Belief is strange. It has a magical quality that can completely transform reality if you buy into it. It’s so strange that if we’re told something enough times we might grow to adopt it as “Truth.” Even if that “Truth” is actually an invisible weapon disguised to hurt you.
Life inherently has no meaning. Any meaning that we attach to life begins first as a thing created by the mind. Therefore, any meaning that we ascribe to the world in front of us is first derived from the one we cannot see.
When we are young, we live like immortals. Bathing in the ignorance of youth. Waiting for time to never end, we are bewildered by the possibilities that the tomorrow might bring.
What feels good? Everything that doesn’t hurt. Until everything that is good hurts you.
In the end, everyone leaves. This is reality. Believe in free will or do not. Are you awaited in Hell? Or will you rot away below the earth without a care? Are you destined for greatness? Or do you carve your own path? In the end, everyone leaves. This is reality.
I was in this warehouse full of bodies. It was freezing. Black and white tile floors.
I had a choice to choose a synthetic body to inhabit. Let’s call this synthetic body an “ideal vessel” for my consciousness. This huge silver machine clicked on and gazed directly into my everything. I remember a cold shift occur, and one moment I was standing in my old body, the next I was looking at it through a new pair of eyes. My old body fell to the floor in a lifeless pile and was swept away by this huge silver scraper into these blood gutters morphing it into a gory mess of hair, skin, and bones. It made me feel emotional watching this. Which is interesting because if I now occupied my ideal body who cares about the old one?
My first reading of this dream feels like trying to reconcile attachment to my old body in the same way I might be attached to an old house. It’s lived in, comfy, and I have memories of which I associate that thing with. Everything leaves, dies, goes away. Old bodies. New bodies. All temporary. The conintuum of the higher Self isn’t so easily explained. And despite being so far removed from my old body, I remembered what it was like before. Even though I held issue with my previous body I didn’t dislike it. I liked my old body despite its faults. Which means I’m capable of finding something positive out of what I perceived to be a shitty situation. Getting used to a shift, a change, something new, takes a lot of work and effort.
I enjoy the challenge of being in less than ideal situations. Conflict comes in all levels of the human experience, but are there any that seem less ideal or more difficult than others to successfully live through? I think no. Because no matter what type of existence I lead in a human sense, I will always perceive my own struggles as both the most difficult, important, and unique.
Language. I don’t speak a language even remotely similar to you. Translation: We are similar in that we both share differences.
There’s something to be said about feeling “foreign.” I will always be a foreigner. It’s part of the experience of human existence to feel like a stranger in a strange land. I’m a Martian wherever I go. Even on Mars.
My earliest memories hover around when I first experienced Self-awareness.
Like a cloudy dream, I remember sitting on the floor in my parents’ kitchen with a gallon of milk. I needed two hands to lift the milk out of the refrigerator. It was heavy. I put a cup down on the floor and tried lifting the gallon in order to pour it into the cup. I watched with a brief joy of the cup filling up and then the cup overflowed. Milk went everywhere. Imperfection.
I liked to dance myself silly in the living room. I would dance so hard I would give myself carpet burn on my knees and arms. I remember popping into our stereo system a clear cassette tape with James Brown’s “I Feel Good” on there. When the song was over I would get up and rewind it. I would dance and spin circles in unison to the trombones for hours.
Freedom has always tasted just like a good James Brown song. Tight, funky, far-flung, alone, and feeling good.
You can’t be big and small at the same time. You need to be the one.
Last spring, I began studying Baguazhang. I had spent the year before acclimating to a new job that required me to be in an office forty hours a week. About eight months into my tenure as an office dwelling pencil pusher I started feeling sick. My body ached. My stomach was constantly in shambles. I started shaking all the time. This wasn’t surprising considering the lack of physical activity I was getting between my day job and producing music at home. Both of these things required me to be sedentary for upwards of eighteen hours a day. I would go to bed and repeat the cycle the next day, which, in retrospect is a horrifying experience to re-live in my mind. The process of breaking out of this self-destructive cycle began with my investigation into traditional Japanese fan dancing, Wing Chun, and Tai Chi. Unfortunately, I couldn’t participate in the fan dancing classes because they happened while I had work. The local Wing Chun school was quite promising, but it was about forty minutes away from where I lived. I did actually start doing Tai Chi for about two months with a rather nice group of people at the local Chinese Cultural center in Tucson, but I quickly bailed on them after realizing that it was a glorified swingers club for people above the age of 55.
