The Flying Scrolls of Logos

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

This blog is intended to represent some of my ideas concerning brotherhood, peace, and proper learning. I invite all who read my posts to respond with their own opinions, including disagreements. It is my hope that others will find my ideas appealing, take up the torch and carry that light in the path of their own glory.

Love is the law, love under will.


Davin Maki

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Shadow Self

      Quite often do I either hear or read about ceremonial magick as a form of psychotherapy. In my experience, the distinction between the subtle realms and the psyche—and by extension the sacred and the profaneare not so clear-cut. In my process of ontogenesis, I have come to understand that the subtle reams and the psyche play reciprocal roles with one another. My relationship with the spirit Ga'ap resonates within my psyche, yet the spirits are pockets in the Aether where our thoughts may collect. It would be too simple to merely state "our experiences with them are psychological," or "from the subtle reams arises thought forms within the psyche." The spirits, the gods, angels, and elementals are conglomerations of archetypes, socio-political strife and triumph, and heroic figures from all ages. We are inspired by them, yet they are continually added to in complexity as a function of temporality and stochastic progress in culture.
      I really don't have any proof that this is, in part, the nature of the spiritual realms; you will either agree with my statement, or you won't, relative to your own theories and experiences. That notwithstanding, I think that all would agree with me that the cathartic aspects of dramatic rituals cannot be understated. 
     So what is this business about magick being a form of psychology, and to what end do we practice it? Too often do I read about the psychological interpretation of magick without any reference to changes in the psychology of the writer. Most writers make theses along the lines that magic is justifiable on the basis of its psychological significance—this is true enough. Was it not William James that stated that arguments against religion, on the basis of origin alone, weren't valid because they didn't account for the emotional experiences people had while having spiritual experiences?(James, William, Varieties of Religious Experience). Well then, James also went on to give anecdotal accounts proving his thesis along those lines.
     Albeit I'm not a psychology major, I think I have plenty of insight from my own dreamscape and life experiences to illustrate how the psych interfaces with magick and the creation of magical goals. I say that, among other things, magick is a medicine for the mind. With an honest appraisal of one's own strengths and weaknesses (and sometimes even in spite of our lack thereof), we may find ourselves working towards a saner, more fulfilling life. Let me first start by illustrating for you two dreams that I've recorded and how I propose to address the issues in the dreams in a ceremonial way.

