esothemes

Reflections, revelations and proposals esoteric: Themes to elucidate the depths of human potential.

Category: General Esoteric Ponderings

Summing Up My Magical Menagerie

I have been going through a minor “crisis”. I place the word in quotation marks and refrain from capitalizing it because it isn’t even an apt description of what was going on. Namely, I was wondering what I should be doing with this blog, if anything. The question was one of structure vs. lack thereof; of planning vs. off-the-cuff ranting and of purpose vs. play.

Even as I was writing down the above conceptual pairs, however, I realized they too were not accurate, and that I was not experiencing a conflict between polarized concepts, but a challenge of embracing their working synthesis. The latter isn’t as simple or easy as mixing and matching or even squishing ingredients together. The conditions and of synthesis carry a lot of weight even when the scenario is one of abstract conception.

I have been writing about the various aspects and facets of my magical menagerie- at least have begun something akin to that process. The long and short of it is that it just isn’t what I want to do here. That’s fine, since the blog itself is something of an experiment in expressing these arcane interests of mine. It’s not as easy as just saying what I know. Many speak of the same things, but with different context and there is some debate regarding what this or that esoteric ideal implies and how useful it is for this that or the other.

So once again I take several steps back, add a few deep breaths and take it from the top, as it were. Assumptions can be more thoroughly discarded for one, especially the limiting ones. Worrying about getting the expression right can also be- more thoroughly- discarded. At the same time, I want to express clearly what does not come easy to translate from experience in combination with the prominent conceptual conventions about it.

For starters, instead of going on about the particular “exhibits” of my proverbial magical menagerie, it might be more economical and useful, as well as more interesting for yours truly to some it all up. In other words, let me address the query of WTF am I doing with occultism. Not so much, why am I doing it, but what I am doing. Specifically, I want to detail the options and elements of arcane application that I am bringing together while filtering, interpreting and redesigning the input. I intend, moreover, to elaborate regarding my motivation for the apparent rearranging of the deck chairs of existing esoteric approaches to come to my own conception.

Given what I expressed above, I have already summed up my magical menagerie as one that I reluctantly would label as revisionist esoteric exposition. Even with the shady reputation of all things “revisionist”, my work involves dynamics of great esoteric potential and meeting the various challenges of the times in which we find ourselves. To put it more plainly, I am forging my own system of magic via the revising of various traditional themes of arcane wisdom.

I am motivated to elaborate because misunderstanding is all too easy when encountering such claims. Those of a more traditionally inclined disposition are suspicious of any sort of revision or adaptation. On the other hand, diversified occultists might not realize how much goes into redesigning the systemics of one’s occult practice because the trend is modern and notorious for being mired in mass marketed pop culture subject matter, in the view of yours truly.

To reiterate, I am engaged in a process of redesigning some traditional elements of occultism and adapting them toward application in the world today. The process has been ongoing for the last fifteen years, whereas I have been exploring western occultism for a decade before that, in addition to eastern (Asian) metaphysics, as well as astrology, tarot, psychic phenomena and trance states for fifteen years before that.

I am currently engaged in a process of formalizing, testing and reformulating esoteric subjects of interest to condense the working principles into a map that can successfully navigate selected territories of esoteric application in a manner meaningful to the one undertaking the journey.

There are those who would reject the idea of revising or adapting perfectly functional systems of esoteric knowledge into a more modern context. Granted, many claims to the effect can be accurately deemed wanting. That does not mean the need is a fabrication.

A simple example would be that of western occult systems using astrological symbolism. Using astronomical data for esoteric applications is a tried and true practice- at least for those of an occult disposition. The planets, for example, are truly potent symbols of deeper truths when interpreted and conceptually concentrated (as archetypes) toward that purpose. The traditional Western astrological bodies known as planets include the sun, the moon and five astronomical planets of this solar system, all visible to the naked eye.

Today the face of the solar system has expanded, meaning the arcane possibilities would be best brought to useful fruition by reflecting the solar system more accurately. And yet, the old system of seven planetary principles has been a powerful map of occult possibility, coinciding with the seven vowels of the Greek alphabet, the seven days of the week as well as other iterations of that sacred number.

Existing revisions have added planets updating at least to the mid to late twentieth century. However, the astronomical face of the solar system has since undergone changes at a pace that far outstrips any occultist capacity to reliably formalize things in addition to thoroughly testing the proposed “upgrade”. Suffice it to say that simply slapping on more variables and shaving off the rough edges might only replace the tried and true (limitations notwithstanding) with a rickety construct held together with snappy jargon and a lot of wishful thinking.

My magical menagerie is, therefore, a collection of esoteric themes and potentials adapted to sustain interlocking parts, or at least mutually supportive and complementary elements. Designing and testing in this manner has been and continues to be an experience beyond measurable value to me. It has shown what works and what doesn’t work as well as what might work if one only invests more than most would be willing to give in terms of time, energy and commitment. Life, after all, is too short to waste on futility.

It is also true, however, that just because two stones slapped together can crack a spark doesn’t guarantee one can light a fire. A certain amount of skill and the correct conditions are needed as well, a combination of nature and nurture in the proper proportions. Even so, anyone clever enough can claim success in occult matters regardless of where the truth lies. Placebo effects and the trickster nature of human consciousness are easy to manipulate even when the perpetrator and victim are one and the same person.

My current minor “crisis” has only been one of many, and quite mild compared to some prior versions. One can say that the elements of the menagerie in mention have been progressively integrating, from “crisis” to “crisis”, just as they have been mutating purposefully for that purpose. I intend to describe some of the process of my evolving understanding, to focus on something that is closer to home for me than the more speculative expressions that have dominated my writings here so far. I might even start teaching the “system” at some point. That, certainly, is a topic for another day.

I have been going through a minor “crisis”. I place the word in quotation marks and refrain from capitalizing it because it isn’t even an apt description of what was going on. Namely, I was wondering what I should be doing with this blog, if anything. The question was one of structure vs. lack thereof; of planning vs. off-the-cuff ranting and of purpose vs. play.

