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Dave Lee’s Tales of Magic (12th Instalment)

Tales of Magic Part 12: The First UK IOT Group’s First Meetings

Liber Null was a revelation. Here was an attitude to the Mysteries that did not reject the things science had discovered about how the material world works but neither did it approach that world with the dull, prison-planet mentality of scientism. Nor did it place years of tedious theoretical training in the way of doing actual practical magic.

And ‘Sorceries of Tao and Zos’ – it all sounded so romantic!

I met Pete Carroll in the Sorcerer’s Apprentice on one of the aforementioned coffee mornings. He’d come back from his world travels, in the course of which he’d founded the first IOT Temple, The Church of Chaos, in Sydney, Australia, with one Frater Vegtan. Pete referred to it as the ‘IOT in style’. Judging by the stories he told, this meant some elegant public rituals and some serious partying. The Church apparently ran for about 6 months in 1980, leaving no succession.

Pete moved to East Morton, the village where Ray Sherwin lived. The Yorkshire group was the next IOT group, and the first in the British Isles.

The group started in late 1980, and ran till May 1982. The theme for the first working was perhaps an odd choice – an astral sabbat – but it was to try out Pete’s home made belladonna ointment. His previous experiment with belladonna had not gone well. He made some into jam, and he and his friend kept sampling it, making that classic naïve-drug-taker mistake of thinking ‘Oh, it’s over an hour now, and nothing’s happened, let’s have some more.’ On the basis of that experiment, Pete’s wife summed up belladonna as ‘Good for a night in the intensive care unit.’

The idea was we would find a site to visit in dream, go home and rub the ointment on ourselves, dream and meet up. Here’s part of my diary entry for when we went to get a feel for the site in East Morton:

SAT 15TH NOV: PREP. OF SABBAT SITE:

PD, Anjie, Ray, Pete Carroll and me. Foundations under the grass, left from Morton’s better days, before the (local) flood. We dowsed the site. Got feel of it for Sabbat, returned to centre and placed blood and spit beneath centre stone as homing beacon.

Stood facing east and dedicated whole working to Higher Self.

The actual working was a week later.

SAT 22ND NOV: THE SABBAT NIGHT (00.00 onwards, PD’s place)

Moon incense, violet robe, dog skull, one candle.

Anointed forearms, forehead, thighs with belladonna flying ointment: ‘This ointment is the key of night/ unlocks the eyes of dream / I go in cloak of Dark Mother / … Let the wings of dream unfold / and cast me on the night to place prepared’

SHADDAI EL CHAI!

A few pranayama cycles, retaining breaths.

After maybe ¼ hour, abrupt changes: in and out of tiny dream sequences … visualized the Sabbat site from a remarkable number of different perspectives.

Slept for 8 hrs. Dreams of normal vividness and no special interest. Woke fine and refreshed!

This was disappointing, but a worthwhile belladonna experiment. Tropane alkaloids are notoriously capricious, with a disturbingly low ratio of effective dose-to-lethal-dose, and I never felt like trying again with a larger amount. I’m more of a tryptamines man myself.

Dave Lee is the author of several books, including Chaotopia, Bright From the Well and Life Force: Sensed Energy in Breathwork, Psychedelia and Chaos Magick. Visit his website and sign up for his newsletter.

In Praise of MMM: Motionlessness/No Thought

If there’s one signature exercise amongst the Illuminates of Thanateros it’s Motionlessness/No Thought – MNT. In itself it’s unassuming and dull yet difficult and That Chore Which Must Be Done if you’re a Novice. It lurks among the Mind Control exercises of the Illuminates of Thanateros Novice training program, the ‘studentship syllabus,’ called Liber MMM, like the black sheep at the wedding reception.

Where did it come from? In the seminal chaos magic book Liber Null, Peter J. Carroll adapted the Yoga exercises of Aleister Crowley’s Book 4: Mysticism (part 1) for his adaptation within Liber MMM. This in turn was appropriated from The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.

