Category Archives: Psychology
The Satanic Witch! An attention-grabbing title, if ever there was one. That said, occultniks and sensation-seekers may be disappointed to learn that the focus of this volume is not spell-casting in the supernatural sense, but in the entirely mundane manner of bewitchment by psychological manipulation – the effective use of feminine wiles, in other words.
LaVey appears to have undertaken a painstaking amount of personal research into typing human beings, the results of which he has condensed into what he calls the LaVey Personality Synthesizer. This is a clock diagram which places various body-types at points on the clock, then assigns various personality traits to each. In summary:
Twelve o’clock (the most male core) represents wide shoulders; long torso; narrow hips; short legs; hard, firm flesh; pioneer; domineering; aggressive; impulsive; always onstage; selfish; authoritarian.
Six o’clock (the most female core) represents narrow shoulders; short torso; long legs; wide hips; marshmallow flesh; fluidic movements; carries things out; consistent; dedicated; receptive; dependable; generous; steady.
Three o’clock (intellectual) represents narrow, stick build; sinewy; no wasist; translucent; social critic; technical; abstract; least social; dour; hair-splitter; clinical; thinker, not doer.
Nine o’clock (emotional) represents thick sausage build; resilient; rubbery flesh; social; sense of humour; agreeable; concrete; doer, not thinker; practical; resourceful.
The idea is to locate your own position on the clock. This then reveals your perfect partner of the opposite sex, who should be directly opposite you on the clock. That’s the theory, anyway. I see myself at somewhere between one and two on the clock, so my perfect partner should be between seven and eight, having a feminine core, with emotional and practical traits. There’s something to be said for that, actually. Being a single man, I am well aware of my own lack of domestic practicality, which would be compensated for by a partner who had those natural nesting instincts. Without reference to the synthesizer, I fancy the idea of a partner who shares my intellectual pursuits, but in reality this could mean that my home would end up as twice as messy as it is at present! (I am also dangerously close to be being pegged as a male chauvanist.)
The LaVey Synthesizer Clock is something unique to LaVey. It’s not in common usage in modern psychology, and testing the subtleties of categorisation in your own personal experience might require almost as much time as it took LaVey to synthesize them. As such, this element of the book was of limited value. Broadly speaking, it is valid to say that maleness and femaleness are different; they are different for reasons of compatibility; these differences are differences of body and temperament, both of which are interlinked; and that degrees of maleness and femaleness are present to varying degrees in males and females, extreme examples being the female tomboy and the effeminate male.
The primary strength of this book is its frankness. Sexuality is the main focus and nothing is considered taboo. Most interesting of all was LaVey’s discussion of what he terms the Law of the Forbidden. How a mere glimpse of something that’s not meant to be seen will be far more stimulating to a man than a full-frontal nude; the flesh of a woman’s thigh coming into view above the hem-line of her tights as she crosses her legs – this can be more exciting than a woman dancing on a stage with no clothes on.
The main disappointment of the book is that its view of sex and romance is entirely manipulative. “How to bewitch a man” is true to the book’s title and theme, but I think it’s tragic that male-female relationships are painted entirely in this hollow light. There’s even something a little hypocritical to the Satanic principle of “Responsibility to the responsible” (see The Satanic Bible) when LaVey includes advice on how a woman who wishes to seduce a married man should go about it.
While the main focus of the book is “lesser magic” (psychological ploys), there is a chapter towards the end on “greater magic,” which reveals many fascinating additions to the information already presented in The Satanic Bible.
LaVey has been known to be dishonest about the details of his past (see The Secret Life of a Satanist by Blanche Barton). The Satanic Witch provides some insight on why he has indulged in myth-making about himself. In a section called “How and When to Lie” from the chapter “Bitchcraft,” LaVey states:
There is nothing wrong with saying you sang at Carnegie Hall and you could have stood in the doorway at midnight and hummed a few measures, but if you open your mouth to sing at the next party and it sounds rotten, you have, as they say, blown it. If, however, you have sung the lead in your local civic light opera production of Naughty Marietta and were acclaimed as an exceptionally talented singer, and you happen to be at an affair where your quarry will be suitably impressed and possibly arrange for you to go on tour with an important new show, a Type II lie is in order. Tell him you have sung wherever you’d like – before crowned heads, etc., because when he asks you to sing, if you can back your contrived pedigree up with action, those very lies you told will not be questioned and will pay off. If you hadn’t told him, he might never have asked to listen to you.
A fascinating book from which a measure of insight about human nature can be drawn, whether the reader is a woman or man. As always, one to read with a critical eye.
The Lucifer Principle is a term invented by the author of this volume for a complex theory that pulls together a wealth of information from anthropology, biology, psychology, history, and other fields of study. In summary, it is the idea that what we often call “evil” is actually nature in competition with itself, as a means toward greater complexity and betterment. In the theory of evolution, it is understood that organisms which are better adapted to survive will survive, and part of this survival incorporates conflict with other organisms. Evolution weeds out that which loses the battle. So, conflict (or evil) is the driving force of betterment.
This principle applies not only to such tiny elements as genes, but also, Bloom believes, to memes (or ideas). As genes replicate, so do memes. Take the Islamic or Christian belief systems, for instance. They spread in the minds of the populace by each follower serving the meme and propagating it to others. Bloom takes a long look at the intricaties of the mind, carefully examining what makes us tick, and he comes up with the idea that each person can be thought of as a single cell in a giant invisible organism: the social superorganism. Wars are more than just men versus men; they are superorganisms in conflict. And the outcome of such conflicts? The better meme lives on while the poorer dies (or at least retreats to insignificance).
The concept of the superorganism is the cornerstone of the book, which is unfortunate because I personally don’t see it as anything more than a fanciful metaphor. Bloom gives the impression that superorganisms are real in a very physical sense, just as concrete as biological life. Maybe I’m picking the author up wrong, but if a human being is a cell in a larger organism, it doesn’t make sense to say I’m a cell in a metaphor. Humans have always had a tendency to compose myths for what they struggle to understand, such as ancient pagans inventing Thor to account for lightning. Perhaps Bloom is doing the same with his superorganism theory, but I think “organism” is a poor choice of word for a relevant myth because in all other contexts organism refers to something that is actually alive.
Even though I’m not really on board with the backbone of this book, this is still an engrossing and informative read. The Lucifer Principle is a treasure-trove of anecdotes from the natural world and from history. Even if you disagree with the entirety of Bloom’s theory, it is possible to gain a great deal by simply reading these examples and pitting their implicatations against your own beliefs. For instance, I’ve often heard it argued in religious circles that man is different from the rest of the animal kingdom by virtue of his inhumanity to his own species, hence he needs “saved from sin.” The fallacy of this argument is glaringly shown in The Lucifer Principle with numerous examples of how one animal species goes to war against its own kind, from rats to chimpanzees. And mankind’s own brutality is painted in vivid colours, with numerous examples from history. Bloom is courageous enough to simply describe us as we are, without censorship or apology, and he doesn’t suggest any pretentious answers as to how we might overcome the appalling things about own natures that we strive to transcend.
