Ch. 8 Boats and Microscopes and Bottles of Elixirs and Raw Steak and a Bunch of Dive Gear [Dive Encounters]
“You know, I’m sick of following my dreams, man. I’m just going to ask where they’re going and hook up with ’em later.” –Mitch Hedberg
“All the pretty visitors came and waved their arms
And cast the shadow of a snake-pit on the wall.”
Arctic Monkeys, Pretty Visitors
Gods, Goddesses, angels, demons, daemons… What exists beyond the physical, and if anything should prove to exist, how might we go about discerning the good from the bad?
I suppose it’s a little odd to suggest that I fell in love with a woman at first sight—and in a dream, no less. How could love unfurl in one, walloping moment? I perceive it as some sort of transpersonal state of consciousness. Real, authentic love is something that transcends the mundane egocentric barriers. But before long we often become punch-drunk by the feeling of love itself. This punch-drunkenness is what tends to extinguish even the truest of romances if we are not careful—we become far too intoxicated by what we have gained through love, and before we can wrap our heads around how lucky we are, it all disappears. The intoxication led us away from the ever-expanding present moment, and the euphoria morphed to a sedation. In this midst of pacification, we let the sand slip through our fingers, and that includes me.
Since Ramona first graced me in a dream, I have thought about her every day. Truly not a day goes by, even to this day, nearly seven years later (at the time of writing this). Granted, there have been countless days where I have hardly thought about her, but there are times where I simply can’t help but wonder if she’s doing okay. Of course, I think about a variety of different things from my past on any given day—so I’m not saying that I yearn for her every day, but Ramona is inevitably something that I cannot separate myself from entirely. It’s like muscle-memory at this point, I don’t suspect that it will ever go away—it will only recede further into horizon. But this feeling inevitably describes nothing other than love. Obsession would be me driving by her house every so often to snoop, and lust would imply that she has given me something to lust over fairly recently—I can emphatically assure the reader that this is neither obsession nor lust, and I guess you’ll just have to take my word on that.
This is important to discuss for several reasons, namely because it is crucial to understand how genuine love can trigger certain things within the mind that are anything but lovely. This is part of the naturally-occurring alchemical process of the psyche—purification through fire. Sometimes the “fire of love” leaves only the ash to fertilize next season’s crops. I think that, especially by the end of this novel, this concept of transpersonal love will be illustrated well enough. For now, I want to focus on the punch-drunkenness—which is the heat of the fire as it burns. It is a genuine possibility that I would not be alive today if not for Ramona—and if I was still living, it would not be a life that allowed me the time and mental fortitude to write a book like this. It would’ve probably involved a lot of drugs and self-loathing.
But the things I felt while the fire charred my body are hardly describable. This love was usually not a relationship in the traditional sense of the word, although it had been at one time. Since our initial courting, the morphology of the relationship became something like a dark corner of our personal histories—something that we would shed a light on when life became dark from all other angles. Oftentimes, because of the relationship’s very nature of push-and-pull emotional roughness, the love presented from one of us was sometimes reciprocated as a stoic coldness from the other. Both of us were blatantly guilty of this. Thus, the punch-drunkenness morphs from a euphoria, to a sedation, to a withdrawal… Ultimately, it was difficult for us to separate the negative from the positive—for some reason, we both seemed to represent for one another a glimpse at some unknown goodness surrounded by a whirlwind of hell and phantoms.
Jacob, patriarch of the Israelites whose sons founded the twelve tribes of Israel, has been the most iconic western depiction of man communicating with the heavens, ascending the ladder or stairway to heaven. Classically known as Jacob’s Ladder, he laid down to rest one night amidst travel, and he dreamt of angels descending from the heavens to tell him of his destiny. Jacob’s Ladder stems from the Book of Genesis, and thusly the story has strong roots within kabbalah and western mysticism overall.
The ancient philosopher, Iamblichus had a bit to say on this communication with the heavens, known as theurgy, which is the art of man’s communication with the spiritual hierarchy of demons, angels, gods, and the like. Philosophers like Iamblichus were not keen on “summoning demons” and rather, they overtly described how the dark arts are known to drive humans mad with a power that eats them from the inside out. Additionally, they discuss the transpersonal, therapeutic states of consciousness that occur from the communication with angels. Psychologist William James did a great service synthesizing the realms of hypnosis and theurgical states of consciousness in his seminal work, The Varieties of Religious Experience.
