Sunday 20 August 2017

Lunchtime of the Magicians

The Lunchtime of the Magicians


Do as Thou Will shall be All of the Law


“What is your aim in philosophy? To show the fly the way out of the fly-bottle”

- Ludwig Wittgenstein

“All anyone can do is point the way”

- Three Weird Sisters, ‘My Karma Broke Down’


“In this book it is spoken of the Sephiroth and the Paths; of Spirits and Conjurations; of Gods, Spheres and Planes, and many other things which may or may not exist. It is immaterial whether these exist or not. By doing certain things certain results will follow; students are most earnestly warned against attributing objective reality or philosophical validity to any of them”

- Aleister Crowley


The first thing to remember when considering the Hermetic tradition is that the symbol is not the thing itself. The map is not the territory, and this is not a pipe.

The second thing to remember is that, on another level, the symbol is exactly the same as the thing itself. Indeed, on one level it is more real, more true, than any object.

These two positions, like a substantial amount of the Western Mystery Tradition as it has gradually evolved and unfolded over the Aeons, are on a superficial level contradictory; thus is the way of such things. As various wits have put it, one of the reasons why it is so difficult to weed out the deliberate blinds and traps from esoteric philosophy is that sufficiently deep truth is indistinguishable from bollocks. That the pearls cast before sows become dust in the eyes of the profane is an inevitability, because within the initiatory system the mysteries simply cannot be approached by those who are not properly prepared for them.

Zero is Two; One is its own Negative; All is Nothing. Such are some of the foundations that we can grasp at through logic, and put into the words of rationality. But the deeper truth will always be transrational. Do we thus abandon rationality? No. We accept it as a tool, but must recognise too its limitations.

Truth is fractal and holographic, containing within itself all the self-similarities implied by the phrase “as above, so below”. What exists on one level of organisation, is reflected endlessly up and down any chain of being that one cares to posit. What is true of the individual is true of society; and what is true of society is true of the cosmos.

This is all to say – the symbols we use have meaning, and to manipulate the symbolic is to manipulate the actual.


For all that both Freud and Jung disagreed on the nature of the human mind, it is notable that their theories emerged from a fundamentally materialist-scientific position. Between Jung’s mystic speculation about the “collective unconscious”, and Freud’s ponderings on the nature of sexual neuroses and their underlying causes, there is agreement on one thing – all these phenomena of the unconscious mind are ultimately rooted in the physical structure of the brain.

The “brain-as-computer” metaphor is lacking in accuracy in a number of critical areas – because, fundamentally, brains don’t work on discrete packages of data isolated from context – but we can safely accept the model as being a good illustration of certain points, even if it is not technically correct. The true value in any model is in its explanatory and predictive power in any case. Reducing concepts to their most simplistic iteration – we can think of neurology as being akin to hardware, and the cognitive processes that run upon that neurology as being in some ways like unto software. A certain amount of these processes can be altered by environmental conditions; deeper, however is the unconscious mind, those parts of the human experience that find their physical bases not within the pre-frontal cortex but deeper in the atavistic structures of our mammalian and pre-mammalian ancestors. Consider these akin to firmware.

An archetype is a pattern of associations that exists within this mental firmware; a set of relationships between mental objects that are common within the human experience. The extent to which these are universal and persist between cultures and times is as yet an unanswered question – but not one which we need to come to a particular position on at this time. All that we need to be able to accept is that there is a commonality in human thought – whether an Akashic Record that crosses all times and places and contains all knowledge, or a series of interlocking psycho-social biases which are induced and activated through the processes of inculturation. In the former case, it seems that there is some room for flexibility and change in the way in which these are expressed and understood, even if this is merely the gradual evolution and unfurling of such processes across humanity’s neurological development; at the very least, to return to the computing metaphor, the capacity to flash the firmware seems to exist.

This is to say – our symbols persist, and run deeper than we are consciously aware.


It is no accident that the earth is associated so closely with the concept of a mother-deity, for it is the womb from which all life is born.

It is no accident that the sun is associated so closely with the concept of a father-deity, for it is the source of energy projected to the womb of the earth that allows life to develop.

The origins of our species tendency towards religion are obscure, and deeply disputed. Consider this, then, more in the manner of myth than history.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God, and the Word slept in the Void that is neither existence nor non-existence, but is the negation of both these concepts. The Word knew itself not, for there was nothing which was not the Word.

Word divided existence from non-existence, something from nothing, itself from itself, that it might gaze upon what was not the Word, and thus come to know itself. And the Word said: “Let there be Light”, and behold, there was Light, projected outwards from the point of absolute unity, dividing all from not-all, creating all and not-all.

Time passed, and from energy came forth matter, and from matter came forth stars and planets. And upon one planet, came forth life. And after many stalls and false-starts, there came forth a species of ape possessed of a certain reflective quality; and as the Word had gazed upon itself and divided itself from not-itself, did the ape do likewise – and thus Humanity was created in the Image of God.

Humanity looked to the earth from where they had emerged, and gave thanks – for from the Earth did flow all life, every plant that grew, and every animal that roamed the savannah. Thus was the Earth a Mother unto Humanity, who gave forth all life, and to whom all life would ultimately return.

One might call this the Aeon of Isis.

Time passed, and nursed by their Mother, Humanity grew. They mastered the elements of Earth, Air, Water and Fire, and in time came to grow as does the child. And like any child, soon there came a time when Humanity could no longer be suckled by its Mother. Thus came about the greatest psychic trauma that Humanity would know – the separation of the babe from the breast of the Mother.

And Humanity built cities, and tilled the Earth to bring forth crops of their own, and brought the goat, the dog, the ox and all manner of other creatures into their power. And Humanity had grown, their settlements bustling with greater and greater numbers, yet with this growth came the discontents of civilisation, the discontents of adulthood. Nature would not provide sufficient food uncoerced by toil, thus toil and coercion became the norm; Pestilence, War and Famine became concerns above and beyond anything that had been known before. And Humanity learned of Death, and were greatly afraid.

And Humanity, afraid of the Earth that seemed now to withold Her nurture from them, looked to the Sun, that remote giver of life, and found therein their Savior.

The Sun which passed into darkness each night to return each morning. The Sun which, by its movements across the yearly sky, did determine the times of plenty and the times of famine, which did determine the lambing of the sheep, the growth of the corn. The Sun which, by its ineffable power, would preserve Humanity against a world that had rejected them.

Thus was the Sun a Father unto Humanity, His potence equal only to his remoteness. His movement a circle, always onward yet always returning, conquering death and bringing life.

One might call this the Aeon of Osiris.

His symbol would be the circle – and most of all, the circle divided fourfold, marking the times of his birth, the apex of his power, his death, and his reconception within the underworld. The cross would become likewise a symbol of this concept – the mythic resonance of the death  upon the cross of the sun of Jeshua bar-Joseph, that most archetypal of solar-heroes, is perhaps no quirk of Roman tastes in execution – as would one other:

A fourfold tumbling wheel, spinning as the sun about the axis of the world (as it seemed in those days), or the world about the axis of the sun (as one familiar with the works of Copernicus would assert); and by that self-similarity that exists at every level of reality, spinning as the solar system about the galactic centre, as the galaxies about the centre of the cluster, as all about the Axis Mundi, the Axis Universalis.

That symbol would etch itself deeply into human consciousness across many eras, appearing across continents, every time with meanings not so far-derived from this central conceptual core. And in more than one system of deep esoteric philosophy, it became associated with that central One, the absolute, the pivot of the universe.

Within the tradition that emerged from the intersection of Greek Neoplatonism and Jewish Kabbalah, it was associated with Kether – the crown – the absolute and apex of all.

