Dive Manual: a prose of alchemy & analytic psychology – prologue
A Fight in a Phone Booth [Ocean]
“This life is hard, my mental level is odd
Like devils versus gods,
there’s a war inside my mind going on
Squads represent these separate emotions
Three quarters of us is made of water,
Now it’s land versus ocean.”
Ill Bill (Non Phixion)
“…in all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder, a secret order, in all caprice a fixed law, for everything that works is grounded on its opposite.” – Carl Jung [The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious p.66]
“The first three stages [of psychodynamic therapy] echo the Socratic thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. Stage One involves recognizing and defining one’s own personal myth and discovering to what degree this guiding myth is no longer an ally. Stage Two requires the identification of an opposing personal myth, one that creates a conflict in the person’s psyche. The conflicting myths are brought into focus and examined to see how each is linked to the past… Stage Three, synthesis, entails conceiving a unifying vision. Here the old myth and the counter-myth are brought into confrontation.” – Dr. June Singer [p. 2 of the Foreword of Personal Mythology: The Psychology of Your Evolving Self by Dr. David Feinstein of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Dr. Stanley Krippner]
What, exactly, do you believe in? God? The Devil? Maybe angels and demons? Science? Do you believe in true evil or true love? Do you believe that everything is as it seems, and that life is best taken at face-value, or that everything is a lie that is waiting to be unraveled? What about in sickness and in health—in horror and turmoil, and redemption, even salvation? Have you ever really sat down to think about what you truly believe in—and not just what you assumed to be true?
This novel is not “New Age” and it is not “self-help” as the term is known to be. You will not find a way for the “peaceful warrior” in here or a “path to ascension”. This is not to help your average suburban dilettante reach “enlightenment”. Understand that when a person has nothing left in their life to turn to, they turn to the heavens. This is true whether we consider the atheist fueled by the writings of Sam Harris, or the spiritualist fueled by their connection with divinity, and this book will explain in great detail why this is the case.
Regardless of the person, sometimes learning about the inner self becomes a sink-or-swim scenario that, if not properly prepared for, will leave them stranded in the open water with no land in sight. This is more a classical way of putting it, as we shall soon see. For me, however, coming to know myself felt more like a fight in a phone booth than anything else.
Allow me to explain.
Within this booth the proximity couldn’t be tighter, the fight-or-flight response is activated, and your only option is to slug it out, viciously and methodically, until either you’ve collapsed from exhaustion or your opponent has. It is up-close and personal, forehead to forehead, the breathing is heavy and labored, and there is no one or place that you can turn to. The only thing that exists is this moment, the fight of your life, encased in a small booth of the human experience while the rest of the world continues around you. If we were looking at this from a psychoanalytic standpoint, the body is the phone booth, and the fisticuffs is between the conscious and unconscious—the dualistic nature of the mind—which is most classically represented either by the Sun and Moon, or the shoreline, the unconscious (moon) being the water and the tide, and the conscious (sun) being the land upon which the ocean rests and could not rest without.
In times of internal struggle like these, positive affirmations and the “law of attraction” are not going to help much at all. New Age is an obfuscation—a re-packaging of superstitious belief with a bow on top that they call “enlightenment” or “woke-ness”. This concept has no analytic control method whatsoever—and it tends to generate nothing but book sales and modern folklore. When life comes down to this fight in the phone booth, the New Age panderer—like the atheist materialist, orthodox religionist, and any overly self-assured person—will lose the fight quickly, unless they learn to adapt. Left stranded in the open waters of the unconscious mind, they will become shark food in merely a matter of time.
Let us establish some critical definitions before moving forward. These will be your floatation devices, if you will.
Chaos Theory is the study of deterministic behaviors that depend on pre-conditions in physical, natural and social sciences. The idea of chaos itself is not a theory at all, it is the inversion of mathematic calculation. This means that chaos is the mere definition of information before it is systematized. The only theories at hand are the different ways that chaos can be systematized—and even this is not a theory in principle, only in practice.
The fact that accurate mathematics cannot lie proves that systems can be derived from chaos—this is little more than common sense. But, since chaos theory dictates that the researcher chart the chaos through systems already known to them—and if they knew that these systems worked for such chaos, it wouldn’t be chaos at all—the theory belies the very nature of hypothesis. In other words, chaos theory is a forensic analysis, using the effects of a circumstance to deduce the deterministic nature of the causality. In addition to the Hegelian Dialectic (thesis + antithesis = synthesis), it is also described through the old Freemasonic creed, order out of chaos. The trifecta of the thesis, anti-thesis, and the synthesis are classically explained through the triangle (think Khufu’s Horizon, i.e. Giza, the synthesis being the eye of the pyramid.) On that note, there is a reason that three has always been called the “magic number.”
