Initiation & the Pilgrimage of the Fool [Setting Sail]
“This town don’t feel mine
I’m fast to get away far
I dressed you in her clothes
Now drive me far away
It feels good to know you’re all mine
Now drive me far away
I don’t care where, just far away.”
~Deftones – Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away)
“Unfortunately, the mythic side of man is given short shrift nowadays. He can no longer create fables. As a result, a great deal escapes him; for it is important and salutary to speak also of incomprehensible things. Such talk is like the telling of a good ghost story, as we sit by the fireside and smoke a pipe.” ~Carl Jung [MDR p. 300]
Donnie: Why are you wearing that stupid bunny suit?
Frank: Why are you wearing that stupid man suit?
- Donnie Darko (2001)
We have analyzed the annals of the human’s mind, as well as what the best case and worst case scenarios could hold. Now we shall analyze the quest that the human undertakes, and their initiation, putting the learned vocabulary and principles into some practice. But first, it is important to become acquainted with the psychological shadow—that which is entirely unknown and misunderstood to the person. Perhaps the most classic modern interpretation of the Jungian shadow—as well as the most extreme interpretation—lies in Forteanism and Fortean investigation. Charles Fort was a researcher of the early twentieth century that made extended efforts to investigate anomalous scientific phenomena, his greatest work perhaps being the Book of the Damned, first published in 1919.
The book’s title was not any sort of lean towards demonology or black magick, and, in fact, it was actually meant to be an attack aimed at the materialism of modern science. Here, within this book, Fort provided hundreds of documented accounts that outright disproved materialism without exception. On top of it all, Fort did not seek to provide any sort of religious worldview. In fact, Fort’s worldview rested on the foundation of the unexplainable—Forteanism marks an acceptance and even an anticipation of the unexplainable. Perhaps the only Fortean tenant is the belief that everything basically exists on a scale of Cosmic Weirdness, ranging from less weird to unfathomably bizarre. Surely these outlandish and mind-jarring Fortean investigations should be taken with a grain of salt, since Fort is merely an aggregator of this data and not a witness to it, but it creates quite a large shadow of a doubt. When considering the Fortean investigations of the modern-day, such as people like the late JC Johnson and his organization Crypto Four Corners (investigating Fortean phenomena of the cryptozoological nature), a person can note how these realms of mythology, folklore, and superstition have never really left the human of today’s world. They have only morphed a bit. Other notable Fortean investigators were Jim Keith and the legendary John Keel, author of bizarre nonfiction Fortean novel, The Mothman Prophecies, which eventually became the basis for the movie with Richard Gere.
As for the concept of initiation, it is carefully calculated encounter with the person’s inner psychological shadow—it is a showdown that the whole town is whispering about. Initiation classically implements both ceremony and ritual—ceremony being a repeated state of affairs, and ritual being the specific details within the ceremony. A neophyte’s initiation into the Mysteries of Egypt and Greece (which are often the most highly acknowledged initiation rites throughout historical record) was a memetic “psycho-drama”, meaning that it was a dramatic, essentially theatric piece that was meant to invoke certain psychological tests of physical, mental, and moral rigor, and these psychological tests were constructed to symbolically, archetypally represent the psychological dilemma/situation that they were playing up and testing. It was, in a literal sense, designed to be a symbolic gateway into the mind of the neophyte, so that only the purest of them would be able to navigate their way. From a traditional standpoint of analytic psychology, the mystery initiations (and in a broader sense, all cultural and religious rites of initiation) at their core, are a maze of hypnotic cues and suggestions coupled with physical obstacles that were to test everything that the candidate had inside of him. But it was not all a trick of the imagination either, for there were many opportunities during the theatrical stages of the initiation where the obstacles became lethal, and sometimes, if the candidate failed a certain portion of the test, they were executed. Here, with its potent psychodynamic allegories, we may still find relevance in the idea of sacrifice—as a sacrifice of the self—more aptly, the ego.
“…a rite of initiation is supposed to change the innermost nature of the initiate and thereby make him or her a new person… Esoteric discourses, and I suggest that this includes esoteric rituals of initiation as well, are essentially interpretative. It is through an act of interpretation of the experience of the ritual, and the ritual as such, that the ritual of initiation becomes an initiation in the strict sense of the word. The interaction of experience and interpretation is essential to the understanding of rituals of initiation. Without the experience, there is nothing but meaningless symbols for the esotericist to interpret, and without the interpretation the experience fails to become initiatic,” writes Professor Henrik Bogdan in his work, Western Esotericism and Rituals of Initiation [p.47].