The Lucifer Principle was written over a period of some twelve years. It’s about 450 pages long, and uniquely the final quarter of the volume is taken up by chapter notes, with the book itself truly ending on page 331. Recommended reading for anyone who wishes to rattle their illusions about life. Not for those who wish to cling to religious pipedreams (or should I say failing memes?).
Readers whose only knowledge of Satanism comes from Christian pulpits and media sensationalism could be forgiven for thinking that this book is some dangerous occult grimoire. In fact, I imagine the title and cover design were picked to elicit that very response, much to the amusement of real Satanists. The term “The Satanic Scriptures” is purely an oxymoron, for the idea of scriptural dogma is the antithesis of what Satanism is about. Satanism is a philosophy of individualism, and being an individual necessitates being an adversary to societal (i.e. Christian) norms. Hence, Satanists embrace “Satan” as a symbol of their defiance. It should be noted that Satanists come in all shapes and sizes, from theists who view Satan as a literal God, to atheists who only make use of the Fallen Angel’s symbolic relevance. Peter H. Gilmore, High Priest of the Church of Satan, is firmly rooted in the latter category.
The Church of Satan was formed in 1966 by Anton LaVey, who authored The Satanic Bible (1969) and four other works. Upon his death in 1997, management of the organisation passed to LaVey’s long-time friend Gilmore. During his time as a member of the church, Gilmore contributed essays to the organisation’s magazine The Black Flame. Many of these essays (with some modifications) make up the bulk of The Satanic Scriptures.
There are a wide variety of subjects covered: reflections on life as an individualist; Satanic perspectives on world events such as 9/11 and Columbine; defence of accusations of Satanic Ritual Abuse (dubbed the Satanic Panic); fascism; eugenics; asthetics; music; even light-hearted reflections on old-time monster movies. On of my favourite essays was entitled “Intellectual Black Holes,” concerning individuals who enter into conversation/debate with no other motive but to suck the life out of you (particularly relevant to me in light of my frequent controversial blogging).
Towards the end are a number of essays that are chiefly concerned with what a Satanist should aspire to be, and what sort of person the Church of Satan wishes to attract (as well as those it wishes to repel). These essays might cause some people to view Gilmore as being a bit self-important, but I actually found this to be a refreshingly different from the typical “Come and join us, everyone” attitude of Christianity. Clearly Gilmore is not playing the power-through-numbers game. He has a clear agenda of separating the wheat from the chaff, managing the Church of Satan as an elitist organisation where only a particular kind of person need apply. The Church of Satan is also one of the very few “religions” that understands the need for pluralism in society: Satanism for those who are natually inclined to be individualists, leaders, pioneers, and orthodox religions for those who wish to follow the herd.
The book finishes with a short section entitled “Rituals,” which includes a Satanic wedding ceremony and a Satanic funeral. If you can wrap your head around the idea of saying “Hail Satan!” while knowing you don’t believe in a literal devil, these rituals actually represent refreshing realism. The wedding ceremony conveys genuine meaning while jettisoning everything that is pretentious or melodramatic from a traditional church wedding. Likewise, the funeral is a celebration of a person’s past life, rather than a sanctimonious prattling about a hypothetical heaven.
Where do I stand, since I’ve been speaking so highly of Satanism? Well, I’m not a Satanist. Satanism, for me, represents one avenue of many for gaining insight. I don’t see it as something that I can use to form a total worldview, but I do see it as something that can be studied critically to help me become more self-realised. The Satanic Scriptures is recommended reading for anyone who wishes to learn a little something about “man the animal” from an unusal angle.
This collection of essays is Anton LaVey’s fifth and final book, completed just days before he died in 1997. The title may strike fear into the hearts of some, but the true spirit of the book’s content is captured more by the subtle background image on the cover: the mischievously grinning bearded gentleman with the horns. For most of these essays are laced with humour and a sense of lightheartedness – albeit from the perspective of a misanthropic man who saw the world somewhat differently from the majority. Anton LaVey was the founder of the Church of Satan in 1966, starting the first above-ground Satanic organisation. The LaVeyan brand of Satanism was a religion/philosophy which promoted the reign of the flesh rather than the spirit – in other words, vital existence here and now instead of spiritual pipedreams. The character Satan was used in the symbolic sense as “adversary to the spiritual religions,” rather than as a deity to be worshipped. Consult my review of The Satanic Bible (1969) for more detail.
Unafraid to blaspheme the non-existant, LaVey begins this volume with an essay entitled “The God of the Assholes”:
Of course, God is a very Jungian construct. He was created by small men to serve their needs, according to their needs. Then, after the limited minds of millions of stupidos acknowledged Him, the goddamn dummies pretended it was the other way around. They insisted that God created man. They admitted that God created man His own image, but could never extend the similarity beyond that.
The diversity of subject matter in this volume makes it impossible to classify it with a particular theme, other than misanthropic opinions on modern life. There’s everything in here from magic, to materialism, to bathing (why he doesn’t), to volume pedals on keyboards, to women who piss their panties for sexual thrills.
Sometimes I could follow LaVey’s logic; sometimes I couldn’t. Satan Speaks! is hardly one of the more important books I’ve read in the study of Satanism and the occult, but I confess that I did have a lot of fun delving into the mind of one dubbed “the most misunderstood man in America.” If I learned anything about LaVey from this book it’s that he didn’t take life too seriously, which isn’t a bad note to go out on. That said, there was a disturbingly insular and backward-looking trend in LaVey’s general attitude to life. He possesses a distinct preference for his own company, a general disdain for others as lesser, and a desire to be left alone among his personal possessions in an environment of his own making, disconnected as much as possible from the world and focused entirely upon the past. What happened to the blazing personality who wrote The Satanic Bible, who championed vital existence, who sought to effect change in the world?
Knowing Blanche Barton’s propensity for invention and myth-making (see The Secret Life of a Satanist), it wouldn’t surprise me if LaVey had no intention of making this book. Rather than seeing providential significance in the finishing of the volume just days before LaVey’s death, I think it’s more likely that Barton compiled this assortment of essays herself after his death. In any case, it was worth reading. Entertaining, occasionally insightful, humourous and a touch tragic.
This is the third piece of Satanic literature I have read, and I’m now starting to get sick of having to begin each review with a disclaimer of sorts, to cover my ass. But that’s life in a society where Christianity permeates the minds of ninety-nine percent of the population – even agnostics, if only subconsciously. Let it be said that unless you have dared to read a volume such as Anton LaVey’s The Satanic Bible, it’s probably a safe bet that you’re misinformed as to what Satanism is. Satanism is not devil worship, for there is no actual being called Satan. Satanism is a philosophy of opposition to all the spiritual religions which promote the denial of a vital earthly existence in favour of a hypothetical reward hereafter. To be Satanic is to be adversarial. The original Hebrew word “Satan” means “adversary,” and so the philosophy adopts the term “Satan” for its symbol. Satanism is all about life in the here and now, with the recognition that there is no higher authority than yourself. Far from being a license for amorality, this is true responsibility for one’s actions and their consequences. The only downside is that to declare yourself a Satanist means that you will be misunderstood (and possibly feared) by ninety-nine percent of the population. Of course, this isn’t really a downside, as the Satanist, by virtue of his adversarial nature, relishes conflict and is inclined to see the funny side of others’ unenlightened disapproval.
