Friday, May 29, 2020

NEW MUSIC: Jump With Johnny

And if you don't know what it's all about
Come to me and I'll show you how
We'll do it fast, we'll do it slow
Then you'll know the walk everywhere you go.
- Jimmy McCracklin, The Walk

I'm proud to announce an exciting new release by Johnny Boyd backed up by his Genuine Gentlemen Band,  Jump With Johnny, a six song EP  guaranteed to get your toes a-tapping and your body shakin' with a fresh breath of old rock 'n roll.  A autographed  cd copy and a couple of track previews is available HERE.  Can't wait?  You can get an mp3 download NOW.  Co-produced and mixed with great aplomb and love by Yours Truly.

The musicians:

Johnny Boyd - lead vocals
Ji Tanzer - drums and percussion, background vocals, production assistance
Allen Hunter - upright bass
Mike Elson - piano, backing vocals
A.G. Donatella - electric guitar, backing vocals
Willie Matheis - tenor saxophone
Rusty Blake - pedal steel guitar
Roberto Medina - congas
Keith Brush - backing vocals
Patti King - backing vocals

Production credits:

Produced by Oz Fritz and Johnny Boyd
Executive Producer: Angela Strand
Recorded by Larry Crane at Jackpot Recording Studio, Portland, OR
Mixed by Oz Fritz at Ancient Wave Studios, Nevada City, CA
Mastered by Jett Galindo at The Bakery, Los Angeles, CA
Album photography by Nina Johnson
Album design by Craig Ferroggiaro at Willamette Valley Color, Portland, OR

This project warmed the cockles of my heart from inception to completion and timely release now, in the worst planetary crisis of most of our lives when the collective mood of the world could use a little quantum jumping to a different outlook.  

The songs:

1. The Walk - classic boogie shuffle with old-school saxophone riffs and solo supporting Johnny's James Dean-like swaggering cool invitation to dance.

2. You're So Square (Baby, I Don't Care) - a rockabilly romantic ode of devotion

3. Bad Bad Whiskey - the blackest of blues; Johnny captures the existential despair of a ruined life but with an air of defiance as if to say: "I made it through the night and I'm hear to sing my song." Brilliant anguished guitar embellishments and solo. 

4. So Many Pretty Women -  a straight, fast-paced, old rock n roller about the temptations for a star devoted to his muse, his one love, and heading on home. Smokin' piano and guitar solos underline the urgency.

5. Get Back - rock n roll slightly slower and funkier with a greasy saxophone hook; more romantic adventures and misadventures on the other side of town.

6. Some Things Never Change - a gut wrenching, tear jerker 50's style ballad; the emotion in Johnny's voice will rip your heart out.  True love changes its forms of expression but always speaks with the same voice.

From the label:  NEW RELEASE! Johnny rekindles his long-time love affair with 50’s rock ’n roll with this rollicking new throwback EP! Includes six driving tracks, two original songs (penned by Johnny himself) and the ever-stellar Genuine Gentlemen Band. LET’S JUMP!!

From Johnny:  My music has always been optimistic and hopeful and Jump With Johnny is no exception. I was planning to release this collection later this year, but I realized that many of the people I care about could really use some lifting NOW more than ever, so I’m pleased to report that TODAY will be the day for lifting :)

I hope you can pick it up, spin it vigorously and remember that you are not alone. I believe that things WILL get better! Dance! 

 I plan to play some live shows to support the release after the fog clears, but for now, we will stay connected through the magic of recorded music. Until then, thank you for your love and support. I hope you like the new music. I miss you all very much. 



To find out more about Johnny Boyd, visit his website.

* * * * * * 

"The idea is to do pre-Elvis rock 'n roll capturing the sound and spirit of that time while giving it a contemporary presentation.  This is an artistic project, we're going for art, I'm don't care if it's commercial."  I'm paraphrasing the initial concept Johnny told me for this project.  I immediately saw the possibilities for a fun and completely different, non-standard creative recording endeavor.

Apart from being a high calibre solo artist, songwriter, and bandleader, Johnny is an amazing interpreter of songs, breathing new life into the clay of tunes gone by.  He is a real singer, a singer like Frank or Tony.  There are very few real singers in the genres of pop/rock/country/blues.  For male singers we find Freddie Mercury, Meat Loaf, and Johnny Boyd.  Only one of these has incredible new music to hear right now!

To get the sound of how they recorded rock 'n roll back in the mid 1950s I called up my friend Jimmi Accardi, another talented musician, songwriter, engineer and producer, who knows more about the history of rock 'n roll than anyone I know.  He broadcast a two hour show on KVMR, the local radio station called Rock n Roll Party every Monday afternoon for over 20 years; I figured he would know how they recorded and I was right.  

Jimmi directed me to the classic New Orleans engineer, Cosimo Matassa who recorded Fats Domino, Little Richard and a host of other early rock 'n roll artists.  He gave me the low down on how Cosimo recorded, 8 tracks maximum, all recorded live in one big room; because of all the inevitable bleed, the musicians have to get the balance with each other acoustically in the room.  No one had headphones and there weren't studio speakers to monitor with, the musicians had to position themselves to hear what they needed to hear.  It was all about performance.

The micing for Jumping With Johnny was done with that aesthetic in mind, keeping it more minimal than usual.  Larry Crane was engineering at his studio Jackpot in Portland and also knew how Cosimo worked.  He set up a single large diaphram mic over the drums and another one in front of the kick not positioned too close.  He also had a great ribbon mic for a mono room sound across from the drums and piano and another stereo room pair further back.  Everyone played in the same room, the uprite bass player was in another booth, but we kept the door open; also the door isolating the guitar amp was open a crack.  Johnny sang a guide and viscerally felt out the arrangements, fine tuning and honing them as they progressed. Everyone had live contact as the music went down, a group performance captured in the moment.

Recording this was a lot of fun.  The core group of musicians and the production team had worked together for over five years, most notably on the sensational album of crooner tunes by Johnny Boyd, Someday Dreams of You.  Most of the musicians comprise Johnny's regular touring band and sax player Willie Matheis has sat in multiple times.

