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Alchemy for the Brain-Damaged I: The Royal Art
Saturday, August 20th, 2005
I thought it might be time to get round to this. I’ve never intended to be a simple alarmist, or a pithy commentator. That gets old rather fast. So let’s run the grand old experiment… start with some definitions, a little background, and some operating premises. You can peek at the first part of this if you haven’t already and then come back. It would certainly help to read a good block of what I’ve got on AB so far as well, just so you get a feeling for my take on magick, but it’s not mandatory obviously. Okay. So are we talking technique, or are we talking visionary experience? Hopefully both. From the ’spiritual’ perspective it behooves one to preference the latter, but part of the point of magick is that it empowers the personality to pursue the spiritual more effectively. My feeling is that done correctly, technique leads to vision, with the added benefit of also having a skill set to implement the vision afterword. In a nutshell, unless your natural inclination is towards renunciation and asceticism, or christlike devotion to others, you’ll get something out of cultivating some skills in this area. so we’ll start with technique. Crowley would suggest and most seem to agree, that magick is about change and will. Alchemy traditionally of course revolves around the refinement of the base material of consciousness into ‘gold’. Yoga translates literally as ‘union’ or ‘yoking’ (as in yoking an animal to a plow). You could look at this as consolidating the scattered and disparate foci of the mind and body into a perfected vessel of the divine. The esoteric martial arts are similar to yoga, but slanted toward the practical necessities of battlefield survival, and other forms of violent confrontation.
-2For our purposes here, we’ll be treating magick as this: the cultivation of intent. Full stop. That’s it. That covers everything you need to know for now. In terms of models, I’m going to go to what seems like the source of magic ’systems’ which to me is hermeticism. You could make a case that shamanism is the oldest form of magick, and I’m not inclined to disagree, but my feeling is that most shamanism was and is idiosyncratic and personal. It’s like jazz. Each shaman makes it up as they go along. And while I have a lot of fondness for that idea, you don’t need me to go and make up your own shit. So we’ll start with ‘the royal art’. First of all, you could learn a bit in asking why it’s called that. The royal art? Well simply, I think it was called that for three reasons. One, only the ruling classes had the education and time to learn magick. Second of all, the cultivation of intent is obviously quite useful to a priest, or a king, or for that matter anyone who aspires to be a king, chieftan, or a priest. It was sort of the ancient equivalent of personal empowerment seminar or success psychology, but obviously a bit different given the older and more rudimentary psychology of the average person of prehistory. I mean if developmental psychologists are to be believed the structure that we think of as the ‘ego’ is a relatively recent invention, and is definitely less formed in archaic cultures. Whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing is besides the point for our purpose, but it’s interesting to contemplate how much of the ‘modern’ mind is the product of ancient alchemy. You may not like what’s been done with it, historically, but the fact that you can even question or critique it, is proof that you enjoy it’s benefits… And Third, this path is sort of a symbolic process of merging with the godhead, which is about as ‘royal’ as royal gets. It’s important to recall that in ancient times the ruler was synonomous with the godhead, and while we’re inclined to think of that as ignorant authoritarianism, those societies and systems of government endured for thousands of years, while our current ‘democratic’ experiment looks to have petered out in less than a couple hundred. So while the modern knee jerk reaction is to assume we know so much better than those stupid peasants and servants back in the day, maybe they knew something that we don’t. But let’s leave aside any further theoretical preamble for the moment and get down to brass tacks. Surely we will be discussing all kinds of outlandish techniques and tools for exercising and developing the intent, but if you lose sight of what those things are for, namely to help you understand the workings of your own mind, you’re well on your way to the ghetto of the lost and the doomed. At all times keep in mind that it’s about discovering the difference between what you think you want and what you really need, and you should be fine. That can be hard to do when reality starts to feel like putty in your hands, and gods are offering you a seat on the board of directors, but the truth is, even dieties are unhappy sometimes and just because their experiences on a scale of 1 to 10 go to 1,000,000 doesn’t change the relative facts of it. So. What I want you to do, provided you’re interested in playing along, is to make a list of what you want. Let’s say ten things. Ten things you want that are achievable from your current perspective. You may want to be a rock star, but if you don’t think it’s possible to
-3be a rock star, for you right now, then leave it off the list. As well, for the moment, I suggest you make as many of the things on the list as possible relatively short term projects. The reason is, you want to be able to complete some of these relatively quickly and turn over your list a little bit. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. By the same token, you want the things on your list to have bit of emotional juice to them. Wanting to make a sandwich is not so great. Wanting to drive for three hours to the nearest Arby’s is better. Wanting to own your own restaurant chain is better still. And yes it’s perfectly alright to want utterly banal and trivial things. That’s part of the point when we start. That’s the base material which we will proceed to refine. Good enough for now? I’ll be participating in this myself and posting my doings, by way of illustration if nothing else. Off you go!
Alchemy for the Braindamaged II: Difficulty
Sunday, August 21st, 2005
in difficulty, creativity and development are effective if correct. Do not use. There is a place to go. It is beneficial to set up a ruler. - the Taoist I ching I’ve incorporated some aspects of the I ching here because it’s a good map of this whole process from a non western perspective. For scholars of this topic I’m working through the yang sequence 1,3,5 etc as this mirrors the cultivation of intent I’m talking of here. I’ll be switching metaphors liberally however to give a multi faceted overview of this thing filtered through many systems. Anyway. One of the big movements of occultism in the last century was to shed a lot of what was seen as ‘trappings’. Certainly even up to the Golden Dawn or OTO there was rather a lot of formal declarations, applications and sponsorship, oaths of various kinds and involved induction rituals before instruction would begin. There practices still survive in many forms mind you, but they are increasingly seen as archaic holdovers from an uptight and self important elitist practice that have no place in an egalitarian democracy which professes freedom and equal opportunity. Certainly the best example is the chaos magick current which prides itself on the complete absence of extraneous trappings. Why the hell should I have to make all these binding promises and jump through hoops to learn this shit? Put up or shut up, guys! The big problem with this mentality is that it promotes the same kind of crippling thinking that infests capitalism and consumerism ie; if I am prepared to pay the market price for something and show up, I should be entitled to have the product on a silver platter, at no personal cost to myself. I worked for my money already, so why should I do anything else? This may work for buying a pimped-out ride or some fly new sneakers, but when it comes to inner cultivation, that shit won’t fly. This is not a market transaction. This is not a democracy. This is your inner world. Is your inner world subject to the constitution, to egalitarian social mores? Is your inner life subject to market forces? It is not. If you think it is, then you have my sympathy. What unfortunately gets overlooked is that while a lot of those trappings seem unnecessary, they fulfill a very important function: they make you work for it. If you aren’t prepared to face some difficulties and perservere through some obscure rituals, if you aren’t willing to make some personal sacrifices and bind yourself with some
-5commitments to your teachers, your fellow students and yourself, then you haven’t got the fortitude to do anything with the teachings anyway, so you might as well save everyone the time and the hassle and go home. Think of a buddhist temple, or old school martial arts. Go chop wood for a few years, or dig me a well, or stand out in the cold for a couple days, then you’ll be ready. If you look at this thing from the perspective of cultivating intent, it starts to make sense, yes? You’re already learning something before you get in the door. So before you run off half cocked looking to secure power and obscure knowledge, ask yourself this; what am I prepared to do? What am I prepared to give up? Am I willing to wait, to endure discomfort? Am I willing to let things slide in other areas? Are you correct in your intentions, or are you looking for a free lunch? If you think you’re going to learn a new skill without making some room in your life, and cutting some things loose, you’re probably kidding yourself. The other aspect to this, which I’m sad to say has gotten lost to a large extent these days is what the description of the hexigram calls setting up a ruler. Meaning, the willing submission to a larger principle. Be it a teacher, a religion, an overarching ideal, or a relationship. Where’s your compass? What will bring you through the difficulties of the path? Most people get by on the weak nourishment of an ego fattened on consumer culture and unearned luxuries. If this seems too harsh or confrontational, I assure you it is in your best interest. The couch is always there if you get too uncomfortable. Your next assignment, should you choose to overlook your bruised sense of entitlement, is twofold: Examining our list, ask yourself what you are prepared to do to meet that goal. How far are you willing to go? Will you do whatever it takes , or are you hoping it will land in your lap? Are there some things on that list you will give up to get other things? Are there items, that once you’ve thought about it, aren’t really worth the hassle? What’s the one thing you must have on that list above all others? answer and revise your list accordingly. If you’ve dropped some things, add more using your new criteria. If you can, rank the things on the list in terms of importance. Once you’ve done that, you probably have a good idea of how to set up a ruler. What’s the overriding principle? What unifies your life? What is your purpose? Who or what do you serve? If you don’t know, then put it on the back burner for now. next time: how to banish demons!
Alchemy for the Braindamaged III: Keep Chillin’
Monday, September 5th, 2005
Turn on tha radio, nah fuck it turn it off Fear is your only god on the radio Nah fuck it, turn it off Turn it off, turn on tha radio, nah fuck it turn it off Fear is your only god on the radio Nah fuck it, your saviour’s my guillotine, crosses and kerosene Vietnow- RATM Back in the day, ( and by ‘the day’ I mean the paleolithic era ) when animism was fashionable, there was a lot of concern with what you might call psychic hygiene. In those days, it was accepted fact that everything in the environment had ’spirit’, that it could theoretically exert influence on a person, for good or ill. Even for the hardest headed rationalist materialist, it’s easy to accept the premise that humans are influenced by the environment. All the paleolithic peoples, and their first proto-shamans, understood the necessity of exerting some discriminating control over what was influencing your psychophysical life. It might be part of the reason certain of these tribal peoples, that still survive to this day, experience dismay with our oversaturated environment. The average modern is inundated with signals and influence that we are rarely even cognizant of. Indeed there are whole industries devoted to quashing our active awareness of influence over our interior lives. So perhaps we can benefit from learning a thing or two about how to deal with malignant spirits. You may refer to this, if you like, as ‘banishing’.
-7Pretty much every occult or spiritual tradition has a version of this practice. Part and parcel of developing an authentic spiritual life, or magickal will, is learning to differentiate your own consciously chosen perspectives and influences, from the ones that are conditioned, imposed, implanted or habituated into you. More refined forms of ceremonial magick place great importance on ‘purification’ of the ritual space, which means essentially to cleanse it of outside forces that may skew the actions you take there. Clarity and purity of intent are paramount. The good news is there tend to be lots of them, that are easy to spot. The bad news is, that’s because pretty much everything in your head came from somewhere else. Aside from the odd profound innovator, everything circulating in human culture is a recombined, repackaged, blended and idiosyncratic version of something invented ages ago. After all, the physical world is more or less exactly the same stuff that’s always been here for the last several million years now. We might recombine the bits in different ways, and describe them differently, but not that much is really ever new under the sun. So don’t feel bad if you haven’t got a lot of truly original shit in your head. Very very few people do. If it makes you feel better, you’ll be well on your way to original thoughts once you’ve done a thorough housecleaning. But I digress… My take on this skill comes in two parts. It grows and evolves in all kinds of interesting ways, but here’s how you start: First of all, take some time to notice what is influencing your thoughts, speech, and actions in your surroundings. Other people, the architecture, the weather, your job, the media. It may seem common sense, but do you ever really think about this? Do you ever really ask yourself how different your life might be without these influences? Do you ever ask yourself how deep the hooks really go? Would you be shocked to find out how much of your life is shaped by the imagined opinions of strangers on the street? Would you be shocked to realize how much your mind is affected by a stream of pixels coming through a computer screen? How you ever thought about turning these things off? Can you even conceive of shutting these influences out? Once you’ve done that, you can proceed to a formal banishing practice. I do recommend you take some time to do this carefully and in depth, because not many people have the concentration to do this on the fly and get any significant results. Certainly, as you get better with this you’ll develop a clearer sense of what influences you can take or leave, and how to separate yourself from the latter quickly and efficiently. For now though… 1. Find a place where you can concentrate and not be disturbed. If your mind is fairly strong you can just close your eyes on the bus or lying in bed. You may even get good enough to do this while walking. 2. Allow your mind to fill up with the felt impressions of external influences. For example, you may be bothered by pictures on tv, especially recently. But alongside that picture will usually be some kind of mental or tactile sensation which is fairly palpable. Learn to associate the images and thoughts with how they make you feel.
-83. Define your personal space. This is the area where you have comfortable emotional and physical distance from things that are pressing in upon you. Depending on your comfort level, this could be limited to your skin, or as far as the room, or your house. Keep the perimeter of ‘your space’ as clear as possible. Any visualisations you can do to augment your sense of enclosed space will help. All kinds of symbolic angels, guardian animals, pillars of fire, moats and whathaveyou will work. If you have a connection to some kind of higher force, by all means draw upon that as well. As you do this, allow yourself to feel anything outside your space recede and diminish in significance. 4. You may find just doing the last step will work fine, but I’ll add a little submodal trick from NLP. You’ll probably find that your ‘demons’ ( which is a nice conceptual shorthand for negative psychic influences, at the very least ) have some kind of interior visual or auditory aspect. What you can experiment with, is purposefully altering the sensory presentation of these things. If the pictures are big, make them small, if they bright and in color make them dim and monchrome. If they are loud make them quiet. And again, if defining your space is insufficient, and they still feel very close and urgent, allow them to be spatially displaced away from you. 5. Once you’ve got a good sense of detatchment, contemplate how you might change your relationship to these external factors, now that they aren’t urgently assaulting you. In particular, examine your list of goals and determine exactly how much of that list is a result of someone or something else influencing you. While a certain amount of that is inevitable, particularly in the formative stages of a goal, you need to establish how much you want that pressure coming in on you, as an ongoing thing. What level of conditioning are you prepared to live with right now? Repeat this practice as often as possible. ‘banish often’ is a tried and true dictum of occult practice. The seemingly endless amounts of prayers and mantras of the devoutly religious have their roots in this concept. As you get more skills, you’ll find that you can get a good sense of personal autonomy at any time you wish it, and even when you’re not consciously thinking about it. Homework: Obviously, do the above banishing practice. Having done it at least a few times, return to your list and decide what level of influence you will accept, and if necessary change your list accordingly. You may have noticed that I haven’t been demanding that you go out and ‘do’ anything on your list of goals yet, right? That’s intentional. You may also have noticed that some of those things seem to be happening anyway, or at least in the case of far away goals, that things seem to be coming more into focus. It may also be the case that you’ve gone out and one some stuff already. That’s fine, just add more items to your list, keeping in mind all the criteria and practices we’ve done so far. Next; Full-On Muthafuckin Sorcery, Bitch!
Alchemy for the Braindamaged IV: …I can do anything
Thursday, September 8th, 2005
Yeah, I just want you to get with it ’cause everyone that’s under your shoe And every bird and bug in the jungle, too And everything in the ocean blue They just happen to know exactly what to do So why don’t you? Yeah, why don’t you? The flies get it And the frogs get it And all them big jungle cats get it And I bet your little dog gets it Yeah, I want you to get with it Yeah, come on, and get with it Whoo! White Stripes- Instinct Blues Okay, enough of the metaphysical bollocks. You want power? Lets talk about muthafuckin power. It’s really simple. In fact it’s so simple I doubt you can handle it. Yes you. I am talking to you. I doubt YOU can handle it. You’re so hopelessly crippled by all the stupid bullshit in your head and all your idiotic concepts that I really doubt you will understand what I’m about to tell you. But let’s give you the benefit of the doubt.
