groceries, etc. on it and avoid the expense and complications of a car. But even my mountain bike is subject to more entropy than seems necessary and I have to constantly get the gears readjusted. So maybe during my vacations from computer programming school I should learn to be a bike mechanic and acquire a full set of bicycle tools and spare parts.
Of course what we just learned from Crowley’s principles of Magik is that learning to fix the bike myself and adjusting my own gears is Magik, bicycle repair is a subset of the science and art of creating change in conformity with will and so is nearly everything else. But my True Will would like to create change in conformity with will without such excessive laboriousness (less tears) which can leave me without sufficient time and energy left to do the highest value creative tasks. If there were a Magikal technique that would reduce gadget entropy that would be a huge asset in my life. Another short cut to reduce mechanical resistance would be a Magikal technique that increased my money supply, because with more money I would have to do less extrinsic work, I would have more time, more resources to do the creative work that seems to come directly from my True Will.
You should, however, feel free to challenge any of these assumptions, because as reasonable as they sound to me, I have gotten some negative feedback from the universe on my Magikal practice and am open to the idea that there are flaws in my intentions or means which I am not fully discerning. The last few paragraphs give you some idea of my personal intentions in wanting to employ Magik. My intentions are not pure, I do love to acquire gadgets out of love of the cool object and there is a certain greediness to that desire. My receiver just broke and if Magik could supply me with a new Mcintosh receiver that would be more pleasing, though I would settle for decent Japanese electronics. But a receiver, or a high definition monitor are not merely yuppie indulgences, they are, in the right hands, tools of consciousness. If you had a child who was a musical prodigy would you want them to hear a Beethoven symphony for the first time (assuming a live performance wasn’t available) coming out of a little AM radio with a fifty cent speaker or a really good audiophile system? If I’m going to work on my digital photography don’t I need a color corrected monitor to do so? My intentions toward acquiring money and objects aren’t pure, but aren’t they near enough to my True Will? So that’s where I’m at with intentions using myself as the test case. I want more resources to help me fulfill my True Will, and yes my ego is present too, it’s eyes green and bulbous and Gollum-like looking through the plate glass window of the shiny new gadget store, rubbing its little webbed hands together and hissing, “Precious! We wants the new Precious! We wants a Mcintosh Precious!” But how could it be otherwise without my going on a twenty year meditation retreat (which I also don’t have time for) if I’m going to fulfill my True Will in this brief life time?
Of course one huge flaw in my intentions is that they are oriented toward future goals with fear and desire. I fear not getting what I need and there is lots of fear-based desire there, not the serene detachment that Crowley writes about. There’s enough of the fear-based desire and greed that I would probably be willing to cut some corners and use some dubious means to get what I want. If a guy with an eye patch and a gold tooth and a hook for a missing hand were standing on the street corner with a stack of Mcintosh receiver cartons, let’s say it was a short stack of Mcintosh MHT 200 receivers which retail for about $6900, weigh 87 pounds and contain eight superb 140 watt amplifiers and the latest electronics but presented with that classic Mcintosh styling with the back lit glass front panels, and the guy says to me, “These fell of the back of a truck, would you care to take one, matey, for a mere five dollars?” I’m not at all sure that the principle of the thing would keep me from the proposed transaction. Much more likely is that I would go for the Mcintosh and cover the dubiousness with rationalization, see it as a Magikal synchronicity, and of course there is light and dark involved in everything. Which reminds me of the young lawyer who is invited to become a senior partner in a prestigious law practice. The other senior partners are seated around a huge mahogany table and have a paper for him to sign in blood. “To complete the transaction,” one of the senior partners says , “we need you to sign over your soul and the souls of everyone in your family.”
“OK, but what’s the catch?” asks the young lawyer.
So those are my intentions, but I guess I should also have added that I have some more intrinsic intentions as well, I would like the creative muse to give me greater access to Parallel Journeys , the fantasy epic I would like to complete in this lifetime, but have written relatively little of. I would like to attract the attention of worthy mutants to my website, and I guess I probably already mentioned the Mcintosh MHT 200 receiver. It would be a tiresome cliché to mention a soul mate. I just figure that process is already under the control of Magik and the soul mate thing has always been the third rail of intentions anyway, because it’s so easy to become obsessed with some person and find that they are more high maintenance than a room full of aging PCs. I’m reminded of the old man who was walking down the street when he encountered a talking frog. The old man stops and puts the frog in his pocket. From inside his pocket the frog says, “What are you doing? All you have to do is kiss me and I’ll become a beautiful princess.”
“I know,” says the old man , “but at my age I’d rather have a talking frog.” At a certain age you acquire the wisdom to realize that the super high maintenance soul mate may not be worth it. The Mcintosh MHT 200 receiver, however, has really stable American audiophile electronics, every part tested and retested, so it is low maintenance, and a used one in like new condition in the original carton with the manual and everything it came with can be had for as little $3740 and there is a donate button right on the front page of my website. Of course some of you politically correct types are going to remind me that a receiver with 8×140 watts of power has a hugely larger carbon foot print than watching movies on my laptop with a pair of headphones. True, but suppose I want to invite some friends over for a private showing of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth , want them to finally confront their participation in global warming, what’s going to have more sensory impact for them, headphones or the Mcintosh MHT 200? Also, remember that I don’t drive a car, so even if your only car is a Prius, your carbon foot print is gargantuan compared to mine, and a 1,120 watt receiver still uses less electricity than many hand held hair driers.
So if my intentions are not the problem, the next area to examine are my Magikal means. The next Magikal principle that arose in my intuition many years ago was, The most powerful ritual is not one inherited from tradition, but the one created spontaneously in the moment with full conscious engagement. Of course, this principle can be challenged as well. Some will say, and I’m sure Harald will be one of them, that the ritual inherited from tradition can have a deep soulful resonance through time, has the weight of the ancestors behind it, so forth and so on, may have been inspired by God, and for some this may well be true. On the other hand, the more traditional the ritual the more likely it is to be mechanical and done by mindless repetition. Change is our one true constant and rituals need to change and be updated. For example, the rituals my ancestors developed make no mention of the Mcintosh MHT 200 which had not yet been invented. The ritual I create today can be more individual and unique and consciously intended, more relevant and applicable to the current conditions.
The rituals I have created seem to be suggested by the creative muse. A magical object which embodies certain intentions appears in my mind and I find that I can summon it on the imaginal plane whenever I want. This practice differs a bit from the formulation above in that the object was originally created spontaneously in the moment but may also become a personal tradition, may have a continuity in time. I’m very visual and am a pantheist and animist, I believe that objects are made out of consciousness and are imbued with life energy, therefore my Magikal rituals tend to be highly visual and usually involve particular Magikal objects. When I visualize such objects the muse will often suggest modifications so the Makical artifacts change through time and some fall out of favor for a while, new ones get suggested, some old ones suddenly make a come back and so forth. The way I have used these rituals in the past, however, had a flaw I am trying to correct. The flaw was that I was trying to use the objects to create a future result which implies present absence, and the fear and doubt-based sort of desire. I now believe that the object should be created as its own manifestation, not with a nervous or greedy eye on a future result. As a poet once said, “The stronger the imagination the less imaginary is the result.” The magical objects and rituals seem stronger when they are engaged as an end in themselves as real time manifestations on the imaginal plane. The dreamtime and the imaginal realms are, from many points of view, the more fundamental planes of reality than the matrix of realized physical 3-D manifest forms that are often the secondary results of objects created on the imaginal plane. For example, all the gadgets I am surrounded by were first created on the imaginal plane in the minds of designers (where they always look shiny and new and work perfectly) and only afterward become the leaky, rickety manifest gadgets that are subject to entropy and need tech support. What is created on the imaginal plane in real time is a real and potent manifestation in itself, but it is also a seed crystal, it is likely to suggest forms into the manifest realm as in a kind of trickle down economy. The imaginal MHT 200 came first, and because it excited the imaginations of discerning consumers, new manifest MHT 200s are being created.