Psychodynamics is the interrelation of the unconscious and conscious mental forces that determine personality and motivation. It is a Freudian term, developed further by his colleagues like Alfred Alder and Carl Jung, all inspired by the chaos theory of thermodynamics. Freud sought to use chaos theory to apply categories/levels to consciousness, and psychodynamics was the model that sought to define the communication between the levels of consciousness. These levels of conscious are generally considered as meta-cognition.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary describes adaptation as “a heritable physical or behavioral trait that serves a specific function and improves an organism’s fitness or survival.” These varying degrees of conscious, like the Freudian “tip of the ice-berg” diagram, can be seen as nothing other than a human adaptation mechanism. However, this does not necessarily imply Darwinism in the strictest sense.
Neurophenomenology is the investigation of the neural correlates of the human experience, meaning it is the study of how a person is neurologically affected by their environment, and thus how the person in turn responds to their environment. It represents biological models of meta-cognition and the conscious experience and attempts to analyze the cognitive relationship between the psychodynamic aspects of the “first person narrative” and the “third person narrative”, i.e. the diachronic cognitive narrative. Philosophically, this can be considered as the Hegelian Dialectic.
An archetype, rudimentarily explained by Meriam-Webster Dictionary, is “the original pattern or model of which all things of the same type are representations or copies,” typified by mythology, folklore, religion, superstition, and overall unconscious psychological phenomena such as dreams and artwork. It is a term popularized by psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung, and is the cornerstone of analytic psychology, which is the field of psychoanalysis that Jung himself pioneered.
A meme, scholastically speaking, is an archetypal concept that spreads from person to person within a culture and is a theoretical psychological unit that acts upon the mental plane as a gene acts upon a person’s physical plane, thus partially affecting a person’s genetic expression psychosomatically. The fact that memes and archetypes are separate concepts are like splitting hairs. They basically denote the same concept, but because of their respective usages in secular but unopposed fields of research, each term describes a slightly more specific concept than the other. An archetype is considered a psychological axiom of sorts, and a meme is considered a psychological condition that affects human adaptation. Oftentimes, these terms are somewhat interchangeable, but certainly not always.
The study of the psychosomatic expression of memes is memetics. First termed by Richard Dawkins in his book, The Selfish Gene, the meme has since become a topic of controversy in the scientific community and has been derided as a pseudo-science by some, due to the theory’s lack of structure. However, this lack of structure is not because the theory has ever been disproven, but rather because its implications have hardly received enough empirical investigation. Regrettably, the boom of the common “internet meme” has not helped the scientific community’s confidence in the postulates brought about by memetics.
In her paper, Evidence for memetic drive? Dr. Susan Blackmore describes memetic theory and its implications in the best possible way: “There is nothing mysterious about memetics. Memes are not mystical entities floating about in a few theorists’ minds. They are nothing more nor less than whatever it is that people copy when they imitate. So if you admit that people (imperfectly and selectively) copy each other, and you define a replicator as information that is copied with variation and selection, then you have to conclude that memes exist. All the doubt must be about whether memetics can ever prove itself useful as a science, and whether memes really have played the crucial role in human evolution that memetic theory suggests…”
Of memetic theory itself, Blackmore writes, “Once human ancestors could imitate, memes appeared and began competing to be copied, their success depending on the type of meme and the preferences and abilities of the people doing the copying. Given that at least some of the memes would provide survival benefits, this means an advantage to genes for the ability to copy those memes… As imitation ability increases, more memes will appear and their evolution will take off in various directions, perhaps including the creation of rituals, clothes, body decoration or music, including behaviors that are of more advantage to those memes themselves than to the genes of the people copying them… In this way genes would be expected to track the direction taken by purely memetic evolution and thus we humans have ended up with brains that are not only much larger, but are specially designed to be good at music, ritual, art and, of course, language…” With any concepts that may be regarded as pseudo-scientific within memetics, everything stated thus far can hardly be considered controversial, and is more of a simple observation of the human condition than anything else.
The meta-space is an eclectic philosophical term that denotes non-physical planes of existence or experience, especially when considering things like mathematics and data science. Cyberspace is a meta-space, since it is a place that entirely exists, and is somewhat tangible, but is still entirely non-material. It is basically space within another space, hence the meta, and this meta-space would not exist without a material space for it to exist within or in conjunction with. The imagery that occurs in the mind when reading a good book or hearing a good song is a meta-space, and at its most fundamental sense, the very act of human communication of any kind is a meta-space, because it is a condensed, somewhat tangible space of informational exchange that exists within a material space. Religious denominations, political parties, scientific fields of study, and liberal art-forms are other examples of meta-spaces, because they represent relevant and influential complexes/spaces of expression/communication that are not readily observable in the physical environment in any sense. Yet they are absolutely tangible once the data is understood.