To further understand the details to come, let us consider a table I have developed of the basic tenants proposed in Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces, detailing the archetypal hero’s journey. Specifically, note the aspects of initiation, although initiation cannot fully be appreciated until its context is found within the entire journey and used to actualize the adventure.
The Adventure of the Hero:
- Call to Adventure—tales of the sea
- Refusal of the Call—obligations of the land
- Supernatural Aid—seaward map discovered, riches implied
- Crossing of the First Threshold—attaining the equipment, the threshold of mystery and peril
- The Belly of the Whale—setting out to sea; swallowed by the unknown, where the hero appears to have died; self-annihilation or the point of no-return.
- Road of Trials—the perils of the waves; encountering the shadow. meeting the monster, dragon, hydra, and having to slay it
- The Meeting with the Goddess (or God)— finding the dive site; the polarization beyond the shadow (for men this implies the encounter with the anima). After the trials of the shadow, the sacred alchemical marriage becomes an opportunity. Campbell notes that womankind symbolically represents the totality of what can be known.
- Woman as the Temptress—descent downward, slowly. the unconscious mind as a gambit, leading towards reconciliation. In the sacred alchemical marriage, the woman represents life, and man the knower of that life.
- Atonement with the Father— Feet on the seabed, dive site reached. An inner awakening, epiphany of the necessity of transmutation. Essentially, this means the exit from the qliphoth, Thamiel, and entry into an atonement, reconciliation with the father at Kether, which is the threshold of transpersonality.
- Apotheosis—sacred artifacts discovered at the dive site; transmutation, transpersonality achieved, gnosis, illumination. It was very common to show gods as hermaphrodites in ancient society, showing the union of opposites—depolarization—and the achievement of the alchemical marriage within the self.
- The Ultimate Boon – A treasure chest of gold discovered near the artifacts. Inner awakening is incorporated and built upon to new heights, positive meta-spaces are accessed. It is the construction of Solomon’s temple, a banquet of the gods, the alchemical elixir. This is where transpersonal healing occurs, at the point beyond Kether, where the state of Dante’s vision brought him to the Celestial Rose.
- Refusal of the Return—the dive chamber’s delay. either a sense of jadedness or ostracization due to the lessons learned, or even a self-doubt.
- The Magic Flight – entering the dive chamber. the magic carpet ride, where the hero is miraculously aided by their supernatural guides; the redemptive qualities that are found within the shadow.
- Rescue from Without— ascent and return to the boat. acceptance of family, community; Red Ridinghood rescued from the wolf by the hunter.
- The Crossing of the Return Threshold—the sail back to land—Odysseus’ adventure home after the Trojan war. Incorporation of the new self into the life left behind. Bringing the knowledge attained to the community or returning home from Neverland.
- Master of Two Worlds—tying up at the dock. the balance of the transpersonal meta-spaces within the relevance of mundane life.
- Freedom to Live—no more sea legs; devil’s contract now void, neuroses obsolete. Peace found through wisdom and discernment. The pleasant quietness of the wiseman.
Today’s day and age marks the burdensome existential dilemma of the highly personalized, psychodynamic self-initiation, where nearly all of ancient man’s rites of passage have eroded. Overall, each person’s salvation must come from within them first, before it may ever come from elsewhere.
For my friends and I growing up in Alaska, we sought out our own initiation in some very unconventional, yet still very archetypal ways. Barely into our early twenties, living in Anchorage, Alaska, where the winters are long, brutally cold and seemingly endless, we forged a brotherhood—we began to test the boundaries of what we knew.
See, we grew up in a place where women were treated like sacred artifacts. There was this strange cabin-fever effect of being cooped up inside for most of the winter that brought a flock of men to a single beautiful woman at any given time. Granted, this is how any beautiful woman is treated anywhere, but in Alaska, there was more of an immediate desperation—especially in the summer. Men were constantly fumbling over one another trying to get a chance with this woman or that one, and it often seemed to come across very literally as if you were waiting in line—or even waiting in a mosh pit.
Moreover, we grew up in a place where the sun was treated like a sacred artifact. In some places of Alaska, such as Barrow, there are over two months of darkness with no light in the winter, and sometimes nearly three months without a sunset in the summers. Where I lived, it wasn’t nearly as bad, but still very wearying. The Winter Solstice in my hometown, right outside of Anchorage, capped at about five hours of sunlight that day. During the summer Solstice, we get about five hours of night, and this is hardly even a night, but more of a twilight dusk. In my childhood, it was fairly common to see black trash bags duct-taped to all the windows of a house. These people weren’t shut-ins, they just couldn’t sleep with the sun out.