I began searching for solutions closer to my apartment and discovered a school that taught internal Chinese martial arts literally a mile down the road. I wrote their association and was informed about their meeting times and attended my first class. The school was hidden in plain sight. The only indicator that the school was different than the houses around it were the two ivory “foo dogs” that stood watch at the entrance. When I entered, I was greeted by paintings and photos of smiling Bagua and Xingyiquan practitioners Dong Hai Chuan, Liang Zhenpu, Gao Yisheng, Zhang Junfeng, Li Guichang and a group of five people slapping the shit out of their bodies. At first I wanted to laugh, but I was quickly beckoned into the circle to join in on the “light” body slapping.
I later discovered that light body slapping is done at the start of every class to essentially wake the body up by getting the blood flowing. In the context of my initiation this fit in well as a way to physically explore what it meant to literally go from white to red and back again. With every slap, my circulation improved, my blood rose to the surface of my skin, and for a few hours several times a week I began to realize the importance of using exercise as a way to quiet the brain.
Notice, I did not say my practice of Baguazhang shuts down the brain. Baguazhang is an internal martial art. It works by activating different structures in the brain that I don’t normally use while simultaneously quieting the prefrontal cortex. This allows me to stimulate a state of Flow by being able to focus wholly on what I’m doing without being interrupted by my self-consciousness. Bruce Lee referred to this as the “emptying of the cup.”
Bagua has given me an outlet to stimulate my ability to achieve a state of Flow with greater frequency and ease. My initial experience with using martial arts in this way didn’t come until I was able to have a grasp the basics of my chosen fighting art. Which is why I’ve only really begun to write about it now–this is a new, unexpected development in my personal quest to constantly improve.
Flow requires us to bring several automatized skills together in order to kick up our focus to a level that allows us to experience it. It takes awhile when we begin to learn a new skill or artform before we can actually experience a brain quieting flow-state. Steven Kotler, author of “The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance” would describe this experience as “Transient Hypofrontality:”
“In flow, parts of the brain aren’t becoming more hyperactive, they’re actually slowing down, shutting down. The technical term for this is transient, meaning temporary, hypo frontality. Hypo[…]the opposite of hyper means to slow down, to shut down, to deactivate. And frontality is the prefrontal cortex, the part of your brain that houses your higher cognitive functions, your sense of morality, your sense of will, your sense of self.”
I get a sense of deep embodiment when I practice Baguazhang. There’s nothing quite like being locked eye to eye with another person while focusing on multiple outlets of your own physicality. The ancient Greeks called this deep embodiment, ἔκστασις (Ekstasis). Ekstasis can be best described as an altered state beyond the normal “sense of self.” Ekstasis is NOT Flow, but it is a byproduct of being able to achieve Flow on a regular basis. In a Setian context, being able to experience Ekstasis means tapping into my “divine pattern.”
Now just imagine how amazing I feel by being able to achieve Ekstasis a several times a week! Baguazhang has all but become not only a powerful tool, but a conduit in which I can interface with my higher self so long as I continue to practice it or something like it.
Tapping into Flow takes practice. When it comes to my practice of Bagua I fail at tapping into it several times a session. This is usually caused by me trying to mentally dissect forms or movements. In terms of my physicality this “over-thinking” comes from making use of my prefrontal cortex.
I’ve experienced wonderful success imprinting myself with the overload of information I get from my practice the less “think” about it. And the less I think about it, the more I experience Ekstasis by having meaningful personal breakthroughs on a regular basis.
For instance, I was able to fully retain the positions of the nine palaces and the thirteen elbow form last month after working with them each for half an hour. Everything prior to that took several months for me learn. Part of my ability to retain this information comes from the challenge of seeing if I could actually do it, which I could surprisingly, but part of it also comes from a grasp of the basic movements I’ve spent perfecting since last spring.
Bagua has taught me how to get in touch with my immediate physicality–a.k.a. those things that I can see in the mirror. It has also taught me that I am fully capable of interfacing with of my physicality that I previously regarded as impossible to connect with like blood flow, internal energy, successful breathing, and various parts of my brain.
While it could be argued that certain notions of “emptying” the cup could be misconstrued as more of a right hand path philosophy I would argue that the “loss of self” that is experienced by learning to stimulate Flow through shutting down the prefrontal cortex requires the same control it takes to move our sovereign consciousnesses through the objective universe. “Emptying the cup” is something I do voluntarily for the purpose of stimulating Flow in an effort to connect with my divine pattern through Ekstasis.
