Author Archives: Alan

The Opening (and the Closing) of the Wisdom Eye

The last two weeks have been absolutely insane.

 

In order to fully understand what has happened, here’s a brief recap of my magical career:

 

Although I’ve been a practicing magician for just over a decade, I only began the Great Work when I attained the Knowledge and Conversation of my Holy Guardian Angel in 2005.

 

Since then, I’ve been led through vision and synchronicity to the right teachings and methods at the right time, and I put the brevity of my progress solely down to working with the Holy Guardian Angel, although the mainstay of my practice has largely been various meditation techniques.

 

As predicted by a number of magical models, most notably the Theravada Four Path model, the A.’.A.’. grading system, and the Ten Zen Ox Herding images, I went through a cyclical process with recognisable stages as a result of daily meditative practice. The simplest way of describing this is to say I went through the cycle once (known as ‘Crossing the Abyss’ in magick) and experienced emptiness as a peak experience, which occurred on the 22nd February 2007. (It should be noted that emptiness is not a trance state, and cannot be achieved through concentration practice; rather, emptiness as a peak experience is a fundamental insight into the nature of reality, achieved through techniques such as vipassana and centred prayer, to name but two). I then went through the cycle a few more times, with their attendant peak experiences, until emptiness occurred as a plateau experience on the 14th July 2007. At this point the cycle became less important as emptiness became progressively more apparent during everyday consciousness, fading in and out of the ‘background’ of reality regardless of the stage of the cycle I found myself in.

 

The next step in the process, as predicted by the models, is for emptiness to become a permanent adaptation. This event is referred to by many names, such as the accomplishment of the Great Work, Awakening, Satori or Gnosis, but the most popular term for this accomplishment is enlightenment.

 

The Next Step

 

On the 19th October 2007, I attended a talk with the supposedly enlightened spiritual guru Andrew Cohen. You can find details of the talk in the Cohen Dialogue.

 

After the talk, I felt something had changed. Before, emptiness was phasing in and out of reality, which could be quite intense at times and would often gave me the impression that I could reach out and put my hand through it. Afterwards, emptiness had become stable and was no longer in the ‘background’ of reality – it had taken centre stage. I felt very calm and focussed.

 

The next day I felt exactly the same, although I had experienced unpleasant dreams in the night. Normally, when considering myself, there would be a definite sense of a person. Although every single sensation that makes up my self was still present, including the sensations that I am an individual, my identity was no longer found in the grasping of those sensations. I was emptiness, which is simultaneously the same thing as being Alan.

 

Rather strangely, I became depressed (in hindsight, I think the cause of this depression was also that of my bad dreams). It was almost as if I needed to see someone or be somewhere, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.

 

Of course, by this time I was considering the fact that emptiness had become a permanent adaptation. Needless to say, if I was enlightened, it was not at all what I expected. Where were the fireworks? Where were the answers to life and death?

 

As far as I could tell, the only thing that had changed was my centre of gravity. Instead of identifying with an unknown, I now recognised the centre of my self as emptiness. Strangely, I couldn’t quite remember how I was before, just like when I experienced emptiness as a plateau experience for the first time.

 

Awakening

 

For a few months I had been using an adapted version of centred prayer for working with my Holy Guardian Angel, and during my daily practice it became obvious something wasn’t right. The idea of my Holy Guardian Angel now seemed meaningless, and yet I could sense what my Holy Guardian Angel used to embody being ‘somewhere’ else.

 

The events of the Andrew Cohen talk kept going through my mind, and when I considered Cohen, the feeling of needing to see someone or be somewhere lifted. This could have been quite disturbing, were it not for the sudden realisation that it wasn’t Andrew Cohen I needed to recognise, but who he really is.

 

The moment emptiness had become a permanent adaptation was now obvious: during the talk, Cohen’s ‘magnetism’ had suddenly disappeared, and I couldn’t understand why there were so many people looking to him for something when they need only look to themselves. It was at that moment that I became identified with who I really am, who we all really are. I had become the Truth, but I had failed to consciously acknowledge it.

 

So during my meditative practice, instead of trying to surrender to my angel as per usual, I surrendered to the memory of Cohen.

 

What I describe next all happened in an instant, and may seem quite confused; however, no event has made as much sense as this in all my life.

 

I recognised that my self and Cohen are one. By this, I do not mean Alan is the same as Andrew, but that we are both what I can only call the Absolute Self. It was then that I also recognised the Absolute Self as my Holy Guardian Angel, and that this whole event was His doing!

 

Bliss, peace and certainty overwhelmed me, and I found myself rather curiously exclaiming ‘What an excellent, excellent game!’ The bliss was akin to that of being in love, both emotionally and physically, and the depression I had felt was very much like being love-sick.

 

I had lost myself in order to find myself, simply for the sheer joy of it.

 

Over the next week or so, I felt like I was dreaming. Everything that had happened was just too good to be true. How ridiculous that I was enlightened!

 

And not only was I enlightened, but it seemed as if the same thing was happening to Duncan too.

 

No Guru

 

Due to the fact both Duncan and I appear to have completed the process after attending the Andrew Cohen talk, it might be tempting to think that Cohen enlightened us both by his presence. I couldn't disagree more.

 

As far as I can tell, none of the audience members we spoke to before or after the talk were enlightened, neither were a number of the students I met (although I’m pretty sure the same thing happened to Chris Parish, after hearing him talk about his first meeting with Cohen). Of course, I can’t 'prove' they're not enlightened, but I think it speaks volumes that I failed to meet a single person with something of their own to say about enlightenment. Can you really be enlightened and not have your own opinion of it? Can you really recognise the Absolute Self and still need to seek it in someone else?

 

If I had met Cohen two years ago, I seriously doubt anything would have happened. Due to the fact many of the original students who became enlightened in his presence were previously practising Theravada Buddhists, I’m willing to bet that only someone advanced in the process can become enlightened in such a fashion (it is worth noting that Daniel Ingram became an arahat in the presence of another, whilst an anagami – see the details of his enlightenment).  

 

I therefore didn’t feel the need to claim direct lineage from Ramana Maharshi (who enlightened Poonjaji, who in turn enlightened Cohen).

 

The Absolute Self in me recognised itself in Cohen, after leading me to that moment through a two year process of progressive enlightenment.

 

I enlightened myself, in the most absolute sense. Who else could?

 

What does it mean?

 

Enlightenment is a loaded word. Over the centuries it has accrued all kinds of fantastic descriptions, such as the idea of a constant state of bliss or love, the knowledge of everything that has ever existed, the acquisition of God like powers, the inability to think, feel or act in a ‘negative’ fashion, or a process of biology-defying physical transformation.

 

From my own experience, I can tell you that the simplest way of describing enlightenment is to say that everything is exactly the same as it was before, except identity is now found with emptiness instead of phenomena (it is therefore not an identity at all).

 

The effects of this are quite profound. Bliss is abundant. Normality becomes much more intense, and so although suffering as an individual is gone, that which is painful actually hurts more. This might sound bad, but enlightenment brings with it an incredible mental strength. The fears and delusions of the ego are illuminated, and although they are still experienced, the ability to overcome them is greatly enhanced. Enlightenment brings with it an incredible courage.

 

Fade Away

 

Over time it became apparent that the effects of enlightenment were fading. The bliss was lessening, and emptiness seemed to disappear at times. Needless to say, this was very disappointing.

 

I adopted a philosophical approach. Of course the effects would fade – they are relative and subjective, and so impermanent. This didn’t mean we were ‘losing’ enlightenment – how can you lose the Absolute? Surely the novelty was just wearing off.

 

Over the last week or so I’ve learnt an incredible amount about my relative self, or ego, and its attitude towards enlightenment. It was grasping at enlightenment; it wanted to keep the experience for itself. But surely it was over? And how could enlightenment be a state that could be held on to? It was obvious that my lifetime habit of grasping or avoiding every phenomenon I’ve ever come across needed serious work, and I wholeheartedly flung myself into various techniques for changing this attitude.

 

But there is no getting away from it: emptiness has gone. Completely. It doesn’t even fade in and out of the background as a plateau experience.

 

I’m stumped.

 

Cohen has often referred to students of his that have had an awakening only to revert to their old selves further down the line. He puts this down to those people not wanting to change enough.

 

I can tell you from personal experience that this is bullshit. Enlightenment has nothing to do with the ego.

 

In his essay on Arahats, Daniel Ingram states:

 

There is a phenomenon in which the Wisdom Eye may open, which qualifies one as an arahat, but then close again. These people are arahats, but they are a lesser subcategory of arahats. Full arahats have had the Wisdom Eye open and stay open, meaning that they have obtained the understandings listed below (see essay) and those have not faded.

 

(Note: ‘arahat’ is the Theravada Buddhist term for someone who has achieved enlightenment).

 

I think 'phenomenon' is the best way to describe what has happened – it occurred all by itself. But to say it has just faded away is to dismiss my current state – which is very different from when this first happened. The luminous emptiness has gone, but it seems impossible for me to fully identify with those sensations at the centre of my being that I used to think were me. I've also retained the ability to experience my Absolute Self.

 

It does appear as if both Duncan and I are now arahats, albeit of a lesser sub-category.

 

I don’t mind telling you that this is simply not good enough.

 

Fall Out

 

Duncan and I have discussed the possible repercussions of posting what has happened; with serious consideration given to the effect that claiming enlightenment might have on our audience (as small as it is). However, this doesn’t seem to be too much of a concern anymore.