Even as I was writing down the above conceptual pairs, however, I realized they too were not accurate, and that I was not experiencing a conflict between polarized concepts, but a challenge of embracing their working synthesis. The latter isn’t as simple or easy as mixing and matching or even squishing ingredients together. The conditions and of synthesis carry a lot of weight even when the scenario is one of abstract conception.

I have been writing about the various aspects and facets of my magical menagerie- at least have begun something akin to that process. The long and short of it, however, is that it just isn’t what I want to do here. That’s fine, since the blog itself is something of an experiment in expressing these arcane interests of mine. It’s not as easy as just saying what I know. Many speak of the same things, but with different context and there is some debate regarding what this or that esoteric ideal implies and how useful it is for this that or the other.

So once again I take several steps back, add a few deep breaths and take it from the top, as it were. Assumptions can be more thoroughly discarded for one, especially the limiting ones. Worrying about getting the expression right can also be- more thoroughly- discarded. At the same time, I want to express clearly what does not come easy to translate from experience in combination with the prominent conceptual conventions about it.

For starters, instead of going on about the particular “exhibits” of my proverbial magical menagerie, it might be more economical and useful, as well as more interesting for yours truly to some it all up. In other words, let me address the query of WTF am I doing with occultism. Not so much, why am I doing it, but what I am doing. Specifically, I want to detail the options and elements of arcane application that I am bringing together while filtering, interpreting and redesigning the input. I intend, moreover, to elaborate regarding my motivation for the apparent rearranging of the deck chairs of existing esoteric approaches to come to my own conception.

Given what I expressed above, I have already summed up my magical menagerie as one that I reluctantly would label as revisionist esoteric exposition. Even with the shady reputation of all things “revisionist”, my work involves dynamics of great esoteric potential and meeting the various challenges of the times in which we find ourselves. To put it more plainly, I am forging my own system of magic via the revising of various traditional themes of arcane wisdom.

I am motivated to elaborate because misunderstanding is all too easy when encountering such claims. Those of a more traditionally inclined disposition are suspicious of any sort of revision or adaptation. On the other hand, diversified occultists might not realize how much goes into redesigning the systemics of one’s occult practice because the trend is modern and notorious for being mired in mass marketed pop culture subject matter, in the view of yours truly.

To reiterate, I am engaged in a process of redesigning some traditional elements of occultism and adapting them toward application in the world today. The process has been ongoing for the last fifteen years, whereas I have been exploring western occultism for a decade before that, in addition to eastern (Asian) metaphysics, as well as astrology, tarot, psychic phenomena and trance states for fifteen years before that.

I am currently engaged in a process of formalizing, testing and reformulating esoteric subjects of interest to condense the working principles into a map that can successfully navigate selected territories of esoteric application in a manner meaningful to the one undertaking the journey.

There are those who would reject the idea of revising or adapting perfectly functional systems of esoteric knowledge into a more modern context. Granted, many claims to the effect can be accurately deemed wanting. That does not mean the need is a fabrication.

A simple example would be that of western occult systems using astrological symbolism. Using astronomical data for esoteric applications is a tried and true practice- at least for those of an occult disposition. The planets, for example, are truly potent symbols of deeper truths when interpreted and conceptually concentrated (as archetypes) toward that purpose. The traditional Western astrological bodies known as planets include the sun, the moon and five astronomical planets of this solar system, all visible to the naked eye.

Today the face of the solar system has expanded, meaning the arcane possibilities would be best brought to useful fruition by reflecting the solar system more accurately. And yet, the old system of seven planetary principles has been a powerful map of occult possibility, coinciding with the seven vowels of the Greek alphabet, the seven days of the week as well as other iterations of that sacred number.

Existing revisions have added planets updating at least to the mid to late twentieth century. However, the astronomical face of the solar system has since undergone changes at a pace that far outstrips any occultist capacity to reliably formalize things in addition to thoroughly testing the proposed “upgrade”. Suffice it to say that simply slapping on more variables and shaving off the rough edges might only replace the tried and true (limitations notwithstanding) with a rickety construct held together with snappy jargon and a lot of wishful thinking.

My magical menagerie is, therefore, a collection of esoteric themes and potentials adapted to sustain interlocking parts, or at least mutually supportive and complementary elements. Designing and testing in this manner has been and continues to be an experience beyond measurable value to me. It has shown what works and what doesn’t work as well as what might work if one only invests more than most would be willing to give in terms of time, energy and commitment. Life, after all, is too short to waste on futility.

It is also true, however, that just because two stones slapped together can crack a spark doesn’t guarantee one can light a fire. A certain amount of skill and the correct conditions are needed as well, a combination of nature and nurture in the proper proportions. Even so, anyone clever enough can claim success in occult matters regardless of where the truth lies. Placebo effects and the trickster nature of human consciousness are easy to manipulate even when the perpetrator and victim are one and the same person.

My current minor “crisis” has only been one of many, and quite mild compared to some prior versions. One can say that the elements of the menagerie in mention have been progressively integrating, from “crisis” to “crisis”, just as they have been mutating purposefully for that purpose. I intend to describe some of the process of my evolving understanding, to focus on something that is closer to home for me than the more speculative expressions that have dominated my writings here so far. I might even start teaching the “system” at some point. That, certainly, is a topic for another day.

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Myth, Metaphor and Magic: The Mystery

I have heard the assertion that Myth is Metaphor, and there is no shortage of commentary on the topic. It’s obvious to most how entwined folklore and magic are entwined. Even in our day the word “fantasy” as a literary genre is part and parcel with the concept of “magic”. The trend when dealing with that relationship, however, is to use the definition of myth as some sort of fictional account without referring to the importance of metaphor therein (the backbone of mythic structure and purpose in my view).