This is all to say – that the swastika was first and foremost a solar symbol, and a symbol of the universal order.


One of the keystones on which the historical success of fascism is built is the effective manipulation of symbols. When people speak of the Occult Reich, nine times out of ten they are talking utter bollocks; but as with all great delusions, there is a small nugget of truth at the root of it. Discarding Hess’ astrological obsessions and Himmler’s runic posturings and paring the concepts right down to their simplest level – the Crowleyan assertion that any deliberate act of Will is Magick, and the collorary provided by the Hermetic tradition as a whole that this particularly applies to the manipulation of symbolic reality to produce changes in physical reality – the Third Reich was a magickal project as much, if not more so, than a racial-political one.

In this sense, it has left a greater mark upon the human psyche far greater than its impact on the physical world, or even upon the world of political concerns. Without wanting to downplay the horror of the holocaust in any way, or getting embroiled in the endless apologetics of “which-dictator-was-worst”, it is worth considering the reasons for the psychological impact of such things being so much greater than, for example, the destrution wrought by the Mongols that killed perhaps 5% of the entire world’s extant population.

To hijack an over-used saying, “the medium is the message”. The way in which the atrocities of the Nazi Germany were carried out reveals its own psychological content – an ugly, bitter and vitriolic part of the psyche that Jung called the “Shadow”, was made manifest in the rhetoric and actions of the National Socialist state apparatus. This thesis is particuarly well-laid-out in Wilhelm Reich’s “The Mass Psychology of Fascism”, a remarkably insightful text by the Freudo-Jungian psychoanalyst who would later earn the dubious honour of being expelled both from the Communist Party and the International Psychoanalytic Association, and later still become embroiled in a long and drawn out legal battle with the Federal Drug Administration which saw, in a final irony, the majority of his corpus of works being seized and burned by the American government.

But enough on Wilhelm Reich himself, for as fascinating and tragic as his story may be, it is not the matter at hand so much as his work is.

In Jungian psychology, the Shadow is an archetypal form which represents all the parts of the Self that one consciously suppresses in order to attempt to form a coherent self-image. Crudly, one might think of it as being composed of all the parts of ourselves that we do not – cannot – acknowledge the existence of. To see the Shadow as the “evil twin” is perhaps an oversimplification, though undeniably there is great evil contained within it – like it or not, we are all capable of commiting truly horrific sins of commission or ommission, and of rationalising them as being not only morally permissible, but as being morally obligatory, given the right externalities.

Reich’s thesis was a simple: that fascism’s appeal rested on its ability to hold the collective Shadow of a populace, with all the insecutrities and neuroses that lie within, and project it onto an archetypal Other, especially that Other which exists invisibly within society, as the Shadow exists invisibily within the mind. “Blame not yourself for your failings”, says the fascist, “blame those who have betrayed you.”

This is echoed by certain later theories of Melanie Klein – particularly the so-called “paranoid-schizoid position” (which has little to do with paranoia or schizophrenia as such). This term is used to describe the infantile state of mind in which the ego cannot comprehend that “good” and “bad” are anything other than polar opposites, to such an extent where it is literally inconceivable that there should be any admixture of the two. When applied to the collective psyche of a group, this manifests in a potentially very dangerous fashion – all that is good and desired becomes associated with the ingroup, and all that is bad and feared becomes associated with the outgroup. This process cares little for consistency: consider the idiot crowing of the racist demogogue, praising the hard-working, culturally and physically superior nature of his kin whilst denouncing the hated foreigner as both genetically inferior and a force to be feared, a Schrodinger’s Immigrant superimposed between states of lazing around on benefits, and stealing the jobs of the native.

The greatest psychic danger of such things comes from another of Jung’s theories, that of enantiodroma. Again, this is a somewhat complex and oft-misinterpreted concept, which I won’t attempt to fully articulate here – at its root, it is the observation that all polarities contain their opposite, and furthermore, that in pursuit of a polarity, one will inevitably end up invoking its inverse.

Quoth Blake, ripe as ever with accidental qabbalistic meaning: “If the Fool persisted in his Folly, he would become Wise”.

Consider the dreaded Horseshoe Theory of political extremism as a deep oversimplification of this concept. Consider the French Revolution, and so many others, seeking liberty, egality, and fraternity, and ending in bloodshed and terror whose excesses were often worse than those of the regieme that they sought to overthrow. Consider the old adage that nobody ever got rich by not spending money.

This is all to say – that invoking the Shadow is a pact diabolical; one may gain the world, but one’s soul is surely forfeit.

Quoth Nietzche, ever misrepresented by his Dreadful Fascist Sister, “he who fights monsters should see to it that he himself does not become a monster...”


How does one fight a monster, when that monster is you?

One cannot.

Rather, once one has reached the stage of such enantiodromic debasement that, upon looking in the mirror, one sees the image of the Devil staring back through the glass, it is the human tendency to see Devils in the faces of all around you.

The joke is often made that, whilst the Right seeks converts, the Left seeks traitors. But this is perhaps true only up and to the point where the Right has completed its pact with the devil, gnawed off its own shadow and cast it out into the world most utterly. It is perhaps unsuprising that when one’s ideology is built on heroic struggle in the face of one’s enemies, that one will tend to find more and more enemies as time goes on. It is perhaps ironic that, whilst first they did indeed come for the Communists, second they came for the Other Nazis. One might see the purging of the SA in the events known as the “Night of Long Knives” as being a cruicial point in the history of Nazi Germany – not necessarily for any specific political effect that this purge had, but for the absolute acknowledgement of the fact of the Enemy Within.

It is worthwhile noting that, whilst the Nazis certainly considered black people to be racially inferior to Aryans, there were few official policies on the matter, certainly in comparison to the programmes of mass extermination that were aimed at the Jewish and Roma populations, for example. Indeed, the most notable official action taken by the Third Reich against people of African descent was the forced sterilisation of perhaps five hundred mixed-race children in the Rhineland in 1937, most of whom had been fathered by black soldiers from French colonies in Africa, who had been occupying the region in the wake of the Great War. Note also the existence of such units as the  Free Arabian Legion, a military force predominantly formed from ethinic African and Arabian volunteers, formed in 1941 with the express intent of using them to oppose French and British control of the Gulf states.

Consider also the convoluted and bureaucratic methodology use by the Nazis to define whether or not a person would be considered Aryan, Jewish or Slavic, relying upon often arbitrary criteria to determine who would be considered “sufficiently German” for their purposes.

A conclusion that can be tentatively drawn from such observations is that the primary target of the racial component of the holocaust was the “enemy within” - those of white or white-passing ethnicity who were seen as infiltrating and corrupting Germany from within, rather than ethnic groups that were more easily distinguished as non-white. Indeed, through this lens, one might see the external struggles of World War Two as being little more than a horrifically destructive side-show to the ideological horror within; the visible enemy being far less frightening to the mind possessed of the Shadow than those who lurk unseen, hiding behind every mirror’d face.


And thus the Sun turns dark.

Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani…


National Socialism was ideologically doomed from its inception, containing as it did the seeds of its own psychic destruction; yet, symbolically, it became immortal. It is no accident that “Nazi” has become a synonym for mindless, incomprehensible evil – in the Jungian sense it has become the perfect vessel for the archetype of the Shadow. So too have the symbols and the words associated with that cultic movement. In a very real sense, one might say that the psychic reality of the world has been changed by the events of a few short decades – how many would now dare to use the dreaded symbol of the Third Reich to indicate the Axis Mundi, the organising principle of the universe? And, if the symbol is now utterly corrupted, what of the principle it represents?

