If you are at least an Associate Member of the OTA you can view the post on their site with multimedia. I have stripped the pictures and video out of this post.
I just got around to watching The Fountain after several people insisted I see it. Aronofsky is also the director of Pi, which I thought was heavy-handed, and Noah, which I thought was well realized but not an occult film. The Fountain is clearly an occult film. Aronofsky himself claims that he is not setting out to make occult films, but with how heavy handed Pi was and how weak Noah was in the occult, it’s fairly reasonable to assume that yes he is trying to make occult films, but no, he is not initiated into any particular stream.
Black Swan (clearly occult) and Requiem for a Dream (not particularly occult) are other Aronofsky films, but lets assume for a moment that Aronofsky is being honest when he says he’s not making occult films. I haven’t read the script so it’s hard to say just how he describes “the spaceship” but if it’s not mentioned explicitly, I would point to the director of visual effects – James Chinlund – as the obvious occult influence.
Lets review some occult points. The two main characters are Adam and Eve. They’re the archetypes of the first man and the first woman. There is a tree. The two characters go from being Adam and Eve to a more generalized role of a stereotypical male and a stereotypical female as the world progresses from the old era into the modern era. From there, they become more than male and female, but rather western and eastern thought. The female embraces nature and ultimately death as do most eastern religions to which the ultimate goal is annihilation and the masculine figure is really steeped in abrahemic religions as we witness him attempt to live in harmony with nature but ultimately express his individuality.
More to that point: The woman starts out as the ruler over the male in the original force of spain, and this is really the illustration of the original fertility cult. The male force in the world, to quote Varg, is literally expendable in this era as life is cheap and the male force doesn’t spend any time pregnant. Men knocked the women up, the women spent time at home delivering babies, the men went and made the fields nice or conquered someone with food. This is not an argument for feminism, this is an argument for partnership per Aronofsky and Varg. If the explorers don’t come back, the queen is as good as dead. If the explorers do come back, they come back pregnant with the idea of the new world. This is literally Aronofsky flipping the roles and saying that the women delivered the babies in the Garden of Eden, but in the new world as an era, the men really carried that load. The reason, of course, is because the gestation period of news from the New World was longer than the gestation period of humans. This gets covered very briefly when the men are discussing the news to the queen in the new world.
Diving into more passive observations, the old era is mostly scale of three, then scale of four, then rarely scale of five which appears more in the “present tense”. All the wrapping paper, swords, and similar items are either scale of four (four petals on the paper) or scales of three (three swords). Fans of Agrippa take note, you can pretty much follow the black books A to Z here and follow the movie through the modern era. That by itself is some sort of commentary – the viewer is really spoon fed occultism through the very obvious colonial era, to a more nuanced but still formalized modern era of science, which leaves the most interesting era of the future which is really modern day.
Also worth noting is the theme of the stars – in almost every scene in the movie there is a reference to traveling or moving through a starfield. This is really quite well done. The ancient era has the queen as the Host of Heaven, and she sits in a cage which is reminiscent of a galaxy. The torches and the candles make the starfield. The modern era is a bit more traditionally directed with the stars only being present when Izzy isn’t around. This by itself is a wonderful hint and really handed to us in the previous era. The previous era only had the stars invisible when death was present, while the modern era only has stars present in moments of prosecution or when the sun isn’t present. Again Aronofsky flips the roles a bit and makes Izzy so bright that she is the sun and no stars are present where Izzy is, even in death. It actually really feels quite OTO, “There is no God where I am” – and everyone dies.
In the modern era we’re given a grimoire in the film. The modern era of the film is really the mundane world. All our characters in the film are well integrated, so things which happen to them in the outer world affect their inner worlds. When Tommy loses his wedding rings, and Tommy is the subject or God of that modern era, he turns on the stars to help him find them. However the glare is such that the light is harsh, and he witnesses the lights but cannot stand to bear them. Similarly in the ancient era, where Izzy is God in the limited sense that mankind can perceive the Monad, we watch Izzy send Tommy on an impossible quest for immortality, and we also see the death of western religion in her. At the time, the priest is overrun by disgusting pagans who are portrayed as backwards and vulgar. What happens for Izzy is the priest dies, Christianity dies, and Tommy becomes her Christ. The two thieves with Tommy die, one without consulting him and one taking up his sword for the Tommy Christ, only to meet his inevitable end.
