Find The Art & Not The Pop

kingmobpop

Not content with me residing in a morphine-based haze, Gordon’s  gone and done a number on the back of my brain with his post entitled “They Live In The Starlight.” Go and read it, because I can’t be arsed re-contextualising it fully. Suffice to say, his remarks about following the wrong birds and hence not eating for a week ring horribly true to me.

I call following the ‘right’ birds black bird magic  because of many reasons, but in actual fact, it’s because in the particular grammar of my worldview, black birds are a multi-level multivalent symbol of meaning. Crows, ravens (and almost all corvids including rooks, jackdaws and magpies) and other black winged carrion-eaters and raptors such as vultures and eagles, all operate within a constellation of Importance.

On one level, it’s quite simple – where there’s a bunch of the black birds, there’s usual something  going on Growing up in rural Cornwall, you’d see great flocks of them congregate when the earth had been turned by farmers; to say nothing of the classic idea that they appear where dead things are. So already, we have the idea of chthonic, deathly revelation. What’s hidden is revealed, what’s under the earth is brought to the surface. Conversely, the seed put down into that earth attracts them, so they exist at that interface-point. Winged messengers descending from on high to consume the fruits of the earth and under the earth. They eat the dead things too – are at home in the trash stratum of Phil K Dick. Gaining nutrition from the excrement, from the rubbish, from what would be corrupt and rotting, they can make food out nearly anything.

That’s just practical observation, except for the metaphor of the winged messengers, right? But lets cast ourselves back to the hunter-gatherer stage – where the black birds are, there’s nutrition. Maybe we, as hunter-gatherers, can get some meat without having to expend so much energy running down prey, eh? Maybe there’s a clump of nutritious plants nearby. You get the idea. They convey the message of import, the thing that allows you to survive.

And the weird thing is, they get to know you. They recognise the hunter-gatherer, the one who leaves them leftovers, the farmer who digs up those tasty worms and bugs. And if you listen to them, you could swear they’re communicating complex ideas with each other (and it seems you’d be right). So, the literal lived experience of the black birds occurs first. Then you dig down, and find that the raven’s head – the caput mortuum or caput corvi – is associated with putrefaction. with nigredo in alchemy. Have you ever looked at a crow’s feather ? Black as night, except when the light catches it just so. Then you see the whole rainbow, somehow hidden within the darkness.

Lived experience again.

Signs of death, of putrefaction, of potential nutrition. Of hidden light and colour. Signs that can solve problems, and that can speak..

Or, this full documentary is pretty good for a watch, talking about the communication and facial recognition:

The point being, these associations are logical extrapolations of lived experience – they do not come from nowhere. They are not made up out of whole cloth. Instead, they arise out of context and observation – all the magical correspondences you’ve ever seen, all the narratives and systems, grew out of a moment when the kosmos connected with the human mind and in doing so evoked something, brought it forth. As Gordon says:

This brings us back to the ‘rainforest’ of ‘cultural symbolism’. Theoretically, the chaos magical use of cultural symbols can yield equivalent magical effects as using more traditional mythological systems, but only in certain instances. There is a naïve assumption -which I have repeatedly stressed was never there in chaos magic’s original formulation- that you can just use anything you want and they’re all the same. But if you go looking for apotheosis in the subtext of Everybody Loves Raymond rather than the X-Files then you are ‘following the wrong birds’ and your family won’t be eating pig that week. Or ever. The problem with so-called pop culture magic is not on the magic side… it’s on the fact that modern culture is mostly shit and getting worse. In fact, you are better off approaching any of this from an almost Alan Moore direction: art is always magic and sometimes popular culture. Find the art, not the pop.

This is no institutional theory of art, either. Rather than asking What is Art? the kind of art in question is that which induces, which affects, and produces effect. Let’s take Star Wars as an example, or Lord Of The Rings. These did not come out of nowhere, but rather were deliberate attempts to evoke the power of myth, to bring forth the mechanisms of affect. When I sat in the cinema as The Two Towers came out, I was, in some sense, joining my childhood self reading the book, entering once again the world of Middle Earth. And that world was conceived in the mind of Tolkien, who himself drew on Norse myth and Anglo Saxon lore,

George Lucas worked Star Wars in such a way that it evoked themes as described by Joseph Campbell. Campbell himself developed his theory of mythic structure by distilling, comparing and contrasting myths from all over the world. There’s a continuity there. As I sat in the cinema watching The Force Awakens  a second time, I thought about all the idiocy of those who said it was just a rehash of the original trilogy. Idiocy, because of course it revisits themes and story beats. Of course it tells the story of a family dynasty and rebels and outcasts and heroes.

Radanhaenger-edited

Because myth is cyclical. Mythic time is cyclical. The reiteration of theme and shape occurs because these, like the black birds, are Symbols, signs and portents. The spoor of the numinous reaching out to catch the human mind, to coyly hint at its ever-presence.

portent (n.) 1560s, from Middle French portente, from Latin portentum “a sign, token, omen; monster, monstrosity,” noun use of neuter of portentus, past participle of portendre (see portend).

portend (v.) early 15c., from Latin portendere “foretell, reveal; point out, indicate,” originally “to stretch forward,” from por- (variant of pro-; see pro-) “forth, forward” + tendere “to stretch, extend” (see tenet). Related: Portended; portending.

tenet (n.) “principle, opinion, or dogma maintained as true by a person, sect, school, etc.,” properly “a thing held (to be true),” early 15c., from Latin tenet “he holds,” third person singular present indicative of tenere “to hold, grasp, keep, have possession, maintain,” also “reach, gain, acquire, obtain; hold back, repress, restrain;” figuratively “hold in mind, take in, understand.”

The Latin word is from PIE root *ten- “to stretch” (cognates: Sanskrit tantram “loom,” tanoti “stretches, lasts;” Persian tar “string;” Lithuanian tankus“compact,” i.e. “tightened;” Greek teinein “to stretch,” tasis “a stretching, tension,” tenos “sinew,” tetanos “stiff, rigid,” tonos “string,” hence “sound, pitch;” Latin tendere “to stretch,” tenuis “thin, rare, fine;” Old Church Slavonic tento “cord;” Old English þynne “thin”). Connecting notion between “stretch” and “hold” is “cause to maintain.” The modern sense is probably because tenet was used in Medieval Latin to introduce a statement of doctrine.

It strings us along, lays a thread for us to follow, like Ariadne leaving Theseus a thread so he could escape the Labyrinth after killing the Minotaur. We’ll come back to Ariadne later, but for now, it’s the thread which is important. The connecting sinew that binds us, that holds us, that possesses us.

This is something that we’ve only recently forgotten about, in some senses. Ironically, it is this loss of memory which propels us to explore, to descend and learn and bring forth. Not only have we forgotten the things we once knew as magicians and wyrd folk, but we seem to think we can automatically do things better.  The cyclical, spiralling understanding, the back and forth  has been abandoned in favour of straight line, linear progress.

Now, I’m not being so foolish as to say ‘older is better.’ Often, those older things have become moribund, hidebound pieces of ineffectiveness based on simple “doing what has always been done”. But, again like the birds and their Symbolism, it is often forgotten that these older, traditional systems, came forth out of lived experience. 

It’s that experience, that becoming acquainted with, that gnosis  of the cross-roads meeting point, which we seek. The moment where something is summoned forth from Memory. Memory then, is not merely the act of recall, but the grasping and following of that thread.

Which brings us to a link passed my way by the good Dr. Al Cummins in a conversation on Mugtome,  It’s an academic article on John of Morigny – a medieval scholar who wrote Liber Florum,  a text which was intended to ‘destroy’ the Solomonic grimoire known as Ars Notoria. Now, by ‘destroy’ we mean a series of prayers and rites designed to remove the demonic influence from the rites and preserve the holy core of knowledge which somehow remained in the Ars Notoria.