More than anything else, MNT forges and storm-proofs the magician. When one of those ‘there’s something out there and it’s in here!’ moments occurs, if you’re going to look a god in its one massive bloodshot eye without shitting yourself, your Proper Prior Preparation and Practice of MNT helps you stand as The Magician In The Moment. When synchronicities turn your life into a shitstorm, you need the inner composure that meditation offers.

And all this starts from just sitting still.

Motionlessness is about not shifting weight, not scratching those inevitable little itches, and so forth. It’s not about torso movements when you breathe or tics or involuntary eye movements or blinking (if those bother you, shut your eyes). Pick a posture and stick to it. Since you don’t want to be shifting for comfort, pick a posture that’s comfortable in the first place. I did know someone who started off by doing his MNT in the Dragon Posture, but he doesn’t recommend it. Don’t try to be hardcore: leave your ego outside the Temple door.

If you gaze at a random spot on the wall you’ll very soon notice a slight tunnel vision. This is you entering a very light trance. Relax into it and your breathing will slow, swallowing and blinking are inhibited and the itches will become ignorable.

Breathing: pranayama. There’s a simple technique. In — out. And so forth. Fancy breathing techniques can wait, unless you already have mastery of them.

No-Thought is an unceasing business. Begin by just watching thoughts arise and pass away. Do nothing about them. When you catch yourself fixating on a thought, just drop it.

As you become aware of ‘space’ as it were in your consciousness where no thoughts are, as thoughts arise then deliberately ignore them and attend instead to that empty space. From time to time you get some blessed peace, when there are no thoughts to ignore. You’ll probably notice this moment of peace only when it’s over.

It’s not so much about that moment as the abilities, manifested over time, to drop easily into inhibitory trance states, to close down unhelpful streams of thought while under pressure and to concentrate on what is currently important. The concentration you’re looking for is not the fierce fixed frown and furious glare; it’s the relaxed absorption of a child at play. You are ‘in neutral,’ as it were. From this state you will learn to put yourself in gear by paying attention to something and there the magic starts.

Start with about 15 minutes and after a few days of practice add five minutes, and so forth until you’ve got 30 minutes’ practice time. It is totally worth it. This is why to this day the Illuminates of Thanateros still champion this practice and require our Novices to practice it daily.

Enochian Aethyrs in the Temple

In Liber Null and Psychonaut is the ‘Mass of Chaos B’ and in its invocation of Baphomet it is asserted that (S)he lives in the First and Highest Aethyr, which is LIL. This gave me the idea to share a technique that our coven developed and refined over 5 years with which to explore the Enochian Aethyrs with a temple gathering.

Some time ago I set myself the task of learning of by heart the Call of the 30 Aethyrs. This took me a number of weeks as I have a memory like a sieve. I then set about constructing a complete Enochian ritual with which to accomplish my mission. My first attempts at opening the Aethyrs and exploring them were of mixed success. It felt that I managed to open the doors a little bit and peek-in. Part of the problem is my lack of clairvoyance. However, there was some success; I did get some good visions and I began to have some kind of a map forming in my mind.

To delve deeper I learned the Call in English and would then say the Key first in English and then in Enochian. This did actually open a whole new dimension to this work as getting to know what the Call says puts a great deal of context into this magic and helps set the tone. It is well known that the Call has a very apocalyptic feel to it and within it there are layers of meaning and a complex dialogue between several entities.

My second mission into the Aethyrs did bring back more information. There can be quite a dogmatic perspective on what you are supposed to experience in each Aethyr and magicians of a particular school can get quite irritated if your experience does not accurately tally with that found in The Vision and the Voice. My view on this is that you are really exploring your own arcana and not that of Therion. I found a certain commonality but a huge and interesting divergence. My most stunning and for me interesting departure was finding St Peter in the Abyss and not Choronzon as the Guardian.

