Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Tree of Life - The Rivers of Time

When I was a young man I received a vision of the Tree of Life in the form of twin rivers weaving together to form a double helix.  These rivers flowed from the top of the mountain, joined in a lake, split once more beneath a viaduct, formed the moat of a tower, beyond into a marsh delta and then finally out to the Sea.  As the rivers flowed so did time; it was always morning in the mountains and always evening at the shore.  Night, it seemed was far out to Sea.

Along the banks of these rivers of time lived a set of characters - The Ignorant Genius, the Ignorant Fool, the Bloodless Being, the Treefrog, the Shellfish, the Confused Venutian, the Prisoner, the Mime, the Jay and finally the Many Mannered Mind Man.  In my visions, I conversed with these characters and they each had something to tell me about the nature of humanity and time itself.


A couple of years after working with these characters and applying the knowledge they had given me I came across the Western Mystery Tradition and began to study the Qabalah.  I met my first esoteric teacher at university (where I was studying Biochemistry and Genetics) and he introduced me to the Eastern Mysteries and though I was fascinated, my passion for alchemy, qabalah and magick never wavered. The Rivers of Time, it seemed, were congruent with the Tree of Life, these characters were partzufim, their conversations with me like that of spirits, or maggidim.  Through the Great Work, I opened the archives of my magickal memory - I was poet, monk, slave - fish, frog, demon and angel. The Great Work showed me the only path - of service, of teaching, of medicine - that lonesome road that would lead to the damned Tower in Prague and the secrets of Raziel that still I fear to share.


As I continued my studies, the Rivers of Time were enriched by molecular biology, endocrinology and many other ''logies'' - I saw the wisdom of ''as above, so below'' and Cellular Consciousness began to emerge in this heart that loved knowledge - my background in science and mysticism allowing me to free-scale the four worlds.  My studies at university concluded with chronobiology and cryptochrome - an appropriate finale to this stage of the path and, after university, I pursued my studies of Qabalah still further, gazing into the Kabbalistic mysteries of the Sefer Yetzirah, with excellent mentors and admirable peers.


The physiognomical secrets revealed to me in my youth had been enriched by these studies - I understood how the perception of time was intrinsically married to character, I could see destinies configured in faces, flesh, or fat and I could see the psycho-dramatic solutions; the rituals necessary to heal the rifts in the souls of my siblings; the words they needed to hear and to say.  I could see how spoiling and abuse lead mankind away from itself and into a labyrinth of false masks, and how they then so identified with these masks that they forgot the truth of their own soul beneath them - those Rivers of Time, navigable and coiling in the nucleus of every cell of their being - their beginning embedded in their end.

Monday, May 25, 2015

The WMT - What Went Wrong? Whatever Works!

I can't stand this argument - ''whatever works'' - you hear it repeated endlessly through the WMT. The essence of it is that we are all individual, we are all approaching the great Nous along different paths so people are going to get different results from different approaches - whatever works for you. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that position in principle, we are all different, there are many different paths in the occult sciences and we should avoid ''one-true-way-ism'' but ''whatever works'' is constantly used to defend intellectual and spiritual weakness.

Its lazy.  Have a bit more investigative rigor.  Just because a thing works doesn't mean it works the best.  You can argue that your forehead works to hammer a nail into a plank of wood. You have got results.  You have successfully hammered that nail haven't you? - alongside pulverizing your skull. This is called pragmatism bias - ''if it ain't broke don't fix it''.  The thing is that different tools can do the same job as another tool but better.  In the future for hammering a nail, just use a hammer, right? A Pogo-stick and a jet-pack will both allow you to travel.  Although one may be enjoyed from time to time for recreation and comic relief the other is going to get you where you need to go faster and more directly.


Sometimes we may want to maintain an antiquated practice for sentimental, aesthetic or historical reasons. Sometimes the Grimoire Magi give me this impression - that they are the re-constructionists you might find at a Renaissance festival - pursuing the ''authentic'' methods and whatnot - like my mum is into her lacing guild or one of my mates likes to recreate the Battle of Bosworth. Occasionally that does speak to me of choosing the Pogo-stick over the jet-pack although I do appreciate the beauty of the grimoires, lace and medieval warfare. Sometimes we do lose things in the pursuit of the future and must search in the archives of antiquity, but sometimes our narrow focus on the past is denying us access to arcane advances.

''Whatever works'' is also used to defend the status quo.  Good God, the times I have heard my colleagues say that their objections to my Qabalistic theories are in defence of pluralism - when actually the idea I am presenting (Cellular Consciousness, the Saadia Tree) represents a new contribution to what is actually an incredibly inert Tradition.  The pluralism argument tends to come from my colleagues when I am lambasting the Kircher Tree - they seem blithely oblivious to the fact that the Kircher Tree is often presented in WMT circles as the Tree of Life, not as Tree of Life - in this sense it is Kircher that stands in the way of a purely pluralistic approach to Qabalah in the Western Mysteries.

In Science when a new theory/approach comes along we test it and if it works better we adopt the new method.  In the WMT by contrast, outdated/faulty methods are clung on to because way too much time has been invested in writing/reading about them and the vested interest of the authors/orders makes them really wary of invalidating their own work - any admission of error will cut into book sales, profit margins and political influence.  Your street cred may vary.

