I want to share a habit I've got into. It is a simple thing, perhaps a learned expression of empathy more than a magical technique, although the results can certainly be magical. You may want to think of other situations in which to apply it.
When I was younger, and less secure in myself, I felt rejection very easily. Perhaps too easily. I was also always the one in my relationships that wanted to cuddle all night long during sleep. Some of my partners would eventually feel discomfort spooning and need to change position. Often this meant sleeping seperately without cuddling. It was at this moment that I used to feel a pang of rejection. It wasn't really conscious, I was often half asleep after all. Perhaps partially woken from my slumber by the act of separation. Or maybe I was having insomnia that night. I often do. And of course my partner during such times was also asleep and not really aware of my feelings. Nor could I reach out and tell them without waking them, which would be silly. This feeling of rejection, coupled with feeling silly about expressing it, lead to many nights of troubled insomnia. Or if I was already struggling to get to sleep it made things worse.
Now I often find myself in the opposite role. As much as I love cuddling, I sometimes get uncomfortable. My arm may go dead whilst spooning for example. Now I try to end the spooning before it gets that far, I can spot the early signs that it will. However, my memory of early feelings of rejection have lead me to express a simple 'I love you' during the repositioning, so it is understood there is no motive of rejection. Now I don't actually know if Dana needs this in the same way my younger sensitive self did. I'm not sure they know that either. But I do know that they respond warmly and possitively to the reaffirming of love at such moments.
To apply this practice, you might think of other times a loved one, family member or friend needs reassurance. Especially at times when they might mistake your actions for rejection. What value is empathy left unexpressed?
I've had enough of people coming to the defense of bigots. I've had enough of people saying we can't call the fascist or can't call them nazis. Fuck that. If they are bigots I'm calling them nazis. Here is why.
Bigots dehumanise people with name calling all the time. Why should I care when people dehumanise them in return?
When bigots dehumanise members of the LGBT community with names like 'fag', 'puff', 'sissy', 'tranny' and the like, they do so to make violence against these groups easier. Violence including being denied the use of toilets, thrown objects, beatings and murder. Yet bigots and their apologist allies hide behind the phrase 'free speech' or 'its just a joke'.
When bigots dehumanise women with names like 'bitch', 'whore', 'piece of ass', 'witch', 'hag', 'cow', 'pussy', 'dog' and the like, they do so to make violence against these groups easier. Violence including sexual assault, rape, domestic abuse and political violence such as banning abortions. Yet bigots and their apologist allies hide behind the phrase 'free speech' or 'its just a joke'.
When bigots dehumanise people they don't think white enough, with names like 'nigger', 'paddy', 'kike', 'nip', 'chink', 'ape', 'towelhead' or 'reptilian' (yes David Ike fans, don't think I don't see through your coded racism) and the like, they do so to make violence against these groups easier. Violence including assault, racist laws, racist policing enabled by a racist justice system, destruction of places of worship, murder, war, assassination of outspoken political organisers and genocide. Yet bigots and their apologist allies hide behind the phrase 'free speech' or 'its just a joke'.
When bigots dehumanise protestors and their political opponents, with names like 'cuck', 'traitor', 'dirty hippy', 'commie', 'whiner', 'butt hurt loser', 'SJW' and the like, they do so to make violence against these groups easier. Violence including police brutality, military policing, agent provocateurs destabilising peaceful protests, political imprisonment, rubber bullets, murder and assassination. Yet bigots and their apologist allies hide behind the phrase 'free speech' or 'its just a joke'.
When bigots dehumanise the disabled, with mocking hand gestures and names like 'retard', 'spaz', using '~tard' as derogatory suffix, and using autism, blindness etc as insults, they do so to make violence against these groups easier. Violence including denial of care and welfare, physical and sexual abuse, genocide, abandonment. Yet bigots and their apologist allies hide behind the phrase 'free speech' or 'its just a joke'.
Yet when we use our free speech to dehumanise bigots with names like 'nazi', suddenly the calls of 'free speech' go silent. Suddenly these 'nazi' apologists show their true colours. When it is they and their friends that are dehumanised they start to panic. When nazis get punched in the street, or on University campuses, they become the butt hurt whiners that clamour for a safe space. Their hypocrisy is oh so transparent. They want a monopoly on the right to dehumanise others. Fuck that. I'll continue to dehumanise them with the names nazi and fascist so long as they dehumanise others with any of the names above.
What is the matter nazis? Free speech. Can't you take a joke? Don't you want to hear the punchline?