It should be obvious to the reader that the humor I have tried to employ here is not merely for entertainment value, but is also a kind of face-saving way to confess aspects of my shadow that come into play with my Magikal intentions and I have already gotten warnings about this. For example, as much as I might seem to dwell on the MHT 200, which I only learned about as of this morning, my longing for it pales besides the raging desire I had for a state of the art digital SLR which reached obsessive intensity for at least two years. First my desire alighted on the Canon 20D, which isn’t even weather sealed, and even from the model numbers it should be obvious that a D 200 is ten times the camera that a 20D was. But a D200 was around $1600 just for the body, and surrendering to economic realities I found I was willing to settle for a Nikon D80 which is most of a D200 but in a plastic unsealed body. It is smaller, lighter, less expensive and able to take the same quality of photograph. But then I vacillated, because the D80 just didn’t have the feel I want from such a central gadget in my life. I wanted the feel of a magnesium alloy heavy weather sealed camera, not another high performance plastic camera like the Canon A2 E film camera it was going to replace. So I did my rituals, worked the D200 into them, used spontaneously created images and so forth. And then, late in December of 2006, a day or two before the XMASS event horizon, the annual retail festival of December 25 when a mutant of Jewish ancestry has no particular expectations except of a culminating shrill frenzy of retail activity and a sharp spike in the increasing credit card debt of the average American, an improbable series of events came together which resulted in my being unexpectedly (and with no connection to XMASS whatsoever) gifted with not only a Nikon D200 but with that other lesser ring of power, the coveted VR18-200 lens, with second generation motion compensation and a Sandisk Extreme III compact flash card which would eliminate the need for my having to deal with those dead animal strips euphemistically called “film,” which always contain gelatin, which is always made from the bones and hides of dead animals. Deep in the recesses of my fiberglass cave my bulbous eyes glowed green as I waited for Precious which would be delivered by UPS in a very few days. I used the tracking number to track Precious on the UPS website and discovered it was held up in Commerce City, Colorado by a huge snow storm. It was Saturday, Monday was New Year’s day, and that meant that Precious wouldn’t arrive till Tuesday at the earliest. I called UPS and confirmed all this grim information. Just minutes after this almost tragically disappointing phone call I happened to hear outside my RV what sounded like a UPS truck pulling away, a sound which the whole auditory part of my brain had been nervously attuned to for days, and I opened the curtain and I couldn’t fucking believe it , a white and brown UPS “sorry you weren’t home to get the package” self adhesive slip was now adhering like a cruel joke to the front door of the house where my RV had at the time established a stationary orbit, and there was the UPS truck, brown and big as life pulling away. In a rush of panic and adrenalin I tore out of the RV and in my bare feet went running after the UPS truck waving my arms and shouting. As I ran I felt a muscle or tendon tear apart in my right leg, actually felt the two parts, like an old rubber band pulling apart in slow motion. The pain wasn’t that great, but the leg contracted instinctively and wouldn’t let me put any weight on it, and I watched the brown UPS truck vanish down the snowy street with my D 200 plus all the accessories. Staggered and cursing, I hobbled back to my RV and just as I was about to open the door, I couldn’t believe it , it was the same UPS truck coming down the block from the other end, they must have seen me after all! I stood on one leg, but feeling ecstatic relief, supporting myself in the middle of the street with my arm braced against a car roof. Turned out they hadn’t seen me, but had gotten lost and ended up circling around. Yes, they did have my D 200, sign right here, a package handed to me, and the UPS truck went on its way. I hobbled back into my RV, barely able to make it inside with the box. I had captured Precious, but now I had a serious medical issue to deal with. I could no longer walk, a symptom that is hard to ignore, a major muscle or tendon had torn and it was obvious how it happened, I had been sitting all morning, hadn’t stretched, ran out onto the snow and ice, barefoot, no arch support, and started sprinting. The nauseating sensation of the muscle or tendon pulling apart in slow motion replayed in my mind. I called my HMO and the nurse on duty told me I had probably torn my Achilles tendon and needed to come to the hospital immediately and don’t eat or drink anything except water, be prepared for surgery. I called up a friend I could pay to drive me to the hospital, since it was Saturday I couldn’t go to the one in Boulder for some reason, but had to report to one in another town. While I waited for my ride I made some other emergency phone calls canceling various obligations and thinking about how I would make it economically through the long recovery from the surgery. I knew from my long distance running days that a torn Achilles tendon could put you out of commission for quite a while, and my living required my ability to walk and work outdoors. I had health insurance, but there were huge deductibles, etc., etc. Waiting in the emergency room in a wheel chair they assigned me to when I arrived, I opened the box which I had brought with me and for the first time, with nervous, greedy fingers got to fondle my very own D200, got to lovingly stroke its silky smooth but ever so weather sealed magnesiusm alloy hull, but these weren’t exactly the happy circumstances I had anticipated for this moment. Before I left the RV, I went to the I Ching to ask what the meaning of this shock was. I felt this couldn’t possibly be a random coincidence, the same moment of fulfilling such a long standing magical intention also the moment of sustaining the worst injury in many years. What did it mean? Was this just the weird way that light and dark come together or was I being punished for improper use of Magik? The I Ching, with the bedside manner of a forensic pathologist doing an autopsy on the decaying body of a serial killer, went right for the jugular. I got hexagram # 4, Youthful Folly, with the sixth changing line. The sixth line, from the Wilhelm Baynes I Ching:
In punishing folly
It does not further one
To commit transgressions.
The only thing that furthers
Is to prevent transgressions.
Sometimes an incorrigible fool must be punished. He who will not heed will be made to feel. This punishment is quite different from a preliminary shaking up. But the penalty should not be imposed in anger; it must be restricted to an objective guarding against unjustified excesses. Punishment is never an end in itself but serves merely to restore order.
Ouch. Where’s that oblique oriental sense of oracular humor when you need it? Not much wiggle room in that line, couldn’t make much of a case that I should punish UPS, that is was their transgression, not if I wanted to be honest with myself. Holy D200 party pooper.
The magikal rituals I had employed seemed to work, but with unintended consequences, sorcerer’s apprentice blowback, so what was my mistake, was it coveting a specific object rather than some more “pure” intention? Was it my means which projected desire toward the future? Was it that I lacked serenity? Was it my overheated ambition? The nurse on the phone who thought it was the Achilles tendon pointed out that the tear was in my right leg and that was the “accelerator leg.” Was this a somatic metaphor for my Achilles heel — an essential flaw in my character? Was I running after stuff rather than serenely allowing it to come to me? And is sufficient serenity possible without a true audiophile receiver like the MHT 200, which can invoke the serenity of spiritually inspiring music without any discernable distortion?
These were the sort of questions I contemplated while waiting in the emergency room of Good Samaritan Hospital. When I got wheeled in finally to see a doctor she laughed off the phone diagnosis of torn Achilles tendon. She was an ex distance runner herself and had injured the very same muscle I had which was called something like the “nemius maximus” muscle, a name that sounds like a greedy Roman Emperor. No surgery, all I needed was crutches and time and it would take care of itself. Sure enough, by the next day, like a crippled Christian at a revival meeting, I was able to cast away my crutches and with a limp could bear my weight and that of the D200. And since I am making Christian allusions, I should also confess that the compact flash card which arrived with the D200 was the very same card that also ended up on what Harald calls “the wrong side of the fiery cherubic sword”
(see http://zaporacle.com/shred-to-black-salvia-blue-moon-apocalypse/ and which was slain by presumed compact flash card killing demons who had crossed the veil. And in case there is any doubt about the demonic involvement I should add a brief epilogue to that account which happened only last week. Sandisk was supposed to send me a replacement card and I went through all their red tape back in July but no replacement ever arrived. Finally, I called them and got a bunch of bureaucratic Catch-22 the consumer bullshit and had to laboriously push my way through various voice jails and holds and so forth till I got to the right supervisor who could authorize the replacement. To be fair to the company, even a Sandisk Extreme III compact flash card is not advertised as demon proof, and it is no doubt an artifact of secular humanist engineering and therefore vulnerable to fiery cherubic swords and all that. But when it comes to gadget acquisition and defense I tend to use all means at my disposal. So, finally, the replacement was authorized, and the authorization number ended in…you guessed it: 666. That’s right, the replacement compact flash card has been authorized, been marked by the sign of the beast. So what do I with such a numerologically unpropitious compact flash card? I didn’t get much from Harald’s latest two essays except the following: “Yes, it means you can do whatever you want without incurring the judgment of God.” This is more license that I expect from a Christian, and I am wondering if this applies to compact flash cards? Would it be correct to say, “Do what thou wilt with gadgets.” is a subset of that law? Is this replacement flash card still subject to some sort of divine judgment, or can I use it without fear of dark and uncanny consequences?
Speaking of manifestation and numerology, I’m going to end this entry with the most recent episode of possible Magikal blowback. And as anyone whose extremely advanced martial arts training has led them to be recruited into classified Navy Seal tactical operations realizes, every forceful intervention has some sort of blowback, some sort of unintended consequences. But in this case I wasn’t all that forceful, was almost passive, and may still have had blowback.
A frequent guest (and advertiser) on Coast to Coast Am is Glynis McCants who calls herself “ Hollywood’s Celebrity Numerologist.” (http://www.numberslady.com/) That sounds pretty bad, and the reality of hearing Glynis on the radio is about as awful as you would —manic, fast talking, celebrity name dropping, cash register jingling, retail New Age numerology which is all about how to use numbers to get what you want, and what numbers have to say about those all important celebrity break ups and so forth. One time, however, I suppressed my gag reflex long enough to hear about a numerological ritual that caught my attention because it was so easy to do, so entirely without tears, didn’t involve sending Glynis any money, and was also supposed to be potently propitious for manifesting more money in your life. According to Glynis, the number “8” carried in your wallet or put by your computer, etc. would attract money to you. Probably motivated by a rare moment of Christian non judgmental generosity I decided to give Glynis a chance and wrote a number 8 on a piece of paper and put it in my wallet. The ritual possibly worked, because shortly after I did it I was invited onto the Coast to Coast show and opportunities and green energy flowed out of the invitation. A year or two later and I lost the number 8 in my wallet, never bothered to replace it, and sure enough, money continued to be one of the key limiting factors in my life. About a month ago I happened to be in a convenience store and, ever alert to unlikely acquisition, noticed a white vinyl laminated steel wire presentation rack of novelty, made in China key chains, some of which had marble-sized eight balls. I asked my friend to remind me what role the eight ball played in the game of pool, and he replied that it played a decisive role, and everything he said seemed to add to the propitious numerological aura of these Chinese made convenience store artifacts which were only a $1.99 each, so I got two and gave one to my friend and attached the other one to my back pack. This seemed to be passive, almost serene Magik, because I didn’t think about it much after that. About ten days after the acquisition my friend’s financial fortunes didn’t noticeably improve, probably because I was the one who paid for the key chains, and as everyone knows, you’ve got to spend money to make money , but I was unexpectedly given, through no ordinary effort on my part, the precise sum of 800 hundred dollars. I had been so passive, even serene about the 8 ball magic ritual that it took a day or so before I even made the connection, an unexpected gift of money defined by the very same number.
The smart thing to do would probably have been to reinvest this money and get another four hundred of the 8 ball keychains. Instead I used about half to pay off a bill, and that seemed to have good effects, and I used about the other half to acquire a new gadget, a Samsung Synchmaster, 22 inch high definition monitor. My pure and noble intentions in acquiring this all important gadget should be obvious—my video monitor often functions as my window on the world, now I would have a bigger, better resolution and higher contrast window on that world, and to do digital photography one simply must have a monitor which corrects its own color values or else you are working almost blind. Such an enhanced window would allow me to see movies on DVD with much greater participation mystique than the 15 inch monitor of my laptop. But right from the start this acquisition seemed to be under an unlucky star. The outer box sealed by Amazon with exactly one lengthwise piece of tape had torn almost completely open. When I attached the monitor to my laptop there were all sorts of distortions and a wicked flicker and when I contacted Samsung for tech support they just set up an exchange process. Perhaps they knew that the serial number of the monitor I sent them by email was part of a defective lot. Then there were problems with the exchange and I had to force my way past voice jails and holds and bureaucratic Catch-22 the consumer bull shit to get to just the right empowered supervisor. And now the new monitor has some of the same problems, and there were more agonizing tech support phone calls to the laptop maker and so forth and so on. Meanwhile, other gadget and software problems developed. My receiver wouldn’t do what it was supposed to, and my all important Palm desktop software that synched my all important laptop with my all important Palm Treo cellphone/pda went down and apparently took all the data—to do lists, contacts, calendar dates, memos with it into the Cracks of Doom and, like my doomed compact flash card, into the probable eternity, the velvet darkness of irrecoverable data loss.
