The Crossroads at Midnight: Traditional Spirituality and Psychic Research
By Mark Stavish, M.A.
The following presentation was delivered on October 4th at PSICon 2019, sponsored by the Academy for Spiritual and Consciousness Studies (https://ascsi.org/), and held from October 2-5, in Durham, North Carolina. This is an uncorrected copy and is slightly longer than the recorded presentation. Length: 8,212 words. Delivery time allowed: 60 minutes with 30 minutes for question and answer.
My name is Mark Stavish, and I am the Director of Studies for the Institute for Hermetic Studies, an organization I founded twenty-one years ago, more or less by accident. While that is another story for another time, it is important because as in all things paranormal, we are never quite sure how they are going to work out no matter how certain we are when we start.
Now, how many of you know what the word “Hermeticism” means? Raise your hands.
How many of you have read at least one book on Hermeticism? Again, raise your hands.
Finally, how many of you have engaged in practices that fall under the heading of ‘Hermetic’ or ‘Hermeticism’? Now look around. I am certain that this number is higher than many of you might normally think.
Hermeticism comes from the name of the Greek Hermes, who was the Messenger of the gods. He is identified with the Roman god Mercury, and with the Egyptian god Thoth, or Tahuti, and this is where things get very interesting. Sometime in the Fourth Century Common Era/AD if you prefer, a phenomena occurred in Alexandria, Egypt and elsewhere as ideas spread, and a syncretic philosophical view known as Hermeticism was formed. This view consisted of surviving traces of the ancient Egyptian religious-magical practices (remember, the Egyptians had no word of religion, only magic, or magical power, heku), Gnosticism, Jewish mysticism, Christianity, and most likely some aspects of Indian philosophies including Buddhism and various yogas. This mass of information was distilled and reserved in a series of texts known as ‘The Hermetica” and attributed to Hermes.
The opening paragraphs of The Hermetica give us a fantastic tale, often known as the Prophecies of Hermes, in which we hear how these ancient words are set down to be preserved in a pillar wherein they will be kept safe until it is time to reveal them. This is not unlike the many such lost and discovered teachings we often hear about in various traditions. It also states that the time of man is declining and at some point, when humanity is at its lowest ebb, these revelations will be made for the few capable of understanding them – again, nothing new here, but, what is intriguing is that in part this prophecy would come true with the Renaissance, when Marsilio Ficino, who was translating various Greek philosophical texts for the Medicis. Apparently he was made an offer he could not refuse, obtained the Hermetica, and was told to translate that instead as it was far more interesting.
According to Will-Erich Peuckert, German folklorist and professor, who created an uproar in academic circles1959 when he claimed to have tried a medieval witches flying potion and experienced results similar to those in witch lore. Peuckert writes:
“The Renaissance is the rebirth of the ‘occult sciences’ and not, as taught in schools, the resurrection of classical philology and a forgotten vocabulary.”
With that, not only does the Renaissance come to fruition as we know it, because, the European Renaissance from the 14th through 17th centuries was not the rediscover of ancient learning, as if that mean how to bake a loaf of bread, or pave a road, but was in fact, the discover of Mediterranean magic.
This magic never went out of style, but it was there and then, with these writings attributed to the Egyptian Hermes, who was thought to be a contemporary of Moses himself, that their ideas and practices begin to take on full flower. And with it, the wonderful race for sponsors, patron, and printing presses for the deluge of works that would follow, and even secret and not so secret societies that would spring from it.
Dame Francis Yates further elaborated,
“The occult philosophy in the Elizabethan age was no minor concern of a few adepts. It was the main philosophy of the age, stemming from John Dee and his movement.”
John Dee of course if famous for being Queen Elizabeth’s astrologer, as well as his skrying session with Edward Kelly in his efforts to communicate with angels, giving us several magical systems still in use today called Enochian, of which we will speak more later.
This ‘hermetic revival’ that started more or less with Ficino would spread out providing us with the Rosicrucian mythos in the early 17th century, various Masonic style orders in the 18th century, and what is known as the ‘Occult Revival” Period of the late 19th and early 20th centuries which overlaps exactly with the beginning of psychic research in Europe and America. The Hermetic movements and their spawn have appeared in a variety of forms, both wonderful and laughable, and during the 1990s had a sudden explosion of possibilities. With the Internet many exist only as online presences with print on demand courses of instruction, while others manage to continue to exist in brick and mortar form in various communities.
Thanks to the pioneering work of Professor Antoine Faivre a degree in esotericsm was established at the Sorbonne, with other universities slowly forming them as well. While these degrees are strictly academic in nature, and provide no practical experience, sorry, no Hogworts, there are places where you can go to get practical guidance in the Hermetic Arts and Sciences.
Now, the relationship of all of these ideas to each other is clearly complex. As you can see there is more inbreeding here than in your average back mountain hollow. However, we are fortunate in that we do not need to scower this occult grapevine for lines of royal succession, we only need to know that there is a vast interrelationship between these ideas and their attendant practices.