We went to go see “Arrival” Friday night. I chose the movie not just because there were aliens in it, but because I was expecting it to be a quiet evening out and a decent flick. Decent movie it was, but it was packed. Go figure. You would think that people would’ve gone to see Dr. Strange instead. It’s pretty obvious though that we are fascinated by the prospect of communicating with beings from another world, because there’s something, clean and humanizing about it. I suppose the reviews helped “Arrival,” but I think the movie was packed because it speaks to our concept of personal mystery. Needless to say, I was shocked there were so many people there to see a movie of that nature. Of course, this week has been a week of shocks. Yeah–I’m going to talk about the giant elephant in the room. King Koopa. I mean Donald Trump. I want to talk about why it was so shocking that he won and why it created an atmosphere that felt socially apocalyptic.
I have lived in an America that is filled to the brim with conspiracy theories. And thanks to the advent of the Internet going mainstream sometimes in the early 2000s most of us have immersed ourselves in a culture of conspiracy. You know the days, when you start cruising on YouTube or Wikipedia searching for how hummus is made and somehow end up on a video detailing how Nancy Pelosi is a reptilian a la David Icke. Everybody loves a good mystery, and even more, we love uncovering them. We love shining lights in dark holes hoping to find some semblance of clarity to the questions that can’t easily be answered. Type the words “September 11th attacks,” “Adolf Hitler fled to South America,” “the Bilderburg Group,” “moon landing faked,” or “JFK’s assassination” into your search engine and you’ll see what I mean.
Humans are not made for communicating in the smartphone age. We can’t handle it. What makes it even worse as we approach 2017 is the Internet is adapting to us. Have you ever done a search for something you’re shopping for and then it suddenly shows up in the form of advertisements in your social network feed? We all have. It’s like when Netflix suggests a new Hitler documentary to me, because I’ve watched Tarantino’s Inglorious Bastards one too many times.
Most of us are too busy in our day-to-day lives to realize that this is especially dangerous because it immerses each one of us in our own little worlds that we can’t seem to break out of. Humans have created a means to give us this tool to create our own little echo chambers and stay there. This becomes even more dangerous when we find “like-minded” people and band together on social media websites, reconfirming the ideas we romanticize in our own worlds with each other. What’s worse is by limiting our exposure to types of people that do not conform to our own sensibilities, we create a reality for ourselves where we don’t have to confront the actual facts–because we don’t have to. People have forgotten what it means to have a civil argument. Instead when something upsets us, we send assassination threats to the President-Elect and hope that this nightmare will somehow end.
I believe that Donald Trump won the election because we all collectively as Americans bought into conspiracy. Even Donald Trump himself. I guarantee you that he was just as shocked as we were to hear the news that he won the presidency. He even made remarks during the debates that he wouldn’t accept the results of the election because he knew it was “rigged.”
Hillary Clinton has had an amazing track record of dishonesty with the American people in recent memory. Benghazi, the email scandals, stealing the DNC nomination from Bernie Sanders last summer. She’s like the boy who cried wolf. We all expected her to pull it out because she’s so incredibly gangsta that there was no way she could lose. Many people chose not to vote this election because they believed their voice didn’t matter. They believed that a liar would continue to lie to the very end and rig the election against a man who couldn’t possibly win. Hillary was supposed to rig the election. Shit–George W. Bush did in the 2000 election right? It was a whole big conspiracy that George W. won! Right? So why couldn’t Hillary do the same thing? Our votes don’t matter–she’s got this.
The shock came after on Wednesday morning when we all woke up to find that Trump not only won the election, but completely obliterated Clinton in the electoral college. Really, he killed her dead. She had zero chance. She spent her entire political career shrouding herself in lies and in the very end honesty killed it. She didn’t rig the election. And the result was that the story didn’t play out in the way we all thought that it would–both liberal and conservative alike. This is why we are all shocked. And will continue to be until we start seeing how the next four years will go.
Americans love buying into conspiracy. I think it’s going to take awhile for the shock of this election to go away. I do believe that the political pendulum will swing the other way in the next couple of elections. That’s how it always goes, right? Probably–but maybe not. If there’s anything that this election has taught me is to stop trying to be a goddamn mystic all the time. I can’t always predict the future correctly. And it’s during these times of vulnerability that I have to keep my eyes open. The apocalyptic atmosphere that this event has created cannot be easily replicated.
And so ends the longest week. Things are probably a lot more transparent than they may appear to be.
I’m not saying that there’s no possibility for conspiracy to exist, but in my world, and in my perception of the world around me it’s become all but worthless.
