The Rat Trap Working–A Journey through the Underworld

When I look back at my 32 years on this planet, I like to separate my time here into three different lives. My childhood–from the time I was a baby until the end of high school.  My young adulthood–the time in which I spent trying to figure out who I was. And lastly, the life I’m currently living. My current incarnation arose late last year after realizing that I was not only capable of becoming Adept, but that I actually had developed into one.

A couple weeks ago, I had a huge “a-ha moment” with regards to how I interact with people. Communicating has never been my strong suit. And as I’ve gotten older, I’ve found that it’s become even more difficult to speak with others on a one to one level. The majority of this problem is grounded in the fact that amidst the confusion of my past lives, I chose to look inward and journey through the depths of the Underworld.

As of February 2017, I am surrounded on all sides by Tucson’s wall-to-wall corporate sprawls filled to the brim with white upper middle class suburbanites just looking to raise their families, punch the clock, and consume. Here, everything has novelty. Shitty black garbage bags with yellow ties. Shattered cavities of plastic and torn shiny paper. Smog and tumble weeds of blue solo cups and rusted nails. The sad loneliness of Panda Express in front of the television with the family on a Sunday evening.

“God’s not dead.” they say.

“God’s not dead!”

“Do you hear us?”

“God’s not dead!”

Yeah–okay. Whatever you say.

I’m living in the middle of an airborne toxic event. Suburban Tucson is a bad parody of a Don Delillo novel on expired LSD laced with bath salts. People here are just looking to live out their lives refusing to ask the tough questions that might change each and every one of them irrevocably.

“God’s not dead!” they scream, running away from the rabid black-toothed rats gnawing away at their insides.

“God’s not dead! HE’S NOT DEAD.”

It takes a lot of energy to ignore the ferocious biting of rats. They will rapidly tear away at everything you are or ever will be should you do nothing to stop their treacherous advance. Some of postmodernity’s favorite remedies for ignoring this pain come in many shapes and sizes, all beautifully packaged for your consumption. Amphetamines and antidepressants. Wild Turkey and Ambien. Subway punchcards and Starbucks. Bad movies and aspartame. Painkillers and suicide.

polyp_cartoon_still_not_happyDon’t get me wrong–if that’s the life you choose then so be it. Who am I to judge? My situation is unique to me. Just don’t expect me to refer to that type of life as an “enthralling state of existence”.

I vividly recall what rats gnawing away at me felt like. It was incessant and raw. As a young adult, I remember the rats of my childhood eating away at my insides. They reminded me that deep down I hurt. That I had no idea who I was. I needed to get away from them in order to heal the open sores they had caused. 

When I was little, my life was rigid, structured, and controlled. At times, I remember becoming paralyzed by anxiety in an effort to save face in the presence of my father. As I moved on into my next life as a young adult, I began to explore the possibilities of my new found freedom. Because I grew up in an environment of suppression, I found it incredibly easy to obsess over the things I could never do. My lifetime as a young adult was very short. It was a positive experience, but ultimately, met its end in a tragic death of my choosing.  

Classic Kung Fu revenge films and Westerns all share the same basic story structure. The main character begins living a decent or happy life. They then suffer through an intense tragedy. Usually this takes place in the form of their entire family being murdered. This sets into motion the protagonist’s need for a journey through wilderness and/or period of intense training away from society. They then return to society in an effort to just “get along.” Of course this never works out. There’s always a few bloody fight scenes along the way. In the climax, the main character almost always achieves deadly revenge against the person or force who caused their initial tragedy. Lastly, the credits start to roll, and we find the main character either walking off into the sunset alone or pulling a “remember the Alamo.”

I identify with movies like “Fist of Fury” and “The Grandmaster” because I have lived out the Kung Fu revenge trope before. Because I have lived through it, I understand that language.

My journey towards this understanding began when I was seventeen. I recorded an energetic demo tape with my brother and formed my first band. When I was eighteen, we were struck with young dumb luck and signed a record contract in the pre-MySpace era. At nineteen, I toured coast-to-coast across the United States. This may sound awesome, but life back then was far from perfect. The rats of my gender identity issues still gnawed away at me underneath it all, but I was able to ignore them because I was happy. At least I thought I was. After all, I was doing what I had always dreamed of–I was a professional musician. And that’s all I ever needed!

