Monday, May 14, 2018

Hermetic Lessons - (Hermetic) Tarot


Introduction

- Explain differences in Renaissance, Modern and Post-modern Tarot

- Show how the disagreements in Kabbalistic attributions of the Major Arcana between the G.D. British (Fool in first position) and the Levi Continental tradition (Magician first) lead inevitably to questioning whether there is any objective (astrological/kabbalistic) meaning to these associations or whether it is based on whatever the person thinks/believes - if so what are the implications for the rest of Tarot symbolism (i.e. that without astro/kab)?  The arbitrary nature of such attributions and questions about their value opens the door to the flowering of post-modern Tarot i.e. oracle decks, and whatever works culture - the subsequent ''return'' to the focus on ''authentic'' Renaissance decks is as much a function of millenial magipsters as it is any actual solving of the original problem, what it effectively does is half-avoid it


Main 

- Purpose of first lesson is to understand what it means to transition from Fool (0) to Magician (1), that the Magician is the idealised magickal self and that journey may take multiple lifetimes, and that this idealised self may be your ally, your teacher, your friend and your enemy depending on philosophical perspective

- Detail the Magician card, what are the primary tools of the magician and how do they relate to the Tarot at large?

  • Wands/Fire - Passion, Ambition, Drive, Creativity
  • Cups/Water - Emotions, feelings, dreams, receptivity
  • Swords/Air - Intellect, destruction/deconstruction, analysis
  • Pantacles/Earth - Material concerns, physical health and wealth

- Through the magickal tools the magician learns to direct his will but ultimately the objects themselves have no intrinsic value and act much like stabiliser wheels on a bike while you learn.  One of the tasks of the trainee is to incorporate/integrate these tools within the body, the mind and the soul.


  • The Wand runs from the base of the spine and culminates in the centre of the brain with the key glands (pineal, pituitary, amygdala) 
  • The Cup is located in several places, clearly the mouth and the stomach are ''cups'', but so are the brain pan and womb
  • The Sword is used for the purposes of elimination and runs down the body from the neck (the hilt), the shoulders (the crossguard) and then down the spine - the kidneys and the immune system can be thought of as sword functions as they eliminate toxins and invading microbes from the body, digestion and internal ''immunity'' of the cell use lysozyme i.e. trillions of molecular sword-enzymes
  • The Pantacle is your feet wherein is contained the wheel of your karma (i.e. DNA inheritance) and also the pains and burdens of your whole body are expressed in the feet and can be relieved/cured by foot care


- Explain that within Hermetic Tarot while the 22 Cards of the Major Arcana relate to the 22 Letters of the Alefbeit and the numbers of the suits relate to the Ten Sefirot (in the Four Worlds)

- Explain how the way in which you view the numbers of the suits can be dependent upon your underlying philosophy (or that of the Tarot creator) - e.g. pantheists see creation and creator as one so therefore all numbers can be equally nice or nasty, but certain extreme (?) Gnostic groups see Earth as a kind of Hell that our original light being selves were drawn into like moths to the flames of realisable desire and passion and are tortured by material existence so for them numbers closer to 1 are ''better'' as they closer to ''out of hell'' 

Activities

- In order to ''level up'' one needs to either study or practice, so here are some simple activities to do everyday with Tarot without needing endless questions about your life or sitting in a cafe waiting for people who are in need of readings

  • Tarot Headlines - Pick a tarot card to predict the first news headline at the hour on the channel you choose.  Apply your knowledge of the tarot to see how the Tarot is describing the headline.  Write this down in a journal.
  • Tarot Selfies - Hold the Tarot deck in your hand as if it is a phone, and ''take a selfie'' with the deck.  After taking the self draw a card this represents the image of your head.  Take a photo of this selfie.  Take one everyday and compare.
  • Tarot MRI - Effectively an extension of Tarot Selfies, use the deck to scan three sections of your body - head, torso, abdomen - and then draw cards to represent each of them.  Take an MRI like this everyday and you will see patterns emerge in the form of suits/numbers etc and you will also see yourself ''digesting'' the various energies that come your way - the head card will be what is immediatly on your mind, etc and the subsequent cards events of several hours or a day past (i.e. the digestion cycle)

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The Twelve Senses II (Astrology)