- 10 The truth about power is that it’s already right there in front of you. You are born with all the authority you could ever need. You have way more power than you can ever use. and I can hear all the little bitches whining already…. but I don’t feel powerful..whinewhinewhine… Yeah exactly. EXACTLY. You don’t FEEL powerful. Why the fuck do you think that is? Do you think they raise robot slaves and obedient servants to feel powerful? Of course they fucking don’t, asshole. Go banish some more and shut the fuck up. Come back when you’re ready to pull your head out of your ass. Nothing you see, or read or experience is going to make you powerful. There is nothing contained in these words. There is nothing contained in any words, anywhere. It is in you right now. It doesn’t come from people either. You are either a master, a mistress, or a slave. You are either one of those people who is waiting for someone to tell them what to do or you are not. It’s digital. On or off. Get with the fucking program or go home. Still not simple enough? Do you suppose that these powerful people have something going for them you do not? Do you suppose there is some real difference between you and the politician, the rock star, the millionaire, the prophet? Did somebody infuse Martin Luther King Jr. with his authority, or did he just do it? Did someone give Jim Morrison his magnetic serpent power, or did he just step forth and get it? Really. Really. STOP thinking. For once in your life stop thinking and understand this. Nobody has any power over you that you did not give them. The book didn’t do it, the law didn’t do it, your parents and siblings didn’t do it. YOU did it. And you can do it again. You can do it whenever you want. You can say or do or have anything you want. Humans are the only creatures in nature pathetic enough to try and justify our own existance. You’re alive, there is nothing to justify. But won’t that make me selfish? Fuck off. Seriously. Shut the window in your browser and fuck off. I don’t have time for people like you. Morality is a construct. Don’t pretend that you give a shit about any arbitrary construct. You do exactly what you’re prepared to live with and nothing less. You can justify it any way you like, and lots of people do. Morality is an excuse to quit thinking. If you’re afraid to actually do something useful with your thinking process, namely to examine and make intelligent and healthy choices about your interaction with people, then go back to what you were probably doing with it instead, namely disempowering yourself and becoming a better robot. There’s plenty of people out there who will gladly tell you what a good person you are. I’m not one of them. I don’t know, and I don’t care. Society is structured to check the tendency to exert power. Law is based on the terror of natural charisma. We’re constantly exposed to examples of people who abuse other people, and this is meant to frighten us into not going anywhere near our own power, as if that will automatically make you into Hitler or Charlie Manson. It’s all a fucking sham. Society has fuck all to do with laws and everything to do with influence. If you want to
- 11 delude yourself that morality and laws make the slightest bit of difference, you need to go back and finish puberty. Society is built on those too stupid and naive to recognize that charisma and natural influence is and always has been the glue of human groups. Period. The world, the things in it, and yourself are exactly, mean exactly, are limited exactly and only exactly in the ways you say they are. Get it through your fucking head. You talk about authority as if it were something that fell from the sky, and granted, that is a popular story. It didn’t fall from the sky. All authority came from somebody who wasn’t afraid to use it, and make up a story about where it came from. God? God is everywhere and nowhere, it’s like open source software. Make up your own story if you want, and be ready to back it up. The hospitals are full of people who didn’t have the juice to walk their talk. If you can keep it together long enough to attract some followers, then you’ll probably be fine. Groupies, friends, or employees. Whatever. Does this sound cynical? Does this sound like I’m condoning abuse of the innocent and gullible? Why are you still here? Why are you wasting both of our times? What in the fuck makes you think I have the ability to condone or authorize anything you do? Or anything anyone else does either? I don’t. Anyone stupid enough to think that is not someone who’s going to understand what I’m saying anyway. Just go away. Flagellate yourself with someone else’s words please. People who want to abuse and harm others are going to abuse and harm others regardless. Would you like me to do something about that? Fine. All you out there who might be reading this and feel that you may be abusive and harmfull at some time in your future, go kill yourselves instead. Or better yet, just be a nice robot. Raise bunny rabbits for kids in cancer wards. I dunno. There. Happy now? Either you’re prepared to trust that humans are mostly positive and constructive in their natures or not. It’s pretty simple. But all that shit is besides the point. Either you get it or you don’t . You are the source of authority. Full stop. The only obstacle is quite simply whether you are prepared to get it on or not. You will not be flying in the face of all the other authority figures out there. there are very few, to start with. Most of them derive their power from second or third hand sources anyway. They have no idea how to deal with the real thing. In case it weren’t obvious already by the sickening spectacle of hurricane katrina, the paper mache reality of all your so-called authority figures is rapidly coming clear as nothing more than the naked use and abuse of simple power. I have a lot of sympathy for anyone dumb enough to cling to these delusions like the railing of the titanic. I hope you find whatever you think you’re going to find by living that way. Start your own Church. Start your own FUCKING COUNTRY, already. It’s not like there won’t be room for new versions of both pretty soon. You think I’m joking? I’m not
- 12 fucking joking. You still don’t get it. Go watch the Simpsons and drown in the irony like the fluid in some geriatric patient’s lungs. The world is exactly the way it is because people LIKE YOU are too fucking meek to step up and do what’s best for the planet and the people on it. You can tell me all this simple compassion shit if it makes you feel better. You can absolve yourself of responsibilty with more generation x slacker bullshit: oooohhh but what gives me the right to decide what’s best for everyone else? Exactly the same goddamn thing that gives that simpering alchoholic on tv the right to decide what’s best for everyone. NOTHING. N-O-T-H-I-N-G. Please tell me you get this. Please tell me you aren’t going to sit there and piss away the abilty to do something good, because you’re afraid to make a judgement call. And yeah, I noticed I used the word ‘good’. Is that a problem? Too fucking bad. You obviously still aren’t getting this. Once you start acting as if the universe will provide everything you could possibly want, you will see it quickly starting to comply with that state of being. All this other magick bullshit is simply meant to be training wheels and perceptual tools. Homework: for all you fledgling power users out there, pick something on your list that requires an act of decisive will and just do it. NOW. next time: More bullshit for those you who haven’t got it yet, and probably never will.
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Alchemy for the Braindamaged V: Structures and Ultrastructures
Sunday, September 18th, 2005
If you don’t think you’re a genius, you probably aren’t. -Salvador Dali Okay. Rather than try to shoehorn some cumbersome explanations into the body of the next segment, I though I’d take some time to discuss what we just did, since for some strange reason it seems to have thrown everyone into paroxysms of adulation or confusion. I mean, how pitiful is it that almost nobody can just kind of sit with the feeling of being an autonomous authority? We all go through a phase of thinking we’re the center of the universe, but rather than integrate it into a healthy psyche, while acknowledging the limitations of that view in functional terms, we instead are taught to recoil in horror at anyone who dares to ignore the consensus and social norms. And all you so called ‘non-conformists’ can shut the fuck up right now. I can see you acting all smug about how liberal/anarchist/discordian and ‘deprogrammed’ you are, but chances are all you do is bounce off the programming other people have in utterly predictable fashion. You’re perfectly willing to be hateful, narrow minded, exclusionary and prejudicial in your own ways, as long you get enough support from your peer group. Let me give you a hint: if you say you’re ‘against’ anything, or you define your life in terms of changing something about the world around you, you’re as robotic as the next idiot, so sit down and shut up. The door is always there if you’re feeling the need to assert yourself a little bit. But anyway. Regardless of your background, it’s pretty likely the idea of being a law unto yourself is going to call forth stereotypical images of moralistic horror, like seeing yourself smeared in feces, sodomising homeless children over the kitchen table, whilst reading passages out of Mein Kampf.
- 14 If you really need to know what the intent behind my last rant was, then here ya go… - to give you an particularly vigorous and confrontational variation on the banishing ritual. - for those of you sufficiently able to roll with that, you may have caught a glimpse of an unconditioned and autonomous sense of will. - for those of you who didn’t, that perhaps gives you a nice look at how neurotic and inhibited you are. It’s really hard to do all that stuff you’re talking about, someone will actually dislike me, or fight against me … Yeah whatever man. When you look at all the major achievements in history, it’s quite clear the hardest part in any of them was being willing to imagine and act on it. Suck it up. You may recall that back in the first part of this series, I commented on how the ‘ego’, or the construct that we generally refer to as ego, may or may not have been the product of ancient alchemical development? Well imagine this for a moment: you’re back in prehistory, part of some tribe of hunter gatherers. You’ve got a fairly well formed mythology, some notion of the cosmos, an established social order. But then something happens. Maybe you get lost, or there’s a plague, or you eat something no one else has eaten before, or you’re attacked by an animal and survive. Maybe you’ve broken the taboos and been exiled. If you read any Howard Bloom, you might have noticed him talk about the self destruct mechanism in human beings. We have hormonal cellular features that are meant to debilitate and kill us if we become ostracised from our social group. So back in those days, and even now, being plugged into the group story was a matter of biological survival. So, for whatever reason, you undergo a biological and social crisis. Now, certainly, this is starting to sound reminiscent of shamanic lore yes? Joseph Campbell, the heroic quest and alla that? The upshot is, you get a glimpse of what lies outside the normal reality structure for your tribe, voluntarily or not. You start to see that maybe it’s not as true as you formerly thought it was. In situations like that, tribes have a mechanism to incorporate you back into the society. You might become the shaman. Or to put it another way: the crazy guy who lives outside the village and answers questions that don’t have solutions in the normal framework. That’s your ‘approved’ role. It’s better than nothing, after all. The alternative is to be cast out entirely, to risk starvation, death, and who knows what. You’ve stepped outside the framework, but you’re still playing a role within it. But maybe things play out another way: perhaps you start to see that you are not dependent on the story for your existence. You have the ability to reject that story
- 15 altogether and write a new one. Maybe you’re not content to be the tame freak on the edge of society. You wanna run the show. Yeah, you still need the support of others, but if you can get enough of them onboard your story, you could turn the whole thing upside down, and then you’re the one in charge. Pretty much every culture, particularly the oldest tribes, have a myth about their origins. Almost always, there’s what can be called a ‘culture-hero’, the one who delivered all the old rules, the taboos, the stories about creation, who laid down the structures of the tribe in distant memory. In some cases that person is credited as progenitor of the whole human race. Almost always, this person has some sort of supernatural origin. After all, where else would that kind of radical break with the old order come from? At first, this kind of social upheaval was relatively rare. Every few hundred years at most, but as time and history march on, this new structure in the human being starts to become more and more common. It becomes harder to keep everyone safely inside the confines of the story. The ego had gotten a foothold, and things would change forever. Where once there were shamans and chieftains, madmen and culture heroes, now there are God-Kings and High Priests. Anyone with a sword could potentially overturn the whole order of things, based on a personal vision. So it’s not suprising that around this time, people started trying to get a handle on what it was that drove all these bizarre mutations in the first place. Instead of waiting for a random accident to push someone outside the old structure, they began to develop ways to intentionally breach the structure from the inside. So our previous installment in best understood in that vein: to try and shock you, challenge you, to push you into taking a small step into an unformed corner of the mind. Is it a political manifesto? Is it a manual for functional skills? Is it a philosophical treatise? Yes and No. If you’ve never stepped into the realm of unconditioned will, trying to treat it as those things is futile and possibly dangerous. Once you’ve gotten outside the bubble, then those questions will answer themselves. In other words; ” go banish some more and shut the fuck up.” If you’re just curious how I personally will answer those questions in particular, then it’s forthcoming, but not just yet. I’m willing to bet most of you have had an ‘bubble busting’ experience at some time. Like I said earlier, it’s not that rare, and less so every day. Continuing the homework assignments, particularly the banishing practices, will help you establish a firm foundation there. Homework: write yourself a little description of your perfect world. Go into as much detail as you like. What would things look like if you successfully conquered the earth, and called all the shots? Once you’ve done that, pick out all the features of ‘your’ perfect world that are really just rebellion against the way things are now. How much of it is just a way to escape things
- 16 you dislike? How much of your ideal reality is shaped by stuff you think you have no control over? Who are your ‘enemies’ and what would you do to them if you had the chance? Can you even do this exercise without going into spams of guilt, whining and fear of external rejection? As always, revise and update your list of goals accordingly. Next: How to build a ten inch cock that shoots fireballs in your spare time.
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Alchemy for the Braindamaged VI: Not scared? You will be….
Monday, September 26th, 2005
Would you like the good news first, or the bad news? The good news is, all of you who have been clamoring for the pathway to magickal powers are about to get your wish. The bad news is, if you actually take this route, you’ll probably go insane. Please, lets be clear here for a minute: This series of articles is not about accumulating supernatural powers. Doing something like that for it’s own sake is not something I care to endorse, even in jest. These abilities are meant to be markers for the changes in your consciousness and byproducts of the introspective and meditative aspects that I’ve focused more on so far. For those of you who don’t read my other stuff, ( and it seems a great many of you dropped in with your opinions without reading anything else of mine on these subjects ) I’ve written at great length about the deviations associated with cultivating psychic or occult powers for the wrong reasons. Do yourself a favor and read up on the hazards before you start playing this game. So what constitutes the ‘right’ reason? Well, the ideal is to devote your practice to some cause or value that transcends your selfish perspectives as much as possible. Generally speaking though, you notice them if they come, develop them as learning tools, use them if you really really really have a good reason, and do your best to forget about them the rest of the time. There are literally thousands of special powers you could attain, and the literature is rife with them. Some of them are relatively benign and form the core of most magickal practice. These are things like focused prayer, divination, possession, and summonings of various entities. The reason I say ‘benign’ is because you can have a certain amount of success with them with a minimal amount of effort, but they tend to hit a ceiling before you run into too much trouble. Others are referred to in yogic writings as the ’siddahs’ or attainments, and are of a different order. I’ll discuss both in good time, but for the purpose of this installment they have a common root.
- 18 That root is concentration. Your ability to channel and shape energy is directly related to your powers of concentration. Any time you, or anyone else, bumps up against the socalled limits of occult power, they’ve done no such thing. All they’ve done is bump against the limits of their ability to concentrate. So before you start throwing around illinformed pronouncements about what is and is not possible, go do some samatha meditation for five hours a day for ten years and then tell me what is and is not possible. kay? Of course, if you actually did that, you’d probably go through half a dozen or more nervous breakdowns, bouts of paranoia, degrees of psychosis, epilepsy, and neurological disorders of various stripes. So I can understand why the misinformation out there runs so thick. The reason most people in our society have such ridiculous ideas about what our minds can do is simple: our minds are ridiculously weak. If you think five hours staring at a wall is a ‘long time’ you don’t get a opinion in the occult powers debate. Thanks for comin’ out. If you think it’s ‘impossible’ to do anything, and you’re prepared to debate your belief in any form of ‘impossibility’, you’ll have already crippled yourself in that department anyway, whether it be starting a new nation or standing up to armed men. I’m sure you guys were helpful at the foundation of all the countries that exist right now. I’m always sort of amused when people talk about how ‘the media’ screws with our minds. How did they do that? Are you saying the media is stronger than your own will? Did someone put a gun to your head and make you watch alla that CNN? CONCENTRATION. Chances are your mind is so hopelessly splintered and contradictory that you couldn’t finish a half hour sitcom. A safe transition to occult powers is probably not in the cards for you. If you try, you’ll probably freak out, or kill yourself. Most postmodern ‘occultists’ have all the willpower of a heroin addict with fetal alcohol syndrome, and most of the material out there is meant to soften that fact to themselves. Old Uncle Aliester would die of embarrassment. But don’t let me get in the way of your consumer instinct towards instant gratification. For the foolish or truly dedicated, the exercise is as follows: 1. Sit still. 2. Pick an object of concentration. It helps if it’s relatively static and simple. The breath is ideal. A circle on the wall, or a potted plant will do. 3. With as little daydreaming, mind wandering and internal babble as possible, hold your focus on the object. 4. Do it every day for at least an hour. 5. For a year. 6. Yes really. After each session, transition as quickly as possible into some kind of skill or activity you enjoy doing. If you’re obsessed with developing explicitly supernatural powers, I’ll throw in some exercises for that purpose a little farther down the line. If you don’t do the first
- 19 part, none of that will do a goddamn thing for you anyway. So keep your yap shut and concentrate, grasshopper. I don’t need to hear your complaining, or tedious playa hating. Save it for your mother, or the ‘chaos’ magicians wanking their way to enlightenment. This practice will supercharge pretty much everything in your life. Every skill will improve, every emotion will become richer. You will become clearer, stronger, more decisive. If you are already good at something it will quickly transit into the subtly supernatural. Don’t dwell on it. If you do, you’ll find yourself automatically hitting the wall in your development and you may never get past it. Focus on your training, and keep your eye on the ball. If you start freaking out, banish some more and lay off for a week or two. Next time: reading the entrails
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Alchemy for the Braindamaged VII: A Symbolic Order
Monday, October 3rd, 2005
Before we move on, a couple more points on the last installment relating to concentration: why it works, how it works and why it’s hazardous. It helps to think of the mind as a kind of ecology full of all kinds of conflicting impulses, beliefs, concepts, and emotional perspectives on things. This whole ecology is sustained more or less by the attention/energy you give it. In practice you can treat energy and attention as the same thing. In truth one follows the other so closely they might as well be the same. Now attention has ( at least ) two aspects to it, and they can both be trained. Breadth and depth. Most of us have no problem with a extremely wide and diverse breadth of attention. We maintain views on the whole universe after all. Or we think we do anyway. Most of us have a lot less practice maintaining attention in depth. To do that requires holding the focus in a single place for long periods and if you’ve not had a lot of experience with that, it can be highly uncomfortable. The thing to remember though, is the depth of our attention is also the depth of the well of energy we can tap. Very shallow very superficial attention = very shallow and superficial supplies of energy. So, going back to our ecology metaphor. We tend not to notice the contradiction and conflicts in our mental ecology because we rarely, if ever, probe deep enough into it to notice them. That, and since the supply of energy is so shallow, nothing in that ecology ever really gets big and fat enough to cause problems in the whole system. With deeper concentration that can change fast. You may find that tapping into a much larger supply of energy can feed some or all of your weird internal aberrations to grotesque levels. This is why I recommended highly that you consciously and deliberately direct that deepened faculty of attention into things you enjoy, and useful skills. That, combined with the
- 21 mental housecleaning in the other parts should keep you out of trouble provided you are mostly sane and stable to begin with. What you do not want is to turn your new willpower that can crush diamonds and use it to probe the tattered edges of your self esteem, or nurse old grudges, or tear apart the last remanants of your existing ontology. At least not until you’ve taken the time to craft a new one. Feeding those subjects a massively increased fund of energy will send you round the bend right quick. I’m willing to bet most of you have had difficulties in this area already, even without the help of intense mind power. So it helps to exercise a little restraint, and to have a nice durable map to guide that new wand of yours with. Now there are no shortage of maps these days, and no shortage of fodder to make new ones. This is the gift of postmodernism after all. We have the god given right to shred anything placed in front of us to expose it’s inherent flaws and contradictions. It’s unweildly excesses and unverifiable pronouncements. We feel good and calm in the act of doing this. We feel the rightness of it. But I’m here to tell you, that sometimes, ripping a map apart is entirely besides the fucking point. Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should do something. We think we’re defending the holy right to overturn dogma and ask ‘the tough questions’ as if no one had ever done that before. What you need to understand, particularly under the circumstances I’ve described above, is that you really will benefit from having a map that doesn’t get shredded. At least not by you. The nice thing about abstraction, is that it permits us to compress the whole gamut of phenomena into a manageable and internally consistent system of symbols. And believe me, when concentration states are overloading your brain and nervous system, you will definitely want a solid backbone to hang your ontology on, even if you don’t feel the need to subscribe to it unquestioningly. We tend to have this neurotic thing about the ‘real truth’ as if nothing is acceptable except the naked reality of things. Problem is, if that’s all you’ll settle for, you’ll most likely end up chewing your wrists open in short order. For the time being, you need to learn to suspend your ruthless cutting apart of the ground beneath your feet and use a model of reality, not because it’s the ‘real thing’ but because it works. And you need to learn to filter things through that map. Not all the time, but when you have to, because sometimes you will have to. Sometimes you will need to to have a framework there to interpret something, or you will freak right the fuck out. The rest of the time you can happily just sit in the unknowingness of the grand mystery of whatever the popular buzzword is these days, as long as you have a nice serviceable symbolic order to fall back on. There is a part of your mind that really really needs to be able to define and encapsulate your relationship to the word around you, as a means of handling stress. It doesn’t need to
- 22 be all that convincing or comprehensive a definition, it could be patently absurd. But having a good definition, one that leaves you lots of room to maneuver, to make revisions, interpretations, even to rip out and replace chunks, is a lot better than simply assimilating christian theology as a subconscious safety net, which is probably what a lot of you are doing right now. If it’s not that, it’s gonna be something. The problem isn’t being stuck without a net. The problem is being stuck with a shitty net that you’re not consciously aware of, that won’t take the strain of what you’re doing, and will rip under pressure. If that happens, then my friend, you are truly FUCKED. Don’t underestimate the benefits of a symbol system to fall back on. Even if on some level, you know it’s arbitrary. It’s better that way, anyhow. Homework: pick a symbolic map of the universe. Four that I recommend highly would be the I ching, the kabbalistic tree of life, and norse runes. My personal preference is the crowley thoth tarot, which incorporates the tree of life as well as the tarot symbolism. Not only are all of these fairly flexible, but they provide avenues for divination practice, which is coming up. But suit yourself. DON’T immediately start questioning and subverting your new model. Use it. Play with it. Interpret the things that happen around you through that lens. When you get bored with that, set it aside and come back to it later. Resist the urge to pick it apart. Save that shit for CNN and the drudge report. On a related note, start examining yourself for contradictions and internal conflicts. Your list is a good entry point. Looking at the why and what and how of your goals, I’m sure you’ll find that some of those things don’t mesh. You’re doing one thing at the expense of another thing, you’re moving in one direction here and another there, you’re stressing here and chilling there, you hate this and love that. You believe totally here and question ruthlessly over there. These are the fault lines in your psyche, and as you progress in your practice these fault lines will open up in a big way. Most likely you will suppress the conscious knowledge of these chasms in your mind as they widen, and simply experience it as intense levels of stress. You might think that these are harmless usages of the mind, as if going in two totally divergent directions entails two different minds. They don’t. It’s one mind. Your mind. Think about this carefully. Eliminate as much of the conflict and contradiction as you can right now. Quit fighting yourself. If it means narrowing your focus and scope of activities temporarily, then do it. If not, you’ll almost certainly wish you had done it, later on. next; PRIMORDIAL FUCKING CHAOS!! CTHULHU FHTAGN! …or, like, reading your tarot cards, and shit. or both.