Consider the cross, once perhaps a universal motif of the solar formula of death and rebirth, now so strongly associated with one particular manifestation thereof, to the point that the essential doctrine which it represents has now become so well hidden that few would even care to acknowledge it. Is the meaning changed? The answer is, as so many things of this nature, to be found in duality. One the one hand, yes – because the myth of Jesus is not exactly the myth of Osiris, nor of Dionysus, nor Mithras, nor Attis, nor any other solar deity. Yet also, no – because whilst the specific has overwritten the general in the collective conscious, the archetype remains distinct.

What then of the swastika?

One might imagine the swastika to have become the exoteric equivalent of the esoteric symbol of the Black Sun, also integral to certain of the more mystical aspects of National Socialism; a symbol with a specific, and deeply sinister meaning, perhaps to be considered as the embodyment of the Shadow. It is not the Sun; it is not the Universe, yet it is both, in a very specific manner.

Or one might turn one’s thoughts to darker places, and consider the psychological implications of the organising principle of the universe being a symbol of suffering, fear, and bloodshed.

Then again… has this not always been so? Consider the Gnostics; consider the Buddhists; consider every creed that has spoken of the inherent state of humanity as being one of suffering.

Consider that the cross was, likewise, an instrument of torture.

This is, coincidentally, relevant to considerations of the fetishisation of Nazi imagery within the BDSM community, who have always on some level understood the power of the Shadow. Consider the submission of the Aspirant before the archetypal embodiment of Evil, their Heirophant a diabolical avatar of pain and degradation dressed in the ritual garb of an SS uniform. The initiatory formulae of the ancient mystery schools remain unchanged, though the forms that such patterns clad themselves in do mould themselves to take up the symbols most charged with meaning, reaching through to the Profane mind through whatever channels may present themselves.


In the End, there was the Word.

A reasonable gloss of the “magical word” of Abracadabra might be “it came to pass as it was spoken”. This is a very old, and very fundamental concept – many mythologies across the world contain the central theme that to speak, and specifically, to assign a name to a thing – is the fundamental creative act. That names have power is perhaps one of the few myth-themes that is universally present on some level across all cultures and all times.

Psychologically, one might consider all manner of theories adjacent to Sapir-Whorf, and note the growing corpus of neuro-lingustic research that implies a deep and abiding connection between the way in which we use language, and the way in which we percieve the world – even on a biological level. Simple examples abound – consider the increased ability to tell the difference between two very similar shades of the same colour that is found in native speakers of a language that has an abundance of terms for colour; or the subtle differences in memory formation and retrieval between native speakers of languages which use a relative directional system (“the table is left of the chair”), and those which use an absolute directional system (“the fork is north of the spoon”).

What then of our symbolic language?


Vi Veri Universum Vivus Vici


Love is the Law, Love under Will

Tuesday 13 June 2017

Notes From A Wizard's Journal I: King, Warrior, Magician Lover

This being the first in a series of posts in which I present extracts from my personal journals, for the enjoyment of interested parties.  Few explanatory notes shall be given, other than to point readers in the general direction of what I am referencing - otherwise, the text here will be left to speak for itself.

This post contains my thoughts and reactions to King, Warrior, Magician, Lover by Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette, a text in the broadly Jungian tradition that argues for a generative and empowering form of masculinity to replace the toxic archetypes that are currently dominant in Western society.

The original notes were written contemporaneously with my reading of the book - they are something of a gloss on the text, and should be interpreted in that light. These are neither my current, nor final thoughts on the matter.

Indented text indicates the extracts from my journals, non-indented text is used for explanatory notes.

Traditional societies have defined boy/man (or child/adult) psychologies, bounded by processes of initiation. Since the Reformation, these have been eroded in the Western world, the ritual reduced to mere ceremony. What is left is pseudo-initiation, that fails to adequately transform the child to the adult; thus a failure to integrate. This leads to cyclical patterns of abuse and victimhood, severity and weakness, rather than the Middle Pillar. In a way, the process of moving into the New Aeon could thus be seen as redressing the harm done by the Reformation - necessary as that harm doubtless was at the time. All things in oscillation towards the centre.

The Patriarchy does not represent a mature masculinity, but rather is boyhood psychology writ large. It attacks both "true femininity" (in favour of submission) and "true masculinity" (in favour of conformity) - "Patriarchy is based on fear - the boy's fear, the immature masculine fear  - of women... but also fear of men"

Contrast the "traditional" initiation into warrior culture as seen in various indigenous societies with Western "pseudo-initiations" such as gang culture and military service... both ultimately fail due to various factors, producing an unbalanced masculinity, often one of wanton violence, hostility, and dominance.

Our pseudo-initiations do not successfully slay the ego - rather, they amplify it, especially those worst parts of it. Second, the ritual space is not contained properly, neither spatially, nor by the presence of a hierophant-psychopomp to act as the initiating priest and guide to the aspirant. This final point is the most salient - without a hierophant who is themselves successfully initiated, there is a great danger that the aspirant will not be truly initiated, but, rather, fall into the traps of the ego.

The indwelling nature of the primordial archetypes provides a possibility for rectifying the above situation in the absence of proper hierophants - c.f. "the abyss too shall bloom" - all humanity have the inherent ability to reach the highest forms of initiation, regardless of external initiators or not, but it is just a lot easier with a proper hierophant (HGA, VVVVV, etc.). Note, of course, that if we consider the Dead and Risen God, LVX formula, to be that of initiation to {sol}, which is to say humanity in its perfected form, then the crossing of the Abyss that follows is not the same process at all. NOX follows, and presupposes, LVX. 

NOX and LVX refer to specific magical formulae of initiation - they are perhaps best explained in J. Daniel Gunther's rather excellent text Initiation into the Aeon of the Child

 Is the becoming of {sol} the becoming of adulthood? We might equate, or at least conceptually link the HGA with [the authors'] "fountains of innate masculine energy", to which one must submit in order to be truly initiated. C.f. Islam as submission to God.

The polarised form [of an archetype] is referred to by [the authors] as the "shadow" of the archetype in its fullness. I suspect that this is not exactly equivalent to the usual Jungian conception of the Shadow; to borrow Ramsey Dukes' theories - the polarised archetype is daemonic.

It is interesting to note [the authors'] use of the image of two pyramids to describe the archetypal structures; the pyramid of boyhood extends to cover a greater conceptual space in adulthood, if integrated properly. The archetypes of the child are still present within the adult self, but are expanded by experience, to cover a greater range of possibilities. The pyramid thus again becomes the archetypal image of Self (and note, πυραμίς = φαλλός, thus reinforcing the generative self's function in self-conception)

By certain systems of numerology, the Greek words πυραμίς (pyramid) and φαλλός (phallus) are equivalent, which is assumed to be symbolically important.

The Divine Child, the Jesus-Moses-Dionysus Osirian myth of a babe both divine and helpless, created or preserved as an emanation of the Divine by miraculous means... the Shadow of the Divine Child can be seen in the Paranoid-Schizoid position of Klein, which experiences completely polarised omnipotence and paradoxical weakness and fear of annihilation in turn... as with all polar relationships, enantiodromia is a factor at play... the weakling child suddenly erupting in furious tantrums when insufficiently coddled.

The Precocious Child, who thrives on the joy of discovery and understanding. He is the eternal seeker... the child prodigy... often introverted, but always willing to share knowledge.

