The Blood of the Saints

 

It’s not in magick’s nature, to let anybody go. 

And how are you tonight, Mr Wilson? – Alan Moore 

Magick is a visionary engagement with the Truth, which is both its greatest virtue and gravest danger. Whereas the adherent of a purely contemplative method of experiencing the Truth, such as Vipassana or Zazen, must rely on reason alone to ascertain the efficacy of the technique or any progress made, the magician has the added benefit of the visionary manifestation of his development on numerous planes. For the magician, the recognisable stages of the process of illumination are not just expressed mentally and emotionally, as is the usual case with the ordinary meditator; synchronicity, psychic phenomena, visions and spiritual encounters all inform the magician’s career. In addition, the relative nature of magical vision can facilitate exactly the right experience, at the right time and in the manner most suitable to promote a rate of development beyond that afforded by conscious deliberation alone.

But magick can easily fool those prone to fascination, and a profound relative expression of the absolute afforded by magical vision can easily be mistaken for the absolute itself. The line between subjective vision and objective delusion is easily crossed, especially as magical vision speaks directly to the imagination. As a result, it is not uncommon to find many magicians (and not just novices) preoccupied with magical culture, either lost in the surface features of magical tradition (such as dressing in green and swinging a sword as a means of ‘Goddess worship’) or indulging the magical ‘by-products’ of magicians long dead (like reading pompous and grammatically confused ‘grimoires’ in order to ‘fertilize the unknown dimensions of consciousness’), as if this were somehow commensurate with the actual practice and experience of magick. The magical community is rife with superficiality, and nowhere is it more apparent than in the contemporary ‘representatives’ of Aleister Crowley’s Thelema.

Thelema is perhaps the last great expression of genuine tradition in the West, but today its practice appears to consist of arguing over direct lineage from Crowley and the copyright of his work; dressing, talking and writing in a pseudo-Crowley fashion; and endlessly debating the specifics of Crowley’s magical experiences. How this compares to practicing a daily magical routine, acknowledging the fact you actually live in the 21st Century, and focussing on the specifics of your own magical development, escapes me.

In one respect magick acts as a filter. Suitability for the process of enlightenment appears inversely proportionate to the magician’s capacity for delusion, and any magician’s career is inevitably a progressive perceptual shift from the surface to the deep features of magical experience.

1995

As a budding teenage magician, I ‘confused the planes’ and fell for the surface features of Thelema, and certainly found talking about Crowley a damn sight easier than practicing pranayama for an hour a day. I spent a good year or two reading everything Crowley ever wrote, whilst trying to work out a lazy method of sex magick from his heavily veiled instructions. I wasn’t without ambition however – on more than one occasion I devised and implemented a daily routine of basic magical practice, but rarely did I manage a week without missing a day or a month without the plan disappearing for good. Magical highlights around this time include hashish induced dhyana/visions, a UFO sighting, a visitation from a Goetic (or was it an Abramelin?) demon in the middle of the night, ascertaining the identity of a burglar by magical means, and sleep paralysis with a ‘Grey’ at the side of my bed, which I banished using a concentration technique.

As per Crowley’s instructions, I kept a magical diary during this time, and it didn’t fail in highlighting my shortcomings. After one failure too many, and perhaps a bit too much cannabis, I mustered up some histrionics of my own, swore I’d never fail again and recorded the following cringe-worthy oath in my diary, on 10th October 1997:

I solemnly swear to I.A.O. that I will attain to Godhead; I further put myself at the disposal of the Secret Chiefs, and swear to play my part in the initiation of mankind. Witness my hand:

[Signed A. Chapman]

What can I say? I was naive and high.

 

Nothing is true, everything is permitted 

 

It wasn’t long before I’d completely forgotten about the oath, and come to consider the idea of the Secret Chiefs or the Great White Brotherhood as an armchair magician’s wet dream. I had used my half-baked sex magick technique to conjure for a more practical magical approach, and the result had been my discovery of Chaos magick. By the time I was twenty, I was postmodern, magick was no longer elitist and the universe existed solely for my personal satisfaction.