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Alchemy for the Braindamaged VIII: A panful of mercury
Monday, October 10th, 2005
So… You’re prepared to take a run at the practice of divination, yes? You’ve picked out your own shiny new symbolic map of things and you’re itching to learn the secrets of the universe. Predict the upticks of the stockmarket and cash in! Or at least figure out when you’re gonna get laid again. But as usual I’m going to rain acid and aborted fetuses all over your parade, friends. You want to understand your future? Do you even understand your present? It’s right here after all. Take a good look. Do you understand that? No? How about the past? It’s not even happening anymore. It’s all over and done with. No moving parts. All the information is there. How about it? I didn’t think so. What I’m getting at here, besides my usual tactic of browbeating my readers, is that you’re not really looking to understand some temporal junction. You’re looking to understand yourself. Your reaction, your perceptions, your meaning to things. Even if I handed you deadly accurate facts about the future, all of it is going to interpreted in terms of it’s relevance to you, in this moment. So why not cut to the chase? This is the best use for divination practices in my opinion. There are others, obviously, but the best is to hold up a symbolic mirror to the workings of your own mind. Everything starts there, and ends there. And even if it doesn’t, as far as your concerned, it still does. Being stuck inside your own head is a bitch that way… So at this point you may be wondering, what’s the best, or correct, map for understanding your own mind? The one you have, that’s what. It makes no difference. It could be a stream of random numbers, cut up pages from a book, or flyspecks on a wall. It doesn’t matter. The real operation takes place in your head.
- 24 The mind has an incredible capacity for pattern recognition. When you see faces in the clouds, those faces are really in your head, yes? This is the same thing. The ancient alchemists used to heat up cinnabar in a pan and watch the mercury slowly separate and bead up over the fire. This was a metaphor. This seemingly magickal appearance of this flowing liquid mirrorlike mindstuff was understood as isomorphic for the processes of the mind. The fire of inquiry and meditation would seperate the reflective mind from the base material. The birth of consciousness. Does any of that have anything to do with ‘real’ mercury? Only tangentially. Only by mapping one thing over another. Only by transposing the pattern of a known thing over the unknown. Does this tell you the truth of how things ‘are’ ? Maybe. Maybe not. What it definitely does, is tell you a lot about how your perception works. And that’s more valuable anyway. So how do you do this? The simple answer is however you want. But it helps to have some kind of clear inquiry in mind. Pick out your map and find a way to put it in motion somehow. Divorce it from the ordering routine of the mind. Shred it and reassemble it. Cards are good because you can shuffle them. Clouds and tea leaves are good because they move, albeit slowly. Then sit with it. Pretend that you just got the answer to your inquiry. What is it? What are you being told here? What is your subconscious trying to communicate to your conscious mind, when you make that space, when you provide a symbolic language or an unformed pattern for it to speak with? That’s what it’s really all about. Dredging up the unformed chaos of the deep mind. Or, at least, it will seem like unformed chaos at first. So, with your indulgence I’ll walk us through an operation of this kind. Our inquiry will be some area where I feel a void of understanding. Some gap in my perception. Lets go for primordial horror, hey? Let’s find out what my worst fear is. My deepest unacknowledged terror. Our tool will be the Crowley toth deck. The meanings of the cards don’t really matter. It’s what the symbols suggest. So don’t feel I’m cheating you by taking a prepacked set of meanings. I’ll be going at right angles to all that anyway. I just find the images resonant and impactfull. We’ll keep this reasonably simple and use this online reading widget so you can play along or do your own. More explicit card references are here. The structure of the reading makes no difference either, but it can help if you’re not able to just stare at a piece of black glass and trip out like old John Dee used to do. He
- 25 received a symbolic language to summon the apocalypse. I’m just trying to find out what scares the fuck out of me… so: card one, which represents me. the five of wands: strife- wands are the will, the organic lust as opposed to constructed ideas, which are swords. The number five represents the introduction of time and change. The preceding four is the number of solidity and form. The appearance of matter is followed by the introduction of instability, conflict, impermanence. Will immersed into time. Conflicting desires. Thwarted lusts. Thinking of my earlier discussion of inner conflicts. Fear of being torn apart by inner conflict? Never finding peace or resolution. Primal desire as source of suffering? card two, the current situation atu viii: Adjustment- cosmic justice and balance. The sword of karma. Leveling of inequities. In my case, justice is a huge issue. I’ve always secretly wanted to be a superhero, to fight for justice and truth. I’m definitely afraid I may find myself on the wrong side. To realize one day that I picked a path to injustice, that I’m really the villain of the piece, not a hero. On another note, Adjustment is a reminder that the universe is not human. Cosmic justice is not about us. Forces rule us all that care nothing for our perspective. Do you love something inhuman? Do you crave the embrace of something which cares nothing for people, or their suffering? Cold calculations. Fear of inhumanity. To serve justice, but be the bad guy in the eyes of others, who remain in the human perspective. card three, the obstacle atu xx: The Aeon- Epochal change. Phase shift. The Apocalypse. Final judgment. As a buddhist I tend not to buy into external judgment, but karma remains. We judge ourselves. Our decisions do have consequences and eventually everyone has to face them. The world seems on the cusp of great changes, a final judgment on our momentum as a species. Fear of my growth truncated by historical events? Of not reaching the high ground when the flood hits? Being on the wrong side? Not able to make your peace until it’s too late. Dramatic change of context that makes everything obsolete. On another note, the egotistic hope for deliverance from on high. Hoping time does the work for me? Wanting to be freed of the obligation to struggle. card four, the goal
- 26 the queen of swords- swords represent air, the power of motion, division, constructed ideas. The queen is water. The passive, fluid principle. To adapt and flow. To me the queen of swords has always stood out as the person who is incredibly skilled and deft in the little details, but seems to miss the big picture. Win every battle and lose the war. Have all the tools to solve the problems in front of you, but miss the point of the whole thing. I spend all my time learning things that may be usefull in the short term, or on a case by case basis, but ignore the larger importance of certain things. Is martial arts skill that big a deal compared to medicine? Is medicine that big a deal compared to spiritual truth? Where do you plant your flag and put in the time to attain mastery? You have to serve the highest good you can see. I over-desire the mastery of small goods, small problems. ” never bring a knife to a gunfight ” card five, foundation of the current situation three of swords: sorrow- the three is the minimal number to create a shape. The idea intelligible. The base concept of division and separation. Primal suffering rooted in wrong views. The necessary descent into delusion. Life without pain has no meaning. Fear of embracing pain. Wanting to escape, or think your way out of it, when you need to simply accept that some pain, some evil can never be eliminated, nor should it. In tandem with the earlier stuff, a fear of justification. If some pain is good and necessary, then the temptation is to contribute to it, or excuse your contribution to the suffering of the world. card six, the past the queen of wands- hard one. Not as much history with this image. Fire and water in synthesis, the integration of active and passive principles. Time spent building up my assertive side to balance my mostly passive nature. Too much, not enough? Adding more contradiction than I can handle? Afraid I’ve got too much backed up habit to ever really change? card seven, the future the knight of cups- HAHAHAHA!!! the exact opposite of the queen of wands. the same contradiction but reversed to the other side. my future is the mirror image of my past. Oh goody. All I’ve done is take a different perspective on the same dysfunction, and called it an improvement. Always wanting the other side of the fence. Maybe it’s not true, but I’m scared to death that what I think is growth is just more of the same. Welcome to Kafka. Neo is a part of the matrix, after all. card eight, the future enviroment the nine of disks: gain- the illusion of getting everything you want. the rain of riches in your perfect world. being too lost in your wealth to question it. don’t get distracted by success. so long thwarted, so long pushing at old barriers. fear of breaking through and
- 27 just going back to sleep again. missing the whole fucking point. getting everything on your list and thinking that’s the reason for doing it. wrong. wrong. wrong. card nine, the influence of society atu xiv: art- alchemy, synthesis, union of opposites, the birth of higher forms. everything I think I want, but imposed on me from outside. It wasn’t my own work and struggle, it was just the way things were always going. The world makes of you what it will. You think you’re free and that’s exactly what you were supposed to think. You didn’t have to do anything. Nothing you did mattered. It’s all good and it was always supposed to be good. You had nothing to do with it. ego. conceit. self importance. The rebellion of lucifer. card ten, the challenge. atu i: the magus, the juggler, the master of keeping everything in the air at once. the summit of magickal skill. zac of all trades. everything to everyone. Not up to it. too much to learn, too much to do. No one can ever measure up to that. not equal to the challenge. inadequacy. or maybe, I am up to it, but I don’t really understand the cost. What will meeting that challenge make of me? card eleven, the outcome atu o: the fool- spontaneous insight, blind luck, the holy fool. Touched by god. jumping outside the frame. Divine madness. Compete disconnect from my old understanding. Trust in god and shut up. You know nothing. Forget what you know, forget what you think you know. Forget it all. Just a fool. *cough* …. well. hopefully that’s a painfully clear examination of how to do something like this. it was certainly painfull for me…lol. I sense a peice of allgeorical fiction in this… next time: Augoeides
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Alchemy for the Braindamaged IX: Solve et Coagula
Saturday, October 15th, 2005
At this point, you might be thinking that I’m just fucking with you. Week after week, I swear, I call you names, I make impossible demands, and threaten you with madness and insoluble moral and ethical paradoxes. Perhaps my rhetorical excesses are just an excuse to pick at everyone’s emotional scabs and call it insight. However I assure you there is a method to it all. I certainly have sympathy for anyone who wants to get their back up about all of that, and start taking exception to my approach, but that would be too bad, because then you’d be missing the opportunity to look at yourself, which is a lot more worthwhile thing to do with your time. For instance, you may or may not have noticed, that with a couple of exceptions, I haven’t put a lot of emphasis on ‘getting’ the stuff on your lists. Rather I’ve encouraged you to explore your desires, clarify and strengthen your intention, and in general check your head. The reason for that is, getting the shit you want doesn’t matter. Not yet anyway. For most people, getting the things you want is like a heroin addict getting a fix. It’s only useful insofar as it shows you how far you’re prepared to go to get your latest hookup. Save yourself the hassle and go watch Requiem for a Dream, and come back to me. It’s by far more beneficial to go ahead and do things, but pay more attention to the evolving process of your own will, as it begins to purify itself. This purification process, along with all the other skills I’ve been sharing, lay the groundwork for the biggest piece of alchemical heavy lifting you’re likely to attempt on my watch. The statements of intent, the willingness to commit yourself, the cleansing of external influences, the freedom to express your will, even if it’s just to yourself. The cultivation of concentration, and a symbolic scaffold to hold the mind together under stress, as you explore and integrate aspects of the unconscious. This is all going somewhere.
- 29 This is the invocation of your inner genius, your daimon, your true will, your spirit guide, the holy guardian angel. In the kabbalah, there is allowance for a kind of interface between the individual human and the divine will. Under normal circumstances you just sort of muddle along and hope for the best, but when you’re able to open this channel of communication, you are utterly transfigured. This happening is not as rare as you might suppose. What is rare is undergoing it consciously. Usually what happens is someone gets ‘abducted by aliens’ or talks to the archangel gabriel, or has some kind of profound visionary experience and then marches off in a transformed state, but having unconscious contact through a symbolic intermediary, carries the traces of that distortion. In many cases various kind of madness and general flakiness ensue. Not that you can dispense with the symbolic intermediary altogether mind you, that’s what we spent the last couple episodes on after all. But if you selected and built the map yourself, and you know it’s just made up, you won’t commit the cardinal sin of postmodernism: mistaking the map for the territory. ie: if you made the filter, you won’t make yourself over in the image of your filter. That’s just embarrassing and pitiful. The filter is like clothing. Or like I said earlier, a scaffold. It’s supposed to take the stress of causing changes in the deeper structure. When it’s done the job, you drop it. If alien abduction or angelic visitation helps you reboot your personality, then go ahead and use it. But don’t mistake that for the source of the reboot. There are enough flakes on the internet as it is, thank you very much. anyway: here’s the basic framework of the invocation. If you do this honestly and carefully it will take a fair bit of time. Spend some days on this, and don’t rush it. It’s important to proceed in measured steps. I assume you’ve got got your list, and you’ve spent some time with it, gone through an iteration or two? You’ve done some things, dropped others, and prioritised them. What I want you to do now is take the least important thing on your list, and imagine that you’ve already done it. Let your imagination fully absorb that and play with the ramifications. Maybe it’s fairly trivial, and that’s good. Mine is getting a bike. How does getting a bike change things, what’s different? Use some of the submodal tricks we discussed in banishing to enrich this experience. What’s the ripple effect in other areas? Do I feel differently about my life, my experience? Maybe not much. That’s fine. But move up to the next thing. Imagine you’ve gotten that. Again, from the perspective of already having the last item, allow yourself to experience the changes that come from achieving the next goal on your list. If your goal is some kind of practice or process you’re trying to improve or implement, then assume you’re at the point where it’s natural or automatic for you, not a thing that needs will to maintain, at the level you specified.