Mysticism as described by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is, “a theory postulating the possibility of direct and intuitive acquisition of ineffable knowledge or power; the belief that direct knowledge of God, spiritual truth, or ultimate reality can be attained through subjective experience (such as intuition or insight).” In practical psychological terms, it seems that the mystical experiences reported innumerably in any given culture throughout history are a transpersonal experience that allows a human to access previously unknown meta-spaces of cognition, making them capable of placing their psychological ailments within these meta-spaces, and allowing them to process their psychological complex at a healthier distance from the problems. This, and, of course, the ability to crystalize their best qualities within these meta-spaces, and allow them to flourish.
Psychologist William James said mysticism consists of four primary qualities: Ineffability (defying expression); Noetic quality (that the emotional quality of the experience imparts intellectual wisdom); Transiency (the mystic states being brief and fluid); and Passivity (the sense that a higher power or order has made a presence upon the individual person) [The Varieties of Religious Experience p. 287]
Mysticism is phenomenologically very similar to the scientifically validated study of clinical hypnosis, which is described by Merriam-Webster dictionary as, “a trancelike state that resembles sleep but is induced by a person whose suggestions are readily accepted by the subject.” Hypnosis, including self/autohypnosis, has becoming a well-researched and highly documented field of study and clinical therapy for the last few decades now, dealing with concepts such as physical and mental pain-management and the overall reorganization of mental processes at a fundamental level. However, while studies in this field have proven the efficacy of the therapy, researchers have yet been incapable of elaborating just what, exactly, hypnosis and its mental mechanisms really are.
Metaphysics are, in the general sense, the systemic actions and reactions that a human has to any given meta-space. In the classical sense, metaphysics are the various studies and disciplines that can be seen as the staples of any given religious or spiritual meta-space of discipline that deals with the refinement of the soul.
Magick according to the infamous occultist, Aleister Crowley, is simply “the Science and Art of causing Change [Effect] to occur in conformity with Will [Cause]” through both mundane acts and ceremonial rites alike. [Magick in Theory and Practice p.9]
Chaos Magick was an idea proposed by theoretical physicist and occultist, Peter Carroll, in the ‘90s by applying the mathematical model of chaos theory to magick, mysticism, and spiritualism. His ideas were notably inspired by the English Hermeticist and proto-chaos magician, Austin Osman Spare.
This book should only be considered under the definition of “chaos magick” as perhaps a secondary category. Carrol’s influence upon me and my work is minimal but faintly present. Primarily, this novel is the analysis of chaos theory in the realm of analytic psychology, but as the novel progresses, we shall see that psychology and spirituality are only somewhat distinguishable. Ultimately, this novel will accredit the basic ideas of chaos magick and, overall, mysticism, with relevance. However, the attempt here is to analyze chaos theory and mysticism from the realm of psychology first and foremost—and this is the separation between chaos magick that I seek to maintain with my research.
These initial definitions and ideas represent the skeletal framework of this novel’s contents but represent a fraction of the subject matter at hand.
With advents in science, especially brain sciences, it is becoming increasingly difficult to differentiate the inner mind of a human from the world around them. Of course, the line between the objective and subjective truly does exist, but the line is quite fine, and even blurry at times. Culture affects the individual, and so too an individual can forever affect culture. “Nature” is not against “Nurture”, they work in tandem.
This in mind, let us briefly consider society’s present state of affairs. In a postmodern world that has developed its own thesis of cultural prosperity (commonly called “first world countries”) and the anti-thesis of its disparity (the “third world”) modern society has fallen pressure to its lack of synthesis, its lack of order—and of course, a lack of order is nothing other than chaos. (This is, of course, only one way to look at it—but it is still an accurate way to look at it). While the problems of the third world are evident enough, a strange maladaptation has begun to occur in the postmodern provinces of the first world—amidst what is called “prosperity” in, for instance, the echelons of suburbia. Here, people are adapting to much more particular peculiarities of the mental and physical. After the dramatic advent of both modernism and industrialism, society developed the due fruits of its labors, and had the scars to prove it. However, as modernism drifted from the end of the 20th century, into the 21st, it has been entirely upheaved by the Millennials and their surrounding generations. This upheaval seems to be emboldened by the boom in media technologies like the internet.
Beyond a progression from the modernist mindset, this postmodern mindset has resulted in an abject dissociation from historical tradition overall. And, realistically, postmodernism as some advanced mindset that is beyond patterns and convention has proven itself more forgetful than it has revolutionary. Postmodern society, including a post-industrial society, has brought about some the most complicated, convoluted, and counterproductive political structures that the earth has ever seen—a political structure that has developed itself almost entirely off an economic model. Education, public relations, entertainment, health services, and even politics have become reduced to hardly anything more than hedonistic monetary exchanges. We have all become enslaved by the dollar, and the jaded postmodern mindset of the latest generations is only the tip of this ice-berg.
