Consider two cornerstone contentions of chaos magic:
- Multiplicity of selves and
Seems to me they dovetail rather neatly.
This morning at 5:49am I was awoken by three loud doorknocks... inside my head.
The incident is one of the two or three times a year I experience auditory hallucinations and probably means exactly... nothing.
Nevertheless, being wide awake, I got up, made some coffee and continued migrating images from Posterous onto my computer so that I can upload them to my Flickr account.
Following its acquisition by Twitter, Posterous is shutting down which is mildly inconvenient as it had the best update API of any 'middle blogging' platform. I could send a phone photo to Posterous and it would update my blog, twitter and send a hi-res version to my Flickr photostream, all formatted and tagged correctly. It would even create individual albums on Facestalk if you uploaded more than one at once. It also had a much more elegant design than Tumblr which I continue to hate because it's rarely more than an echo chamber built from the cacophonic hideousness of the Ghost of MySpace Past. As a result, Posterous became my 'lifestreaming' app of choice. (Apologies for the 2007 term.)
However the API access only came in about three years ago so every image prior to that has to be manually pulled down and manually put back up if I want to keep them.
And I do.
Going through some of the earliest images when you're awake at dawn thanks to mysterious insomnia is fascinating. A visiting kiwi friend once complained that I'm not in enough of my own photos but actually I'm in every single one of them.
My suspicion of traditional photo albums is entirely to be expected because we are all unreliable narrators. Fragmentary moments deemed worth of recording, hanging on their own out in space, is a far better match for the actual experience of the recorded event. We are not our photostreams.
As for being in my photos? Like bothering a total stranger outside an historic monument to take a shiny-faced photo of me in suitcase-crumpled clothes, grinning like a moron as if I'm sublimely proud of the fact that this is what I look like when I'm in public? That's about as representative of my experience of the moment as if I sat down right there on the ground and drew a stick figure of myself on newspaper. Why do we all act like we've never seen a camera before and have no idea how it works?
Phone photography is wonderful because it offers us the opportunity to mark a moment when your consciousness is changed by its experience of the world. Done right, it can be a record of one of the infinite instances of the universe experiencing itself. (Done wrong, it's just burgers in a pop-up restaurant inside a Marylebone pub.)
There is something enriching about snatching gulps from the firehose of existence and being satisfied that the torrent roars on even after your thirst is slaked. There is something even more enriching when you consider just how many other mouths are crowding around for a drink.
Here is where multitudinous selves and beings meet a universe of pure consciousness... a universe of countless, fragmentary encounters with no other purpose but to experience itself.
So let's snatch a few gulps of the consciousness hose.
James Fadiman, one of the coauthors of this study, describes it and other psychedelic approaches to problem solving in his 2011 book The Psychedelic Explorer's Guide. His valuable descriptions of their process as seen by an investigator -- insider and quotations from the problem solvers themselves draw attention to this sleeping giant of psychedelics' future practical problem solving. It is time for researchers to awaken this giant and for federal agencies and local institutional review boards to move forward and encourage creative invention.
It is a widely known "inside secret" that psychedelics also contributed to the rapid innovation and growth of the personal computer industry (Markoff 2006), and probably the greatest monetary payoff from using psychedelics occurred when the problem of a little start-up software company vying with other start-ups for the eyes of potential customers was solved.
Psychedelic psychotherapy is more than a treatment. It has implications beyond health; it provides clues to how our minds work. How does thinking change during successful psychotherapy, such as when psilocybin is used to reframe death anxiety in the work of Charles Grob and his coresearcher Alicia Danforth, or MDMA-assisted psychotherapy is used to reduce post-traumatic stress disorder in patients who have been intractable to other treatments, as in the work of South Carolina psychiatrist Michael Mithoefer? Other clinical leads suggest treating cluster headaches, obsessive-compulsive disorder, neuroses and psychoses, depression, alcoholism, and addiction.