It was mid December, 2016. I went down to a local post office to send some Xmas cards. As I was queuing up I noticed green cupcakes looking like Pepe the frog. I was repulsed at them to begin with but then an idea came to my mind about all the things I could do to them. I came back home with a couple of very squashy Pepes. Myself and Anton decided to do a ritual in which we both crush Pepe to symbolically crash the rising nazism. The idea was too good not to share with the world, so we decided to use a video camera during the rite. We began thinking of this rite like an artist/filmmaker as much as magician. Using #OpIntruder in this was a logical choice, since we have been involved in it and empowered it for so long. The decision to include the CE5 sigil took the ritual in a new direction. Since it's Operation Intruder crushing the nazis, why not play around with the abduction scenario a little bit to tell a story.
I placed one Pepe on a green plate ready for action. It looked incredibly small, vulnerable and worried. This was good because in essence that is what you find inside a nazi. A person who instead of learning compassion from their own vulnerability decides to build a wall around themselves to keep aliens out. Needless to say that you can not keep aliens out, especially when #OpIntruder targets you. It felt fun and empowering to probe and later punch the Pepe into a meat look-a-like mash of strawberry, dough and cream. It was all fun and lulz whilst keeping a serous intent. We want to send a message that we will not hesitate to act violently in self defence or in the defence of others. We wage a magickal war against the nazis and we enjoy destroying them.
The ritual itself was done and it came time to make a video sigil out of it. We decided to make it ready so it can be posted in the week preceding inauguration. Since the video is made for #OpIntruder we used 'chaos crawler' (contributed by agent Obadiah Marsh) as a soundtrack.
We uploaded the video and Operation Intruder shared it on their face book page. You can imagine our amusement and surprise when the footage of an anonymous person punching Richard Spencer went viral. Not only did Spencer get punched, he did so just as someone asked him about Pepe the frog!
It is hard to dismiss this as a result. In full honesty people punching nazis on the streets is not necessarily what I had in mind! The question arises, how do I feel about it? I had some debate with spiritually minded people who oppose direct violence against nazis. Their arguments are simple. Physical violence will provoke retaliation from the state and escalate violence. This view seems to be promoted by white, Christian academics who postulate that nazi punching will isolate "the left" from "the centre" and in result give more power to the right. It sounds like an eloquent, well presented and civilised argument. I could just about accept it, especially since I used to consider myself a pacifist.
The reason why I do not or can not accept it is because I find myself at an intersection of view different minorities. I see first hand that the resulting crisis was made possible by "the centre's" lack of response to years of campaigning, awareness raising and political debates by the civil liberty advocates, activists and other representatives of social minorities. The civilised approach clearly didn't work well enough to prevent the rise of the alt-right, christofascist dominists, and others in the nazi movement. The people who I debated on the subject were not interested in hearing me out, neither did they show any awareness of how serious the socio-political climate is. They choose to patronise and preach instead. The punch the Nazi debate isn't about violence and self defence, like its being framed. It's about ignorance and privilege of those who fail to see the state as a true aggressor in the conflict.
The first time I came across the term 'Social Justice Warrior' it resonated with me. Sure it was used as an attempt to insult me, but the person using the term was a transphobic racist, so I didn't let that bother me. Indeed the term felt empowering. After all, what kind of sociopathic douche is opposed to social justice? And where is the shame in being labelled a warrior? It seemed like the lamest insult anyone could come up with.
But for some reason I've been hearing the term used more and more. Even by people supposedly on the left, that want to distance themselves from the term and shame those they deem 'too radical'. Well fuck that, I didn't become an anarchist to join some half hearted movement that throws minorities under the bus. Either we're all in this together or I'm not showing up.
As a result I have decided to reclaim the term 'Social Justice Warrior'. To claim it, to define it and to magically empower it. From now on I choose to identify myself with the term 'Social Justice Warrior Mage', and my first act of magic is itself the reclamation of this label and a taking of pride in it.
My next act of magic is to swear the oath of the Social Justice Warrior. If you wish to join me, you can use these or a modified form of your own liking.
The Warrior must KNOW that the only authentic revolution is intersectional and international in solidarity. Anything less is allowing ourselves to be divided and conquered. Restricting our actions to local and national level politics allows the corporate globalists to control things at a global level. Similarly fighting only for the groups to which we belong, a kind of blinkered individualism, allows us to be divided and conquered at a national level.
The Warrior must have the WILL to face their own privileges and own them. Facing the various ways we are disadvantaged is easy. Recognizing that we also benefit from certain privileges not available to all is uncomfortable. Neither warriors nor mages should fear stepping outside of their comfort zone.
In recognizing their power and privilege, the Warrior must DARE to turn them into weapons, becoming allies for those that lack the same privileges. A recent example of this occurred when US veterans showed up to defend the Dakota pipeline protestors. Something they probably wouldn't have done without a massive online campaign in support of this cause. Both the veterans and the international solidarity shown for the Sioux protestors through online support. The fight against injustice is a good fight, and we will fight with words, poetry, art, emotion, and any other means at our disposal. We will fight bravely against any odds. We will not tolerate intolerance. We will not accept any form of bigotry as a valid political viewpoint, and we will use our freedom of speech to oppose it at every turn.