Now and then though, the WMT invents/adopts a piece of ''technology'' that works but is also toxic and harmful - think asbestos, glyphosate, etc, for real world equivalence.  The classic example of this is the way in which the Kircher Tree is used by the Golden Dawn - building an inherently unbalanced Tree of Life into the aura is going to continue to produce imbalance in the individual or the society.  There are things about this particular Tree which allow it to work and generate results - think the Sefirot - there are things which allow this Tree to work but which produce severe inaccuracy - think the Letter Paths - there are things about this Tree that are positively dangerous - think building the Kircher Tree into your aura.


Another dangerous offshoot of ''whatever works'' is thinking that all spiritual paths are spiritually equivalent and this can lead to spiritual tourism.  On this point I'd like to say a couple of things - while it is true that there are many paths that lead to the summit there are also many false trails and dead ends.

Some paths, like Yoga, have been more thoroughly tested and refined due to the length of time and conditions that the tradition which guards them has persisted in.  We have our own cultural and psychological conditions which might make one path more palatable than another even though it is less refined due to long dark ages of ignorance, poor communication, mistranslation, political suppression, etc - think the Western Mystery Tradition.  This said, I find that rather than boldly taking a path, many are paralyzed by the ''whatever works'' philosophy and end up just looking at the mountain and discussing the possibilities rather than climbing it.  This paralysis can lead to musing over the relative relativism of the paths but torpedo your devotion to one path, thus limiting your spiritual growth.  There is something in the process of devotion which harnesses and shapes the will - this is where the Grimoire Magi gain their strength, I think, if it seems at the price of fundamentalism regarding their particular niche, nook or cranny.

So whilst ''whatever works'' should be a good motto for an individual practitioner that emphasizes the unique and private nature of the spiritual path and encourages them to seek the specific and best path for them, in reality it often ends up being used to justify lazy intellectual attitudes, poor research, spiritual tourism and to protect vested interest.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Theory of Knowledge - Purpose of Reality

Why are we here?  Why do you perform magic?  Why do you meditate?  What are you trying to achieve in the end?  Perfect the soul?  Why?

When looking around the world and thinking about the people I know in our mystery community I often ask myself what really motivates those people in their spiritual pursuits.  The knowledge of why we are here and what exactly is going on is clearly part of the mystery but I often wonder what people theorize, or whether they even theorize at all - perhaps they just ''do the work'' without ever questioning why they are doing the work...

As far as I can tell the main theories are as follows:

Meaningless - A tale, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing

The universe has no overarching meaning you are free to invent your own pseudo meaning but in the final analysis - it was matter but it really didn't.

Theatre/Game - All the World's a Stage and all the Men and Women Merely Players... 

This opinion would hold that we are here enacting various stories for some kind of aesthetic experience - that we are playing at people.  Most people struggle here with the ''Ebola baby'' type reasoning - why would anyone want to experience the short and pain filled life of a young child dying of a terrible disease?  There seem to be a few options there a) we cannot fully understand the mind of a 5th dimensional being experiencing 4th dimensional reality and it is possible that there is some kind of aesthetic experience going on even in these extreme conditions or b) death/dying is a pleasurable aesthetic experience*.

School - Ignorance is the curse of God, knowledge the wing wherewith we fly to heaven

We are here to learn, dammit!  All the pain and suffering of life, its victories, its defeats and its occasional soul-crushing tedium is to educate us.  This theory is extremely popular in the New Age and I assume when we ''graduate'' from planet Earth we are reborn into a ''higher'' dimension as a ''higher'' being.  We are here to learn to use the gifts we have been given, to develop our spiritual nature.  If you fail the class, you have to resit the year - i.e. you are returned to take the same lessons again and again until you ''get it''.  It suffers from the same problem as the Theatre Game theory i.e. the Ebola baby.  What lessons are you learning there except for futility?

Prison/Exile - I have been considering how I may compare this prison where I live unto the world...

We are in prison on Earth: either a) because we committed some crime in a higher dimension and have been cast down like fallen angels or b) some demiurge tricked our bodies of light into associating with matter.  Sometimes I think, when playing around with this idea that perhaps exile is a better way to describe this - We are exiles here torn away from love by bitter strife - some of us are here as voluntary exiles, some are refugees, some of us were banished... Either way the reason seems to be ''escape from Prison'' and return home - wherever that is.

War - Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of War!

The ultimate showdown between Good and Evil, we are here to fight for one of two sides - is there a final resolution to this battle or is it simply dynamic equilibrium between Chaos and Law? Will Ahura Mazda win in the end or will he always be opposed by Ahriman?

So trying to blend some/all of these possible narratives I came up with:

The Universe is an interactive educational game with excellent graphics where we play characters whose starting conditions and internal moral compasses vary widely - The nature of the game is historical - we explore history between the axes of the future (where the game atcually exists) to the past and it consists of moral decisions in a kind of ''time-war''.  We have become trapped inside this game due to the malfunctioning of the Demiurge nominally in charge of it therefore the actual function of the game - our education - is now meaningless.  We are being educated for no reason.