James notes the there is a common thread of the religion of the “healthy mindedness”, which is considered the Right-Handed Path in occultism; and there are also the ideas of the “sick soul” or the Left-Handed Path. While the Right is generally considered good, the left evil, this is a slight misnomer. The Right Hand represents orthodoxy, while the Left represents the opposite. The Right suggests that we all come to know God, while the Left suggests that we Know Thyself. Both paths can be good or evil, depending on any given circumstance. The concept of the “sick soul” implies two possible ways to unfold: either the “sick soul” descends entirely into madness, or the sickness acts as a mechanism with which we can pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and aim towards the heavens. The latter is the good that can come from the Left, and it is no small measure.
Obviously, we’re not going to give into religious dogma here. We are going to look at these archetypes from an evolutionary perspective.
To put it flatly, there are certain classifications of archetypal “deities” that will dictate whether one is essentially transcending neurosis or compounding it. To discern, however, which entities have an archetypal essence of therapy instead of perpetuating the very mechanisms that disturb us, we must develop a psychoanalytic, empirical way of categorizing these archetypes, and theurgy is crucial as part of this analysis. So, what the hell is a demon? Is it a red-skinned, horned pigmy that sits on everybody’s left shoulder, consistently trying to muffle the angel on the right?
In 1913, ceremonial magician A.E. Waite wrote in his work, The Book of Ceremonial Magic, “Each of the occult sciences was, however, liable to that species of abuse which is technically but fantastically known as Black Magic. Astrology, or the appreciation of the celestial influences in their operation upon the nature and life of man, could be perverted in the composition of malefic talismans by means of those influences. Esoteric Medicine, which consisted in the application of occult forces to the healing of disease in man, and included a traditional knowledge of the medicinal properties resident in some substances disregarded by ordinary pharmacy, one produced in its malpractice the secret science of poisoning and the destruction of health, reason or life by unseen forces. The transmutation of metals by Alchemy resulted in their sophistication. In like manner, Divination, or the processes by which lucidity was supposed to be induced, became debased into various forms of witchcraft and Ceremonial Magic into dealing with devils. White Ceremonial Magic is, by the terms of its definition, an attempt to communicate with Good Spirits for a good, or at least an innocent, purpose. Black Magic is the attempt to communicate with Evil Spirits for an evil, or for any, purpose.”
As usual, let us focus on the grit of the situation before we turn our eyes to the light. This creates a context that is more “multi-dimensional”. The most well-known and controversial cast of demonic characters are King Solomon’s seventy-two lesser keys—which are archetypal demons Solomon learned to summon, entrap, and enslave, like genies trapped in bottles of brass. The seventy-two lesser keys are the kings, princes, prelates and marquis of Hell, among other titles more.
There is also what is usually called The Greater Key of Solomon. This text focuses on the various ritual and ceremonial works that the magician must focus on. Calling the communication with spirits “experiments”, it describes ways to perform various conjurations, curses, invocations, purifications, sacrifices, et cetera.
It almost goes without question that King Solomon did not write these texts himself. These are the occult sciences that have been mythologically attributed to Solomon, and so these medieval European grimoires are written in Solomon’s likeness.
The story of Solomon is of course a bit murky. Originally a king chosen by God, Solomon grew to corrupt himself with power that was far too great for any human. The true nature of summoning and entrapping demons was not meant to make enslave the demons, but to annihilate them. It was an acquiescence of the demons that rendered them obsolete, but there wasn’t meant to be a communication—it was an eradication. Solomon and the Lesser Key, however, does not share the same prudence as I. Furthermore, I will state that I personally do not recommend “summoning” any “demons” even if it is for eradication. Let us all find the “angels” for that—let is also not be lost unto us the likeness that Solomon and Faust share archetypally.
Crowley and Macgregor’s translation of The Lesser Key of Solomon states the preliminary definition of magick as, “the Highest, most Absolute, and most Divine Knowledge of Natural Philosophy, advanced in its works and wonderful operations by a right understanding of the inward and occult virtue of things; so that true Agents being applied to proper Patients, strange and admirable effects will thereby be produced. Whence magicians are profound and diligent searchers into Nature; they, because of their skill, know how to anticipate an effort, the which to the vulgar shall seem to be a miracle.”
The manuscript of the Lesser Key proposes five archetypal methods of theurgy, both good and evil, and for reference, it is said to have been compiled in the 17th century, at least a couple centuries after the Greater Key.
Ars Goetia is the first, representing the evil spirits and “showing how he [Solomon] bound up those Spirits, and used them in general things, whereby he obtained great fame.” The details of Ars Goetia are what the Lesser Keys manuscript spends most of its pages describing.
The second is Ars Theurgia-Goetia, spirits which are partly bad, partly good—perhaps characterized as tricksters but not villains.
