An Audience with Charlotte Rodgers

Charlotte Rodgers is a writer, artist and magical person. She kindly agreed to tell Steve Dee more about her life and work.

SD: Could you tell us a little about your own magical background? (How you got into it.)

CR: I don’t think one’s intrinsic being changes much from early childhood, aside from layering up a load of behavioral baggage and experiences to obscure, and hopefully at times to enhance, our essential self. I always had a spiritual world view, highlighted by a personality that had a great deal of difficulty relating to others. At times, I lived with my grandmother where I was overexposed to fundamentalist Catholicism which I found fascinating; but I found the premise of good and evil made no sense to me (I was a precocious child… and looking back perhaps a bit ADD or sociopathic). As a child, I was obsessed with books, my microscope, astronomy, archaeology and mythology; constantly looking for other worlds that I could relate to as this one made no sense!

I was seven or so when I came across Man, Myth and Magic and it was like boom bang…this was IT!

I used to see colours and shapes and always believed in magic. I remember being about ten and walking home from the cinema with my little sister and telling her, ‘I’m a witch, watch… the lights at every crossing we come to will turn green when we approach them’… there were about seven I think on our walk home and indeed each one did turn green.

By age 12 I was into tarot and palmistry and started studying various magickal practices consciously. I also later studied Phenomenology of Religion for O levels and A levels and simply enough, was always searching for something.

As with inherent approaches to learning that tailor for individuals through hearing, seeing or experiencing, people have different ways of understanding their reality. Philosophical (relating to ideas) political (relating to structures) and spiritual (relating to ‘other’). A bit simplistic perhaps but it makes sense to me, and my frame for experience and perception is very much a spiritual one.

So, I’ve always been magical, and constantly been trying to understand and work with this, whilst trying to sort my life out on a mundane level.

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The Hermit by Charlotte Rodgers

You’ve worked in a few different traditions, could you tell us about those and which approaches you currently find most meaningful?

My answer for this is a continuation from the above in many ways. I’m not a group person in that I cannot cope with the structures and power plays that often deviate (some may say develop) a tradition and cause it to lose its original premise. Conversely, I love the inspirational buzz and play I get from working with a group. For a long time, there was a sense of ‘should do’ or ‘should be’ in my practice. I ‘should’ develop discipline in my practice by adhering to a certain tradition and following its rules, I ‘should’ validate myself by reading certain books or following the rules, though my essential magical self just loves to play and when I’m working with the right current, it’s a flow, a key to a lock.

I’m also no good with names and that is a big problem with some traditions… I just can’t get my head around identification of energies with certain titles… works in my head but my magickal self just wants to toss it all aside.

I immersed myself in Crowley’s teachings for many years. It was accessible at the time and very interesting. Parts of them I found very workable and at that time I felt that as a woman it gave me more validity than accepting more nature related witchcraft which came so naturally to me living in New Zealand and later in Asia. I was a member of a few groups, and seemed to work well with certain currents that though I didn’t relate to a specific named god or spirit form, say Set, I could relate to their essence and work incredibly well with them.  Later I was initiated into the Uttara Kaula and AMOOKOS which also made sense to me on many levels but I reached a point of self-confidence where I started stripping back, and realizing that my magic was an intuitive path, and I was trying to follow the rules of others, a method which had become counterproductive.

Some of the traditions that resonate for me, such as Haitian Voodoo or Santeria I’ve learned from and respect but take no further.  Others such as Bengali Folk Tantra press my buttons and made me realize my magic is incredibly simple.

I’m an animist and a generator of energy so whilst I can work well in many spheres, for me finding a tradition and structure had become a very human need to find a place amongst others, rather than finding the right practice for myself.

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Spirit House by Charlotte Rodgers

As an artist who works in a number of differing mediums, could you describe something of your artist process and how it may (or may not!) overlap with Magical work?

O the more I immerse myself in my art the more I realise that art and magic are the same; expressions that can be directed. I don’t plan anything that I do, just amass ingredients then when the time is right I go on automatic and channel the piece as it evolves. My creative process and magic run side by side, different facets of the same thing. The most conscious pieces that I make are charms, fetishes or elemental conductors and my larger pieces tend to be spirit houses or effect orientated portals, although often I don’t realise what I’ve done until it is completed and the piece tells me.

