Myself, or Someone Else? Wisely Examining Extraordinary Experiences

At my Patreon, I offer four Question-and-Answer sessions a month wherein patrons can ask questions about any aspect of my work, or the related world of metaphysics that my work grows within. This week, a patron asked a question that I felt was so important to modern day occultists and practitioners of alternative spiritual paths that I wanted to share it (and my response) with a wider readership. The question is as follows:

How can you distinguish between a real message/vision and the voice of your mind/mental images?

This is probably one of the most important questions anyone in our strange business can ever ask: how can we know whether or not things we encounter in extraordinary experiences are the actual presence of other objectively-existing entities, or just impressions, images, or imaginations from within ourselves? Answering this could take days, but I will touch on what I feel are the deepest notes, the most critical points.

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Sun God Down: What Happened to the Bell Beaker Solar God?

Ancient Europe has something of a missing Sun God problem. Certain prehistoric cultures probably bequeathed a powerful Solar God-Concept to later generations, starting in the Age of Bronze. But why does so much of Iron-Age (read: historical) Europe seem to be missing the Solar Gods you’d expect to see?

In my book The House of the Giantess I make a proposal that the Bell Beaker culture of prehistoric Europe was centered on a supreme divinity who had three characteristic features: he was an archer, he was associated with entheogenic or visionary experiences mostly derived from ingesting Henbane (perhaps mixed with other things) in a sacred drink, and he had solar qualities. To say that he had solar qualities is not the same as claiming he was a “Sun God”, though he may have been. To say he was a solar divinity is to suggest that he was associated with the wider spectrum of features we lump together as “solar”: light, radiance, warmth, heat and life-force, healing, fertility, vision and sight, and the sky-world above the earth.

In my book, I describe the building of the later phases of the great monument Stonehenge and give my theory that Stonehenge’s greatest re-design and remodeling was done to create (among other things) a temple to this solar-cultural divinity who began as a Bell Beaker God, but became a British God when the Neolithic Britons were “Beakerized” through contact with the Beaker folk. This happened at the cusp of the Bronze Age in Britain.

I also give a timeline of what happened after that remodeling of Stonehenge, a timeline that tracks the rise and development of the Beaker culture in Britain all the way into the Iron Age. I talk about the end of Beaker culture in Britain and how it gave rise to successor Bronze Age cultures (The Wessex cultures) and how even they finally bent and transformed after the Bronze Age collapse, and as the Age of Iron came to Britain’s shores.

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What Do You Believe? Belief, Knowing, and Neopaganism

A gentleman occultist whom I respect a good deal made a post on social media today which received a lot of attention. I want to respond to it, but I felt that responding elsewhere was more respectful because I have a very different perspective from him on this topic. I don’t want to give the appearance of attacking his perspective in front of his many friends; I only intend to present a separate and (I feel) needed slant on this matter. The gentleman in question is intelligent and thoughtful, and I have no quarrel with him personally.

The question was about the existence of ‘personal theologies.’ Someone asked him “I am confused by your theology. What do you believe?” And his response was “I believe in the theology of “I don’t know, and I don’t know that we can know fully, at least not right now.”

Of course (and predictably) a lot of people demonstrated high approval of his answer. I respect his right (or anyone’s right) to take the stance of agnosticism and position it at the center of his personal epistemology. I, however, take a very different approach. The reasons why I take a different approach might matter to a lot of people out there who are struggling through the confusions and conflicts of our modern world, and that’s why I’m writing this.

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Unawake and Unsleeping: Hypnagogic Prayer and Invocation in Witchcraft

 

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“From spark, from ember I raise up the Warm One
As the Lady in the House Below would raise him;
In the Gudeman’s name I raise him,
And this good home I give him.”

-The ule or Fire Charm from The Witch Dreams by Robin Artisson

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“Master mischievous and misshapen,
Giving power to sorcerers in sacred dreams,
Be kind.”

-From The Elphillock Charm

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Pre-Modern Witchcraft and the World of Sleep and Dreams

The most profound difference between modern witchcraft and the witchcraft of Early Modern Europe lies in the primary experiential stage that the witchcraft itself is encountered upon. For people practicing most of the forms of modern witchcraft, the primary encounter with “The Craft” lies within ceremony and ritual; “magical tools” with elemental associations are utilized within circles drawn and ‘quarters’ called, either indoors or out- and this is because most modern witchcraft is a recent decendant of European ceremonial magic, albeit a simplified form of ceremonial magic blended with heady doses of spiritualism, Neopagan Goddess worship or the worship of other divine figures from pre-Christian times, and a vaguely Eastern-flavored brew of “all is consciousness/energy” mentalism-monism and ideas of spiritual development through karma.

But the people living before the Industrial Revolution (and some living for a good while into it) who were mediators of the complex cultural phenomenon of historical witchcraft primarily encountered the agencies and powers that stood behind witchcraft  in sleep, in vision, and dreams. This difference, and the many reasons why it is critically important, can never really be emphasized enough. Continue reading

Being Held, Being Home: A Review and Analysis of Ari Aster’s Film “Midsommar”

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Warning: The following review and analysis of Ari Aster’s folk horror movie Midsommar contains extreme spoilers. If you have not yet seen Midsommar, but plan on seeing it, read this article afterwards.

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Separating the Layers

Before I can begin to give my analysis of Ari Aster’s masterpiece folk horror film Midsommar, I have to clear up something with my reading audience which is critical regarding their understanding of my approach. Ari Aster is an accomplished filmmaker and story-teller. Like all good works of film, and like all good stories, Midsommar is a complex work that operates on more than one level at the same time. When these different levels are presented in a finished form, they are all combined; this combination of the various layers, techniques, and messages is the movie as we see it on the screen.

But to perform an analysis of the film and to tease out its many messages and communications, we have to separate these distinctive levels. Midsommar is a horror movie, specifically a folk horror movie, which endears it to me (almost) automatically, for folk horror is my favorite genre of film. There is a certain level of Midsommar that is truly horrific- we can call it the “horror layer” if we want. And this layer is required for the movie to be what it was intended to be: a horror movie. Continue reading