The third are the angels and the archangels, described as the Pauline Art or Ars Paulina. The angels are said to be “governing the Planetary Hours, and what Spirits belong to every degree, of the Signs, and Planets in the Signs.”
It is stated that the fourth and fifth categories of theurgy are good, and are meant to be sought out for divining, which is either learning of the future, how to deal with the future, or simply gaining a deeper wisdom of a current situation. And all this boils down to adaptation, ultimately.
The fourth book is called the Ars Almadel, containing, “those Spirits which govern the Four Altitudes [the solstices and equinoxes], or the 360 Degrees of the Zodiac.”
The fifth book, known as the Ars Nova represent the “Orations and Prayers that Wise Solomon used upon the Altar in the Temple. revealed unto Solomon by that Holy Angel of God called Michael; and he also received many brief Notes written with the Finger of God, which were declared to him by the said Angel with Claps of Thunder… in a short time he [Solomon] knew all Arts and Sciences both Good and Bad.”
The third and fourth “books” of theurgy are representative of Musica Universalis, the kabbalist Tree of Life, the fractals of existence. Recall Chapters Three and Five, on the discussion of divination and the Trees of Life and Death for further context here.
As I studied these concepts, I searched to see what Jung had to say on the matter. Jung himself first saw one of these archetypal deities during the part of his life that would eventually turn into The Red Book. The spirit’s name was Philemon, and they first met in a dream in 1913—he would become a familiar face within Jung’s unconscious recesses from here on out. When he awoke from the dream, he painted a picture as a likeness of the character.
Philemon interestingly has quite a rich mythological context. It first begins with his wife Baucis, written by the Roman poet, Ovid, in his work, Metamorphoses. Ovid tells the story of the man and wife allowing two strangers to enter their home in a most hospitable and generous way, only to find that their two guests were the gods Mercury and Jupiter disguised as peasants. When the couple tries to tend to their guests in a more pious way (Philemon offers to kill and cook the goose that guards his house for the two gods), Mercury and Jupiter decline, and tell the man and wife to flee the town with them. The gods divulge that they have been going door to door, asking for modest hospitality throughout the town, and since Baucis and Philemon were the only house to invite them in, the gods had decided to flood the whole community. While it seems a bit vengeful, the moral implied throughout the story is something along the lines of the Christian “golden rule” to do unto others as you would have done unto you. Mercury and Jupiter are meant to archetypally represent the winds of karma, so to speak, rather than bemused gods looking for a party. Baucis and Philemon were an isolated case of common decency in the town and the only ones to really practice such a golden rule. The story itself is also very reminiscent of the Bible’s Sodom and Gomorrah.
At the end, Mercury, Jupiter, and the man and wife climb the nearby mountain, and when they reach the summit, they turn around to see that the entire area has been decimated by a flood, save for the house of the man and wife, which is now a temple consecrated to Jupiter. The couple become guardians of the temple, and then die together of old age, becoming intertwined trees on the temple’s land.
Goethe’s depiction of Philemon and Baucis will help further illustrate what I mean, and it is even a story that deeply influenced Jung himself. In a letter written in 1942, the psychoanalyst told a friend, “I have taken over Faust as my heritage, and moreover as the advocate and avenger of Philemon and Baucis, who, unlike Faust the superman, are the hosts of the gods in a ruthless and godforsaken age.”
In Faust Act V, Faust is an elderly man. Through his alchemical ingenuity, he has fashioned his own castle on land once swallowed by water. His land is a private place of refuge, except for one cottage that he manages to notice. Here live one couple, Philemon and Baucis. Faust instructs Mephistopheles to make them vacate the land, and in the traditional devilish way, Mephistopheles burns down the couple’s house with them inside it—to Faust’s horror. As the elderly doctor falls into a fit of hysterical guilt, he is blinded, and in a sudden moment of insight, realizes the fullest extent of his sins. He learns that he has essentially blinded himself through arrogance, and that he has abused his powers. As a general summary, he realized the difference between knowledge and wisdom, sorrowful for all that he had squandered and joyous for the possibilities brought by this realization. From all the excitement, Faust drops dead.
Jung stated in Memories, Dreams, and Reflections, (p. 182-83), “Philemon and other figures of my fantasies brought home to me the crucial insight that there are things in the psyche which I do not produce, but which produce themselves and have their own life. Philemon represented a force which was not myself. In my fantasies, I held conversations with him, and he said things which I had not consciously thought. For I observed clearly that it was he who spoke, not I.” He also wrote that, “Philemon was a pagan and brought with him an Egypto-Hellenistic atmosphere with a Gnostic coloration.”
