An American Mystagogue

Happy Holidays, Here Is Some Free Stuff

Dec
08

Degas

 

Since the Holidays are here, and because I’m going to be taking a sort of intermission on the blog writing for a short while (to be resumed with Psychic Plagues and Witch-Doctors: Part Three, Lycanthropy) I decided to share some free, public domain goodies I found on the internet.

That’s right, books. Audio-books and pdfs. (Warning: May essentially be the internet version of gifting socks.)

Because of the nature of  my day-to-day working routine, I have the opportunity to listen to numerous audio-books to pass the weary work days. As a result, I stumbled upon a rather superb website called LibriVox, which offers free public domain audio-books. Some of the books may be a little old, but I found them surprisingly relevant, which makes sense considering that people still peruse Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations and Plato’s Symposium. Not all the books are from LibriVox, but a good number will be.

Listed in no particular order….

 

book1

Memory, How to Develop, Train and Use It

By: William Walker Atkinson 

Pdf Link

Audio-book Link

“Coleridge relates the well‑known
case of the old woman who could neither read nor write,
who when in the delirium of fever incessantly recited in very
pompous tones long passages from the Latin, Greek and Hebrew,
with a distinct enunciation and precise rendition. Notes of her
ravings were taken down by shorthand, and caused much
wonderment, until it was afterwards found that in her youth
she had been employed as a servant in the house of a clergyman
who was in the habit of walking up and down in his study
reading aloud from his favorite classical and religious writers.
In his books were found marked passages corresponding to the
notes taken from the girl’s ravings. Her subconscious memory
had stored up the sounds of these passages heard in her early
youth, but of which she had no recollection in her normal state.”


mans

The Psychology of Man’s Possible Evolution

By: P.D. Ouspensky

Pdf Link

Audio-Book Link

“At this point, it must be understood that the first obstacle in
the way of the development of self-consciousness in man, is his
conviction that he already possesses self-consciousness or at any
rate, that he can have it at any time he likes. It is very difficult to
persuade a man that he is not conscious and cannot be conscious
at will. It is particularly difficult because here nature plays a very
funny trick.
If you ask a man if he is conscious or if you say to him that he
is not conscious, he will answer that he is conscious and that it is
absurd to say that he is not, because he hears and understands you.
And he will be quite right, although at the same time quite wrong.
This is nature’s trick. He will be right because your question or
your remark has made him vaguely conscious for a moment. Next
moment consciousness will disappear. But he will remember what
you said and what he answered, and he will certainly consider
himself conscious.”

 

 

marcus

The Meditations

By: Marcus Aurelius

Text

Audio-Book

“In the morning when thou risest unwillingly, let this thought be present- I am rising to the work of a human being. Why then am I dissatisfied if I am going to do the things for which I exist and for which I was brought into the world? Or have I been made for this, to lie in the bed-clothes and keep myself warm?- But this is more pleasant.- Dost thou exist then to take thy pleasure, and not at all for action or exertion? Dost thou not see the little plants, the little birds, the ants, the spiders, the bees working together to put in order their several parts of the universe? And art thou unwilling to do the work of a human being, and dost thou not make haste to do that which is according to thy nature?

 

hypno

A Practical Guide To Self-Hypnosis 

By: Melvin Powers

Text Link

Audio-book Link 

 

“We are interested in what makes the placebo act as effectively as the true medication. It stands to reason that a chain reaction is set up, actually causing a physiological result from a psychological reaction. The unsuspecting patient declares, “I’ve never felt so good in my life.” Yet, this would never have happened if he didn’t think he was taking the marvelous new medicine. A recent scientific study by one of the leading pharmaceutical houses concluded that one third of the effectiveness of any medication depends upon the faith and trust that the patient has [43]in the prescribing physician.