For a long time, I was primarily working with bones and remnants of death as they were the most obvious conduits to certain characteristics or properties, but as I realised that everything has memory, I started working more with discarded and found objects and what was contained within them.

In your (excellent) book The Bloody Sacrifice you explore the way in which practitioners use their bodies to explore and create change; how has your own work with the body evolved since its publication?

Hah! Hugely! I went through a very early menopause and my last period coincided with the completion of the book. Also, the book was written as my own blood was dealing with all the chemo that had been pumped into it to try and rid myself of hep C and which took about two years to be expelled (the treatment didn’t work).

Menopause is fascinating, and my energy is much more contained now. There is all the social stuff that goes with it… aging and perceived power loss etc., but in most ways my body is the strongest it has ever been.

I’m much more aware of the physical impact that magic has on me now, especially on my immune system (for people with long term hep c, your 50’s is often the age it can really kick off and become problematic) and work with that.

I’m more careful about my body at magical gatherings as I find my metabolic rate goes into overdrive (this used to happen to me years ago, when I did readings for people) and I lose way too much weight and get run down.

Yoga is more important than ever for me and dance is a necessary joy.

I still regularly have ritualised tattoo work done on myself but mainly I am aware of an integration of my magickal self and my physical self that I think is a combination of my past work and perhaps just growing older and stronger in myself.

In many ways, my art work is intensely physical in that I am channelling part of myself into the art to bind it together and need to keep my back, hands and shoulders strong… if I want to channel I need to work with my physicality simply enough.

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Family Dynamics (detail) by Charlotte Rodgers

Given your focus on the body and your use of animal remains in your Art, how well do you think contemporary Occultism is doing in its engagement with Death?

I’m not as much in the loop of what’s going on in the occult community as I was… It seems that rituals of death and burial have progressed hugely, although I still think there is a great need of support for pagans and magickal practitioners after they have ‘lost’ someone. The acceptance in Western based occultism of ancestor worship has helped a lot, but I think many feel their beliefs are challenged when someone they love dies and could do with support that is non-denominational and unconditional, but still essentially magickal.

There is still a fascination with darkness and death in certain sections of Occultism that is perhaps blinkered but that is the nature of working with taboo… easier to go for the dark and forbidden rather than something like unconditional love and joy! (I can say this I think because I’ve had that struggle myself!).

Over the last few years there have been some deaths of people who were incredibly important to me magickally, Michael Howard, Donald Kraig and David Blank. There have also been important practitioners who have died that I’ve not had direct personal involvement with and it is worth thinking how their lives and deaths have contributed to the growth and development of the present magickal current, and what changes will occur in it due to their loss.

Lastly, can I ask what your hopes are for the future evolution of both your Magical and Artist practice?

Now there’s a question. Recently I’ve felt a need to go slow (not my usual way!) and make no major decisions.

The world is very crazy with major changes going on, so treading careful seems to be the best option.

I’ve started worked more, both magickally and creatively, with rust and discarded modern objects, and finding with ways to integrate it with nature and ‘the old ways’ to bring forth a progressive evolution.

I’d briefly touched on this in 2011 when I integrated broken glass from the London riots and car accidents into sculptures trying to positively redirect the rage and impotence at injustice, that fuelled these riots.

Now it seems the right time to carry on with this modern alchemy!

Aside from that I’m in the process of a final edit of The Fulcrum Method, a divinatory system that I’ve created with Roberto Migliussi, and also organising a Summer Solstice based exhibition in Bath, ‘Rust, Blood and Bone’.

What I want in the long term and general sense? To carry on progressing with my art and magick, to carry on learning and to have fun.

I want to retain that joy in adventuring spiritually and creatively whilst not getting bogged down by games and infighting and power plays. I’d love to be able to make a living out of what I do, so I can focus all my attention on it and see how far I can take the journey, and to where.

Thanks very much Charlotte. SD.

To see more of Charlotte’s work visit her blog and gallery.

 

 

Alice’s Adventures in Underground Culture

This gallery contains 10 photos.