That’s my ultra-fast introduction to modern Satanism, as codified by Anton LaVey in 1969. For more detailed info, consult my review of The Satanic Bible. Now we come to Postmodern Satanism by Jason King. Postmodern Satanism essentially takes the foundation laid by LaVey and asks the question “What next?” A quote from an early part of the book:
Just as Anton LaVey’s philosophy has been superceded, so too will my own, for such is the nature of the world. No book has the power to codify reality for all times and places, whether it be called a Bible or not. Satanism must be an energized philosophy instead of a dogmatic one – I’d rather see people who agree with me formulate their own systematic analyses, instead of quoting me like some authoritative prophet or guru.
I could not have been more delighted reading the above. Finally, someone else who truly gets it. For the past two thousand years people have been claiming that Jesus is the answer. He is your truth package that will never be superceded. Many who have seen the lie for what it is have then fallen prey to countless mini-Christs. Take Eckhart Tolle as an example. Another guru with an enlightenment package that is supposed to be The Answer. Few seem to understand the simple undeniable observation that knowledge has always been progressive. That which we now understand merely paves the way to what we will one day understand, with many corrections en route. Jason King gets this right at the starting gate, and it makes a thoroughly refreshing change to all the self-styled gurus with their craftily packaged brands of salvation.
The central theme and defining characteristic of postmodern Satanism, that makes it distinguishable from modern Satanism, is the observation that nature itself is adversarial – or nature is Satanic, if you will. From cellular life right up to planets and suns, one thing sustains itself by taking energy from another. This is the Satanic principle of all nature. From the human perspective, the most obvious expression of this principle is seen in predator versus prey, survival of the fittest, in both the human and animal arena. Religions have put this state of affairs down to a fall from grace in the long distant past. Postmodern Satanism instead asserts that the world is as it’s meant to be; your human nature is meant to be what it is; there is nothing wrong with you. Man therefore should not spend his days seeking to expunge all that is adversarial about himself as though it were sinful. Instead, he should embrace it as the very feature that is carrying his own evolution (as well as that of the universe) forward towards betterment.
Some Christians, eager to scrape the barrel, will interpret what I’m saying as license to become a psychopath. But don’t you see that it is the very adversarial nature of man that allows the truly responsible human to restrain (or gun down, if required) the psychopath, for the protection of those he loves and the betterment of mankind as a whole. Or shall we all turn the other cheek and let the “demons” run amuck?
Postmodern Satanism differs from LaVeyan Satanism in that it makes an effort to conceptualise a spiritual reality, drawing somewhat from Eastern sources. Whereas LaVeyan philosophy was largely concerned with pragmatic matters of morality, postmodern Satanism delves into the larger philosophic arena of the nature of reality and the more fundamental reality beyond space and time. The book does not hold the reader’s hand, but presupposes an existing understanding in the reader’s head of the concept of a universal mind. This happens to be my personal philosophy, but it is not one without problems. I have been aware for some time of a seeming incongruency with the idea of everything being one while observing this oneness kicking the crap out of itself in the arena of duality. Jason King took my understanding of this to where it had been struggling to go. This material was pure gold to me.
Postmodern Satanism’s recognition of a unified consciousness is also what forces a radical reassessment of Anton LaVey’s original assertions, for LaVey was vehemently anti-spiritual and he based his entire philosophy on the triumph of the individual ego over all else.
A quick word on magic (or magick, as the author prefers). LaVeyan Satanism defined magic purely in ritualistic terms – the use of psychodrama to effect change. Postmodern Satanism sees magic as an expansion of consciousness. Ritual may be a means to a magical end, but it’s not the basis of magic. Real magic is rooted in your mind’s connection to the deeper reality beyond the purely physical.
God help me, but I really get this stuff (if you’ll excuse the theistic faux pas). As a person who spent two decades as an Evangelical Christian and who has spent the past two years publicly denouncing Christianity, it is perfectly true to call me an antichrist (according to the definition given by St. John in his epistles). I would be a hypocrite to deny it. Should I also now wear the label of Satanist? Well, it’s prudent to let the dust settle first. Let’s just say for now that I’m somewhat Satanically inclined.
Some of the material in Postmodern Satanism was confusing – which really just means beyond my current understanding. That’s no criticism, because I realise that I’m reading an author who is at my level and beyond – which makes a change from various occult books that have merely insulted my intelligence by making outlandish claims with no rational or empirical backup.
It’s worth keeping a dictionary handy when reading. The author expects familiarity with terms like “epistemological” (the nature of truth), “teleological” (the nature of being). Felt like being back in Bible class for a moment! It’s clear that the book is not aimed solely at the lay reader. Anyone should read it; just don’t expect to understand every single thing.
The only parts of Postmodern Satanism that I felt were irrelevant to me were a few lengthy commentaries on writings by Aleister Crowley, the Yezidis, and other occult texts.
The book is self-published. Unlike most self-published books, it’s extremely well written and edited. My only gripe is that some unusual typesetting choices by the author have caused the book to be about 200 pages when it could easily have fitted 150 and benefitted from the resulting price decrease. There’s no shame in releasing a small book. H.G. Wells, Aldous Huxley and many others have released important works that were even shorter than Postmodern Satanism.
I first heard of Jason King through his YouTube channel, where he is a frequent video-blogger. Postmodern Satanism is available to purchase from Lulu. It’s a stellar book, one of the most important I’ve read in recent times.
The premise of Tolle’s worldview is that the past and future are illusions. Nothing exists except the present, the now. Memories are recollections of other “now” experiences, just as our future actions, when they happen, will be happening “now.” The now is inescapable. It’s a totally different way of looking at time. Together with this view is the idea that you are not your mind. You are what Tolle calls “being”, using the mind. I came to hold this same view a year or two ago, coming at it from a different angle than Tolle but reaching the same conclusion. For Tolle it was an experience of ongoing deep distress that led him to this. Essentially, after telling himself “I’m distressed,” he asked himself the question, “Who is that is perceiving that I am distressed?” And the answer is: “The real you behind the mind.”
Tolle’s philosophy can best be summarised by saying that the solution to most problems in life (certainly the beginning of the solution to all problems) is to become intensely present in the now – to feel and to accept your life as it is this very moment. To stop the “egoic mind” from running amuck, worrying about the future, regretting the past, etc. I’m kind of on board with Tolle’s general thinking, but where I object strongly is when he starts to talk about how there is something wrong with the human ego. He even goes as far as calling it insane. And he uses the example of how we treat the world and each other as proof of this. I beg to differ. The egoic mind is a tool that consciousness is using to interface and interact with the world. It’s doing the job it was designed to do. If we want to pin the evils of the world on something, I think we should pin it on the massively mind-controlled state that humanity is in through such influences as television, religion and the education system. How could you be anything but greedy for gain and fearful of survival in a world that teaches people to be materialistic and to compete with everyone else for the best jobs. The ego, in its highly manipulated state, is simply doing what it’s supposed to do. But there is nothing inherently wrong with a healthy ego.
