Sunday, September 22, 2013

Multiple Levels of Communication & the Holy Guardian Angel

If dogs run free, then why not we
Across the swooping plain?
My ears hear a symphony
Of two mules, trains and rain

The best is always yet to come
That's what they explain to me
Just do your thing, you'll be king
If dogs run free

If dogs run free, why not me
Across the swamp of time?
My mind weaves a symphony
And tapestry of rhyme

Oh, winds which rush my tale to thee
So it may flow and be
To each his own, it's all unknown
If dogs run free

If dogs run free, then what must be
Must be and that is all
True love can make a blade of grass
Stand up straight and tall

In harmony with the cosmic sea
True love needs no company
It can cure the soul, it can make it whole
If dogs run free

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
Love is the Law, love under will Bob Dylan style.
The lyrics above come from his album New Morning.

Two landmark points occur for the student going through Crowley's course.  This first is known as the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel.  The second is the Crossing of the Abyss. 

Crowley said he decided on the term "Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel because it seemed so absurd as to discourage metaphysical speculation or debate about what it actually "is", what its properties "are" etc.  He also said that all beginning magick practice should get directed toward realizing this knowledge and conversation, that any other magick would be considered black. 

Crowley wrote that the HGA represents the epitome of True Will.  So contacting the HGA provides another entry point to fully discovering True Will.  Another way to look at it might be that the HGA represents True Will personified.

Everyone's relationship with their HGA manifests differently as you might expect in a relativistic Universe where every Star has a unique orbit.  Every explanation I've read or heard about the HGA varies slightly though they share common features.  Crowley gave seemingly contradictory accounts at different points in his life.  He told his student Frank Bennett that the HGA was the subconscious mind made conscious which suggests it as a more evolved part of our own brain.  At other times, Crowley acted as if the HGA manifested as a discrete conscious entity.

Some occultists describe the Knowledge and Conversation of the HGA as the union of the microcosm of the individual with the macrocosm of Universe. That seems a big clue.

The HGA ritual originates in a medieval text called The Sacred Magick of Abra-Melin the Mage that had recently (to Crowley's time) been translated into English by Crowley's teacher MacGregor Mathers.  As presented in Abra-Melin, this consists of a six month course of rituals and practices in hermitage from society.  Crowley bought his house called Boleskine on Loch Ness in Scotland for the purpose of this HGA invocation but cut it short to join in the political in-fighting that beset his order, the Golden Dawn.  It would be 5 or 6 years before he took it up again, this time using concentrated attention and visualization while walking across China with his wife and child.

The Abra-Melin rituals involve confessions, purifications, meditations, and prayers that increase in intensity every two months.  After 6 months of this the ritual intends to culminate in union with the Angel.  This reveals a basic model that runs through the new paradigm which holds that contacting higher modalities of consciousness appears a matter of opening the doors of perception to let them in.

I deliberately used the 'doors of perception' metaphor to evoke the famous account of the same name by Aldous Huxley in which he examined the effects of mescaline.  In this essay. he advances the theory that in our ordinary state we have filters that block out other realms of consciousness.  Various practices can unblock those filters.  The Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel might have something to do with those filters getting removed or greatly reduced.  You basically open yourself up to receive higher, or more refined energies through the yoga and magick practices.  The HGA (or higher brain circuits) resides with us all the time.  It thus becomes a matter of uncovering or unveiling the Angel through our work.

Most writers who broach the subject of the Knowledge and Conversation of the HGA speak of the fully realized, ecstatic, and complete union with it.  However, in my experience, one can develop a fruitful relationship with the Angel long before completely uniting with it.  I take the words 'knowledge' and 'conversation' quite simply and literally.  Knowledge begins just by hearing about it.  Later this knowledge will transform from hearsay into experience ( gnostic realization) after a few awe inspiring, mind blowing encounters with something that seems like some kind of vast active living intelligence system.  That begins the conversation.

