Magic and the metaphor of Creation

The Prince of Darkness is not a creator god in the sense of creating the physical world, or – using the terminology of the Temple of Set – the objective universe. The creation of the Prince of Darkness is the individual subjective universe.

The Gift of the Prince of Darkness to the humanity is the possibility to become aware of this. Once you awaken to the creation of the inner universe, and once you have worked through the initial confusion that arises from the awakening, putting forth a considerable amount of work, you see that this creation of the Prince of Darkness was not complete. Rather it was an opening, and once it had been done, the space thus created has been filling up with other influences: external influences from other subjective universes or from the material objective universe, and inner influences of the mechanical nature of your human self.

This is where you are at a crossroads. For another possibility arises: that you can have the same creative power over your inner universe – that in this you are kin to the Prince of Darkness.

Working through the material that has been amassed in your self, exerting the power of creation and destruction according to your needs, desires and curiosity, you will become de facto creator of your universe.

What changes you bring to your inner universe will begin to take form also in the outside objective universe and in the subjective universes of other beings. Part of this process is very natural: as you change and interact with the world around you, those changes will be reflected. But there is a more subtle part, that of your inner core sending out influences that have a more indirect effect. In this you participate in the greater magical current of the world, the real Work of the Prince of Darkness.

The essence of any magical action is to create your own universe, and in so doing you will also help the creation of that which is beyond you.

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Three Principles of Making Sushi, or Mastery and the Heart

A Dissonant Resonance Compass is the title to a curious little figure in the second public book by Tapio Kotkavuori. It’s a scruffy drawing and the idea is not expanded much further in the accompanying text, and yet there’s something quite deep in this rather simple concept pertaining to the Left Hand Path.

One could define the LHP as putting first the aim of resonance with your Being, and therefore opting for possible dissonance with the rest of the world. Here, the Being refers to (the experience of) the more stable and coherent parts of the self; and the self should be understood as virtually everything that can be attributed to the individual (whether she wants or not). The latter term adheres to ‘identity’ and ‘identification’, both by the subject and the onlookers, while the former is the real manifestation of the individual Black Flame.

Of the extremes of resonance and dissonance, only resonance is truly important for the LHP. A wilfully dissonant stance may be a worthwhile tool at times, but more often it simply is the natural outcome of the Work that is needed to be done in order to tune the self to the inner resonance. This puts the priorities right: for striving to be dissident is to seek to oppose something defined from without, instead of looking within to find an individual if not outright isolate meaning to one’s Work.

One key to understanding resonance is the idea of rhythm. The Setian context for this was also provided by Tapio Kotkavuori through his Work in the Heart Element. The ebb and the flow of the pulse of the Heart puts Initiation onto cyclic, or periodic tracks – Remanifest being one of the greater Workings of this nature.

The pulse consists of the Beat and the Pause. During the Beat, the possibility to a sacred experience opens to the Initiate, and Work may Become real. The Pause echoes the Beat, giving the background time for transmission and reception. It is the spread of the pulse and the silence of the deeper potential arising for the next Beat.

This is the basic setting for the internal cycles. Since the Heart is an utterly holistic concept – as in being the central organ that communicates the Needs on all levels of the self – these cycles take all kinds of forms from the tangibly mundane to the most abstract and ethereal.

The external cycles work in much the same way. But again, our power over the external cycles is very limited. The world will make a sucker out of everyone, eventually. To stress therefore is nonproductive, and the Stoic stance preferable. The only real matter to be heeded is this: one’s Work in the objective universe, ie. the strength of the magical link, is measured in terms of seizing the most opportune chances to transmit or mix the internal rhythm among the network of the external rhythms. However, it is more important to simply act on the internal need rather than to desperately try to time it on the external. Do the Work and take what comes.

The internal cycles, too, are chaotic, but the more strongly one is aligned with the Being, as in resonance, the more one actually benefits from those oncoming cycles. Make no mistake: the cycles are and will be oncoming no matter what. They will beat upon you whether you wanted that or not. The question is, how are you going to deal with it; and this is one of the keys to understanding the LHP on a deeper level. Where lies your devotion?

The Initiate makes the cycles work for the Rhythm of Becoming: the stronger the Resonance, the more one gets out of the ride. In that potentia lies the real, tangible Pulse of the Heart and the dynamic Source-Aim of our Work.

