Monday, December 2, 2013

Bleeding Edge by Thomas Pynchon

Another great multidimensional conspiracy adventure from one of the  world's greatest living writers, actually one of the greatest alive or dead ... or in between.  Bleeding Edge is a work of genius, as good or better than anything else Thomas Pynchon has produced. I have a few observations on some of the magical allusions that caught my attention.  This is by no means a comprehensive review.  You can find a short conventional review HERE.

That review sums it up as:

While the state of Pynchon’s art may not be pushing the bleeding edge in the ways that “Gravity’s Rainbow” did, his comic vision is nearly as absurd as ever and is never satisfied unless it outdoes itself, and as a result “Bleeding Edge” is a seriously funny book that’s also deadly serious.

Pynchon's art pushes and advances the edge of mind expansion in new ways.  Many reviewers seem to think that Bleeding Edge, although good in itself, doesn't live up to Pynchon's best work.  I disagree. 

Bleeding Edge begins and ends with main protagonist, Maxine Tarnow, watching out for her kids.  Walking them to school in the beginning, seeing them on to a elevator at the end.

She is introduced in the first paragraph. Maxine suggests maximum. The last word in the book is "least."    Bleeding Edge goes from "maximum" to "least" though the similarity of its beginning and ending - both have the same characters present, both occur on spring-like days, both have pear trees blossoming, suggests a circularity in the narrative.  The ending of Bleeding Edge connects to the beginning.

Going from maximum to least and cycling back around again appears isomorphic to Aleister Crowley's cosmology.  In his view, the infinitely large (NUIT) combines with and marries the infinitely small (HADIT) to produce the manifested Universe ( RA HOOR KHUIT).

In an earlier blog I related a couple of other likely Crowley references in Bleeding Edge.  One from p.11 is worth looking at again.  The discussion regards the primary antagonist, Gabriel Ice:

"...'He makes Bill Gates look charismatic.'
'That's only his party mask.  He has deep resources.'
'You're suggesting what, mob, covert ops?"
... a purpose on earth written in code none of us can read.  Except maybe for 666 which tends to recur..."

Could Pynchon be referring to the code of qabala?  Qabala certainly qualifies as 'deep resources'.  Looking at Bleeding Edge through a qabalistic lens reveals much useful information to the up and coming bardo explorer.  Qabala - another of the several bleeding edge technologies presented in this book.

Let's look at Mr. Ice in this light.  His first name, Gabriel, suggests the Archangel Gabriel who corresponds with the element of Water.  Ice, obviously, is frozen water, water blocked from flowing by a cold temperature.  In the Tarot, and in other occult symbolism, water = emotions.  Therefore, a simple interpretation of Gabriel Ice = blocked emotions, or a blocked emotional center.

That may sound a little far out, but I have some corroborating evidence.  On p. 25 Maxine's husband Horst is described as, "The big alexithymic lug."  Wikipedia defines alexthymia as:

Alexithymia /ˌlɛksəˈθmiə/ is a personality construct characterized by the sub-clinical inability to identify and describe emotions in the self.[1] The core characteristics of alexithymia are marked dysfunction in emotional awareness, social attachment, and interpersonal relating.[2] Furthermore, individuals suffering from alexithymia also have difficulty in distinguishing and appreciating the emotions of others, which is thought to lead to unempathic and ineffective emotional responding.

According to the OED, the word comes from the Greek words "a" (no) "lexi" (word) and "thumia" (emotion or feeling), literally meaning "no words for emotions."

In other words, an inability to communicate emotionally.

Maxine turns out to be friends with Tallis Ice, Gabriel's wife and has a climatic scene with her just before the end.  So these two women, who are friends, one is married to someone described as alexthymic and the other's husband has a name which suggests it.  We see another qabalistic congruency between the two couples.

As said in the post linked to above, Pynchon appears to use the qabalistic device of attaching the letter T to phonetic associations in people's names to suggest or create very expansive imagery.  The rationale looks like this:
 T = Tau = cross = rosy cross
 Grace Tarnow and Tallis Ice:
 Tallis  = T + all + is
Tarnow = T + ar + now

Then you have Horst Loeffler, Maxine's husband:
Horst = Horus + T

It seems basically the same image expressed in 3 different fashions.  We see two couples that both have these two motifs associated in their names, a very expansive energetic one and alexthymia, or blocked water flow.

More evidence for this line of speculation occurs on the first page which gives this theme in an innocuous looking sentence:

"As Maxine watches
(her children), sunlight finds its way past rooflines and water tanks to the end of the block, and into one particular tree, which all at once is filled with light."

Sunlight goes beyond any previously established limits and ends the blockage of water, filling the tree with light.  It should come as no surprise that I interpret this tree as the qabalistic Tree of Life.  The higher emotional center on the Tree of Life (Tim Leary's circuit 6) corresponds with the sphere of Tiphareth that also corresponds with the Sun.

If Bleeding Edge reads as an alchemical manual on one level, then Pynchon can't get any more transparent when he has Maxine say:  "Guys, check it out, that tree?" right after the last quoted sentence.  About as clear of an instruction as you can get.

So the solution and resolution of an underlying core problem gets handed to the reader on a platter in the second paragraph.  Of course, you don't know this at all on the first read through having only read one prior paragraph.  However, the circular nature of Bleeding Edge - the two ends really do connect up, the two edges bleed into one another - turns it into, perhaps, the book's final reveal brilliantly coming AFTER the end when you circulate back to the beginning for the next go 'round.  The end bleeds in to the beginning, the least into the maximum.  This literary device infinitely expands the book, it never ends.  Each time you read it it's different because you are different. 

Like Finnegans Wake, which Bleeding Edge clearly shows influence from, especially with its circular aspect, the flowing water, and the 'how to" nature of both books as consciousness manuals, it demonstrates the principle of Eternal Recurrence, an ancient idea more recently taken up by Fredrich Nietzsche and P.D. Ouspensky and still explored in various schools including Robert Anton Wilson's not so long ago Tales of the Tribe class.

Eternal Recurrence basically holds that you repeat this lifetime infinitely until you get it right.  When you die, you get born back into the life you just lived.  I'm probably simplifying way too much.  Every time you start your life again, you appear different due to the experience and lessons (hopefully) of the life you just lived.  The life always seems different because the perspective you go through it with always changes.  In this model, the phenomena of deja vu, indicates a crossover of remembering a previous lifetime in this lifetime.

I don't know if Eternal Recurrence is literally true or not but it makes a useful model for observing certain repetitious actions, or just self-examination in general.  Don't recall the official Buddhist name for it, but there exists an exercise of recapitulating past actions in your meditations, going through them again.  Aleister Crowley used to recommend this as did Robert Anton Wilson.  Other contemporary schools do as well.  I believe it's a strong part of Carlos Castenada's shamanism practices.  It definitely makes up an important element of bardo training.  A variation on this is to recapitulate your actions through a different centrum (in Leary's terms, a different circuit).  Rereading certain books, especially circular ones, shows what it's like to repeat the same actions and events from a new perspective.  Nearly anyone who has done this knows that you pick up more information the second or third or x number of times you read it.  Information that you hadn't seen on previous readings.  In a similar way, doing the Buddhist meditation of recapitulation can give new information initially missed or overlooked.  A floatation tank makes one excellent locale for this practice.

A day after writing the above paragraphs, I saw on page 2 that the school Maxine takes her boys to "is named for an early psychoanalyst who was expelled from Freud's inner circle because of a recapitulation theory he'd worked out."  Again, something that had much less significance reading it the first time.  At the end of this paragraph quoted, Pynchon quite obviously (to me) connects recapitulation with bardo training.  Now, I read on Tom Jackson's RAW blog that Wilson refers to the beginning of his book Coincidance right at the very end of that book with the same quote from Mr. Synchronicity himself, Carl Jung.  Now there's a coincidence!

Maxine works as a fraud investigator. I had made the association fraud = Freud.  As a "freud" investigator, Maxine investigates the unconscious mind. 