What do you think?  How do you justify your actions in the grand scheme of things?  What model of purpose do you ascribe to - what are you and why are you?

*In William Burroughs' Cities of the Red Night the trans-migrants are aware that they will be reborn and also that death is the most pleasurable during youth so they all kill themselves by auto-erotic asphyxiation in mass hanging as teenagers to get the most out of it. (???)

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Tree of Life - The Saadia Tree, the Seven Planets and Cellular Consciousness

Twenty-two letters: He carved them, hewed them, refined them, weighed them, and combined them, and He made of them the entire creation and everything to be created in the future. How did He test them? Alef with all and all with AlefBet with all and all with Bet... and they all return again and again, and they emanate through two hundred and thirty-one gates. All the words and all the creatures emanate from One Name 
Sefer Yetzirah, Saadia Version 4:4

The six trillion biological cells that you are made from have various language systems in order to communicate with one another. Communication can occur through protein messages, which are interpreted with the genetic dictionary in the nucleus of the cell or through calcium signaling, a kind of cellular ''Morse code'' based on calcium ions (Ca2+).  Its worth keeping this in mind as from our QBListic perspective we see these systems as the cellular basis for such ideas as ''letters of foundation'' or the way in which ''all the letters form one Name''.

In terms of Cellular Consciousness the seven planets which are placed on the seven vertical paths are all under the kingship of the element of Water and are related to the organelles in the cytoplasm.  The cytoplasm is a membrane bound bubble of an aqueous solution containing various structures necessary for the function of the cell.

We can see how the cell's structure echoes the structure of the solar system and the atom, providing us with a unique bridge in scale following the As Above, So Below principle.  But we must be careful to not make a few critical mistakes at this point:
  • Although it seems like the nucleus, as the ''core'' of the cell would be like the Sun in the solar system it is in fact related to the Moon and ultimately to the Earth - these are Geocentric biological cells.
  • People often make the mistake that since it contains all the information the nucleus must be like the ''brain'' of the cell - again, as it relates to the Moon and Earth, if we are going to provide a physiological correlate then it would be the genitals of the cell - where information is stored in order to reproduce.
Moving on then we can observe in our cellular solar system various objects that speak to us of planets, satellites and other celestial bodies such as asteroids.  If we imagine a descent* into the cell from the membrane to the nucleus we can use our Chaldean order of the planets - Saturn, Jupiter, Nars, Sol, Venus, Mercury, Luna - in understanding the roles of the various organelles.
  • Saturn - Cell Membrane (gates, receptors, transporters)
The cell membrane is a structure composed of lipids that encloses the cell and maintains its integrity. Like Saturn, this structure can give a sense of restraint and confinement - the cell is not permitted to expand beyond this membrane.  The membrane contains gates, receptors and transporters that allow various chemical messengers to access the membrane from the blood.**  At the end of a cellular lifespan the membrane will pop - apoptosis - and in this death of the cell, we see the final action of Saturn, its internal constituents released back into the blood.

  • Jupiter - Endosomes
The cargo convoy of the cell - various little structures (vesicles) that would be like the containers you see on the back of transport ships.  Once a chemical messenger or protein has accessed the cell via the membrane (Saturn) it is conveyed (Jupiter) by endosomes to other structures, the lysosomes, for processing.

  • Mars - Lysosomes
The lysosomes contain hydrolytic enzymes that literally hack into other biomolecules (brought to them by the endosomes) and break them down into smaller structures.  This process can be turned against bacteria or other pathogens that are invading the cell - as such the lysosomes form both part of the analytic and defence systems of the cell.

  • Sol - Mitochondria
The mitochondria are the energy system of the cell - it is in the mitochondria that respiration, the biological process necessary for life, is completed.  As described in another post respiration can be considered an elemental process where fire (sugar/energy) and air (oxygen) are combined to produce water (H2O) and ''earth'' (CO2). Occultists will also note the hexagonal structure of the glucose molecule.


At a deeper level the fuel molecules (sugar!) are being stripped of charge in the form of electrons which are subsequently used to ''recharge'' a battery molecule called ATP/ADP - which contains phosphorus.  In all of this we see the hallmark of the Sun.  The equation for power*** is work done over time - for most of us this work does take place with the rise of the Sun in the Depth of the East and its setting in the Depth of the West.

  • Venus - Golgi Apparatus
  • Mercury - Endoplasmic Reticuluum
It is probably best to think of the Golgi and the ER as both important parts of the process involving the way in which the nucleus packages and secretes proteins back out into the cytoplasm and finally the body at large.  What must be understood to really grok what is happening esoterically is that the cell is listening to the larger cellular community and then responding to its needs - the proteins, hormones or chemical messengers are the words.  In order to respond to the conversation the information contained inside the nucleus, the physiological dictionary, is read and the correct response/protein is formulated.  This word however must be inflected and spoken - in the language of proteins we would talk about folding the protein and then secreting it - Abrakadabra!

  • Luna - Nucleus
The nucleus is probably the organelle of the cell that we are most familiar with - it contains the storehouse of all information needed to build any cell in the body although in any given cell only part of that information is expressed - this expression is what defines that cell as a nerve cell, or liver cell, or skin cell.  Of the many reasons to associate it with the Moon (and ultimately the Earth) one of the main ones it that it is the nucleus where cellular reproduction begins - the process known as mitosis whereby the cell divides must begin by the DNA inside the nucleus copying itself.