By far my greatest success with working the Aethyrs has always been within a temple setting with other magicians. Our coven had spectacular success opening the Aires. Our first attempt culminated in us exploring an extremely vivid cyclopean underwater city complete with buildings and a temple at its centre. Another time we explored Spare’s ‘atavistic resurgence’ via the Enochian Aethyrs and travelled down the evolutionary ladder with the aim of reaching an all embracing simplicity or a primal ancestor. We saw some hooded figures unveiling themselves in a cave-chamber deep underground to reveal what I would describe as caricatures of ourselves: I woke up with these words in Enochian the next morning and I had to look them up in my dictionary: ‘behold the face of your God’!

The method that I came to call ‘spontaneous pathworking’ is really very simple and is as follows:

After creating a sacred space using preferably an Enochian Watchtowers ritual and some cleansing of the participants and a strong invocation, the Call of the 30 Aethyrs is intoned in English and then in Enochian.

At a temple gathering I truncated the ritual a bit as I was a bit nervous about presenting it but it worked perfectly well. I used my strong Enochian Circle ritual and my Enochian ‘Bornless Ritual.’ I made sure to include a cleansing ceremony which ‘Dr Chaos’ from our coven accomplished by using a rattle to clear the aura of each participant in turn.

I placed my rather large obsidian ball on the altar with us forming a circle around it and kept it veiled until everyone was ‘cleansed’ and waiting with a little bit of anticipation and curiosity.

I explained to everyone the method: I would intone the key and then we would pass round a narrative with a squeeze of the hand to the person to one’s left: simple. I would start with for example: ‘I see an entrance to a cave in front of us, we enter and we can now see torch-lit steps leading steeply downwards in a spiral’ etc. When done I would then squeeze the hand of the person to my left and they would continue and quite often a very rich narrative would unfold with several complete circuits round all of the participants.

The result was really very good! I think that we came up with a vision of LIL: ‘The First and Highest’ Aethyr which was rich and vibrant and could easily rival anything within The Vision and the Voice. I could tell that some people were much more clairvoyant than others and could sense a rising and falling of quality which was fine as long as the narrative kept on being passed round. When we finally opened our eyes I was pleased and proud to see that people had a similar expression on their faces as if they had just got off a rollercoaster.

Frater Ananael 252

 

Hail Eris! Discordia in Sheffield

When Sheffield-based Notwork 23 held their recent Catch23 festival, there was bound to be a strong Pact presence. Dave Lee was one of several with a part to play in the opening ritual centring on a double invocation of Eris and Horkos, the Goddess of Discord and the God that makes you keep your promises, becoming a heady affair of invocations of all the Colours of Chaos.

Soror Brigantia and Kite had planned on attending simply to enjoy not organising anything this time, as did other Pact people in the locality, but … ya know … Hail Eris and we got roped into the ritual too. Inclusiveness, appreciation of variety and passionate magical expression drove the ritual point-first into the Festival and pegged the whole fiercely sunny day firmly as we went on to experience- well …

There was a room dedicated to talks and workshops. Personal favourites included Dave Lee and musician/magician George Rogers collaborating in the working “From SNAFU to FUBAR, a working against the global war machine;” Ian (Cat) Vincent drawing on his vast experience for the workshop “Defence Against the Dark Arts” and the gong bath. That was an unexpected treat for someone who’d never bathed a gong in his life.

And that Kite guy was a late substitute speaker, giving a hot sweaty audience a rehash of how You Are The Experiment.”

Meanwhile, there was music going on everywhere, all day and late into the night, with a vast and strange variety from plain acoustic bands to Discordian musical happenings. There was a beautiful, mellow – if overwhelmingly hot – atmosphere, and we wound up talking all night with a succession of great folks we’d never met before.

Gotta admit it, we were jealous of Sheffield at this point. So well done to Notwork 23 and all the other disorganizations involved with putting this event together at the Yellow Arch Studios in Hipster Central, Sheffield. Special shout to Anwen Burrows, without whom- well, gods only know. Hail Eris!

The Past Reached Forward and Touched Me

The past caught up with me recently. You see, when I became a chaos magician in 1997, I found that by far the biggest counterbalance to British-flavoured chaos magic was the zee-list and its associated loosely-knit mostly online not-quite-a-community called the (Z)Cluster. The (Z)Cluster brought with it the anarchic humour of Discordianism without leaning on the joke religion or the Illuminati conspiracy conceit.