A primary purpose of the HGA, especially in the beginning stages, is to act as a Guide.  The HGA becomes one's main spiritual guide once the Knowledge and Conversation has been solidly established.  The conversation occurs as a two way communication.  You might get or imagine you get an indication to make a particular choice or take an action.  After careful consideration you decide to act on it or not - your part of the conversation,  a communication back to the HGA regarding its advice.  More likely than not, you'll either get some kind of confirmation of a good choice or an indication of a bad one, a mistake from the point of view of the HGA, ie your True Will.  I'll give an example in a follow-up post.

The Conversation or communication from the HGA takes us to the subject of multiple levels of communication.  The basic atom or building block of these multiple levels = a pun, words or phrases that can have more than one meaning in the context they're used.  Learning to recognize puns, even if it means telling a lot of bad jokes, seems one good starting point, one useful beginning line of work.

Related to puns, coincidences and synchronicities (meaningful coincidences) are quite useful methods of communication.  Learn to recognize coincidences, notate synchronicities.  This does not mean to imagine or project meaningful connections onto anything and everything.  Stay skeptical, there exist ways to distinguish genuine communication from wishful thinking. 

Is it necessary to believe in supernatural entities like Angels to make this communication work?  Absolutely not.  You can simply view the HGA as a useful metaphor ... an extremely useful metaphor.  Communication with this metaphor can appear as strong and clear intuition.  Like attention, presence and will, intuition will grow, get stronger, more reliable and tangible over time.

The HGA has a language, indeed the whole of the magical Universe has a language known as Qabala.  Unsurprisingly then, Qabala has been deemed the Angelic Language as well as the Magical Alphabet.  Qabala appears fundamental to understanding magick.  Eventually, when mastered to a certain point, Qabala can show the blueprint of the Great Work on a moment to moment basis.  The understanding of Crowley's writings including his jokes and puns will increase exponentially as knowledge of Qabala grows.

The Tree of Life, the framework upon which qabalistic correspondences get sorted out, seems the ideal model for multiple levels of communication.  Viewed in its entirety, Qabala can look endlessly complicated and difficult to learn, but it's actually quite easy to begin and to see useful results in a short time.  I have a series of posts of how this lazy reporter learned and started to use Qabala beginning HERE.  Something like the next 10 posts elaborate upon the subject, and there exist various other qabalistic musings sprinkled throughout the Oz Mix archives like this one HERE.


Friday, September 20, 2013

On to Sundance!

The big excitement at Kanaga System Krush World Headquarters is the first officially released cut of Music in Mali: Life is Hard, Music is Good has been completed and submitted to the Sundance Film Festival.  Congratulations to Aja Salvatore, David Nicholson, Rafael Tudesco, and crew who put in marathon hours the past couple of months to make it happen.  The audio hasn't been fully mixed yet, but rough mixes are acceptable for submission.  We won't find out the confirmation that it's been accepted until December which gives us time to mix the sound.

Driving up to the aforementioned World Headquarters today I was met with the sounds of tribal drumming - Aja, Seydo, and Rafael, each playing a large dun dun ( African bass drum) with Aja and Seydo also playing cowbells for the top end.  Sounds, and a rhythm you would expect to hear from deep in the heart of West Africa bounced off the stone walls and tiled floor of the patio they were praying and playing on out into the world at large tickling the soul of Jah.  Muslim countries have  yearning  prayer calls 5 times a day sounding out on the audio landscape.  Rural America, probably rural most places, have roosters crowing at the break of day - and many other times day and night - in their audio landscapes.  Crowing in medieval times was considered inarticulate cries for God.  Africans like to drum.  Much more articulate, far less organizedly religious, the drumming has a power that shakes the earth when you're close to it.

Life is Hard, Music is Good goes in depth into this kind of music, music intended to function as a vital transformative,healing and guiding force.  Music that feeds the heart and the soulMusic that makes you want to dance exuberantly for the joy and beauty of life in spite of all difficulties.  Poverty, war, choking pollution, these are familiar human realities of everyday life where this music comes from.  The music keeps their spirit alive.  Indeed, one often encounters great wealth of spirit in Africans, palpably sensible, moreso than in more affluent Western countries.

