Sunday, 1 July 2018

The Ten Thousand Things

Anyone who knows me realises that I have little time for 'religion' or its partner word 'spirituality', simply because I don't understand them.  Until someone gives me a clear definition of 'spirit' without bringing 'soul' (an entirely different entity, seems to me) into it.

Still I love the philosophical little text called the Tao Te Ching (for its brevity, if nothing else). 

Here's part of Chapter 42:

From Tao comes the One.
From the One comes the Two.
From the Two comes the Three.
From the Three come the ten thousand things.

I won't go into what I understand from this enigmatic (and profound) little poem, but I like a description of the actual world we live in as 'the ten thousand things'.    When I emerged from the buzzing, blooming confusion of childhood I remember feeling delighted at those ten thousand things - from butterflies to books, from other countries and other languages to art and science by-products, from simple to exotic foodstuffs, and on, and on.

In fact, in the modern idea, we know of millions and millions of things, but a symbolic 'ten thousand' seems a manageable amount for any one human to deal with.  After all, I will never meet all the people, read all the books, visit all the countries, watch all the movies, etc.

The 'ten thousand things', to some extent, represent the illusory part of life, called Maya or Lila, the things that we eventually have to let go of, when we finally leave.  At my age I have already started simplifying my expectations - I may never get to visit China, or South America, or Africa.  Whole clusters of possible experiences now eliminated.  I sometimes feel I am shedding layers, in preparation, like Ishtar entering the Underworld.

So perhaps it should come as no surprise that for many people, these days, their apparent wide range of experience (their own ten thousand things) may well consist, almost entirely, of pixillated experiences, rather than direct, sensory ones.   We think we have seen youths skateboarding over street furniture, dolphins rounding up fish, football matches, Royal weddings, disasters, heroic behaviour, etc - but all this through just one channel - a screen.

Less to give up, I guess, when we finally leave!   We just turn off the screen, or run out of battery life, and we're gone.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Always Assuming…

This is something I contributed to Maybe Quarterly in 2006

By BogusMagus   (21 June 2006)

Consider an artist as a dreamer in control of hir dreams who invents a world and invites others to live in it.
A con artist does the same.

Have you ever felt conned by teachers, priests, politicians, acquaintances or family?
To achieve this outcome the scam-artist has to control the channels of communication.

Usually we 'potential victims' have multiple channels of input that we can use to verify our perceptions.
Cults, the military, the major religions, state education, practical jokers, hoaxers and confidence tricksters attempt to isolate us from a complete range of checks and balances, and ideally they control the few channels left available to us, through which they feed us data and models of their choosing.

If they can’t completely control our use of other channels they can create false trails, strange loops, confusion, social pressure, a hint of illegal activity, paranoia, manufactured evidence or misinformation to encourage us to distrust these alternative viewpoints, or reality checks.

The world they create differs from the ‘real world’ because it contains some of the hoaxer’s fictitious creations – a chair has gone when someone sits down, an account will prove empty when someone tries to take out their money / winnings.

We fail to distinguish the evidence of our senses from conclusions drawn – and maybe we secretly want to believe their version (easy money, eternal happiness).

The process usually involves a period of induction to build up the false world picture, which should appear consistent to any test the victim can apply.

RV Jones wrote a paper drawing parallels between practical joking and the work of the scientist confronted by a universe, as the scientist constructs a world based on any evidence he has, then tests it for consistency
with what he already knows, and takes action on the assumption of accurate data.

Beware - Be Aware - Be Wary

Thanks to The Pleasures of Deception by Norman Moss - hard to find a copy of this.

Check out R. V. Jones,  [find it in Scribd, here] “The theory of practical joking – its relevance to physics”

Bulletin of the Institute of Physics 1957, p. 193 - partially reprinted in A Random Walk in Science

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Archetypal astrology - notes on the course

The second class in this course on Archetypal Astrology consisted of  Stanislav Grof taking us through the pre-birth (perinatal) phases of development.  Bear in mind that the astrology appears minimal, as the tutors do not employ to the familiar Sun Signs, nor do they consider that charts 'influence' individuals or generations.