Except for cluster headaches, these cures are usually correlated with mystical experiences. Cognitively, what phenomenological shifts occur during mystical experiences, with the power to reframe thoughts, emotions, and identity so much that they apparently often cure death anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and addictions and alcoholism? [More.]
Remember The Nine? Channelled at the séance that changed America? Let's return to them:
Even by the mid-1970s the Nine had become big business. They had several wealthy backers such as members of the Bronfmans clan, Canada's richest family, and Italian nobleman Baron DiPauli. They would also gain celebrity backers such as Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek. Roddenberry would go on to incorporate references into Star Trek via The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine.
Puharich would drop out of the Lab Nine circle in 1980 and would seemingly have no more contact with the Nine from there on out. But by then it wouldn't matter. With wealthy and famous patrons the Nine were well on their way to developing a devoted cult following.
So to recap, we have a brilliant doctor and research scientist drafted into the US intelligence network for which he would continue an on again, off again relationship with till at least the 1970s. Much of his working during this time revolved around psychic ability and drugs and that would help unlock this ability. In the same time he was also channelling entities that claimed to be both the gods of ancient Egypt as well as space aliens, with the backing of wealthy and powerful patrons with deep ties to the military-industrial complex. [More.]
Entheogens leading to mystical states leading to problem solving leading to changes in the physical world. Clearly, the only way is Vallée:
Is the mechanism of UFO apparitions, then, an invariant in all cultures? Are we faced here with another reality that transcends our limited notions of space and time? I see no better hypothesis at this point of our knowledge of UFO phenomena. Certainly the space visitors hypothesis fails to explain adequately the ancient symbolism. We do not have a simple series of incidents that could be explained as an encounter with space travelers who might have spotted the earth and explored it casually on their way to another cosmic destination.
Instead, we have a pattern of manifestations, opening the gates to a spiritual level, pointing a way to a different consciousness, and producing irrational, absurd events in their wake. The Phoenician amulets, the close encounters with "occupants" in our time, the ancient beam from heaven, and the focused light from UFOs seem to imply a technology capable of both physical manifestation and psychic effects, a technology that strikes deep at the collective consciousness, confusing us, molding us – as perhaps it confused and molded human civilizations in antiquity. [From Dimensions by Jacques Vallée.]
Since reaching legal adulthood, I have been vegetarian for about three years in total. As it stands today I don't eat much meat at all and when I do I'm currently wealthy enough to be able to do so ethically. But 'ethically' in this case refers to the treatment of the animal in life... not in the macro sense of 'it is ethical to eat meat'.
Because I'm no longer sure there is an ethical way to eat an animal that I didn't personally kill. Seems to me that each new set of research findings into animal consciousness makes the issue stickier and sticker if you ascribe to a consciousness-based universal worldview. In the hunt you have a personal engagement with the consciousness of the animal you kill... it seems a more satisfactory version of 'the universe experiencing itself' than having a cow herded up a conveyer to be shot by a robot through the head with a bolt that may not kill it... especially as they appear to know more about what's going on than we previously gave them credit for.
Here's a baby wizard story for you. Over a decade ago, my mother the psychonaut and I were in Doreen Virtue's first graduating class of Angel Intuitives. (Don't laugh. Sydney only got good in the last few years. Beforehand there wasn't much to do.) Anyway, just before we broke for lunch, she urged us not to eat anything meat-based over the break.
I was dabbling around the outside of ATR in as non-tresspassy a way as possible at the time which meant I was used to incorporating rum and tobacco and the such into my practice. So I scoffed at the suggestion and scoffed an entire chicken schnitzel on the break. The first guided meditation back in the auditorium and I just could not get (it?) up. Obviously the work was heavily skewed toward a New Agey understanding of angels so there was a lot of celestial, refined imagery. My abiding sensation was being left in my meatsuit while feeling dozens of other people around me floating off up to the ceiling. Thinking about it now, it may have been that cultish sense of being left behind that caused enough anxiety for me to have been imprinted the experience.