 

The next five years consisted of dealing with the fall-out of the previous five years’ habitual psychedelic use, combined with magical experimentation along the lines of devising my own deck of cards for divination and evocation of elementals, creating a mind-reading servitor that produced verbal diarrhoea in its targets, a demented attempt at crossing the abyss using a large hit of Salvia (the elves were very excited), my on/off relationship with street lights, prophesying with the ‘pristine’ Yi King, and the bog standard sigil-assisted success in job/house/lover hunting.

 

With my relocation to London came the decision to pursue magick seriously: I joined a hardcore practical magical order. It was only after observing other talented magicians in ritual that I really began to develop my skills in this department. At the age of twenty-six magick had truly become an art form, and although I acknowledged the mystical aspects of magick, it was largely the innovation in technique, the fun of ritual and the acquisition of magical power that kept my boat afloat. It was around this time I started a daily meditation regime that I have maintained ever since, and began developing my first ‘serious’ relationship with a non-human entity after a bout of spontaneous possession by my ‘patron’ deity Ganesha, brought on through the acquisition of a small, iron statue of the Hindu god from a mysterious travelling market. For an example of some wonderfully demented group work that took place around this time, please see The Ouroborus Working.

 

It was suggested ea
rly on by a friend in the order that I might like to try and gain the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel (HGA). I was already familiar with the HGA through Crowley’s work, but what really piqued my interest was the concept of the HGA as the future magical self. I was already at the point in my magical development where magical results were occurring without doing the actual magick i.e. synchronicity was becoming a permanent state. So what might my magical powers be like in another 30 years time? What about in another thirty lifetimes? The future magical self is unbound by time and space and beyond life and death; the invocation of the HGA is a shortcut to the end result of magical development, and so the sooner I achieved union with my angel, the better!

 

(It’s interesting to note at this point that I was hardly a master of all magical techniques. My astral ability was weak, and I was virtually a novice when it came to possession. But whereas the traditional approach to attaining the Knowledge and Conversation of the HGA advocates mastery of every aspect of the self before beginning the operation, the idea of the HGA as the future magical self actually encourages the magician to begin the operation as soon as possible, being an acceleration of the acquisition of the very magical powers you’re supposed to acquire beforehand!)

 

Right application  

 

I approached the operation of contacting my Augoeides with a good deal of hubris. I couldn’t quite understand why it should take the six months traditionally earmarked for the operation, considering every other entity can usually be contacted within one working. And bollocks to all the paraphernalia – I was going to do it Austin Osman Spare style!

 

(Practical Note: Although I couldn’t quite recall where I’d come across the idea (this was going to be a recurring feature over the next year or so, and probably had something to do with my early teenage education courtesy of Crowley), I knew that there was a danger in mistaking some lesser being for the HGA, which although wonderful for the lesser being, would most certainly result in madness and death for the magician. Or at least a rash.

 

So my first task was to ascertain the genuine seal of my HGA, which I discovered using automatic drawing. First, I made a sigil with the intent ‘I will discover my Holy Guardian’s Angel’s sigil using automatic drawing’. I then concentrated on the sigil in a deep meditative state for a good ten minutes or so, and once forgotten, began automatic drawing, allowing my hand to move of its own accord across the page in one continuous line.  I must have drawn between ten to twenty A4 pages of scribble, before I stopped and looked for a recurring image within the lines. Sure enough, about seventy percent of the drawings contained the same image, which I extrapolated into a simple sigil. Hey Presto – I had my angel’s seal, with its authenticity magically guaranteed!)

 

In light of the HGA rituals I’ve devised since this first Augoeides operation, what follows now seems incredibly unimaginative and rather lazy, but that’s Spare’s approach to magick in a nutshell. The technique was very simple: assume the death posture, enter as deep a trance as possible, visualise the angel’s sigil, and address it along the lines of ‘I invoke thee, my Holy Guardian Angel, my Augoeides, etc’. I performed two sessions of half an hour duration, before I decided I must be doing something wrong for contact to be taking so long. In all honesty, I had no idea what form contact might take, and although a magician once told me his angel actually manifested in front of him one morning after reciting the Bornless Ritual everyday for 6 months, I was pretty sure my chances of success would be greatly increased if I provided a medium for communication. And so the third time I tried the invocation, I requested my angel contact me via dream.