Originally posted on the psychedelic museum:
February 2nd – February 4th at The Horse Hospital, London. Down the rabbit hole we went…and into the second exhibition by the Psychedelic Museum. Alice’s Adventures in Underground Culture brought together the fabulous art of John Coulthart, expertly printed onto blotter paper, and works from a number of other…

Enjoy Sex… a review

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

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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!

SD

Witch on DMT – For Science!

DMT is an iconic substance; one of the central ingredients of the magical potion ayahuasca, fuel for the entrancing soliloquies of Terence McKenna and the beautiful art of Pablo Amaringo. This powerful psychedelic was also the one that the fabulous Nikki Wyrd was injected with at the winter solstice last year – for science!

Nikki was a participant in an experiment conducted at Imperial College, London. In due course I’m sure she will publish exactly what happened, but she can’t share much at the moment because the experiment is ongoing (and no one wants to mess up the data). Both physiological and psychological information was collected, as subjects had the chance to take this often highly visual psychedelic in a clinical setting. The aim is to understand more about how this substance operates, its potential to help us explore how the brain (and mind) works, and the mechanisms by which it exerts its possible therapeutic effects.

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Actual pics of Ms Wyrd as psychonaut to follow once the research is complete!

Now anyone who has been paying attention to the fact that substances such as DMT have regularly proved (for millennia) both philosophically useful (in terms of helping people explore consciousness) and healing (in various ‘traditional’ psychedelic cultures) may wonder why we need such research? There are several answers to this, including the strategic one; that increased licensed use of psychedelics may lead to a wider social acceptance that these are valuable, rather than dangerous, substances. Another reason is that detailed scientific studies (this year will see researchers injecting people with DMT whilst inside fMRI brain scanners) can help us measure and understand exactly what happens to DMT in the body.

Science helps us to learn real data, supportable facts, which sometime challenge our assumptions. For instance; in the case of DMT it now considered something of ‘fact’ that it is produced in the pineal gland. The notion that this most visionary of chemicals is made in the third-eye chakra is a pretty cool one. This idea may have originated as a conversational suggestion from Rupert Sheldrake, and appears as a conjecture in Rick Strassman’s seminal DMT The Spirit Molecule. It’s an idea that is not without merit and it has to be said that today, 20 years after Strassman’s work, there is still research to be done on the chemistry of the pineal (at least judging by a kitchen conversation between Ben Sessa and David Luke I was party to a couple of weeks ago). However even if the pineal gland does make DMT, it appears unlikely that it could be the main source of endogenous DMT. That honour, it seems, belongs not to the ajna chakra but instead to the lungs.

A chemical cascade involving the enzyme INMT, which is always present in the lungs, could produce DMT in amounts  sufficient to create significant alterations in consciousness. The location of DMT production in the lungs also points towards an answer for why we have DMT in our bodies (and the bodies of many, many other living things) in the first place. It could be, as per the mythology, that DMT is there in order to let us crash into a universe of elves in order to impressed by their dazzling non-Euclidian architecture. It could perhaps have been encoded into us by some ancient alien race from Sirius or wherever, or sharpening Occam’s razor, or it could be something much more pragmatic and important to our biology.

What DMT is for in the body is the subject of some fascinating research by the charming Dr Ede Frecska. If you watch his video (filmed at Breaking Convention in 2015) you will get to hear what, for my money, is one of the best opening lines of any presentation on psychedelics: “I have a dream to have DMT in an ampule for IV use in every operating room, every intensive care unit, and every emergency vehicle.”

It appears that DMT acts to stop cells dying, it slows damage caused by oxidative stress and that’s why it is one of the few substances which are actively transported across the blood-brain barrier in humans (the others are glucose and vitamin C). As Ede explains in his engaging lecture there is a clear (and testable) chemical pathway, focused around the lungs, for our bodies to make DMT and for it to be rapidly absorbed by the brain for its neuroprotective benefits.

This scientific insight has lots of fascinating consequences. It means, for example, that we have a clear physiological mechanism by which the body could be flooded by psychedelic DMT at birth, perhaps at death, and when the body is under oxidative stress. Knowing this perhaps adds an additional layer to our understanding of the power of breathwork. Ritual practices such as full immersion baptism and many other body technologies for changing awareness may also make use of our endogenous DMT, encouraging the lungs to allow this psychedelic to persist in the bloodstream from where it is actively gobbled up by the brain.

