Thursday, September 21, 2017

Hermetic Lessons - Practical Work Discussion I

As they continue to do the work the students are now leaving the Depth of the Past and moving along the Path of the Moon towards the Depth of the West.  As they acquire their first spiritual ally (their chosen Lunar deity), learn to hone the will through Raja Yoga and continue to attempt astral projection, they will gain perspective on the ''past'' that they are leaving behind.

As much as our experience of life and ourselves is fundamentally mental it is also fundamentally historical. We very literally live in the past - signals take time to get from [assumed] physical reality through our sense organs until they are organized and transformed into the representation of reality that we experience in our minds.  Being behind the moment in this way makes it really difficult to tell how far behind the moment we exactly are:

- did this already happen and are we in a loop?
- is this mental experience of reality happening in a dying mind, are we literally ''catching up'' with our own death?
- mindfulness only allows you to connect with this mental impression of ''now'' what I call the ''immediate past'', it allows you to catch up with your ''catching up''
- consciousness as ''anti-time'' a) the idea of reverie being a shallow experience of highlights of this life but building into a honed, sustained reverie that can take you back through your own geneline b) the idea of prediction and anticipation being a form of ''future reverie'' which we can again hone and sustain to see the future (which is also history)




I set the students a series of tasks to complete between now and December when the course will continue with a further three lectures/practical workshops.  They had to:

- form a connection with a lunar deity of their choice
- follow the instructions and attempt to get results on the astral plane or fail gloriously
- succeed in one restriction/observance
- acquire knowledge of basic astrology

I think that although teaching styles are a problem within the WMT they are ultimately regulated by market forces, i.e. the less able teachers are finding that students are not interested in their work and don't want to pay for tickets, venues, lessons, etc.  The more able/flexible teachers will find themselves overbooked and will have to create co-teachers etc.  The more pressing problem regarding teaching at the moment is the notion that teaching = leading and this is probably why the community is so obviously treading water/re-inventing the wheel.  More on that later but right now I want to explain/explore/justify some of these choices from the perspective of the teacher and also discuss some of the issues the students are having and how I will address them as we proceed -  transparency about the teaching/learning process makes a big difference to the quality of the lesson. 

As we move into the world of dreams and illusion* that is the Astral Plane (beginning in the Depth of the West) the students must have acquired spiritual allies - these allies are for their own protection and will allow them to sustain a vision for longer than they would normally and reduces the chances of being kicked off. Although there are a variety of possibilities here lunar deities are a good place to start as the Moon is the traditional guardian to the entrance to this realm and we are going to need relationships with all 7 sacred planets. As outlined in the Seshat working one of the students made very rapid progress regarding astral experiences after they engaged in a small ceremonial magic ritual to their chosen Lunar deity, then used the prayer as a mantra during gazing.  Although this student chose an Egyptian deity my general advice was to pick a deity that your ancestors might have worshipped.  Another of Irish/Welsh descent is making good progress and has just selected their deity - Rhiannon. I consulted a scholar friend of mine who put this together for her, along with an audio so she can perfect the working in the (closest) language to the deity:


O Rhiannon sydd yn fwy hynafol na hanes y tir
Eich ceffyl yn gyflymach na syniad ac yn ysgafnach na'r gwynt
O Rhiannon yn sefyll ar y twmpath gyda golau lleuad
Rwyf yn eich addoli
Rhiannon doeth, Rhiannon deg Dduwies gwirionedd amyneddgar

The other two seem a bit confused and overwhelmed by the choice but they will make it in the end I'm sure. One is mainly interested in the history of alchemy and has Italian ancestry so I am thinking of directly referring them to Luna/Diana as opposed to another Lunar deity - if you have any other suggestions please advise in comments.  The remaining student is being very cryptic so we will see what emerges.