That Philemon deeply impacted and inspired Jung through visionary dreams is without question, and that both Jung’s work and personality were both effected by this archetypal character is something that the psychoanalyst admitted: “Psychologically, Philemon represented superior insight. He was a mysterious figure to me. At times he seemed to me quite real, as if he were a living personality. I went walking up and down the garden with him, and to me he was what the Indians call a guru.”
But what is Philemon? Is he an angel, a demon, an archetypal manifestation of the unconscious mind, a fantasy, a placebo? A question like this needs to be approached from an empirical standpoint, using the Hegelian dialectic.
It’s firstly important to know that Jung wanted everything that a cult leader would not want. Until the final stage of his life, he had maintained an unflinching scholarship, refraining from directly spiritual discussions of reincarnation, theurgy, and the like. But once he found himself on his last legs, he wrote about his beliefs a bit more. He was not trying to cultivate a powerful image for himself, he was not attempting some L. Ron Hubbard-style creation of a new religion; Carl Jung was very literally a man who made a career out of studying himself so that he could take this knowledge and make it transpersonal, so that others may find use in it on their own terms. The control method was the basis that we are all humans, and are all trying to satisfy the same evolutionary, biological, needs—and are always hungering for the next adaptation.
Jung had first hoped that he could distance himself as a man of science by using religion as a model, or a data-set for scientific analysis, but as he was stiff-armed by the scholastic community, he realized he had played his cards in a manner that he could not undo. Like Jonah, Jung had sought to spread his ideas to help others, and amidst his travels found himself bereft in a storm and swallowed by the whale. The psychoanalyst always wanted to be remembered as a man of science, and wanted it understood that theology was, in a basic sense, an old symbolically-based non-linear, observational science of an ancient time.
In other words, religion and spiritualism represented metaphorical truths where literal truths were unattainable. Certainly, they were not to be taken at face-value, and plenty superstitious spiritual ideas are scientifically ill-founded. But there is a core archetypal-memetic value that spiritualism overall has upheld cross-culturally, throughout history. This is not a mish-mash of all world-cultures seen as one—but an analysis of all world cultures as developing within the same biological, neurological parameters. This is evolutionary psychology, not New-Age.
It should be evident by now that Jung’s inspirations manifested themselves as altruistic, and not hedonistic or selfish in any sense of the words. By deduction we may only conclude that his mental mechanisms were based around a drive of altruism, this altruism second to perhaps his own need to understand himself—his self-awareness not being at the expense of others. Truly, the expense of others is what drove Jung to learn about his own expenses—it was through helping his fellow humans that Jung crafted the ways to work on himself.
Philemon was something that mirrored an aspect of Jung’s psyche that Jung himself had been unable to access before—and these things helped him grow and find greater peace. Therefore, we may surmise that archetypally, Philemon was nothing but an angel of some kind to Jung.
A demon, in this archetypal sense, is what occurs when a human being is entering into a psychodynamic Faustian-bargain with their own psychological Shadow complex, which represents the unknown mechanisms of the unconscious mind—when we make “deals with the devil.” Once the deal is made, the demon, like the vampire who has been invited into the house, is now free to roam within the space that the agreement allows. Naturally, every psychologically stable human being has a bargain with their Shadow complex—it’s a necessary adaptation mechanism, and those who do not have an adequate bargain are subjugated to paranoid delusions, hallucinations, agoraphobia, hysteria, et cetera. The overall point, however, is that unless we have taken calculated, decisive steps in a healthy relationship with our shadow, the hangers-on begin to sink their teeth into the contract loopholes. Let us remember that the shadow is all that which we do not actively know, but still process mentally on some level. A healthy person acknowledges the presence of the shadow, but understands that regardless of the unknown, they will still be able to act in accord with their core values and goals. Dante’s spirit guide through purgatory and hell, Virgil, is the shining positive example of what the shadow should be for any given human being. Although the shadow can be hellish at times, it does not mean that we must bargain with devils to undo the nightmare. We can simply find our way to the exit—but this is much trickier to do than say.
Truthfully, it seems much less like the person finding the exit themselves, and more like guiding something else to an exit, which seems quite reminiscent of the Solomon entrapping his demons. To gain a more nuanced outlook, consider that in both India and Asia, we find the concept of the preta or the hungry ghost, which are spirits that are cursed to feed on the karmas of humans like metaphysical bottom-feeders. Whether they be attracted to objects, or consumables like food or drugs, the hungry-ghosts flock to the addictive personality like a shark smelling blood in the water. Worst of all, there is never a time that the preta’s hunger is satiated. More often than not, the human considers the preta as a pitiful, sorrowful creature. They are generally nothing worse metaphysically than a raccoon rummaging through your dumpster—but this is not always the case.
