Tag Archives: Golden Dawn

Three Paths of the Magic of Light

Picture Credit: Golden-Dawn.Org

Responsibility is essential in developing society.  One of the most difficult responsibilities we’re faced with is the Socratic maxim to ‘know thy self‘.

In this Philosophical Dialogue titled “The Three Paths of the Magic of Light”, originally presented on V.H. Frater I.C.L.’s Tales of Abiegnus site, we find a wonderful way to begin investigating and understanding the responsibilities we are presented with by the  vocations we’re lead to through our innate inclinations.

Many thanks to V.H. Frater I.C.L. for allowing us to repost this helpful dialogue. 

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The Three Paths of the Magic of Light

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Kasmillos: In our Order their are many magicians, but I am beginning to discover that they do not all practice the Royal Art in the same manner.

Straphalos: Indeed, there are several ways to approach mastery of the self and the Spirit.

Kasmillos: But, we all learn the same techniques, we practice the same rituals, we endure the same initiations. Why is it, then, that we do not all walk the path in a similar way?

Straphalos: Our bond is in our destination. Our individuality is expressed in the manner of our journey. We are not like a church, we do not impose our personal enlightenment on all. Everyone’s Revelation is unique. The invokation of Spirit, Power and Light will reveal different things to different people.

Kasmillos: So we all start at the same place, greatly diverge and end up at the same point?

Straphalos: In a sense. Although, it is a mistake to believe that anything a person comes up with on this Path is automatically worthy and right. We all fall short at some point, usually at many points. That is why the Power of True Discernment is so greatly sought for and envied by those who see the most clearly on this Path.

Kasmillos: So how do we judge truly the manner in which we follow this Path?

Straphalos: Pray and invoke the Higher Light for the Gift of Discernment; you will need it.

Kasmillos: All well and good for when I do achieve it. But, what of until then?

Straphalos: Over the millenia of the Western Mysteries, it is clear that out of the many ways to pursue the Great Work, a few show themselves to be more effective and blessed than others. If you contemplate these paths and try them, you will not go wrong. Though, you may find that one is more right for you than that which you initially chose.

Kasmillos: What are these paths?

Straphalos: They are three in number: The Path of Active Invokation, the Passive or Internal Path, and the Path of the Practical Magician. All magicians who specialize in one of these three ways still work elements from the others, but their personal gifts, character, and motivation will distill out one path that particularly characterizes their journey. One that fits them better than the others.

Kasmillos: What is the nature of the Path of Active Invokation?

Straphalos: This is the most common way to pursue our Mysteries. It is characterized by the frequent use of our rituals for the general development of the powers of our souls. Those on this path are exhorted to “Invoke and Invoke often!” for this sets up a standing wave of vibration in our Sphere of Sensation that ever elevates our consciousness and powers until we stand in the presence of the Ancient of Days, interwoven with Light and in unity with our Higher Genius. This path is pursued by the frequent and reverential practice of developmental ritual magics.

Kasmillos: What, then is the nature of the Passive or Internal Path? Do they not also practice ritual?

Straphalos: Yes, they do, but their focus is different. Those who pursue this path are far more meditative. Their emphasis is on stillness of the body, while their conciousness is trained by internal practices to open up to the Infinite Spirit. They draw upon the ceaseless stream of splendor that descends to us from God. Where others merely put out their hands to sip from this treasury, the practitioner of this path reaches out with great vessels to harvest far more of the vast bounty that continually surrounds us. Outwardly, their life appears charmed and effortless. They are like a leaf blown by the Breath of God. Always they appear at the right time and place, always they possess what they need and plenty more to share with others generously. They learn, by their focus, to surrender to God’s Infinite Mind, and in so doing they find perfect peace. Instead of rising up the planes from strength to strength as the Active Invoker, they simply appear in God’s Presence, traveling through the realms between without moving.

Kasmillos: How then, does the Path of the Practical Magician differ?

Straphalos: This is a very useful and attractive path to those who still bear many mundane dreams, yet also desire to rise above the material in time. They are the clearest about their goals and desires and learn to focus their Magical Will most strongly. To them, the journey is not about a starting point and an end point with an epic adventure in between. Their path is characterized by a series of goals, accomplishments they wish to manifest in stages: smaller dreams in succession which add up to Greatness. These smaller accomplishments act individually as rungs in a ladder, each one propelling them forward to greater understanding of the world and themselves. Magicians on this path tend to focus on practical, as opposed to developmental, magics. Their work and practice is about manifesting specific things and conditions of a practical nature to their needs as well as for the benefit of others. Consequently, they tend to be the most relevant to the non-initiate, for their efforts improve mundane lives and make communities more prosperous.

Kasmillos: So the Practical Magician is the most service oriented?

Straphalos: All of them are, and all of them aren’t. A magician can be equally selfish or philanthropic in any of these paths. Active Invokers can be concerned only with their own empowerment, or they they can use their power to heal bodies and upflift souls. They have the greatest chance of showing the Divine Light to others and changing the spiritual direction of those around them. They are like a Light Shining in the Darkness. Followers of the Passive Path can isolate themselves like monks living in the world interacting rarely with those outside of themselves, or they can mingle with an open heart among the lost, welcoming those whom God brings to them serendipitously to comfort and guide. They have the greatest chance of bringing Peace Profound to the tired and world weary, and healing the wounded heart. They are like a Well of Living Water, that those lost in the desert of their own jaded nightmares stumble to and are refreshed and awakened. Practical Magicians can gather for themselves of the world’s good for their own consumption and gratifcation only, or they can turn and share their manifest bounty with those in need. They can raise up Temples and Hospices and liberate those enslaved by poverty and misfortune. They have the greatest chance of ensuring the continuation of the Mysteries for they have the means to establish the institutions and facilities that give permanence to things. And they provide the most tangible proofs to the non-initiated of the efficacy and relevance of our Path. They are like a Font of Prosperity blessing any community of which they are part.

Kasmillos: So none of these three Paths is greater than the other.

Straphalos: Indeed none. And, further, elements of all three must be learned by all who would call themselves “Magician of Light”. But, one will fit most naturally with you and become the way in which you best and most efficaciously interact with the Spirit and the World.

Kasmillos: How can I choose which one to follow most closely?

Straphalos: Invoke often, meditate in stillness, and discern your goals clearly so that you may pursue them by the combination of conscientious magic and worldly action.

Kasmillos: In otherwords follow all three paths?

Straphalos: Indeed, and in so doing God, by your Holy Angel, will Light your Way.