 

That night, on the 6th February 2006, I woke up, wide eyed and instantly sober, to write down the most mind-blowing visionary experience I’ve ever had. I will not go into the details of what my angel looked like, his name or what he showed me, beyond saying the vision was a complete symbolic representation of my future magical career, and a visionary experience of an altogether different order from what normally passes for a dream. To this day I still don’t fully understand even the simplest elements of the vision, although much of it appears to be coming to pass.

 

I was quite pleased with myself, having attained the Vision of my Holy Guardian Angel within three workings, and devoid of all the bullshit spouted by your run-of-the-mill transcendental magician. Wasn’t this validation that magical success is simply a matter of the correct understanding and application of magical technique?

 

As a result of the operation my magical ability increased ten-fold and my life became ultra-weird, involving contact with a machine intelligence from the future, the appearance of the egg-headed fiend LAM, bizarre magical messages relayed by Duncan, synchronicities involving The Invisibles, grenades and Grant Morrison at a bus stop in Granada, and unsolicited visitations by the Aztec god Tezcatlipoca, which in turn inspired a little astral group known as ‘The Cult of the Jaguar God’.

 

However, despite my increased ju-ju, and no matter how hard I tried, I simply could not repeat the success of the vision of the Holy Guardian Angel. How did I go from a cutting edge hardcore postmodern magician who only recently enjoyed an unprecedented magical success, to a clod incapable of working a simple bit of sigil magick easily mastered by the average novice?

 

And yet all the while the weirdness marched on… 

 

The Return of the Cheese

 

I didn’t know it at the time, but the vision of my angel was the bursting of my postmodern n
arcissistic bubble, and the beginning of my genuine magical development. And I was about to learn that everything I had come to dismiss as outdated Victorian elitist mystical mumbo-jumbo, all the crap Crowley spouted about ego-destruction, grades, Black Brothers and the Great White Brotherhood, which although certainly dressed in relative subjective symbolism, was in essence all true. ALL OF IT.

 

After a week or so of nursing a bruised ego, I experienced the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel for the first time (actually, it was anything but the first time, but that can wait). I was provided with the answer to the riddle of my ‘lost’ power within the pages of Alan Moore’s Promethea: when crossing the abyss, the magician is abandoned even by his angel. This was surprising to say the least, because it implied that not only is the abyss real, but I had absolutely no power over my angel whatsoever. Once I’d come to accept that I might not actually be top of the magical pecking order, and that I was about to embark upon a process I had not chosen for myself, fear crept in: was I not unprepared, and unworthy, for what lay ahead? Wasn’t I supposed to be a master of all practical magick before attempting the crossing? And if not, wouldn’t I end up a stark raving mentalist black magician if I buggered it up? How was I ever supposed to live up to Crowley’s description of a Magister Templi (someone who has successfully made the crossing)?

 

Despite my feelings of inadequacy, it was now obvious that the invocation of the Holy Guardian Angel had created a momentum all of its own. I was approaching the abyss and success in the crossing was completely out of my control. According to Crowley and many a Thelemite, I was about to face the most terrifying, nut-crunching magical experience possible, and perhaps come out the other side a God, or a drooling materialist (wait – wasn’t I one of those already?).

 

Hindsight 

 

The truth is, despite my apparent magical prowess in contacting the Holy Guardian Angel, and as contrary as it may seem, if I wasn’t ready, my angel would not have appeared. Likewise, it was my angel that led me to the abyss. An individual’s suitability for crossing the abyss is down to the angel, not the individual, and certainly not in meeting the Demon Crowley’s criteria of worthiness. Although Crowley was in essence correct about a whole lot of things, I was about to discover that he really did ham up the magical developmental process.