Except, good old John didn’t actually write the purificatory text of Liber Florum – or rather, he wrote it but it had an otherworldy originator. Specifically, the Virgin Mary. From the article:

John petitioned the Virgin for the delivery of Liber florum’s thirty central prayers for the explicit purpose of destroying the Ars Notoria, which John had come to regard as demonically corrupt. […] Though John aimed at destroying the Ars Notoria, he also stated he wished to preserve what was good and holy in it, and that he had plundered its divine words as the Hebrews had plundered the Egyptian treasure.

[…]

[R]eliance on an idea of  prelapsarian knowledge which is constituted primarily in a curriculum is perhaps the most important common feature of the two texts. Both open with general prayers for the faculties which enable absorption of learning: memory, perseverance, stability, eloquence. Both proceed via a series of prayers and figures through the seven liberal arts, first the trivium, then the quadrivium, leading to prayers and figures designed to take philosophy, and in the culminating stage, theology.

The seven liberal arts formed the basis of a medieval education, themselves passed down from the Graeco-Roman world, something they share in common with Hermetic philosophy. This article by John Michael Greer of the Art of Memory in Hermetica is worth a read to get some context, but I’d like  to return to John of Morigny, in his own words:

On a certain night, I was placed in a kind of ecstasy, whether in the body or out of the body I know not, God knows. And lo, I saw a certain horrible figure, and it seemed to me absolutely certain that it was the enemy of the human race. And that figure rose up against me, wishing and craving to suffocate me. When I saw it, I fled aghast in great fear from its terrible face and it pursued me hither and thither and could not catch me, and yet pressed upon me as it followed, so that I left the house that I was in, fleeing from the face of my persecutor. And when I went outside, it did not cease to pursue me; and when it rose up hugely I stopped in my tracks and ran towards the church of the blessed Mary. I entered it through the right hand door of the main entrance on the west front , and when I was in the church, I immediately lifted my eyes – I was next to the door at some distance from it – towards the image of the blessed virgin Mary. And lo, suddenly the devoted virgin Mary counselled me sweetly with a sign of her arm that I should come to her. After seeing this, I ran to her quickly and fled as though to the true comfort and refuge of sinners.

Mnemosyne_(color)_Rossetti

As the article states, the iconic link between Mary and the liberal arts  is clear – and it is through purification of the soul that one may access the prelapsarian knowledge, for learning is said to be the uncovering and remembering of the knowledge. But this knowledge is not the knowledge of men, but of God – complete, whole and absolute. In this sense, it’s displaying its Neoplatonic heritage. Track that back further, and what do we find but the pre-Socratic notion that knowledge is learnt from the gods, or in the case of Parmeneides – a Goddess.

Which brings us rather neatly back to Ariadne. In some versions of the myth, she is abandoned by Theseus, only to be be found by Dionysos and made his wife, raised to godhood. The same Dionysos whose maenads tore apart Orpheus. You know, the poet-singer who went to the underworld. The one who is supposed to have founded the tradition which left tablets instructing the initiate to identify themselves to the judges in the underworld as being of Earth and Starry Heaven. Doing this, gets them a drink from the well of the Mnemosyne – you know, the Titaness?

Oh, and the name of the Minotaur, at the centre of the underground Labyrinth? Asterion, or Starry.

All of this goes some way to show the recurring signs and symbols involved here. The Wyrd is a shameless flirt, a coquettish trickster leading us on in some erotic game. Onward, ever onward, except like a labyrinth, we end up circling back on ourselves, going ever deeper each time. And whether its the crazy furor guy driving us, or the utterly pure (arihagne) virgin, we are propelled into ecstasy. We are taken outside, set beside ourselves by that thread, by that noose.

Art is the propulsion method, the affector. Culture is an accretion, a stabilisation mechanism and mode of defence against the High Strangeness because we intuitively understand that there’s a very real risk we might get torn apart by it. What’s popular is often so diluted that it often has only the  tiniest morsel of it left, because anything more would threaten stability. The task then, is to mine, to dig, to follow the signs through and beyond the popular – run the risk of getting lost in the rainforest, dying of dysentery and snake’s poison.

We enter into a world that is run on non-human logic, returning once more to a state which is variously described as primal, prelapsarian, pre-Adamic – Titanic in some senses. This is not popular. Not something that extends into realms of sociability. Because to find one’s own relation to the neighbours, to the daemonic, is to become daemonic. There comes a time when one has dug down to a level where the raw affect leaves one uncivilised, shuddering and shaking, unmoored from what everyone else knows.

Nor is this hyper-individualism – one might start out worshiping Marvel’s Thor because you like the character, or because you want to assume a godform of a thunder deity who millions have watched on screen, reasoning that its more relevant than some archaeological deity. But dig further and you’ll find he was created by Jack Kirby, the mad bastard artist of comics, with a whole load of strange and paranormal associations under his belt. Then the blond guy with the hammer might shift in your perception to a burly redhead who drives a chariot of endlessly resurrecyted goats, until that day when thunder rolls and you see the lightning connect heaven and earth in an erotic charge. The thunder hammers your ears, shakes your bones, and suddenly you become aware of the beingness behind the medieval texts, the presence behind the thing your mind shapes like a man.

And boom. There’s just you and a thing generations have called a god. It was never about you.

Because there’s always More. To quote Michael Bertiaux:

¨In opposition to all humanistic culture, we are lured ever to the brink of chaos. We want to go where we are forbidden. We want to know what has been denied to us. We seek, in a word, the ‘more’.¨

If it’s turtles all the way down, we become-as-turtle, in a erotic congress from which emerges Art itself. We re-birth Symbols, bring them forth in our own flesh, our own lives. We scavenge the mounds of trash, scavenging for the nuggest of nutrition, the shining gleam of the numinous. Ingesting it, we are inspired, intoxicated, and in ecstasy. It is within that ecstasy that we attend the sabbats, we take our place as co-creators of the world, affectors and affected.

Art doesn’t belong to you. It belongs to all beings as a method to break us out of that humanistic fugue trance, if only for a moment. Art seizes, it possesses, it disrupts and reawakens.

And if the pop culture is the tamed, gentled version, then it is is time to voyage back along the ancestral tree, from the cute puppy to the feral direwolf  which may or may not walk like a man under all moons but the full. Back to the age of ice where naked hunters waited steaming in the blizzard, warmed by inner fires while their prey froze to death. Back to see what made them that way, and to touch it once more.

The fusional  chimeric mediating Being at the centre of the labyrinth is our own quixotic mirrored soul which reveals the immensity of the daemonic. Then it casts aside one mask after another and we realise that it is not us that possess Soul, but Soul who possesses us; the awe-inspiring, terrible ever-desiring, constantly creating pandaemonic All.

The bricolage of the magician draws its power from a well of Memory, until all events and objects can be re-membered, put together again, thrumming with might and potency as enlivened members of a whole. The well of Wyrd connects us all, and it is bottomless.

Down into the Underworld and out into the stars we must go.

 

Authenticity & Wyrd

Nornsweaving
There’s no such thing as Authenticity, or being Real as opposed to fake. No static boundary to cross, no goal to make. To suggest that there is a quality, distinct and clear, is to misunderstand the fact that Being is continuous. This is not post modernism – on the contrary it is pre-modern in nature.

There’s a rushing sense to it, like trying to catch silver fish in a running river with your bare hands. The moment you grip it, the fish wriggles, changes. The water cascades around you. All the sensations impinge and impress upon you, but they are there one moment, and then gone the next, replaced by something new.

Authenticity always hearkens to the past, to the moment when you finally realise what a thing is – except by the time the realisation forms, what spurred it has gone.

The only solution to this problem, such as it is a problem at all, is to note that the Primordial exists as a kind of Never-Was.

Insofar as Never can be described as a specific species of negation, the Never-Was negates the past as fixity.Instead of fixity, we are presented with Fate that is not oriented futurewards – indeed, there is no futurity. There is only the Primordial, which itself is a mere label since there’s actually no numerical sense involved – no primary, secondary, tertiary etc.

