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Occult Experiments in the Home

Occult Experiments in the Home

Author: Duncan Barford

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Magick, spirituality, and the paranormal -- in personal experience and practice. Exploring the mystical, psychological, and internal dimensions of contemporary occultism and magick.
22 Episodes
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Borrowing concepts from psychotherapy we explore how magick produces its effects, considering along the way: how nothing in what we are about to discuss should be construed as causal; magick as acausal; the sense in which magick does not work; how magick is not therapy, but how therapy might be magick; how therapy has its effect; a personal example of a therapeutic effect; possible similarities with teaching; Freud's idea of "impossible" professions; the impossibility of predicting effects in certain fields; magick as an impossible profession; why some people might be better at contending with the impossible than others; a certain way of being; not "doing", but changes in being; why there cannot be a theory of magick; our current, primitive theories of magick: spirits, belief-shifting, and quantum physics; borrowing from theories on the efficacy of therapy; not what a therapist does but what they might become; the work of Wilfred Bion; its mystical dimension; transformations and invariants; communication as transformation; the transcendence of meaning by the invariant; Platonic resonances in Bion; transformations in magick; the essence of ritual; Chapman's definition of magick; the priest or priestess as not causing an experience but offering a transformation; understanding as the recognition of the invariant; Bion's idea of "The Grid"; beta elements and alpha elements; beta process as the acting out of an invariant; transformation of beta elements into alpha elements; alpha process as the cognition of an invariant; transformation as a means of bringing the invariant into focus; the therapist as not doing something but offering her alpha process; therapy offers the possibility of experiencing truth; the similarity of psychotherapeutic change to synchronicity; the feeling of synchronicity; therapy as a synchronicity in understanding rather than in external events; how the magician's therapist is reality; understanding as inherently synchronistic; understanding as transformation; a kabbalistic perspective on understanding; every act of understanding as a miniature crossing of the abyss; Bion's concepts of K and O; transformations in K contrasted with transformations in O; O as the absolute truth and reality; the possibility of connecting with O; the function of the therapist as becoming O; this assisted by the absence of preconceptions; Bion on achieving freedom from memory and desire; the role of interpretation in therapy; abuses and misuses of interpretation; Charles Rycroft's liberating take on interpretation; the function of interpretation as opening up rather than closing down meaning; the possible tyranny of interpretation in magical culture; connection with truth is becoming transformed by it; the experience of this as a synchronicity between past and present; becoming O in magick; the occult idea of the evolution of different bodies; a body as a function that has become objective; the physical, etheric, astral, and mental bodies; the mental body as only partially developed; the experience of the mental body in enlightened beings; Bion's transformations as transitions between different bodies; sorcery versus mysticism from this perspective; becoming O in magick as a transformation of self through understanding, in the process developing the mental body. Wilfred Ruprecht Bion (1965). Transformations: Change from Learning to Growth. London: Heinemann. Wilfred Ruprecht Bion (2004). Attention and Interpretation. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. Charles Rycroft (1991). Psychoanalysis and Beyond. London: Hogarth.
Exploring an unsettling personal encounter with a “ghost” during a meditation retreat, we mull anxiously over: what "seeing a ghost" means to me; the ghost as a visitor; the messiness of ghostly experiences; why I have never “seen” a ghost, but have heard and felt one; feeling a ghost as perhaps more intimate that seeing one; tricks of memory when recalling ghostly experiences; going on retreat; re-visiting my original notes taken during the experiences, which suggest an altered state; waking inside a dream of someone trying to suffocate me; a malevolent female presence; banishing by pentagram; classic elements of sleep-paralysis; a dream of a nun haunting two children as the seed for what followed; the broken memorial and the nuns' burial ground; the history of the retreat centre; a fantasy of vengeful nuns; the blurring of boundaries between waking and dreams; the reaction of my teacher to the spooky experiences; the Buddha's teaching on how to deal with ghosts; attitudes of the retreat centre staff; a bedroom invader; getting intimate with a ghost; a dream without sleeping or waking; sending the ghost some metta; theories versus mess; effects of the meditation practice; blurring the boundaries between internal and external perception; a psychotic experience; psychosis as an intrusion of the real; sleeping with the lights on; meditating on the nature suffering; the effect of compassion on suffering; the mystery of suffering; the effects of this practice; an encounter with a beast; the effects of metta; beyond banishing; parallels between the ghostly experience and the meditation practice; an entity of many masks; holding experiences and theories lightly; the atmosphere of the retreat centre at night; night-time meditation as listening to night-time radio; last night at the retreat centre; something more than a ghost; apparently physical elements in the encounter; the sense of a farewell; a collision of multiple predisposing factors; ghosts more complicated than an object to be seen.