Building on the conversations around the Twelve Senses, various people (mainly materialists) had been asking me about causation within astrology and how it was possible that such remote objects as stars could have any physical effect on the body.  I explained that my studies in genetics suggested that really the stars were acting as markers for internal processes within the DNA (zodiac signs + basic genetic rhythms I II III), a clock if you like, as opposed to actually ''causing'' anything persay.  But the conversation proceeded to how as organisms we interact with our environment and I shared the idea that, depending on when we are born, we are children of the weather and the effect of that weather on the mood of the people around us i.e. Leos are Summer children and Aquarians are Winter children so they are socialised differently as people/society are behaving differently when their clocks are set.

I've been playing Life is Feudal: Forest Village recently, (as part of my shift from strategy games to management games due to changing business conditions and therefore different skills that need practising) and it demonstrates how our evolved background of survival in primitive conditions forces certain behaviour at certain times of the year: 

  • Aries - Individuals beginning to thaw from Winter, have energy to get outside and do stuff but before the sensuality of blooming spring, therefore can be quite '"Spartan''
  • Taurus - Sensual, regarding the sights, smells, sounds and textures that suddenly flourish in Spring
  • Gemini - Late Spring, Early Summer transition between the mania of Spring and the laziness of Summer
  • Cancer - Summer storms, bottled up pressure suddenly released, relaxed afterwards while more pressure builds
  • Leo - Lazy days of Summer explains the foundation of cat-like behaviour
  • Virgo - Harvest
  • Libra - Storage (figuring out how much we have of different foodstuffs, explains why they are so anal)
  • Scorpio - Nights are getting long enough providing darkness for concealing Scorpion action...
  • Sagittarius - Last (desperate) burst of energy, picking up the crumbs and last minute hunting before everyone is trapped by snowfall
  • Capricorn - have we enough food to last for the Winter, if not I will eat you - seriously though there will be slaughter of something, goat or otherwise
  • Aquarius - child trapped inside by Winter, has to use imagination/philosophy for fun way more than other children 
  • Pisces - still trapped inside by Winter, more dreamy because more generally exhausted by Winter, huddled with other people (shoaling for warmth)

These are a few sketchy notes (so my post doesn't drag on beyond the few paragraphs allowed by the contemporary reader) but the standard question in response to this (kind of) materialist explanation is the problem with the Southern Hemisphere to which my first answer is that the South has only been populated by people who would use Northern Astrology for a relatively short period of time and could be extremely faulty, the other answer would probably involve the genetics of the northern people who colonised there (although that is far from fleshed out).  Obviously the best thing to do in this situation would be to use the astrological system of the actual people who live/lived in that area previously as they are way more likely to be accurate if astrology is most effective in a regional setting.  I want to be clear though that this conversation was had with materialists and esoteric beginners and the above is a way to get yourself thinking about astrology and not my personal final position on the subject which would be more idealist than materialist (i.e. esoteric genetics where the twin helix of DNA is our gateway into the nature of time and consciousness itself).

A question that interests me now is whether or not we can associate the Twelve Senses with the Twelve Zodiac Signs in this way (as the Sefer Yetzirah does) - is there any reason why a sense of tone would marry itself to Aries, or a sense of smell would marry itself to Scorpio? Are these Twelve Senses a function of time itself?

Monday, April 16, 2018

The Twelve Senses

Twelve elementals: Heh, Vav, Zayin, Chet, Tet, Yod, Lamed, Nun, Samekh, Ayin, Tzaddi, Qoph.  Their foundation is speech, thought, motion, sight, hearing, action, coition, smell, sleep, anger, taste, laughter.

Sefer Yetzirah 5:1, Gra Version

As many practitioners know there are numerous benefits to memorising the Tree of Life and imprinting it within your mind as a model for thinking with, similar to the benefits of extensive mind-mapping but without the advantages of unification and centralisation that come with QBL.  While learning and mastering the QBL most serious attempts will result in improved cognition, lateral thinking, speed of referencing, long term memory retrieval, reflexes etc and therefore creativity (at the minimum).  In the study of the later parts of the Sefer Yetzirah (Gra Version) I took pains to ''calibrate'' the Twelve Kingships of the Twelve Simple Letters, separate them out from the tangled mess/noise that makes up the typical consciousness and understand these as individual threads within it. Practically I would focus on each Kingship for a month, i.e. focus on my anger for a month, my action, my sleep etc and through practical work learn more about and grow to more fully understand these faculties of my being.