The book was a mixed bag for me. At times it was overly technical, where Tolle seemed to turn enlightenment into a complex equation that was impossible to remember – and unnecessary to remember. Better to become aware of profound truths yourself by living in the now and observing its effect on your life, rather than having it all spelled out for you. Then there were those times when I very much appreciated what I was reading. I felt his insights on relationships to be particularly helpful.
Tolle does something which my past religious experience tells me is a big mistake. He divides humanity up into the enlightened and the unenlightened. The enlightened are those who live in the now, aware of “being,” and the unenlightened are those who are driven by ego. Tolle even uses the term “salvation” to describe the state of those who have attained enlightenment. Although he is not asserting anything as crass as “The unenlightened shall perish in hell” he does something that really gets up my nose, and he’s not the first spiritual teacher to do this: he tries to play nice with Christianity. Now and then, he quotes a verse from the Bible and, with no regard to context, says, “When Jesus said ***, what he actually meant was ***.” Come on, Tolle, what you’re presenting here is not Christianity. It doesn’t remotely resemble Christianity. Have the courage to call a spade a spade. Nobody who embraces Christianity arrives at the your spiritual viewpoint without first coming to the realisation that Christianity is a false religion. Dispense with this pick-and-mix Bible quoting; it does your credibility no good, except in the eyes of those readers who don’t have a thorough knowledge of the Bible.
Tolle unfortunately presents himself as one of those gurus, self-proclaimed “spiritual teachers.” Anybody who comes to me with some kind of spiritual package deal that is supposed to solve all of life’s problems immediately raises my suspicions. There is no such thing as salvation, and this thing called enlightenment is always a matter of degree, not of division.
Tolle can have his place among a long list of people who have had a mixture of useful and useless things to say to the human race. The Power of Now is worth reading, but with a critical eye. More useful than not, but also sadly presented in a way that easily attracts a herd following. I got something out of it, but it is not The Answer, as it makes itself out to be.
I advise readers to consult my review of The Satanic Bible before reading this one, first to familiarise yourself with what Satanism actually is (in direct contradiction to Christian propaganda) and also so that my personal motivations in researching this subject are not misunderstood by people who would take great delight in condemning me.
Briefly, LaVeyan Satanism is a philosophy of individualism, recognising no higher authority than the self. To the Satanist, there is no God and no devil; no one to worship but yourself. Satanists choose Satan as their symbol because the name means “accuser” or “adversary,” and Satanists see themselves as the enemies of all the spiritual religions. In wearing the badge of the very enemy those religions typify, you declare your freedom from any necessity of being seen as righteous in the eyes of others. Satanism celebrates carnality and sees man as just another animal. It can be viewed as atheism minus humanism. The Satanic Bible was chiefly concerned with expounding a philosophical viewpoint, a Satanic morality. Satanists are not amoral, nor are they in favour of loving everyone indiscriminately. Satanic morality is rational, pragmatic and at times brutal. Satanism recognises that all of nature is adversarial (Satanic), and so it develops a moral stance in line with that principle.
Then we come to a strange little thing called Satanic ritual. This topic was given a brief treatment towards the end of The Satanic Bible and is more fully expounded here. Satanists view ritual as “self-transformative psychodrama.” The main reason for ritual is to affect the self. For instance, a Black Mass is not a form of devil worship (for there is no devil, Satanists would agree), it is a mockery of Christianity designed to disintregate any lingering psychological attachment to it that is holding you back.
There is another, more occult, side to ritual that is acknowledged by the Satanist. There are three general types of ritual: a compassion ritual (where good is wished upon another), a destruction ritual (where harm is wished upon another), and a lust ritual (where you attempt to bring a sexual partner into your life). The ritual chamber can be thought of as a cooking pot for desire and emotion, where the rational self is left at the door for a time. Satanism acknowledges that our desires can sometimes permeate beyond ourselves and affect the world. This is the essential understanding of a magical ritual. LaVey doesn’t pretend to know how and why this works, he only asserts that it does, that there are forces beyond our understanding that can be called to our aid. These forces are not acknowledged to be personal in any way, and most magical lore is thrown in the trash. LaVey places no importance on the drawing of protective circles, pentagrams and hexagrams. He views the spilling of blood as completely unnecessary and the real science of it is the power inherent in the discharge of the adrenal and bio-electrical energy of the sacrifice. Hence, the Satanist recognises he can draw such energy from within himself through ritual, without the need for killing animals (or human babies!). I have to say, I found all of this to be a fascinating re-evaluation of magical lore. But it strikes me that LaVey could be closer to a scientific understanding of magic than his occult predecessors.
One thing still baffles me, and it’s the question I really wanted answered after reading The Satanic Bible: if we are dealing with impersonal forces, why the constant reliance on the Enochian Keys? Many rituals are included in this book, and the one thing you learn is there are no actual Satanic rituals. They are all borrowed from other non-Satanic sources and sometimes modified; there’s even a bit of H.P. Lovecraft thrown in. And yet all of these rituals begin with the reading of specific Enochian Keys. It’s as if the content of the ritual itself isn’t terribly important, but the Enochian Keys are vital to success. I asked this question in my review of The Satanic Bible, and I have to ask it again here: who or what is listening when you speak the Enochian Keys? Surely something more personal than a force of nature.
Now, it could be that John Dee’s Enochian language is pure gibberish and LaVey is yanking our chain. Call me superstitious, but I’m not inclined to put that to the test. My understanding of “magical” forces comes from a psionics perspective. I have enough experience (specifically through experiments with telekinesis) to know that there’s a reality to this. I am far too cautious to dabble in Satanic ritual, although I am endlessly fascinated by the workings of it, because I think there is ultimately a scientific framework for everything in reality, as long as you don’t take the word “science” to mean classical physics alone.
A book entitled Practical Psychic Self-Defense may seem like a laughable choice for something to read, but my motivations were quite serious. I had been doing my own personal experiments into telekinesis (mind over matter) and I was getting unquestionable results as to the reality of the phenomenon. My unwitting “mentor” in these experiments was a friend from my childhood, whom I had witnessed perform telekinesis a long time ago. Nowadays, this person steers clear of the practice and whatever other occult practices that he dabbled in, because, in his words, “There was a price to pay.” He told me his personal story of underdoing a demonic intervention and how the garden outside the house burst into flames! I have no doubt of my friend’s honesty, but I do sometimes wonder if he himself was being taken for a ride by some snail-oil salesmen. If the sofa in the room had caught fire, I would have been more convinced, but the garden outside is somehow a little too convenient for trickery involving a can of petrol and some matches. I simply do not know. In any case, since I am (in a small way at least) a dabbler in things unknown, I thought it best to tread cautiously and read what an expert has to say on the hidden realm beyond human sight.
The author, Robert Bruce, is one of the foremost authorities on the topic of astral projection, the means of obtaining an out of body experience (OBE). He is the author of the popular book Astral Dynamics (1999). However, the present volume is the only one I have read.
