Thursday, July 28, 2011
Angel's Healing Journey
This energy has many different names and has been known for thousands of years in esoteric circles. More recently, Wilhelm Reich named it "orgone" and did extensive scientific research on the subject.
Sufis call it baraka, the Chinese know it as qigong. It may be the L.V.X. of Rosicrucians or the prana of the yogis. Every system or culture that has a name for this energy maintains that it's potentially available to anyone.
Wilhelm Reich also did groundbreaking work with using energy to heal.
The work of Wilhelm Reich is often referred to in the history and teaching of energy as a vehicle for healing.
Angels Healing Journey is a "Book of the Dead" by E. J. Gold with an orientation toward healing.
Angels Healing Journey is a book one may choose to use to address the Being of another just as you might do if you were to do a reading from one of the various "Books of the Dead". You would do this typically for someone who is suffering from one illness or another, though the book can and is used as a "Book of the Dead" since it contains readings for the First Stage (The Symptoms), Transition, Confronting the Clear Light, The Second Stage ( Disintegration) and the subsequent readings for the standard (number of) 49 Chambers for those in transition in the between lives states. An interesting feature of this book is the list of common diseases people suffer from, the names of their (corresponding) Angelic Healers, and the chamber(s) where they can be found. Turning to those chambers one can then read a description of these angelic entities and learn about some of their major attributes.
- James Duggan
It does use esoteric Hebrew imagery but apart from that has no connection to any religion, and again, functions effectively with or without limit of belief system. You don't have to believe any of it is real or that it works, but it helps. In that way it can be like magick where you temporarily suspend disbelief and skepticism to consciously, willfully, and voluntarily enter a belief system of your own design for your own intentions, and when done with that belief system, leave it.
Angel's Healing Journey uses the model/metaphor based on a tradition called Angelology. Peter Lamborn Wilson wrote a classic and beautiful work on the subject called Angels that first appeared in 1980.
I find it helpful when working with metaphors outside the ordinary programming and consensus of what is "real", to remember this brilliant bit of advice:
"In this book it is spoken of the Sephiroth and the Paths; of Spirits and Conjurations; of Gods, Spheres, 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 philosophic validity to any of them."
— Aleister Crowley (Magick in Theory and Practice)
It seems that this kind of healing isn't necessarily about curing diseases or making the body live longer. The healing takes place on an essential level which may or may not help the body.
Monday, July 25, 2011
Without Any Limit of Belief System
The previous post, "Bardo Readings", had nothing to do, and is not connected with any Organized or Unorganized Religion whatsoever. I know what you're going to say, that this was EXPLICITLY STATED in the post:
The reading instructions very clearly outline when and what to read, without any limitation of belief system--the practice is presented as non-denominational, not requiring Buddhist or Christian or Jewish prayers, but also not in conflict with any of these.
The part where it says, " without any limit of belief system" means that no particular belief system is required, at all, at all. You don't even have to believe that the readings are doing anything for dead people, but if you are reading, the existential fact is that you are reading at least for yourself and so could stumble upon something of value like you might with any other book.
Since this seems quite clear, I figured that the comparison to the Catholic Church could have come from an automatic, mechanical, Pavlovian reaction to how I signed off - the word "Blessings" is used by Christians ... as well as Pagans. At least I know the critics hang on my every word.
The post also had no intention of indoctrination into any strange cult or philosophical ideology. My philosophy holds that everyone has the liberty and right to choose for themselves what to do with their life in the spirit of Crowley's "Do what thou wilt." Or like Joseph Campbell's, "follow your bliss," or Timothy Leary's exhortation for everyone to "start your own religion" - uh oh, there's that word again, religion. Sorry if it freaks anyone out. Leary meant something like making your daily life sacred in however you as an individual choose to do so.
I only intended to present and suggest methods for dealing with/coping with death because I personally experienced a great deal of death at the time of the post. I've been working in this area since about 1980 when I randomly opened to it in Carl Jung's Collected Works. I've picked up a few things along the way and felt it necessary to pass some of it along yesterday.
To review, these methods include:
- learning how to do formal readings from The American Book of the Dead
- reading from any inspired text that feels right
- practicing Magick which can involve learning Qabalah. Mysticism appears identical to Theurgic Magick, so meditative activities could work as a method of bardo service.
- listening/ playing music with a particular intention or focus.
Intellectuals and cynics who take this as a bunch of nonsense have my permission to maintain their status quo and continue to tell lies about something they lack any understanding of. This is for a few people who might be interested.
There is no way I can prove any of this works. The only way to find out is to try it. At first, it might take a little time before you feel a strong contact with the bardo. However, you'll sense pretty quickly what effect practicing any of these methods has on you.
I also advocate the Gurdjieffian advice: DO NOT BELIEVE ANYTHING I SAY. Verify everything for yourself.
Saturday, July 23, 2011
"How the mind can torture itself in its quest to understand the travels of the soul from life, through death, to life again."
I find the timing of the book's release interesting as it coincides with my brief abstracts on the same subject that he begins with. I've just started the book. So far, it's first rate.
Saw that a new film called The Tree of Life opened in town today. I had heard about it a few weeks ago but had forgotten about it until now.
Nobody can tell you what will happen when you die. It's possible that the after-life bardo spaces, reported in so many different ways in many different cultures, occur as a result of the unraveling of the subconscious mind in the last minutes or seconds before brain-death.
Even taking the strictly scientific materialist perspective, that nothing happens after life, Bardo Training is of immense benefit. The way Erik Davis puts in Nomad Codes:
"Early in Waking Life, Ethan Hawke quotes Timothy Leary to the effect that, even if nothing of us survives death, the last few minutes of the brain's electrical activity may be experienced by the dying person as an entire life racing in time-lapse -- or, as the film itself suggests, a nearly infinite labyrinth of dreams. From this perspective, the traditional teachings of bardo navigation may come in handy despite the reality of brain-death: even if we are only riding that last wave to flatline, it pays to know how to surf. "
They are referring to a film called Waking Life by Richard Linklater which I haven't yet seen.