 

But this site is a record. We try out the techniques, we report the experience, and we offer what we have found useful. And I’ll be damned if we don’t post the achievement of the actual god-damn aim of magick, the result of many years of blood, sweat and tears, on the basis of the fear of being called a liar, a cheat, and an ego-maniac, even if it was only a partial success.

 

I urge you not to believe a single word on this site. What you have in front of you is a record of two regular magicians who have tested out the techniques claimed by many traditions to lead to the experience of the truth. The techniques, models and results obtained are all on here.

 

This record appears to demonstrate that two people have accomplished the Great Work – if only for a short period of time – right here, right now and in your lifetime, with techniques available to all for free on the internet.

 

Whether you decide to corroborate any of this for yourself is up to you; but if you don’t perform the experiment, on what basis can you form an opinion?

 

Of course, this isn’t the end for us – predictably, this whole thing appears to have been a necessary step in terms of my development, especially in light of my experience with the god Horus this morning (a story for another time I feel).

 

Despite the fact I’ve advocated disbelief when it comes to everything on this site, I don’t think I could end this article without letting you know that the accomplishment of the Great Work is more fucking glorious than can possibly be imagined!

The African Diaspora: An interview with an initiate (Part 2)

Part two of Alan’s interview with Eduardo Hayes, a direct lineage initiate of Cuban Santeria, Palo Mayombe, Haitian Voodoo and Southern USA Root Working or Hoodoo.

Part One can be found here. 

 


 

ALAN: Although you've said you have never encountered anything within your traditions that approach enlightenment/mystical practices, I cannot help but see some similarities between the Western tradition of the Holy Guardian Angel and the head Orisha.

EDUARDO: Yes, I agree. During the "asciento" or "ordination" ceremony where the Orisha formally is "seated" in your head, cuts are actually made on top of the skull or crown of the head and an herbal compress is applied directly over the wound.  Then your Orisha is called "down" to reside within you.  A "life divination" is made for you and one final check to make sure the proper orisha is being "seated."  All this is written in a book, which ends up being the equivalent of your "book of shadows."  I think this has striking similarities to certain ceremonial magick rituals.

ALAN: What exactly is the practice employed when working with the Head Orisha?
 
EDUARDO: Several methods are used when working with the head Orisha, I will list
4 ways, although other ways are possible:
 
1) During your formal initiation into the "priesthood" where the Head orisha is called down into your head, you are given 7 sets of stones which "live" in ornate lidded soup bowls.  These stones are the Orisha embodied in a physical form, you keep them in your "temple / shrine" and they are at your disposal anytime you require them. When you touch them or use them, they are treated as if living beings, and receive the respect of Orisha.

2) The Head Orisha can subtly speak to you in your thoughts.  Often this is used to formulate questions properly when doing divination work.  I use the word subtle because you may decide that certain types of wordings are necessary when performing divination, or a thought or solution or spell could just occur to you.

3) On occasion, when conditions are right you can be physically possessed by any of the Orisha.  But most often people are possessed by their Head Orisha.

4) You can communicate with your Head Orisha or any of the others through different divination techniques, but most common are the16 cowrie shells (some traditions of Palo Mayombe use 5 or 7) or the 4 pieces of coconut.

ALAN: In Western magick, the magician, although working with the HGA quite frequently as if working with a spirit, is ultimately in a process of complete surrender to or absorption in the HGA, until unity in a metaphysical sense is achieved. This is very similar to bhakti or the method used when working with deities in the Hindu tradition. Although the deities are distinct entities in themselves, they are ultimately one apsect of the Truth that transcends but includes all things, including the deity and the magician, and this is realised as the result of the practice. Is such a process recognised in working with the Orisha? Just for clarity, by unity I do not mean the sharing of characteristics or the sense of the deity as an amplification of a part of the self, as what occurs during invocation/possession.

EDUARDO: From my observations and research, there is not an aspect of complete absorption, with the exception of possession, which is very temporary, a few hours at the most.  In fact some practitioners have specific charms and rituals which "ground" them and do not allow for spiritual interference of any type.  I don't think any Santeria practitioner believes that the Orisha is actually a part of themselves, they are distinct spiritual entities, not a product of the psyche. They are beings in and of themselves, and I have not heard of them being associated with an ultimate truth or with any type of transcendental aspect.  It is possible they could be interpreted n this way, but I know no direct evidence of  this.  However, I am still learning about the Western Ceremonial Magick concept of the HGA, perhaps when I learn more, I will see a clear connection.  This goes back to the idea that I do not see Santeria and the other African Traditions as a method of "spiritual advancement" or what we might call the "Great Work." I believe there is potential for this, but I have met no practitioners and heard of none that use this potential.

It is very possible that Santeria and other African Traditions have been "cut off" from the metaphysical.  I cannot speak to the traditions as practiced in Africa.  I have seen no evidence of this in the African Traditions transplanted in the New World (the Americas).  To be sure I will have to learn more about Rene Guenon's ideas – I read your essay on Tradition, and will reread it in light of our discussion.

ALAN: Have you or do you know of anybody that has tried to contact Olodumare, or
attempted direct experience of Him? Is it simply taught that he cannot be contacted, and so people never try? I can see a very sound reason for this being so, in the sense that enlightenment/Truth/God/One is not manifest as people are, and so it does hint at the fact that such a teaching may be based on mystical experience. I would find it very interesting if Olodumare is simply 'out of bounds'.

EDUARDO: In all the academic literature from religion, mythology, folklore and anthropology you will find that Olodumare is simply too far removed from the human plane.  He is out of reach.  However, there have been rumors that the otones or "sacred stones" of Olodumare have been brought to Cuba.  And that some of the Cubans in the USA have access to them or are receiving some of their own.  I have reason to believe this is just a way for someone to create a priesthood position above that of babalawo (the high priest).  In the USA where a well known Santeria priest can make $$$, this seems like a good business move.  I have talked to a number of initiates about this and most say there is no such thing.  I agree with them.

ALAN: I found your discussion on the development of 'houses' very insightful, as well as the change from shaman to priest that has occurred in South American traditions.

EDUARDO: To be clearer on the subject, there were "priests" in Africa. However, to practice your religion you did not have to be a priest. A priest could certainly help you, but in general the religion was in the hands of the people. In the Western form or Santeria, if you have not received any of the levels of priesthood your magical abilities are very restricted. Most practitioners say that a person not initiated would "hurt themselves" by trying to work with Orisha on any but the simplest levels.  However, some people such as myself where encouraged to work anyway they chose to as part of their "education." Once again I look at the circumstances where people are told they cannot perform rituals, and when people are told they should.  It all seems based on economics ( i.e. is it  to the advantage of the priest or initiate to warn against or give permission to perform rites of some sort?). For myself, my "godfather" in the tradition said I should perform my own animal sacrifices to "feed" various implements, tools, and Orisha, in spite of the fact I was only a low level initiate when I performed my fir
st sacrifice.  He told me it was "good practice" for me, and that I was fully able to perform the rites, and that if he was to do it, he would have to charge me a fee for sacrifices.  When I told other initiates, I would receive a good comment if they liked my "godfather", or a negative comment if they were in competition with him for clients, or if they wanted me as a student. They would tell me things like "your padrino (godfather) is trying to fuck you up…" So, it always came down to rivalries based on money, control, or fame.  

Anyhow, in Africa the practice or Orisha worship appears not to be so influenced by money. The tradition is more open in Africa, and here in the Americas it is more controlled.  This "freedom" of practice is even greater in African/Congo practices of Palo Mayombe.  In Africa you are self-initiated for the most part, you build your own tools, and equipment.  In the Americas this stuff is built for you and is very expensive.  So all in all, the religion in Africa is more communal and more shamanistic in a certain sense, and in the Americas, the priesthood attempts to limit the type of work people can take into their own hands.

ALAN: Well, all that remains to be said is thank you very much for agreeing to this conversation, and I hope to speak with you again soon.

EDUARDO: My pleasure!

 

The African Diaspora: An interview with an initiate (Part 1)

The Baptist’s recently made the acquaintance of Eduardo Hayes, a direct lineage initiate of Cuban Santeria, Palo Mayombe, Haitian Voodoo and Southern USA Root Working or Hoodoo. With a severe lack of accurate information in the West regarding the African Diaspora, and its usual misrepresentation as a result, the opportunity to gain a real insider’s view of these traditions seemed just too good to pass up. What follows is the resulting dialogue between Alan and Eduardo. 

Back in ’98, Eduardo wrote his masters degree on Santeria, and so in a number of places he has provided quite extensive notes that provide a basic introduction to the elements of his tradition and its historical development. A bibliography can be found at the end of the article.


ALAN: One of my favourite divinatory techniques for communicating with my HGA is the Obi. My use of the Obi is taken from the Urban Voodoo handbook by Dr. Hyatt, which I'm fully aware is not Voodoo by a long shot. I first saw the Obi being used when I met the spirits of a Quimbanda house here in the UK, and I was impressed by its efficiency as a divinatory tool. I find the possible outcomes deep enough to give a useful answer (rather than just ‘Yes’ and ‘No’), but not so deep as to require years of study (I've got the tarot for that). Can you tell me a little more about it? 