Within a few pages of opening the book, I was reading with my eyes open in amazement and my brow creased in confusion. I was reading about astral snakes, astral spiders, black smoky columns, demons, poltergeists. Bruce paints a picture of a hidden world that is teeming with various kinds of parasitic consciousnesses. He talks about how most of them are very simple and predictable in how they operate; how they attach to the human energy body, and marks on the body are often signs of attachment points; how they affect the mind of the host; how they can be fought using sacred symbols, garlic, and running water. He gets into even greater depth, talking about how the chief means of demonic possession is through what he calls “core images” – traumatic unresolved memories that can be used as entryways for these entities. All this data has been compiled from his own experiences, many of which he details in the book. Particularly memorable is his own experience of possession, where he invited a demon that was inside a child to enter him instead, because he thought it would be easier to deal with there than in the child; later Bruce ended up parking his car at the top of a multi-storey car-park, taking his baby son out of the car, then walking to the edge of the roof. He got control of himself before doing the unthinkable.
Another interesting story is how he discovered that these entities cannot cross running water (unless they are hitchhiking with a person). He talks about how he felt sick at a party, felt it was something to do with the presence of a particular woman who had something nasty attached to her. He excused himself, and as soon as he crossed over the garden gate the nausea left him. He decided to go back in, and no sooner had he crossed the gate again, the nausea returned. It was as if there was some invisible barrier that something couldn’t cross to get to him. That barrier was the underground water-main.
There’s a whole spiritual science in this book, but here’s the rub. For most of us, we’ve just got to take Bruce’s word for it – or not. I simply do not know what to do with the information in this book. Little or none of it is verifiable from my own experience. I don’t find it laughable as a typical sceptic might, but I do find much to be sceptical of. For instance, if these are entities are, for the most part, simple and predictable in terms of how they behave, how come they are so adept at manipulating the complexities of the human mind and emotions?
I had a scary but amusing experience while in the middle of reading this book. I woke up in the middle of the night and saw a vertical black column attached to my chest. I leapt out of bed and switched on the light. Nothing was there. I wondered, was it really gone, or just veiled from view by by now wide-awake mind? I honestly don’t think it was anything but a hallucination. Well, it’s not the first night-time hallucination I’ve had, nor will it be the last. A half-sleeping brain can project anything into your bedroom.
Bruce also talks about how there can be psychic protection in being part of a church. The hyprocrisy of this really annoyed me. On the one hand, he advises people to use various magical procedures in order to combat negative entitles, while also advising people to join the Christian Church, which forbids the use of magic.
Bottom line: I don’t know what to make of this. The jury is on hold, but swaying somewhat towards the charge of “guilty of spewing nonsense.” All I got from this book was a case of the heebie-jeebies stronger than any horror movie I’ve ever watched. I’ll read it again and change my mind if I can ever verify any of it from personal experience. Until then, I can only look upon this volume as a waste of my time and money.
If you feel like trying out one of the procedures in the book, select a large mole (or grisly skin tumour) on your body, draw (with a pen or felt-tip) an equal-limbed cross across the mole, then a circle around the cross, like a target (the cross and circle should touch). If, in several days, the mole falls off, then Practical Psychic Self-Defense might just be worth a read after all.
Derren Brown is a stage illusionist, extremely well known in the UK, less so further afield. He’s on television here quite often and is always worth watching. His stage personality is quite different from the norm. While many illusionists thrive on projecting the image that they have psychic abilities, Brown openly admits that he’s not in the least bit psychic. This approach works a treat when he goes on to perform the most baffling tricks that make you think, “This guy’s got to be psychic.” I’ve often wondered if he has a genuine psychic ability and he’s fibbing us that he hasn’t. But after having watched some recordings of his stage shows a few times, and relying on some of the information imparted in this book, I’ve been able to figure out some of his tricks. I would call Derren Brown the master of misdirection. He really is a marvel to behold. And his book is a terrific read, on many levels.
Tricks of the Mind is divided into six parts. Part 1 is entitled “Disillusionment” and is a short account of how Brown became an atheist after being a born-again Christian in his teens. Although I’m personally not a Christian, I found Brown’s reasoning not entirely satisfying. He clearly aligns himself with the “physical reality is all there is” brigade and this is something that colours his entire thinking. My personal view is that the reliance on evidence is a worthy scientific discipline, but there may well be many things out there that are true but simply don’t bow down to our personal requirement for proof. “Evidence only” is not something to shape your entire worldview on, in my opinion.
Part 2 is entitled “Magic” and this is where the book really takes off. I’ve amused countless people (and myself) by demonstrating a simple card trick that Brown takes us through. I’ve even developed my own variation on it, where I can do it blindfolded whilst letting the other person handle the cards. The trick is mesmerising, but really hinges on the most beautifully subtle piece of audience misdirection. Here’s me having a go …
Part 3: “Memory.” Now we go from the fun to the practical. Brown explains several memorisation techniques in depth. I’ve tried some of them and they work a treat. They all function on the little known fact that it’s far easier to remember pictures than it is to remember words and numbers. In short, you create visuals to represent words. For instance, a few months ago I committed several facts about Albert Einstein to memory, as a test. I can now effortlessly regurgitate the following facts and more about him: he was born in 1879, died in 1955, received Nobel prize for physics in 1921. He was Jewish, but raised in a Catholic school, and lived in Germany. To remember Einstein’s birthday, I have the mental image of myself sitting at a table wearing a jersey with the number 7 on it, in front of a birthday cake with seven candles. I’m posing for a photo and Albert Einstein is peering over my shoulder, looking silly and giving the camera a thumbs up. “Say what?” you cry. Well, here's how this works. I want to remember Einstein's birthday, so I'm interested in associating the number 79 with Einstein (I can drop the 18 to make things easier, since I know it certainly wasn't 1979 that he was born). The birthday cake in the image reminds me that the picture has to do with birth. It's my seventh birthday, which would have been 1979. So, when I want to recall Einstein's birthday, I simply bring this image to mind and quickly deduce the number 79 from it. For the Noble prize date, I picture Einstein receiving his prize while drunk. So, when I recall this image, I naturally ask myself, "Why did I store an image of him drunk?" And it becomes easy for me to recall: "Ah! Because 21 is the legal age for drinking in the US. 1921!" It sounds overly complicated, but when you realise how readily distinctive images stick in the mind, it becomes far easier to remember things this way than to memorise by constant repetition. If I had had this book when I was at school, I would have aced my exams.
Part 4: "Hypnosis and Suggestibility." Here you'll find instructions for how to actually carry out hypnosis and put someone in a trance (although Brown in not a believer in such a thing as an actual trance state, only in suggestibility). I have no idea how valid the techniques are as I haven't tried them, but judging by Brown's stage work I would have a lot of confidence in them. There's a lengthy section on NLP (Neuro-linguistic Programming). My favourite section was on phobia cures, as these are personal exercises you can perform on yourself.
Part 5: "Unconscious Communication." This is all about reading people through their body language, and also exerting some level of control over another's perception of you by deliberately controlling your own body language. One simple observation can be that a lot of blinking indicates stress, and the frequency of blinking shows the speed at which we're processing information. Brown is also careful to note that the science of telling when a person is lying to you is not exact or easy.