Back to the modern era, the theme of the film here is Izzy’s cancer. Tommy, who is the demiurge, can create but he cannot save her. He has authority through his education over the physical world, but he really has no spiritual light of his own at this point having been extinguished twice now. Once trying to find immorality in the physical world in the previous era and once because he becomes angry with the Monad in the modern era for losing Izzy. Izzy herself is pregnant after a fashion since she has cancer and we enter into a theme of shared spirituality through sex. Izzy’s cancer prevents her from feeling, and while she says this in reference to walking in the snow and the hot bathtub, but what Izzy really is saying is that she is losing attachment to the physical world. Izzy’s world is internal, a garden of pomegranates, and she has cultivated it through writing and reading and music and walks in the snow. Her eyes turned inwards. Tommy, being the demiurge, cannot understand this. But he does understand a desire in his soul expressed as love for Izzy and their sex is his sacrament. Izzy dies. Her funeral is bleak and Tommy walks away from humanity alone, which starts the next journey.
Space is really the showpiece of the film, but I also think it’s the most misunderstood part of it. The stars-as-candles are back, and the light is warm and refreshing. Tommy is seen in meditation, so he has become comfortable with the loneliness he experiences at Izzy’s funeral. He is in a sphere with his pomegranate tree (no seriously it’s a pomegranate tree) and the influences are laid out. The pomegranate grants immortality, and the sphere itself is literally a sephira. Around the perimeter of the sphere (“spaceship” in the extras but I’m not a huge fan of Grant) are broken sheds of that tree which comprise the crown. He is in kether and for Tommy, now “there is no God where I am”. The future merely exists for us to understand that the eastern religions which seek annihilation are really dead without acknowledging that we ourselves are divine. When the tree “dies”, and the tree is really Izzy with the weird hair thing going on, Tommy flips out. Tommy’s new communion with Izzy isn’t sex, Tommy is starting to be self actualized as a soul, but he harkens back to more western thought where his sacrament with Izzy is to eat the Host. He hasn’t quite understood his own inner divinity yet. The tree dies, and finally Tommy loses the last link he has to the Monad through Izzy, and this crushes his sephira, which is the internal world he shares with Izzy. He has two choices, he can die (this is the only time we see his breath in the film), and he tries to breathe new life into the tree by blowing on it. But, he finally realizes that he cannot go where Izzy is, even if she is in nature, and he has to go meet the Monad alone. He literally uses the tree as a spring to launch himself towards God, and in our final scene, he sits in the lotus and is consumed by the light as the walls of the original bubble thin and his own sphere launches into the light.
I really enjoyed the film. Anyone else notice anything?
I get now what was happening on the last big evocation I did.
Turns out when the deal fell through (THANKS OBAMA), me and the rest of the support staff were very quietly sacked. Astute readers will probably be able to figure out where I was working, and co-workers will probably be shocked that I was actually the guy running the blog.
But, soft landings – I was hired a few weeks later into a new company doing the exact same roll for the exact same pay. This sort of sounds like it sucks – especially when considering the stock and the fact that I worked at the old place for three+ years which in technology is virtually retirement age. However, since I’m not paying city wage tax or investing two hours a day traveling and paying $200+ a month for a rail pass, it starts to look better. In fact, it’s a 7% raise just because of the wage tax, and I can bicycle to work. I ended up getting literally hours of my life back a day, I can see my wife and kids over lunch, and not paying $200+ a month plus gas expenses just to get to the train are really quite a bit of money in my pocket. How much? My truck payments are less than the money I’m saving not buying the rail pass. I’m now essentially driving, for free. Also everyone at work vapes, which is quite nice, and has kids, so they “get it” when it comes to peripheral stuff.
Now, there’s a lesson in everything. Life is not easy street. I can point to a place I clearly screwed up. I am always telling my wife when she does this stuff with me that Crowley was famous for harping on precision in language, and would mail people dictionaries. When I got ahold of Ibis Aum-Ra, I didn’t use the term “job”, I said “career”. My career is (currently) DevOps. For folks not in the know, it’s a systems engineer who also writes quite a bit of code. I use python, all day every day. Snake imagery is how the vision opened. Having a career is a big road. Having a new job, which is parallel to the old job, is like those two wagon wheel tracks. And peace with the higher ups was granted, HR complimented me on my conduct (apparently other folks were livid) and I was “first in line for a rehire”. I opted not to take it because it came with a pay-cut, but point being, the spirit was correct. Also I am struck by how I kept notes on sunlight in the vision. It was so bright it was hard to see. Ego is the sun (in a lot of ways in Western society, money is solar because our bank accounts are confused with our measure of worth as people), and for the longest time I had held my hopes on getting re-hired and really threw the current offer onto the back burner. Had I decided to give it serious sway instead of chasing stock options, or fiery gold in the sky out of reach, it would have been easier on me. But ultimately what swayed me was the family time, getting two hours a back each day not fighting the trains into the city (again with the rail images) has vastly improved the home life.