A good Warrior must learn the best tactics to support each group, whether they belong to it or seek to serve it as an ally, by BECOMING SILENT and learning to listen to those with experience. A good warrior knows when to listen. A good warrior knows they don't need to express their opinion, and in fact can often learn more if they don't. However, the warrior does need to learn how to determine who to listen too. This is not some hierarchical feudal style military with an obvious chain of command. In fact, there exists no chain of command. We are all peers. But some have more experience in fighting certain battles. We must learn from them. This does not mean justifying your homophobia with the example of a gay friend with internalized homophobia. Seek especially voices from the intersection of several oppressed groups. Amplify their voices, rather than taking credit for their ideas, either implicitly or explicitly.
I will not be shamed into silence by fascists or fearful leftists that would rather be wrong than lose. Winning whilst throwing oppressed groups under the bus is a hollow victory. It isn't a revolution I can throw my energy behind. If you want to fight by my side you better have fucking courage, not just to take on overwhelming odds, but also to face your own inner demons. We may not win every battle, but we will fight on in eternal defiance.
Myself and Anton wanted these for a very long time! It seems such a wonderful way to target yourself with the CE5 sigil! We decided to set up an Operation Intruder shop with hoodies of our own design. When it came to getting some xmas gifts we both felt that there cannot be anything better. They arrived very quickly and we immediately tried them on. They feel incredibly snug and warm. So much so that I can wear it instead of a jacket on fairly cold, frosty days.
After getting myself this hoodie I can wholeheartedly recommend it! Perhaps my only grievance was the choice of grey colour for the word 'intruder' in the logo. Although it looks great in our sunny photos, in darker environments it blends in with the background. I have changed this to white for more contrast, so if you are thinking of getting one yours will be perfect.
We added a whole range of clothing including t-shirs, sweatshirts and tank tops. Hell, we even added pyjamas! We figured that making them available for sale would be a great way to help raise some funds to cover the costs of running and maintaining KIA. When you get one, either for your friend, or for yourself, you will be engaging yourself in Operation Intruder and exposing it to the world. When I strolled around town wearing mine, I had this sweet feeling that I am seeding magick into the subconscious minds of passers by. The CE5 sigil will be there with them forever, even if they will never realise it.
I have been working with this pentacle for around sixteen years now. My relationship with it began when I was a neophyte in the Illuminates of Thanateros. In order to complete the training of an initiate, I had to choose one of the four elemental weapons to dedicate towards that initiation. I had become interested in the techniques of communing with spirits, an area in which my magic at the time seemed quite weak, and for this reason I choose the pentacle, or disk, as my weapon. At the time I received that initiation, in May 2001, I had the main side of the disk painted in black, gold and silver enamels. It consisted of a black unicursal octogram with a sigil of chaos in the centre on a gold and silver background.
However, my involvement with the IOT waned dramatically after becoming an initiate and sometime around 2004 or 5 I decided to leave the order. Whilst I really liked some of the people I knew from the order, I felt that it no longer had much to offer me, and it didn't seem to want anything from me.
The second design wasn't really mine. I painted it, but did so in a form that met the specifications of a small working group lead by another magician. I kept the black, silver and gold colour theme though, because I liked it. It incorporated a black sun design with 11 rays. I don't remember exactly when I did this, but I suspect it was sometime around 2007.
As often happens in magical groups, I fell out with said magician, and thus no longer felt like having their design on my pentacle, so in 2009 I came up with the third design. This time it stuck. Third time lucky I guess!
This consists of a hexagram or shatkona, where the downwards black triangle contains a black vesica pisces, which itself contains a gold ringed black circle, all inside an eighteen rayed black sun on a silver blackground with gold sigils. This design has rich layers of symbolism. Four of the eighteen rays in the black sun form spokes pointing to the corners of a tetrahedron, the Platonic solid for fire. Three of these are larger, representing the alchemical tria prima of salt, sulphur and mercury. The number three appears three times, in that of the other six long rays, three wave clockwise and three wave anti-clockwise. The smaller rays return to the number four hinted at by the tetrahedron, in that it consists of four clockwise, four anti-clockwise and one straight ray. Here the symmetry represents duality, and the four elements, whereas the single straight point represents the transcendent Kia. In addition, the eight wavy small rays and single straight small ray represent octarine and the colours of magic.
Inside the hexagram is a rich symbol found in many cultures and traditions. In alchemy it represents the union of fire and water, the irreconcilables. In Hindu Tantra (in distinction to Buddhist Tantra), it represents the sexual union of Shiva (the white ascending triangle) with Shakti (the black descending triangle). The black circle with the gold ring represents a solar eclipse, the alignment of sun and moon.