The monitor is a Synchmaster, which means it must be ruled over by the principle of synchronicity, so there must be a meaning in all this. It works but with glitches, and I am using it right now, but its arrival was surrounded by a sulfurous aura of intensified gadget suffering, and the acquisition of this lesser ring of power which probably is in itself blameless, but owing to obscure and complex imperfections in the interplay between Windows Vista, my laptop, refresh rates and other opaque, cryptic issues of the cybernetic world, it has not brought greater serenity but has actually created a new longing for another lesser ring of power, a fully HDMI capable A/V receiver, a receiver that would process video inputs itself and send them via HDMI/DVI cable directly to the Synchmaster and bypass the whole rickety, leaky Windows artifact. The potential relationship between these rings of power could only be described as synergistic, they would multiply each other’s powers, and even if a greater lesser ring of power like the Mcintosh MHT 200 is outside my reach, a new lesser ring of power has been forged, the Onkyo 705, which brings features never before seen to a receiver in this modest price range. But looking it up again on the internet just now I see people are already having problems with the Onkyo 705, it has not been forged in a way that is likely to resolve all my audio/visual issues and in any case to really take advantage of its capabilities I would need three new DVD players (regular, HD and Blu-Ray) that had HDMI outputs, and I still don’t have a decent center channel speaker, and that plateau of gadget serenity seem to forever recede, seems to forever be on the wrong side of the fiery cherubic sword.
And so this is where I stand in my no doubt misguided relationship to Magik. The tears to Magik ratio is not where I want it to be and I am hoping that you can tell me what are the proper uses and means of Magik?
I don’t know whether I merit the mantle of magical mentor, but I’ll gladly give my opinion. It’s a privilege and a pleasure. The observations and suggestions which follow are written as they occurred – in no particular order. If there is any matter you feel left unaddressed, by all means point it out. I will sign these letters with one of my magical names: HK ( heka , in ancient Egyptian both magician and magical utterance , and, of course, my initials.)
First – this idea of exhausting every other means before resorting to magic – we find that in the Faust legend as treated by Goethe, where a man’s despair provides an opening for the devil. The context is one wherein magic is viewed somewhat askance. As to practicality – your analogy says it. To cut vegetables we use a kitchen knife – we don’t invoke Excalibur . That’s what is meant by first exhausting conventional means.
Concerning moral ambivalence, I quote: ‘My intentions are not pure … But …’ What I see is a man, pleading moral justification with the fates (with himself and whoever will listen) that he might (also should , ought , and in all fairness ) be deemed worthy of the desired reward. That, I suggest, is the iceberg of which we are seeing the tip. It’s the bane of middle-class morality, and the opposite of magic. Magicians do not plead – they command. Magicians are kings – if not gods – so the question is that which I recently addressed – the question of moral emancipation or ascendancy. The way of emptiness, the Cross of Christ, Thelema – are among the solutions offered by various traditions, showing, I think, that practical magic cannot easily be divorced from spiritual initiation.
Say, you aspire to the Thelemic ideal of the perfect expression of the true will. From our conflicted morality to that perfect expression it’s an infinite series of steps. As was said on one noted occasion, you can’t get there from here. The technique is to ‘put on’ the magical persona complete in a quantum leap of arbitrary assertion. If the devil should whisper, it ’ s only a put-on , you can counter, jolly right – so is my moral ambivalence .
We see another example of said ambivalence in the question: ‘Is this replacement flash card still subject to some sort of divine judgment or can I use it without fear of dark and uncanny consequences?’ – occasioned, if I understand correctly, by its serial number ending in 666. Is he serious? That was the question in my mind, and it still is. We refer to that kind of thing (among the Illustrious Illuminates of the Order of Melchezedek) as stumbling over the foliage in the carpet. If he is serious – and I really cannot tell; it seems like going rather a long way for a joke – I don’t know in my perplexity what to suggest. Okay – assuming it’s a serious question, I’d regard that as a case of magical glamour. The antidote, I suggest, is to take a phenomenological view of things.
Find the easy way. Concerning gadget entropy, or inertia, I know how it is. Your resident full-time hi-tech guru is on extended leave, and reading manuals the size of phone-books isn’t your thing. My rule of life is this:
1. If it works, leave it alone.
2. If it doesn’t, don’t tinker too much beyond basic user settings, unless you got a good idea what you’re doing. With the complex stuff, guessing is useless.
3. At wits end – ask Jesus. And be patient – it could take a few days to connect with your answer.
4. Don’t buy the solution that seems too complex. There usually is an easy way.
A lot of practical magik has to do with lateral initiation – making favourable links and connections with existing currents and cults in this wide, wide world – I mean, where the vibes are right, the riding smooth, with intelligent and benevolent companions. And when I say currents and cults I mean everything is currents and cults – like R.A.W.’s reality tunnels.
I also suggest you analyse your familiar currents and cults for the implicit terms of service. If there are too many tears in the magical equation, look for the fine print in the contract that says it is righteous to suffer or something like that. If you don’t like the terms, write your own. That’s part of being a magician – realising that the rules are just stuff that somebody made up at some point. They’re not set in stone. And as Rupert Sheldrake reminds us, the very laws of nature are merely her habits. Of course, any magical result has its reaction – the rest of the universe has to move over, as it were, restoring equilibrium. But if that reaction is typically calamitous, I suggest that conflict of will is involved – some aspect of the magical persona that is not in harmony with the whole.
Which brings me back to my point about moral ambivalence and its resolution. The true will cannot flow unhindered until such resolution is accomplished. Magick, therefore, should be practiced under the aegis of the angel – the angel that is our standard of truth – such that everything is brought under that standard. This is illustrated by the aforesaid scruple regarding the number 666. The more so, in that the referenced context is one of do whatever you want – do whatever you want . He goes on to say, This is more license than I expect … , then in the same breath: I am wondering if this applies to … Would it be correct to say … ? And here is the irony. Here we see why the referenced article means so little to him. And it demonstrates my point, that it makes no difference what anyone says – prophet or master or sacred text – if our angel does not concur. Who has believed our report? wrote Isaiah, and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? So it’s not the ideas we entertain that principally structure our reality, it’s what we hold to be true at a profound level of apprehension, demonstrating that the most pressing task for the magician is the invocation – the knowledge and conversation – of what we call the Holy Guardian Angel.
About purity of intent – how desire, fear, habitual clinging can spoil our game. ‘Magikal power? – easy! You can have what you want as long as, at the crisis of your campaign, you don’t think of a white rabbit!’ No easy solution to this:
1. Either spiritual initiation which transcends the conflicted mindset.
2. A magician’s mind training in practical mysticism.
3. Knack, groove, or falling in with an established current.
Persistence will usually garner a few strikes despite the odds. Once precedent has been established, according to Sheldrake’s morphic resonance and McKenna’s conservation of novelty, it gets easier. That’s what I mean by knack or groove .
As to getting help, I’m reminded of a set I knew in Brisbane – disciples of Babaji – of whom a disproportionate number had done the fire-walk, or were doing it regularly. Certain individuals taught this as a one-day workshop, and I believe most people walked. Another example is that of The Secret . I would suggest that those with success stories, assuming they’re authentic, are karmically so predisposed, and they are catching a ride. Strong focused influence, it would seem, can take a person outside their accustomed reality. But when the influence is removed, much integration is to be done. It’s a potentially destabilising thing. Indeed, for the more sceptical types, such as participate in this forum for instance, such easy symbiosis is probably out of the question. We intellectuals are complex, and our battle (which is ultimately to overcome ourselves) correspondingly greater.
Concerning ritual, I strongly incline to creating or adapting one’s own. For we have our own magical language, our own aesthetics, our own universe of meaning. Dip into the well of tradition by all means, but to dress oneself in the magical robes of another – say, for instance, the Grimoire of Abramelin – the demon is likely to say, Abramelin I know, but who are you ? So it goes much deeper. One might say, an efficacious magical rite is an integral event of nature, not a theatrical performance. In my own practice, the ritual grows out of the magical record – the diary that the magician should keep. And here is wisdom – in a profound sense, the Grimoire and Record are one.
Ritual reconciles two aspects, it just comes to me – the poetic and the analytical, where the latter involves the question of magical formula. (Magical formulae – abstractions of the operations that are possible in nature.) On the Cabalistic Tree of Life the relevant initiations are those of Netzach and Hod. The whole is supported by Yesod – spirit in the material sense of breath .
Read Crowley’s Magick In Theory And Practice . Written at the hight of his powers, it’s the Bible on the subject. It is focused, concentrated and organised – everything that MWT is not. The Postulates and Theorems, for instance, are from MTP. I don’t want to disparage MWT – it was written toward the end of Crowley’s career, with decades worth of added experience and reflection, but it’s emphatically the work of a man who had already written MTP. There is an inexpensive Dover edition, which may still be around.
Finally that talismanic and numerological stuff – I want to address that generically, the stuff of synchronicities, which happens ‘for no good reason’. But happen it does. What is a serious, rightly disposed, sober-minded rationalist to make of this? Hmm! I would question the paradigm of causality underlying the natural sciences. This paradigm tells us what operations in nature are possible – theoretically and in principle – and which are probable. It tells us much less about what actually does happen, and why and how it is that certain phenomena (as Whitehead put it) undergo the formality of actually occurring. The causal paradigm, therefore, does not yield the complete description of the universe that perhaps we thought. There is something else, and provisionally at least I am content with the term synchronicity , provided this is understood not merely in the narrowly specific, but in its broad and pervasive sense.
Of course this does not mean that hidden variables won’t come to light, hidden causal connections where none were hitherto suspected. The figure 8 resembles the voluptuous female, so it is clearly a fertility charm, enhancing virility and imbuing the mage with a sense of purpose. It occurs to me in this connection that Crowley’s Theorems essentially adhere to the causal model of Victorian science. Popularisations of quantum physics, after all, only began to appear – well, I think it was 1980 when I picked up The Dancing Wu Li Masters .
With hindsight then, in the light of quantum psychedelia, and as professors of magic no less, we tend perhaps to be rightly suspicious of the principle of causation, as signifying a kind of cosmic feudalism, a utilitarian constraint, a conspiracy of bleak determinism. For what saith the Book Of The Law ? Enough of because be he damned for a dog!
All phenomena, he concludes upon sober reflection, manifest according to their inherent nature, uncaused and spontaneously, out of the illimitable void.
From The Magical Record of H H R:
25 November 2007. Not a revelation so much as the clearing of an obscuration of the gross intellect. The meditation is this: Any rational conception is but one of an infinite number of possible sections through the experiential plenum. The referents of any one such section exist and are meaningful only in relation of one to another. For instance, I see a light because I have eyes to see. This observation underscores the radical absurdity of regarding any particular section as objectively real. Objects and ideas gain substance, rather, in the forge of conscious attention. This perspective, uniting subject and object, would seem integral to what the Asian mystics call enlightenment.