If the preta’s hunger was for something a bit more vile, it could create much more nefarious ends for the preta to meet, thus looking a bit more like the westernized lesser keys of hell. Addiction therapist, Dr. Gabor Mate, wrote a fascinating novel on addiction entitled In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts. While the book does not discuss metaphysics itself, it doesn’t need to. The archetypal allegory that science can take away from this is: neurosis is compounded by vices, and these vices create an inertia that feels separate from the will of the human being. Addiction becomes a psychical animal, a preta that allegorically rests on our shoulders, sucking up all our addictive cravings because it no longer has its own body to abuse. To stop feeding our own problems, we need to address the fact that we have attracted an inertia that is veering us away from our own interests of self-preservation and survival. We must silence the whispers in our ear. Furthermore, it appears to me that the shadow people of sleep paralysis are archetypally equivalent to the preta that lean towards the nefarious. But on the brighter side, as we shall see before long, the mental processes attributed to art and therapy are thus the “angel” operating with the human mind similarly to a preta. But while the preta are symbiotic, the angels are mutualistic. Certainly, there are other grey areas that remain commensal.
From both the superstitious, archetypal standpoint, when we give into our vices, we are leaving a trail of breadcrumbs that is feeding our inner demons. It’s all beginning to sound like some fire-and-brimstone sermon, I agree, and I prefer to use the term “neurotic” as opposed to “demonic” like any other psychoanalyst, but there is an imagery to the lore of the demon that is lacking in the mundane psychologies—and this imagery actually serves a useful purpose. In a sense, it creates a likeness or picture our unconscious mechanisms, and allows us to further define the problems and thus conceive of a solution away from these problems. Terminology and syntax are what separate the psychoanalyst from the holy man, and nothing more.
I wrote all this sentiment to the anonymous user I had found on a forum about magick several years ago now. His name was Virgil_the_poet, but his real name is Alex. Alex lives in Europe—he reads and writes English quite well but speaks it about as well as I speak Spanish (which is broken at best.) To this day, I have never held a conversation with Alex through anything other than a keyboard, but we have seen each other’s faces, shared many experiences together, and grown to know each other like brothers. Alex is only some years older than I am and it seems like nothing less than some synchronicity that brought us together. Through similar therapeutic work with the esoteric, Alex and I had both illuminated our minds just enough to finally see what we surrounded by—and we hadn’t given enough time for the succubus to vacate. So now, here we were in the light of an angel, witnessing a demon that was as astonished by the angel’s light as we were.
I wrote a message to Alex, whereupon he gave me his email. It was in this first email that I told him about Jung and Philemon, Faust and Solomon, the syren and Lilith—encapsulating many things I have discussed in this novel so far. I also asked him several questions.
Where should a person start if they are looking for some sort of spiritual protection? I had begun doing certain things like burning sage periodically, but I wanted some more thorough operations. What should they do if they were looking to seek guidance from an angel? What about confrontation with demons?
And, of course, the million-dollar question: Are these spiritual entities sentient or not? Are they conscious—aware of what they are doing? Or are they more animalistic, like scavenger birds inevitably circling a corpse? Clearly, they are something, and even if they stem from the human mind, they are autonomous beyond the human psyche to a degree.
Also, what was with the name Virgil? What could Alex tell me about the story of Dante’ that I didn’t know? Until this point, I hadn’t read the Divine Comedy since high school, and I was beginning to think that it had been foolish of me to not familiarize myself with it more deeply.
Alex wrote back to me as such:
“Well yeah, I’m a real magician. I sit down and perform ritual, ceremony, I make talismans, tinctures, sometimes people even hire me to perform rituals for them… Love spells, money spells, et cetera. Sometimes it works quite well, but magick is not effortless. It takes time to unfold, and there are certain attentions that the magician must hold while a spell is unfolding. We are working with hypnotic mechanisms, and so if a hypnotherapist is hypnotizing someone into quitting smoking, it doesn’t mean that a person won’t be able to hold a cigarette. It means that the person won’t get the same gratification from the cigarette, but they were given a hypnotic suggestion to modify that gratification. All that in mind, even if a person gets this hypnosis done, they still have to not smoke. This isn’t Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, we can’t just erase something from our minds entirely with the wave of wand. Nor can we simply put it there.