However, whilst I had finally perfected the primary side of the disk, the underside had remained unfinished. There may have been an earlier attempt I've now forgotten about, but my latest design for this was based on a pattern I saw on a log from our local forest. This must have been around 2014/15. I was never really quite happy with this design and a couple of weeks ago I hit upon an idea more in tune with the primary side. I began with a gold base and pencilled in the line work I intended to fill with silver...
This design was an octo-LS. Basically eight linking sigils rotated about their point at 45 degree increments. This somewhat resembles a sigil of chaos without actually being one. Or maybe it is one, depending on your point of view. It certainly makes an interesting design...
This made for a good base. I deliberately made it quite rough, almost resembling graffiti. Yet my carefully constructed pencil and compass lines ensure that the design held a certain degree of symmetry. To complete the side though I picked a much finer brush to do the black...
This final layer consists of eight interlocking #OpIntruder CE5 sigils. The outer circles of each overlap with the two adjacent sigils. The domes interlock to form a central flower. The whole design looks like a warped unicursal octogram, an echo of the first design on the main side. It may have taken me a while, but I have finally got a complete design I can be happy with.
Back in 2014, Dana and I performed magic with Agent's M and V to aid Scottish Independence and shake the UK Westminster government to its core. M and V created a custom made image based on the 16th major arcana of the Tarot, The Tower, which they renamed 'Enlightened Independence'.
The card looks anything but enlightened, the tower card rarely does, and yet it does actually symbolize the moment of enlightenment. Enlightenment means shattering realization that the whole world view that you have built up around yourself is based on illusion. In modern more scientific terms, we might say that our experience of the 'the world' not only happens inside our heads, but is actively shaped by our beliefs, preconceptions and cultural conditioning, and as a result may greatly differ from the actual reality 'out there', which remains forever unknown. However, whilst actual reality might be unknowable, we still inhabit it, and sometimes our interactions with it can trigger awakenings, where our beliefs about it are challenged and need re-evaluating.
Magicians and mystics often seek such experiences for similar reasons. Personal and spiritual liberation. Liberation of the self from our own false ideas about ourselves.
For example, some years back I had a what I thought was a close friendship with another magician. Sure they seemed a bit flakey on occasion, but I put that down to them having had a rougher time of life in general, and overall believed their heart was in the right place. After years of friendship I came to trust them. So when they eventually betrayed me, in a way totally at odds with my vision and mental construct of them, at first I made excuses for them. It was a misunderstanding. We were all drunk. We could talk it out and get straight. But that reconciliation never came. When I tried to talk to them about it, they deflected the conversation and avoided the subject.
Confused I began some workings with Dana to see the truth. She brought some sigils and poems relating to serpent and mountain symbolism, whilst I decided to work with the Japanese Tantric deity, Fodu Myo-o. When I went into the ritual, I expected to find the answer to how to reconcile the misunderstanding. I had invested a lot of myself into the friendship, and sacrificed much.
Instead, the awakening came in a very different form to what I expected. Suddenly I released that I had been a fool. I began to realise how I'd been first charmed and then successively undermined, bullied and my confidence eroded by this so called friend. I realised how they had poisoned my relationships with others, how I had unwittingly been too open with them, and how this all lead to where I was. Of course I still couldn't see the absolute truth, but I could see enough to know that even if I was wrong about some details, I had nothing to gain and everything to lose from staying in that friendship, and that wasn't an easy thing to admit. I had to admit that I had been on the wrong side of many disputes, for example.
The point is, that the first stage of enlightenment is terrifying. And it seems that the awakening of Scotland and indeed Britain in general, is no different. Like me, Scotland needs to awaken to the fact that it has nothing to gain from remaining in partnership with a toxic and bitter friend that continually undermines its confidence through bullying and bad taste jokes. It has to awaken to the reality that choosing to remain in league with this toxic and bitter friend stems from a misplaced sense of loyalty to an abuser that doesn't love or respect its friendship, but actually resents the differences and limited independence it already has.
Immediately following this rude awakening comes a period of compassion. This compassion starts with compassion for oneself. This usually means untangling yourself and removing yourself from the influence of the toxic individual. And then it means giving yourself the space to heal. You might need to renew old friendships if they'll trust you again, or make new friends if they won't, but either way, understand that trusting people again will take time, and that old friends hurt by the same toxic person may also have trouble trusting people they associate with them. Yes, your compassion reaches out to the other victims, extending beyond your immediate self.
England is clearly currently affected by some horrible xenophobic infection, a strain that seems to run through the politics of Putin, Trump and many far-right groups in Europe. Scotland has so far bravely resisted this infection, and unlike the xenophobia based Brexit campaign, the move for Scottish Independence is based on protecting the rights of all who live here. The SNP are to be commended for trying to put the minds of the 3 million EU citizens currently residing in the UK at rest by voting to assert a commitment to their right to stay. Sadly they were voted down by the, largely English, conservative party that prefers to use the lives of millions of people as bargaining chips in its negotiation strategy, showing its nasty colours once again.