In addition to attempts on the astral students are also working on lucid dreaming and sleep paralysis.  Sleep Paralysis, an experience I recommend new students attempt to have, has the equivalent horror factor of the midnight ritual in the graveyard (when it comes to developing the astral body) and some students crave that kind of intense experience to ''jump-start'' their work.  Ignoring the roll-over signal is an incredibly easy way of inducing sleep paralysis and after a few failed/aborted attempts students seem to be making ''progress'' there.  Its a kind of cheap, dirty trick to have an OBE quickly and get the conversation on ''what is the self?'' moving outside of the confines of the [sensation of] the physical body - it starts a very different kind of conversation than lucid dreaming does (which is a more common experience although not one that is commonly mastered).  We can also discuss the way in which the outer mind protects itself from the activities of the inner mind.

Certainly having to teach is making me reflect on my own experiences and knowledge and how I structure the transmission - in many ways I am adapting an AA style approach but with the Saadia Tree of Life.  I think the systematic development of different faculties is important and in some ways we are ''climbing the tree'' while maintaining an emphasis on unification and ''grounding''.

1) Depth of Past - question physical reality, embrace truth of mental reality
2) Depth of West - Memory
3) Depth of Down - Remembering
4) Depth of Up - Forgetting
5) Depth of East - Inner Mind

As we learn about the properties of memory in the next set of lessons, we will be learning more than microcosmic tricks for enhanced reflexes, referencing, learning to think with the spine, or recovering from trauma more rapidly etc but also to ''remember into existence'' and ''forget from existence'', we will also be learning about how the faculties of remembering and forgetting correlate with the synchronicities and de-synchronicities.  Ultimately we will be moving through physical, psychological, informational, ''spirit'' and mind-only models to our final destination the time-dependent or temporal entanglement model.

*Like spheres this is an introductory explanation for the Astral Plane, my own understanding is different to this but its a way in.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Twin Peaks and the Tree of the Return

 Its 2:53 in Vegas and that adds to 10 the number of completion.

Special Agent Dale Cooper, Twin Peaks the Return

Without denying other clear influences David Lynch used the Kircher Tree of Life as the structural basis of Cooper's Return to Twin Peaks. Beginning in Malkuth with Cooper sitting in the chair we followed him and his Doppleganger as they raced up through the Tree of Life through Yesod (the so-called ''Mauve Zone'') and beyond.  There are countless examples of where Lynch tied a particular colour to an episode or used other symbolism from the paths on the Hermetic Tree such as the ''palm'' (Kaph)  of Ike the Spike, or the ''hand'' (Yod) of Freddie, some of you may remember the ''window'' (Heh) where the loud scraping forces Cole to adjust his ear piece, etc etc.  Throughout the Return we see the magickal imagery of the Sephiroth (man on throne, wise man in profile etc) and Partzufim or magickal character-archetypes.

As I said in the beginning this idea of Cooper's Golden Dawn style ascent would prove difficult to resolve (and potentially cause magickal calamity) as the Kircher Tree is fundamentally broken but that he may have attempted to ''repair'' it in the remaining episodes after the characters had reached Kether - the way in which certain esotericists sometimes distinguish between a Cordoveran ''Tree of Emanation'' and a Lurianic ''Tree of Return''. I also said that there would probably be other discombobulating consequences from effects upon the cast and director all the way up to altering the weather.


THE PATH OF THE FOOL
As my close readers know I attempted something very similar to Cooper's ''botched'' attempt to restore Laura during my stay at Edward Kelley's Tower and although I was using a different Tree for my work, my colleague Vincent Bridges was using the Kircher.  Nevertheless the logical conclusion of this kind of Qabalistic work results in the recognition of the 4th dimensional self, the time-traveller/prophet, and an awareness of the kind of ''physics'' which it is necessary to understand in order to fully become this being and explore its new reality.  In trying to alter time, myself and Bridges, like Cooper, certainly failed but what emerged was a dialogue between us and ''entities'' (Raziel and others) regarding how to think about and operate in this new arena, that of being lost in time - which is of course the natural state of all humankind when they face up to it.