Likewise, seasonal winter depression was a community effect, and something that everyone realized that they had to combat with the elements if they wanted to live in Alaska long-term. For some people, the seasonal depression was nothing more than lethargy, some apathy, and more of a willingness to eat junk food and watch movies. For others, it was a gripping loneliness and isolation that seemed entirely magnified by the ice, snow, and darkness. That, and the fact that the Alaskan wildlife in the winter is nonexistent—not a bird’s chip or an insect’s hum. Every once in a while you might see a moose on the side of the road. It was a common prescription that everyone find a hobby in the winters to keep sane—and this hobby should preferably be something somewhat productive. Oftentimes people settled for video games and movies, or even sex and drugs, but Alaska is also known for its beautiful and unique artistry. Having lived there for twenty years, I can very much say that the coldness and isolation of the winter season very much distills a unique space of clarity and insight with artistic endeavors—if the seasonal depression is combated successfully.
My friends and I took our opportunities with the women where we could, but deep into the winters, when we were single and all the ladies were snuggling up with the man they had chosen for their social hibernation, we unwittingly forged the ceremonial bond that grew to be called the Beaujolais Lodge of the Blue Moose. If there is such an official masonic lodge with any similar name, I have never heard of it, and the name was coined with a tongue-in-cheek nature, meant to be extremely ironic since we all were initially very interested in the idea that Freemasons might be running the American government system.
Truthfully, so many of the memories in the Beaujolais Lodge were not exactly productive—plenty of it was fairly counter-productive, but that was the beauty of it. Here, in the basement of my uncle’s blue house, which had a moose skull on the front balcony, and had moose skulls lining the fence of the backyard on both sides (all of which my uncles had hunted), we truly began to learn about ourselves, who we wanted to be, and how we might go about becoming those things we dreamt of. Here, we found a strange confluence of young adult cynicism and bitterness, mixed with a willingness to experiment and to learn, and sealed off with endless talks of conspiracy theories and metaphysics over hours of passing the cannabis around.
When we entered into the basement of the house—the true meeting place—we entered into a meeting ground of unspoken oaths. We all knew we were brothers, and that we were on a quest of some kind, but we weren’t sure of what kind. All we knew is that the world was a fucked-up, confusing place with lots of things we didn’t understand, and we wanted to make some sense of it. We had to understand how we fit into it all. Amidst talk of political conspiracy and spirituality, we talked about our lives, our hopes and fears and the things we kept pent up. Real therapy happened through our comradery. It was like a passive-aggressive fight club. Or better yet, we were all like half-baked spiritual goonies searching for One-Eyed Willy’s alchemical treasure.
All the jokes aside, we took it fairly seriously when we entered the lodge. There was no lead. However, there are some caveats to that. Since it was the place I lived, I naturally had to be friends with everyone who was a member, otherwise they wouldn’t be a member. But the roster accumulated organically, I did not literally choose anyone and people were usually allowed to bring guests anyway. And, importantly, my house only became the meeting place because the two uncles I lived with didn’t care a bit about what I did in that basement so long as it wasn’t highly addictive or extremely loud. Sometimes they would even join us on occasion, discussing conspiracy theories with us and debating metaphysics with us through their classical Catholicism, bringing many beers with them. These conversations were some of the first I ever had where different opinions on politics and religion were brought, words were even shouted, and yet everyone always smiled, and even when there were disagreements, we still always managed to leave on the same overall page. Somehow, in our stupors of inebriation, we found it easier to relate to one another’s viewpoints without selling our own personal views short.
The basic tenant of our lodge consisted as such: BYOD, bring your own drugs. It was a community effort—you weren’t allowed to show up empty-handed (but you were allowed a certain number of passes). Bring some beers, some bowls of weed, hash, coffee, some snacks, or at the very least some cigarettes or rolling papers. Be respectful of other people’s viewpoints, but be prepared to debate, and be prepared for your ideas to be called into question. It was a friendly chess game that consisted of everything we had read since we last gathered, and we all read quite a bit throughout the winters. There was also an unspoken rule that what was discussed in the blue lodge was not taken out of the blue lodge. Throughout all of this, I was writing articles online for The Last American Vagabond that covered various political topics and archetypal psychology, so it wasn’t a secret that my friends and I were all into some outlandish topics, but as for the specifics and personal details of what we discussed at those meetings, they were never taken to the outside world. There was a safety in that basement that was truly mystical.
There were about fifteen of us at one point. There were never more than eight people who gathered at any given time, and usually the general maximum number was five or, maybe seven. The meetings weren’t scheduled on a weekly basis or anything. It would usually happen with someone calling someone, and then those two people would call everyone to see who was free and wanted to meet at the lodge.