For the Initiate, the tangibility of such cycles comes in the form of refining the Work of the Adept. This can be summarized by the three principles of the renowned sushi chef Jiro Ono:

  1. Fall in love with your work.
  2. Do not complain about your work.
  3. Seek to constantly improve your technique in work.

The first principle implies the imperative to fall in love with Work as a key to Xeper, as opposed to external stratification which anyway is fleeting and illusory. Such rewards do serve certain purpose and are important for the balance in the long run, but ultimately they do not serve your Aim.

The above may be a source of strong dissonance; hence the second principle. The path of the Adept is the path of a Hero Becoming God. On that road, obstacles are building material, anguish reveals you a great deal of your inner workings, and the defeats are moments for Remembering your Aim (Aletheia).

Any attempt towards perfect contentment is eventually thwarted by the necessity of Runa. We do not know and cannot know what is ahead. That leaves us uncertainty and fear: but these are only emotional indicators that you are going into the unknown. One does not become a Hero if the path is easy.

As for the third principle, there is a highly relevant passage in Hagakure:

A certain swordsman in his declining years said the following: In one’s life, there are levels in the pursuit of study. In the lowest level, a person studies but nothing comes of it, and he feels that both he and others are unskillful. At this point he is worthless. In the middle level he is still useless but is aware of his own insufficiencies and can also see the insufficiencies of others. In a higher level he has pride concerning his own ability, rejoices in praise from others, and laments the lack of ability in his fellows. This man has worth. In the highest level a man has the look of knowing nothing.

These are the levels in general. But there is one transcending level, and this is the most excellent of all. This person is aware of the endlessness of entering deeply into a certain Way and never thinks of himself as having finished. He truly knows his own insufficiencies and never in his whole life thinks that he has succeeded. He has no thoughts of pride but with self-abasement knows the Way to the end. It is said that Master Yagyu once remarked, ‘I do not know the way to defeat others, but the way to defeat myself.’

Throughout your life advance daily, becoming more skillful than yesterday, more skillful than today. This is never-ending.

Notes on Aim, pt. 2

One of the more personally puzzling themes I’ve found while studying the Fourth Way approach to Initiation is the contrast between being and doing. Many practitioners of the Fourth Way speak of the paramount importance of “being in the eternal moment of now” (paraphrasing). At a glance, the striving to self-remembrance seems very passive. It is as if the state of incompleteness most of us are in would inevitably render all actions futile – that if we try to engage the world around us, we are too prone to lose the precious sense of Being. Only the very advanced individual would be able to blend these two.

Is there a way out of this? Perhaps. Harken Robert Fripp, the mastermind behind King Crimson:

Do nothing as much as you can.

The third primary principle of King Crimson

It is crucial to note that it is not just “do nothing”, but “as much as you can”. Those things that speak of deep needs, of the Aim, those that are coming from the Heart cannot and should not be dropped. They are absolutely necessary.

The issue is that we rarely engage with only those things, or are even able to see them as priorities. We get lost in doing this and that, fueling the sense of activity and productivity without sight of the necessary. Among the lesser(?) consequences are health issues, stress and anxiety, and a sense of meaningless drifting through motions.

Striving to hear the Aim is akin to tuning a weak antenna while on the move. You catch glimpses of the signal proper, but much is lost in the noise and interference. Attempts to connect to the signal may make the reception even worse if you are not paying enough attention. The awareness of the signal in itself requires careful maintenance, and the focus on what is actually happening has to be regained regularly. It is here that the silent moments of striving to be simply present have their worth. It is also here that the active work in the world has its proper place.

The nature of the Aim is dynamic. One can have a deep sense of it by simply being present, but this is not enough. The growth of the individual Being is tightly linked to the growth and transformation of the Aim itself. Such growth requires action – Doing to balance the Being. Proper understanding can only come from first-hand experiences rooted in the real. This synthesis of Being and Doing is one of the primary functions of the Heart.

Notes on Aim

 

To have a constant and unflagging instinctive need for self-perfection in the sense of being.

– The second Being-Obligolnian striving, Chapter 27 in Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson

In the defibrillation of the Nine Theses on the Path of the Heart, I have made claims about the central importance of Aim. But what exactly is Aim?