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V.H. Frater I.C.L. is an alchemist and adept in the Golden Dawn Tradition. A teacher of Ceremonial Magic and Alchemy for 14 years, he has been a student of Magic, Alchemy and Metaphysical Healing his whole life.

If the land is being poisoned, Witchcraft must respond…

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The Old Ways have never been forgotten, but false histories propagated during the Renaissance and Enlightenment eras still taint our understanding of what is commonly called ‘witchcraft’ and the hallucination of rationality has enchanted many of us to miss the signs all around us that Isis remains unveiled. Our images are often either skewed toward malefic personas bent on the corruption of society, or people lost in a feverish illusion damning them to a life of futile imagination.

We think of the infamous ‘witch hunts’ that raged through the Renaissance and Reformation, or are mislead by the rationalist attempts to cut the chord of the reality of the ‘witch’ in order to counter the fires of malice and ignorance that caused so much suffering. Between these poles we’re pulled back and forth while the Truth walks freely around these easy classifications.

In the contemporary setting other groups have arisen to take claim of witchcraft, such as Wicca and certain Neo-Pagan sects, attempting to use the powerful image of the witch as a centering point for their practice. Beyond all of this, however, lies a more subtle truth.

Peter Grey and Alkistis Dimetch are the proprietors of Scarlet Imprint, a publishing house that specializes in exploring contemporary esoteric currents. Their Work is focused on revitalizing the Path and practice of  Magic, and rediscovering the long line of Tradition that ebbs and flows through the Art. They were kind enough to take a few moments to discuss their thoughts on the Craft and it’s place in our time,  offering up a potent rejoinder to all who walk the Crooked Path – “If the land is being poisoned, then it is witchcraft which must respond, and do so with compassionate anger.”

What is different about the Witchcraft that you espouse and something like Wicca which more people are generally aware of?

We should probably define Wicca to begin with here, as the English usage refers to the initiated witchcraft tradition invented by Gerald Gardner (and subsequently copied by Alex Sanders) rather than as an umbrella term for various flavours of neo-paganism which it is often taken to mean in the United States. Wicca is essentially constructed around a core of the Masonic grade system, the ritual accoutrements of Solomonic grimoire magic, and a liturgical Crowley cut-up with a sprinkling of folklore. It has no demonstrably older codified origin than the 1940s. The work of Ronald Hutton here seems decisive. Furthermore, claims of any traditional witchcraft survival are taken in Europe with a pinch of salt. Though there may be fragments preserved in some groups and families, it hardly constitutes a cultus which is rather an inspiration rising from the example of Austin Osman Spare. If you want to understand European Witchcraft then you would be better to start with Catholicism, which is the old religion.

Certainly Gerald created a very workable fusion of the material available to him, and one which fitted the spirit of his time and certainly Alex and Maxine had more flair in their presentation of it. Wicca fused with a spirit of sexual liberation and a rebirth of female and earth-based spirituality. It was bolstered by the myths of Murray and Gimbutas.
It was a necessary stage in the re-emergence, or re-imagining of witchcraft.

Yet Wicca has profound limitations, in the same way that the Golden Dawn and the OTO have profound limitations. These are the limitations of its time and its founders. They are systems in entropy. We would ask those who consider themselves witches, rather than more narrowly wiccans, to look at the source material. To consider that Gardner and Sanders did not have the access to what we do now, and that their world is very different to ours. We suggest that their witchcraft should go beyond that of their godfathers.

This is a world in crisis, we are seeing a mass extinction of plant and animal species, the death of the oceans, climate change, and peak oil. It is not only our way of life, it is life itself which is under threat. Wicca did not predict this and neither did Liber Al vel Legis. We need a culture of radical resistance that understands that we are part of the whole ecology, that we are intimately connected to the web of life. Witchcraft has this vision.

Furthermore, Witchcraft is the recourse of the dispossessed, the powerless, the hungry and the abused. It gives heart and tongue to stones and trees. It wears the rough skin of beasts and turns on a civilisation that knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.

Reading fantasy novels is not a valid response, and neither is hiding in a thicket of studied archaic English and obfuscation. Witchcraft is rooted in the land, whether that is Benevento, Cornwall or Pennsylvania. If the land is being poisoned then it is witchcraft which must respond, and do so with compassionate anger.

We hope to, and do, find many points in common across all expressions of witchcraft: the connection to the land, work with familiar spirits, herb and plant lore and malefica, to name but a few. We differ in our focus in that we are actively engaged in the world and that comes from both an apocalyptic and eschatological understanding of events. We dare to utter prophecy.

Our position is quite distinct:

Witchcraft is a force and not an order or cult.
Witchcraft is non-hierarchical. It utilises the rhizomatic structure of underground resistance.
Witchcraft is unbridled female sexuality. It is the woman who initiates.
Witchcraft is folk magic, the magic of the people and for the people.
Witchcraft is a myth, an invention, a story, and one which though drawing on the past, clothes itself in the symbols of its time.
Witchcraft is oracular.
Witchcraft is found in the ecstatic possession state.
Witchcraft flies to the Sabbat.

We insist that Witchcraft has power and requires the use of drugs, sex and ordeal.

The example we follow is that of Michelet who saw in the figure of the witch a revolutionary spirit, this is something which Alkistis discusses in XVI. We do not mistake these stories and myths for history, but we harness their emotional power to transform the future.  ‘
Of the modern writers, we feel it is Jack Parsons who embodied the spirit of witchcraft, which is one of revolution and of the power of female sexuality. The Goddess who possesses these qualities, and who speaks to us is Babalon.

How is Witchcraft and the pursuit of knowledge tied together? Are Witchcraft and Gnosis the same thing?

Knowledge enters us through the body. This is an internal alchemy which requires huge emotional reserves and cannot be accomplished in icy detachment or by effort of Will. The highest form of this knowledge is Love. The process needs passion and heat.

Ritual is the orchestration of the primal states such as innocence, fear, flight and fight and their alchemical transformation through experience.

Witchcraft concerns itself with mystery and it is through the gates of mystery that we come to knowledge.

Our counsel is to forget the nebulous modern use of terms such as Gnosis and concentrate on Work, or perhaps here we can use the German term, kraft.

Why are people so reticent to meet with the full impact of Magick? The major avant garde artists of the 19th and 20th century were all heavily involved in esotericism, whether organized or through individual practice, but it seems most practitioners today are happy with a few popular occultists they can reference.