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It wasn’t though. In 2006 my band died from my inability to ignore the rats in my closet any longer. I had a life as a musician, but what use was it if I couldn’t live out that life as myself?

In the wake of losing what promised to be a flourishing career I decided to put an end to my life as a musician and instead tour the abyss in search of myself. It was time to figure out who I was and what I wanted out of life. And the only way to figure any of that out was to approach the tough questions only I could ask: “am I capable of walking away from it all?” and, “Could I build up a new life for myself starting from less than zero?”

Realizing Capability

The first step in the long journey towards yourself begins with the realization that you are capable of crossing that lake of fire. That you are capable of doing the things you set out to do. That you can reach the very bottom of Hell at the expense of everything else in your current life. Only you can decide if you can handle the unexpected calamities that will come with taking those first few steps into the Underworld. To become yourself, you must test your capabilities. And you must develop them through the trial of journey. Keep in mind that your destination certainly matters, but all of your meaningful life changing transformations come from the journey itself. This is why it’s incredibly difficult to express what Xeper is into words. Xeper is powerful because it is shrouded behind the walls of confusion and ambiguity. And to have any sort of relationship with Xeper, you must be willing to recognize the superficial nature of what it means to be you and work your way violently inward.

The most difficult aspect to journeying the Underworld has to do with the people you meet along the way. You will meet many. But most don’t even make it past the gates. That’s because they lack the realization of capability. Many people take two steps in and turn tail–they fear for what they might find underneath it all. Some brave souls will journey with you for a time. A few of these will try to distract you from getting to where you’re headed. Fewer still will even face some of the trials you may encounter along the way by your side. Eventually though, if you’re truly determined, you will leave every one of these people behind. Not because you’re better than them, but because they are physically and spiritually incapable of journeying farther. There’s a sad rule to traveling the Underworld–the deeper you go, the less company you’ll be able to keep. As you slowly make your way to the bottom, you even begin to speak an entirely different language than all of the people on the levels above you.

I spent nine years (2006-2015) traveling the Underworld of myself. A lot of times I felt as though I was in limbo, that I wasn’t making progress. But I learned to heed the signs along the way that indicated that I was indeed capable. My journey there was punctuated with a great deal of objective personal change. I transitioned. I went to University. I decided it wasn’t for me. I hit rock bottom. I found joy in performing. I got into car crashes. I ate a lot of ramen noodles. I got my first cavity. I discovered that I was still a musician. I had life changing surgery. I moved across the country. I joined the Temple of Set.

My time as a first degree in the Temple of Set wasn’t riddled with frustration. Instead, it felt like going home for the first time in my life. It helped me to emerge from the Underworld and confront profane life in the everyday. My first degree taught me that I could arrive to new solutions to old problems, and how to apprehend new problems before they grew out of my control.

Becoming Adept doesn’t come from merely accepting yourself for who you are. That’s part of it, but it goes much further. The Adept understands that she is always capable transforming herself into someone she can truly love. For me, I couldn’t have come to this realization without traveling the Underworld for nine years. And I wouldn’t have been able to Xeper as a result of this realization without learning how to make use of the languages I learned while traveling the abyss. I accomplished this by embracing consistency in my initiatory practices which allowed me to keep the rats away and the channels of my endeavors open and awake. Both journey and consistency are integral to the development of the would-be Adept.

The Rat-Trap Working (aka Journeying the Abyss)

By Adept Nikoletta Winters

The following is a long form GBM working that has many parts to it. It’s very important to make preparations beforehand in order to execute each part efficiently. The purpose of this working is to reaffirm your genuine wants requiring you to plan for their success in the long term.

