Guest post: Journeying into Deep Space, by Steve Dee

This time, a guest post on demand… about Dread and related topics.

Steve Dee is a magician from Devon, UK. How a School or Initiatory Organization can support the Left Hand Path Initiate seems to be a perennial theme for our blog, and we more than welcome Dee’s take on the topic. He’s the author of the books The Gnostic’s Process and The Heretic’s Journey, and co-author of the book Chaos Craft. Links to where to find these books, as well as more essays by Steve Dee, can be found over at The Blog of Baphomet.

One of my earliest spiritual experiences was one in which I became clearly aware of my smallness in the Universe. As a fledgling meditator of 12 years of age I panned back from my room, my street, and my country until I felt as though I was looking down on a distant blue ball suspended in the dark vastness of space.

I was recently reminded of this experience as I watched Neil Degras Tyson describing the unfolding story of the Universe’s development. In listening to his wonderful reworking of Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos”, I was left awe struck at the scale of the Universe both in terms of its expanding dimensions and the relative brevity of human evolution when mapped against known time.

As I gaze out at the night sky, I find myself unable to find lasting meaning in any prevailing Metaphysical position, be it a theistic one or that of the strict rationalist. The mystery and expansiveness of space seems to empty me of the trite and obvious. My sense of awe seems to both induce a sense of mild panic as I glimpse the limits of my control and understanding, while at the same time beckoning me onwards into the depths of the unknown.

stonehenge

Maryhill Stonehenge Monument on the Columbia River in Washington, photograph by Ben Canales.

While I personally find little of value in the astrological preoccupations of many ancient civilisations, I can appreciate the sense of power and significance that they attributed to the movement of heavenly bodies against the silent blackness of the night sky. In the midst of life’s busyness and apparent chaos, the steady track of the stars told us stories of an on-going struggle and cosmic return.

The occult sciences as an expression of our humanity have attributed an almost endless array of complicating correspondences. Whether the planets become gnostic archons or we are trying to glean the significance of “Saturn being in Taurus”, in our attempts to invest meaning and divine causation we may be in danger of producing even more cognitive clutter.

If we can set aside our constructs and schemas in order to embrace a Zen-like “beginner’s mind” what might we find ourselves encountering? Far be it from me to dictate your experience, but in gazing at the darkness of Space, I continue to experience a sense of vastness, transcendence and dread!

In grappling with the limitations of what we can perceive, we cannot help being moved by vastness. Concepts and control are threatened by the limitations of our knowledge and the sense of mystery that Space seems to hold. Our longing to explore these realms, whether via high powered telescopes or space-travel, mirrors the initiatory drive to create and explore a greater sense of spaciousness within ourselves. The Mystery or Runa that we see out there parallels the initiate’s deep hunch regarding the unknown realms of the psyche.

Such exploration has been a key part of my own spiritual journey, and the desire to explore this terrain informed the rationale for integrating Zen sitting into our Odinic Hearth meetings that I have been involved with for the past 20 years. The integration of such apparently disparate Heathen and Buddhist inflected perspectives has allowed our entry into these expansive realms and from a Setian perspective aims to enable us to both embrace the Self while acknowledging the benefits of loosening our hold on certainty.

Gazing upwards at the Cosmos, at that which appears spatially “up” and beyond our lives in all their messiness, our creative engagement with Space can also fuel our longing for the transcendent. In both Ken Wilber’s integral teachings and Gurdjieff’s neo-hermeticism, the Cosmic (or Kosmic) represents a move away from the temporary material realm and toward the unified and eternal.  Personally speaking, while I tend not to buy into such dualism, these spatial metaphors can provide us with potent psychological tools for triggering personal transformation. The sense of “otherness” and potentiality that the Cosmic “up” can represent, need not be a move away from our Earth and our bodies, but it can act as a catalyst in driving us on toward those goals or aspirations that currently feel so distant. Cosmos contains within its “spaces” the chaotic potentiality of the void; as we shape this dark matter through the skillful application of will, so strange new things become possible.

While my star-gazing has thus far has sounded quite chirpy, it can also be dread-filled. To experience a sense of our smallness and brevity can trigger all sorts of existential despair! No one ever promised that the process of waking up was either easy or pain-free. Unsurprisingly, I am not the first initiate to make such observations and my own experience of dread has been profoundly enhanced via the horror filled vision of Howard Philips Lovecraft.