So what are the traditional teachings of bardo navigation?
I would guess that it involves the practice of delivering readings shortly before and during the transition of death, and for a period of time afterwards. Of course, there are now many non-traditional methods that encourage bardo navigation, qabalah being one of them, but traditionally it seems that readings have been done in certain cultures, in particular the Tibetan, for hundreds or thousands of years.
One way to experience or at least get a sense of the bardo is by learning how to do the readings. Clear instructions are given in the American Book of the Dead (ABD).
Readings do not necessarily need to come from the ABD. Any text meaningful to you, and/or the Voyager(s) ie the spirit or "soul" of the person(s) recently deceased. "Readings" don't even have to take the form of reading aloud from a text. I wrote a short story once as a "reading." It seems that there are different ways or methods to transmit a particular "something" to a voyager that can help them. The nature of this "something" can, I believe, get discovered more rapidly through Qabalah.
However, since it is a method of Liberation by sound, the easiest way to begin, and be effective immediately, is to start with the ABD. From the editorial description:
This book has been and still remains an important tool for providing a spiritual service to a dying person as opposed to grieving, processing loss, or mourning for that person's passage. Front matter includes "Notes on the Labyrinth" (or the Bardo...) and other commentary by the author that provides insights for an American reader who wishes to provide this guiding service to a family member, spouse, friend, or anyone who is terminal. The reading instructions very clearly outline when and what to read, without any limitation of belief system--the practice is presented as non-denominational, not requiring Buddhist or Christian or Jewish prayers, but also not in conflict with any of these. A schedule of readings shows graphically how to carry out the full series of 49 days of readings, at approximately 10 to 20 minutes per reading.
There is a course available by correspondence and on the internet that gives additional training for readers who wish to pursue the practice of performing "Labyrinth Readings" or "Bardo guiding" as a service to others--beyond one's own family and personal network.
Sometimes music can act as a carrier wave for the readings. I know of a difficult and stubborn woman who had Irish ancestry in her background. Nothing seemed to reach her until traditional Irish music was played with the reading.
News comes of the sudden death of Amy Winehouse, a great loss to the music community. As Keith Richards sings:
It's another good-bye to another good friend...
Playing her music while directing good intentions, best wishes, or prayers ( ie NOT grief, sadness, despair anger, etc) might serve a function similar to doing a reading.
This is the 93rd post of this blog.
Blessings and Peace ...
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Hitchikers Guide and Finnegans Wake
Because Bardo Training is synonymous with Magick, it does not follow that all Magick works as Bardo Training.
Speaking very generally, Magick can get classified into two branches:
1. Thaumaturgy, which has to do with changing the environment in some way, ie creating favorable weather for the crops, casting spells to influence things, cursing people who upset you, etc.
I would have to say that some measure of this kind of magick I've seen attempted has been by amateur dabblers thoroughly caught up in superstition and fantasy. Most of these types lack any real magical juice. I do acknowledge and have met rare individuals who can actually use Thaumaturgy in a responsible and non-ego gratifying way. Even so, it seems usually used quite sparingly.
2. Theurgic, that type of Magick concerned with expanding consciousness; invoking and contacting "god-forms" to open up circuits of gnostic reception; the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel, which, in one sense, basically means finding out what in the hell you're here to do (True Will) and doing it., etc.
Theurgic Magick has significantly greater likelihood of providing the benefit of Bardo Training than thaumaturgy.
To address a recent case brought to my attention: If someone imagines they are putting a curse on you, a couple of courses of action come to mind:
1. You can just ignore it. Nothing will happen, it's just fantasy and superstition on their part. They might have even dreamed up of engaging in some kind of war with you for some imaginary reason - most likely unknown to you, but probably having to do with an inadvertent slight of one kind or another.
2. You can somehow metaphorically, and compassionately, position a mirror in front of them in the hopes that they will get a glimpse of the pain that's causing such fantastic daydreams. Anyone who suggests permanently hurting someone because they expressed a view that offended them is obviously in a great deal of pain however deeply buried it may be. Robert Anton Wilson somewhere recommends Laura Huxley's book of basic magick exercises called "You Are Not the Target." The exercise that's also the title of the book further explores this.
Ironically, having a curse thrown in your direction, if one should be so lucky, can be great for Bardo Training:
A string of meditations called "type three" meditations are the performing meditations - in other words, how to do something you wish to do while conflicting realities and disorientating phenomena are running on.
- American Book of the Dead, p.41
The curser actually serves the cursee.
Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy
Another qabalah encoded "book of the dead" type of literature is the science fiction comedy classic, The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. The main character, Arthur Dent gets off of Earth just before it gets destroyed to make way for a Hyperspatial Bypass Express. Dent, in his adventures post-Earth-mortem, travels through a series of bardo-like spaces and adventures learning as he goes. Very early on, after his first jump off of Earth, he is told by his extra-terrestrial guide, Ford Prefect, to always travel with a towel. Sound bardo advice on a few different levels.
Zaphod Beeblebrox, President of the Universe
The Hitchiker's Guide books are good as are the radio recordings. I've always enjoyed the BBC television production of this story. The Hollywood film version changed a lot and dumbed it down into a science fiction soap opera, a predictably superficial melodrama. Not worth seeing, in my opinion.
Immediately after the conclusion of the series, at the very end of the last episode, a song is played over the end credits - not only is it incredibly uplifting but also a crystal clear communication of the Great Work. I won't say what the song is. I think the whole series must be seen for the full effect of the music.