We often start and stop many things. Starting an endeavor usually begins with intense enthusiasm, but without pursuing consistency, you will be incapable of taking it further. In order to see beyond the initial realm of impulse, you must be willing to complete the motion of journeying with your endeavors as a way to express authenticity of want. It’s easy to ask yourself what you desire. It’s hard to answer why you aren’t doing the things you want to do. You want to learn Russian right? Then why the fuck aren’t you doing it? Don’t say “I don’t know,” or attribute it to laziness, lack of time, or other adult responsibilities. Excuses like these, are rats. And you actively use them to ignore your potential. You create them on the surface level and eventually they attach themselves to your daemonic self. They hold you back from chasing after the things you want. This working is engineered to exact revenge on these rats, effectively “trapping them.” If this working is performed correctly, you will have begun the process of equipping yourself with a shiny pair of capable new eyes. If you feel yourself slipping away from the things you want due to the rats of depression, apathy, or exhaustion–plan a weekend around performing this. Over the course of this working, you will actively engage with immediate manifestations of your will. You will also set into motion energies in that will aid in rooting one or perhaps several wants/desires as a powerful source of Xeper in your life. This working will require you to communicate not only with yourself, but with people around you. It is separated into six phases modeled after the Kung Fu Revenge Western trope:

  1. Peace
  2. Tragedy
  3. Journeying the Abyss
  4. Reintegration
  5. Combat
  6. Isolation

During the course of each stage pay close attention to your surroundings, how you feel, who engages with you. The only catch is that you must complete the main working in a twenty-four hour period.

BEFORE you perform the main working, you must write your own Invocation of Set. You can model it after the Invocation in the Crystal Tablet if you lack a sense of creativity, but I would ask that you at least give it the good ‘ole college try to put your own personal touch to it. The ultimate purpose of this exercise is to make an invocation that is uniquely your own. You are taking this invocation on a journey and delivering it to yourself via consistent nightly recitations of it between two days of personal power. Hint: if you do it right before bed, you’ll experience vivid and sometimes horrific dreams. Don’t be scared–that’s just your magic letting you know that your doing the work.

For me, I situated nightly recitations of my invocation over a fifteen day period from February 10th to the 25th. Both are days of significant power for me. The tenth marks the anniversary of significant progression in my gender transition, and the twenty-fifth is my birthday.

The main working occurs on your second day of power. Begin the main working in the morning or early afternoon. Dress appropriately–you’re going to be headed out for the day after performing the “Peace” phase. You won’t return until you reach the “Isolation” phase.

At the end of each phase, recite the following encouraging words in reference to experiencing the stress of Hell, the Duat, or the Underworld: “My dear, my dear, it’s not so dreadful here.”

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I pulled this phrase from Edna St. Vincent Millay’s “Prayer to Persephone.” Persephone is the queen of the Underworld and also the goddess of growth in the spring. This is vital to the working as a king or queen of the Underworld will have certainly journeyed to its depths and gained forbidden knowledge of its hidden languages. Persephone’s second aspect, of growth in spring, is equally as vital to this working. It connects the idea of the new and intense enthusiasm we experience when we first pursue the things we want to do (spring) and being able to nurture them to maturity through consistent journey (growth).

1. Open the Gate – Ring Bell x9, recite your invocation of Set, call upon the elements, drink from the graal, etc.

Recite the following:

“There are days where the sun will hide, where peace has withered, where tragic death leaves a gaping hole. There are days where you will journey to the fiery pits, and to the ends of the Earth. There will be days where you will make a return in the spring, and leave again against frozen northern winds. There will be nights where you will seek revenge, and mornings where you’ve tasted it. There are days where the sun will hide, where peace has withered, where tragic death leaves a gaping hole.”

“My dear, my dear, it’s not so dreadful here.”

2. “Peace” – Engage with something that makes you feel peaceful and relaxed. Perform it until you feel at ease. Ten minutes is the ideal amount of time for this phase. For me, I chose my favorite guided meditation and did it.

“My dear, my dear, it’s not so dreadful here.”

3. “Tragedy” – Get out of the house. If you can, visit a place of significant tragedy in your life. Discuss tragedy with a perfect stranger. Talk with a loved one about the saddest day of their life. Any one of these things will work. Get to know what tragedy is in your own world.

For me, it’s when something goes away before it’s time.

“My dear, my dear, it’s not so dreadful here.”

4. “Journeying the Abyss” – Choose a place to go that makes you uncomfortable or uneasy. I’m not asking you to pull a John McClane and walk into a room full of terrorists, but I am asking you to visit a place that gives you a sense a danger that you cannot easily leave.