Art has become a commodity. A tool of commerce, as safe and dead as a shark in a formaldehyde tank. It talks the empty language of advertising. These so-called artists are merely reflecting our secular society where spirit contact has been lost, and we have been alienated from the raw forces of nature. They have nothing to draw on, and their patrons reward their product which is destined for the vaults of investment Banks.

This is in stark contrast to the avant garde which ardently pursued the esoteric arts in paint, word, gesture and life whether implicitly or explicitly. This was done for art’s sake, for the sake of life. In our litany of Saints we must include Artaud, Nijinsky, Rimbaud, Jarry, Genet, Arthur Cravan, Kinski et al. Like Debord, we can say that we have been led by poetry and the belief that we should carry out its programme in reality.

To be alive is to be able to respond and resonate to works of art, literature, poetry, sculpture and dance. These are all forms of evocation, invocation and possession which inspire us to create our own.

By focusing on popular occultists, if that is not in itself an oxymoron, their wider context is lost. Is our idea of Crowley not enriched by Oscar Wilde and Aubrey Beardsley? Can Spare really be the only painter of note? Our minds should range widely.

10349208_1042164132480125_2802212991339206395_n.jpgWhat is worse is the claustrophobic drawing room atmosphere that surrounds a small selection of occultists whose biographical details are deemed more important than the living practice of magick. It is time to turn over the tables in the temple again.

Perhaps we must ask, where are the avant-garde esoteric artists today?
Magick is reflecting that absence of art in our materialist culture. If a work of art is truly of value it should be able to stand without ‘esoteric’ as a prefix, which is often simply an excuse for poorly executed derivative doodling. Magick can seem to be a myopic ghetto, a support group for losers seeking affirmation from an uncritical and needy subculture.

But there is an antidote: All art is magic, again something many of our writers emphasise in XVI. We continually encounter, correspond with and seek out artists. Our readers write to us and reveal a deeper and richer seam than the truncated internet profiles suggest.
Art cannot help but pursue the esoteric, as it goes beyond what is acceptable in search of the expression of truth. Art will not stop at the surface. Canvases are being savaged, poems wrought, movements found. The full impact of magick will unfurl in this century with a raw artistic beauty as those with nothing left to lose will choose to dare all.

How are poetry and magic related?

Intimately. Poetry is invocation, evocation and congress with the world of spirits. Poetry is vision which makes the mysterious manifest. Words carry their shades with them, they strike like shamanic darts. In vocalisation, rhythm and incantation the body resonates into other worlds and we are renewed by these glimpses. Poetry is also work. Hammered into shape, ruthlessly wrought, it is the process of self mastery.

Our answer could also be, read Peter Redgrove, Ted Hughes, Penelope Shuttle, Rene Char, Gysin, Shakespeare, Bukowski, Hafiz, The Song of Songs, the metaphysical poets, read everything and read it aloud.

We are totally committed to poetry as an art form, which is why we published Datura, and why we have followed up that commitment with a call for submissions to our next anthology Mandragora.

What do you see as a means to draw more neo-pagan and Wiccan groups into environmental thinking? It seems an obvious fit, yet there is very little action there.

Collapse. The inevitable decline of modern consumer capitalism which is in the final rapacious phase of destroying our natural resources cannot fail to wake people up.

The lack of movement is because many of those professing witchcraft are urban, industrial, sedentary and plugged into the internet rather than the biosphere.

Hunger, scarcity, ecological disasters will create a new generation of pagans who will have to find solutions. The speed of the rise of this new social movement will be completely unexpected.

Already those with eyes to see will have seen the signs of change. John Michael Greer seems to be doing this, and there are clearly other individuals such as Raven Kaldera with their fingers in the soil. There will be many others.

Those groups which do not understand eschatology will simply be unable to interpret the catastrophic chain of events as they celebrate a wheel of the year which has broken from the axle. Nostalgia is no protection from the end of the age of oil and a witchcraft which does not recognise this fact is irrelevant.

What myths would best invoke ecological responsibility?

The critical lie we are currently confronting is that of infinite economic growth on a finite planet with finite resources.

This pernicious myth can be traced back to the Bible which is full of ecological horror stories as the chosen people murder their way to dominance and cut down the sacred groves at the behest of their tribal god. Christianity continued this insane trajectory until their invisible god was replaced by the invisible hand of Adam Smith and finally the insanity of the Chicago school which believes that everything is for sale and profit alone is G_d.

The American dream is simply a variant of this myth structure supported with both an inquisition (Homeland Security) a devil, (the many-headed Al Qaeda) and a New Jerusalem (for sale piece by piece in your local Wal-Mart and propagandised for incessantly by Hollywood).

The myth we choose to oppose this with is Revelations. We read this by recognising the defamed whore as the pagan Love and War goddess, Her history made explicit in The Red Goddess. And we are all whores, proud to celebrate the luxury of our living flesh. In divine intoxication we seek communion with the Beloved. Every drop of blood sacrificed to the grail. Love cannot be bought with any other coin. We celebrate life, in radical opposition to the archons and our bridal bed is the battlefield of the earth.

By understanding the Antichrist, Dragon and Beast as Her lover we challenge man to be the equal of woman.

By disentangling the stellar myths we orientate ourselves.

By seeking and drinking from the forbidden grail we intoxicate ourselves with Her wine.

We recognise the continuity of this myth in the work of John Dee and Edward Kelley and further, we take this as a dynamic process which flowers in our midst.

When we say myth, we are stating that this is our direct living experience of Babalon that this story is being played out through our bodies. Her time is Now.

Shamanism seems to be an element that is missing from the outer manifestations of the Western Tradition; Jake Stratton-Kent and your own practice seem to be trying to bring that back into the fold. When/why did this practice fall away?

It never does. The practitioners simply go through periods of vilification and periods of mass ecstatic participation in defiance of the approved State religion. Whether this is the Dionysian cults or free festivals or rave culture, or ayahuasca, the shamanic connection cannot be prevented from spontaneous eruption and attendant social upheaval. But we do not mistake everyone who drops acid as a shaman.

The Western Tradition has fallen over itself to be respectable, and in doing so has pulled its own claws. Seeking tax status and social acceptance it has been craven in the war on some drugs, the war on consciousness expansion, and has rather tried to ritually script altered states rather than explore genuine ones. This is hypocrisy.

Our own work and that of JSK shows that divine intoxication is a central part of the Western Tradition.  From the goetic use of psychoactive incense to flying ointments, to the spiked ritual wine, the use of dance and drumming, to the role of the necromancer and psychopomp, this is the true Western Tradition and one which has retained the shamanic elements, most notably through a coded survival in the grimoire tradition. Jake is explicit about this in Geosophia, and we can also point to the work of Aaron Leitch in this context. The drugs do work, but they need to be part of a wider discipline.