Finnegans Wake counts as one of the greatest literary storehouses of qabalah enriched bardo data. It's admittedly a difficult read, at first, but like any other maze, gets easier after a while through practice. One trick to navigating the foreignness of all the coined words, phrases and mash-ups, is to sound out the words phonetically. You can let the sound be a guide, as it works like any other book of the dead. James Joyce wrote musically.
from p. 18. I will give some explanation:
(Stoop) if you are abcedminded, to this claybook, what curios
of signs (please stoop), in this allaphbed! Can you rede (since
We and Thou had it out already) its world? It is the same told
of all. Many. Miscegenations on miscegenations. Tieckle. They
lived und laughed ant loved end left. Forsin. Thy thingdome is
given to the Meades and Porsons. The meandertale, aloss and
again, of our old Heidenburgh in the days when Head-in-Clouds
walked the earth. In the ignorance that implies impression that
knits knowledge that finds the nameform that whets the wits that
convey contacts that sweeten sensation that drives desire that
adheres to attachment that dogs death that bitches birth that
entails the ensuance of existentiality.
My interpretation: On one level he's asking the reader if they can read his Qabalah- can you read it's world?
"abcedminded" - a pun referring both to awareness of letters and to "absent-minded," perhaps in the sense of quieting the thinking brain chatter, as a condition for reading "its world."
"Miscegenations on miscegenations" - miscegenation means interbreeding and could indicate the cross-pollination,indexing, and referencing of various religions, mythologies, systems of knowledge, etc that occurs in Qabalah.
"It is the same told of all" - finding the common core of truth in each system.
" ant loved" - animals, real and imaginary, and insects have qabalistic connotations. Ants aren't on the animal chart in 777, but they suggests an obvious image. Perhaps the actual versus potential capacity of what qabalah develops.
"in the days when Head-In-Clouds walked the earth." - recalls a comment I made toward the end of the Tales of the Tribe class responding to someone who suggested the aim of Qabalah was to get one's consciousness to Kether. I replied, that the aim, as far as I was concerned, was to bring the awareness of Kether into Malkuth ( the material world) .
The last sentence that starts, "In the ignorance..." could describe a qabalistic process of theurgic magick from inception to manifestation. It also references the death/rebirth archetype.
Monday, July 18, 2011
A Fairy Tale for Paranoids
- Epicene Wildblood
"That isn't what you see," Drake said. "And it isn't what I see. The Devil and the Tower together are a pretty destructive pair, aren't they? "
"I suppose you know what the Lovers reversed means, too?" she asked.
"'The Answer of the Oracle Is Always Death.'" he quoted.
"But you won't accept it."
" The only way to conquer Death -- until science provides an immortality pill -- is to make him your servant, your company cop," Drake said calmly. "That's the key I've been looking for. The bartender never becomes an alchoholic, and the high priest laughs at the gods. Besides, the Tower is rotten to the core and deserves to be destroyed." He pointed abruptly to the Fool ...
"... You will make Death your servant as a tactic to master him. Yours is, indeed, the left-hand path. You will cause immense suffering -- especially to yourself at first. But after a while you won't notice that; after a while you won't even notice the horror you inflict on others. Men will say that you are a materialist, a worshipper of money.
What do you hate most?" she asked abruptly.
"Sentimental slop and lies. All the Christian lies in Sunday school, all the democratic lies in the newspapers, all the socialist lies our so-called intellectuals are spouting these days. Every rotten, crooked, sneaking, hypocritical deception people use to hide from themselves that we're all still hunting animals in a jungle.." ...
... "Go on" Drake was unsmiling but undisturbed.
"The King of Swords and the King of Wands are both very active. You could do all this harmlessly, by becoming an artist and showing this vision of the jungle. You don't have to create it literally and inflict it on your fellow humans."
Drake rejects the advice and retreats back into cynicism.
Saturday, July 16, 2011
Qabalah and the Bardo
Listening to Coleman's music, Free Jazz, Science Fiction, Skies of America, and much else describes one way of gaining an appreciation and aptitude for navigating unfamiliar territory and new spaces, skills essential and invaluable for surviving in the bardo, for conquering death. Coleman formed his musical approach and explorations into a system which he called Harmolodics. The idea of harmony corresponds with Tiphareth.
Using music as a doorway for the exploration of new spaces has points of similarity with using the connecting pathways on the Tree of Life as meditational focal points, doorways into different worlds of perception. Sometimes called "Pathworkings," this also works by using Tarot Cards as focal points/doorways into alternate realities, different chambers of cognition.
Keith Richard's comments on songwriting from his book Life seem very related to the qabalistic approach I'm suggesting. Though a much different kind of music than Coleman's free jazz experiments, the essential nature of his songs as he describes it appears very connected to surviving in the bardo:
That's the great thing about songwriting, its not an intellectual experience. One might have to apply the brain here and there, but basically, it's capturing the moment.
What is it that makes you want to write songs? In a way, you want to stretch yourself into other people's hearts. You want to plant yourself there, or at least get a resonance. Where other people become a bigger instrument than the one you're playing. It becomes almost an obsession to touch other people. To write a song that is remembered and taken to heart is a connection, a touching of bases, a thread that runs through all of us. A stab to the heart. Sometimes I think songwriting is about tightening the heart strings as much as possible without bringing on a heart attack.
There are several ways Qabalah can be useful for the purpose of bardo training. Awareness of Qabalah enables one to become "maze bright." Learning to move about and function in the bardo seems like learning to solve a maze, making your way through a labyrinth. Functioning well in life to the point of having the liberty and will to carry out your life's work also seems like navigating a labyrinth. Learning to solve mazes and puzzles implants and encourages skills for negotiating more difficult labyrinths.
Bardo training is not only preparation for Death, it also results in a dramatically increased quality, perception, and experience of Life. To "die" before you die, a Sufi strategy, makes this apparent.
Bardo training appears synonymous Magick: the Science and Art of causing change to occur in accordance with Will. Many of Crowley's exercises and experiments clearly and obviously constitute bardo training of one kind or another. I say obvious meaning that it doesn't need qabalistic decoding to see this, although it will greatly help. I'll expand on this later.
The death/rebirth archetype describes a classic method for causing change to occur. You "die" to old habits or behavior, reprogram yourself in the bardo - that space in-between "death" and "rebirth" - and take "rebirth" (if all goes well) along the lines of whatever aim has been set.