Back to page 1 of BE.  After Maxine points out the illuminated tree to her boys, they continue walking and she instinctively moves between them and the road "so as to stay between them and any driver whose idea of sport is to come around the corner and run you over."."This illustrates another hugely important shamanic instruction: protect your work!

It could seem like I'm arbitrarily imposing a qabalistic grid over ordinary prose.  My rationale for inferring Pynchon's hierophantic communications rests in the fact that he wrote explicitly ( and implicitly) about qabala, gematria, tarot, alchemy, time anomalies and other esoteric subjects, phenomena and realizations in Against the Day, a book that also shows strong influence in Bleeding Edge.  In some regards, especially along these esoteric lines, Bleeding Edge seems a continuation of Against the Day.

The opening sentence of BE reads: "It's the first day of spring, 2001."  I submit to you, dear reader, that this is the same kind of "day" that something was "against" though this seems a stretch until further references make it more apparent. 

On page 12, talking about Maxine's separation from her husband Horst, occurs the line, "back in what still isn't quite The Day."  The caps are Pynchon's.  There immediately follows a reference to the song Landslide by Stevie Nicks and an image presented which strongly resembles the poem found in chapter 84 of Crowley's Book of Lies titled The Avalanche.  I remember posting awhile back that Against the Day contains the only known ( to me) usage of the words avalanche and popcorn in the same sentence.  Both words indicate different metaphors for the exact same alchemical process.  Avalanche from Crowley's system, as noted,  and the popcorn metaphor derives from chapter 1 in Practical Work on Self by E.J. Gold.  A reference to that metaphor appears on page 1 of BE.

When reading Against the Day I felt initially puzzled by what "the Day" meant.  Then one day, listening to Heroes by David Bowie and Brian Eno with the line: "we can be heroes just for one day", and recalling that Robert Anton Wilson said On A Clear Day You Can See Forever was the best example of magick he knew of on film,  it suddenly made sense.  I wrote of this about halfway into a blog concerning Space Migration.

I noticed another shared metaphor originally found in Against the Day close to the end of Bleeding Edge.  Pynchon brings in Timothy Leary and 2/3rds of his most famous shamanic instruction which was widely and mistakenly taken to refer solely to the use of psychedelic drugs.  Two short paragraphs later, the imagery becomes mildly but distinctly psychedelic as they "...ascend to the street..." where the "pear trees have exploded into bloom..."

Many explosions occur in Against the Day.  Blowing things up is the occupation of some of the main characters.  Several, if not all of these explosions suggests psychedelic drug trips, in one interpretation.  They give a context for Pynchon to dish on the pros and cons ( mostly cons) of psychedelics.  Please don't make the mistake that I'm suggesting Pynchon advocates this activity, or that I advocate this activity.  I remain unqualified to endorse or condemn psychedelic research, so I prefer to stay agnostic about the subject.  The strongest message I picked up from reading about psychedelics as explosions in Against the Day was WARNING!  Even the paragraph mentioned above in Bleeding Edge ( last one from p.475 to p.476) points to the dark side of psychedelics.

One last potentially Crowley inspired quote:

(p.127) "'Suppose something is going on that they're not catching?"
Suppressing the urge to scream "Al-vinnn?" Maxine gently inquires..."

Aleister Crowley sometimes gets affectionately called Uncle Al.  I once heard him referred to as Big Al.  Al also conjures up Liber Al vel Legis, The Book of the Law, the central document of Crowley's school and the origination of his cosmology discussed above.  Al also represents the key to the Book of the Law as discovered by Charles Stanfeld Jones aka Frater Achad in his book Liber 31.

Ostensibly, "Al-vinnn" refers to the famous scream for the lead singer of Alvin and the Chipmunks. But if you look it up, no one spells the scream with a hyphen except Pynchon, though they do use the 3 "n"s.  I'll resist further interpretation.  There's more, of course, but there's only so much Illuminati secrets I'm willing to dish out at one time from a Pynchon usage of a famous cartoon summoning.  It reminds me of Crowley's essay about the qabala of Mother Goose rhymes in Book 4.

I have barely scratched the surface.  This is cutting edge, graduate level material even if presented more subtly than in Against the Day.

I'll leave off with a great quote from another good review, the best and most comprehensive that I've come across, that ties in with the Here To Go subject matter on this blog.

More than any other American writer, Mr. Pynchon brings the whole cosmos—not only as it’s known to philosophers and poets, but also to science and history—crashing down on his characters. Informed by modern physics, he has always refused to embrace linear cause and effect, in plot or in character. Of course, the author is capable of portraying conventional psychological development, particularly in Slow Learner, his early collection of stories, but this style of character development has rarely been a priority. Rather, he prefers to set his characters up as charged particles and send them hurtling out of a cyclotron, subjecting them to multiple interacting fields to disrupt their movements. Their intentions (their “character”) only play a very small part in their fate, as large-scale macro forces send them hurtling. The more characters he sets going, the more interference there is, and the greater the chaos that results.


Monday, November 18, 2013

Tripping the Bardo with Timothy Leary by Joanna Harcourt-Smith

This book profoundly moved me.  Subtitled, My Psychedelic Love Story, it tells a tale of high adventure, courage, tragedy and the perils of publicly raising consciousness on a mass scale, among other things.  It also tells a story of true love.  Harcourt-Smith began tripping the bardo with the good doctor toward the end of his few years as a fugitive in exile from American cops.  In the final weeks of Leary's freedom run, he and Joanna spent 49 days together becoming what John Lilly calls a "dyadic cyclone" by tripping, both in the sense of traveling around Europe and into Asia, and in the sense of taking acid every day.  49 is the number of chambers, one per day, the voyager travels through before taking rebirth according to the Tibetan Book of the Dead.

Why did Timothy Leary take so much acid?  It's been known for a long time in some circles but this is the first time I've heard it publicly stated, and by someone who knew him intimately so it carries the weight of personal experience:

"The Bardo was why Timothy took LSD so often - not to "party" or get high, but to learn how to "die" and trail-blaze the final frontier of consciousness."

The effectiveness of his methodology gets debated to this day.  Tripping the Bardo with Timothy Leary (TTBWTL) sheds light and exposes darkness on the pros and cons of his unique way of life against a backdrop of international intrigue and the dubious distinction of being tracked and hunted by the most powerful country in the world.

This book review comprises the second chapter of the Here To Go series.  Tripping the bardo = here to go.  TTBWTL keeps the bardo perspective throughout, thus by its nature making it a work of literary art that communicates deeply on many levels with many perspectives.

This is Joanna Harcourt-Smith's story, before and during her position at the center of a cylone in a unique point of time. The writing engages, you won't want to put this book down.  Simple, direct, yet highly articulate with a poetic touch at times.  I really like how she includes the music she listened to along the way.  The importance of music in her life and how she uses it to navigate the bardo - just that alone is worth the price of admission.

For instance, at one point Smith and Leary are being illegally detained in Afghanistan in some hellhole of a hotel.  She is very sick with hepatitis.  They don't know what's going to happen to them.  A Leary admirer and relative of the royal family visits them and promises to do what he can.  He brings a tape recorder and player to do an interview with Tim.  As he's leaving he asks if there's anything he can bring to ease the confinement.  Joanna asks for a couple of classic Rolling Stones tapes.

TTBWTL reveals a great deal of what Timothy Leary was like as a person that you won't find in any other biography of him.  This seems his most intimate account.  Obviously her perspective is biased, yet Smith's frank, confessional writing style makes that bias transparent.  It doesn't get in the way, rather it embellishes the narrative with its sincerity and candor.  Harcourt-Smith fully lives up to Dylan's maxim: "to live outside the law you must be honest" in her narrative.