We would all get in a circle of chairs, turn on some Jedi Mind Tricks or Non Phixion, maybe Tool or Deftones, or some Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, or Johnny Cash—or maybe even some drum-n-bass, or classical music like Chopin. We got high and debated, engaging in deep rhetoric over the topics we found compelling, fascinating, or pressingly urgent. Sometimes it was about trivial things like women or cartoons to start with—a little warm-up—but would always systemically move its way into political conspiracy, the ancient Mystery rites of Egypt and Greece, the ancient Gnostics and modern Freemasons, Buddhism, Christianity, Paganism, Kabbalah, Hinduism, et cetera. We talked about what these ancient teachings could mean to science, and if there was any correlation. We talked about psychology and how the Buddha, Jesus, Hermes and others were like ancient psychologists, telling people how to use their minds in better ways. We passionately debated ideas of the afterlife through heavily researched theoretical physics, psychology, neuroscience, all coupled with metaphysics. We speculated about karma, angels and demons, gods and goddesses, aliens, men in black, cryptids, parallel universes—you name it, we likely brought it up. Nothing was off-limits.
There was certainly a juvenile glorification of drugs, and at times we foolishly fancied ourselves something like little hippie Hunter Thompsons. The really hard drugs were never mixed in, but we made sure to have a smörgåsbord of intoxicants all the same. Alcohol, valerian root, St. John’s wort, kava-kava, kratom, psilocybin and LSD (sometimes both at the same time), plenty of coffee, so much cannabis, tobacco, hashish, melatonin pills, salvia, sage, and even opium on occasion. I’m sure I’m missing some in this list. And, of course, not all of these things were used at once. But oftentimes many options were present for a variety in choice.
For nearly two years, my friends and I would meet up and have psychedelic experiences maybe every other month or so, give or take. Sometimes the whole party of four or five guys would eat mushrooms, sometimes only one or two guys would, but we would all take drugs of some kind. I have personally not touched a psychedelic in many years. I have no intentions of it either, although I can’t say I would refuse if I was truly struck by an inspiration to do so. The vast majority of my brothers at the lodge have also not taken psychedelics since their meetings in that basement.
Concerning the good and bad of the psychedelic chemical: I only recommend its use to someone as a last resort for therapy. For any other reason it is not advisable. Science has shown without question that psychedelic chemicals are a major double-edged sword—they open the floodgates of the unconscious mind, and this can either be very useful or very scarring. We found both use and scars but learned from our mistakes for the better—and really, finding use from the scars is what psychedelic therapy is all about in any case.
Having its origins even before Greek mythology, the most common example of the Church’s distortion of science into the archetypal components of Satan is through the tale of the titan, Prometheus. Briefly explained, Zeus condemned Prometheus to eternity chained to the outskirts of Mount Olympus, where his organs were pecked out by birds every day of his existence. At night, he regenerated, only to be visited the next morning by the hungry birds for eternity evermore. The reason Zeus did this to Prometheus was because the titan had given the technology of fire to man against Zeus’s wishes. Prometheus had been the first “light bringer”, which not coincidently translates to Lucifer in Latin. Any person familiar with the Bible’s story of God and Lucifer will take care to note the obvious and unmistakable similarities between Lucifer and Prometheus, and Yahweh and Zeus. Undeniably, the Christian rendition is only that—a rendition.
Ultimately, fire is the allegory for technology as we know it today—whether it be rubbing two sticks together, combining food ingredients, building microchips for smart-phones, religious ceremonial rites, psychotherapy, or consuming a psychedelic chemical. Fire is the ability for innovation, and anyone in our common era can see how technology and innovation have both saved humanity and eventually burnt humanity. The symbolism was created with the positive and the negative aspects of fire in mind, and it was considered that man’s connection to the cosmos was his ability to determine his own responsibilities that fire brought to him. It was a specifically Gnostic idea that had been fostered first by the ancient Mystery priests. When the Catholic Church came around, they chopped out all the positive aspects of the symbolism, attributing them to God, and emboldened the negative through Lucifer. Fire’s ability to burn, scar, and even char can be see through electronic technological advancement, spirituality and religion, and the psychedelic experience itself.
From the Gospels of Mark (6:14–29) and Matthew (14:1–12) we may find a poignant psychodynamic allegory for what is undergone in the mind when a psychedelic chemical is consumed. King Herod had imprisoned John the Baptist for condemning his marriage to Herodias, but Herod was hesitant to have John killed. However, Herodias asked her daughter, Salome to dance for Herod and his friends in order to request a favor from Herod—this favor ultimately being to behead John the Baptist.