Anyway, so an idiot that pays me to enchant him with a love spell needs to go out and do some pussy-hounding. He can’t wait at home for a babe to show up. And most people who ask for something like a love spell are doing it because they are too nervous to go out to begin with. Magick isn’t magic, it’s a science. We’re just still working out the kinks of it, like any other science. For there to be an effect, there must be a cause, the magickal “spell” is more like incepting the patient than casting a spell. You’ve seen Inception, right?
But anyways, I don’t make much money at all. It’s a small side gig. Really, I’m just looking for experience and people respect what you’re giving them more if they have to pay for it. Real shit, remember that.
Clearly, with Jung, there was an archetypal mechanism at play within his head, and that makes it a noun. There was a “noun” inside Jung’s mind. But was it a proper noun or not? Whether a psychological mechanism or a spiritual entity visiting him in his dreams, it was something. Once we clarify that it was indeed something, and not nothing, the rest becomes a personal preference.
“Many occultists have always thought of the sentience of these beings as an allegory for their autonomy and only that—this is pretty much the same idea that Anton La Vey had with Satanism. This is a good explanation for how things work, but it might be too easy. On the other hand, if these entities are as cognitive as humans are, then there is only as much of an explanation for this as there is for human intelligence (which is hardly any explanation at all).
“For the real magician, the question becomes not so much whether a spirit is real or not, but whether a person can consider anything real or not—even themselves. Is everything not an illusion? Really, now… Just think about it.”
I paused the email that I read and did ponder this. What he said resonated with me strongly, and although I didn’t understand it yet, I would come to know what he wrote of as depersonalization.
I read onward: “We do not have to participate in the illusion, and that is why some people spend their lives meditating in monasteries and others spend it doped up on downtown avenue beside a dumpster. They opted out. But the monk seeks out the monastery, the junky rests next to the dumpster with dope because he has no options left. We can only transcend the self, not annihilate…
“And here’s the shit-kicker. The only way you can transcend is if you hear the calling within you to go seek the way. Not just anyone can walk into a monastery and dedicate their life to such an act. But most who do so tend to stay. I think this is because they participated in the illusion of life and respected it enough to not abandon it before learning the proper lessons of it. You must go get data before you can process it, and if you don’t learn you’ll have nothing to process and the computer of your mind with give you a big fat “ERROR” code. The data is life experience. The life experience brings our karmas to the surface through friction, and when we grow tired of such a heat, we stop stoking the flame. But we can’t stop stoking it until the environment outside and inside our bodies is warm enough to adjust.
“As for the realities of magick… When we consider occultism as the overarching definition of any and all metaphysical disciplines and religions, we see the easiest indicators that entities are acknowledged by the religions themselves as psychological, archetypal forces that are given life by the mental energies that the human being manifests. Aries is the embodiment of war throughout human history that remains timeless—he exists literally through the war itself, archetypally speaking. Hermes exists through every written word, especially the more complex and philosophical it becomes. Aphrodite archetypally lives in the air that romance is breathed into. These are just the first names that come to my mind. Translate this sentiment to literally anything having to do with spiritual entities. The Trees of Life and Death, the seventy-two lesser keys, the angels and archangels, the hungry-ghosts, the syren, and so forth. They all represent something that already exists in the world, regardless of the human standpoint, we just happen to humanize these things so that we can conceptualize them. Forces of Nature, like gravity and electromagnetism and brainwaves and sex—you feel what I’m saying.
Our images of the gods, devils, and spirits remain like caricatures of what they truly are—but it’s all we have to work with, and the esoteric sciences have proven their own worth over time. It just shows how much humanity still has to learn…
“So, magick, in essence, is all about highlighting and tinkering with those parts of the mind that we could otherwise not draw any attention to. We humanize certain forces of nature that we interact with, and when we humanize them, we develop an acute ability to perceive them and they interact with us. It’s like a microscope for the psyche—it allows us to and see and hone what would otherwise go unnoticed. It’s the whole metaphor for the magic wand, pointing on what you want so that you can focus on it. People have different choices of props for different magickal states of mind they are trying to create. Drugs, certain music, certain candles and incense, et cetera. I’ll get into that more in a second.
“As for Virgil, it is my middle name, but symbolically I have found Virgil to be the proper emblem of the shadow—he is that which is shadowy yet points to the light. Other aspects of the shadow, like the 72 lesser keys, don’t point anywhere close to the light unless they are studied from afar. In the clutches, the lesser keys are anything but illuminating.
“In Dante’s story, he is lost in the wilderness. The great metaphor for the spiritual abyss, the realm of delusion, hysteria, and mishap—but sometimes it brings positive spiritual intervention. Here Dante hears the voice of his beloved, the angel Beatrice, and finds himself in hell, guided by Virgil. Long story short, of course. Dante’ had been chosen by the heavens to bring a message back to humankind, and in order to get the full extent of such a message, he had to see the worst that existence has to offer.