 

EDUARDO: In both the Santeria and Palo Mayombe traditions, the coconut/cowrie shell divination system without a chain connecting the pieces is called Obi.  High initiates of Santeria, the ‘babalawo’, use Obi with a chain connecting the pieces and this is called the Opele or Ikin.  I have never seen it used in Haitian Voodoo or Root Working.   Rune stones were once my favorite technique of divination, but now, however, my main methods are tarot and I-Ching, and when I am performing my Taoist practices I also use something called the Poe, which are two pieces of wood (usually bamboo roots) which are thrown like the Obi, and oddly enough there are some interesting similarities in the interpretations, but with such a small combination of throws, there is likely to be similarities. 

 

ALAN: My experience of the African Diaspora is very limited – I had the misfortune of spending some time with a Quimbanda house (the only one in the UK) and I've met with a practitioner of Voodoo a few times. I do not believe that the Quimbanda house was a representative of the entire tradition, but I was told in no uncertain terms that magical revelation, or mystical experiences, were to be ignored, and that my primary concern should be pleasing the spirits, acquiring material wealth and following my 'destiny'. The members of the house were egotistical, sadistic bullies. 

 

EDUARDO: From what I know, Quimbanda is an African tradition brought to South America and found mainly in Brazil.  The terminology of ‘house’ is also used in Palo and Santeria.  These ‘houses’ are not elements from the African tradition; the ‘house’ concept was added in the Americas originally as a type of ‘social club’.  

 

NOTE: Santería utilizes a system of fictitious kinship. The creation of new kinship relations among its initiates further strengthens the social cohesion Santería creates.  Brandon (1993: 75), illustrates that from ancestral lineages of priests:  

 

Blood kinship became ritual kinship after the manner of the catholic institution of compadrazo. The sons and daughters of the Orisha became the ajihados and ajihadas (godchildren) of the priests.  All the godchildren constituted a religious family of brothers and sisters.   

 

The madrina and padrino, who serve as teachers, initiators, or sponsor in Santería, are akin to ‘godmother’ and ‘godfather’ (Murphy 1993: 181).  Thus, initiates of Santeria become a part of an extended affinial kin group, complete with ‘mothers,’ ‘fathers,’ and ‘siblings.’ The relationship between godparent and godchild is of utmost importance.  This relationship is what fosters the spiritual growth of godchildren.  The “godparents” help direct and regulate their study and application of religious beliefs until they are ready to practice without the supervision (Brandon 1993: 149-150).  This complex of ritually created kin additionally enables the practices and beliefs of Santería to be transmitted to the next generation. 

 

The second institution that contributed to the formation of Santería was the religious social clubs called cabildos.  The Spanish population of Cuba came from many different parts of Spain.  Each had its own customs and regional dialect.  The members of each cultural group created the cabildos to promote mutual aid to its members as well as continue the traditions of their homeland (Canizares 1993: 24-25).

 

At first, the cabildos acted as town councils that delegated civil control to the level of the local property owners. The cabildos were in charge of legal arrangements in matters of the welfare and interests of the people in the community. During the periods when Spain attempted to gain more control over the colonies, the cabildos lost much of their legal power.  But they were still a popular place for the many Spanish ethnic groups to gather, and eventually they became mutual aid societies and social clubs (Rogozinski 1992: 118). These types of ‘clubs’ were adopted by the slaves divided by tribal groups, likewise serving as a place for them to socialize and carry on native customs. In later years, the African cabildos were open to all ethnic groups. As new Africans slaves were brought to America, they, too, joined these types of groups, adding to the cultural memories and knowledge of the group. Membership in cabildos was even encouraged by the slave owners, because it added to the competitive spirit of the slaves, as groups tried to outwork each other. In this way, tribal and cultural groups kept together in such social settings and were able to maintain their native traditions (Canizares 1993: 24-25).

The Catholic Church also influenced the cabildos and ‘sponsored’ dances and religious processions.  At such functions African elements were added to the European rites. Cabi
ldos often adopted patron saints and symbolic colors. The Church and State extended more and more control and restrictions over the cabilidos during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries (Brandon 1993: 70-72).  There were greater limitations placed upon the Afro-Cuban practices occurring in the cabildos.  In the late 1800s to early 1900 cabildos were transformed into reglas (Murphy 1993: 33).

Researchers have proposed that the greater survival of Africanisms in the circum-Caribbean area is a result of the slaving techniques.  In the United States, African tribal members and even families were commonly separated from each other.  Less contact with their own cultural groups resulted in a tendency among slaves to keep only the most basic or common elements of their cultures.  However, the colonial techniques of handling slaves in the Spanish parts of the Americas not only fostered a close-knit association of peoples of the same tribal groups, it provided a culturally acceptable way to continue traditional practices. Additionally complemented by the adaptable popular religiosity of the Spanish Catholic Church, African slaves were allowed much flexibility in their style of worship.  This clearly resulted in a greater retention of Africanisms (Simpson 1978: 12-14; Canizares 1993: 24-25). 

EDUARDO (Cont.): You will find some very interesting groups in Mexico that operate in conjunction with the church.  These clubs where formed by slaves and later continued like Masonic clubs after slavery days.  Interesting note, there is actually a great deal derived from masonry in these traditions especially Palo-Mayombe and Umbanda (very Masonic meetings and organization, secret hand shakes or grips, passwords, and initiations which draw directly from lower level Masonic Traditions). There is even Masonic symbolism in Haitian voodoo.

NOTE: Santeria is perceived as “a Cuban occult practice.”  Adefumi stated, “there was some resentment among certain white Cubans when informed that the religion was of African origin.  They had come to regard it as a Cuban form of freemasonry (Ibid. 117).”  Ortiz (1943:3), the Cuban anthropologist, also referred to Santería in Cuba as “Negro Masonry” upon his first encounters with it. 

EDUARDO (Cont.): In Africa, traditional practitioners of these systems were very much like ‘shamans’, but in the Americas they have became more like priests (in the Catholic and Anglican sense).  In Africa, everyone practices rituals and can perform spells and magic, although some people may be more gifted with divination, or good at calling spirits. In general, the religious tradition was one where everyone took an active and empowering role. In the Americas, however, the “priests” and initiates perform magic on behalf of people. So the common man lost much of his ability to practice magic, because the priest now does most of the magic for him.   

NOTE: The Catholic saints, whom Spaniards believed acted as intermediaries between humanity and God, were quickly adopted as ‘equivalent’ or ‘parallel’ to the Africans’ traditional deities, the Orisha.  It is this very mixture of Catholicism and traditional West African religion that provides Santería with its particular beliefs. In the New World, the Yoruba’s social and religious hierarchy was disrupted, and so they established a new modified system of priests and initiations based upon the traditional West-African beliefs and Catholicism.  They adopted the Spanish language, therefore, a priest or priestess became known as a santero or santera respectively.  The priest or priestess had the power to induct other people into the religion through secret ceremonies brought from Africa.  (Filipowicz 1998:27) 

The religion is eclectic by nature absorbing appealing ideas and beliefs into the religion.  For example, Buddha statues, Egyptian symbols, astrology, and even Chinese number and dream charts can be found in botanicas, attesting to the versatility of the religion.  Foreign ideas are often adopted and placed within the belief system, “without compromising identity and origins” (Canazares 1993: 110). 

EDUARDO (Cont.): Furthermore, based on my own experience, the African traditions in the Americas have gone another step further to become a type of religious ‘pyramid scheme’, where people have to pay lots of money for initiations, and levels of initiation have been developed and subdivided to maximize the amount of control a head of a house has over his or her ‘children.’ I was lucky in this regard – I was involved in this not just for personal reasons but for my university degree.  Practitioners I worked with gained respect by having me with them. They often said things to clients like "you see Eduardo is learning from me, he is in University and I am his teacher.  He is writing a book about my power…” So, because of my unusual status, several priests and practitioners helped me learn, because helping me learn meant I went to rituals with them and helped them with clients.  I got a good education, and in return they got a free helper and could also declare they were teaching someone getting a masters degree.  You say the Quimbanda people were egotistical, and from my experiences most of the Santeria and Palo Mayombe people where very egotistical, everything revolved around money, and controlling clients and lower initiates.  There were constant criticisms of other houses – if I ever learned something from another house, it was always criticized, as “the wrong way,” or they implied the other practitioners told me wrong “just to make trouble for you.”   Behavior like this was encouraged in the system itself.  When other houses are in competition for clients and money, there is always going to be a problem. I find this approach to magic very "unenlightening".

NOTE: Santeria utilizes an elaborate system of initiations, which induct Santeriá devotees into the mysteries of the religion. Through divination and devotion, the adherents may learn through which ceremonies the Orisha require them to pass.  These ceremonies establish a person’s rank within the religion as well as increase a devotee’s knowledge and skill.  Additionally, these rites forge a link between the devotee and the Orisha (Murphy 1987: 66-67).  After reaching a high level of initiation an adherent may take his place in the community as a santero, or priest of the religion.  There is another type of priest, higher in authority, called a babalao, meaning “father of the cult” or “father versed in mystery”.  He is a priest of Orisha Orunla the deity of divination and destiny.  The babalao is especially important because of his expertise as a diviner, versed in the Ifa oracle (Idowu 1995: 6,76).  His services are sought for all important undertakings and phases of life in general.  The roles of the Santero and Babalao are complementary. This religious structure, together with the lower-level initiates, comprises Santería families or houses and thus the Santería community (Canizares 1993: 28-35). 

ALAN: Can you tell me a little bit about your experience with Voodoo? 