Of course, this isn't as easy as it sounds. Sometimes repeated efforts need doing over a length of time to bring about permanent change. Elaboration and demonstration of this technique appears in Cosmic Trigger Volume I, by Robert Anton Wilson.
The most explicit and detailed information regarding this process is in the American Book of the Dead and related works by E.J. Gold. Here he mentions Qabalah in connection with rebirth.
As the components of consciousness reform, one seems to experience rebirth, although in fact it is not re-entry into the world, but a new construct-reality which is taking place. Once crystallized, the newly formed consciousness cannot be altered except by a breakdown process such as voyaging in the macrodimensional domains of the labyrinth. Sometimes the reformed consciousness is even more securely programmed than the previous one, and the ego is strengthened rather than broken.
This continuous process of subjective change is the only change there is. A good subjective notation of subjective consciousness alteration is the I-Ching. Another of these "living" notebooks of plasma configuration is the Kabbalah. The 99 Names of God, Mudra, Yantra, Prime-Time Programming, and the Lesser Key of Solomon are further examples of change-notations in the reality spectrum.
p. 45, American Book of the Dead.
Furthermore, regarding rebirth:
The idea of getting into rebirth in an undesirable or miserable lower dimension is the cause of this desperation to find a safe space in which to hide. If I don't panic, I won't get rebirth in a lower dimension.
On the other hand if I become desperate, I may try to squeeze in between some rocks or buildings, and in fact none of the safe spaces I'm seeing are actually as they appear to be. Those are wombs in various dimensions. They're color-coded; I can look carefully at their color and I'll be able to tell which dimension I'm being attracted to.
p. 146, American Book of the Dead., Twenty-Fourth Chamber.
Perhaps womb door openings are coded in other ways, too?
Thursday, July 14, 2011
The Paris Working saw Crowley working with his main student at the time, Victor Neuberg
in a series of magical operations to contact and receive Higher Intelligence of a particular kind.
To give a flavor of this experiment:
O.S.V.: The god has appeared to me in his character as a messenger, but as a robust adult, rather than a slim youth. He has the winged helmet and sandals, and bears a Caduceus of gold. (Frater L.T. confirms this description in every respect.)
O.S.V.: Hear the words which I bear through the ambient air. The Father of All hath girt Himself with a many-coloured robe; the Father of All hath spilt his seed on galaxy and globe. The formation of Nebulae is like the bursting of the seed pods of flowers. (These are not his words; but it is his meaning. I can't get his words at all.) What we call light he calls wind. Our highest spiritual experiences are what he calls light. That is why one gets the phenomenon of the Opalescent Universe, so to call it, in the Sacrament of the Ninth Degree.) (It is most important.... Never mind about that.) All this is the key to the meaning of the Latin invocation in the Vision of the Universal Mercury which I have never understood. (Memo; obtain a copy and confirm this) We shall shortly be given someone who will be of great help to us in our working.
The initials O.S.V. and L. T. stand for their magical mottos. The data forming the basis for the "68" meme:
O.S.V.: I haven't got that.... I want to lie here, and see Mercury. It seems that Hermes is my particular deity at present. The golden sparks of which the Universe is composed, are shot with silver lightnings. In his next aspect he should reveal to us a great deal of the inner meaning of this particular Rite.
In the beginning was the Word, the Logos, who is Mercury; and is therefore to be identified with Christ. Both are messengers; their birth-mysteries are similar; the pranks of their childhood are similar. In the Vision of the Universal Mercury, Hermes is seen descending upon the sea, which refers to Mary. The Crucifixion represents the Caduceus; the two thieves, the two serpents; the cliff in the Vision of the Universal Mercury is Golgotha; Maria is simply Maia with the solar R in her womb. The controversy about Christ between the Synoptics and John was really a contention between the priests of Bacchus, Sol, and Osiris, also, perhaps, of Adonis and Attis, on the one hand, and those of Hermes on the other, at that period when initiates all over the world found it necessary, owing to the growth of the Roman Empire and the opening up of means of communication, to replace conflicting Polytheisms by a synthetic Faith. (This is absolutely new to me, this conception of Christ as Mercury.) Some difficulty about the [....]<
It goes on to elaborate in detail starting with:
To continue the identification, compare Christ's descent into hell with the function of Hermes as guide of the Dead...
How it relates to 68 - Christ = Tiphareth = 6; Mercury = Hod = 8
Temurah is permutation. Traditionally, it is an elaborate method involving rearranging lines and letters in the Bible described in detail in the Intro to Kaballah Unveiled. I only use its most basic form of rearranging letters or words and phrases to find different but cognate meanings.
The cut-up method of literary solve coagula popularized by Gysin and Burroughs describes a form of Temurah. David Bowie is one artist who has used this technique to invoke lyrics.
Through Temurah, all anagrams of a particular group of letters have equivalency - equal valence ie equal electrical charge - to one another.
For example, The initials of James Joyces' archetypal character from Finnegans Wake, Anna Livia Plurabelle, ALP can get rearranged as LAP, APL, or PLA. All of them add to 111, (A=1)+(L=30)+(P=80).
APL suggests apple by its sound so in our lexicon, the word "apple" used in some contexts refers to the same idea suggested by 111. I'll let anyone interested discover that idea on their own but here's a hint, Robert Anton Wilson references the same idea almost immediately in Illuminatus!
I discovered in Wilson's Tales of the Tribe class that this same idea signified a major theme of Finnegans Wake.
Assigning "apple" this place in our lexicon may shed light and give insight to various myths such as the so-called temptation in the Garden of Eden, and the Golden Apple of Kallisti.
Knowledge of Temurah gives the qabalistic key for unlocking the data found in the Marx Bros. film, Animal Crackers, in the scene when they discover the painting has been stolen.
Etymology, the study of the origins of words, serves as an important qabalistic type tool. We try to be precise and knowledgeable with the language we use because of the awareness that language alters our perception of reality.