So, what were, and are, for hermeticism is still alive and well today, these practices?
According to the German born America alchemist, Albert Reidel, better known as “Frater Albertus”, possibly the best known alchemist of the 20th century, “Astrology shows us who we are. Kabbalah (Tree of Life) where we are going; and alchemy how to get there.” While this is a helpful integration of the ideas, Jean Dubuis, a contemporary of Albertus, and founder of the French alchemical organization ‘The Philosophers of Nature’ (1978-2000), provides the following more helpful definitions for our presentation today:
Astrology is the study of cycles and consciousness and matter.
Kabbalah/Ritual Magic is the study of symbols and their effect on consciousness and matter.
Alchemy is the study of the effects of energy on consciousness and matter.
Now, this is critical to the remainder of our presentation because we are going to be looking at psychic and paranormal phenomena in the context of astrology or cycles; Kabbalah or symbols (and with that cosmology), and alchemy or energy-matter-consciousness interaction. In short, we are looking at nearly all of the phenomena as an experience of psycho-kinesis and macro-micro interface.
Before we get into the nuts and bolts it is important to remember that despite much of what is said about occult traditions and practices, the people involved tended when possible to congregate in groups. Books and manuscripts were published and distributed, and certain authorities were recognized among them. Some of these you may have heard of: Marsilio Ficino, Comenius, Dr. John Dee, Jakob Boehme, Paracelsus, Cornelius Agrippa, Nicholas and Pernell Flamel, Cagliostro, St. Germaine, among the most famous of them.
Among those groups that formed over the centuries we can see three important attributes: the teacher, the teachings, and the members comprising the ‘household of the faithful’. In Masonry this would be the Master of the Lodge, the Volume of Sacred Law, and the Brethren. In Buddhism it would be the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha.
Why this is important is because we can only study these phenomena we call paranormal within the context of the authority we look to (teacher), the literature available to us and the cosmological structure it provides (teachings), and those with whom are associating as we walk this path (fellow practitioners).
The last is critical because the people we associate with will define the experiences available to us, just as they will help us – intentionally or unintentionally – understand the experiences we have. Everything is a feedback loop.
“I well remember it being said to me by an occultist of great experience that two things are necessary for safety in occultism, right motives and right associates.” – Dion Fortune
So, in terms of Paranormal Phenomena let us look at the Teacher:
THE TEACHER (the example)
Many of you here fall into this category. People look to you for guidance in theoretical understanding, technical methods for personal experience, and interpretation and understanding of what has been experienced, and with that, the next step to undertake.
People look to you for not only authority, but also as a link in the “Chain of Tradition”. No better example of this can be seen than in how people want to be trained by or associated with someone from SRI or one or more of the military remote viewing programs. Why? There is an implied legitimacy and authenticity to it. It is no different than wanting to be part of the ‘true Rosicrucian Order’ or ‘a fully contacted mystery school’. Authority, rightly or falsely attributed sells.
THE TEACHINGS (the foundation)
First and foremost our goal must be is a better understanding ourselves. Paranormal research is essentially a study of the human mind and its interaction with various forms of existence. Notice I said forms and not planes, levels, or even dimensions. Each of those words is loaded with a host of assumptions and implications and we need to clearly define what we mean. Within Hermeticism, and this includes various schools of ‘hermetic’ and ‘christian’ kabbalah, the cosmos is composed of various expressions of power-intelligence-consciousness which have their own space-time expression. We can interact with them on a sort of continuum, and yet, there is a distinct hierarchy at work. Function in one form or expression, can give a certain or absolute influence and control over other forms or expressions preceding it.
Thus, if we can control the energy of one dimension, we can influence the consciousness and matter of the dimensions that issue forth from it. In short, our concern in traditional studies is less the search for consciousness as it is the search for more energy. Energy is the key that unlocks consciousness. This is the fundamental premise behind all esoteric and occult practices.
What is most interesting is that prior to this topic I was preparing a different presentation, one that addressed the symbiotic relationship between media and the paranormal. In short, while there is some new research about to be published, what I was able to discover as I was updating my previous presentation was that in realty, nothing appears to have changed. That is, if we look at the few studies that exist on the relationship between the media and paranormal from the 1970s, 80s, 90s, 2000s, or 2010s we find the same things:
- People who watch paranormal media tend to believe in paranormal phenomena.
- This translates the media experience into a form of education and worship regardless of the nature of the media: fiction, non-fiction, documentary, news piece.
- Media experiences reinforce existing beliefs.
For me this is fascinating because when I look at nearly every portrayal of the paranormal in the media it always comes up smelling some form of Roman Catholicism to me. There is rarely a complex metaphysics, God is absent, evil real and present, angel and demons and humanity are all that exist, and when in doubt, only a Roman Catholic Priest or on occasion, a lay believer can save the day.
