In Search of Depth – A Review of ‘The Magickal Union of East and West’ by Gregory Peters

Much of the writing on this blog is preoccupied with the question of how we as Magicians of varying stripes seek to develop both depth and meaningful direction in our spiritual work. Rather than signing up to the concept of “one teleos fits all”, I hope that team Baphomet manages to balance a lively interest in the development of mature practice while revelling in the many potential ways that this might be pursued.

Once we move beyond the initial stages of understanding the core myths and ritual techniques of a given tradition it can feel bewildering as to how one can put down the type of deep roots that will enable more long term sustenance. While finding a helpful teacher or a structured Order may provide guidance for those lucky enough to locate them, I would not underestimate the role of a good book in providing us with new insight. Thankfully in The Magickal Union of East and West Gregory Peters has provided us with one of these volumes.


Peters comes from a rich background of Thelemic ceremonial magic and various lineages of both  Hindu and Buddhist tantra. In this work he seeks to outline some of the key ideas and practices that he and other magical colleagues have worked with, within the Ordo Sunyata Vajra (OSV) over the past 18 years.  As is suggested by its English translation as an Order of the “Adamantine Void”, this is a curriculum that seeks to equip the magician with both philosophy and ritual technique for exploring dimensions of the “true” and “silent” self.

Peters is an open and enthusiastic guide who offers the insights he has gained with a deep sense of gratitude to those teachers and currents that have informed his work. Whether it be the work of Kaula Nath lineage of AMOOKOS, Dzogchen or Chan Buddhist practices, he presents these approaches within an explicitly Thelemic world view. However much he has gained from these Eastern traditions, his work seeks to engage with them as means for getting to the deeper dimensions of Crowley’s work as it was carried forward by Kenneth Grant, and Greg’s own mentor Soror Meral (Phyllis Seckler).

If we are to move beyond superficial heavy metal styling’s regarding the expression of “true will”, we will need to explore what will this mean in terms of the transformation of self and the manifestation of Thelema and Agape within our everyday lives. This is not a rejection of the Western magical tradition, rather it is an attempt to reconnect us to those spiritual traditions that were critical to the reconstitution of Neo-pagan paths long deprived of their own change technologies.

Our author is a big fan of Kenneth Grant and clearly sees the focus of the OSV as being profoundly connected to the recovery of a perennial form of “Stellar Gnosis”. In contrast to Grant however, Greg (as a Tantric and ceremonial practitioner) provides us with plenty of guidance with regards things we can do. Malas can be blessed and altars can be created and there are plenty of ritual outlines that we are invited to explore and adapt depending on setting and inclination. We also spend time thinking about what it means to inhabit the “dragon seat” of meditation in order to explore the oscillating sense of being and non-being.

For me, this work provides some helpful maps for exploring the limited spatial metaphors that we as magical types can get hung-up on. If we adopt a psyche-centric focus for work, are we seeking to reinforce concepts like ego-strength or are we pursuing the dissolution of our self-concept? In seeking to simultaneously deepen our engagement with both True Will and the formlessness of the Void, Peters seems to be acknowledging the inevitable spiralling movement of the self as it dances between such poles. In sitting with a spaciousness that demands the alchemical transformation of our Will, Self is ultimately embraced even though its newer form may now seem barely recognisable.

I would highly recommend this book to those magicians interested in how the Aeon of Horus can shake-off some of its dustier, pseudo-masonic origins. In the spirit of Grant’s Typhonic work and Nema’s Maat magick, the work of the OSV provides some highly helpful guidance as to how we as contemporary practitioners can work with both Eastern and Western magical currents in a manner that feels at once respectful, deep and innovative.


Writing on Drugs: Three fabulous books to Feed your Head.

Secret Drugs of Buddhism: Psychedelic sacraments and the origins of the Vajrayana

The Buddhist tradition generally eschews the use of substances that cloud the mind but psychedelics (which, by definition, make manifest the mind) are by no means absent from the story of Asian religion. While modern Buddhists may take refuge in the idea that ‘drugs are bad’ (with certain notable exceptions such as the Zig Zag Zen school of Allan Badiner et al.) both Buddhism and Hinduism emerged from a cultural landscape rich in Amanita muscaria, Cannabis sativa and Panaeolus cambodginiensis.