If I had any confidence that England might turn away from its self-hating and self-destructive voting habits and make authoritarian parties like the conservatives as fringe as UKIP and the BNP, then I might say we stay in the UK and help reform it. But as things stand in the polls, if you combine the percentage of UKIP and Conservative voting intentions, you get well over 50%. This means things are only likely to get much much worse for the UK before they get better.
Scotland has a clear choice ahead, allow itself to get dragged down into the toxic spiral, alienated from the rest of Europe by its alliance with country that holds it in contempt, or break free, reaffirm its friendships with nations England wants to isolate it from, and most importantly, start building a new life for itself. There is already talk amongst some in the English right wing about how it was a mistake to give Scotland a regional parliament and that it should be disbanded!
To this end, Dana and I will be working magic in the build up to the next Independence referendum; this time focusing on a more healing energy. We have chosen Blue magic in this regard to represent the generous and benevolent ruler-ship of Chesed as opposed to the judgemental and limiting red energy of Gevurah employed in the previous working. This time, rather than focusing on the war of liberation, we want to assert our right to the wealth and prosperity granted by the freedom of movement within the EU, strong trade partnerships, exchange of skilled workers to where they are needed and the ease of forming personal relationships with who we want.
To symbolise this compassionate, caring and prosperous intent for independence we will be working to empower the people of Scotland through the national animal, the unicorn. During our ritual a couple of years ago we made, or started making, a small idol of a unicorn that we employed in the ritual. This time we will be finishing decorating the idol to symbolize finishing the work of independence we began last time around.
And when Scotland is prosperous and England has learned its lesson and feeling like playing nicely with other nations again, having healed itself of its current toxic tendencies, maybe then it will find in Scotland a compassionate and caring neighbour willing to help. The brave little unicorn of happiness will eventually heal the demon of solitude...
It's autumn again and with Halloween behind the corner we are slowly entering what call Black Rat season. I met the Black Rat for the first time in the year 2009. It was a cold evening in late November. I decided to make an experimental cocktail out of some ingredients I had in the cupboard. One of them was Black Sambuca which I used as a base for my new invention. As I prepared the drink I began thinking of a name. It so happened that my Halloween plastic rat was on the table top and the Black Rat was born!
It was not until two weeks later when I realized Black Rat wasn't just a drink I invented. It was a spirit/entity/deity that reached out to me. One that I had to learn to understand. The drink is composed of one part Black Sambuca, one part Piołunówka and two parts ginger wine. It turned out to have a mind of a rat and not just any rat as I discovered years later.
The first time, I got extremely drunk with one too many Black Rats. It was the worst hangover of my life but as well as feeling poisoned I also felt rejuvenated! It felt like the black phase of alchemy, working out through an ordeal symbolically so I can move on in my life. At the time I was trapped in a house with no hot water, winter fast approaching and a landlord unwilling to move a finger. The Black Rat revealed itself to be a spirit dwelling in dark tunnels, sewers and caves where slaves lived their life unloading cargo from ships. A friend of those in difficulty, the Black Rat brings liberation in times of oppression. With my rat on the shoulder I soon managed to find a cozy home and put my life in order. Since then I ritually drink the cocktail to honor the spirit all through the autumn/winter season and especially on the 6th December, the Black Rat Day, the anniversary of my initiation.
A few years later, myself and Anton were reading Val Thomas 'A Witch's Kitchen' where we came a cross the legend of a rat named Yag. It's a story in which, in return for good treatment, a black rat brings fire to the people. The story is known as the Gypsy Quest for Fire. The lovely legend resonated with our experience of the Black Rat as liberator and trickster. We began wondering if yag and black rat are one and the same. Meanwhile a rare conjunction of Venus, Mars and the Moon took place and we decided to make Black Rats again.
The custom, in preparing Balck Rat, is to light it up before adding ginger wine. Since wine has a lower alcohol content to spirits, usually adding it puts down the flame. This time however when we added wine Black Rats were still flaming. In fact they did so for so long I began worrying glass might brake from heat! Both myself and Anton felt strongly that Black Rat was communicating something to us. Are you a fire spirit? I asked aloud at the same time as Anton said 'Yag!' The flames died out immediately leaving us in no doubt about the rats identity.
As another Black Rat season approaches, I wonder what else I will learn about my friend. If reading about the Black Rat inspired you you might want to look on Halloween shop shelves. You will likely find it there. You may also try making your own Black Rat cocktail (1 part Sambuca,1 part Piołunówka, set on fire, add 2 parts ginger wine) and chill out to some ratty music....
For the last in this series of eight articles about the illustrations I produced for Chemical Serpents I would like to wrap up by discussing the cover. The cover art for Chemical Serpents is called “Lapis Philosophorum”, which means “Philosopher’s Stone”.