Part 6: "Anti-science, Pseudo-science and Bad Thinking." This, for me, was the most disappointing part of the book. Some of it was excellent, such as the detailed explanation of a technique used by fake psychics called cold-reading. But Brown is attempting to make a blanket statement on the unreality of the whole arena of the paranormal, using only a few examples. I'm definitely a believer in the paranormal. My view comes as a result of learning how to do telekinesis and obtaining definite results under rigorous test conditions. I was amazed that Brown could spent so much time researching the esoteric and end up a disbeliever in everything beyond a purely physical nature. I was also alarmed by how readily he employs Ouija boards in his stage shows, believing the results to be nothing more than the unconscious mind. I'm not so easily convinced in the safety of them, as I have personal experience that there's more to life than known physics.
An almost brilliant book and definitely life-enhancing, written with wit and insight. Highly recommended for the excellent things you can learn about the workings of your mind.
Reality Is Plastic! is a book on hypnosis. It’s extremely short, just shy of 100 pages, but those pages are packed with information. There’s less of an emphasis on understanding what hypnosis actually is, more on practical routines that you can try on your friends. The book provides illustrated step-by-step instructions, such as how to invoke paralysis in limbs, how to invoke amnesia in your subject, how to make your subject think you are invisible. It all sounds far-fetched, and it’s not something that I have personally tested, but I have a friend who swears by this book and has used the routines to great effect.
The book places great importance on the confidence of the hypnotist being one of the prime factors in hypnotising someone. It’s the idea that hypnosis occurs when your confidence creates the expectation in the subject that they will be hypnotised.
It’s true that this kind of esoteric knowledge can be used for ill intent, but equally true that it can be used for good intent, such as the curing of phobias and the releasing of addictions. Ultimately, knowledge is neutral. It’s how we use knowledge that matters. Personally, I’m all for learning as much as I can about the workings of the mind, and research into hypnosis is proving for me to be a great avenue.
The book will be more useful to those who are interested in street hypnosis – the fun side of things. But the insights apply right across the board.
The only downside is the price. Anthony Jacquin sells the book for £22.50 plus £2.50 postage from his website, which is an insult for a paperback book of this size. For me, esoteric knowledge is a joy to share, not an opportunity for excessive greed. Worse still, the book is ring-bound, giving it an air of amateurism. And the text hasn’t seen a decent edit, judging by the many puncutation errors throughout. It you want to self-publish, do it right.
That said, the book was a fascinating and worthwhile read. A useful book for any budding hypnotist to have in his library.
The book begins with a short autobiography, which I read with great interest, particularly to hear David Icke’s own reflections on his experiences in the early 1990s, when he had his brief “son of God” phase that caused so much public ridicule. The rest of the book is divided into four parts, or layers, as they are called.
First, “The five-sense conspiracy.” This is the largest section of the book and comprises some two hundred pages. Icke begins by filling us in briefly on the overall picture of the conspiracy, involving secret societies, hidden-hand leadership, pryamid power structures, and the various scams that are played on humanity. The bulk of this section of the book is taken up by an examination of the wars in Afganistan and Iraq in the wake of 9/11 – a tearing down of the propagana given to us by the mass media and a look at the US government’s real motivations, as well as the consequences of their actions for innocent Middle Eastern civilians. Icke’s previous book was Alice in Wonderland and the World Trade Centre Disaster. Although I haven’t read that book, my guess is that the material in Tales from the Time Loop forms a sequel of sorts. The information quickly gets complicated to sift through, and I confess that at times I’m left not quite knowing what to believe. The chapter on civilian casualties is particularly moving, and at the very least the reader is left with a sense that he needs to question an awful lot more than when he hears on the TV news.
Layer 2 is “The extra-terrestrial/inter-dimensional conspiracy.” To call the information in this section startling is an understatement. Essentially, Icke’s claim is that many of the key people in positions of power (and throughout what is called the Illuminati) are possessed by entities from another dimension – entites that have a reptilian form. Icke was first introduced to this side of the conspiracy through receiving numerous reports in the late 1990s of people who witnessed another person “shape-shift” into a reptilian. When enough of these reports came to light, this indicated that there was something worth researching. 100 pages of Tales from the Time Loop is dedicated to this topic, merely a fraction of what went into his earlier book on the reptilians, The Biggest Secret, which I haven’t read. In summary, the secret rulers of the world can be traced back to antiquity, via secret societies and religions, right back to ancient Babylon and Sumer. The worship of the serpent, in various forms, can be seen far and wide in ancient religion. Human sacrifice is one of the primary ways these entities obtain energy. Such practices never ended, but go on in secret today, among the rich and famous. Reptilian shapeshifting is commonly reported in Satanic ritual abuse.
That’s just a fraction of the story. It reads like a science fiction extravaganza, and I can’t get on board with all of it. Icke’s big problem is that he never pauses long enough to let the reader catch his breath. The revelations come thick and fast, building one of top of the other, and the reader (me, anyway) is left behind somewhere along the way amidst a fog of information that he can’t hang on to as provable. Icke relies heavily on quotes from other written souces, particularly authors Zechariah Sitchin and Stewart Swerdlow. The former has written books which take an alternative view of human history and the latter claims to have had access to an underground base where reptilians were operating from. I simply don’t have enough information to make a decision. I wish Icke had simply tackled a few aspects of the reptilian theory thoroughly instead of trying to cram everything into a small space. For instance, I find it very interesting that the ancestry of the vast majority of American presidents can be traced back to Charlemagne. If that’s true, then there has been something very big and very fishy going on for hundreds of years outside the public eye. I also find it very interesting that so many Freemasons were involved in the formation of America, and that government people participate in a secret dark religious ceremony at Bohemiam Grove every year. It is unquestionable that there is something shadowy going on in the world that the public is not privy to. I just wish these themes were developed fully, but all too often Icke says, “You can read more about this in my book, X.” To be fair, though, Icke’s summaries do raise important questions and open up many avenues waiting to be explored. Every chapter has thorough footnotes about where you can go to find out more.
Layer 3 is called “It’s all an illusion”. This is where the book goes in the direction that I really appreciate, where we delve into the philosophical and the intuitive. Physical reality, as we know it, isn’t solid. Three-dimensional solidity is just a perception of the human body and brain. Underneath all of this, the universe is really an energy field. Now, you can believe that, or you can believe that physical solidity is the basis from which all else stems. Either way, it’s a belief, and none of us can get outside of our perceptions to find out. You might ask, what does it matter? Well, if the physical universe is just a perception, perhaps consciousness is a far greater thing we have imagined. Perhaps all that exists is one gigantic consciousness, and every human life is that consciousness undergoing an experience of separation from the full magnitude of what it is. The cornerstone of this part of the book is an experience that Icke had in Brazil, where he was invited to take a psychoactive drink called ayahuasca as a means of opening the door to a higher perception of reality (a similar account is told by Aldous Huxley, regarding mescaline, in his book The Doors of Perception).
Layer 4 is “Transforming the illusion.” The focus is on waking up from all the nonsense we’ve been conditioned to believe is normal life and all the traps that keep us hypnotised. The ultimate conclusion to all this is that we learn to laugh about life – to realise that this tiny life is just a game, full of endless possibilities, on the great canvas of infinite awareness. Really insightful stuff.