The End of Days  
     The following is an excerpt from an old recording of a dream that I had almost a year ago. I recorded it on Facebook (as virtual documentation is in style these days) for posterity. The dream follows:
"I remember being in a large plaza where a presentation was being given to a small group of people. In the center of the plaza was a glass structure that appeared very much like a splash of water, or a rain drop, as it would appear immediately after colliding with a hard surface. The glass was semi-translucent; a grid structure could barely be seen through the surface. The presenter was lecturing about the object, referring to it as if were a tower of sorts. The "tower" could hold the entire worlds population, given the event of an apocalypse. 
                                                                                    It was a clear, sunny, chill day.
     The next scene put me within the tower—it was the end of days. The tower seemed to extend from heaven to the depths of hell infinitely in both directions. Its internal structure consisted of nothing but fire escapes and long, unremarkable, white corridors. All of its great halls and steps were cluttered with faceless people. For some reason, they all (including myself) tended to move downwards. The further downwards one moved, the darker the halls became. Eventually I found myself in a place where the halls appeared to become completely blackened. People were screaming, running from the blackness. One middle-aged woman approached me, telling me that an unknown horror was killing everyone in  the deep.
[The next scene was really hazy.]
     I was downtown Olympia[1], where Starbucks is usually located, on Capital boulevard. Instead of there being a Starbucks, there was a house. The house contained a few boxes of goods that I needed to take to my new place of residence. However, the house was not mine; it was heavily guarded and secured by a tight security system. 
     I have broken into the house. I am in a small, dark compartment where all of my boxes are located. I'm relaying boxes to a mysterious figure on Capital boulevard through a window. By the time I gave him the third box, the Southern wall opened up to reveal a cowled man in a trench coat, pointing a Colt 45 revolver at me. He fired one, missing. Being panic stricken, I crawled through the window as fast as I could.
     I'm at an obscure trailer park, at the end of Old Highway 99, towards Tenino[2]. There is a lightning storm ensuing; rain falls down in large droplets, in sheet-like waves. The smell of decay pervades the area. Everything seems to be constructed of decaying matter and is a jet-pocked brown color. I reach home. All is darkness within. Towards my old bedroom, there is a bookshelf that is filled with dark slabs of decaying meat (books). I calmly and arbitrarily take one from the bookshelf. Lightning flashes.
     The first thing I notice is the ochre color of the sky. There is a fine motionless dust suspended in the air, which got gradually thicker the closer one looks towards the earth. I'm at an intersection that is broken at regular five yard intervals. There was no median; instead, there were barricades that lined the center. All around me is desert sand and jagged stones. 
     Suddenly, police fleet sedans (unnumbered) rushed past with sirens blaring. They seemed to be able to jump over the breaks in the roads with ease. Shortly after this event, an old Cadillac Coup DeVille rushed by me, then suddenly veered to the side of the road and stopped there.
     From the vehicle, two identical figures emerged. They had heads like TV screens; animated scribbles existed where their countenances should have been. They rushed towards me with all haste and abandon. As self defense, I grabbed their faces: this made them disappear. For some reason, the feeling I was left with was one of deep violation—a part of me was irreversibly tainted.
[What follows is more like a sad epilogue.]
 Apparently, the two figures were originally one. A virus infected him which caused this tragic effect. Instead of reproducing through reverse transcription, this virus doubles itself by bifurcating the personality of the host. The host then divides like a bacteria--through binary fission.
This is what happened to me; this is the end of the world.
Sweet dreams."
—Personal Diaries ☉22°33' ♎, ☽5°8'♒ A° IV.༌.xviii

     This dream has at its core the feature of the shadow self, striving to differentiate itself from the conscious self. The tower houses all of my memories, including all of the procedures necessary to deal with each situation I have encountered throughout my life. The tower is not necessarily the belief system I tell others that I espouse, or weltanschauung in the ordinary sense of the word, but the subconscious makeup that is the result of my particular genetic makeup and unique experiences. The amorphous quality of the tower suggests my own uncertainty about the matter.
     The scene where I was within the tower represented my tendency towards self destruction in the face of adversity. Instead of traveling towards the heavens, I seemed to be compelled to move into the darkness of ignorance. The clamoring of the people in the fire escapes were nothing other than a reflection of my own mental dissonance I experience while I'm in the deep pits of anxiety and despair. The lurker in the dark was none other than an aspect of my shadow self.
     The scene where I was attempting to discover my possessions in Olympia represented my feelings of powerlessness. The boxes themselves contained the tools necessary to do my own will in the world, but these tools were sanctioned by forces that were out of my control and dangerous to me.
     The scene in the tailor park represented my recent existential revelation concerning my own mortality—that matter is private. 
     The scene at the crossroads is a repeat of the motif of heaven and earth, life and death. The authority figures in my life are impossibly swift, yet powerless to do anything about the troubles that really bear true weight and gravity in my world. The encounter with the virus was nothing other than an encounter with my shadow self.  It was a silent admission that my shadow self had grown to such power as to dwarf my own avatar (self image, or ego). 