As mentioned in the previous post we can see the Depths as systems of expansion and contraction - Good, South/Warm, and Up being expansive Depths and Evil, North/Cold and Down being contractive Depths; they signal the journey within and the journey without.  Visit the Interior of the Earth and you will Discover the Hidden Stone - this hidden stone, the Philosopher's Stone exists in the core of everyone of your cells.  Once we have completed our descent we must enter the ''Depth of the Past'' via the path of Luna**** - this Depth of the Past, our genetic/epigenetic memory which even materialists must admit is an unbroken ancestry to the ancient forms of life, and still deeper into the mysteries of our metaphysical past.  Although the Nuclear membrane is associated with Luna what it contains is ''the interior of the Earth''

*Yordei Merkabah, "descenders of the chariot"
**Remember in the larger metaphor of Cellular Consciousness the bloodstream is likened to the time-stream so it is again appropriate for Saturn to mediate over the transfer of undifferentiated time into the experience of linear time in our cells of consciousness.
****Thoth and Seshat are appropriate Lunar deities to rule over this internal library.

Monday, May 11, 2015

The Tree of Life - The Saadia Tree and the Seven Planetary Paths

In the Saadia Tree the seven planets are associated with the seven vertical paths.  These paths lead between the Depths (or Sefirot) on the Tree of Life.  By looking at the supporting diagram we can see that these planetary attributions make sense.

For instance Jupiter is placed on the path between the Depth of Good and the Depth of South, and Mars is placed on the path between the Depth of Evil and the Depth of North.  We can understand South to also mean warmth/expansion and North to mean cold/contraction (this is a European/Mesopotamian system after all) therefore Jupiter is seen to be in an extremely fortuitous position and Mars an extremely malign position.

But fortuitous and malign may seem like strong descriptions - in Mars we see the contraction of muscles and the disadvantage (Evil) of the individual that must be addressed by work - whether it is hunger that is addressed by fishing or hunting or lack of money or resources addressed by mining, carpentry or another skill - this can equally be applied to DIY or soldiering.  It is at work that the individual is most likely to suffer the kind of harm associated with Mars, a mortal injury in war, an industrial accident at the chemical plant, a bruised thumb putting up a shelf.  Similarly - although Jupiter is beneficent, jovial and implies successful expansion, it is possible to inflate too much - whether it be through overindulgence of alcohol, sex, sleep, sugar or play.  This shows how any individual must* maintain a balance between work (''evil/contraction'') and play (''good/expansion'').

The paths of the middle pillar are also worth looking at more closely: the Moon running between the Depth of the Past (your birth) and the Depth of the West (the sunset and passing of the day therefore the Moon); the Sun running between the Depths of East and West highlighting its role in the day; Saturn running between the Depth of the East (sunrise) and the Depth of the Future (your death); all of these planets unite in the central axis of both local time (east and west) and ''grand'' time (birth and death).

We know that the Moon is associated with menstruation and motherhood and it makes sense that we associate this with birth, but in its association with memory and the subconscious we also connect it with the West (the setting of the sun, the rise of the night and the fall into the dreamworld) and Past (our memories of this life and others - by reincarnation or genetic/epigenetic memory).

That the path of the Sun should connect the Depth of East with the Depth of West seems fairly straightforward.  We know the Sun is associated with the light of consciousness and this contrasts with the path of the moon after the depth of the West and the subconscious.  Note also how in this ''Saadia'' arrangement the path of the Sun crosses the path of Fire.

That Saturn is the highest path and the Depth of the Future is clear in that it is the outermost planet, traditionally associated with time (Chronos) and Death.  Time emerges from the Depth of the Future and runs down the central path until it reaches its end in Depth of Past.   If we look at the alternate traditional names for Kether - our Depth of the Future - we find such titles as absence, annhiliation and darkness titles that surely resonate with where Saturn would lead. Saturn is the great malefic in astrology, but also the wise but strict teacher and the ''godfather'' - as mediating the path between the East and the Future it also represents our Death.  I disagree with the linking of this to the Depth of Evil**, it is more to do with the Depth of the Unknown (which some people fear and therefore mistake for evil, conversely some people however love the thought of Death).

Our lower paths of Mercury and Venus are also paths of contraction and expansion.  Mercury connecting the Depth of the North (cold/contraction) with the Depth of Down (in/fall) is our contractive path and Venus linking the Depth of the South (warmth/expansion) with the Depth of Up (out/rise) is our expansive.  Since our planet is a globe any ''up'' is taken from the centre of the Earth and ''down'' vice versa*** - we can then see the ''pillar of severity'' or left-hand path as one that is fundamentally about the journey within and the right-hand path the journey without - Mercury as Lord of Science, is about analysis, details and breaking things down, Venus as Lady of Love, is about bliss and the ecstatic rise of the spirit (i.e. seeing the parts vs seeing the whole).

In following the Saadia arrangement, inspired by the Saadia Version of the Sefer Yetzirah and facilitated by Aryeh Kaplan's SY in Theory and Practice we have created a fairly self-explanatory system that is not dependent on the unnecessary conflations and logical contradictions inherent in the Kircher Tree.