Take the word Shakti, for example, a word co-opted and banalized into a kind of vague goddess worship type of energy by some of the more credulous fanatics of the New Age movement.
Looked at etymologically:
The word Shakti comes from the root word-Shak, ableness. The complete word translates to force of ableness.
from Alchemical Sex by E. J. Gold, p. 181
This gives a much clearer picture.
A second good example of etymological analysis was recently given by Jerry Cornelius in the promotion of his new book Altheia:
Cornelius is one of my favorite post-Crowley Thelemic writers along with Lon Milo Duquette and Kenneth Grant.
This explanation for the title of the book is a main reason why I will purchase it.
Puns appear a method for communicating or viewing multiple levels of reality, and by extension information. It has been said that James Joyce tried to pack as many meanings as possible in words and phrases in Finnegans Wake.
Crowley often codes occult data in puns. We can go back and look at ch.68 from The Book of Lies and see some obvious puns. If we've begun to learn some of Crowley's lexicon we see the pun of the word "place" in the 2nd line because we noticed that in Ch. 57 he describes a magical formula (ie method of working) represented by "place."
In The Sufis by Idries Shah he says Sufi masters put 7 levels of meaning in their communications.
Of course, numbers can be puns too. When I remember a good example, I'll demonstrate this.
Sometimes significant qabalistic information can get received but not understood for some time, perhaps years later. This is where the importance of keeping a diary comes in.
Soon I'll post the story of how I first received the Tree of Life image and how it took years for what it was communicating to me to get accepted.
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Gematria works by the transliteration of letters and words into numbers. Each letter of the Hebrew, and by extension the English, alphabets has a number assigned to it. A chart of these numerical assignments is opposite page 1 in the Sepher Sephiroth section of 777 and Other Qabalistic Writings of Aleister Crowley.
Following that chart we find a list of numbers from 1 to 1000 and a few over 1000. Beside them it lists various words, phrases, Bible verses, Latin phrases, Tarot cards, references, etc. that correspond to the various numbers. It is said that every word or phrase adding up to the same number is cognate with each other. While true to some extent, it will be observed in practice that some words of the same value seem to hold quite contradictory meanings.
Sepher Sephiroth functions as an open-ended dictionary of Gematria. Open-ended because practitioners will find their own meanings to add to it. It was started by Macgregor Mathers, one of the founders of the Golden Dawn, carried on and extended upon by one of Crowley's teachers, Alan Bennett, and finished by Crowley into the form appearing in 777.
Anyone working with Qabalah will ultimately form their own correspondences and thus their own Tree of Life. Every Tree is different yet has a common basis just as every life situation is unique yet may share a common language.
For example, readers of Robert Anton Wilson's Cosmic Trigger Volume I might start noticing the number 23 popping up frequently after reading Wilson describe the 23 Conspiracy, something he picked up from William Burroughs. Several ways suggest an approach to interpretation. You can look up 23 in Sepher Sephiroth- it lists 4 meanings which may or may not be connected.
23 has a special significance because it's a prime below 100. A chart of the meanings of primes below 100 is on p xxv of 777 giving another interpretation for 23.
And/or you could look up associations with the key number 23 in 777's Tables of Correspondences. There we see it connected with the element Water and with the Hanged Man tarot trump. These last two correspondences are why I connect 23 with floating in a floatation tank.
Another excellent source for elaborating Gematria values is The Book of Lies by Crowley. It contains 93 chapters each one qabalistically related to its chapter number. So one could look at chapter 23 there and gain either further insight or confusion into the number 23.
Actually some of the chapters from the Book of Lies give a clearer meaning for a number than in the Sepher Sephiroth dictionary. In chapter 48 it has:
Early to bed and early to rise
Makes a man healthy and wealthy and wise:
But late to watch and early to pray
Brings him across The Abyss, they say.
Neglect not the dawn-meditation!
Which clearly suggests a particular intensity and consistency of effort only vaguely referred to, if at all, under 48 in Sepher Sephiroth.
By coincidence, or maybe not p.48 of an early publication by E. J. Gold, Secret Talks on Voluntary Evolution relates the same notion in a different form:
Voluntary evolution is specialized; it has no place in the ordinary course of biological organic life, and so requires the development of many qualities possible for man but which, because they are not necessary for organic life, remain unknown and undeveloped in the majority of human beings. They require serious determined efforts over a long period of time.
The skills and strengths necessary for voluntary evolution are the result of intentional labors and repetitive special activities, not just occasionally or sporadically performed, but continuously and aggressively undertaken on a daily basis,...
Mathematically factoring a number derives another method of numerical interpretation.
For instance, 279 = 93 x 3. So 279 could mean whatever 93 suggests modified by 3 - whatever the number 3 means to you. A Table of Factors appears in the first few pages of Sepher Sephiroth to aid this kind of analysis.
Theosophical addition is a fairly common method of deriving a basic number by reducing a complex number. I rarely use it. It’s where you take a large number and add each digit together. So 1091 would be 1+0+9+1=11=1+1=2. 1091 reduces to 2.
I'm more likely to look at it as 10,91 - the #10 combined with the #91. You can divide numbers up however you like that makes the most sense or gives the most useful data. Another common example given in Robert Anton Wilson's The Earth Will Shake is for the #210 or 2,1,0 defined as dual opposite polarities (2) becoming unified (1) then canceling out (0).
Notariqon is a Qabalah of forming new words by taking the first letter of each word in a phrase or sentence. For example, the notariqon of the preceding sentence reads as:
Niaqofnwbttfloewiapos. Of course, this looks like nonsense in English but we can find some value if we transliterate the letters into numbers and add them like this:
(N=50)+( i=10)+(q=100)+(o=70)+(f=6)+(n=50)+(w=6)+(b=2)+(t=9)+(t=9)+(f=6)+(l=30)+(o=70)+(e=5)+(w=6)+(i=10)+(a=1)+(p=80)+(o=70)+(s=60) = 750
750 has no obvious significance in this context apart from demonstrating the process.