[as shadow] the "Know-it-All Trickster"... which in the adult manifests as smugness and a domineering attitude "turning discussions into lectures, and arguments into diatribes"... in a more beneficent aspect, he is the Jester, who lets the inflated egos of others deflate. Consider Satan as the morally ambiguous trickster in this light - the troublemaker for the sake of Truth. C.f. The Book of Job, where, in one interpretation, Satan exposes the hypocrisy of both Job and God by daring them to break the compact of superficial faith born of a life of good fortune. One might say that Satan is the only one who really comes off positively in that one. Likewise, the Serpent of Eden, exposing the Shadow side of the "All-Good"Creator, could be seen as an integral part of the macrocosmic plan for reconciliation and development.

The Oedipal Child - his is the passion of connectedness with the Mother, whose infinite nurturing love he yearns for. His is affection, and the birth of spirituality. This Mother is the archetypal Isis; Mother Nature, Soul of All, and is beyond all considerations of his mortal mother

[the active shadow aspect] comes the closest to the Freudian understanding of the Oedipus complex. He wishes to destroy his father and marry his mother... unsatisfied by mortal women who faith to live up to his yearning for the Divine Goddess, he chases the poignant love of a hundred forms... [he] seeks not to be merely a mortal man with a mortal sexuality, but to be identified with the Phallus of God, and unite in congress with every woman that is the manifestation of the Goddess.

[In relation to the Oedipal Child] the Thelemic project can be seen as an attempt to unite the poles [of the Shadow Oedipal Child], in seeking the excess of each rather than the negation of either, in the hope of a kind of enantiodromic flip occuring to catapult the Self into archetypal synthesis.

The Hero is tied to the Mother, but rather than yearn to join her, he yearns to overcome her. He wishes to conquer her to assert his masculinity - thus emerge certain toxic archetypes of male "heroic" sexuality... note, however, the purpose of the Hero archetype - ultimately to found a beachhead against the unconscious, and to allow the seperation of the indivdual from the collective. This is, in point of fact, the archetypal conflict, and one which is essential to the freeing of the Psyche from the Chains of the Child, the tethers placed upon him by Mother and Father.

It is the triumph of the Hero which leads inevitably to his death - his sacrifice is an inescapable part of his journey. In death, he finds transcendence - the Boy dies, and the Man is born... one must, it is clear, first become the Boy-Hero; then the Boy must within his hour of triumph die. Only then can he rise again, as Osiris, and become the Man. LVX is fulfilled in his death; what Thelema adds is several methods of this achievement, and the demand then to move beyond to NOX. The high aspirations of the Aeon of Osiris are still too much for many - but the door is open, and the door beyond that, across the Desert, is at last conceivable, even if it is not yet crossed. LVX, the NOX. Become the Hero, then kill him.

The four archetypes categorically do enrich each other,  and are not mutually exclusive. The Perfect King is also the Perfect Magician, Warrior and Lover - the apex of the Pyramid. To some extent, this describes the state of the Exempt Adept

The process of masculinity was once institutional and collective, [but] humanity now exists - at least in the West - in a much more individual state. C.f. Aeonic theory - our salvation is no longer in the hands of a God or Church, but is our own path to tread.

The Good King is as selfless as the Divine Child is self-involved. He is the Primal Man, Adam Qadmon, Imago Dei. Note that Kingship is an office that supercedes and is archetypal greater than any who fill it - cf. the Beast and Scarlet Lady; also the Pope-as-Hierophant, etc. Note also the ritual tradition of the death of a king - often sacrificial - being followed by the rise of a new vessel to take on his archetypal power - c.f. the Osirian Formula.

The King brings order - Dhama, Ma'at, etc - to the macrocosmic world, but only in so much as he can exemplify that order within... else he becomes as the Fisher King, and his wounds do wound the land with him (c.f. also the blight of Thebes that resulted from Oedipus' impiety)

"Those who would cut off masculine aggressiveness at its root, in their zeal, themselves fall under the power of [the Warrior]"... if turned against aggression, [it] becomes unconsciously repressed and manifests in other ways. Consider it as the psychological correlate to "New Labour Syndrome" - attempts to enforce peace becoming more destructive than war.

One might here draw inference from Alice Miller's ideas of poisonous pedagogy - the codified, harmful patterns of child-raising that use coercion, manipulation, and outright violence of one form or another to "tame" the child, forcing them into a conforming social role, and, on a psychological level, as a rationalisation of parental patterns of sadism, which is sanitised and euphamised as it passes from generation to generation - the "it never did me any harm" approach. These same patterns can be seen in other "pseudoparental" hierarchies - military conscription, medical training, or the institutional abuses of the Catholic Church, for example. 

[In his properly integrated form] the Warrior has his own Dharma... The primary force here is one that drives forward, not merely holding ground - it is the energy to face life head on. This is produced by the proper application of "aggression" (force, perhaps?), which is to say, in a mindful and discerning manner. The Warrior knows what he wants, and knows how to get it; intent and action are in perfect alignment. Herein lies the difference between Hero and Warrior - the Hero, not knowing his limitations, cannot adapt. He must throw himself at the foe again and again. He becomes the Warrior when he recognises the need to attack the flanks of life, when he acknowledges his weaknesses and limitations, and changes his strategy.

The Warrior is something of a state of emotional disconnection. "I am afraid" becomes "there is a person who is afraid"... Alone, the Warrior is a destroyer; admixed [with the Lover and other archetypes], he emerges the warrior-poet, who is balanced between detachment and attachment, approaching the Apex... The Adept at {sol} is capable of balancing the archetypal forces; it is only when he becomes a Magister, and has reconciled the archetypes not only with each other, but with their ultimate negation - which is the negation of the psyche in totality that we refer to as the Abyss - that he reaches the true Apex of the Pyramid.

An interlude: some reflections on the Abyss
I wander in the desert, in the land-that-has-no-maps, of some petty abyss. That I know not the way matters not; I must press on and advance. Step by step, inch by inch, yard by yard. Ever closer toward something. The only incorrect move here is to lie down and die, to stop and let the sand of the desert consume me. Or, else, to build here the fortress of my delusion and join the the Black Brotherhood who dwell here. Can you not see their basalt towers, empty and ruined, devoid of all life, that they think to be their kingdoms? They have drunk Hypnos' brew, and refuse to awaken; sealed themselves within the bubbles of the cosmic foam, never to rejoin the Source of All, never to pass through. Beware. 

And returning to the gloss of KWML
The Magician is, ultimately, the creator of civilisation... the ambiguous, chaotic but civilising force of the Trickster. He thus has the power to bring down the mighty King when his pride turns to hubris; he is Nathan to David, Merlin to Arthur... the mirror of kings, who shows things as the truly are... by correspondence - the Devil is the psychotherapist of God.

At his best, the Magician brings fullness and wholeness from within, and gives it to all beings - the desert shall flower with the water of his life, freely poured into the Cup of Babalon.
Again, the specific meaning of the Cup of Babalon is a rather complex one, and is discussed relatively clearly in Gunther's Initiation
[the Shadow Magician] can be seen in a failure, or refusal to initiate... he witholds the initiatory knowledge for his own self-aggrandisement... The paternalistic doctor, witholding information from a patient; the dubious therapist, promising flawed initiations at great cost; the lawyer and the accountant, manipulating secret symbols and words of power as much as for their own gain as for any others; the advertising executive; the cruel classroom tyrant; the data-slaver. All these are facets of this Shadow.