Exceptions of course exist, such as in long running shows such as Charmed, and Supernatural, and in more recent shows, and here we find that the audiences are more discerning, critical actually, and want the shows to match the historical reality they claim to be based on, such as Fallen Angel, based loosely on Jack Parsons, a former student of Aliester Crowley and magical partner of L. Ron Hubbard of Scientology fame.
We see similar complaints about the television show “Sabrina” which has taken an interestingly darker tone, and even ‘Lucifer’ a hit show based on a graphic novel. However, I have a personal bias here, so the Devil gets a free pass, or at least his show writers do.
We must accept that instead of the campfire, temple, or rented hall, various forms of entertainment media are increasingly taking on the role of teacher, teachings, community, and act of worship for many in the esoteric and paranormal communities. In some instances some paranormal researchers have attempted to set themselves up as high priests of a sort, based on their scientific credentials. But even this is secondary to the medium. In the relationship between the paranormal and the media, we see that the medium truly is more often than not, the message.
The relationship between classical experiences with the invisible beings that populate mythology, occultism, and those of modern researchers (and accidental tourists) into the paranormal and UFOs is well documented. Yet, despite the documentation of this for well over half a century, it is still a little addressed topic among the areas of study involved. Even with significant advances in mass media more and easier access to information has not appeared to solve the problem of communication, only worsened it as psychic researchers, UFOologists, and occultists nearly all work within their narrow echo chambers rarely communicating to each other in a formal and organized manner. This in itself needs to be kept in mind as we proceed with this paper, as the principal of disorganization, and even chaos, is never far behind when we enter into the study of these liminal subjects and their possible relationship to our individual and collective futures, and the principle of the ‘egregore’ or psychic social control mechanisms.
So, the question is, if paranormal studies are not based in traditional esoteric practices, as it once had a connection to during its infancy in the 19th century, what is it based on?
If we are ignoring a thousand years or more of occult literature because it is outside our frame of reference then we enter into the problem Jacque Vallee stated so many decades ago:
“The link between the phenomenon and the occult must be explored cautiously. Twentieth-century science is based on truths that esoteric traditions articulated centuries ago, as the SRI research in parapsychology keeps reminding us. Techniques for the projection of consciousness are slowly finding their place in experimental science.” – Forbidden Science, Vol. 2
Vallee stated in his book Confrontations – A Scientists Search for Alien Contact, p. 99-100, that he believed “that we are dealing with a yet unrecognized level f consciousness, independent of man but closely linked to the earth [original italic]. …Like other paranormal phenomena, UFOs seem to be able to operate outside of known space-time constraints. … All biological systems are affected by close exposure to this phenomenon. The impact can range from simple transitory effects to permanent change or even death. In humans we are now able to categorize the types of symptoms that develop after close encounters.”
Here are some examples of the importance of these studies:
Keel writes regarding the cyclic nature of UFO phenomenon:
“Psychic and occult events seem to follow the same cycles as the UFO phenomenon. The Wednesday-Saturday phenomenon exists in all the frames of reference. For some reason, the twenty-fourth days of April, June, September, November, and December seem to produce exceptional activity year after year. It is probable that manifestations are dependent upon unknown conditions which have an electromagnetic basis. When specific individuals (people with latent or active psychic abilities) are in specific places (window areas) at specific times (flap periods when the undefined electromagnetic conditions exist), the phenomenon is able to manifest itself in one of its many forms.
These events are staged year after year, century after century, in the same exact areas and often on the same calendar days. Only witnesses and the frames of reference used are different.” (304). – UFOs: Operation Trojan Horse by John A. Keel (1970)
The cyclic nature of psychic phenomena is well established in esoteric literature and as we have stated, is related to astrology. The bias towards particular people and places in connection with time is seen in the preparation requirements well established in classical magic. For what else is an esoteric ritual other than the organized attempt to create and sustain a specific individual in a chosen and prepared place and time with a particular psychic opportunity? Herein we also see the Doctrine of Correspondence, talismanic magic, sacred geometry, geomancy, the famous ‘spirit of the place’, and other ideas coming into fruition in a different form.
According to tradition, Mercury rules Wednesday and all forms and areas of communication; Saturn rules Saturday, and it’s deep secrets, and occult power, with both days having particular value in magical operations. However, each of the others days and its planetary ruler has value as well, suggesting that IF there is a meaning to the day in which the encounter is had, planetary associations MAY have some value in understanding it.
Both of these planets have a great deal to do with time-space, and time-space management and this should be kept in mind when considering the degree of their influence.
In the system put forth in the famous 18th century French magical order of The Elu Coen, founded by a Portuguese Jew with a questionable Masonic charter by the name of Martinez Pasquelly, Saturday is treated as the first day of the week and most operations are performed either on Wednesday or Saturday.