So, that settles that. Onward and upward. Know thyself for thou art God.
April 25th, 2015 was a big day, since we had Poke Runyon of the OTA fly out to our corner of the world and bring the Traveling Temple out to our yard. Myself, along with 6 other folks, took initiation into the OTA, and received encampment letters for our study group. What, in my mind, made it a real winner was that a bunch of other OTA folks were just like, “Well if Poke is out there, can we come out too?” Sure! The more the merrier, which is how we went through literally a barrel of beer. Good times all around.
I have spent almost the last month solid working on things like coordinating the building of the henge, fixing up an altar where the lines are terrible, praying to the Gods that the ground isn’t completely frozen (or, as usually happens up here, muddy). I think it really paid off since we caught the trees in bloom which made the yard really pretty and the kids were actually on their good behavior. Our looky-loo neighbors even managed to only discreetly open a window to keep an eye on us. I planted white cedars at the edge of the yard so that problem will go away. The high point of it for me was Poke went around and as part of the initiation he explains the individual symbols attached to (literally painted on in the OTA sense) of each object and gives a short speech on each one. If you attend OTA seasonal events it’s a short version of that without as much acting but it’s all the seasonals rolled into one. What is nice too, is once I got the initiation ritual it took a lot of pressure off the group for the seasonal rites, since now we know what the meat of the expression is.Anyway, mission accomplished, I’m now officially into the OTA and can run study groups/seasonals at the house. If you happen to be in the northeastern US, you can use the Contact page to reach out and we can grab a coffee or mail me.
One of the public things I’ve been doing is taking a Wicca 101 class with my wife’s coven. So far it’s managed not to wander into feminist crap territory or the fluffy bunny new age crap territory, which I took as a positive sign. One of the questions that came up (not unexpectedly) is “can you self initiate?” The official party line was “no”, but that’s pretty much to be expected in any tradition that makes any emphasis on succession. The priesthood since before Christ has always had a laying-on-of-hands to establish clergy. I didn’t point out the obvious that lineage is largely goofy if the roots don’t go back before Gardner despite his claims to the contrary, but no skin off my back and it wasn’t particularly worth getting anyone’s blood pressure up. For some perspective, there’s orders which intentionally are run by board, including the OTA. There are orders which are intentionally run with succession to protect the integrity of the information, which is really in my opinion what Gardner wanted to do and Crowley, and Mathers…
The self initiation prohibition is largely practical – I cannot self initiate into her coven any more than I could show up to the local church and tell them I run the show now. The idea is simply goofy. On the other hand I do believe in certain modes of self initiation. Alan Watts, for instance, couldn’t find anyone in the west to teach him Zen Bhuddism (or his western version of it where a cat sits until he is done sitting), so he simply sat down and started reading. In fact he didn’t actually go to Japan, or India, or anywhere we traditionally think about being a Bhuddist and learn, but rather took a university course on it moving from NY to Cali for the purpose. This is one sort of self initiation, people learn, and they come up with a product, and that product is identified by some people as a member of the line or is identified by other people as not a member of the line. People in the beikoku would turn their noses up at the over-educated brat and people who wanted to learn but had no money for school or grasp of eastern concepts would see him as a guru. It’s sort of amusing to me he didn’t ever really get that level of fame and greatness until far after he was dead when the American agitpop fascinated Japan as our American culture today consumes so much Japanese media. He was really 40 years ahead of his time. I think he would be amused that his videos are being translated to Japanese.
The Alan Watts example also applies to dead systems. No-one for instance was named as a successor to Dee except perhaps Rudd if you believe it. Who succeeded Rudd? Well he has no clear successor, and like a lot of the manuscripts of the day he sorts of takes notes but it doesn’t tell us a lot about his philosophy so we have to add flesh to the bones by reading Shakespeare and other things which may have influenced him. Really that’s where (I believe) Gardner comes in. He vaguely knows about “witchcraft” by some definition of it, he may have even run into the Cotton collection at some point (doubtful) but he has some view of esotericism and wants to dress it up in clothes which make it work for him.