What is repair?  In my own research, repair is fundamentally about restoring the Fallen Daughter from her pendulant position in Malkuth to her original position in Binah, the seat of the superior mother which we see in the final attempt by Cooper to take Laura ''home''.  Repair means fully living your life with the knowledge that you are your mental self experiencing your mental universe as opposed to the delusion that you are a physical self living in a physical universe. I know that what I feel like I am inside right now is not my physical body but my own mind's homunculus of myself, I know that the objects around me are not the physical objects themselves but composed of the stuff of my own thought but I understand that it is one thing to ''know'' that and another to understand it and live that way.  It doesn't matter how much sorcery you do to get that foxy redhead or your fancy new promotion if you're going to forget it all when you die and wake up in your next life as if amnesiac from a shipwreck with your memories scattered like wreckage along the shoreline.  Its absolutely futile.  Without developing/becoming this time-traveller for all your sorcerer's power you're no different from anyone else.



In some ways we do see this repair in the finale of Twin Peaks which leaves Cooper both lost in time and questioning the nature of his and Laura's reality itself.  However disquieting it may be, Cooper, in fully understanding his new predicament is actually experiencing the awakening of the 4th dimensional self and eventually rising to meet the challenges of a fundamentally different kind of existence - is it future or is it past?  I feel like Richard and in truth I have for a long time.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

The Seshat Working




My partner has been steadily building a relationship with the Goddess Seshat through ritual offering and prayer and she reached a point where she wanted to experience some ceremonial magic.  The altar was set with a personally sculpted small statue of the Goddess, a small leopard statue, a moonstone specifically dedicated to her, and three candles one silver, one purple and one black.  The ritual began with her reciting her prayer 27 times to some Egyptian meditation music, an evocation, and then a series of questions that she would like for Seshat to answer:

- what happens to the soul after death?
- is there a physical world?
- are you telling me I should work with Wadjet?*

Mr partner's experience was confined to a set of visual/audio hallucinations/communications which she interpreted as answers to the questions.  The first question involved the statue of Seshat seemingly levitating and generating some kind of halo while she heard the word ''spirit'' in her mind, the second question resulted in the statue seemingly flipping from 2d to 3d which my partner interpreted as being related to the holographic universe theory and the 3rd question was not met with an answer.



While sitting behind her I concentrated on using my astral vision to attempt to see Seshat - to some extent I was consciously attempting to remote view Seshat through time, to see the person that the Goddess emerged from, using the ritual as a means of targetting and zooming in.  As I tried to concentrate I went through the standard clouds of nagging thoughts and itches/fidgets - ''breaks''.  As I cleared these attachments I tried to find a way to Seshat.  My thoughts landed on Thoth and my mind's eye traced the line of his beak.  As the beak was ''traced'' into the astral it rotated 90 degrees and became my beak.  I was flying in the body of an Ibis low over the muddy banks of a reedy river when I came across Seshat who appeared as a young woman in a smock with some purplish eye makeup but otherwise covered in mud, and studying and playing with that same mud.  As I observed her she became rapidly aware of my spying and I experienced a strong pain in my third eye which rose in intensity until it ended the vision.  What communication there was between us was telepathic. I got the impression [she told me???] that she was a low born girl, ''a claydigger's daughter'' who was immensely intelligent and complex.

The answers or rather reactions I recieved were as follows: to the question about the soul after death I got the sense that she had attempted to answer this question pursued it to considerable depths and even in spite of her intelligence could not answer it; the question about the physical world she thought the question was stupid and answered it with a yes and a raise of her muddy hand; the last question fell on deaf ears she didn't seem to know who Wadjet was or why that would matter.  I think at this point she also began to ''see'' the ritual, to ''gaze'' back into our world at which point she commented that she didn't look like her statue.

The following day I taught the lesson on astral projection to my partner and the rest of the class and she followed through with the instructions and had her first astral experience using the Seshat prayer as a mantra to steady her mind.  In this vision, she passed through mist [her visualization of the membrane] to find herself on some sort of Egyptian boat with Seshat who was a young girl.  She felt the intelligence radiating and that she was in the presence of a prodigy who was believed to be some sort of goddess by the people.  Seshat waved her hands and a group of leopards approached the banks of the Nile and then began following the boat with her and she realised that she had power over the world and access to true magic.  She got the sense that Seshat subsequently died early and that whoever she was inhabiting the point of view of had lost a dear friend.  This vision had a massive emotional impact on my partner.