Back for a second season, we consider how and why the concept of narcissism has become little more than a term of abuse, considering along the way: what the concept of narcissism originally offered; the assumption that narcissism is necessarily bad and harmful; the usefulness of the concept of narcissism and a questioning the mainstream; Austin Osman Spare and "self-love"; a re-visitation of the myth of Narcissus; the lovers of Narcissus: Echo and Armeinius; the suicide of Armeinius and his avengement by Artemis; the myth of Narcissus as a revenge narrative; how the downfall of Narcissus is not due to self-love but to grief; Narcissus dies not because he loves himself, but because he doesn't love others; narcissism in psychology; Sigmund Freud's adoption of the term from sexology; narcissism for Freud as invisible and silent; Freudian libido as directed either towards outward objects or inwardly to the self; narcissism as not about behaviours but a form of desire; narcissism as a way out of a theoretical problem; Freud's model of the mind as a struggle between ego-instincts and sexual instincts; the challenge to this model from psychosis (and from Carl Jung); Freud's new model as a struggle between object instincts and narcissistic instincts; the problem of human destructivity; Eros and the death drive; the myth of Narcissus as an illustration of the deathly implications of refusing to love; the lack of an empirical basis for these theories; their usefulness in therapy; contemporary psychology as the study of behaviour rather than the mind; how self-love does not need to self-aggrandise; how the mind is not apparent in behaviour; how we are obliged to talk of invisible things if we talk of the mind; what "real" means in relation to mind; paraphrasing Crowley; psychology and magick; narcissism as an incantation; the mind of the so-called narcissist and of our culture at the moment; social media, celebrity culture, and reality television; their impact on younger people; Jon Ronson on the “great renaissance of public shaming”; the history of public punishments; the return of public punishment in the online world; the effects of constantly comparing one’s life to others; shame and the need to remain comparable; shame as the evil twin of narcissism; Phil Mollon on shame as self-preservation; narcissistic behaviour as an avoidance of shame; the constructive aspect of shame; the neoliberalist exploitation of shame; “becoming the best version of oneself”; self-division as the precondition of shame; Austin Osman Spare on transcending shame through self-unity; Spare on self-love; sigil magick and how it operates; Freud’s influence on Spare; narcissism as a feedback loop of desire; Spare’s transcendence of the loop through non-dual experience; the distinction between Freudian narcissism and Spare’s self-love. Sigmund Freud (1914). On Narcissism: An Introduction. In: A. Williams (ed.) On Metapsychology: The Theory of Psychoanalysis. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1984. Robert Graves (1992). The Greek Myths. London: Penguin. Phil Mollon (1993). The Fragile Self. London: Whurr. Jon Ronson (2015). So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed. London: Picador. Austin Osman Spare (1913). The Book of Pleasure (Self-Love): The Psychology of Ecstasy. Thame: I-H-O, 2005.
In this, our final episode, we issue a very loud SPOILER ALERT as we unearth an ancient English national treasure, the film Penda's Fen (directed by Alan Clarke, 1974), exploring: the current relevance of Penda's Fen; the film as an initiation; its provenance; the problem of its Englishness; Pinvin and the Malvern Hills; William Langland and Edward Elgar; The Dream of Gerontius; Stephen's ignorance of his own sexuality; his notions of good and bad; the character of Arne and his counter-cultural views; Stephen's dream of demons and angels; the role of Manicheanism in the film; a possibly similar incident in the life of Carl Jung; good and evil as the products of personal participation rather than binary absolutes; the ceaseless battle between darkness and light; Stephen's visitation from a demon as an indication of deeper levels to his personality; impacts of Stephen's insights into himself; the beginnings of a new persona; "Pinvin" versus "Pinfin"; an encounter with an angel as the realisation of the possibility of Grace; "Pendefen"; the resurgence of the demon; a vision of the celebration of atrocity; Stephen realises he is not alone: insights into his father and Arne; messages in the landscape and the discovery of "Penda's Fen"; descent into the underworld: Stephen's meeting with Elgar; the humanity of genius and the longing of the dead for manifestation; the revelation of Stephen's origins; his acceptance of who he really is; Joan of Arc as a pagan worshipping an ancient god of death and resurrection; the sacrifice of humanity in the modern age; Stephen's father: "a self and a non-self"; Penda, the last pagan King in England; the demonization of Penda versus the more likely reality of his kingdom; Martin Wall on the magical potential of history; the implicit rather than explicit depiction of magick in the film; Stephen's rendition of Gerontius as a magical evocation; its magical result: a message and a vocation; the final scene as a temptation and a magical attack; the manifestation of King Penda and his mission for Stephen; the question of where we should direct our magick; a valediction. Matthew Harle & James Machin, eds. (2019). Of Mud & Flame: The Penda's Fen Sourcebook. London: Strange Attractor. C.G. Jung (1967). Memories, Dreams, Reflections. London: Fontana. Martin Wall (2019). The Magical History of Britain. Stroud: Amberley.
In this episode we examine the pride, the pain, and the double-edged nature of identification, exploring along the way: a difference in attitudes towards work; the influence of a working-class upbringing; a working-class perspective on work, and its conflicts with a middle-class perspective; the struggle to identify with professional roles; Aidan Wachter on identification as a magical technique; the liberating potential of identification and identification as a trap; my continuing identification with being working class; the imposition of identification; against the (classist) argument that education changes social class; working-class alienation from power and privilege; professional identity as a means of exploitation of the middle class; middle-class discontent; varieties of identification; identification as the mother of all defence mechanisms; Jacques Lacan on identification and "the mirror stage"; identification and the birth of the ego as captivation in an image; identification and ignorance; Kazuo Ishiguro's novel, Never Let Me Go, about some unusual students; Ishiguro's genius for depicting the limited understanding of his characters; the horror of the students' surrender to their fate; Ishiguro's novel as an analogy for the creation of social class; education as a means of ensuring docility; the film The Island (2005) as a Hollywood variation on the same theme; the fantasy of breaking out of an oppressive reality into another one; an annoying feature of The Matrix (1999); the impossibility of self-transformation; Plato's allegory of the cave; how the prisoners are conditioned to imprison themselves; Russell Brand on the décor of power; the social sense of "belonging" for the working and middle class; the ruling class at home in and beyond the law; shame and guilt as instruments of social control; the shift into identity politics and away from social class; identity politics in "heroic" and "tragic" modes; enduring shame and guilt; the escape from Plato's cave and what this might signify; a hope for a spiritual, anti-materialism as a future, defining philosophy for the Left. Michael Bay, director (2005). The Island. DreamWorks Pictures. BBC Newsnight (2013). Paxman vs Russell Brand - full interview, https://tinyurl.com/yr36avaj (youtube.com). Mark Fisher (2014). For now, our desire is nameless, https://tinyurl.com/ezxx5k66 (theeuropean.de). Kazuo Ishiguro (2005). Never Let Me Go. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. Jacques Lacan (1949). The mirror stage as formative of the “I” function as revealed in psychoanalytic experience. In: Écrits, translated by Bruce Fink, New York: Norton, 2006. Plato (1997). Republic, translated by G.M.A. Grube and C.D.C. Reeve, 514-517. In: Plato: Complete Works, edited by J.M. Cooper, Indianapolis, IN: Hackett. Luxa Strata (2021). Lux Occult Podcast #29: Visualization demystified and imagination magick re-imagined with Aidan Wachter, https://tinyurl.com/yj4nawzk (apple.com). Andy Wachowski & Lana Wachowski, directors (1999). The Matrix. Warner Bros.