And it would seem to explain a certain magical phenomenon which has been variously observed and commented upon. I refer to the oft elusive nature of dreams and other ‘altered’ states of apprehension – altered from the standpoint of an arbitrary frame of reference which furnishes the conventional touchstone of the real. Entities may obtain in the altered state which, in the ‘real’ or reference world, have neither lever nor fulcrum. An object retrieved from this state might be quite incomprehensible in this world. It might not even have a contextual basis for existence. Significant also seems the amnesia which surrounds the altered state – from the standpoint of the reference state. For instance, a moment ago one was in touch with an entire realm of meaning, profound and exotically ‘other’, yet upon waking to the reference world one only recalls a strange euphoria. It would seem that conventional mind and its operative assumptions effectively obscure the other realm(s). A different set of referents seems to apply, for which the conventional mind has no epistemological template.
As a description of the way things are, this phenomenon likely explains why unusual, quasi magical phenomena are experienced in unusual states of consciousness, and why higher initiations must needs be preceded by the more elementary. It is a matter of establishing an experiential continuum of necessary context.
In a related phenomenon – also widely documented – high strangeness is observed with the ordinary mind, albeit with its ordinariness attenuated, in that the strange is strangely taken for granted. One may muse to oneself, strange, how strange , but really how very s trange the experience – that in the known world it is impossible – one somehow fails to reflect. The mind, to some extent, partakes of the nature of a dream, and here we recall Gurdjieff’s assertion that ordinary mind is essentially asleep and in a state of dreaming.
Late one night, after lessons, I drove out to visit an Icelandic witch who had requested a meeting. Somewhere on the outskirts of Brisbane I parked on a rise with an extensive view in all directions. Overhead, stretching in parallel across the greater portion of the starry sky, were two bright beams of golden light, stationary and without associated sound. I glanced up intermittently, kind of saying to myself, ah yes *, as I made ready for the walk across to her cabin. (* Part of me evidently took the phenomenon entirely for granted, the which was now at the fore.) Upon getting acquainted – it seemed we went back aeons – and having met her maid / disciple, over tea I remarked on the sighting and my nonchalance regarding it. She just smiled a knowing smile.
As a broad summation we may posit that our experiential body adapts, as a scuba diver or astronaut getting into his gear, to interface which different experiential realms. Or perhaps we have concurrent bodies in different experiential realms, switching focus of attention between them. Several implications for practical magic emerge: consciousness, specifically the function of attention, appears as hyperspatial gateway for exploration of different worlds, and the stone , the object of experience, is rendered malleable at the behest of psychic determinants.
2 February 2008. We dream – speaking of ordinary night dreams. What does this fact suggest to us? In a self-referential universe, a universe of thematic self-similarity across domains of reference, the suggestion is nigh that so-called waking may yet be of the nature of dreaming – that waking and dreaming are relative states.
A dream within a dream – this phenomenon I experienced with some frequency when I first investigated these things. I would have a fascinating, richly detailed, symbolically significant dream, which, upon waking, I narrated to a friend, only to wake again – to the realisation that one dream was contained inside another. I recall one occasion in which the described nesting of dreams went yet further – to a dream within a dream within a dream.
This led to the idea of regular self-examination, asking, is this a dream? that I might become aware in the dream-state in what is called lucid dreaming. This self-questioning thereafter became a frequent dream event, adding resonance to the mystic thesis of world as dream, insofar as, whenever I posed the question in a dream, I inevitably concluded that I was – clearly, self-evidently – awake. Indeed so obvious the matter typically seemed in the dream-state, that the question seemed supererogatory. And herein, surely, lies the crux. For, as I am typing these words, the matter appears to me similarly clear: I am awake …
In a related incident I experienced, quite recently, some pleasing development in the art of levitation. I found myself rising vertically in a cross-legged posture, in addition to the familiar gliding, perhaps not quite to the ceiling, but about half way. This seemed so exotic, I thought of conducting the usual check. Is this a dream? No, like the gliding, it was for real. This was no dream. I was awake. Then I awoke. It was a dream.
But what is a dream? Without wanting to wax philosophical, I am led to question the ontology wherein the dream is deemed to be less real because one wakes to something deemed more substantial – this, in itself, being considered the essential determinant of a dream. A dream is characterised as such from a state of greater wakefulness. Yet it is possible to relax this sematic imperative. One may hold with the mystics that the distinction – between dreaming and waking – is relative, excepting perhaps an ultimate and catastrophic enlightenment. We may cite in this context the Tibetan mahasiddha Milarepa, who spoke of having awoken as from a great dream. Yet more revealing perhaps is the obverse question, what is the quality of wakefulness? In both the conventional and enlightened sense, I suggest, it is reflective awareness – awareness, cognizant of the constituent referents that comprise experience. It is self -awareness in the mystic sense of insight into the nature of mind. Dream, by contrast, is the trance of object-gnosis.
From this perspective then I may conclude that ‘this’ is a dream – a lucid dream, insofar as I am able to reflect on these matters to some extent.
19 February 2008. In synchrony with these musings my attention was drawn to a question which has recently engaged the scientific community: Could the universe be a simulation, programmed by some intelligence? An interview on Earthfiles with Professor Brian Whitworth of Massey University, Aukland, New Zealand, addressed this question and led me to peruse his paper, The Physical World as a Virtual Reality .
Do we all live in a yellow submarine – a programmed simulation? My reflex response is, yes, of course … samsaric illusion, consensual dream or reified logos – mysticism and cognitive psychology concur that the world is a mental construct. This, the perspective of classical idealism, is at least a very close kin to the notion proposed. But what of it? As Professor Whitworth observed, there is no obvious way of determining the matter. Further – simulation or objective realism – it is not clear what difference this would make, our experience being what is is – unless we can transcend the virtual matrix and get our hands on the reality controls.
What does it really mean to say, our experiential universe is a simulation? Conversely, what does it mean to say, it is objectively real? The simulation model, I would suggest, implies another level of actuality, one higher up on the ontological scale – a level more essentially real. At least this is intrinsic to common usage, as in game simulations. It is always possible to exit the game (whereas reality, presumably, is what you’re stuck with). Interestingly, this reintroduces, in slightly altered garb, the supernaturalist hypothesis, which science has ostensibly sought to banish. But is a closed universe a philosophically viable option? Can any truly discrete object exist? Has not science retained an implicit dualism in its constructs – a dualism which comprises the core of the ontological mystery?
Significant is the fact that the universe of modern physics has an edge, where explorers may literally fall off into the void, which is to say, at the singularity. Yet, facing the hyper-dense material object, where time and space come to an end, the universe has a window – in the form of consciousness. Of interest here is the idea that consciousness may not itself be part of the simulation, with the further suggestion – and here we are back in the realm of magick – that it is consciousness which does the programming. Within the sphere of conventional human influence this would seem explicit. Mind imposes meaningful patterns and does what it can to structure experience in conformity with desire.
But how far can we take this notion? What of the siddhas of ancient and exotic legend, beings like the Tantric master Padmasambhava, for whom the entire universe is but a figment of mind, who manifest their avatar simultaneously in a hundred thousand million worlds, who travel on a beam of sunlight and leave their palm print, like a calling card, in the rock of Himalayan caves? Implicit in our theory is at least the possibility that such beings may exist, that it is possible to attain an uncontrived vantage – Archimedes’ fixed point in space – from which to move the lever of the world, in the nomenclature of the Buddhist canon, to turn the wheel of dharma. So from a mystic perspective it is entirely feasible to exit the universal game simulation, to get one’s hands on the controls and alter the parametric values in any way desired.
As further observed in this connection, a worldview or paradigm is like an operating system, providing the user with a particular ‘handle’ on reality. The universe, indeed, supports innumerable paradigms, some mutually exclusive in their terms of reference. Yet, from a position sufficiently abstracted, it would appear that the paradigm is not in itself of primary significance. It is merely a matter of protocol, of magical interface. The tribe performs a dance, and it rains. The magus conjures, and a fiend appears. Vedic sages made themselves starships of akasha. We throw a switch, and the light comes on. The technology varies with the paradigm, and while some technologies are more elegant than others, ultimately it is will (intentionality) and faith (shakti, shakinah, power) which bring the object to manifestation. The secret of the Magus, if thus we may express ourselves, is that his will is unopposed; he knows himself to be God in the designated realm, having vanquished all other gods – idols such as the objective universe, the laws of nature, and whatever might opposed his desire.
Dreams, waking dreams, bardo vistas, simulations – an interesting addendum concerns the scenario, as found in literature, where the protagonist is unaware that he has died, in the conventional sense of the word. I’m thinking of a tale by Borges (title escapes me right now), wherein it gradually dawns on the theologian that he is in hell. Eerie material. The more so as it can be taken allegorically of spiritual death in the postmodern void (see my Horsemen Of The Apocalypse ). A point to be gleaned is that supposedly catastrophic events, such as death, may leave in themselves no trace in consciousness – the threshold is passed unawares. For the occultist there is much to ponder here insofar as the ‘real’ turning points – for an individual or an empire – are often … occult.
25 February 2008. A word concerning the dialogue itself. In one of your last communications you indicated the need for a hiatus in order to read Magick In Theory And Practice . I was concerned at the time that you might feel constrained to assimilate this tome in haste, instead of taking time and enjoying the magical adventure. Maybe I need not have worried. More, upon entering this domain, one is confronted with such wealth of material as to engender a kind of paralysis with respect to magical action. At least that was my experience. I remember struggling for years, merely to come to something of a basis, a foundation, a beginning in magic, when all the while the initiatory current was active quite independent of my conscious volition. With these considerations in mind, and to possibly assist, I wrote Magick In The New Age .
My other concern is that you may have put yourself in something of a bind in relation to the previous parts of our dialogue. We abruptly left off an intense exchange without any resultant being acknowledged. You remarked to the effect that the controversy would only deepen in proportion to the energy we accorded it. The implicit suggestion is that no conclusion emerged. But I think this is untrue. I believe I successfully deconstructed your critique, so far as it concerned my claims, and showed the same to be based on false assumptions. In the process a vast array of prejudice on your part was made explicit. (What makes manifest is light.) Please understand that I am not seeking retrospective vindication or something in the way of acknowledgement, although that would have been appropriate if this my construction is correct. My concern and hope, rather, is that you can impartially appraise the situation and derive authentic conclusions, so that you can move on without your game being compromised.