We could take a simpler approach and only use capital letters for the notariqon of the first sentence of this section. This would be : QN which adds to 150.
The Sepher Sephiroth has "Thine eye" as one listing for 150
Looking at 600 - the sum of the small letters by process of elimination - we see a Latin phrase:
Mirabilia, vel occulta sapientae
Mirabilia = wonderful, marvellous, extraordinary, unusual
vel occulta sapientae = or secretly wisely
So maybe these two numbers and their meanings combined, 600 + 150 has something to do with the first sentence here.
Again, I just made up this example to show the process and am not claiming that any profound truth lies therein.
I'm also not covering every aspect of Qabalah, Gematria, or Notarqon that exists but only what I've found practically useful. For an exhaustively detailed, if somewhat archaic description of Qabalah, I suggest MacGregor Mathers Introduction to The Kabbalah Unveiled.
Perhaps we'll discover more relevance in our discussion if we examine a profound truth via Qabalah?
The number 68 seems to have an important role in this lexicon. We can verify this by observing the emphasis Robert Anton Wilson seemed to place on that number.
His quantum physics flavored trilogy Schrodinger's Cat, which he suggests use as a shamanistic manual, adds to 68 by the notarqon of the title, SC
A central character in Wilson's Historical Illuminatus trilogy goes by Sigismundo Celine, also adding to 68 via notarqon
The first character on the first page of Illuminatus! finds himself:
... at the moment very conscious of a squirrel - in Central Park, just off of Sixty-eight Street, in New York City - that is leaping from one tree to another.
The most simple interpretation:
68 = 6 and 8
6 = Tiphareth, 8 = Hod, the Sephiroth which relates to communication or transmission. Therefore 68 could mean the communication/transmission of Tiphareth.
I've already shown that Wilson book-ended Illuminatus! with references to Tiphareth.
We can attempt to verify this further through chapter 68 of The Book of Lies titled Manna. In the commentary Crowley writes:
Manna was a heavenly cake which, in the legend, fed the Children of Israel, in the Wilderness.
The author laments the failure of his mission to mankind, ...
Further on in the commentary he writes: My mission will succeed soon enough.
Earlier in this series I described how Crowley felt it his mission to bring what he called the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel (HGA) to humanity. The HGA has been described as the epitome or ultimate expression of one's True Will ie the fulfillment of one's purpose in life. The attainment of the HGA corresponds with Tiphareth.
So in chapter 68 Crowley refers to his mission to mankind, the communication of the HGA, an expression of Tiphareth.
Next we'll look at a few more methods of Qabalah before we get into the Qabalah of the Bardo.
Friday, July 8, 2011
Method of Defiance Column IV
Friday, July 1, 2011
The flight to Moscow then onward to Perm leaves at 8am which means I have to leave at 4am to get to the airport by 6. I decide to stay up all night to make it easier to relax on the plane. Received an email earlier in the day that a guide would meet us in Moscow to help with the transfer to the Perm flight. I'm the only one coming from California so expect to meet everyone in Moscow.
Get an email at midnight, 4 hours before leaving, from the Russian backline company saying that they can provide everything requested except a table for Graham Hayne's rack and a road case to set up Doc's dubbing mixer. First I've heard from anyone technical connected to the festival though they had been advanced our requirements weeks ago. They can't provide a road case, and the festival can't find a small table? Probably just that company can't. I'm not too worried.
Listening to an audio book of Life by Keith Richards and James Fox on the plane. Two things stand out initially: 1) that he considered the advent of recording technology to be the emancipation of music, and 2) his first guitar was a Rosetti. Looked at qabalistically: rose corresponds with Tiphareth, so, in a way, Keith started out playing music in Tiphareth.
Flight to Washington D.C. then the next one to Moscow mostly uneventful. Security is high. Checks, double checks, triple checks, the Russian visa in my passport gets scrutinized before they will give me a seat assignment at the gate. Russia has its own terrorism situation to deal with from the Chechan separatists.
This incarnation of Method of Defiance known as Column IV has Guy Licata on drums and delay pedal, Bill Laswell on bass and effects, Graham Haynes on trumpet, and Doctor Israel on vocals, loops and dubbing effects.
Saturday, July 2
Arrived in Moscow sometime around 10am. Customs was a breeze, they didn't even look at the bags. As long as the visa was good there was no problem.
Looking for the guide who said she would have a sign reading "Bill Laswell" at the exit from customs. Nowhere in sight. She did give a time of 12:25pm, it's only 11:30am now, so I wait. At nearly 1pm with no sign of anyone, I look at the Arrivals readout to see when the New York flight gets in. No New York flight is listed. I figure they must be arriving at a different airport in Moscow. Fortunately, they post departing information in both Russian and English so I have no difficulty checking in. Scored some roubles, 25 to a dollar, and made the flight.
There was someone to meet me in Perm. She called herself an administrator and wanted to know why I traveled separately from the band. Twenty minute ride to the hotel accompanied by two administrators seated in the back, and the driver. The hotel Front Desk keeps my passport for administration purposes. I'm told not to forget to get it back - good advice. Given a call sheet with our soundcheck and gig times, the festival guide departs to administrate elsewhere. I go up to the room and connect to the World Wide Web. It took about 27 hours to go from my house in California to the hotel in Perm. I feel good, even if somewhat psychically scattered from there to here.
About an hour later I recognize Doc Israel's voice outside my door, so I soon head down to the lobby and meet up with Bill, Guy, and Bill's stage tech, James Dellatacoma. We are sooned joined by Graham and Doc. Graham and I figure out that we haven't seen each other for about 10 years, not since Toshinori Kondo's Peace festival outside Hiroshima, Japan in 2001
Usually in a situation like this one of the festival promoters, or at the very least, one of its administrators will be with us to help handle crucial survival issues like where to eat and how to change money. No such luck at the moment. As we meet up, some of the guys are attempting to purchase something to drink at the bar without success. Nowhere to exchange currency, the hotel won't do it, and they won't accept a credit card.