Do you know anyone who actually believes the results of the Warren Commission following President Kennedy’s death? Oswald couldn’t have acted alone! The Warren Commission is filled with lies! One bullet couldn’t have done all that damage! Stephen King wrote a book called “11/22/63” about the JFK assassination, it involves portals and time travel and all sorts of crazy bullshit–but he still has Oswald as the killer. Why though? Maybe because he makes up his own opinions.
The first thing I want to talk about is my current understanding of Xeper. The tried and true “Coming into Being,” and “Mindful Evolution” are great and wonderful, but it’s important for me to define Xeper in order to understand how I’ve applied it to my own initiation. This is tough, because in order define what Xeper is, I have to experience it first.
Initiation is hard. There are no supervisors to make sure that I’m doing right. I have to know what I’m doing while I’m doing it. I have to be honest with myself. I have to be heroic. I have to volunteer myself, to myself, for myself. Initiation is not about how big my ego is, it’s about the work I’m doing to make me into the “best me,” the best version of myself, and remembering that there will always be another “best me” to strive for, when I never get there.
How I define Xeper
Xeper – the adaptation of subtle self-awareness.
It’s the re-discovery of a thing you should know and then applying that recognition to a method of understanding to stimulate growth within the self.
I’m going to tell a story about something that happened to me rather recently. It’s about the obsessive struggle.
What is obsessive struggle?
Xeper. Cell division. Once. Twice. Three times. Where does it stop?
Experience. From here there is no return.
By my very nature I am an angry person. I usually wake up every morning around 3:45am and I’m on the road by 4:30am. I like routine. But when any little thing gets in the way of that routine, I flip out. If I can’t find my keys—I yell. If someone cuts me off on the way to work, I “what the fuck” all the way there. If someone knocks on my office door when I’m on a phone call—I lose my shit. I’ll always put on a nice face when I answer, but you can be sure that I’m annoyed at the prospect of having to get up from my desk for a stupid question and a stupid person.
I tend to keep to myself. My nose often buried in a book during my lunch breaks. I hardly speak. I’m even less inclined to say anything when I hear tall white men discuss their sometimes erotic sounding love for their lord and savior Jesus Christ. It’s a little bananas in Arizona. It really makes me miss New England—not the winters of course. I miss being within reach of more—how can you say, down to earth people? Lesbians looking off bridges. Theatre auditions. Chocolate peppermint brownies for lunch. When I moved to Arizona, I was all in, and now, I’m not so sure. I won’t be staying here for good. I have “big plans.” An endgame so to say. My day job? Merely a tool to get me to that point. I don’t have to work, but I like having my own money. Autonomy. A day job can do that. Going through the motions. Working in that small office is the least important thing in my life, by far. Although, I often find my time there to be somewhat magical. So, I keep to myself and observe the comings and goings of my workplace.
I had a co-worker in late December spread some pretty nasty rumors about me. I was kind of surprised. And even though I have anger issues—I’m well-mannered. I always have been. When I was made aware of this person talking shit to everyone in the building I felt like an attack had been carried out on my never ending obsessive struggle. I felt like everyone else knew something about me that I did not. This was a problem. It was a problem, because reminded me that my past was as real as the surgical scars I now wore. It reminded me of who I was. Who I really was. And that made me angry.
I spent the last ten years of my life in the obsessive struggle of making myself into something I physically couldn’t accommodate. Doctors. Psychologists. Magistrates telling me “no” I couldn’t change my name. Government offices. Airports. Universities. Professors. Surgeons.
Last February, I underwent twelve hours of surgery on my face to feminize it. I was born a male, but I underwent six different procedures to essentially reassign myself a face different than the one I was born with. The surgery included a forehead reconstruction, rhinoplasty, chinplasty, a trachea shave, mandibular reduction, and a lip lift. As my skull was quite masculine to begin with, I felt every procedure to be a necessary one. It hurt. A lot. And despite throwing up buckets of blood when I woke up, the surgery was a success. The changes brought about by this immensely invasive trip to the doctor’s office made my life much easier to deal with. I can’t begin to tell you, what a delight it’s been to feel a little more comfortable in my own skin.
A co-worker came into my office one day late in December and told me some disappointing information.
“Do you know Hooker Bitch?”
“Can’t say that I do.” I said.
“You know that chick who has the grandma hair?”
“Oh yeah…” I laughed.
“She’s been telling people that you were born a man.”