Experiential researchers of the more subtle varieties of consciousness are increasingly coming to understand the value of coincidences and synchronicities for navigating the bardo and providing voyaging information.   Tripping the Bardo documents many stunning synchronicities.  Though you might expect that in a mileau of consciousness experimenters, they, nevertheless, continue to produce an incredible sense of wonder never failing to thoroughly astonish.  One of my favorites - Joanna and Timothy met and got together largely as a result of being separately drawn into the Rolling Stones orbit when the Stones were working in France recording Exile On Main Street.  Leary, at that time, was THE exile on main street along with the Stones.  The opening lyrics of the first song, Rocks Off go: "I hear you talking when you're on the street, your mouth don't move but I can hear you speak."  Leary was known to demonstrate remarkable telepathic abilities at different times several examples of which you'll find in this book.

 Perhaps the most amazing coincidence comes at the end of the book when Joanna recounts receiving  Island by Aldous Huxley as a parting gift from Timothy.  She randomly opens it and in oracular fashion gets the most amazing passage - true wisdom and guidance perfectly timed to help with the crisis she was in at that moment.  The passage is reprinted but to be truly amazed by it you need to read the whole book.  It shines brilliantly after much pain and darkness, and tops off the bardo form of TLTBWTL.

Aldous Huxley, apart from being a brief mentor for Tim, directly links Leary with Aleister Crowley.  A transfer of a specific kind of  baraka occurred there  Crowley turned Huxley on to the idea of experimenting with mescaline.  Huxley guided Timothy Leary in his psychedelic researches and presentations as documented in High Priest.  Tripping the Bardo has many more anecdotes and instances of Crowley's influence on Leary.  Early in their relationship he tells Joanna a very interesting interpretation of the Fortune card from Crowley's Thoth tarot deck.

Fans of Robert Anton Wilson will note that Leary reread Illuminatus! toward the end of his prison years.  That's the only appearance of Wilson in this tale.  Other books Leary requested get mentioned, as well as how many times he read Gravity's Rainbow.

Joanna Harcourt-Smith has endured unfair criticism at times that she was riding on Timothy Leary's coattails.  After reading her book, this criticism seems ridiculous, quite the opposite.  She appears the best thing that ever happened to him at that time and he acknowledges that more than once at the end of the book.  It was her Will that eventually got him out of jail, moreso, it seems, than his own.  After about 3 years of going nowhere with the legal process, she insisted that they become FBI and DEA informants to secure his release.  That whole story gets told for the first time from an inside perspective other than TLs.  People can decide for themselves the moral issues involved.

It appears nearly beyond belief that Harcourt-Smith survived "riding Leary's coattails," or, as I put it, engaging in a dyadic cyclone with him.  In her own words:  " I followed him off that precipice, and my family, nationality, and sanity were fragmented beyond recognition."  So why did she abandon a luxurious lifestyle of partying around Europe to living on little money fighting for Leary's release, a seemingly hopeless and impossible task?

Of all the highs Joanna describes in her book, it seems the highest peak must have been the experience of Timothy Leary putting his full, undivided attention adoringly and lovingly upon her.  Bringing the woman to life.  He did this for 49 consecutive days, the length of time the Tibetans say that a voyager travels through the bardo before taking rebirth. 

It's inspiring to read her joyous and spiritual account of their first night together after having read Robert Greenfield's demeaning version of the same night in Timothy Leary: A Biography.  I'd have to go with the person who was actually there.  Greenfield does make an interesting point with his theory that Leary knew he was about to get popped and programmed Joanna to be his jailhouse girl, something that he definitely turned out to need.  I don't fully agree with his assessment.  Leary used what Crowley calls love under will to effect his magick.  Joanna willingly allowed herself to be loved in that fashion, to drop her armor, and ascend to her rightful place on the Throne of Heaven.  She voluntarily took rebirth as someone so in love that she would do anything within reason to get him back into her arms again and bask in his adoration.  Tripping the Bardo explicitly reveals much about how Timothy Leary used magick, more than I've seen anywhere else including his own books.

Many reasons to read this book.  It reads on many levels.  It's a close, articulate look of a dimly known side of American History.   It shows, firsthand the highs and potentials of the 1960's counterculture along with the tragic factors that lead to the burying of that idealism.  The attempt to use some drugs spiritually you'll read about along with the far too common random abuse, excess and poor choices that stigmatized this approach.  It's one of the most courageous stories about a woman I've ever read.  If you know nothing about these game players and care even less, it still makes an excellent, intelligent action/adventure story.  The book is a real page-turner, I could easily see it turned into a film.  Steven Soderbergh is my choice for Director. Jennifer Lawrence or Roony Mara would do a good job as Joanna, but I don't know who could play Timothy?

Anyone interested in learning, and more importantly gaining some experiential feeling for the bardo should read this true voyaging tale.  Tripping the Bardo With Timothy Leary shines as a multifaceted diamond, a precious stone of multitudinous beauty and tragedy. 

Robert Greenfield points out in his bio that Leary had a fascination with the anomalies of Time as they relate to expanded consciousness.  Greenfield says that Leary's last words in Flashbacks, "'s about time"  was a pun pointing to Time and he seems probably right.  So, just for fun I looked at the last word of Tripping the Bardo.  The last appendix is a listing of prisons and the last word in the book is San Diego.  Diego = die go.  You enter the bardo when you die, either physically or egoistically.  At that moment, a voyager truly becomes "here to go."  Just another one of those curious and curiouser coincidences that seem to follow bardo researchers.

Joanna Harcourt-Smith played a leading role in Timothy Leary's book What Does WoMan Want?  That was the first thing he asked her in real life.  Tripping the Bardo reveals (surprising news to me!) that she got exactly what she wanted from him in the end.  Maybe not everything she wanted, but the most important thing.  You can read it and find out what I'm talking about.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

This is the Space Age and We are Here To Go

At the Nova Convention held in New York in 1978, William S. Burroughs was asked what the convention was about.  He replied,

This is the Space Age and we are here to go.

This statement meant far more to Burroughs than a convention slogan.  "Here to go" represents an answer he and collaborator Brion Gysin came up with in response to the perennial question, " why are we here?"  "We are here to go," they offered.

Though he said this at a time when the possibility of migration into outer space looked like it was taking off in a real way, accompanied with much enthusiasm and optimism, I suspect it was meant in all ways, inner space as well as outer, and where the two meet.  One need not wait for a rocketship to take us to the stars to appreciate that this is the Space Age and We are Here to Go.

The idea that we are here to go, that life energetically remains constantly in flux, agrees with contemporary magick theory, Chinese religion, and scientific theories of relativity and quantum physics.  James Joyce's opening sentence in Finnegans Wake also synchs with the 'here to go' theme.

riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend
of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to
Howth Castle and Environs.

Riverrun recalls Heraclitus' famous statement about constant change:

No woman ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and she's not the same woman.
The Tao, the highest principle in one branch of Chinese philosophy, translates as The Way.  According to Richard Wilhelm in The Secret of the Golden Flower, A Chinese Book of Life, the character for Tao in its original form consisted of a head followed by another character for going.

 In a chapter called The Tao (1) from Magick Without Tears Aleister Crowley writes:

Note! Function. For now we see why Tao may also be translated " The Way"; for it is the motion of the structure we observe. There is no Being apart from Going."

Crowley then brings up the Four Powers of the Sphinx: To Know, to Dare, to Will, and to Keep Silence which correspond with the Four Elements of the ancient Greeks: Air, Fire, Water, Earth. He then says that because a fifth Element, that of Spirit is now recognized, he "deems it proper" to add a Fifth Power: to Go.

Then, as Spirit is the Origin, the Essence, and the Sum of the other four, so is to Go in relation to those powers. And to Go is the very meaning of the name God, as elsewhere shewn in these letters; hence the Egyptian Gods were signified as such by their bearing the Ankh, which is a Sandal-strap, and in its form the Crux Ansata, the Rosy Cross, the means whereby we demonstrate the Godhead of our Nature.