EDUARDO: I was very pleased with my experience of Voodoo, these people were more "down to earth" and they did not keep secrets like the Palo and Santeria people did. They were a smaller community and they openly discussed anything I wanted to know about Voodoo.  I spent hours in a few Haitian "botanicas" in Central Florida, just talking and sharing.  They were very interested in my knowledge of Santeria,
and even in things I had read about Haitian voodoo! I shared with them; in return they taught me anything I asked about. Root working was also very much this way, I learned most of my root working from a man who operated a hair salon in Tallahassee Florida (Mr Chapman [ALAN: What are the chances?]).  Once he knew I was serious about learning, he openly shared his methods with me. I think that Voodoo is and Root Working are more “well-rounded” religions, and not just systems of magic. 

ALAN: As someone initiated into genuine lineages of the African Diaspora, can you tell me if there are any teachings that deal specifically with the process of experiencing enlightenment/magical development? Does mysticism play a part? 

EDUARDO: I think that in general the African traditions as found in the Americas lack any "spiritual" or "personal growth factors."  I think that most of the hard core practitioners are actually "unenlightening" themselves, as explained earlier.  In fact, they are not "spiritual" in the Western sense, although they attempt to use, control, and propitiate spirits. In general, I believe these traditions (at least as they are practiced outside their original environment of Africa) lack any emphasis on looking inward or seeking gnosis. I believe this is because of the time and place they came from. Only in the West and Far East have we enjoyed almost nonstop civilization (in the historical sense i.e. cities, writing systems, food technologies which create a surplus, metal smithing…). For over 2000+ years we Europeans have enjoyed an environment that has afforded some of our most "learned" people the time and luxury to explore inner space.  I think that traditions such as Buddhism and Taoism are a great example of this, as they are the product of Chinese and other Asian cultures with a much older continuous civilization than our own. In Africa, people are mostly concerned with survival. We in the West have had wars, but we did not have to contend with the constant battling that traditional African peoples encountered.  Additionally, their lack of technologies made life very unsure and unstable.  How could anyone develop deep systems of enlightenment in such conditions?  Just using magic, rough and ready, something to get you through an uncertain day was enough work. Think of it this way: In parts of the world with formal/academic systems of philosophy, there are religious and magical traditions that deal with enlightenment.  Areas without formal/academic philosophies seem to be void of this type of inner tradition.  I cannot think of any culture which does not fit into this paradigm.  

ALAN: Despite the behaviour you’ve witnessed, are there any teachings within these traditions that resemble the mysticism of the West?  

EDUARDO: They are not mystical in the sense of the Sufi or the Western mystic. I have never heard any mention of enlightenment or anything that I could interpret as enlightenment within these traditions.

In Santeria, everyone has what they call the head orisha, or guardian angel. This is a guiding spiritual father or mother depending on the gender of the orisha/deity. The term ‘head orisha’ has a double meaning: it is the deity which presides over you like a “head” master, and the orisha is said to reside in the crown of the skull.  The term guardian angel is used among people who have a more catholic take on the system; it is also a simpler way to explain something to non-initiates, and safer depending on their religious outlook.  

NOTE: The Yoruba believe that every person has been given a specific destiny. The fate of each individual was selected before birth while in the presence of Olorun. Also chosen at this time is the ‘guardian angel’ Orisha who helps the person understand and live according to what was preordained. When a person is born, all memory of the selected destiny is forgotten and once assigned the destiny cannot be changed.  As a result, each person’s task in life is to find his or her destiny and acknowledge it. (Idowu 1995: 177, 179-184) 

Each person is believed to have a destiny. To fulfill your destiny is to make the best of your life.  I learned from several priests, that to follow one’s destiny to the fullest is to ‘flow with life.’ When you understand this, everything becomes easy. The destinies are often called caminos (roads).  Initiates of Santería are better equipped to be ‘in tune’ with the ‘road.’ As one finds their path in life, àché becomes easier to balance and control, and therefore, the believer advances effortlessly through life (Murphy 1993:130-131). Adherents of Santería believed that every person has a following, a ‘profession.’ Likewise, a study of African-Americans found a similarity in this idea of destiny.  It is essential for one to find this ‘road’, which may be one of good or evil. Only in this way can one secure their course through life in the world (Whitten 1962:319). 

The Orisha have been compared to the Olympian gods of Greek mythology as they presided over various realms of nature and humanity. Unlike the Greek deities, the Orisha are a part of a living religion, and some are explained in their mythology or patakí, as human, like Shango, the third king of the city-state of Oyo (Gonzalez-Whippler 1994: 6; Nunez 1992: 43).  The superficial missionary work of slave owners and clergy only helped entrench the syncretic religion by leaving gaps in the Catholic belief system to be filled by the slaves with their own traditional ideology. 

When one becomes a devotee of the Santeriá religion, he identifies with a specific Orisha who serves as a ‘protector,’ often called a “guardian angel.”  The Orisha are worshiped through a combination of ceremonies and festivals comprised of dancing, animal sacrifice, music, and ritual.  The religion also has an elaborate system of ‘magic’ which is exercised to gain the favor of the Orisha, allowing practitioners to manipulate nature for specific ends.  Trance, divination, and honoring the ancestors are other important components of Santeriá rites and practices (Nunez 1992: 7-17). 

Because the Orisha are thought to guide their initiates, and even to reside in the head or ori of his priests, the attributes which characterize the Orisha are thought to transfer to the initiate, thus, explaining specific dispositions and behaviors of these initiates.  Orisha help to shape the religious communities’ understanding of themselves as embodiments of the Orisha’s archetypal personality (Pemberton 1987: 537; Ojo 1966:158-159). 

ALAN: Isn’t there a deity in Santeria that embodies primordial consciousness? 

EDUARDO: There is a deity called Olodumare. He is like the Gnostic view of god.  He is ultimately the creator of everything, and the source of all energies and life, but he is too far removed from people, too distant, for us to ask him for help – he does not hear us…  The Orisha are but different manifestations of this one god, and they can act as intermediaries from people to Olodumare. This idea might be why the African traditions worked so well in the Americas, because Catholic saints also act as a kind of intermediary between people and God, and so they coulkd easily stand in for the traditional Orisha. Some religious academics actually call the West African traditions "Diffuse-Monotheism", meaning that they recognise only one God, but that one God interacts with people indirectly through emanations of himself – he is diffused into many forms. 

NOTE: Theologically, the Yoruba spiritual world is divided into levels of hierarchy.  The uppermost point is Olodumare, also called Olorun.  He is believed to be omniscient and all-powerful, equivalent in many ways to the European concept of a Supreme Being (Murray 1989:38).  The level below is occupied by the Orisha, the lesser deities who, varying by region, are ranked according to their importance. These divinities originated from a division of the prominent characteristics of Olodumare. The Orisha are various aspects of Olodumare seen as separate entities independent, yet springing from him (Idowu 1995: 57-58).  Under the Orisha are the ancestors, who have established houses/families to carry on their lineage and to recognize and honor the continuous ancestral existence (Ibid. 134,207-208).  Finally, at the bottom of the hierarchy are various nature spirits, which inhabit animate creatures, inanimate objects, and even places (Ojo 1966: 159-160,184). 

There are no temples or shrines built for Olodumare in spite of his status.  Yoruba believe that this supreme God is too far separated from the events and happenings of humanity to be addressed directly. Instead, when people need to call upon the highest power to intercede in their lives, they invoke the deities below him, the Orisha, who act as emissaries between humans and the almighty.  Each Orisha has dominion over distinct aspects of the ‘material world’ (Drewal, Pemberton, and Abiodun 1989: 14-16). 

ALAN: If you don't mind me asking, why do you feel the need to practice Thelema or Taoism whilst also being an initiate of Santeria/Palo Mayombe/Voodoo/Root work? 

EDUARDO: Why do I want to practice Western Ceremonial magick and Thelema?  For many of the reasons stated, I don’t feel the West African traditions are conducive to experiencing enlightenment.  Although I could adjust the systems or only use the magical aspects of my lineages, I personally don’t feel right mixing these traditions up. I would rather practice the African Diaspora as I was originally taught.  If I mixed them all together I feel I could up end up like some neo-pagan, running sky-clad in the woods waving a crystal wand, blessing everyone with light and love (although that may not be a bad idea…).  

Part Two of the interview can be found here.