Although I had done the work and fine-tuned (to a greater or lesser extent) my anger, my laughter, my sleep, etc I had not considered them all as senses until I was reflecting on these kingships the other day with friends and students.  We typically learn five senses but some of those senses contain a mixture of different senses which are bundled up as one because they share a common location (e.g. the ears), and there are other Kingships that may be senses but that we label as something different. The premise of the idea of twelve senses is that we falsely distinguish between senses, emotions and thought when we would be better to think of all of these faculties as senses and in thinking exercises (reflecting, meditating, contemplating) along these lines they will, very much like the cognitive benefits from other Tree of Life, spring into existence - no longer bound by the ''propaganda'' of the five senses, we will experience the full truth of having twelve.

  • Speech - sense of tone, it is possible for me to raise my voice aggressively and for people to sense the tone (not just the volume) and have physical responses, similar to the effect a calming quiet voice has on the mind (see ASMR)
  • Thought - we generally take more credit for our thoughts than we should, most (if not all) thoughts arise as result of external stimuli, anxious thoughts before performance, desire based thoughts when looking at something you love, want, crave*, temp goes up you ''think'' I am hot, or by God its hot! etc
  • Motion - sense of movement, dizziness, nausea, the feeling of still being on a rollercoaster when you leave, although this sense is centred in the ears (working by means of tiny hairs sensitivity to the rocking motion of fluid in the ears) it should be distinguished from hearing
  • Sight - is a sense, we can elevate this to ''vision'', we can transform looking into watching or seeing
  • Hearing - is a sense; we can elevate this from hearing (passive) to listening (active)
  • Action - note we do not have the sense of touch on the list, the sense of action could be considered the resistance of substances to our actions, i.e. pressure, pain 
  • Coition - arousal, often confused with emotions but the reality is that physical stimulation, the movement of a bus you happen to be riding on, etc can cause arousal alongside the sense object of a desirable body
  • Smell - is a sense - in terms of its position on the list, it might be worth considering how much smell affects arousal
  • Sleep - sense of our own fatigue/exhaustion, experienced as aches, pains, etc
  • Anger - underneath anger lies the flight/fight response which is a sensory response to perceived danger 
  • Taste - is a sense which we elevate to ''artistic taste'' but which is a sensory response to grotesque and disgusting things, we can taste the air as much as smell it 
  • Laughter - sense of humour (!) its funny that sense of humour appears after taste and anger as these two prior senses are very much wrapped up in laughter - whether it be fart jokes, or laughing at people falling over, the roots of laughter are in fear, anger and disgust, and again laughter can be calibrated and cultivated




*The origin of most of my metaphysical thinking can be seen as (at heart) a sensory response to the infinity of space and the scattering of stars therein. Do all such chains of thought have a sense object at their origin?

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Tempography - Archetypal Situations

Observe and see how, in the winter, all the trees seem as though they had withered and shed all their leaves, except fourteen trees, which do not lose their foliage but retain the old foliage from two to three years till the new comes.

The Book of Enoch
Time is a landscape where going ''downhill'' towards significant events causes an increase in the number of synchronicities and an acceleration in the perceived motion of time and vice versa as we go ''uphill'' away from significant events and experience a slow-down.  These events (robust branching moments) are significant only in that they let you shift between different pre-existing variations of yourself that Raziel calls minotaurs.   In following on from the last post, how can we best describe ''the lay of the land'' - what factors give away the identity of the significant event and how best can we describe this tempography?

Archetypal characters are used throughout esoteric sciences in order to better understand people, to zoom in on the qualities of individuals in order to assist or heal them.  In the Metabolism of Time these archetypes are drawn from the endocrine system where a hypothetical fluctuation in the levels of, or cellular sensitivity towards, different hormones controls much of underlying ''mood'' - adrenaline types being more jumpy, insulin types being more sluggish, etc.  Most of the time we find archetypal characters are drawn towards or are involved in archetypal situations that suit the nature of that character e.g.  characters who are derived from the (foreign body recognition) immune system (of the cosmic being) are involved in constant analysis, blame and judgement and would do well to have a career in the justice system where their occupation will supply those situations as opposed to them pathologically acting out immunological reactions in their domestic life or otherwise seeking out and (mis)attributing blame in environments where it is inappropriate.