- 30 It’s really important not to rush this. If you go too fast or pile on too many imagined outcomes your suspension of disbelief will go snap and you’ll have lost the thread of the working. One or two a day is plenty. Be sure to banish when you do this before and after. Treat it as a kind of meditation, which it is. Not as a wishful fantasy trip. Once you’ve done the whole list in your mind, absorb the implications of that. How have you changed as result? How are you a different person? Do you see life differently? Are you more confident, more reflective, more relaxed or creative? Who is this person, and how different are they from the person you are right now? And yes, do think of this as a different person. Not only is it true, but it also makes it easier for your mind to accept and process. Do you dress differently, walk, talk and think differently? Maybe a little, maybe a whole lot. Now from the perspective of that person, make a new list. Ten new things that person wants to do. Ten things that come from a different way of thinking, of being. Repeat the process. Imagine you are that person and absorb the impact, step by step, of meeting all of that persons goals. At this point most of your effort will probably be spent bridging the discontinuity between you and them. If necessary go back and make sure you haven’t short changed any of the logical processes in your mind. It’s critical to be able to see your self going from one to the next to the next in a way your mind will accept as plausible. Now do it all again. You are now alchemical punter version 3.0 Now move on to version 4.0 Another whole list in your mind. Yes, this could take weeks or months to do properly. That’s good. Pretend you’re writing an biography of a real person. Describe the thinking and feeling process as they reach out to higher and higher aspirations. Understand how much deeper and clearer they see things. What are their priorities, their hopes, their fears? You may, at this stage, conduct a kind of dialogue. At any point, simply ask this other self some questions, and answer them from that perspective. I guarantee you’ll find it very informative to talk to a version of yourself with much more confidence, skill and clarity. Continue this to at least three iterations. You may be feeling a bit woozy after two. Maybe you’re a big old psycho and want to go for four or even five. Whatever. Just be careful not to snap the thread. Banish often so as not to contaminate the working with bullshit from the rest of your current life. In any event, you want to follow these logical operations until you generate a massive amount of discontinuity. You have to do this in such a way that your mind accepts the plausibility of it, but is eventually forced into a kind of crisis of reevaluation by the gap between that self and the one you have now. If you’ve done it well the other person is almost unrecognizable to your current iteration.
- 31 If your mind is strong and your imagination vivid, you may even be pushing the boundaries of what is normally considered to be ‘human’. You may be incubating a self image that borders on the posthuman or semi divine. If it inspires, awes, or even terrifies you, then good. You’ve done it properly. If you haven’t done it already, then have your dialogue now. There’s no reason to wait, you could have done it many times already, but now take the time to have a serious discussion with this being, and specifically address where you’re going with your life and how you can bring your current actions more in line with the long term strategy. Flesh it out. Make it real. How does that version of yourself think about family, or friends? Do they still like the same kind of books or tv shows? Where do they live and how do they live? Do any of those things even matter anymore to this being, at least in a way that makes sense to you right now? Do you even speak the same language anymore? Can you understand this other self of yours? Or has it become too alien? What happens to most people who experience this, is for some reason or other that crisis of discontinuity builds up in the deep mind, created by contradictions, fuelled by intense emotions or mystical experiences. At some point the disassociated self images rip loose and force a communication with with the frontal mind, sometimes in a highly allegorical and symbolic fashion. It will present itself in a way that may not be factually accurate, but easier to accept than the truth. Doing it the way I’ve presented here should sidestep those problems. It’ll be slower and probably less dramatic, but you’ve have the benefit of presence of mind and some influence over the content. In many traditions it is said that before this process is undergone that all acts of magick are inevitably poisoned by the cravings of the ego. You would simply be feeding the hungry ghosts in your head. There’s no guarantee your higher self is less egotistical than you are now, but you will almost certainly find that beyond a certain point your concerns will blend naturally into the universal, the profound, the archetypal and the idealistic. Some folk may have doubts there is such a thing as a higher self. That humans are what we are and we should just learn to accept it. That idealizing some new form of life is just a pretext to judge and reject others and promote some kind of fascist fantasy trip. But maybe it’s just growing up. Maybe it’s just learning to take responsibility for all the powers we really have, instead of judging us all for the actions of a few. Maybe it’s possible to have bigger hearts, stronger minds, broader shoulders. Maybe it’s possible to be an example and not an object lesson. Maybe it’s possible to ask more of ourselves and let others do as they please. Perhaps we can quit being ashamed of what we are, or what we’re not, and start making some tentative steps towards something we can hardly imagine right now. Maybe you can live without excuses, without doubts, without pointless resentments, confusion and fear. Maybe you don’t really need that stuff as much as you seem to think you do.
- 32 If you’ve been reading my stuff for a while now, or any of the links in my sidebar, you are hopefully not simply crushed by the weight of the problems in the world today. It’s easy to look at the tidal waves of corruption, filth, murder and deceit, and throw up your hands, to turn back to your own concerns and leave the world to fend for itself. That’s natural. We’re only human after all. And these things seem so far beyond the grasp of any normal human being. The path of the mystic is to rest in the unchanging. To accept the ebbs and flows of impermanence. To treat all things as the will of god. But the path of the magus is different. You are a part of nature, you can change things, you do have influence, and you don’t need to be afraid to use it. Your will is as valid as any other. You will is just as much an expression of god as any other. To do nothing, to do anything. The same. To retire to your cave or transfigure the earth. The same. Terrence Mckenna said here that perhaps the only hope for the salvation of the world is through magick, through the alchemy of the will expressed as change. That preaching hasn’t done it, that science and reason haven’t done it, that humble acceptance hasn’t done it either. So maybe the solution to our ‘human’ failings is to become something more. With that in mind, while we’re currently on part ix of these, really, we’re just now getting started. next: a brief pause for station identification
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Alchemy for the Braindamaged X:Into the Crucible
Monday, October 31st, 2005
This’ll be an extension of the last installment, being as it an expansion of the augoeides process and how to go about it. I’ll share some pieces of my own approach, and give some tips on how to fill out the skeleton. You definitely need to add a personal element to make the daimon spring to life for you. There are vast regions of the mind you either cannot or choose not to access under normal circumstances, and this is one way of coming in through the back door, as it were. Making your lists, and projecting them forward tends to be a highly linear, left brain kind of process, and there is the possiblity of making your future into some kind of exaggerated projection of the trends of your present, and you need a way to sidestep that. You need to find a way to make a phase shift, not just an additive progression. Real life as most people live it isn’ t like that, and the great work even less so. In the past I’ve had success using poetry or fiction to accomplish that kind of whole mind synchronization, but in this case I’ll take a different angle, and use questions, as I’d recommended you do before. As we go farther, the methods will get more and more abstract by neccesity. Questions are powerful, because depending on how you shape them, they open up a space your mind is compelled to fill. If you ask your holy guardian angel why you’re such a fuckup, then your mind will fill that space you opened with something. So be careful. You don’t need superhuman intelligence giving you superhumanly accurate reasons why you’re a failure in all your relationships, why your job sucks and how you’ve failed everyone you ever cared about. It’s not much fun, believe me. On the other hand, if you use them well, they can unlock that holistic right brain integrative function that most of us can’t quite get a grasp of. It works in much the same
- 34 way the use of divination does. Treating symbols as answers does more or less the same thing. Since we’ve already done that, you might want to try it. In any case, let’s jump to the example. I’ll be picking this conversation up with a version of myself that is somewhere between the second and third iterations. So he’s a practicing medical massage therapist, proficient speed reader, ordained and learning to teach dharma classes, and solidly in the habit of meditating at least two hours every day, and spending another two polishing the martial arts every day as well. A long ways from who I am now, but still recognizable and intelligible. This piece will help solidify the connection so I can move into the fourth or even fifth iterations of the process without snapping the thread. I formulated the five questions ahead of time, cleared my mind with some concentration practice, did my banishing, and then sat down to write the answers out. _________________ In brief, what are the biggest differences between your current life, and my own? I work for myself and make my own schedule. I quit the old job once I was getting money for massage work, which freed me up to do things that actually meant something to me. I have so much more energy, now thatI don’t have to bridge the disconnect between the job I was doing and my purpose in life. That kind of thing drains you a lot. I have more time to train and study. I worried that there wasn’t going to be enough time to do everything, but as my mind got stronger and I felt better, the days went farther and I did more with them. I eat better, feel better and look better. I’m more relaxed, more flexible and faster than ever. I can read a book each day easily in a couple hours. It’s hard work to do so much and finish it all every day, but it’s easier than not doing it, you know what I mean? I’m more confident, now that I don’t have to justify not doing everything I’m capable of. I’d rather be exhausted than frustrated and ashamed of myself any day of the week. I make more money and spend less. Pretty soon I’ll have enough to go to japan to train or maybe new jersey and the tracker school. I’m thinking about perhaps buying land the way ran prieur did. How far removed from me in time are you? About two years at the rate you’re going. Maybe a little less. What are the things that from the perspective of the future I ought to change today, to make the biggest difference in myself?
- 35 Spend less time thinking about what you’re going to do and just do it. Like I said, it is hard work, you know that, but doing it is easier than feeling like shit for not doing it. You know well that getting off your ass is the hardest part. Be more open and giving with people. Yes, they don’t understand where you’re coming from. And yes it’s not easy explain to them, but you don’t have to. You’re never going to be a boring person, so quit trying to protect yourself from them. Petty and vindictive people will be petty and vindictive people, the last thing you want is to become just like them. It won’t kill you to smile a bit more. Not everyone is a broken robot who needs a shrink. It feels good to help, but it also feels good to be friendly. Other than that, quit wasting so much time on trivia. Going back to the same websites ten times a day isn’t helping anything except to take the edge off your boredom. Practice more instead. What is my life really about, and what is my purpose here? It’s simple when you think about what you’ve always done and still do. You’ve always seen a different world than this one. You never accepted that we were stuck with this. Nothing is impossible and you’ve always known that. Even when you were the lowest you never gave up. You never surrender to despair. That’s why you’re here. You’re here to give people hope. To show them things they can’t bring themselves to believe. To give them hope when there is none. To point to a better world, when no else can see it , and never let anyone take it away from you. Not to fool your self or others. Not to pretend that things are different than they are. But to face what the world is and to face the job of making it better. If you can face it, god can fix it. Everything you’ve learned, everything you’ve done is a way to prepare yourself for that. What is your list of goals, and how do you pursue them? I’m at a transition. I’m starting to get a handle on the skills I set out to learn when I was a kid. now I have to think about what to do with them. I’ve gotten good at helping people one a time. Now, that I’ve gotten my own stuff more or less under control, I have to think about reaching out to more. At the same time, I want to diversify. My mind is getting strong enough to bridge a lot of fields and take in huge amounts of information quickly. I’d like to be able to get an overview of everything, and then make some concrete decisions of how and what I’m going to do in the long term. I’ve been with Alaina for a few years now and I think I need to give some thought to our future together. Up until now I’ve sort of been coasting while I worked on myself and she developed her career. Time to change that.
- 36 The dharma practice is very fruitfull. I’m starting to see glimpses of what the culmination of the path might be. I’d like to set aside time for retreats to bring that about. I think it’s possible I may have to reasses everything when that happens. I feel sure that it will, sooner or later. 1. 3 hours of insight or concentration practice every day 2. teach dharma classes for beginners 3. give some serious thoughts to the future of my relationship 4. make plans for a spiritual retreat of two weeks every year 5. 3 hours of martial arts practice everyday 6. look into buying some land 7. practice dream yoga to reduce my need for sleep and explore lucid dreaming 8. expose more people to my hobby-based writing and speaking 9. do a structured series of readings in one new field every month 10. make concrete plans to go to japan or the tracker school in new jersey
What do you want to tell me that I haven’t already asked? There’s only so much preparation you can do. Risk can only be reduced so far, no matter how much you study and train. Don’t fall so in love with skills and knowledge that you hesitiate to give yourself when it’s needed. Don’t forget that all you really want is to connect with a larger purpose. At a certain point you have to make a leap of faith and trust that you will either survive it or you won’t. But at least you will be where you were meant to be. That’s not easy to accept, but it’s the truth and you know it. ____________ Next: apocalyptic supermind
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Alchemy for the Braindamaged XI:The Putrefaction
Monday, October 31st, 2005
To the alchemists, of course, the symbol and its very meaning had far more esoteric connotations. To them, poison represented an agent of transformation, a vehicle for the reconciliation of opposites. And there is an alchemical myth about a poison which for most men is extremely deadly, while for the elect it confers mastership and absolute power. Boyd Rice- Vessel of God At a certain point in the work, you may come to a place where a lot of heavier, darker emotions come to the fore. It may feel like your life and mind are dissolving into chaos. I wouldn’t want to tell you that it’s a ‘good’ thing, but it is neccisary and you might as well embrace it. It may be that in the augoeides work, you will find that the projection of idealised self images helps draw out some of the repressed material in your psyche. By definition, accentuating all the things you want to be, can only mean repressing the things you don’t want to be. You may add all kinds of Jungian blather about the id and shadow at this point. Nevertheless it is true. It’s also a manifestation of unresolved contradictions that may take on life of thier own because of the energy your concentration practice is feeding them. But that split is never a clean one. There are always things left on the other side of that wall, that you need. Maybe you left your clarity in the basement when you threw your rage out. Maybe you took the edge off your confidence when you decided to be stop bullying people. In ancient alchemy this is known as the nigredo, the darkening, the putrefaction, the descent into chaos. The immersion into the shit and poison you’ve been incubating in your head for so long. The crisis that precedes re-integration.
- 38 It goes round and round like this and sometimes you need to wallow in the sickness to find the pieces you’ve lost. The alternative is madness, or worse. It can be seductive. To see yourself without remorse, or restraint, without compromise. It’s easy to rationalise a little bit more, to be a little less compassionate, to feel more self rightious than you deserve. If it never comes, it never comes, but I’d be remiss in not mentioning it. Pretending I didn’t have a little eruption of it the other night. It’s part of the work. So for those of you waiting for me to ‘flip my shit’ again like I did in part IV, here is my shadow, off the leash and out for a run, like I anticipated in part VIII, in the safe realms of fiction land. ********* Don’t speak. Don’t bother calling for help. Anyone who tried to come between you and me is dead. And you’ll be dead too, soon. Everything you stand for is systematically being reduced to rubble and ashes as we speak, and in a few minutes I’m going to snap your fucking neck with my bare hands. But not yet. First I want you to understand why I’m here. I’m not here because you and people like you have raped the earth, violated children, twisted and perverted everything that walks crawls or flies to line your pockets. I’m not here because of that. _________ The sword has been sitting in the corner for several years. I don’t pick it up very often. It’s real. real steel. Real edge. For some reason I kept it in the corner of my eye for so long. And now I know why. I pack the few things I care about in a small bag. And then I pick up the sword. I leave this place, forever. There is nothing for me here anymore. I have nothing in common with these people, these words, these platitudes. __________ People may think I’m dead by now. I ‘ve been in the woods for almost a year. I have to rip free of all that old garbage. It’ll make me weak and slow and it will kill me before I do what needs to be done. I squeeze my mind until it’s like a perfect diamond. I’ve always known it would be this way in the end. Why did it take me so long to face what I really am?
- 39 No more. I walk back to the city. It’s time to give them something to fear. ___________ The posters are simple. Vague ideas, vague promises. Classes on awakening, I say. Once they’re in the door I start to condition them. Some are only useful for money, or influence. But enough of them are able to carry guns. Most are cannon fodder, but a few can be turned into perfect killing machines. It’s easier when you’ve done it yourself. I don’t need many. It’s so easy. Too bad the only people who do it are pathetic hedonists and manipulative narcissists. In another life I might have cared about the irony. ___________ I start small. My soldiers need to taste some blood. An executive or two. Some hits to cut a piece of the drug trade. Short term money. There’s so much built up resentment in society. Everyone wants to lash out at these scum but no one had the intelligence or the guts to make it happen. That’s the sad thing. This robot factory is so fragile and yet we work so hard to keep it going. Even the ‘revolutionaries’ just secretly want to be in charge. Fuck them and fuck their merry go round. I’ll feed them their own hearts. _________________ It amazing how easily some folks see what they want to see. It didn’t take long at all to convince all the usual lowlives I was just another decadent cult leader with a gang of fanatics, ready to do some business on wall street. My first meeting on ‘investing’ my drug profits and all I can think of is how badly I want to kill them all. But I don’t want a thimble full of rats blood. I want a river. And I want the fattest pigs in the barn. And the little parasites will all burn in the end, too. ___________ I’d feel a little worse about dealing heroin if I t weren’t being primarily consumed by my rank and file cultists, who I cherry pick from all the biggest investment banks, brokerage houses and wall street legal firms. They already thought they were on a mission from god. I’m just a sub contractor for god. I’m clarifying their mission statement.