In the broadest sense, when currency came into humanity’s picture, we no longer had to search for food or even create our own sources of entertainment—the world, in a sense, became buyable for the right price. Money became an artificial predominating factor for success and deterministic preconditions, both mental and physical, were subsequently pushed down the latter of successful factors. Today, industrialism and its roots within the dollar have promised us all the leisure to live comfortable lives, but it has taken too many generations to realize that material comfort and emotional comfort are far from the same thing. While the pros in this system can be observed, the cons are cast far out in the open, horrifically, for all to see through widespread poverty and structural violence.
The postmodern generations have witnessed the disconnects between reality and what their parents were raised on, and because of this, they tend to throw the baby out with the bathwater since they are too preoccupied to tell the difference between the two. Clearly, society does need some major adjustments. But throwing out every piece of data prior to the postmodern era (i.e. the ancient spiritual, mythic, and ritualistic cultures that were the seeds of today’s world) is not only illogical, it is chaos on a mathematical, statistical level. Witnessing the maladaptations of their forefathers, the postmodern generations have decidedly disavowed the traditions they have been handed. The sins of the forefathers have become set ablaze with protests, internet blogging, and social justice—meanwhile, the maladaptation continues to grow. As our modern world clearly falls further into disrepair, people become more afraid of what has brought society to such disrepair—and while society has become so focused on rectifying its past mistakes, it makes new mistakes with more blindness and negligence than ever before. In other words, when hindsight is twenty-twenty, then foresight can become all but blind. It is of crucial importance that society not use the present moment to only rectify its past mistakes—but instead, uses the present moment to adapt beyond its past mistakes, making such mistakes obsolete from thereon out.
Today, the worst that postmodernism has to offer—a memetic maladaptation—is summarized best by Robert Pirsig [Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance p. 404] where he wrote, “Along the streets that lead away from the apartment he can never see anything through the concrete and brick and neon but he knows that buried within it are grotesque, twisted souls forever trying the manners that will convince themselves they possess Quality, learning strange poses of style and glamour vended by dream magazines and other mass media, and paid for by the vendors of substance. He thinks of them at night alone with their advertised glamorous shoes and stockings and underclothes off, staring through the sooty windows at the grotesque shells revealed beyond them, when the poses weaken and the truth creeps in, the only truth that exists here, crying to heaven, God, there is nothing here but dead neon and cement and brick.”
The questions that society has raised in this chaotic era are important to briefly mention within a book of psychology for many reasons. Chiefly, it helps us all begin to initially consider the mechanisms that we have been grown into—groomed by—and have adapted (or mal-adapted) within. Have we each chosen properly our paths of adaptation? What does society even pose to something like a grand-scale of adaptation?
Ultimately, this book has a dual purpose: firstly, it is an attempt to validate the studies of psychodynamic therapy—specifically, analytic psychology—and to emphasize their efficacy. In part, this will be described throughout this novel by examining the anthropological underpinnings of culture, spirituality, symbolism, and the theoretical evolutionary model known as memetics.
My second purpose, beyond validation of the data, is an attempt to aid those who are truly searching for a fundamental algorithm with which to base their lives on—a compass through the maze of evolutionary memetics. It does not offer such an algorithm, mind you, but attempts to show how one can be found. And when an adequate therapist cannot be found, I suggest that this book may be a revelation for you. But as I have already said, this dive into the depths of the oceanic unconscious can be a dangerous mental tight-rope. All should know how to dive, have the adequate equipment, and have the proper help up above you.
The path that I emphasize extreme caution with is what Carl Jung called individuation, and its efficacy is the primary thesis of this novel’s research. Throughout ancient esoteric, theological traditions, it has been commonly called initiation in varying degrees.
To explain the warning further, Jung wrote in his work, Answer to Job [p. 128], “The difference between the ‘natural’ individuation process, which runs its course unconsciously, and the one which is consciously realized, is tremendous. In the first case consciousness nowhere intervenes; the end remains as dark as the beginning. In the second case so much darkness comes to light that the personality is permeated with light, and consciousness necessarily gains in scope and insight. The encounter between conscious and unconscious has to ensure that the light which shines in the darkness is not only comprehended by the darkness, but comprehends it. The filius solis et lunae (the son of the Sun and Moon) is the possible result as well as the symbol of this union of opposites. It is the alpha and omega of the process, the mediator and intermedius. ‘It has a thousand names,’ say the alchemists, meaning that the source from which the individuation process rises and the goal toward which it aims is nameless, ineffable.”