When you encounter an archetypal situation, there will be a ''guardian being'' or archetypal character of the corresponding nature residing there for instance in criminal justice situations you will encounter a police officer, or bailiff, or lawyer etc who you must provide ''passwords'' to in order to effectively navigate the situation.  Sometimes those characters are out of alignment and in ''the wrong position'' but most of the time nature finds its form in one way or another.


ARCHETYPAL SITUATIONS

Returning to the Metabolism of Time we see that the ''characterization'' of time which provides our archetypal situations requires an individual moment to be broken down into ten phases for the purpose of experience but that each moment although containing ten, takes on the nature of one e.g. each moment of ''analysis'' requires all ten phases but overall that period of time can be characterised as ''analysis''.  These phases are at the core of the nature of reality itself (Atziluth, the divine thought-process, if you like) and our genetics, our endocrine system, our personalities, etc are all expressions of the Metabolism of Time.   Each of these phases become archetypal characters, and then hosts (or tissues), as individuals differentiate and then conglomerate.

Returning to the idea of tempography, since the robust branching moment will, of necessity, be an archetypal situation and contain the appropriate guardian character the situation itself indicates the type of significant event i.e. the two variants of yourself that are linked at that moment.  In order to break this down along the lines of Raziel's Fourteen Minotaurs and to get into the nitty gritty, it is necessary to look at an exercise from the Sefer Yetzirah.

In the Sefer Yetzirah there are 7 Kingships of the Planets, which along with their transpositions make up these so-called minotaurs of the self.  They can be associated with the planets in several ways but the one that works best is this one:

  • Wisdom/Ignorance- Saturn
  • Wealth/Poverty - Jupiter
  • Seed/Desolation - Mars
  • Health/Disease - Sol
  • Mastery/Slavery - Venus
  • Peace/War - Mercury
  • Beauty/Ugliness - Luna

On the Tree of Life there are 7 vertical paths (shaded purple) and therefore 7 positions for these Planetary Kingships and, by relating this to the Metabolism of Time*, we can look at the archetypal situations that are ''joined'' by such paths and thereby detect the underlying nature of the significance of the event, the type of synchroncities as you approach, and what timeline or minotaur can be successfully transferred to.



Lets finish up by attempting to apply this interpretation of Raziel's guidance to a ''practical'' situation!  For example then, I am wandering along the pre-existing timeline of the ''wealth minotaur'' of me (the Jupiterian version if you like), when I notice synchronicities increase and perceived time speeding up indicating that I am approaching a significant event and it is therefore possible to change lines.  This significant event has the archetypal situational nature of Remembering and Analysis of the Moment, the Mercurial path on the Tree of Life (and the Metabolism of Time), and has a guardian character who has similar physiognomy to the Mercurial character in superposition and in order to deal with this situation I must provide ''Mercurial'' passwords of one form or another.  Now, I must deal with the situation, or rather since the future already exists experience how ''I'' dealt with it, but where I am truly free is at the conclusion of this moment I can swap between my minotaurs, in this particular case I can swap between the wealthy minotaur and the peaceful minotaur.  We can also assume, for the sake of the next set of ''experiments'' that the type of synchronicities indicate the situational archetype that you are approaching at the moment.

Observe ye how the trees cover themselves with green leaves and bear fruit: wherefore give ye heed and know with regard to all His works, and recognize how He that liveth for ever hath made them so.  And all His works go on thus from year to year for ever, and all the tasks which they accomplish for Him, and their tasks change not, but according as God hath ordained so is it done.

The Book of Enoch

*The qabalistic issues with doing this relate to the ''mysteries of Daat'' - but for ease now consider the Depth of the West (or Yesod) the equivalent of the Altered Past, and Malkuth as the Actual Past or ''The Grand Moment'' - situational archetypes that relate to Luna the path that ''joins'' the Altered Past with the Actual Past are generally ''dream'' related.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Temporal Gradients


As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, like the appearance of torches going back and forth among the creatures.  The fire was bright, and out of the fire went lightning. And the living creatures went back and forth in appearance like a flash of lightning.