Central to it were New Orleans and two characters called Marik and FireClown. They had created a wave of vibrant, irreverent yet seriously practical magic that this new chaos magician could surf to his heart’s content via the zee-list threads and tortuously slow page downloads. With the impetus of this wave, a newbie solo magician somewhere in Wales became the Kite. And here we are.

Anyway, time passed, as did the wave. The Millennium was a disappointment and/or a disaster, depending on your field of interest. The occult high tide ebbed, the newsgroups, the zee-list and many of the old online haunts became ghost ships or sank altogether, and big players moved on. Marik and FireClown became talismanic jewellers. I got my first Pact ring made by Marik, may he rest in peace.

And then I ran across this recently published book. And loved it. It took me right back to stuff I was doing around the Millennium, and yet the author was fully in synch with the current return to spirit model magic as animism. The book is reflective, humane, full of practical street-level stuff — just the sort of book I would have loved to have found back then. That said, it isn’t too late – it’s still a precious find and I’m going to thump the tub for this author and his book. I was so impressed I emailed the author to tell him. His reply ends:

All the best-
Aidan who was Fireclown”

And the past reached forward and touched me.

Kite

Get Six Ways by Aidan Wachter and see if I’m right:

 

 

Tales of Magic by Dave Lee (11th Instalment)

Tales of Magic 11: The Temple at the Squat

In Summer 1978 I moved into a house in Leeds where a friend was living. It was a peculiar arrangement – my friend had started living there as a rent-paying tenant, but the landlord had apparently gone missing over a year before. So it was called a squat, but could easily be thought of as a rented property with nonexistent arrears collection.

I was there till November 1980, so it was the home setting for much of my early magical history.

It was a corner house, a big Victorian terrace with 5 bedrooms and two rooms downstairs. And in poor repair; the electricity supply for instance was a standing joke, in particular a cluster of wires from a presumed older wiring job which hung down just above head height in the hallway. On more than one occasion, my housemate warned people ‘Mind out, it’s the home ECT kit.’ Then one night, convinced they weren’t live, he grabbed the wires and pulled them down, blowing the fuses in a circuit we hadn’t known was still connected to the mains.

This was the time during which I started going to the Sorcerer’s Apprentice. As well as browsing the books and enjoying the dark atmosphere exuded by the mixture of mysterious objects on display, I loved the smell, which wasn’t quite like anything I’d encountered before. I’ve always been fascinated by smells, and the aroma of the SA was another face of the mysteries to explore. The source of that complex aroma was the immense variety of aromatics – essential oils, perfume blends and herbs, and the dozens of ready-made incenses. Joss sticks had soared in popularity in my youth, and had been part of my life for years; only once, at the 1971 Glastonbury Fair, had I smelled proper ritual incense, the sort that is mostly resins with added herbs and oils, the sort that needs to be burned on hot charcoal. I was transported; this was something completely new. This was the Real Stuff, the genuine article for an aromatics fiend. Now, in the SA, I was being given the opportunity to choose from a vast selection of just this type of incense. I bought a packet of Venus and a roll of charcoal.

When I got back to my room at the squat, I was like a kid with a new toy. I lit a sputtering charcoal disc and sprinkled on it a little of the Venus incense. While I was contemplating the gorgeous smelling smoke, my girlfriend came round. There was a knock at the door, then another. Three lovely women, the other two of whom had come round to look for other people in the house, were now in my room. This pleasant little synchronicity convinced me of the importance of magical incense.