*''Must'' is a strong word too - character seems to be derived from suffering - so ''too much'' work results in officiousness, workaholism, etc and too much play results in indolence, loafing, etc.  Its up to you if you want to be lazy or busy.
**In the Kircher Tree Saturn is conflated with Binah whilst also having a path on the Tree of Life running between Malkuth and Yesod.
***The paths of the Pillar of Mercy increases the radius of the imaginary sphere around the centre of the Earth, the paths of the Pillar of Severity decreases it.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The WMT - What Went Wrong? Them pesky kids!!!

When Jason Miller of Strategic Sorcery shared a link to my angry response to Nick Farrell's Top Ten Tips for Young Occultists I don't believe he was expecting the blowout that happened.  What started out as a heated discussion about expectations in teaching and learning in the occult turned into a flame war with various parties threatening libel suits.  This is mainly due to Michael Strojan's intense post about the way in which it was possible to see a potentially abusive environment arising out of Farrell's tips.

Various individuals seized the moment to leap into the melee and eventually a  ceasefire was declared but behind the name-calling, etc important themes in the modern western mystery scene and where we go from here were emerging. One side seem to want to build an authoritarian and disciplinarian teacher-centred approach to education of the students (damn kids!), whereas another side (my own) want to build an inclusive and dynamic pupil-centred approach where both teacher and student are understood to be learners.

Here are the top ten tips again from Mr Farrell:

1. Realise you know nothing,
2. Stop talking.
3. Listen.
4. Do not use questions to assert your own importance.
5. Realise that you are unimportant.
6. You can learn a lot from real cunts.
7. A good teacher does not really care what you say, they are more interested in what you do.
8. You will project your weaknesses on to your teacher.
9. Don't just sit there, help.
10. Never challenge the leader.

Whilst there were some caveats after these bold statements one can be forgiven for taking this list as a little more dangerous than a teacher angry at the young generation of students.  In truth, as emerged from the discussion, Mr Farrell was simply annoyed at some Crowley fan-boy punking him in class, but again what happened in the aftermath was very revealing about the way in which key people see the next generation.

During the discussion I suggested an elaborated inversion of Mr Farrell's principles which I think provides real contrast between the two approaches:

1. Every student comes armed with their own knowledge and personal destiny.
2. Communicate with your teacher.
3. Speak.  Its the only way to find your voice.
4. Question.  Don't be afraid of making mistakes.  You will learn.
5. Explore meaning and the essence of meaning.
6. You can learn excellence from good people.
7. A good teacher cares about what you say as much as what you do for words are the nuclei of actions.
8. All beings project their minds on to the world, your teacher included, its a rule of consciousness and part of what we are exploring.
9. Assist when asked.
10. Challenge your leaders.

Ocean Delano at Turning the Magic Around posted his own list which seemed to be a fairly good analysis of the situation and leaning far more to the ''inversion'' above but appreciating the role of some discipline.  But ugly things emerged in this discussion, there are clearly individuals in the WMT who advocate extremely harsh measures for students - even as far as beating them - citing the old method of whipping students with a cane when they break meditation.

Some members of the more authoritarian, disciplinarian group made statements about people who were against Farrell were clearly into the ''self-first'' social trend - ignoring the state of the modern WMT blogosphere where we see senior/respected figures in the community constantly hawking products, pushing extreme me-first individualism, alongside 101 ''get what you want'' magic. Hmmm. Food for thought there methinks.  It is rare to see, at least within my own line of sight, people promoting service and healing as reasons to want to get into the mysteries and explaining how to serve and heal more effectively.

When I describe the teacher as the servant as opposed to the master I do not mean that the teacher should be servile, constantly at the whim of their petulant students, desperately reacting to their spoiled demands.  I mean that it is a great honour to be of service as a teacher to the mystery community, and that a student who enters this environment is especially precious to us in these times.  To often have those students been seen as a resource or market to be exploited.

I believe that students and all individuals should be treated respectfully regardless of their age and individual gifts and I recognise that brilliant young minds, when respected and guided can often surge ahead and outstrip their mentors and this should be encouraged.  To oppress an individual's spirit as can clearly be read in Farrell's tips, whether he intended that as his meaning or not, should *not* be within the confines of our philosophy.

- I am anti ''dumbing-down'' but seek to stretch my student's and my own intellect in dynamic partnership

- I believe in personalized learning whereby the teacher adapts their style to an individual's personal learning needs

- I believe in the creation of learning environments where through mutual exploration the student teaches themselves with the support and assistance of the teacher, who is the guide on the side rather than the sage on the stage

- I establish learning contracts to determine clear boundaries of what is and isn't acceptable

The me-first, chatty, demanding student full of entitlement, has been created by the society we live in -- the ''capitalist realism'' of the internet -- and to deny that is full blown idiocy.  In that sense as the modern WMT currently stands we have debased and partially deranged magickal orders that have outlived their usefulness on this planet exploiting students as potential cash cows alongside no holds barred ''magickal capitalism'' married to a ''desire fulfilment philosophy'' - these factors contribute to the impression in the student's mind that that is what occulture it is all about.  Before you blame something ''inherent'' in the students think about how you yourself may have contributed to the social forces that are shaping them.