Ezekial's Vision

We watched three alien sci-fi movies over the last few days and all of them involved the Ezekial style UFO (wheels within wheels, etc) - Phoenix Forgotten, Attraction and Knowing.  Since we didn't pick those movies for their ship design it counts as a synchronicity I imagine.    Knowing is a Christian disaster movie about the end of the world with a theme of Determinism vs Free Will and I thought a re-watch might come in handy plus my partner had never seen it. At the same time I was directing and producing two short plays by Harold Pinter and shared the sound track from Sleuth which my partner pointed out was clearly pinched from Beethoven's 7th and then Beethoven's 7th was in Knowing!  Woah...


As magicians we are fairly used to this kind of synchronicity and we observe many of them throughout our careers.  One of the challenges of the 231 Gates Project - 2018 is that we are going to try and crack whether or not the nature of the synchronicities indicate the nature of the upcoming significant event and why.  As discussed in previous posts we believe that synchronicities increase in number as you approach a significant event and decrease as you leave one - and we are adding to this that we believe that the percieved forward motion of time seems to increase as you approach a significant event as well*.  Imagine the preexisting future like a rolling plain as you go uphill (away from a significant event) time slows and synchronicities decrease, and as you go downhill time speeds up and synchronicities increase. Generally magicians don't think about the de-synchronous (the reduction in the synchronicities as you leave an event - uphill) which is why you don't see this idea discussed anywhere, and often the magicians can mistake the synchronicity for the event itself.  The standard counter claim(s) to using synchronicities as some kind of measure or navigational aide would be a) you are only seeing the synchronous when you want to see it (confirmation bias), and in truth everything is in continuous synchronicity or b) there is no synchronicity only coincidence without any underlying meaning.

Last week I ended up in the top 1% of actors on IMDb (star rating) which was pretty crazy in terms of ''big magic'' considering where I started in 2015 (to put it in perspective I have moved up 1,500,000 positions this year).  Much like (pathwalking my way to) living in Edward Kelley's Tower it is certainly tempting to think of these kind of large results as the significant events of magic.  When I look back over my life though I can't think that the seemingly small inconsequential events that are somehow stuck in my memory are less significant and whether what sorcerers might consider ''big magic'' - in terms of power, wealth, attraction, etc - are really all that ''big'' in the grand scheme of things?    How are we measuring significance?  Is it even possible to measure significance from a presentist perspective?  Probably not as we can only truly measure it after the fact, after the life... but if Determinism is true then this life, and everything, has already happened and the future preexists. How do we measure that life - qualitatively or quantitatively?  Personal happiness?  Wealth?  Spread of genetics?  We need to know the answer to this, or at least have an understanding of the problems with finding an answer before we continue. 

We have a primitive understanding of a way of categorizing significance in the form of the Fourteen Minotaurs which are, in short, the archetypal life-paths of fourteen variants of you - the wise one, the foolish one, the rich one, the poor one, the healthy, the sick, etc - and we have talked before about the possibility of measuring these from a hypothetical median self but against what?  Each other?  Is there even such a thing as health, or beauty?  According to Raziel, if I can be so bold, the significance of an event lies only in its linkage of two different Minotaurs together - two different categories of you, its significant only in that you can change from one person to another, change the channel of yourself that you are watching and not significant in and of itself or against any benchmark of meaning.

What is this thing then that measures us without measure and kills us even though it doesn't exist?  My headaches because the world aches.
Fernando Pessoa

So lets analyse the synchronicities mentioned at the start of this post and reflect on what signifcant event could possibly be coming up.  They are all related to Ezekial, so can I expect an Ezekial-esque event to be approaching?  Can I be expecting another abduction type encounter with Raziel**?  Are these significant events significant because they serve as branching moments between two minotaurs if so which?   The problem with this line of reasoning is that the synchronicities could be mere happenstance and any ''abduction'' that happens is only because I am on my knees praying for it to happen and not that it was preordained.

Now as I looked at the creatures, behold a wheel was upon the Earth beside each living creature with its four faces.  The appearance of the wheels was like the colour of beryl and all four had the same likeness.  The appearance of their workings was, as it were, a wheel within a wheel.