Elsewhere in the book, p.388, in the chapter titled Fear, Crowley explains how "to Go is the very meaning of the name God":

Here's that Book of Lies_popping out its ugly mug again: "Thou has become the Way." This is why the Ankh or "Key of Life" is a sandal-strap, borne in the hand of every God as a mark of his Godhead: a God is one who goes. (If I remember rightly, Plato derives "Θεως" (Theos) from a verb meaning "to run", and is heartily abused by scholars for so doing. )

At this point I should say this this line of enquiry was partly inspired by a blog posted by Michael Johnson on his Overweening Generalist site.  As I understood it, Johnson raised the question based on science telling us the Universe consists mostly of empty space, then why does much of it register as solid to us?  

I had just finished reading Cosmology by Buckminster Fuller.  He claims to know why, gives a pretty convincing answer and demonstrates the answer with a model.  Somehow reading the OG blog got me connecting it with Burroughs, Crowley and Here To Go.

Fuller's answer has to do with speed and frequency.  He uses the example of a rotating propeller blade.  When spinning fast, it appears as completely solid.  You couldn't put your hand through it, and if you threw a ball in its direction, it would bounce off.  This rapid movement apparently occurs atomically and subatomically.  In a solid object atoms are as relatively distant from each other as the planets in the solar system but move so fast as to appear completely solid to us slower creatures.   I don't know how accurate the science works out to, but he makes a convincing argument.

The reason I bring all this up is to present the supposition that higher states of consciousness begin to directly apprehend the subatomic world.  Consciousness eventually learns to function and operate in realms explained to us by quantum physics.  Enlightening Consciousness also start to see how quantum physics affects everyday life.  The manipulation of energies in a ritual of magick and the subsequent result might find its best explanation in quantum physics.

When Consciousness starts receiving more signal, it speeds up ... or, it has the feeling of speeding up.  If gone about in a gradual manner this phenomena can be hardly noticeable.  This speeding up of consciousness seems to occur as a tuning in to the vibratory nature of the molecular, atomic, and subatomic worlds.  As consciousness expands we begin to become experientially aware of realities beyond the consensual one of appearance.

Returning to the model from the Doors of Perception by Aldous Huxley which says that the vast majority of electro-magnetic signals we could potentially receive gets blocked and filtered out by the human nervous system.  These filters can open and become unblocked to let more signal through.  Usually temporary, sometimes permanent.  One aspect of the full realization of the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian seems to be a complete and permanent removal of these filters - what G.I. Gurdjieff called "buffers."

In Changing My Mind Among Others, Timothy Leary says that one main reason for meditation,  doing yoga, eating right, etc. is to prepare the nervous system for the increase in signal from expanded states of consciousness.  Training of the attention, the ability to focus, also becomes more crucial as signal flow accelerates.  This applies as equally to high states of meditation and ritual work as it does to working in a recording studio with intense musicians, etc.  Raising of consciousness happens all the time (well I do live in California!) not just in special exercises and practices.  Mostly, these moments of waking up seem brief, and go unnoticed.

The last time I saw Timothy Leary was at a club in New York called Wetlands.  He seemed his usual, jovial, optimistic, enlightened self, if a little more thoughtful and slower to respond.  A brief but poignant moment came when mentioning his daughter Susan's recent suicide.  It was interesting and educational to see how such an intrepid voyager dealt with that kind of tremendous pain.  He acknowledged the loss without getting sentimental about it, but you could tell it affected him a lot.  Then he said something like, 'I see no point in wallowing in grief,' and moved on. 

As his time drew to a close, Leary went into a short rap telling everyone they should imagine themselves as quarks, the subatomic particles that make up protons and neutrons.  "What do quarks do, how do they behave?" he asked rhetorically.  He was trying to get people to think in terms of quantum physics and how that awareness might help to successfully navigate this long strange trip we travel through life.

Murray Gell-Man coined these building blocks of matter "quarks" after reading the poem "Three quarks for Muster Mark" in Finnegans Wake.  This seems quite appropriate because one level of Finnegans Wake which Joyce symbolized in his notebooks as a backwards "E", and what Robert Anton Wilson calls the non-local circuit, illustrates the nature of the quantum Universe.  In my opinion, reading Finnegans Wake will start to familiarize consciousness with all the idiosyncrasies and ways of life as a self-directed subatomic particle.  Timothy Leary once remarked something to the effect that reading Ulysses and Finnegans Wake makes excellent preparation for observing energy in its raw, vibratory state. 

In Leary's 8 circuit model of Consciousness, the 8th circuit is called "Neuro-Atomic (Metaphysiological)" by Robert Anton Wilson in Cosmic Trigger.  Each circuit has 3 stages.  In The Game of Life, Leary describes the first stage of the neuro-atomic circuit as:

Technological Stage:

Quantum Consciousness, Awareness of Charge and Spin, Meta-physiological receptivity, Self-Definition As Starmaker, as a Radiant, Hi-Velocity Celestial Entity, as Singularity.

Ontogenetic Stage:

Awareness and Manipulation of Sub-atomic-nuclear-energy (S.A.N.E.) by the nervous system


Planful movement...

It's useful to read the whole section on the neuro-atomic circuit in The Game of Life to get more of an idea and feel for quantum awareness.

The Schrodinger's Cat Trilogy by Robert Anton Wilson is another highly recommended exploration of consciousness and its relation with quantum physics.  This book, more than any other I know, bridges the gap between quantum physics, everyday life, and magick.  One even finds there a glossary of models to explain quantum physics at the time of writing.  I don't know if any of them have been rejected since the book came out?  If so, it would still be very useful to read anyway.

Virtual reality engineered in cyberspace seems another excellent way to gain experiential knowledge of these inner spaces.  The easiest way to do that is to play a computer video game.  People who research these things have discovered that currently the best video game for this is Diablo 2Quake, Team Fortress is another good one.

Playing these video games gives you the direct experience of being  'here to go' in the quantum world.  They move fast.  They will begin to show you what it's like to voyage in the Macrodimensions of the Labyrinth, as E.J. Gold puts it.  This seems a good way of describing metaphysiological awareness.  You have the sensation of moving at a greatly accelerated speed  through different spaces.

To be continued ...

Monday, October 21, 2013

Ronald Shannon Jackson

Another great one has sprung his mortal coil.  Drummer and composer Ronald Shannon Jackson died two days ago from leukemia at the age of 73.  A master musician, considered an innovator of free jazz drumming and harmolodics, Jackson played in groups with Ornette Coleman, Albert Ayler, Cecil Taylor, James "Blood" Ulmer, as well as forming his own band, The Decoding Society.


From Wikipedia:

Musician, Player and Listener magazine writers David Breskin and Rafi Zabor called him "the most stately free-jazz drummer in the history of the idiom, a regal and thundering presence."[4]

From the same article, Jeff Eldredge describes the Decoding Society's music as:

Melodies can alternate from busy, frenetic, multiple themes to simple, lazy, lyrical phrases. They often function as both heads and melodic material to accompany one or more soloist. Sometimes the melodies are diatonic, other times they are bluesy; occasionally they sound "Eastern". Although The Decoding Society is more of a composer's band rather than a vehicle for soloing or drumming, free-blowing solos abound, and Jackson's thunderous playing is heavily featured.

I would say his playing was thunderous too... in every meaning of the word.

Shannon also became a founding member of Last Exit with Bill Laswell (bass), Sonny Sharrock (guitar), and Peter Brotzmann (sax) which has been described as a free jazz supergroup.  I would describe them as one of the most, or the most powerful musical force of the XXth Century.  A pillar of raw, unrehearsed sound, guided chaos balancing on the brink of utopia or oblivion.  They sometimes sounded like the last exit before full on nuclear annihilation as if creating the experience in sound would negate the need for it to occur on a global scale.  Their peak years of musical activity, from the mid to late '80s, coincided with the glasnost movement in Russia leading up to the collapse of the Soviet Union and the tearing down of the Berlin Wall.

 Jackson joined Laswell on two other classic projects: SLX, with violinist L. Shankar, Senegalese percussionist Aiyb Dieng, and Korean drumming  group Samulnori,  and the free jazz trio, Mooko, with Japanese saxophonist Akira Sakata.