Jackpot Recording in Portland is a power spot for me. By that, I mean it acts a portal for what Idries Shah called the Inner Circle of Humanity. For the music, it means that forces inevitably come through, not only from the synergy of the musicians' performances and technicians' recordings, but from the conjunction and synergy of that group in this particular place, at this specific spot on the Earth.  The entire atmosphere at the point of creation gets recorded along with the audio, they are interconnected, and becomes translated as mood.  For the involved listener, it gets received as spiritual nourishment.

Here is some evidence.  In days of yore, shopkeepers would hang a shingle outside their establishment to indicate the nature of their business. This is a shingle on the building just outside Jackpot's door:

Obviously a Sufi signifier, no explanation needed.

Another power spot for me in Portland is my place of residence in the guest room at Casa Boyd located atop a hill in King's Heights overlooking the city.  The hospitality provided by Angela and Johnny rivals the Sufis, I feel like a King or a Noble Ambassador when staying there.  Four double hung windows provide a panorama view of Portland, the Williamette River, and five distant surrounding mountains.  After retiring, I'll write or read something like Crowley, Deleuze or Pynchon, or listen to music, keeping the blinds open to glance up and watch the flickering electric lights from the city illuminate the night.  The ever-changing traffic in motion, flowing like blood through the arteries of the city, reminds me that every individual in that stream thinks they are the center of the Universe, and they're right!

The view faces south and east so I leave the blinds open all night to greet the morning light.  If I am lucky, I will have observed the sun as it arose across the sky from the horizon to gain ascendency in the new day.  After leaving Mount Olympus to make our way back to Jackpot, we'll have an informal production meeting to plot strategy on the drive down.  For this album, Johnny turned me on to the artist J.D. McPherson who has a similar old school, rock 'n roll aesthetic but with a modern sound.  We discussed what we liked and didn't like about their production.

Then arriving back at Jackpot, it was like going straight from the dojo where you contemplate, pray, eat, rest and rejuvenate to the dojo where you work.  The kind of work, from the occult point of view, represented by this sign in the studio's entrance chamber:

When it came time to mix, I took it to Ancient Wave Studios, another power spot, to take advantage of their Trident TSM vintage desk.  Another album I was referencing for the sound of Jump With Johnny was  Blue and Lonesome by The Rolling Stones which had recently come out.  Unlike all  their albums since Exile On Main Street, this one had a gritty, slightly dirty, live feel.   It sounded like an older record yet with the clarity of modern production.  The sound was compact, more mono than usual, giving them an intimate sound in a small room.  This was the aesthetic I was shooting for.

After Johnny heard the first few mixes he basically thought they were too tame.  Everything was too properly in its place, the vocals were sitting a little too on top for him.  There was a classic conversation which I wished I recorded where he iterated and reiterated the idea that I should go wild and crazy with it.  "I want it to sound like it's coming through a broken piece of equipment on the verge of completely dying and shattering the fabric of time and space."  I found myself both disappointed and elated.  Disappointed, because I really liked the sound of those first mixes, I felt they captured the concept I was going for; elated because no one gives me that license to push it to the limit since I worked with Tom Waits, usually it's the opposite and I end up reeling the craziness in.

To achieve this, I pushed the TSM mixer as far as it could go, I used the summing bus on that as my stereo compressor, and didn't use anything else across the stereo bus.  I also took advantage of the Tridents mic pres to blend in parallel some overdriven stress and light distortion.  Larry recorded JB with the two microphone set-up we have found works so well on this voice consisting of a RCA 77 Ribbon and a large diaphram tube condenser, one providing classic vintage warmth, the other more clarity in the upper mids and highs.  Sonically, they gave me the old and the new to blend as I wished.

You can only go so far with planning and premeditating wildness, so to keep the chaotic x factor I mixed all the songs live.  That is, I relied very little on automation.  After getting the sounds, I might have applied some very basic automated moves in Pro Tools, but I mixed it riding and moving faders on the fly.  Some times it might take me 3 or 4 or 5 or 6 passes to get it.  Sometimes, I would do a pass I liked, keep it, then try for a better one.  I did take advantage of the fact that I could punch in sections of the mix.  If I got halfway through really well, then messed up, I could keep the beginning and go on from there.

Johnny immediately liked this new approach.  I'm very proud and happy with the way the sound came out, it has a unique quality that speaks for itself.  I consider this a legacy project.

Jett Galindo of The Bakery was brought onboard for the final stage of mastering the mixes for release.  Jett had apprenticed under the late, great Doug Sax at The Mastering Lab, one of my all time favorite mastering engineers.  Galindo skillfully added the final polish to the mixes without compromising the integrity of the sound Johnny and I had achieved.  She deftly balanced and placed all the energy, rawness and wildness of this early rock 'n roll musical experiment in the context of a contemporary release.

The timing is perfect to listen to this, dance with this and feel good despite the darkness of the moment.  Jump With Johnny will help things change.  Enjoy!

Thursday, May 7, 2020


The debut album by Maitreya Wolf is now OUT!

Available for preview and download HERE.

The music is shamanic and invocational.  Every recording session had the contemplative focus found in a sacred Temple.  The space was always cleansed and consecrated beforehand clearing the way for the descent of the music. Maitreya reaches deep into her Being to express her Truth through these songs with some assistance from a small circle of close friends.  The music will touch and resonate with anyone on the path of gnothi seauton, Self-discovery.

Hypnotic, ego-dissolving, trance-inducing, primal, delicate, passionate, pastoral, joyful are just a few descriptors that map out the wealth of atmospheric territory found in these sparse, intimate arrangements.  

Alpha and omega, I had the honor and pleasure of engineering this production from beginning to end.  One story gives an example of the sanctuary space found on this album.  I was digging around behind the console in one studio wiring something up when I heard a crash behind me.  I had accidentally knocked over a tall, delicate, wood totem that looked liked it had been hand carved in the South Seas.  It split in half.  I took the two pieces outside to avoid further damage.  A few minutes later as I was still furtively running about getting the session up, I noticed Maitreya doing healing passes over the damaged statue praying for its living spirit.  All the music on Fertile Darkness expresses different forms of that aesthetic, that healing awareness. 