Ezekial's Vision



*This is consistent with a kind of Doppler Effect for the perception of time.
**I had a dream last night, where Raziel was explaining time crystals to me - these are four dimensional time nuggets that contain the various coherent realisable timelines of an individual, or universe - I don't think they are the other state of matter previously announced this year?  I saw them in the dream, he held some in his hand, they were nugget looking things and they were orange, copper, or brass, they kept shifting colours within this range and whether they were metallic or not - is this golden beryl or the amber from Ezekial's vision?

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Reverse Thinking

We cross our bridges when we come to them and burn them behind us, with nothing to show for our progress except a memory of the smell of smoke, and a presumption that our eyes once watered.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Tom Stoppard

My drama students and I are currently working on a play which is set inside a person's mind and the characters are the thoughts and thought structures of that person i.e. creativity, logic, addictions, instincts, realisations, questions, conscience, etc, etc.  The story involves the central character who is the persons' idea of herself (a nascent ego) exploring their mind, wrestling with the various other characters for the control of that mind until finally coming to terms with the idea that one thought must dominate - either her love for the idea of herself, or her love for another person.  The 7 part scenic structure is as follows:

  • Thoughtstream
  • Museum
  • The Abyss
  • Episodic Memory
  • Vision
  • Dreams
  • Cortex

We are working on the Episodic Memory scene where the protagonist (the idea of herself) is attempting to navigate their way through a memory while some characters point out the gaps and others are attempting to destroy it to free up space for marketing and advertising.  Towards the end of the scene a forgotten part of the memory (as a character) enters the scene and rewinds it back to the beginning and then plays it forward again so we can see what it is like when that missing piece has been restored.  Another character has sneakily inserted themselves into the memory so they can take the protagonist towards even higher realisations.  This is actually a very challenging scene as not only is it difficult to play something truly in reverse but the play is also creatively staged with in-the-round, reverse-round and traverse elements used in an immersive environment for the audience (so that they feel like they are her thoughts too).  Various characters have to be un-murdered or un-kissed, etc, and the students remark on how difficult and weird it is to block.  By the third rehearsal it started to look fluid and students were having their own set of realisations and enjoying the process immensely.

As readers of the Hermetic Lessons know I have been pursuing this reverse thinking for a few months now, trying to get myself (by running and returning) into a position where I can sustain de ja vu and these kinds of trans-temporal states of mind for a longer and longer duration with a view to psychically exploring a tempography.  For example I just visited the toilet and as I was returning to my studio about half way back I started picturing myself walking backwards to the toilet I had just left - trying to focus on both my forward motion and my anti-time clone's hypothetical reverse motion although I admit I stopped the experiment before reverse defecation. These aren't the first such thought experiments though, in fact decades ago I worked quite heavily upon one of Crowley's texts called Liber Thisarb.  Thisarb exhorts its readers to practice similar kinds of reverse thinking, even to try and read backwards but, and Crowley is pretty insistent on this as well, to not read esroh and think horse (which would be your brain cheekily escaping the confines of the trial) but to fully grok it as esroh.  With the proper application of reward and punishment it is entirely possible to begin to get results by ''the third rehearsal''.  While such thinking seems alien to begin with it rapidly becomes more fluid and natural.  In a previous post I talked about two different kind of people who remember - the ones who painfully try and extract memories, audibly groaning and agonising over the search and the other ones who just say ''it'll come to me'' and then it does, at some point.  What I am trying to say is that you only need to use will (and conditioning) to drive these experiments initially and then the mind will start performing those tasks itself and whole new vistas of reality will suddenly hove into view.