I poked my head into the editing suite area, it looked surprisingly vacant and calm.  In some sense it felt like the dust was still settling.  The jubilant buzz of accomplishing a long term difficult goal continued to resonate in the space.  This story of Mali and it's rich heritage of music was going out to the world.  A beacon of African sound and vision magick to brighten these darker days. 

Though the world premeire of Life is Hard, Music is Good will likely be at the next Sundance Film Festival in Utah, there will be a private screening sometime next week at Nevada City's Magic Theater.  This is good, I haven't seen the full cut, and it'll be nice to see it on a theater screen.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Crowley Demystified continued

O Thou molten ocean of stars, that art a crown for the forehead of day!
I adore Thee, Evoe!  I adore Thee, IAO!
-The Treasure House of Images
What some people refer to as Aleister Crowley's system I call a School.  Crowley created, and left as part of his legacy, a real School.  He based this school on the Golden Dawn, the turn of the  20th century magical order, or School, that Crowley joined and progressed through starting at the age of 22.  Most of  Crowley's instruction in written form resides in all the Equinox series of publications, Magick Book 4, The Book of Thoth and probably a few other books..

A real School, especially one based upon individual empowerment, leaves the degree of participation entirely up to the student.  It can range anywhere from  joining the groups AC left behind, the  A.'. A.'. or the O.T.O. and/or devoting much time to the practices and experiments to just casually studying or reading the material, and everything in between.  Participation is always voluntary.  Crowley's instructions for personal and world transformation exist as open source code.  Much of it lives in cyberspace as well.

This means that one can effectively be a part of or connected to this School without necessarily belonging to an external organization.  It seems perfect for autodidacts although some kind of external contact with more experienced practitioners also seems a good idea.  Staying skeptical helps guard against self-delusion and imagining a connection with a School that's actually tenuous or nonexistent. 

One way to tell if you're working with a Mystery School of any kind is the feeling you often get of being asked to do slightly more than you think you're capable of.  Like the military exercise where the sergeant tells the recruits to raise their arms as high as they can.  So they do, and then he says, "ok, now raise them higher" and everyone raises their arms higher.

Being asked to do slightly more than one feels capable of and succeeding can lead to reevaluation of one's True Will.  True Will may expand as progress moves forward. 

It should be mentioned that progress doesn't seem linear.  Setbacks as well as advances make up the course.  Setbacks can feel devastating in the moment but always remain temporary if perseverance to carry on stays high in the mix.  The cycle reverses and advances are made.  Progress happens in a spiral fashion of breakthroughs and setbacks and further breakthroughs etc.  Perhaps this helps explain one of Crowley's earliest magical mottos, Perdurabo, Latin for "I will endure to the end."

A School, at times, will create obstacles and challenges to overcome.  It will also provide help to get past them.  Many reasons seem possible for this.  One of them - to develop the student's "tree of (experiential) being" as well as their "tree of knowledge" as G.I. Gurdjieff put it to his School. In other words, it does no good to soak in information without translating the information into action, practice, experience, and function.  The function of being totally yourself on a planet of distraction and mayhem.

This experience can be arrived at by a wide variety of practices, they don't have to be the ones Crowley published.  Crowley articulated a new paradigm of human evolution in a particular way.  Other completely different articulations of this same paradigm exist.  We'll outline some later on.

Aleister Crowley's sinister and evil reputation presents the first obstacle to his school for many people.  I have no idea how much, if at all, Crowley intended this but it does have the effect of excluding people who may not be prepared to go the course. It does seem safe to say that Crowley contributed to his own bad boy image but nowhere near the extent that the tabloid press crucified him for as the "Wickedest Man in the World" in the early 1920s.

Regarding getting prepared for the path, Israel Regardie, an accomplished magician who practiced Reichian psychotherapy and worked with Crowley for a couple of years, advised potential candidates to get thoroughly analyzed before embarking upon a serious magical path.  While this couldn't hurt, I think there are other ways to acquire this inner observation and balance. 