The above quote from the Gurdjieff classic is at the core of this question. Each of us has needs dictated to us by our bodies, needs that have to be answered if we desire to stay alive and in good health. The functionality of this meat-and-bone machine is vital in the very sense of the word. Its needs are also instinctive, though on a different level from what the Beelzebub’s Tales imply.

Besides the needs of the body, there are needs coming from the social matrix and our preconditioned thought/emotion -centers. What makes these similar to the needs of the body is that they, too, are mechanical in their nature. They relate to things that happen to us, things over which we have little real understanding, let alone control.

But beyond these mechanical needs, there are needs that have a different nature altogether. I would call them the needs of the Being. This means that at the very core of the experience of “who and what I am”, there is something that pulls us to directions that we truly feel most in resonance with. Sometimes this sensation is very confusing and even terrifying. It can be at odds with what you think you ought to be doing in your life, and almost certainly at odds with what others expect you to be doing. But once acted upon, you will find your life gaining new meaning.

Most people seem to experience this at least to some extent, but very few are actually able to cultivate a proper understanding of what these needs are, let alone begin to shape their lives according to them. The last lot are those who can be called Initiates.

What they follow is their Aim. The English language fails us here, for unlike something like the aim in the archery, one cannot have a clear vision of what it exactly is one is Aiming at. This is why the Beelzebub’s Tales refers to an “instinctive need”. It is a sensation present as much in the body as in the mind, a gut-feeling rather than a clear and precise thought.

Besides providing a sense of this need, the Aim ties also to the process by which the need reshapes itself as the Being unfolds and takes shape in the Initiate. The Aim itself transforms: it is in a dynamic relationship to the Work that brings it to life. The more one understands of her Aim, the further the boundaries of the Aim are actually pushed. In this the Aim manifests the Aeonic Word of Runa1.

Sensitivity to one’s Aim is the key to fulfilling and long-lasting refinement of the Being, or as it goes in the terminology of the Temple of Set, to the process of Xeper and Remanifest.

[1] See Runarmal I by Stephen Flowers.

Ed Witten on Consciousness

I think consciousness will be a mystery. I tend to think that the workings of the conscious brain will be elucidated to a large extent. Biologists and perhaps physicists will understand much better how the brain works. But why something that we call consciousness goes with those workings, I think will remain mysterious. I have a much easier time imagining how we could understand the Big Bang, even though we cannot do it now, than I can imagine understanding consciousness.

Understanding the functioning of the brain is a very exciting problem in which probably there will be a lot of progress in the next few decades. That’s not out of reach. But I think there’s probably a level of mystery that’ll remain about why the brain is functioning as we can see, why it creates consciousness or whatever you want to call it. How it functions in the way a conscious being functions will become clearer. But what it is we are experiencing when we are experiencing consciousness, I see as remaining a mystery.

Edward Witten

Three songs from the Heart


And you feel like you’ve been here

So many times before
It’s not the door you’re using
But the way you’re walking through it

The heart is a beating drum
The heart is a beating drum
It takes more than you wanted before
To keep it on

– The Kills: Heart Is a Beating Drum

Related: Remanifest

One eye goes laughing,
one eye goes crying
through the trials and trying of one life
one hand is tied,
one step gets behind
in one breath we’re dying

– King Crimson:  One Time

Related: Aletheia

Kaikki tahtoo elää säkenöivästä voimasta

– Sielun veljet: Säkenöivä voima

Related: Sowilo

On Living the Heart

 

The Nine Theses on the Path of the Heart Defibrillated

  1. One needs to be in order to retain a sense of the Aim. One needs to do in order to understand the Aim.
  2. The Space and Time for Becoming are found in the Unknown.
  3. Becoming is the Creation of Space and Time for the Heart to be Heard.
  4. Upon Hearing the Heart, one cannot but act True.
  5. At each Beat, there is nothing but the Beat. Similarly, when acting upon the Heart, there is nothing but that which must be done. Everything else means nothing.
  6. To keep the Pulse alive, one must actively Remember and Echo the Beat when there is a Pause.
  7. The Beat is outside Time and yet it is perceived through Time.
  8. In the Beat, there is Life. In the Pause, there is Death. The cycle is necessary for the Pulse, just like it is necessary for the Aim to transform itself as it transforms the Initiate.
  9. The Source of the Pulse is in the Unknown, just like the Aim is in the Unknown.