At the same time myth, metaphor and magic are very different concepts. The loose definition intended in this writing describes myth as a fictional account which embodies entities and phenomena transcending mundane experience. Metaphor is a literary device that takes a word or phrase out of its originally intended context to allude to similarities with the object it is directed to represent. Metaphor tells us that a word is very might like something beyond its literal context without using prepositions of comparison (“like”, “as” etc.).

Magic, on the other hand, is more difficult to pin down. It suffices to use a simple definition such as the following approximation of A. Crowley’s: Magic is the process by which change is manifested at any existential level in conformity with will, through an altered state of consciousness in the one causing it.

To sum up, myth is a story, metaphor is an indirect simile, and magic is making shit happen by will and non-ordinary awareness. Distinct as they are, we can observe each concept contains at least one of the other two. Metaphor is used in myth because myths often describe “supernatural” phenomena, while pointing at something deeper and more complex in nature. Magic is the expression of supernatural phenomena based precisely on the deep and complex concepts to which the metaphors of myth allude.

Metaphors address ideas, slippery in the face of logic and common sense, and give them a familiar and tangible context. We are aware that the description they offer is not “literal”, or point by point accurate. The strokes are broad and the outlines basic. We are aware that mystery is at work as a source of conceptual power that can affect us profoundly whether we can pin it down or not. Metaphor allows us to track it, follow its fluid dance of meaning and discerning some identifiable patterns therein.

Myth can therefore be taken as a weaving of metaphor to describe a mystery in an easy and pleasant to absorb manner. The depth of meaning implied by the mystery embedded in metaphor, however, remains concealed even in the most elaborate mythic tale. If one is to master the esoteric application inherent in myth, one must transcend the obvious and not just embrace, but embody the mystery to translate it into a process of activating the possibilities of magic regarding its impending revelation.

The distillation of effective esoteric practice, be it for purposes corporeal or existentially abstract, is itself tied to a mystery wrapped in an enigma, and hence not readily available to be spelled out in a comprehensive manner. Those who are interested in magical practice, and those who crave corporeal rewards for their efforts, can however be impatient with the details of unfolding esoteric patterning. They can insist on adhering to a point by point recipe for a swift harvest of results. I can’t fault a newbie for this attitude. It was, after all, my own stance for years.

That changed for the simple reason of live and learn. Namely, it is not the most constructive approach. The bottom line is not the point by point process of arcane operation. It isn’t the myth or the web of metaphors that comprise its often-entertaining structure either. It is the mystery embedded within it all. That mystery is nothing less than the power of the deep and abiding dynamic of existence in all its manifestations, as well as the underlying essence at the core of each.

Where the mystery is concerned, however, approaches can be simplified (even when they look complicated). Simplification, as I express it here, is just another description for diving into the most available relationship with said mystery. The relationship can come from the direction of theoretical emphasis or insistence on pragmatic deliberation, depending on a number factors beyond the scope of this discussion.

To get meaningful outcomes, however, both theoretical digestion and real-world action are indispensable. Education, or absorbing intellectual knowledge, is often preferred even when the more challenging path of balancing theory and practice is appreciated and open to the aspirant. Repeated application of occult methods, lead the aspirant into awareness of patterns linking cause to effect. By, furthermore, referencing sources of both theory and the practices of others, they can be inspired to explain those patterns, and hence apply them beyond their original context. Mystery itself, for all its empowering of our resourcefulness, is beyond intellect to comprehend on its own steam.

Mystery is, therefore, beyond the mappings of theory- even as it includes them- and beyond the strategic and tactical meanderings of practice, including them as well. Frustrating as this may be, the defining myth, metaphor and magic can help make sense of the challenge of relating to this thing called “mystery”. Remember that the definition of magic involves extra-ordinary states of awareness. These states of awareness are the fulcrum of practice as well as theory. Mystery is mystery because conventional awareness is not equipped to forge identity with it. Indeed, it is identity with the mystery that powers magic, not rote practice or memorizing its metaphors.

Suffice it to say that mundane existence is as much the mystery as anything out of the ordinary or beyond conventional comprehension. It is, therefore, in how we relate to the proverbial ordinary world that matters. That is why the consistent cultivation of non-ordinary states of awareness is a primary ingredient in stimulating awareness and access to the mystery in all our relations. This is not to be confused with the extremes of “arm-chair” or “rules and tools” occultism. Legends speak of those who could make shit happen without elaborate ritual or much theoretical fanfare. Such individuals were more likely to have mastered non-ordinary states. I am not denying ritual or even ceremony, and intellectual understanding is still a great boon to practice. But the latter becomes comparatively potent when done within the domain of esoterically cultivated awareness.

I have heard it said that magic is supposed to make life easier. I would say its power to make life more meaningful is more important. If magic is just a means to an end, then one misses out, because the mystery at its foundation will be replaced by second hand maps. They may navigate rudimentary territories, but in the end practitioners will probably be disappointed when the free ride doesn’t come.

The depth of the mystery out of which all magic springs and which myth upon myth has touched upon in all its infinite facets is not easily trivialized. Exploring it may not be the only way to make shit happen. In this author’s view, however, it is the most coherent way toward mastery free of intellectual tail chasing and rules and tools dependency. Instead, one might discover horizons of creative potential to express an art that amounts to the embracing of one’s very own truth as a seed of existential possibility and more.

My Magical Menagerie: Hermetic Musings

 

Anyone interested in Western esoteric traditions and with an attention span of more than three minutes has probably heard of the word “hermetic” used in that context. If not, they are probably aware of the word in the context of air-tight containment. Those are, in fact, the two main interpretations of the word one would find in the Oxford Dictionary. There is the definition of “relating to an occult tradition encompassing alchemy, astrology and theosophy”, and there is the idea of something sealed “air-tight” in a container. From the definitions, one can surmise that “hermetic” refers to something protected and/or insulated- occulted- from outside influences.

