Words from the Spirits: a few fabulous texts reviewed

Fulgur publishing were, some might argue, the first producers of ‘talismanic’ books (in the modern high-end esoteric literature sense of the term). Now, as publishers of the Black Mirror journal, Fulgur have pushed the ‘talismanic’ project to a whole new level.

Black Mirror itself is an academic research network which is devoted to the study of arts and occultism. This second edition (numbered 1) of their journal is out now and contains a wonderful range of essays. These include an esoteric practitioner perspective on the art of tattooing, a great essay on Le Bal, one of the final ballets of Sergei Diaghilev. The author of the paper, Katerina Pantelides, defines magic as ‘…the performance of desire’s total possibility to dissolve and transform one’s notion of selfhood.’ This is my new favourite definition.

There’s a brilliant essay about the work of Leonora Carrington, one of my favourite witch-artists. Then the perhaps better known (to occultists) Austin Spare, gets a very thoughtful treatment in relation to his neither/neither principle and the process of magical/artistic obliteration.

This is a properly academic journal and so the quality of the writing is excellent. A great range of contributors that manages to be intelligent and approachable (and occasionally funny).

As one might expect with Fulgur the edition is beautifully produced. Typography and images sit elegantly together, the illustrations and photographs are beautiful and, as is traditional, it’s bound to become a collector’s item. But what marks this is a cut-above the rest of those fancy occult tomes is the fact that this stylish volume contains peer-reviewed, academic, accessible, cutting edge, stimulating esoteric writing. It’s about as far from Ye Derivative Bok of Ye Spooky Sigil as it’s possible to get!

If you want to discover something that’s going to stimulate your left and right hemispheres equally, and take you to the cutting edge of the academic/occult interface, then a Black Mirror is what you need.

Not Robbie Williams

Not Robbie Williams

Psychedelic Press have also released a new journal. This is volume XVIII and maintains the same high-caliber writing as previous editions. There’s a cool academic style essay by mushroom wizard and cultural historian Andy Letcher. Then the tables are turned and Andy Roberts (author of Acid Drops and Albion Dreaming amongst other books, who usually does the interviewing) is himself interviewed. Some fascinating observations are made, and wild tales told!

There’s an excellent essay about the use of sensory deprivation and darkness as a means to attain the psychedelic state, including a personal account of the technique. Snuggled into middle of the volume there’s some quality modern psychedelic poetry, crowding into graphic novel panels and expanding into swirly, liberty cap illuminated text.

I therefore recommend Psypress Journal to all heads, counter-cultural historians and explorers of the wyrd.

Psilly picture

Psilly picture

Talking with the Spirits, edited by Jack Hunter and David Luke is a world-wide tour of spiritists, shaman, online clairvoyants and many other folk who spend their time trafficking with denizens of the Otherworld.

Each academic paper provides an introduction to, and often field world from within, traditions ranging from locations as diverse as Brazil, Cuba, Britain, Taiwan and many more.  Here the black mirror of ethnography is held up to the doings of occulture in a way that is intelligent and respectful. If you want to know about the spirits, and especially want to explore (in a chaos magic stylee) the underpinning ideas for different traditions, this is the book for you.

(I was particularly interested to note how in many approaches to the spirits these entities are not seen as occupying a ‘separate reality’ but rather as beings that exist in, and emerge from, the world.)

What Talking with the Spirits also provides are snap-shots of practice; such as in David Luke’s essay on the development of spirit possession in ayahuasca using groups, and the emerging social networking culture of internet psychics described by Tamlyn Ryan.

A recommended read for spirit botherers everywhere.

Spirit writing

Spirit writing

Meanwhile…I’ll review Part 2 of the Nemu’s End series, Neuro-Apocalypse in the next set of reviews. I have, after just a couple of pages, been sucked in by the Rev’s brilliant prose. I may be some time… 🙂

JV

It’s All About Me

As heavy showers and hot bursts of sun turn the green into the gold of high summer here’s a little round up of some of the things the theblogofbaphomet team and our friends are up to at the moment…

In blog news we’re really pleased to have exceeded a quarter of a million page views of the blog itself, and over 3,000 likes on our Facebook page. We’re really pleased that, without using clickbait headlines or click farm antics, we’ve become one of the most popular chaos magic blogs on teh internetz, part of the ‘fourth wave’ of chaos magic (for more of which see below…).

In his professional life, Julian has been doing loads of work with big historical country houses (and hobnobbing with the landed gentry) helping them to develop new ways of engaging their visitors. Perhaps more significantly, Julian has also been the artistic muse of Nicola Claire-Lydon in her painting of Pan. Julian writes: “It’s always a delight and indeed an honour to inspire others. I’ve been fortune to be a model for Victoria Gugenheim, Matt Kaybryn (as Mercury in The Portals of Chaos) and more recently Nicola. Being painted in oils is a really powerful process, especially as Nicola is a close friend and we developed some ideas about the image (notably the way Pan’s horns are represented) together. I’m also especially pleased that Pan is available as a limited edition Giclée print, art card and, most wonderfully, emblazoned on a tea towel. My new mantra is ‘Lint Free, Scratch Free, Absorbent, Hygienic’.  😉 ”

Io Sauce Pan!

Io Sauce Pan!

Copies of Pan in all his many manifestations are available in the Another Green World gallery, Tintagel, Cornwall, contact details HERE.

Steve Dee continues his spiritual quest following the publication of his first solo work A Gnostic’s Progress – Magic and the Path of Awakening. Following the release of Steve’s heady fusion of Left-hand path queer-witchcraft sorcery, chaos magic and post-Christian (but not post-Christic) Gnosticism Steve was invited for a follow up interview (the first one is HERE) with Miguel Conner. Steve will also appear in a forthcoming interview with Morgana Sythove; check out Wiccan Rede (There’s a review of Chaos Craft there too).