- 40 Someone said once that there are no heroin or cocaine cults. That’s partly true. Can you call wall street a cult? ___________ The first day of the big push makes 9-11 look like the fourth of July. How much easier is it to wreck the system when you’re practically running what’s left of it, after years of neglect and disfunction? I practically advertised I was going to do it, but they didn’t take it seriously. Cowards always think deep down that everyone else must be a coward too. Marshall Mcluhan said once that the people who own society have no belief in it. “why is it still here, then?” someone asked him. Because no one can be bothered to clean it up and get rid of it, he said. It’s amazing what you can buy off the back of a truck in the former soviet union. It’s even more amazing no one ever used one. ___________ I shook his hand once at some dinner. As I looked into his eyes I imagined punching my hand through his chest. He blinked and smiled awkwardly. I told him one day I would come thank him, and all of his friends, for everything they’d done. And here I am. ___________ I’m killing them all right now. It took years but I found out all their names, all their hiding places, and where they would run when it all came crashing down. You guys knew the system was coming apart anyway right? You dragged it out a lot longer than I expected. Got a little more blood from this stone we call earth. I knew you’d all try to run. And I was waiting for you. The paedophiles, the rapists, the blackmailers, the liars and thieves. I have all your names, and I’ve spent many many years training men and women whose sole joy is the idea of tearing people like you apart. Most people would give anything to have such a clear sense of happiness. So put them out of your mind. Because if they’re not already gone, they soon will be. You guys did such a good job of hollowing out the military and police force that they won’t be able to fight for you. Nor do they care to. I’ll be the one teaching them to grow food in a few years. And you’ll be nothing but a memory.
- 41 So I’ll tell you why I’m here, at last. I’m here because one day a long time ago I was looking at you on tv. This is when you were still officially in power, you see. And you gave the camera one of those smirks. I’m sure you know what I mean. Those smirks where you’re just broadcasting to everyone how untouchable you are. How you can take what you want and play everyone for fools and make a mockery of every honorable and compassionate thing in this world. You pissed on it. You and everyone like you, and you thought no one would ever call you to account for it. We’re all too weak and stupid and complacent to fight you. That’s what your little rapist’s religion tells you, right? Well I guess you were wrong. Yours won’t be the first stupid religion to join the ashpile of history. I wonder… how many children died, and the last thing they ever saw was that fucking smirk on your face? How many? If you can remember even one of their names, I promise I’ll make it quick and clean. No? That’s too bad. My first name is from the bible. It’s etymology is “god remembers”. God remembers. I used to wonder what that might mean. Now I know. So we know who you are, and we know who I am, and we know our business together. Have you ever wondered what a thousand rich child molesters crucified on the front lawn might look like? With their severed cocks stitched up inside mouths that have had all their teeth kicked out? The world is about to see what that looks like. I always wanted to be an artist, you know. That’s why I’m here. This may end up being the purpose of my life. And if so, then I can accept that. As long as you die knowing that there is justice in this universe and no one escapes it. Not now. Not ever. It took me a long time to understand it, but we all have a place in nature. This is ours. The world makes us and unmakes us. How many lives have you unmade? You had to know someone would come for you eventually. It might as well be me. Don’t worry. I’ve had a long time to think about this, and I guarantee it won’t hurt any more or less than you deserve. Smile for the camera.
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Alchemy for the Braindamaged XII:Getting Yours
Sunday, November 13th, 2005
Even if you’re currently in the throes of some divine revelation spurred on by your augoeides workings, you’re still going to need to give some thought to how you’re going to pursue your goals. You may even say that being in the throes of divine revelation is the best possible reason to consider how you’re going to pursue your goals from one day to the next. Up until now we haven’t given too much air time to the prospect of ‘getting yours’. Now we will. At this stage you can probably be trusted not to flip your shit, turn to the dark side, or hang yourself in the shower. If you’re just dropping in now… well, don’t say I didn’t warn you. I hope by now, you’re not reflexively bound by some set of neurotic limitations in what you think you can and cannot do, but it may still be that you’re not prepared to put the more outrageous or grandiose things on your list yet. Not to worry.. You’ll grow out of that. If you think about it there are really only five factors standing between you and pretty much anything you can imagine, no matter how seemingly ridiculous. 1. Insufficient knowledge 2. Insufficient skills 3. Lack of time 4. Being subject to unpredictable randomness, ie ‘chance’ 5. The ‘laws’ of physics, or any other science We’ve spent a fair bit of time already tinkering with the first two. Or at least tinkering with your mind such that you can approach the first two in the most efficient way.
- 43 Time is fairly elastic, and depends largely on how you structure it, and prioritize your life. Your mental abilities will dictate how well you can use, perceive and reinterpret time. The fifth is the most seemingly intractable. ‘Seemingly’ being the operative word. Very little you do would be more fruitfull than figuring out how to circumvent the supposed ‘laws’ of the physical universe. But I don’t suppose most of you care to spend your lives that way. Rest assured that as you develop in the first four, the fifth will seem a lot less imposing. Which leaves the fourth. How exactly does one engineer around the apparent randomness of events? The answer to this is rather simple. Just ask for it. It doesn’t matter whom or what you ask. The universe, god, bugs bunny, valis, your own higher self. Makes no difference whatsoever. All that is required is the willingness to ask for assitance from a force outside your normal understanding. You might be calling bullshit just now, but tell me… have you tried it? Have you tried asking for a seemingly random bit of life to come your way? Not begging, not pleading, not threatening, not asking to be shielded from something you know is coming. Just stating your intentions clearly and asking for help. That’s it. Some people call this prayer. Some call it conjuration, or enchantment. Some call it flow, or having the touch. It doesn’t matter what you call it. Chaos magicians usually call it sigilisation, create obscure glyphs representing their requests and wank or flagellate themselves to sidestep the ego attatchment to not asking for help. It surely doesn’t need to be that complex. Now let me be more specific here about what you do need: You have to have a clear idea of what you want, stated in the positive, and you have to be willing to accept it in whatever way it presents it self. Most people, even if they do become desperate enough to try this, are asking for something they don’t want to go away, or they’re asking for something in an excessively specific way, or they have too much emotional negativity tied up in not getting it. What I mean by that last one, is, it’s all well and good to ask for the universe to help you out one time, but if your behavior and consciousness contradicts the thing you’re asking for, then you’re already asking for the opposite thing a hundred times a day. For example: you ask to meet a new partner. You ask to make a connection to someone that you think you’re going to value and cherish. But in the rest of your life you’re treating people like shit. Guess what? The universe doesn’t just listen when you ask it to.
- 44 It listens all the time, and it gives you what you ask for the most, sooner or later. If your behavior is saying you don’t respect your connection with people, then asking for a real connection one time isn’t gonna make much difference. Keep in mind what I said here about clearing out your contradictory focuses. The ’sooner or later’ aspect is something to keep in mind too. The universe seems to be made of energetic wave material, that responds to intention the way lucid dreams do, but much of it is very thick, and very slow. If you want it to respond, you have to be consistent and you have to be willing to wait. If you change your mind a hundred times a day, or you can’t spend more than five minutes focusing on your stated result, the material universe is going to respond to the guy next to you who has it it a bit more together. You also have to consider that there could be dozens, or even hundreds of people pulling in different directions. The smaller and more personal your arena the easier it is to make things flex for you. The public sphere is a heavily contested region for the ‘gangs of rival shamen’ that RAW likes to talk about. So you either have to wait for your opening, or get some help. The one last thing to keep in mind is that because the material world is slow moving. It tends to preference what already exists. It’s inertia. The guy or gal who gets to it first has the edge. All of this mitigates against your ability to influence probability, so it’s not suprising that almost nobody does it successfully, on a consistent basis, but since I like to think I’m such a nice guy, I’ll offer you a little exercise to sharpen your skills in this area. Every day, compose a little story about how you want things to go. Don’t ask for completely out-of-context occurrences just yet. Just your regular routine, but specify how you want all the normally random stuff to go. Specify how long it takes to get to work. Specify who you bump into on the way. Specify who phones you in the evening, specify what episode of your tv show is going to be on that night, which songs on the radio or in the setlist for a band you’re seeing. Specify which videos are going to be rented out at the video store. All the trivial random stuff that nobody pays any real attention to. Every day state in the positive how you want all the random stuff to happen. Don’t ask for something to go away. Say what you want instead. If you’re one of those folks who gets approached by strangers, who do you want to talk to, what do you want them to talk about? Etcetera etcetera…. This serves a few purposes. Firstly it trains you to formulate and state your intentions consistently, in a sphere that is least likely to intersect other people. And secondly, it teaches you to PAY ATTENTION. Most of you are so fixated on your big flashing shiny dream goals for a few hours a day and then shut your intention off the rest of the time. Is it any wonder your mind is so weak? The real exercise is in the down time. That’s where you build strength and that’s where you have to worry about resistance the least. Notice
- 45 that these benefits all accrue irregardless of whether any of the things you ask for actually occur or not. The last thing to be wary of is what crowley calls the ‘lust of result’. ie; iwanthisiwantthissobadit’sgoingotbesoawesomewhenigethisi justcan’twaittoget whati’ve beenobsessingaboutforsolongandi’vegottahaveitfuck whatifitdoesn’tworktheni’mreallyfucked thisshitsuckswhyamieventryingfuckfuckfuckcommoncommon work!!! Clear enough? DON’T do that. Just chill, banish often, and assume that it will work if you stay with it and hold steadily. Have fun. And when you start feeling extremely paranoid, just remember: it’s not you. It’s the nature of the universe. The world is a friendly place. Any problems arise from deranged people who aren’t shy about asking for help with their deranged ideas. next: weapon of choice
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Alchemy for The Braindamaged XIII: Biting Through
Monday, November 21st, 2005
Excellence or inferiority in learning to comprehend essence and life is all a matter of finding out principle. Understanding one part, you can practice one part; understanding ten parts, you can practice ten parts. - the Taoist I Ching Okay. For the sake of argument we’re going to presume that you can and will do everything you set out to do. That you can and will accomplish all of your goals, even if it takes you the rest of your life. With me so far? No? Why is that? Are you secretly thinking that there’s just no way you’ll ever do all this stuff, and you’re hoping maybe just thinking about it is gonna make you feel better? Fuck that shit. If you aren’t willing to believe that yes, you will indeed accomplish everything you set out to do, then you’re the happy owner of what we call a loser script. You’ve failed before you even started. Do not pass go. Do not collect two hundred dollars, unless it’s your welfare checque. But I digress. That is simply our opening proposition. We’ll assume you are instead winner- scripted, and proud of it. Like Chris Walken you are the man ( or woman ) with the plan. But really, so what? You’re gonna get everything you want. Who cares?
- 47 I know you do, but why? It’s just content. It’s just a game. The world’s largest stack of monopoly money is still monopoly money. And you may be sliced bread in your chosen game, but have you ever stopped to consider the nature of the game itself? And no, I’m not talking about some kind of conspiracy narrative or social control rant. That’s just content, too. I’m talking about the parameters that enclose the content. Stop me if this sounds familiar: you get up in the morning or whenever, and you fulfill whatever you perceive to be your obligations or important projects, you enact the same rituals over and over again to reinforce a sense of continuity and familiarity, and above all to give you a sense of emotional satisfaction, or at the very least, to numb out the sense of not having any emotional satisfaction. All the particulars. The things you eat, the things you say, what you do and how you feel about it, the people in your life, their games and whatnot. CONTENT. For a second or two, ignore the content. Ignore the specifics, the colors inside the lines, and consider the lines. What are the parameters that constrain the content? How are you any different than all the other talking monkeys who quest for an abstract sense of emotional fulfillment every day? Probably only in the contours of your game. The size of the field, the rules and expectations. The limit conditions. You could spend a million lifetimes shuffling around content inside the frame of whatever your current parameters happen to be. Is that satisfactory? Maybe it is. There’s always going to be some set of game rules, short of disengaging from them entirely. That’s an exotic option, but it’s doable. But generally speaking, most people wouldn’t do that even if they had the ability, which they usually don’t. For as long as you’re attatched to anything resembling an outcome, you’re going to have to accept the fact that your life is a game. You can immerse yourself in the content and try to forget it’s only a game, like most people do, or you can take some faltering steps toward personal authenticity and existential commitment, and recognize it for what it is, and choose the parameters accordingly. Gandhi was once heard to say: What you do doesn’t matter at all. But it is very important that you do it. Think about that for a little while. Now there’s not much chance you’re going to be able to disengage from the content when it’s bombarding you in some kind of endless confusing wave. When you’re fooled by the changing appearances of things into imagining that what’s happening to you day after day doesn’t follow any underlying principles. Until you see the underlying game rules, the game is playing you, not the other way around. As in I ching hexagram 21; you gotta bite through all that content and get to the root.
- 48 And again, let me stress, this is not some kind of high horse conspiracy rant. The rules I’m talking about are in your head. Every human has them, is born with them, and usually dies never even recognizing them. The only difference is how we apply them. There are plenty of these archetypal modalities of consciousness, but we’ll start with four. Most cultures identify these with the elements, but for our purposes we’ll treat them the way the hermetics do: as your magickal weapons. The Wand, the Cup, the Sword, and the Coin. The Wand represents the will. Your ability to engage an object of focus and hold it, manifest it, apply your intent and sustain it. It represents dynamic, active force. When you use the wand you are the actor. You are the center of the drama. You make the rules, and everything that you find is yours to play with. The wand allows you to enter a new game and make it your own, or even create a new game altogether. Conversely, the Cup is acceptance. The ability to disengage from a set of foci. To rest in the role of being acted upon, to play a part in someone else’s game. To let go of a context that you don’t like anymore. To step back, and out, collapse the game. To let things come to you and accept them as they are. The passive principle. The Sword is analysis. To divide things into their component parts. To scale down. To magnify a corner of the picture and make that your whole world. To break anything you see into pieces that you can handle easily. Chop it up and see how it works. And opposite that is the Coin, also known as the pentacle or the disc. In each case we have an enclosed circle, a perimeter drawn. The root meaning of the word reality is ‘a small coin’. The coin is synthesis. To place two different things in the same sphere and examine how they work together. To scale up your focus and take in a bigger picture. To rub out your old boundary and draw a bigger one. The limits of your coin are the limits of your world. This is why many rituals take place in a circle, or pentacle, drawn on the ground. Now if these sound really abstract, it’s because each of you already uses them all, but in utterly idiosyncratic ways. One of you may have a strong wand and treat the world like your playground, another might be happy just to rule the roost at home. Some of you may habitually take the sword to everything in your life, analyzing it into it’s smallest details, others may accept everything uncritically until it’s time to place bets on football. Some may have a very small pentacle; many americans couldn’t find canada on a map, for instance, nor do they care to. Others feel comfy speculating on the nature of collapsed neutron stars in a distant galaxy and how it might impact on their lives. You see? There’s so much room for variation there. Theoretically we all deal with the same shared cultural content, but the way we contexualise it, the way we place a frame around the stuff to deal with it, what we choose to engage or disengage with, what acts on us, or what we act upon, makes all the difference.
- 49 You could be the wand itself and feel like god on earth, or you could be the holy grail of christ on the cross. You could have a pentacle that encloses the whole shimmering infinite void, or you could use your sword to take your sense impressions down to the level of virtual particles blinking in an out of existence in the femtosphere. What I’m saying is, there’s a lot of room to play with your toys. Now it’s no more necessary to actually have a physical weapon of each type to experience these phenomena, than it’s necessary to have nice clothes to feel good about your appearance. But it can help. Sooner or later you need to drop the crutch. I tend to think it’s better not to have the crutch in the first place. Whatever floats your boat. _______ Homework: You’ve been off the hook for a while now, so we’ve got a hard one, in four parts. Time to dust off your list of delusi- I mean goals. The Wand: this is the easiest because the act of setting goals in the first place is a function of the wand, as is much of what we’ve done so far. But take the time to see if anything on your list could benefit from more specificity. What exactly do you want and how exactly do you want it? None of this wishy washy crap. Quit buffering the fear of failure and just announce yourself. The universe responds to courage. And while you’re at it change any wimpy wording: no more I want, I hope, I’ll wait, I’d like…. fuck that. I WILL. Make it so. The Cup: Now take a deep breath. Do you really need all this stuff? It’s all just content anyway, right? Some people only really do one thing for their whole lives. It’s castles made of sand in the end. Look at your goals and decide if you’ll really care one way or another in a few years. Quit trying to bang your life, your friends and yourself into some arbitrary shape. What really enriches your mind and your soul, and what’s just distractions? Drop at least one thing you want altogether and replace it with helping some one you love with something they want. The Sword: What don’t you understand? What’s too big to get your head around? Your life is built on billions of tiny interactions and processes that you know NOTHING about. Why are you trusting someone else to fix something you won’t even look at? Why are you worried about politics when you can’t manage your relationships? Why are you worried about relationships when you can’t manage your health? Why are worried about your health when you can’t manage your own thoughts? Why are you worried about anything, actually? A taoist sage said once that worry is preposterous: we don’t know enough to worry about anything. So since you’re gonna worry anyway, you better get on that understanding thing, but quick. What on your list could benefit from being broken down into something smaller? Take anything that’s too big right now and break it into steps. Make the first step your new goal.
