April 12th, 2005

From"Decoded" The arrival



“It has not been possible to construct this book on a basis of pure Scepticism. This matters less, as the practice leads to Scepticism, and it may be through it…”
Aleister Crowley, “Liber Thisharb”

Curiously, occultists – organized occultists (whatever that means, exactly) – are among those people who are most resistant to ideas outside their immediate horizons which can loosely be defined as “fringe” ideas. One is tempted to define this as “fringe conservativism”. As one wit among my friends observed, and I semi-quote from my semi-memory, “Sure, ghosts and flying saucers are crazy, weird out-of-the-mainstream notions, as opposed to praterhuman intelligences dictating holy books for purported new aeons.”

Therein lies the enigma. I was once told outright by a Source very high in the organized occultist community that ‘our’ goal is respectability. Now, my goal is paradigm shift. I sat quietly for a second, thoughts of sugarplum delusions dancing through my head. What I wanted to say was, “Are you frigging nuts? Do you imagine that the premises of magick are, however packaged, less bizarre and beyond-the-fringe than, say, extraterrestrial intelligence or paranormal phenomena? What frigging planet are you living on? On this planet there is far more scientific and cultural acceptance for, say, alternative health techniques, paranormal research or the existence of what used to be called antediluvian civilizations than there is – or is likely to be – for occultism, however packaged.” But the person offering this opinion, just a person after all, was my ultra- superior in the order (if not, IMHO, in the Work), and, out of respect for his position, and the “culture of fear” so recently much discussed, at last, with candor, I let the matter be.

The paradox is that if respectability were the goal of the organized manifestation, it would find far more sympathizers and allies in and out of academia if it adopted and adapted some of the techniques of careful research pioneered by the Society for Psychical Research and more contemporary paranormal research foundations and institutions. I advocate precisely that but I am, I fear, yet again a (nearly) lone voice crying in the wilderness.

But, enough of that. I wanted primarily to speak here about one such area – reincarnation. My own interest in the subject goes back – it is eerie for me to think of it in these terms – but, some half a century. In the middle years of the superficially quiescent 1950s a sensational case of hypnotic regression and reincarnation became a sweeping bestselling book, “The Search for Bridey Murphey”. It was the popular beach read of the year, discussed by virtually everyone. Thereafter, my father, with his slightly perverse sense of humor, would refer to my mother as “Magie Murphy” (her name was “Mary Margaret a/k/a “Margie”) an oddity for a Jewish woman from Waynesboro, GA, and he surely did it to annoy her. He succeeded.

About the same time as “Bridey Murphy” was setting into motion a long, faddish fascination with “past life regressive hypnosis” another best seller appeared giving first exposure in public awareness of a case of so-called “split personality,” “The Three Faces of Eve” – which my mother much preferred to “Bridey Murphy” for some reason - and brought to the silver screen by Joanne Woodward in her Oscar-winning performance as Eve. As it happens, the latter was local news in my home town—the case had been developed in Augusta, Georgia by a prominent local physician, and was a lot closer to home; common street gossip, in fact, but my mother remained “Maggie Murphy” for the rest of my father’s life.

I, on the other hand, took in both stories with equal interest. Somewhere pretty early-on I began to realize the weakness of hypnotic regression as a tool for assessing the reality of an individual supposed case of reincarnation, let alone the underlying reality of the phenomenon, precisely because of the complexity of the human mind and the ability to compartmentalize into different “lives” as in the Eve case, as well as how much of hypnosis and hypnotic states conflated memories and dreams with suggestion, often from the expectations of the hypnotist. I remembered this well when alleged UFO abduction cases began to emerge with the Betty and Barney Hill case some years later, and eventually came to think of hypnosis as a useful tool for freeing up repressed memory provided that substantial and independent supportive details confirmed (or disconfirmed) information ‘remembered’ under hypnosis.

A personal anecdote will suffice to clarify what I mean. In the early years of Eulis Lodge (at a time when OTO’s position on scientific hypnosis had not yet been clarified), I conducted a workshop in using what might well be described as hypnotic regression for remembering past lives, though my technique relied heavily upon the insights of Crowley’s Liber Thisharb, which I had taken the trouble to master. My volunteer subject was the mercurial Frater Wyrdsli, and, following my talk, I focused intensely on the subject, and, using my own modified techniques of induction, regressed him back to a supposed past life as a Chicago gangster, which he gave a sketchy account of containing interesting but no obviously verifiable elements. When I looked up, I was surprised – and vaguely amused – that fully a third of the other persons present for the workshop had also been ‘inducted’ and each recalled some past life fragments. All very interesting, but suggestive of nothing more than the power of suggestion, at least, without supporting evidentiary material. The rule of thumb has to be as stated in Thisharb, “It may be then that the memory will persuade the adept of some previous existence. Where this is possible, let it be checked by an appeal to facts….”

That is the essence of this entire line of inquiry. I think if “The Search for Bridey Murphy” and the like had been the whole of the evidence for reincarnation, I would never have been persuaded of its reality. Yet I have for some years been utterly convinced, to the point of moral certainty, that reincarnation is a reality, and a widespread if not universal phenomenon. I do not make this statement idly. It doesn’t exactly fly in the face of scientific reasoning, but it falls outside the province of any explanation science has to offer, and it is more a matter of surmise than conviction that I assume some sort of unknown energy transfer, outside the range of present understanding, which accounts for the how of reincarnation, as, indeed, I suspect, it accounts for many veritable “fringe” matters, including practical magick. But that story is for another day.

No, it was an entirely different type of research, totally apart from hypnotic regression, which convinced me that reincarnation not only exists, but is an integral part of a pattern which encompasses out-of-body experiences (OOBEs), Near Death Experiences (NDEs), memories of inter-life states and certain well-documented apparitions of the dead as well. Collapse )

Briefly, in other news, at a Holy Days event in which the ‘past lives’ of so many people with past and present connections to the Order – and one another – made it seem almost, uhm, incestuous, I spoke at length (and, I confess, with some difficulty) to a core of magical pioneers interested in working on a new round of “points chauds” experiments, and tentative plans were made on the spot for further work.

I also wanted to comment on my recent acquisition of “The Exorcist – The Version You’ve Never Seen” which lives up to its boast. I saw the film when it was new, was duly scared silly, was freaked for weeks by the strange noises in the attic conveniently following the film until my then-partner spotted a family of cats going in and out of a vent leading up there, but, anyhow, the DVD remastered sound is duly impressive, the additional scenes are – appropriate, and I can see why they were left out way back when (1973), and the ‘extras’ are worth the price of admission. It’s hard to get scared by a film you’ve seen in one form or another a gazillion times, but I jumped in my seat once – and I won’t spoil it by telling you where. A William Friedkin masterpiece of a William Peter Blattey masterpiece.

In other news, James informs me HBO has yet to give a go-ahead on a third season of Carnivale. As I maintain you are not a true magician if you don’t watch Carnivale (dare I say it?) religiously, you really need to bombard HBO with letters, notes and, buying junk from their website.
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