I was so pissed off that I couldn’t see straight. My focus narrowed. After work I went to the Fourth Avenue street fair with my fiancé. Smiling faces. Pinball machines. People asking me to sign petitions to legalize everything. I should’ve been having a good time. But, the only thing on my mind was getting revenge against this person for blowing my cover. I needed to weigh in on the alternatives.
Let’s take a step back.
I had been through too much to let this hooker-bitch bother me. And yet I did.
I felt compromised. The obsessive struggle somehow invalidated.
I considered several alternatives in dealing with the situation.
1. I could openly confront her about it.
2. Go to HR. Yeah right—they never help with anything.
3. Find a new job.
4. Do a destruction working against her.
“I’m a black magician,” I thought. “Let’s toss some lightning bolts around.” And so I did a pretty nasty destruction working. Three weeks later, this girl was on leave of absence for some kind of illness she had developed out of thin air.
Hooker-Bitch started a witch hunt against an actual witch. And that pissed me off. She embodied everything I hated about the Christian rednecks here in Arizona, and I wanted to see her suffer for talking shit.
Let’s get real here for a minute. Destruction workings are too easy. Why? I mean, would I be willing to pull the trigger on someone instead of doing a destruction working if I could get away with it? The answer? Always no. That would mean destroying myself. I would be put away for life–or worse. Totally. Not. Worth it.
Hooker-Bitch wasn’t worth the expenditure of energy. Knowing this–the real question is: why did I commit to doing a destruction working against this person if I wouldn’t even be capable of picking up a gun, let alone pulling the trigger?
Why did I do it?
The answer is simple, but not so simple. I wanted to feel powerful. Although, there was another aspect to this that I was overlooking.
Was I understanding myself? What was the driving force behind my lust to feel powerful?
If I wasn’t going to ask the tough questions then nobody would.
I wasn’t confronting something. Something important. My problems weren’t with Ms. Hooker-Bitch. That was obvious. As far as I knew I outed myself. My name is plastered all over Google in LBGT related topics and interviews from when I lived in New England. I mean really–how far could I run away from the facts?
At this point in the game, I still wasn’t understanding the problem.
In Tucson, we are surrounded by the Sonoran Desert. When I need to mentally digest something, my fiancé and I hop into the car, find a trail-head, park, and we start walking. I like the desert for the silence. I can hear myself think when I’m there.
During one of my many walks following this incident, I felt bothered and confused by the results of my destruction working. Not because of what happened to my target—but because I couldn’t justify wasting my energy like that no matter how many ways I tried to look for a good reason.
A quote from MindStar:
“As Plato illustrated in the Meno, the underlying basis of all knowledge – the primal building-blocks upon which learning and reasoning depend on their accuracy and coherence – are inherent to each incarnate intelligence: anamnesis – “recollective awareness of the neteru/Forms.” In non-metaphysical terms, humans know “instinctively” whether they are thinking reasonably and without validity.” (Aquino 72)
You see, I did the destruction working when my feelings were on auto-pilot. And by auto-pilot, I mean, even though my anger was directed at this person during the course of my working, I did the working without awareness. All I cared about was doing something that would make me feel strong and powerful.
I did the working on impulse. With emotion. It takes a titanic effort to see things from the outsides of ourselves. It takes patience and self-love. It takes compassion. And a lot writing in our journals. At the moment in which I was at my lowest, I chose to act. And I chose poorly—I compromised my ethics. My values. I forgot to pay myself before I paid everyone else. I instinctively knew that I wasn’t thinking reasonably or with validity. I just chose not to see it.
Addicted to Water
I had to dig deeper. I had to continue to ask why. The ancient Egyptian spell for crossing the desert. I always think about this when I visit the trail-heads outside of Tucson.
Ipsissimus Webb writes:
“The spell [for crossing the desert] is not intended for illustrative purposes, although it does illustrate the myth of Creation. It was an operative spell for survival across the expanse of the desert. This is an interesting moment. You are leaving behind the Known and are entering the Unknown. The Known is the divine land of Khem, before you the Unknown desert with its mirages, bandits, scorpions, sandstorms, etc. Beyond that are the foreign lands ruled by Set. What do you say as a charm? Not a prayer to Set, whose lands you were entering. Not a prayer to the familiar gods of Egypt. No, a statement of one’s Coming Into Being as the Creator. Now why would this be protective? Or more to the point, what was being protected?