But what manner of Fate are we describing, this thing which is apart from our notions of past, present and future? In this, we consider the premodern word

Urðr,  from which we derive wyrd, and weird.

Wyrd is not past, present or future. Indeed, in old texts like Beowulf, it is said wyrd always goes as it must.

In this sense, wyrd, fate does not conform to past-present future – even when we factor in Verðandi (happening) and Skuld (debt/obligation/consequence) we are not experiencing the same tripartite structure.

Even gods are bound by wyrd – which is to say there is an inexorable process occupying what we might conceivably visualise as as a simultaneous Before-Between-After and yet permeating all events, too.

Therefore, there is no distinct Authenticity, there is only wyrd, and in considering this, we are faced with the possibility that our actions are not our own alone, but also the actions of every entity within the kosmos. Our actions may in fact be the description of negative space – our lives are like the air inside a lung, shaped by ‘outside’ forces and yet influencing those forces though the air seems apparently empty space.

In this, we approach again, the Nietzschean amor fati. If God is Dead (insofar as God is understood as a singular moral arbiter and guarantor of so-called explicit ‘order’, rather than some specific Abrahamic deity) then we are liberated from notions of linear progression. Instead of a single line, we are presented with a vast manifold, a cornucopia of options which, paradoxically to our modern minds, require deliberate intensity – wilful Dionysiac engagement with all events and occurrences, beyond all notions of so-called Good and Evil, Real and Fake.

And this is not easy. Indeed it is the hardest labour of all, to  see all events as but Images, endless protean iterations of wyrd, each one a portal to all others – an entangled web gleaming with burnished illuminating darkness.

This does not mean that all things are equal – indeed it demands we engage with all these Images anew, differently each time, on a case by case basis. The seeming lack of guarantee of value does not, and never has, levelled the landscape of existence into a marketable, democratized form. Instead, we are driven to seek that value, as a people entering an unknown land must explore it in order to find those resources which will allow them to live, and live well.

By embracing this Terra Incognita, we face death, annihilation and loss. Our fears are our daemonic companions by which we might find the dragons we always dreamt of, unlocking ancient serpent wisdom – the knowing-of existence itself.

We would do well to consider the words of Philip K. Dick:  “The symbols of the divine show up in our world initially at the trash stratum.”

The unwanted, excreted, exiled, the thrown-away, the impure and the monstrous – all these are cast out, and in that casting are imbued with a Beyondness, shot through with alien Outsiderness.

As exiles, they become messages and mediums carrying the previously unknown, the forgotten. They are the first place the Wyrd breaks through – as evidenced by the works of Jeffrey Kripal, Mutants and Mystics: Science Fiction, Superhero Comics, and the Paranormal in particular

We ourselves are patchwork creatures – inheriting genes, speech patterns, beliefs and tastes in many different endlessly inventive iterations. If one were to slice our lives into pieces, it is doubtful each piece would recognise the other as itself,. All we have then, is the wyrd of it, the unutterable strangeness of our own existence, our own experience, which of course is not our own, but an Image composed of all the kosmos coming to be within the localised envelope of appearance we call life.

It is in this highly localised  environment that the kosmos reveals itself, each moment brimming with daemonic creativity, mirthful tricksy divinity. that mocks and pokes fun at our dearly held notions of matter, space, time, morality and perception.

It is that wriggling silver fish, that rushing stream, the chill in your bones, the hunger that drove you to even try. It is the cry your mother made in the moments before your birth, the last rattle of your own breath as you die.

Vast, immeasurable and irrational, seeking to lead you on a wild goose-chase into the woods with the faeries. The fleeing deer who catches and kills its hunter with bloody velvet antlers covered in carven magic spells meant to bewitch so as the laughing god might have true, honoured sacrifice.

It’s the lights in the sky that dazzle the eye and violate the laws of physics with criminal intent, the old stone that writhes all mossy under your fingertips, the whorls and lines catching starlight in a net and letting it loose in bottomless pools wherein lie maidens waiting to drag you down to the underworld.

Strange and terrible charlatan magi in feathered cloaks and broad-brimmed hats howling barbarous words while birdheaded scribes stain stone with hieroglyphs that last for tens of centuries. Thieves, liars, illusionists, pariahs and poets.

And it’s wyrd, this raw strangeness, this sly and terrible hint, this cold-edged spine-burn of tear jerking, gulping joyous immensity. This vertiginous yawning gulf of momentary knowing  which passes understanding and comes to bring sword-peace and pulsing, surging life.

Enough to wake the dead and have them climbing from their tombs and dancing, all foxfire-illumined in the cavernous starry gulfs. Look careful there, and you might just catch your own face amongst them, shorn of care, before you’re whirled and spun and struck by the awe of their ever-presence – sent madly careening through the fields of your own doubts, laughing all the while.

Then, chilled by the dew upon your skin, on the morning after the night before, cold grey comedown will make you wonder, make you reason, make you seek some rhyme and rhythm as it all recedes.

And that’s the way of it – rationality pours concrete over starry meadows. Day after day, you might be faced with that greyness, until one day, it seems that’s all there is. So that’s when you sit. When you seize the concrete, when you rake that plane with the sheer stress of your regard. Seize its pitting and its pattern, its grit and its surface, and then, as its imperfections swell, its brutalism cuts and bruises your heart, let yourself bleed. Let yourself mourn. Let yourself howl for the forgotten things you think you have lost.

Then:

Aye, and then, there’ll be that single, stunted, broken blade of grass, parched and browning. Exhausted, fallen, a crippled corpse severed from its fellows. Stabs deeper than a knife, that blade – delivers a mortal wound, so it does.

In the moment, its all too much. You die, or some part of you does. It falls away, crumbling away. Lies there, curled and brown, circling grass around some outcast dream that can no longer survive the desert of existence.

Except..where did that grass come from?

From whence sprang that tiny thing, in all this field of blankness and sharp edges?

Look again, and its gone. Look thrice though, and you’ll see it’s not alone. On the edges, in the neglected parts, there grows scrub, there grows weed and thorn. Raggedy, out-of-place, having no home here, no right to be present.

How in all hell does it survive, you might wonder?

Even weeds have roots. Beyond what is seen, down and down, they stretch into the earth. They are everywhere, and this is just a metaphor, an analogy. A story, a lie – and yet, well..

Wyrd, innit?

Marvel-ous Star.Ships

And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.
Kubla Khan, Samuel Taylor Coleridge

In a way, it’s fitting that my first post after the blog’s return from being hacked is written under the influence of morphine. After all, mankind has enjoyed a close, if somewhat fraught relationship with the poppy, for thousands of years.

Whether that be out in Afghanistan, China, the opium dens of Britain and America, or even the Romantic poets and the Victorians with their laudanum and other preparations, it’s been around for a long, long time. It’s in my particular system for health reasons which I shan’t go into here, but suffice to say the last few months have not  been particularly pleasant.

Why do I bring this up? Possibly, to explain the nature of this post, and to ask for some forgiveness if yr. humble correspondent strays from the paths of relevancy. Yet also to mention that, though it took me weeks to read, my conciousness ebbing and flowing, my attention wavering from print after only a few moments like the proverbial stoned ape, I really enjoyed Gordon’s first book.

In case you didn’t know, that’s Star.Ships: A Prehistory Of The Spirits and it’s really good. Like, 2001-monolith good. Somehow, Gordon’s managed to distil down a slab of something which, if you approach it with an open mind, might very well give you some new ground to recontextualise myth amd magic. Let it into your brain and see where you end up.