Here is what Maitreya wrote to describe the music:

There is an initiation woven into the fibers of every persons life.  We may or may not recognize it when it comes to shake our world to its foundations, but it always comes.  Life demands of us our greatest beauty, strength, heart and soul, and will stop at nothing to forge us into the greatest possible expression of our souls unique being.  I was drawn into my initiation unexpectedly and with great force and have dedicated my whole being to walking that path well ever since.  These songs are the fruits of that journey.  I have harvested the medicine from my time in the fertile darkness of my own being and I offer it to you now as a gift and a blessing for your journey of Life.

Beauty feeds the soul.  May you be well nourished on your singular odyssey.


Thursday, April 23, 2020

1965 Dylan Lyrics Po Corona Pandemic

Po is a word that precedes and signals a provocation.  A provocation is an idea which moves thinking forward to a new place from where new ideas or solutions may be found.  The term was created by Edward De Bono as part of a lateral thinking technique to suggest forward movement, that is, making a statement and seeing where it leads.  It is an extraction from words such as hypothesis, suppose, possible, and poetry al of which indicate forward movement and contain the syllable "po."  Po can be taken to mean Provoking Operation. - Wikipedia, slightly modified.

The push to open the US economy against the advice of health experts and before adequate testing is in place to determine who is sick and who is not, seems another example of the schizophrenic side of Capitalism.  The probability seems high that another surge in covid 19 illness would further cripple the economy, not to mention kill off consumers.  I prefer this model as an explanation, the schizo proclivity of Capitalism, to the darker one that population control, i.e intentionally allowing people to get killed, motivates the rush to open the economy.

I was inspired by a Facebook game to listen to Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited while driving into town to pick up some Iris cuttings for our garden.  It struck me that some of the lyrics, when isolated, written circa 1965, resonate with current times.  Of course, many of his poetic lyrics sound timeless, but I found fresh significance particular to this time  in some of the imagery.

For instance, from Tombstone Blues - the song's title alone reflects the current atmosphere of death:

The ghost of Belle Starr she hands down her wits
To Jezebel the nun who violently knits
A bald wig for Jack the Ripper who sits
At the head of the Chamber of Commerce.

Belle Starr was a 19th Century American outlaw.  Her name also alludes to a Tarot card image, the woman pouring forth celestial sustenance on the Star card.  Dylan studied the Tarot at some point, probably somewhere between Rimbaud, Kerouac, & Ginsberg, and Jesus Christ and The Talmud.

Jezebel the nun refers to the wife of the Biblical ruler of North Israel instrumental in steering her kingdom away from Judaism.  She wasn't a nun, the first nuns appeared in the middle ages, however nun suggests nihilism.

The third and fourth lines of this stanza indicate Trump and Capitalism.  Trump's overly aggressive, combative inclination to attack anything that challenges, criticizes or opposes him resonates with Jack the Ripper.  Advocating to open the economy at the expense of people's health and lives also recalls Mr. Ripper's aesthetic.  Like Capitalism, Trump displays schizophrenic reactions, he can and does abruptly reverse or change course depending upon his mood and contingencies.  He's not Jack the Ripper all the time, but that character comes through enough to make him appear extremely, existentially dangerous when large amounts of human life sit in the balance.

Then we go to the chorus:

"Mama's in the factory she ain't got no shoes" - Health-care workers in the front line lacking sufficient Personal Protective Equipment.  Hopefully that's changing, yet we hear talk of a possible second wave, more likely sooner rather than later if social distancing lets up too soon, and we could be scrambling for more PPE again.

"Daddy's in the alley, he's looking for food." - More people than ever are lining up at food banks, most for the first time in their life.

" I'm in the kitchen with the tombstone blues." - In esoteric, or occult fashion this line actually signals the redemptive power of the song.

Dylan has received criticism over the years about being excessively cyncical.  In my view, he states and confronts problems, but then always, often mysteriously and cryptically, points to a solution.  Whether this comes from "Bob Dylan" or the Intelligence invoked into the song, I do not know, it seems to always appear, just not as obvious as the problem.

"I" - the source of active redemptive force, the presence of that kind of attention, love under will,
"am in the kitchen," - the place where you make food.  In certain esoteric communities, the kitchen is known as the heart of the community.  In this way, kitchen connects with Belle Starr.
"with the tombstone blues.  The blues inevitably feels redemptive to me, even blues chord progressions and rhythm without lyrics - the SOUND of the blues always lifts me up when it's right.  That's why you sing the blues, to change the mood of the current situation, to reterritorialize tragedy into something that feels better, something that can even feel good.

The other song that caught my attention on the drive was Highway 61 Revisited.  Highway 61 is kind of legendary for what has happened along it:  Bessie Smith was murdered on Highway 61, Elvis Presley lived and died very near there, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated right by it,  Bob Dylan was born close to Highway 61 and grew up near a different part of it.  In the song, it sounds like a place for the con games of Religion and Capitalism that inevitably lead to war.  We find an obvious redemptive stanza to the situation.

"Now the rovin' gambler he was very bored
He was tryin' to create the next world war
He found a promoter who nearly fell off the floor
He said I never engaed in this kind of thing before
But yes I think it could be very easily done
we'll just put some bleachers out in the sun
And have it on Highway 61"

Bleaching, cleaning, out in the sun suggests a solution, but the most obvious occult counterforce to the challenges or tragedy on Highway 61 - which can also be considered as Chapel Perilous or the Bardo, comes in the stanza before:

"Now the fifth daughter on the twelfth night
Told the first father that things weren't right
My complexion she said is much too white
He said come her and step into the light he says hmmm you're right
Let me tell the second mother this has been done
But the second mother was with the seventh son
And they were both out on Highway 61."

The second mother expresses as Babalon (also the second He in Yod He Vau He) in Thelemic terminology, the human manifestation of the archetype of the first mother. 7 = Venus.  This line could represent the ON formula, the combining of male and female energies to produce some kind of love under will.