“My Brother, during your reception you were given three names, …Why have we communicated these specific planetary words to you, because, as our Master once wrote, Saturn ‘is the greatest planet and the most elevated amongst all the others. This planet not only dominates all others in the material realms, and even in the spiritual realms, she also contains in her the universal divine spirit, which renders her more eminent than any of the other seven temporal planets which we know, …”
The commentary continues:
” …the planet Mercury which is a planet of utmost importance in our divine science and many theurgical operations must be performed on Wednesday, which is the day of Mercury in addition to Saturday which is the day of Saturn. Our Master Pasqually tells us: ‘that these two days are consecrated to the two principle universal spirits, of which one is under the sign of Mercury, animating and directing the Earth and all the corporeal forms, and the other under the sign of Saturn which governs, activates, and directs our souls. It is Mercury which bares [frees] our soul from the grossest matter which envelopes it…” – The Original High Degrees and Theurgical System of the Masonic Elect Cohen Knights of the Universe by Mathieu G. Ravignat, (p. 44-47)
In his book Reality Denied: Firsthand Experiences with Things that Can’t Happen – But Did, John Alexander, Ph.D. gives the following advice:
“This chapter has elucidated three areas of concern for people venturing into engagement with phenomena for the first time. Caution, but not aversion, is advised. … some very competent people have become captive to aspects of phenomena and been burned. Loss of credibility is an undesirable outcome and should be avoided if possible.
The second segment dealt with the danger to vulnerable people when they become enamored with unscrupulous charlatans who will take advantage of them.
The final segment addressed issues related to involvement with discarnate entities or the spirit world. …”
Each of the points mentioned by Alexander can be found in much of the traditional esoteric literature from India, Tibet, and China easily available in the West, as well as within schools of Western esotericism. One is strongly advised to observe their potential teacher for several years if needed before making a commitment to their tutelage. We find this rarely occurs in an age of immediate access and instant enlightenment.
Alexander goes on to suggest that awareness and precautions are essential, and with it “relying on your own intuition, but with a firm understanding of your current emotional state. If it feels wrong don’t do it. You should maintain balanced.”
He then suggests that balance is best maintained by having other activities that have real world applications because “It is easier to go down the rabbit hole, than it is to get back out.”
These last two points are easier said than done, as one can only rely on their own intuition and have an understanding of their emotional states if they have a firmly established spiritual practice that consists of concentration, meditation, self-reflection, and apply those skills in day to day life.
For this reason, spiritual practice under a competent guide for several years is essential for anyone who would undertake paranormal research in the field wherein they may potentially be engaging both human and non-human intelligences and powers in dramatic circumstances.
This cannot be emphasized enough: there is NO Guarantee of Safety
However, even this is no guarantee of safety. As Alexander points out, many people have gone down the proverbially rabbit hole and not gotten out. John Keel stated this clearly in his work The Eight Tower,
“In psychic phenomena, many investigators as well as students of black magic and witchcraft have met sudden, untimely ends, often in horrible ways.”
Vallee echoes these sentiments when he writes,
“Accidental death of occultists attempting to contact ‘higher-level entities’ is not rare” and references the works of Dion Fortune and Alan Richardson as sources for this information. As for myself I noticed a series of strange phenomena among students of esotericism and the paranormal and this resulted in my writing the IHS monograph Pathology of the Sublime to address this topic.
In my own experience I have noticed that the average life span of a student or associate in a group is often three years, although 18 months is not uncommon, and many leave under peculiar circumstance. There is neurotic even paranoid behaviors, and all communication is cut off, even when those behaviors are not present. I have witnessed this no less than a half dozen times.
In my book Egregores – The Occult Entities That Watch Over Human Destiny three examples of release from powerful psychic environments were detailed. One of them was a Tibetan Buddhist group, one a magical order based on the methods of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and the third, the American branch of a European initiatic order.
Dr. Joseph C. Lisiewski, the enigmatic physicist and occultist, student of Israel Regardie and Frater Albertus, died of colon cancer which he attributed to a ritual evocation gone wrong. At the end, he asked me to perform an exorcism for him. His wife died six months after him. What is intriguing is that while Lisiewski was controversial in occult circles it was because of his insistence on tangible results for the effort put in. He was extremely cantankerous and trusted very few people in the occult community. He saw them as delusional, and often rightly so, yet at times exhibited paranoia and a heightened sense of importance himself. There is a strong correlation between him and Ted Owens, the famed PK Man written about by Dr. Jeffery Mishlove.The details of this peculiar and highly talented character can be found in my memoir of him: The Magical World of Dr. Joseph Lisiewski.
However, this notion of disease is one that is often ignored and needs to be further researched as to its causes and effects within the paranormal, mediumistic, occult, ‘Deliverance Ministries’ and related communities. Strange diseases of the blood, bone, nervous and immune systems, coupled with obesity are reported in both popular and academic literature to appear in higher than normal rates.