I wonder whether the subjective effects of DMT echo what is going on at a cellular level? I wonder whether all those fractals, faces and, for some, the deep sense of the reality of the experience, is something that serves to stimulate us when we are in trouble? Small amounts of exogenous DMT certainly increase attentiveness, so maybe the call to ‘sit up and pay attention’ in the DMT trance is a turned up version of a biologically rooted ‘hey! Pull yourself together!’. At higher levels of endogenous DMT, the creation of an internal landscape, of the type we might encounter in the exogenous DMT trance, could be a property that serves to keep the operating system of consciousness running (i.e. awareness of an apparently objective external world) while the hardware (the brain) is under stress. Maybe DMT space is what the brain does until it can reboot, a hyperdimensional screensaver before normal consciousness comes back online? It is also interesting that current research suggests that DMT may have a directly healing effect on the brain (probably through its effect on the sigma-1 receptor).

Whether the effect of DMT on subjective experience is something that has been evolutionarily selected for, or whether it’s just one of those wacky epiphenomena (or the work of hyper-dimensional aliens…), is open to question. What is perhaps more certain, given recent research, is that those visitations by Guardian Angels, ancestors and other imaginal beings in moments of physical crisis (such as near drowning) could be visions made accessible by the production of DMT in the body. (Note, this isn’t the same as saying these things are not ‘real’ – whatever that means, see my article on the subject).

Many wonderful scientific insights into psychedelic substances will be presented later this year at the mother of all psychedelic conferences Breaking Convention. The lastest scientific investigations, funded by groups such as MAPS, The Beckley Foundation, and others, will bring cutting edge information to the conference. Add to this a goodly assortment of psychonauts, independent researchers, historians, shamans and others, and you’ve got a powerful psychedelic potion indeed! I’m pleased to know that some of the scientific data I’ll be hearing about will have been gathered with the help of practising spiritual psychonauts such as Ms Wyrd (who, probably, as a result of many years spent in meditation, was able to remain perfectly still during her DMT assay, producing electroencephalogram readings that were, according to the researchers, ‘impeccable’).

Finally, I hope and indeed pray that we can, as psychedelics ask us to do, keep our minds open as science and magic meet in our renewed quest to understand how best to use these marvelous substances.

Ahoy!

JV

STOP PRESS! More science news; a few hours before releasing this blogpost, a paper revealing the crystal structure of the human 5-HT2B receptor bound to LSD was published. Yet another speck to add to our ever-growing pile of knowledge.

 

 

Surreal Christology (part 4): The Androgyny

Part of what appeals to me about Surrealism both as an artistic school and also as a way of engaging with human experience, is the way in which it seeks to embrace experiences of fluidity and uncertainty. Surrealist art often dives deep into rich realms of the unconscious where attempts at neat categorisation quickly start coming apart at the seams. This is a twilight realm in which polarities such as animal versus human, safety versus threat and male versus female are both challenged and played with.

I have previously written about the way in which Queer theory and experience has provided for me a language for understanding the blurry liminality that I experienced in relation to my sexuality and in my spiritual explorations. Queer theory often provides an irreverent take on the complex interplay between biological sex and the way in which we perform our genders. This playfulness is as likely to be found in visual art as it is in text and for me depictions of Androgyny (both religious and secular) can help us gain insight into this strange territory.

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Frida Kahlo Self-Portrait with Cropped hair

 In the work of both Frida Kahlo and Leonora Carrington we see the way in which both of these female artists engage with depictions of the gendered body in ways which seek to disrupt many of the cultural expectations of their time. Kahlo powerfully utilised the juxtaposition of Mexican traditional dress with glorious facial hair to present a more authentic version of themselves. In both her art and life Kahlo bravely explored the fluidity of both her gender presentation and bisexuality, despite her physical disabilities and the personal turmoil she experienced. She even refused to be pigeon-holed as a Surrealist stating; “I never painted dreams. I painted my reality”. In my view artists such as Carrington and Kahlo worked with androgyny in a manner that embraced the dynamic and shifting nature of what this concept might mean. As Erin Hinz has observed in assessing themes of androgyny within Carrington’s work:

“Carrington experienced the social limits of her female body and choose to create bodies that fused these restrictive codes with animals, ancient ideologies in an alchemical way that transmuted these base constructions into precious, mystical and complex expressions of identity.”