But there’s a second type of self initiation floating around here and one of those is the idea of initiating into an Aeon. I postulated that the Wright brothers were one such self-initiation. Flight was not a dead system, but rather flight was not invented yet. Who would mentor and initiate them into a system of flight?
The flight line of reasoning is a really interesting one because this is how Crowley got into magic. He’s sitting in the pyramid, he encounters an inspiration (a spirit) and he initiates what he calls an Aeon. He is the priest of this Aeon the same way the Wright brothers are the priests of the Aeon of Flight. Would someone be inspired by the spirituality of flight (and we have, for countless ages since we put wings on every spiritual creature…) that would be the same as operative flight or (speculative) craft flight. Similarly chemistry is divided up into operative chemistry – or what we think of today as the proper labwork and spiritually dead how society teaches it – and craft chemistry, or what we think of today as alchemy. Substitute your favorite discipline here which inspires you.
One of the more beautiful examples I can think of recently is how inspiring it could be to go to space. Right? A ceremonial magician touching the faces of Gods? Who might think that? But that requires that someone fundamentally self initiate into believing in the holy power, which is purely a personal choice. This is also an atomic choice, no-one can initiate you into belief in these things. Maybe someone might go to space in a purely scientific environment. I think it would cheapen the experience, and perhaps they would look around, and they would see nothing but their hands and the work, and sigh and say to Earth…. there is no god here. How disappointing.
Someone put this question to me last week and it was sort of a neat idea. They asked me which was better: “Runes or Grimoires?”
Well that’s like asking me if a screwdriver is better than a hammer. I don’t really see one being “better” so much as “whichever one does the job”.
Grimoires have a tendency to be “better” in some people’s eyes because the spirits can tell you things. However there’s really three layers of finesse here: The spirits have to be able to be perceived by the seer well enough to actually get the message across, the spirit is limited to using what’s in the magicians head (I could no more conceive of a new color with a spirit or… without a spirit), and the spirit will answer the magician within the nature of it’s office. If you summon up a spirit which has a reputation for being hostile and go ask it about your professor in school, you’re going to get a negative, inhospitable answer.
However this idea doesn’t exist by itself nor is it limited to the nature of spirits. If we use runes for the purposes of divination, they are limited by the amount of vocabulary the diviner has assigned to them. At the most vulgar level this would be the individual characters themselves. When we examine those, we get some answers as obvious as “traveling” and some as ridiculous as “the sky god”. Really they’re on equal footing, but the operative tip here is we call it “reading” the runes (or cards). Sure I could consult a spirit, but it doesn’t give me a written log of what was said, or how good the contact was. On the other hand I can take a picture of a card spread. I tend to gravitate towards “ask the spirits” for personal divination, with confirmation from the cards or runes. For doing readings for other people, I usually find it produces wild, meaningless (to me) images and it’s much better to stick to cards, or runes. However folks tend to want to “command the spirits to do something”, rather than just get the lay of the land, so I prefer the first, mixed mode.
Think of it this way – you wouldn’t pay someone to stand on a street corner and yell the name of the street at passer bys. If we remove the interaction from the reading, we simply have a need for a streetsign to tell us the way. At the same time, someone who needs a bit more interaction might consider stopping their car, quieting their mind, and asking directions. And finally, someone who really needed something might consider paying someone to go get it for them. At the same time, it would be worthless in that last example to write a letter in runes and leave it on their coffee table in hopes something would happen.
That’s really the reason why Enochian tends to be an interesting hack, and it’s one someone can port back into runes (modernity: AO Spare’s Alphabet of Desire). If we accept the idea that the spirits are the letters of their name, then the act of composing the ritual and spelling the name is the magic… I’ve covered that before in the Enochian work. It’s a neat idea and I think it follows, but it’s akin to making a road simply by putting up a street sign. Did the road come first, or did the street sign?
The OTA stuff finally gelled to the point where we raised enough money to fly Poke Runyon himself and Zandria out here to conduct initiations. In a really fortunate stroke of luck and generosity, we actually raised more money for them then merely the cost of the flight. I think this is mostly a result of keeping things low drag and grassroots. If this were the OTO and we would be required to have non-residential temple space to have more than an encampment (I may be reversing the terms, it’s been awhile), I feel like the financial drain would have made this a total no-go. Not having the overhead of anything except our own houses and maybe breakfast and spaghetti dinners for a few folks means a maximal amount of money can be applied to their travel expenses and “hobo fund”. I’m pretty psyched about it honestly, the Hermetic Hour has been a huge influence on me personally for what to read or do next, and it turns out the OTA community is reasonably well connected online and not too hung up on the whole “secret society” image.