The Hidden Marvel
     The beginning of the dream was something of a blur to me.  I do, however distinctly remember having dialogue with an aged man in a small, cosey library. There were clutters of old notes and nameless tomes upon his desk. For reasons I could not then discern, he told me of the location of a certain marble, then instructed me to obtain it. I was to travel to a crypt in a non-distinct location and and bring it back to him.
      The next thing I remember is that I was couching behind a large stone pillar. The aesthetic of the area was something I was familiar with; it reminded me of one of those ancient Nordic ruins that are so rifely dispersed about the world of Skyrim[3]. The superficial aspect of crawling through a labyrinthine crypt was where the similarities of the dream to Skyrim began and ended.
      I thought that the task ahead was going to be simple enough, but I found myself terror-stuck at the prospect of being discovered by the obviously insane man who was wandering about. He was speaking to himself, almost in an argumentative tone, with a high-pitched, elderly, male voice. I thought for sure this was a man who had traveled down the rock path to the Royal Wedding too hastily.
     The man casually walked out onto a ledge from the shadows. To my dismay, I found that the man was not a deranged mage, but a knightly figure in gleaming green plate armor. He didn't make any of the sounds that one would have found to be a signature of such a garb; he seemed to slink around as if were wearing nothing but a light tunic. It occurred to me then that he knew of my presence—he was creating the illusion of being an insane old mage to make me underestimate his strength. I knew also that I needed to deal with him.
     Thinking him unawares, I snuck from behind the shadows of the pillar so I could knock him out while his back was turned. The moment the light shone upon me, however, he turned and began to run towards me at a full sprint. Shocked, I ran deeper into the darkness of the crypt, hoping to find a place where I could hide and regather my wits and develop a new plan. The narrow corridors furnished no places for hiding and the man in gleaming armor came running in hot pursuit relentlessly.
     As I ran deeper into the darkness, the hall began to take on a more modern look. Portcullises began to look like modern jail cells; bas reliefs, like unremarkable brickwork. Finally, I reached a small closet full of books and cleaning supplies. The man was nowhere to be seen. I thought I had finally reached a hiding place. As I sat in the darkness, listening intently, I began to hear the footsteps of the man approaching.
     When the man found me in the closet, he no longer appeared as a knightly figure, but as a US SWAT[4] member. He zip-tied my hands behind my back and told me to stay in place. I felt that I was in no proper place to resist, so I stood and waited my summary judgement. while I was at it, though, I figured that I may as well poke fun at the dumb, buff bloke who arrested me. Taking the books in the closet for inspiration, I began to ask him about some of my favorite prose fiction authors, thinking for sure that he wouldn't know anything about them. 
     With a cavalier attitude, I walked over to the man and asked him, "Do you read much?" To which the man replied, "Indeed, what are you into?" Suddenly everything became blank, but I decided to push through the fog to the best of my ability and quiz him. "Yes, I have been reading" "Did you mean Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy?" the man replied to my dismay. He pushed further, "the night when Anna had the vision of the sanguineous cross in the light of the candle, I knew she was reaching her end, yet her demise still seemed untimely, and it was shocking and tragic in that way."   I decided to ask him about another. "," I scratched my head and pushed on, "Th M...a...Mnt." For some reason, he seemed to understand that I was referring to Thomas Mann.
      The next thing I remember is that the light came on behind a nearby two-way mirror. Behind the mirror was a group of strangers who were surrounding my whole family. They were all applauding me, as if I had just accomplished something momentous. The burly man uncuffed me and told me that I had passed the trials of my initiation. My heart sunk at the notion that I had been unwittingly initiated into a tradition I knew nothing about without my consent. It was this very thing that I hated about the modern American cultural egregore—people are constantly using coercive means to initiate you into their stupid clicks without your permission. How presumptuous and arrogant! With that thought, I awoke.