Shannon practiced Buddhism, alchemy, and magick.  He seemed quite well versed in various esoteric arts.  I had the extreme great fortune to know and work with him - assistant engineer for the recording and mixing of Red Warrior, did live sound for the Decoding Society one time, and traveled with him to India when he accompanied Bill Laswell and I to work with violinist L. Shankar. 

Though only in contact with him for a brief time, I do consider Shannon a friend whom I hold tremendous respect for.  He seemed low key and very refined.  Sometimes he appeared to go invisible.  Shannon would wear black leather and his skin was very dark causing his appearance to disappear into the shadows of a darkened control room, yet you knew he was there, sharply alert, listening closely to the sound of his music being mixed. 

Jackson's demeanor recalls for me the I Ching's 27th Hexagram which has the trigram Ken - Keeping Still, Mountain above the trigram Chen - The Arousing, Thunder.  The Image for it reads:

At the foot of the mountain, thunder:
Thus the superior man is careful of his words
And temperate in eating and drinking.

The first Shannon Jackson record I helped out on was called Texas, and that's when we met.  It was only the second project I ever worked on with Bill Laswell.  Robert Musso engineered the mix but Bill did all the automation writing of the faders.  It was released by Caravan of Dreams, which released several of Jackson's records in the '80's.  Caravan of Dreams was an experimental theatrical collective lead by writer and teacher John Allen/ aka Johnny Dolphin that would later launch the ambitious Biosphere 2 experiment near Fort Worth, Texas - Ronald Shannon Jackson's home town.

We didn't hang out much in India, a few meals together - he wasn't with us at the studio sessions.  I don't know how he spent his time for the 10 or so days we spent there but he seemed much better for it when we left.  Phantom invisible from another world on a expedition of spirit visiting temples, mosques, residences of saints, holymen, and women ringed with children of all ages; street musicians and smiling beggars; riding tuk tuks in and out of labyrinthine backstreets and alleys looking for ancient Vedic India that still exists in deep hidden locations; cooking fires roasting chickens penetrating the blackness of night.  I don't know, maybe that's what he did?  Flying with him back and forth from Madras, it seemed like Shannon was an essential part of the trip.  He had to be there for some reason, I don't know why?

Red Warrior was my favorite Ronald Shannon Jackson album to work on.  It was the most epic.  I think Bill Laswell had more creative input with this one.  It was released on Laswell's Axiom Records label.

Red Warrior was mixed by Jason Corsaro immediately after we mixed  Middle Passage by Ginger Baker.  Two classic drumming based records mixed back to back.  I brought in a few of my books, Gems from the Equinox, Magick in Theory and Practice, The Illuminated Books of William Blake, etc. etc. to help create an ambience, and to give Shannon something to look at while the mix was being set up. 

Here is the song Ashes from that album:


The last time we spoke, sometime in 1993 or 1994, Shannon mentioned that he wanted me to record his next album because he said he wanted someone who knew about alchemy to do it.  I would have loved to have done it but it didn't work out for reasons unknown to me. 

Much respect to a master musician and an enlightened human being.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Les Nubians Nü Revolution

Mine is the radiance wherein Ptah floateth over his firmament. 
I travel upon high! 
I tread upon the firmament of Nu! 
I raise a flashing flame from the lightening of mine eye,
ever rushing onward in the splendor of the daily glorified Ra,
giving my life to the dwellers on Earth.

- extrapolated from the Papyrus of Ani (The Egyptian Book of the Dead)

The mood and ambience of ancient Egypt paid a visit to Northern California when  Soul Train  Lady of Soul Award winners Les Nubians touched down at the Kanaga System Krush media center and farm.  They had either just finished or were taking a break from a short tour, and being in the neighborhood, and friends with them, Aja Salvatore invited them to his place for a few days to get some r & r &;r - rest, relaxation, and recording.  Fortunately, I was called in to engineer.
The core of Les Nubians are sisters Hélène and Célia Faussart.  They grew up in Paris, and Central Africa ( Chad) and started performing a capella in Paris and Bordeaux, France in 1993. They were joined by part of their Nu Revolution Band, Queen Aaminah (vocals), Shaun Kelly (drums), Fred Doumbe (bass), John Roggie (keys) Masahiro Shimizu (guitar).

The Nu Revolution band

Their music has been described as neo-soul, hip hop, and African.  Neo, as in The Matrix, in my opinion after working with them.  They sing a lot in French.
Les Nubians were playing dates to support their last release, Nü Revolution, which seems more than a song or album title, but rather a movement in the (re) launching.  It looked clear to me, and you can tell by listening, that they intend the puns, Les Nubians Revolution, and New Revolution in Nü Revolution, but I don't know if they knew the Crowley connection.

   Célia and Hélène Faussart
Nu, of course, is short for Nuit, the sky goddess of all possibilities in Crowley's cosmology, and the reputed author of the first chapter of the Book of the Law.  Verse 12 from that chapter also makes a good descriptor for the song:
Come forth, o children under the stars, & take your fill of love!
A child actually does come forth at the end of the track reciting poetry about that subject.  In the background an all-you-need-is love-type chorus, but different, starts up. 
Looked at through the lens of contemporary Hermetic Magick, Nü Revolution seems a text book rendition of Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.  Love is the Law, love under will only with great cascading vocals and African beats.
At the KSK studio, on their mini working holiday, Les Nubian's intention was to record a more organic, world beat alternate version of Nü Revolution.  The released version has a very commercial sound, the beat sounds a little machine-like, quite possibly it was programmed, I don't know, but it does have that sense of strict adherence to click track time, locked stock and barrel to the grid one might say.  It still sounds good, but I was glad to go for an alternate version more performance based.

We started by having the band play live - percussion (dun dun), bass, guitar, keys and vocal - using the drum and vocal tracks from the original version of Nü Revolution as a guide.  Overdubs went on top of that basic track.  Almost everything was recorded in one or two takes, very live and spontaneous feeling. 

Naturally, since they are a singing group, there was a lot of vocal overdubs and arranging.  But it went very fast, they knew exactly what they wanted or figured it out quickly on the spot.  Hélène was the one mostly wearing the Producer's hat, steering the ship as it were.  She is very focused, has an excellent ear, knows what she's looking for and can communicate it.  Intense, but in a relaxed way, if that makes any sense.  In other words, a true professional, my ideal kind of producer to work with.  It becomes a musical journey, a shamanic passage, when you start with nothing but an idea and see it evolve, by group effort, into a powerful song. 

Producer Hélène Faussart

Nü Revolution is, in my opinion, as powerfully a world changing song as anything that John Lennon ever wrote.  It actually seems like a little bit of the spirit of Mr. Lennon went into Nü Revolution.  The version we recorded isn't mixed.  I don't know its status but am hoping it will see the light of day.

In another part of the KSK facility editing was being done to the Mali music documentary.  An assistant had been hired to do some research.  He was asked to shoot some footage of Les Nubians in action but objected saying that it wasn't in his job description.  This wasn't received very well, but I reckoned it just as well. If he couldn't see the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience this unique combo of musicians, literally from all over the world, guided by strong women with roots in Africa and France, then it seems fortunate that he stay out of that space.

It did feel like a very strong space, a musical voyaging chamber.  Treading upon the firmament of Nu.  Creating a Nü Revolution.  The three ladies had a vibe of ancient Egypt meets the future.  It wasn't overt or in the least bit pretentious.  Told them I was very interested in ancient Egypt and got a couple of knowing smiles.  Nothing else was ever discussed about it.

 Queen Aaminah, Hélène and Célia Faussart

After the first day of recording I felt incredibly high ... naturally, although that's the first time nature ever gave me a project like that to record. 

Much gratitude to all who made it possible.


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Wilson, Pynchon & Crowley

Since beginning this Demystifying Crowley series other efforts along similar lines have been brought to my attention.  First of all, many thanks to fellow blogger Dedroidify for publishing an unknown to me article by Robert Anton Wilson on the Qabala, which he spells Cabala.