In conclusion Seshat seems to be an extremely intriguing character if perhaps a difficult Goddess to work with in the beginning being seemingly somewhat socially awkward and aloof with her brilliance (this might not be fair) and the intrusion of Wadjet into my partner's sphere is clearly coming from something else, worryingly or otherwise.  I am really happy that she has experienced the astral with Seshat and that in itself has brought her answers and more questions about her mortality/immortality and as a teacher I am happy that by following the instructions I was able to get a student there already.  I am looking forward to the results of the others.

*The Goddess Wadjet is a character in a story she is writing and the work began after the work with Seshat so she was curious as to whether they were linked or not, whether Seshat was somehow recommending she work with Wadjet.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Hermetic Lessons - Light




- Importance of reflex and memory, learning to think with your spine, ''catching the ball'' and the problems with ''lust for result''.  Effectively this is about staying ''in the moment'' but in a reflexive way like when you catch a ball without thinking about it.  Later on this becomes important because all mental processes and knowledge need to be accessed in the moment and reflexively because you can't google stuff about the spirits while you are in astral contact.  I find that students generally have a great problem with memorizing the basic concepts - what the planets do, which one rules which signs, etc.  It is work and it has to be done.



- Hyperspheres, 3-spheres, when discussing spheres of consciousness i.e. physical reach/touch, sense perception and thought we have to be aware that what our 5D ''cell'' really is is ''blobby'' as opposed to spherical, the membrane shifting constantly, and that their sphere is not only in apparent motion constantly through the various rotations of the earth but also our own movements.

- Thought is more like fluid; although in creating the sensation of perception we appear to be surrounded by the atmosphere and other physical objects since all these senses are actually constructed out of ''thought'' the true nature of our surroundings is more like a viscous fluid - this will probably occur on astral at some point

- Lucid Dreaming - when talking about lucid dreaming this is background work that will help facilitate astral travel later.  Various hints and tips about how to lucid dream will be shared, such as tapping the doorframe every time you pass through and asking ''am I dreaming?''

- Sleep Paralysis - although sleep paralysis is a terrifying experience I think it is essential to seek it out in the early phases as it cements important questions about the conscious experience of things and if it happens unexpectedly it can be really frightening.  We will discuss the rollover signal featured in this series of videos and talk about hypnagogic hallunications resulting from sleep paralysis versus hypnopompic hallucinations.

- Use of ''physical'' lights - here we will discuss that all light one sees is seen as mental light created as a result of the stimulus of physical light, one never sees physical light persay.  Therefore the use of candles or the rising sun as a means of stimulating the vision, while highly appropriate and effective, needs to be employed in the knowledge that one is looking at mental light.

- Astral Bodies - when teaching astral projection I will not be teaching students to imagine their astral bodies rising out of their physical bodies, this is flawed for two reasons, firstly it comes from the delusion that we are in 3d bodies with thoughts inside our heads and secondly by throwing ones perspective outside of themself it often confounds attempts to get on the astral.  Since we are already in our ''astral body'' as has been established by the prior lessons in cellular consciousness/magical anatomy we are going to start looking straight at the astral.  In this sense we have to start looking through the perceptual membrane

- Gazing, as I teach actors one can hold ones eyes in various ways states to project different states to the audience i.e. looking, seeing, remembering, reliving all involve a different position of the eyes.  One of the most important steps for effective use of the astral plane is the manner in which you should set your eyes - you have to gaze.  Practical activity: hold the eyes in the ways outlined above go through looking, seeing, remembering, reliving and then gaze.  Once everyone gets gazing then we have to close the eyes but continue to gaze, which will take another moment to adjust to.  When one closes one eyes one blots out the appearance of the physical world and is left looking at ones perceptual field from somewhere else ''inside the head''.  This often appears to be a flickering, pixelated field.  We are going to gaze at this.