- 50 The Coin: Go outside on a clear night. Check the stars. How many civilizations do you think are out there? Even if you think there aren’t any, how many stars? How many planets? How many natural wonders exist on those worlds, do you think? Sunrises right here are pretty impressive. Imagine what a red giant or a binary star looks like coming up in the morning. You and I may never go there, but our decendants probably will. Is what you’re doing with your life going to be worth mentioning when they do? Is that okay with you? In the context of a universe that probably does contain an inconceivable number of races with an inconceivable number of languages, artifacts and works of art, are you going to feel honored to participate, or just small and trivial? You may have some very small, very specific, very personally important goals. That’s cool. Just remember: There’s a difference between having a small world and being afraid of a big one. Don’t confuse the two.
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Alchemy for the Braindamaged XIV:Design Science Revolution
Monday, December 5th, 2005
I’m going to ask you to think about roles for a second. I’m sure you’ve probably recognized, or had it pointed to you, that while you think of yourself as a coherent entity, you in fact play a number of different roles, in a number of different contexts, and they may be radically different. Even contradictory. You probably know this already, but you probably don’t think about it very much. Part of the reason is we tend to have one or two core roles that we think of as us, and the rest are deliberate ‘acting’, to fit into a certain situation. What I mean is, when you’re with your parents, that probably is still ‘you’, just a you that maybe you don’t identify with very much anymore, but you slip into when you’re with your folks because you have so much practice with that role. It’s no more or less ‘real’ than the persona you assume with your significant other, or your best friends. They may all be very different, but you recognize them all as authentic or true reflections of you as a person, whereas in work or school or public places, there is more of an impetus to present a contrived or forced appearance that is so antithetical to your usual set of references that it’s impossible to lose your self-consciousness in those contexts. You always are aware of acting. You’re always holding an aspect of yourself outside the experience. What you likely don’t pay much attention to is the mechanism whereby you switch from one role to another, or the mechanism whereby you lose yourself in certain roles and not others. Deep in all of us is the need for a kind of internal stability and consistency and this leads us to adopt certain behaviors as helpful to that goal, and reject others as contrary.
- 52 But if you were to participate in the theatre for instance, that creates a context where you can theoretically lose yourself in a role that has nothing whatsoever to do with your inner compass, and not feel threatened. You adopt another identity, sometimes profoundly, and then you drop it. So then, isn’t it possible to transplant that focus, that ability to adopt different persona, and bring it into everyday life? To craft a new identity, and inhabit it fully? And why exactly would we want to do that you might ask? Well, regardless of how different your various personal roles might be, they share certain common traits, and more importantly, a common range of experience. If you think of joy on a scale for instance, you may have a bunch of roles that go to 5 or 6 on the joy scale, and one that goes to ten occasionally, but none of them go past ten. That 1-10 scale itself is one of those core principles, one of those unifying modalities like we discussed last time, that your roles cluster around. You can push against that ceiling really hard, and you may well get to a new place from time to time, but all that does is establish a new ceiling to bang up against. That ceiling is a reference point for all your various personality roles. So what happens if you want to totally step outside of that old scale. What if you don’t want to bust your ass to reach 11, you want 20 or 30 or 100 instead? How the hell do you do that, with no roles of your own that use a completely different range of experience? The short answer is you steal them. Some cultures call this possession, in ritual magick this is known as invocation. Now, ancient practitioners understood this concept, but to conceptualize entirely different orders of experience and understanding they felt the need to attribute them to autonomous complexes of energy and intentionality, ie; spirits, demons, gods whathaveyou. You needn’t bother with that unless you want to. It will probably help, but there can be side effects. More on that another time. Am I saying that there are no such things as spirits and gods? Absolutely not. I know that there are for myself, but it makes no difference. The reason it makes no difference is that anything you think you can know or experience by assuming the role of some other entity is still going to come through your hardware. You can get the same charge theoretically from a made up deity as you can from one with a long history. Why is that? Well in either case it depends entirely on how well you can ‘lose yourself’ on command in your new persona. Anthony Hopkins did such a good job losing himself in the role of Hannibal Lecter that he needed professional help to disentangle himself from it after the fact. Now maybe you don’t want to borrow the worldview of a fictional cannibalistic serial killer permanently, but the point is that you could. Or anything else for that matter. The reason this works is that you already have a whole bunch of different scales for experience in your head, but you divide them into two types: ones that are possible for
- 53 you, and ones that are not. In order to keep your internal continuity you sort experiences and sensations you have no persona structure to support into the category of ‘other’ and save them for fantasy, fiction and entertainment. Deep down, you’ve got a pretty good idea of what 20, 30, 100 on the joy scale is, and how it feels, because you attribute that possibility to other people and other beings, but you diligently keep the door shut on stepping into that yourself, to keep your identity from falling into complete disorder. How much harder then to tap into the ecstasy of a deity or archetype? You’ve got a whole lifetime of behaviors, beliefs and experiences saying that the ‘best’ you can do is a ten on the joe/jane blow scale and you fought damn hard to do that. To admit you can instantly step into ten thousand on the bliss scale requires you to let go of your whole invested life experience. To adopt a whole new view of the world requires letting go of your prior investment, at least temporarily, in what you think you already see and know about the world. It’s tempting to think of ego or self as some kind of object or indwelling essence that needs to be dropped or exorcised, but it’s nothing of the sort. We go into tailspins of confusion and dismay when we think of what might happen if we lost our egos. So lets be clear about what it is, and then we can start making it work for us. First off, ego is not a thing. It is a process. It is the process of referencing one’s self through thoughts, speech and behavior. The problem with this is that you don’t have a self. So it would be better to say that ego is the whole complex of mental programs chasing it’s own tail in the effort to affirm the existence of a non existent thing, ie; this hypothetical ’self’. All the problems arise from trying to make a dynamic process into a static object. ‘You’ are a plurality, a complex of interchangeable modules. The only thing holding you back is the ignorant assertion of a core identity. Treat that core identity as what it is: a stepping stone. A set of markers for your next reconstruction. It’ll always be there if you want to play with it again. To the extent the self can be considered an object at all, it is a designed object, and you are the designer. homework. Pick some quality you want a bit more of. Compassion. Bliss. Inner peace. Understanding. Detatchment. Creativity. Make a short list of the five most profound experiences you’ve had of that type, and rate them on a scale. Alongside each one, note which role you were operating in at the time. Partner, pupil, child, debauched reprobate and so forth. Now based your own scale decide on someone, real or fictional who has that quality at some new, arbitrarily high number. Compose a description of that person. Of their personality traits, habits, relationships, distinctive vocabulary, their attitudes and beliefs
- 54 about things. All the ins and outs of the framework that lets them sustain the quality you’re after at the level you want. If you don’t know or aren’t sure, then make it up. You’re right either way. Why is this necessary? Because attributes never exist in isolation. The ability to go to a hundred on the joy scale is supported by a bunch of other things in the same structure that constellate around a different kind of hypothetical self. Conversely, the ceiling you keep hitting in yourself is a byproduct of a bunch of other aspects of your internal structure that could take you years to root out consciously. This practice helps you sidestep all that arduous drudgery. That big empty space that we’re always trying to fill is like a kind of irritant that the pearl of identity forms around, and when you shift the perspective at the core of that, the whole structure shifts to accommodate it. From this point on, it’s a matter of learning to let go of anxiety and just run with it. No, it’s not easy. If you’ve never explored drama or the theatre, you might want to consider it. Role playing games are a good compromise. The Augoeides makes good material for this because it’s an idealized or extrapolated image of self, so it’s easier to adopt what you feel is an already latent potential. Writing or talking to yourself in other voices is a useful halfway house too. For myself I treat it like skydiving: you can obsess about your chute as much as you want, but as soon as you’re out of the plane, you might as well relax, because there’s nothing to be done about it any more. In that way, putting yourself in no-exit, make or break situations can be very helpful. Just have a realistic sense of what you can do at a given stage. At the end of the day you’ve got to decide if you want to be bound by the expectations of other people, and your neurotic habit patterns for the rest of your life or not. The truth is, nobody else really knows who you are inside and for the most part, nobody really cares. They all want to do what you’re about to do. Chances are they’re so wracked by anxiety and confusion that they have no idea whatsoever what’s going on with anyone else. Do them and yourself a favor and just get on with it. When you do, you’ll wonder why the hell you waited so long to get started.
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Alchemy for the Braindamaged XV: Hellworlds and Hyperworlds
Tuesday, December 27th, 2005
. I had not originally planned to take much of a break over the holidays, but the alchemical process conspired to render me quite literally insane, and not particularly useful for writing pithy articles. If I’d been thinking about it, I might have appreciated the potential of madness for art, but alas I was too busy squeezing every last drop of adrenaline out of my tired aching kidneys. At one point my body chemistry was so toxic I was venting tar-like black substances out of various orifices. I’ll spare you the details. Not to worry though: I saved some and will be selling it on ebay shortly. In any event, I’m not sure how much the practices I advocate here might have resulted in the trip into purgatory, as my own regimen is somewhat different and more complex than the homework assignments on AB. Be that as it may, It does tie in thematically to our latest topic, so we’ll be addressing my newfound streak of disorder in some fashion. It’s hardly cutting edge to postulate the idea of the reality tunnel, or gloss, or filter, or metaprogram, or various other names for deliberately altering your subjective experience of the objective world. I’d find it hard to believe many of my readers wouldn’t be familiar with Robert Anton Wilson, Timothy Leary and/or NLP. So lets take it as a given you can change your view of the world. Winner script, loser script, pessimist optimist yadda yadda. Where most of these folk stop short is the idea that maybe your subjective reality tunnel might actually have objective effects. This veers dangerously close to what’s known as solipsism. Even the leading lights of the counterculture shy away from erasing the boundary between the observer and the observed world. The notion that our minds and the world around us might be engaged in some kind of organic interplay at the deepest level is a bit unsettling, even to those who make a career out of denouncing Descartes.
- 56 Sadly the word ‘quantum’ has become as fuzzy and useless as the word ‘god’. And while certain lip services are rendered to the idea of the observer created universe, the only people who actually roll up their sleeves and engage with that notion by and large are the occultists. Most people simply indulge in a quest to find out what’s ‘really’ true about the world and act accordingly. Part of the reason it’s a virtual taboo, is that, while you may happily accept the idea of viewing the world in a whole myriad of ways, at no point is the validity of the physical world out there under threat from the workings of your mind. In that sense we absolve ourselves of any responsibility for dumping our fearful ignorant and otherwise useless views of the world, because after all it’s all in my head and harms nobody. If you were to incorporate some of our earlier considerations regarding the psychoplastic nature of reality, and ponder whether or not your delusions are rippling out to shape the physical world in collaboration with all the other delusional schmucks in your surroundings, the task of modifying and upgrading your reality tunnel takes on an altogether different order of importance. You can found this idea on several levels of operation. You might say something as simple as decisions informed by a particular reality tunnel tend to reinforce that reality tunnel. You might say that your views affect the views of those around you. You might say your memes spread as well as they may to your surroundings. And if you’re prepared to integrate the psychoplastic ramifications of your intention on the quantum substratum of reality, perhaps through the phenomena of synchronicity, then you’ve got a whole gamut of vectors whereby your mind infects the surrounding world. The reason I mention this is that in our own lives, our only real bulwark against our own potential for insanity is that beyond a certain point, the world seems not to agree with our weird ideas. If everyone were able to easily and consistently find confirmation for their strangest ideas, any notion of the consensus would unravel entirely in short order. Deep down we all secretly suspect that there really is a world ‘out there’ that we have no effect on, that acts on us. The flipside is that deep down we secretly, desperately need to believe that is true. We need to know that there is an ‘out there’ to anchor our ‘in here’. And why? Well, the obvious reason is that most of us haven’t got a the slightest fucking idea how to handle our ‘in here’ so we rely on ‘out there’ to provide our reference points to keep us sane. Even if our ideas of what is objectively real is primarily regulated by long term habit and unexamined prejudices, it provides a kind of stabilizing rudder and momentum for our consciousness, which tends to keep us all moving in more or less the same direction. While you may have all manner of unusual notions and nonstandard views, chances are you still share more underlying assumptions with every other human on earth than not. So we have this tension between the world as creation and the world as creator. In terms of what we’ve spoken of before it is the tension between the wand and the cup. Between being the author, or being a character in your story. You can debate which is true in some
- 57 ultimate sense but what you can’t really debate is that you’re here. Hellworld or Hyperworld, here you are, so you are well advised to come to grips with it, and your place in it. It’s important to keep in mind that whether your world is made by others or made by you, there’s always something at the heart of it that keeps you there. In a very real sense, the world view you have is a game, which you play in the pursuit of what lies at the resolution of the game. Everyone, including you, goes through this continuous process of deciding what you want, what it looks and feels like and what you have to do to get it. Some people define very clear games that have very clear end points, while others slap together endless open ended scenarios whereby they spend their whole lives chasing some nebulous notion of externalised happiness, usually to no avail. Anyone who has even a superficial familiarity with Joseph Campbell knows he identified the universality of the heroic quest. It is a psychological mechanism that is inherent in all human beings. What varies is how we assemble that quest in ourselves and how we go about it. Certainly once we come to understand this as a psychological phenomenon with social consequences, we can come to understand that perhaps the true meaning of the heroic quest is what it does to our minds. The degree to which we externalise and project this process onto the world is the degree to which we have forgotten our own role in creating the scenario in the first place. Conversely the degree to which we internalize this process, the degree to which we understand the journey as being an inner unfolding, the closer we are to the truth. We make these games to capture the treasures that we think will enrich us, and we set these games in the worlds we believe they have to take place in. So when you look at the world around you, the reality tunnel you habitually live in, or one you might like to live in, the question always has to be: what’s at the heart of it? Why are you there and what’s the payoff that keeps you there? What are the challenges you feel you need to face to navigate this world, even if it’s simply the challenge to embrace joy and relaxation? In any event, the moment you truly understand that you’re trying to capture something that lies dormant in your own mind, the walls of the labyrinth become transparent, and the games you play with yourself are seen as they are. Does this mean you shouldn’t play? Does this mean you shouldn’t delve into these realms of light and darkness? Hardly. And even if you simply decided not to, it wouldn’t be sufficient. It’s so much a part of you, it would take much of the rest of your life to fully detatch from that mindset. What you can do, and do quickly, is take a conscious attitude to it. Right now you’re probably pursuing someone else’s idea of treasure at the heart of the labyrinth, and hence you’re playing by the rules they taught you in order to get it. A very mundane example of this is the typical middle class careerperson. We might ask ourselves what the fuck this poor bastard thinks he’s doing in that cubicle 40 hours a week, but that’s the parameters of the game for him. At the end of that road is his
- 58 hypothetical treasure, his sense of bliss. Will he ever get it? Probably not, because he entered that game with no clear idea of where it would lead, or where it might end. Chances are he learned his vague dreams from someone else who lived their whole life with the same vague dreams. Another lost soul in the Hellworld of bourgeoisie prosperity. You want to break out of that shit? Quitting your job won’t do it. You’ll just be broke and homeless and still wondering how you’re going to get that brass ring one day. You’ve just fallen into a backroad of that particular Hellworld. You’ll probably wander around for awhile and eventually recreate the same scenario with a few modifications. If you’re really serious about getting out, then define what you want, ( which you’ve already done) , define what you have to do to get it( ditto), and what sort of view of life you need to make it happen. You make the rules, you set the standards, you decide if you succeed or fail. Not your parents, not your friends, not your significant other, your children, or society. You do. Your game. Your world. Your life. And if you’re going to be here, then you better make your reasons good ones. The good news is the default reality tunnel of western society is quickly losing what little grounding it had in observable truth. Material prosperity and media saturated leisure are receding in the distance. The bad news is that people are swiftly being herded into a number of alternatives. We have the Hellworlds of ‘war that won’t end in our lifetimes’ , ‘ peak oil’ , ‘clash of civilizations’ , ‘climate collapse’ or ‘the new world order’. People wander into these headspaces because for whatever reason they feel like this stuff represents some unavoidable modification to the game rules they’ve already laid out. Is it your secret desire to run free across the decimated wasteland of a collapsed western world? Maybe if your name is Ran Prieur. But chances are the only reason you’re there is because you convinced yourself that the carrot at the end of the stick just got yanked into the bowels of post apocalyptic nightmare and you can’t help but follow it. Until you see what’s leading you into these places you’ll never be free of them. And the sad thing is, in light of our earlier considerations, these nightmares aren’t just in your head. They infect the world, they spread, they become more real. You plumb these dark dimensions and in doing so you solidify them and call them forth, and lay the groundwork for others to fall into them. And so very few of us have the discipline to back out of the trap, even if we could see it. Thankfully we also have the Hyperworlds, the realms of unleashed progress, opportunity creativity and abundance. “2012″, “The Singularity”, ” Electronic Retribalisation”, “The Archaic Revival”, “S.M.I.L.E”. Each of these has their cheerleaders and evangelists. The main danger to these places is apathy. Of sliding into complacency and neglecting the need for challenge and growth. I do think the mature person chooses to live in a joyful, promising world of limitless opportunities, while always understanding the importance of walking the path of risk, change, and rebirth. But that’s just me perhaps.