Herod and Herodias represent the union of the Divine Mother and Father archetypes, the conscious and unconscious. Salome represents the anima in men specifically and potentially even the animus for women when taken in the sense of a parable. That John is beheaded holds extreme psychodynamic significance in terms of egoism, martyrdom, and self-sacrifice unto a greater cause—the cause of gnosis, truth, wisdom. When we consume these psychedelic chemicals, we allow Salome to dance because of the whispers from Herodias, the unconscious mind, and naturally Herod, the conscious mind follows its instincts appeases Herodias and Salome. Throughout this all, John will inevitably be beheaded—and this can either become a very good or very bad state of psychodynamic affairs. It can either lead to a state of transpersonalization or depersonalization, meaning a great trip or a bad trip.
This means that we will only receive honest value from a psychedelic chemical when we have already become disenchanted by life. If a person is not already disillusioned , then the psychedelic chemicals are liable to do just this very thing to them—thus beheading the hero within us and leaving us without the capacity to resurrect him. But, if we have already become disenchanted and robbed a sense of joy in life, then there is nothing left to lose, and only something to gain. When the hero has since been decapitated, the psychedelic chemical has a greater opportunity to create a sense of self-surrender unto the situation, which can oftentimes bring about profound transpersonal insight.
Of all the beautiful and asinine things done at our lodge, we had one specific ceremony that we never intended to ritualize: that of the pilgrimage into the woods after consumption. Furthermore, I think it is important to note that none of us planned any of this—but it all began happening organically. Quickly we felt like we were on the precipice of something with the things we had done, and so we continued periodically, as if our psychedelic walks in the woods was one, long Dungeons & Dragons campaign that we felt compelled to see through to the end. Here was where the ritualization began in the archetypal sense of the word, where we started intentionally doing these things to illicit certain mental processes. We were always aware that psychedelics were tapping into the archetypal unconscious mind—but perhaps midway through our pseudo-fraternal time together, we began to fully realize the gravity of what we were participating in, as we now digested concepts like Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces and Jungian individuation.
When we would take these psychedelic chemicals, we would always do so after the sun had set. We would consume the drug, often brewing the mushrooms in a tea since the fungus was our favorite choice, and we would often add many things to this mushroom tea like: cannabis oil, valerian root, kratom, et cetera. We felt akin to the ancient pagan alchemists boiling a magickal cauldron. Of course, anthropological records show that this is exactly what these types of cauldrons were meant for: psychotropic brews that would cause ecstatic visions within the one who partook. We would drink the tea in our usual circle in the basement and pass the cannabis, talking our usual talks of metaphysics and such. Then, when the drugs began to really take hold, we would get up and go the vast wilderness behind my uncle’s house for a walk. Sometimes it was extremely cold but tolerable, and during the time of spring and fall it was certainly the most mystical. In summertime the woods did not see much of us.
Behind my neighborhood, was a wilderness that stretched for miles with trails and creeks and trees all around. There was a grocery store close by to scare off any big animals, but the forest was so thick that you couldn’t see any buildings, and at night it was dead quiet. Plus, living in Alaska meant no snakes, no parasites like ticks, et cetera, and so a hippie on mushrooms could trounce through the woods totally care-free. And, when it was all said and done, we had no more than a ten-minute walk back to the lodge. No one else was ever in the woods but us, and we would go there and lose ourselves to the majesty. We would sometimes talk, and we would often stare up at the sky and count stars.
However, if we found our true selves in that lodge, the woods were where we truly lost ourselves. Not only is it the classic allegory that begins Dante’s great Divine Comedy, but the woods archetypally signify the unconscious and its shadow overall. Throughout human history, the woods are said to be the dwelling place of ghouls and goblins, witches, and evil spirits. Here we often came into confrontation with our demons. The overall purpose was for therapy, to purge what had been ailing us mentally and to process it, but sometimes it wasn’t so simple. Sometimes it was downright bizarre and left us with unanswered questions that remain present to this day. We called this ceremony the Pilgrimage of the Fool, named after the tarot card of The Fool and what it represents. An old Taoist saying teaches that the thousand-mile journey begins with the first step, and The Fool teaches that the first step is always made with folly. But there is advantage in understanding this folly, for those who don’t take the initiative to begin their quest will never go anywhere. We must make mistakes to learn, because time is too precious for a person to wait until everything lines up perfectly. We must seize the day and be ready to account for our foolishness. And this is exactly what we did on these psychedelic pilgrimages into the wilderness of our unconscious minds.