 

I am sure that the placebo results and the patient’s faith in the physician as contributing factors to the effectiveness of medications do not come as a revelation. We are all aware of such information. Our problem is how to harness this unconscious process for constructive goals. The answer is through self-hypnosis.”

prag

Pragmatism

By: William James

Pdf Link

Audio-book Link

 

“I said just now that what is better for us to believe is true
unless the belief incidentally clashes with some other vital
benefit. Now in real life what vital benefits is any particular belief
of ours most liable to clash with? What indeed except the vital benefits
yielded by other beliefs when these prove incompatible with the
first ones? In other words, the greatest enemy of any one of our truths
may be the rest of our truths. Truths have once for all this desperate
instinct of self-preservation and of desire to extinguish whatever
contradicts them. My belief in the Absolute, based on the good it does
me, must run the gauntlet of all my other beliefs. Grant that it may be
true in giving me a moral holiday. Nevertheless, as I conceive it,- and
let me speak now confidentially, as it were, and merely in my own
private person,- it clashes with other truths of mine whose benefits I
hate to give up on its account. It happens to be associated with a kind
of logic of which I am the enemy, I find that it entangles me in
metaphysical paradoxes that are inacceptable, etc., etc. But as I have
enough trouble in life already without adding the trouble of carrying
these intellectual inconsistencies, I personally just give up the
Absolute. I just take my moral holidays; or else as a professional
philosopher, I try to justify them by some other principle.”

will

The Mystic Will

By: Charles Godfrey Leland

Pdf Link

Audio-Book

It all depends on exertion of the Will. There are in this world a certain number of advanced thinkers who, if they knew how to develope the Will which exists in them, could bring this reform to pass in an incredibly short time. That is to say, they could place the doctrine or religion of Honesty for its own sake so boldly and convincingly before the world that its future would be assured. Now the man who can develope his will, has it in his power not only to control his moral nature to any extent, but also to call into action or realize very extraordinary states of mind, that is, faculties, talents or abilities which he has never suspected to be within his reach. It is a stupendous thought; yes, one so great that from the beginning of time to the present day no sage or poet has ever grasped it in its full extent, and yet is is a very literal truth, that there lie hidden within us all, as in a sealed−up spiritual casket, or like the bottled−up djinn in the Arab tale, innumerable Powers or Intelligences, some capable of bestowing peace or calm, others of giving Happiness, or inspiring creative genius, energy and perseverance. All that Man has ever attributed to an Invisible World without, lies, in fact, within him, and the magic key which will confer the faculty of sight and the power to conquer is the Will.”

Happy Holidays

~ Seth Moris

 

 

Self-Fulfilling Prophecies

Nov
10

thinking

Thinking

by Ariana Perez

“If men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences.”

~W.I. Thomas, the Thomas Theorem 

“Every theory is a self-fulfilling prophecy that orders experience into the framework it provides.”

~ Ruth Hubbard 

Ever repeat a word in your head, or out loud, enough times so that it seemed foreign, clumsy, or just plain strange? The word ‘prediction’ is like that for me. Ever since I started tapping into the etymology of words to try to get a better grasp on how they’ve been used in the past, and trying to mark their eventual growth, I reflexively dissect words into their prefixes and suffixes. It wasn’t until one day I noticed that prediction is self explanatory. Pre-Diction. Speaking of the future. Not so strange. At least, I thought. Until one day I stumbled across something known as the Golem effect. The Golem effect is essentially the phenomena that when individuals have lower expectations placed on them either by authority figures or themselves, they actually do worse; essentially, a form of self-fulfilling prophecy. 

The Golem effect, as well as its logical opposite the Pygmalion effect (which works the opposite way, with higher expectations being placed and actualized) are two sides of a concept that humans have been aware of, and using to the advantage and disadvantage of themselves and others for a very long time. In fact, self-fulfilling prophecy could be asserted as one of the fundamental properties of human magic. What is a spell, anyway? Or an incantation? An enchantment? A charm? The etymology alludes to the historical idea of magic, and its mediums, as opposed to the more modern, media based aesthetic of thinking of magic as firing fireballs out of your hand, Dungeons and Dragons style, or magic being akin to the television show series “Charmed” that was so popular years ago. Each word has its root in language, in voice or symbols representative of things.

And is it so hard to see the very idea of a spell being something ‘spoken into existence’? While it may not be as romantic as other ideas on how such things work, self-fulfilling prophecy is a far cry from impotent. Think about some of the things we speak into existence, that we make real by consequence of our belief. Nothing powerful right? Except law, money, and societal moors and folkways, things that shape our reality’s foundations.