But this isn’t a review. No, this is – actually I don’t know what this is,  but I was occasionally nicknamed Coleridge at university, so you’ll have to forgive my fugue and put up with a sort of juxtapositional quotefest:

WE ARE THE WITCHCRAFT. We are the oldest organization in the world. When man was born, we were. We sang the first cradle song. We healed the first wound, we comforted the first terror. We were the Guardians against the Darkness, the Helpers on the Left Hand Side. Rock drawings in the Pyrenees remember us, and little clay images, made for an old purpose when the world was new. Our hand was on the old stone circles, the monolith, the dolmen, and the druid oak. We sang the first hunting songs, we made the first crops to grow; when man stood naked before the Powers that made him, we sang the first chant of terror and wonder. We wooed among the Pyramids, watched Egypt rise and fall, ruled for a space in Chaldea and Babylon, the Magian Kings. We sat among the secret assemblies of Israel, and danced the wild and stately dances in the sacred groves of Greece.
(John Whiteside Parsons, We Are The Witchcraft)

And:

Before we knew how to farm, before we lived in villages, before we even knew how to make pots, we built a star temple on a hill. The simplicity of this statement belies its astounding implications. […] We did not build Göbekli Tepe in Southeastern Turkey because a surplus of stored food allowed a priestly class to emerge and tell us make-believe stories. We did not monitor the movements of the stars because it told us when to plant crops, because we weren’t planting crops.We built Göbekli Tepe because it expressed something about ourselves and our place in the universe. The temple complex restores the quest for meaning to its preeminent place atop the goals of human life. Philosophy is rescued from being a mere nighttime hobby of farmers to being the defining human trait, that which we value most. This is what the site’s discoverer, Dr Klaus Schmidt, means when he says that the cathedral predates the city. It may well have been the coming together for spiritual reasons that birthed settled cultures, rather than the other way around.”
Star.Ships: A Prehistory Of The Spirits, Gordon White

 

Jack_Parsons_2

All very well you might say. But who is this John Whiteside Parsons? Originally born as Marvel Whiteside Parsons, named after his father who left, and then latterly becoming known as John?

Around here, we call him Jack Motherfucking Parsons. Look him up. You’ll find he has a crater on the dark side of the moon named after him, helped found what became NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, worked Ritual Magic with L Ron Hubbard – yes, that L Ron Hubbard, and blew himself up in a lab explosion. This is the guy who looks so terrifyingly like the father of Tony Stark (Marvel Comics IRON MAN) that I swear it’s one of those Things.

Why do I bring this up? Because as well as introducing Grady McMurtry to Thelema, he is instrumental in our attempts to get. To. The. Stars. A scientist, Thelemite, magician, libertine, who gave us jet fuel and Solid Rocket Boosters. Like Dee he had a dodgy partner – L Ron was his Kelley in some senses. There are even the wife swapping parallels.

Now, no disrespect to my Thelemic chums, but if the OTO had as much pull and celebrity influence as the Church of Scientology does/did, perhaps it might be further along with the whole Thelemic worldwide project, eh?  But, no matter.

Therefore our name is Lucifer. We are on the side of freedom, of love, of joy and laughter and divine drunkenness. Therefore our name is Babalon.

Sometimes we move openly, sometimes in silence and in secret. Night and day are one to us, calm and storm, seasons and the cycles of man, all these things are one, for we are at the roots. Supplicant we stand before the Powers of Life and Death, and are heard of these Powers, and avail. Our way is the secret way, the unknown direction. Our way is the way of the serpent in the underbrush, our knowledge is in the eyes of goats and of women. (Parsons, Ibid)

And:

“While Laurasia may be the ‘containing narrative’ for Western magic, many of its spirits are at least Gondwanan and potentially Pan-Gaean. You can even make the case – and I do – that ‘true’ Western magic, devoid of its much, much later onboarding of Neoplatonism, is a practical application of a Pan-Gaean world-view: God may exist but its existence is materially irrelevant; the Trickster/Devil is the gatekeeper and lord of culture; and it is recourse to local spirits and the dead by way of sacrifice that is the most commonly performed action. The witch is a very old woman and she has been on a long, long walk.” (White, Ibid)

It’s been interesting, hasn’t it, the discussion of the Devil in various blogs, within Wicca and Witchcraft? Even Llewellyn has authors getting in on the act too. Somewhere I can hear a chuckle as a Wanderer throws up the horns, walking along the corpse-paths of starry night. And then there’s the film, The Witch: Black Philip and the dark woods:, all warm-mouthed and living deliciously, hot buttered young crumpet and old hag dancing in Sabbattic Nightflight.

Ochre-red handprints, human and otherwise, pressed on the stone roof, the curvature of the Earth propelling us Down and Into Abyssal Starry Gulfs amongst the immortal, feral dead – all unbound, justified and ancient. Uttering barbarous words that are no words in any mortal tongue because they’re the language of the shining angels, the black and hungry birds. Lucifer – Light-bringer. Morning Star The name for Venus. High in the heavens and within her Sibylic Mound within the Earth.

The combination of the bird – most often the vulture – and the head is repeated several times throughout the entire site. During the 2012 season, a larger-than-lifesize, realistic human head in the talons of a large bird was discovered in a deep sounding trench in the main excavation area. This is an image that is well-known from Nevali Çori and is thus highly suggestive of the continuation of ‘headlessness’ and the special significance of the head from the deep Palaeolithic into the post-agricultural era. Other carved heads have been discovered in the fill of various enclosures, and are curiously evocative of some comparatively nearby cultic practices in Jericho, ‘Ain Ghazal and Tell Aswad, where human skulls were removed from corpses and given new faces made from gypsum plaster before being installed in ancestral shrines. As far back as 26,000 years ago (doubling the distance between Göbekli Tepe and us), graves where the skulls have been painted with red ochre are found. From the same era, the Gravettian graves – found across Europe – often contain headless skeletons or sometimes just skulls. (White, Ibid)

This is the monolith. The single stone. Except it’s not single. Not at all.
gobekli
No more than Crowley and Coleridge had their problems with opiates alone – the former, heroin, the latter laudanum. No more than I have a precisely calibrated slow release of morphine sulphate movng through my bloodstream even now, prescribed by healers whose ancestors once dreamt in caves and earned the wisdom of the pharmakon from the spirits. No more than years ago, when the hunters and the gatherers came together and met and talked and told grandmother stories, and grandfather stories. No more when serpents and eagles and scorpions wheeled above them and writhed against stone pillars, when the memories of all the Floods that ever were, sluiced through minds primed for the remembrance of times lost.

We are the Witchcraft, and although one may not know another, yet we are united by an indissoluble bond. And when the high wild cry of the eagle sounds in your mind, know that you are not alone in your desire for freedom. And when the howl of the wolf echoes in the forests of your night, know that there are those who also prowl. And when the ways of your fellows about you seem the ways of idiocy and madness, know that there are also others who have seen and judged – and acted. (Parsons)

To place things in context – nobody is talking about a single Ur-text, no singular method of hierarchical transmission. The words and phrases, Gondwana, Laurasia, antediluvian – these are mere placeholders. No early twentieth century Perennialism here. No nineteenth century Murrayist Old Religion which requires slavish reconstructionism. The palm tree becomes oak, becomes ash. The mundus imaginalis, in all its intermediary intercessory wonder, reaches out. There have been a hundred Atlantises, a thousand – the wisdom teachers who carry the memories of a drowned land are legion, because of the nature of stories  and Being. Because there have been events and times which must be kept as doorways, preserved as the very vessels which carry us to the realm of the stars.

As above, so below is not merely some comment on the tendency of humans to plot the movements of the heavenly bodies. Nor is it solely a statement on the holographic, holistic nature of so-called reality. It is an aid to memory, a signpost to communion. For it says that the stars are not, have never been, apart from us. That stellar chthonic realm, that endless arching curve of the velvet heavens, is us.

The way up is the way down. That constellation of Tricksters with ten thousand faces, those daemonic culture heroes – strange-grifters all. That legion of daemons led by some hoary-headed thing of laughter, wonder and terror. That feral band of night-dancers, terrible in its singular gravity, curving space and time, twisting it into lemiscate knots to hover above the heads of charlatans.