Some salient points from it:

To the Cabalist, the whole universe is a network of meaningful connections. The seemingly coincidental is as full of meaning as anything else. To begin thinking like a Cabalist you must regard everything as being just as important as everything else. All that seems "accidental," "meaningless," "chaotic," "weird," "nonsensical;' et cetera is as significant as what seems lawful, orderly and comprehensible. 

An elementary Cabalistic training technique is to try every day to "regard every incident and event as a direct communication between God and your soul." Even the license plates on passing cars are such communications-or can be considered as such-by the devout Cabalist. ...

Cabala, like dope, is a deliberate attempt to overthrow the linear left brain and allow the contents of the holistic right brain to flood the field of consciousness. When you are walking down the street and every license plate seems part of one continuous message-one endless narrative-you are thinking like a very advanced theoretical Cabalist. (Or else you're stoned out of your gourd.) Practical Cabala (or Cabalistic magic) is the art of utilizing such holistic perception to create effects that will seem like "strange accidents" to the non-Cabalist. ...

The system of Cabala is contained in a kind of ontological periodic table of elements (see illustration). The purpose of this diagram has been nicely defined by the eminent contemporary Cabalist (and Jungian psychologist) Dr. Israel Regardie, who describes it as "a mnemonic system of psychology. . . to train the Will and Imagination."

I recommend highly reading the whole piece.  In some ways it's the essay on Qabala that I wish I could have produced.  Much appreciation to Dedroidify for bringing this gem to light.

What Wilson calls "an elementary Cabalistic training technique" comes from a Crowley exercise in one of the advanced grades of his system.  This illustrates the open source code nature of Crowley's school and its nonlinear nature.

I sometimes modify this to treating every incident as a communication between the School and my Soul.  Remember, you don't have to believe in God, the School, or a Soul to make use of this metaphor and practice the exercise.  At the very least you'll be enlarging your consciousness through looking at things in a new way.
If the communication indicates or suggests some kind of action to be taken, then I will find ways to either verify or refute the communication often with an oracular device of some kind.  Usually I won't take action until getting it verified two or three times unless it's something I planned to do anyway.  However, the last resort in my decision making process involves listening to the intuition.  I might think I received some sort of communication and have it verified but if it just doesn't feel like the right move, I'll reject or postpone that suggestion.  Sometimes the message looks wrong or inappropriate.  Sometimes, it seems, the School feeds you false information.

I first heard the term guerrilla ontology from reading Robert Anton Wilson.  I don't know if he came up with that term. He describes it as:

 "The basic technique of all my books. Ontology is the study of being; the guerrilla approach is to so mix the elements of each book that the reader must decide on each page 'How much of this is real and how much is a put-on?'
 - The Illuminati Papers

Crowley uses the same technique in his writings.  Sometimes you just have to wonder how much of it is a put on.  The point seems to get people to think for themselves, to not rely upon an external authority to feed them all the answers and then blindly follow them.  Gurdjieff also employed a form of guerrilla ontology though not so much in his writings.  Timothy Leary employs fairly hefty doses of it in his autobiography, Flashbacks.

Guerilla ontology appears an often used technique for raising consciousness in this lineage under discussion.  As one acquires refinement and intimacy with the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel it may be found that the Angel isn't above a little bullshitting itself all in the name of raising consciousness.  The Angel serves as a Guide and sometimes it may guide by playing tricks.

Ecce exeplum:  In days of yore, as the soundman and roadie for a band called The Tickets, I had just finished setting up the PA for a club performance in Toronto.  This was at the end of a long tour and I felt a mild alteration of consciouness and spaciness from being on the road for an extended period of time.  I grabbed a beer to relax before the show and sat down at one of the tables.  A nearby patron struck up a conversation.  He had the appearance of a heavy metal/biker type.  I noticed occult symbols on his black T-shirt including 666 but didn't pay it any mind figuring it was just part of the look.  Didn't really engage in the conversation but noticed that it drifted into occult subjects.  Everything he was saying made sense but nothing I hadn't heard before.  Then he began talking about bilocation, the phenomena of someone apparently being in two different locations at the same time.  He suggested that at one of the locations, the subject existed as a phantom projection.  Again, I wasn't paying close attention.  I was tired and this sounded quite abstract.  Then he faced me directly in the eye for the first time, gave a very peculiar look and said, "for instance, I might not really be here right now" and laughed quite loudly. 

It profoundly shocked and woke me up.  The familiar sense and comfort of consensual reality completely collapsed and my brain felt like it was spinning in some vast chasm of space that had opened up.  It seemed both unnerving and invigorating at the same time.  I can't think of anything else that could have produced the same effect.

* * * * * *

While researching for this series I came across a new book by David Shoemaker called Living Thelema, A Practical Guide to Attainment in Aleister Crowley's System of Magick  which I recommend to the serious student looking for practical ways to get started or for different ways of carrying on.  Shoemaker also works as a Jungian therapist and brings that perspective to the book giving it added dimension.  Many similarities and congruencies appear between Jung's approach and Crowley's, a subject for another time.  They seem mutually reciprocal systems, each giving insight into the other.  Living Thelema does assume the reader has some knowledge of Crowley's writings.

* * * * * * 

Thomas Pynchon's new book, Bleeding Edge, also just came out.  He is a writer who has and uses qabala amongst his bag of literary tricks and devices while writing and invoking multiple levels of meaning.  Early on in Bleeding Edge Pynchon has what I strongly suspect to be references, or hat tips to Crowley:

"The principal, Bruce Winterslow, acknowledging the equinox in a white suit and panama hat, is working the crowd, all of  whom he knows by name and thumbnail bio, patting shoulders, genially attentive, schmoozing or threatening as the need arises. -p.3

The Equinox ( A Review of Scientific Illuminism), of course, is the name of Crowley's main series of writings starting with the biannual periodical, Volume I, he issued from 1909 -1914. Basically, his School in book form.

According to Eric, a purpose on earth written in code none of us can read.  Except maybe for 666, which tends to recur.  Reminds me, you still have that concealed-carry permit?" -p.11

666 was the number Crowley most identified himself with.  In court, he testified that it was 6, a number of the Sun (via Tiphareth) repeated three times, so they could just call him Sonny.

The book is called Bleeding Edge (B.E.) and the lead character is Maxine Tarnow, a most delightful name.  Her father's name is Horst which recalls Horus, Crowley's god of the new Aeon, and "t" which in Hebrew = tau = cross, bringing up the rosy cross by association.  Hors + t, the only letter missing is "u".

It should be said that Pynchon makes a great deal of pop cultural references, mentioning, for instance, Britney Spears and her song Oops, I Did It Again not long after Crowley.  Though I'm only at the start of chapter 11, p.112, I haven't seen any more Crowley references nor do I see an overtly Thelemic form to the book.  That's one element of many in his alchemical stew.  I also enjoy the fact that he puts a great deal of music into his mix.

Pynchon's book, Against the Day has quite a lot of qabala and occult allegories.  I'll be talking about it more later when the subject of Crossing the Abyss comes around on the guitar, but for now I bring it up because in it, Pynchon basically teaches one how to read the qabalistic puns and metaphors by taking the reader through various levels of difficulty from the blatantly obvious - talking directly about qabala and gematria - to the subtle and obscure.  Most of the time, to read the qabala in the other usual suspects, ie Crowley, Wilson, and Joyce, one needs a fairly comprehensive knowledge of the system.  Pynchon prods the reader into looking for new levels.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Oracular Communication with the HGA

Chance operations and random selectivity interpreted within a reliable oracular system describes a time tested method for receiving communication from Higher Intelligence.  John Cage used the I Ching to compose music.  You can use oracles like the I Ching or Tarot cards or a number of things to communicate with your HGA, tap into your intuition, access the intelligence of the subconscious mind, however you wish to look at it.

You can devise your own methods of chance operations.  Lon Milo Duquette has one that uses a TV and a remote control to come up with a reading in his Book of Ordinary Oracles.