At Bill's urging one of the main festival organizer's is found, I recall his name as Sacha. Sacha directs us to a restaurant in the hotel complex. To get there you must pass through a darkened bowling alley and another bar. The restaurant is kind of tucked in the back. Sacha pulls out a stack of Roubles and gives us 3000 each for expenses. He also picked up the dinner.
During the long wait for our food, Bill mentions a music festival he's organizing in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia next February for his group Material featuring Gigi that will also include other incredible bands. Stevie Wonder was talked about as one possibility but apparently he can't make it. Bill is returning to Ethiopia near the end of July with his son Aman, and videographer Skiz Fernando to continue setting it up among other things. They also plan to go up to the north of Ethiopia to the city of Axum to look for the lost Ark of the Covenant rumored to be there.
Michael Lang, one of the organizers of Woodstock, is involved with the Addis festival. The plan includes bringing a PA in from Istanbul to avoid the problems we had last time. It will probably be held in a sports stadium with a capacity of about 28,000 people.
Bill, as he often does, gave me a package with some of his newest work. This one had the new Lee Scratch Perry cd he produced, called Rise Again.
It also had a great book, Nomad Codes: Adventures In Modern Esoterica by Erik Davis, a Best Of collection by a well-informed and intrepid journalist. It included an article on Lee Scratch Perry which I highly recommend for its history of Jamaican dub. More on Nomad Codes later.
If that wasn't enough, Bill mentioned that he had a copy of the relatively rare new biography of British occultist and artist Austin Osman Spare by Phil Baker, definitely a book on my wish list. Spare seems one of the few occultists, along with Aleister Crowley and Kenneth Grant, to explicitly explore bardo related themes in their work.
I checked it out a bit while waiting for the food to arrive, and ended up having quite the synchronicity with the opening pages. It starts out with Spare's father going somewhere and seeing a boy on the street hawking newspapers and holding a placard with the headline, "Man Hung." The elder Spare observes that this reads improperly and should really say, "Man Hanged." Then he realizes it's his son, Austin.
Sunday, July 3rd
Early the next morning doing my yoga, drinking in Russian prana, I began looking at a dvd of a new show from BBC called Sherlock which sets the London detective Sherlock Holmes and his trusty cohort, Dr. John Watson in modern times. The episode started out with Holmes in a jail cell listening to a story by an inmate and getting annoyed with the prisoner's butchering of the English language. At one point he says something like "...and the man was hung..." Sherlock interrupts to exclaim, "It's hanged, not hung... the man was hanged." Shortly after that Holmes says something about Russia.
The coincidence reminded me of the tarot and also of the N.O.X. formula from Crowley's Book of Lies.
Retrieved my passport and left for the soundcheck around 10am. Problem with Graham's passport, the front desk had given it to someone else. At the moment they're not sure whom. Graham had changed rooms a couple of times which had thrown them off. Nothing like being in the heart of Russia without a passport home!
A one hour bus ride outside Perm through the gentle green slopes and forested countryside got us to the festival site. It's called the MOVEMENT FESTIVAL.
Unexpectedly met two old friends on the bus, Omar Torrez, whose group was slated to begin the festival's music today, and Eric McFadden who was playing with Omar. I had co-produced and engineered Alektorophobia ( fear of chickens) with Eric and Wally Ingram a few years ago at Prairie Sun. It's a very nice, bluesy, world music, alternative folkish, acoustic, non-genre specific album that also had some incredible guest talent including Keb Mo, Nels Cline, and Les Claypool.
I'd done some mixing for Omar last year at Prairie Sun, not too long after he came off a tour with Tom Waits, and had enjoyed his gypsy flamenco influenced sound. Both Eric and Omar qualify as guitar virtuosos.
Sound check went smoothly. The mixing desk was a Yamaha PM5D digital console - not my favorite especially for the effects which were all in board. At least it had dynamics processing and every channel. The front speaker cabinets were L-Acoustics made by a French company.
The stage for this outdoor venue was at the bottom of a small grassy hill that could accomodate something like 2- 3000 people. The sound was loud, clear and punchy enough though slightly under powered in the low end for trying to get a significantly signifying reggae/dub bass sound. I got around this with judicious application of the ROLAND KOSMOS SUB HARMONIC SYNTHESIZER, that I'd brought along for just these kinds of occasions.
At one point in the check Graham asked me what had been ordered for him for backline. In other words, what kind of equipment had he asked for to supplement what he brought. I said that the only request had been for a table to support his rack of electronics. He replied that he no longer brings his rack, but said that was ok and asked me just to put some repeat delays on his horn. I was kind of glad to go without the electronics as it would highlight and bring out his rich tone. Haynes' tone reminds of Louis Armstrong's tone though he plays much differently.
Hanging around backstage after the sound check 10 minutes before the Omar Torrez group is about to commence, his manager approaches - could I please mix their set? Their mix was too heavy on the drums and bass for her taste at the check, can't hear the guitars properly. My appointment calendar in Russia appears open until this evening, so I agree. Briefly go over some instrumentation and music details with Omar and Eric, then head back to the mixing tent.
Omar starts solo with a flamenco boulerias on acoustic guitar before the band joins him. Eric and Omar interact well on guitars, both have great tones - the whole band plays well together, easy to mix, in this the first date of a two week Russian tour for them. Their bluesy, rock, alt rock, party time music is met with a small but enthusiastic audience. The audience slowly builds and the whole area seems to begin stirring with life as the boys rock out.
After their set I just barely manage to make the bus taking Method of Defiance back to town. Graham's passport has been found much to his relief. The weather seems about as perfect as it can get for an outdoor concert - warm and sunny without sweltering heat, a slight breeze usually blowing but not so strong to wreak havok with the sound.
We end back at the festival around 8:15pm for a 9pm start and find the schedule lagging about 20 minutes behind. We are the penultimate band of the day. The two acts that proceed Method of Defiance seems about as incongruous as you could possible get with M.O.D. . I would call them world music pop. Not bad, just a whole different aesthetic, a more superficial sensibility. Music to get distracted by. The group following us that closes the day sound like a Russian Limp Bizkit.