The are other lines on the album, even whole songs such as Like A Rolling Stone, or maybe ALL of them it seems now that I think of it, that easily fit the context of the moment.  It makes me wonder about music and its ability to jump over time - be just as relevant in multiple, different moments of time.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Bill Laswell AGAINST EMPIRE New Album Release

The future of music arrived yesterday when Against Empire, the new Bill Laswell solo album, got its worldwide release.  I'm only making my second playback journey through it — far from full comprehension, about as far as a native Borneo tribesperson from understanding quantum physics.  This album seems both a postgraduate course in music exploration and a transdimensional travelogue into new, formerly unknown spaces, territories and landscapes carved out of sound.

The track list:

1. Golden Spiral
2. Tabu
3. Shadowline
4. Seven Holy Mountains

The running time is slightly longer than 60 minutes, conventionally speaking.  It can seem both much longer and much shorter, or timeless when external clocks are removed and the full immersion of presence and attention is engaged with the music.  You can ENTER HERE.

Speaking of linear and nonlinear time, it also seems that the end of Seven Holy Mountains connects with the beginning of Golden Spiral.  The former suggests Alejandro Jodorowsky's iconoclastic film, The Holy Mountain known to be an allegory on the art of Alchemical transformation.  Mount Analogue, a Gurdjieff influenced book by Rene Damaul is another Holy Mountain allegory of personal transformation.  For instance:

"One finds here, very rarely in the low lying areas, more frequently as one goes farther up, a clear and extremely hard stone that is spherical and varies in size—a kind of crystal, but a curved crystal, something extraordinary and unknown on the rest of the planet. Among the French of Port-des-Singes, it is called peradam. Ivan Lapse remains puzzled by the formation and root meaning of this word. It may mean, according to him, "harder than diamond," and it is; or "father of the diamond," and they say that the diamond is in fact the product of the degeneration of the peradam by a sort of quartering of the circle or, more precisely, cubing of the sphere. Or again, the word may mean "Adam's stone," having some secret and profound connection to the original nature of man. The clarity of this stone is so great and its index of refraction so close to that of air that, despite the crystal's great density, the unaccustomed eye hardly perceives it. But to anyone who seeks it with sincere desire and true need, it reveals itself by its sudden sparkle, like that of dewdrops. The peradam is the only substance, the only material object whose value is recognized by the guides of Mount Analogue. Therefore, it is the standard of all currency, as gold is for us."

Mount Analogue was one source for Jodorowsky's film.  Seven Holy Mountains sounds like the alchemical journey, climbing the mountain, expressed and translated as music.  One can mine the peradem, the imperishable stone of Self, there.  Feels even more effective when followed by Golden Spiral and another cycle through.  The music and sound design of Against Empire repeats cycles within cycles differently each time.

The idea of connecting the ending to the beginning to create an endless cycle or an M.C. Escher-like effect famously began in contemporary times with Finnegans Wake by James Joyce which ends in the middle of a sentence, yet continues with the beginning of the book.  Other writers have played around with this technique, most notably Vladimir Nabokov and Thomas Pynchon.  Laswell applies it to music extremely effectively.

Due to the timing of its release, I consider Against Empire as another occult response to the current crisis whether intended or not.  Its magical function was demonstrated to me pretty quickly via synchronicity.  After listening to the complete album for the first time yesterday, I picked up my book, Within A Budding Grove by Marcel Proust and saw this:

Convinced that the music to which I had been listening contained the loftiest of truths, I was trying to elevate myself as far as I could, so as to attain a comprehension of them, and was attributing to them, all that was best and most profound in my own nature at that time.

Against Empire sounds amazing!  I'm listening on my new Neumann KH 120 studio monitors which are very transparent, analytical and not at all flattering.  They let you know exactly what is there, a rich palette of multitimbral instrumentation and processing.  Expertly engineered by James Dellatacoma, the sound design by the production team employs extremely tasteful, varied and dynamic use of effects.  They architecturally design music environments that expand the known universe of sound.  The  mood created by the sound at the drum entry of Golden Spiral recalls Fourth World Volume 1: Possible Musics by Brian Eno and Jon Hassel if they had continued in that direction.
Highly recommended for anyone who wants to know what good production sounds like.

The remainder of this post gives a more detailed description of what you're in for should you accept this mission.  I copied and pasted it from the bandcamp page:

Over the course of three decades, visionary bassist/producer Bill Laswell has been one of the most prolific and restlessly creative forces in contemporary music, always a few steps ahead of the curve, EVOLUTION/REVOLUTION.

AGAINST EMPIRE, a new category of magical, electro/acoustic technology. Further research may shed a most revealing light on the development of sound storage in material culture.

AGAINST EMPIRE projects a hybrid activity, constantly evolving texture crashes against smooth, unfolding rhythms built around the solid and elastic drum foundations of four iconic drummers - Jerry Marotta (Peter Gabriel), Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Hideo Yamaki (Japan's top dummer) and Satoyasu Shomura (Japanese pop phenomenon). The legendary saxophoniost Pharoah Sanders, especially known for his radical collaborations with John Coltrane, versatile multi-instrumentalist Peter Apfelbaum, minimal contributions from the great Herbie Hancock on electric piano and the unmistakable touch of master percussionist Adam Rudolph.

AGAINST EMPIRE, an iconoclast offering of multi-directional movements .... avant-jazz, rock, dub, experimental, ambient, sub-bass and on and on .... a dream colonization, a bizarre image of paradise, an imagined quality of elsewhere, constructs of the imagination, essence of difference.

Nothing is True, Everything Is Permitted







Bill Laswell: bass, effects
Pharoah Sanders: saxophone
Peter Apfelbaum: saxophone, flute, keyboards
Herbie Hancock: electric piano
Jerry Marotta: drums
Chad Smith: drums
Hideo Yamaki: drums
Satoyasu Shomura: drums
Adam Rudolph: percussion

Created at Orange Music, West Orange, NJ
Engineering: James Dellatacoma
Mastered by Michael Fossenkemper at TurtleTone Studio, NYC
Photo by Toshiya Suzuki
Artwork by Yoko Yamabe @ Randesign
M.O.D. Reloaded: Dave Brunelle, Yoko Yamabe


Monday, April 6, 2020

An Occult Response to Crisis Part II

This is a response from Erica M Cornelius to the last post.  Erica is a writer and editor among other things.  She helped produce the recent book, Crossing the Abyss, written by her husband Jerry Cornelius. 