A favorite oracle of mine, bibliomancy, in the strictest definition means asking a question before opening up the Bible at random and letting your eyes naturally fall where they may..  This technique works with any book that has a comprehensive generalized symbol system that reads within one's lexicon.   Earlier in these chronicles I mentioned getting a reading from randomly opening the Collected Works of Carl Jung regarding the death/rebirth archetype which gave a valuable formula for significant brain change.

That oracular reception showed great success, but not all make it as far or anywhere close.  Sometimes they read like gibberish or seem inchoately obscure.  Intuitive discernment about what to accept, reject, or select in between gets finely honed over time.  Any artist tapping into their muse or looking for an inspired source will tell you that it's not always home.

Timothy Leary said that if he only got one out of three philosophical predictions right then he'd feel like he was doing well.  He compared himself to a baseball player who has a batting average of .333 considered extremely good.  So if useful info derives from only one out of three oracular consultations you're doing quite well from that perspective.  Usually the percentage grows higher especially if using a well structured system like the I Ching or the Tarot.  It increases with time and experience.

I've worked extensively with those oracles, they both serve very well in different ways.  Sometimes the answers astonish. Sometimes they shock.  Sometimes they bewilder.  Sometimes they mock. The I Ching encapsulates the ancient wisdom of the East while the Tarot contains the wisdom  found in the West.   One of Crowley's main innovations concerned introducing Eastern philosophies and practices into the Western Hermetic canon.  He even connects some of the I Ching hexagrams with the Court cards in the Tarot.

Though I've found the I Ching extremely helpful at times, the Tarot has become ( it didn't start out that way) for me a direct pipeline to the HGA.  The cards seem a natural for this kind of communication mainly because they steep and simmer with qabalistic correspondences.  Looking at the Tarot on a consistently repeated basis makes a great, artfully enriching way of learning these associations.  Every tarot card corresponds somewhere on the Tree of Life.  They carry astrological, planetary, elemental information, and more.  The trump cards seem like a library of archetypes and teaching stories from the common basis behind comparative mythologies and religions.

Though useful to do full Tarot spreads - I use the Celtic Cross slightly modified, a one card tarot draw can be effective and much faster.  Concentrate on a question, shuffle the cards and draw one.  If it makes no sense, do it again.  I'll often do a series of 2 - 4 one card draws to get a general read.  If it's contradictory or confusing, then I'll do a full spread if time permits.  If you do a lot of one card draws consistently every day and look up their interpretations and correspondences, you'll pick this up pretty fast as well as learning lots of qabala along the way.  You'll begin to tune in to the oracular voice of the tarot, one of the transmitters of the HGA.

Learning the Tarot is the single most effective and practical way I know for initiating Conversation with the HGA because you can just out and out ask it a question and get an answer in its own Angelic language.  A tarot card will give an answer in the Angel's imagery - incidentally one of the best ways to interpret the cards is just to simply look at their picture.  There will be intellectual content if you look at the qabalistic connnections.  Also, you'll often pick up a feeling or sensation of some kind.  The cards can function as an intuitive catalyst.

Asking questions about the future or about things you don't know can act as one way to verify or refute communication from the HGA.  The cards tell you one thing, which of course you remember or write down, then later you find out what actually happened.  I was recording what was supposed to be a breakthrough album for a rising star.  I wanted to mix it and knew that I was in the running.  The cards indicated disappointment about two months before the decision was to be made.  I didn't mix it, they used more commercially famous, name brand engineers.  The album didn't achieve the hoped for success.  I doubt that had to do with the mixes, but in retrospect, I'm glad not to have mixed it.  No failed expectations to answer for.

In my experience, the more you use an oracular system the more accurate it becomes.  You develop a relationship with it.  You can start to tell when it's on or when it's off, when it's joking around or when it's giving a dire warning, etc. etc.  It takes on the quality of an exchange with a dynamic, external living Intelligence of some vast and active kind.

Learning the Tarot will significantly aid penetration into Crowley's writings and cosmology.  His book on the Tarot, The Book of Thoth remains a classic in the field; one of the last books he wrote.  It's been said, and I agree, that he knew he would die soon so he put everything he had into it.  It's also been discovered that if you read it again in six months, it will appear to be a different book because you'll be noticing much more.  In fact, this seems to happen upon every reading.

Several of Crowley's visions in the book The Vision and the Voice, his exploration of Enochian worlds, are extensive guided tours through different Tarot trump cards.  Some of the cards make excellent meditational focal points.  They become doorways into parallel alternate Universes. For instance, the six of Swords in the Thoth deck has a beautiful painting of a rosy cross.

The Tarot can perform spiritual diagnosis.  It will deliver progress reports from the Angel if asked.  Working magically and mystically, alchemically and shamanically means riding into and penetrating the frontiers of the Unknown.  To say it less poetically, this kind of work, or Work, occurs in areas that seem largely unknown to ordinary consciousness.  We really don't know what effect we're having, if any, with our ritual work, meditations and prayers except what we directly sense, feel and intuit, though never really, absolutely sure, except when you are.  One of the properties or premises of the Angel is that it has full knowledge and vision in those realms.  It, after all, exists as your most trusted Guide and the sense that it's always there becomes more evident as contact increases.

So you can ask the Tarot, your communication conduit with the HGA, " how was my work with the ritual I just did,"  " how was it in the floatation tank," " how was it driving home from the studio today," "describe the result of Liber Resh performed just now," etc. etc. etc. and get a progress, or lack thereof report.  Sometimes you won't like the answer but other times you'll get surprised by a favorable outcome when it seemed nothing really happened.

I use the Thoth tarot almost exclusively these days.  I love the artistry, the vivid colors, the projective geometry of the drawing and the rich Thelemic imagery.  It's not a bad idea to use and get familiar with other decks.  I've received valuable lessons from the Rider Waite deck, and even once got something interesting out of the very New Age Osho deck.  Recently purchased Lon Milo Duquettes Tarot of Ceremonial Magick deck so I'll be looking into that soon.  I attended an excellent talk on the Tarot  from him once, he was the one that mentioned The Book of Thoth reading as a different book 6 months after the first time.

Useful information regarding timing can come through in a Tarot reading.  Timing can seem critical when experimenting more intensely.  When you get far out there, encounters with all kinds of various energies seem more likely to pop up on the radar.  You don't want to take off in a hurricane or run into one enroute, if possible.

I strongly suspect astrological considerations play a significant role in deducing good timing but have never had a strong enough interest in it to fix my attention on learning it in depth, therefore I don't follow what sign we're in or even phases of the moon except by looking at the sky.  However, every day of the year corresponds with a small Tarot card, every astrological position represented by them.  I perhaps imagine that this allows for the possibility of a reading of the astrological condition for any appointed time.  Don't know if this holds true, but I do get a good astral, or bardo weather report from looking at the cards.

The best book I know for learning  Thelemic tarot, and a good deal of elementary qabala is
Understanding Aleister Crowley's Thoth Tarot by Lon Milo Duquette.  Reading Crowley's The Book of Thoth immediately afterwards works good.

Chapter 78 from The Book of Lies goes with this post.  You'll also find it on the first page of The Book of Thoth.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Conversing with the Angel

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 they exist or not. By doing certain things certain results follow; students are most earnestly warned against attributing objective reality or philosophic validity to any of them.
—"Liber O", Aleister Crowley

We left off with 3 suggestions for initiating conversation with Higher Intelligence - The Holy Guardian Angel: puns, coincidences, and qabala.  All these we measure against a growing intuitive voice.  We balance interpretations from research and experiments with skepticism and discernment.

Puns open minds to multiple levels of meaning, different ways of seeing things.

Coincidences tend to make me pay attention to what's going on around me more, to become more receptive to the environment.  They are like a bell that gets rung or a light that sparks up the attention.  They wake you up a little bit more.

Synchronicities sometimes indicate a confirmation for a particular course of action that has been taken.  They communicate other valuable information as well.   Strong synchronicities can feel like direct transmissions from the School.