The answer is that it is not protective of the body. It’s not a prayer for rain, nor a cantrip for food, nor a conjuration against desert brigands. It is for the soul. The smart traveler has already taken care of the body’s needs in the proper realm. They’ve stored food and water; they’ve sharpened their swords. But now they pause — at the edge of the Unknown — to strengthen their mind/soul. They are going into a realm where they may lose their purpose– even die in a distracted manner. What better time than using the urgency of an upcoming struggle to Work for the immortalization of the mind/soul?”
The obsessive struggle. A foreigner in an unknown land? Me? I was from New England. Arizona made me uneasy. Call it peaceful hostility. The years I spent becoming the person I am today. Preparing myself for the unknown desert. My sword—sharpened. I was angry at Hooker-Bitch because I forgot the first reason I started this unending journey through the desert of myself in the first place. I was putting too much, far too much, emotional currency on my physical self as opposed to remembering who I was at the core.
Anamnesis. First forms. Neteru.
As I walked through the desert with my fiance, he said a word that reminded me of something Immortan Joe said from Mad Max: Fury Road:
“Do not, my friends, become addicted to water. It will take hold of you and you will resent its absence.”
The one word he said to me was: “Attachment.”
I was addicted to water. What do I mean by this? The destruction working was a waste of resources. I became fixated on the things that caused me to be angry because I didn’t fully understand how to apply the situation to a method of understanding. Let’s get real—at the time, I didn’t want to. My problem was that I was constantly looking for validation of what I was physically instead of just knowing it for myself. I was attached to my body. I was attached to time. To my youth. To my past. All of these ever slipping through my hands like sand in an hourglass. I set myself up to be hurt. And I was put into a corner. I reacted on impulse without rationalization. I forgot my ethics. And more importantly I forgot myself. I was angry because I began to resent water’s absence. Ten years of work, come and gone. I had to let go. I had to stop being addicted to the past that made me who I was, and start living in the present in order to continue pulling myself forward towards the unknown matrix of the future. Change—is scary.
Attachment is the root. It is entropy. Attachment is fear. I should’ve known this. I had just forgotten.
My reactionary, impulsive, use of a destruction ritual was a Remanifestion of a negative pattern. It’s likely that I’ll do it again. But it’s also less likely that I won’t. Why? I have this experience to draw from. To actively change the course of the future. It’s here where I will stimulate growth within myself with the subtle self awareness to KNOW how I naturally want to react in situations like this. My capriciousness isn’t a newly discovered weakness. I had just forgot about it. Through this ordeal, I have come to recognize that it is there, and that it is mine.
The obsessive struggle. Why does it have to be obsessive? That only means that I am attached. And attachment? Attachment means standing still. That I want to stand still. Do I really?
Goethe wrote that:
“Until you discover and accept yourself fully, you won’t have the conviction or the courage to be free. As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.”
How do you learn to know yourself? You remember who you are. You remember what you need. You keep asking why, even when you don’t want to. To become, you must overcome.
If standing still means being destroyed when things change, when routine is broken, when water becomes scarce then I want nothing to do with it. It’s perfectly okay to be angry. Everyone gets angry. What is not okay is to become attached to things that cause that anger. Attachment is misery. It’s so very easy to destroy. It’s easy to stay addicted to water as we cross the deserts of ourselves, even if we know that that water is poisoned. What’s difficult is to build. To be the creator. To not mind matter, but to mind the self. That’s how you cross the desert and learn to finally live.
Back in 2011 I had a really tough choice to make. It was a little after a year since I rebounded from rock bottom. The year before I was so broke that I almost prostituted myself in order to pay for tuition to one of the many expensive New England universities. As my bills closed in all around me, I desperately started applying for jobs everywhere. Somehow, by some immense luck I was hired to work the world’s shittiest retail job. This job wasn’t glamorous or fun by any means, but it paid the bills. By the end of 2011 I decided that I had a choice:
1. Finish my school and be more in debt than I could ever hope to pay back with the English degree I was going for.
2. Buckle up and work my ass off in order to work towards paying for facial feminization.
I chose to buckle up.
Fast forward to 2015, it was a solid choice that paid off. I’m always worried that I’m a goddamn quitter, but I suppose that’s not an accurate observation of myself. I’m just not a multi-tasker—because who believes in that bullshit phenomena? I had the foresight to understand the needs of my big SELF and ran with it. If I had decided to go the school route I probably would’ve ended up quitting eventually anyway.