And I just know, even as I type these words, that despite this being quite a lengthy post covering what I consider more interesting material, it will be these few paragraphs that attract the comments. But like everything else in magic, the best road is probably not binary. Vegetarianism probably isn't mandatory for spiritual development. But you can't tell me that that a supply chain that appears to sporadically require additional capacity of ground-up mammal from a grey market attached to organised crime rings to such an extent that they throw horses in with some former-Eastern-Bloc cows isn't affecting how you interface with the universe.
The overall point in including the following quotes is to show that there are many other mouths at the firehose and at the very least this complicates which mouths you put in your own.
Underlying many of our mistaken beliefs about animal intelligence is the problem of negative evidence. If I walk through a forest in Georgia, where I live, and fail to see or hear the pileated woodpecker, am I permitted to conclude that the bird is absent? Of course not. We know how easily these splendid woodpeckers hop around tree trunks to stay out of sight. All I can say is that I lack evidence.
It is quite puzzling, therefore, why the field of animal cognition has such a long history of claims about the absence of capacities based on just a few strolls through the forest. Such conclusions contradict the famous dictum of experimental psychology according to which "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." [More.]
Over to Dr Sheldrake. From The Science Delusion:
The most remarkable animal I have come across is an African Grey parrot, N’kisi. His vocabulary of around 1,500 words is probably the largest ever recorded. When he was only about two years old, his owner, Aimée Morgana, noticed that he seemed to respond to her thoughts or intentions by saying what she was thinking. He slept in her bedroom, and woke her up on several occasions by commenting loudly on what she was dreaming. She and I set up a controlled experiment in which she viewed a series of photographs in a random sequence while she was in a different room on a separate floor, being filmed continuously. The pictures were in a random order and represented twenty words in N’kisi’s vocabulary, like ‘flower’, ‘hug’ and ‘phone’. Meanwhile, N’kisi, who was alone, was also filmed continuously. He often said words that corresponded to the image she was viewing, and did so much more frequently than expected by chance. The results were highly significant statistically.
No one knows how some animals sense when earthquakes are imminent. Perhaps they pick up subtle sounds or vibrations in the earth. But if animals can predict earthquake-related disasters by sensing slight tremors, why can’t seismologists do so? Or maybe they respond to subterranean gases released prior to earthquakes, or react to changes in the earth’s electrical field. But they may also sense in advance what is about to happen in a way that lies beyond current scientific understanding, through some kind of presentiment.
Similarly, many animals seemed to anticipate the great Asian tsunami on 26 December 2004, although their reactions were much closer to the actual event. Elephants in Sri Lanka and Sumatra moved to high ground before the giant waves struck; they did the same in Thailand, trumpeting beforehand. According to villagers in Bang Koey, Thailand, a herd of buffalo were grazing by the beach when they ‘suddenly lifted their heads and looked out to sea, ears standing upright’. They turned and stampeded up the hill, followed by bewildered villagers, whose lives were thereby saved. At Ao Sane beach, near Phuket, dogs ran up to the hill tops, and at Galle in Sri Lanka, dog owners were puzzled when their animals refused to go for their usual morning walk on the beach. In Cuddalore District in south India, buffaloes, goats and dogs escaped by moving to higher ground, and so did a nesting colony of flamingos. In the Andaman Islands, ‘stone age’ tribal groups moved away from the coast before the disaster, alerted by the behaviour of animals.
How did they know? The usual speculation is that the animals picked up tremors caused by the under-sea earthquake. But this explanation is unconvincing. There would have been tremors all over South East Asia, not just in the afflicted coastal areas.
Of course, animal clairvoyance has a long pedigree in magical traditions, and it is also entirely expected in a quantum panpsychic universe as -like ourselves and probably our gods- animals may represent nodes of higher complexity in the underlying fabric of a unified pan-consciousness. (Can somebody get a parrot to perform the photo particle/wave experiment, please?)
Deeper than that, though, in the New Testament, in the Gospel According to Luke, there’s that exquisite verse, one of the most beautiful in the Bible, the one that says if God cares deeply about sparrows, don’t you think He cares about you? One is so accustomed to dwelling on the second, human, half of the equation, the comforting part, but when you put your hand over that and consider only the first, it’s a little startling: God cares deeply about the sparrows. Not just that, He cares about them individually. “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies?” Jesus says. “Yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight.”