For example:  Bob Dylan released a special collector's edition of his then new album, Love and Theft, on 9/11/01 that included an alternate version of The Times They Are A'Changing.  The times certainly did change that day.  Other lyrics from Love and Theft prophetically describe the events of that day as well.  Even the common name for the World Trade Center attacks, 9/11, communicates vital information directly and succinctly with a very basic pun that everyone knows.

Synchronicities appear to result from the non-local quantum circuit and also seems to play games with time.  By that I mean that the acasual synchronized occurrence of two events may result from quantum processes manifesting into the human material world.

I suggest that this aggregate of extraordinary communication and guidance we choose to call the Holy Guardian Angel operates on this non-local quantum circuit and so could influence coincidences in the manner of John Lilly's Earth Coincidance Control Office (ECCO)

People who experiment with the higher brain circuits tend to attract more synchronicities.  Synchronicities serve as one method of conversing with the Angel.
Incorporating Qabala into your worldview will increase and broaden the understanding of this kind of phenomena.  Qabala also tends to increase the occurrence of synchs.  It tunes you in to Higher Intelligence.

Qabala gives a clear picture of the nature of the Holy Guardian Angel.  Just knowing that the full realization of the HGA occurs in Tiphareth, the Grand Central Station on the Tree of Life, reveals much more than words ever can after one gets to know this sephiroth.

Qabala means "to receive."   Everyone receives different things.  Everyone will have a different Tree of Life though there will likely be some common basis especially if one learns the Table of Correspondences in the book 777 and Other Qabalistic Writings of Aleister Crowley.  This still reigns as the definitive qabalistic dictionary, in my opinion.  Just owning a copy of this book will get the qabalistic wings a growin'.  It even works through osmosis.

You build your own lexicon of images, your own map of symbols, your own numerological meanings, etc.  This lexicon seems to continuously evolve and get more refined mirroring an increased and more nuanced conversation with the Angel.

A major doorway into qabala opened for me the first time I read Cosmic Trigger, The Final Secret of the Illuminatti by Robert Anton Wilson.  You'll find numerous examples there of Wilson assembling a qabalistic lexicon leading to the reception of new information.

From Cosmic Trigger, the number 23 became an early building block in this reporter's lexicon.  Synchronicities with 23 appeared quite frequent for awhile.  A number of readers of this 23 Conspiracy have had similar experiences. It's as if the Angel finally found a way to communicate and wants to make sure to let itself be known.  Here's a related post: Bond 23.

The opposite of a rigid skeptic is a true believer.  I've observed people who believe in  the 23 Conspiracy finding 23s in everything.  There seems a significant difference from taking a quiet, receptive attitude to whatever random signals may communicate from the environment to projecting beliefs on the environment and finding confirmation there because you're looking for it.  No doubt there will be instances of uncertainty as to whether it's a genuine communication, a product of the imagination, or some mixture of both.  There exist ways to verify or refute your interpretations, but it's always a good idea to keep some measure of uncertainty in place remembering that you might be wrong.  However you don't want this uncertainty to paralyze your progress or contribute to complacency.  It's been said that every perception seems a gamble.  Caveat emptor - let the buyer beware - the Great Work appears a gamble.

Regarding certainty, Crowley wrote in Chapter 45 Chinese Music from The Book of Lies:

The more necessary anything appears to my mind,
the more certain it is that I only assert a limitation.

Wars, and fighting in general seem to partly result from the combatants being absolutely certain of their positions.  The occludedness of blind belief in anything, even atheism, gets poetically described by Crowley in the same chapter:

“I slept with Faith and found a corpse in my arms on awakening; 
I drank and danced all night with Doubt and found her a virgin in the morning.”

The Book of Lies, along with 777 became another major building block in my lexicon. Each of these one page Zen koan-like chapters bears some correspondence to its chapter number. For instance, 48 in my lexicon sometimes indicates (when this interpretation applies) working hard and making what the 4th Way calls super efforts because of how it reads in that chapter.

You don't have to base your lexicon of imagery on the Tree of Life or on Crowley's materials mentioned but if you do, then you'll be tapping into the same language that sometimes informs the writings of James Joyce (especially his experimental classics, Ulysses and Finnegans Wake), Robert Anton Wilson ( all his fiction, some of his non-fiction), Thomas Pynchon, and E.J. Gold among others.  Those are some of the writers I know who use qabalah deliberately.

One premise of occult functionality known to shamans, artists, musicians, magicians and mystics  throughout the ages holds that Higher Intelligence can get channeled through any willing receptacle. It can land anywhere.   The ancient Greeks spoke of connecting with their muse, that designation for personified (or godified) inspiration that's also the root for the word music.

Working off this premise, it then becomes possible to discover qabalistically encoded information in any form of communication.

Another example: In 1984, 3 days after moving in to the Sivananda Yoga Center in New York, I came home from school, flopped down on my bed and randomly opened a book of Allen Ginsberg's poetry to the line, O I am happy, O Swami Sivananda, a smile.
I'd never heard of Swami Sivananda until I started taking yoga classes and found this coincidence surprising.  The phrase, a smile, carries a certain significance in my qabalistic lexicon due to Timothy Leary's SMI2LE formula which has found some degree of exegesis in the Oz Mix archives if you wish to dig back there.

I wondered at the time if this synchronicity might be some kind of extraordinary communication.  I took it as a confirmation that moving to the Yoga Center indicated a good decision for my course, that it aligned to my largely unknown True Will.  This confirmation got verified from the useful experiments that subsequently occurred in that place of residence.  The proof of the pudding is in the eating of it.  In the Book of the Law it says, Success is thy proof.

The Marx Brothers film Animal Crackers has a wealth of qabalistic and magical information.   Much of it is advanced, there are multiple levels and degrees of difficulty, but some of it appears quite obvious.  For instance, the name of the socialite Mrs. Whitehead.  White = Kether, Head = Sun = Tiphareth.  The path that connects Tiphareth with Kether, called gimel (camel) goes across the terrain known as the Abyss (symbolized as a desert) and thus becomes one representation of the second spiritual landmark in Crowley's school, the Crossing of the Abyss.  One one level, Animal Crackers tells metaphorical tales and allegories related to this adventure through the Abyss.  In other contexts, Crossing the Abyss is known as navigating the bardo, and may be related to entering Chapel Perilous.  And that's just one interpretation of Whitehead.

Marx Brothers films, in general, are an integral part of my qabalistic lexicon.  The constant use of puns, linguistic acrobats, and the unexpected seems to open the mind up to new information.  Their humor seems like nutrition for the magician's developing awareness.  They, and/or their writers appear to have a direct connection with the 93 Current much of the time.

The 93 Current is another designation for Crowley's esoteric work, what I'm calling a new paradigm.  93 because Thelema = Will = 93 in Greek qabalah and Love = Agape = 93 also in Greek qabalah therefore 93 is a good number to symbolize love under will.

If old films aren't your bag there are plenty of excellent newer ones containing the wisdom of the arts using the language of qabalah to communicate.  Some examples: The Matrix series, American Beauty ( both the film AND the Grateful Dead album), The Fifth Element, The Adventures of Buckeroo Banzai, Big Trouble in Little China, The Meaning of Life, Beetlejuice, Rustler's Rhapsody, to name just a few.  Learning qabalah, learning to speak with the Angel, can be quite fun when combined with a good movie.

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Pattern recognition plays an important role in deciphering communications from Higher Intelligence.  This involves paying attention to the environment more carefully, noting any numbers, colors, phrases that recur more than usual or coincide in unexpected ways.  Maybe you read something that coincidentally relates to some life activity.

Recognizing patterns makes one very good reason for keeping a magical diary.  There are other good reasons too which we'll look at another time.

Developing competence in a good oracular system like the Tarot or the I Ching can make a bridge to the non-local quantum circuit home of the Holy Guardian Angel and thus establish another method for conversation.  This will be the subject of the next post.