The Thomas Theorem, “If men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences” was formulated by sociologist William Isaac Thomas in 1928 and serves to underline the power of talking things into manifestation. It essentially posits that if you believe something to be real, regardless of whether or not it could be said to be ‘objectively’ real, it becomes ‘real’ by virtue of the consequences that are begotten from the belief. And while many may bemoan that the idea one is simply ‘self-suggesting’ as boring, or mundane, I would remind them that this has some evidence of being the root of magical practices the world over. Believing in things in a way so that they perpetuate themselves into existence, sounds like magic to me, even if its completely within the natural realm.

~ Seth Moris

Do you have a Synthetic or Analytic Cosmology?

Nov
07

universe

“I’ve always been fascinated by physics and cosmology. It gets more and more scary the older you get.”

~John Banville

—-

Cosmology

1. The study of the physical universe considered as a totality of phenomena in time and space.”

Most people have a functioning folk-cosmology that they live within and interpret information with on a daily basis. The question is what kind are they utilizing? For the majority of people, this question goes unanswered. Indeed, the question itself is usually never asked. Cosmological presumptions are nearly invisible to the average person, precisely because it is the foundation for their personal reality.  They do not question it more than the average person of any age questioned their personal or cultural cosmological ideas, instead viewing it as completely rational and attributing to other cosmologies past and present an air of ‘mythological’ triteness.

However, today we are going to take a look at two ways to quantity a cosmological outlook; analytic and synthetic, or Top-Down and Bottom-Up designs.

Analytic cosmologies would function on what is known as a Top-Down design. It is based on breaking down systems into smaller sub-systems. Generally speaking you would see this in a cosmology that starts at the “Top” with God, the Prima Materia, the Big Bang  or some kind of force or cause that started out the whole cosmic shebang and works itself all the way down to little ‘ole humans, and further down into atomic particles and the like. The big tell of a Top-Down design is that humans are generally considered somewhere near the bottom, or end, of the cosmic machine.

The world of a person who believes that God or some First Cause pushed humanity into being could be considered Top-Down. An idea that many material positivists and Christians could find in common for once perhaps, since they both run around the same Fiat Lux themed idea, though they disagree on what exactly caused it. The Top-Down cosmological design is especially prevalent in Post-Christian cultures. An example of Top-Down cosmology can be seen in the book of Genesis.

1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty,darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

6 And God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.” 7 So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it. And it was so.8 God called the vault “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.

~New International Version (NIV)

 

 fuck

 

On the other end of the spectrum we have what could be called Synthetic cosmologies, or Bottom-Up designs. These get a bit trickier for the average person to wrap their mind around simply because we are used to being the end result of whatever forces we put our faith in for begetting our existence, be they ‘scientific’ or ‘religious’.

Bottom-Up design cosmologies would focus on the piecing together of smaller systems into larger ones so as to understand the universe, or reality. Synthetic design is sometimes referred to as a “seed model”, because of the way it grows outward with ever more complexity. Bottom-Up designs can start at the atomic level, or the idea of fundamental particles that make up the world and have convalesced things into existence, but it can also denote starting at your personal existence and moving outward, a ‘first-person’ cosmology so to speak, where your birth and life and experience are the foundation for your understanding of the universe.

An example of a ‘first person’ Bottum-Up design can be illustrated well with the Buddhist ‘Parable of the Arrow” which was allegedly given by Gautama Buddha to his disciple Malunkyaputta when the disciple asked why the Buddha would not answer the the Fourteen Unanswerable Questions, the Buddha’s response  follows below and illustrates a Bottom-Up, or first-person relevant world approach.

“It’s just as if a man were wounded with an arrow thickly smeared with poison.
His friends & companions, kinsmen & relatives would provide him with a surgeon, and the man would say, ‘I won’t have this arrow removed until I know whether the man who wounded me was a noble warrior, a priest, a merchant, or a worker.’

He would say, ‘I won’t have this arrow removed until I know the given name & clan name of the man who wounded me… until I know whether he was tall, medium, or short… until I know whether he was dark, ruddy-brown, or golden-colored… until I know his home village, town, or city… until I know whether the bow with which I was wounded was a long bow or a crossbow… until I know whether the bowstring with which I was wounded was fiber, bamboo threads, sinew, hemp, or bark… until I know whether the shaft with which I was wounded was wild or cultivated… until I know whether the feathers of the shaft with which I was wounded were those of a vulture, a stork, a hawk, a peacock, or another bird… until I know whether the shaft with which I was wounded was bound with the sinew of an ox, a water buffalo, a langur, or a monkey.’