There were moments, in the earlier parts of the the book (especially the reptilian section), that I thought I was going to be giving this a bad review. But overall, when I’ve digested all 450 pages (and they’re pretty big pages), I find myself yet again impressed with David Icke’s insight. Once more, my mind has been stimulated to learn more and more from the wealth of information that lies ignored just outside the mainstream.
We all know that the world of politics is a manipulative and sometimes seedy realm. Politicians and distrust are two words that go hand in hand in the minds of many people, and the reality of this is borne out by the broken promises and sexual scandals that often hit the news media. I got the first hint that this was merely the tip of the iceberg when I read a chapter called “The Depths of Evil” in David Icke’s book I Am Me, I Am Free. This offered a brief condensation of Trance-formation of America, and the reading of it left me thinking, “Surely this is simply too outrageous to be true – that the world I’m living in is nothing like the way everyone thinks it is?”
The trouble is, I’ve been discovering that, in general, the world really isn’t the way most people think it is. Most people are blind to the fact that the food instrustry is destroying health. Most people are blind to the fact that the pharmaceutical industry is not about health, but wealth. Most people are happy to continue raping the planet of all resources and poisoning it with pollution, and will think of this situation as normal life. This book challenges the reader to get to grips with information claiming the governments of the USA (and other countries) are rotten to the core – so rotten that the word diabolical is maybe the only one that fits.
Co-author Cathy O’Brien suffered sexual abuse by her father Earl as a young child. When it was found out by the authorities, the US government offered her father immunity from prosecution if he would agree to have Cathy introduced into the MK-Ultra mind-control program. Child abuse victims are specifically targeted because because of the effect on the mind caused by trauma. The mind becomes compartmentalised, learns to close off memories as a coping mechanism, and develops Disassociative Identity Disorder (what used to be termed Multiple Personality Disorder). After much painful training, Cathy developed numerous personalities which could be switched by various programmed methods. Each personality was hidden from the others and she lost all awareness of the passage of time. This compartmentalisation allowed her to be used in various criminal activities: prostitution to high-ranking government people, government sanctioned drug-running, “carrier pigeon” secret messaging.
In adulthood Cathy lived with her handler Alex Houston in a sham marriage. Houston was not her first handler; there was also Wayne Cox, with whom she had a child, Kelly. Like Cathy herself, Kelly was introduced to MK-Ultra at an early age and was soon taking part in child pornography and prostitution to members of the government. Cathy eventually became what is termed a “Presidental Model,” and was in close contact with the likes of Ronald Reagan, George Bush Sr., Bill & Hillary Clinton. Some of the sexual stuff that Cathy claims went on between her and these people almost beggars belief. One of the worst was when Bush took Kelly into another room and violently raped her while Cathy had to listen to her daughter’s cries on the other side of the wall. This book took so long for me to read because at times I just couldn’t take it. I had to put it aside for a while and read other things. It was too terrible.
Co-author Mark Phillips first met Cathy by going into business with her “husband” Alex Houston. When Houston eventually put some trust in Phillips, this paved the way for Phillips to find out what was being done to Cathy and Kelly, and to make a plan to rescue both of them. After a lot of running, and much learning about mind-control, he was able to de-program Cathy and eventually bring about her complete recovery – and uncover all the memories that the government thought it had so effectively hidden. Kelly was not quite so fortunate and remains in psychiatric care.
So, what should we make of a book like this? Are Cathy O’Brien and Mark Phillips a couple of sensationalist attention-seekers wanting their fifteen minutes of fame? After having read the book and also seen Cathy talk about her life on video (look her up on YouTube), I just don’t get that impression. She does not seem the slightest bit unhinged. And it strikes me that you would have to be more than just a little unhinged to write the sort of things she writes and risk prosecution from countless famous names.
For me, the thing that helps pull this book out of the realms of fantasy is the picture section. We have photographs of Cathy and Kelly, pictured with some of the people mentioned in the book. Business cards, with addresses and phone numbers, are supplied for many, many people involved in the events of Cathy’s life, any one of whom can be easily contacted to verify information. There are several letters from the government, demonstrating Cathy and Mark’s ongoing quest for justice. There are medical reports on Kelly, showing evidence of her sexual abuse and her ongoing psychological trauma.
Cathy describes a mutilation inflicted on her by one of her handlers, where the inside of her vagina was made to resemble a grinning witch’s face. It was hard to believe until I stumbled upon an actual video of it being examined by a doctor.
It’s no surprise that this book is self-published. What publisher would dare to take it on and risk prosecution? For me, therein lies the most convincing aspect of the story. There are countless high-profile people named and shamed in this book, and yet here it is in publication with not a single charge laid against Cathy and Mark. Why? Is it perhaps because it’s a true account and to draw attention to it through a legal battle would only bring the awful truth out into the public eye? Or should I perhaps give the government the benefit of the doubt and simply say they are innocent until proven guilty?
People who read conspiracy books are often accused of wanting the world to be a more exciting place than it really is, trading the mundane for the sensational, swapping rational investigation for wish-fulfillment. Well, here’s a book that will really put you to the test. Because there is nothing to like here, nothing pretty, nothing that makes me feel good. It only makes the world seem like a much darker and more foreboding place than I thought it was … if it’s true. Is it?
Let me be absolutely frank and rational, because this book left me feeling disturbed and frustrated. I need more than a testimony. And that’s all this is, when you get right down to it. I need something resembling proof, or else I’m trafficking in rumour.
If you judged this book by the choice of title and cover art, you could be forgiven for dismissing it as a piece of sensationalist trash. Inside, it’s nothing of the kind. Some glowing reviews led me to employ the “don’t judge a book by its cover” philopsohy and give the book a try. At present, I’m keen to learn all I can about the nature of human consciousness, in order to get a better understanding of myself and hopefully of life. I’ve gone in this direction due to the failure of religion in my experience, and to my delight I’m gaining invaluable insights that have been hidden to me until now.
This book covers a wide range of topics, including the history of hypnosis, childhood programming, the nature of trances, how to perform a hypnotic induction, stage hypnotism, hypnotherapy, self-hypnosis, past-life regression, neuro-linguistic programming, mind control. And that’s just some of it. The book is a mere 232 pages, and it took me absolutely ages to read because there is so much concise information packed in, and I wanted to grasp it all.
Of particular interest to me was the understanding that we enter trance states naturally, as a part of everyday life, without realising it. This casts quite a different light on the common fear people have of being placed under hypnosis. I now understand why television adverts are done the way they are done – why the producers use a completely irrelevant subject to advertise a product. What they’re doing is creating a positive association in the mind. When you hear a song you like on a TV ad, or see a celebrity you admire, or watch an experience you recall feeling good about, this is all designed to make you associate the good feeling you get from that unrelated thing with the product on offer. Later, in the supermarket, when you see that product, you experience the same good feeling without understanding why, and this becomes a powerful motivator to get you to buy the product. I keep recalling Michael Jackson, back in the late 1980s, advertising Pepsi, singing, “You know I’m bad, I’m bad,” followed by the modified lyric, “And Pepsi’s cool, yeah, cool.” Always struck me as a bit odd and pointless, that. Now I understand it perfectly. Pretty manipulative, eh?