The Philosopher’s Stone has a history and mystery that goes back a lot further than the famous Harry Potter book. Reference to the stone can be found as far back as Cheirokmeta by Zosimos of Panopolis circa 300 AD, and some writers go further, claiming that its history goes back to the biblical Adam who is said to have gained knowledge of the stone directly from God. This knowledge is said to have been passed down through biblical patriarchs, providing the source for their longevity.
Regardless of this mythic claim, the theoretical roots of the stone’s creation can be traced to Ancient Greek philosophy. It is from Plato that we are given the suggestion that the four elements are derived from a common source or prima materia (first matter), associated with chaos. The concept of the first mater was later used by the alchemists as the starting ingredient for the creation of the philosopher’s stone, and this notion has persisted. The classical elements as well as the concept of the anima mundi and Creation stories from texts like Plato’s Timaeus were clearly the inspiration for the analogies for the alchemical process.
To ancient Philosophers magic was not the trickery and showmanship of pulling rabbits out of hats, it was also not merely causing changes to occur in the external world, that’s what hands are for. Magic was a psychedelic endeavour utilising processes that expand consciousness. Rites such as the Eleusinian Mysteries, open to everyone from the lowliest slaves to the highest free born, took this process to the level of culture. Philosophy was more than a bunch of overly specialised academics getting pedantic about propositions that have nothing to do with ordinary life. Philosophy was directly connected to life, through the exploration and enrichment of inner experience – the imagination. Later Alchemists sought to perfect such processes. The Philosopher’s Stone was, in some sense, the Philosopher themselves, transformed by their own imagination.
The idea that the stone is an actual object that can make actual gold by transforming something else was quite likely a clever ruse by alchemists to gain funding for what is primarily a spiritual activity. But it is the idea of a physical object gained from a physical transformation that has been passed into modern culture, perhaps because we tend to value the physical far more than the “merely imaginary”. “Magic” and “Imagine” come from the same indo-ayran root word “Mag”, which means “Greatness” or “Expansion” (as in magnification). Practically every physical object around you came from someone’s imagining, and certainly every idea. I believe the imagination is the last great frontier and it is the artists and the philosophers who are most equipped to explore it. Unfortunately the current dominant culture devalues such exploration as self indulgent or worthless and would rather we spend our lives selling pointless consumer goods so we can buy pointless consumer goods, than we learn how to enjoy things that cannot be bought or sold and explore the unprofitable secrets of the universe (unless it causes you to write a best seller or start a successful cult).
The stone has been said to have many powers and properties other than transmuting base metals into gold or silver, such as the ability to heal all forms of illness and prolong the life of any person who consumes a small part of it, creation of perpetually burning lamps, transformation of common crystals into precious stones and diamonds, reviving of dead plants, and the creation of a clone or homunculus. These all seem to me to be very much metaphorical, describing inner visionary experiences rather than outer manifestations. The cover art I created representing this object was very much centred on these notions.
This was one of the few pieces I produced for the book that had very specific instructions from the author. A variety of different symbols were required to be woven together into one glyph-like image. These symbols were: a meditating hermaphrodite as the central figure and axis of the piece, the Kabbalistic Tree of Life showing the lightning path with a cross at the top, The Monas Hieroglyphica, the Ida, Pingala and Sushumna serpents, Baphomet, the axe and noose of Ganesh, the Chrysopoea with deep space as its dark half and rainbow as its light, and the roots and branches of a world tree. Anton was also very specific about the colours for each element too, and so this was a wonderful challenge for me and it was particularly satisfying to exceed his expectations.
I produced the images for Chemical Serpents back in 2012, when I was just starting to fully dedicate myself to being a book cover designer and illustrator. Although I am now more technically skilled and continue to become more so, I still find these images quite fascinating. Many of the references and implications in the images seem now like messages from my unconscious that I have become capable of reading and reflecting upon in a way that I was unprepared for at the time of their creation. It was a project I thoroughly enjoyed because it was an opportunity to explore symbolism and themes that I find fascinating with a very knowledgeable author in the various related subjects. But it also seems that it was an opportunity for something ineffable to make itself more fully know to me, something that gives life to my work in a way that nothing else could.
The seventh chapter of Chemical Serpents is titled “Illumination”. To illuminate in literal terms is to supply or brighten with light, in metaphorical terms it is to enlighten. Enlightenment is something spiritual types often talk about without actually defining it very well. For one thing it is not a state that once attained is simply how you are forever, it is something to strive for and to actively maintain. Having said that, once a certain point is reached, an “awakening” had, it seems very difficult to “go back to sleep”, but it is far from impossible and all too easy to go crazy or at least become beguiled with strange notions, because you have become far more open to stimulus and must remain detached from much of it. Illumination is not an easy thing, it is not about being happy or fulfilled, it will not help you make more money or impress your friends, it will in fact strip away every comforting illusion you ever used to hide from fully confronting your reality. Enlightenment strips back all of our preconceptions, our cultural conditioning, our cherished ideas about who we are, and shows us our much less edited truth.