Would you agree with Ralph Metzner that Alchemy/Shamanism/Yoga (in there various expressions) form the core consciousness changing technologies of humanity?

We could equally say drugs, sex and rock and roll, preferably in combination with each other. The magical body needs to be built, rather than simply a well stocked library, and it is perhaps the physical and subtle energy building practices which have been neglected in the West. As we work with a Goddess of Love and War then we understand the importance of being able to run energy, whether to fuck or to fight.

What is it that draws you to Jack Parsons?

Jack, like Henry Miller or Bukowski, was fuelled by a deep love for woman. He understood that the source of witchcraft is the body of woman. He grapples relentlessly with the need for liberation, ideas of sexual freedom and social change. He sings for the new woman in the way that Nietzsche tells us of the coming of the Superman. Jack stands on the threshold of change, and dares to innovate, dares to dream. Now it is for women to create the Witchcraft following the teachings of their own bodies. We are post-Parsons as much as we are post-Crowley, and it is time for this generation not to fixate on dead pin-ups and their magical misadventures but to have the courage to start the fires in themselves.

In The Red Goddess I am as critical of Jack and I am of Crowley or Dee but his story still needs to be told. He is a vital link in the history of Witchcraft. The telling of his story can span the gulf between the magick and pagan communities.

I love the idea of ” gnostic strategies for liberation.”  Does this concept encompass all forms of Gnosis? Psycho-Spiritual-Physical?

We mean: By any means necessary.

What are the best techniques for seeing through the spectacle? Is it unique to each individual?

The spectacle is increasingly unique to each individual, and the individual is increasingly homogenised.

The technique simply put, is to turn off the connections whilst ensuring you are building a community to sustain you and your loved ones.

Decouple from the failing structures. Simplify your life. Build parallel structures utilising a mix of high and low tech solutions. Find the others.

If you have no price you cannot be bought.
If you do not want anything you cannot be bribed.
If you are not frightened you cannot be controlled.

Understand that the Empire has ended, that what you are seeing is a mirage, an afterimage of the age of exuberance. It has no more reality than the light from a distant star whose rays are transmitting the ghost of a body which was extinguished millennia ago. Your paper money is worthless. Your career a trap.

Every individual is on their own path, but there are physiological and psychological principles that are generally applicable. Methods for destroying normalcy bias are essential to pursue and are explored in the essay Seeing Through Apocalypse in XVI. We must be vigilant, and constantly devising methods to sabotage the architecture of control.

Is it easier to operate outside of an Order or organization these days?

Perhaps we could say it is imperative to operate outside an Order. Though we recognise the value many gain from fraternal structures, they are woefully out of date, clustered around secrets which are not only published all over the internet but are often simply threadbare.
Our suggestion is that individuals honestly appraise the methods of transformation most suitable to themselves and work either alone and/or with their peers when necessary to reach attainment.
Orders whether intentionally or not, represent restriction and only seem to mould people into poor copies of their guru. Magic is not about being a follower or a spectator, let alone suckered into the latest personality cult. Hierarchical orders tend to self preservation through an artificial construction of secrets and the drip feed of complex sounding jargon dressed up as teaching. Human history is full of these pyramid schemes. Enough of this. We would like to see the individual brave enough to walk their own path, whilst recognising that they can learn from others and contribute to the evolving paths of those they touch on the Way.

What do you see as the next step for Magick in the 21st Century?

We are in a position of radical change where eschatology will be of vital importance. The world is entering a period of revelation, the like of which has never been seen. It is going to get hotter, and magick will be born from the female furnace. We predict that women will take a place in magick that they have not had since the ancient world. We predict revolution.

The publication of the grimoires has given us our magical history back. We are weaving together the severed ends of the Western tradition. Jake Stratton-Kent has done an immense service in reconnecting us to the Ancient Greek Goes, the PGM and the Picatrix. These are our ancestors, these are our goddesses, gods, demons and heroes. Finally we are getting right with the restless dead rather than ransacking the tombs or striking empty pop culture postures.
We are learning that we have a Western Tradition which is not 14th Century Qabalah and deco Egyptian dress-up. We have stellar lore, spirit contact, entheogens, possession states, poetry and bodywork.
Our Tradition can enter into an equal dialogue with the New World, which has preserved other missing fragments, just as the Arabic world preserved the teachings of Egypt and Ancient Greece. This is more honest than engaging in neo-colonial exoticism that seeks to exploit the darkness of the Other. From this fusion we can achieve an erotic explosion of human potential. A future that has a rich magical ecology which is engaged with the world of humans, plants, animals and entities. One which respects and works with the forces of nature. Where woman and man encounter each other as equals. This will not be achieved without struggle.

What are Scarlet Imprint’s upcoming plans? What should we anticipate next?

Everything we do is sub rosa, our stratagems are always evolving.

www.scarletimprint.com

Biographies –

Peter Grey –

Peter is a writer, the author of the acclaimed devotional work for Babalon, The Red Goddess.
He is the co-founder of Scarlet Imprint. He is an exponent of the antinomian and libertarian strand of the western magical tradition. his work comes out of physical praxis. his path is one of ordeal, ecstasy, and Love.
Much of his time is spent in the mountains following his devotional path.
he has spoken internationally and contributed articles to many magickal journals.

Alkistis Dimech
Alkistis is a dancer, artist and writer; her work explores the erotic, irrational and primitive, using techniques derived from Butoh, asian dance and martial forms, as well as shamanic practices to access states of expanded consciousness.
Alkistis is an alumnus of the Courtauld Institute and the school of oriental and African studies.  She has studied Butoh under Ko Murobushi, Masaki Iwana and other Butoh Masters.

She is the co-founder of Scarlet Imprint.

Become Who You Are

On some recent trips to Chicago I’ve noticed that a number of buildings have Pythagorean symbolism worked into their facades. These are visible on brownstone apartment buildings, as well as commercial buildings, and it got my little mind wondering what lead to their inclusion in so many seemingly mundane examples of architecture.

If you jump back a century Chicago was a buzzing hub for the New Thought and Mind Science movements, and home to a number of publishing houses that were responsible for the creation of everything from the Kybalion ( a Neo-Hermetic text put out by the Yogi Publication Society ) to popular pressings of the famous resource of respectable Conjure Doctors, The Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses. Frank Loyd Wright, who spent much of his time in Oak Park, had some theosophical meanderings (he was married to a former student of Gurdijeff’s) and his connection to Elbert Hubbard’s Roycroft movement puts him in touch with various streams of Rosicrucian thought, but Wright wasn’t responsible for the buildings in question.