Joseph Campbell wrote about this very subject in The Hero With a Thousand Faces, stating, “A blunder—apparently the merest chance—reveals an unsuspected world, and the individual is drawn into a relationship with forces that are not rightly understood. As Freud has shown, blunders are not the merest chance. They are the result of suppressed desires and conflicts. They are ripples on the surface of life, produced by unsuspected springs. And these may be very deep—as deep as the soul itself.” [p.46]
Throughout his entire career, John Keel chased Fortean phenomena across the country, reporting it at that finite time in American history where print newspaper and basic radio broadcast were the biggest mediums of information exchange, television even being somewhat secondary still. People wanted the sensational as always. The modern man’s thirst for a living mythology was just as present as the ancient one, and through Fortean investigation we find modern culmination of paranormal research like ufology, transpersonal entities, cryptozoology, men in black, dimensional travel and hidden physics, et cetera, falling directly into comparison with ancient spiritual traditions and beliefs. Keel was at the fore front of this research, and although he died a poor man by practical measure, he lived such a fascinating and unprecedentedly Fortean life.
He followed anything, whether it be aliens, cryptids, et cetera, and Keel actually had a very esoteric approach to his research. He often looked to demonology, superstition, and archetypal folklore to draw comparisons to his modern Fortean reporting. Keel didn’t even think that aliens were from other planets—he thought they were earthly phenomena of the etheric variety, meaning that they were something autonomous, but could come across very different depending on the person who witnessed it. Keel was also known to be one of the initial promoters of the men-in-black phenomena, and he did not think that the men-in-black were governmental or even human—he considered them as part of this etheric phenomena and for good reason. The eyewitness accounts of the men-in-black throughout The Mothman Prophecies and other Keel research are truly bizarre and devoid of human nature.
Concerning The Mothman Prophecies, it is easily Keel’s magnum opus—the culmination of his career. Not only does the mothman have an overwhelming amount of eyewitness reports over nearly a year throughout the town of Point Pleasant West Virginia, these reports detailed the mothman, ufology of all kinds, and some of the most bizarre men in black stories that have ever been written. Keel’s overall best guess at the mothman’s meaning was that of prophecy—it was as if mothman was an autonomous mechanism of the unconscious projection of the townspeople. For the end of 1966 and nearly the entirety of 1967, the townspeople experienced truly unexplainable phenomena that was extremely consistent, and dramatically ceased all manifestation when the collapse of the small town’s Silver Bridge killed 46 people and injured many more. Perhaps through the wake of such a tragedy in such a small tight-knit town, tied together by aspects of fate and timing that we may not ever understand, the townspeople somehow began experiencing transphysical phenomena.
If archetypes within the mind can lead to a transpersonal state of consciousness, then Keel ultimately proposed the theoretical likelihood that these archetypes within the mind can be transphysical in specific cases, where the mind has such a vivid hallucination that it can actually leave physical marks—like a priest showing stigmata, as an example. Michael Talbot’s research novel, The Holographic Universe, provides unique and thorough investigations into these types of transphysical phenomena, relating phenomena of the human mind to the holographic principle by way of theoretical physics. While Keel certainly did not believe that these things were merely hallucination, he didn’t consider these things real in the basic sense of the word either. He himself was the first one to admit that there were certain things that humans just couldn’t explain, but they could observe—thus mythology lives on in new ways through the classical archetypes.
How Forteanism ultimately impacted us was the idea of the hypnotic, Jungian projection of the unconscious mind—and how if the mothman was a symbolic prophecy, then what we experienced in the woods had at least the potential to reach the same variety of personal insight in a way similar to dreaming in waking life. I am not claiming that the drug had a minimal effect on me, but rather that the hallucinations were extremely poignant and carried meanings like those found in dreams. It was in the woods under these psychedelic trances that my friends and I stumbled onto some truly Fortean phenomena. I cannot personally attribute any physical marks to any of our experiences, but in a couple cases cases, it was entirely impossible to discern if what we were seeing was real or hallucinatory—even to this day. There were at least three occasions where many of my friends and I—self-admittedly very high but not in stupefied, we still had our basic rationale—watched stars dance in the sky for hours. We all described the same thing as we saw it happen, so to verify it. We came to the conclusion that it had to either be UFOs, secret government craft, or some sort of group-mind borderline-hypnogogic hallucination, because it was indescribably vivid and obvious. Even if it was in our minds, it was something—we spent hours observing and trying to verify, and as silly as we may have looked, it wasn’t us blindly agreeing with one another. What we saw synced. Once, we even saw a UFO fly only a hundred feet or so above the trees we had climbed. It was a triangle with blue and red lights that moved silently, and it baffled us all—and this one sighting was only after cannabis and alcohol. No psychedelics. This was perhaps one of the only truly Fortean encounters I have ever had. To this day I am not sure what this was, but I am inclined to believe that it was a government craft of some kind, since Alaska is known for its military bases—the largest one being right outside of Anchorage. Either way, I ultimately cannot classify these sightings as anything other than Fortean.