For an artist this is far from an unusual notion, for the difference between the trained and untrained hand and eye is that the trained can reproduce with accuracy and honed style their actual perception or intention while the untrained will produce what they think they perceive or intend, a caricature at best. When we believe our preconceptions we are living in a caricature, a highly abridged and inaccurate map of our reality. When our preconceptions are stripped back and we are more open our map may be much more accurate and faithful to our unique perspective on things. Robert Anton Wilson calls this map our “reality tunnel”.
Gloriam Totius Mundi means “glory of the world”. This is another reference to the Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus. To me the glory of the world is the realisation of the self as a unique facet of a conscious whole. Our reality tunnel is the current nature of our existence, to believe it to be the only true reality is foolish, to “break free” of it is to fail to embrace what we are, but to understand that we are neither the shape of the tunnel that we are pouring through, nor the substance being poured through it, but a transient union of the two in constant interplay, is to get a taste of enlightenment.
In the image I reference the first four of Robert Anton Wilson’s Eight Circuit Model of Consciousness. If you have any interest in psychology or in reading an owner’s guide to operating the human nervous system I highly recommend his seminal “Prometheus Rising”. On either side of the legs of the main figure we see clusters of images, the remains of an egg that has been broken in two. On the right a bird merging with a lion, representing our bio-survival impulses (Mars), along with the head of a knight, representing our emotional and territorial instincts (Jupiter). On the left an orgasmic face, breast, vagina and cock, representing the social and sexual instincts (Venus), and beneath that a map of the human brain, representing the semantic and symbolising functions (Mercury). According to Wilson these first four circuits generally dominate us, robotising us with conditioned reflexes, but if we gain access to the higher circuits we gain more perspective and flexibility in our responses. The higher we go the more perspective we gain, achieving the ability to reprogramme ourselves. Wilson refers to the part of us that does this as The Metaprogrammer, the golden figure of this piece.
In the Kabbalistic Tree of Life these lower impulses can be viewed as the lower seven spheres, a seven headed beast to be mastered through balance with the highest three (the supernal triad). By rising above our preconceptions and conditioning we may become freer to embrace and experience the divine nature of existence here and now. This is the essence of the psychedelic and the mystical.
Our ego is shaped by external circumstances, our environment, upbringing etc. We take it to be ourselves until something shakes this self image and proves us otherwise. The initiations such as Abramelin serve this purpose. In our daily lives the attention is directed solely onto the outside world. Our ego is built from it and solely interested in it. The inner world seems at least irrelevant to it and at most hostile to it. To be able to cut of from the constant input/feedback of our environment means inevitably having to look inside ourselves and be confronted with the dynamics we find in there. The inner landscape can be perceived as purely mental/psychological. I consider it the safe zone. We might be deeply moved and transformed by exploring it but it seems to me like a stroll in shallow waters.
The true surprise and transformation happens when we dare to go deeper and explore the inter-dimensional worlds. You will know you entered them when the inner reality takes on external, objective shapes and forms. Once there we face a choice to deny/run from it or to open up to it. This reality has its own laws and principles and seems to be largely independent of us. The intelligences that inhabit it poses their own will, personalities, limitations just like we do. I did not find a single entity there that would be omnipotent. They seem to be interested in us and willing to collaborate. From my interaction I get the impression that we have a lot to offer them. So much so that they can pay us an unexpected visit in order to get our attention.
The predominant emotion of experiencing such an 'intrusion' is fear and anger. In our world an unexpected/unidentified entity crossing over the borders of our domain will be most likely be greeted with a warning followed by open fire. We carefully negotiate terms and conditions by which we allow others to approach and get close to us be it in military or personal terms. Our culture tells us that uninvited visit/contact is unacceptable and we interpret it as a violation of our autonomy/freedom/rights etc. The entities inhabiting the magical realm/s do not reason in the same way we do. They see reality differently. Our territorial disputes make no sense to them. The greater reality of the material world presents itself to us as an image of everything eating everything else. This can not be easily married with our sense of ego and survival instincts. We constantly commit acts of what we term 'violence' since it constitutes our nature to do so. For us violence becomes a matter of morality. We justify killing in one case and condemn it in another, but we carry on killing none the less.
This moral justification process lies at a base of our identity/ego and sense of self. It is also one greatest sources of misery we cause to each other, since we make it up to suit ourselves as we go along. The image of being devoured constitutes a central theme of many initiations such as Chod Practice in Tibetan Buddhism. In Christianity this theme has been represented by the image of the crucifixion. The sacrifice of the self. This is a notion that goes totally against everything that the ego stands for. To willingly sacrifice yourself for others means to transcend the illusion of separateness. For us the image conjures the worst horrors but to the entities not inhabiting our dimensionality there seems to be nothing evil about it. The sacrifice constitutes the centre of Sun mythology and brings us to the heart. A very contemporary theme of love verses fear.