 —Personal Journals☉12°33' ♐, ☽11°47'♈ A° IV.༌.xiv
     The hidden marvel was nothing more than the climax of the dream, the truth at the end of the tunnel. The learned man at the beginning of the dream represented my aspiration to come to a more complete understanding of myself. Also, he represented my capacity for attaining to my own truth, or secret doctrine as it were.
     The cave was a reference to my conscious avatar's journey into the abstract realm of the unconscious. The symbolism of the cave is rife in a variety of traditions. In certain Peruvian rituals, the candidate is asked to find their favorite tree, with their imagination, and burrow beneath it. Reaching the end of the journey, the aspirant finds himself in the face of his own power animal. In the Golden Dawn tradition, we have the passage through the Duat, through which the Sektet boat enters the underworld and Osiris and his entourage do battle with the forces of Seth while the sun is in its hiding. In this case, the journey into the crypt represented my encounter with the shadow-self at the end. The death aspect of the crypt suggests that the whole matter was under the process of putrefaction and decay.
     I downplayed the fact that the crypt appeared as a Nordic ruin from the game Skyrim because it was an aberration. But that alone should be noted—I play entirely too many video games. 
     The man who was chasing me was none other than my shadow self. This man represents a rogue power within myself that I have not yet reconciled. He possesses all of the knowledge I posses, yet seems to have a clearer understanding and ability to articulate it than I do. Not only is this the case, but every time I encounter him, it seems that we are at odds with one another. The goal here aught to be to figure out who this figure is and learn to integrate this person back into my personality, so as to achieve a fuller picture of my potential.
     The initiation at the end of the dream is still a mystery to me. Perhaps the macabre motif of traversing through a winding crypt, only to realize that I have been unwittingly initiated into an unknown tradition, was an invitation to change the way I'm currently working with my mind. Perhaps this new beginning is the Hidden Marvel the learned man instructed me to discover.

      I'm reminded of Oedipus. Looking beyond the obvious issue of the incestuous relationship Oedipus had with his mother, we have a man I think we can all relate to. Oedipus, in Oedipus Rex, had vilanized the man who had killed his father—who wouldn't. In his rage, he began to blame Creon, his son, his daughters and everyone else around him. In the end, it was his own truth he reviled the most; his own truth which tore his family apart and drove Jocasta to suicide (Sophocles, Oedipus the King). 
     If we are to say that magick has psychological significance, and argue for the practice of magick on that basis, then we should proceed from the depths of our own minds. So many others have argued for the practice of magick on the basis of its psychological significance only to fall short of the mark of their own mind. I think it's great that many magicians are familiar with psychology, but what I'm interested in is how magick has actually changed your consciousness. The brain can hold several terabytes of information; if all you can rattle around in that great mind of yours is Qabalistic theory and Carl Jung quotes, then you are in a sad state indeed.
     In the wise words of Aleister Crowey, "My adepts stand upright; their head above the heavens, their feet below the hells"("Liber Tzaddi," HBOT). I'm not going to make any broad strokes about what all magicians aught do, but it seems that my psyche is giving me some very clear messages through the dreamscape. My conscious avatar needs to be integrated with the shadow self, so that my energies will be focused on achieving personal liberty, not from myself, but from those tyrannical forces that seek to subjugate me and marginalize my most potent traits.
     The method of my work will begin by re-examining the relationship of the spirit to the elementary realms. Doing meditations such as traveling the 32nd path from Self Initiation Into the Golden Dawn Tradition, or A Garden of Pomegranates would be a good start. Practicing lunar rituals may give me some more insight into this shadows-self. The hieroglyph of the Great Beast has been something of a fascinating curio to me. Understanding the significance of the sun and the moon conjoined is a worthy endeavor.
     At any rate, know that my magick proceeds from my own consciousness—yours should too. In future posts, I'll reveal more about how actual rituals have related to my psyche as well as tell you how I've progressed along the lines of the above, so much as discretion will allow. 

End Notes:
1. Olympia, WA
2. Tenino, WA
3. Skyrim: I looked around and couldn't find many players that work similarly in style as I do, but I did   find this video, which is as close an approximation as I could find. 
4. SWAT: Special Weapons and Tactics police officers used for dealing with high profile criminals and peaceful protesters.
Works Cited:
James, William. Writings 1902-1920 Varieties of Religious Experience. The Library of America: New York, 1987. Print.
Crowley, Aleister. The Holy Books of Thelema Liber Tzaddi Vel Hammus Hermeticus Sub Figura XC.Samuel Weiser: York Beach Maine, 1988. Print.
Sophocles Three Theban Plays Oedipus the King. Trans. Robert Fagles. Penguin Group: Hudson Street, New York, 1984. Print.

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