Human Beings in Space

The maps that we create as human beings are usually attempts to avoid confusion and the inevitable sense of distress we experience when we lose our bearings. In trying to deal with the complex experience of being alive, we undertake cartographic projects to help us feel more secure. Whether our adventures are geographical or psycho-spiritual, we hope that our maps (whether self-created or inherited) will bear some resemblance to the landscapes we move within.

In my last two posts, I have been musing over the potential value of the maps that various World Trees might hold in connection to our spiritual aspirations. These trees can provide us with powerful images for exploring what balance and growth might mean as we dig into the deep places of personal and ancestral memory. When we engage with them consciously, they can provide not only a macrocosmic map for comprehending the mythic currents of history, but also a microcosmic plan as to how we might experience the complexity of self. As roots might reflect our longing for nutrition via connection to history and place, so our branches stretch upwards seeking light, space and the new.

Ironically this stretching, yearning impulse often feels as if it is taking us “off the map” and into unknown territories that might need new skills. Rather than pouring over the minutiae of hill contours and grid-references, we might need to look up and fully take in our surroundings. Inevitably we will view new experiences through the lens of what we know, but the challenge and clear air of the new often provides us with an opportunity for awakening:

“A person needs new experiences. It jars something deep inside, allowing them to grow. Without change something sleeps inside us, and seldom awakens. The sleeper must awaken.”
Duke Leto Atreides (Dune)

Godzilla BD 00427-2.indd

Compulsory Viewing.

As we reach upwards, we are often seeking to grapple with the mystery and vastness of space. These branches are often our attempts at entering the realm of Asgard as we seek to interact with the numinous world of the gods. Whether we view our deities as actual or imagined, they often represent our longings and aspirations. They often embody key aspects of our future magical selves, and our attraction to them often reveals important dimensions of our own becoming.

Now this is all well and good, but it prompted me to wonder how I might maximize my own internal state, so that I might be more receptive to the incoming of such gnosis or new insight.

I have written previously about the ways in which we might work with our awe at the vastness of space as a way of gaining perspective on our existence and in managing our terror. For me, the wonder of space is that it simultaneously provides a glimpse into an unknown future while also plunging us into a primal void from which the possibility of creation can occur. We are at once viewing the place where our branches will grow while experiencing a vastness that exists before consciousness and the uttering of the first word.  When we first enter into this territory it can feel decidedly challenging as the uncertainty and sense of emptiness threaten to overwhelm us.

Different traditions describe this type of space as the Pleroma, Sunyata or the primary Chaos of the serpent Apep. Even when these states of being/non-being are viewed more positively, the question still remains as to how we should work with them. Unsurprisingly such territory can seriously mess with your head, but here are a few things I have been working on so as to stay rooted; and to avoid losing my shit.

1. Sitting practice/working with silence: Perhaps the most radical way in which to work with space and its uncertainty is to befriend them. The easiest temptation to give in to when we experience this void-space is simply to fill it with more thinking, more interpretation or more spiritual toys to play with. Chogyam Trungpa described this tendency as “Spiritual Materialism” and as a magical practitioner with Chaos tendencies, I’m all too familiar with my ability to use the clutter of occult theory and practice as a way of avoiding the harder work of sitting with the not-knowing.

If we can set aside our constructs and schemas in order to embrace a Zen-like “beginner’s mind”, what might we find ourselves encountering? When we let ourselves experience a greater sense of space, we create the possibility of truly hearing new words arising from the depths.

2. Using Creativity: When seeking to work with uncertainty and the emergence of new insights, the use of visual art, music and dance can be powerful ways of accessing both the deep roots of the unconscious and the incoming of the numinous future. As we let go of the linear and the known, so new insights become possible. Cut-ups and Collages especially have provided me with a dynamic set of tools for exploring the dynamic tension between ideas and images emerging from the unconscious/superconscious aspects of self.