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Self-portrait: The Inn of the Dawn Horse, 1937-38 Leonora Carrington

While the interplay of both male and female aspects of the self was lauded in the works of Jung and first wave feminists (cf. Virginia Woolf’s iconic Orlando) others have been less than keen. While the call of these early writers was taken up by later luminaries such as June Singer and Carolyn Heilbrun, some second wave Feminist theologians such as Mary Daly saw it as an escapist trap that “sucks spellbound victims into itself”. From the perspective of her radical separatism, Daly viewed it as an attack on both the essential potency of womanhood (“Why do I need to be half-male?”) and an attempt to falsely reify certain qualities of humanity as being polarised “male” or “female”. From such a perspective, the aspiration towards androgyny amounts to a form of sexual sublimation and fantasy that distances women from the visceral experience of female embodiment and passion.

While such voices need to be part of dialogue concerning androgyny, it could be argued that while they are seeking to challenge ideas of stereotyping and gendered fixity, via their biological essentialism they may be in danger of another existential cul de sac.  While concepts of androgyny may well be in danger of minimising difference and a true valuing of women’s experience, the desire for such an essential separateness also risks missing experiences of playfulness and exploration that seem vital to shared human experience.

For me the challenging deconstruction offered by third wave feminisms and Queer theory, is less about the removal of category and difference and more about a willingness to dance and blur at the edges of where we think such borders lie. There seems to be a psychological complexity to such approaches that allows for the power of dreams and the unconscious in allowing the primacy of the experimental and experiential. Perhaps we are back with the Trickster in prophetically destabilising neat categorisation and asking for the space to be uncertain and to explore.

This queered vision of androgyny provides a sigil for challenging and shifting our sense of what we think we think we know. This androgynous mystery acts a mirror via which deeper aspects of self might be gleaned. Whether when gazing at our own reflection or in viewing the other, the presence of such oscillating fluidity can provide the possibility of change, and with change, hope.

In relation to my own journey I have already sought to describe how my initial flight into Christianity was largely related to my adolescent confusion about the fluidity of my own sexuality and gender identity. Despite the damaging efforts of my self-suppression, I experienced at least a part of my liberation via my encounter with the Queer androgyny of Christ.

While owning my own needs and bias, I eventually encountered in my reading of Jesus a blurry ambiguity that that provided for me an alternative mode of being. This was the Jesus who cleared Temples and overturned tables, but also who blessed the gentle and sought out the one lost sheep. At a more cosmic level he was also the mythic Christ of the Gnostics, who as the “first Adam” existed in some spacey realm in which they at once contained many genders while being also beyond them. This metaphysical fluidity – while looking decidedly freaky to my fellow seminarians – provided me with a doorway via which I could begin a new chapter of greater self-understanding. Such explorations are definitely ongoing, and continue to this day.

SD

 

Reading List:

Ellen Goldberg: The Lord Who is Half Woman: Adhanarishvara in Indian and Feminist Perspective 2012

Carolyn Heilbrun: Towards a Recognition of Androgyny 1993

Erin Hinz: The Work of Leonora Carrington: An Alchemical Transmutation of Gender through Magic, Animals, and Narrative

http://genderstudies.nd.edu/assets/64258/e_hinz_the_work_of_leonora_carrington.pdf

June Singer: Androgyny: Toward a New Theory of Sexuality 1976

 

Surreal Christology (Part 3): The Trickster

Now I’ll be honest, part of problem with Tricksters is that the process of trying to define them can, in and of itself, be a bit tricky! The very nature of these liminal figures that push irreverently against what is polite, acceptable and knowable means that they tend to slip out of attempts at neat archetypal categorisation. As with my previous explorations of Queer theory and the way in which its blurry fluidity can be both liberating and infuriating, so attempts to corral figures as diverse as Hermes, Loki, Coyote and Eshu will meet with frustration.