"This is the man who thinks too much, who stands back from his life and never lives it. He is caught in a web of pros and cons... lost in a labyrinth of reflexive meanings... in the fear of making the wrong decision, he makes none" ... By cutting off from relating with others, one cuts off from one's own soul; by withholding from others, one withholds from oneself. Isolation begets isolation. This is black magic indeed - and probably the closest that [the authors] get to describing the Black Brotherhood, who are very much this manner of Shadow. 
The Black Brotherhood is a term employed in various Thelemic writings to different ends - one might consider them synonymous with "regressive, static forces", rather than as a specific organisation.
The lover is the mystic sensate, capable of perceiving the holographic universe - "the world in a grain of sand"... his sight is, too, the Eye of Shiva, cleansing the Doors of Perception and revealing - and reveling in - the Infinite that is equally singular...

The Lover, in feeling the Joy of the World, must also take responsibility for bearing the Pain of the World... [the Lover] is in some way opposed to all forms of restriction. As Joseph Campbell puts it, he enacts the tension between Amor and Roma, passion and order, Love and Law

The Dionysian nature of the Lover points to clues in its suppression by the Christian Churches. Both the sensual understanding of the material world as union, and the quest for self-made meaning are condemned with ferocity. It is easy to see the Lover's marks in the "greatest heresy" of Epicurus, the ultimate blasphemy against the ascetic's denial of the Lover. Yet, Dionysus is devoured and rises again, from within the conquering culture; the suppression of the Lover only sows the seeds for his return, stronger and more potent. The slaying of Osiris leads, inevitably, to the birth of Horus

[The Shadow Lover as Addict] is also the Idolator - he has fallen in love with the Fatal Image of Nature, forsaking the One for the Many... note the pornographic addict's idolatrous worship of breasts, legs, feet, cunts, etc. rather than the full experience of the Anima... the Addict ultimately seeks release from Maya, but finds himself seeking solutions that are ever outside himself, drawing him further and further into the web... he is the Lotus-Eater, who has tempted the Hero away from his quest.

Patriarchy is Puerarchy, Lord of the Flies written large. We now live in a world where many of the toxic shadows have been sundered - but we are now left with a void, an antisymbol where there are no initiaic structures of any value.

Monday 29 May 2017

A Wizard Reviews: We Are Still Here (2015)

A Wizard Reviews

being the first in a series of sarcastic film reviews

We Are Still Here (2015)

A Guest Post by Fr. Apis Beatus

Hello and welcome to "A Wizard Reviews", a series of guest posts in which various Contributing Authors (over)analyse depictions of the occult in movies. As may be expected, this will undoubtedly contain numerous spoilers, so look away if you particularly care about such things. Content notifications for today's film include (ridiculous) gore, horror, and conducting seances without due care and attention.

We Are Still Here is a fairly predictable bit of horror, starring the ever-present Barbara Cartland Crampton and Andrew Sensible Sensenig as Anne and Paul, a couple mourning the death of their son, who have moved to a new home in Buttfuck Nowhere, New England. Predictably, the house turns out to be haunted as all fuck.

Thanks to a shared prop - a bottle of "B&J" brand alcohol -
it's also the same universe as Hobo With a Shotgun.
Note the potential qabbalistic associations with the pillars of
Boaz and Jachim, as well as the more puerile use of the letters...
Something which is easily missed in a casual viewing is that the film technically takes place within the Cthulhu Mythos universe, thanks to a reference to the Miskatonic River; there's not much in the film that is blatantly mythos-y, but the implied metaphysic certainly isn't entirely incompatible. Neither is the "horrible small town New England" vibe which suffuses the film in its entirety.

It's worth pointing out here that a lot of the film's backstory is only really revealed in fragments, much of which is in the news articles that can be seen behind the end credits. The backstory timeline runs as follows:
  • September 27th 1859 - construction begins on the Dagmar's funeral parlour. Unexplained earthquake follows the ground-breaking.
  • November 1859 - reports of animal mutilations and crop failures. Locals believe the area to be cursed by God.
  • December 27th 1859 - At 01:22 am, the funeral parlour burns to the ground, leaving but a shell. The Dagmar family vanish, and are presumed dead. It is implied that the building was torched by an angry mob.
  • 1889 - Presumably the house has been rebuilt, when the pestilence returns, and the house claims its second set of victims, with the wraiths of the Dagmar family carrying out the killings out of rage.
  • July 8th 1919 - Second cycle, marked by a severe drought, ends with another set of sacrifices.
  • 1949 - Community plagued by mysterious illnesses, Communists suspected.
  • October 12th 1949 - following an earthquake, the nearby Miskatonic and Aylesbury rivers run black with some "unidentified viscous black liquid". The town is quarantined shortly after
  • October 28th 1949 - A family (mother, father, two children) "go missing" during the quarantine. The rivers run clear shortly after.
  • Winter 1979 - Anne and Paul purchase the Dagmar House.

Having arrived in Buttfuck Nowhere in the middle of winter, we are treated to some establishing shots of the house and its obligatory creepy murder cellar. Instantly violating Rule One of Surviving in the Mythos (Don't Go in the Fucking Cellar), Anne goes exploring and finds that it's a bit creepy down there. Like, proper Shadow People creepy - I swear, Lights Out (CN: jump scares) has a lot to answer for.

After a couple of rather ambiguous omens, Anne comes to the conclusion that she can sense the spirit of her son, Bobby, in the house. Paul, as the narrative demands, remains skeptical, despite some escalating weirdness. Things come to a head shortly after, when locals Cat and Dave turn up to greet their new neighbors, and reveal that, inevitably, the house has "a bit of a history". The house was built by the Dagmar family in 1859, and was originally a funeral parlour; however within a few months it was found that the Dagmars were selling the cadavers of their customers to a local university, and they were promptly driven out of town, Dagmar going on to drink himself to death out of shame.

Cat then goes on to attempt to warn the family of the fate that awaits them. I say "attempt"...

"The House Needs a Family. GET OUT!"
"Nah, probably not important"
Just a small favour, dear reader, but if you ever find yourself in a horror movie, and wish to warn the unsuspecting victims of the terrible fate that is about to befall them, perhaps consider being a bit more specific. More "A Sincere Warning About the Entity in Your Home", less "A Vague Insinuation That This Bed House Eats People", please.

In any case, Paul dismisses this as being meaningless nonsense, and doesn't bother mentioning it. Thanks Paul. Thaul. Shortly after, an electrician arrives to repair the presumed problem with the murder-cellar's boiler, and in, inevitably, attacked by shadowy forces. Despite being the only black character in the movie, he survives with only a mild-to-moderate mauling.

Hilariously, Ron Jeremy (right) played Jesus in Bloody Bloody Bible Camp (CN: gore, sexual content, blasphemy), which allows us to
make the requisite off-hand joke at the expense of the OTO per article.
Anne invites her good friends May and Ron Jeremy Jacob, a couple of hippy spiritualists, who also decide to invite their son and his girlfriend to join them at the house. When they arrive, May and Jacob accompany Anne and Paul into the nearby town of Aylesbury, where they find the "Buffalo Bill Lounge", a bar that might as well be named the "We Don't Like Your Kind 'Round 'Ere Bar & Grill". For what is perhaps the first and last time in any similar movie, the psychic - May - has something approaching a hint of common sense, and points out that the entire situation is a Bit Fucking Weird.

Meanwhile, Pete-Doherty-on-a-Bad-Heroin-Day-lookalike Harry and his girlfriend Daniella arrive at the house. Showing precisely zero genre awareness, they proceed to drink and make out on the sofa, before being interrupted by a strange noise. Harry traces this to the Creepy Murder Cellar, which he declares to be "niiiiiice", further conforming his inevitable doom. Which occurs approximately five seconds later, courtesy of demons. Daniella has the self-preservation instincts to flee, but gets eviscerated as she drives away. Which is a shame, as she has been more or less the only genuinely likable character so far.