3. Working with the Spacious Body: In seeking to work with our sense of the incoming and unknown it can be easy to tie ourselves into knots of anxiety as we try to anticipate an avalanche of what ifs.  As with our sitting practice and creativity, when we engage the body through conscious movement it becomes more possible to turn down the volume on the voice of our internal critic. Like our minds, our bodies too can become full-up with those familiar, automated patterns that can leave us feeling stiff and armour-plated. For me, gentle dance, Qi Gong and shaking practices have provided the opportunity to explore movements that disrupt machine-like tendencies, and create a greater sense of spaciousness and opening out. It would seem fitting to conclude with a quote from that mighty Tantric sage Abhinavagupta:

Thus one should think of the body as full of all the Paths (to enlightenment and cosmic emanation). Variegated by the workings of time, it is the abode of all the movements of time and space. The body seen this way is all the gods, and must therefore be the object of contemplation, veneration and sacrifice. He who penetrates into it finds liberation.

From  Tantraloka. Quoted by Mark Dyczkowski in The Doctrine of Vibration.


The Spheres of Chaos – Geosphere

In addition to the eight Sabbats of Chaos Craft another motif we’ve continued to use in our work has been that of the Five Spheres. This conceptual device, developed by Pete Carroll in consultation with Nikki Wyrd, links to the vowel sounds (I,E,A,O,U) that are incorporated in the ‘middle pillar’ part of the Gnostic Banishing rituals.  In these practices attention is given to the crown of the head (the Chaosphere), the throat (the Noosphere), the heart (the Anthrosphere), the belly (the Biosphere) and the base (the Geosphere). The whole system is described in detail towards the end of The Book of Baphomet.

We’ve started a series of rituals to explore each sphere. The first in the sequence is the Geosphere; the world of the rocks, the stones and the crystals (as the old Pagan chant puts it). This is place of the Elder Gods, and of our sense of hunger.

His snorting throws out flashes of light; his eyes are like the rays of dawn.

His snorting throws out flashes of light; his eyes are like the rays of dawn.

Each ceremony itself (so far we’ve done three rites) has included simple shamanic style techniques; the use of poetic text, drumming and silent meditation. Our aim; to commune with these different interpretations or layers of reality,  while bringing a distinctly Left Hand Path and Setian mindset to this work. I plan to post some of the material used in these rituals on this blog.

The Geosphere, imagined in terms of the life of a person, is our intrauterine and infantile existence. Looked at in cosmological terms, it is that great dyad of space and time. It another sense it is the realm of raw physics;

Hydrogen begat Helium,

Helium begat Carbon,

Carbon begat Oxygen

In terrestrial terms the symbol of this sphere is the equal armed cross + representing the physical earth upon which we stand. From the magnetosphere that shields us from the solar wind, down through the depths of the ocean, riding upon the backs of tectonic plates, and deeper, to the core of our planet (which glows at the same temperature as the surface of the sun). For our lived experience, as dwellers on the surface, it is the four directions, the crossroads.

The spirit of this sphere (in a Typhonian stylee) is the monster Leviathan and the poem we used is taken from The Book of Job. It is also the place of Apep or Apophis, the great dragon-serpent whom Set keeps at bay, protecting the sun in its nightly journey through the underworld. I sometimes imagine Apophis as entropy, that mighty stooping dragon who, within the narrative of the cosmological Standard Model, seeks to drag down complexity into a vast uniform heat death of elementary particles and radiations. Space and time gives birth to all things, and in the end (it seems) will destroy everything too. The all potential womb is also the all embracing tomb.

But for all this, biology and mind rises up (like Set) against (and within) this inky black darkness. We are mud that sat up and became sensate.

(In a perhaps less Setian style one might also point out that the universe, for all its faults, seems peculiarly adapted to the needs of the kind of physics and chemistry that allows for life. Our cosmos seems perfectly set up not only to permit but to encourage life. Were the weak force (or the others in that great fundamental quadruplicity) just a little weaker, and it could all have gone horribly wrong.)

If you fancy doing your own meditations on the Geosphere you could use the poem and soundtrack below. The recording was made during the ritual. Part of the background is a NASA production of the song of the earth in space. There’s also the sound of stones being ground together in the temple, resting upon the bones of a mighty whale.

Go Deep & Enjoy!