 

Meanwhile Nikki has been diligently working on various publishing ventures. A Gnostic’s Progress was the second book from Ms Wyrd’s imprint The Universe Machine. As well as being sub-editor for Psypress UK Journal she has also been honoured to assist with assembling the references, proofing and copyediting the magnum opus of Infinity Foods founder and Chinese medicine man Peter Deadman. The book Live Well, Live Long looks set to become a seminal text on Chinese Traditional Medicine.

 

Up country (as we say in Devon) various festive fnords have been manifesting at Festival 23. None of the Blog of Baphomet crew were able to attend this year, alas, but Dave Lee and others were there representin’ for Current 23 in what turned out to be a sell-out and, from early reports, a deliciously Discordian event, which will hopefully manifest once again in 2018. Dave has also penned an important essay about the history of chaos magic (we’re currently enjoying the fourth wave of this esoteric approach). We’re hoping to include this in a forthcoming publication written (and illustrated) by current members of The Illuminates of Thanateros. Stay tuned to this channel for updates.

May you be free of The Curse of Greyface. May the Goddess put twinkles in your eyes. May you have the knowledge of a sage, and the wisdom of a child.

May you be free of The Curse of Greyface.
May the Goddess put twinkles in your eyes.
May you have the knowledge of a sage,
and the wisdom of a child.

There’s more excitement to come this autumn, with several other publications, and plans to develop some public workshops and even a chaos retreat for 2017, plus of course next year will see another Breaking Convention Conference. (And thinking about the power of psychedelics, readers of this blog may enjoy this presentation by Breaking Convention founding member and all round wonderful chap Ben Sessa, entitled Is MDMA psychiatry’s antibiotic?)

Thanks again for engaging with our work and for all the lovely feedback.

Blessed Be, 93 and Choyofaque!

NW, SD, JV

Writing at the Cutting Edge of Drug Culture

Psychedelics Press UK is a middle-sized idea (I’ll explain that term below) from Rob Dickins. I first met Rob at the psychedelics conference at the University of Greenwich Breaking Convention in 2013. He delivered a paper that married great content with a grace and ease of delivery which was quite wonderful. Rob’s combination of knowledge and prestige presentation also shows through in his publications project Psychedelic Press UK.

I’ve just devoured two volumes of the Psychedelic Press UK Journal. These consist of essays on a wide variety of topics by authors both known and unknown to me. There is chief historian of British Heads Andy Roberts, psychedelic-positive MD Ben Sessa, voudou shamanic type Ross Heaven, busted LSD chemist and cognitive liberty hero Casey Hardison, and many others. The range of subjects is extensive, and it’s not just a big hooray for drugs. There are intelligent and thoughtful essays about the harms and the problems as well as the benefits and blessing of psychoactives.

For me several essays stand out as being perfect examples of what Terence McKenna called ‘middle-sized ideas’. Terry used to say that when folks take psychedelic drugs they often get ‘big ideas’, these are things like ‘everything in the universe is really one’ and other mind-blowing insights. Problem is these are typically too big for most people to grasp and leave us afterwards with a blissed out sense that we’ve experienced the ineffable and can’t really say much, ‘cos it was, er, ineffable.

Then there are the ‘small ideas’, these are things like ‘hey! Have you noticed just how perfectly your little finger fits up your nostril?’; funny but not exactly world-shattering stuff. Then there are the middle-sized ideas. These are insights that the drug crazed raver/traditional shaman (or whatever) can bring back into the world and actually do something with. Whether it be the desire to set up a new organisation, a clear idea for an artwork, a scientific insight – luckily for us, history contains many such examples of middle-sized ideas being brought back from the outlands of the psychedelic noosphere, through to manifestation in the physical and social worlds.

Psypress Journal UK is jam packed with such middle-sized ideas. Indeed there are a couple of essays (Fireworks by Psychedelic Frontier, in volume 1, and Psilocybin and the Concept of Natural Intelligence by Simon G.Powell, volume 2) that are object lessons on exactly how to obtain and then manifest a middle-sized idea. Fireworks in particular weaves personal drug narrative with some really beautiful writing (that doesn’t become a self-indulgent bore – easily done with drug stories) and some excellent philosophical insights.

The Eyes Have It - cover of Psypress Journal Vol 2

The Eyes Have It – cover of Psypress Journal Vol 2

Obviously with all the big hitters and brilliant unknowns dashing off outstanding essays I want a piece of the action too! I was therefore gratified when I received an email from Rob asking me to contribute to a forthcoming edition of Psypress which is going to be specifically themed around psychoactives and magical ceremony. The proposed volume will be released in February and I hope my submission will maintain the high standard in evidence in the first two volumes.

There’s lots of other cool publishing being done under the Psypress banner in addition to the journals. If this is the kind of trip you dig I strongly recommend checking out their website.

When you make a purchase from your dealer and go off into soma-space searching for those middle-sized ideas one of the best ways to prepare yourself is to spend a little time soaking up the useful insights from others. The Psypress UK Journal is an outstandingly good way to do this, especially since Volume 3 has just hit the streets.

You can also help support the broader work of Psypress. Rob, as a young literary type, lives a bohemian yet impecunious lifestyle. Existing on a diet composed solely of erudite novels, bread, water and formidably strong LSD (probably) – he still manages to produce and promote what is the most important psychedelics publishing in Britain today. So once you’ve discovered the value of their work visit the crowdfunding link and put your money where you mind is. I did and, frankly, it made me a better person 😀

JV