- 59 Depending on your perspective, this is the ultimate act of magick. To create a world in your imagination and call it forth, to make it real. Certainly the alchemical quest is equally founded in the transformation of the self, but it’s partner will always be the story that makes the world. This is not just in your head. It can remain there, but only if you wish it. There are no limits, there is no ‘real world’ to break yourself against, in the end. ‘The real world’ is just another story somebody told you once. The world and yourself are of the same clay. In some ways, this chapter is the pivot for everything I’ve written here so far. I can see now that my initial concern was to tell a story, to paint a picture of the dark dimension growing up around us all, to craft a world of real dangers, not just nebulous anxieties, and real potentials for adventure and growth, not just jolts to a jaded nervous system. A real quest for the world. With a toolbox for personal transformation at it’s heart. In doing so I’ve come to understand very well that I’m not the only one doing this. Although I like to think I’m presenting people with better options than the reality priesthood, and their never-ending terrorscape might offer. At the heart of it, my methods are not much different, only more transparent. I pull the trick on you with my left and show you how it’s done with my right. And sometimes even I don’t see what I’m doing. Particularly to myself. One thing I may have overlooked is the potential for genuine terror, for a real looming sense of loss and dislocation, of being ripped apart in the bowels of hell. That’s what it felt like for me, and while the temptation is there to treat it as a mistake and wonder how to avoid it in the future, the fact remains that it has helped purify me, driven out the flaws in my thinking, the weaknesses and childish attatchments. If you’ve ever faced the prospect of losing it all, you quickly come to understand what you really value. In that sense the quest is a success, at least so far. I have survived the challenges I posed to myself, and gathered the prizes I’d left in wait. For the time being, I’m happy to stand on the crest of the hill and survey the landscape, before I descend into the valley of my own making again. Homework: Assume for a moment that it’s all a sham. At any moment, you could choose to experience anything at any level of intensity you wish. It’s a lucid dream and you’re in control. Given that, why are you doing what you’re doing? You must have a good reason for all this struggle, conflict, confusion and searching, right? What is this all about? Maybe you’re doing what you feel like you have to do to make the experience real for you. To make it so you’ve earned your treasures. You’re playing a game with yourself for everything on your list. Maybe some of them are easy and you’re working to overcome laziness. Maybe some of them are hard and you’re developing courage. Maybe some of them are mysterious and you’re cultivating understanding. Whatever the case, these things are the cornerstones of the world you’re really living in. The focuses you invest time and energy into reinforce that view of the
- 60 world. So take some time to track it back. Follow the cord back out of the maze, and look at the picture you’ve painted for yourself. Even if you could get all these things you want at the drop of a hat… would you? Would it be worth anything if you did? In many ways we validate our experiences in terms of our struggle to achieve it. But perhaps you’ve become addicted to struggle, and forgotten what it’s all supposed to be for. If you want to spend the rest of your life like Sisyphus and his rock, then by all means do so. In many ways life is about the journey, not the destination. There is fulfillment in process. Just don’t forget you have options. When it’s not rewarding anymore you can walk away. Fuck that rock and fuck the hill. Try answering to yourself for a change and not the delusions swirling in your head. It may be a dream you can’t leave yet, but it’s still just a dream. next time: stoned immaculate
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Alchemy for the Braindamaged XVI: Sickly Expressed Deliverance
Wednesday, January 11th, 2006
Apologies for the lag time in writings. Inevitably the act of living life starts to take away from talking about it. In a good way thankfully, and it’s confirmation that the process proceeds more or less as intended. Which brings us around to our next topic. Namely, levels of intent. While those of us playing at this little game are engaged in more or less the same process of refining and manifesting intent, not all of us are engaging in it for the same reasons. And I’m not talking about having personally specific content. I’m talking a broad stroke sweeping difference in the quality of intent. Now that all sounds rather vague and nebulous I know, but bear with me. I’ll be making three gross divisions here. The first level of intent has to do with what can be thought of as therapy, ie; resolving and repairing incidences of dysfunction of whatever type. If you’re engaged in the alchemical process as a means of ‘fixing’ a ‘problem’ of some sort then that’s therapy. Poor self esteem, control issues, poverty of sensation, fear and insecurity. Whatever. The therapeutic level is primarily concerned with addressing perceived deficits in self or others. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, mind you, but that mindset tends to be self perpetuating. You’ll always be able to find a ‘problem’ if you look for one. You’ll always be able to find some way in which you are not functioning well with your surroundings. I wouldn’t recommend spending your whole life on it though. The historical buddha gotama dealt with this in his life and teaching. His first students on becoming enlightened were hard core ascetics. Meditation masters who lived in the woods and were peers of gotama at that time. They grasped his message almost instantly.
- 62 But as time went on and he shared his ideas with others, more and more he found that he was being approached by people who wanted to be ‘fixed’ or who had massive personal problems that prevented them from walking the path as the buddha laid it out. Much of what we know today as buddhism is what gotama created to help these dysfunctional laypeople who weren’t sufficiently together to reach any higher. What he stressed however is that, like I said, you can’t fix everything. Nor should you. Simply get your shit together to the point where your life is not a train wreck and move onto higher realms of experience and intent. Which brings us to our next level which we may think of as the yogic level, or the artistic plane. Here you’re extending your existing capabilities. Learning to tap into higher and wider perceptions, more potent sources of energy, more profound and lasting sensations and experiences. It’s about developing skills and strength of mind. If you’re broken and dysfunctional you can’t really do any of this. If you try, your quest for expression will be turned into a flashing neon sign for your personal issues. This level shows up in all the spiritual or esoteric paths, but not always as an end in itself. Often it is a precursor, a way of preparing the mind for the leap into the next level. That level, our final one, is transcendent or nondual. At a certain point your focus shifts to a kind of ultimate realization or release from boundaries, definitions, conceptual structures or imprinted limitations. Whereas the the artistic level is concerned with extending your reach in the conditioned realm, the transcendent impulse is to rise up and out of that whole context and assume a consciousness that pervades and includes all that exists. A typical metaphor is to regard the universe as a projection or hologram of some sort. The transcendent attitude is to shift from regarding oneself as being a pattern created by light, to being the light itself. Or to move away from whishy washy phraseology, you shift from regarding yourself as being a phenomena, to regarding yourself as being the source or substance of that phenomena itself. If one identifies oneself as being of the same nature as infinite light, or an endless transparent awareness, is anything that arises or passes away in that light or awareness necessarily going to have any bearing on you at all? Probably not. So you can no doubt see how a person mired in episodes of therapeutic drama is not going to get this. What is interesting though, is that transcend people quite often spend most of their time dealing with people who need therapy. People whose lives are hellish. The ‘wretched of the earth’ as it were. Probably because they know full well that unless these people unfuck themselves, they aren’t going to be good artists, let alone achieving transcendence. Now, obviously, these are not all or nothing delineations. History is filled with ‘transcendent’ characters with all kinds of seemingly dysfunctional personality quirks, just as it is with artistic or yogicly accomplished types who exhibit the occasional burst of
- 63 transcendant insight. And it hardly needs to be mentioned how the creative genius flirts with madness and incapacity as often as not. The point worth making is, where is your emphasis? Where is your intent directed? Fixing shit that doesn’t work, creative expression, or departing from the scripted reality tunnel altogether? Appearances can be deceiving mind you. Not that it’s especially helpful or profitable trying to go around pigeonholing other people. It’s primarily meant for oneself. But, for example it’s easy to mistake the altruist who finds the touch of god in helping others, and figure this person must be one of these suffering martyrs who bleeds for every blade of grass that goes under a lawnmower, and can’t establish any healthy boundaries on what can be done to help others at the expense of oneself. The difference is intent. Conversely, the indian countryside is dotted with ’saints’ who are so blissed out by their yogic mastery of certain states that they seemingly must have transcended the mundane plane. They neither move, speak nor eat. They need devotees to spoonfeed them. So are they supremely enlightened, or is it that they’re so dysfunctional that they’ve retreated into the false liberation of pushing your own bliss button until you don’t even register the outside world anymore? Is this really any different than a heroin addict who spends 17 hours a day on the nod staring at the tip of his shoe, and the rest trying to score? Probably only in the skill and efficacy this person has used to service his pathology. So you can begin to see the tangled relationship these levels have. You might develop skills to address your therapy, transcendent insights to fuel your artistic expression, or mine your personal issues for material to work into your art. For example, my recurring thing, and I’m quite sure that most other people have this from time to time, is that I want to get something ‘out of the way’ before I can fully explore my creative expressions. I need a better job, I need less stress, more time. Blah blah. But in truth, focusing on all this ‘problem’ stuff is just prolonging the situation. The mind is by far more complex and sophisticated than you give it credit for. If you decide where you want your conscious focus to be, then your subconscious will put everything else in the appropriate place relative to that. Things that need to be handled will be handled, and the rest will slip into insignificance. So the ground zero question is simply this; where is it at for you? Not what you think you have to do. You don’t have to do anything. What do you WANT? Quit twisting yourself into knots to fullfill whatever you think needs to be done before you can feel good about yourself, get your groove on, or cash out of the game altogether. Just do it. Our homework is, accordingly, fairly simple: Sort your list into three categories. The goals which service your personal problems, the goals which express your creative vision, and the goals which move you towards transcendant freedom.
- 64 Once you’ve done that, Reasses their order of importance based on what they do for you IN AND OF THEMSELVES. Do not put them in the order you think they need to be be in. Put in them in the order in which their importance warrants. If you want your problems to be of paramount significance, then great, do that. If you’d rather deepen your skill sets then do that. If you want the answer to the universal question, then obviously you better get on that shit, dawg. The bills will get paid, one way or another.
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Alchemy for the Braindamaged XVII: Shoot the Curve
Friday, February 17th, 2006
part I part II part III part IV part V part VI partVII part VIII part IX part X part XI part XII part XIII part XIV part XV part XVI
Let’s talk about projection. Or more specifically, projecting trends into the future. When I was talking about my health previously, I engaged in a practice of tracking certain habit trends both forward from a past where I started them and into the future whereby I could predict where they would lead. This ability is a function of the frontal or conscious mind, as it deals with constructs of linear time. The subconscious mind cares nothing for time. To the subconscious mind only the present moment exists. Even when it draws experience from the past or future, that experience is considered to be in the present moment. It cannot distinguish between an image and the reality. But anyway. It seems like this ability to project trends is growing in the human race, both as we develop greater skill in recognizing patterns and greater ability to abstract beyond the present moment and take in a bigger picture.
- 66 And here’s the funny thing: because we can use that ability to tap into wildly extrapolated future states, it provides the subconscious mind with an avenue for plausibly accessing experiences that we might otherwise not dare to do. Technology not a sufficient cause for optimism? Extrapolate it forward twenty years and imagine yourself as a transhuman demigod exploring space. There’s a headrush for you, and because all you did was plug things that are really happening into your future conjuring algorithm, it must be true. your subconscious mind buys it. Disenfranchised with the present? Track the rates of oil extraction, ecological destruction, and population growth into your curve generator and shudder in terror, or else gasp in ecstasy that the hated world that is, is on the way out. Same function either way. You’re utilizing a hypnotic principle called time distortion. If you can trick a person into visualizing an outcome, then their subconscious mind treats it as it were already happening and they don’t resist it. All you did was provide the raw data and the timeframe. So if you carefully frame the data and the time frame you could make pretty much anyone accept pretty much anything. With me so far? Now here’s the big whammy. If you’re really clever with this stuff you can generate what is known as a catastrophic transition. You project some process so far into it’s future that it launches off the graph that you used to measure it and into a completely unpredictable realm of behavior. The reason things like peak oil or the singularity pack such a punch is that they use mathematical trends to convince your brain that you’re going into a totally unpredictable transition state. You’ve been tricked into confounding your normal categories and definitions of things. What’s interesting is, you’ve sucked yourself into the realm of chaotic behavior, and in that state of imprint vulnerability, someone else can come along and implant some new set of ideas. It’s the same principle as brainwashing. You render someone helpless, destroy their existing model of the world and in the totally dependent state of confusion, they will grab hold of whatever you give them. In short, you take someone’s model, time distort it until it explodes and then help them reinterpret the aftermath. TA-DA!!! New reality. New self, even, perhaps. Now keep in mind, this is not usually an deliberate act on the part of another person to brainwash you. But human beings are hypnosis machines and these distortions and trances are how we construct our world and communicate with each other. Words are just the delivery vehicle for sharing our personal trance states. Now presuming you understand this, or even if you don’t, you can use this to your benefit. I’ve said elsewhere that your frontal mind places strong limitations on what are accessible or internally consistent experiences for you to have. No matter how much fun or pleasure or joy you want, your subconscious mind knows you almost always prefer to preserve your sense of self and inner continuity, so anything too strong to incorporate
- 67 into your reality stays in the category of ‘other’ or at least displaced so far into some vague future that there’s no danger in the present moment to your safe state of misery and confusion. If you’re reasonably together or progressively goal oriented you’ll have designed and implemented a kind of incremental curve whereby you can, over time, access more happiness, more love or more creative flow and relaxation or whatever. What I’m going to show is how to reshape the curve, perhaps even jump it altogether into the realm of catastrophic transition. I trust by now you’ve got the tools to do something usefull with it. We already did something like this before, but this version is even easier and more shocking to your current equilibrium state. The two of them actually work together quite well, I find. What you do is, and this is easy, is to presume that nothing in yourself is ever going to change. Your conscious mind should have no trouble accepting this, because most of us either crave stasis or fear it so much that we can’t stop thinking about it. Imagine that for the rest of your life you’re going to keep doing exactly what you’re doing right now, and do it in all the same ways with all the same beliefs. Imagine it in five or ten year increments. Same job, same partner, same limitations, same hobbies and habit patterns. Some of them will be good, some will be not so good. Where will you be? Your mind shouldn’t have any difficulty accepting this scenario, because it doesn’t require you to do anything different. You don’t need to be mindful, or conscious of your activities. You just need to stay on autopilot. How long will you live? How is your health? What sort of experiences have you had? Children, real estate, extended family? What sort of markers for personal growth occur simply by adding more time into the equation? Now I’m going to presume that you haven’t hanged yourself in the shower just now, probably because of the few things in your life that involve growth, creativity and learning. If I addressed this to a crowd of ‘average’ people they would probably shrivel in despair. But if you’ve been around for some time, you almost certainly have some kind of regimen of meditation, banishing, metaprogramming work, or artistic expession in place. So play it out. No more grand upheavals or ecstatic changes. Just play out what you’re doing as routine right now, right this moment in your life, and give yourself the time to see where you end up. Plug 40 or 50 years into that, in five year increments, and what comes out the other end? Do you even get 40 or 50 years, or does your diet, lack of exercise and generally shit state of mind do you in long before that? Or conversely, does your ongoing regiment of health enhancing activities and positive state creation see you through into your second century of life? Think about education. Are you content with everything you’ve learned? If so, you can look forward to seeing your cherished assumptions systematically torn apart by time and change until you end up confused, rigid and disillusioned. OR, you do some simple math: you could get the EQUIVALENT of a PhD in pretty much anything in an average of about
- 68 five or six years. Even a modest 50 or 60 years of adult life is the equivalent of ten PhD’s if you continue learning, even informally. How much learning have you picked up so far, and how much do think you will pick up just out of habit in the years to come? Now change the exercise a little bit, because no human being is truly static. You are not a simple equation. As time goes on you do not simply continue at the same rate. Whatever you invest in right now is what you are getting better and better at. If you invest in negativity, rigidity, fear and toxicity, you can look forward to an exponential swirl down into the recycling bin. Life is cheap and the biosphere is never short of human beings. If you’re not part of the solution you’re part of the problem. BUT: If you invest in learning, growth, positivity, embracing healthy change and discipline, you will not only learn and grow more, but you will be learning and growing faster and faster as time goes by. The PhD equivalent you picked in 6 years will come in 4 years soon enough, then 3 years, then who knows? The joyous and creative states that come fleetingly now, will come sparingly soon enough, and reliably still later, and eventually the most outlandishly ecstatic states become your new baseline, until your current measurement system for understanding your life no longer is relevant. You’ve jumped the curve. And these things are mixed. You have negative habits dragging you down and positive ones accelerating you towards your personal apotheosis. So as you shitcan the dead weight and install more useful behaviors, your accelerating curve becomes more and more like a vertical line shooting towards the great who-knows-what. You see how this works? First you have habits that involve no change, then habits that involve predictable positive change, then habits that predictably accelerate positive change, then habits that predictably accelerate the acceleration of positive changes, until the whole concept of time and change and scales of positive experience cease to bound your consciousness. Your personal singularity. Because, all due respect to Ray Kurzweil but we don’t need some fucking computer to jump the curve for us. We’ve got the equipment right now.
