Yesterday's "classic rant" gave you some very tiny glimpse of the weirdness that can be one's life when one plunges deep down the high magick rabbit-hole. Of course, that's 'material' weirdness, which takes the form mostly of what Jung called "synchronicity", combined with what Peter Carroll calls "apophenia" (the power of finding connections in things that do not appear to be connected). Both of these, to someone who is outside the experience, seem like they could amount to nothing at all really happening; sometimes to those inside the experience the same doubt is left planted.
But its when you get to the non-material level that cosmic-scale weirdness comes into play: conversations with what Crowley called "praeterhuman intelligences", and astral trips to insane psychedelic visions. That's the stuff no one but the magicians can experience, though sometimes the effects it produces on Earth do. So I thought I'd share a bit about the level of craziness that these kinds of things can get up to in the real recent history of occultism, so you know just what kind of thing you could put into a "realistic" magical campaign:
Take today, for example. Today is the Equinox (spring, for those of you in the northern hemiphere, autumn for those down in the south). The Equinox is a cosmic event, the moment where there is a perfect balance of light and dark; it was important to the ancient pagans since we first started figuring out the stars. Most modern neo-pagans celebrate it as a fertility or harvest festival (in spite of most never having planted or harvested anything more serious than a pot plant in their life), for Thelemites and magicians, this is remembered as the celebration of the "Equinox of the Gods".
Back in March 20, 1904, the apocalypse happened. Aleister Crowley was on his honeymoon with his wife Rose in Egypt. This being 1904 where if you were rich and British you could do any fucking thing you wanted, Crowley actually arranged for the two of them to spend the night in the King's Chamber of the motherfucking Great Pyramid.
At this time, Crowley had kind of given up on his old magical training, and was mainly a buddhist, but he couldn't resist the temptation of doing some little magical ritual inside the ancient pyramid; so he tried to summon up some sylphs.
This would be such a significant moment that future Thelemites would produce art about it:
That was when Rose, who had no experience in magick or knowledge on the subject, started to experience some odd states where she claimed to Crowley that the god Horus was looking for him. Crowley, more annoyed the credulous, proceeded to perform a dozen tests on her to test her claim, all of which she passed, guessing at details about Horus that a woman of her education had no hope of knowing. This led to Crowley performing a grand invocation of Horus on March 20, 1904, a ritual that broke all the regular "rules" of magick, following the precise instructions given to him by his non-magician wife; and from this Crowley made contact with a being called Aiwass, who was both Crowley's Augoeides (his "Holy Guardian Angel", his higher self) and a messenger of the god Horus. And by "made contact" I mean that according to Crowley's own description he was literally hearing Aiwass speak to him in a strange voice from the left corner of the room.
Crowley was told that this act has marked the "Equinox of the Gods", the end of the previous Aeon or age. But this is more than just a calendar question (though indeed this is the Thelemic New Year), the end of an Aeon means the end of all collective reality as it is understood, the end of the way human beings relate to the world. Its a fundamental "Paradigm Shift"; in this case, away from the Aeon of Osiris (which was typified by the relationship between humanity and the divine being a parent-child relationship) into the Aeon of Horus (being humanity's "adolescence", where the childlike attitude toward creation is gradually abandoned, and humanity begins to "play god" for themselves; learning how to control its own physical and spiritual evolution). Crowley had essentially experienced the "end of the world", and the start of a new one. That would only be the start of his strange experiences in Cairo; the Thelemic Holy Season runs from March 20 (the Great Invocation of Horus and the Equinox of the Gods) until April 8th, 9th, and 10th, when Crowley received, in a magical dictation from Aiwass, the Book of the Law, which, even if you don't believe a word of it, would still have to classify as a truly astounding feat of automatic writing. The Book of the Law is a SAN-burning holy book full of strange visions, numerical tricks and mysteries, Egyptian imagery, and the declaration and details of a profound moral philosophy of self-transformation, the law of Thelema, which governs the new Aeon.
So anyways, back to that ritual in the pyramid: here we have an ancient structure (Great Pyramid) meant to align with astronomical details, and Crowley unleashed something inside it. That something was apparently Horus. To a magician, a god like "horus" wouldn't be thought of as some literal dude with a hawk-head living in a physical heaven; rather, this would be a "discarnate entity", an "intelligence" that represents a set of ideas, a kind of archetype.
Except of course, there are a few magicians who think that the Gods are literally:
That is, more accurately, hyper-advanced extra-dimensional beings who are trying to communicate with us as part of a plan for human evolution, or possibly for some other far more crazy shit.
Did I say "Crazy Shit"? That means Kenneth Grant, the Cthulhu-worshipping insane last-disciple-of-Crowley's can't be far behind! I mean, the guy already literally venerated the Great Old Ones and believed that the Cthulhu mythos was real, and they're a kind of alien, so no surprise that he would be into aliens too.
He was actually into aliens first, they're what led to most of his nuttiness. Why? Because Crowley was once nice to him and gave him a painting. But I'll save that for tomorrow's entry.
Currently Smoking: Stanwell Deluxe + Image Latakia