That night the four return to the house, and May and Paul have a selection of horrible nightmares. Meanwhile, Dave turns up to Buffalo Bill's, shooting the waitress who answers the door for no adequately explained reason, before expositioning at the manager about how the residents of the Dagmar House need to be sacrificed to the (unnamed) entity below the house, or else the town gets cursed. So, standard Lovecraft cult stuff, really.

The next day May and Anne go back into town and end up confronting Dave, May having intuited that the story about the Dagmars being run out of town was bullshit, and that they had actually been murdered by the townsfolk. Meanwhile, Jacob and Paul conduct the world's most ill-advised seance. If you want to watch the idiocy yourself, it begins around the 57:50 mark. I'll deconstruct the ritual here in any case.

Jacob leads the ritual, with Paul seeming to be there as a passive observer. It's possible that he's intended to be an amanuensis and record whatever utterances Jacob channels whilst acting as a medium; in any case, Jacob doesn't bother explaining. Jacob lights four white votive candles which are placed in a rectangle on the coffee table, which the pair sit on opposite sides of. He has a book, possibly a Bible, which he opens to a specific page - but never actually reads from. Perhaps he just likes having it around. There seems to be a vague suggestion that Jacob doesn't really know what he's doing; he admits to Paul that he only wants to do the seance right then because May would absolutely refuse to do it if she was around kind of confirms this.

Neophytes and apprentices of all stripes be warned - when the seasoned psychic takes one look at the emotional resonance of a place and immediately impersonates the Nope Badger, you probably shouldn't poke it.

With nary a cleansing ritual, circle, or any form of protection or preparation whatsoever (aside from telling Paul to "close your eyes and try to believe"), Jacob begins the ritual:
"We're addressing any spirits here. This house belongs to the living. Their names are Paul and Anne, and they have a connection to your world. Their son Bobby is with you, and if it's Bobby's spirit that we have felt, please give us a sign"
Half-arsed doesn't even begin to cover it, really. If sending this kind of informal open invitations to any passing spook is his normal modus operandi, it's probably a testament to his wife's skill that Jacob hasn't been reduced to a small mound of dribbling idiocy yet. In any case, after a few seconds there are some Noises Off, which he takes to be a Sign.
"This house welcomes his spirit and asks him to to join us, with love and compassion we will help him to cross to the next realm... and... peel the skin... off his bones..."

"... well, that escalated quickly."
Baffled at Paul's confusion, Jacob begins to explain that it's a "welcoming":
"It's a sacred blessing that we hold dear, so we ask Bobby... to rot... like wasted meat..." 
Do you want possessions? 'Cause this is how you get possessions.

Jacob eventually realises that he done fucked up, and asks Paul to tie him up, which he obligingly does. May and Anne then return, to find the men indulging in a spot of demonic BDSM, Paul having also decided to stuff a sock in Jacob's mouth. Which Jacob then eats. As you do.

It's at this point that things really go to shit.

Inhabited by Dagmar, Jacob taunts May with the news that their son is dead. The phone rings and Paul and Anne rush out to answer it - it's Cat, attempting to warn them to flee. A quick cut to Cat shows us that she has been stabbed, presumably by Dave McMurderer. Cutting back, we see May attempting the tried and tested "hit 'em with a frying pan" method of exorcism on Jacob, to little effect. Dagmar!Jacob eventually breaks free, plot dumping about how his family were murdered by the townsfolk as a sacrifice to "the gods that they dug up when they built this place", and that he has been getting revenge by... murdering random people... okay, sure. Ghost priorities, I guess? He then stabs himself through the eye with an iron poker, because FUCK YOU BUDDY.

The three survivors decide to get the hell out of there, and rush for the door, only for May to open it straight into Dave's shotgun. This ends about as well for her as might be guessed, and Anne and Paul make a run for the stairs as the townsfolk besiege the house with murder in mind. Why Dave is the only one carrying a firearm, when everybody and their cousin in New England has a gun, is beyond me, but there we are.

There's then a protracted and gory fight scene with the locals being horribly massacred by the ghosts, in which several gallons of fake blood are liberally sprayed all over the set. It's probably a contractual obligation for Barbara Taylor Bradford Crampton or something. Eventually, Anne and Paul end up in a stand-off with Dave, who seems to have at least temporarily talked the ghosts around. However, before he can finish the pair off, Dagmar decides he's had enough of his shit. resulting in a Scanners-worthy headsplosion.

Aaand then... the ghosts. Just. Leave. With a final, confusingly ambiguous plot twist that I'll leave a mystery.

"So long, and thanks for all the death"

So - overall, this is a fairly decent movie. Low-key Lovecraft, relatively coherent, and with a good moral. Namely, if you don't know what it is, don't fucking summon it.

Sunday 30 April 2017

Of Names and Identity

A theme which runs through numerous lines of fiction, folklore and magical tradition is the power of names. Consider the tale of Rumpelstiltskin, running perhaps in parallel to any number of grimoires that would instruct would-be sorcerers to seek out the true names of any demon that they would bargain with; consider the importance in Judaism and Islam (both exoteric and esoteric) of the names of God; and consider, perhaps, the "legalese sorcery" of the Legal Name Fraud movement. Names have power; names define, and thus shape reality.

To quote an excellent article by Sjaak van der Geest;
Without names there is nothing. If the mountain has no name, I did not climb it. I have not seen the painting without a name, not read the book without a title. Only the gymnastic skills with a name can be performed: cartwheel, straddle jump, cross split, Suzuki.
All names applied to humans (and, arguably, all names whatsoever) are in a sense adjectival. Many are literally so in an etymological sense - Adam (by one reading, "red") and Eve ("living"), for example. Others may not necessarily be derived from adjectives, but are nonetheless descriptive - consider Douglas ("dark water"), Theodore ("Gift of God"), or Johannes ("YHVH has been gracious").

To name a being is therefore to assign certain attributes to it; one might consider this an inherently magickal act, imparting a layer of meaning upon a subtle, linguistic plane. It is worth noting that to name a thing is a speech act - that is to say, that by saying "I declare my name to be...", the action is performed. The linguistic action, in other words, redefines reality.

To take on a new name is thus also an act of magick. In European societies this tend to be associated with the adoption of a certain social role or position that has certain obligations that come with it - a monarch takes a new name along with the oaths of accession; a member of a religious community may take a new name to symbolise their passage into a new form of spiritual life; a writer may adopt a pen name that reflects the nature of their work, and so on.

Consider also the traditionally expected role and vows of a wife, symbolised by the taking of her husband's name, whilst traditionally he changes not his name, for traditional matrimony does not require any change to his essential nature. As a counterpoint, note the symbolism inherent in more modern and egalitarian practices of both parties retaining their family names, and thus declaring their essential natures unaltered, versus choosing to amalgamate names or create a new family name from whole cloth, the inference being that the partnership alchemically alters both parties toward a certain result.

Likewise, the adoption of a new name during gender transition can be seen as a magickal act, avowing the reality of the change. By this logic, one might consider "dead naming" to be an act of spiritual aggression - an attempt on a linguistic level to override the will of the one who would redefine themselves.

One might consider names as masks for the ego, personas that we put on and take off in certain situations - consider how a Dr. John Smith might be Dr. Smith to his patients, John to his coworkers, Jack to his friends, and Johnny to his mother, each differing name reflecting a differing set of relational parameters and putting a specific part of his psyche to the forefront. A similar example of this effect could be found in the selection and use of pseudonyms on the internet; blogging under the name of "antichthonian" could serve me two purposes - as a mask it both places a discretionary wall between different parts of my identity, and serves to highlight the general nature of that which I am writing. Exactly what I am trying to portray with this username is left as an exercise for the reader.
To state the esoteric point here more explicitly - adopting a name is a form of invocation.