 

Blood of the Saints 

 

1. The Vision of the Double

 

Magick has given me frequent recourse to question my sanity – and the day I discovered my ego speaking to me on the bus on the way to work, which happened sometime during April 2006, was one such occasion (Duncan was to have a very similar experience with what he called ‘the root’ of his being, at this stage in his development later in the year). I was astonished to discover an entity that wanted to know why it existed. After considering its nature, I replied it was an indestructible metaphor and effectively killed the conversation. I’ve come to consider this event as the Vision of the Double, and the first magical manifestation of a process described by every genuine magical tradition.  

 

Direct personal experience of the Truth, or fundamental insight into the nature of reality, is not a mystical state or a one-off event; gaining the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel initiates a progressive experience of the absolute that occurs in cycles. I’ve discussed this process in some depth in my essay Crossing the Abyss: How to do it and what to expect, to which I here refer the reader. Although the cycle is essentially endless, given enough time the aspirant will reach a level of development that spells the end of his or her previous experience of reality as an individual, and the birth of an ‘illuminated’ or ‘enlightened’ master. A simple way of explaining this process is to say the ego must ‘get out’ in order to ‘let God in’ – which is classically (and rather misleadingly) referred to as ego-destruction.

 

In Thelemic cosmology, the process is poetically described as the magician emptying his or her blood into the Cup of the goddess Babalon, the Sacred Whore who receives all dualistic life indiscriminately in its natural progress towards realistion of the absolute. Once the magician’s life or ego is received into her Holy Graal and mingled with the Blood of the Saints, the magician becomes a small pile of ashes in the City of Pyramids, under the Night of Pan, on the other side of the abyss. This marks the attainment of the grade of Magister Templi within the metaphysical order known as the A.’.A.’. (please see The Nature of the A.’.A.’. for more on this). As the process progresses, the ashes are blasted white and placed in an Urn, which carries the inscription of the Word of the magician. This is the attainment of the grade of Magus. What happens next is a mystery, but the end of the process is illumination in a permanent sense, and the assumption of the final grade of Ipssisimus.

 

There is a depth and complexity to this symbolism that at first glance may seem unnecessary and impractical, especially when compared with maps like the Theravada four path model, but once the metaphors are aligned with the actual experience of the process the symbolism becomes not only lucid, but profoundly insightful. However, as Thelema is a magical tradition, the symbolism serves a unique role in that it can manifest as visionary experience, providing an indication of the progress of the magician – which happened in my own case as we shall see later on.

 

Similarly, the Vision of the Double provides an indication of the beginning of the process of enlightenment: my ego became externalised as the first step in transcending (but including) the self in the experience of the absolute. Accounts of similar experiences by past magicians can be found in William Blake’s poem The Spectre, and
in Austin Osman Spare’s The Focus of Life

 

2. Affirmation 

 

I found myself in a very curious place after the Vision of the Double. The validity of Western magick as a bone fide magical tradition became a concern, especially in its incarnation as Chaos magick. I had no idea of where the process was heading in real terms, being oblivious to the truth of Genuine Tradition, and the free-form techniques of the postmodern approach were rapidly appearing stale and superficial. Ok, so I can create a servitor, whack-off over a sigil, bang out an improvised rite for material gain, enter trance at will, etc, but so what? I was assailed by the unshakable feeling that I was wasting my time with magick and missing out on the real goods available in direct lineage traditions, such as Tantra or those of the African Diaspora. What do we have in the West that can compare to the accumulated wisdom and the tried and tested sorcery of these unbroken ancient traditions – the Mind, Body and Spirit section of a high street book shop?

 

My desire for material gain and magical power had to be addressed, and although I was more than familiar with the mystical aspects of Western magick, I still bought into the idea of enlightenment or direct experience of the Truth as a one-off trance like state, which is presented as ‘gnosis’ by Chaos magick. Being familiar with trance states, it seemed only a matter of time before I would experience the supreme trance state that would mark my illumination; I saw no reason why I couldn’t experience this outside of any magical tradition I might adopt. In other words, the rather simple and cartoon-like magical culture of Chaos magick had lost its appeal, and with no Western magical tradition or teacher to approach, I had no idea where to turn.