I have a friend who has a fear of cameras. I originally thought this had something to do with her feeling insecure about her looks, but we had a chat about it once and I discovered the real reason. When she was a young child, her parents used to hire an official photographer for each birthday party. She found this man scary, and over time she unwittingly built up an association between the camera pointing at her and the negative feelings brought on by the photographer. So, nowadays, right into womanhood, any camera causes that same effect of dread, regardless of who’s holding it, or how irrational the dread is. With a little knowledge of how the human mind works, it all makes sense! This also empowers me to look for the negative and unhelpful associations that I’ve created in my life (and, oh boy, there’s a big one I can see!), and deal with them through self-hypnosis. It’s almost laughable how much guilt I’ve put myself through over something that’s nothing more than “bad wiring” in my head – and absolutely fixable.
That’s just a fraction of the insight gained from reading this book. I feel like I want to read it all again, because there was so much to take in. I find myself marvelling at the human mind in a new way. And even more than that, I find myself not identifying with it. My mind is not me. If it were, I would not be able to re-program it, but I can. There is something beyond mind: call it soul or consciousness. You can choose to be a slave to your desires, to your emotions, and also to your mind states – or you can change them. I feel that so many people are going through life like computer programs running on automatic, unaware of how much of what they are is nothing but conditioned responses to stimuli. For want of a little insight, they never become conscious enough to realise they can break the programming and be what they want to be.
One of the best lines in the book, and a great quote, is: “If you don’t take responsibility for programming yourself, then someone else will.”
This short book came about as a result of Aldous Huxley performing a one-off experiment with the the psychotropic drug mescaline. Mescaline is derived from the peyote cactus and was (and is) widely used by the Native Americans in their religious practice as a means of seeing beyond the physical world. Apparently they used to suck on the cactus root to produce the effects. Although it’s illegal today, it’s apparently quite a benign drug. The book claims there are no addictive qualities – the user feels no need to use the drug subsequently – and no toxicity issues. Oddly, according to Wikipedia, a concession has been made to Native Americans, for whom mescaline remains legal. Tsk-tsk – a little favouritism there.
Huxley is best known for having penned the classic science fiction novel Brave New World. I’ve never read it, but it’s one of those novels I’ll definitely get around to. The Doors of Perception caught my attention because of Huxley’s standing and my personal interest in gaining a better understanding of human consciousness.
After taking the drug, Huxley reports staring at a table leg and being utterly absorbed in the brilliance of its form. He was able to walk around, and yet his vision was unconcerned with things like depth and distance. Looking at a flower evoked a kind of timeless contemplation about the flower’s “significance.” The book continues with information about how Huxley felt when being shown a series of paintings.
Interestingly, Huxley discusses the human body as a limiter, using the term “Mind at Large” for the full magnitude of what we are, i.e. we know everything. This is exactly the same concept I was introduced to though the writings of David Icke, only in different language. Icke would say we are are all collectively Infinite Consciousness, and the body is just a vehicle that allows us to experience physical reality. Huxley theorises that by the use of mescaline, the valve between mind and Mind at Large is loosened, allowing more of Mind at Large to come through. He talks about a feeling of timeless contemplation that caused him to be unconcerned about matters of physical life. This is in keeping with the understanding I embrace, that beyond this physical realm, with its illusions of separateness and time, there is a single collective consciousness existing in one eternal present.
This is the second time I have been surprised by the concept of “oneness” (or something close to it) cropping up unexpectedly in my reading material. It also happened recently when I read Upton Sinclair’s Mental Radio, where he theorises that a collective human consciousness is what allows telepathy to be possible.
One of the effects of mescaline on the brain is the inhibition of sugar. This got me wondering if the true reason behind the religious practice of fasting (something I never understood when I was a Christian) was to achieve an altered state of consciousness that would allow the person to get in contact with the realm beyond the physical – the divine, in other words.
The Doors of Perception was an intriguing study that helped provide a rational basis for ideas that I believe in through intuition, i.e. we are all one consciousness and the physical world is just a frequency that we perceive through the five senses. There is far more going on that what we see, and we are far more than what we think we are.
In my quest to come to a greater understanding of consciousness, I was initially excited by the names given to some of this book’s chapters (twenty-four in all): Evolution; Karma; Intuition; Intention; Choice; Addiction; Souls; Illusion – all of these leapt out to me as subjects that I knew a little about and was hungry for a deeper understanding.
The book is literally jam-packed with information. You have to read it slowly and carefully or you will find yourself quickly confused. Actually, you may find yourself confused anyway. Things started well as the book talked about humanity evolving from five-sensory beings into multi-sensory beings – something that I feel is true from my own personal awakening. External vs. internal power is discussed and the important distinction between the personality and the soul. All excellent material.
Things started to sit a little badly with me in the following chapter, Karma. The idea behind karma is that life is a learning experience, and anything you do to harm another being will ultimately be inflicted back upon you, in this life or a future one. To my ears, that is just too much like the old religious idea of punishment for sin that locks you into a fear-based morality. Besides, it just doesn’t make rational sense. If I torture someone, and thus create negative karma upon myself, someone will later torture me and create negative karma on himself. So in order to clear negative karma, you have to create more negative karma. This massive abnormality is not brought to light by the book.
Another “insight” that didn’t sit well with me was the way the author categorised how we talk differently to different groups of people – how we reveal a greater or lesser extent of who we are depending on who we are in conversation with. Zukav accepted this as the way things are, whereas to me, an important spiritual leap that we all need to make is to express ourselves without fear of what others think of us – to express what we truly are, and not a false projection of what we think is acceptable. For instance, after being a Christian for many years and accumulating Christian friends, I eventually changed my mind about religion, and I had to share my new beliefs with my friends, otherwise I would be allowing them to relate to a false me. I also had to face the loss of several friends, as they branded me unacceptable. We need to be who we are truly are and take the heat for it. Sadly, this is not the attitude portrayed in the book.
At times, what I was reading became so structured and complex that it was almost like reading religious doctine. And I had to wonder, where does all this come from? Because it’s presented matter-of-factly as “the way it is,” without any evidence to back it up. I found that if I come at it from a rational left-brained perspective, I don’t get very far. That is to be expected. On the other hand, if I come at it from an intuitive right-brained perspective, I find that some of it gets through to me, some of it screws with me, and some of it I just don’t know what to make of.
One question I kept asking myself as I was reading was “What about the idea that everything is one, that we’re all one consciousness?” I kept expecting that to turn up, because it seems to be a widely held belief in this kind of literature. The topic finally did come up, but I was surprised that so little time was devoted to it. I feel this the foundation that allows so much more to make sense. Oneness is the very thing that allows us to see why love is what life is all about. And yet the book concerns itself largely with the ins and outs of our separation from each other. Separate souls, reincarnating from life to life, learning and evolving with the aid of non-physical spirit guides. I learned more from one of David Icke’s simple, sharp insights (paraphrased): “If we are Infinite Conciousness, if we are everything that was, is and will be, if we already know everything, how can we possibly evolve by experience?”
The Seat of the Soul was a useful book that gave me some insights, but I feel it’s also expressing a mentality that doesn’t quite get to the really big questions that need asked about what life is all about.