The Company We Keep
This raises several questions:
- The Company We Keep
- The Group Mind or Egregore
- Psychic Contagion and Hygiene
- The Company We Keep
Studies have shown that we become like the five people we spend the most time with, and that to be a well-rounded person we need to have twelve different friendships. Having diversity of friendships can be very difficult, but not impossible if we work at having a healthy social circle. However, the nature of paranormal research is such that we may often feel compelled to associate with co-workers we normally would not. Or as the bumper sticker says, “Good help is hard to find.” This is particularly true in groups performing ritual magic in various forms, wherein the emotional need to be with like-minded people can obscure normally good human radar.
In his work Alexander speaks of a ‘phenomena-buddy’ to help us stay sane and stable in our individual and collective research. They provide essential sanity checks, and as such must be someone we trust implicitly with our lives, for in fact, we are trusting them with our mind and soul. In classical systems of initiation and training, the role of the phenomena-buddy is a role played by both one’s teacher and fellow students. In the current climate of solo-practitioners, the above advice is something that should be well heeded.
The Group Mind or Egregore
An egregore is a collective mind, or social control mechanism that has two definitions. One is like that of any collective or corporate culture, similar to the Jungian idea of a collective unconscious. The second and older idea is that an egregore is an entity made up of the sum of its participating parts – other entities, including humans – with some form of spiritual intelligence at one end.
Anytime we are involved in group activities we are in part, part of an egregore to some greater or lesser degree. These may be spontaneously generated or consciously created. As we pointed out, Jean Huston and her husband Robert Masters wrote a book entitled “Mind Games” whose sole purpose was the experimental creation and dissolution of an egregore from which to connect with some form of intelligence or sentient being.
These egregores and their life cycles as well as energy needs can account for the successes as well as failures and catastrophes that various organizations experience, more so when they are engaged in actively seeking the liminal or paranormal experience.
“The[se] groups consciously attempted to engage paranormal powers and supernatural beings, and dramatic phenomena were reported by SORRAT, Psi Tech, and Kubler-Ross’s group. All share clear anti-structural and trickster characteristics. Psi, disorder, lowered sexual inhibitions, and deception were present. The groups display a pattern of decent through the archetypes – from Apollo, characterized by order and structure; through Hermes, the trickster; to Dionysus, dangerous license and sensuality (these are living examples of Hermes serving as midwife to the birth of Dionysus). In addition, the phenomena led the groups to make bizarre claims that provoked ridicule and brought discredit upon them. Thus the trickster appeared and marginality was induced again and again.” (p. 170) Chapter 14, “Small Groups” from The Trickster and the Paranormal by George Hansen
Simply put, without the right safeguards we do not know who or what we are dealing with and what the effects will be. Without a healthy stock of experience behind us, and that means some kind of tradition, we may not even know what safeguards actually exist or how to employ them, let alone the benefits and dangers of paranormal encounters. The descriptions given by Hansen’s paragraph above can all be found in the lives of various occult figures as well – John Dee comes to mind as the poster child for several of the characteristic mentioned.
Psychic Contagion and Hygiene
This alone may be the most important part of this presentation because psychic contagion is unavoidable in paranormal research. The very nature of it means that it will happen at some point. Not only is it contagious to those we are working with, but is also something we can ‘take home’ with us, and those unrelated to the initial encounter can become unwillingly involved. Phenomena may also continue in a location after the initial encounter has officially ceased.
As Keel wrote, “Both the reflective factor and synchronicity are at work, too, because the human mind when properly oriented – or disoriented – attracts the static from the superspectrum.” He then gives example of famous authors who when researching the occult and paranormal began experiencing what is often called poltergeist phenomena.
The examples given include:
Gustav Davidson, produced a massive Dictionary of Angels in the 1960s. While he was compiling this seemingly harmless encyclopedia of angelology, he was “literally bedeviled by angels.”
“I moved indeed, in a twilight zone of tall presences,” Davidson wrote, “I remember one occasion – it was winter and getting dark – returning home from a neighboring farm. I cut across an unfamiliar field. Suddenly a nightmarish shape loomed up in front of me, barring my progress. After a paralyzing moment I managed to fight my way past the phantom. The next morning I could not be sure whether I had encountered a ghost, an angel, a demon, or God. There were other such moments and other such encounters….”
Other writers including famed sexual researcher Robert Masters. Masters is the husband of Jean Huston, an associate and possible spiritual advisor to Hillary Clinton, who wrote the book Mind Games a work specifically aimed at creating psychic entities or egregores which we will discuss shortly.
In his book of odd and curious anecdotes of the paranormal, Swimming Where Madmen Drown – Travelers’ Tales From Inner Space (2002), Robert Masters recounts his own experience with evil while researching a book on witchcraft. Master’s writes that in 1960 he arranged to live in Arkansas, in the Ozark Mountains near White River for one year for the purpose of research and writing. The book was Eros and Evil – The Sexual Psychopathology of Witchcraft and addressed the anti-sexual themes that ran through the medieval witchcraft trials. Master’s asserted that as a result of the cruel and violent nature of the material “several authors of histories of witchcraft have experienced severe clinical depression as a result of dealing with it” (p. 155). He then goes on to detail the variety of phenomena he began to experience. Phenomena he asserted was identical to what he was reading about in his research. This included infestations of scorpions, centipedes and tarantulas. Dead birds and animals on the property, along with dead vegetation and trees, sudden flooding from a dry creek bed, and gusts of wind creating “whirlpools of dust and looking like something one would more likely encounter in the desert. Overall, there was a kind of psychic pall that hung over the place, and friends who came to visit me during that time remarked in one way or another about the extremely oppressive feeling of the place… Almost as soon as my book was completed, the whole array of phenomena vanished almost at once…I remained for another eight months or so, they never reappeared.”