Oz 93

I love what Jodorowsky had to say and I love your post.

In confronting death on the horizontal plane right now, we are collectively invited to learn the lesson of Death.  "Death" is the ongoing culmination of the alchemical Quest.  That full engagement of the great Quest is called the reddening (rubedo).

As I see it, that lesson for each one of us is to realize our authentic, individual form as the Holy Grail, as the Form of all form, Prakriti.  Each one of us is already eternal – in our specificity as well as in our universal essence! – if only it is realized.

How do we realize what seems to be our separateness and our vulnerability as the Holy Grail itself?  There's no easy answer, but there is a simple one.  Each one of us must Balance the prevailing attention toward the multiplicity outward with a corresponding and equal attention to the unity within.  That solution includes knowing Self, and it is a lifelong quest.  The present pandemic poses an invitation to deepen that balancing act, or to get started.

As I'm guessing you already know, Death is the name of the Tarot path corresponding to the Hebrew letter Nun 50.  Nun connects Netzach-Venus—Love—with Tiphareth-Sun-Beauty.  Death is intimately connected to the Heart.

Love in Venus is Bhakti.  It is the fervent dedication of all one is to the Whole.

Beauty in the Sun is Harmony‚—the balanced engagement of all of the various components of one's incarnation this time around.

Nun-Death is the path of the Woman in alchemy.  Females approach it differently than males, but, regardless, to tread it requires that we embrace our physical and psychological embodiment, our separateness.  To embrace it requires courage.  I'm glad you used that word. 

Why courage?  Because it is not enough anymore to wallow in our egoic pursuits.  Also because it is not enough anymore to run away from our animal form and from our supposed imperfections toward the admittedly glorious Christ aspect.  The feminine (specific form) can no longer remain regarded as evil and pestilent.  Balance is now required between the form and the essence below the Abyss even as IT is unified eternally Above.

So on the one hand the pandemic invites us to face our egoic illusions and phantoms—our Bullshit—when it comes to every last thing we ever felt, thought or done.  If we were to die today, those illusions would be shown to us as empty fantasies.  If you've ever been with someone who is dying, you know this.  

Yet on the other hand, the pandemic also calls us to loosen our egoic attachment to what we really are!  It invites us to see who and what we are for its crystalline structure, for its potential.  It invites us to live who we really are and who we must be for the sake of All Beings Everywhere.  Our curse is our gift if we courageously live it as such.  

We need courage because we must not be afraid to die.  To be afraid to die is to cling to our illusions, when in fact what is real about us can never die.  Death is only a change of form.  The Source of Form and the Source of Life are eternally unified in a state of pure potential.  Manifestations change to protect the innocent as well as to satisfy those who know.

Death requires the magical link to be made securely.  To die properly, one must have rapture, and that rapture must be devoted exclusively to one's own Divinity.  A great deal of rubbish clearing has to happen in order to have the courage to "follow one's bliss" to quote Joseph Campbell.  This pandemic invites us to see what automatically stokes our passion and to follow it.

This pandemic invites us to appreciate the impermanence and rarity of any given form. Cherish it.  Cherish it.

It says, "Be who you are.  Make the most of your life.  You shall never pass this way again.

93 93/93 Erica M. Cornelius

Friday, April 3, 2020

An Occult Response to Crisis

Two days ago Bill Laswell & Yoko Yamabe broadcast a response from Alejandro Jodorowsky to the current pandemic situation containing crucial information for psychological and psychic survival.

Jodorowsky is most well known in occult circles for his experimental films, The Holy Mountain, an abstract alchemical allegory, and El Topo, a journey through the desert of the Abyss.  He is also considered a Master of the Tarot.

He is calling for strength:

STRENGTH voluntarily faces suffering to progress and fulfill the great work.
This recalls and resonates with what Aleister Crowley called for during the height of Nazi dominance in World War II.  He wrote a one page document outlining the Rights of Man and called it Liber Oz.  Oz is an ancient Hebrew word that means both STRENGTH and COURAGE.  Immediately upon publication, Crowley mailed it to all the prominent people he had addresses for, his version of Facebook friends.  The liber was not only a call for strength and courage during the height of crisis, it also served as a Magical Act for Crowley.  He intended for change to occur.  Ten days after its publication, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor brining the Americans into the global conflict eventually changing the course of the war.

We may thus infer some probability that Jodorowsky's statement also intends to serve as a Magical Act, to cause change to occur.  We know his capability to express himself that way,

The second half of the message begins with JOIN.  It may be hard to see on my blog so I'll type the words below it.  First, Jodorowsky is a Tarot master so it seems likely to find correspondences in his communication.  JOIN = 140 = 14 x 10 = Venus x Malkuth, or love in the material world.

Joining reality is letting go of what you think you own.  You tie yourself to inaccessible objects, awaken your inner wealth.
JOIN: leaving aside differences and paddling for the same side, otherwise, drags us the stream of discouragement and loneliness.  Everyone must join or walk away, walk away or join.  Only a giant can unite without sticking.  Everything that ascends ends up uniting.  
This indicates that those who develop their conscience end up joining  the other conscious beings.

   * * * * * *    

The highway is for gamblers better use your sense, 
take what you have gathered from coincidence.
- Bob Dylan, It's All Over Now Baby Blue

Coincidentally, shortly before the pandemic took off in the U.S. an international group of readers finished an examination of The Widow's Son by Robert Anton Wilson at the end of which he gives tips for pain management: good music, humor, and keeping a cheerful attitude despite the pain.