Another magician moved in. The magical atmosphere of the house thickened up. The weirdness extended to the plumbing. I’ve written elsewhere (in Bright From the Well https://mandrake.uk.net/bright-from-the-well-northern-tales-in-the-modern-world/) of the unpleasant vibe we started to notice on the ground floor, and how my girlfriend and I attempted to overcome it with the energy of sex magic, and how that exciting but ill-judged working was closely followed by a water pipe bursting and flooding the cellar.

bright-from-the-well-193x300

I managed a few summer months in the front downstairs room then another housemate moved out and I took over his room, which was upstairs, warmer and drier. We cleared my enormous old room out and made it into a temple where we meditated or did Qabalistic pathworkings, or used a Pentagram rite to ‘open the Quarters’ and just explore magical spaces. After Sorcerer’s Apprentice coffee mornings, we often invited people back for sessions in our temple. On one of those occasions, we hosted Mike and Marian from Southampton, two magicians who were working with their own unique blend of Qabalistic, Enochian and I Ching astral doorways. In our humble temple, they led a combined Opening of the Quarters. It was the first time I had been so electrified by ceremonial magic. As Mike vibrated the Enochian words over my head, I felt as if I was being filled with radiant, structured energy. I had discovered a new magical experience, and wanted more.

dave lee

Dave Lee is the author of several books, including Chaotopia, Bright From the Well and Life Force: Sensed Energy in Breathwork, Psychedelia and Chaos Magick. Visit his website and sign up for his newsletter.

Tales of Magic by Dave Lee: (10th Instalment)

Tales of Magic Part 10: The Further Adventures of the LUUOS

I mentioned earlier in ToM the LUUOS and its star-studded lineup of speakers. The LUUOS went thro various incarnations: the prototype Occult Group (1976/7) based round Amado’s followers, the full LUUOS (1978-87-ish), then finally a collaboration with the music society The Black Lodge, which eventually absorbed it. The Black Lodge people got their occultism from Goth album covers and the more sophisticated ideas from Temple of Psychic Youth material. I recall one of their organizers getting a tattoo of ‘93’ done. His mate asked him what it was about. He replied ‘I shall have to find out some day.’

But before the rot set in there were a few years of excellent regular events. One night, PD Brown, Ray Sherwin and I gave a rambling seminar about chaos magic, which was recorded and issued as a cassette tape called ‘The Chaos Current’. (I can’t find a link for any current edition of this). I first met PD on the Leeds-Sheffield bus. I was visiting my girlfriend, he his coven, as it turned out. He was sitting across the aisle of the bus from me. I could see he was reading a book entitled ‘The Book of Shadows.’ At some point he looked over and saw that I was reading ‘Liber Null’. The bus had to wait for half an hour in Barnsley to wait for another driver, so we two magical strangers went for a drink. Not long after, PD came up with the idea of a virtual magical working with an audio soundtrack, a fairly rare idea back then. He wrote and recorded ‘The Chaochamber’ and sold it as a cassette tape (currently available as a CD. (Not to be confused with the audio item ‘The Chaosphere’, by the Sorcerer’s Apprentice): https://www.amazon.com/Chaos-Magick-Audio-CDs-Chaochamber/dp/1935150499)

I started making incenses for magic in 1978 (see the forthcoming episode The Temple in the Squat) and PD asked me to make one for the Chaochamber. My first thought was: but there aren’t any attributions for Chaos! So I thought about the imagery that PD was conjuring.. the flight deck of an ethership in etherspace… and made a blend of some of the most alien and high-tech smelling perfumes I could find.

Later in the LUUOS timeline, we had a visit from Lionel Snell. He gave a great talk, taking us into magical thinking via elegant scepticism, and we treated him to a slap-up curry in the Arndale Centre afterwards. It was a Friday night in central Leeds, so it was a bit lively. One chap at a nearby table conceived a drunken fixation on Lionel, yelling, ‘Eyup Neil Kinnock!’ Lionel was amused, and unfailingly polite as the man crawled across the floor and grinned up at him.

We also hosted giant of the Northern magic world, Ian Read, who taught us a good deal about the core ideas of the runes. We were opened up to the wonders of ancient landscape magic by Brian Larkman’s fascinating talk on ‘the Illuminated Stones of Ilkley Moor’.

Typhonian Ken Cox gave a talk on Starting High Magick, and another on Monsters. Arch-Typhonian Michael Staley gave one on the Book of the Law. Mogg Morgan spoke about breaking gender boundaries in sexual magic, and Andrew Stenson introduced the AMOOKOS Tantric lineage.