Elsewhere, Jung wrote of the self-imposed individuation process (specifically regarding esoteric yoga), “It is appropriate only in those cases where consciousness has reached an abnormal degree of development and has diverged too far from the unconscious… For the same reasons, this way of development has scarcely any meaning before the middle of life (normally between the ages of thirty-five and forty), and if entered upon too soon can be decidedly injurious.” [Collective Works 13, p. 14]
I provide models with which can be analyzed, but my literal path should be avoided, and should only be taken as an analytical model in and of itself. These ideas are points of analysis, and there cannot be any cookie-cutter transposition of one person’s journey to another. There are no shortcuts. But we may find tendencies and commonalities of meta-data through cross-analysis.
In the research novel Personal Mythology: The Psychology of Your Evolving Self, written by Dr. Stanley Krippner and Dr. David Feinstein, we find one of the best scientific analyses done into this archetypal idea of alchemical self-initiation. The book’s research has its foundation in the studies conducted by Dr. Feinstein at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine throughout the 1980’s. Feinstein “compared several emerging systems of personal growth therapies with more traditional therapies. He found a common denominator: each therapy, in its own way, attempted to influence how people construct their understanding of themselves and their place in the world. He used the term personal mythology to describe this ‘evolving construction of inner reality’ and to emphasize that all human constructs of reality are mythologies.” [Dr. June Singer, p. 1 of the book’s Foreword]
As for my own personal mythology, there came a time early on in my life where my conscious mind had developed well beyond its relationship with my unconscious thoughts and instincts. To be a bit more precise, the shoreline had been creeping up on me for quite some time, and I felt alone on a small island.
At its core, I was experiencing a cognitive disruption of my mind’s memetic exchange. Barely a man at this point, my inner life had already completely collapsed in on itself. For at least three years with varied intensity, I experienced a state of intensive depersonalization, where cognitive dissonance was becoming chronic from a severe lack of a recognition of my self that went far beyond any sort of natural angst. I eventually found myself isolated in a corner of my consciousness that felt safer alienating my self-identity so that I didn’t have to feel the agony of comparing or reflecting my inner nature onto the world around me. It stemmed from an intense state of existential anxiety that I could not comprehend, but I could always feel. It weighed on me heavily, gnawed at me, and ever since I was a child, I could remember this state of latent anxiety. It stemmed from a feeling that I had a purpose I was not fulfilling, and that I had some sort of debts left unpaid—it felt very karmic. I had a good upbringing, and a loving family, but what I will say about my childhood is this: my father was a cop, and my mother was a God-fearing Protestant that had her own rough upbringing, so my family was not the most relaxed, and tension was usually always present in some form.
My own tension became so cumbersome that it sometimes gave me panic attacks in my teenage years and fits of apathetic depression from the total overload of internal stress. So, when I started growing up a little more, I just invented a new version of myself in an attempt to forget all of the anxiety and pretend it wasn’t there. I was going to fake it until I made it.
It wasn’t that I thought I was somebody else—I just thought I was nothing, or that we all might as well be nothing. It left me unable to keep sober for long and usually sleepless at night, not because I didn’t enjoy being nothing (it was very liberating, actually), but because I had become haunted by what I left behind. I wasn’t chasing a dragon, I was running away from a demon. I had such a lack of faith in myself and my own identity that the only barriers I had between my mind and a state of constant anxiety were chemicals—namely, cannabis. Rarely did I partake in pharmaceuticals.
I found that even though I had a birth certificate, a social-security number, and family members, I hardly felt as if I was a real person. I sometimes felt as if I might as well have been in a different, more concrete and less-malleable state of dreaming. I wondered if all of humanity might not be in one large dream, what many ancient cultures allegorically described when they said that all the world was “God’s dream”. I still hold these same feelings, but I understand them with a depth that does not force me to lie to myself or jade myself. I simply understand the difference between the feeling and reason.
Because of this existential dilemma I had grown into, I started reading as much ancient esoteric philosophy and modern psychoanalysis as I could get my hands on—it began like a productive, insightful use of my time. I wasn’t really sure what I was or where I was in the grand scheme of things, and I was willing to read anything with healthy skepticism.
But the more I read, it became truly impossible to lie to myself and laugh away bad habits as I found that I was not only unhappy, but, like everyone else, I had put myself in this state by allowing my mind to run amok. Originally it was all bit of a thrill, it seemed like an archaeological dig into my past through the reservoir of archetypal symbols in my unconscious mind. Yet, I had scarcely realized the Faustian bargain I had been forced to wager with what Jung called the psychological shadow. It was one thing to investigate the past, but as I developed models of my mind and life, I found that it was impossible to learn without studying one’s own personal past.