Inside this novel we find many confrontations with death.  Several times coincident with death I noted imagery connected to Tiphareth, the Grand Central Station on the Tree of Life and home of the heart chakra.  In esoteric research I have frequently seen this connection between death and the heart as if the latter solved the problem of the former.  The Egyptian Book of the Dead gives a notable example of this with instructions for the departing soul to unite with Osiris whose home is in Tiphareth.

Our society is currently confronting an atmosphere of death, literal in the prognostication of pandemic deaths and those who have already died.  Death, and the possibility of death blankets the mainstream media.  Also a figurative or metaphorical death that completely changes our life creating an unknown future.  All that death naturally opens the heart if it can get past fear to some degree.

Two very recent artistic releases seem an occult response to the current death crisis.  One, a new song by Bob Dylan,  Murder Most Foul, seems intentionally timed.  The other one, a release of a new edition of Ishtar Rising by Robert Anton Wilson seems coincidental, unintentionally very well timed.  This book offers many solutions to psychological and psychic survival in an atmosphere of fear and death.  These two artistic releases have connections beyond appearing at the same time.  Both communicate magic.

The magic appears quite obvious in Ishtar Rising.  I don't have the new edition, just ordered it, but do have the first edition of it from 1974 and believe the text is the same.  It was originally called The Book of the Breast and was published by Playboy Press.  Tom Jackson wrote a review outlining the differences here ,you can also order the new edition from a link there.  Breast connects with Tiphareth due to proximity with the heart chakra.

I haven't read it in a long time, but skimming through it, it obviously contains magic allusions and techniques.  The first words in the book are: "The words of magic, O my brothers: ..."  At the end of the first paragraph he quotes the final four lines from Ulysses by James Joyce, a very powerful incantation, it makes the connection between breasts and the heart evident and ends with "yes I said yes I will Yes."

The penultimate sentence in Ishtar Rising conjures the Golden Dawn.  The title of Chapter 1: "It Began with Erection" clearly alludes to Kether on the Tree of Life.  The title of Chapter 6: The Breast Expressed and the Breast Possessed seems right for Tipharteh-6 and we're back to talking about solutions again.

Dylan's Murder Most Foul, obviously conjuring death into the conversationis a historical prose/poem with a soundscape centered around the Kennedy assassination.  He regards the death of JFK as the sacrifice of the Divine King in much the same way that Robert Anton Wilson does in Cosmic Trigger I leading me to wonder if the well-read Dylan read Wilson?

Like many historical pieces, this song reflects and responds to conditions of the current time.  The solutions it offer appear mostly musical and magical.

What's new pussycat
What did I say?
I said the soul of a nation been torn away
And it's beginning to go into a slow decay
And that it's 36 hours past Judgement Day

Wolfman Jack, he's speaking in tongues
He's going on and on at the top of his lungs

Play me a song Mr. Wolfman Jack

Every line after that begins with the word "play."  Play = 121 = 11 x 11 = magick, energy tending to change, multiplied by itself.

Wolf corresponds with Horus, the Crowned and Conquering Child.  Speaking in tongues suggests multiple layers of information.
"He's going on and on at the top of his lungs" produces the Thelemic formula ON.

Like Ishtar Rising, Dylan invokes the Goddess:

Play it for me and for Marilyn Monroe
Play Please Don't Let Me Be Misunderstoood
Play it for the First Lady
She ain't feeling any good

A few lines later we find the band Queen with the lines:

Play Another One Bites the Dust
Play The Old Rugged Cross
and In God We Trust

The last two lines recall to me the Rosy Cross formula, yet another solution.

Continuing to (qabalistically) speak in tongues through his Wolfman Jack character, Dylan writes:

Play number nine 
Play number six
Play it for Lindsay 
and Stevie Nicks.  

Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks were a couple who enjoyed tremendous success in Fleetwood Mac when the two of them were romantically involved.  This represents alchemy, the blending of disparate elements to synergestically produce something greater - thus giving another approach to a solution to the crisis.  The alchemy connection is shown in the previous two lines.  The path that connects the ninth Sephira Yesod to the sixth Sephira Tiphareth, the path of Samech, corresponds with the Temperance or Art (in the Thoth deck) card in the Tarot.

In his commentary in The Book of Thoth Crowley writes:

" ... and the card is (in its most simple and primitive form) a picture of Diana the Huntress.  Diana is primarily one of the lunar goddesses ... who is also the Great Mother of Fertility, Diana of the Epheseans, Many-Breasted. ( A form of Isis ...)

Many-Breasted connects with RAW's Ishtar Rising (Book of the Breast).  Stevie Nicks often appeared to embody the goddess archetype.

This path leads from the Moon of Yesod to the Sun of Tiphareth.  Crowley speaks of the alchemical mixture in symbolic terms: The Red Lion has become white, and increased in size and importance, while the White Eagle, similarly expanded has become red.  I mention this because a few lines earlier in Murder Most Foul Dylan alludes to the Eagles band and quotes their song title and lyric: Take it to the limit and let it go by.

Later in the commentary Crowley suggests a solution to a problem.  He puts a Latin inscription in the card that translates as "'Visit the interior parts of the earth; by rectification thou shalt find the hidden stone.' ... This 'hidden stone' is also called the Universal Medicine"   The whole commentary on this card in The Book of Thoth can be read for a better understanding of this.

As Jerry Cornelius points out, the path of Samech also signifies the Magical Link.  In a highly recommended piece appearing in ESSAYS Volume 8, On the Magical Link: On Art he employs the same alchemical metaphor Jodorowsky used:

"Once we have entered the Rainbow, our goal is to achieve the path of Art which is the next and most important stage to climb the Holy Mountain.  This is because it creates a Magical Link between you and your inner Star." - ESSAYS Volume 8, p. 16

Play it for Lindsay - Lindsay = 165 = "To make them know" and "An assembly."
I worked with Lindsay Buckingham very briefly, 2 days.  He's a tasteful guitar player.

The end of this song shows connections between love and death.

Play Merchants of Venice
Play Merchants of Death
Play Stella by Starlight
for Lady Macbeth

Some of these read a little like Nostradamus' quatrains, don't they? The above alludes to the Star Tarot card.