In the process of searching out clues online I became side tracked by the publishers and nearly forgot the architecture. One of the beautiful things about Google books is the ability to not only access books, but archival material from journals, news papers and publications as well. What I found was a whole host of material that gave me a new appreciation for the diversity that can spring out of a single source of inspiration.

It seems that most of these publishing houses were in one way or another connected to the Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor, famous for it’s influence on  Blavatsky’s Theosophical Society, the Golden Dawn, the O.T.O., C.C. Zain‘s Brotherhood of Light and a number of other groups that have spread out far from their initial origins,  while always keeping a similar thread of thought. The same folks who were publishing New Thought, American Yoga, and Mind Science were also putting out books on Hoodoo, Rosicrucianism, Western Kabbalah and Hermetic science.  Just like in Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum, these publishing houses (often using different names from the same office) covered diverse esoteric territory.

As I read through some of these books I started to wonder, what happened to the creative impulse that lead to this massive production? For all the pseudo-scientific jargon and ahistorical theorizing found in many of them, there always seems to be a focus on civic responsibility, personal integrity and community development, a sort of wide eyed optimism for the potential of humanity to move beyond petty differences and grow into something better.

Mitch Horowitz points this out in his book Occult America, talking about C. C. Zain (Elbert Benjamine) he writes:

“In the midst of the Great Depression, Benjamine conceived of a universalist belief system he called the Religion of the Stars. He saw it as an occult religion that could unite humanity under a peaceable, nonsectarian creed based in the study of ancient astrology…His 1930’s print ads for the Religon of the Stars reflected the social values of Henry A. Wallace’s “The New Deal of the Ages.” One showed a torch-bearing horseman riding a winged steed labeled The New Civilization and holding a flag that echoed Benjamine’s motto: Contribute Your Utmost to Universal Welfare. The horse and rider leaped over the words Want, Fear, Censorship, Atheism.”

Today when we think of the “occult sciences” what all too often comes to mind is some fear mongering nonsense about secret societies and cults plotting against the good intentions of the common people. Yet if you go back and read the historical works that were being published in the late 19th century…there isn’t much of a secret, and all of these organizations were pretty open about their intentions. Horrible intentions like self respect, helping the disenfranchised, providing for the common good, realizing the full potential of life and other dark designs on the future of humanity.

Here’s an example of an ad for The Hermetist that ran in a number of publications at the time:

THE HERMETI8T
Is a sixteen-page monthly magazine, the organ of the Hermetic Brotherhood. Its motto is “Get Understanding.” It deals with Mysticism in a common-sense way. It teaches that If Occult Power can be of help to mankind, It ought to be made practical. It seeks to tell its readers how to use the powers they have neglected for so many centuries. Send 10 cents for sample copy. Yearly subscription $1.00.
HERMETIC PUBLISHING CO., 4006 Grand Boulevard, – Chicago, III.

Terrifying stuff indeed.  It may be tempting to think that the entire focus of these groups was some massive deception, or perhaps some kind of long running scheme to cash in on people’s hopes. Thoughts like these usually come from the fears and malintention of the accusers and fly in the face of the fact that the consistency in the message, the austerity that many of the members of these organizations lived in, and the undeniable earnestness of their writings shows that, whatever their personal failings, there is an honest sense of integrity behind these movements.

It’s been very heartening to see that there are contemporary esoteric groups beginning to get back to this sense of social consciousness. Scarlet Imprint recently put out Geosophia, by Jake Stratton-Kent, which looks at the Goetic arts as a means for cross cultural understanding, bringing it out of the mire of misinformation that they’ve been stuck in for centuries. Another upcoming publication by Nicholaj De Mattos Frisvold, Palo Mayombe – The Garden of Blood and Bones, is an honest appraisal of the Palo tradition, one of the many African diaspora traditions that get’s so much bad press due to it’s raw honesty with the facts of life and death. Nicholaj is an anthropologist who has been initiated into a number of Western and diaspora traditions, and makes the astute observation that much of the fear that surrounds paths like Palo are nothing more than veiled racism.

Beyond publications there are also organizations reemerging to tackle the self flagellating victim script that we’re being constantly given by the Western media. The New Extreme Individual Institute runs on a simple motto:

Become Who You Are – There Are No Guarantees

This isn’t the Victorian era, and the problems that we face today are definitely nothing to slight. Paranoia, fear and self victimization, however, are not going to get us out of the hole. Along with the NEII’s motto is a further elucidation of their principles:

Just as there are athletes of the sports and the arts, so are there athletes of the spirit. The first search for excellence and perfection in their chosen field of endeavour and are so recognized, while in the latter there is similarly a search for excellence of technique and perfection of all the vehicles of the Self.”

As our economy continues it’s rolling descent into oblivion, our cultural institutions sit paralyzed with inertia and our supposed leaders continue to puff out weak rhetoric,  avoiding any recognition of the realities that we face, we’re going to need some spiritual athletes to lead us past the finish line.

Are you ready?

Deo, non fortuna – A Light in the Darkness

“What mathematics are to matter and force, occult science is to life and consciousness…” – Dion Fortune, Sane Occultism*

The 21st century for all of it’s scientific propensity rivals past civilizations in the widespread and popular acceptance of what is commonly called occultism. From indie bands like the Klaxons, to mainstream artists like Lady Gaga and Jay-Z, occult imagery and philosophies are spread far and wide with a surprising lack of reaction from all but the most fundamentalist branches of culture.

Chrisitan leaders like Rick Warren “cast their visions” on the culture, popular Kabbalah is a mainstay in Hollywood, Scientology (L. Ron Hubbard’s association with, and betrayal of, the occultist Jack Parsons is often overlooked) holds sway over established actors like Tom Cruise and John Travolta, even Oprah, a household favorite, is knee deep in mysticism and channeled teachings. When we begin to look there appears no place untouched by esoteric doctrines and ideas. In such a climate one would do well to acquaint themselves with the history and basic ideologies that are so easily passed back and forth without the blink of an eye.

The question now, as always, is where to go for a sober and rational explanation. How does the awakened seeker find something that doesn’t stink of fraud or hold a clever hook set by a savvy cultural fisherman looking for a mark. Fortunately a good teacher is as active after they’ve passed on as they are when they are alive, sometimes even more so. Violet Firth, better known as Dion Fortune, is one of those luminaries who stepped forward to say, in plain language, what is often obfuscated and left to confusion.