Certainly these social forces, at work in the WMT, have been factors in the creation of Quareia by Josephine McCarthy and Frater Acher which as I understand it is a free, self taught course which stands against these trends.  Simon Tomasi at Golem Builder suggests a shift in attitudes (building on M-Agile) in the WMT as follows:

Manifesto for Development of Magical Practitioners
We are uncovering better ways of developing
magical practitioners by doing it and helping others do it.
Through this work we have come to value:\
Individuals and interactions over magical societies and organizations
Working/Practical magic over comprehensive scholarship
Practitioner collaboration over teacher/student hierarchy
Responding to change over following a prescribed path
That is, while there is value in the items on
the right, we value the items on the left more.

The truth is that the top ten tips for a young student shouldn't be about their relationship with teachers and orders as I would suspect that the vast majority of young students are self-taught because of the current disintegrated/discredited community.  My own actual list of tips that I would encourage others to follow and which as far as I can tell were endorsed by Jason Miller, I repost here.

Blogos Top Ten Tips for the Young Student:

1. Practise meditation.
2. Work on your magickal memory, explore the astral plane and master the use of your astral body but never neglect the physical paths.
3. Wherever possible study source texts first and commentaries second.
4. Pay attention to your dreams and maintain your records.
5. Form *student-led* study groups online and in real life - if possible have them monitored rather than directed by ''teachers''.  Avoid un-rectified psychopaths and narcissists for the role of teacher.
6. Know the risks! The grimoires are laced with warnings for good reasons, ignore those who say otherwise.  Stay grounded or you'll lose your mind.
7. Acquire strong spiritual allies through prayer and other devotional practices.
8. Relate to people as individuals regardless of their age, fame or seniority as you will find teachers in strange places. Ignore the bombast from certain ''teachers'', there is a lot of it, its just a trend.
9. Experiment and listen to the Anima Mundi.  Read the responses to your magick in the world.
10. You'll always be a student.  Remember that when you become a teacher.

I think that these are probably core ideas and boil down to ''do the work''.  In previous sections of the WMT - What Went Wrong series I point out the rise of 101 occultism as a major factor in hobbling our community.  There is precious little *discussion* of such topics as the astral plane, techniques for exploring the grimoires, acquiring spiritual allies, magickal memory, healing, service etc because the tubes are dominated by merchandising and often empty rhetoric.  Sure they can go read books but the reality is that the students want to interact and discuss with people they consider their potential mentors. I believe whole-heartedly in tip 5 as this is the way I learned and I was lucky to have teachers, if rough around the edges, that were kindly at heart and did not interfere or cynically attempt to sell us anything.  I don't think being paid for service is fundamentally bad but I do think some of the money-mad-occulture is over the top and vulgar and needs moderating/softening, but that might be because I am British.  So my less well-travelled American brethren can understand a realtor in America has giant billboards on the roads with their gleaming smiley face on it, in Britain an estate agent is kind of something you are secretly ashamed of being. ;-)

I think it would be a useful exercise for us all to suggest our Top Ten Tips for Students and deviate in them from advice about the teacher-student relationship as I think it is a dying form and as Simon Tomasi says ''practitioner collaboration'' over ''teacher/student hierarchy'' is what we now see as a positive step in moving forward.  Whilst I obviously respect  many of the magicians and mystics that I am associated with, the WMT remains in decline and I do not think that small publications of books are the solution when we have the vast power of the internet at our disposal.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Theory of Knowledge - Five Thought Experiments To Try

As per usual, I've been playing around with some esoteric thought experiments, and figured some of them might be familiar or helpful.  Try and wrap your head around these five:

- The Future causes the Past. Retrocausality has wide reaching implications but I got a lot of fun out of applying this to the esoteric concept of egregore whereby practitioners think a kind of group-spirit is created by their mutual efforts.  Applying retro-causality would indicate that first there was the egregore and that caused the people to exist who seemingly created it.  Also - most esoteric practitioners believe that reincarnation happens forwards, that they are heading towards the future.  What if like salmon, some souls are swimming back upriver to the source in the distant mountainous past, that some of us are reincarnating backwards in time - retroincarnation?

- We are already dead and this is the Afterlife.  Since we never experience the physical world directly, only indirectly through the interface of our conscious experience, and that experiential reality takes time to form in consciousness what we experience as the present is already history.  We never experience now only then so what could really be happening is that I am catching up with the now that is in fact my own death.  Its all very Jacob's Ladder.

- We are 5th dimensional beings reading and writing on 4th dimensional space.  I consider the 5th dimension the observational dimension, with an axis of good/evil (advantage/disadvantage) but no space, time or movement.  As a 5th dimensional being I am experiencing various 4th dimensional timelines through sequential incarnation that I am either writing through the experiences I have and the choices I make or reading after the fact*

- All spirits are actually ghosts of once living people, including ''God''.  Osiris was a dead king, Isis a dead queen, immortalized in the ''astral plane'', etc.  Local fae/daimons were actually people of the woods, etc. So God *is* Dead.... For the eternalists** amongst us all spirits could still be living beings that we communicate with via manipulation of time.  All spiritual communication rather than an ''extra-dimensional'' process is actually the use of various forms of ''time-phone'' - in this sense angelic/higher beings are actually future beings.