This time around we are Method of Defiance Column IV. I'm reminded of the various King Crimson offshoots. Turns out the amazing bassist Tony Levin from King Crimson is just a couple of tents down backstage with his group The Stick Men, whom I've been told all play Chapman bass sticks.
The M.O.D. set starts with a recording of the intro to OM by John Coltrane then seamlessly segues to a Bill Laswell bass solo. Guy picks up the beat on the ride cymbal after the solo, Doctor Israel introduces us to the World: METHOD OF DEFIANCE REFUSE COMPLIANCE and the band kicks in full on with a heavy drum and bass fast funk groove.
The audience area has filled up to near capacity. All these sound wave absorbers (ie people) that weren't there at soundcheck has me turning up the low end more to give the bass its proper respect. About 10 minutes into the set the house tech, Alexi, suddenly gets upset and starts yelling- "it's too loud, it's too loud." The PA doesn't sound distorted or like it's peaking out, and the output of the Yamaha isn't going into the red and clipping. I ask him, "where's your SPL (sound pressure level) meter? I also look out into the crowd. People are dancing, swaying to the groove, having a good time, no one shows signs of distress with the volume, quite the contrary.
Alexi pulls up a bank of meters on an Ipad like tablet that shows I'm definitely pumping electrons toward maximum headroom, but doesn't show signs of system overloading as far as I can tell. He abruptly reaches over and turns down the master fader on the desk 5 db. For a brief microsecond I consider complying but then remember who I'm mixing and turn it back up. Alexi pushes me over with his shoulder and turns it back down. I push back with my body, and turn it back up.
Feels like I've shifted into two simultaneous but radically different worlds at once: 1) the heavily anchored low end and mindmeldingly dense polyrhythmic atmospherics of dubbed out effects, loops, feedback modulation and power. The force of rhythm . . . and more power - spaces emerging through spontaneous recombinant audio contours making new environments available for discovery and exploration. Sometimes guided by the crystal clear, soaring, swooping sound of a horn, cutting swathes through the mix like a bell ringing in the bardo. The heavy but articulate sound from Method of Defiance vibrates and massages this part of Earth from the depths of the tectonic substrates all the way through the ozone and beyond, and 2) this ridiculous tableaux of small, dot-sized characters in a mixing tent imagining that they're fighting for control of sound wave amplitude and distribution. Time heavily dilated all around.
I didn't feel angry, just got real quiet inside waiting from a great cognitive distance away to see what would happen next. As might be inferred, most of my attention seemed quite far from this petty human situation below. It's hard to have a transcendent musical experience with someone on your case but I didn't seem to have much choice. For some reason Alexi quickly did an about face and completely backed off. The master fader stayed at 0, unity gain, where it had started. I did back off on some of the sub lows; the rest of the show proceeded without incident in the mixing tent.
After our set I apologized to Alexi for causing consternation - just doing my job. He was fine. We shook hands and parted in peace. International good will was restored in this instance. The healing power of music once again.
I checked in with the band, the mood was ecstatic and righteously so. They had just carved new frontiers in the audio wilderness, musically going to new places and spaces. Grabbed the first bus back to the city. Eric McFadden and I were the only early escapees from the party on the bus apart from an English band celebrating a birthday transporting their merriment elsewhere into the Russian night. I had to catch a flight in 6 hours.
In this spot on the planet at this time the sun doesn't go down until 11:30pm or midnight. At 11pm it felt like it was only 6pm. More tricks on our sense of time.
Monday, July 4th
Fireworks light up the early morning Russian sky in Perm celebrating the historic American Independence from British ... just kidding, it was very quiet, actually. I stay up all night working and getting packed for a 5:50am Lobby call. The phone rings as I'm getting into the shower at 5:20am.
"Yes, the bus to take you to the airport is here, could you come down right away?"
" I was told 5:50, it's only 5:20."
"Yes, the bus is early, could you come down right away?"
"I'll be down as soon as I can."
" Ok, we will wait for you."
Total time in Perm - 35 hours.
6 hour layover in the non-temperature controlled Moscow airport; hot but not unbearable. Keith Richard's Life becomes the soundtrack as the bustling flow of travelers parade by. How the Stones' songs come to be written is fascinating, to me. "Jumping Jack" was Keith's gardner.
When giving my ears a break from the audio book I devour Nomad Codes, the book I received from Bill. Erik Davis is a brilliant essayist, writing from first hand experience which he's had plenty of. Along with Lee Scratch Perry, it has excellent articles on Phillip K. Dick, Terence McKenna, Peter Lamborn Wilson, H.P. Lovecraft, and the Matrix among others.
When I first opened the book, I was immediately drawn to the Coda, a travel essay called Bardo Flight. Davis begins with recounting a conference he lectured at in Costa Rica:
At the conference I gave a talk on Philip K. Dick and led a vigorous group discussion about the filmaker Richard Linklater's essayistic dream-film Waking Life, which is kinda like Sans Soleil for stoners. One of my major themes in these discussions was what Tibetans call the bardo: the insubstantial in-between state said to comfort the soul after death, when the contents of the mind return to seduce and terrify the ego's disoriented after-image as it reverberates into rebirth. A Dante-esque funhouse of ravenous demons, smoky lights, and copulating parents-to-be, the bardo is no doubt one of the most evocative sacred accounts of the afterlife. It may also be one of the most useful.
My other point was that there are bardos everywhere - not just in death ...
I noticed three interesting similarities between this essay and a recent posting here called Top of the World.
1. We both make the point that, as Davis puts it:
Traveling, in its many guises, can be another bardo rehearsal, offering up hints and foreshadows, perhaps even a few tricks.
2. We both quote Timothy Leary on death
3. I brought up the album Led Zeppelin IV. Erik Davis wrote a short book on Led Zeppelin IV that's quite good, I've read it.
Total time to return home: 31 hours.