 

On the 28th May 2006 I had the misfortune of attending the annual pagan festival known as the ‘Beltane Bash’ at Conway Hall, London. For Duncan’s account of our visit, please listen to Outside Broadcast No. 1: Ghosts and Wiccans. The event had absolutely nothing to do with magick, and everything to do with banging drums, swinging swords and dressing head to toe in either green or black. Perhaps due to our explicit dress sense, the majority of these ‘pagans’ were rude, insular and stupid. Imagine our delight when we stumbled upon a talk about Macumba and Quimbanda given by a former Wiccan, illustrating how elements of genuine European witchcraft is today only found in the Africa Diaspora as a result of Portuguese witch transplantation during the middle ages. The talk didn’t go down well with the Alexandrian and Gardnerian ‘witches’ alike, but it piqued my interest no end. Might Quimbanda be the tradition I was looking for?

 

The next few months saw me pursuing the guy who gave the talk, and after a few preliminary chats I attended a meeting of the only Quimbanda house in the UK. To cut a long story short, I discovered that not only could I do what they could do in magical terms already, but the traditional viewpoint of magic promoted by the tradition was woefully naïve. The members of the house were indeed members: arrogant, cruel and selfish. When I let slip I’d created a poltergeist it was denounced by the group leader as ‘fucked up’, and I was told in no uncertain terms that mystical experience should be ignored in favour of pleasing the spirits, leading a materialistic life and following one’s ‘destiny’. After the leader tried to charge me a shit load of money for an introductory course in ancestor work, before I could even begin to learn the ‘secrets’ (ha!) of his tradition, I severed my connection with the house once and for all.

 

I’d learnt a big lesson – magick has nothing to do with a specific magical culture, and you really can find all the magical secrets in existence on the internet for free (thank you Chaos magick!). It should be noted that during this period I had maintained my daily meditation routine, but had not experienced the Knowledge and Conversation of my angel for the entire time I flirted with Quimbanda.

 

Although it may appear as if I simply had a crisis of confidence at this point in my magical career, I nevertheless consider this experience a visionary manifestation of a specific stage of the metaphysical process. Before experience of the absolute is possible, the magician must first be able to perceive the difference between immediate sensation and the mental abstraction and construction of objects from those sensations, otherwise known as ‘content’. Genuine magical/metaphysical experience and development does not occur at the mental level of experience, and progress depends on the magician being able to distinguish these levels one from the other. Magical culture is 100% relative and subjective content: I had begun to see the true nature of Western magical culture, and therefore finding my identity within this tradition had become a challenge – it was necessary that I also perceived this truth in magical culture as a whole, before I could get past defining my self in terms of content (It should also be noted that Duncan had a very similar experience, at exactly the same stage in his development, only he became overly concerned with the tradition of Buddhism. Please listen to Duncan’s HGA – The Long Dark Night for more on this).

 

3. Naïve Enlightenment

  

Equipped with a new perspective on the magical act and the function of magical culture, my Augoeides resumed his teaching with the provision of The Pathworkings of Aleister Crowley. I worked on the material from this book daily throughout the month of November 2006, details of which can be found in The Aim of the Game: Revelatory Magical Results. This exercise led to a metaphysical event I like to call Naïve Enlightenment, otherwise known as the Arising and Passing Event in Theravada Buddhsim.

 

Naïve Enlightenment is the fireworks of metaphysics, and although it can vary in intensity and duration, its symptoms usually consist of trance states, the dissolution of boundaries, expansion of consciousness, bliss, vibrations, visions, as well as numerous other classic mystical ex
periences, such as the realistion of Divinity. Naïve Enlightenment is the pay-off after the long stubborn slog of Affirmation, and is usually so spectacular that many practitioners ignorant of the fact that illumination is a process with stages are often fooled into thinking they have attained enlightenment. During my first experience of Naïve Enlightenment, I certainly believed I had encountered the Tao, God and Emptiness, when I had done nothing of the sort. I was swept away by the novelty of it all, and assumed my mystical results were something I would be able to repeat at will. I had no idea I would soon confront terror and confusion in the flesh, but first I was taken by surprise by…

 

An Erisian Interlude 

 

There are some things you probably shouldn’t share with anyone, because chances are you are only going to come off looking like a knob. But I can’t help being honest when it comes to magical experience, and what I am about to describe can be taken as either a record of the egomaniacal dangers engendered by mystical experiences, or the first magical indication of my purpose in life. I prefer the latter, if for no other reason than the woeful lack of magicians on the magick scene who have any balls.