- Astral Projection Lesson

 -Problems
*Egoic babble - the first stage of resistance to astral planing is egoic babble - anxiety, etc, the eyes tend to fall down in the socket and must be brought back up.  Focusing on maintaining the gazing is sufficient in itself to cut down noise
*Physical discomfort - rollover signals if trying at night, itches, back pains, etc resisting these takes a few mins of breathing and focusing on the eyes, if you ''break'' for whatever reason you adjust and try again
*Astral larvae - early phantasms as you approach the astral often taking insectoid, or snake like forms, can be filled with incredible menace - they can be ''broken'' into pixels by staring ''into'' them
*Unchecked personal distortions - seeing what you want to see, I find that in genuine astral experience beyond the gravity well of the self the visions will be crystal clear and vivid and contain some sort of discovery.  The quality of visions when you are seeing what you want to see is also much lower. 


-Successes (for the sake of these primer lessons)
*Tesselating, possibly intelligent fields of colour emerging from ''blobs''
*Visions
*Contact with entities

During the 3 month break there will be a number of tasks to complete:

a) Astrological memorization, be highly familiar with the basics of astrology/astrological symbolism
b) Actively succeed in both a restriction and an observance
c) Attempt astral projection and ''succeed'' once
d) Select Lunar deity, learn prayer to Lunar deity in as close to as possible their language
e) Use moon app and always keep eye on the moon phase

The next set of three lessons will begin with calls to the various lunar deities and be focused on memory, time and archetypes (uses thereof)

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Hermetic Lessons - Mind

  •  Magical Anatomy of the Self


  • Hologram of physical self in centre of perceptual cell, internal feelings - digestion, heart, etc
  • ''Clock-body'': head in future predicting, anticipating; torso in centre, heart, lungs, beating, breathing ''in the moment'; abdomen in past, dealing with the decisions of the moment, digesting, cleaning the blood, genitals preserving ''memory of the past''
  • Molecular developmental biology - as embryo divides it takes on characteristics of front/back, top/bottom, etc who (how is it?) decides which cell gets to be the ass? 
  • Each cell in the body contains this pefect copy of the DNA physical self in each nucleus, although cells only express some of this info and are thereby differentiated



  • Physical sensations and [sense of] physical reach is the first sphere of cellular consciousness, the ''nucleus'' which encloses the [sensation of] the physical self
  • When you feel the table, you feel the feeling of the table, this sphere of [the sense of] physical ''feeling'' is limited by the physical reach
  • [the sense of] ''Smell'' is the bridge between touch and the other senses, it is concentrated in the first sphere but can extend beyond it
  • Discuss psychometry



  • All sense objects are mental artefacts arising from [assumed] physical objects in a physical world
  • They are composed of mental light - light bulb exercise i) look into lightbulb ii) observe blob of light on retina iii) observe how it moves iv) observe how all objects are in the mind and composed of mental light v) make a general theory for what must follow
  • There is no size - [the sense of] the sense-objects are derived from one undifferentiated field of thought in the mind
  • Cytoplasm which surrounds the cell is a ''mental-fluid'' and which is occupied by ''organelles'' in the form of the sense-objects
  • Liken the sensed space to the structure of the biological cell - pointing out features of typical rooms- lighting, heat, information sources etc
  • There is no movement a) ''hamster-ball model'' the sensation of physical movement can be reversed, since the cell is fixed in the mental sphere instead of the physical body entering different physical events, in truth mental events enter the sphere of the mind b) ''fishbowl model'' instead of a current of events entering the cell, events arise from the natural currents and fluctuations within the fishbowl - a) and b) are the way in which this ''mental fluid'' of sense-experience is linked to the outer mental fluid of the larger consciousness in ''the bloodstream of time'' and the action of the ''mental fluid'' or cytoplasm within the cell
  • Discuss how this may interact with psychic powers like clairaudience, clairvoyance