At one point we are told:

Don't worry Mr. President
Help's on the way

The whole song is worth hearing and interpreting this way.  Dylan provides multiple levels of sense but I'll close it with this apt quatrain for the current predicament:

Wake up little Suzy
Let's go for a drive
Across the trinity river
Let's keep hope alive.

* * * * * * 

On Monday of the second week of social distancing I received the new book from Jerry and Erica Cornelius, CROSSING THE ABYSS and into the Aeon of the Daughter.  How perfectly timed, I thought, to see this title at this moment.  Society really seems to be crossing an abyss, definitely not the same one the book is about, but nonetheless a dissolution of society's collective ego - the way things normally are, and a journey through treacherous territory full of fear and illusion into the unknown getting stripped of everything you think you have or are in the process.

The subtitle tells what it's about: The magical story of Aleister Crowley and Charles Stanfeld Jones.  It's an extremely interesting and excellent book for those so inclined.  I will provide a lengthier review after I finish reading it. 

I've come across a couple of things that align with this blog, An Occult Response to Crisis.  The first is a quote from Magical and Philosophical Commentaries on The Book of the Law found on page 75 in Crossing the Abyss:

To us the essence of Love is that it is a sacrament unto Nuith, a gate of grace and a road of righteousness to Her High Palace, the abode of peerless purity whose lamps are the Stars.

And this from Liber A'ASH vel Capricorni Pneumatici quoted on page 86 in Crossing the Abyss:

37. But the progress is progress, and progress is rapture, constant dazzling, showers of light, waves of dew, flames of the hair of the Great Goddess, flowers of the roses that are about her neck, Amen!

Jodorowsky calls for STRENGTH and says that it comes from an invincible will.  I am calling for COURAGE, something I need for myself to cheerfully navigate these days.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

The Widow’s Son Discussion Group

“Life then is indestructible as all else is.  All destruction and construction are changes in the nature of Love, as I have written to you in the former chapter proximate.  Yet even as the blood in one pulse-throb of the wrist is not the same blood as that in the next, so individuality is in part destroyed as each life passeth; nay even with each thought."  – Aleister Crowley, De Lege Libellum

After many months, the discussion group examining The Widow’s Son by Robert Anton Wilson led by Gregory Arnott and hosted by Raw concluded last week.  I was a frequent contributor and had planned to post a final comment but extenuating circumstances postponed it until now. 

Like every interactive event related to Wilson endeavors – reading groups, online courses, workshops and talks, The Widow’s Son opened my eyes to a great deal of magic and to mysteries of life in general.  Often simply reading one of his books becomes an interactive event from all the synchronicities encountered and the thoughts, feelings, and sensations they provoke.  The books can become even more interactive upon initiation into the belief system that they intend to teach as well as connecting to a multiplicity of other teaching portals through references and allusions.  The interactive part also arises from the feedback loop that occurs from learning how to penetrate his puns, metaphors and coded symbolism which then opens to comprehension of seeing more. 

I got exponentially far more out of The Widow’s Son this time than the previous two times reading it and feel certain that represents a small fraction of everything there; as a multiplicity, it seems nearly infinite in interpretation, as infinite as the readers who dig in and partake.  I agree with several others who consider this novel one of his top works of fiction.  From the occult, didactic angle, it rates as a masterpiece, in my experience.  On the scale of fun things to research, wonder about and figure out, it jumps off the charts at the high end.

One of the key comments in this discussion was correspondence from RAW posted by AliasBogus in which he said something to the effect that he hoped his work would be studied like James Joyce and that perhaps explains why he wrote like him.  This seems a huge clue to me, the author tells us of a multiplicity of meanings, connections, wormholes and doorways waiting to get discovered, as in Joyce. 

At one point, RAW referred to his work as postmodern.  In another postmodern classic, Nabokov’s Pale Fire, an allusion or a suggestion gets made to approach the book like Sherlock Holmes unlocking a mystery; using all your skills of observation and deduction with high attention to assemble the pieces of the puzzle.  This aptly applies to fiction by RAW, and another postmodern master, Thomas Pynchon who seems to get a nod or several in The Widow’s Son and a direct quote shout out in Illuminatus! Postmodern writers and philosophers seem to create an intertextual network through cross-references  and allusions. 

The Joyce comment reminded me that Wilson wrote of the significance of the letter “S” in Finnegans Wake somewhere in Coincidance.  I don’t recall what it said and haven’t had the time to sleuth it out, but it did make me wonder about the “esses” in the ancient graffiti meme, ISSSV that shows up many times in Part IV Chapter 3 intended to hasten the demise of Pope Clement XIV.  ISSSV turns up 11 times in that chapter.  11 appears a number highly significant to Thelemites as it indicates magick, or energy tending to change, among other things.  Thelema, the initiation system presented by Aleister Crowley, has its place as a primary teaching portal entrance in The Widow’s Son .

The following chapter in Part IV talks about the “grain war” prior to the French Revolution and has a phrase “six sous a loaf” given three times.  I analyzed and commented upon that earlier.  Links to all prior comments from this group can get accessed via the front page of I also wondered about the significance of the esses in “sous” which begin and end the word and thus could hold significance to a qabalist who studies the shapes and sounds of words and letters.  Sous already has a special place because it adds to 196 and ISSSV = 196 too.  The Hebrew word for “crown” also adds to 196.  The Spanish translation for crown = “corona;” the Spanish king gets a brief mention shortly before the debut of ISSSV.  This synchronicity with current events – the coronavirus as a meme which will kill us all, or at least (temporarily, one hopes) kills our economy and way of life – seems consistent with unintended prophecies in Wilson’s works, others have been documented.  One may go further with this by analyzing the Spanish king’s name, Don Carlos.  This aligns with the esoteric maxim that the solution to a problem may get found in how the problem gets stated.

The interactive nature of The Widow’s Son upon my personal circumstances doesn’t need to be searched for, deduced, imagined or implied.  More like it clobbers me over the head … wake-up motherfucker!!