I, too, struggle for authenticity. I may have mentioned that I felt ambivalent about this opus – this website – virtually from its beginning. It still does not seem the statement I wish to make. What is my statement? I can report that I have been released – or released myself – from the task of disclosure of what I consider to be my revelation. It seems increasingly impossible (the paradoxical qualifier is apt) to express this in words; the exfoliation of meaning has become exponential; it has crossed some event horizon. Only silence seems appropriate. Actually – and, is it just me? I wonder – it seems to be getting more and more difficult to write anything at all. Why this should be so … I’d say, historically speaking, the postmodern world has crossed its event horizon and come into the gravitational pull of the singularity. The effect is everywhere felt – but especially, I think, by individuals like us. There is, besides, something intrinsically harrowing about the disclosing of occult and spiritual truths, comparable to the Promethean / Faustian venture to appropriate the fire of God. Pushing too hard, if the metaphor is now acceptable, is to be savaged by the cherubic guardians. Archetypal tales attest this fact, as does extant biography. My reading of mythology is inadequate, but it would be interesting to gauge the ubiquity of this scenario. In my spiritual tradition, by contrast, which also provides the overarching paradigm of these varied meditations, the invitation to approach comes from within the sanctuary. The way is furnished, the chariot of fire (the hyperspatial flying disk) provided of divine largesse.
Regarding the opus of this website then, without having attained anything like closure, closure has strangely overtaken me. That is as best I can explain it. Naturally this does not mean that I am sworn to silence or anything ostentatious like that. Texts may yet appear on this site, and I remain free to communicate. (An essay that might be written in this connection is The End Of The World Is Already Past .) But as to my assumed grand opus, of manifesting a spiritual and magical universe – of which this site is merely one incarnation – from this, it appears, I have been released.
From Jonathan – Hey Harald,
I was very glad to see that you continued the dialogue without me, and it looks like we had many interesting thoughts in parallel during the intervening time. You also contacted me at a propitious time as magik has been very much on my mind the last couple of days.
Catching up with your response to my opening entry, I can certainly see your point that, “Magicians do not plead — they command.” That single statement exposed many flaws in my attitude. Your suggestion that much practical magik is about making favourable links with existing currents also seems Taoist, pragmatic and refreshingly free of the hubris and inflation of so much material abounding today— The Secret , etc.—where one is promised an omnipotent relationship to manifestation. For example, in “Magick in the New Age” you state: “Magick in this vein has long been acknowledged as a desperate venture – something of a long shot – and even Crowley observed with diffidence that his magical objective was often obtained seemingly in spite of , rather than due to, the ritual.” The way that can be hyped is not the true way, and the way that is true cannot be hyped. Of course to sell books these days you need the five easy steps to godhood or something like that. Inflated presentation of ineffectual content seems to be the winning formula, and Terence McKenna defined the new age as a willingness to try anything so long as it doesn’t work. But how does one reconcile the magician that commands with the desperate long shot?
I agree that being a magician means, “…realising that the rules are just stuff that somebody made up at some point. They’re not set in stone. And as Rupert Sheldrake reminds us, the very laws of nature are merely her habits.” In many fields we see a human will, often successful, to tap into the source code of the matrix and alter it. The most dramatic successes in the human endeavour to crack the code have come through the relentless and potent magic of the late Iron Age—science and technology—and one must not fail to acknowledge its stupendous accomplishments. Science has cracked the human genome and can manipulate the code of life. More than sixty years ago it learned how to split the atom, and soon we will be able to create mini black holes in the latest and greatest of super colliders. Meanwhile, us introverted servants of the secret fire have learned some new things about psyche, the collective unconscious and so forth, but our list of new accomplishments seems far less impressive. My friend Ron Lampi calls the dominant magic of science and technology “Technos,” and it is as if Technos is the elder son, Prometheus wearing a coat of many colors, and we are like red-headed step children, mostly ignored, riding piggy back on the magical accomplishments of Technos. The internet, for example…as I was writing this an email arrived from my webmaster, Mathael, who also writes the code for the Zap Oracle, and the content of the email had to do with deceptive channeled material, and I realized that the Zap Oracle is the most functional magikal device I’ve created, an egoless channel, and at this phase of its life cycle it is entirely dependent on Technos. The introverted mystics are viewed by society as these marginal folks, in some cases persecuted, mostly ignored and neglected, and in a few cases celebrated by the cultural creatives within the larger population. The magikal technology they have most access to is art, and with an assist from Technos writing can now be published with world wide access in moments, and with a budget of a few thousands dollars for HD video cam and Final Edit Pro one can now have the equivalent of a movie studio. Movies— the queen of the arts—the only one that can subsume all the others—can now be created by determined mutants of modest means.
So what are your thoughts on the power available to us mystics with websites? Where do we stand compared to Technos and those who wield political and economic power? Is there some aspect of magik we can access that would level the playing field, or even give the mutants an edge over the military-industrial complex?
I emphatically agree that magik is potent only when it flows from True Will and is therefore in accord with our life mission and essence. I agree, based on a lifetime of experience, that there is validity to the guidance of the “Holy Guardian Angel” as you put it. The following statement is an example of an aspect of you I find to be as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves: “So it’s not the ideas we entertain that principally structure our reality, it’s what we hold to be true at a profound level of apprehension…” We cannot merely locate that core of True Will, but also need to do some anti-virus scanning and find those self-sabotaging subroutines, those self-limiting word spells we inflict on ourselves that are like the whisperings of Saruman within the arctic wind as we try to cross the mountain passage. We may or may not be able to hear the fell voices in the wind. If we can hear them, then we must begin the next phase: designing and implementing relentless counter measures; the price of freedom from fell voices is eternal vigilance, for they may recur in a thousand slippery guises. Despite all the many years of shadow integration work I have done, I still can’t presume that I have heard all the shadowy spells malingering in my unconscious, and there might be some invisible worm tongue whispering in my ear as I fall asleep.
I found this to be a very effective definition: “Persistence will usually garner a few strikes despite the odds. Once precedent has been established, according to Sheldrake’s morphic resonance and McKenna’s conservation of novelty, it gets easier. That’s what I mean by knack or groove .” The analogy I use was inspired by a similar one Jung used to explain archetypes. The undifferentiated morphic field is like a smooth, flat topography. Long established habits are like deep, dry river beds. As life energy springs up, analogous to water, it will tend to flow into the dry river beds as it flows across the topography. To change this circumstance we need to find ways to carve new river beds in the psyche, give the water some place else to flow. The hope is that the old river beds get a bit shallower, and the water flowing in the new direction becomes a deepening stream.
We both agree that the best ritual is created and adapted individually, rather than through some exotic inheritance, so let’s proceed with that as a given.
Related to reference realities and dreams please read this brief document: http://zaporacle.com/some-things-to-consider-before-dream-interpretation
This was eerie in its parallelism:
“In synchrony with these musings my attention was drawn to a question which has recently engaged the scientific community: Could the universe be a simulation, programmed by some intelligence? An interview on Earthfiles with Professor Brian Whitworth of Massey University, Aukland New Zealand, addressed this question and led me to peruse his paper, The Physical World as a Virtual Reality .”
I’ve been haunted by this question recently, the cycle began with the salvia experience on the blue moon last summer. I heard the exact interview you mentioned above, one of two I was to come across in a couple of days without looking for them. I will probably have more to say about this subject eventually. The Wikipedia has a brilliant, brilliant entry on this subject, it seems to be a definitive summary of the field, a must read: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simulated_reality
A discordant note occurred in your entries on magik where you expressed some sort of anxiety about a lack of closure with our earlier, sometimes acrimonious dialogue:
I believe I successfully deconstructed your critique, so far as it concerned my claims, and showed the same to be based on false assumptions. In the process a vast array of prejudice on your part was made explicit. (What makes manifest is light.) Please understand that I am not seeking retrospective vindication or something in the way of acknowledgement, although that would have been appropriate if this my construction is correct. My concern and hope, rather, is that you can impartially appraise the situation and derive authentic conclusions, so that you can move on without your game being compromised.
So far this strikes me as some sort of projection. I had the opposite impression—that more of your approach was successfully deconstructed— and I’ve noticed that you’ve reformed yourself and learned—at least in this dialogue—not to heavy-handedly impose mystical Christianity as the definitive reference reality. Far from being a splinter in my mind, I have not had any lingering anxieties about our earlier dialogue, and on a daily basis I see more evidence of religion acting as a fell voice in the wind for the entire species. You seem to be attributing your own anxiety to me, wondering how I am able to limp along with a compromised game and so forth. I wonder how you reconcile your seeming position of mystical Christianity as the definitive reference reality with some of your recent statements, i.e. :
This observation underscores the radical absurdity of regarding any particular section as objectively real. Objects and ideas gain substance, rather, in the forge of conscious attention.
As further observed in this connection, a worldview or paradigm is like an operating system, providing the user with a particular ‘handle’ on reality. The universe, indeed, supports innumerable paradigms, some mutually exclusive in their terms of reference. Yet, from a position sufficiently abstracted, it would appear that the paradigm is not in itself of primary significance. It is merely a matter of protocol, of magical interface. The tribe performs a dance, and it rains. The magus conjures, and a fiend appears …
Isn’t Christianity merely one of an endless number of particular sections, gaining substance, much of it infected, in the forge of fundamentalist attention? Is your version of mystical Christianity entirely immune to the tremendous weight of pathologized substance which lays claim to most of the same symbols and mythological forms? Isn’t it merely one of innumerable paradigms, mutually exclusive with many other paradigms—i.e. science? Why do I need an operating system like Christianity with its amazing vulnerability to viruses when I can create my own Linux? Is the mystical Christian paradigm also not of primary significance, merely a matter of protocol, of magical interface, an exclusive tribe performing its own song and dance, a magus conjuring so a fiend may appear?
Ron Lampi Weighs In
Jonathan: Thanks for the mention in your correspondence with Harald. I will try to say a few words. Have not had time yet to go to your site to read the complete correspondence thread.
I totally agree that magik or any occult or spiritual Path cannot be laid out like a 12-step program. Certainly one can learn rituals, procedures, symbology, etc as a background repertoire, but the effective practice itself, what really works or manifests, comes out to be strictly individual, with so many factors involved. I think more of the shaman here, as we know the shaman’s art is quite individual.
I had the insight once that if the secrets of true magik could actually be read like a technical manual, then every power-monger dictator, general, greedy corporate tycoon, you name it, would have had the entire planet caged up long ago. If magik were so clear-cut, Earth could likely be hell. Think if prayer itself were suddenly to increase manifold its efficacy – we do know that not everyone’s prayers are wholesome and to the good. Those who consider us evil do pray for our doom.