There’s an awful marvel here, friends.

marvel (n.)Look up marvel at Dictionary.comc. 1300, “miracle,” also “wonderful story or legend,” from Old French merveille “a wonder, surprise, miracle,” from Vulgar Latin *miribilia (also source of Spanish maravilla, Portuguese maravilha, Italian maraviglia), altered from Latin mirabilia “wonderful things,” from neuter plural of mirabilis“wonderful, marvelous, extraordinary; strange, singular,” from mirari “to wonder at,” from mirus “wonderful” (see smile). A neuter plural treated in Vulgar Latin as a feminine singular.

miracle (n.)Look up miracle at Dictionary.commid-12c., “a wondrous work of God,” from Old French miracle (11c.) “miracle, story of a miracle, miracle play,” from Latin miraculum “object of wonder” (in Church Latin, “marvelous event caused by God”), from mirari “to wonder at, marvel, be astonished,” figuratively “to regard, esteem,” from mirus“wonderful, astonishing, amazing,” earlier *smeiros, from PIE *smei- “to smile, laugh” (cognates: Sanskrit smerah “smiling,” Greek meidan “to smile,” Old Church Slavonic smejo “to laugh;” see smile (v.)).

From mid-13c. as “extraordinary or remarkable feat,” without regard to deity. Replaced Old English wundortacen, wundorweorc. The Greek words rendered as miracle in the English bibles were semeion “sign,” teras “wonder,” and dynamis “power,” in Vulgate translated respectively as signum,prodigium, and virtus. The Latin word is the source of Spanish milagro, Italian miracolo.

smile (v.)Look up smile at Dictionary.comc. 1300, perhaps from Middle Low German *smilen or a Scandinavian source (such as Danish smile “smile,” Swedish smila “smile, smirk, simper, fawn”), from Proto-Germanic *smil-, extended form of PIE root *smei- “to laugh, smile” (cognates: Old English smerian “to laugh at, scorn,” Old High Germansmieron “to smile,” Latin mirus “wonderful,” mirari “to wonder”). Related: Smiled; smiling.
wundortacen, wundorweorc.  Signs and wonders. Powers and portents.

Because it was never about us. Never. The human was never the centre of the universe. Instead, that central point, that crossing place, that axis mundi which has wizards and wonderworkers trapped in trees or hanged from them? That place of dismemberment and reconstitution that makes worlds, the place where angels descend and shining folk take us apart and put us back together so that we may see anew with ancient eyes?

That is where we stand. Only in that meeting, in that moment. That’s the doorway to eternity.

I shall let you into a secret, dear friends. This has taken me days to write. Days to put the letters next to each other. (Morphine, you understand.)

Yet, you’ll read it as a whole thing, a complete object. You’ll never see the false starts, the moments lost, staring blankly at the screen, while raw emotion and wordless thought crashed together like waves of an ocean. You’ll never see it unless I let you, unless I show you. The logic of it, of Gordon’s book, meets William Blake in my mind.

Jerusalem, the emanation of the giant Albion. The shining city of Imagination upon a hill. They made a hymn about it, but so many thought they were speaking of a desert place, a distant place.

And did those feet in ancient time,
Walk upon England’s mountains green:
And was the holy Lamb of God,
On England’s pleasant pastures seen?  – From Milton: A Poem by  William Blake.

A question there then, from Blake. Did Jesus, the living divinity long held distant in time, walk these shores? Did Milton, with his tale of the fallen Lucifer, the descending rebel angel, serve as Virgil to Blake’s Dante? And if Lucifer the Lightbringer is applied not only to Jesus, but to Nimrod, the Mighty Hunter – what then?

If there is a Meeting Place, then there are Meeting Places. Multiple, Plural. Altars, shrines, holy places. Tapu places. Places you don’t want to go at certain times lest you be taken Under The Hill into those timeless fairy realms. Places that exist that way, not because of superstition but because of memory, but because of the wyrd interconnected nature of things.

This has taken days to write, as I have said.

While this place was down, I’ve been on and off tumblr, and I became aware that apparently, some folks think analysis is antithetical to chaos magic. I mention this, because of Jack Parsons. Because of the calculations and the mathematics of John Dee. Because of the curvature of the earth and the raising of the stones and the movements of the stars. Because of the teaching of herblore and surgery and healing and harming. I mention this because Gordon runs a chaos magic blog and talks about experimentation and results, and floods and geopolymers used to build the pyramids in his book.

>I mention this because when we come together at that meeting place to share stories and ideas, when we cast our minds back to ancient lands where ancestral grains lie, the grandfather of the strains which give you bread today, we find that the division is not there. We find the cathedral instead, the star temple. We find magic, not as an exclusive thing of bits and pieces, but as whole fabric. We find it born when high wyrd meets the human mind, and in reaction, like a body breaking out in hives, we find culture, that attempt to grasp to shape, to understand, to acquaint, to have knowledge of.

Humans it seems, by our nature, are a Gnostic species. While we cannot speak for our cousins the hobbits, or the Neanderthals or the Denisovians, we can nonetheless find them in our DNA. We knew them, biblically, Gnostically. We found these Others, and we met them, and now we carry them with us through time.

This has taken days to write, periods of time. Of comings and goings. Yet you are seeing, reading, only one thing. Which is the truth of the matter? Knowing my opiatic status, my poppy process, what changes? I live in the 21st century. I was born towards the end of the twentieth. Yet, I’ve lost count of the times I’ve uttered the words from the Greek Magical Papyri, barbarous names from 350CE and centuries before. Lost count of the times I have called upon the Headless One, with mouth aflame.

Brueghel-tower-of-babel

Gordon again:

In a compelling example of the sort of non-human logic described at the opening of this chapter, we have the Headless Rite. Straddling the modern and supremely ancient world, it is an invocation of an asterism that led tribes across the globe for tens of millennia, that had ‘headless’ star temples raised in honour of it and its consort where hunters would feast, take drugs and learn the skills of grain cultivation, that became associated with stellar immortality (and still grain) to such an extent that great stone maps of it were built upon the earth. In a transparently shamanic survival, alignment with this asterism conferred kingship over the realm of the spirits. So potent was the initiatory power of headlessness – to have one’s head in another realm – that it has survived into two of the three great religions of the Near East in the form of John the Baptist, who ‘initiates’ Christ and thus brings that same promise of victory over death back down to earth.How or why could you possibly improve on that? There is no need to toddle off to Devon for a ‘shamanic initiation’ weekend. The blood spilled at Göbekli Tepe still stains the Headless Rite’s words of power. Speak them.

 In those moments then, there is and always was, a communion. A connexion which is transpersonal, transtemporal. In those moments then, I do not touch the Old Religion. For there is no Old Religion, just a tribe of apes having their bodyminds blown to smithereens. The Religion & Science comes after in a desperate attempt understand, and all one can leave behind are reports of the signs and wonders, the bones and ribs of fallen starships wrecked on the shores of time. The myths are memory, the prophets learning the tales well enough to integrate them into their body and blood so very intimately that uttering them opens a pathway, raises the wreck of those vessels.

The severed head becomes the doorway, the ancestral stream, and we find that City, that Star Temple on a Hill, waiting for us in whatever clothes we need. This is not about some unbroken lineage. Rather it’s that the things which found lineages and make connexions never went away. 

The Gnostic impulse is always with us.

Pasty

Read the rest of this entry

On Stories

This was originally a comment on Facebook, but I’m preserving it here, because it’s important to remember and things get lost:

The whole ‘hero of our own story’ thing is also bullshit modern Western enculturation. I love Joe Campbell as much as the next guy, but the monomyth is just a cultural comparison tool. We are not solo-creatures, not individuals at all. The narratives which are our lives are merely portions of a greater saga, one that includes our ancestors and (potential) descendants.

There’s a fundamental misapprehension of what stories are, borne of the false idea that story=fiction, when instead what it is, is a recounting of events. When we start thinking like that, then the stories of indigenous cultures are once again understood not to be simply metaphorical, but a fundamental way, in a very precise and particular way, of transmitting and refreshing vital information to a people.