Later, there was the infamous Freya Aswynn, proudly proclaiming in front of a poster about a remember-Kristallnacht event that the night in question was her birthday.

This tale will continue in a later episode about the end of the LUUOS and the Era of Zines.

Dave Lee is the author of several books, including Chaotopia, Bright From the Well and Life Force: Sensed Energy in Breathwork, Psychedelia and Chaos Magick. Visit his website and sign up for his newsletter.

Death and the Lovers

This was the theme of the Occult Conference 2018, held in Glastonbury by The Visible College. As soon as it was announced we suggested to the organiser, Sef Salem, that an event themed around Thanatos and Eros should have some input from a magical organisation with ‘Thanateros’ in the name. Surprisingly, he concurred.

It was quite a successful gathering all round. The IOT British Isles Section was active as myself and Section Head Soror Brigantia presented a workshop on the polarities of Black Saturnine and Silver/Purple Lunar magic, the Thanateros current in the raw. Here we find the tensions and paradoxical coincidence of opposites of beginning and ending, burgeoning life and decline into death, the Knowledge of Arising and Passing Away, from coagula to solve, each implying the other as two sides of a coin. We began by resuming the Star of Chaos and its paradoxes. We ended with a version of Pete Carroll’s insufficiently famous Thanateros Rite from Liber Kaos.

Shortly after our workshop there was that earthquake that measured 4.7 and originated from a few miles north of where we live. That means nothing, okay? It wasn’t our fault. Fault, geddit? Oh, never mind.

The following day we reflected on the ritual and workshop we had done the day before, recounting the Greek mythic lore of Chaos, Eros and Thanatos underpinning our work and discussed Austin Spare’s Death Posture in the light of that.

Next, past Section Head Dave Lee developed the Death Posture further, drawing on an article by our beloved brother Alan Chapman and on his own knowledge and experience of Connected Breathwork. He followed this with a practical workshop so that we could all have a go. This was an extraordinary experience.

More extraordinary though was the closing ritual of the Conference, which Soror Brigantia, Dave and I had devised, involving invocations of Eros and Thanatos and La Danse Macabre de la Vie, l’Univers et le Reste, manifesting as a giant double conga doing its DNA thing and splicing the entire Conference experience together.

And so it was done.

 

Check out Dave Lee’s Chaotopia website and maybe sign up for his newsletter.

Also see Alan Chapman’s website Wiser by Design and maybe buy his book on magic(k).

And then there’s the Kite’s Cradle.

Alan Chapman on the Death Posture

Austin Spare’s Death Posture has been aired in chaos magic circles quite a bit lately and is widely misunderstood. As far as we know, the best clarification of this technique was published by our good friend and IOT colleague Alan Chapman on the much-missed website The Baptist’s Head. It was republished in the print collection The Blood of the Saints, now out of print and going for silly money, but Alan has given us permission to publish the article again. Thank you Alan.

 

The Death Posture: A Definitive Instruction by Alan Chapman

Spare’s ‘Death Posture’ is the most misunderstood magical technique in the world. Ever.

The technique is described in The Book of Pleasure (Spare, 2005) and so I sympathise with any initial confusion readers may have concerning the posture; after all. Spare’s writing is demented.

However, a simple re-read of the page in question should be enough to dispel the confusion. I can only surmise from the absolute rubbish presented in many books, magazines and websites as ‘the death posture’ is due to the fact that most people cannot be bothered to read carefully.

The Ritual and Doctrine

The instruction is given in three paragraphs. Here’s how they are printed:

“Lying on your back lazily, the body expressing the condition of yawning, suspiring while conceiving by smiling, that is the idea of the posture. Forgetting time with those things which were essential reflecting their meaninglessness, the moment is beyond time and its virtue has happened.

“Standing on tip-toe, with the arms rigid, bound behind by the hands, clasped and straining the utmost, the neck stretched — breathing deeply and spasmodically, till giddy and sensation comes in gusts, gives exhaustion and capacity for the former.