In this book Mike Crowley hunts the questing beast of soma through layers of Sanskrit metaphor and potential botanic sources, following this elusive substance as it emerges into Vajrayana Buddhism as the sacramental nectar of immortality amrita. This analysis is the entheogenic equivalent of ‘who shot JFK?’,  and many theorists have spilt much ink trying to nail down the culprit; what kind of stuff was this food of the gods really? Our author, an accomplished scholar of  Sanskrit, Tibetan and Mandarin Chinese takes the broad view and intelligently and generously explores the options and opinions on this matter. Crowley, as well as being a fan of psychedelics, is also deeply embedded in the spiritual culture of Asia, having become an Upāsaka of the Kagyud lineage in 1970.

Mike’s suggestion is that it is the psychedelic effect that maketh soma, not its exact pharmacological identity. His view, that the Vedic soma may have started out (in the north) as Amanita and later (as cultures spread south) became psilocybin rich mushrooms, makes a lot of sense. It’s the entheogenic experience, this embodied encounter with the divine, that matters – whether that state is provoked endogenously through pranayama and protracted periods of fasting and solitary medication or by any number of substances – the effect is much the same.


While the debate about the psychedelic nature (or not) of Soma and Amrita is far from over Mike has made a valuable contribution to the discussion and does so in a book which is well supported by notes and references and that, in itself, is a delightful read.

Check out this lecture by Mike Crowley on The Secret Drugs.

To Fathom Hell or Soar Angelic

To Fathom Hell… is a brilliant and very engaging book. Our story begins with a depressed psychotherapist seeing his clients (while secretly fantasizing about the gruesome ways they might die), painfully conscious that the therapy he provides has very little effect. Accidentally attending a conference on psychedelic medicine, our despondent hero teams up with psychedelic therapist and maverick Dr. Langley. Their partnership works, and together they embark on a project to create a centre in which they can deploy psychedelic medicine.

Author Ben Sessa is the perfect person to imagine such a story, as a well respected psychiatrist and advocate of the value of psychedelic psychotherapy. (Check out Ben’s wonderful TED talk). Psychedelic therapy sessions using MDMA, LSD, and psilocybin are described, expertly written by one of the few people in Britain legally qualified to undertake this kind of work.


The novel skillfully leads us into this world and, while there is an engaging plot, much of what happens are conversations in which the theory and practice of psychedelic therapy is expounded. In this way To Fathom Hell… stands in the lineage of Aldous Huxley’s works where the narrative provides a setting in which ideas can be elucidated and explored.

Our Somerset Pala (the fictional psychedelic Island of Huxley) becomes the template for numerous therapeutic communities up and down the British isles. This isn’t just about getting squaddies PTSD sorted by arming them with MDMA – it’s about the transformation of culture; starting with the broken and moving towards healing those who do the breaking. The novel builds to a tremendous climax which put me in mind of the denouement from The Illuminatus Trilogy; a crescendo that feels both riotous and joyous.

A rollercoaster of a good read this tale is engaging, funny, dark and transcendent much like the psychedelic experience itself.  You can read more about To Fathom Hell, Sessa’s debut novel, and purchase your copy of the book via Psychedelic Press UK.

The Rose of Paracelsus: On Secrets & Sacraments

The final book I want to recommend is the genuinely awesome (in the proper sense of the word) volume by William Leonard Pickard The Rose of Paracelsus. This book was written by Leonard, using paper and pencil, in the US prison where he is incarcerated for “conspiracy to manufacture LSD”. Before he was busted (or set up…) Leonard was a research associate in neurobiology at Harvard Medical School, a Fellow of the Interfaculty Initiative on Drugs and Addictions at Harvard, and Deputy Director of the Drug Policy Analysis Program at UCLA. On all levels this is a Brother who knows what he’s talking about.


Reading The Rose… is, quite honestly, like tripping on acid. The long text (656 pages) can’t be adequately defined as a either a novel or autobiography. The language is rich, powerful, lyric, poetic, terrifying, visceral, sublime. Reminiscent in style to the work of Jorge Luis Borges, the narrative of clandestine acid chemists, governmental intrigue, simple human stories of suffering and (sometimes) redemption weaves a spell over the reader. Add to this the real-world knowledge of the grotesque circumstances of Leonard’s imprisonment (he is serving two life sentences, has already served 17 years, is 71 years of age and is in a high security prison) and this book becomes even more poignant. The Rose… pulls the reader in, but has to be put down. The chapters, as rich and dense with references and allusions as they are, require time to be digested. I needed periods to reflect and frankly sometimes time to meditate and pray, during my first reading of The Rose…

I was pleased to be present at the Breaking Convention session on The Rose… where we were treated to readings from the text, including a recording of Leonard himself (once a month Leonard gets to make a 15 minute monitored phone call from jail).