A large part of my method of preparing had to do with studying and experimenting with the works of Robert Anton Wilson and Timothy Leary on Reality Tunnels, Belief Systems and their models of different modalities or levels of consciousness.  Explanations of some models of quantum physics also helped considerably. 

Another equally huge influence came from the system, the School, of G. I. Gurdjieff.  You can find the basics in The Fourth Way and In Search of the Miraculous by P.D. Ouspensky.  Gurdjieff and Crowley go hand in hand in piecing together the puzzle of the Great Work.  One school helps explain the other because they appear as different formulations of the same school.  Different articulations of the same new paradigm.

 Wilson and Leary discuss the congruence of Gurdjieff and Crowley in Cosmic Trigger I  as part of Leary's prison correspondence.  At a workshop I attended in the early 90's Wilson stated that he thought Crowley and Gurdjieff had the same system.  Experience has shown that they work amazingly well together.  Each system provides pieces of the puzzle for the other one.

The reason I suspect Crowley's evil faƧade serves as a School challenge derives in large part from an experience I had many years ago shortly after being introduced to this work. 

I first learned of AC from a friend, Bob Gregory, who worked as the lighting technician for the band whose sound I mixed.  Bob turned me on to his modest, but well-stocked occult library which he brought on the road with us.  He insisted that I read Cosmic Trigger by Robert Anton Wilson ( RAW) and that's where I initially encountered Crowley.  Bob also had some of Crowley's Equinox writings which I perused.  Wilson mentions Crowley's bad rep but finds it amusing more than anything.  He also notes his many accomplishments and seems to regard him highly.  All in all, my introduction to AC was very positive and I looked forward to learning more about him and what he was up to.

Not too long, maybe a couple of months, after discovering AC, I had a lucid dream in which I was flying about our apartment and as I was going back into my room I saw an image of Crowley's face hovering in the doorway between me and the room.  I got the strongest sense that this image was EXTREMELY EVIL.  This surprised and shocked me because I didn't know that the general mass opinion of people who knew of him considered AC an evil, black magician.  I paused for a second or two contemplating what to do then proceeded to go straight through the evil Crowley mask as it was the only way to get back into my room.  As soon as I entered the image it completely dissolved and I realized it as just an illusion. 
* * * * * *
Tom Jackson wrote a comment to the last post saying that he had a better understanding of Crowley's foremost slogan, "Do what thou wilt shall be the while of the Law."  Gary Accord replied to him that this phrase usually gets accompanied with "Love is the law, love under will."  I mentioned that  Crowley would start his correspondence with "Do what thou wilt shall be the while of the Law," and close it with, "Love is the law, love under will."  When RAW gave his online Crowley course he formatted many of his posts in this way.
Giving my housemate a lift the other day she mentioned never really grasping "Do what thou wilt..." ( she hadn't read my last blog yet).  I suggested that she consider it as a Zen koan in the sense that pondering it over time can lead to unexpected leaps or breakthroughs of insight. 
 A lot of these notions can seem like time bombs because you take in the information at one point but the full realization doesn't come until some time in the future, often unexpectedly due to the right set of circumstances falling into place.  These mini epiphanies are known as "Aha" moments, as in Aha!!! that's what they were talking about.  I had one such regarding the Taoist union of opposites while doing a magick exercise from the book Between Heaven and Hell by Laura Huxley and listening to the Rolling Stones play Midnight Rambler from the album Get Yer Ya Yas Out.  Who would have thought?
You won't see many people giving their interpretations of Crowley's two prime phrases for reasons I'll go into when writing on The Book of the Law.  Wilson or Shea does give a thoughtful rendering of "Do what thou wilt..." in Illuminatus!
"Love is the law," hardly sounds original in concept though this blatant expression of it seems new.  The idea of love cognate with the Highest appears in the New Testament.   "Love under will,"  suggests that love can get focused and directed according to will.  This implies that love exists as a tangible force or substance in the magician's arsenal.  A couple of earlier posts, HERE and HERE relate to practical application.
Gary brought up another excellent point when mentioning,  'Witchcraft has the adage "And it harm none, do what thou wilt."'  Everyone has the right to follow their True Will so long that it doesn't interfere with another.  Acceptance of this brings about total respect, or at least tolerance for everyone to find their unique way through life.  A lot personal judgment can get dropped with this awareness.  You basically grant the right for everyone to be who they are with the stipulation that it harm none.
* * * * * *
In the previous post I wrote:
 It seems that when Presence, Will, and Attention focus in the same direction the momentum of entire Scenario Universe is on your side
Presence, will and attention comprise three faculties that will strengthen considerably through exercise and daily use.  They seem like muscles that can get built up much more than their natural state thus increasing and potentizing magical effectiveness.