Master states that he believes that this was a “clear cut, complex and powerful example of mind – and possibly soul as well – interacting with nature.”
Similar phenomena have been stated by Aliester Crowley regarding his research into the qlippoth, or demonic forces in qabala. James Wasserman described the following in his autobiography In the Center of the Fire – A Memoir of the Occult 1966-1989 (2012). Wasserman along with the mysterious Simon, and Larry Barnes were instrumental in the publishing of the Necromicon. Since its appearance in 1978 the “Simon edition” of the Necromonicon has continuously been in print.
“What a loony period the Neco[monicon] production would be. For some reason, nearly everyone who entered our loft shed blood. …others were constantly cutting themselves in minor accidents. Then one night, I got a frantic call from the typesetters downstairs. Their loft had been overrun by rats bursting through the walls…The Temple in my own loft had a padlock on the outside door so it could be sealed as a private space for my magical work. On July4, Jane and I returned from dinner and fireworks. I had an uneasy feeling when we walked through the loft door, itself secured by a heavy-duty police lock. … I discovered that my Temple door was open, that the hasp had been broken, and that this appeared to have occurred from the inside out. … Nothing else in the loft was the slightest bit disturbed.” (p. 128-129)
For myself, years ago I found that the very moment I began researching evocation and demonology, peculiar phenomena in my waking and dream life began. As Lisiewski stated to me once, “The moment we start thinking of the operation of evocation the entity or entities we seek become aware of our intentions.”
The reason for this is simple. Again, quoting Keel, “What is involved in all these cases is the manipulation of energy, particularly the energies from the upper end of the electromagnetic spectrum.”
Nor is this idea limited to Keel as we see the same theory presented in alchemy:
The meeting between Jacques Bergier and Fulcanelli which is recorded as having taken place in June 1937 in a laboratory of the Gas Board in Paris and published in the strange book Morning of the Magicians, the following is said to be a “translation of the original verbatim transcript” of the meeting between Fulcanelli and Bergier:
“… the alchemists have known it for a very long time…”I shall not attempt to prove to you what I’m now going to say but I ask you to repeat it to M. Hellbronner: certain geometrical arrangements of highly purified materials are enough to release atomic forces without having recourse to either electricity or vacuum techniques… The secret of alchemy is this: there is a way of manipulating matter and energy so as to produce what modern scientists call ‘a field of force‘. The field acts on the observer and puts him in a priviliged position vis-à-vis the Universe. From this position he has access to the realities which are ordinarily hidden from us by time and space, matter and energy. This is what we call the Great Work.” [Powell, Neil “Alchemy, the Ancient Science”, p. 53, Aldus Books Ltd, London, 1976 SBN 490 00346 X]
Now we have two point there: one is the notion of geometric forms which can be found in sacred geometry, geomancy, telluric currents, and talismanic magic. The second is the idea of a force field. I personally have experienced this on several occasions, both when working alone and with others, as well as with plants and minerals. Plants are weaker, and the field was about the size of a standard magical circle or nine feet in diameter. The field produced by the mineral work was easily forty yards of more in one direction, so we can say it was eighty to one-hundred yards in diameter. These force fields have an effect on the biology and psychology as we have noticed. For in the latter, I mentioned to my co-worker that I had a headache at the base of my skull and wanted to know if he had put the iron in the crucible. He had forgotten. Once in my headache disappeared. We were working on the open stages of the Flammel Path at the time.
Technology and the Paranormal
This takes us into the most frightening and speculative area of my presentation, that is, of the interface of technology and paranormal phenomena. There has been much speculation about psi-enhancing technology, and various forms of media and devices have and are being used to detect and record what is said to be hauntings, poltergeist phenomena, healings, and so on, what needs to be considered is the possibility of something less benign.
All of you are familiar with white noise, televisions and radios that operate when there is no electricity present, and even the impact psychic energy can have on the functions of normal computer system and vehicle.
What if we combine all of that into on supersized phenomena and call it “Artificial Intelligence”?
Again this is speculation, but speculation supported by some of the propaganda coming out of the AI community itself. We not only having Elon Musk, a man who has a knack for making news and money from technological dreams comparing AI to demons, and Geordie Rose, who holds a PhD in physics and is the co-founder and chief technological officer of D-Wave, a quantum physics research firm, and co-founder of Kindred, a company focusing on AI, waxing enthusiastically and for twenty minutes comparing AI to H.P. Lovecrafts’s “Great Old Ones” who care nothing for humanity.