Once I accepted this, I noticed that my problems were not disappearing on a path towards some eclectic enlightenment—they were morphing. I was beginning to see the basic mechanisms, the morphology or neurophenomenology behind my own actions. At this time, I had so much inertia behind my flimsy character that it felt as if standing in front of a moving train to try and slow it down. It was here that I found myself asking the most unsettling question of all: where is my free will?
What were the echoes in my brain—these ghosts in my machine? How was it that my brain could accrue so much inertia behind it when I had never made the decisions to put so much weight into these certain thoughts? If I have free will then why did I feel like I was drowning in thoughts that I didn’t want? If these things weren’t me, then what were they, and why did they feel like they had a life of their own? I realized that if I were to keep faking it, then I would never actually make it.
Understand that when a person does not take the time to clean the skeletons out of the closet of their mind, they become possessed by these things—deterministically “haunted” by their shadow. They are thought-forces run amok, and they are what ancient India and Asia termed karma. Karma translates to action, and more specifically, karma is the mental and spiritual state of a human that hinders or flourishes their actions. PTSD is a person possessed by a memory that won’t let them go—the memory is so vivid and so inescapable that it might as well be a real person in the patient’s life tormenting them—the results would be just as noticeable. It may behoove us here to consider what people use as an adjective to describe someone’s social habits in some cases: possessive. Truly, this person is much more possessed by mechanisms in their own mind than they are possessive of something outside of their mind. Truly, these are the demons of superstitious cultures before ours. They are no less real, but today are much more demystified and understood not as some sort of evil possession by a spirit, but of a meta-space that a person’s brain has accessed that has become burdensome to that person. Instead of a mystical, transpersonal experience that gave the person great relief and insight, the experience was traumatic in some degree, and left them with a meta-space that was incongruent to their current ways of thinking. This meta-space thus hangs over the person like a monkey-on-the-back, or a “dark cloud”, or “bad karma,” or even an unwitting deal with a devil. Rather than servants of an arch-devil, these traumatic meta-spaces are simply aspects of our own inner psyches that we have alienated in order to survive, thus creating maladaptative habits.
As this book will elaborate in some great detail, Hell was initially developed as an allegory meant to categorize and analyze the separation and distance between man and divinity or gnosis. Originally a Greek word, gnosis was considered ultimate truth and the knowing of God through a sense of unhindered mystical epiphany. The word was traditionally associated with the Greek and Egyptian Mystery cults of antiquity, and has been circulated in use by occultists, philosophers, and historians ever since as the name for what humans are constantly striving to attain on their quest for wisdom. This term is hardly separate from the concept of what people call “enlightenment”, but instead of being a word with dubious and ambiguous meaning, gnosis holds with it a great body of symbolic context that proves to help us flesh out this glamorized idea of “transcendental enlightenment”.
Along the way, consider a couple more definitions that will be heavily analyzed in further chapters: the path to wisdom that the sage journeyed was termed alchemy, and the tool with which he searched for gnosis with alchemy was transmutation. As we shall soon see, the metallurgy and bizarre chemical experiments that the late medieval alchemists are known for, were actually symbolic cryptograms of sorts, using metals and even plants as allegories to explain metaphysical transformations of the human condition. In other words: they used combinations of mundane and ordinary chemical reactions to convey occult, symbolic meaning that would otherwise come across as gibberish to, say, an orthodox Catholic of their time, or a materialist scientist of the modern era. (There were, of course, many scientific chemical aspects to these experiments, but this is practically an entirely different topic of research and will be a mere side note here.)
Surely, there is a free-will, but it is not exactly as obvious as people commonly think. If anything, it seems scientifically evident that every given person dips in and out of a sense of conscious, transpersonal will and deterministic reactions at any given time—almost like the ebb and flow of a shoreline. Finding the balance between the two, transmutation, has been a primary focus of comparative religion throughout history and will be the focus of this novel.
In more of a modern sense, we can commonly translate gnosis as a mentality that is unhindered by our neurotic tendencies and defense mechanisms, and therefore presents us the ability to act instead of only reacting. Once we are no longer bargaining with our defense mechanisms, we should theoretically be able to make the most optimal decisions for both ourselves and others around us. This, in classical, allegorical, archetypal terms, is Heaven.
Interestingly, most of the classical gnostic holy men interpreted the Old Testament with Yahweh being the oppressor and arch-nemesis of humanity, and the serpent as being the “savior” of sorts, by allowing Adam and Eve to know thyself and begin their journey that should ultimately result in them knowing God entirely. While this may upset the orthodox mindset, let us remember that from an etymological, anthropological standpoint, the symbolism of the serpent and the Garden of Eden have been around long before the Council of Trent (the Catholic meeting in the mid-16th century that officially instated the idea of original sin which predominates the interpretation as the serpent creating the fall of man.)