It is noteworthy that the mundane context arises from the esoteric one. To shed light on the esoteric context we need to go back into ancient Greek prehistory and the traditions surrounding the god Hermes and the pile of stones said to be the origin of his name*. The pile could be found at crossroads and boundaries, including graves where the world of the living and that of the dead were side by side. From the same name “Hermes” thus came words for mediation, negotiation and interpretation.

The piles themselves literally grew, stone by stone, at crossroads as markers. Each passer-by would simply throw a stone at the designated spot and the pile would form over time and then be maintained. There were also piles marking boundaries between settlements, where representatives would meet and negotiate. The piles were testimony of agreement, marking the meeting place as hallowed ground, thus protecting each side from treachery.

Goods would be bartered at boundary markers, and eventually market places would emerge there. The Roman version of Hermes known as Mercury, was also the patron of merchants and exchanges of money, goods and services. His name is, furthermore, linked to the Indo-European root word for “boundary/border”. Eventually, the pile was replaced with a single marker, and later with a stone pillar topped with a bust of the god and his trademark phallus sticking out.

Personally, I disagree with the view that the phallus was emphasized due to the god’s fertility status. Hermes was not usually associated with masculine genital prowess and/or fertility in any case. Instead the issue reminds me of the controversy surrounding the Sanskrit word lingam, used for phallus, but properly meaning “pillar/column”, and often expressed in an esoteric context.

Lingam, literally means “mark”, and was identified with the Indian god Shiva (essentially the male or active existential principle). While most gods were depicted in human form, Shiva (among the males) was an exception. It is widely accepted that the lingam was not an object of phallic worship. On the other hand, rather than thinking that someone is calling a cock a column, we are probably dealing with the reverse: a pillar being allegorically compared to a phallus.

The pillar is associated with the phallus to emphasize its power. Otherwise a pillar is just a pillar, but a phallus represents the male side of the potency of procreation. This power doesn’t just mark boundaries as a notation device. It authorizes them as places of power, where distinct elements are kept apart, but also allowed to come together under controlled conditions. This is precisely what goes on in alchemy, another interesting word to explore. Alchemy is probably the area of occult knowledge and practice that comes uppermost to mind when identifying the specifics Hermetic wisdom. It is a word said to come from the ancient Egyptian word khem, meaning “black”. It is also the native name for Egypt.

Personally, I am partial to the interpretation as “The Work of the Sun” (chamah = “sun” in Hebrew). The designation is expressed in the famous Emerald Tablet of Hermes the Thrice Great. Notice that chemi is also the Hebrew word for “hot”. Here the proverbial “Work of the Sun” is associated with the sacred pillar of power that marks and negotiates boundaries (including those of life and death), with the power being that of a sacred heat associated with a/the divine pillar. Kundalini anyone?

In the understanding of yours truly, Hermetic Wisdom is all about the application of knowledge toward esoteric cultivation. It isn’t so much about secrets, or the notion that the nature of esoteric wisdom is “occult” (concealed). Instead, this wisdom is all about the power of boundary conditions, transitions and transformations as well as exchange and circulation of the power/force of life itself.

Hermetic Wisdom can be but isn’t exclusively about the performance of magical feats. However, one of the results of esoteric cultivation or alchemy, is the awakening of capacities through which feats of magic can be accomplished. I want to be careful, however, when throwing words such as “feats” around.  The latter term tends to summon forth images of crowds gathered in expectance of something that will knock their socks off and probably solve all their problems in the process. When that doesn’t happen, the crowd turns into a mob and the smell of barbequed human is likely to waft through the air.

Drama aside, my point with this rant was to continue my elaboration of my own conceptual collection of esoteric themes, to further tie them together so that a hint of implications regarding dynamics of application could be discerned. My premise, which I plan to continue developing, is that magic is successfully applied through preparation, preparation and preparation, a word that conceals unfathomable depth of possibility. To me that is not scouring the market place for the right incense to burn, although I highly respect such proclivities.

It is more about cultivating the latent dynamics of our very humanity that we have erroneous associated with miracles and the supernatural. Even Augustine of Hippo said: “Miracles are not contrary to nature but only contrary to what we know about nature.” Magic, therefore, is only natural. Whether it’s scientific or not, however, is another story, and one that may be addressed in these pages…someday.

—–

* Google Translator works surprisingly well for converting Greek text to English.

 

My Magical Menagerie: Intermission Rant

It’s been many months since my last entry. When expressing thoughts around topics I take seriously I may not be the most motivated to post references and quote others. On the other hand, I want my thoughts to be clear, to represent where I stand- at least at the moment- and to be the products of conviction rather than uncertainty. That’s why I prefer to say: “in my view” rather than “in my opinion”. However honest an opinion is, it still amounts to being unreliable. An opinion can be factual, but its source isn’t as carefully worked out as a conviction, even though the latter may also undergo revision.

The phrase “in my view” is not as substantial as “I am convinced”, but for me reflects a more thorough process of vetting than just throwing concepts around until something comes out the other end of the mental conveyor belt. We tend, furthermore, to express something as “just” an opinion, which is another way of devaluing the process- along with certain memes such as the saying that opinions are like assholes.

What does that have to do with my magical menagerie? Plenty. One reason I take time off a blog about my views on esoteric theory and practice is because I want the expression to be more than speculative. I want to reliably express information as a product of experience as well as insight. It’s always been that way, but these days with so much occultist role play, especially the kind where the players take themselves seriously, people demand references and even though out the two words “prove it” with a sneer and a slam waiting right behind them if the target doesn’t comply, which they won’t because they can’t.

My magical menagerie does not include proof to be shared. That, thankfully, is not the nature of occultism or we would be in a world of hurt. Just think of religions declaring practice as evil, of innocents tortured and killed, of mass hysteria. Think of power-hungry control freaks wanting to regulate as much as they can of human behavior. The neurotics we encounter in our every-day lives are one thing, but the ones with social influence, praying on fear and ignorance are the real danger.