While Rose claims to be half-joking about the demon part, the fact that he stands in front of an audience of some of the most intelligent people there are, wears an ouroboros on his t-shirt and speaks of building machines that can bring through entities from alternate dimensions that can and will wipe us out as a recruiting sales pitch raises several red flags particularly when their fundamental premise can be summed up in the following statement by Dr. David Deutsch, “Quantum computation will be the first technology that allows useful tasks to be performed in collaboration between universes,” – Parallel Realities (2005). If Rose is serious then we are in trouble. If this is his idea of a joke, then we are in trouble. Given today’s media rich environment, nothing good can come from such statements, be they a genuine belief or a poorly thought out sales pitch for new hires as they build what sounds like a giant Ouija Board powered by a nuclear reactor and manned by a dozen pubescent girls on steroids.
In a blog post in April of this year William Henry of Nashville uses the term ‘technorapture’ to describe what is happening in Silicon Valley and other areas across the technological globe. I like the term and it describes very well the direction our imagination – individual and collectively – is being directed by mass media and those who make the creative decisions about what we watch: that of overcoming time-space by full consciousness integration into computers technology resulting in immortality and a utopian vision, and failure to do so as death and dystopia.
This is how we will be made into gods. This is the anti-human, transhumanist ideal. Forty years ago this was a joke, wherein only nutbag conspiracy believers and Fundamentalist Christians believed in such things. Thirty years ago, again, only paranoid delusionals believed in such things. Twenty years ago it was talked about as a reality by the few, and now it is openly discussed in the media both mainstream and alternate. Someone had a clue. Someone was reading the Akashic Memos.
What makes this entire process of interest is its obsession with the name, symbol, and actual devices referred to as ‘the black box’. While the ‘black cube’ of Mecca may come to mind, and with it the story of it keeping a lid on a well filled with demons beneath, the qabalistic importance is what we need to discuss as well. Herein, we see the black cube as the symbol of Saturn, such as used in the Portae Lucis method prescribed by Jean Dubuis, but also as the “Cube of Space’ or three dimensional representation of the entirety of the kabbalistic methods of creation via the letters of the alphabet as described in the Sepher Yetzirah.
Now again, I want to draw your attention to several ideas here:
- Power of Symbols
- Egregores (traditional)
- Thought forms to concrete reality
I was sent images of the art work that was said to have hung on the walls of Fermilab in the 1970s and 1980s. All of it was mythical with what we would call distinct ‘occult’ themes, but drawn from mythology and literature so as not to be so overt. I have no problem with this, but let’s be honest with ourselves if we are going to be talking about an organization whose website states, “Fermilab is America’s particle physics and accelerator laboratory. We bring the world together to solve the mysteries of matter, energy, space and time.” This is the same thing ritual magic, alchemy, astrology, and all of what are normally billed as the ‘occult arts’ are about: overcoming time-space. What makes occultism different, is the aspect of consciousness, AND the proposition among most initiatic systems, that our attitude is everything and defines our outcomes from the very beginning. Thus, certain ‘virtues’ or personal strengths need to be developed within the individual as he or she progresses so as not to be overwhelmed by the forces and intelligences they have evoked. Else, they end up like Goethe’s Faust when he says, “The spirits I have called forth I cannot control.”
Only through the proper training of the mind and a progressive initiatic experience can we avoid the same fate while seeking to understand the vast mysteries of the cosmos, and with them, ourselves.
Warning! Danger, Will Robinson!
In his essay, “Initiation and Balance” Jean Dubuis concisely described the problem of having too much, or too little ‘awakening’ in a ‘sepherothic center’ or function of consciousness. The issues of Hod/Mercury and Binah/Saturn can be summarized respectively as emphasis on the material aspects of magic, and an asocial tendency that can lead to suicidal ideation in a desire to be freed from the ‘weight’ of this world. This last symptom was particularly emphasized for those undertaking the practice known as “Portae Lucis”, which is aimed at giving its participant an ‘experience of eternity’ based on astrological cycles. This method of cyclic talismanic magic aimed at experiencing inner initiation is detailed in Jean Dubuis’ book, The Experience of Eternity (2008). Dubuis also warns against an exaggerated generosity and altruism that can develop, wherein one exhibits what Tibetan lamas often call a ‘foolish compassion’. Each of the interior levels, for lack of a better term, brings with it a profound awakening that can both expand and rebalance our energies, or imbalance them as a result. In our work, Pathology of the Sublime: Problems and Solutions on the Spiritual Journey (IHS Study Guide Series, Vol. 7) – the various problems that arise for those engaged in psycho-spiritual practices have been examined in detail along with solutions. We cannot stress enough the importance of this work and its role in each person’s path.