On two occasions, friends completely lost their entire sense of ego in those woods, forgetting who they were entirely or what they were. Other times, my friends saw people who weren’t there. There were a couple of people who had full-blown out-of-body experiences by walking in those woods, and a couple of others came across vivid hallucinations of spirit animals, like grizzly bears. One friend once became convinced that we were all men-in-black and ran away, thankfully making it back to his home safely. Some friends hallucinated going on an epic Lord of the Rings-style mythic quest as we trounced, and others had hallucinations of past lives, their karmic limitations, and grand epiphanies of what they wanted to do in this life. Some friends had trees speak to them deep wisdom that they have never forgotten. It is important to note, though, that while some of these experiences were cryptic and sometimes eerie, many of them were beautiful and deeply inspiring—and all of them had something to teach for the better if we were capable of seeing this goodness.
Since these woods were behind my house, I naturally felt a responsibility to make sure that no one had to call the police or an ambulance to my property, and soon it morphed into something much more than that. I felt like I was fulfilling a desire of my inner nature, healing myself by helping others heal. For my friends, I played make-believe and acted as a type of shamanic tour guide through our ceremonial walk in the woods, coaxing them out of their shells. Here, I felt strangely at home; I felt like an alchemist in his laboratory as I walked through the woods, and these experiences deeply catalyzed things within me. Amidst the pain I experienced from a depersonalized sense of my own self—a pain I only discussed to my friends in roundabout ways— I began to reinstate my new self through my own archetypal initiation in these woods. It was here especially that I learned the power of prayer, ceremony, ritual, and hypnosis, all by accident. (In fact, as I learned more and more that psychedelics were merely a conduit for the facets of hypnosis, et cetera, I eventually began refraining from the consumption of the chemicals and working with the mechanisms of the mind in sobriety.)
At the end of it all, I would sometimes literally have to herd my friends like cattle as they ambled through the woods, seemingly on a different planet (and that is not meant to be derogatory—it still makes me laugh to reminisce). Often, people weren’t that stupefied, but it was not uncommon for stupefaction to be absolute, and in any case, we would eventually make it back to my house. From here, the ceremony would usually go as such: we would sit in silence for a little while, catch our breaths and warm back up. Then we would smoke and might begin discussing what we had seen in the woods, or we might turn on some music, play with tarot cards, et cetera. But once we had settled and felt comfortable, we would inevitably begin talking about what we had seen that night—the talking helped to strengthen the memory and make it easier to analyze when we were all sober the next day. After some spirited conversation, we would likely go back to what we had done before the conversation, and whatever it was, we always made sure to celebrate the finer things in life before we drifted off to sleep. It was always important and necessary to balance the beautiful and terrifying things we had seen in the woods with some of the realities of comedy or good friends, et cetera. In the morning, bodies would arise from floors, from couches and the corners of the bed, and really wherever they could be fit sometimes. Not once did we ever have a problem with neighbors, law enforcement, or ambulances—nothing even came close.
Interestingly, what marked the beginning of the end of the Beaujolais Lodge of the Blue Moose was my encounter with the wise and curious character known as Jan Irvin. Traditionally running his website under the name Gnostic Media, Irvin has recently made the change to Logos Media after many years of subsequent condemnation of psychedelics for their CIA related inspirations and the downright lies within the psychedelic community. I had the privilege of interviewing Jan Irvin and corresponded with him through email for some time. Lately, we have not spoken. I am quite sure he would disagree with many points throughout this book and my research, but I tend to agree with Jan’s conclusions and find his research very thorough and oftentimes conclusive. However, I personally think he tends to throw the baby out with the bath water by calling spiritualism a sense of New Age psychedelic brainwash. Not all spiritualism is part of a psychedelic New Age movement promoted by the Esalen Institute. But, as I said, I don’t disagree with Irvin’s research, and truly it woke my friends and I up to the truest nature of the psychedelic double-edged sword. It was here that some of my friends as well reached out to Jan through email, and suddenly his research became the focus of our discussions. Second guessing ourselves, we began wondering what we could keep and maintain as real transpersonal experiences towards a sense of gnosis, and in which ways we had continued to lie to ourselves with psychedelics. It was here that we had to discern our relationships with the Trees of Life and Death. Commendations go out to Jan Irvin, even he would disagree with a lot of my own conclusions.
In the end, none of us became hippie burn-outs that thought we were “woke”. After our time spent with each other at that lodge, we learned to internalize our experiences—and were learned a sense of gravity about life that was gripping, humbling, and sometimes humiliating. But that all made us see the beauty of life for what it really was and gave us more of a reason to chase that beauty.