And, as a final thought, consider this: it is no small matter that, in the A.'.A.'. system of mysticism, the proper name of the Master of the Temple who has crossed the Abyss and cast off all but the truest sparks of their existence, is Nemo. No-One.

Tuesday 11 April 2017

Overly Honest Book Reviews: Sepher Sathanas

O:.:H:.:O:.: Reviews
"Sepher Sathanas"
by the Voltigeurs of the Other Side

Deathwave Nexion, 2017

A guest post by Fr. Antoninus Minor

There seems to be an unwritten law that texts by self-described Left Hand Path occultists, at least those in the West, must at some point descend into the literary Abyss of incomprehensibility, all full of transmundanities and suprasubjectivities, and other such painful portmanteaus and nonsensical neologisms. In this regard, Sepher Sathanas escapes relatively unscathed, for all its talk of "preëval entities of formless non-being", being in the most part a reasonably accessible - by the standards of the genre - text on Traditional Satanism.

Presented as the praxis of the Temple of Night, the book mixes some rather lurid fiction and poetry with essays on Qlippothic magick that owe a lot to the Order of Nine Angles. As with the O9A, figuring out which parts are blinds to weed out the uninitiated, and which parts are genuine insights into the deeper esotericism of the LHP is not a simple task - though at least we are saved Myatt's interminable rantings about the Judaeo-Christian "corruption" of Aryan paganism. Which is not to say that the dubious racial overtones are absent, more that they take a back seat to other concerns (threats to murder those who accuse them of being Neo-Nazis notwithstanding).

Ah, and there it is, the explicit mention of human sacrifice and magickal assassination as a vital part of the sinister working that makes the O9A such an target for the aspiring occult polemicist and/or writer of Lovecraftian fiction. Say what you will about their practices, they do at least commit to the Aesthetic of Eeeevil more than your typical "Softcore Satanists".

The book opens with two pieces of short fiction, "Upon the Eve and Hour of the Plutonian King", and "Hermethterith: A River of Blood". The first depicts the magickal assassination of a "mundane" politician through the power of the Dark Gods, and is the usual blood-and-ichor-splattered horrorshow that wouldn't seem out of place in a DVD bargain bin. The second is by far more interesting, describing an initiatory ordeal of the Temple of Night.

This section gives an interesting insight into the praxis of the Temple of Night which immediately distinguishes them from orthodox O9A, as the magick is explicitly qlippothic, and hence anti-qabalistic, whereas the O9A tend towards expunging all Abrahamic content from their practices. Indeed, the direct quotation from Crowley's Vision and the Voice (specifically around the 10th Aethyr and Choronzon) shows a fairly clear split here - whilst the ethos of the work described within is quite radically different to that of Thelema, it's somewhat refreshing to see an author showing their working, rather than regurgitating half-baked Typhonianism with the serial numbers filed off, and claiming it as their own.

Next comes another piece of fiction, presented mostly as a dialogue between an aspirant and an initiate, in which the basis of the book's philosophy is outlined, along with the internal magickal goal of transcending mundane causality, entering a state of formless subjective potential, the chaotic Void. The external goal is here also stated - "disruptions, chaos, and the bedlam that precedes the manner in which change can occur" - which is admitted to be "corrosive to most individuals", who will see it as "horrific, terrible, oppressive, and perhaps altogether evil". This is then followed by the "Codex Nigrum", eleven poetic elaborations of the qlippoth, which go some way to making the matter a little clearer; and a further essay on self which states the nature of the work about as plainly as it can be: "evolution can only exist in states of duality".

Following this explication of the philosophy of the Temple, and interspersed with a brief polemic against V.K. Jehannum (which, one assumes, has somehow become a contractual obligation of sorts among certain LHP publishers), come several rather more technical chapters. The first outlines a thesis on the Phoenician origin of the Qabalah; then comes a section on the methods of entering a "state of absolute concentration on the Abyss", roughly comparable to ideas of inhibitory gnosis, which will be familiar to anyone with a reasonable understanding of meditative techniques. So far, nothing to write home about.

But then comes a rather fascinating observation, emerging from a slightly puzzling reference to Stalin and Marxist dialectical materialism:

"Individual operations are absolutely erroneous, for if you think you are 'commanding' something, you are wrong. We are all working towards and [sic] natural and necessary evolution: ourselves and the dark forces, who through meditation are revealed as having the very same source: the Noumenon."
One might easily consider this assertion to be a "dark mirror" to various right-hand-path themes of working in concert with God, the Holy Guardian Angel, or Reality in general. By this system, it is less that one is doing one's own Will, but the Anti-Will of Unreality.

A few more general methodological tips are given, with the usual expectation of basing one's practices on one's own experience rather than dogmatically sticking to some codified set of rituals. The chaote practice of "paradigm piracy" crops up, with the authors acknowledging and recommending the adoption of certain elements of other systems for temporary use on a pragmatic basis.

More meaty stuff is served up in the next chapter, which deals with the eleven-stage system of initiatory levels. As with many similar LHP groups, one begins at Nehemoth, the qlippoth corresponding to Malkuth, and moves along the lightning-flash pathway to Thaumiel, before finally jumping into the abyssal void. Various required workings are given for the individual grades, following the usual schema of "variations on a theme of pathworking", "occult pyramid schemes", "writing that shit down" and "uncomfortable ordeals". The (5)=[6] equivalent refer explicitly to the O9A concept of the Stargame, the only occult board game more inexplicable than Enochian Chess; other concepts are generally in keeping with anti-qabalistic themes.

And, of course, it wouldn't be an O9A-inspired system without a spot of magickal assassination. Six, to be precise, plus those accrued by one's own initiates. A back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that for a person to reach (7)=[4] requires at least fifteen murders; one wonders how one is supposed to have time for anything else, or how much the Temple must spend on lawyers. It is probably for the best that most prosecutors would struggle to proceed on a charge of "murder via acausal demonic entity", but I digress.

The most interesting concepts from this chapter are those of "insight roles", which are again adapted from the O9A, but deserve some exploration. These are split into "alchemical" and "aeonic" insight roles, and in general involve a subsuming of one's self into some social role or subculture for a period of time. The preliminary, alchemical insight role, involves an immersive involution of one's normal means of approaching the world, a concept that has cropped up in numerous occult traditions since at least Crowley (implicitly in Liber Jugorum, and rather more explicitly in Thien Tao). An example given, which is also rather typical of the satanic-revolutionary positioning of the Temple as a whole, is of a conservative person joining a socialist or communist group for a period of time.

The second, Aeonic insight roles, are a longer-term venture which cover the majority of the aspirant's future workings. Again, this is pure O9A in conception, though thankfully with somewhat less of the swivel-eyed antisemitism.

After some more Legends-of-the-Overfiend-esque magickal murderfic, most notable for the wonderful phrase "the Martian valor flowed through her Fleshgate", and a spot of rather turgid science fiction, comes a brief description of "Traditional Satanism", seemingly aimed at anyone who hasn't been paying attention and thinks that this has anything to do with Anton LaVey.  Thereafter follows another piece of short fiction on psychic vampirism, which one might as well subtitle "I've seen enough hentai to know where this is going". The book then closes with some elementary instructions in using planetary hours, some slightly difficult-to-read tables of correspondence clearly printed from Excel screenshots, and two extremely blurry diagrams of the Tree of Daath that made me briefly worry that my mother was right about the OTO making you go blind.