If we consider that what we call occult, or hidden knowledge, is more accurately designated as Sacred Science, it become obvious that the popular conception of this body of knowledge has undergone a darkening process that opens the door to superstition, mal-intention, and manipulation. The tradition that upheld the greatest spirits that humanity has produced is today given over to the most malignant intentions of our species. Sign posts leading upward to revelation and renewal have been turned around to point us on a path to dissolution and negation.

“If the light that be in us is darkness, how great is that darkness?” – Dion Fortune, Sane Occultism

Born in 1890 (or 1891) she saw the end of the 19th century and lived to see the end of World War 2.  It was during the second world war that her most famous ‘practical’ application of occultism came into play with what became known as the Magical Battle of Britain. While so much of what we think of today in esoteric philosophy centers around self-help and personal gain, Dion’s focus went far beyond this limited application.

Gathering a group of like-minded practitioners she coordinated active visualizations of Arthurian and Christian archetypes to combat the fevered mytho-poesis of the Nazi party. There is much debate over how much awareness Adolf Hitler had of the occult sciences, however there is no doubt about the fact that Heinrich Himmler, Reichsführer of the SS, was more than active in his pursuit of esoteric knowledge.

Wewelsburg Castle formed a central place in Himmler’s conception of the mystical knighthood of the S.S. and it was his intention that it would become the “Center of the World” after the successful rise of the Third Reich. In direct opposition to this mytho-poetic scheme for the furtherance of a Nazi world order was Dion Fortune’s use of Glastonbury Tor as a center point for what she saw as a new Avalon. The Tor formed the focal point of her ‘magical’ attack against the Nazi party, and whatever the reality of the effect, her actions coincided with a renewed vigor of the British public to withstand the continued air raids and psychological assault against the United Kingdom.

In this battle can be seen the twin poles of the Sacred Sciences, on the one hand a group of ennobled souls striving for the health of society, on the other the mythic legacy of an entire people turned inward to selfish aggrandizement and destruction. This focus on practical applications for the health of society makes Dion Fortune’s work stand out against so many others who pursued the occult sciences for more personal goals. The same efforts that attended this dramatic exploration of mytho-poesis are evident in her courage and forthright approach to the topic.

“Great is Truth and shall prevail, and no one who is sincere need fear her.” – Dion Fortune, Sane Occultism

During her life Dion was no stranger to controversy, while still attending to her initiatic studies she openly published some of the most guarded secrets of the Mystery Schools. The secret, “spoken of by the Iman’s behind a locked door, with one hand under the thigh” as one 15th century Sufi author put it, was an introductory theme to an article which offered a very harsh criticism of the esoteric  scene of the early 20th century. She seemed to have very little care for what polite society thought of her, pressing on as a healer not only of body and mind, but of the tradition itself.

The sobriety of her thought, the directness of her teaching and the boldness she showed in addressing the failures she saw in established traditions to maintain the Tradition, all carry through as powerfully today as they did during the early 20th century. Carrying the discipline of the 19th century into the experimentation and freedom offered by the Modern era, she exemplifies a strand of intellectual that is rare and valuable in any age.

Dion Fortune’s legacy is one which proposes an active purpose to the study of esoteric ideas. Moving beyond “large chunks of unverified and unverifiable statements and a thick treacly smear of sentimental humanitarianism” she sought “to make the Great Sacrifice which is Initiation, and to offer the dedication of the self to the service of the Powers of Light.” This self-sacrifice “dedicated to the service of God” is rare in contemporary occultism and it is a sign of her dedication that her strong presence stands out as strong today, and as offensive to so many, as it did during her time on this earth.

“There are many different roads leading to our English Jerusalem, ‘the holiest erthe in Englande’.” – Dion Fortune, Glastonbury – Avalon of the Heart

To further explore the myth-poetic resonance of Dion Fortune’s work I contacted  Paul Weston,  author of Avalonian Aeon, who was kind enough to answer a few questions regarding Glastonbury and Dion Fortune’s continued influence. In honor of her birthday on December 6th, Paul will be conducting guided visualizations in resonance with her original Glastonbury workings during World War II.

Did Arthur Machen & the Angel of Mons event in WW1 have a similar resonance/purpose to what Dion Fortune was doing during the Magical Battle of Britain?
There are a number of fundamental differences between these episodes but I believe they tap into the same emotional mythic strata. Dion Fortune’s 1940 Glastonbury work was never public knowledge.

Even today it is not that well known. It was always conceived of as quite conscious deliberate magic. With the Angels of Mons story, we have a fascinating case study of something taking on a life of its own, probably with some encouragement from propaganda intelligence operatives, until it gathered around itself a potent emotional energy.

The fact that it seems to have been initiated by Arthur Machen, a writer on magical subjects with knowledge of the same Golden Dawn tradition as Dion Fortune is certainly fascinating. He became increasingly astonished and exasperated by the way his short story on the Bowmen of Agincourt returning to help the British army in 1914 rapidly mutated into tales of angels and St George in armour. He tried to stop the process.

It wouldn’t surprise me if Dion Fortune had this saga somewhere in the back of her mind during the early days of her Magical Battle of Britain workings when she and her associates visualised giant angels standing guard along the shores of the North Sea. She believed that it’s possible to work with mythic archetypes and essentially switch them on in the back of the collective mind. This can work its way through people who have no conscious knowledge of it. Dion Fortune was certainly intending to boost the spiritual morale of the nation in 1940 and the example of how the Mons myth had done this in the previous war may well have been an encouragement. Unlike 1914 we have no way of even remotely assessing in consensus terms whether she really did. I am willing to believe so but I have a strong personal involvement in the material. There are no accounts, even entirely unreliable ones, of people seeing visions of angels on the shores, or Arthur and his knights riding forth outside of the circle of her associates.

I think it’s also worth noting a moment in the Disney film Bedknobs and
Broomsticks that I rather feel taps into the same energy. The main Angela Lansbury character is a witch who enchants the exhibits in a museum to fight against a Nazi U Boat crew who have come ashore at an archetypal sleepy British seaside town. The Germans find themselves looking up to a clifftop where an army of knights, redcoats, and representatives of the whole continuity of British history are standing guard. They then see off the Nazis with no problem. The story dates, I believe, from 1943 and was written by an American. I’d love to know a bit more about it. The characterisation of the witch doesn’t seem too far off Dion Fortune. I think it might be an example of certain concepts being expressed from deeper levels whether consciously or not.