This is why the recounting of a particular story or ritual not only passes on information, but reconnects the participants, or story-teller and audience with the primordial world of the powers, allowing them to participate and maintain the ties which hold their universe together.

Thus, there’s a fundamental difference in perspective – your experience, your personal narrative is not solely personal but trans-personal. It exists because all of those who wove their actions together, consciously and unconsciously to create a place for ‘you’ to emerge.

Without that understanding, things get fucked up. We get beings thinking they can do what they like, without consequences, believing in lie of endless progress that does not need to connect to the wisdom of the landscape, heart and soul. We get beings who slaughter people who believe this way, or call them savage and seek to ‘educate’ them in schools and destroy their culture, or label it a ‘life-style’ choice instead of what makes us human.

 

Most magicians/spirit-workers/witches/occultists (a large proportion of those who self-identify as such in the West) do not realise that a fundamental longterm change in epistemology, ontology, ‘conciousness’ and awareness is necessary and inevitable if you’re not just playing mental masturbation games.

You are – you become – pitted against fundamental logocentric, trancendentalist/escapist  ‘progressive’ and materialist ontology which forms the basis of Western culture, which requires massive deconditioning to even achieve.. It’s not just about going ‘into trance’ or ‘doing astral work.’

You can’t switch it on and off – it’s not yours to switch off, to lock away when things become uncomfortable. Not just your personal fantasy playground. It’s bigger than you, wilder than you, and it will fuck you up. When indigenous societies say this shit can kill you, or drive you mad or steal your soul?

They’re completely fucking right. That’s not just ‘primitive superstition’ but a fact of existence in a living Kosmos. It’s not a fucking role-playing game, any more than a disaster-porn movie is anything like a real tsunami or a nuclear explosion or an asteroid strike.

So the question is – are you prepared to risk everything you think you are, to take your place in this Weird and Terribly Awful universe?

Would you know more, or what?

VI amidst stones from 4 milennia ago

This post comes with a warning that it might appear contradictory. That’s not just because I’m a contrary sod, but is in fact because I intend to challenge some fundamental assumptions about certain concepts.

I am, in case you didn’t realise, a cripple. This a self-identifying term which has arisen out of pejorative connotations applied to a simple linguistic description of fact – for some people, it’s an offensive term, and they would rather it not be used to describe them.

Which is completely fine, for them. Everyone can make their own decision about whether they are comfortable about using pejorative slurs as reclaimed statements of identity, or not.  In my case, I’m fond of the etymology involved.

cripple (n.) Look up cripple at Dictionary.comOld English crypel, related to cryppan “to crook, bend,” from Proto-Germanic *krupilaz (cognates: Old Frisian kreppel, Middle Dutch cropel, German krüppel, Old Norse kryppill). Possibly also related to Old English creopan “to creep” (creopere, literally “creeper,” was another Old English word for “crippled person”).

creep (v.) Look up creep at Dictionary.comOld English creopan “to creep” (class II strong verb; past tense creap, past participle cropen), from Proto-Germanic *kreupan (cognates: Old Frisian kriapa, Middle Dutch crupen, Old Norse krjupa “to creep”), perhaps from a PIE root *g(e)r- “crooked” [Watkins]. Related: Crept; creeping.

creeper (n.) Look up creeper at Dictionary.comOld English creopera “one who creeps,” agent noun from creep (v.). Also see creep (n.). Meaning “lice” is from 1570s; of certain birds from 1660s; of certain plants from 1620s.

creep (n.) Look up creep at Dictionary.com“a creeping motion,” 1818, from creep (v.). Meaning “despicable person” is 1935, American English slang, perhaps from earlier sense of “sneak thief” (1914). Creeper “a gilded rascal” is recorded from c. 1600, and the word also was used of certain classes of thieves, especially those who robbed customers in brothels. The creeps “a feeling of dread or revulsion” first attested 1849, in Dickens.

There’s a root concept here, a principle of bentness, crookedness which is associated with abnormal modes of movement and bodily existence which translates directly into conceptions of wrongness.

wrong (adj.) Look up wrong at Dictionary.comlate Old English, “twisted, crooked, wry,” from Old Norse rangr, earlier *wrangr “crooked, wry, wrong,” from Proto-Germanic *wrang- (cognates: Danish vrang “crooked, wrong,” Middle Dutch wranc, Dutch wrang “sour, bitter,” literally “that which distorts the mouth”), from PIE *wrengh-, variant of *wergh- “to turn” (see wring).

Sense of “not right, bad, immoral, unjust” developed by c. 1300. Wrong thus is etymologically a negative of right (adj.1), which is from Latin rectus, literally “straight.” Latin pravus was literally “crooked,” but most commonly “wrong, bad;” and other words for “crooked” also have meant “wrong” in Italian and Slavic. Compare French tort “wrong, injustice,” from Latin tortus “twisted.”

wring (v.) Look up wring at Dictionary.comOld English wringan “press, strain, wring, twist” (class III strong verb; past tense wrang, past participle wrungen), from Proto-Germanic *wreng- (cognates: Old English wringen “to wring, press out,” Old Frisian wringa, Middle Dutch wringhen, Dutchwringen “to wring,” Old High German ringan “to move to and fro, to twist,” German ringen “to wrestle”), from PIE *wrengh-, nasalized variant of *wergh- “to turn,” from root *wer- (3) “to turn, bend” (see versus). To wring (one’s) hands “press the hands or fingers tightly together (as though wringing)” as an indication of distress or pain is attested from c. 1200.

And the thing is, I am twisted, I have skeletal deformity and muscular spasticity which has pulled me in abnormal directions. This turning from the straight,  righteous conception is a mark of difference – a signifier that such existence is minority in nature, an edge case on the curve of the normal distribution. If one were to draw the bell curve, one would find the crooked, crippled and bent on the outside edge of the curve.

640px-The_Normal_Distribution.svg

We can see, however, that the inside/outside dichotomy, while dualistic and inherently self-referential, nonetheless has importance because it illustrates that there is no single term, variable or item, which constitutes the norm. Rather, it’s a range of values  which coalesce under the curved umbrella of an idea. It’s the level of intensity, of extremity, which flips the switch and turns an analogue, organic range into a binary, digital state.

The markers of difference are that which produce affect – that induce a recognised change of state in perception, which is to say that which makes one thing suddenly into another. These markers are specifically interesting within a polytheistic and oral culture. The cult epithets of a deity or spirit, their associations, weapons, or armaments, are specific items which affect those who interact with them. Thus, in the case of so-called ‘disabled’ deities – Hephaistos for the Greeks, Odin and Tyr for the Norse, Nuada or Lludd for the Irish and Welsh, their ‘disabilities’ were in fact, markers of their difference, expressions of their numinous power.

Hephaistos the Lame, Odin the One Eyed/Blind, Tyr the One Handed, Nuada of the Silver Arm, Lludd of the Silver Hand.

Rather than being slurs, they were simple statements of fact which came along with the presence, the very Being of that deity. This is why it is important to consider these cultic titles (heiti in Old Norse) on their own merits – the modern connotations and political notions applied to them often detract from these powerful Gnostic portals, doorways into deeper knowings and Mysteries. This is also to say nothing of the potential representation that those who we might consider ‘disabled’ today might have gained, or the affinity they may have felt or gained with their deity’s epithet.

RingWoden1-thumb

II

Angel Millar, over at People of Shambala, has an interesting article entitled Who Killed Buddha-Nature? The Outsider in an Age of Consumer Radicalism which, while I’m not sure I agree with all of it, raises some extremely valid points about the way the norm eventually devours the outsider, particularly  in regards to political dissent and identity politics. This is not a modern phenomenon either – the Roman Empire eventually co-opted the Germanic tribes as vassal states or foederati.