Tricksters tend to be those figures who dwell on the outer-edges of ordered society and speak often difficult truths regarding that culture’s need to change and evolve. By inhabiting this prophetic, questioning role they are often seen as subversive agents of chaos seeking to destabilise the rule of law. While this may well be part of their role, like the heretic’s relationship with more orthodox beliefs, the relationship between the Trickster and those in authority is often far more symbiotic.

In many senses the depiction of Christ in both the canonical and Gnostic gospels can be seen as having a trickster-like role. Jesus spends time with sex workers and the drug dependent; he questions religious authority and seeks to challenge the servant/master paradigm of how we engage with the divine:

“The kingdom of God is within you” Gospel of Thomas saying 3

“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends” John 15:15

Here we have Jesus as a prophet and reformer within the context of 1st century CE Palestine, challenging and questioning received orthodoxies. He asks his listeners to dig deeper, not as a rejection of historic teachings, but as a means of encountering a richer experience of truth:

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them” Matt. 5:17

The disruptive anarchy of the Trickster can become a powerful catalysing agent that shifts perception and allows social evolution. This is rarely as smooth or as bloodless as it sounds, especially when acting prophetically challenges the excesses of hierarchy and control. Arguably the tipping point for Jesus in the gospel narratives was less about declaring the incoming of God’s Kingdom and more about his denunciation of the misuse of religious power (Matt. 23). For the Trickster to speak truth to power is far from risk free and while Jesus’ death was at least partially triggered by his own messianic self-perception, we may want to  reduce such risks by being “as cunning as serpents” in determining how we deploy our insights.

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The Sacrament of the Last Supper, 1955, Salvador Dali

Part of the Trickster’s role within myth and culture more generally, seems to be about challenging our certainty about perception and what we think we know as real. For me this willingness to slip sideways into a blurrier, half-glimpsed reality is central to the work of both the magician and artist. To take the mantle of either of these roles is to imbibe the spirit of the Trickster and to work with the challenge that this can provide to both your sense of self and your relationships with those around you. To walk these paths skilfully usually entails profound degrees of work on the self at both a conscious and unconscious level.

For the Surrealists, the Trickster was often present in portraiture, with the artist’s depiction of self or others often reflecting the incoming of new insight. The weird process of alchemy at work in surreal art makes vivid the way in which we try to make sense of mystery both at a macrocosmic level and in relation to the differing aspects of ourselves. Our encounters with aspects of reality that are strange, bizarre or “dark” often shake us from automaton sleep-states. For the Gnostic explorer this is the still small voice of the Trickster that at once draws us in and disturbs us, causing us to question what we think we know so as to trigger new states of awakening. Unsurprisingly, Trickster gods like Eshu are the guardians of the crossroads and it is often at these junctures of choice and liminality that we benefit most from their less-lateral approach.

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Portrait of Max Ernst, 1939, Leonora Carrington

Whether via art, ritual theatre or an active engagement with our dreamscapes, those less-tidy, potentially disruptive aspects will demand that we give them space. To endlessly supress or ignore them is to invite an eventual tsunami of shadow material that inevitably leads to widespread persecution of others onto whom our fears get projected. For me, an acknowledgement of the Trickster and the creative power of misrule can be vital in fuelling and inspiring the changes we wish to see. While we must remain wary of the excesses of self-indulgence, embracing the Trickster can help us avoid the type of grim activism that loses sight of the happiness and peace that should hopefully accompany the freedom which we are pursuing.

SD

Dennis McKenna backs The Psychedelic Museum project

Some great news from the Psychedelic Museum project!

the psychedelic museum

Happy New Year!

We’re pleased and proud to announce that Dennis McKenna has generously agreed to become a Patron of the Psychedelic Museum! As I’m sure you probably know Dennis is a respected ethnopharmacologist, author, lecturer and all-round great guy. He is Assistant Professor at the Center for Spirituality & Healing at the University of Minnesota.

dennis-in-sa Dennis as Indiana Jones

Dennis writes:

‘The psychedelic museum is an important and timely venture, and one I’m very pleased to support. Giving people the chance to understand the depth of psychedelic history; from its ancient roots to its modern forms is essential both to help us celebrate the value of the psychedelic state and to find ways we can go beyond the story of prohibition. Encountering this history not only in writing but through cultural artifacts helps bring these stories to life. This is a grassroots project with many people contributing items…

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