“The odd part is that Virgil is chosen by Beatrice and therefore by the proxy of God to lead Dante’ through the lower realms to heaven—but he is not allowed into heaven. Plucked from his time in purgatory to aid Dante’, Virgil was a Roman and a pagan, so although he was not evil, he did not know the light of God. From here, Beatrice guides Dante’s through the spheres of heaven, and to the Celestial Rose of God’s mind.
“The Mobius Strip that you speak, the Trees of Life and Death, are as well depicted by Dante’s ascent from hell, through purgatory into heaven and beyond—all the way back to earth. I like to think of myself as a bit Virgilian because I don’t see myself as a chosen boy for God, but I won’t be going to any hell either. I’ve seen the types of people that are going to hell and I’m sure not one of them—it based on the nature of the human, not which fuckin ‘God’ they worship. That’s where people get it all wrong.
“The magician takes a special type of person—a person who is okay with a certain grey area of uncertainty so long as proper control-methods are in place. I don’t give a bloody fuck who thinks I’m crazy and why—I’m not going around trying to sell snake oil or work miracles, I am just a guy living my life, trying interesting experiments on the side and getting some unique results. No one must believe my results either—it’s not like I talk about them.
“It all comes down to this for me: do you want to participate in the illusion or not? If you’re not opting out of society and culture COMPLETELY, then you are participating in the illusion. Why not participate a bit more with calculated, effective ways to improve the life of yourself and others around you? Play to win, my friend. Don’t win at the expense of others—but play to win your keep. We all have a keep that we’re meant to earn, given unto us by God himself. Go west, young man, and let the evil go east!
“A lot of people from hereon out go into quantum theory, the wave-particle stuff. Maybe once you focus your intentions on an archetype with ritual and ceremony, the ‘wave’ so to speak, becomes the ‘particle’, like the Yin-Yang, diurnal consciousness itself. We take something from the back of the mind and throw it to the front, solidifying it for further scrutiny. But explaining quantum mechanics has become an absolute debacle for the scientists and I only watch it from afar. It’s not good enough to give a concrete explanation for magick and metaphysics, but it makes interesting food-for-thought. From what I’ve seen though, most of the people that really push the idea of quantum mechanics and magick are New Agers that are trying to sell books… and I can’t stand New Agers… They all need to go suck an egg or something,
“As for protection, et cetera—digest what I have said first. I as well will have to be digesting a great many more things you told me in your last email. I think we are both providing an impressive mutual exchange of mental resources. But I’m gonna tell you up front that you’re going to have to get busy with some ceremony. You don’t have to get crazy or theatrical with it, and you can do it all by yourself. But you’re going to need to do something to smooth out some of your unconscious processes run amok. The Great Mother is clearly trying to get a message through your dreams to you and it’s not getting through the static—you need to get a clearer signal.
“But before I go, I’ll tell you this to whet your appetite: invoking a spirit comes from a series of psychological triggers that snap us into a hypnotic state like a domino-effect. In modern psychology, they call it priming, where exposure to one stimulus influences the response of subsequent stimuli without conscious intent. They are hypnotic cues, suggestions, that are playing towards a culmination of an extremely specific state of mind. I guess this is what you could consider art to be, or drug addiction. But more specifically, the candles, incense, sigils, talismans, even the different offerings of food, drugs, and libations—they are all meant to trigger a specific sense. Each thing focuses the mind in a specific way, creating in-effect a sensory deprivation that leaves the mind open and within the trance-state. Thus, the priming ramps ups the sensory deprivation and projects the conscious focus on the only thing that remains—which are the magickal props and cues that served to prime the state of consciousness to begin with.
“Fret not. You’re in a good position. You shouldn’t worry about something trying to control you or steal your soul. If you haven’t had a sleep paralysis events or poltergeists, I’d say that you don’t have to worry about anything getting worse. You’re in the thick of it now. You just have to worry about how it will affect your peace of mind, as do I with my own syren. How can we learn to love when something like a hungry-ghost is feeding on our gushing sense of unrequitedness and un-finality?
“Tales for another time, I suppose.
“Cheers unto you, brother, and blessings, [signed] Alex”
When I read Alex’s email a few days later, I was floored. So many answers to questions that I had suspected but not confirmed, and even more answers to questions I had only begun to ask. Finally, I was in contact with someone who could really relate to what I was going through. A brother in arms, another sailor adrift at sea, had allowed me to board his ship and look at the various psychological experiments and elixirs he had learned to craft. It almost felt like he was one of my friends sitting around the fireside with me, passing the joint around.