He would say, ‘I won’t have this arrow removed until I know whether the shaft with which I was wounded was that of a common arrow, a curved arrow, a barbed, a calf-toothed, or an oleander arrow.’ The man would die and those things would still remain unknown to him.”

— Cula-Malunkyovada Sutta: The Shorter Instructions to Malunkya” (MN 63), Majjhima Nikaya

 

Essentially it comes down to which point you want to start in and which direction of cosmological complexity you want to go in. I say ‘which point you want’ because at the end of the day, cosmologies are ultimately less important than your actions. Analytic and synthetic designs aren’t mutually exclusive, and  human brain is more than capable of utilizing each.
~ Seth Moris

Consideration of Vitality

Nov
04

vial

ERI~ Ishibashi-Yui

“Then the second thing we observed, is the web as an analogy of mutual interdependence, we could call it the idea that all existence is relative, that all existence is transactional.”

~ Alan Watts 

It is perhaps not effective enough to realize that inevitably one day we will die, to be able to reap the benefits of living. Being able to absentmindedly assert that one understands that life must end, does not mean that one is being mindful of the cessation of vitality. We cannot comprehend death without giving a long hard stare at what it means to say something is “alive”. What is life? What is vitality?

I once read a definition of life that stuck with me, that a living thing was  “a closed thermodynamic system that exports entropy”.  In other words a syntropic system. Everything breaks down. If you abandon a house and it is not repaired over time, it will degrade and fall apart. If the entropy is exported, via repair and the ‘trashing’ of garbage, the house may stand for a hundred years or more (depending on the materials). The same is true for the human body, in that we are a system that is under the effects of entropy, except that we stave it off. Not forever either, as we are all at least abstractly aware of aging and death.

To survive, we put organic matter into our mouths, chew it up, and consume the vital nutrients that make up the food. Our bodies digest it, break it up into smaller bits and uses it to fuel, construct and repair our bodies. We burn calories, but we cannot burn infinite calories before we break down.

We are used to measuring our vitality in ‘time’. We say we are X amount of years old. That we are Y amount of years young. We say that someone has lived a long time, or lived a short time. But time is fleeting, and while clocks synchronize to each other this does not change the first-person subjective expansion and contraction of time that we all experience every day. We lose time to movies, reading, playing music and so forth. Time drags on when we are bored, in pain or anxious. Perhaps a more accurate way of viewing things would be to think of our lives not in a manner of years, or time, but rather to think of it as a finite vital essence. This is of course meant as an abstract, I am not suggesting anything akin to Franz Mesmer’s “Vital Fluid”. But the use it serves as an abstract is to remind us that all things have a price.

roses

Lets suppose you work for ten dollars an hour (just to make the math easy) and forty hours a week. By the end of the week you’ve got a crisp 400 dollars in your pocket. We often hear people refer to work as trading time for money, or that time is money. But what is it exactly that the clocks are measuring? Your vitality, waning. You are trading a piece of your life, for the monetary gain. I am not putting this in a negative light either. If you didn’t trade the vitality for money, you’d just be trading it for something else. Setting traps for game, growing crops, making shelter, all have their cost in vitality. Money is simply another way of exchanging this vital essence, but we are mistaken to think of it as ‘time’. But at the end of the work week, you can look at that 400 dollars and see forty hours. Five work days, eight hours a piece. You can look at these ‘eight hours’ and divide it further.

If you would, stop for a moment and count out a full minute (preferably using a clock). While you do, note your breathing. Note any bodily functions that arise. Any feelings or sensations. Your heart beat. Consider that your body is using a large portion of the nutrients you eat to give you body heat (this is why mammals generally eat a great more than reptiles). While you are thinking these things take note that your brain requires approximately 20% of your daily calories to even function.   Take note of all of them for a minute. An hour is sixty of those. Eight hours is 480 of those. A forty hour work week is 2,400 of those.

Our vitality is finite. It’s not enough to simply understand that one day ‘we die’. Its not that simple. Every day, we lose more and more of a finite store of vitality, constantly replenished and guarded over, but ultimately squandered away by many due to a sheer lack of appreciation. Every moment is an exchange. Every choice is a transaction.

Nothing is free, and this is precisely why our actions have value.