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. The proceeds go to support Leonard’s family (his son was a newborn as his father went to trial) and I would encourage readers of the text to check out his page and, in whatever way they can, to send thoughtful correspondence and messages of solidarity to him (he does have some access to email).

With Leonard’s permission, here is a recording of me reading an excerpt from the early section of the book where the hero meets one of ‘The Six’. (This hexad of high level psychedelic chemists, rather like the Guild Navigators in Frank Herbert’s Dune novels, have developed super powers following years of exposure to vast quantities of LSD.) In this section our protagonist makes contact with Crimson, the first of The Six.

The Rose of Paracelsus is a truly psychedelic read. Highly recommended.


Contact High

Getting Higher is turning into something of a wild ride! As well as a mention in The Guardian and the opportunity to appear on several podcasts (most recently with Mikedelic), I was also invited to formally launch the book at the Ecology, Cosmos and Consciousness salon at the October Gallery (haunt of cool folks like William Burroughs, Pablo Amaringo and Nnenna Okore). I was delighted to find the event sold out and indeed there was a waiting list! So, for those who couldn’t attend on the night, here is the text of the lecture that I delivered – enjoy! 🙂

“I’m an occultist; that is someone who studies the occult, the hidden. This means the twilight of human experience; extraordinary states of consciousness, spirit entities, trance states, telepathy, flying saucers, black magic, there must be something in astrology, gay liberation, the Loch Ness monster, the abominable snowman, the Surrey panther, copper bracelets for rheumatism, levitation, water divining, poltergeists – all that jazz. More than this I’m a magician (like a shaman but without so many anthropologists staring at me), someone who uses the methods of magic; rituals, initiatory ceremonies, meditative and imaginal practices and all that stuff.


Me banging on about drugs

Magic, shamanism, occultism et al are systems of thought concerned with the real imaginal. That is the lens of perception through which we experience the universe and through which we act. These imaginal technologies, which sometimes look like religion, sometimes like psychology, are ways of changing and directing awareness to make transformations in the inner and outer worlds.

Drugs were part of this territory of magic for me, inspired primarily I have to say by the life and work of the notorious Aleister Crowley. Crowley as I’m sure many here know had a life full of sex, drugs and magick, and died tragically young at the age of 72. He experimented with, among other things, mescaline, as did several of his chums from the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn such as the writer Arthur Machen and poet WB Yeats. Years I later I would encounter mescaline, not in Thelemic magical ritual, but rather through American shamanism as it entered Europe.

I am a native of the British Isles. I like to think of myself as a shaman from Stevenage (a town with the strap line ‘Where Imagination Takes Hold’) but the entheogenic traditions of my own country are lost to me. There are shadows in the landscape (in the cunningly arranged acoustic effects of chambered tombs) and folklore (the stories of intrepid adventurers in the fairy realm). There is the bright re-imagining of practices in modern paganism. But there is no tradition in the historical record of the entheogenic use of our native plants, even the blessed liberty cap. So I’ve had to look to techniques of changing awareness embedded in the Western occult tradition and then further afield, primarily to India and the Americas.

In Getting Higher I present something which I guess could be looked at as the ‘chaos magic’ approach to entheogenics. Chaos magic is a style of occultism that emerged in the late 20th century and was characterized by a highly eclectic occulture that incorporated multiple belief structures within an envelope of experimental practice.  Getting Higher attempts to explore both traditional and novel practices of entheogenics and present what I consider to be shared core teachings. This is perennial wisdom for psychonauts, a ‘core shamanism’ where sacred drugs are permitted.

I’ve been into magic for some 35 years and actively practicing with other people for only a few years less. For, while I have my own practice, I really enjoy working with others and collaborating on projects, which is why many of my previous books are co-authored. For Getting Higher I worked with many amazing people. I’m very grateful and honoured to have worked in ceremony with practitioners from a variety of traditions. As a Westerner I particularly acknowledge the contribution to my own practice from those cultures in places such as India and the Americas, who have been attacked by the structures of the culture in which I live. I hope that I can use their wisdom to help me, and anyone who reads this book, to create a society in my native land that is less inclined to exploit and destroy. This is why we need this medicine, for while there are indeed many amazing and uplifting things about Western cultures, there is a sickness in our soul which I suspect may be due our millennia long disconnection from the psychedelic gnosis.