 

REFERENCES

 

Brandon, George – Santería from Africa to the New World: The Dead Sell Memories, Indiana University Press: Bloomington, Indiana. 1993 

Canizares, Raul – Walking with the Night: The Afro-Cuban World of Santeria, Destiny Books: Rochester, Vermont.1993 

Drewal, Henry John, John Pemerton III, and Rowland Abiodun – The Yoruba World in Yoruba: Nine Centuries of African Art and Thought, Edited by Allen Wardwell. The Center for African Art, Harry N. Abrams Inc. Publishers: New York, New York. pp. 13-44. 1989 

 

Filipowicz, Eugene B. – Santería As Revitalization Among African-Americans, MA Thesis. Department of Anthropology, Florida State University 1998 

González-Wippler, Migene – Legends of Santería, Llewellyn Publications: St. Paul, Minnesota 1994 

Idowu, E. Bolaji – Olóldùmarè: God in Yorùbá Belief, Original Publications: New York, New York. 1995    

 

Murphy, Joseph M. – Santería in The Encyclopedia of Religion, Edited by Mircea Eliade, MacMillan Publishing Company: New York, New York. Vol. 13, pp. 66-67. 1987

 

Santería: African Spirits in America, Beacon Press: Boston, Massachusetts. 1993  

 

Murray, Jocelyn (Editor) – Yoruba Traditional Religion, in Cultural Atlas of Africa, Equinox: Oxford, Ohio. 1989   

Nunez, Luis Manuel – Santeria: A Practical Guide to Afro-Caribbean Magic, Dallas, Texas: Spring Publications. 1992  

Ojo, G. I. Afolabi – Yoruba Culture: A Geographical Analysis. London, England: University of London Press Ltd. 1966 

 

Ortiz, Fernando - On the Relations Between Whites and Blacks in Points of View, Division of Intellectual Cooperation, Pan American Union: Washington D.C.  7: 1-12. 1943

 

Pemberton, John III – Yoruba Religion, in The Encyclopedia of Religion, edited by Eliade, Mircea. McMillian Publishing Co.: New York, New York.  Vol. 15, pp. 535-538. 1987

 

Rogozinski, Jan – A Brief History of the Caribbean: From the Arawak and the Carib to the Present, Facts on File Inc.: New York, New York 1992 

Simpson, George Eaton – Black Religions in the New World, Columbia University Press: New York, New York. 1978    

Whitten, Norman E. Jr. – Contemporary Patterns of Malign Occultism among Negros in North Carolina,  Journal of American Folklore. 75: 311-325. 1962    

 

The Camel Rides Again: A Primer in Magick

In six short chapters and one appendix, this book strips down magick to its barest essentials. To beginners, it offers a basic understanding of what magick is and how it can be worked. To more advanced practitioners, it offers an exciting new perspective on the definition of magick, and its relationship to personal enlightenment.

Enjoy! Beautiful paper copies are also available for purchase worldwide, or you can download your own PDF copy for free (361Kb). You might also like this plainer text version (PDF file, 159Kb)

The Grade of Magus

The grade of Magus is one of three grades within the A.’.A.’. Western magical tradition that delineates the process of enlightenment. For more on this, please see The Magical Progressive Experience model.

The basic A.’.A.’. developmental process can be summarised as follows:

1). The magician gains the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel.

This begins the process of enlightenment.

2). His or her angel leads the magician to the abyss.

The abyss is the veil between what is real (Emptiness/God/Truth) and that which is not (everyday reality).

Whether the magician progresses beyond the abyss is a matter of inertia; most people, even many seekers after enlightenment, are not existentially able to give themselves up to the process.

Equivalence: Dukkha Nanas of Theravada Buddhism, Dark Night of the Soul of Christian mysticism.

3). The magician crosses the abyss and achieves the grade of Magister Templi.

The grade of Magister Templi is fully achieved with the first peak experience of enlightenment. The magician now knows through direct experience the difference between what is real and what is not. This grade covers the period of time that enlightenment remains as a peak experience.

Equivalence: First and Second Path of Theravada Buddhism (Sotapanna and Sakadagami).

4). The magician completes the tasks of the Magister Templi, and attains the grade of Magus.

The grade of Magus is attained with the first occurrence of enlightenment as a plateau experience.

The grade of Magus is not to be confused with the Office of the Magus of the Aeon, of which there is supposedly only one magician every 2,000 years who will fulfil this role  (Crowley being the last). The Office of the Magus of the Aeon has nothing to do with the process of enlightenment.

Equivalence: Third Path of Theravada Buddhism (Anagami). First occurrence of Wilber’s Witness and the possibility of Nerodhi Samapatti.

5). The magician completes the tasks of the Magus, and attains the grade of Ipsissimus.

With the permanent adaptation of enlightenment, and the cessation of duality, the magician becomes fully enlightened and attains the grade of Ipsissimus.

Equivalence: Fourth Path in Theravada Buddhism (Arahat). For a detailed account of what it must be like to be an Ipsissimus from the perspective of a Theravada Arahat, please see Daniel Ingram’s essay on Arahats.

The assumption of the grade of Magus

Enlightenment became a plateau experience for me on Saturday 14th July between 2 and 3pm, and the preceding ordeal was my initiation into the grade of Magus. It is interesting to note the amount of symbolism involved in the events of the ordeal that pertain to Chokmah, or the Sephiroth on the Qabalistic Tree of Life peculiar to the grade of Magus.

I can’t be sure if my experience of the attainment of the grade of Magus is common, but I found the resulting difference in consciousness between Magus and Magister Templi just as marked as that which occurred between normal consciousness and the first peak experience of enlightenment. Although there was no doubt a new path within the Theravada model had been achieved, it was only with the scrying of the Enochian Aethyr VTI (25), and the aftermath of that vision, that it became apparent I had attained a new grade within the A.’.A.’..

The fact I’m now a Magus has come as a surprise, although in hindsight it makes complete sense in terms of the nature of the progressive experience of enlightenment, revealing the A.’.A.’. grading system to be a much more elegant and accurate model for the process than I previously thought.

What it means to be a Magus

For the traditional view of the grade of Magus, please see the Holy book Liber B vel Magi.

Although I feel a little embarrassed describing myself as a Magus, I’ve had plenty of time to grow accustomed to the reality of the process of enlightenment, and so it does not bother me as much as when I first attained the grade of Magister Templi.

From my own personal experience, the grade describes the point at which Emptiness/God/Truth becomes increasingly more present during everyday consciousness, with moments of absorption in a state of divinity. The effect of my first peak experience of enlightenment, where my consciousness became decentralised and diffused in the ‘background’ of reality, is now a common occurrence that persists as a state.

My meditation has become extremely eventful: trances, bliss, expansion, visions, new intellectual insights, etc.

I suffer less. This doesn’t mean I no longer feel pain, misery, disgust, fear, etc but that my relationship to these emotions and the experiences that cause them has been affected.

I have a very deep insight into the nature of existence, although I am not enlightened. The good news is I am now one realisation away from complete enlightenment. The bad news is it could take anything from a couple of minutes to the rest of my life for that realisation to occur.

Myths of the Magus

I cannot fly, turn myself invisible, teleport, live forever, know all things, materialise objects out of thin air, change physical size and shape, walk through walls, stop bullets in mid air, beat everyone at martial arts, or do any other wonderfully fantastic feats of Godhood.

I do not hang around with the Great White Brotherhood, although I have seen them, experienced their effects, and received direct communication. They even gave me a little present.

I have not started a new aeon.

I am still a great big tit.

The Origin of the Order & Value of the English Alphabet

Since obtaining the Knowledge and Conversation of my Holy Guardian Angel, I have killed Him many times: each time regaining the K and C with a new name and understanding of His nature.

The third and last time I re-established the link with my angel, I received a vision of his name. My angel must have shown me the spelling of his name for a reason: and the only reason that springs to mind is Qabalistic.

I discovered upon entering my angel's name in the gematria databases (found in the links section) that my angel's name equals 110 in both the Hebrew and Greek Qabalah. Although no other words were found with the same value, I found the equivalence of value in both systems intriguing.

Two weeks ago and three months later (I suppose it wasn't that intriguing), I decided to explore the number 110. Imagine my surprise to discover that 110 is sphenic, pronic, a harshad number and a self number. Golly.

Messing around with the number, I discovered that the sequence of products of 110 (i.e. the results of multiplying 110 by various numbers), when reduced by the simple addition of digits (i.e. 81 = 8 + 1 = 9), results in the following repeating 6 figure pattern, inherent in all product sequences of 110:

2,4,8,7,5,1

Adding these together, we get the number 27. Of course, 2 + 7 = 9.

So I have the magic numbers 110, 27 and 9. And I suppose 3 as well (3 x 3 is 9 and 3x 9 = 27).

Still no wiser concerning the reason for the vision of my angel's name, I decided to have a go at obtaining 'the Order & Value of the English Alphabet', as instructed by Hadit in Chapter 2 of The Book of the Law.

Rubbish

There are numerous English Qabalahs, most of them rubbish. I see no reason to believe that there isn't a simple mathematical relationship between the letters and words of the English language, just as there is for Hebrew and Greek; however, I do not ascribe to the popular pluralistic Thelemic opinion that there is a unique English Qabalah for each individual. It is patently absurd to attribute any kind of philosophical, political or ethical attitude to the mathematical structure of a language.

Every attempt I have seen at the English Qabalah has been based on a process of trial and error or spurious problem solving of the puzzles found in The Book of the Law, usually resulting in an overly complex and clumsy set of values.

Although an English Qabalah should certainly elucidate many of the concepts of The Book of the Law, adding to our understanding of the text, the English Qabalah should throw light on the relationship between concepts of the English language full stop. As well as demonstrating an initiated perspective on the relationship between concepts previously considered unrelated, words with an obvious relationship should share the same value (such as Fire and Light).

With this in mind, I decided to look for a mathematical relationship between the letters of the English Alphabet. It didn’t take long to find one.

If we assign each letter of the alphabet the value of its sequential order i.e. A = 1, B = 2, C = 3, etc., then divide the alphabet into two columns of 13, folded at M and N, we get this:

A = 1 Z = 26
B = 2 Y = 25
C = 3 X = 24
D = 4 W = 23
E = 5 V = 22
F = 6 U = 21
G = 7 T = 20
H = 8 S = 19
I = 9 R = 18
J = 10 Q = 17
K = 11 P = 16
L = 12 O = 15
M = 13 N = 14

If we add the value of A to the value of Z, we get 27. Ooh, a magic number. If we add the remaining rows together, we discover that each row equals 27 (B = 2 + Y = 25 = 27, C = 3 + X = 24 = 27, etc).

Of course, 2 + 7 = 9.