We explore how gender identity and sex might free or constrict us, and what magick can bring to this, noting along the way: fire kasina meditation and "travels"; a transsexual travel and the experience of self as a different gender; gender and sex in relation to magick; the reality of dreams and visions; the biological and the cultural in mainstream discourse on sex and gender; biological destiny versus cultural fluidity; the common factor of manifestation; the mainstream discourse in the light of dependent co-arising; the Buddhist concepts of "name and form" and "body"; the apparent correspondence of these with the socio-cultural perspective and the biological; the concept of "soul" as the level of manifestation giving rise to both of these; soul as a personalised instance of universal consciousness; soul as the level immediately beyond gender or sex; the possibility of a uniquely magickal perspective on gender and sex; the myth of Tiresias; his seven years lived as a woman; the liminality of Tiresias, his relationship to duality, and the dimension of soul; the myth of Psyche and Eros; the mortal and the divine aspects of soul; the relationship between soul and desire; soul as the realm of transcendence; freedom versus manifestation; how capitalism hijacks feminism; Gloria Steinem and the CIA; manifestation as conflict; liberation versus assimilation in the struggle for LGBT rights; marriage as equality or as a lure; privilege and power as freedom from and ignorance of suffering; soul as a dimension of transcendence and liberty; biological perspectives on what it means to be male; the minimal participation of males in the biological act of reproduction; Charles Darwin's study of barnacles; the origins of the male in a quasi-parasitic relationship to the female; the function of the male as the diversification of DNA; the scarcity of egg cells and the cheapness of sperm; the impact of testosterone on the male mind; the social dominance of men as a reaction formation to asymmetries on the biological level; the features of toxic masculinity; the current crisis of being male; questions around masculinity; David Bowie as a master of masculinity; the negative impacts of the ubiquity of pornography on young men; the externalisation of sexual experience among men; the mistaking of porn for reality; how this might lead to rape; how real sex includes an internal dimension that men might be conditioned to disregard; the tendency of men to want to discharge sexual feelings; a vision of the goddess Kali; the practice of non-ejaculation; the distinction between orgasm and ejaculation; turning the attention towards sexual sensations; postponement of ejaculation by relaxation and oxygenation; how breathing heightens physical sensations; recognition of "the point of no return"; the "body orgasm" and its features; non-ejaculation as a meditative practice incorporating both vipassana and concentration; why ejaculation is not all that great anyway; afterglow in spite of hard-on; benefits of non-ejaculation; ejaculation as a possible lure into "hedonistic depression"; the incel mindset and non-ejaculation as a possible antidote; transcendence versus escapism. Cory Morningstar (2021). Gloria Steinem discussing her time in the CIA, https://tinyurl.com/fwh2p48t(youtube.com). Marsha Richmond (2007). Darwin's study of the cirripedia, https://tinyurl.com/388br9t5 (darwin-online.org.uk/). Mantak Chia & Douglas Abrams Arava (1996). The Multi-Orgasmic Man. London: Thorsons.
Seizing the Buddhist teachings on the transcendental nidanas, this time we haul ourselves along the path of awakening, from suffering to liberation, pausing to consider: an outline of the process of manifestation; the human tendency to make something out of nothing; how once something is born or it becomes then it is subject to death; the transcendental nidanas and how these proceed from suffering to liberation; how they present positive qualities that can be cultivated; the vulnerabilities of manifestation in magick; the magick of non-manifestation; the implications of proceeding from cause to effect, rather than vice versa; the nidana of suffering; two common means of avoiding a confrontation with suffering; suffering not as pain, but the impossible longing to be free from it; how faith offers a helpful response to suffering; faith as a means to remain steadfast; gladness as a means of turning towards suffering; gladness as gratitude and optimism; gladness as a self-perpetuating resource; rapture as a deep entrancement with experience; the magical dimensions of rapture; the dangers of rapture and how these should be navigated; rapture as sensitivity and positivity; tranquillity is to rapture as faith and gladness are to suffering; the path of liberation as the focus on the nature of experience itself, rather than on its contents; tranquillity as work; tranquillity as a calm and sky-like mind; happiness as the mind's "natural" state; happiness as being beyond positive or negative feelings; happiness versus luckiness; magick and the cultivation of happiness; concentration and its unusual features; the relationship between concentration and happiness; what concentration entails in terms of the nidanas and liberation; the knowledge and vision of things as they really are (TKAVOTATRA); that which is glimpsed in TKAVOTATRA; potentially negative effects of TKAVOTATRA; the desperation and disgust inherent in disenchantment; the necessity of this; equanimity as the recognition of all experiences as experiences; equanimity compared to tranquillity; the sense of self at liberation; liberation as the reconciliation of the previous stages; how there is no experiencer of our experiences; the end of suffering, death, and ignorance; the knowledge of the destruction of the cankers (TKOTDOTC); TKOTDOTC as the recognition of our destination; TKOTDOTC as the recognition that liberation is not a mental state; recapping the transcendental nidanas; suffering as the cause of liberation; the nidanas as two ladders: "up" and "down"; comparison of the nidanas with the Tree of Life; possible correspondences between the nidanas and the paths of the Tree of Life; connecting the 26 nidanas with the western esoteric tradition and the 22 arcana of the Tarot; Death and The Fool (ignorance); The Hanged Man (suffering); The Chariot (body). Diagrams illustrating correspondences between the nidanas, the Tree of Life, and the Tarot can be viewed on the OEITH website at: https://tinyurl.com/4h6aj4jp Aleister Crowley (2004). The Book of Thoth. Boston, MA: Weiser. Israel Regardie (2003). The Golden Dawn, sixth edition. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn. Thanissaro Bhikkhu, trans. (1997). "Upanisa Sutta: Prerequisites", https://tinyurl.com/3uccuuy7 (accesstoinsight.org).