I’m also honoured to have had the foreword written by the fabulous David ‘Agent of Chaos’ Luke. My teenage hero, the illustrator and cartoonist Pete Loveday, has provided the great cover art and illustrations to the text. The wonderful team at Psychedelic Press UK have done so much outstanding work that it really feels like a team effort. I’m particularly grateful to my lovely partner Nikki.

When Getting Higher was first written I had terrible trouble. You see, the thing with the psychedelic state is that, as you all know, everything is interconnected, so where to start? For a number of years this book was no more than a skeleton of notes. But during that time, and the years that followed, I tried to pay special attention as I took part in a variety of different ceremonies. What should I pass on from this? What would have been helpful to know here? Since then, I’ve passed the book via a few friendly psychonauts to see if they feel I’ve missed anything out, and while more can always be said of anything, and any explanation expanded, I think we all felt that the core material was there. Hence I could legitimately claim that this was the manual of psychedelic ceremony.

As well as describing what I see as the core technology (to use a phrase that turns up in chaos magic) of various non-European entheogenic traditions, I’ve also been exploring approaches to psychedelics that are informed by our current scientific understanding of these substances. I’m fortunate that through my work with Breaking Convention I’m connected with current research, allowing me to blend insights from ancient cultures with data from the latest brain imaging studies and studies of synthetic psychedelics.

GH artwork medicine circle

Medicine Circle by Pete Loveday from Getting Higher

Ketamine is one of the synthetic substances I talk about specifically in Getting Higher. This is for two reasons; the first is that ketamine is usually associated with stupefied folks sprawled out by the side of the dance floor covered in snot and smelling faintly of urine rather than refined spiritual pursuits. The second, is that ketamine is, as far as I’m aware, a molecule that has yet to be discovered anywhere other than inside human laboratories. My point is that it isn’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it, that matters. Artificially synthesized psychedelics, traditional herbs, as well as newly discovered botanicals – they all have their value.

I also place quite a bit of emphasis on having a good time. In many of our cultures there is the idea that spirituality is work, and religion is something you do out of duty. That fun is, at best wasteful and at worst sinful or destined to debilitate us. However if you’ve ever been to an ayahuasca session where the music transported you into an ecstatic state, or where the grin on your face the morning after the peyote circle just won’t go, perhaps it makes sense to accept that joy is good. The fact that we enjoy a good rave, a festival or simply getting high with friends is not the opposite of what I’m saying. The ‘medicine’ I’m speaking about could come as part of a delicious peak experience on the dance floor surrounded by good friends as easily as it could come from within a more formalized ceremony. We are allowed to have fun, we can have mirth and reverence and receive the ecstasy of these medicines with as much appreciation as we receive their ability to transform and challenge us. What nourishes our souls is good.

Getting Higher gives examples of rituals but these are just serving suggestions. What I really want is for people to discover their own practice. To do so by learning a few basics and then listening to the medicine. Sure it’s great if you can come and sit with a visiting American shaman, or nip over to Mapia for a couple of glasses or five of ayahuasca. But for other people, who maybe have access to the drugs though the internet but don’t have mentors who can be physically present, I hope this book can help them dream up wonderful, supportive and transformational ways to meet the spirits that they’ve summoned via incantations over the darkweb.

These are powerful medicines, so powerful that they have twice tried to break on through and radically reshape culture in the two previous summers of love. Drugs like LSD have caused huge changes in our culture and while it’s not possible to be empirically certain a good historical case can be made to support the assertion of Michael Randall from the Brotherhood of Eternal Love who says, in the film Orange Sunshine: “Today you see health food shops and places selling good organic food in every town; that’s because of LSD!” The use of entheogens can, has, and will, change the world.

Now remember kids ‘the medicine’ is the message, not just the drugs.

I’m an advocate for the medicine. I have experienced the fact that these drugs, intelligently used, are powerful methods for transforming us. They can transform us from damaged, alienated, grief-stricken and fearful people into thoughtful, caring, curious and joyous individuals. Critically ‘the medicine’ as a whole is the combination of psychedelic experience within a set and setting designed to enhance its entheogenic potential. The medicine is the complete psychedelic triangle of set, setting and substance. This is context engineering for chemically augmented awareness. We need this medicine, to heal us from our divisions that perpetuate the illusion of isolation, to allow us to transform our bitterness and form better relationships with ourselves, each other and the planet.