- Cellular Consciousness - the main esoteric theory of the Blogos and enormous fun/terror for meditation and contemplation.  I am not me but We, a differentiated community of six trillion miniature selves working together  and that We in Us is in itself differentiated so that my individual cell functions as a brain cell, or kidney cell, or skin cell in social situations.  All of us project our cellullar nature on to the world at large so that the roads are blood vessels lined with tissue-like buildings replete with rooms like cells - sometimes these tissues are skin, or fat, or muscle or nerve depending on the fundamental nature of the building.  Each room we build to house the nuclei of our consciousnesses have cellular features, appertures like windows and doors in the ''membrane'' (the walls), energy sources like heating and lighting operating like mitochondria.  This is a great bridge in ''As Above, So Below'' type thinking for the scientifically inclined and also has excellent correspondences for healing.

 *Stronger evidence for reading rather than writing in my opinion because of the strength of deterministic positions, I believe free will exists in the 5th dimensional choice of which incarnation ''to read''.
**All time already exists.

Monday, May 4, 2015

The WMT - What went wrong? ''Ten Tips for Young Occultists'' - A Response

Nick Farrell has just released an incredibly patronizing article which I hope is not endorsed by the ''elders'' of the community.  The whole article has been reposted with my comments in italics.  I want to say I do not know Nick Farrell but I really cannot let this one go without a response.  If you want to read it on his site go here:

Realise you know nothing. No one aged 20 to 30 knows anything about people, life or has put in enough man hours to understand magic.  If you are training at that age you are lucky and have more time to learn. Once you have a few years under your belt you will have stories to tell.  But even then you still know nothing and will have something to learn. Those people you think know nothing actually have pissed off far better people than you and stopped making the same mistakes you are doing 20-50 years ago.  Even Jesus did nothing meaningful before he was 30 and he was supposed to be a god.

- A core tenet of the WMT is reincarnation therefore there may be some younger people who remember way more than their older counterparts.  This could be the first time on the WMT wheel for an older practitioner (they might have been a fish or a frog last time) and a young one who has the fortune and done the work on their magickal memory (and who was a magus last time) could absolutely outstrip their older colleagues and supposed mentors.  

Most of the current ''elders'' that I respect had early life experiences and were paying attention to the unseen world from a very young age - they were also commenting at a very high level of understanding as a youth. There are many ''elderly'' practitioners who didn't find the path until they were 40.  Sometimes I would value the experience and wisdom of an 8 year old over an 80 year old.  Be fucking discerning.

Isaac Luria is a case in point, who died before 40, and tradition history is full of such stories, but since Mr Farrell brings up Jesus, Jesus did a great deal of meaningful things before 30 they just didn't make the editors cut for the bible. Read around.  And bear Jesus in mind as you carry on reading and think about what kind of Jesus Mr Farrell's advice would have created.

Stop talking. Your theories on occultism, magic or anything are not really worth much.  There will be people around you who know much more than you and they will never speak while you are talking.  While you are talking you are only able to express your very limited understanding.

- The theories on occultism espoused by the older orders are laced with garbage most of the older practitioners accepted on face value precisely because they didn't question their teachers. 

Again if you have done the correct work on your magickal memory (as is supposed to be an important early practice) your age in this life is not as important as Farrell et al are making it out to be.  I have experienced several people seriously embarrassing themselves after believing they automatically ''know more'' than a ''younger practitioner''.  

Bear in mind all the young people who have achieved amazing things in history and all the old people who have died as failures.  Besides who knows anything really?  Our knowledge is finite, our ignorance infinite.  Lets value the voice of our students as we continue into the unknown.

 Listen. One of the things that are really good about the Internet is that you have access to teachers who know what they are doing. If they are talking listen. When you are listening and I mean really listening, you remember it all.  A “lesson” might be too advanced for you now, but it will go in and not be forgotten.

- No, you listen.  The essence of good teaching is for a teacher to listen to their students.  I am sick and tired of hearing the WMT ''elders'' bitch about the students.  You whine like mules. Shut the hell up and listen to them and adapt your teaching practices.  There have been generational level mistakes in passing on the WMT and we are going to have to work hard to stay in existence.  In fact the culture of 101 occultism is so strong now people (and teachers) are forgetting the principles of more advanced magic.  Obviously if someone is lecturing you should wait until question time but the absolute best form of teaching is dialogue.  An introspective student requires completely different kind of attention to an extrovert. - learning should be personalized wherever possible.  Do you want your students to learn? Adapt.  

Do not use questions to assert your own ignorance. Ask real questions related to the subject and its implications. Good teachers allow questions and debates because that is how they learn.  Unquestioned teachers make emphatic statements which will have to be challenged later.

- Yes good teachers listen, so the student has to talk.  That's dialogue and that is how a student ''learns'' what a ''real question'' is. Can't you see how you are contradicting yourself here?  You, as a teacher are setting the boundaries of what is an acceptable question and an acceptable way of asking it.  A more progressive teacher may even let the boundaries shift as they work with the student to define the limits of the relationship rather than making everyone conform.