Attention can also be thought of as a substance that can get placed on or removed from an object.  It shares this similarity with "love under will."

Crowley had a major realization in his work when his mountain climber friend Oscar Eckenstein demonstrated to him his lack of attention and the inability to focus on one thing without intruding thoughts for more than a minute at a time.  He then began a rigorous and frequent discipline lasting several months of training his mind to concentrate attention on a simple object. 
Crowley used tattva symbols to train his attention.
The techniques he used for increasing attention can be found in the first book of practical experiment in Equinox Volume 1 Number 1 called Liber E. Vel Exercitiorvm Svb Figvra IX in section V Dharana - Control of Thought

Liber E.  describes a precise and scientifically oriented course of action for students looking for  A .'. A .'. practices and experiments. 
The first section frames the work and advises on how to proceed.  The sixth paragraph sets the tone for self-reliance and independence of approach by saying: 
 "The experimenter is encouraged to use his own intelligence, and not rely upon any other person or persons, however distinguished, even among ourselves."

The second section, Physical Clairvoyance, experiments with extra-sensory perception and also advises learning Qabalistic correspondences as part of it.  This interests me because it demonstrates a major feature of what Crowley called the new Aeon and what I've been labeling a new paradigm which is that humans can potentially develop new abilities and capabilities far beyond what conventional science and most people believe possible.

The next three sections comprise yoga practices - Asana, Pranayama, and Dharana ie control of posture, control of breath, and control of thought.  These practices noticeably increase attention, will and presence.

Section VI Physical Limitations examines how far the body can be pushed in different areas like how long can you go without food etc.  Common sense is always advised when stretching limits in this way.  It seems these experiments work directly with will power.

The seventh and final section lists A Course of Reading which includes classics from yoga, magick, taoism, qabala, and one contemporary research book, Varieties of Religious Experience by William James.

The end of this section carries another piece of stellar advice:

"6. During the whole of this elementary study and practice, he will do wisely to seek out, and attach himself to a master, one competent to correct him and advise him.  Nor should he be discouraged by the difficulty of finding such a person.

7. Let him further remember that he must in no wise rely upon, or believe in, that master.  He must rely entirely upon himself, and credit nothing whatever but that which lies within his own knowledge and experience."

Gurdjieff used to encourage people to formulate aims as a way to increase will power and connect with True Will.  He suggested formulating a whole series of aims from ones that look far off, like 'I aim to be a published writer' to ones close by that seem doable like ' I aim to write for at least one hour every day.'  By accomplishing an aim you receive energy resulting in increased will power to try the next aim.

Habits can also be used to leverage will power.  If you smoke cigarettes next time you want to light up, don't - stop yourself for a set period of time even if it's only five minutes then try to increase it next time.

These are general basic practices to train the body and mind.  Enough information is given in Crowley's short text about what they do such that the gist of what they're about can be approached and accomplished in a number of ways.  You don't necessarily have to master the postures Crowley gives to settle the body down.  Taking yoga classes will likely put you in the same ballpark.  Many martial art disciplines produce the same effect of focusing, concentrating, and harnessing the energies of the body and its brain.
A way to verify that your practice or experiment increases attention is to look at a piece of nice art before you start then look at the same piece right after and note the difference.  The same verification process works with music but goes quicker with art because light travels faster than sound.