~ Seth Moris

Edit-

Humans actually appear to be considered open thermodynamic systems, not closed. My mistake.

The Pools of Lethe and Mnemosyne, Psychic Symbolism

Sep
03

lethe

The River of Lethe

THE consort I invoke of Jove divine,
Source of the holy, sweetly-speaking Nine;

Free from th’ oblivion of the fallen mind,
By whom the soul with intellect is join’d:
Reason’s increase, and thought to thee belong, 
All-powerful, pleasant, vigilant, and strong:
‘Tis thine, to waken from lethargic rest
All thoughts deposited within the breast;
And nought neglecting, vigorous to excite
The mental eye from dark oblivion’s night. 
Come, blessed power, thy mystic’s mem’ry wake
To holy rites, and Lethe’s fetters break.

~ Orphic Hymn To Mnemosyne, Titaness of Memory

                               Something interesting I came across, while perusing the webs for information on the Greek goddess/titaness Mnemosyne, from whom the word mnemonic takes it root from. I realized a certain combination of archetypal figures in the Greek mythology that I found most interesting given my particular fascination with Lucid Dreaming.

I’ve always been fascinated by lucid dreaming, specifically what is known as W.I.L.D’s or “Wake Initiated Lucid Dreaming”. For those of you who don’t know what lucid dreaming, or W.I.L.D’s are, information on them are available widely on the internet. I was entranced from the very first time I had achieved one, when I was on my adventure walking around America a couple of years ago, specifically sleeping in a tent in the industrial district of Chattanooga, Tennessee. The ability for the human brain to induce a state akin to what most people only dream of with ‘virtual reality’ without the use of consumed oneirogens struck me as quite interesting, and potentially very useful.

However, even though I have had a handful of successes with W.I.L.D’s, I faced and still face the same issues that most people do when attempting them; how to stay conscious while tricking my body into falling asleep and engaging sleep paralysis so that I could, all pomp and facade aside, hallucinate lucidly. It was for this reason that I had endeavored to create my own, unique mnemonic mantra to help me focus before attempting to W.I.L.D, which served me with much success with the few attempts I used it. The chant essentially centered around beseeching the Force of Memory, who I chose to personify as Mnemosyne, and others including Hypnos, and his three brother/sons the Oneiro. This led me to a fascination with the Greek titaness specifically, and I soon began delving into research about her from an almost information-magpie perspective.

Of course, my human brain kept telling me to go along with a theme, and I started doing research on Mnemosyne it branched into Hypnos, and the Oneiroi (from where the term oneironaut stems from). However, something was missing. While chanting mantras that called upon the archetypal Forces that these Greek daimon/gods represented to induce mindfulness was helpful, I hadn’t begun to focus on the main culprit of my failures; the Oblivion of unmindful, unconscious sleep that would sneak upon me and whisk me hours into the future, with no dreams lucid or otherwise to report on.

It wasn’t until later however that I stumbled across the perfect symbol for the dreaded “Oblivion” point that so many people reach when they hit what is called ‘dead sleep’ or ‘blacking out’; the River Lethe. According to Greek myth, Lethe was a river in Hades, one of five, that (according to different accounts) either went through or around the poppy surrounded cave where Hypnos slept in Hades, guarded by his brothers/sons the Oneiroi; the river which  caused forgetfulness and unmindfulness in whomever drank from its waters and whose burbling sound lulled Hypnos and whomever heard it asleep.  I came to refer to the ‘black out’ period of sleep as ‘drinking from Lethe”. When my mind would ramble on automatically, I would think of this as the ‘burbling of the river”. I figured if a river for forgetfulness was in the way between my goal and I, that invoking the Force of Reminiscence through (somewhat ironically) mnemonic chanting would be the way to go.

Recently I found an interesting if completely reasonable connection between Mnemosyne and Lethe; the initiates of certain mystical orders (perhaps related to the Orphic cult poetry) were told that when they died, they should not drink from the river of Lethe, but rather from the pool of Mnemosyne, so that they could retain their memories. It should come as no surprise that Memory should be used to combat Forgetfulness, but this helped further cement the entire mnemonic endeavor of my own. My research now tightly wound together with my own mnemonic incantations in my mind.

The Greeks certainly knew how to map the mindscape.

~ Seth Moris

 

mnemo

Mnemosyne