I chose to visit the Underworld by going to Bisbee’s “Copper Queen Mine.” In the case of an interesting synchronicity during the course of my working, I was randomly asked by our seventy year old guide to have a seat on the “sanitary cart” in the mine. The sanitary cart was a toilet for the miners of the Copper Queen mine and was known as the “shitter” or “throne.” For the rest of the tour, our guide kept referring to me as the Queen of the mine and asked me to pay him a visit in the future. He told me “I could come back and be Queen anytime.” This was mind-blowing to me! I literally became Queen of the Underworld while the gate was open on my working. Synchronicity? Yep. Laugh out loud funny? Hell yes, but you kinda had to be there.

“My dear, my dear, it’s not so dreadful here.”

5. “Reintegration” – The key to this phase is communication. Talk to people around you. Visibly display your Pentagram of Set if you feel adventurous. If someone is wearing or saying something that strongly connects with any of your sensibilities, make a comment or start a conversation with that person.

My big reintegration moment came when I came across a guy in Bisbee dressed head to toe like a steampunk. It was a pretty radmobile getup so I told him that I “liked his outfit.” He commented on my Pentagram of Set and showed me a red ring he was wearing that also had a pentagram on it. This was a cool little moment. I ended up running into him again across town. (I think he followed me). He gave me a business card this time. Turns out he was a local entertainer who performed nightly seances on the weekends. 

“My dear, my dear, it’s not so dreadful here.”

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6. “Combat” – Do something that requires you to learn a new language. Spend the afternoon learning a new skill, a new game, or dance routine. It doesn’t need to be complicated, but you do need to understand how to engage with your chosen language by the end of this phase.

I chose to learn how to play a complicated board game called “Eldritch Horror.” After I learned, I played a game of it with my significant other. We got our asses royally kicked by the Azathoth.

“My dear, my dear, it’s not so dreadful here.”

7. “Isolation” – For this phase return to your ritual chamber and perform a task that isolates yourself in such a way that you can completely focus on yourself inwardly. I chose a ten minute scanning body meditation.

At the end of the final phase, make a list of three endeavors you wish to pursue over the next month. You must consistently engage with these on a regular schedule throughout that time. Keep a daily record of this in your magical diary. At the end of the month, write about what you learned and how you feel about your time pursuing these endeavors.

In the spirit of consistency before you close out the working, recite your invocation of Set one final time.

Ring the bell nine times.

“SO IT IS DONE.”

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The Rat Trap Working–A Journey through the Underworld

Buying the Self

I woke up this morning and realized that I’m not okay. I realized that I am an easy going person. That I don’t let anything bother me. Even if those things should bother me. I blow them off with laughter, put on a facade, or use selective hearing to block them out. I figure that if my brain doesn’t register something as a conflict then I can avoid it.

For as long as I can remember I’ve regarded myself to be an autonomous individual. But honestly, that couldn’t be so far from the truth. I’m evasive. I care what other people think, and what I say always takes a back seat to the agendas of others.

Being an easy going person is wonderful for everyone–except yourself. You make certain concessions to your personality that allow you to “overlook” the shortcomings of others. To concepts that you disagree with. And to the situations that you could’ve avoided all together if you would’ve just put your foot down instead of doing the nice thing.

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The nice thing isn’t always the right thing. And as I’ve come to realize sometimes the right thing isn’t always nice. 

Courage is what makes this especially troubling to deal with. I tend to be naturally scared of the world. Of doing things. Of doing the things I like to do. Of telling people what I think. Typically, if the risk is too high I don’t bother to take it for fear of what might happen if I do.

It’s easy to look at initiation and simply say, “it’s hard.” Yeah–it’s hard. But that’s not enough of a reason to understand why it’s like that. Over the course of my own initiatory work I’ve become bombarded by ideas, personalities, and concepts that beg for you to accept them as valuable and worthy of assimilation into your own sense of self. At the end of the day though, the difference between a successful examination of these three things and a failed one is determined by a fine line how much of it you actually buy into.