Hijacking the Buddha's teachings on dependent co-arising as a detailed model of manifestation, we consider its magical applications: the Maha-nidana Sutta and its relevance to magick; its contrasts with Kabbalah; differences between religion, science, and magick; the centrality of dependent co-arising in Buddhism; religions as models of reality; the nidanas as steps in the process of manifestation; a personal perspective on Buddhism; hacking dependent co-arising; death, birth, and becoming; death and life as interwoven; birth not as creation, but as parts becoming perceivable as wholes; the constant flux of becoming; death and life as different perspectives on becoming; grasping as a lust for existence and a means of existing; craving as a prior judgment call that can sometimes be resisted; the validity of positing psychological causes for material phenomena; how to hack grasping and craving; feeling-tone or vedana and its relationship to craving; regular spiritual practice and psychological work; the effects of an exercise concerning vedana set by Rob Burbea; how states fade, but knowledge remains; how interrupting the process of manifestation allows something besides the ordinary to appear; sensory contact, and why the tree that falls in the forest without anyone to hear it definitely does not make a sound; the sense of an external world; psychedelics as a hack at this level; six senses, and the mind as a sense organ in Buddhist psychology; a personal experience illustrating how this is the case; the tendency to regard mind as a "thing"; name and form; the myth of the conquistadors' galleons; Platonic forms and Jungian archetypes, not as ideal objects but as universal predispositions; the importance of name and form in magick and in therapy; the impact of the human body on human experience; the body as agent rather than object; how some of these phases are more hackable than others; mind, psyche, and soul; soul as an individual instance of human experience; how the body is in the soul; soul as awareness of individual experience versus consciousness as pure awareness; an exercise for exposing the unfindability of awareness; consciousness as the qualityless provider of qualities; consciousness as discernment or discrimination; formations as karmic imprints or tendencies; the possible relevance of formations to scientific experiments concerning free will; how formations may be encountered in meditative states; at the very fringes of manifestation; ignorance as the impulse to make something out of nothing; reviewing the process from ignorance all the way to death; manifestation as a process proceeding from ignorance to samsara; the possibility of transcendence. Peter G.H. Clarke (2013). The Libet experiment and its implications for conscious will, https://tinyurl.com/s2xshu84 (bethinking.org). Thanissaro Bhikkhu, trans. (1997). Maha-nidana Sutta: The Great Causes Discourse (DN 15), https://tinyurl.com/zf5f2m27 (accesstoinsight.org).
In this episode we take a wide-angle view on dreams and dreaming, and consider the significance of dreams that just keep coming back: the importance of personal notebooks; Mervyn Peake and the awakening of my imagination; the creation of reality from imagination; sharing the vision; the Gormenghast books: their possible roots in biographical influences, and the paradoxical realism of Peake's fantasy; Peake's impact on my dream-life; spontaneous recall of dreams during meditation; how dreams are experienced largely through memory; not "remembering" but "coming back"; an experience of a recurrence of dreams about demons; the puzzling nature of these experiences; the tendency to view dreams as individual, isolated events; the timelessness of dreams; the fallacy of "the present moment"; the idea that some dreams might return because we are always dreaming them; the element of déjà vu in these experiences as a possible indication of an encounter with the timeless; "the present moment" as unfindable; embracing the eternal "then"; recurring dreams as a possible compensation for an exclusive focus on the "now"; the various uses of dreams in magick; the tendency here also to regard dreams as isolated events; the possibility of taking a wider view; going beyond the "now"; an example: a dream of the two cemeteries; how the dream varies, but the underlying structure is the same; distinguishing these dreams from recurring dreams in trauma: "cannot understand" versus "needing to understand"; an outline of the structure of the dream of the two cemeteries; the horrors and dangers of the old and semi-buried; possible biographical elements in the dream; the failure to find a specific interpretation of the dream; the cessation of the dream as a possible clue to its nature; dreams of this type as long-term processes; fallow periods on the magical path and some advice on this; the concept in Buddhism of "near-enemies"; art as the "near-enemy" of magick; distinguishing between magick and art; the status of the artefact; the creation of Liber Somnia and its methodology; arrival at a list of the dreams I am always dreaming; the dreams as a possible map of the soul's long-term processes; two categories of themes, and the themes therein; "Baltimore in the early morning": Lacan's metaphor for the unconscious; dreams that keep coming back as a recurrence of thoughts that have no thinker; the "double whammy" when a gifted artist performs magick; how a "hypersigil" is not the result of a working. Joe Hunt (2013). "The Dark Side of Positive Emotions Is Hidden in Plain Sight", https://tinyurl.com/y8fbhhmu (medium.com). Jacques Lacan (1966). "Of Structure as an Inmixing of an Otherness Prerequisite to Any Subject Whatever", https://tinyurl.com/sw66tdk5 (blogspot.com). Mervyn Peake (1999). The Gormenghast Trilogy. London: Vintage.