For me the world of Lovecraft embodies our sense of terror in response to the Universe’s vastness and uncertainty. The monster-gods of the mythos – Azathoth, Nyarlathotep et al provide us with a potent set of shadow archetypes that give form to our profound sense of dis-ease. On one level “the mythos” seems to have little sense of comfort or redemption, but I wonder whether they, like wrathful Buddha-forms, can be sat with and glanced at side-ways. By naming our terrors and giving them shape, arguably we accomplish some degree of containment. They may well still lurk in the stygian depths or in the blackness between the stars, but giving them form may make them (slightly) more manageable.

The vastness of Space invites us to both wonder and explore. Despite the dread that we experience, the sense of awe and mystery call forth the adventurer within that we might “boldly go where no one has gone before….”

I’ll conclude with some words of wisdom from the awesome doom-metallers Neurosis:

“Recognize this as your own nature

Abandon the fear

Abandon the terror you project

Let your mind rest beyond flesh and bone

Look from a place of understanding

Your mind is a conduit

Your mind is as vast as the universe

Rest in this

In the clear light of existence

This light is divine.”

“Prayer” from the Sovereign E.P.

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In the series “Stuff only others are guilty of”: Herd conformity

 

The inspiration for this blog post this came from re-reading the Nine Satanic Sins, of all things.

(If you wonder why herd conformity is seen as something negative, why it is called a Satanic Sin or even what a Satanic Sin is, you should probably read all of them in their context. But short version: It is what is considered sins for Satanists, not some epic type of sinful behaviour. https://www.churchofsatan.com/nine-satanic-sins/)

 

Surprisingly enough, this is about how you live and what actions you take (or not), rather than how much you talk shit about the sheeple or how many meme’s about True individuality(TM) you post on your fb wall.

“Social group” sounds a bit prettier when it comes to humans, but dressing up the language doesn’t change anything in this context so for the sake of this post I’ll write about herds. Human herds big, small and imaginary.

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World building…

 

..sounds very big and dramatic, and it can be. Over time. After a lot of work.

We tend to see the results of years and dedicated work and then wonder how it was done, since it seems like an impossible achievement when we only see the end result and not the beginning. It probably started with somebody thinking something should exist. Why else would they start, anyway? Their motives might be very different, but a main idea to bring something new into the world is probably rather common, even if it was hundreds of years ago.

 

I want to begin this blog post with a disclaimer: I’m well aware that most of us need to eat, live somewhere, wear clothing, drink beer and much coffee etc, which usually means having a job and the time this takes out of our day. In this blog post I’m talking about the rest of your life. While there are things to be done about a bad job situation, even when you seem to be stuck in it, but that is a different blog post.

This is sort of a follow up to the Change part of the ‘Reframing vs Change’.. since if not reframing, then what do we do, and why? We can do things to make more of what you want.

If you look at the world you live in in your spare time, how does it look like? Is there anything you wish there was more of, something you’d want to learn, or something you miss?  World building in this context is about creating more of what you want in your world. Continue reading

Reframing vs Change

 

Most of us have things we would like to change, something we are working to change, plan to change tomorrow, or when we move to a new town or when the stars are right and so on. Sometimes we believe that we have changed a lot, but our world has the audacity to not acknowledge this, even if we might be looking at it differently. Sometimes we are doing the same thing we have always done (or this is what we believe), but weird things happen. People seem to try to push us in strange directions for obscure reasons, our friends back away, and the job we loved suddenly begins to be a burden. It feels like a small-scale conspiracy going on.

It is not always easy to see when actual change has happened. The response from the world is not what one might expect, even if the change actually is for the better in the long run. Change often disrupts the current balance and threatens what is known as “normal” – and most people dislike that.

In this context I also want to write about Change with a capital C: a permanent difference in you that has made you into something more than you were before the Change happened. Initiation is about causing such Change, often through directed work towards a certain goal.

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…and while our friends can see our faults, they won’t tell.

This is sort of a follow-up post to the one about how we are so blind to our own faults, the aptly named: We know all humans have some common faults, except us. After all, we can see no such faults in ourselves.

To sum up that one a bit:

We know there are common human faults and we can see them in others, but for some reason we seem to think we personally are exceptions. Since we can’t really see our own inconsistencies and faulty thinking very well, and which in some way makes us perceive ourselves as flawless.