Again, a quote from John Keel:
“I have in my files hundreds of cases, some of which have now been investigated by qualified psychiatrists, in which young men and women obsessed with the UFO phenomenon have suffered frightening visits from these apparitions, have been followed by mysterious black Cadillacs which appeared and disappeared suddenly, and have been terrified into giving up their pursuit of UFOs. Many contactees report similar experiences.
The phenomenon is reflective: the more frightened the victim becomes, the more the manifestations are escalated.
Dabbling with UFOs can be as dangerous as dabbling with black magic. The phenomenon preys upon the neurotic, the gullible, and the immature. Paranoid-schizophrenia, demonomania, and even suicide can result – and has resulted in a number of cases. A mild curiosity about UFOs can turn into a destructive obsession.” (220)
As sensational as this last paragraph may seem it is true. In the desire to push what was once on the margins of society into the town square we risk unleashing a certain degree of instability and even chaos in the lives of individuals, and society as a whole. Now, this should not be exaggerated to apocalyptic proportions as is the tendency when statements like this are made. But rather, to acknowledge that in the past the liminal was always kept within specific limits for a reason. Be it the shaman, priest, yogi (who was often in the wilderness!), Taoist priest, or kabbalist with his golem, definite requirements were in place for one to enter into that domain. The door was known to everyone, all could knock, but not all could enter. As the Gospel tells us, “Many are called, but few are chosen.” The reason is simple: it takes training, dedication, sacrifice, and there are risks involved – just as there are in any meaningful area of study and practice. In various tantric writings we often come across the statement that entering into the path is like a snake entering a bamboo pole. There is only one way out and it is better to have not begun than to try and retreat.
Contemporary ‘spirituality’ treats the methods of parting the veil between the visible and invisible with either an unrealistic fear as is seen in many religions, or with a flippant disregard for all warnings and preparatory requirements, as do too many paranormal shows and the experimental adventures they inspire in their viewers. Fortunately most abandon their activities before any damage can be realized; but also, before any wisdom and insight can be gained either, and with it, the opportunity for genuine insight into the meaning and energies of life.
However, not all do. Modern magical or occult practices, and too many of their attendant orders, do not place sufficient emphasis on psychological preparation or in the ever present reality that the energies we are dealing with work in and through us – that means, in and through our mind, body, immediate environment, and broader social and professional life. While practitioners expect to experience improvements in their personal and professional lives, hence their reasons for their undertaking ‘The Path’ to begin, what must be born in mind is that all phenomena belongs to the domain of ‘duality’ and has both active and passive expression. We interpret these as good and evil depending on our relationship to the phenomena, as well as metabolic and catabolic, or the process of building up and breaking down.
Just as we hear W. B. Yeats saying “the second order [of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn] is not a reform school,” neither is it a job for those who fail at everything else or an excuse to ignore our family and professional obligations. We hear a great deal about ‘asset stripping,’ when the valuable resources of one industry or region are removed in total and relocated elsewhere. While many in the modern counter-culture spiritual movements decry such activities in the ‘mundane world,’ they fully support and engage in them in the ‘esoteric worlds’ and with that we can include aspects of the paranormal communities as well – with their very lives as the thing being stripped.
This is important to realize so that we are not distracted by illusions of esoteric or magical grandeur, and like those who are consumed by the enticement of being a ‘cosmic insider’ and are swallowed by pursuit of UFOs and paranormal phenomena, we find ourselves empty at the end of our days. The high profile deaths of well-known researchers into the conspiratorial and darker aspects of the paranormal in the past such as James Webb, Joe Fischer, and D. Scott Rogo, or more recently those of Mark and Debby Constantino, and Tracy Twyman, should serve as a warning: these were not natural or of old age, but sad, violent, and shrouded in mystery like the subjects they so doggedly pursued.
If we are to take the message of this essay seriously, we must also recognize that there is no such thing as “chance” or “coincidence” – only the realization of energy, intelligence, and form.
Closing advice: “It is relatively unimportant to know whether the gods, the qlipothic forces or even the Unknown Superiors really exist. The important point is that the universe behaves as if they existed.” – Rev. John Brodie-Innes, Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn
The crossroads is a well-known symbol and what often stood at it was a marker known as a Herm, after the god Hermes. People would make offerings for guidance or a safe journey. Hermes is also, according to some, the husband of Hekate, the Queen of the Witches, goddess, Titan, and owner of the crossroads. In many traditions, particularly folk magic, it is at the crossroads at midnight when we invoke the Hekate, Hermes, or as we see later, the Devil himself to strike a deal. Like all Faustian deals it has a shelf life and payment comes due.
Humanity stands once again at the Crossroads, and midnight is approaching. Students of the occult, the paranormal, and anyone deeply concerned with human potential and the future of the individual must take seriously these warnings and indicators we are being given so that we can guide ourselves and others to a better tomorrow. This tomorrow is no promise of Utopia, simply better. This is the decision we each must make at the crossroads. It is up to us whether we will stand in awe and see the midnight sun, or sign a deal with the devil in our own blood.