Sparrows are an important animal for Jesus. In the so-called Infancy Gospel of Thomas, a boy Jesus, playing in mud by the river, fashions twelve sparrows out of clay—again the number is mentioned—until a fellow Jew, happening to pass, rebukes him for breaking the Sabbath laws (against “smoothing,” perhaps), at which point Jesus claps and says, “Go!”, and the sparrows fly away chirping. They are not, He says, forgotten. So God remembers them, bears them in mind.
Stranger still, He cares about their deaths. In the Gospel According to Matthew we’re told, “Not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.” Think about that. If the bird dies on the branch, and the bird has no immortal soul, and is from that moment only inanimate matter, already basically dust, how can it be “with” God as it’s falling? And not in some abstract all-of-creation sense but in the very way that we are with Him, the explicit point of the verse: the line right before it is “fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul.” If sparrows lack souls, if the logos liveth not in them, Jesus isn’t making any sense in Matthew 10:28-29.
Let's widen this out:
Combined with that consciousness/quantum thing and animal consciousness for a full post Like Carl Jung, we think of telepathic experiences as an aspect of synchronicity. In fact, we look at synchronicity as an umbrella for all psychic experiences. That’s a controversial idea among psi researchers, but it’s clear that meaningful coincidences are often entwined with telepathy. [More.]
Note that the electron’s behavior is directly affected by how it is measured – and can be affected even retroactively. That is, the electron’s status as a wave or a particle will vary, in some circumstances, depending on measurements made after the experiment has been run. What matters is not the physical act of shooting electrons through slits, but the mental decision on how to measure them – even if that decision is made after the fact.
Again, this is not at all how objects behave, but it is the way information behaves. The decision on which calculations to perform will determine what mathematical outcome we end up with, just as the decision on which measurements to make will determine whether the electron is expressed as a particle or a wave.
Another oddity of the subatomic realm is quantum entanglement. Two electrons, once paired, will continue to affect each other even when separated by any amount of distance, and are able to affect each other instantaneously – too fast for any signal to pass between them. If the spin of one electron is altered, the spin of its counterpart will be simultaneously altered in a corresponding way, even if the two electrons are at opposite ends of the universe.
Still, whatever the details, it does appear that the space-time universe, at root, behaves more like information than like an assemblage of objects. It’s also noteworthy that the mathematical formulas necessary to describe this reality are often confoundingly simple. Kepler’s laws of motion and Einstein’s e = mC squared are remarkably elegant equations. There is no obvious reason why physical reality should be expressible in such terms. But if all physical things can be reduced to information, and if all physical events are the result of processing that information, then we might expect the basic rules governing the system to be as simple as possible. After all, these calculations would have to be performed untold quadrillions of times every second; simple formulas would clearly be better.
Information is like consciousness in that it is universally experienced but entirely lacking in adequate description. The fact that psi effects also demonstrate non-local, instantaneous action suggests that, in some sense, these are one and the same. This would make consciousness both how the universe experiences itself and who is doing the experience. Hermes Trismegistus, like de Molay, thou art avenged!
A solid regajiggering of how you experience consciousness -which we would call initiation- is the inciting incident in any magical journey. Even for skepdicks. This is what happened when one of them necked a boatload of mushrooms.
None of these lower dosage trips led him to any kind of spiritual insights however, and he was hell bent on changing that. Did it work? Weeeelll, the dude came back from Arizona talking about telepathic communication and spontaneously reliving moments he’d forgotten about his childhood from different perspectives, then contemplating how this related to his adult life for weeks. What else, some sort of interface with electronic devices if I’m remembering correctly, but basically just other proto-typical tripping the fuck out fare. It was incredibly unpleasant and challenging, but he didn’t regret it a bit.