The situation: You join the Temple of Set. You become excited at all the possibilities of having a magical school in your back pocket to use as a tool for your own initiation. You shred through all the materials available to you in the Crystal Tablet and at the end of the day you’re nodding your head. You agree with everything that you’ve read. And seeing that you’re in this for the long haul–you can’t afford to fail in understanding the basic ideas brought forth to you during your mutual evaluation period.

You’re sucking up this bombardment of ideas so fast that you’re absorbing none of it. And you’re losing the ideas so quickly that you don’t have any way to clean yourself up long enough to make any sense of it. Yes, the Setian method of initiation is messy. But make no mistake, there are no shotgun weddings in the Temple of Set.

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So you got your blue belt in a year at your local McDojo. What a badass you are. I’m sure you earned it. You earned that blue belt in a year because you bought into it. With money. Just so your Ted Danson lookalike of a sensei could proclaim that you had the skills to pay his bills with your credit card. At least you look smooth in that gi.

I’m rolling my eyes right about now.

Cultivating self-honesty is partially responsible for why initiation is exceedingly difficult to continue paying attention to over time.

Nothing in your world worth doing is ever easy.

And just because you understand something doesn’t mean that you must also agree with it.

Buying into every idea that comes your way makes you less of an individual. Being open to the possibility of philosophical, ethical, and logical divergence, however, does make you become more like yourself. Having the bellyfire to disagree with an idea, a concept, or a person gives you a good indicator that you’re headed in the right (or should I say left?) direction that’s both unique and individual to your initiatory needs.

And that babycakes, is why Xeper is endless.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Buying the Self

The Year L Review: Self-Discipline as Heroism

It’s been quite the year. Perhaps the biggest surprise is that I’m still writing on this blog. I’ve started and stopped so many blogs and websites over the years that I find it hard to believe I’ve actually stuck with it for an entire year. We’ll see if I make it through another one! Self-discipline is heroic!

(Below is my victory dance)!

I figured today would be as good as any to write out a list of some of the awesome shit I did this year. To be honest, I would say this was probably the most memorable year of my life, and here I thought 2012 was the pinnacle! It just goes to show you how surprising life can be.

  1. I read more books this year than I’ve read any other year of my life. A few of the highlights include: Harry Browne’s “How I Became Free in an Unfree World,” Anton LaVey’s “The Compleat Witch,” Taylor Ellwood’s “Pop Culture Magick,” and Ouspensky’s “The Psychology of Man’s Evolution.”
  2. I got into listening to podcasts. I fucking love Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History. His World War I podcast is a masterpiece. Radiolab’s podcasts are short and sweet, and packed full of interesting conversation starters. Joe Rogan’s podcast is interesting too–but that’s a sometimes food.
  3. I traveled to Spain. Beautiful country. I want to live there! Marbella is basically one of my favorite spots in the universe.
  4. I had a crazy twelve hour surgical procedure on my skull to soften it up in order to become more passable as a woman. So far, so good!
  5. I moved from the east coast to the west coast. West coast best coast!
  6. Traveled all over the U.S. Spent a fuckload of time in Dallas Airport. I would say it became my second home this year.
  7. Went to South Carolina in a hurricane, with floods everywhere. That was fun. And underwhelming. Ain’t nothing but a thing!
  8. Played a lot of different games this year. My favorites include: Xenoblade Chronicles X, Fallout 4, Wonder Project J2, Knuckles Chaotix, and Magician Lord.
  9. While we’re on the video game subject we setup the ultimate retro setup in my self-improvement chamber. We have everything! NES, SNES, Sega Genesis, 32X, Sega Saturn, N64, PSX, PS2, Dreamcast etc. It’s pretty awesome having access to every old school game that we grew up with.
  10. I released an album and an EP amidst all the crazy that was 2015: http://gothicelectric.bandcamp.com http://starseatworlds.bandcamp.com
  11. I got a drum set! Fuck yeahhhhhhhhhhhh. It’s about time. Now I can truly be a one woman band!
  12. I started doing karaoke regularly.
  13. I started watching anime, and loving it. Some of my favorites from this year were Shimoneta, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, and One Punch Man.
  14. I finally watched Neon Genesis Evangelion. I also started watching Ranma 1/2. Needless to say I’m in love.
  15. I journaled more than I ever have this year. I’m a badass note taker. No, you can’t copy off of my notes!
  16. I finally got my own place that wasn’t shared with roommates. Am I sovereign yet mom?
  17. I finally got around to watching Game of Thrones. The Red Wedding was pretty awesome, the Purple Wedding was even better. Arya Stark is my favorite!
  18. Learned a lot more Japanese than I did last year. I’m doing this very casually. I could probably be a little more heroic about learning it faster.
  19. I cut out Facebook from my life. This wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be.
  20. I turned thirty. Thirty is a club. For those of you still in your twenties you’ll see what I mean when you get your membership card in the mail.
  21. I got a brand new kitten. She’s wonderful in every single way!