Watch it here.

Are there any contemporary examples of this kind of ‘weaponized’ mytho-poesis?

I have heard of “Cursing for Christ” where small groups get themselves a bit worked up to bring down a bit of fire and brimstone on perceived evil-doers.

During the first Gulf War, a psychic known to me became convinced that the Iraqis were employing ancient sorceries to raise djinn in the desert to mess with Desert Storm. Considering that Saddam was rebuilding Babylon and portraying himself riding about in a chariot wearing a leopardskin, I don’t find that hard to believe. It wouldn’t surprise me if an occult mythology gradually merges from those conflicts, Sumero-Babylonian demons and so on. It’s fertile ground. Jet planes over Abraham’s Ur is evocative stuff.

What is Dion Fortunes legacy like today? She seems to have slipped out of vogue (at least in the U.S.) due to the moral focus that she put on her work?
I think Dion Fortune has actually proved to be a hardy perennial and is perhaps even increasing in popularity and influence but the modern focus tends to be on a select few of her books. The two late novels, The Sea Priestess and Moon Magic, still move people very deeply. I would imagine that any women who have ever contemplated the archetype of Priestess and wondered what it would mean to be one in the modern world would become familiar with these novels to some extent before long. Whether it’s in the form of the various types of Wicca or mystery schools like the Fellowship of Isis, Dion Fortunes work as a Priestess and her expression of it through her magical novels are a strong influence.

The Mystical Qabalah also remains an enduring favourite due to its accessibility. Psychic Self Defense has been much debated as to its autobiographical authenticity and magical usefulness but it is indubitably a fantastic read and full of inspiration.

It must also be remembered that Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Mists of Avalon, an epic retelling from a female perspective of the Arthurian legends, is infused with Dion Fortune’s ideas on a fundamental level. The depiction of Morgan owes a lot to the novels. The idea that the main characters were not singular historical figures but the holders of initiatory titles is also very evocative.

Fortune had a number of fertile ideas about the legends and this is certainly a major aspect of her ongoing legacy. Bradley proved the ideas have life in them. This book has probably been more responsible for bringing American tourists to Glastonbury than any other single factor.

In comparison to this powerful body of work, much of her earlier output has certainly not fared as well and reads more as a product of its time. The Psychology of the Servant Problem isn’t likely to feature on many people’s reading lists these days! She evolved over time. The ebb and flow of Christian influence and her contact with inner plane discarnate entities is not to everyone’s taste now. The classics are assuredly classics though.

Do you think Fortune’s works like What is Occultism? and Aspects of Occultism (Sane Occultism) are still valuable for today’s practitioners?

They are worth a read. I don’t think anyone is going to get their head set on fire by them in the way that the later novels and Mystical Qabalah can manage but not everyone needs that anyway. The Society of the Inner Light (the magical group that she founded) do mention at the start of the modern editions of all of her books that they represent products of their time and that some of the ideas may seem outdated so even her most staunch adherents acknowledge that.

What do you think is the U.S. version of Avalon? Seen from an outside perspective does the U.S. have anything as potent as this to focus a positive mytho-poesis?

That’s an interesting question and a difficult one. There’s no doubt that the USA contains some major power spots like Shasta and Sedona. What Glastonbury has that renders it so distinctive is a long history and mythology with a continuity that carries through a long sequence of events important to the life of the greater nation.

In the end, when it mattered in 1940, the Christian and pagan elements came together in harmony focused on the iconic Tor. The Native American strata, indeed the whole indigenous strata of the entire Americas, suffered a traumatic disconnection more problematical than the gradual triumph of Christianity in Britain. Many people are working to heal those traumas and reclaim the wisdom.

I don’t feel the US has anywhere that carries that continuity and is so recognizable. Shasta is truly awesome but a lot of the current New Age mythology doesn’t go back very far and doesn’t tap into the roots of the nation’s consciousness in the way that the Arthurian cycle does in Britain.

That doesn’t mean that America is any way impoverished by that. It has a unique destiny to potentially fulfill that is characterized by the incredible alchemical blending of cultures in a climate of constant acceleration. The land can and does speak when it needs to be heard and the pioneers and prophets have always seemed to be able to hear it. We have the Grail cycle and the megalithic sites and so on. You have the American Dream and that is your quest for the Holy Grail in modern form.

Can you explain briefly what you mean by Avalonian Aeon?

Aleister Crowley believed that a new epoch began in 1904 that he called the Aeon of Horus. I have examined this idea at length in my book Aleister Crowley and the Aeon of Horus. If this concept has any veracity we should expect to see its qualities expressed globally but in ways distinct to the locations and cultures concerned.

The European Aeon, for example, has been dominated by the generation from a German centre-point of the two world wars. The American Aeon involves the incredible rise to global superpower with all that has entailed. To try and formulate ideas around African and Asian Aeon is fascinating.

After centuries in suspended animation following the dissolution of Glastonbury Abbey, the location came back to life in the first decade of the last century as Crowley proclaimed the New Aeon. All aspects of its long Christian and pagan history and mythology were profoundly re-energised.

Phase one of this culminated in Dion Fortune’s 1940 magic where there was a definite interaction with the larger European and Global processes. Following another breathing space, from the hippy sixties onwards, the town mutated into its current form.

During this time its charisma, often best expressed simply through the haunting image of the Tor, has become known around the world and the town has become a global pilgrimage site, now considered to be heart chakra of the planet, and placed in the company of Shasta, Giza, Arunuchala, and so on. The unique blend, focused primarily around the associations with Arthurian mythology and an increasing awareness of the divine feminine, and the fact that’s it’s a place where people live and interact and play out their dramas, constitutes the transmission of the Avalonian Aeon.

Paul Weston is the author of Avalonian Aeon, Aleister Crowley and the Aeon of Horus, and Mysterium Artorius. Paul is available for lectures, tailored Glastonbury tours and Reiki initiations.

You can also enjoy Paul’s lectures and explorations of his books on the blog talk radio program: Avalonian Aeon

*NOTE: Red Wheel/Weiser was kind enough to provide a selection of Dion Fortune’s work for review and study.

Confirming Craddock – Contemporary Anomaly Research & Victorian Spiritualism

Growing up I was fascinated with folklore, especially ghost stories. A trip to the library wasn’t complete without picking up some antiquated accounts of the unknown. As I’ve grown into a more mature understanding of my youthful interests I’ve come to discover that the books I really enjoyed usually came out of the Spiritualist tradition or were in some ways associated with the more esoteric end of Masonry, Theosophy, the Golden Dawn or the Psychical Research Society (and in so many cases the lines between these groups was, and is, rather blurry.)