And heeeere’s the kicker. He was no longer an atheist. Not only was he no longer an atheist, but he denied ever being one. It was the most surreal thing ever. He’d sit there and explain to the three of us that he was always more of an agnostic and we’d be like, dude, we’ve had this drunken conversation a hundred times over the last 3 years, do you not remember these conversations? Apparently he doesn’t. We do. So somehow, this drug encounter was so profound that he actually blacked out the fact that he had ever subscribed to the infallibility of scientific reductionism in the first place.
Here's Dr Gary Habermas talking about how scientific reductionists, called here naturalists, rely entirely on cognitive dissonance when it comes to understanding that other unavoidable initiation; physical death.
Naturalists have had to adjust their line for many years. Usually, they would say things like, “Come on, this could happen from oxygen deprivation, cerebral anoxia, from a stroke, from temporal lobe epilepsy; it could come from being near-death and these are the machinations of a dying brain.” Doctors say that when you stimulate the right temporal lobe, people see things like flashes of light and darkness, and so that could be the tunnel of light that many people claim to see. Things like that.
Well, let’s just grant all of their hypotheses. Let’s grant that there are natural reasons, maybe high temperature, or additional medicines that cause hallucinations. Let’s grant all of those things. Yes, let’s say that one or more of those could cause strange visual data like what you’re describing. But here is the Achilles heel: as much as I can present evidence that these people are seeing things that they couldn’t see if they were totally conscious, awake, and sitting on their bed in the hospital, if people are producing evidence, especially at a distance, then none of those theories can account for it. Because they are offering subjective responses—maybe things are going on inside their head—and I’m offering objective responses that have nothing to do with what is inside their head.
So, to the extent that we have evidence, the naturalistic response is troubled. In reality, most of them don’t dispute this kind of evidence. These are cases that no one can explain naturally.
NDEs are not worldview-specific. They claim naturalism is wrong, I suppose, but they don’t choose between Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, etc. All of those belief systems can say “amen” to NDEs. NDEs may contribute to knocking out naturalism, but they don’t tell you who is right.
Now, there are NDEs where people report meeting an angel. Or, someone says, “I died, and Jesus told me that I was going back; it wasn’t my time to die yet.” But then there are also accounts of people saying, “I died, and I saw Shiva.” Or, “I saw Buddha.” There are a lot of cross-religious NDEs. [More.]
We saw the effect of the confederacy of dunces in the recent -and sadly ongoing- TedX Whitechapel train wreck. Here's a pertinent quote from Michael Crichton railing against the confederacy.
I regard consensus science as an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks. Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you’re being had.
Let’s be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What are relevant are reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus. There is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. Period.
And the underlying thesis of both the whisky rant and apocalypse pharmaka is that these results no longer need to drip down like slime from the politically-hijacked ivory towers of consensus. A Japanese electronics manufacturer can provide evidence of psi in its own game labs:
The results are amazing, especially considering that some of the remote viewing experiments were conducted with children who demonstrated powerful abilities of what can only be described as clairvoyance, to use the common term. The data corroborated the memorable statement that Sony spokesman Masanobu Sakaguchi had given to the South China Morning Post after the story about the company’s research broke: ”We found out experimentally that yes, ESP exists, but that any practical application of this knowledge is not likely in the foreseeable future.”
So that's entheogens to inspiration from mystical experiences involving contact with non-human intelligence, to the impact that contact has on the world, to the evidence that a multitude of higher order beings including ourselves can demonstrate psi capacities,to these psi capacities alignment with a quantum probabilistic universe, to the evidence for the continuity of consciousness beyond the expiration of the meatsuit, to the eruption of this evidence into the wider western world. (It never left the other parts.)
Let's finish then, with Dr Sheldrake.
Our minds can embrace possibilities that go far beyond our own experience. Conscious minds choose among possibilities, and their choices collapse possibilities into actions that are objectively observable in the physical world. The arrow of causation is from the virtual future, going ‘backwards’ in time. In this sense minds act as final causes, setting goals and purposes.
How is your head feeling after all that? Big?
Because it is.