Consistency is all I ask.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Tom Stoppard

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Hermetic Lessons - Studying vs Smartphones

It was in early 2002 I found myself working in a champagne bar in Leicester; I'd open the bar in the late morning, complete the cleaning and maintenance and then have a lot of time on my hands as the bar was not busy until the evening.  During those hours I studied the Kabbalah alongside a number of different subjects including bio-psychology, endocrinology, philosophy, history and comparative esoteric sciences using actual physical books.  Not only was I intent on immersing myself in the world of the Sefer Yetzirah I was also intent on ''wiring'' my newly acquired knowledge into the Tree of Life (in my mind) with the general intention of improving my cognitive abilities, memory, speed of reference, psychic powers, etc.  I was aided in this respect because I had already sworn myself off fiction and had worked (through Raja Yoga) to develop the concentration and study skills necessary to just read textbooks.  In many ways I had been a very fortunate student (as I recalled a great deal of information from the memory palace of a former incarnation) but I wouldn't say I had ever been a good student up until this point. I had relied an awful lot on my silver tongue and good memory to blag my way through various situations but I realised that what lay ahead was a study bridge that no-one was going to cross for me.  I had to transform into the person that I needed to be and I had no teacher but myself.

Getting to the point of this post, I'll be honest there is no way I would have completed these essential studies or this transformation in the presence of a smartphone (I managed to avoid these devices until fairly recently, getting my first one in early 2017), optimistically it would have dented my productivity by at least 50%. I would have repeatedly dropped out of study mode to respond to people online or just browse the web.  Rather than reading the chapters of my set text I would have randomly wandered off at tangents or got into chats, etc.  Continuing this behaviour would have completely shattered my nascent willpower and reinforced appalling study habits. I avoided getting a smartphone because I could see around me the destructive effect it was having on people's minds (and personalities) and restricted myself to desktop internet. I struggle to mitigate the negative effects on my behaviour now I do have one.


When I have hit my students with the reality sandwich of actual reading and studying they are going to have to do in order to grasp the Qabalah and the Western Mystery Tradition at levels beyond beginner they nearly puke at the thought of it.  It is far easier for the student's ego to re-frame their esoteric identity as an open minded explorer of the occult whose sense of curiosity and wonder will open doors to insights at the ''right time'' (i.e. as a permanent beginner) as opposed to truly appreciating the academic grind that is necessary for advancement.  The vast majority of texts that you need to complete this study are available for free online so there is no way you can justify your lack of study by lack of books (as used to be possible) so the ego has to invent other ways*.  Obviously its not only reading that is important, finding the time and will for practical work is also seemingly beyond most students.  Most of this training also has to be done in private and that means detaching yourself from the grid.  There is no point meditating, attempting astral projection or completing ritual work with your smartphone on and your mind in ''smartphone mode'' - restless, attention seeking, anxious, etc.

Finally I want to say that the students' behaviour in class is impeccable - they are attentive, disciplined and ask great questions - it is the personal study that is shockingly lacking.  I asked them at the beginning of the lessons how much nagging they wanted about completing work and what the level of hostility should be - I think they were surprised by this question but I reminded them that it is impossible to move on in building the temple, so to speak, without adequate foundations.  This post is not a moan about the students themselves, although it could be seen as such, rather its an understanding of the new difficulties faced by students today and a reflection on what I can/must/should do as a teacher to help them.  As a director, I can't learn actors' lines for them and as a teacher I cannot complete my student's personal study.  I know that the challenges are fundamentally a lack of willpower (that everyone starts off with) compounded by a lack of willpower to develop the willpower you know you don't have, compounded by smartphones eroding any chance you ever had - so what to do?

- inspire/lead by example
- punish/reward for non-achievement/achievement
- teach studying/thinking (and espouse its virtues) alongside content
- be physically present during studying (incredibly difficult in reality, probably highly effective)
- isolation study retreats (along with the above)

I do do many of these things already and I should make sure I focus on them as much as I do on the content which of course I am highly passionate about.  As a teacher its easy to get lost in that content and forget its all meaningless unless it ends up stored in someone's brain in some kind of coherent way - because if it doesn't I am not really a teacher I am providing esoteric infotainment.  For various reasons the Baby Boomers have failed to pass on the tradition in a recognisable way and a lot of the Gen X practitioners/teachers are really into ''material'' (don't ask too many questions) sorcery (which is not all that intellectually challenging or demanding) and/or identity/psychological issues as opposed to what I would consider a more mystical/mathematical approach to magic.  As I transformed myself into a more effective student, I now have to transform myself into a more effective teacher and just like before no-one is going to do that for me.

*Although studying online means you are likely more exposed to the various distracting forces of the internet - the demons of chat messengers, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook groups, etc.  But it is ''free'' (or certainly cheaper) from a money point of view.  If libraries exist use them if you can.