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The Year L Review: Self-Discipline as Heroism

Existence Validation as Assisted Self-Remembering in Social Media

You know what scares me most? Not being able to do what I want to do. The most interesting aspect to this is that I’m currently doing a lot of things in my life that I don’t want to do. A paradox! If our lives are measured by the time, and time is the currency in which we have to spend on both the things we must do and things we want to do–then why do we waste that currency on the things we don’t want to do?

getting_a_new_haircut_at_school-57610I had a revelation about social media recently. The single most irritating aspect to social media is how much people rely on it to validate their own existence. Yes, I’m guilty of this too.

When people post on social media about how they are feeling it can come in many forms. Posts are made expressing delight, dissatisfaction, happiness, bragging, and straight up bitching. Aside from the fact that instead of spending their time doing something productive with the forty minutes it took to write a post, we must take into consideration where posts are broadcasted. Public channels.

What does this mean exactly? Well, for one, other people can see these posts. But why is this important to assessing whether or not an individual is adept in the art of wasting time? Posting status updates in a public channel where other people can potentially see it is basically the same thing as screaming:

“I’M HERE! I’M ALIVE! SOMEONE RESPOND TO ME TO MAKE SURE MY CLAIMS OF BEING ALIVE CAN BE CORROBORATED!”

At the surface level, posting status updates can be done in pursuit of social validation. But it goes much deeper than that. The serial social media addict post status updates as a way to validate their existence.

People that post on social media make an observation about their lives and by doing so induce a conscious moment for all of their friends, followers, and would-be adherents to see. This phenomenon is a futile attempt at what P.D. Ouspensky would refer to as “self-remembering.” He defines self-remembering as follows in his book “The Fourth Way” (#19C):

“To remember oneself means the same thing as to be aware of oneself–‘I am.’ Sometimes it comes by itself; it is a strange feeling. It is not a function, not thinking, not feeling; it is a different state of consciousness. By itself it only comes for very short moments, generally in quite new surrounding, and one says to oneself: ‘How strange. I am here.’ This is self remembering; at this moment you remember yourself.”

By posting in social media as a method of existence validation–people are trying not only to make an attempt to remember themselves, but also to get other people to assist them in this process!

wastingtimeFor example, when social justice warriors get offended by the multitude of things that they tend to get offended by they scream from the mountain tops for attention. Are they really offended or are they simply trying to get the Internet to remember that they exist because they had something really “important” to say?

Smartphones–Obliteraters of Consciousness

Do you know anyone in the proverbial “first world” without a smartphone? If you do, they’re probably your grandparents or a conspiracy theorist. Regardless, they’re in the minority. Let’s be honest with ourselves–“first worlders” live in a phone society. Over 61% of Americans own a smartphone. We’re obsessed with staying connected.

With regards to having a social media presence, a smartphone, and how those two relate to self-remembering I would like to pose two questions.

  1. How often do you check your smartphone on a daily basis?
  2. Have you ever forgot your smartphone at home? How did that make you feel?

The New York Daily News ran an anonymous poll in 2012, 84% of the people that responded to the poll said that they couldn’t spend a single day without their smartphones.

People feel naked without their phones because they feel disconnected from everything. It makes our monkey brains feel insecure when we accidentally leave them at home. After all, the world is nastier than ever. By being disconnected, people feel helpless, unsafe, and alone.

Assisted Self-Remembering and the Left-Hand Path

In terms of how this relates to my exploration of the Left-Hand Path I think it’s important to consider the basics.