I want to nurture settings in which the self-administered and autonomously interpreted psychedelic experience is open to all who seek it. Imagine then what our species could achieve if we turned on the world to the medicine? The simple fact that we know these drugs help hot-wire our neurology, creating minds better able to work with complexity, to discover new solutions and appreciate new perspectives, should give us hope. Perhaps with sufficient ramping up of the simian wetware we can discover ways to address the challenges that face us as species? Perhaps we can boot our intelligence up to the next level? Many people have observed how individual people can be totally fine whereas groups of humans often exhibit much more stereotyped behaviors. Maybe if we have sufficient people operating with minds informed by the higher processing capacity of the psychedelic state we may begin to behave more mindfully as a species? And we can choose to explore inner and outer space together for ever!

But these are just a few wild speculations about sacred sacraments, the point is that the medicine – the set, setting and substance of entheogenics – certainly has the potential to be a great ally for our species. Overcoming the legal, economic, environmental, cultural and social problems associated these substances is essential work. This means supporting licensed scientific and medical research, and bearing witness to the value of the psychedelic experience, and demanding it as a point of cognitive liberty, an essential part of our humanity, and a legitimate spiritual practice.

We need to realize that, as Nick Sand (Peace Be Upon him) says in The Sunshine Makers, “freedom is not about being in chains, it’s about not having your mind enslaved”. The intelligent use of psychedelics can liberate us from this slavery, the slavery of psychic distress and restricted cognition. Psychedelics can alter us and in turn our culture; they teach us both acceptance and the importance of intention, the value of challenge and of ecstasy, of self-awareness and of empathy.


So I say take your drugs and turn them into medicine for yourself, your community and all beings. Liberate yourself and others! Ahoy!”


Journeys into Deep Space – a review of ‘Black Horizons Perspectives’, by Dr Lloyd Keane

Books on magic and spirituality are often full of people on journeys. Some folks head into the desert (like the Hero of The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho), while others head up mountain paths or take to the sea in ships. To pursue change or self-discovery one moves from where we are now in the hope that our travelling will somehow shift our sense of confusion and supply us with meaning. Such metaphors can be helpful when employed skilfully, or they can turn into a mammoth cliché-fest that is essentially without real content.


Lloyd Keane wants you to take a road-trip with him into deep space and he is completely unapologetic about how weird this shit is about to get. As a Jung scholar and Master Cosmonaut within the Esoteric Order of Beelzebub (an order within the Temple of Set), Lloyd is used to traversing some fairly strange internal terrain. Having known Lloyd for the past seven years, I can attest to his dogged commitment in pursuing the type of initiatory magic espoused by the Temple of Set and his willingness to do so using both the creative and intellectual tools at his disposal.

In Black Horizons Lloyd introduces us to the insights that he has gained in working with the concept of deep space travel as a means of understanding our processes of inner awakening. The Esoteric Order of Beelzebub makes significant use of the teachings of Gurdjieff within their school and those acquainted with these ideas will be aware of the way in which space travel is used to convey a sense of strangeness and the potential challenges connected to such journeys.


Explorer by Lloyd Keane

As we well know, getting lost in space is easy to do! While Lloyd makes no attempt to spoon-feed the reader he does provide some meaningful markers that the budding cosmonaut might use in attempting such treacherous voyages. While not being overly prescriptive in trying to dictate what stages of exploration must look like, he identifies a process of initiatory change in the following terms:

  1. Tyro – How do we stir our inspiration and desire as a means of fuelling our journey?
  2. Seeker – Having left the launch pad, how do we actively engage in the early stages of exploration and creativity while avoiding potential pitfalls?
  3. Explorer – How do we begin to express what we are experiencing so as to create a powerful feedback loop for self-transformation? Here we begin to dig-in to engagements with dark-matter and the deeper dimensions of internal exploration.
  4. Watcher – How do we begin to exemplify these transformations so that they impact upon others? For me this is the challenge of integrating insights gained and continuing our alchemical work within the more mundane aspects of our lives.