That underground hit The Secret is totally wrongheaded in this regard. People in my discussion group insisted I see it at one our video parties. I simply could not sit through it – I had to walk out. You said The way that can be hyped is not the true way, and the way that is true cannot be hyped. That is so accurate.
Your discussion of Technos in reference to us mutants living in the margins of society hit so close to my own concern in a chapter of my manuscript The New Age Vision . Mystics with websites. Yes, that is an enormous challenge to us in the 21st Century–how do we bring the psychospiritual, the mythopoetic, the super-creative into the arena of Technos? That is my theme of the integration of Technos and Psyche. This would have to lead into my whole discussion of the new Word, of Mythos, of Psyche. This indeed leads into The Mythos project I mentioned in the previous email. My essay “The Word as Mythos” begins this discussion.
As you say, we need to find ways to carve new river beds in the psyche. Well, that is exactly what a new Mythos would be about. How to find ways to carve new river beds in the psyche and still remain relatively sane and able to function in today’s society. My clue is, develop a personal relationship to Psyche – let Psyche be the Other who shares with your ego-self your psychic field. Let an Other live in you and things will begin to be revealed. You see, that is the beginning of a new river bed. That is to become polyphrenic.
Taking your cue from your comments on Magik, there can be no commercially packaged secret.
It’s getting late. The essays will be coming to you if not this week, the following week. Ron
Magick is a subtle thing. The popular conception is most certainly wrong – the idea, fuelled by Hollywood mumbo-jumbo, that it’s a merely matter of procuring the hoary grimoire, the ancient artefact and – hocus pocus fidibus – here comes the gold. We read in Crowley’s Magick , it’s of no importance that the ritual should be ‘right’ – as in any formal sense. The secret of success is to enflame oneself in praying . With the corollary that one invoke often .
Lampi (the Lamp?) seems to agree that it’s not a matter of slavishly following the letter of the law – there are schools which do this; I’m not aware of anyone having attained in this way. It seems a matter rather of becoming identified with inherent genius. If there is a Secret – that would be it. Whereas the non-initiate apprehends the magical system from without, the initiate wears the tradition like a robe – it’s his coat of many colours. And magic can take many forms, as you alluded, Jonathan, citing the example of literature and art. Certainly the Zap Oracle stands as a momentous magical artefact, a unique achievement, so far as I am aware, in the extant history of ideas. And, certainly, my worldview, over the last ten years, has changed considerably, precisely because of mystics with websites. What follows is conceived in response to the dialogue so far. As it turns out, it elaborates a kind of continuum of magical efficacy, a classification of effective means based on paradigm. Beginning with the materialist conception, it winds up with the spiritual idea of man as universal logos.
The idea of magick as conjuring trick, I suggest, derives from the scientific paradigm with its emphasis on causation. This being the age of science, its great magi tend to be techno savants like Kurzweil and von Neuman. Yet while the rational paradigm appears spectacularly successful, it incurs a significant hidden cost. It is because it has no deep epistemological roots that it springs up quickly. And it has an ugly down-side, quite apart from its egregious abuses. Epistemologically, it divides the universe in two, discards one half and constructs its worldview from the other. The mythological descent of world ages – gold, silver, bronze – brings us eventually to iron mixed with clay ; humpty-dumpty took his fall – mind and matter – and cannot be put back together again. The Kali Yuga in the Vedic system, clever without being wise, scientific materialism emerges as the most primitive of universal paradigms. As well as the most ephemeral.
More elegant is the astral engineering of the alchemist, sorcerer and shaman. Here we are in the realm of fantastic elf machines – machines which, from the rational perspective, appear absurd. Yet this does not prevent their exotic functioning, although their efficacy in the ‘material’ realm is, shall we say, rarefied. Very generally, this is also the domain of angelic/daemonic systems of magick, whose denizens by definition inhabit the subtle ethers. There is less inertia here, but protocol is still to be observed.
Beyond that is the spiritual magick of Buddhas and Christs, wherein technique or magical interface is merely a matter of personal style. These are the Magi in the grand sense, whose will is law, and for whom the manifest universe is their magical consort, flesh of their flesh, such that raising a hand or commanding a storm, it is all the same. Yet what is interesting, in each of these said paradigms the conjuration is with the same prima materia – matter, mater, matra magna, the Great Mother or materialising vortex of the universe. What differs is the manner of gnosis, the way of relating to this Lady.
Is it not wonderful and mysterious how intention to raise a hand translates into execution? Let the magician now explain by what technique conscious will is conveyed to nerve, sinew and muscle for the intended effect. What we are here contemplating is the nature and efficacy of pure faith. An analytical gnosis, by contrast, would likely to prove inhibiting, as observed when autonomous bodily functions become the object of self-conscious awareness. In efficacy, while the grace goes unrecognised by the secular majority, to possess a human body / soul is so near possessing the essential attributes of godhead as to constitute no odds.
Let me state for the record that the magic which I deem worthy of aspiration is the spiritual kind, with implicit accession to the cosmic centre, the true self and inner sanctum of God. For, as I see it, the view emerging from this realm subsumes and transcends all other paradigms. From this perspective the efficacious magical engine is a given. It is therefore not necessary, as you put it, to ‘create my own Linux’ – unless the implied creator is he who creates your body out of the void. Right on the mark, therefore, is your reference to virus cleaning – those self-sabotaging subroutines, those self-limiting word spells we inflict on ourselves. For all grand spiritual traditions concur: thou art that – it is simply a matter of recognition, of clearing the obscuration, delusion, defilement, however the flaw in the system is characterised. A ‘grand tradition’ thus purports to take us all the way – the rest are magical subroutines, useful perhaps along the way, like a laptop aboard the Eurostar.
As to the challenge then: I wonder how you reconcile your seeming position of mystical Christianity as the definitive reference reality with some of your recent statements, i.e. : This observation underscores the radical absurdity of regarding any particular section as objectively real. Objects and ideas gain substance, rather, in the forge of conscious attention … Isn’t Christianity merely one of an endless number of particular sections …?
That’s an interesting question, of course, and I have a theoretical answer which satisfies so far as it goes, but I would venture that in practice – existentially, spiritually – only a Buddha or Christ can answer this. The straightforward answer is, no, Christianity is not merely one of an endless number of particular sections … Let me elaborate by referring to other traditions wherein this paradox is encountered, and perhaps acknowledged more directly. In Buddhist Tantra, for instance, enlightened mind is called dharmakaya , the truth body of a Buddha, and as the unconditioned promordial ground, it is the one thing actual and intrinsic. Yet concurrently it is held that all Buddhas, kayas and dharmas are but figments of mind. But even that is not all! Mind is regarded as but a figment of mind, such that existence dissolves in the variegated hall of mirrors that is consciousness. Further it is written, the tao which may be spoken of is not the actual tao . Question: of which tao is Lao Tse speaking?
Please recall my insistence – indeed you insisted on the same – that by Christianity we mean two different things. Well do I know the Christianity to which you refer – it is presently being reinvented by evangelical thinkers. But I am not sure if you have grasped, even conceptually, that to which I refer. This Christianity is Christ, the universal logos, the inherent given of the human experience entire. You may conceptualise it, of course, but this ability only shows that you are a god – that you have the mind of God, the essential faculties of godhead. You are the vindication of my thesis. So, you will notice, we again encounter the paradoxical loop I cited in relation to other traditions. My point is that consciousness does paradoxical things – more, it is inherently paradoxical. Think of the unthinkable – easy. Conceptualise that which transcends conceptualisation – we’re doing it, and similar stuff, without batting an eyelid, all the time. Or, favourite of Zen enquiry – where is your mind? Is mind inside the universe, or universe inside the mind? It recently occurred to me that what is staring us in the face 24/7 is so paradoxical, so subversive of rational conceptions, that, were we seeing it as it is, we would at once be enlightened.
Tangled hierarchies and strange loops at the foundation of the epistemological numen – see Hofstadter’s brilliant tome on the subject ( Gödel, Escher, Bach ) or talk to one of its devoted aficionados.
On one point, however, you are evidently correct – that regarding projection on my part in the matter of our earlier dialogue. I was quite bemused in fact to read that not only did you not concur with my summation, but your impression was quite the opposite. I shall be delighted, of course, to take you at your word. The more so as assurance is given that my stated concerns are unfounded. It would be a mistake, however, to read too much into my admissions. My change of stance concerning the revelation essentially concerns my ostensible responsibility in relation thereto. I can report that it is getting easier and the burden lighter. God is a Taoist.
Figure And Ground
On the question, is not Christianity a mere idea? This type of question has occupied me profoundly of late, hence the above philosophical excursion. But now to put the matter succinctly, two instances of Christianity were identified – let’s call them yours and mine. Is Christianity a mere idea?
Yours – yes. (More accurately perhaps, it is a profusion of ideas.)
Mine – no, as explained above. (Ideas obtain concerning it, and these, as ideas, are in a class with yours.)
Is this satisfactory?
Butterfly Effect In The Psychic Ether
On the Magical Agency of Mystics with Websites
Eighteen months ago Jonathan Zap and I launched into a passionate and sustained debate (documented on our websites) in which the Judaeo-Christian revelation was defended against critique fielded from the perspective of a liberal gnostic humanism (to coin a phrase). Eighteen months later – as I write – a cognate debate is raging between militant atheism, Darwinism and scientific materialism on one side, and the evangelical community with a religious worldview and the theory of Intelligent Design on the other. It appears as if our dialogue, slightly recast along established positions, has been echoed and augmented by this said phenomenon, which to date has generated books, articles, websites, public lectures and debates, as well as media presentations and coverage in the popular press.
Was our exchange instrumental in generating the larger phenomenon? Did our obscure little storm-in-a-teacup effect a perturbation in the psychic ether such that intellectual agencies, delicately poised in standing-wave formations far from equilibrium, were precipitated beyond a threshold of reticence to ignite and fuel the ongoing conflagration?
From a magical perspective, it should be remarked, the causal conjectures in this construction of events are secondary. What counts are the self-evident facts – a stirring of the cauldron was followed by a storm. Again citing Crowley, we can state that the phenomena of magick appear, for the most part, so perfectly natural in their outworking that they rarely engender surprise, except by virtue of their timing and the combined testimony of replicated results. This is to counter the argument that the described effect would have occurred in any case. Further to be remarked is that Zap and I fulfilled the essential conditions of magick – a sustained campaign, conducted with passionate intensity, without lust of the described result, brought to a sudden arbitrary halt so far as the original protagonists are concerned, with both parties content to release the generated momentum and turn to other matters, almost as if the foregoing had not occurred . Thus virtually a textbook example.