They simply refer to the angular relationships of the planets, and Transits (if you celebrate your birthday, or a Full Moon, or go visit an Eclipse, you are already into this stuff).  So away with the objections based on precession of the Equinoxes, or 'influence of the stars' or rising signs, Sun signs, etc.

All they are indicating, it seems, are a set of correlations, which you may prefer to consider synchronicities, or cyclic behaviour.

Here's a Reality Sandwich article as background.


This week was not so much about astrology.  Of course, astrology is highly focused on the moment of birth (in space-time) but I know relatively little about its consideration of the moment of conception, and nine months in the womb.

My own conception and birth

The war had ended when I was conceived (I seem like a celebration baby, on or about VE Day), and in spite of rationing, my mother must have been less stressed than in the previous few years. I imagine I could hear her singing.  I was born at home (mid-wives were available during the war, so newborns would not be all in one place, should a bomb hit).  So my mum was surrounded by family, and in a comfortable place.   As it was a very cold winter, she then carried me around (in the traditional manner) with a shawl tied over her shoulder.  And I was breast-fed.  So lots of positive experiences (as preferred in The Continuum Concept).  This could explain my tendency to 'trust Universe' even though I have no religion.

On the down side, one or both of my parents may have had what we call PTSD now, after five years in a bombed city.   And although my sister was born during the war, after that my mother delivered a stillborn boy, so I was a 'replacement', and didn't get an elder brother.

Still overall I had a good start, I guess.

Grof''s model divides the perinatal into four stages.

In the womb, linked to oceanic sensations, mostly blissful, etc.   Mythical link to Neptune.

When the contractions start, the environment becomes threatening, and the blood flow comes and goes, and there seems no way out.  Mythical link to Saturn.

The third phase is when the pressure begins to become directed towards escaping, the end of one way of living and the start of another, birth-death scenario.  Mythical link to Plutoig.

The final stage happens when the child emerges into a new world and the umbilical cord gets cut.  Mythical link to Uranus.

Fascinating stuff to contemplate.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Jupiter Return

Doing a lot of reading in preparation for the archetypal astrology course.  It dawned on me that today 'is' my Jupiter Return.

If you don't do the jargon, what you may think of as your 'birthday', in astrological language gets described as your 'Solar Return' (i.e. the Sun has returned to the same place in the sky as the day you were born). It happens once a year, and some people consider it important.

Jupiter Return happens about once every twelve years, and most people don't notice it, or know about it, or care.  Today, it has returned to the exact same place in the sky...for the sixth time since I was born.

As it happens, I checked back, and last time Jupiter returned to my birth point, I found myself in the middle of an online learning course, entitled "Tale of The Tribe" with the inestimable Robert Anton Wilson. 

I guess it bodes well for expanding my knowledge at this time.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Gimme Shelter.....Weathering the Storm in an Archetypal Cosmos

I have felt the urge to re-investigate a language for the cycles of events I perceive, having lived long enough. (Well, not quite long enough, yet).

Stanislav Grof has always fascinated me, but I have never found my way to a place to investigate Holotropic Breathing, and my psychedelic adventures seem far in the past, now - but he offers a course in Archetypal Astrology (along with Dr Richard Tarnas) and I feel sufficiently intrigued to commit some time to that study.

I did have an intense few years, studying astrology, in the late 70s and early 80s, so at least know something of the language (jargon), and some of the embedded imagery of the myths etc.

This video (from July 2017) offers a glimpse of the kind of subject matter, with Dr Tarnas.

PS: a question about the influence of Eris turns up at the end (1:47)

And here you can listen to the two of them together (Mar 2017)


Interesting resource, Archai - online journal (The journal of Archetypal Cosmology).

Richard Tarnas's website

Monday, 9 January 2017

When your number is up

I got through this life by sometimes (when lost) simply paying attention to patterns to steer  me, and that includes what Jung called synchronicities (i.e. coincidences that seem to carry some kind of significance or meaning, over and above ‘mere coincidence’).

I don’t intend to go into a discussion of this right here, rather note a recent cluster of ‘significance’ as an example.

The two members of the KLF recently announced that they will create some kind of event in August 2017 (23 years after burning a million pounds in a strange media event).    I turn to John Higgs’ wonderful book about the whole strange story - The KLF: Chaos, Magic and the Band who Burned a Million Pounds -
and enjoy it all over again.