In my next email, I thanked him, and then I asked him if he could explain to me some types of magickal rituals and ceremonies he performed, how he went about them, what purposes he did them for, and what results he got.
I also asked him about the personal details that surrounded his encounters with the syren. I wanted him to tell me about the woman that started it all.
His response to me the next day was brief but promising. He told me he would have to get back to me on the metaphysical details later, but opened up to me about his personal details, and how he was extremely intrigued by my postulation of the syren as a hungry-ghost of sorts—a psychic phantom limb of true love lost. The woman who had triggered the syren for him had been his first love when he was a teenager. It is the same archetypal story each time, with just a specific flavor here and there. Boy-meets-girl, boy and girl fall hard for each other, then the girl retracts and the boy crashes like a train running out of railroad tracks. He had periodical dreams about her and they had gone away for several years, but now they were back and had been running consistently for nearly a year. The dreams were all different, but they were always the same: Alex’s love was a grown woman, leading him somewhere that he could not seem to yet reach. Now he was getting tired of it, and he saw my emails to him as a relief.
Usually, as with Alex, his turmoil was quiet. Internal turmoil, hidden by a lot of alcohol and other things here and there, like cannabis and tobacco. When I first met Alex, he really knew how to put away the alcohol—it was impressive. But I smoked an egregious amount of cannabis, so I completely understood. For both of us, the syren was not about the woman primarily. We would both have been happy to do away with the whole history all together, but it always seemed to creep up on us in our quiet moments. And it was driving us both mad slowly, over time.
I didn’t know what the hell to think about all that at the time, and I still don’t. I don’t need a resolute explanation, I just find it extremely interesting and take it for what is: modern folklore, and as is implied with folklore, there’s likely some sort of truth to it, no matter how small that truth may prove to be.
What I needed to do from here was becoming clear enough. I needed to focus my attention to the angels. I had learned a great deal about the depths of hell. I heard the call of Beatrice in the woods, I had stumbled into hell and found my pagan spirit guide, and now I was beginning to feel a bit more comfortable as Alex showed me the path to purgatory.
At least we were going up.
But one thing was for certain. I needed to stop letting these dreams of the syren lead me by the nose. I needed to get my wits about me—develop a game plan. What spot does the ‘X’ mark, exactly? If Alex is my very own Captain Nemo, then where might the Nautilus be taking us next?
My new friend was probably right, I needed to get some help from the highest mother of them all, but before I did anything too radical, I needed to talk to Ramona again. I could see that I had to get rid of the syren—but what if Ramona was my ally? What if she was my angel?
I couldn’t make any sudden moves, and I sure as hell couldn’t tell her about any of this. Not yet. But the time was coming for us to see each other again. It was inevitable.
Looking back on his life and studies, Jung wrote in Memories, Dreams, Reflections, “…I experienced a moment of unusual clarity in which I looked back over the way I had traveled so far. I thought, ‘Now you possess a key to mythology and are free to unlock all the gates of the unconscious psyche.’ But then something whispered within me, ‘Why open all gates?’ And promptly the question arose of what I had accomplished. I had explained the myths of peoples of the past; I had written a book about the hero, the myth in which man has always lived. But in what myth does man live nowadays?” [p.171]
Chapter Nine Coming Soon…
Chapter Eight Bibliography:
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Goethe, Wolfgang von. Kaufmann, Walter (translator). Anchor. 1962. First part first published in 1806. Second part first published in 1832
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Jung, Carl G. Man and His Symbols. Dell Publishing. 1968.
Jung, Carl G. Jaffe, Aniela. Memories, Dreams, Reflections. Vintage. 1965.
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Mate’, Gabor. In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction. North Atlantic Books. 2010.
Mathers, SL Macgregor. The Key of Solomon the King. Sacred Texts. http://www.sacred-texts.com/grim/kos/index.htm First published in 1888
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Ovid. Garth, Samuel, et al (translators). Metamorphoses. http://classics.mit.edu/Ovid/metam.html The Internet Classics Archive: University of Massachusetts.
Ramachandra, V.S. Blakeslee, Sandra. Phantoms in the Brain: Probing the Mysteries of the Human Mind. William Morrow. 1999.
Santillana, Giorgio de. Dechen, Hertha de. Hamlet’s Mill: An Essay Investigating the Origins of Human Knowledge And Its Transmission Through Myth. Nonperial Books. 2014. First published in 1969.
Waite, AE. The Book of Ceremonial Magic. Sacred Texts. http://www.sacred-texts.com/grim/bcm/index.htm first published in 1913.