by The Antlerhead (Jason Louv)
"The sorry planet shell being well-nigh spent, in less than an hour my fellow would be free to pursue the oppressor along the Milky Way and past the hither stars to the very confines of infinity."
--H.P. Lovecraft, Beyond the Wall of Sleep (1919)
As any adept of so-called "magic" should know, the key to occult power is altered states of consciousness. To briefly paraphrase the last several thousand years of development in the magical arts, "magic" is achieved by first attaining an altered state (the currently favored term for such is "gnosis"), in which the subconscious and reality itself is susceptible to reprogramming, and then firing a desire in symbolized form into the subconscious. This is the given; what is uncertain is exactly what constitutes "gnosis." The various occult sourcebooks available on the open market rarely go into the subject, if they even bring it up at all. Aleister Crowley recommended strenuous yogic exercises, which is somewhat excessive and will only lead to unnecessary pain for most; Austin Osman Spare and his children in the IOT make explicit reference to it but leave it up to the solitary practitioner to determine exactly what it is. All well and good, but there is a tendency among recent initiates to get hung up on what amount to lower rungs on the ladder to gnosis: the physical sensation of insubstantiality, for example.
So here is an extended ritual I created to attain that most rare of spiritual states through an inhibitory route. With some practice, anybody can do this, and its use does not have to be explicity magical. All bullshit "reality-engineering" theories aside, this is a very practical and potent exercise that, with frequent use, should make you happier, more in touch with yourself and the universe, and open the door to positive change in your life.
Note: This ritual has been written with the novice or non-magician in mind, but those with occult experience should easily be able to streamline it for their own use.
Beyond the Wall of Sleep Rite
Get into a relaxed physical and mental state. This could involve taking a hot bath, doing stretching exercises, taking a quiet walk around the block, or anything else you feel appropriate. Know that you are about to visit a place inside yourself that you have probably never been before; you are about to be shot into space, literally as well as figuratively.
Sit in a comfortable position with your back supported--sitting in the "Lotus Asana" (legs folded and back straight with hands on knees) can be especially potent, as you have been trained by Hollywood since your early childhood to see it as a position of spiritual power. Laying down on a hard surface can also work, but be careful not to arrange yourself in a position that suggests sleep, such as laying on a bed. Close your eyes and remain completely still.
Banish. This consists of letting your subconscious know that you are about to do something important. To accomplish this you can do anything from visualizing relaxing light travelling up your body to counting down from a hundred to one to performing a full banishing ritual. Do whatever works for you, but once you are done know that the ritual has begun and you are now in the presence of the infinite and sacred.
Begin light Pranayama while repeating a mantra in your head. Basically, begin to breathe fully and deeply, slowing your breathing as much as you can without experiencing discomfort, and filling your lungs completely. Let your entire being slowly fill to the brim with oxygen and then just as slowly let it out. Concentrate fully on your lungs. At the same time, begin to repeat a meaningless mantra in your head, like "yip-yap," "abracadabra," "zipzap," or "sendjasonmoney." This should have the effect of silencing the conscious mind's internal monologue of doubt and derision and opening the being to new levels of consciousness. It is essential that you silence the mind; the minute you begin intellectualizing or questioning what you're doing is the minute you break trance. After about ten or fifteen minutes of this you should start feeling an amazing physical sensation somewhat akin to a marijuana high. With practice this state will become much easier to attain, and you will eventually be able to enter it at a moment's notice.
This is the first level of gnosis. You should feel completely weightless, as if you are drifting in mental space. Stop the mantra--at this point your mind should be able to function normally without breaking trance, although any motion or frivolous thought will still return you to normal consciousness. At this point the body has been altered, but the mind still needs to be blown. You must occupy your mind with a meditation exercise known as "Neither-Neither," a technique for breaking down mental presuppositions and stereotypes. To do this, start by taking a basic duality--say, good and evil. First, consider "good," everything about it, in and out. Second, consider "evil." Next, consider both of them in combination. Finally (and this is the hardest), consider the abscence of both of them, a state where neither good nor evil exist. This exercise generates a mental energy known as "free belief," "vacuity," or "magic mirror," unharnessed willpower in its purest state, which we a born with a full tank of and then spend and run out of as we get older and are "educated." Magic Mirror (a meme that shows up in everything from the writings of the ancient Gnostics to modern vodoun to comic books) is the energy which fuels all acts of sorcery and creativity. It is easy to spend but very difficult to get back. Those who maintain a full tank of magic mirror throughout their lives are easy to spot, as are those who have completely exhausted theirs. This exercise is one way to get yours back in droves. As a side result of continued practice with this ritual, you will not only feel more vital and alive, but you will also realize how many of the things you hold to be true, from your fundamental belief in your own worthlessness to the very unbreakable laws of the universe itself, are completely without validity, and to be blunt, are parasitical lies forced upon you by a society and reality that wants you to be a silent, mindless worker bee. Neither-Neither is an act of personal liberation . Continue the Neither-Neither exercise for about fifteen or twenty minutes, until you have a large amount of freed energy to work with. Use anything for the meditation--alive/dead, me/them, dark/light, anything; pick things at random. It is only the generated energy that matters. Feel the energy--visualize it in whatever way seems appropriate to you, but know that it is there. With practice you should be able to see the energy as clearly as you are seeing these words right now.
Each Neither-Neither should shoot you farther into gnosis. After fifteen or twenty minutes, consider the Neither-Neither "Awake-Asleep." This is the zen trigger that will establish the second level of gnosis. At this point all subconscious resistance should vanish. Realize that nobody is watching you. There is no reason to doubt. You can do anything.
Now return to heavy and full breathing, deeper than the previous go, and completely blank your mind; don't even use the mantra. This is harder than it sounds, and takes practice. All thoughts entering your mind must be forcibly pushed out until you are completely devoid of conscious processes. Take as long as you need. Nobody's watching. There's no reason to pretend you're no good at this kind of thing anymore.
Once you have attained mental silence, consider the Neither-Neither "self/universe." Considering both in combination should attain the third level of gnosis--unity with the macrocosm, the infinite, God. There is no way to describe this state, even to call it a "state" or to supply a method to attain it limits it. You have to be there, and once you are, all bets are off. Good luck.
You can stay in this state as long as you want, and can use it to fuel acts of will if you desire.
Coming down will take awhile. Banishing in some way is a good idea. It is also important to record your experience--write down when you did it, any factors that may have influenced performance, any difficulties you had, and what results you got. Continued practice should also be recorded so that you can note your progress. Each performance should increase your comfort, well-being, and the states of gnosis which you are able to attain. I would be very interested to see any results you get and will post some of them on my site if you wish me to. You can email me any records at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: If this proves to difficult to perform, I recommend starting with a less strenuous course of study which will make this ritual much easier to perform. Try Peter Carroll's Liber MMM, or, for the truly masochistic, Aleister Crowley's Liber E vel Excertitorium sub figura IX.
It should also be noted that this exercise is only what I found to work for me, you should feel free to change and mutate it to better suit your own use, and I would be glad to hear of any improvements you make.
The Antlerhead (Jason Louv) is a commitedly post-nowist writer, artist, and freeform mage. He maintains a webpage at http://key23.homepage.com which he wants you to visit now, and can be reached at email@example.com.
©2000 Jason Louv. All rights reserved.