Of course, from the opportunity to know thyself we must then logically ask: what is the self? What are the parameters with which to gauge the self, and how do we know when we have stepped out of bounds? At what point does knowing thyself becoming, say, narcissism, an obsessive-compulsive disorder, or any extremely antisocial disorder of some kind? Where can a person feel safe drawing the line between thyself and thy world when all they do is dig deeper and deeper into the annals of their own mind? While knowing oneself is extremely important, it is equally important to recognize the personal limitations that will save us from our own destruction.
On my own path, I was desperate to find a way out of this dance with my shadow, and I realized that there was no turning back. If the existential philosophy, psychoanalysis, and comparative-religious texts I read had any level of truth in the peace of mind they claimed to bring, then these ideals had become the only things I had left. By poking the bear of chaos theory with the Hegelian dialectic (analyzing both my own mind and the world around me this way), I found that science was no longer acceptable on its own, for I found that folklore and religion added a depth to the evolution of human thought that I could see right before my eyes. Yet I still could not understand entirely. Everything I read made so much sense to me, and somehow I still could not find the root of my problems or the promises of peace within my own mind. I was still just a Pacman chasing ghosts. Eventually, I came to realize that sometimes a person must lose their mind to find their soul. They must give up on any preconceived notions of order and synthesis so that they may truly find a sense of order and peace that lasts.
As scholar, RA Schwaller de Lubicz stated in his book, Esoterism and Symbol [p. 13, 14, 18]: “Every natural object in the universe is a hieroglyph of divine science. Each animal, each species of plant, each mineral group, is a stage in the process of ‘becoming aware’ of the cosmic Cause, culminating in the complete organism of the human, the microcosm, or ‘man in His image’… Obviously, therefore, we must be able to transcribe what is in us into our mental and objective consciousness, by establishing a relationship between the life in us and observation of that life in Nature.”
As scholar, Manly P. Hall stated in his book, The Secret Teachings of All Ages [p. 187], “Recognizing the futility of attempting to cope intellectually with that which transcends the comprehension of the rational faculties, the early philosophers turned their attention from the inconceivable Divinity to man himself, within the narrow confines of whose nature they found manifested all the mysteries of the external spheres. As the natural outgrowth of this practice there was fabricated a secret theological system in which God was considered as the Grand Man and, conversely, man as the little god. Continuing this analogy, the universe was regarded as a man and, conversely, man as a miniature universe. The greater universe was termed the Macrocosm–the Great World or Body–and the Divine Life or spiritual entity controlling its functions was called the Macroprosophus. Man’s body, or the individual human universe, was termed the Microcosm, and the Divine Life or spiritual entity controlling its functions was called the Microprosophus. The pagan Mysteries were primarily concerned with instructing neophytes in the true relationship existing between the Macrocosm and the Microcosm–in other words, between God and man.”
Strangely enough, the link I found between the world around me and the inner abyss of my own mind—the lasso that pulled me out—was not myself. It would eventually become myself, but my initial inkling of grace came from a young woman named Ramona. She and I had developed a deep and usually strained friendship that had developed into some romance at times. Meeting her had changed my life—first for the better, then for the worse, and then for the existential. Meeting Ramona was the “butterfly effect” that entirely changed my study of philosophy and psychology from an interesting hobby into a feverish pursuit of my psyche’s demons.
When we first had met, she had been what allowed me to finally to feel comfortable in this anxious meta-space I had of existential misplacement. But after our initial romance had ended, I found this meta-space far more cumbersome than it had ever been in the past. I could no longer hide it as well either. Finding what seemed like a fix, and then having it taken away without logical explanation, made me feel a deeper sense of hopelessness than I had yet known. After knowing Ramona, I had also come to know some of the best qualities I had to offer, as well as the worst. My remorse stemmed from something much deeper than losing the love of a woman, although this certainly played a crucial part. I had finally been shown things about myself that I could no longer ignore, and it left me forced to reconcile who I currently was with who I was running away from. I had been deterministically shoved into my own fight in the phonebooth and confront my shadow head-on. I needed to learn how to extinguish this karma and resolve the inner conflicts that separated me from enjoying my life to the fullest—and she was a memetic seed that had been planted in my brain, one that I couldn’t afford to let die before harvest.
I think, by now, I will likely have already raised the interest of the existentially-minded and spiritual-types. But to the devout atheist that has stumbled into the pages of this book, I provide an excerpt from an old lecture given by 33rd degree Freemason, Manly P. Hall, who will be frequenting the pages of this book. In the lecture, entitled, Why I Believe in Rebirth – Basic Convictions on Essential Principles of Richer Personal Living, he does not get up on a pulpit and preach. Rather, he very genuinely and earnestly discusses the psychology of his own beliefs, the parallels found within comparative religion the world over, and how these ideas affect practical living from a psychological standpoint. Truly, even an atheist can at least appreciate the thought-experiment of such a concept—and, this in mind, the quote ahead can be taken as a statement not only of rebirth, but of all the spiritual precepts discussed throughout this novel: “Rebirth cannot be incompatible with science as it is now defined because it deals with a level of ideas essentially outside the province of science and about which science has advanced no certain or conclusive evidence. Psychology, an art which is assuming scientific status, has taken the attitude that the mystery of man’s inner life is solvable, and is gradually but surely differentiating between the person and the body which he inhabits.”