During this four year period, I read absolutely nothing. Unless you count Kotaku, but let’s get real, Kotaku doesn’t count. Reading Kotaku is more like reading a coloring book. I probably killed more brain cells reading it than if I had read nothing at all. Amidst all of this heavy mental lifting I ultimately decided in late 2014 that I needed something to rekindle my reading spirit. Enter Ipssismus Don Webb’s book “The Seven Faces of Darkness: Practical Typhonian Magic” (#2AG). I was drawn to this book for a few reasons:
1. Its scarcity. At the time there weren’t any reprints available for any of Ipsissmus Webb’s more popular Rûna-Raven books. It made me want to get a hold of it even more.
2. I had just finished marathoning American Horror Story: Coven. This show was rocket fuel for me. It definitely inspired me to investigate the Left Hand Path moreso than I had done in the past.
3. At the time, I recently played Bayonetta 2 and replayed Bayonetta 1. As someone who once sang about dissecting angels in a Satanic Black Metal band I felt connected with Bayonetta on a visceral level. A witch that kicked angels asses? I could see myself doing that. What was the next best thing? Investigating the writings of Ipsissmus Webb of course! I can’t explain how that works into any kind of rational thought, but that’s how it went!
Initially, I decided against buying (#2AG) in light of the fact that it was going for almost $300 USD on Amazon. I found a really crappy PDF copy of this book online that I had to reformat. I eventually ended up buying physical copies of Ipsissimus Webb’s entire Rûna-Raven backlog from Lodestar after they were re-printed earlier this year (2015).
As someone who knew absolutely nothing about traditional ceremonial magic “The Seven Faces of Darkness” proved to be an invaluable resource. If I could call (#2AG) anything I would call it a crash course in what it means to be a practical traveler upon the seemingly not-so-practical roads of the Left Hand Path initiate. The Left-Hand Path isn’t exactly the easiest thing to understand from the outside looking in. “Seven Faces” gave me a small taste on some of the more intricate aspects of a traditional magical system–Hermeticism, without overwhelming me with the drier details. Those drier details I found later in other books like Ipsissimus Flowers “Hermetic Magic: The Postmodern Magical Papyrus of Abaris” (#3Y), and Franz Bardon’s “Initiation into Hermetics.”
I will admit, upon my first reading of “The Seven Faces of Darkness” I felt very confused about what I needed to take away from it. I found Chapter 6 on “Spells” to incredibly useless—at first. The selection of the PGM (Papyri Graecae Magicae) available in this chapter is home to some pretty heinous shit. The first time I read the words for the Coptic spell “Oil Spell for Sealing a Marriage with Hot Sex” I laughed a little bit. I couldn’t ever see myself using most of these spells within the context of how they were written. As I look back at them a year later, I see something different. I see examples–models which I can apply to my own workings.
As a former English major I take an interest in understanding context. Especially with details that might not be entirely apparent at first glance. For example, Dante’s “Inferno” can be interpreted as an allegory for the political conflict going on in Florence during the 14th century between the Pope and the Holy Roman Emperor. Dante even puts people he actually knew in real life, like Filippo Argenti, in the poem.
(Incoming EXTREMELY loaded paragraphs…)
Of course, understanding the historical context of something seven hundred years old isn’t nearly as difficult as trying to ascertain the “assumed” to be second and third century contextual meanings of Hermeticism. I say assumed, because there are so many details we don’t know about Marsilio Ficino’s translation of the “Corpus Hermetica.” The “Corpus Hermetica” was “lost” during the middle ages but magically reappeared after the de Medici family acquired it somewhere in Byzantine.
Alchemy was in vogue during the Renaissance and much of the Ficino translation—appears to be biased towards the “lead to gold” obsession of the seventeenth century. Regardless, let’s assume his translation is based off of authentic texts used to compile the Hermetic Corpus. It’s still not first hand information. I would say it’s more like third or fourth hand information. Contextually, much of what we have from Ficino’s translation is through the lens of the seventeenth century alchemical philosophy and not from the entire perspective of the second century author(s) of the Hermetic Corpus.
Much of what the original authors of the PGMs were going for have been all but lost. Unless, of course, we take an educated guess as to what they were going for and applying that knowledge to what we know about Greek, Coptic, and Demotic traditions and languages.
Ipsissimus Webb writes, “Postmodern theories argues that magical language isn’t gibberish, but an appropriate form of discourse with another realm of existence.” (15) I appreciate the fact that he included a detailed analysis of three Hermetic workings in Chapter 2. It breaks down the seemingly confusing spells as models for further assumed understanding of magical formulae. We can be apply this model to other Initiatory practices/traditions.