(Yeah I realize I’ve had about 50 emails asking for the password to the blog posts, some stuff is secret after all, right?)
Also on the project list, I finally just said to heck with it and bought three fountain pens similar to this one from China. The goal is to take ink, consecrate it, and add a very small amount of herbs or flowers sacred to a particular spirit and make ink for making kameas of planets and such. If the pens are washable (enough) and don’t clog, one pen will do. If the pens aren’t really washable, at $5 a pop, it’s easy enough to buy literally enough pens to have one for each day of the week and a general fluid condenser pen. I’m pretty happy with the idea and for $15 it’ll be a fun experiment.
Oh now I’m in a bit of a pickle. At work, we just bought another large company which does exactly the same thing we do. Normally in tech the acquisitions are such one larger company gobbles up a smaller company and treats the smaller company as a team. That would be great, but this was another top shelf company in the same industry and it pretty much doubled the size of our company. Problem now is, beancounters on both sides are taking a long hard look at everyone. My boss turned in his resignation for the coming months. Another guy who was manager of the next product line over was fired. Folks are giving impassioned, “morale building” speeches, but are conspicuously using the word “resources” instead of “people”. It’s always easier to call it a duplication of “resources”, right?
Going back to tried and true and familiar methods, I got out the Planetary Magick book and started flipping around. The front half the book is a very IIH sort of catalog and experiences thing. The middle of the book covers actual archetypical evocation, and then the end of the book has some fun stuff. Specifically I saw Aumn-Ra as being attributed to Thursday, so I took that and said “wait this is Sunday, why not Augmn-Ra for Sunday, hour of Jupiter?” So I did.
The altar was simply the Table of the Art, with a black crystal ball in it, two white pillars on either side, jupiter candle to backlight the ball (angle is important, I wanted a halo of light and a hint of color), and then the incense thurible in front of it with my last coal in it because we’ve taken to smoking too much hookah here.
Opened the temple OTA style, because it’s the new hotness, except my altar top is being repainted so I just threw the Table of the Art on top of the crossed legs. I then opened by KC, LIRP, Invoking Septagram, and archangels who I visualized facing me in a column of white light. Totally kvlt.
I then read the Denning and Philips work, and chanted the name for 15 minutes while listening to some sweet, sweet tracks some of the OTA folks had shared. I’m getting into chants and mantras.
I was going to drum but the kids were napping so I just opted to keep the party in my head. After about 15 minutes I suddenly had a feeling of the serpent upon my brow, and then before me in my astral sight I had two columns of serpents spring up. We moved down a corridor. It was daylight, and not particularly pleasant but the space was “tall”. The bricks were brilliant white and nicely finished, which gave the impression of “well manicured” but otherwise there weren’t many notable features of this space except for “balanced” work. Two columns, two trees, two fruits on the tree, two tracks on the ground as though for a cart or train. Eventually I came upon an Ibis looking fellow who was holding a scroll and a quill. I was worried this was a false spirit – Aumn-Ra is a different bird altogether and I happen to be re-reading The Divine Pymander. Tested the spirit by signs, and the spirit responded positively, so whatever. I do tend to think these guys use whatever happens to be laying around in your head at the moment to co-opt imagery, so I decided “bird deity” was OK with the signs.
Gave the welcome.
“I would really like to continue working in my current career, can that be done?” Just a small flash of “no” and then quite a bit of “yes” nodding. Typical spirit nonanswer I thought, so I tested it by more signs, and it didn’t seem to respond too much but certainly did not react negatively.
“May I continue working in my current career?” Yes.
“Will this be profitable and enjoyable for me?” Not initially, but then it will be OK.
“Can you please make it profitable and enjoyable for me?” No/Yes again.
“If this is not possible, please prepare for me a place where I can continue to pay the bills for my family and child.” This can be done.
“But it’s quite painful to change jobs, and it would upset my family.” (This is new, the spirit gave me the impression that prayers for my family are much more potent than prayers for myself). “I would like to, at best, make peace with the higher ups and keep the job even if it’s a bit painful than put my kids through relocation.” I can do this.
“Please safevouch the job for the sake of my family.” (a nod).
Thanked the spirit, offered more incense, and closed the temple OTA style with the KC, LBRP, banishing septagram, and the archangels evoked facing outward.
Edit: My boss just called to have me take a look at an issue literally right when I was finishing this post up. You can’t make this stuff up.