  • All sense experience (the mental fluid) is contained with the larger sphere of the outermind and is ''membrane bound'' - discuss membrane of physical sensation, the reach of our senses, not being able to see through walls, the limits of senses when staring into space, extensions of those senses through telescopes, microscopes, etc
  • Our physical, egoic and sense experience of our self is occuring within the subconscious and is in fact held imobile within the subconsicous
  • Discuss implications for dreams, prophecy
Practices of Raja Yoga build up this awareness of magical anatomy starting from the sensation of the physical self and the physical will at the nucleus and build up into the fact that all being is held within the sphere of the mind.  To begin, the will is developed by a series of restrictions and observances.  This will is converted into poise through the asanas.  This poise is ''energized'' and harmonized/regularized by pranayama or right breathing/breath control.  [Apparently] external sense objects are then contemplated as mental artefacts and senses are withdrawn and trained by will.  Since physical objects are mental objects all is one in the sphere of the mind.  Experience bliss.
  • Restriction (stop yourself from doing certain things - i.e. eating meat, lying, playing)
  • Observance (make yourself do things - i.e.  keeping clean/organized, studying)
  • Poise (diet + fitness + yoga practice = poise)
  • Breathe (breath control, nervous cleaning)
  • Sense Objects + Mind (observe world as sense objects not physical objects)
  • Meditation (observe how you own mind infuses all sense objects)
  • All Mind
  • Bliss
n.b. The use of spheres here will be corrected here and in subsequent lessons as spheres represent a misconception.  The correct term is hyperspheres - 4spheres, or 5 spheres/ ''glomes''. Spheres are only a way into hyperspheres.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Hermetic Lessons - Maps



I am teaching a three part course at the moment - three 45min lessons for a small group of relative beginners on a) maps b) mind and c) light.  The practical sides of the course are a) qabalah b) raja yoga and c) astral projection.  My students are all intellectual, have had some spiritual experiences and have a shared complaint about the difficulties of making any headway due to the sheer amount of information on these mixed subjects and the impossibility of making choices.  In describing the lesson I will be as succinct as possible and if you want to use this plan feel free to adapt.

(5mins) Draw map of the earth free hand
 
(5 mins) Draw timemap of human civilization 

(5mins) Discuss results.  Point out eurocentrism of the maps that students have drawn.  Use globe to show that effectively half of the planet is blue so they have only drawn half the planet.  Point out terra centrism. 



(5 mins) Using the results discuss usefulness and limitations of map(s) and shared language.

(20 mins) Dimensions - lecture and Q/A, elicit answers where possible

- Discuss physical and connotative meanings for the 5 dimensions

  • East - Sunrise, hope, rebirth, awaking
  • West - Sunset, end of things, dreams, sleeping
  • North - cold, contract
  • South - warmth, expand

- If we continue north in a straight line and not follow the curvature of the earth we would head into space.  At what point do the spatial directions lose their meaning in infinity?  If the universe is finite what happens to that line?  If the universe is infinite what happens to that line?

- Point out the usefulness of a certain kind of ''geocentrism'' that puts you in the middle of the dimensions.

- What does it mean if someone is ''warm'' or ''cold''?  The connotative meanings are important and will make sense of the Tree of Life as you look at it later for it is not only a map of space/time but it also a map of the psyche.* 

- Magnetite - studies have shown humans have magnetite in their brain in the same way other animals do who use it to navigate.  What would be the effect of calibrating the organism by spending some time in the north-south, east-west position meditating?  What ''powers'' could we have from the magnetite that animals have that our egoes drown out with their incessant noise about shoe shopping, etc?  If such powers are working unconsciously anyway then would our calibration have the effect of helping us to hear them?

- Use the location of the Pacific ocean to make points about the cultures of California and Japan.  If we suggest that the Pacific Ocean is like the unconscious mind of the Earth what does this say about those two places?  Do other parts of the world fill roles like this or not?  What does this say about the dimensions?  How useful is this idea what are the limitations/dangers?

  • Up - out, rise, lift, ascent, superior
  • Down - in, falling, descent, drop, inferior
- There is no such thing as a precise up and down they are more like in and out from our position in space.

- Why is the ''Fall'' bad, why is ''Down'' bad?  Side discussion on why down would be considered bad from the view point of evolutionary ancestors - down would indicate a journey to the jungle/forest floor with all the predators etc that this involves, falling would be bad in case the monkey breaks a limb.  Ask students to think about other evolutionarily built-in responses to dimensions as they continue to reflect.