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Alchemy for the Braindamaged XVIII: A line in the Self
Saturday, February 25th, 2006
And the objects that they make have the peculiar ability to themselves generate this linguistic “stuff” which condenses as other objects. So beings are making objects, showing you objects, the objects are turning into beings and making other objects, these beings and objects, they jump into your chest - and then they jump back out. They jump into your body and disappear into your body, and then they jump back out, waving these things, just throwing this stuff in all directions.-Terrence McKenna
This will be an update to some of the principles of banishing, an answer to a couple of questions, and an entry into some new territory altogether, so buckle up. There’s an awful lot of discussion these days about what can be grouped under the broad heading of ‘the other’. Sometimes that other is an alien, a supernatural manifestation, a diety, the dissassociated self, or the self-transforming machine elves from hyperspace. What they all have in common is that they appear to exist outside the boundaries of the self. It probably goes without saying that without a self there is no other, But I’ll bring it to the forefront of our discussion becuase it’s crtically important. Terence Mckenna once said that the great project of the twentieth century was one of boundary dissolution. between the conscious and the unconscious, order and chaos, black and white, civilised and tribal, male and female, self and other. Surrealism, dada, feminism, psychedelics, civil rights, psychiatry and psychotherapy, free love and the sexual revolution. Boundaries dissolved or in the process of dissolving. But then what? You can’t neccisarily dissolve all your boundaries can you? Some people might like to, but is that always a good thing? There are plenty of opportunists, human or not, that would love to take advantage of your dissolving boundaries. The media, for example, is utterly saturated front to back with messages that try to impinge on your boundaries and implant imperitives that are foreign to your preexisting sense of self. Indeed, the whole world is full of little selves that would love to imprint on you. As I’ve said we’re hypnosis machines and invading and colonising each others headspaces is the way it’s done round here.
- 70 When you undertake the practice of banishing, you are, in effect, taking the plastic, permeable, boundary between self and other and modifying it in some way. You contract it to expell foreign influences, expand it to encompass new ones, harden it to repel invasive forces and soften it to allow desirable or benign ones acess. But, of course, everytime you do this you’re actively redefining what exactly is ’self’ and ‘other’. The self is whatever is inside the line you happen to draw, and the other is whatever is left out. Take feelings for example: you all probably have the one friend who cannot get their shit together. Someone who is constantly buffeted by a victim mentality, who feels put-upon, persecuted and overwhelmed. They happily try to dump their negative feelings on anyone who will listen. Most people in that situation will be aware of that friends feelings, but not neccisarily identify with them. Others will be completely detatched and wonder what the big goddamn deal is all the time. Then there are others still who will take on those feelings so totally, that they cannot seperate themselves from it. for all intents and purposes, the other persons feelings are their feelings. No boundary = No difference. The only thing that changes from one to the next is the strength and size of the line drawn around self. And there’s really nothing to say you can’t draw and redraw that line anywhere you like. You could even take a long-existing behavior or persona and eject it completely, simply by redrawing the line to exclude what you don’t want anymore. So in short, banishing is that process by which you draw the line. Exactly how you do it entirely ideosyncratic. What matters is you incorporate whatever symbolism or activity will make that experience more real to you. You talked yourself into the boundaries you have now. You can talk yourself into new ones. However you do it, it’s important to repeat it the same way, over and over again. Your mind responds to effort and repetition. It notices the things you do constantly and will move to support them. Let’s say you have the nagging voice of your ten year old self constantly dragging you down with fear and poor self esteem. You could just close you eyes and say piss off, but what works better is to surround yourself with symbols of success and confidence, visualise your whiny ten year old self in front of you, and then physically mime shoving him or her out of the circle. Then you reaffirm your more current state of confidence and self-esteem, and then force the ejected self to renegotiate your relationship before reintegrating them. If you can’t come to some kind of accord then tell the little bastard to fuck off. Repeat that twenty or thirty times over the course of a month or two and you’ll probably be getting somewhere. Now you might ask: how does this process apply to entities that seemingly have their own volition and autonomous existance? Those things are surely not manifestations of my self?
- 71 Not directly, no. But the funny thing is, the moment you define the boundaries of the self, you have at the exact same time defined the boundaries of the other. Think of it like both sides of the crinkly edge of a fractal. Every step you take into the other is one step the other takes backwards. Everything you take from outside and integrate is one less attribute whirling around in the deep waters of the not-self. So even if you encounter something that seems utterly strange and alien to you, the only reason that’s so is because you made it that way. From the buddhist perspective all identities are delusional postulates with no inherent reality. they may function as autonomous entities but in truth it all emerges from the same flickering void of nothingness, and that’s where it goes back to in the end. The aliens are as real to you as you are to yourself. If you’ve got an extremely rigid and/or neurotic ego, there’s going to be a lot of alien seeming shit prowling around at all times. And if you encounter something new and recoil from it, all you’ve done is create a membrane of self/not-self to eventually dissolve and integrate. Which I suppose raises all kinds of questions about what the deal is with all these alien contact experiences and the like. My suspicion is that they the veiled attempts of the collective unconscious to pierce the walls of repression around the human sense of self. How many times have you heard about implants, rectal probes, fetal tissue manipulation, surgeries, kidnappings, and messianic dispensations of wisdom from our little grey buddies? If you accept that these creatures are at least quasi non physical, then it follows that they might be manifestations of some other trying to either reconcile itself to the human ego, or invade it and colonise it. For myself I find the parallels between alien contact and satanic ritual abuse a little too close for comfort, and recall the admonitions of rene guenon that the crumbling of our collective barrier to the subhuman realm leaves us exposed to all manner of predators and parasites. Or it may be that it’s a little more in line with Terrence’s experience. These creature bathe you in luv. They give you gifts. They teach you thier magick and welcome you as a friend. They litterally merge with your body. What both of these polarities have in common however is a complete loss of boundary control, which leads me to believe that the intensity of contact -type experiences is strongest either in the neurotic whose rigid defences suddenly collapse, or in the skilled adept who willingly drops his defences for a time. My experience of contacting an ‘other’ came under the influence of what i would later estimate as 10-15 dried grams of psilociibin mushrooms. In that state I was able to dissect everything I encountered into smaller and smaller units, until I finally got down to flickering quantum static. Pure noise in the basement of reality. At the time i never thought to go the other way and see what was wating at the top. That particular experience took me close enough to madness that i realised i was done with drugs.
- 72 Meditation eventually gave me the opposite experience: a limitless transparent presence that transcended and included everything that exisited. A vast conscious emptyness of unformed potential. It wanted nothing because it was everything. It had no boundaries to dissolve so I was already one with it. It seemed and still seems to me that our purpose in existing was to accept and integrate every potential of the self, until we rejoin the godhead. Of course that could take a long time, and can a bit of a white-knuckle ride at times, hence the usefullness of banishing. All of which may be considered a proper preamble to our next installment wherein we unchain the primordial monsters in the qlippothic depths of reality and make them our bitches…
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Alchemy for the Braindamaged XIX: Controlled Demolition
Thursday, March 30th, 2006
And here we are, the penultimate chapter of this series. One more run around the block before I break down and tell you what it's getting at. Twenty seems like a nice number, and hardly a planned one. I could squeeze a couple more in there but It hardly seems essential. Time is of the essence. So down to work. In any process of personal transformation, there is the inevitable collision with what can only be characterised as a wall. A simple, yet adamant refusal of some part of the mind to go any further. Some habit, some routine, some fondly held belief, or context that will not yeild to any degree of effort. To fling oneself against the unmoveable seems sure to plunge one into madness or despair. Maybe you can't visualise what you actually want. You're bound up in endlessly circular sniveling and whining about what you don't want. You can't sit still for more than fifteen minutes, becuase it feel like ants are burrowing into your subcutaneous fat and supping on your blood. You have no idea what might constitute 'happy', 'relaxed', 'optimistic' or 'creative'. You see other peole do these things, or what looks like these things, but you have no clue whatsoever how that might become true for you. All these seemingly disparate problems are actually the same problem. They all represent a profound terror of losing or destabilising one's sense of self. Where you locate that sense is perfectly variable, but everyone puts it somewhere. Your feelings, your beleifs, your material circumstances, your body, your relationships. Maybe you do a little circular
- 74 bucket brigade from one to the other, when one of them starts to look shaky. In fact, that's probably exactly what you do. But chances are there's one or two that will not yeild or shift in any lasting way. The real cornerstones of the static ego. or the attempt at a static ego, as the case may be. It should be abundantly clear by now that you can do just about anything. Certainly you can be as happy, as creative, as smart, as rich or famous as any other human at the very least. If you know that, then what's the fucking problem? It's not that your mind is averse to better or richer experiences. It just has trouble beleiving them to be possible. It has difficulty relinquishing the present circumstance to move towards the new one. You 've probably all experienced that sense at least once. That sense of free fall? When you actually made a defintive break with the past and moved into the unknown. Now before you start patting yourself on the back as some radical innovator who can drop everything and go hike to peru, or live out of a backpack and squat in an abandoned building and dumpster dive, consider that the real stubborn changes are internal ones. It's easy to up and leave your external circumstances, it's easy to quit your job, compared to facing the real issues that probably drove you to do those things in the first place. It's hard to let go of your obsessive need for approval or control or recognition. It's hard to let go of your ongoing lusts, fears and obsessions, even when you can see they don't serve you anymore. It's hard to love unselfishly. Can you even imagine letting go of anger altogehter? Where is it writ large that humans beings have to get angry? or fearfull? or desperate? or depressed? Certain physiological phenomena are inevitable, but transitory. That's no excuse to dig yourself into the same emotional or existential hole that everyone else is living in. The fact that everyone seems to be doing it, ought to be reason enough to question it. Some people learn to love their jailers, to need their jailers, to want to please the authors of their captivity. What you need to get through your head is that YOU are your jailer. YOU are your own worst enemy. YOU are the one who is holding you back. YOU are the barrier to full potential. If your life has been going so great up untill now, what the fuck are you doing here? You can't have it both ways. You don't get to change irrevocably and stay the same in all the comforting ways. The world will get along just fine if you change everything about yourself. Nobody knows, nobody cares. Most people who 'know' you won't even notice, and if they do, they'll probably just pretend it isn't happening. The last thing a prisoner wants to do is admit that you can just leave at any time. Your social life will probably not fall into upheaval if you chuck all your internal neurotic bullshit. And even if it did, wouldn't that be prefferable anyway? What the fuck are you so eager to hang on to?
- 75 If by some sci fi contrivance someone were able to steal your body, your life, they would probably fumble around for a couple days and then adapt so smoothly no one would ever notice something had changed forever. You know it's true. Even the people who claim to know and love you the best would not see that 'you' were gone. And you know why? Because 'you' are constantly changing all the time already, and does anyone notice? Not really. Not anymore than makes them comfortable to do, which is probably related to exactly how comfortable they are with changeing constantly themselves. So, really, the only possible authentic life or realtionship in this world is based on contant, never-ending upheaval and complete change. The sooner you get rid of this idea that you are the same entity that was extruded from your mother's womb at birth, the happier you will be. You are not even the same entity you were yesterday. These ideas about what you are, are ghosts and they will haunt you unto death. Unless you kill them first. These voices in your head that are constantly making statements about who and what you are, do not magnify extend or optimise your capabilities in any way. In a sense these insert themselves as intermediaries between your total mental resources and the world outside of you. They insert themselves for the sole purpose of maintaining the delusion of static identity. They don't help you do anything, except perhaps to cope with the fear that you don't really exist as some unchanging essence. And they don't even do that very well, becuase that fear has probably never gone away for more than a few bare seconds in total of the course of your life, and probably never will, untill you quit playing the game with these voices. This arraingement will take one of a several forms in the final analysis: first possiblity; the voices break you enitrely. you capitulate to your fears, expectations and beliefs about life, and do your best to carve out whatever sort of satisfactory existence your life script will permit you have. welcome to 99% of the human race. second possibility: you formulate some novel scenario for your life, and by hook or crook, manage to outmanuever the voices that want to hold you in fearfull stasis. You hijack any and every tool at your disposal to accomplish the emotional breakthrough on the other side of the wall, and then go back to sleep. Hopefully you don't commit suicide when your old walls are replaced by brand new ones, and your new world sucks as bad as the old one sooner or later. This is 99% of the remaining 1%. Welcome to an anthony robbins seminar. third possiblity: you reorient your life to continuiously tearing down your walls and undermining your limiting voices. you alternate between ruthless and somewhat depressing gruntwork to learn new things, and the ecstacy of breaking through old limitations. this turns out to be much more satisfying than actually getting any
- 76 hypothetical goal or emotional cookie. You eventually learn that having goals makes for usefull focal points, but getting them is not especially important, leading you to set goals as close to utterly impossbile as you can, and enjoying the ride. Conversely, you embrace an outcome utterly for a short period of time and then drop it when you integrate the new perspectives it offers. Hopefully you elude the slight risk of falling into a depression or dependance on something external to make the ride keep going. If you extend this practice long enough you eventually realise the utter transparency or provisional nature of all your identities and inner voices, leading you to notice the larger nigh-infinite consciousness that was always present to begin with. You may count yourself in the ranks of shamans, magi and visionary artists of all stripes since the dawn of time, but that's just one more t-shirt for the collection by the time you get there. Life is funny that way. fourth possiblity:You utterly relinquish all of your ego attatchments in some profound act of devotional surrender to the vastness of creation. In which case skip to the end of possiblity three, and then some. This option remains open at any time, but it is historically not very popular, although those who pull it off tend to be. Make of that what you will. Homework: I'm not going to presume to tell you which option you should adress, so I'll prescribe a course of action for each one. Option one: Do nothing. Very easy, and the best part is you've already done it! Give yourself a pat on the back. Option two: Do your best to culitvate some kind of obsessive desire for a carefully specified outcome. Do anything and everything it takes to get it, within the bounds of your morality and conscience. Any of the tools I've offered up so far are helpfull in this regard, but I tend to think of that as a bit of a waste. Option three: If you've been along for the ride thus far and actually doing anything, you're well on your way. The sooner you move your emphasis from getting the things on your list, towards understanding the progressive growth of creativity, flexibilty, and insight, the sooner you will see the true purpose of the magickal path. Option four: Dramatic but effective; Spend a whole day tryng to convince yourself you are afflicted with some terminal illness and only have one year to live. Immerse yourself in that sense of despair, frustration, sadness and eventual acceptance. When you feel like you've made peace with it and understood how to live your remaining life in that light, get up the next day and imagine your only have a month to live. This will repeat the experience at a higher level of intensity and dig up any attatchements you missed the first time.
- 77 Then do it again the next day, but only give yourself a single day to make your peace with life. By this point it will become very very clear how useless most of your mental activty is most of the time. If need be do it one more time and live out the last hour of your life. If you perform this exercise to the utmost even once, your life will never be the same, and to do it over and over again will lead you to the goal in short order.
- 78 -
Alchemy for the Braindamaged XX: To Stand at the Edge of the World
Wednesday, June 7th, 2006
And here we are. the pod and direct download are both still a bit prone to go 404, but if you try either a few times in succession it should work. I will polish the rough edges off this system in short order, but I'm sure you're all clever enough to find your way around it for now.
- 79 As to content, well, you'll perhaps find me faltering in my speech, awkward with the mic, and painfully earnest, but i think I get the point across. In retrospect, perhaps I shouldn't have tried to compose my thoughts in real-time. This is not truly the end of the series mind you, merely a change of form and substance. In fact, new material should come with even greater regularity, as it's much easier for me to rant for half an hour than hunch over a keyboard pecking away for two days. But enough for now, I'm already thinking of the next one. For simplicity's sake keep the comments here if you can. Having come to the end, change. Having changed, pass through
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