We lie to ourselves when it adds  to our current beliefs, making the world a place which is easier to understand and more comfortable (even if our belief is that everything goes to hell, since the point is often to confirm what we already believe, in other words avoiding the unknown), and to make ourselves look better in our own eyes. Or to preserve our current view of ourselves. Others helpfully with these things, and of course we help them in return. To some degree this works, we mostly don’t try to kill each other during normal social interaction even if it does happen. We tend to feel safer when those around us agree with us (echo chambers are comfortable!), despite all incidents of being the last to know because nobody told you, and if you ask why, you are only met with excuses. Others might see us clearer than we do, but they are usually of no help since they don’t tell us.

If you remember the cognitive biases, a lot of them are about (and developed because) we are herd animals on some level. They are probably necessary, and this is a funny thought, if not a very comforting one:  The strange thing seen as normal social interaction based on little lies, misunderstandings and indifference, might actually be the best viable option. These lies have the purpose of making the world seem more consistent and comfortable, catering to the same cognitive biases which keeps fooling us, so they are very easy to make. We all know them. “Of course things are as you want to think they are”.

Comforting thought #2: Other people will help us lie to ourselves to be nice and since they will often see us more clearly than we do, they might be far better at telling us what we want to hear, than we are ourselves. Continue reading

We know all humans have some common faults, except us. After all, we can see no such faults in ourselves.

The headline is how we often appear to think, since it is how the world might look like. We have this insane blind spot concerning ourselves and even if we know this in theory, it seems to make little change. This is the first of two connected blog posts, this first about why we can’t trust ourselves and the next will be about why we can’t trust our friends, either.

One of the more useful(?) things one can use facebook for, is finding out what or who provokes you, and then analyse why you react to this specific thing. The provocation part often happens all on its own, so this could be said as ‘when something pisses you off, try to understand why’. The theory behind it, which is not wrong in itself, is that we will know our own faults intimately and so be able to see these same ones in others very quickly, since we know all about it.

The more you ‘speak the same language’ as somebody, the more subtle insults you will be able to pull off.. on the other end of the scale is punching somebody in the nose, which is pretty universally understood across different cultures.

 

The ‘if this annoys me, I’m guilty of it’-way of thinking can create some strange loops and questions about what sort of horrible person you really are, because the above theory is only true to some extent. If the fault you perceive in others is something most would react to because it is illegal, harmful to others or at least completely unethical by most standards, you don’t need to do this a lot yourself to object to it. At some point the reason you get provoked will be about something more than projection, but the line can be blurry.

But there are other methods for seeing our own faults and little illusions, which does not serve as an excuse for even more time wasted on social media. Discussing this lead to this blog post about why we can’t be trusted to observe ourselves, and also a follow up one about why we can’t trust our friends either. If it was easy, the world might have looked a bit different. Maybe not better, just different. Anyway!

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The “Initiatory Version of Shining a Turd”.

The story behind this blogpost was that I was making notes about working hard yet going in circles, got the idea for a metaphor what seemed funny and then forgot all about it. When I opened the document where I put the ideas for blog posts, the first thing I see is the headline:

“Initiatory version of shining a turd”. This concerned me for a bit until I remembered what it was about. By then I had told others, received a video about polishing turds (freezing them first is the trick, apparently), and the post had to be written. 

I’ll try to not mention turds too often.

 

What I wanted to write about was the changes we spend a lot of time and effort on, but without results. We can work for years and not be a step closer to anything else than knowing more of what we want to achieve.

I’ll start with the very mundane version of.. useless shining. Since it is work, you’ll get your hands dirty, and since the material is sort of unfitting, it will change a lot. I doubt many would think the result was great.

One mistake is to put the effort into something which is relevant to learning more about the solution, but never actually using this information. If you want to spend less money, you have to spend less money, not read about how to do it. Nor does it help to make a change which is only good in theory. If you follow a ‘get rich in 30 days’-plan, you have probably made some changes to your life, but let’s face it, if it was that simple as buying the right book and following the advice for a month, almost nobody would be poor.

As for doing this with your Initiation, it is exactly the same but can be less tangible and so harder to see. “Armchair Magician” is a well-known term, but one which usually used about others. You only study a lot, and the right books, and when you have finished this, that and these books, you will be ready to put everything into use and THEN! Or you didn’t quite understand things well enough yet. But soon!

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