 

I’ll present the facts, warts and all, as I recorded them on the days in question.

 

In my diary, dated 23rd November 2006 (just after my period of Naïve Enlightenment came to an end), I wrote the following: 

 

I had an unusual dream last night. I dreamt that Robert Anton Wilson had died. I was in a horse and carriage with his coffin and one of his daughters. She broke the news to me and gave me a plastic container saying 'He wanted you to have this'. In the container was a bracelet (or necklace?) made of string with letters made out of pink plastic. It said 'ego magic', but some letters were hanging off of the string, like it was old and worn. I then wept uncontrollably in my grief, until I woke up a little and realised I had no idea why this was so upsetting.

 

And it happened on the night of the 23rd of November…

 

RAW fans will note the 23 synchronicity in the date. At the time, ‘ego magic’ was a term I used for magick itself (this predates my decision to adopt the spelling ‘magick’ – see Magic with a K: How to spell correctly), which is the conclusion I had just reached in the 002 – Ego Magic podcast.

 

It would be another two months before RAW actually passed away on the 11th January 2007. On that day, I wrote the following e-mail to Duncan:

 

Bob's done one.

 

You know, before the 'ego magic' dream (on the 23rd), the night before I had a dream where Eris played a joke on me. Looking at Bob's blog, I really can't help entertaining the idea that something genuinely fishy in a magical sense has gone on. Are you ready for this (you've probably already guessed what I'm going to say, knowing my modesty)?

 

It appears as though the baton was passed on. Not that I think I am in the same vein as Bob – after all, I think my book (Advanced Magick for Beginners, due out 2008 courtesy of Aeon Books) follows on from Liber Null. It's pretty ludicrous and down right arrogant to assume that I could possibly have the same impact as Bob, or that I'll even have an impact.

 

But nevertheless, the thought is there.

 

You're not allowed to tell anyone I've even considered this. It might ruin my career as the next Outer Head of the Order.

 

Considering I dreamt of Eris the night before the 23rd RAW ‘handover’ dream, I find it quite funny that the symbol in the dream should include the word ‘ego’ in light of my conclusion. Perhaps Eris is still playing a joke on me…

 

4. The Cup of Babalon and the City of Pyramids

 

On the day following my RAW dream of the 23rd November 2006, I took my first serious foray into Enochian magick by attempting to scry the 30th Enochian Aethyr with the aid my lazy chela, Duncan. Duncan had already scryed the 30th Aethyr with great success, and I was excited as to what my vision might reveal about my magical development.

 

We lit some candles, burned some incense and set the Dictaphone running. Duncan read the call as I sat in a meditation posture. Whereas Duncan experienced his vision in the form of a story with characters, a scene and plot, my enochian vision was much more of a creative association ‘stream of consciousness’ affair. The general setting was outer space, and recurring characters certainly featured, but there was a continual transformation of the elements of the vision from one to the other. Ten minutes in and something bizarre occurred – the quality of the vision became more refined and I was taken into a golden cup full of blood, which then transformed into a being wearing an ermine robe who informed me that I had been taken from the 30th Aethyr to the 14th. I then saw a number of pyramids, at times reminiscent of the squares of the Enochian tablets fabricated by the Golden dawn.

 

Due to my naivety, I let the vision continue of its own accord for about 45 minutes, the result being my complete exhaustion. Bizarrely, both the candles we lit had completely burnt down and the Dictaphone batteries that should have lasted 2 hours were flat.