The greatest boon of the modern occult attitude is the mainstream conviction that it’s all bullshit. Thus, I come full circle. I want to speak with certainty and from experience, but I don’t do this because I desire to be convincing or a fountain of proof of what I say. I just want to be clear so if, and when someone disagrees, the strength of my conviction can be real and not a prop of blusterous intellect.

Regarding this rant, moreover, I am still “on topic”. My menagerie is held together with conviction, which I experience as a specific state of being; an “energy” if you will. Conviction as an energy or felt experience is a power in esoteric cultivation and practice. Uncertainty, however, can also be a power, for that too can be a felt state rather than an abstract mental conception. Felt states are part of my magical menagerie. Some are toxic and need to be either sent way, put down or transformed. Some are highly prized to be nurtured so their strength can be a vehicle of occult accomplishment, which is more than just making shit happen.

Another thing that can account for stepping back from online expression to work things out is this tendency of mine to bring up arguments I have either experienced or observed and play them out against my own views. It’s not so much a masochistic habit as it is a daring to test what already has me convinced in the face of what often amounts to psychic aggression. Being honest with one’s self is important in esoteric work. Being honest with others maybe not so much. That being said; my intention in communicating here is both honesty, as well as clarity, else there’s no point in the record. On with the rant.

I refuse to argue points, for obvious reasons. Too many chips on too many shoulders for one, including my own. There is too much status involved in discussion. Too much of a winner/loser dynamic regardless of whether it is consciously intended or not. Perhaps in a private discussion mutual respect and maturity come easier, but when there is disagreement and debate in front of an audience, its instinctive to experience a sense of competitive display. Some would act as if they are “above it”, just as some would use guilt as a weapon in promoting their “underdog status”.

The drive for status in humans can be promoted by a strategy based on the denial of the drive to assume the position of a superior who has transcended it or of a victim who is outraged at the assumed superiority of others. These strategies can be so instinctive in some people that the individual sporting them has convinced themselves they do not apply to them.  Matters are even more complicated because sometimes a cigar is just a cigar and appearances are what is going on.

I would say, in the face of such complication, that it’s more constructive to be honest and admit that the issue saving and losing face has at least some influence- and to accept that its impact varies from individual to individual. We don’t have to play along, of course. In fact, I want to affirm that my ranting about it is motivated by the desire to emphasize we don’t have to play along. If I feel a sense of satisfaction at winning an argument, I realize it for what it is: a natural instinct. I feel sick in losing an argument. Again, it’s natural.

Simply put, fuck the winning or losing. Losing teaches you and winning reinforces you. They are both useful. What sucks is realizing your interests are simply a means for others to compete for status, social points, attention or any form of self-marketing. What suck is this situation being prevalent enough so everyone has to balance a chip on their shoulder. It is tempting to say I would rather stay silent, but if we all did so the dynamics of engagement would be nothing more than attack and defense dressed in all manner of bullshit. Make no mistake. This rant is not about being butt-hurt. It is about the healthiest attitude for esoteric cultivation and occult accomplishment. It’s about being real, something important for the human experience overall. All this has a cliche sound to it, but it doesn’t make it any less important or relevant.

I chose to title this essay “Rant Intermission” because it has indeed been so long since I posted. Continuity has been frayed and I want to energize my choice to post regularly from now on. There have been events beyond my control that contributed fundamentally to distancing myself from this expression, so it’s not all deliberate. But then again, one reason I practice esoteric methodology is to minimize the factor known as “events beyond my control” in my life. I am ok with having them, so long as they don’t fuck with me beyond the point that keeps things interesting.

Next time I will keep the same title (Magical Menagerie) so as to build on what Magic means to me in terms of my views, experiences and personal preferences, as well as my sense of purpose. Yes, I have a sense of purpose. It is my own and doesn’t really have a single label. It isn’t even the desire to fulfill specific goals. Just to move in the direction that most represents me. Hence it is a path of self-discovery as well as self-cultivation. And that to me is meaningful, which is really all I ask of existence. Believe it or not it is quite a lot to ask; but nothing less will do. Why not share some of the journey?

Dharma: The Path of Accomplishment

Years of extended research and esoteric application were defined by a filtering and fermentation through which I transformed digested bits of knowledge into something that worked to my satisfaction. Even though I was, and still am, driven to forge my own corpus of esoteric potential, I often take for granted the benefits of esoteric process. Many sorely underestimate the basic nature and implications of these benefits because they cannot see them in terms of material value.

In other words, it becomes discouraging for many when an allegedly healthy transformation of self via esoteric empowerment does not insure that one ends up as wealthy as a globalist tycoon and/or as popular as an award winning celebrity. I guess it’s about priorities. Such can be manifested in my opinion, but due to the artificial (socially engineered) nature of those representations of success, and the resulting conflict such artifice creates, the only way even occult process can get you such things without the standards of this world changing radically is via sacrifice- of self or others.

By change of standards I refer to sustaining sense of purpose that defines the “perks” as the means to worthy ends rather than all that matters. I do not speak of spiritual accomplishment in any way divorced from terrestrial fulfillment. I speak of the forging of meaningful “dharma”- to use a Sanskrit term. It is my contention that understanding the word dharma in a felt way, as opposed to being burdened by rote analysis, will help in coming to terms with what it means to evolve in terms of esoteric accomplishment. Let’s first look at a traditional exposition of the word’s meaning.

The word ‘dharma’ (धर्म) in Sanskrit is derived from the root धृ  meaning ‘to hold’, ‘to bear’, ‘to carry’ or ‘to support’.  धारणात् धर्मः –  that which holds together or supports is dharma.  In this sense dharma encompasses all ethical, moral, social and other values or principles, code of conduct and behavior which contribute to the well-being, sustenance and harmonious functioning of individuals, societies and nations and which prevent their disintegration.  In a wider sense it is dharma which sustains and supports the whole world.