Navigating the twisted path between abuse and self-transformation, we consider: the current tendency to distrust magickal groups; the importance of human connection; the benefits of group magick; power and control in human relationships; the vulnerability of magick to evil; the challenges of transgression; progression versus regression; regressive social structures in magickal groups; transgression of social norms and the dynamics of the perverse; the examples of John Dee and Aleister Crowley and their significance; Edgar Allen Poe on the perverse: the principle of no principle; Freud on the perverse: a "natural" disposition; Lacan on the perverse: a structure of desire; Kirsten Hyldgaard on perversity as transforming desire into the law; distinguishing perversity from Thelema; perversity versus transgression within magickal organisations; the sexual politics of chimpanzees and its manifestations in magickal organisations; the confusion of transgression and perversity; sex and power, desire and the law; why the pervert is no revolutionary; transgression and desire; when the desire of non-human entities becomes the law; the sharing of wives between Dee and Kelly; its effects and consequences; the struggle of the magician with the imposition of laws by spirits; possible parallels with the documentary series, Hellier; the story of the Cross Correspondences; the life of Henry Coombe-Tennant; parallels with the life of Jiddhu Krishnamurthi; parallels between the Cross Correspondences and Dee and Kelly; judging success or failure; Jason Louv on the intentions of angels; distinguishing perversity and transgression; transgression as the realisation of formless desire; Mark Fisher on the reality of unnameable desire; magical transgression: its risks and benefits. Mark Fisher (2014). For now, our desire is nameless, https://tinyurl.com/ezxx5k66 (theeuropean.de). Kirsten Hyldgaard (2004). The conformity of perversion, The Symptom 5, https://tinyurl.com/7yu88ah (lacan.com). Greg Kaminsky (2018). Occult of personality: episode 191 – Jason Louv and John Dee’s empire of angels. https://tinyurl.com/y6qcamo4 (occultofpersonality.net). Jason Louv (2018). John Dee and the Empire of Angels: Enochian Magick and the Occult Roots of the Modern World. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions. Edgar Allan Poe (1845). The imp of the perverse, https://tinyurl.com/vvzwj8pt (wikisource.org). Archie E. Roy (2008). The Eager Dead: A Study in Haunting. Brighton: Book Guild Publishing.
With an odd tingling sensation emanating from somewhere, in this episode we explore: an outline of the traditional concept of the chakras; the chakras, kundalini energy, and blockages; alleged functions of the chakras; why I was at first a chakra skeptic; sensations and white light at the crown of the head; why I disregarded these; random energetic experiences around the body; phenomena on the boundary between mind and body; why what we know the least about is matter; direct and indirect forms of knowing; William Blake's portrait of Newton and the scientist's struggle; why "energy" is a bad word; an academic study of how emotions are expressed bodily; how "energy" is always sensations and emotions; the feelings associated with the crown chakra; the opening of the brow chakra and how it felt; the seductions of overwhelming bliss; chakra sensations in the background of awareness; the contrast between chakra sensations and physical sensations; chakra sensations as more like emotions rather than physical sensations; the opening of the throat chakra; throat chakra activation in the presence of enlightened teachers; how the throat chakra feels; the chakras opening in a downward sequence; Rudolf Steiner on the chakras; Florin Lowndes on Steiner's writings on the chakras; Steiner's theory of human evolution beyond the physical plane, and why the traditional model does not apply to modern-day humans; the etheric body; Steiner on the importance of the heart chakra as a future "etheric brain"; the heart chakra as remarkable for only sometimes being under conscious control; how this seems dependent on general mood; what the heart chakra feels like; Bernini's statue of St. Theresa; the activation of the solar plexus chakra and how it feels; the question of blockages and imbalances; Tara Springett on the nature of blocks; why there might be no such thing as a block; materialist misconceptions of blockages; the sex chakra and what it feels like; the root chakra as a realm of outer darkness; differences in levels of connection to the lower or upper chakras; trusting personal experience; chakra activation as dependent upon a certain level of awareness; sensations leading to awareness, versus awareness leading to sensations; chakra experiences as sensations and emotions without a cause; transpersonal emotions; why chakras do not "give" us anything, but show us something already in action; an investigation of the heart chakra on retreat. Florin Lowndes (1998). Enlivening the Chakra of the Heart: The Fundamental Spiritual Exercises of Rudolf Steiner. Forest Row: Rudolf Steiner Press. Lauri Nummenmaa, Enrico Glerean, Riitta Hari & Jari K. Hietanen (2014). Bodily maps of emotions, PNAS 111: 2, pp. 646-651, https://tinyurl.com/uxcnxune (pnas.org). Tara Springett (2014). Enlightenment Through the Path of Kundalini: A Guide to a Positive Spiritual Awakening and Overcoming Kundalini Syndrome, https://tinyurl.com/3cep3wcx (taraspringett.com). Rudolf Steiner (1947). Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and Its Attainment, translated by George Metaxa, https://tinyurl.com/xdfw3ejx (rsarchive.org).