At first glance, particularly given what we’ve already discussed, outsider status seems conditional in the modern world. One is either placed there, or one makes a deliberate effort to extricate oneself. Oftentimes, for marginalised populations, it becomes a simple matter of survival – one seeks to avoid oppression or mitigate suffering, and this is, in itself, completely understandable. The gravity and attendant influence that comes with being part of the in-group as distinct from the out-group, has beloved by psychologists, anthropologists, and naturalists for generations. It’s quite clear that there benefits in operating within the boundaries of a society after all – were it not so then outlawry and excommunication would not and could not have functioned as useful deterrents and punishments.

There is something to be said for the idea that  if you can afford to rebel, you don’t actually need to. And if you need to rebel, you can’t afford to.

Certainly, there are those whose position is enforced by the status quo, and who cannot hope to go toe to toe with that very same. The very nature of the status quo is that it expends resources to structure existence in a very particular way. For those without the resources to extricate themselves, the possibility of rebellion seems laughable. However, recognition of this asymmetrical position is the start of a fundamental change of understanding. To quote Ernst Junger:

“A forest passage followed a banishment; through this action a man declared his will to self-affirmation from his own resources.”

At first glance, this seems to be a paen to self-sufficiency – precisely the kind of thing those who are enmeshed in the coils of the status quo can ill afford. But, and allow me to quote myself here, from my own post on Junger from earlier in the year:

Note that this not some Libertarian survivalist individualism, some off-grid anti-government fantasy. No, this is a banishment, an exile. Those who are going into-the-forest are now asocial – the mechanisms and processes of their existence, internally and externally, are different to those of society by necessity of survival.  The metrics and methodologies by which they navigate the world are completely different; the social stimuli, the call and response, the hoops you have to jump through with all their etiquette and nuance, do not serve you in the forest. There is a reason prisoners and soldiers often have trouble reintegrating with society – when they were Elsewhere, different necessities applied.

What’s more, there are those who have always dwelt in the forest, or on its edges. Not through choice, but because they have always been there since birth – and indeed, in many mythologies, it is the forest dwellers who counsel and train the exile in the ways of the forest and its Mysteries. Encounters with these sylvan folk, these mad prophets, wizards, witches and fey monsters are what pass on occult and gnostic powers to the protagonists of the myths.

This then, brings the lie to the notion of self-sufficiency. Those who are exiled die, or survive. This is the bald fact of existence, Those who do survive however, are not isolated figures locked up in ivory towers. On the contrary they become adepts, learned in the ways of the  forest, not in an extractive context, but in fact in a symbiotic fashion. The division between hunter and hunted dissolves  – instead both are merely forest dwellers, each one an individual expression of the forest’s vitality in a unique form.

The forest dweller recognises themselves, not in contradistinction to the forest, but as part of it – not superior or inferior in any manner. The relational hierarchy is not one of top-downess or transcendence, but of upwelling and immanence, passages and methods of existence spreading like root and branch. By recognising that they serve a unique purpose in themselves, what may be considered a rebellion or deviation is an actual commitment to the core vitalistic wellspring from which emerges the sense of Selfhood, which constantly shift and flows. We are always coming-together-with-and-breaking-apart. It’s impossible not to be a mere part of a larger, manifold system.

As part of this inward-and-backward-turning  we may appear to diverge from the norm even further – and here, etymology is again instructive:

versus (prep.) Look up versus at Dictionary.commid-15c., in legal case names, denoting action of one party against another, from Latin versus “turned toward or against,” from past participle of vertere (frequentative versare) “to turn, turn back, be turned, convert, transform, translate, be changed,” from PIE *wert- “to turn, wind,” from root *wer- (3) “to turn, bend” (cognates: Old English -weard “toward,” originally “turned toward,” weorthan “to befall,” wyrd “fate, destiny,” literally “what befalls one;” Sanskrit vartate “turns round, rolls;” Avestan varet-“to turn;” Old Church Slavonic vrŭteti “to turn, roll,” Russian vreteno “spindle, distaff;” Lithuanian ver čiu “to turn;” Greek rhatane “stirrer, ladle;” German werden, Old English weorðan “to become” (for sense, compare turn into); Welsh gwerthyd “spindle, distaff;” Old Irish frith “against”).

rebel (adj.) Look up rebel at Dictionary.comc. 1300, from Old French rebelle “stubborn, obstinate, rebellious” (12c.) and directly from Latin rebellis “insurgent, rebellious,” from rebellare “to rebel, revolt,” from re- “opposite, against,” or perhaps “again” (see re-) + bellare “wage war,” from bellum “war.

re- Look up re- at Dictionary.comword-forming element meaning “back to the original place; again, anew, once more,” also with a sense of “undoing,” c. 1200, from Old French and directly from Latin re- “again, back, anew, against,” “Latin combining form conceivably from Indo-European*wret-, metathetical variant of *wert- “to turn” [Watkins]. Often merely intensive, and in many of the older borrowings from French and Latin the precise sense of re- is lost in secondary senses or weakened beyond recognition. OED writes that it is “impossible to attempt a complete record of all the forms resulting from its use,” and adds that “The number of these is practically infinite ….” The Latin prefix became red- before vowels and h-, as in redact, redeem, redolent, redundant.

This movement, cycling back, as it were, places us within the context of rebellion, not for its own sake, but as  a by-product. One rebels, without trying. Precisely because such rebellion is not constructed within the direct terms of the status quo, it is often regarded as not a direct challenge. Rather, it is associated with strange weirdness – weird being of course a modern formation of the ancient wyrd.

This  provides a hint – rather than rebellion-as-escape it is akin to the Nietzschean amor fati, or the Scandinavian root of doom.

Mysterious Shepherds

III

We are conditioned, culturally and to some extent biologically, to wish to move. To move to the next thing after we have got the previous done. Consumption itself  requires there to be more which is consumed – we are driven to accumulate resources, in whatever form they may be, for the process of extraction, processing etc. We need more food, more water, on the most basic level. This is simple physics – the coming together and breaking apart of form and function occurs at the most basic atomic level.

So it’s no surprise that we continually seek ‘fuel’ to maintain our inner furnaces which carry out the basic processes of life, to maintain our minds and bodies. The most efficient way to do so is to distribute resource collection – this is why society exists – groupings which enable the most useful recovery for the benefit of all. We are thusly socialised and enculturated by the emergent properties of the culture we inhabit – we absorb its mores, its structures and patterns. This enables us to survive.

However, there are those who are, through no fault of their own, unable to absorb and integrate those patterns. Whether this is a quirk of physiology, consciousness or some other property, it does not really matter. By necessity, they are forced to find their own methodology of survival – their own way of interacting with the larger systems and processes of existence. This then, is the essential quality – the individual themselves, returning to the most primordial of necessities. Driven by survival – which is to say their own personal, primordial impulse towards and expression of Life – they discover a way of Being which enables them to exist, either amidst society or beyond it.

This is to say that the kosmic fire, called Agni by some or Heralitan fire by others, iluminates them in such a way that they may serve as a beacon of another way to Be. It is this illumination which draws others to them, this bloodlight  by which they may find new ways and paths for others around them. They are not self-sufficient in the sense that they eschew the presence of others, but rather, their sense of Beingness provides them with an endless source of refreshment – which is to say that whatever befalls them may in fact, serve as fuel.

Thus they have no particular need  for any pre-existing condition, because all that occurs may serve to strengthen their inner flame – just as Heraclitus held that all things eventually returned to Fire.

One therefore begins the process in a manner that seems contradictory, as warned at the beginning of this post – the human tendency towards constant movement and novelty must be re-organised, re-cognised and re-purposed – in effect turned back upon itself. One of the first steps, as found in many traditions, is the pursuit of stillness – something which eventually ceases, since we become aware we do not in fact, have to pursue it. Similarly, pursuit of bodily stillness is bound to fail – try sitting without moving for three hours, and you will fail. It will however, if practised properly, give you an awareness of movement which is distinctly different to the ‘normal’ human perception. One discovers levels of bodily awareness which were often completely unknown before, when properly taught.

