54 Chapters
Medium 9781904658498

19: Conclusion to Volume One: Another Janus Gaze

Daniels, Aaron B. Aeon Books ePub

Thus Volume One comes to a close. Perhaps a quick recapitulation is in order. Once we established the growing circles of those to whom these volumes intend to speak, we situated this work in an interstitial space between ‘fctional’ portrayals of magic, the world of ritual magic and religion, postmodern and existential philosophy, and imaginal psychology.

So far, we have covered the first four voids of Immediacy, Undifferentiation, Madness, and Chaos. Along the way the ‘Applications’ challenged us to: assess and refine our use of meditation; hone our moment-to-moment awareness; give voice to the many stories we tell our selves about our many selves; and gain a clearer sense of our intimacy profiles.

We’ve also discussed three different levels of mysteries, from puzzles and secrets, to real insights about life’s unfolding wisdom, to an openness to the fundamental ineffable mysteries that bound life. And all of this while journeying to esoteric lodges, dark cocktail caves, professors’ offices, college dormrooms, a mansion in San Francisco, and a psychotherapist’s consulting room.

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31. Meaninglessness: The Sixth Void

Daniels, Aaron B. Aeon Books ePub

The world is, unto itself, purposeless and completely devoid of any inherent meaning.

Have a nice day!

Come on, though, you all knew this one, right? You understood that you had to come up with a completely bizarre rats’ nest of implausible, make-believe suppositions that became increasingly experience-distant in order to give the world a meaning unto itself, right? Right?

It just feels diferent when you start dissociating into ‘spirituality’ or ‘materiality’ or whatever other elephantine scatology you use to try and bankrupt the moment. That whole distant ache of angst that tells you, ‘whoa, I feel wrong in such a deep way that I don’t think I know what “right” feels like anymore.’ That’s the same sensation that tells devotees of the imagination of magic that they had best chase after some supernatural explanation, get another initiatory degree in the hierarchy of The Sublime Order of the Goat-worshipping-Templars, or engage in another bracing spate of ‘chemognosis’ for this life to work for just a little bit longer.

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36. Shadows and Forms A Final Image

Daniels, Aaron B. Aeon Books ePub

The drumming is throbbing and insistent. Shadows play across the concrete walls from the growing bonfre. With the circling dancers dark with make-up and soot, the silhouettes and bodies blend. The walls of this grotto bear arcane marks in black, umber, scarlet, and azure. Embers from the fre shoot up and blend with the stars that are visible behind a thin veil of wispy clouds.

Clothes are indistinct and the normal limits of propriety slip easily across sweat-lubricated lines. This is my first celebration with a Wiccan coven and, in my intoxicated early-20-something mind, it easily blurs the Wiccan Sabbat and the Witch’s Sabbath. Before the sunset, one could walk 50 feet and discover that we are in a decommissioned hilltop military bunker in the San Francisco Bay area. Some 500 feet down the hill toward the Pacifc, a bank of Nike Missiles sit ominously, although disarmed and purely for historic purposes. They have a surreal quality that, rather than suggesting a particular time during the Cold War, seems to convey an ancient quality, like Greek ruins, or prehistoric monoliths. Now, an hour after a mid-summer sunset, any mark of modernity has faded in a wave of smoke and incense.

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20. Midword: A Summing-up-so-far

Daniels, Aaron B. Aeon Books ePub

If a work can have a foreword and an afterword, then it can also have a ‘midword.’ Volume One brought us halfway through the voids. With the preceding story’s hints at interweaving life and lived magic in mind, our journey through these aethyrs will start to accelerate from hereon out. Now that we have a sense of some of the core principles underlying this work, we have made a shift to looking at how our lives themselves unfold — that is, magic. These interconnections, nets of meaning, defenses, and longings propel us through lives that are mostly out of our control, regardless of the illusions of agency into which we may buy. Deliberate, intentional magic, as opposed to the unwitting worship of our quotidian ziggurats of images, is an audacious act, a Promethean act, and, for some, even a Luciferian act. We must defy the popular trances of ‘how things work’ in order to gain awareness of what has always been hiding in plain sight — actually in the very act of seeing itself. Nevertheless, this liberation is neither a permanent switch nor an isolated choice.

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14: Madness The Third Void

Daniels, Aaron B. Aeon Books ePub

Few words are as abused as ‘madness.’ In general, critics usually intend this term as a sort of denunciation of any creation that insults the sensibility of the viewer. This offending creation can be an artwork, a cultural practice, a life, or a philosophy, to name but a few examples. ‘Utter madness!’ they opine. Victorian censors were particularly sensitive to this sort of offense. If the work in question had even the most distant of a hint of sexuality, the effect on the audience used to go by the charming term ‘scandalizing.’

The key, however, is the encounter not the supposed offending object. Madness, like beauty, is in-between. The encounter leaves the viewer unsettled and unsure to such an extent that his or her habitual means of explanation can no longer account for the experience. This encounter, this opening to the ultimate transience of any particular logic or rationality, is the essence of madness and serves as the touch-point for the rest of this chapter.

Many people mistakenly associate ‘madness’ with the pain of what, for lack of a better term, we call ‘mental illness.’ But here again we cannot look to the condition itself, but to the encounter to find the madness. Although those suffering from pervasive distortions of their lives, emotions, thoughts, and/or relationships may glimpse ‘madness,’ they are, more often than not, hardly in a place to avail themselves of the gifts of madness. The general public has pervasive and deep misunderstandings of the wide range of dysfunctions loosely grouped together as ‘mental illnesses.’ In part, this confusion is deliberate. Most people don’t really want to know about the extent and severity of these disorders.

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