We drape ourselves in an old, white sheet and consider the nature of ghosts and hauntings: how no one knows what a ghost is; crisis apparitions; poltergeists; the changing criteria for manifestations of ghosts; technological manifestations; the lack of any knowledge about ghosts; Barrie Colvin's poltergeist hypothesis; occultism and the non-existence of ghosts; paranormal investigation as a form of magical ritual rather than science; Hellier as a example; why we should care about ghosts; the persistence of ghosts; Martin Wall and a ghost of his childhood; the intrusiveness of ghosts; a semblance of being; "to haunt" as neither an action nor a way of being; the persistence of nothingness and the failure of being; the ghost as a desire in search of being; when living humans haunt; the difference between ghosts and the dead; finding our relationship to the dead inside ourselves; the ghost as coming from outside ourselves; our lack of a relationship to the ghost; ghosts in search of relationships; when a ghost joins the dead; the potential deceptiveness of ghosts; not all ghosts are the dead; why we should be wary of external manifestations of the dead; motivations for externalising the dead; a recap on the ghostly; the possibility of many different forms of haunting; hauntology and the ghosts of lost futures; the postponement of the future promised to us in the 1970s; Mark Fisher on haunting as failed mourning; the difficulty of mourning what we never had; the future imperfect tense and interruption as aspects of the ghostly; how, when haunted, we become like ghosts; the Zeigarnik effect and how it manifests in experience; haunting as the persistence of interrupted desire; some possible responses for when we find ourselves haunted; Mark Fisher on becoming outcasts from our own time. Barrie G. Colvin (2010) "The Acoustic Properties of Unexplained Rapping Sounds", Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 74: 899, pp.65-93. Mark Fisher (2014). Ghosts of My Life: Writings on Depression, Hauntology, and Lost Futures. Alresford: Zero Books. Edmund Gurney, Frederic Myers & Frank Podmore (1886). Phantasms of the Living. London: Society for Psychical Research. Martin Wall (2019). The Magical History of Britain. Stroud: Amberley.
We plummet deep into the fundamental nature of reality in this episode, examining the necessary association of magick with evil: the premise of John Milton's Paradise Lost; Satan and the possible origin of evil; Satan as the archetype of the rebel; our relationship as magicians to this archetype; the absence of a moral framework from magick; the suggestion that magick needs to be kept "evil"; understanding evil in contrast to the good; Neoplatonist approaches to the good; the good as the aspiration of all beings; the misidentification of the good; the Platonic ideals as a guide to goodness; beauty, truth, goodness, and the One (wholeness); Proclus on the separation of being and goodness; wholeness as better than goodness; wholeness as the mystical state, as union with goodness; evil as a consequence of the separation of being from the good; evil as a characteristic of wholeness; evil as a consequence of the actions of beings versus evil as transcendent; Satan as the origin of evil versus Satan as a participant in evil; evil as an attribute of the Divine; the relationship of the Divine to goodness; a Divine wholly good as necessarily imperfect; evil as a bug versus evil as a feature; Nishida Kitaro on the self-negation of the Divine; how the Divine by its nature contradicts itself; Satan as the pawn of God; how Milton glosses over the evil in God; the perfect as perfect only if it includes the imperfect; Nishida's ideas as observations, not theories; the experience of emptiness as the experience of the self-negation of the Divine; how emptiness gives rise to form by standing in a relationship of self-negation to itself; how we have no relationship to the Divine; Creation proceeding not from any relationship to the Divine but by the Divine negating itself; the Heart Sutra and the nature of the Divine; (summary and an emergence from the metaphysical deep-end); Lionel Snell on art, science, religion and magick, and their corresponding principles of beauty, truth, goodness, and wholeness; magick as the aspiration to wholeness rather than to goodness; how magick rejects only the principle of rejection itself; how and why magick rejects neither untruth nor evil; how magick necessarily has a relationship to evil, yet not necessarily an answer to it; the mystery and elusiveness of evil; evil as unfixable, as the universe operating as designed; Jung on Job: humanity as morally superior to the Divine; Christ (God in human form) as the epitome of morality; accepting our moral superiority to God as a magician's response to evil; how there is no escape from evil or morality. Ramsey Dukes (2000). SSOTBME Revised: An Essay on Magic. El-Cheapo. Carl Gustav Jung (2002). Answer to Job. New York: Routledge. Nishida Kitaro (1987). Last Writings: Nothingness and the Religious Worldview. Honolulu: University of Hawaii. John Milton (2008). Paradise Lost. New York: Modern Library. Proclus (2017). The Elements of Theology, translated by Juan and Maria Balboa, https://tinyurl.com/73bxtxsd (archive.org).
In this episode we open up to theories and techniques of channelling and possession: hearing voices; the experience of a part of awareness not being "ours"; the risk of over-engagement; a devious yellow blob and the danger of psychosis; the importance of holding the experience lightly and maintaining intentionality; Freud on the splitting of the ego; splitting in fetishism, BDSM, irony, the tacky and the camp, and in humour; splitting versus repression; the downside of splitting: that a part might assume dominance over the whole; the function of parts in PTSD and complex trauma; the importance of intentionality in a magickal context; possession as intentional splitting of the mental field; psychological trauma as a predisposing factor in splitting and a possible risk; the empty-handed approach to possession and channelling in chaos magick; the bag of art; acknowledgement of traditions that approach possession differently; the role of embarrassment and shame in possession workings and their potential uses; template for a group possession working; my personal method for getting possessed; breath of fire; bodily tension and release; an analogy of the post-coital state as a means of creating an opening for an entity; the sense that nothing is happening; accepting the experience we are having as the result; possession by the Archangel Uriel; that archangelic vibe; the differences between channelling and possession; channelling entities as a means of accessing clairvoyance; the Tempe workings: channelling a representative of the Great White Brotherhood; an indirect and interpretative means of communication; some striking results; the Aion working; an unfortunate prelude to the working; a more direct manifestation; encounters with persons presenting with Dissociative Identity Disorder; changes of personality and sense of presence; becoming sensitive to sub-personalities; my personal system of sub-personalities; every personality as a collective; we are always channelling someone. Alan Chapman & Duncan Barford (2009). The Urn. Brighton: Heptarchia. Coil (2000). Batwings (A Liminal Hymn), https://youtu.be/u8oal_1_YUk (youtube.com). Sigmund Freud (1938). Splitting of the Ego in the Process of Defence, in: On Metapsychology: The Theory of Psychoanalysis, Pelican Freud Library, vol. 11. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1984. 60 Minutes Australia (2019). Woman with Seven Different Personalities, https://youtu.be/pLvJDsojrC8 (youtube.com). Arthur Edward Waite (1995). The Wordsworth Book of Spells [The Book of Ceremonial Magic]. Ware: Wordsworth Editions.