In other words, even if these beliefs are highly unlikely based on the present scientific paradigm, it is only because the paradigm is a work-in-progress like anything else. As well, this novel itself would not be very long at all if not for the modern scientific updates that are ripe for the picking in this sense. This does not exactly mean that any particular belief will ultimately prove to be wholly truthful—but the fact that such spiritual beliefs have existed in forms since the dawn of humankind can only imply that it has directly affected the adaptation of humankind as we know it today in some way, shape, or form. Furthermore, as record shows, spirituality served in place of science for many years. A lot of this did stifle man’s scientific resolve through dogma (like the Catholic Church did), but it also fostered this scientific resolve with men like Pythagoras, as shall be discussed ahead. Science and spirituality are mutually exclusive, but they work in tandem. One is reason and the other is feeling—both are methodical. The mystical experience is perhaps the most humanly thing of all, and if some readers are still not sold, this is a point that will be heavily explored in the next chapter. I wager the length of this novel to any atheist that their ideas will at least diversify by the end.
As for the minds of the religious-orthodox and dogmatic-type, I have a hunch that they will feel the most challenged by the material at hand. I am certainly unorthodox, but I respect my forefathers all the same. I merely think that adaptation does not occur by dwelling entirely in the past.
Throughout this novel, I will take the modern conventions that scientific and technological advancement have given society and compare them to the ancient, initial preconditions of these scientific and technological advancements by studying symbolism of the spiritual, folkloric, and superstitious nature. My mode of comparison/investigation between the two is analytic psychology, chaos theory, and memetic theory, and through this investigation I propose that the synthesis is harmony and order. I do not propose that this book holds any secrets to personal and societal harmony, but I do believe that it holds some profound initial insights through careful study.
Overall, I assert that by using the model of chaos theory, we may use the psychodynamic effect of archetypal symbolism in the brain and the causation of the neurophenomenology behind the archetype to empirically deduce models of a person’s relationship between their conscious and unconscious levels of mind. This relationship between the conscious and unconscious can be measured using the unit of a meme, which is a psychological-evolutionary trait. The psychoanalytic, and especially psychotherapeutic potential contained within this statement alone is boundless and demands consideration.
Psychodynamism = (Neurophenomenology + Archetypal symbolism) multiplied by deterministic environmental factors
In other words, we all have the ability to conceptualize our trauma, the things that haunt us at night; and not only that, we all equally have the ability to conceptualize our transcendence—our own therapeutic release that can allow us to heal and live life to its fullest. No one is ever too-far gone for redemption, and I am living proof of this.
This in mind, I emphatically state once again that this novel is nothing more than a case-study when I am writing of my personal experiences and therapy.
Perhaps the way to best explain this overall warning towards self-imposed individuation is by recalling Chuck Palahniuk’s rules of Fight Club.
1) You do not talk about Fight Club.
2) You DO NOT talk about Fight Club.
3) If someone yells ‘stop’, goes limp, or taps out, the fight is over.
4) Only two to a fight.
5) One fight at a time.
6) The fights are bare knuckle. No shirt, no shoes, no weapons.
7) Fights will go on as long as they have to.
8) If this is your first time at Fight Club, you have to fight.
In other words: don’t come asking for confrontation unless you want it—because you will find it—and when you do find it, careful not to bite off more than you can chew. Respect the inner process. We are all Alice, circling the rim the rabbit hole, daydreaming about the wonders below. We are usually never willing to make the jump, but sometimes it happens anyway, in many different ways. Perhaps we stumble into it on a walk, perhaps we are even lured in; in my case, I tried to get so close to the rabbit hole that I stumbled head-first through the looking glass, into Wonderland. My warning overall is that you, dear reader, should just be a little cautious not to trip and fall. There are no handrails around here.
Welcome to my rabbit-hole—my ocean.
I am a diver.
Come; I’ll show you around.
Author’s Note: The highest of thanks go out to musician, painter, and illustrator, Deca, for painting his work The Upward Journey, with direct consideration for the contents of this novel. Working with him proved very synchronous, and even his latest album release unintentionally happens to echo similar themes found within this novel. He has been able to add a depth to the novel itself that is irreplaceable and deserves high accolades.
Deca’s latest album, The Way Through: link
Deca’s newest album, yet unreleased, Flux: link
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