Mike’s Prattle


From there to here (part 1)

Posted by Mike on April 20, 2012

As someone immersed in the western esoteric tradition, every so often major events have you looking back at your personal trajectory. From my experience this is entirely a “real” paradigm and thus I often wonder why I’m here and other friends and family members aren’t. Obviously there are no easy answers to these questions and my journey went from the religion I was raised in through various phases of dabbling in the occult and atheism/skepticism.

My father more or less imprinted or impressed upon me the value of pursuing the truth at any cost. In many ways I think it’s not relevant we ended up in two totally different paradigms, but this was a belief that came out of a Calvinist sort of mindset that has been of great use to me in life and hermetics. In fact there’s an element of fundamentalist Christianity (and even Republican politics) that is very close to a hermetic mindset, the concept of taking responsibility for your actions.

But then the teenage years came and my mind was blown open by the psychedelic culture of the late 60s. But where most young hippie types tend to stop at about the “drop out” point, I was far more interested in the “turn on” phase I encounted via Ram Dass, Timothy Leary and especially Robert Anton Wilson. The expansion of consciousness wasn’t as important to me as what it meant for me in a larger sense.

I was at a party in Davis when I was in my college years in the late 80s completely dosed with a friend, in the backyard listening to a friend’s band play. At one point we locked into a group mind and for a short period of time our perception was that we could literally control everything happening around us and actually felt we did. This ended when both of us had an intuitive alarm that had us heading for the exit. Completely lost we had wandered down a street, realized we had gone the wrong way and reversed. Only to run into loads of people saying the cops had just busted the party.

A few years previously a friend and I went camping at Emigrant Gap in Northern California expressly for the psychedelic experience. As I began to peak, listening to Genesis “The Fountain of Salmacis” lying face up on a blanket staring up into the trees I had a massive consciousness shift. Where previously the world was as random and uncontained as you normally perceive, when I shifted all of a sudden everything about me turned into something like a predictable computer program. I had a glimpse of the complex array of spider webs and insects and ever single part of it looked like it had been completely predicted by mathematics, as insect and spider trajectories looked like drawings of geometric figures. Every time I come across writing on the spiritual experience of Yesod, “The Vision of the Machinery of the Universe” it reminds me of this experience. It also reminds me of the bible quote that I can vaguely paraphrase as “what could you possibly worry about when God is aware of every bird.” (Yes this is an awful paraphrase!)

Later that afternoon at the peak of the experience we had climbed the hill across the stream from the large waterfall at Emigrant Gap. At this point I was completely overwhelmed by the experience. As we watched, we could see what was like a gigantic earth elemental as the face of the rock the water was pouring over. I don’t know how long we sat there watching or perceiving its vast age, solidity and power, but I remember it like it was yesterday (not to mention it has come up in the past via the Zelator meditation). Some of this I think peaks its head out in my Adonai Ha-Aretz painting.

I don’t recount any of this to say I recommend psychedelics as an entry point into western esotericism, in fact now that I’m 25-30 years beyond these events, I’d say it’s actually a terrible idea. Progress in the Golden Dawn is slow and measured, while LSD, psilocybin and the like are an awful lot like jumping on a spiritual trampoline without any guards or helmets. Sure you may get a high bounce, but you often come down wrong. But what impresses me today is how much so many of these experiences I can relate to hermetic or qabalistic terms, if, perhaps, only as metaphors.

So this was essentially one element of the piece. It’s difficult to have psychedelic experiences and not have a ready metaphor of the overall unity of things at some point. And in having this framework it probably allowed for a new phase to happen when I came across Shea and Wilson’s Illuminatus trilogy.


6 Responses to “From there to here (part 1)”

  1. Peregrin said

    Ah, Mike… that is no way to end a serial post… just when you mention Wilson and Shea… just hanging out for more now 🙂

    Great post, thanks for sharing your personal experiences and reflections. I think they are needed. I have found that the Vision of the Machinery of the Universe is often experienced by the more mystically inclined psychedelic drug user. However, as you say there are problems, Anyway, I look forward to more 🙂

    • Mike said

      Ha! 🙂 I didn’t intend that to be a serial, but by the end of it I think I realized I do have several pieces on this one. I wonder if I caught serial-itis somewhere 😉

      It would be interesting to see some writing on the problems involved. I know I’ve read some of RAW’s work on psychedelics and the qabalah but I can’t remember which book it’s in at this point.

  2. […] continues to ‘prattle’ on with the first part of a personal post on the interconnections between visionary experience and magic. Mike has also completed and shared […]

  3. Peregrin said

    Ah, the catching serial…never thought of that 🙂

    The RAW book is likely to be Sex and Drugs. As RAW himself says, originally titled ‘Sex, Drugs and the Occult’ until Hugh Hefner as publisher declared, “only fags buy books on the occult” 🙂 Or maybe, Prometheus Rising. Thanks 🙂

    • Mike said

      Haha! I have the Playboy Press “Book of the Breast,” it’s quite the unholy pairing of aesthetics. You get the idea you’re not supposed to be reading it. 🙂 Thanks for the suggestions to look. I was thinking it might be one of the Cosmic Trigger books too.

  4. […] https://mikesprattle.wordpress.com/2012/04/20/from-there-to-here-part-1/ https://mikesprattle.wordpress.com/2012/04/25/from-there-to-here-part-2/ https://mikesprattle.wordpress.com/2012/05/02/from-there-to-here-part-3/ https://mikesprattle.wordpress.com/2012/05/16/from-here-to-there-part-4/ […]

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