I took the fact I had come across the very number implicit in the Qabalistic analysis of my angel's name as an indication that I should explore further.

The Value of the English Alphabet 

So I tried the first thing that came to mind:

A = 1 
B = 2 
C = 3 
D = 4 
E = 5 
F = 6 
G = 7 
H = 8 
I = 9 
J = 1 
K = 2 
L = 3 
M = 4 
N = 5 
O = 6 
P = 7 
Q = 8 
R = 9 
S = 1 
T = 2 
U = 3 
V = 4 
W = 5 
X = 6 
Y = 7 
Z = 8 

Adding up the value of my angel's name using this system, I discovered it equalled 27.

A couple of days of furious addition later and I had some interesting results. These can be viewed here as a simple list, and at some point in the future I hope to integrate the list with the calculator in the side navigation. Many of the equivalences speak for themselves (thank god!), and I’ve included commentary and quotation where I feel the results of the system elucidate key Thelemic concepts.

The Order of the English Alphabet

The values assigned give us two lists from 1 to 9 and one list from 1 to 8.

If we group the letters of the alphabet together by value, we get the following order:

AJS  = 1
BKT  = 2 
CLU  = 3 
DMV  = 4 
ENW  = 5 
FOX  = 6 
GPY  = 7 
HQZ  = 8 
IR  = 9 

There are 8 sets of three letters, and one of two. This might seem a little inconsistent, until we consider the values obtained by adding the individual values of the letters together:

Letter Group Shared Value  Values added 

Reduction (e.g. 12 = 1 + 2 = 3) 

AJS  1  3 x 1 = 3  3
BKT   3 x 2 = 6  6
CLU   3 x 3 = 9  9
DMV   3 x 4 = 12  1 + 2 = 3
ENW   3 x 5 = 15  1 + 5 = 6
FOX   3 x 6 = 18  1 + 8 = 9
GPY   3 x 7 = 21  2 + 1 = 3
HQZ   3 x 8 = 24  2 + 4 = 6
IR   2 x 9 = 18  1 + 8 = 9

This gives us the repeating sequence: 3, 6, 9.

If we compare the letter groups by their reduced value, we get a table of nine squares:

3
AJS  BKT  CLU 
DMV  ENW  FOX 
GPY  HQZ  IR 

If we add the rows and columns together using the added values of each letter group (e.g. AJS = 3 x 1 = 3), and reduce the results by simple addition, we get this:

  Total  Reduction 
  AJS  BKT  CLU  18 
  DMV  ENW  FOX  45 
  GPY  HQZ  IR  63 
Total  36  45  36     
Reduction     

If we add up the values of the Total column, we get 126, which also equals 9 by simple reduction (1 + 2 + 6 = 9). The same is true if we add the values of the Total row: 117 = 1 + 1 + 7 = 9.

Rather interestingly, 9 + 9 + 9 = 27! And of course, 2 + 7 = 9.

This English Qabalah demonstrates an inherent, mathematical consistency of the most simple and elegant kind; the fact that these values (27 and 9) also happen to represent the most significant key concepts of Thelema only adds to the possibility that this is indeed the genuine English Qabalah.

It is worth noting that the Hebrew Qabalah was supposedly taught to man by angels: is it possible that this is true of the English Qabalah too?

The Magister Templi and the Arahat

On Mar 26, 2007, I wrote to Daniel Ingram (aka Dharma Dan), an Arahat of the Buddhist Theravada tradition, to ask his advice regarding fruition. I found that not only was Dan willing to help, but he displayed an insatiable interest in all things ‘enlightenment’…

Please Note: What follows is a full-blown geek-out regarding developmental models. As such, the conversation is littered with technical terms. Please see Dan’s book Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha and my essay The Nature of the A.’.A.’. for clarification of some of these terms.

The Timing of Fruition

ALAN: I hope you don't mind me asking you for a little advice Dan, but in light of the fact good teachers are hard to find, I feel you're the only person I know qualified to give that advice. On the 22nd February, I experienced my first fruition. A couple of weeks a go I went through the Dukkha nanas again, in quite a bad way. I actually felt psychotic. However, I went through the whole thing in one night as a result of a HGA ritual. If I'm correct, the Insight Progress cycle is fractal; so I assumed this was a little cycle within a much bigger one leading to Second path at some point in the far future.

However, after reaching equanimity, I didn't experience fruition. I assumed I had made a mistake in locating where I was.

Now this might sound like a pair of pendulous testicles, but I may have experienced second fruition this morning, meditating on the train on the way to work.

Very much like the first fruition, this experience wasn't very shocking. At first, I became detached from the karma (I know that's a cheesy term, but 'inertia' or 'tendency' doesn't quite cut it) that makes me think all will be revealed in the future (especially when I'm dead); then I became detached from the karma that freaks me out when I consider the fact I actually exist (one of my favourites). Something happened next, then I realised form is emptiness (I know this is straight out of the Heart Sutra Model, but I can't think of a better way of expressing it; but if it is that, how does that relate to Second Path?).

DAN: The question about form being emptiness regarding that model is: do you know this as an intuitive feeling or is it just as obvious in real-time as colour or form? For the anagami, it is progressively very obvious in real-time. Second path is sort of an odd one to try to describe. It is something past stream entry, and involves cycles, cycles, and cycles, an appreciation of how progress is made, but explaining exactly how things are different in real-time is not very easy for most.

ALAN: At first, it didn't occur to me that it might be second path; but something's changed. And I have that 'smooth' calm aftermath feeling that occurred after the first one, as well as a repeat performance of being able to sail effortlessly through the jhanas almost despite myself. Is it possible I've gone from stream enterer to once returner in almost exactly a month?

DAN: Yes, it is definitely possible. Everyone is different and people make progress at wildly different rates. I don't think that issues of timing should be a big hang-up, just a small caution. I went from second path to third path in just a few months largely off retreat, and it freaked out my teachers just because of the timing, which was missing the point. I had crossed the A&P and gotten into the Dark Night of second path within a week and a half or so of getting stream entry, but I couldn't land it until about 6 months later.

The Next Day

ALAN: This morning I had a repeat performance of fruition – and my consciousness is currently diffused in the background. I also appear to have sensitive eyes (is that common?).

DAN: The siddhi side-effects of practice can vary widely between people, even more than issues of timing. What exactly do you mean by sensitive eyes?

ALAN: The nerves at the back and top of my eyes feel frazzled. Anyway, if I am indeed correct that repeat fruitions of your current path occur in Review, whereas the next path occurs when you achieve fruition after going through the Dark Night again, I think I’m pretty sure of where I am in terms of the Buddhist developmental model.

DAN: Well, in the end we each are left alone trying to figure these things out for ourselves, though there is something to be said for the external reference points of maps and friends, however inexact.

Dan grills Alan on the Western developmental model

ALAN: Throughout my magical/spiritual development I've employed as many models of development as I could possibly lay my hands on, such as Alchemy, Qabalah, the Fourth Way and the 10 Zen Ox Herding Images.  I've found your book, Mastering the Core teachings of the Buddha, indispensable during this period for providing info regarding where I am in the Theravada Insight Progress Model.

It's obvious from your writing that you're aware that all of these models appear to be describing the same process. For instance, when I achieved the Knowledge and Conversation of my Holy Guardian Angel, I began my first Insight cycle.

DAN: It has been interesting to try to line up KCHGA with the insight maps, and the A&P and stream entry are the two obvious choices, though I found the details ambiguous. I think that the A&P is a great fit for Tiphareth, and Stream Entry for Ain. I have a friend who thinks he is somewhere past Adeptus Major, and he was very helpful but not definitive, as the emphases of these maps is so different. What is your favourite source material for the Thelema/Golden Dawn/A.:A.:/Qabala based maps?

ALAN: The model that fits my experience almost to a T is the A.'.A.'.. However, when I set out to achieve the KCHGA I did so simply as a means of improving my magical ability. It was shortly after contact was made that my angel seemed to disappear (I couldn't repeat the success of the first extended working). I chanced upon a text that mentioned the HGA must leave the aspirant to Cross the Abyss alone, and that's when what I'd always considered an antiquated magical order schema revealed itself to be an actual developmental model. For instance, the grade of Magister Templi (someone who has crossed the abyss) is that of one who is a master of the trance of sorrow, which lines up very nicely with the knowledge gained from the Dark Night.

In terms of lining up the progress model with the Qabalistic/A.'.A.'. model, the KCHGA wasn't an A and P Event for me; shortly after my angel buggered off, I went through 12 days of trances involving lights, bliss, vibrating, etc, which I equate with the A and P Event.

I then found myself crossing the abyss, which wasn't terribly bad. When I reached the other side (which was confirmed by a number of distinct events as predicted by the model) I found myself as a Magister Templi. I was confused, because as much bollocks abounds regarding the 'grade' of MT as there does regarding an Arahat. A couple of months later I had Fruition. I always thought that an Arahat would be
the equivalent to the grade of Ipsissimus.

Although I have found the A.'.A.'. model very accurate, it is virtual useless when it comes to detail; I've come to think of Crossing the Abyss as the first time you go through the Dark Night, as it would be improper to say you cross the abyss each time you attain one of the grades above the abyss. It's also true that a specific event occurs that verifies the crossing (the Encounter with Choronzon).

DAN: What practices from the western traditions do you consider to have been the most helpful to you?