That reminds me that I bought a limited edition of a book from Mr. Higgs at the Cosmic Trigger play event in Liverpool in 2014 - Standing on the Verge of Getting It On - so I dig it out, as it seems related to the wonderful social history of the period he  included in the first book.     I have copy 43 out of a limited edition of 111.   I didn’t ask him, at the time, what significance that number had.

As I read through, an extraordinary man called Brian Barritt walks in on one of the musicians who is reading “Cosmic Trigger” and he says “I appear on page 111 of that book”. 
[This is not true of current editions, where you find Brian on page 115, or 116 – although there is a reference on page 111 of the old New Falcon edition to John Lilly mentioning ‘angels’  (Cosmic  Coincidence Control Centre) – and page 111 of the most recent release,from Hilaritas Press has material about cabalistic numerology and communication with Higher Intelligence.]

So I dig out my signed copy of Brian’s book – The Road of Excess - that I bought from him through the mail and feel surprised to see he lived at number 111 of a street in London.
Which triggered memories of studying online with Robert Anton Wilson (hereafter ‘Bob’) who was, among other things, a Joycean scholar, and we did some work on Finnegans Wake, in which the number 111 appears quite frequently.  Bob seemed to think of it as indicating Renewal and Creativity.   Joyce links it to Anna Livia Plurabelle (the feminine influence in the book), who also represents the River Liffey.  The book not only contains a myriad of puns (the river of life, for instance) but also offers a series of coded materials (possibly drawn from Cabbalism) and numerology, ALP = 111.   [the Hebrew A or aleph=ALP=111]

Other variations with the same value include APL (apple?), LAP, PAL, etc.

Again, I don’t want to side-track into all of that material here and now.

I don’t know a lot of numerology, so decide to Google it, and found that people consider 111 as an ‘angelic’ number.   Given that Cosmic Trigger covers a period when Leary and Wilson thought they were getting messages from ‘alien beings’ or higher intelligence, or their Holy guardian Angel (or something)  I perceive some kind of connection.

And in that same research, I saw a reminder of the odd fact that Robert Anton Wilson died on the 11th January, 2007 (11/1 in the UK, or 1/11 in the USA, as a palindrome it works both ways).  Even odder, given that I only just noticed this (a heads up from DJ Fly Agaric) Bob managed to die on the 101st birthday of Albert Hofmann (inventor, discoverer of LSD, who was still alive and well, at the time, as I described in a post on our shared blog).   As we are now approaching the tenth anniversary of Bob’s death, that makes it Uncle Albert’s 111th birthday on Wednesday!

These things go on, and although some seem done consciously (like creating 111 copies of a book), I start to perceive particular significance when unrelated areas also get drawn into the net.  For instance, my hobby is magic, and a few weeks ago I ordered a DVD about close-up magic called (I kid you not) “LAP” and am right now awaiting delivery.   [Update:  11/01/2017   Of course, this DVD arrived today, just after I posted to our group blog.]

Steve (DJ Fly) took this a step further, when he turned to Finnegans Wake (which always gets published, in all editions, with the same page numbering):

If the page numbers are significant then dates can be determined from them. The first time I saw this type of correlation is of page 111 of the Wake with Robert Anton Wilson's death on January 11th.

...peraw raw raw reeraw puteters out of Now Sealand in spignt of the patchpurple of the massacre, a dual a duel to die to day, goddam and biggod, sticks and stanks, of most of the Jacobiters...

That not only contains references to RAW (another nickname for Robert Anton Wilson), "to die to day", but also to RAW patatows (a pretend currency we invented to amuse him).

