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Sep 2 2012

Liber Null and Psychonaut by Peter Carroll

I’m not an expert on chaos magick but I have read much of this and enjoyed it. I do not endorse the views presented but offer it for your own research. Thanks to the Internet Archive you can check it out before buying it on Amazon.

I’ve posted audio fragments of the book before but actually being able to flip through it is clearly a better way to get a feel for this important work.

Jul 6 2012

Psychologists Using Ouija Boards to “Probe Subconscious”

On the one hand this is yet another story that confirms my disdain for academia and validates my decision to flee the university system. On the other hand at least someone has found a use for those damn Parker Brothers (and now Hasbro) Ouija Boards. I don’t like the things, not because I have a Stoker Hunt like fear of Witchboard style terror befalling those that use them but I do think summoning spirits, even if they’re “ghosts” or your fragments of your subconscious, isn’t something that should be treated trivially. Certainly revelations from your subconscious are not best discovered over a board game.

Clearly I’m on the believer side of this debate – I think it’s possible to invite entities into your life through the psychic energy generated by the quasi-ritual activity that entails “playing” with a Ouija and the researchers don’t buy that at all. But even if they’re right and the Ouija is just a conduit for the subconscious what exactly does that prove? Are we to believe that disturbed individuals seeking psychological help should be using Ouija Boards as therapy?

From The New Scientist:

Beloved of spiritualists and bored teenagers on a dare, the Ouija board has long been a source of entertainment, mystery and sometimes downright spookiness. Now it could shine a light on the secrets of the unconscious mind.

The Ouija, also known as a talking board, is a wooden plaque marked with the words, “yes”, “no” and the letters of the alphabet. Typically a group of users place their hands on a movable pointer , or “planchette”, and ask questions out loud. Sometimes the planchette signals an answer, even when no one admits to moving it deliberately.

Believers think the answer comes through from the spirit world. In fact, all the evidence points to the real cause being the ideomotor effect, small muscle movements we generate unconsciously.

That’s why the Ouija board has attracted the attention of psychologists at the University of British Columbia in Canada. Growing evidence suggests the unconscious plays a role in cognitive functions we usually consider the preserve of the conscious mind.

Take driving your car along a familiar route while planning your day. On arrival, you realise you were not in conscious control of the car, it was your “inner zombie”, said Hélène Gauchou at the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness conference in Brighton, UK, this week. “How can we communicate with that unconscious intelligence?”

Gauchou’s approach is to turn to the Ouija board. To keep things simple her team has just one person with their finger on the planchette at a time. But the ideomotor effect is maximised if you believe you are not responsible for any movements – that’s why Ouija board sessions are most successful when used by a group. So the subject is told they will be using the board with a partner. The subject is blindfolded and what they don’t know is that their so-called partner removes their hands from the planchette when the experiment begins.

The technique worked, at least with 21 out of 27 volunteers tested, reports Gauchou. “The planchette does not move randomly around the board; it moves to yes or no. It seems to move almost magically. None of them felt responsible for the movement.” In fact some subjects suspected that their partner was really an actor – but they thought the actor was deliberately moving the planchette, never suspecting they themselves were the only ones touching it.

Goucher’s team has not yet used the technique to get new information about the unconscious, but they have established that it seems to work, in principle. They asked subjects to answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to general knowledge questions using the Ouija board, and also asked them to answer the same questions using the more orthodox method of typing on a computer (unblindfolded). Participants were also asked whether they knew the answer or were just guessing.

Sounds more like they’re trying to disprove the supernatural than study anything useful but no one gets grant money these days for doing useful research.

May 28 2012

Fragments from Outer Gateways

To say Kenneth Grant is a controversial figure in occultism is to push the boundaries of understatement to absurd new levels. There are many who call the man an outright fraud, many more who claim he was certifiably insane and still others who to this day will tell you that Grant’s work is irresponsible and dangerous. For all that Grant has many admirers and followers who covet his hard to find works which are routinely sold for hundreds of dollars on websites like Amazon. I was lucky enough to attend grad school in a town with a magnificent public library which was able to procure a copy of his Outer Gateways for me read.

I’ve posted fragments of this book before but as with all things Scribd the material was eventually removed. There is now another download available and the Grant material is far to rare for me to pass up posting it for readers when I can. In my original posting I neglected an important detail. I believe this is the first serious occult book that made the claim that horror writer H.P. Lovecraft was unconsciously channeling information from “The Primal Grimoire” which exists in the astral. In other words The Necronomicon is in fact in existence and accessible via ritual or altered states of consciousness. Donald Tyson has made use of this theory recently in his Necronomicon series which I honestly haven’t read though I did purchase his Necronomicon Tarot because I’m a collector of odd things.

The “Primal Grimoire” stuff is in the first chapter and is an interesting meditation on reality if nothing else. The rest of the book, if I may quote an anonymous Internet reviewer, reads like a mathematics textbook though I’d add one without any numbers or formula you could easily use. As is usual with Scribd this is only roughly half of the book but it’s free so who can complain?


Apr 1 2012

Liber Null and Psychonaut

I may have posted this audio fragment of Peter J. Carroll’s Liber Null and Psychonaut before but my next post will be a longer essay dealing with a question sent to me about the Lovecraft Mythos and it’s use in magical work so this is a excellent prologue to that. It serves as an introduction to the underlying philosophical symmetry between Lovecraft’s universe and the chaos magic world view, though it does not deal with Lovecraft in particular. Once you understand Lovecraft’s rational materialism and the mythos as the horror of discovering man’s insignificance and meaninglessness in reality the following becomes illuminating:

Part II:

Part III:

Mar 29 2012

Kenneth Anger’s Invocation of My Demon Brother

I have to admit that I find Kenneth Anger hacky. In my more pretentious youth I, like many others, claimed Anger was a genius deeply knowledgeable about the Dark Arts. Then I actually watched his films. The best description I can give for Anger’s work is that it illustrates the dull banality of evil.

However Anger’s contribution to “the New Age” is both underestimated and undeniable. Whether you’re a practitioner, a Christian critic of the occult or a historian you should be familiar with Anger and his influence on pop occultism.

I am uneasy about posting this because the easily influenced and weak minded should not be exposed to this sort of material but since it’s up on YouTube the cat is out of the bag on this one. This short film has scenes from his longer Lucifer Rising cut in (gods forbid he should have to make an entire 11 minute film from scratch) feature music by Mick Jager as well as appearances by Anton LaVey and Anger himself. The presence of Lavey, then the Black Pope of America, in the film is notable because many claim this film and others in the “Magic Lantern Cycle” are based on Crowley’s Thelema. In fact his work tend to be flower child fueled gothic Satanism – the precursor to cults like Rod Ferral’s Vampire clan (which he was raised in by his mother by the way) and one of the actors in this is Manson cultist Bobby Beausoleil who went on to torture and murder a man during the murder spree of the Family.

Crowley lovers however still defend Anger vehemently claiming his films were symbols for the Age of Horus though I suspect the films were rituals designed by Anger to spread a darker message. Not being a Thelemite I am in no position however to make this point convincingly to those people. Decide for yourself:

Jan 9 2012

Charles Fort’s Book of the Damned Available Free on Kindle

Charles Fort is the man who laid the groundwork for magazines like the now defunct Fate and of course Fortean Times. A compiler of odd facts Fort’s legendary Book of the Damned will open your eyes to the possibilities that even the most open minded of us assume are impossible. Now available as a free download for Kindle.

There’s also .pdf’s available for online viewing. I highly recommend reading this book.