I will add that I observe the described developments without misgiving, quite apart from the question of any magical responsibility. The relevant questions need to be addressed, and the ongoing public dialogue, while keeping thinkers employed, serves as a salutary example to those who are inclined to settle controversy of any kind with guns and explosives .
Memories Of The Impossible
A theory is here espoused that the mind of infancy and early childhood is comprised of the primordial plenum or hyperdimensional manifold. By this I mean that this mind holds the potential of all possibilities. It has not yet crystallised a specific worldview, with fixed ideas of what exists and how things function. Real and unreal are yet unformed categories, as are the notions of the possible and impossible. The embodied point of view, which most adults take for granted, is itself but incidental to the infant and child.
The following comprises a series of apparent memories, ostensibly deriving from some of my earliest experiences. I will qualify by admitting that these ostensible memories are tenuous. It may be more accurate to speak of memories of memories. Confabulation, even, may enter therein, and yet … the experience of recollection, of sudden conscious confrontation with the exotic ephemera of a forgotten wholeness, has been startling. There is a definite and profound sense of déjà vu, as of something actual and substantial, of an entire realm of mind, now for the most part occluded, and so, ultimately, of another world, conterminous with this, but more chaotic. There is moreover, quaint as this sounds, one’s sense of hailing from this other world, of being at home in it, and thus something of an unwilling emissary cast out among these dark satanic mills . As to activation of these memories, or of the implicated other mind, this seems a function of uncontrived stimuli – a sudden stillness of a warm summer day, talk of dreams and curiosa, augurs strange and fairytales.
While it is not clear what practical significance there is concerning the art of magick in these and kindred musings, they lend substance to the mystical philosophies of mind and consciousness elaborated in these pages. What these exotic perspectives illuminate is an enhanced vista of the possibilities inherent in human consciousness, the exploration and actualisation of which is central to magical pursuits.
1. I am lying in a cot, but only occasionally am I aware of this. Mostly my experience is everywhere in the room simultaneously. I (as distinct from my body) float, I hover, getting inside peoples minds and bodies, feeling their thoughts, seeing through their eyes, performing their activities.
2. I hold in my hands an object, maybe a toy, perceiving it simultaneously from all directions at once. Occasionally the perspective locks onto unidirectional. This, and comparable instances of the collapsing of the hyperdimensional waveform, is accompanied by a sense of sudden fateful nostalgia, a poignancy of time and place … like in the brooding landscapes of Salvador Dali.
3. I am walking in a field, or skipping, and presently my feet touch the ground but lightly, then only occasionally. After a while I am gliding just above ground, for ten or twenty paces at a time, then for much longer distances.
4. I am facing a solid rock wall, but I have a notion, perhaps a memory, that it is possible to enter such places. I try to get a feel for it, and presently the knack returns. It’s simple. The solid yields to penetration. What mystery, what enchantment!
5. I’m out in the fields, in the strange place by the weir, where there are standing stones. It is very quiet. Am I talking to the menhir? Suddenly I am miles away.
6. I’m lost, as in the woods or somewhere, and quite frantic. I have no idea how to find my way home. Suddenly, though, I am reminded that I have a trick up my sleeve. I can summon another mind, which I do, and this mind, even as I anxiously watch my progress, knows the way precisely.
7. Some calamity is afoot; it is well under way; I see with misgiving the accident has already happened – but wait a minute … suddenly I am hovering above the time, looking down as it were on the sequence of events from some a-temporal dimension. For a brief anxious moment I am doubtful – can I do it? Yesss! With relieved satisfaction I lock back onto the temporal sequence before the mishap got started. Now do it this way. Okay, that’s better .
8. My mind is working obsessively, again and again going around the same frustrating cycle, trying to regain the knack of something exotic, as once I could with little effort. Now, once again … let go , and in the vacuity, clinch it . But it seems hopeless. The letting-go is perfunctory and in the act of grasping the object is rendered elusive.
9. I remember earlier days when all this was easy (that is, I recall instances of remembering thus), and I have a sense of how I did these things, namely with a part of my mind which now seems elusive and remote. This mind, from here, seems like the other side of things, behind the veil of appearances.
As these apparent powers diminish in the course of the passing of time, it is with a sense of regretful disillusioned closure. There is also a sense of compromise, and quite an appalling one, as infinite freedom is exchanged for expectation and routine, for the perfunctory protocols of Cartesian 3-D and Newtonian physics and, not least, the positive affirmations of my elders. Four distinct periods may be identified: the first when all these powers were natural and effortless, the second when they could still be summoned by some sleight-of-mind, the third when the powers could be remembered, but no longer summoned, and the fourth when all of this was forgotten, obscured by the budding rational intellect. A fifth period, coming some forty years later, may be posited for some restored awareness of these exotic attributes. As to the element of ‘knack’ referred to in these memoires, it may be remarked that the contending mind itself appears to be the problem. The very effort of trying negates the possibility of success. The gate, so it appears, has to be opened from the other side. The knack, in other words, is possessed by that elusive aspect of mind, alluded to above. – HK.
Of Silence, Secrecy and Simulations
Remarks In Response To Correspondence From Jonathan
I think the simulation conjecture does not, of itself, dispose toward any radical revisionism as to the laws of physics or psychology. It’s tendency is to suggest the exotic, but when we examine the implications, we find the universe essentially unchanged. The effect rather is moral in kind, allowing for a relaxation of conventional thought, and thus for its corollary, open unfettered speculation. As when a certain reader of the tabloids, upon first hearing of Einstein’s theory of relativity, concluded: Ah well, it’s all relative … I guess I can sleep with my neighbour’s wife . It is interesting to ask, however, why simulation theory and similar ‘wild’ ideas have a catalytic effect on the imagination. I suggest it’s because we have fairly deeply ingrained notions of how reality works. We also know that this is preposterous hubris, wherefore we have recourse to wild ideas to counter our cultural conditioning. I was quite amused, in fact, when the question arose of God as the programmer, the New Zealand professor saying something to the effect that this does not necessarily mean an old man with a beard … of course … then later in the interview, with deadpan entirely unperturbed, … maybe it’s just a teenage kid playing with a computer. Presumably the bearded old man wouldn’t be into computers. So we see this has nothing to do with deduction, and everything with free association, with thought domains comfortable and uncomfortable, and where we want to go with our ideas. It is, in effect, to do a little reality programming ourselves.
A new paradigm, the while, has emerged from the physical sciences, far removed from the random and impersonal universe which until recently was the vogue. Indeed the concept of the random is proving increasingly elusive from a mathematical perspective, in keeping with my own intuition that in nature there is no such thing as chance. The news from the ivory tower is that, in every respect, we live in a designer universe, with new vistas of cosmic fine tuning constantly opening up on the frontiers of research. (One doesn’t need a hadron collider to observe the sun and moon being of the same apparent size. I mean, how is that for a hint.) While the empirical evidence increasingly suggests that humanity is the meaningful centre of this designer universe, the spiritual traditions go yet further, insisting that ‘man’ not only subsumes its essence, but holds within himself the information abstract of the design. I am referring of course to traditions of man as universal logos, as chief archetype and grand hieroglyph of the mysteries. This, for me, is where simulation theory is of greatest interest, insofar as man is part of the simulation as well as being its originator. As the primary dictum of magick has it, man is god.
Yet though a god, he has in some respect fallen from his estate, thereby making true the assertion of your correspondent regarding the illusory nature of free will. So far as it goes , that is to say, I accept the scientific data she presents with the implied conclusions. What these indicate is the extent to which most humans are creatures of habit. The spiritual traditions, Christian and Buddhist alike, concur that freedom is the fruit of attainment; it is not a given of the human condition.
Apropos the described concerns regarding your voice as an author, I wish to write briefly on the occult virtue of silence. As you may be aware, this is one of the so-called four powers of the Sphinx – to know, to will, to dare and to keep silent. Crowley tells us what we are to understand by silence , especially in this, the new magical aeon. It does not denote the secretive harbouring of occult information, as once perhaps we might have thought. Rather it is equanimity in assimilating the thunderbolts of initiation. It is transformation of the self without inner commotion. This inward silence allows us to ‘keep silent’ in the mundane sense, that is, to engage the world in an appropriate manner. And it is curious how this dovetails with above remarks, in that the average man becomes unhinged by the mere mention of the tremendum. The initiate, by contrast, is sore shaken in his ordeals to render him steadfast.
Of Simulations, White Crows and Language Crystals
© 2008, Jonathan Zap
There are so many interesting threads trailing off of Harald’s last entries, and Ron’s brief remarks, that it feels like I am pulling on the edges of a magical tapestry embossed with alchemical glyphs. The dangling threads feel like they could pull me toward secrets at the center of the great tapestry into which we and all our questions are woven. What a privilege to escape the dumbing-down anvil of common discourse, and be able to converse with minds that have actual content, that finish sentences, and even have subtle insights, realizations and epiphanies. Is it some arrogant narcissism in me that finds ordinary human discourse so deeply disappointing? Of course there are hidden layers I can examine if I take the time, but what’s on the surface is usually so deficient, at least to my sensibilities. Ordinary discourse seems so characterized by mundane focus, missed opportunities, subterfuge, and posturing for position in the primate social hierarchy. Relating to cats, and some other animals, is not so disappointing because there is authenticity and no sense of degraded potential.
We all seem to agree that magic is not to be learned by rote, and maybe this implies an essential principle: magic and the mechanical are an intrinsically opposed pair, and any combination of them is alchemically oxymoronic. To be a magician is to be a creator not a cog, and life-changing manifestation is more likely to arise from individual inspiration than any inherited templates. However, I would like to point out two magical empowerments which we could gratefully receive from the outside. One is the very subject on which we have been dialoguing: essential principles of magic. Our dark, eccentric and alchemically rich Uncle Aleister left us a generous inheritance of well-formulated principles, but we need to rework some of that material as we are incarnating in a different part of the new Aeon. Essential principles are empowering because they do not seek to make us mechanical, do not constrain us, but rather help us to see mistaken and constricting notions of magic that might otherwise be pitfalls or self-castrating delusions. Knowing essential principles of anything is like knowing the source code of a matrix, it empowers you to be a creator/magician if you are able to wield the source code or even transcend it.
The process of uncovering essential principles of magic needs to flow from within as well as from without. The essential principles of magic we uncover ourselves, the ones that flowed from within, are the ones we are most likely to fully internalize and put into practice, into outside flow.