ALAN: Without doubt, gaining the KCHGA. When you’ve made contact, all guidance comes from the HGA. By this I mean you suddenly find exactly what you need regarding info/practice at just the right time. The progress made for the amount of work put in is incredible. However, a running theme has been meditation in one form or another – vipassana, Fourth Way, Zhiney, etc.

I also can’t stress enough that you can get the results from meditation through ritual; I experienced my A and P trances from worshipping the sun ‘as the sum of all things’ and then flinging myself into it ‘astrally’.

DAN: What is the core essence of the western traditions that can be distilled to its practical best to add to the body of accessible teachings, in your opinion?

ALAN: Again, the HGA. However, the available material regarding how to go about attaining the K and C is very poor indeed. That could be said for magick in general.

DAN: Do you think that a clear source is written on these things, or does that remain to be done? I have looked around and find it a very mixed, complex bag, but perhaps I am missing something or looking in the wrong place, or just have insufficient initiation or knowledge of that tradition.

ALAN: To be honest with you, most people who have written on the Western Tradition don’t have the actual experience. Texts based on experience (such as Crowley’s) tend to require a good few years of study to fully comprehend. However, I’m attempting to rectify this by re-interpreting material (especially Crowley’s stuff) based on my actual experience.

DAN: I invite you to join the movement towards frank discussion when you feel ready.

ALAN: Thanks Dan. I'm doing my best at the BH to try and clarify exactly what magical attainment is, some of it inspired by your good self (my article on the Magister Templi was a direct result of your essay on Arahats).

It's a shame that a lot of people believe there is no such thing as magical attainment/enlightenment, to the extent they will deem any claim of attainment a joke or a bad case of ego-inflation.

DAN: Thanks for your questions and insights. Let me know if you have any further thoughts and let me know how things go if you wish.

ALAN: Thank you very much indeed, Dan!

What a very nice, unusually hardcore Buddhist

What can I say? Despite the fact Dan works very long and erratic hours as an emergency physician, he took the time out to reply in great depth to an unsolicited e-mail from a lunatic magician half the world away.

I am overwhelmed by Dan’s generosity and his unapologetic, frank and irreverent approach to enlightenment. I found Dan’s interest in the Western Tradition an indication of a genuine interest in the promotion of enlightenment, regardless of what form it comes in.

If you haven’t already, please visit Dan’s site for the most relevant and useful information regarding Buddhism currently available. You can also listen to a three-part interview with Dan over at buddhistgeeks.com.

The Undefiled Knowledge

My magical experience seems to corroborate many of the core principles in the founding text of Thelema, The Book of the Law.

Dictated by Aleister Crowley’s Holy Guardian Angel in 1904, the text heralds the dawn of the Aeon of Horus, the Crowned and Conquering Child, and can be considered the ‘official statement’ of the new occult forces that will rule the world for the next 2,000 years (at least, according to Crowley).

In many places, I find the prose and cosmology of The Book of the Law to be not only beautiful, especially in Chapters 1 and 2, but also incredibly invaluable in terms of magical insight.

However, the text does contain what appear to be quite inhumane and (let’s face it) fascist sentiments:

In Chapter 1, the goddess Nuit states:

10. Let my servants be few & secret: they shall rule the many & the known.

Illuminati anyone? Obviously the gods don’t care much for democracy…

In Chapter 2, the god Hadit, consort of Nuit, tells us: 

21. We have nothing with the outcast and the unfit: let them die in their misery. For they feel not. Compassion is the vice of kings: stamp down the wretched & the weak: this is the law of the strong: this is our law and the joy of the world…

48. Pity not the fallen! I never knew them. I am not for them. I console not: I hate the consoled & the consoler.

49. I am unique & conqueror. I am not of the slaves that perish. Be they damned & dead! Amen.

I wonder what they made of Live Aid .

If you think Chapters 1 and 2 are bad, you should see chapter 3…

Boo Hoo

Rather interestingly, especially for those that consider The Book of the Law to be little more than the product of a deranged mind, Crowley’s revulsion to the text is actually noted by ‘the voice’ in Chapter 2 of the book itself:

10. O prophet! thou hast ill will to learn this writing.

11. I see thee hate the hand & the pen; but I am stronger.

Indeed, Crowley spent a good part of his life avoiding his responsibility as the Prophet of the New Aeon, as even the ‘Wickedest Man in the World ’ found the book a little on the offensive side.

Despite the fact over a century has passed since the inauguration of the new aeon, devout Thelemites still struggle with the less than savoury aspects of the book, as illustrated in a recent thread on the thelemic forum Lashtal, which asked ‘is Thelema a form of benign fascism?

Perhaps Crowley-loving comics genius Alan Moore would have answered in the affirmative, if his interview for Blather in 2000, is anything to go by:

I admire the prose style of The Book of the Law, that's about all I admire about it. I'm sure that there probably is great wisdom there and I'm pretty certain he did channel it from somewhere but I don't think it was from the genuine Angel of the Aeon! It was probably something pretty fucking big and scary but no, no, I could never accept [it], it's too mad and cruel, it's too heartless, it's too inhuman, I'm not interested in that. If that's what godhood's all about then I'll settle with what I've got.

It’s easy to see that The Book of the Law poses a problem; is it really possible to accept the profound magical insights without agreeing with the rest of it? Are we perhaps missing the bigger picture due to a fault in our understanding? As the book says:

27. There is great danger in me; for who doth not understand these runes shall make a great miss…

Wife swap

The Book of the Law is not the only supposed ‘angelic communication’ that smacks of inhumanity.

Between 1582 and 1587, Dr. John Dee, astrologer to Queen Elizabeth I and all round genius, and Sir Edward Kelley, alchemist extraordinaire, regularly communicated with a number of beings that claimed to be angels. During this time, the angels transmitted the angelic language Enochian; a rather vague 18-day magical working; a vast number of complicated tables, sigils and equipment specifications; a complete system of angelic evocation (otherwise known as ‘Heptarchy magick’, the manuscript of which is still unpublished); a complete map of the known world and the angels or genii therein; a book called Liber Loagaeth, which was intended to usher in a new aeon; and 48 calls or keys, 30 of which are used to scry ‘Aethyrs’, with the purpose of the remaining 18 being unknown (perhaps they are to be used for the vague 18 day working, but if this is the case, the instructions from the angels are contradictory and confused. I am, however, planning a working to test this out).

On numerous occasions, as related in Dee’s magical record of the communications, the angels appear callous, deliberately obscure and deceitful. Despite Kelley’s protestations, the angels ordered he break his celibacy and take a wife; they tricked Dee and Kelley into travelling around Europe; berated and cursed Dee when he showed little faith in the angels; commanded Dee to admonish the Kings and rulers of Europe for their sins (which he did – it’s amazing he wasn’t executed); and, finally, the angels wished Dee and Kelley to swap wives. This they did, and it marked the end of their relationship.

Given Kelley’s background as a necromancer and petty thief, many historians are inclined to believe that Kelley faked the angel communications (Kelley acted as the scryer, or conduit for the angels to communicate through) and had designs on Dee’s wife from the start.

However, as with Crowley, Kelley was no fan of the information he channelled. He would frequently become enraged with the angels, and would refuse any further contact, only for Dee to talk him round each time. When the angels claimed their system of magic is more powerful than any existent, it was Kelley that pointed out it’s no different from the common magic he already knew. Indeed, if Dee and Kelley were able to contact the angels through their own invocations, why is the Enochian system required at all? It’s worth noting that Dee and Kelley never used the system dictated by the angels (although they did make the equipment), because they were forbidden to do so, until the time came when they would be granted permission. That time never came.

The Key of it All

Due to vague or omitted instructions by the angels, all of the magick available today that purports to be Enochian is based on guesswork, with the worst examples being a bastardisation of a number of magical systems (see the Golden Dawn’s deranged arrangement of the Watchtowers and bizarre use of the 18 keys for evocation).

However, the scrying of the Aethyrs is perhaps the most explicit component of Enochian magick, and the one that requires the least amount of invention; you simply read the
key (one call fits all), with the appropriate name of the Aethyr and the governing angels. Then sit back, close your eyes and enjoy the show…

It’s been reported by many a magician that when scrying the Aethyrs there is on occasion the inescapable feeling of being tricked in someway (although I have experienced this once or twice, the results from scrying the Aethyrs have never been anything but very, very good for me in terms of my magical development).

It has also been remarked that there are a number of Goetic names in some of the ‘seals’ that are placed on the Table of Practice (although this isn’t required for the scrying of the Aethyrs). Just to clarify, the Goetia are a group of demons that like to fuck people over. Perhaps this explains the deceitful nature of the so-called ‘angels’?

The truth is far more bizarre: the only reason the Goetia is in anyway linked with Enochian magick is because Thomas Rudd, a 17th Century mathematician, in what can only be described as a fit of sheer insanity, decided that any letter ‘B’ found within the Enochian system must represent a Goetic demon whose name begins with the same letter. No Goetic name or seal appears in any of the original communications to Dee and Kelley, but thanks to Rudd, they are now included in a number of Enochian magick books.