I find this very similar to the definition of “religion” as that which binds and controls/manages (as in “to relegate”). The difference is that negative connotations of the religion concept are pretty stark compared to the positive ones of meaning of dharma. The latter is a sustaining dynamic, a carrier that keeps things from falling apart. Religion may use that as an excuse, but it plays an active and dictating role rather than one where support is divorced from dependency and manipulation. This is not easy for the mind that is not esoterically inclined to understand about things like morality and ethics. They are not meant to dictate behavior, but to sustain the health and integrity of the essence underlying behavior: our deeper identity.

It is easy to surmise that dharma is the hidden hand that holds all we value so that it does not dissolve into chaos. Yet, discerning examination would illuminate chaos itself as anything but the enemy. It is rather the power and tendency to dissolve the structure and ordered patterning of any process or conceptualized entity. Chaos, as I am referring to it here, is a universal solvent that induces structure and form into action and fulfillment of purpose. Chaos in this manner is cooperative with dharma, not its antagonist. Chaos and dharma are mutually interacting so that one without the other represses the proliferation of all that is of true worth. This, however, leads to another misconception: that dharma itself is tantamount to order.

Let me clarify with a metaphor: To establish the medium of oceans where life can proliferate, salt and water are both required, and in the right proportion. Salt is the binder and water is the solvent. One holds together and supports and the other pulls apart and mobilizes. It is similar to sustaining ideal pressure in a medium. Ideal pressure for a human being depends on the balanced between the pressure in the body that pushes outward and the pressure in the environment that pushes inward. It is their equalization that actually sustains.

Indeed, it is easy to misunderstand dharma. At the same time, we can use that to realize what drives the tendency to such misunderstanding. The conventional interpretations regarding support, sustenance and the bearing of a burden appear to be colored by our own proliferating state of imbalance. Suffice it to say that dharma is not order or law or morality per se.

It is the balance between order (law, morality etc.) and chaos. That balance is intrinsic to neither order nor chaos. It is intrinsic to the nature of the beneficiary of balance. The first- and by no means the last- step in establishing dharma and hence sustaining existence in a meaningful manner, lies in knowing the nature of what is to be sustained as such.

How effective is conventional morality in this? How many, if any, religions or laws or any alleged bastions of moral order take the necessity of chaos into account? Chaos is always risky, or at least seen that way by those whose experience of dharma is either lacking or corrupt. Order is seen as oppressive when corruption and neglect proliferate on the other end of the scales.

Freedom, as such, results when the forces defining one’s mobility are perfectly balanced. That is when they do not interfere from whatever one is, does or becomes.  The point when the forces are balanced is not, however, a universal quantity, but is solely dependent on the nature of the subject of balance.

Dharma is, therefore, not a binding form of support. Nor is it a path of perpetual escape from what appears to be limiting for the sake of losing all that is meaningful because of an inability to appreciate it- hence making it a scapegoat for one’s true lack. From an esoteric point of view, dissolving into the infinite and being focused into a singularity of unexpressed monomeric potential, are both events reflecting loss of meaning. In chemistry a monomer is a unit of matter that has the potential to bond with more of its kind.

I have noticed that chaos and order have in many minds taken on the interpretations of evil and good, and sometimes in reverse. Usually the “good” represents what is lacking and the “evil” what is abusively abundant. The true culprit, however, is always the lack of synergy that represents the requirements of our true nature. We can take a lesson from the workings of nature here. Our bodies and the natural physical environment cannot function without a constant balance of synergistic processes. Everything works in its right proportion to reflect the balance between form and the energy underlying it.

Although we can apply the implications of the above rant to many areas of experience, dharma is most often associated with esoteric wisdom and accomplishment. It is not, in my view, that the meaning of dharma is lost when we find things derail in its application. It’s more that we lose sight of how that meaning is meant to be beneficial and healthy. There are a variety of reasons for this.

If the process of dharma’s application is warped, then esoteric process is also warped. If esoteric process is warped, then dharma’s application is also warped. Imbalance is exacerbated resulting in a feedback loop. Therein, false perception and adverse conditions proliferate. They foster deliberate corruption, and the active striving for meaningless existence, regardless of the pretenses of interpretation upon which that is based.

“Evil”, in this manner, results when insanity becomes the convincing imposter of the ideal. Instead of denying “Evil” as a conception we can explore the possibility that it is a mutation of insanity. In this, the latter manifests intelligence. It then takes its malaise to the logical conclusion of reversing the sense of existential meaning so that all that is sane is treated as the illness and existence is forced to become its own contradiction. Something like esoteric knowledge, when applied in resonance with one’s true nature, can ultimately offer something of value: The balance that is the basis of all heart’s desires.

Touching Upon The Esoteric Path

When regarding esoteric wisdom’s applications there is the idealism of spiritual truth, and there is the methodology of alchemy and transformation. The two are not separate, especially if “spiritual truth” includes the world where we live, the underworld, the cosmos and its denizens right along with the abstract dimensions of every pure consciousness.  

The final frontier, however, is not out there in the heights of consciousness and the luminosity of spirit, but within the hidden living depths of earth sentience and the intimacy of the warmth of density. It is within where self is manifesting into its defined distinction where we find the basis of all that is physically tangible, and it is the paradoxical inner world of all that is physical where the sleeping potentials of the meaning of it all lie to be caressed into awakening. The myth of the Sleeping Beauty has an esoteric component as well, after all. It is one of the stories of goddess.

 In any case, I have been bringing together elements of alchemical activation that I found most effective out of a morass of traditional possibilities, interpretations and marketed insights. My premise has always been to explore what is most available. If we find ourselves attracted to something, no matter how it is presented, it deserves attention, or at least a chance. Even discredited knowledge can hold an allure because we sense something about it: that it might lead to the opening of undiscovered doorways of opportunity.