It’s interesting to see that many of the books on “folklore” and “mythology” coming out of the 19th century were produced antecedent to the more practical implications of the work. The Psychical Research Society utilized past accounts to buttress their contemporary research, and so many of the historical works produced during this period were actually just case studies couched in the form of popular research. W.B. Yeats’ accounts of Irish fairy lore were fascinating, it took me years to realize that his research into folklore and myth were actually supportive to his esoteric practice. Things like that tend to be glossed over in the mainstream understanding of established authors whose actual intentions hold some embarrassment for the staid authorities of culture.

Vere Chappell’s recently published biography of the Theosophist and Spiritualist Ida Craddock gives an even deeper view of this process (For a more detailed review of the book itself see Freeman Presson’s literary review blog). Red Wheel/Weiser was kind enough to send over a review copy and the experience of reading it has attended a series of personal revelations on the nature of reality and cultural transmission.

Most of my readings from Vere’s biography of Ida Craddock have taken place on the train to and from Con trips to attend an alchemy lecture by Dennis Hauck and gatherings of like minded folks interested in some of the odder antecedents of culture. This fortuitous correlation has given me a contemporary view of the ideas that Ida addresses in her writings, and also a picture of how ideas about topics such as Spiritualism transmute, shedding and acquiring cultural bias, retaining their core value despite what seems to be great gaps in time.

One of the issues addressed in Ida’s writing is the subjective understanding of anomalous experiences. In her case this was focused on a relationship with a spirit or thought form that she considered her husband; to be more direct she experienced a physical relationship with a disembodied entity she believed was the spirit of a past acquaintance. By physical relationship I mean she felt that she was sexually active with a ghost.

To be absolutely honest as I read this account I was a bit put off by her direct assertions. They violated my credulity, and exploring her thoughts lead to conjectures on what value this kind of story might have to various groups or agendas keeping me from fully embracing the narrative; I was searching for the hook.

This is where the circumstances of my reading become important, and why I mention them. After an hour on the train and another hour on the subway (or EL as we call it in Chicago) attending to Ida’s account I found myself faced with the same questions while joining the company of people involved in the contemporary exploration of anomalous events.

It’s one thing to conjecture about the influences and intentions of a Victorian Spiritualist, but it’s another to have the same phenomenon addressed, face to face, by contemporary peers. To a skeptical mind it’s even more odd to realize that there are correspondences between the accounts and also to realize that the contemporary researchers are not involved or knowledgeable about the esoteric influences that attended Ida’s understanding of her experience.

There is still the lingering doubt that the contemporary researchers might be subtly influenced by such esoteric ideas simply through the culture of their investigations. This becomes less suspect when the accounts are from the perspective of those experiencing them, from the people that the contemporary researchers encounter rather than from the researcher’s own conjectures. It’s still possible to say that the idea has so perniciously infected society that it reaches even the mainstream understanding, but the farther the influence stretches, whether anomalous or not, it still becomes an object worthy of study, perhaps even more so.

If everyone is being honest there is a clear line of experience stretching from the 19th century (and much farther as the 19th century researchers were reflecting on much older accounts) up to this very day. If there is a difference in the interpretation it’s the sobriety with which these anomalies are addressed. Ida’s account is firmly protected by very sober and rational safeguards. To her such experiences become negative, not due to the anomaly itself, but rather to the subjective understanding of the individual.

What some might discount as Victorian prudery becomes invaluable advice to the modern researcher into anomalous activity. Disordered lives, addiction, mal-intention, sexual impropriety, each of these play a part in the contemporary narrative of negative anomalous events. To Ida this is self-evident, if one is not prepared to live an orderly life in society, one is certainly not prepared for the experiences that come with contacting the “borderland”.

From Ida’s work Heavenly Bridgegrooms:

“In the case of Spiritualist mediums, professional or amateur, where the phenomena assume some show of regularity, and are claimed by the medium to come entirely from the world beyond the grave, one always has to be on one’s guard against the subtle interpolation among otherwise truthful matter of fantastic or misleading statements made apparently by the communicating spirits themselves. Occultists in all ages have invariably assumed such statements to be the work of “lying spirits”. But it is noticeable that a medium of correct life and clearness of intellectual conception is less troubled by such lying spirits than is the medium of halting intellect or morals. This of itself should indicate to the thoughtful student of occult phenomena that the medium, and not the spirits, may be to blame when lying communications are made. Just as in Astronomy it is now found that the apparent movements of the sun and fixed stars are due almost entirely to our own planet’s motion through space, so, I think, when we explore the heavens of occultism we shall eventually realize that erratic psychical phenomena are due to our own shifting relation to the beings who produce phenomena. Not until people got rid of the Ptolemaic theory that the Earth was a permanent unmovable fixture in the heavens did they learn that the bewildering cycles and epicycles of the sun and fixed stars were caused by the movements of their own planet thorough space; and not until we get rid of what I may call the Ptolemaic theory of occultism, that the psychic is the one permanent, immovable factor in the apparently shifting phenomena about him, will we ever get at the true scientific laws of occultism that our own vibrations–or our own moral and intellectual ups and downs–are almost entirely responsible for the erraticness of Borderland communications. To blame Borderland intelligences for “lying” is as if in the proverbial London fog at noonday one should blame the sun for not shining. The sun is shining right along; but it is the smoke from one’s neighbors which returns upon one to shield the sun from one’s view.”

According to contemporary accounts, and Ida’s understanding, the crossing of boundaries requires great energy, and this can either be supported by self control and focus, or by the energy expended due to chaotic living. The neutrality of the experience separates it from the orthodox understanding of the sacred. It’s inconsequential to the contact whether this energy is positive or negative, these factors only come into play on the subjective experience that follows such contact.

Whatever the cause of such experiences, the continuity between what Ida recounts in her writings and what the current coterie of investigators encounter in their field of study shows that uncritical exploration can lead to disastrous results. I would recommend that everyone interested in anomalous activity, whether skeptic or believer, take a deeper look at their intentions and purpose. Whether it’s psychosis, skepticism or revelation that leads us towards the ‘borderland’, Ida’s rational and cogent advice is invaluable.

My account may seem pedantic, so let’s allow Roky Erickson, who has experience the extremes of positive and negative synchronicity, explain it  a bit more passionately…