Goetia aside, it’s when we get to the English translation of the call or key used to scry the Aethyrs that we find something genuinely Enochian, that’s a little on the dark side:

…The Earth, let her be governed by her parts, and let there be Division in her, that the glory of her may be always ecstasy and imitation of orgasm. Her course, let it run with the Heavens; and as an handmaid let her serve them. One season, let it confound another, and let there be no creature upon or within her the same. All her members, let them differ in their qualities, and let there be no one Creature equal with another. The reasonable Creatures of the Earth, and Men, let them vex and weed out one another; and their dwelling-places, let them forget their Names. The work of man and his pomp, let them be defaced. His building, let it be a Cave for the Beast of the Field! Confound her understanding with darkness! For why? It repenteth me concerning the Virgin and the Man. One while let her be known, and another while a stranger: because she is the bed of an Harlot, and the dwelling-place of him that is fallen. O ye Heavens arise! The lower heavens beneath you, let them serve you! Govern those that govern! Cast down such as fall. Bring forth with those that increase, and destroy the rotten…

The similarity of viewpoint between the call and The Book of the Law is compelling.

Considering that the four Watchtowers of the Great Table in the Enochian system are said by the angels to be ‘gates’ from the manifest world to eternity, is it also a coincidence that The Book of the Law contains the following passage?

51. There are four gates to one palace; the floor of that palace is of silver and gold; lapis lazuli & jasper are there; and all rare scents; jasmine & rose, and the emblems of death. Let him enter in turn or at once the four gates; let him stand on the floor of the palace…

What are the chances that under the guidance of intelligences claiming to be ‘angelic’, both Dee and Crowley would instigate the two greatest magical movements (Rosicrucianism and Thelema respectively) of the last five hundred years?

Big Ball

There is of course a very simple answer to the problem of both The Book of the Law and the nature of the Enochian angels: the universe, and so magick, is not very nice.

Sometime last year, as a result of practicing Gurdjieff’s ‘Fourth Way ’, I began encountering a terrifying phenomenon during meditation. Out of the darkness of my closed eyes, a strange ‘spheroid’ would form and steadily grow bigger and bigger, at times simultaneously infinitely large and infinitely small. No matter what my attitude, no matter how well prepared, my reaction was always one of absolute terror with an impending sense of doom.

Each time the trance of the ‘Big Ball’ occurred I would try and sit longer than I did the time before, and each time I believed I had finally ‘gone passed it’.

It is not uncommon to experience trance states when scrying the Enochian aethyrs, but the appearance of the Big Ball during my vision of the 29th aethyr came as a surprise. After the Big Ball ‘dissipated’, the vision of the aethyr returned and an angel (dressed in a grim reaper outfit) told me that my sense of self, or ego, was preventing my magical progress. That morning, I performed an impromptu Chod rite on the train on the way home, hoping this would address the Big Ball once and for all.

Madimi

My daily meditation practice and the following vision of the 28th Aethyr (where I was shown the fallacy of death) were thankfully Big Ball free.

The morning after the vision of the 28th Aethyr, I decided to have a go at the 27th.

And that’s when the sneaky Big Ball bounced back.

Interestingly, the trance of the Big Ball developed beyond what it had previously, and revealed itself to be a breakdown of perspective or space; Duncan, who was sat to my right, became incredibly minute and at the same time incredibly close to me, whereas I had grown to a great size. I did not find this unpleasant, if a little disorientating.

Suddenly, the trance ended and I was back in the vision; I was floating in space, against a backdrop of beautiful stars and nebulae, when a naked girl, floating inside a blue bubble, appeared in front of me. She seemed to rapidly age and decay, then reform. I asked her who she was, to which she replied ‘Madimi ’ (to which Duncan exclaimed ‘Oh shit!’).

I then enjoyed the greatest bliss I have ever experienced in my life. For the rest of the vision, no matter what incredible things were going on in front of my eyes, I wanted Madimi to come back.

For a good number of hours after the vision, I felt like a cosmic principle. I knew the bliss I experienced during my encounter with Madimi to be the bliss of the continuity of existence. Even those things we consider sorrowful are necessarily a part of this continuity, and are therefore included in (or more correctly, are no different from) this bliss.

A task of my present grade within the A.’.A.’. magical developmental model is an understanding of the trance of sorrow. Through the use of the Enochian Aethyrs, I had come to realise the folly of suffering and the essential bliss of existence. I feel as though I have accomplished this ‘task’.

An Initiated Perspective

I’m not surprised to find my Enochian experience expressed very simply and beautifully in The Book of the Law, when Nuit proclaims:

26…And the sign shall be my ecstasy, the consciousness of the continuity of existence, the omnipresence of my b
ody.

And in Chapter 2, where Hadit states:

9. Remember all ye that existence is pure joy; that all the sorrows are but as shadows; they pass & are done; but there is that which remains.

Before I continue, I would just like to make it crystal clear that I am no apologist for The Book of the Law, nor am I a Thelemite. What I am about to say is based on my own magical experience.

Let’s re-read the quotes that I gave at the beginning of this article, but this time in context, with a few parts of the text highlighted:

21. We have nothing with the outcast and the unfit: let them die in their misery. For they feel not [bliss]. Compassion is the vice of kings: stamp down the wretched & the weak: this is the law of the strong: this is our law and the joy of the world. Think not, o king, upon that lie: That Thou Must Die: verily thou shalt not die, but live. Now let it be understood: If the body of the King dissolve, he shall remain in pure ecstasy for ever. Nuit! Hadit! Ra-Hoor-Khuit! The Sun, Strength & Sight, Light; these are for the servants of the Star & the Snake.

46. Dost thou fail? Art thou sorry? Is fear in thine heart?

47. Where I am these are not.

48. Pity not the fallen! I never knew them. I am not for them. I console not: I hate the consoled & the consoler.

49. I am unique & conqueror. I am not of the slaves that perish. Be they damned & dead! Amen.

The law of ‘the servants of the Star & the Snake’ (initiates) is ‘the joy of the world’ (bliss of existence); suffering, fear, death and failure do not exist for Nuit/Hadit (‘Where I am these are not’) or ‘the servants’ (the initiated). There are no ‘out-cast’ and ‘unfit’, or ‘wretched’ and ‘weak’ in bliss.

‘Compassion’, ‘the wretched & the weak’ and ‘the slaves’ are all a result of suffering. To ‘stamp down the wretched & the weak’ is to ‘stamp down’ suffering, sorrow or the impartial and uninitiated (old) view of existence. To ‘hate the consoled & the consoler’ is to hate the blasphemy of a universe that does not include the bliss of the continuity of existence.

Although appearing to be very cruel, The Book of the Law is in fact telling us that we live in a universe that is essentially blissful and that suffering is an illusion; the author(s) of the book wish to destroy that illusion.

Of course, how many people will come to the actual experience of the bliss of the continuity of existence? If devout thelemites struggle with understanding this aspect of The Book of the Law, what little chance is there that Humanity as a whole will ever accept Thelema?

Predictably, the book has an answer:

10. Let my servants be few & secret: they shall rule the many & the known.

At least the author was realistic.

Repent! The beginning is nigh!

Although it is true that the angels manipulated Dee and Kelley for their own ends, as Aiwass did Crowley, I believe those ends are not secret, nor ‘evil’. On the contrary, I believe, based on experience, that both the Enochian angels and the author(s) of The Book of the Law are concerned solely with the enlightenment of mankind.

Let’s take another look at the problematic content of the call of the thirty aethyrs, which is the part relating God’s command to the angels upon creating the world:

…The Earth, let her be governed by her parts, and let there be Division in her, that the glory of her may be always ecstasy and imitation of orgasm. Her course, let it run with the Heavens; and as an handmaid let her serve them. One season, let it confound another, and let there be no creature upon or within her the same. All her members, let them differ in their qualities, and let there be no one Creature equal with another. The reasonable Creatures of the Earth, and Men, let them vex and weed out one another; and their dwelling-places, let them forget their Names. The work of man and his pomp, let them be defaced. His building, let it be a Cave for the Beast of the Field! Confound her understanding with darkness! For why? It repenteth me concerning the Virgin and the Man. One while let her be known, and another while a stranger: because she is the bed of an Harlot, and the dwelling-place of him that is fallen. O ye Heavens arise! The lower heavens beneath you, let them serve you! Govern those that govern! Cast down such as fall. Bring forth with those that increase, and destroy the rotten…

Consider the fact that God tells the angels to make division implicit in the universe, so that ‘the glory of her may be always ecstasy and imitation of orgasm.’ Let’s take a massive liberty and consider the above in terms of what Nuit tells us in The Book of the Law:

29. For I am divided for love's sake, for the chance of union.

30. This is the creation of the world, that the pain of division is as nothing, and the joy of dissolution all.

Is it unreasonable to conclude that both angelic transmissions, despite their apparent inhuman and cruel elements, actually teach the end of suffering? Does not Thelemic and Enochian magick inevitably lead to the actual experience of this?

It is only due to a defect in our existence that we suffer, and it is only through a defect in our understanding that we ‘make a great miss’ by failing to see the purpose of Thelema and Enochian magick.

After all, is not the aim of all magick synonymous with that of the call of the aethyrs, when we demand of the angels:

Open the Mysteries of your Creation, and make us partakers of THE UNDEFILED KNOWLEDGE.

Magical Primer Part 6: The Culture of Experiencing Truth

In the concluding part of Alan’s Magical Primer series, we take a look at magic as culture, the implications of the magical act and the role of tradition.

Download MP3 file.

For a free book based on the transcripts of the Magical Primer series, please see The Camel Rides Again: A Primer in Magick.

 

Magical Primer Part 5: How to believe

In this episode, Alan clarifies the magical technique of belief shifting, dispels some myths about what is possible with belief and provides practical instructions for making your universe a wonderful place.

Download MP3 file.

For a free book based on the transcripts of the Magical Primer series, please see The Camel Rides Again: A Primer in Magick.