With so much information chaos, online and off, it is not easy to discern between what is credible and what is role-play or fantasy where esoteric material is concerned. We are challenged to figure things out with very little guarantee or certainty beyond our good sense. That is not necessarily a bad thing. Relying consistently on being spoon-fed regurgitated wisdom makes us soft, in my honest opinion.

Owning one’s wisdom, on the other hand, means owning the power that comes with it. It means to dare the calculated risks of trial and error, founded on persistent research and listening to the felt voice reaching out from the most genuine parts of our beings. The journey of owning one’s wisdom is nothing less to me than a hero’s journey; a fantastic and incredibly demanding adventure of discovery, growth and empowerment. Certainly, it is no walk in the park.  

All that being said, there are themes of esoteric accomplishment that time and again have been proven indispensable basics in my quest. The first dynamic of esoteric progress is the attainment of the autogenic (self-established) altered state. It includes the awakening and purification of mind, the emotion body and the sensate nature rooted in one’s physical form and extending from it. The toning of the mind, consciousness and one’s very attention through concentration and meditation is one area. The sensitizing of one’s felt sense as energy is another.  

Then that energy sensing capacity, combined with the meditative altered state can bond with our spatial awareness so we may consciousness experience the “phantom body”- the unilateral extension of what is known as the “phantom limb” effect in amputees. This is just a foundation. The above stages are cooked within each other. That cooking is fueled by one’s passion for wholeness and an ongoing opening to deeper awareness so that the process evolves into a kind of psychic fermentation. The latter dynamic is the crux of what is often labelled “inner alchemy”.

This fermentation is too involved to lay out here, but there are writings east and west that describe symptoms and stages of its progression. Each culture appears to tackle it differently, the west relying more on symbols and codes probably due to persecution and the Asian cultures being overall more direct, but also occulting information for the most part. Older traditions extending to shamanic practices were rooted in oral transmission, and records of such are rarely accurate.  

The good news is that the  field of accomplishment is always the human being, and we are all media of potential exploration in that sense. Another plus is the “higher self” effect, a form of activated or innate awareness that is most often apart from one’s familiar ego structure. It acts as a guide depending on how much one credits its feedback to increase its participation in ones unfolding progression.  

I have often heard, and agree, that those most predisposed to esoteric cultivation feel as if called to those practices. Sometimes the call happens at a specific time on one’s life, and sometimes it has always been there. Human societies run on a structures conditioned into their members. Esoteric cultivation tends to break and dissolve those structures to pave the way for a greater and deeper experience of self and world.

It is much like the snail dropping its shell to grow. Like the snail, growth comes in stages and new shells cover the vulnerable flesh. These, in turn, must also be abandoned. Just because one has left their old shell once doesn’t mean they are free of such defensive restrictions once and for all. Neither does it mean that they need to keep dropping shells and being exposed. The process is up to them. Some just want or need to grow more and will remain at “the next stage” indefinitely, for better or worse.  

Be that as it may, the pillars of human societies may serve interests that define themselves as the authorities of the given social structure. Having the conditioned perspectives of their populations dissolve into something that may not serve their interests can lead to strict measures being taken to avoid or discourage such practices. Esoteric practice, furthermore, is known to strengthen and bring into activation latent potentials of the human body-mind that may pose a threat to those who thrive on the herd of humanity remaining in their version of the status quo.

The exploration of motive, means and opportunity doesn’t just apply to the solving of crimes. It pertains to the exploration of any human activity, especially where we are ambiguous about who did it. This is why I think one finds the promotion of esoteric knowledge and practice in various groups that are in defiance of social convention, but also why established authority structures don’t just ban or demonize and corrupt such practices, but aim to monopolize them.  

Today, in my honest opinion, the search for esoteric wisdom that is absolutely “credible” and objectively verifiable in an empirical manner (as if it were modern science) is futile. Even time worn traditions are not absolute in their reliability because individuals respond differently to esoteric approaches on the one hand, and the efficacy and benefits of many methods is flexible and adapts to changing cultural and historic conditions when a tradition is living.

Even the most effective time honored and accredited methods such as the activations of Vajrayana Buddhism have a number of schools that approach them differently, emphasize different aspects of the core methodology, and can appear as independent systems altogether, when the bigger picture of their historic evolution isn’t known.

Commitment to a path chosen by those deepest parts of our nature, whose call we literally cannot deny, is indispensable. Shortcuts, furthermore, are illusions. The path we must traverse is the path we do traverse when we are ready. It avails us not to bring up examples of other’s failures. Perhaps the path is a razor’s edge we are forced to walk barefoot. Perhaps the so-called failures were simply not listening as much as they thought.  

Our accomplishment is more likely when we dare to be steadfast in our persistence to cultivate all that we desire that moves us forward. Facing obstacles of all types and overcoming them in a number of ways, is par for the course. In my experience, however, it is nothing like the horror stories promoted in circles where people act with rashness and near ignorance, where minds are either closed, in denial or biased, and where one gobbles up whatever fancy shiny bauble of knowledge is thrust in one’s face.

And even though one must be very much aware that there is no such thing as something for nothing in this or any, the truth is a matter of transformation and exchange. It is not about buying and selling as we are accustomed to it in our limited material congresses. Maturity is gained by experience, and discernment too. But within, there is guidance that is our birthright and once that is honestly an influence one can credit then one need not fear of the “wrong path” even if fear might be thrust upon one’s heart for any number of other reasons.

Esoteric cultivation and accomplishment even, may not be for the majority of human beings. However, nobody can really point fingers or define groups that can or cannot proceed with realistic expectation. Not until they have endured the finger of their own limitations and have experienced its dissolution from their existential frame. And that is far easier said than done.

 

 

 

 

Standing at the Crossroads

The occultism of Western civilization- if not the world over- is undergoing an interesting transition. I clarify the meaning of “transition” as “crisis”, under its original meaning of “cross roads”. At the time of this writing the Internet has accelerated the occult information explosion in Western culture to the level of trivialized overkill and disillusionment.