The PGM may seem especially dangerous to those unfamiliar with it, in light of the fact that we don’t necessarily understand the context of, or the exact precise meaning or pronunciations of words written down in these works. When we say words like “BOLCHOSÊTH” without any knowledge as to what that word means, what is that doing for us? For all we know when we say this word our subjective interaction with it might send an encoded message to ourselves that may cause some unintended consequence in our “world.” Though, this sort of superstitious Mickey Mouse bullshit sounds closer to a Right Hand Path contextual understanding of the PGM.
Herein lies the most interesting aspect to (#2AG). When does historical context become useless in terms of applying it to the use of magical technology?
Even after we begin to recognize simple formulaic words such as BOLCHOSÊTH as “Ba’al strikes Set” are we even pronouncing it correctly (BOLE-CHO-SEET)? For all we know this could be the wrong pronunciation of the word. We don’t know for sure! We’re two thousand years away from understanding the actual implied context of the words found in the PGM. For all we know pronouncing BOLCHOSÊTH as “BOLE-CHO-SEET” with a hard “T” sound at the end instead of a soft “TH” sound could make the word mean something entirely different.
For a more up to date example let’s look at the Japanese words for cute and scary:
Scary is kowai (怖い,こわい) . ko – why
Cute is kawaii (可愛い,かわいい) ka – wa – ii
Notice senpai–that these words sound awfully similar to the Western ear. However, they mean the exact opposite thing in relationship to one another. One lazy delayed pronunciation of 可愛い (kawaii) might make your Japanese friends think your waifu is a scary bitch! Case in point, you used a word with the wrong pronunciation and it produced a different result than you anticipated.
For another example see “Army of Darkness” and Ash trying to say the words “klaatu barada nikto” correctly:
“WAIT A MINUTE. EVERYTHING’S COOL. I SAID THE WORDS. I DID!”
So why is all of this vital to our usage of ancient magical technology?
Well—the fact of the matter is, context isn’t all that important. Unless of course you’re using the PGMs or magical technology like it under the veil of superstition. Only then does context become everything. This why magical technology, in general, can be dangerous to use. If your subjective sense of self perceives a misalignment of context to be dangerous in the usage of magical technology then it will pose an actual danger to your subjective self.
Seeing beyond this, my biggest takeaway from (#3AG) with regards to magic is that magic comes from you. It doesn’t come from saying ABLANATHANALBA sixteen times or from the trappings of the ritual chamber. Magic comes from you, and the only thing that is vitally important to its use is intent. Everything else is auxiliary to the usage of the PGM or other forms of magical technology. Understanding how to formulate more and more accurate forms of intent in the magical chamber is much like habit forming (think neuroplasticity)–it takes practice. Webb writes “The magician will (after practice) free him-or herself from the text, and as each successful immortalization of the soul occurs, the magician begins to act on a more and more divine level. For the advanced magician every act becomes a magical one. He or she is said to have become magic (heka) itself.” (39)
Acting on a “more and more divine level” screams to me as being able to form clearer and more clearer routes of concise and exact modes of intent in the magical chamber. We practice this “freeing” from the text as Ipsissimus Webb writes in order to get magic to do what we want it to do, which may not be what the authors’ of the original texts had intended for a working . “Each successful immortalization of the soul” or intent is accomplished by practicing this over and over again. Only when we truly “say what we mean and mean what we say” with regards to our intent in the usage of magical technology can we “become heka” itself.
I created a graph called “The Intent Funnel” to illustrate the various levels of effectiveness in terms of formulating an accurate intent for workings. You can chart intent on this graph based its specificity. The more specific the intent the better—obviously. The more vague, the easier it is to read anything as a possible result from your workings. I tend to think this is bad, especially in operative workings where you’re trying to accomplish a specific thing. A vague example of intent in an operative working would be “I want to be rich!” You didn’t say by what means you wanted to be rich, and you didn’t give yourself a time frame. You also didn’t even say what you wanted to be rich in. For all you know you could become rich in sorrow! Which is why this sounds like a vague mode of intent to me. That would be charted right at the very top of the graph.
On the other hand, an example of a more specific mode of intent would sound something like this: “I want to go to Harvard to study astrophysics with Dr. Von Loki and graduate in 2019.” This would be charted closer to the bottom of the graph as it is much more specific than the first example.
To conclude, Intent is not wishing for something to happen. Intent is like a GPS, and magical technology is like the car. The destination is the result of a working. You may want to go down the road that might result in making you part of the nouveau-riche elite, but unless you program your GPS with precision, you might be taking the long way to get there.