What I find so refreshing in his approach is his willingness to side-step the well-trodden paths of occult language and metaphor in helping us gain new perspectives on accessing our own process of Xeper or becoming. While having been deeply immersed in the language of Hermetic Kabbalah and Thelema, Lloyd has been able to use the black flame of his own creativity to access new insight into the challenges and potential rewards that such work offers. As a testament to his own process of inspiration, the book features numerous examples of Lloyd’s weird and inspiring art work.

Through the structure of the work described, Lloyd asks us to experience the very real and existential dimensions that we experience in the face of mystery and the vastness of deep space. Rather than trying to minimise the sense of terror that we might encounter, he encourages us to actively explore our sense of awe in the face of darkness and the unknown. As we embrace the type of bravery that allows us to remain open and curious in the face of vastness, so the initiate begins to cultivate a new sense of poise for engaging with their life.


Watcher by Lloyd Keane

Throughout this work, Lloyds style is clear, humorous and for a Left-Hand Path magician, refreshingly self-effacing. At the end of each of the 4 main sections he provides suggestions for further reading and inspirational films with which to fan the flames of our own work. While not being dictatorial about rituals or technologies that one must use, this work is full of intriguing suggestions and Lloyd provides us with some helpful vignettes of his own ritual work within the Temple of Set.

I would highly recommend this work for those interested in gaining an intimate and honest reflection upon a Priest of Set’s initiatory work, and how a contemporary magician can creatively evolve new, future-oriented metaphors for exploring the path of human transformation.

The book is currently available via Lulu

Here’s a link to Lloyd’s personal website:




Getting Higher: On Coming Up

Well, after some years of writing and polishing the manuscript, incorporating feedback and observations for innumerable friends and allies, and spending long hours at the computer my, ahem, magnum opus, is ready for publication!



Check out the cool mandala on the cover!

While my name is on the cover, this work is another collaborative venture. It includes a range of strategies to hold and direct the psychedelic experience and many of these have been things I’ve learnt from shamans, witches, magicians and many others. I’ve been honoured to take part in ceremony with people who hold lineages in the use of psychedelic medicines going back thousands of years. I’ve also learnt methods from some fabulous people in the more modern esoteric schools of Thelema, Wicca, Druidry and Chaos Magic. What I offer in Getting Higher is my understanding of the wisdom of these various practitioners.

I’m also very pleased to have my practice and understanding informed by people working in the fields of medical and scientific research on psychedelics. I’m especially grateful to the organizers of Breaking Convention which biennially provides a conference of three days of glorious intellectual and cultural reflection on psychedelic consciousness. If you want to understand and connect with the emerging psychedelic renaissance then you need a ticket now.

I’m very pleased to have had the support of the wonderful Psychedelic Press UK, and their arch editor Nikki Wyrd. I’m also honoured to have the legendary Pete Loveday as the illustrator for the book. Pete is a wonderful chap and frankly something of childhood hero. His Plain Rapper and Big Bang comics in the latter part of the 20th century cast a wry psychoactive eye over the culture of festival scene, The Peace Convoy, drugs, and authoritarian Tory rule (plus ça change). All Pete’s work is hand painted and the detail of the design is amazing. If people are interested I’ll see if I can get prints (or even perhaps blotter art) sorted out.

We’re having a book launch at The October Gallery in London on the 25th of April and you are warmly invited. The evening will be convened by the phenomenal Dr David Luke who graciously provided the foreword for this book.

Advanced orders for Getting Higher are being taken now for a May 1st publication date. Kindle and all that jazz will follow in due course.

Eagle eyed visitors to this blog (and thank you gentle reader, we’ve had over quarter of a million views to date) will have spotted the Getting Higher link. This is where I’m hoping to post resources for people who are engaged in entheogenic ceremony. As it says on the page, if you want to contribute to these resources in any way please get in touch.

Finally another thank you. To all the medicine carriers, all the spirits, all the magic that surrounds us everyday. Whether we use entheogens to notice this magic, or breathwork, or silence, or gardening, or a thousand other ways, may we all wake to remember the wonder of the world. Thank you Great Mystery for this.



PS – here’s a video trailer for the book. Enjoy your marketing experience, and thank you 🙂

Enjoy Sex… a review

Enjoy Sex (How, when and IF you want to): A Practical and Inclusive Guide


Frankly if you like your sexual self-help replete with pencil drawings of bearded blokes and their female partners trying to get pretzel-like in search of “better sex” this book is a bit rubbish. I can see from the back-cover author snap that Justin has a beard but that’s as far as it goes. By contrast what Enjoy Sex… gives us is powerful tool for exploring what is might mean for us as human beings to explore intimacy with both others and ourselves.