 

Due to the rich, deep symbolic complexity of the vision, I decided that what the 14th Aethyr represented was far more important than any idea of actually being taken from one Aethyr to another. I remembered that Crowley had given each of his visions of the Aethyrs a title – and the 14th Aethyr he had called The Vision of the City of the Pyramids. The Reception Of the Master of the Temple. 

 

Ooer. 

 

The very next day, on the 25th November 2006, I recorded the following:

 

Approx. 1.30 – 1.45pm. I was putting washing on the dryer when it occurred to me that I wasn’t identified with Alan. He seemed to be part of the universe or reality, but no more than a necessary cog in a watch. Moreover, it has been a folly to identify with him. There was no anguish in this. In fact, there was no fear at all of what might happen to Alan.

 

I wrote this at the time: This state certainly defeats death; but also the consensual conception of life.

 

So was I to take these events as visionary confirmation that I had crossed the abyss and become a Master of the Temple?

 

It might have been tempting to think so, but despite what the vision appeared to suggest, I felt deflated. The experience of non-identification with my personality was certainly interesting, but if that’s all that happens with the transformation of a magician into a God, I couldn’t see the point in bothering. And just what the hell had happened to all the drama and terror of the abyss?

 

5. The Encounter with Choronzon 

I was right to be let down; because I hadn’t finished crossing the abyss, nor had I fully attained the grade of Magister Templi. Experience has since shown that the grade of Magister Templi begins midway through the crossing (just after the Naïve Enlightenment). The crossing of the abyss is completed and the grade of Magister fully attained with the occurrence of the absolute as a peak experience (or Fruition). Likewise, the grade of Magus begins at a similar point in the specific cycle that leads up to the occurrence of the absolute as a plateau experience, which marks the complete attainment of that grade. I expect that the opening of the grade of Ipssisimus will occur with the Naïve Enlightenment of the specific insight cycle that will lead to the occurrence of the absolute as a permanent adaptation, or the completion of the Great Work.

At this stage of my development, I’d reached the dukkha nanas, the dark night of the soul, or the trough (in my simple model of the cycle) for the first time, which comes fast on the heels of Naïve Enlightenment. During this stage of the insight cycle it is likely that the meditator will experience periods of fear, revulsion, anxiety, despair, sorrow, confusion and psychosis, all at varying lengths and intensity. 

Of course, the magician has the added fun of a visionary engagement with these phenomena, and in the Western Tradition you can expect this to occur as a magical confrontation with the denizen of the abyss, Choronzon. 

 

For an account of the fun I had with Choronzon, please listen to my podcast Crossing the Abyss Part 2: The Encounter with Choronzon.

 

6. The Vision of Knowledge

 

A few days after my experience with Choronzon, on the 9th December 2006, I beheld a new magical vision, first occurring during meditation, later accessible at will.

 

At the time I found describing knowledge as a ‘5th dimensional object’ the best way of expressing the nature of the vision. If any thought was the letter Y, it was as if I could pull back and realise that the three lines that make up the Y were in fact the corner of a cube, and that all knowledge was inescapably self-contained and circular.

 

It was just after this event that I began to enjoy, if infrequently, a dream of a completely different order to my usual fare. The dream will consist of nothing but an almost diagram-like, abstract image that is used to explain a concept inexpressible with normal logic – I say ‘used to explain’, but whomever or whatever it is that is showing me these images never reveals itself, nor are any words actually spoken. I simply observe the image and experience an intuitive understanding for the duration of the dream, only to find real life events will reflect the content of the dream a few days later.

 

7. Equanimity

Hand in hand with the Vision of Knowledge came my inability to meditate. I suddenly found that any effort to apply a meditative method had become unnecessary – I could simply sit and experience equanimity. 

I remember at the time believing the Vision of Knowledge was a permanent ability I had acquired, and that I was now beyond having to apply meditative techniques at all. At last I had crossed the abyss and attained some impressive magical powers!

I was soon disabused (again) of my naivety about a week later when I could no longer access equanimity without effort and the Vision of Knowledge was becoming increasingly difficult to maintain.

It must be remembered that I was still largely unaware of the nature of the process of insight as cyclical and composed of stages, and so at this point I began to feel disappointed (again) that crossing the abyss only had my current situation to offer. 