When we open ourselves up to the intrusions and 'violations' coming from this other dimensional space we willingly sacrifice our ego. We surrender our boundaries and limits in an unconditional way. No wonder that such act has been considered madness by all but those who succeeded at it. The disintegration of ego reveals to us a very different picture of reality. One where the predominant power/emotion is love and compassion. We no longer see the world as constant circle of violence but one of self sacrifice. The narrative that structures our sense of self changes dramatically. No longer do we see an act of selflessness as a sign of weakness. We recognise it as a fearless, uncompromising power to create and live. Our ego realigns itself to the internal dynamics and forces that work in accordance with this principle. We restructure ourselves to it. We recognise that by pursuing the social narrative our egos are based on, i.e. protecting our boundaries/borders/ accumulating wealth/resources to 'win/be on/top etc. we inevitable set ourselves to fail. In the end we all end up dead, rotten and eaten by worms and there will always be someone stronger/better to beat us into submission by threatening our survival. There are no winners in this game!
Once you no longer fear death and have no imposed boundaries you fight to protect, you begin to understand the true meaning of power. You understand the absolute responsibility that lies in your hands for every action you take. You can no longer be wimpy or scared, you see no point in blaming anyone for anything and you no longer accept such excuses from others. In this sense you begin to see the reality in a way much closer to how our otherworldly visitors see it. The reality based on pure love expresses itself through unconditional, unyielding sense of inner truth. One that can not be compromised and therefore will be ultimately more powerful that any other orientation. The True Will of Thelema.
Ego as the Agent.
I mentioned in my earlier blog that the willingness/readiness to undergo this process can be determined by your life circumstances. Like Aaron Leitch said, go for it if you have nothing to lose. I personally feel that you should go for it no matter what, but perhaps it is easy for me to say this. Going through Abramelin helped me to realize that my life was very difficult and padded with traumatic events. I was always told that I was a happy child. No one was beating me up or raping me and I was never hungry. My mother being chronically depressed and suicidal, my father being permanently disfigured by debilitating illness, my grandparents both suffering from serious emotional issues connected to PTSD acquired during the wartime, were not 'real problems'. For my family denial was a coping strategy. I normalised it and assumed that 'life was tough for everyone'. I ended up living from day to day making no future plans as if today was the last day on earth. I learned to be tough on myself and expected everyone else to be that way. Such assumptions made it very hard to form healthy relationships with others since most people felt me to be somewhat insensitive and arrogant or even ruthless. This in return attracted people who had violent tendencies, trapping me in a destructive circle.
During the beginning months of Abramelin, when my bond with my HGA became strong and we could communicate, I asked them to break my ego. This is what I thought the purification process was about. I wanted my HGA to help me do that. The response surprised me. All I could feel coming from my HGA was an overwhelming sense of love and compassion paired with a sense of immense empowerment. Their response was Don't you think you experienced enough of that? Be gentle to yourself! I felt totally confused. Perhaps this was a key to open up and accept reality. Being tough on myself was not going to get me anywhere apparently.
My purification was largely composed of constant reassurance from my HGA, a proverbial shoulder to cry on and letting go of all the bottled up feelings, regrets and anger. My HGA not only guided me through facing it all but also strongly directed me to build up my ego. It was really not what I expected form Abramelin at all. Completing the process left me feeling a lot more confident, optimistic and at peace with myself. In psychological terms it helped me to reframe how I perceive my life and myself. Instead of blaming myself and others for my 'misfortune' I ended up seeing my life as a unique chance/training that allowed me to be where I am now. My HGA helped me to reorient my ego away from reflecting the outward reality. Instead the ego became an agent through which my HGA can express themselves in the world. The feeling is incredibly liberating and empowering.
I have been accompanied by otherworldly visitors my whole life, guided and aided by them to be truly free. If I had chosen to pursue wordily goals and succeeded, I would have become too invested in this reality to give it up. Like many of my fellow magicians, I would have been doing magick to assert myself, gets my sales going and keep 'uninvited spirits' at bay, interpreting their intrusions as hostility instead of seeing them as an invitation to learn and communicate. I wouldn't have the unique chance do develop a strong bond and relationship with them. Did they target me and manipulate me to serve their agenda? Is the spiritual/mystical path a simple recruitment into their legion? Perhaps, but for all it is worth, I have no regrets. Orienting myself to my HGA seems worthwhile in a way that nothing else ever has. I would rather work for them than a big corp, the military or the government. Ultimately we need to choose what we sacrifice ourselves for. Doing so means truly owning ourselves and being in control of our life. If we do not make this choice someone else will do it for us.