Similarly, the process of recognising oneself as an essential part of the kosmos  alters awareness significantly. By doubling down upon our own Being, by sitting with the fundamental distress of our so-called ‘humanity’ we achieve a deeper understanding which can benefit everyone around us. In short, we do not seek to be other than what we are, seeking instead to transmute all aspects of life in in the alchemical furnace of Being, so that even the most ‘mundane’ experience and act reveals itself to be an Image lit from within by the kosmic fire.

Thus, even those who are constrained may find their chains to be methods by which they may proceed along the merciless path.

It is called merciless for several reasons – not least because there is no thanks to be had – none will thank you for this process, save perhaps your own Soul, It is also the case that there is no-one to pay you and not receive some form of exchange – no-one to please, no justification for this save an inner drive – that inner spark of Life. This is also why one cannot flinch – just as those exiled to the forest cannot flinch from learning its ways and terms, lest they die.

The union then, between ‘Self’ and ‘Other’ is an erotic one, the sexuality one of polarity rather than reproduction – the charge engendered between hunter and hunted, between artist and art. The charge  is simply not there if one ‘partner’ is not fully, terribly present, willing to adapt and shift for the mutual benefit of those involved. Note then, that this mutual benefit is precisely what it says – mutual,  from mutabilis.

mutable (adj.) Look up mutable at Dictionary.comlate 14c., “liable to change,” from Latin mutabilis “changeable,” from mutare “to change,” from PIE root *mei- (1) “to change, go, move” (cognates: Sanskrit methati “changes, alternates, joins, meets;” Avestan mitho “perverted, false;” Hittite mutai- “be changed into;” Latin meare “to go, pass,” migrare “to move from one place to another;” Old Church Slavonic mite “alternately;” Czech mijim “to go by, pass by,” Polish mijać “avoid;” Gothic maidjan “to change”); with derivatives referring to the exchange of goods and services as regulated by custom or law (compare Latin mutuus “done in exchange,” munus “service performed for the community, duty, work”).

The changes involved presupoose that-which-is-changed, that thing which is occulted in normal perception. For this reason, the inward-turning is a subtraction, but not necessarily a divestiture – a violation of ordinary rules of accumulation. Only by this subtraction, this coalescence, can we hear the pulse which beats in frenzy, the onrush of Life which will surge through us when we make contact with that most fundamental  principle which thrums through all things.

Only by descending along the crooked, merciless path, can we discover the truth of who we really are. There is no escape.

Originally posted on Tumblr – here for posterity:

anonymous asked:

was your culture/ethnicity any inspiration to your path in heathenry?

Not All Realities Are Equal

While I was away last weekend, it appears that the much esteemed Pete Carroll wrote something against necromancy, and by extension, ancestor veneration in some senses. I encourage you all to read it here. I’ve a great deal of respect for Mr Carroll’s work – my copy of LIBER KAOS is covered in notes, and I really enjoyed his APOPHENION and EPOCH, but I have to say that I once again find myself in genteel disagreement with him. He writes:

If necromancers really could get objective information from the dead then an enormous demand would exist for them in all parts of the world to assist in murder investigations.

Imaginary friends, Tulpas, and various gods and servitors can prove of considerable use and value to the magician, so long as the magician doesn’t fall into the trap of regarding them as objectively real and of uncritically accepting their advice, for then they really do become demons in the worst sense of the word, amplifying aspects of the magicians subconscious beyond their original remit and creating obsessions.

However we now have every reason to conclude that the dead persist only in our memories and imaginations of them. Eliphas Levi  seems to have more or less realised this and tried to develop a theory of magic that depended on some sort of ‘Astral Light’ and the personal efforts of the magician, rather than entirely upon the celestial legions of the dead, the demonic, and the archangelic. The adepts of the Golden Dawn seem to have come to similar conclusions, and Crowley disdained to play around with necromancy.

The presence of the belief in life after death in many ancient and modern religions doesn’t make it so. No attempt to describe a disembodied afterlife in detail really makes any sense at all; (try it), it just makes a comforting (or frightening) contra-evidential belief.  The appeal of necromancy to modern magicians, who should know better, lies entirely in its gothic necro-charisma and dark glamour – the frisson of fear. This can prove profitable in spooking the gullible, but spooking yourself with it just seems adolescent.

Work with necromancy and goetia only really gives personal effects if you persistently invoke the gnosis of fear, and this can upset the autonomic nervous system, leading to the skinny pallor and fidgety persona characteristic of high cortisol/anxiety levels. It doesn’t lead to self-understanding or much in the way of magical ability to interact with reality.

Could not that first line of the quote be applied, not just to necromancers, but to all magicians?

Now, I suspect, from reading Carroll’s later works, that he does indeed believe in some kind of ‘objective’ reality. Some secret stash of verity waiting to be uncovered, revealed as naked truth which will answer the questions we as humans have had about existence. It’s a laudable goal. However, much of the language in both this quote and the piece of a whole seems hung up on fear and obsession, traditional Protestant views which have been translated into the Enlightenment project’s salutation of Rationality for Rationality’s sake.

It’s obvious that Carroll is dismissive of necromancy and Goetia as nothing more than psychological projection. And that’s fine for him. Yet, once again, I question the notion of ‘objective’. Many, if not all, of the things he raises against necromancy can and have been raised against magic as a whole. Further, as usual, the remarks regarding gothic necro-charisma seem to indicate his experience of necromancers and those who honour the dead is extra-ordinarily narrow, as if we are all pale-faced Goths or twitchy fear-junkies. If these are the only individuals Mr Carroll has encountered, I suggest he cast his net further afield – clearly he has a little bit of confirmation bias going on.

Now granted, we both seem to be operating on anecdotal evidence here, but in my experience, while there is a species of folk who are as he describes, the vast majority of folk I know who work with the dead do not, in fact, operate from a position of fear, but in fact one of connexion and wholeness. If there is any fear involved, it is that which is encountered on the recognition of one’s own inevitable demise, which, through proper use of certain practices, can in fact provide one with a great deal of esoteric knowledge.

If anything, this piece seems to appeal to modern so-called ‘traditional’ Western ideas of death and the dead, ideas, which seem to have their origin in the 19th century, so it’s unsurprising that the 19th century occultists he cites would back him up!

This is not to say such work is without dangers – quite the contrary – but all magical work contains such dangers as obsession and delusion, so I personally find it quite peculiar that he’s singled out Necromancy and working with the Dead for such comments.

Very strange indeed.

Wood

what even i wonder

is such a thing as this for?

what purposeless source does this reveal

like rune to mouth to estuary to god

for it is not even water rippling on the shore

smoke on the wind

or roots down deep in dark earth

instead being of shaped light and someone else’s dreams

and so we ask

just who is the Dreamer?

 

this cataleptic catafalque of boxed-in names

tens of millions of striated voices stridently proclaiming

– wherein lies the leaf-whispering susurrus

the emergent bark-voice floating across the mere

in joyful dirge; the barque bears immortal sovereign bones

scratched with a filigree of charm

blooded with the marrow of poets.

 

what even i wonder

beyond and between the lines and fibres

sits weaving; crabbed hand over crabbed hand

auguried entrails over and under; knotted destinies tied off and noose-made spaces blankly pregnant with apocalypses

just waiting to be engaged and encountered on their own terms alone

standing like isles of the dead gleaming with honeyed apples amidst

the ocean?

 

soul then, drinks us greedily back inside – salt and iron bending, turning

the ash now back upon ourselves

to set the stars we were, to flare anew

poetry is not prophecy and also contrariwise:

the stag runs and the white tower dons nacreous

rainbow blackness

the bones are unveiled and the head speaks with voice of ravens

– strong medicine, such a dream; bringing madness, rendering all insensate

only the heart may see

may bleed true and feed the root and branch

know that the king comes again

so says the wood

(0155 British Summer Time, 7th May 2015)