In this episode we brace ourselves, take a deep breath, and consider magick and spirituality as an antidote to suffering, but not without their risks and limits; a bullshit exercise from Robert Anton Wilson; the limits of belief-shifting; dubious "exercises" in books on magick; the belief in belief-shifting; reality and belief-shifting; results from a recent sigil; possibilities for their causation; magick as adaptation to reality; the limitation of reality; the inescapability of feelings; the influence of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) on the contemporary understanding of suffering; Aaron Beck on depression as faulty cognition; the locus of responsibility for suffering; belief-shifting as a form of CBT; how work with spirits can also fall into this dynamic; how CBT and belief-shifting chime nicely with capitalism and neoliberalism; Byung-Chul Han on self-exploitation under neoliberalism; Mark Fisher on the dirty secrets of capitalism; how neoliberalism distracts us from these; magick and the lure of pseudo-freedom; Federico Campagna on the paradigms of technic and magick: instrumentality versus meaning; psychogeography as the practice of transitioning from technic to magick; Gareth Rees on car parks and the ubiquity of sliced ham; the limits of technic and capitalism; the insatiability of desire and the inevitability of suffering; a means to an end versus the endlessly meaningful; bringing meaning to suffering; magick as a means of encountering reality; Campagna on magick and technic as two contrasting ethical frameworks; avoiding harm versus maximising salvation; magicians as always caught between these two ethical outlooks; magickal crises and the pains of magick; the magick of the oppressed; Trump's presidency and its end as a magickal result; anti-magick as the elimination of the Other; depression as the absence of the Other, and magick as a reaching out for the Other; Han on the Other as a metaphysical anti-depressant; meaning as connection with the Other; mysticism as recognition of the self as Other; magick as a spectrum, including forms of magick that tend towards technic. Federico Campagna (2018). Technic and Magic: The Reconstruction of Reality. London: Bloomsbury. Mark Fisher (2009). Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative? Alresford: Zero Books. Byung-Chul Han (2017). Psychopolitics: Neoliberalism and New Technologies of Power, translated by Erik Butler. London: Verso. Byung-Chul Han (2018). The Expulsion of the Other: Society, Perception and Communication Today, translated by Wieland Hoban. Cambridge: Polity Press. Catherine Jackson & Rosemary Rizq, eds. (2019). The Industrialisation of Care: Counselling, Psychotherapy and the Impact of IAPT. Monmouth: PCCS Books. Gary Lachman (2018). Dark Star Rising: Magick and Power in the Age of Trump. New York: TarcherPerigree. Gareth E. Rees (2019). Car Park Life. London: Influx Press.
In this episode we begin by reading Rumi's poem "Love Dogs", then we discuss how to connect with spiritual entities and the link with desire; the case for mysticism as magick; defining desire as distinct from needs and wants; the characteristics of desire: persistence and authenticity; working with desire as the daily grind of the magician; desire versus will and intention; desire and identity; magickal development as a continual engagement with desire; a dream of a woman who was both mother and lover; dying in dreams; the relationship to the woman in the dream; a ritual to communicate with her and the message received; a defiling dream; mystical union with a goddess; looking and being seen as having become the same; fruition through the door of no-self; the dream as a shadow of the subsequent experience of union; the dream as a defilement that had to be recognised as such; the specific nature of the relationship to the divine; the contrast between this and the relationship to demonic spirits; demonic spirits as the object of desire; divine spirits as offering cessation of desire and experiences beyond the human; control versus surrender; a possible way of failing to recognise the divine; an overwhelming and substance-induced kundalini awakening; the work of Tara Springett and her perspective on the psychotherapeutic treatment of kundalini awakening; compassion practice and how it helps; surrender to Kali and a manifestation of the goddess; mystical union following kundalini awakening, and its aftermath; desire as the bridge to union with the divine; the erotic component of images of the divine; becoming a love dog. Daniel M. Ingram (2018). Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha. Revised and expanded edition. London: Aeon. Jeffrey Kripal (2001). Roads of Excess, Palaces of Wisdom: Eroticism and Reflexivity in the Study of Mysticism. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago. Rumi (2021). "Love Dogs", translated and performed by Coleman Barks, https://youtu.be/UF4_KZfIfVI (youtube.com). Tara Springett (2014). Enlightenment Through the Path of Kundalini: A Guide to a Positive Spiritual Awakening and Overcoming Kundalini Syndrome, https://tinyurl.com/3cep3wcx (taraspringett.com). Tara Springett (2020). Healing Kundalini Symptoms: Proven Techniques That Really Work. ISBN 9781689344975.