In summary, (6)=[4]/(10)=[1]. Hardly groundbreaking, but certainly more lucid than Kenneth Grant's Mauve Period. As with all such texts, it should probably come with a "Danger: Memetic Hazard!" sticker, or at least a disclaimer that all acts of magick displayed within are performed by trained professionals on a closed reality-tunnel, and that one should probably not try this at home.

The book can be found for purchase on Amazon here.

[Editor's note - Fr. AM has not been assassinated by the O9A at the time of publishing, likely due to his decision to declare himself magickally and legally dead for tax purposes]

Sunday 19 February 2017

Love, Law and Will: Thelema for the Confused

In the category of "wildly misinterpreted aphorisms", there are a few sources who could be considered masters of the craft ambiguous. Wittgenstein, Nietzsche, Hassan i-Sabbah; the list goes on. But today, I would like to discuss Aleister Crowley's most-quoted maxim:

"Do as Thou Wilt shall be all of the Law... Love is the Law, Love under Will"

These words, taken as the foundational principle of the religion/ethical system/weird sex cult of Thelema, are taken from Crowley's Liber AL vel Legis, better known as "The Book of the Law". Supposedly dictated to him over the course of the days in April 1904 by a discarnate being of uncertain nature named Aiwass, this provides the underpinnings of Crowley's entire system of thought.

This phrase is often misinterpreted by detractors as meaning "do whatever you want", which is ironically just about the polar opposite of its generally-accepted meaning. To quote Crowley, in a rare moment of (relatively) plain speaking: "It
is the apotheosis of Freedom; but it is also the strictest possible bond."

There is a certain extent to which a definitive answer to the meaning of this aphorism is going to be impossible. Thelema is a religion of contradictions and paradoxes, in which there are frequently no right answers - the position that it requires one to take is that of the mystic, accepting that the most profound truths are impossible to articulate. To misuse Lao Tze and Wittgenstein: "the Tao that can be spoken of is not the true Tao"; "On that of which we cannot speak, we must remain silent".

There's also the matter that, within Thelema, there has historically been something of a taboo around discussing interpretations of the Book of the Law; indeed, the "Tunis Comment" can be read as an injunction against any attempt to analyse it. This being said, I tend to interpret the Tunis Comment as being more of a warning not to force one's own interpretation onto others in a dogmatic fashion - everyone should, ultimately, be free to read the text and come to their own conclusions. These, therefore, are my current thoughts on the matter - they are not authoritative, and will likely change and evolve as my philosophical paradigm does.

So, what is the Law? It is, at once, an ethical guide and a metaphysical statement. In the former aspect, it is positioned as being the sole authority by which any action may be judged; actions are neither a priori moral or immoral based on their intent or consequences, but are ethically contingent on the Will of the actor.

As a metaphysical statement, the Law is harder to define. Whether it is a fundamental of absolute reality, or merely an abstraction of that is in practice of little consequence, though it is worth noting that Thelema essentially advocates a form of "Qabalistic Realism" in this matter.

The Thelemic concept of Will must be understood not in the sense of "what one wishes to do", but as something far more fundamental. Often the phrase "True Will" is used to attempt to elucidate this fact, though attempts to explain exactly what this means frequently get lost in a mire of confusion.

It is not a simple case of there being a binary between doing one's Will and not; indeed, the idea that Will can be boiled down to a single action or drive is deeply flawed. Rather, it is perhaps better to think of Will as being an expansive term, which indicates a kind of authenticity to one's self. It is not, however, simply a matter of the ego, unrestrained by the chains of morality and the animal desires of the id - though this is undoubtedly part of it.

In some cases, True Will is compared to the Divine Will, and - without getting too far down the rabbit hole of the Thelemic attitude towards gods and divinity in general - this has a great deal going for it. One might consider all individuals as having a certain unique place in the great tapestry of the cosmos, a certain role in which they will naturally fall towards, and ultimately excel within. The achievement of such a state of harmony with the universe can be considered the ultimate manifestation of True Will, and of the Authentic Self.

It should perhaps be obvious that the majority of people do not have an intuitive grasp of their True Will. Even those who do are unlikely to be able to express it in words - for it is a fundamental orientation towards the universe that stretches deeper than the conscious mind. To understand this is a core part of the "Great Work" of Thelema, and is the basis of much of the ritual and mysticism associated with it.

In the context of Thelema, "Love" specifically refers to the Greek word "agape"; numerologically this word is equivalent to the number 93, which is also the value of "Thelema", meaning "will". As per the Greek, this can be interpreted as a "universal" form of love; in its Christian usage it generally describes the love of God for His creation. This places it as a self-sacrificing, selfless love that transcends the human condition. In another way, it can be compared to the concept of "chesed" in Judaism - a form of compassionate "loving-kindness".

More specifically Thelemic is the second meaning of "Love" in this context, which shares the transcendental basis of the former; it can be thought of as the uniting of the particular with the universal, the microcosm with the macrocosm. In general it is the union and subsequent synthesis of opposites that is indicated here, rather than any sentimental concept.

Putting it all Together:
Will = manifest destiny, purpose
Law = ethical source, metaphysical law
Love = transcendant love, union

The only ethical source is the striving for one's manifest destiny; in all things this is to be taken with an ultimately selfless stance, but this selflessness being subservient to the aforementioned will.

The most fundamental metaphysical truth is that all things have their purpose; otherwise and aside from this fundamental purpose, things tend to union.

Thursday 16 February 2017

Skippy's Larp

This being a list of things that the author has been banned from doing when writing or running larps.
  1. May not entirely fill a room with giant inflatable eyeballs
  2. May not nail PCs in coffins and conduct mock burials
  3. May not include anything that involves the phrases "bathtub literally full of fake blood" and "near-naked crew member with a snorkle"
  4. May not require players to throw darts at a board as a central character generation mechanic.
  5. Not to make PCs literally sign contacts in their own actual blood
  6. Not to call TIME OUT, then have plot continuing to roll out for a further ten minutes.
  7. May not include roleplay effects of "you believe that you are turning into a giant bee"
  8. "COVERED IN BEES" is not to be a valid system call
  9. May not write plot purely as an excuse to reference Wolf Drop
  10. Not to approve the "Redneck Toreador" bloodline
  11. "Stamford Prison Experiment: The LARP" is not to be run
  12. Not to write NPCs purely to make bad psychoanalysis jokes
  13. No sneaky references to Oglaf
  14. It is unreasonable to have a crew member hide in a cupboard for an entire event, dressed as a skeleton, just on the off chance that the players open it.
  15. May not require PCs to literally burn their actual clothes.
  16. May not institute thinly disguised system of ref bribes for bonus XP
  17. May not run a mega-game that is literally a pyramid scheme.
  18. May not include a "reading your bullshit novella of a background" surcharge in booking.
  19. Pay2Win is not a good model for LARP.
  20. May not name system "Interminable Arguments"
  21. Or "Historically Accurate LARP Productions"
  22. May not ban hard-skill social skills.
  23. The existence of the "MAN DOWN" call to indicate OOC injuries does not require there to also be a "MAN UP" call to indicate those injuries are considered trivial enough to continue play.
  24. Not to deliberately schedule events to clash with those run by people I don't like
  25. May not name a deity "He-who-is-Longer-than-He-is-Wide"
  26. Book-mutilation is not to be a central mechanic of any system
  27. May not base game mechanics around Pacman.
  28. May not chase players with a remote control tarantula
  29. May not advocate tobacco smoke enemas as an IC healing method, no matter how historically accurate it may be
  30. "Murder Circus LRP" is not to be run.