Visitors to this blog will already know that I’m a bit of a Meg-John fan boy! As well as writing this review for their recent graphic non-fiction book Queer (in collaboration with the brilliant Julia Scheele).  I also wrote a review several years ago for their first relationship opus Rewriting the Rules. In that book Meg-John sought to challenge us to consider the societal stories and familial conditioning that we might have received concerning intimacy, gender and friendship. In a compassionate and accessible manner they asked us to honestly explore what we really wanted for ourselves and those to whom we are connected.

In many ways Enjoy Sex… feels like an organic expansion of this previous work. We find chapters looking at the messages we receive about sex and how the sex advice industry often compounds powerful ideas about perfection, performance and a penis in vagina (PIV) end game. This is a book that beautifully inverts the presumed heteronormativity of most sex advice and openly revels in diversity. Each chapter incorporates multiple voices of people exploring intimacy and I loved the richness and complexity that these added to the themes under consideration.

Both of these authors bring their considerable wealth of experience as educators and activists to the format of this work. Justin has worked for over two decades in providing meaningful sex education to young people and Meg-John is renowned as a lucid communicator and advocate for sexual and gender diversity. This book is accessible without dumbing down and provides a whole host of exercises and activities for helping the reader dig into their own reflections and explorations.

This is a book that places self-understanding and consent at its centre. In order to access the type of intimacy that we may or may not want with others, we must first reconnect to our own bodies and the stories that our culture and experience have passed to us. In order to act compassionately and consensually towards others we must first exercise proper self-care in understanding what we value for our selves in this present moment. This is a book that seeks to move mindfulness from the meditation cushion and into the realm of our whole lives. In contrast to so much touted as “spiritual” sex, the erotic realities of solo sex, porn and consensual non-monogamies are explored as possible means for more fully “knowing thyself”.

In a world where the tyranny of performance and perfection threaten to disconnect ourselves from truly engaging with deep sensuality, Justin and Meg-John have provided us with an accessible tool-kit for tuning in to our own unique version of the erotic.  A truly liberating work!


Neuro-Apocalypse,  by Danny Nemu – A Review

This work by the Reverend Nemu is a heady brew that plunges us into a world of deep Kabbalah. In this second part of a planned trilogy, he leaps headlong into the realm of neuroscience and the way in which language development shapes consciousness and human evolution. Like I said, it’s deep!


Danny’s writing is lucid and engaging and he cuts between personal travel log, biblical exegesis and riffing about the joys of neuroplasticity. It made me think that if Robert Anton Wilson knew his Bible better he’d probably have written like the good Reverend. Nemu admits that his textual interpretations are unorthodox, but he is a serious exegete who while paying close attention to cultural context also engages in creative use of rich mythic concepts.

As much as Danny clearly enjoys playfully interacting with how language has shaped him both personally and spirituality, he has a more far-reaching exploration in mind. Not only does our learning of new languages shape us as individuals, but the incoming of the logos into the grand narrative of human evolution is central to differentiating us from other primates. Danny transports us into the deep time of Eden’s Garden and treats us to a director’s cut of what was really going on with that wiley serpent of consciousness.

While some might find the radical juxtaposition of material disorientating, personally I felt that it induced a psychedelic state of awareness that felt resonant with the type of conscious brain-change that he was seeking to describe. Yes this work is at times dense and demanding of concentration, but the author does well to intersperse his theory with some entertaining experiential vignettes.  Danny provides us with some vivid personal biography regarding his experience of the ayahuasca community and then builds upon this in seeking to draw parallels with other forms of ecstatic and contemplative spiritual practice.


Serious exegete

I especially enjoyed his examination of what we might learn from the experiences of folks who are more atypical in their neurology (people on the autistic spectrum or who voice-hear) and what these lessons might mean more widely for human potential. While understandably speculative in places I enjoyed the positivity of this as a re-frame for mental health experiences that are so frequently problematised.

In many ways I experienced Neuro-Apocalypse as a deeply Gnostic work, as the Rev. Nemu allows us to accompany him on a roller-coaster ride through his rich personal mythology. While such journeys can be fraught with either narcissism or excessive eccentricity, I felt that Danny did a great job in remaining true to his personal vision while ensuring that we, as his readers, can glean riches that are applicable to our own paths.

Rev. SD