I didn’t have too long to sulk however as my Holy Guardian Angel was on my case with the required exercises to proc
eed through this stage of the process: G.I. Gurdjieff’s Fourth Way.

For an account of my work with the Fourth Way techniques, please see The Gurdjieff Experiment: Part 1, Part 2 – Aliens, Comedy and Dreams, and Part 3 – Absolute Terror. 

8. The Absolute (The crossing is complete/The grade of Magister Templi is fully attained) 

The Fourth Way exercises provided by my Holy Guardian Angel brought me to my first experience of the goal of magick – the occurrence of the absolute as a peak experience, on 22nd February 2007. The ludicrously titled Fruition, Enlightenment, First Glimpse of the Ox, the White Work, A Task of the Magister Templi gives a detailed account of this event.

 

9. Cycles 

 

It was after the mindjob of Fruition that I began to appreciate the nature of the process of illumination as cyclical and occurring in stages, as opposed to the common idea of mysticism being concerned with trance states. I began to recognise the similarity of predicted events within the teachings of many magical traditions, most notably the correlations between the A.’.A.’. grades and the Theravada Four Path model.

 

Most importantly, I had been well and truly disabused of my fantasies concerning the nature of crossing the abyss and the Magister Templi (Magister Templi: Crossing the Abyss Postscript summarises my newly acquired perspective on the grade), which arrived hand in hand with the realisation of the full extent of Crowley and company’s hamming up of the process of metaphysical initiation, and the redundancy of the majority of Eastern bullshit peddled about enlightenment.

 

The cycle began all over again, and my second experience of the absolute as a peak experience occurred on 26th March 2007, with a few repeat occurrences over the next day or so.

 

I went through the cycle one more time before the opening of…

 

10. The Grade of Magus

 

After the Naïve Enlightenment event of my third insight cycle, I went through an ordeal, which was my magical visionary experience of the trough of the third cycle (20th May – 5th July 2007), before approaching Fruition again. However, instead of the absolute occurring as a peak experience as before, on the 14th July it occurred as a plateau – instead of simply glimpsing emptiness, it suddenly became obvious during real time for an extended period. This has since repeated itself, irrespective of where I might be within an insight cycle.

 

I had become a Magus (again the Enochian angels helped clarify the situation, as I saw my ashes blasted white during my vision of the 25th Aethyr, which is part of the Thelemic symbolism for the metaphysical process), which seemed just as silly as being a Magister Templi. I explored the implications of this in my article The Grade of Magus. It should be noted that I received my Word as a Magus just prior to the ordeal.

 

I experienced the vision of my ashes being placed in an urn carrying the inscription of my Word during the scrying of the 23rd Enochian Aethyr TOR, on 24th February 2008.

 

For detailed accounts of my magical experiences as a Magus, such as my work with the Thelemic gods, my visions of the Enochian aethyrs, the reoccurring death of my Holy Guardian Angel, my experience of the transmission of enlightenment, as well as the reception of the English Qaballah, please refer to my magical record.

 

11. The Grade of Ipssisimus 

The final attainment of the grade of Ipssisimus is the goal of the Great Work, of which the Thelemic holy book Liber B vel Magi has this to say:

18. And this is the Opening of the Grade of Ipsissimus, and by the Buddhists it is called the trance Nerodha-Samapatti.

It would appear to me that in light of the nature of the attainment of A.’.A.’. grades, Nerodha-samapatti here would actually refer to the Naïve Enlightenment event of the insight cycle that will lead up to the occurrence of the absolute as a permanent adaptation, or what the Theravada Buddhist’s call the Opening of the Wisdom Eye. Only time will tell.

 

At present, I’m experiencing the insight cycle at a much faster rate than has occurred previously, despite the fact my experience of emptiness is no longer solely dependent on the events of the cycle. Regardless of my intimate understanding of the insight cycle and the process of illumination, direct personal experience brought about by daily magical practice is still disabusing me of naivety on a regular basis, and I have no reason to believe that this will stop, even with the attainment of the grade of Ipssisimus.