Dr. Stephen Flowers defines the Left-Hand Path as “the path of nonunion with the objective universe. It is the way of isolating the consciousness within the subjective universe and, in a state of self-imposed psychic solitude, refining the soul or psyche to ever more perfect levels. The objective universe is then made to harmonize itself with the will of the individual psyche instead of the other way around.”

In the strange case of existence validation in social media, I view assisted self-remembering as a very Right-Hand Path mechanism to cope with adversity. By seeking existence validation, you’re seeking to unify yourself with the collective consciousness of would-be “individuals” on the Internet.

As autonomous individuals we must consider how we make use of the tools available to us. However, the user must not become the used.

As the old platitude goes–everything in moderation, but sometimes that just doesn’t work. Especially when it comes to dealing with intense co-dependence on things that should be used as tools to make our lives easier. Social media is a tool, but when we become dependent on it, it can needlessly complicate our lives in a vortex of both wasted time and consciousness.

Some people become so over-involved with their smartphones and their social media presence that they experience “phantom vibration syndrome.” I’ve experienced this first hand. What’s more, is that during the time I was experiencing phantom vibrations I was checking my phone so much that I began to lose sight of the things I actually wanted to do. I was wasting so much time posting cat photos, Twitter drama, and how many likes I could get on my new profile pic. Yeah, I had issues.

My solution? To cut. To be more specific, to cut out social media. 

I was starting to become really disenchanted with Facebook back in August, but because I depended on being constantly connected I couldn’t see the forest for the trees. I eventually opted to deactivate my Facebook account for an entire month. During that time, I wrote some bad ass short stories, finished an album, and started vacuuming my apartment more. On top of all that I began to socialize more with actual people! Imagine that. When I came back to Facebook in October I didn’t feel the same about it. I don’t need anyone to help me remember who I am. That’s my goddamn job.

During my glory days of being a social media junkie, my experiences with phantom vibration syndrome was a physical subjective reaction to my consciousness becoming overloaded with stimulation. Mentally, I was malfunctioning. In “The Psychology of Man’s Possible Evolution” (#19B) Ouspensky writes:

“We cannot become conscious at will, at the moment when we want to, because we have no command over states of consciousness. But we can remember ourselves for a short time, at will because we have a certain command over our thoughts. And if we start remembering ourselves, by the special construction of our thoughts; that is, by the realization that we do not remember ourselves, that nobody remembers himself, and by realizing all that this means, this will bring us to consciousness.”

Smartphones embody what Ouspensky is trying to overstate here. When we carry smartphones it’s a shitty attempt to gain control over our consciousness. We’re aware that a smartphone is in our pocket or purse, and if it’s not there then our monkey brains panic because we’re disconnected and alone. In turn, by abusing social media as a means to assist in remembering ourselves, we stop remembering ourselves.

But why? Because we’re wasting time with bullshit that does nothing to improve our sense of well-being. By over-stimulating our consciousness through our overuse of the social media tool we cause ourselves to malfunction by becoming dependent on assisted self-remembering. In short, we’re making a meaningless expenditure of consciousness that could’ve been spent doing something that we actually wanted to do.

A Closing Thought

I recently discovered that I enjoy going for short hikes in the Sonoran Desert surrounding Tucson. I’m not killing myself when I go out for these hikes–but it’s still exercise. Aside from the obvious physical health benefits of hiking a few miles daily, what does this do for me mentally? It allows me to focus on one thing. The desert. It’s a tranquil experience that I’ve adopted for myself, and it’s become more and more important to me as a means to clear my head of all the negativity I’m surrounded with on a daily basis.

Our brains weren’t meant for the amount of over-stimulation that we get on a daily basis from the Internet void. It’s absolutely impossible to be conscious at all hours of the day. As much as we’d like to convince ourselves otherwise through the illusion of multitasking our direct consciousness is most effectively put to use when we’re focusing on one thing at a time.

It’s important to cut out the things in our lives that hold us back. While we may cut things out of our lives because they are terrible, we must consider why they are terrible–because they prevent us from being autonomous divine life forms.

Existence Validation as Assisted Self-Remembering in Social Media