We eventually dropped most of the focus on the things we couldn’t verify or control, like a multi-thousand-year conspiracy, aliens in UFO’s, other transphysical phenomena, and walking about in the woods of our minds. We either went to college, found skilled trades, had families or traveled the world. And yet all these Fortean topics tend to remain points of interest for us all throughout the years—old habits die hard. But we all did something, and we are still young in comparison. We won’t be written about in textbooks, but we sought to become men in a postmodern age that doesn’t have any cultural room left for real rites of passage. We made our own system and it was imperfect, but it worked. Together, we archetypally initiated ourselves unto the brotherhood of the Beaujolais Lodge of the Blue Moose, and didn’t get stuck there, but used it as a stepping-stone or a guiding arrow for the initial foundations of our own quests.
Furthermore, we have all become internally spiritual in one way or the other. Our ideas often tend to differ in specifics, but the core remains the same. Any one of us can pick up the phone or get on social media, contact the other, and pick up right where we left off about conspiracies or metaphysics. Our ideas have matured since then, but to this day we will always know certain things: like how politicians are corrupted with big business and secret societies (rather than a multi-thousand-year conspiracy, I see it more in terms of evolutionary psychology and patterns of maladaptive psychopathy). We also know there are archetypal, transpersonal concepts that go beyond the mundane life and average consciousness; and that humans must have the serenity to accept the things they cannot change, the courage to change the things they can, and crucially: the wisdom to know the difference.
I assert, as this novel will further unfold, that the religious institutions of the Mysteries are much less important here than the impact they played on man’s archetypal unconscious through memetic exchange. It is not that we should deify the ancient initiation rites of cults, but we should note the archetypal, primal significance this plays in anthropology, psychology, and sociology. Among other things, it has been noted the Mystery rites were a clear mode of state propaganda and religious indoctrination. But, they are also the archetypal components of what I propose is the act of self-initiation through psychodynamic neurophenomenology—i.e. accessing the ancient knowledge of man through archetypal, memetic symbols.
The next chapter will continue to focus on the personally insightful, self-prophetic nature of symbols by looking at the classical divination arts of astrology, numerology, and tarot in a psychodynamic sense.
Chapter Five Coming Soon…
Chapter Four Bibliography:
Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism (ARAS). The Book of Symbols. Taschen. 2010.
Bogdan, Hendrik. Western Esotericism and Rituals of Initiation. State University of New York Press. 2008.
Carry, Henry (translator). Alighieri, Dante. The Divine Comedy of Dante. Sacred Texts. http://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/dante/index.htm First published in 1888.
Charles, R.H. (translator). The Book of Enoch. Sacred Texts. http://www.sacred-texts.com/bib/boe/ . First published in 1917.
Campbell, Joseph. The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Princeton University. 2004. First published in 1949.
Fort, Charles. The Book of the Damned. Sacred Texts. http://www.sacred-texts.com/fort/damn/index.htm . First published in 1919.
Gennep, Arnold van. The Rites of Passage. University of Chicago Press. 1961. First published in 1909.
Goethe, Wolfgang von. Kaufmann, Walter (translator). Anchor. 1962. First part first published in 1806. Second part first published in 1832.
Grof, Stanislav. LSD: Doorway to the Numinous: The Groundbreaking Psychedelic Research into Realms of the Human Unconscious. Park Street. 2009.
Grof, Stanislav. The Holotropic Mind: The Three Levels of Human Consciousness and How They Shape Our Lives. Harper One. 1993. First pubished in 1992.
Hall, Manly P. The Secret Teachings of All Ages (Reader’s Edition). TarcherPerigee. 2003. Originally published in 1928.
Irvin, Jan. Logos Media. https://logosmedia.com/SecretHistoryMagicMushroomsProject#HowDarwinHuxley 2012
James, William. The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature. Gutenberg.org. Electronically published in 2014. http://www.gutenberg.org/files/621/621-h/621-h.html . 2014. First published in 1917.
Jung, Carl G. The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious. Princeton University Press. 1959.
Jung, Carl G. Man and His Symbols. Dell Publishing. 1968.
Jung, Carl G. Jaffe, Aniela. Memories, Dreams, Reflections. Vintage. 1965.
Keel, John A. Disneyland of the Gods. Illuminet Press. 1995. First published in 1988.
Keel, John A. The Mothman Prophecies. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. 2015. First published in 1975.
Mead, GRS (translator). The Corpus Hermeticum. 2017. Andesite. First published in 1906.
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.
Talbot, Michael. The Holographic Universe. Harper Perennial. 1991.