Another magical empowerment we need was recognized by Ron. We need a new mythos, and the new mythos will include a new mythos of magic. Furthermore, I feel that for the magician, the process of uncovering the new mythos must flow from within and from without. Ron wrote,
Your discussion of Technos in reference to us mutants living in the margins of society hit so close to my own concern in a chapter of my manuscript The New Age Vision. Mystics with websites. Yes, that is an enormous challenge to us in the 21st Century–how do we bring the psychospiritual, the mythopoetic, the super-creative into the arena of Technos? That is my theme of the integration of Technos and Psyche. This would have to lead into my whole discussion of the new Word, of Mythos, of Psyche.
As you say, we need to find ways to carve new river beds in the psyche. Well, that is exactly what a new Mythos would be about.
The new mythos may already be in effect, just poorly recognized. I have written about what I call the “singularity archetype” and a motif in many of its occurrences (as dreams, visions, fantasy/sci-fi stories/novels/games and movies) is the mutant versus the machine. (please see: The Mutant versus the Machine, the Iron Age and the Galactic Alignment of 2012) The magically/parapsychologically endowed mutant can threaten the sinister patriarchy/military-industrial complex. Conversely, a mutant powerfully attuned to the dark side of the force is likely to be found at the head of the oppressive power complex. Some of the most classic expressions of this new mythos include: the Dune books by Frank Herbert, 2001, Childhood’s End, the Japanese anime classic Akira , Star Wars, and X Men.
If we successfully internalize this mythos we come to realize that we are more than marginalized mystics with websites. The right words, even though they be insubstantially rendered of zeros and ones, and even though they seem to be lingering neglectedly in some distant corner of the vastness of the blogosphere might actually turn out to be fell words of power that shift the Babylon Matrix just by the formality of their actually existing. New thought forms, even if they are not woven into word spells, immediately alter the field that is accessible from anywhere, and which is an influence on anyone with whom it has entangled resonance.
Responses to Harald’s new entries:
I agree emphatically that the reigning form of magic at the closing of the Iron Age—fundamentalist materialism or scientism—is inherently self-limiting. Whenever a system of magic seeks to reign, it does so by enforcing itself as the definitive reference and transformer of reality, and any sort of magic that comes from outside its system is taboo and actively suppressed. Religion and science are strangely alike in this aspect, there is a hierarchical priesthood of initiates who, from the fortress of their institutions, engage the whole blooming, buzzing world with a withering contempt. Like Agent Smith, there is a certain stench to the world that they can’t abide, splinters in their minds they can’t get out, a repulsive, incomprehensible and yet insistent aspect of the world forever intruding into their assumptions. And the more ungrounded the assumptions, the more unbalanced the inner attitude, the more they will be driven by a feverish will to spread the contagion through proselytizing, forced conversions and lethal cleansings. As a system that would like to reign over us, religion has been far more extreme in its many pathologies than science has. For all its orthodoxies, science has been far more open to change, to paradigm shift and has even begun the slow and painful process of internalizing the astounding and confounding findings of quantum mechanics. Science is up to at least version 7.4 and there are daily updates and patches and added functions. While some religionists do admit of change, the best of Reform Judaism comes to mind, there are so many who insist on religion version 1.0 and insist that it is we individual nodes in the matrix who need to be patched, updated, or even to have our entire operating systems replaced so as to conform to the original, ever more antiquated, program.
More elegant is the astral engineering of the alchemist, sorcerer and shaman. Here we are in the realm of fantastic elf machines – machines which, from the rational perspective, appear absurd. Yet this does not prevent their exotic functioning, although their efficacy in the ‘material’ realm is, shall we say, rarefied. Very generally, this is also the domain of angelic/daemonic systems of magick, whose denizens by definition inhabit the subtle ethers. There is less inertia here, but protocol is still to be observed.
Yes, the more individualized astral engineerings of such mutant types as alchemists, sorcerers and shamans may be elegant, but also, as you acknowledge, “rarefied” in their efficaciousness in the material realm. Sometimes the more rarefied is more powerful, and there may be conditions for which homeopathic medicine is more efficacious, but not, one assumes, for broken bones. A competent materialist is likely to have a high success ratio with bone setting, but may not be so reliable in healing a wounded soul. Nevertheless, practitioners of reigning systems do have immense advantages, for they wield vast momentum from all the psyches which have been subsumed into their systems. The individual mutant practitioner may sometimes feel like a straw blown across a Death Star-like mass congealed of cathedrals and skyscrapers that has been gaining weight for millennia, and whose gravitational pull is like a focused array of tractor beams emanating from a fleet of cube-shaped Borg star ships here to enforce our assimilation. These massively collectivized systems of magic have been endlessly reinforced and ramified and are everywhere around us congealed into stone and metal and glass. So this brings us to a paradox I would still like you to address: the magician who doesn’t request, but commands, and the acknowledgment of magic as a sometimes desperate measure, and whose manifestations might be rarefied and not necessarily efficacious in the inertia-bound worlds of matter and of collective consensual hallucination. How do we stand up to rabid Borg-like patriarchies that seek to implant us with their chips and commandments?
As you may be implying, the gap between raising a hand and commanding a storm may not be as gigantic as we’ve been conditioned to believe. Each is a mysterious and magical act, merely two cases of matter being altered in conformity to will.
On your idea of Christianity and mine:
No, the dichotomy you draw is not quite satisfactory. I understand and agree with an implied part of it, that there is a fundamental difference between Christianity the aggregation of conditioned beliefs, flawed practitioners and the institutions they create, and Christianity as universal logos outside of linear time that cannot be an object of discernment. But if it is a timeless universal logos then it doesn’t need a brand name, unless you happen to need a particular name or mythology through which to interact with it. Secondly, the Christianity I’ve written about is not merely a profusion of ideas, not in its own reality or in my conception of it. This more temporally visible Christianity is a living thing, like a giant artery through which souls are flowing and being processed. But after two millennia this artery has become badly corroded, and all the many jagged accretions of plaque create turbulence and constriction, even blockage for so many of the souls attempting to flow through it.
On your idea of the tempest in the tea cup of our debate about religion magically empowering the parallel collective debate: I like the underlying idea even if the particular example, like the particular case of the hundredth monkey, doesn’t satisfy skeptical scrutiny. The recent intensification of the old debate seems to have collectively intensified with the publication of God is not Great by Christopher Hitchins May, 2007 and God: The Failed Hypothesis: How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist by Victor J. Stenger. I read just the Amazon preview excerpt for the Hitchins book and it seemed deeply authentic, heartfelt, thoughtful and written with poetic style. I think he would be a more worthy adversary for you than some of the super arrogant materialists you’ve mentioned before. Those two books may have been published just after our dialogue, but were no doubt rolling along on time tracks that preceded our debate.
Claims of magical influence can often be made to wither under the skeptical gaze. And mostly we’re talking about debunkerism, not skepticism. The Skeptics were Greek philosophers who felt they would observe more, and learn more by slowing down the typical human haste to reach conclusions. Professional skeptics tend not to be skeptics but absolutists, they are true believers in certain negatives, i.e. parapsychology, UFOs, astrology, etc are just stuff and nonsense . Their faith also includes a positive true belief—that scientismic materialism is the one true reality, and science is and always will be superior to any other way of knowing. Such debunkerism does not defeat magical causality, because reality is so often more a choice of competing possible reality tunnels rather than a case of narrowing something down to a single right answer. Although quantum mechanics analogies are often dubious, it does seem as if we travel through an amorphous wave form, and it is our essential attitude that collapses the wave function. The debunker collapses the wave form one way, the magician another. If reality were a multiple choice test, the correct answer would often be “all of the above,” and choosing a, b, c or d should get you only part credit. By choosing to believe in magical causality you step off the monotrack of the victim of circumstances and find yourself in a nexus of reality tunnels. In such a place of power you have more free will, and may use reinterpretive magic, and other forms of magic to choose and create your own reality tunnels.
Your way of demonstrating magical influence is perfectly valid, just as it is valid to be a presumptive salesperson who proceeds by acting as if he already had the sale: “And when would prefer to have the sofa delivered, Mr. Kleeman? Is Tuesday or Thursday of next week soon enough?” A magician approaches the universe like such a presumptive salesperson, acting as if the manifestation has already occurred, and if this is done with sufficiently brazen self confidence arising from true will, then the universe will often accommodate the presumptive sale. Sometimes it will do so sluggishly, sheepishly, sometimes with the speed of thought, and other times it seems as if other salespeople have gotten there first and ruined the prospect. I have also gotten messages that, just as on the surface world there are celebrities and various elites that seem to have an over-sized influence on the surface world and the chemical plane of causality, there may be hidden over-shadowers who, by the uniqueness and vitality of their psyches and the roles they play in the dream time, may influence events in realms not mentioned in the newspapers, but whose potent influence erupts into the newspaper world. (see Jung on “Wotanism” in Volume 10 of the collected works, Civilization in Transition) I should also add that there are some celebrities who rose to the attention of the surface world because of immense personal power which also leaves its imprint on the dream time and various inner planes of reality. There are also a lot of non-celebrities who are light weights in all worlds, what Jung called “mass man,” or some now call “sheeple” that seem to be souls without much independent inertial momentum, and who are, therefore, almost completely formed by the forces of social conditioning outside them. They sported bobby socks in the Fifties, in the Sixties they wore love beads, they went to discos in the Seventies, and right now they are busy expressing their emoticons via text-messaged sentence fragments.
If you take seriously the simulation hypothesis, as many physicists are now doing, then you also enter an expanded reality tunnel, because now reality prime can become a subset of some larger complexity capable of generating novel reality tunnels. Even a glancing acquaintance with this primal idea, an idea that the Gnostics had internalized two thousand years ago, can act as a catalyst because it means we don’t have to take every aspect of the baseline reality so damned seriously. For this reason the release of the movie, The Matrix , in 1999, should be recognized as a major cultural milestone. The Wachowski brothers, who studied Gnosticism, found a way to translate the Gnostic mythos into a contemporary form, and the collective was significantly influenced. The movie struck a chord with so many of us because we have no problem locating a splinter in our own minds, and we know that deeply alienated feeling that we live in a world that’s been pulled over our eyes.
I too am haunted by parallel realities, but I sense various of these, and they are not necessarily more chaotic. One parallel reality is “the Green World” which I have described in A Splinter in your Mind and it feels more appropriate, more like home, than the Babylon Matrix. The only way it is more chaotic is that it is more easily reformed by magical intention, and objects are more imbued with spirit, more animistic and the mortal mono-body gives way to the changeling body.
The feeling of alienation from the present state of reality, that all too familiar sense of a fallen world of diminished possibilities, brings me to grateful appreciation of the primal