Popularization, the tendency to make esoteric knowledge more marketable (that is, to sugar-coat it), and easy access to information that a century earlier was available to none but the wealthy and persistent few,  appear to have led to a state of confusion in the perspectives that credit esoteric possibilities as being worthy of exploration.

And so those of us interested in the potentials of esoteric study and accomplishment, regardless of where we find ourselves in those terms, may have a sense of the crossroads of which I speak. This crossroads is a position of strain because of the pressure to choose a path. As I attempted to emphasize elsewhere, Esothemes is about moving forward. In my view, the choice that builds the most forward momentum is the decision to remain in equilibrium at the nexus where possibilities- even uncomfortable ones- meet. That is to say, the crossroads in mention is the place to be. It is there where things will fall into place.

The point of insecurity, of uncertainty and of maximized psychic vulnerability appears to be the point of greatest instability and weakness. It is, however, the point that challenges us to dig deep and access our latent strength. Through that challenge we are encouraged to build the momentum that can overcome inertia and the conditioning and entropy that hold us back from where we not only want to be, but where we need to become.

The occult crossroads is that arena of experience where our views regarding esoteric possibilities appear to be most easily trivialized and undermined. It is where we are on the verge of being proven wrong, and where we are most likely to be deceived by all that sounds too good to be true, and all that sounds too true to be good for us. It is where we are prone to get defensive and respond to one extreme of perspective with the opposite extreme; and where our desire to get strong is an endless dance with our alleged weakness.

In spite of the dire drama described above, there is another option: we can remain in a position where the questions are not answered. We can be open to how that feels and explore where the feeling goes. By accepting that initially dissonant position, and by treating it as worthy of our attention, we may find a surprising confidence emerging in the midst of uncertainty. The more we dare relax into feeling all while knowing nothing, the more we sense the accumulation of power in that very stance of accepting our allegedly precarious position.

The crossroads, the nexus of confusion and uncertainty, of which I speak is specific to occult possibility, but we find it in any attempt to get the facts of any situation, only to find more and more concluding that life’s as random as ever, that there are no conspiracies, that people are stupid and that the population deserves to be culled, or that this or that opposing group or idea is the enemy and so on and so forth.

Where esoteric promise is concerned, this nexus can easily lead to confusion regarding what’s real and what’s bullshit. We live in a time where so many have  amassed factoids regarding esoteric wisdom and the traditions surrounding it that the difference between truly genuine esoteric knowledge based on experience or deep perception is practically indistinguishable from  well dressed bullshit.

Misinformation and disinformation can be expressed with as much conviction as well researched fact. Disappointment piles upon disappointment. The toil of retracing one’s steps from endless dead ends of misconception mounts, and buying into the flowery phantasms of media saturated drama weakens the strongest of idealistic passions.

It sounds exaggerated and overly dramatic, but having a sense that there is more to life than whatever we are told there is can set us up for trauma when people in our environment actively strive to invalidate our emerging sense before it matures into experience backed conviction. Under such circumstances there are a few options that appear almost immediately.

We can give up and “get real”, or we can compromise our passion and scale down our expectations. If not, we can stick to our guns and stubbornly insist on the truth exactly as out intellect has grasped it for better or worse. In all the above options, however, we avoid the natural dissonance of sensing the need for change. If in that need we meet the seeming wall or void of not knowing  where to go, what to do, or if we are just chasing our tails, the most useful and empowering change available is to stand tall at the crossroads.

In that stance we can feel the tingles and waves of being left wide open with no guarantees, and we can turn from trying to figure it all out to face what we do know: the paths that have brought us where we are in the now. Even then, logical evaluation comes second to extending sentience and feeling into all that was, including our own drives, motives and justifications. In not knowing the facts, we get to know ourselves, and therein lies the path to finding truth.

We don’t have to constantly demand proof of everything presented in our information stream. We don’t need signs of authority or accreditation. We don’t have to resort to verbatim reproduction of menus of practice. The whole point of cultivation is to cease being an automaton in all ways, after all, and to get real. At the other extreme, we can avoid the sweetness of all that sounds good, while sidestepping the bitter medicine the realist must always swallow to remain free of deception.

We can, on the contrary, have our pie and eat it too- and that’s not just another platitude. It means we can be inspired, and we can be rational. This can be done because we are served best by releasing our addiction to the mind sets that enslave us. The mindset of limitation and the mind set that seeks shallow alternatives in the name of freedom and love.

The point of this rant is to bring up my perception of attitudes I have encountered among those who are either interested or experienced in esoteric theory and practice, however they might specify their views. I too have been among those holding onto these attitudes, including not knowing where or how to proceed when all I felt around me were contradictions to my once unshakable convictions.

I grew to realize, as I let go of being right or being wrong, that just because something can be shaken doesn’t mean it is being broken. Adjustments are always part of life, and finding the balance between flexibility and staying power is a process that undergoes its own fair share of ups and downs.

I write this to assure the reader that being obsessed with proving anything, or even the origins of any information that claims to be esoteric or occult is less useful than the information itself. The world of the unseen is such that even a con artist may inadvertently be a source of truth (to a point and for a time), and still be under the impression they are leading victims by the nose.

Much invaluable inspiration comes in the form of insights off the top of the heads of both the wise and the unwary. Lies and truth can shop from the same tailor, but only the latter has substance when filtered through cultivated discernment and tested via application.

Of the two options discernment is more convenient, however. Testing may require a commitment of time, faith and energy as well as material resources that we cannot afford to waste on a mounting pile of errors where learning from mistakes only leads us to an endless array of more dead ends and viable options.

Fortunately, there are ways to cultivate discernment, and these are probably the most reliable of approaches of inner cultivation. The simplest one takes advantage of the very crossroad of uncertainty that tends to be a common stop off point on any life journey for many of us. For as we open to feel all that we do not know, the door opens for us to explore. That’s a path that requires no justification.