Here’s Bob himself:

"This 1:11 business turns out to be more curious than we realize at first, even if we note that it is connected with Bloom's son, who died at age 11 days, Shakespeare's son Hamnet who died at 11 years and the 22 (2x11) letters in the Hebrew alphabet or the 22 words in the first sentence of Ulysses. If ALP and APL invoke all this, the LAP, a further permutation, invokes the LAP where a Freemason wears his apron, as in Aleister Crowley's BOOK OF LIES, Chapter 54, in which some Freemasons guess that the lost Mason Word is AMO, whose number is 111, and some guess that it is LAP which also has the number 111. (By Cabala, AMO=A which is 1, M which is 40, and O which is 70, 1+40+70=111, while LAP=L or 30, A or 1, and P or 80, and 30+1+80=111.) William York Tindall, a Joyce scholar who likes to count, has noted that many long sentences in FW have 111 clauses. Anna Livia Plurabelle's untitled "mamafesta" in Chapter Five has 111 alternative titles; when sad, she is described as "wan wan wan"; in Chapter 8, she has 111 children. Most books on Cabala hint at transcendental meanings in the fact that the Hebrew A or aleph=ALP=111 when spelled in full as aleph-lamek-pe."    

from Wilson's book Coincidance  (a new edition of which I find myself helping to proof-read right now).

Here's another little piece of the jigsaw.   Julian Cope appears in both the Higgs books mentioned above, and has done the definitive work on stone circles, megaliths, etc.  The Modern Antiquarian.

So imagine my surprise, in my Google trawl, when I came across this:
 ...echo in the conjunction of archaeoacoustic research focused on megalithic tombs and the frequency of the number 111 in Finnegans Wake: ‘the majik wavus has elfun anon meshes’ (FW 203.31): the magic wave has 11+1 meshes.

...‘the ride onerable’ (FW 328.13) – three ones – of ALP’s gematric value, 111 Hz is also a natural resonance frequency identified for Neolithic tombs and chambers in Ireland and Britain, which cluster mostly within the ‘myrioheartzed’ (FW 331.23) range of 110-112 Hz (Mills 2014: 66-67). In the context of ‘chambermade music’ (FW 184.4) this frequency has consciousness-altering effects: at 110-112 Hz the patterns of activity over the prefrontal cortex abruptly shift, resulting in a relative deactivation of the language centre, with regular exposure to resonant sound at that frequency ‘turning on’ an area of the brain that relates to mood, empathy and social behaviour.

All of which, as ever, leaves me puzzled.  What I may take from it comes from pages I would normally ignore (I don’t have a lot of respect for much of the New Age stuff online).  If the frequent appearance of 111 in your life has to do with Manifestation and Prosperity, then it seems a good idea to stay optimistic and positive – so as to manifest the good stuff…  A reasonable message, after the horrific year just passed.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Another think coming

Having survived the loss of many of my peer group in 2016, I still don't have much of a plan for getting through 2017.

Noticing that the KLF guys plan an event for 23 August 2017 gives me some sort of target - 23 years on from when they burned a million pounds, and deleted their back catalogue.  Actually, they seem to have reverted to the incarnation before the KLF, the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu (sic) - or JAMs.

Now for those of you who already have no idea what I am talking about, I can't recommend highly enough John Higgs' book "The KLF: Chaos, Magic and the Band who Burned a Million Pounds"

This book enthralls me every time I read it, not only because it seems so well-informed, and has such a lucid style (for such an enigmatic subject), but because I remain a fan of everything that John Higgs has written (that I can get my hands on), and of Robert Anton Wilson (who I studied with online), and  the Illuminatus! trilogy (which I first read in the 1970s, and contains the first references to the JAMs).  I got my copy of volume one (back in the days when they got published separately) at the same bookshop (Compendium) that Ken Campbell got his, which inspired him to create a stage show out of all three volumes, starting in Liverpool at the Liverpool School of Language, Music, Dream and Pun, and ending up in the National Theatre in London (where I witnessed the whole series of five plays in one day - something like ten hours).   Recently, Daisy Eris Campbell (who may have been conceived backstage of that show) has staged another of Robert Anton Wilson's books - Cosmic Trigger - again in Liverpool, and again coming to London, soon.

Too much for one paragraph?

Well, I will use this blog the way John Steinbeck used the left-hand pages of his ledgers, as a place to warm-up, make notes, write letters, etc - while actually writing his novel on the right hand pages.

Apart from anything else, Robert Anton Wilson encouraged optimism, and having dragged myself through 2016 I feel the need to renew my reckless cheerfulness.

Ten Good Reasons to Get Out of Bed in the Morning.  Originally published in OUI Magazine, 1977.
  (audio version).