Realise that you are unimportant. You and your ideas will only become important when you have refined your ideas and found your “voice.” The world is full of people who think they are teachers – an occult teacher is someone who is forced into the role by circumstance and other people, you shouting “pay attention to me” disqualifies you.  If you want to teach, you should never do it. 

- This is incredibly patronizing.  All existence is unimportant at whatever scale and whatever time period.  Or it is all equally meaningful  - the battle between aphids and ladybirds in a rosebush as meaningful as proton torpedo exchange in distant interstellar wars. 

And important in what?  The final years of a dying tradition squandered by people like you and those you talk about? Teachers take note - this is how you crush spirited students. Belittle and talk down to them, rather than attempting to cut through whatever noise and listening to what they are trying to say.

You can learn a lot from some real cunts. One of the thing I noticed that that me and a lot of occultists have been trained by people who have been real arseholes. They may be brilliant magicians but dealing with them requires the patience of Job.  Fighting with such a person is easy – getting on with them is often the challenge of learning.

- You can also be severely damaged by real cunts as seems to be the case here.  I am beginning to wonder if this should be called top ten tips for the suicidal student who wants to fail.  My advice, if you needed it - stay away from obvious psychopaths.  Of course everyone is a bit rough around the edges and you should beware the charming man as much as the aggressive.  Tolerate rogues, don't entertain megalomaniacal sociopaths et al.

A good teacher does not really care what you say, they are more interested in what you do.  They will be looking at your diaries to see what experiences you have had with the system they are trying to teach you.  Work flat out and when you are asked show them your results.

- I agree in measuring achievement on action and not on idle chat, but dialogue is an absolutely essential part of the teacher-student relationship.  The way in which a student expresses themselves is an important part of their development and the teacher should be interested in that.  I certainly care about what my students say how else are they to develop the ''voice'' that you say is so important in your paragraph above?

You will project your weaknesses onto your teacher. Everyone does this, but the younger you are, the more likely you are going to project whatever you feel about your patents on to your teacher. Occultism is full of people who want a mother or a father figure because the relationship with their parents was so bad.  When you are younger this pain is closer to the surface. If you find that the teacher is suddenly becoming your worst nightmare it might be a good idea to evaluate your relationship with your parents before taking it out on your teacher.

- The teacher will project their weaknesses on to the student. Sometimes the teacher may project idealised fantasies/nightmares of sons and daughters that they may or may not have or projections of their own idealised younger self on to their students. This is what is happening here methinks.  As a teacher I watch teachers blame the students constantly - if you change your teaching style and adapt to students individual needs you will not have so many problems.  It is the student's needs that matter not yours.

Don’t just sit there help.  A teacher can teach but organising an event often requires help. Walking into a room sitting down and saying “teach me” is expected but will not earn any friends from the teacher. You might have come from an environment where you mother did everything for you, but helping put out the chairs, making the coffee, washing up is more likely to attract attention from any teacher.  I don’t mean glamourous stuff, like conducting a lecture or volunteering for a ritual role – I mean the shit jobs.

- Help put out the chairs???  That's in your *top ten* tips?  What a dingleberry!

Never challenge the leader. If a group is bad, having you mouth off about it is not going to help.  If you are unable to quietly take your concerns to the leader then you have to leave.  Even if you take your concerns to the leader, be aware that you might be announcing your own exit. The problem is that when you are young you are going to get hurt and diced by magical group politics by people who are a hell of a lot more clued up than you.  Remember that in games like that, you are just there to make up the numbers or be cannon fodder of more mature and politically clever people – it always ends badly.

- Never challenge the leader is a top tip!?!?!  What is he trying to create here - the Hitler Youth?  Students of the WMT do not listen to this idiocy. Always challenge your leaders and teachers.  If they are not up for the challenge they should not be either leading or teaching. Nick seems to be advocating a sit down, shut up and learn approach - almost something one might experience in the late 1940s in a class run by an old bomber pilot or something - NO!

Obviously Mr Farrell has had a pretty rough ride in the occult world as his rather bitter story at the beginning of the article reveals.  I don't know him but I can't condone these as top tips for an esoteric student.  I really hope he reads this and thinks critically about what he has written.

Here are my top ten tips - some are obvious but clearly need restating in light of the above:

1. Practise meditation.

2. Work on your magickal memory, explore the astral plane and master the use of your astral body but never neglect the physical paths.

3. Wherever possible study source texts first and commentaries second.

4. Pay attention to your dreams and maintain your records.

5. Form *student-led* study groups online and in real life - if possible have them monitored rather than directed by ''teachers''.  Avoid un-rectified psychopaths and narcissists for the role of teacher.

6. Know the risks! The grimoires are laced with warnings for good reasons, ignore those who say otherwise.  Stay grounded or you'll lose your mind.

7. Acquire strong spiritual allies through prayer and other devotional practices.

8. Relate to people as individuals regardless of their age, fame or seniority as you will find teachers in strange places. Ignore the bombast from certain ''teachers'', there is a lot of it, its just a trend.

9. Experiment and listen to the Anima Mundi.  Read the responses to your magick in the world.

10. You'll always be a student.  Remember that when you become a teacher.