I interpreted the penultimate phrase, of the novel, “Paine said cheerfully,” to be an indication of how to deal with pain.  I connected this pain management idea to an earlier passage regarding “The Bishop of Munster… encouraging this ever-accelerating crescendo of light, love, liberty and laughter that Mozart pours forth.”  Humor as an highly effective form of pain management.  I overlooked the connection with music, this oversight made apparent by Tom’s post two days ago at music as a healing force.

The day after I posted about dealing with pain cheerfully, our propane tank ran completely dry – the gas company failed to put me on the plan to regularly check and refill it.  I cheerfully took a couple of cold showers until that situation easily resolved.  Two days later our rural neighborhood began receiving a great deal of snow that totaled about six feet over a couple of days.  That in itself isn’t a big deal, no access to town until the snow stops and roads get plowed, however it got compounded by the electricity going out the first night.  That also seems no big surprise, we are used to temporary failures of service from our electrical providers, PG&E, it usually lasts no longer than 12 – 18 hours when weather related.  The criminal incompetence resulting from PG&E policies entered new territory with this new situation they blame on equipment failure.  We are currently halfway through our 6th day without power.  After a break, the snow has continued its crystalline construction of the landscape, beautiful in itself, but cutting off access to the outside world and internet until the power gets restored or the roads cleared. According to an article published Monday in the Sacramento Bee, 22,000 people in four counties are affected by this outage on top of the income loss, social shift and scramble for supplies from the coronavirus hermitage.  The article observed that temperatures here range in the low 30s, hovering right around freezing, and that many people don’t have a wood stove or generator to stay warm.

* * * * * *

As mentioned in earlier comments, the Bishop of Munster’s Mozart line with “life, love liberty and laughter” referenced Crowley’s Liber CL (130) De Lege Libellum

130 = “Deliverance;
             The Angel of redemption;
             Decrees, prophetic sayings;
             Eye; Ayin;
             The Pillars;
             A staircase, ladder (Sepher Sephiroth)”. 
I read it for the first time and found that it goes along very nicely with The Widow’s Son

Many confrontations with death in the first two books of the Historical Illuminatus series have been noted.  Death appears to become as much of a behind-the-scenes-character in The Widow’s Son as it does in Gravity’s Rainbow.  I pointed out several associations or simultaneous occurrences of Tiphareth with Death.  This resonates with the instruction given many times in The Egyptian Book of the Dead for the voyaging soul to unite with Osiris upon departing the physical sheath at death.  In De Lege Libellum Crowley writes:

“There be moreover many other modes of attaining the apprehension of true Life, and these two following are of much value in breaking up the ice of your mortal error in the vision of your being.  And of these the first is the constant contemplation of the Identity of Love and Death, and the understanding of the dissolution of the body as an act of Love done upon the Body of the Universe, as also it is written in length in our Holy Books.  And with this goeth, as it were sister with twin brother, the practice of mortal love as a sacrament symbolical of that great Death: as it is written ‘Kill thyself’: and again ‘Die Daily.’”

We find this identity between Love and Death qabalistically expressed in the last line of the book, right before it says “coming soon” in the Bluejay edition then advertises Nature and Nature’s God, the third book in the series:

“'Two scoundrels,’ Paine said cheerfully, “in an unpredictable universe.”

The initials of the first phrase, “Two scoundrels”  add to 69, often indicating a reversal or looking at something backwards.  A main plotline of the book concerns the lineage of Jesus.  If he did procreate and create a lineage this would indicate a reversal of the usual story that he died on the cross.  The 69 reversal also simply suggests that the gentlemen in question, Paine and Moon, seem not scoundrels, or that their scoundrelness can get reversed.

The initials of “Paine said cheerfully” add to 148.

Reversing the first two numbers gives 418, a number of high significance to Thelemites indicating both “The Great Work completed” (a great sign to finish a book on) and “Abrahadabra,” a word suggesting World Creation and Maintenance.

148 = “To withdraw, retire (prophetic of the current social distancing)
            Victory (also the name of the 6 of Wands in the Thoth Tarot)
            Flour, meal (recalls the “grain war” and bread allegory mentioned earlier)

Within that phrase we see “… said cheerfully” = 68

“in an unpredictable universe” = 23

23 = “Parted, removed, separated
           A thread

The 23rd Hexagram of the I Ching = “Breaking Apart” or “Splitting Apart.”

I interpret 23 as a number indicating the Bardo.  The correspondences suggest both death and life, or perhaps, death and rebirth.  A primary instruction in the Tibetan Book of the Dead, the Bardo Thodol, = “maintain the thread of consciousness.  If you look at the transmission of the 23 Enigma from William Burroughs to Robert Anton Wilson as described in Cosmic Trigger I, this number, 23, most frequently came up in relation to death.  Outside of physical death, the Bardo represents a space in between where change occurs between one thing and another.  It makes sense to end the book with this correspondence, we enter the Bardo in between the second and third books of the Historical Illuminatus series.

This passage from The Revolution As I Saw It by, Luigi Duccio, a publication within the publication of The Widow’s Son, seems a fitting end.  They’re ostensibly talking about freedom for Ireland:

“What we are doing is for our children, and I even misbelieve that at times. Before God, it may be only for our grandchildren.  It is a long and desperate struggle ahead and it is not to be won by bravery or high hopes.  It is planning and perseverance we need.”

The letters and puns of the middle sentence could suggest Crowley’s 0=2 formula, a cancellation of opposites.  More directly,the last sentence conjures Crowley’s motto, Perdurabo, I will endure unto the end.  It also relates with the Calvin Coolidge poem Israel Regardie used to begin The Complete Golden Dawn System of Magic:

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence
Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.
Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.
Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.
Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.

 And finally:

"What then maketh WoMan, if she dieth and is reborn a changeling with each breath?  This: the consciousness of continuity given by memory, the conception of her Self as something whose existence, far from being threatened by these changes, is in verity assured by them.  Let then the aspirant to the sacred Wisdom consider her Self no more as one segment of the Serpent, but as the whole.  Let her extend her consciousness to regard both birth and death as incidents trivial as systole and diastole of the heart itself, and necessary as they to its function." - Crowley, De Lege Libellum (translation modified).