Digging out some dusty old magickal journals, I relate how I first discovered the Goetia; the appeal of a catalogue of spirits; the Goetic spirits as troublesome demons; why I became interested in magick; my first ever working; my first ever Goetic ritual; the result; the mechanics of the ritual; the real result; a sense of manipulation; a disastrous confrontation with the spirit; the "nuclear option" in Goetia; that peculiar Goetic vibe; an evocation of the spirit Bune; saying "hi" to Bune; a distressing incident; one of our group goes rogue; a failure of protection and ethics; angelic intervention; an evocation of the spirit Shax; a horrible spectacle; "reverse Quaker Goetia"; Shax steals money from the houses of kings; my goodbye to the Goetia; odd attitudes among the demonically possessed; Crowley on the Goetia; a non-dual perspective on spirits; spirit as that which does not exist yet which is real; relationships as differentiations of non-existence; spirits as different kinds of relationships to the non-existent; the demonic as a particular form of relationship; demonic possession as the appropriation of human desire; the Goetic spirits as old gods demanding attention. Samuel Liddell MacGregor-Mathers (1995). The Goetia: The Lesser Key of Solomon the King (Clavicula Salomonis Regis), edited by Aleister Crowley. Boston, MA: Red Wheel Weiser.
We listen to Grant Morrison on individuality and Rob Burbea on divinity before venturing into: "soul-making dharma"; what all magicians share; Aleister Crowley's "Liber B Vel Magi"; definition of a magus; Crowley's notion of the word of the magus; the Gospel of St John and the word made flesh; the meaning of logos; the impossibility of meaninglessness; the dilemma of the magus; the silence of the ipsissimus; the curse of having always to speak falsely; how there is no escape from meaning; enslavement by one's own magick or someone else's; Lacan's symbolic order; everyday and magickal relationships to meaning; Darian Leader on the manic-depressive relationship to meaning; "depressive" and "manic" styles of magickal practice; the calling for "closed practices" as a depressive approach to magick; Morrison and Burbea as the manic style versus the depressive; these styles as strategies, rather than as ethical or non-ethical in themselves; magick as the relationship to truth and ethics as the relationship to the good; how practice and ethics can be separated; an encounter with a dodgy guru; how our ethics reflects who we are, not our practice; "cancel culture" as the confusion of goodness and truth; the case of Julius Evola; why the word of a magician cannot make us ethically either better or worse; words of some magi; my personal word as a magus: ελεφαιρο / elephairo ("to deceive"); the appearance of this word in Homer's Odyssey and Virgil's Aeneid; Borges on the gate of ivory; the significance of this word for my personal magickal practice.  Jorge Luis Borges (1985). Nightmares. In: Seven Nights, trans. E. Weinberger. New York: Norton. Rob Burbea (2016). Sensing Divinity, https://tinyurl.com/vx9nt8jd (dharmaseed.org). Alan Chapman & Duncan Barford (2010). A Desert of Roses. Brighton: Heptarchia. Aleister Crowley (1988). Liber I: Liber B Vel Magi Sub Figurâ I. In: The Holy Books of Thelema. York Beach, ME: Red Wheel / Weiser. Darian Leader (2013). Strictly Bipolar. London: Penguin. Grant Morrison (2000). Disinfo Conference Lecture, https://tinyurl.com/e2wvj6fb (youtube.com).
We start with an account of a dream that helped to lift a depression, and then go on to consider how dreams might heal; dreaming as a magickal practice; the possible meaning of the dream and the role of interpretation; the dream as a process; the diversity of mental phenomena; intrusive thoughts and the differences between thoughts and feelings; the difference between imagining and thinking; the infallibility of thinking; different schools of dream interpretation as reflective of different mental processes and levels of consciousness; the differences between Jungian and Freudian dreams;  a personal example of a Freudian dream; the wide variety of dream states; the healing potential of dreams in therapy; Guy Dargert on the origins of psychotherapy; Asklepios, Apollo, and Chiron; Asklepios as an influence upon the iconography of Christ; the staff of Asklepios and the symbolism of snakes; the temples of Asklepios as places of healing; the abaton, the ritual sleep, and the healing dream; types of healing dreams and how they were understood; healing through the mind rather than through the body; finding healing dreams in the present day. Guy Dargert (2016). The Snake in the Clinic: Psychotherapy's Role in Medicine and Healing. London: Karnac. Rumi (2021). Out beyond ideas. https://tinyurl.com/utr725bu. [Excerpt from a longer poem, entitled "The Great Wagon".]
We venture into the destabilizing aspects of awakening; the notion of "positive" trauma; Jung's encounter with God; the ego as a filter; Russell Razzaque on awakening and psychosis; varieties of ego disintegration: psychosis, psychedelics, and meditation; Whitley Strieber and MK-Ultra; traumatic memories as both symptom and cause of psychosis; Walter Bosley on MK-Ultra; recurring images and narratives in psychosis and trauma; spirituality as an antidote; Hellier as a narrative of initiation; defences against awakening; Alex Tsakiris on science and conspiracy; the parallelism of materialism and non-duality; the underground goddess; Parmenides. Walter Bosley (2016). Shimmering Light: Lost In An MKULTRA House of Anu. Corvos / LCL. C.G. Jung (2009). The Red Book: A Reader's Edition, ed. Sonu Shamdasani. New York: W.W. Norton. Laura London (2021). Speaking of Jung Ep. Q16: Walter Bosley, https://tinyurl.com/s5w7j3kp. Russell Razzaque (2014). Breaking Down is Waking Up. Oxford: Watkins. Whitley Strieber (1987). Communion. New York: Avon. Alex Tsakiris (2021). Skeptiko Ep. 480: Whitley Strieber MKUltra Flypaper, https://tinyurl.com/546rnz.
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