“Gazing at your reflection till it is blurred and you know not the gazer, close your eyes (this usually happens involuntarily) and visualize. The light (always an X in curious evolutions) that is seen should be held on to, never letting go, till the effort is forgotten, this gives a feeling of immensity… whose limit you cannot reach. This should be practised before experiencing the foregoing. The emotion that is felt is the knowledge which tells you why.” (Spare 2005, p. 18)

It’s obvious, isn’t it? The death posture itself is completely open to interpretation. There is no ‘one’ posture; instead it ranges from holding your breath until you pass out, to staring at yourself in the mirror. And it can be used to ‘charge’ sigils.

Actually: no! What big fat hairy bollocks!

If we re-read these three paragraphs, we see that paragraph two (‘”Standing on tip-toe…”) “…gives exhaustion and capacity for the former.” In other words, it is a preliminary exercise for the instruction given in the first paragraph (“Lying on your back…”). As for the exercise given in paragraph three (“Gazing at your reflection…”), we are told: “This should be practised before experiencing the foregoing.”

Paragraph three is therefore a preliminary exercise to be practised before the instructions given in paragraphs one and two. The death posture proper is therefore given in paragraph one. So, to clarify:

1. Practice staring at your eyes in the mirror, until your reflection looks bizarre. Granted, it doesn’t help at this point when Spare tells you to close your eyes and visualise, and then goes on to describe something you should see (“an X in curious evolutions,” which I propose is the image left on the retina — indeed, there is very similar to a Buddhist exercise), but the point is that you concentrate on something, never letting go, until: “this gives a feeling of immensity… whose limit you cannot reach.”

Spare is quite explicit when he says this must be experienced before practising the death posture proper. In other words, you must have a degree of proficiency in concentration. Knowing Spare’s magical background, I believe he is here describing dhyana.

It should be noted that there is nothing special about this concentration exercise, as Spare explains a little later on: “There are many preliminary exercises, as innumerable as sins, futile of themselves but designative of the ultimate means.” (Spare 2005, p. 18). Once Dhyana is achieved, we can move on to the death posture itself.

2. The death posture requires a degree of relaxation, and to obtain this, you may first strain the whole body and hyperventilate. Of course, you could also go for a run or lift some weights — the aim is to be relaxed for the practise of the posture proper. Just to be explicit: holding your breath until you pass out is not the death posture.

3. So, once a degree of competence in concentration is achieved (i.e. you can enter a state of dhyana, or trance), you can practise the posture proper.

I believe the biggest difficulty with understanding the death posture lies with the fact that Spare appears to be telling us to lie down, yawn, smile and ‘let go’ of all of our worries. But that’s not correct. The posture is indeed lying on your back, relaxed, without a care in the world. However, if you think he is advocating relaxation for its own sake, you’re missing the point. If we take a look at the next paragraph. Spare says:

“…know this as the negation of all faith by living it, the end of the duality of consciousness… Know the death posture and its reality in annihilation of law — the ascension from duality.” (Spare 2005, p. 18)

The aim of the death posture is not to achieve ‘gnosis’ in order to ‘charge’ a sigil, but to experience the non-dual. Spare is talking about samadhi, or the experience of what he called Kia.

Spare elaborates on the practice:

“The primordial vacuity (or belief) is not by the exercise of focussing the mind on a negation of all conceivable things, the identity of unity and duality, chaos and uniformity, etc., etc., but by doing it now, not eventually. Perceive, and feel without the necessity of an opposite, but by its relative. Perceive light without shadow by its own colour as contrast, through evoking the emotion of laughter at the time of ecstasy in union, and by practice till that emotion is untiring and subtle. The law of reaction is defeated by inclusion… Let him practise it daily, accordingly, till he arrives at the centre of desire. He has imitated the great purpose… Thus by hindering belief and semen from conception, they become simple and cosmic.” (Spare 2005, p. 18-9)

The ‘primordial vacuity’, or Kia, is achieved by cultivating an awareness of immediate sensation. For example, instead of experiencing a sensation and knowing it as ‘tight’, simply experience the sensation. The correct mental attitude is that which is experienced when you laugh; you accept all experience and sensation (including the sensation of thoughts) without resistance.