- Point out that science as a rule tends to ''look down'' on things and break them into smaller parts in order to understand and that art/architecture as a rule tends to ''build up'' from smaller things to make larger creative structures.**

  • Good - nutrition, excellence/virtue
  • Evil  - poison, ineptitude/lack of skill 
  • Past - birth
  • Future - death

- Move students away from purely ethical understanding of the terms good and evil by asking them to think about what good and evil mean in art and what good and evil mean to a bacteria - think about our own instinctive reponses to eating vomit.  What is bad art? In general terms discuss at what point all dimensions either reverse in their meaning i.e. when does too much nutrition become ''bad'', when does too much warmth become ''bad''?



- (5 mins) Introduce students to sphere of the mind.  Ask students to meditate on the dimensions and insist that this should be pushed to the point where it becomes disorientating.


 
H/W - learn traditional order for elements, planets and zodiac signs

Notes for next lesson - discuss dangers of spheres in thinking

*For instance our Sefirah of Love and Compassion would be Warm and our Sefirah of Judgement/Fear/Strength would be Cold.
**This ties into an understanding of Hod and Netzach later on.


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Chaos Magic and Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable


Somewhere between lies and truth lies the truth.

Damien Hirst, Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable

When I was in Venice I had the fortune to find myself in Damien Hirst's exhibition ''Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable'' at the Palazzo Grassi and was provided with ample opportunity to reflect on Chaos Magic, its efficacy (or lack thereof) and its absorption by the mainstream.





The whole space is set up like the British Museum and the conceit is that Team Hirst have rescued and restored the antiquities recovered from a sunken wreck - there are numerous films whch show their work in action, exploring a seabed littered with glimmering treasure in the form of golden coins, weapons, ornaments and statuary - shoals of fish swimming by.  One of the first things I noticed was how everyone was really into it, they entered that headspace as if they were in a museum studying genuine relics and artefacts and only after a while did people seem to snap out of it and well... get the joke.



It was at this point in the exhibition that I reflected on the relative lack of success chaos magicians had had with working with thought-forms such as Mickey Mouse or Batman and how they tended to resort in the end to working with saints or ancient spirits.  From my understanding the post-chaos argument (that leads into the grimoire revival) seemed to be that older entities had had longer to gestate in some kind of astral womb or had been fed more by sacrifice and prayer and were therefore more capable of granting boons and inflicting banes than Scooby Doo was.  I wondered for a moment whether this was down to the presentist perception that is dominant amongst magicians, and whether there was an eternalist approach to the conjuring of cartoon characters that took into account that they would exist for centuries and therefore would grow stronger as belief in the older Gods waned.  Could you tap into that from the present, summon them from the future?


 As I reflected I attempted to sense some kind of eternal something emanating from these ''treasures'' but there was nothing there. It made me wonder that whether the connection that some people claim to have with antiquities at museums is more to do with their own mind than any kind of ''energy'' or ''spirit'' resting in the statue or tool itself.  In the end I concluded that it might be the case that in this timeline the relics of the modern world are brutally swept away by some catastrophe and so never have the time to ''gestate'' or ''feed'' in the astral even from an eternalist perspective.  Perhaps these cultural trinkets are only here for a brief moment, never amount to much and the inheritors or our civilization, human or otherwise, have no further interest in archaeology.  They might symbolise a culture that doomed the Earth and there may be another great iconoclasm?



Although the reverential air to the sacred past was broken after the first encounter with Mickey and other Disney characters the majority of the exhibition is made up of a selection of statues of deities and mystical figures from around the world - so it is very much like the British Museum.  Was it possible to connect with spirit/memory through these artworks or only to admire them aesthetically?   It seemed like there was nothing in these statues either apart from great beauty, and although surely noone had conjured spirits into them (Damien...?) it was impossible even to connect with the idea of the spirit through them.


Later in my pathwalking I ended up in the Temple of Zeus in Olympia and the Parthenon in Athens so I had a lot to compare and contrast with the exhibition and although the experience of Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable was spiritually underwhelming it was really very very funny.  A lot like Chaos Magic in that respect.  Let's hope it doesn't start taking itself too seriously.