If this attitude of inclusive awareness is cultivated by daily practice, you will eventually experience a state of non-duality and bliss.

The parallels between Spare’s instructions and those of the Buddha are quite striking. The death posture facilitates the same awareness as ‘insight practice’ or vipassana, which can only be practised competently once a degree of proficiency in concentration is achieved.

A Practical Summary

1. Practise concentration exercises until you experience dhyana.

2. Practise being aware of all sensations and experiences as they arise without fixing your attention on or identifying with any one thing. (The correct attitude can be engendered by smiling or laughing.) This is easiest to do when relaxed, so practising after physical exercise is ideal. Alternatively, taking up insight practice, vipassana or Taoist meditation will achieve the same result.

Core teaching

Of the sixteen chapters of The Book of Pleasure, eight deal exclusively with the non-dual or Kia, either expounding the virtues of the pursuit of the non-dual, providing instructions for achieving the non-dual, or detailing the resultant state once the non-dual is achieved and becomes habitual (which Spare calls ‘Self-Love’).

Spare is essentially concerned with hedonism. (I think the title of the book gives that away.) If you want the most ecstasy and pleasure possible, if you want the greatest degree of satisfaction, then you must concern yourself with the non-dual:

“The wise pleasure seeker, having realised they are ‘different degrees of desire’ and never desirable, gives up both Virtue and Vice and becomes a Kiaist. Riding the Shark of his desire he crosses the ocean of the dual principle and engages himself in self- love.”(Spare 2005, p. 1)

Self-love is the state that results from the habitual experience of the non-dual, obtained through practising the death posture every day. It is freedom from desire. Now tell me, which brings the greatest pleasure: using sigils to acquire a magical effect, or the transcendence of all desires?

For a long time. Spare has been feted as the father of ‘Chaos Magic’ and the inventor of Sigil Magic. But his greatest magical achievement, the central teaching of The Book of Pleasure has either been misunderstood as an arbitrary component of sigil magic, or completely ignored as the ramblings of a mystic.

With his death posture. Spare managed to boil down the essence of all meditative practice to a very simple, easy and enjoyable method of genuine magical attainment, and not for any lofty, spiritual purpose, but simply for the sake of pleasure.

If you still think magic has nothing to do with mysticism, or is concerned solely with the manifestation of material results, consider the title of the book responsible for ‘starting it all’: The Book of Pleasure (Self-Love): The Psychology of Ecstasy.

 
Alan references the I-H-O 2005 edition, also going for silly money. Instead, get one of the more reasonably-priced collections of Spare’s writings.

Visit Alan’s ground-breaking website, Wiser by Design, buy his book Advanced Magick for Beginners.

Over the Threshold of the Year

January. Month of Janus, the doorkeeper, the portal-master, faintly resembling Dr. John Dee above, simultaneously looking over your shoulder at the past and staring out with you into the future. IOTBIS closes the door on an exciting 2017 and crosses the threshold of 2018 looking forward to an even better year.

Following on quickly from the publication of our book Chaos Streams 01, 2017 was the year we created our Facebook group and began this blog in order to share what we could of what was going on for the British Isles Section, to present some ideas, to keep our friends and allies in the loop, to encourage others to approach. And this has been a great success. We held Transformations, our first big open event for some years, and made a lot of new friends. And we hosted the year’s IOT AGM.

2018 looks set to continue where 2017 left off. This week we inaugurate a new open Working Group, and next month some of us will be making presentations at the Occult Conference in Glastonbury.

Later this year we’ll have a follow-up to the Transformations event, working titled Manifestations. Watch this space for more. And we’re currently collecting submissions for Chaos Streams 02. We have some other plans too, but hey, you gotta keep some surprises, right? Anyway, have an excellent and magical 2018 yourself and CHOYOFAQUE!