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THE MAGICIAN’S PYRAMID
The training of the neuromancer requires the ability to master one’s own consciousness, entering and leaving altered states at will. This is the true meaning of the Oath of the Magician’s Pyramid, called also the Four Powers of the Sphinx; to Know, to Will, to Dare, and to Keep Silence. It is this oath that is taken upon, and represents, the processes of initiation into the mysteries, long understood by the metaphor of death and rebirth; that is to say, it is a transformative experience. Transformations of personality are by no means a rare occurrence; indeed, they play a considerable role in psychopathology, although these are rather different than the magical initiations and mystical transformations discussed here.
Initiation may be precipitated by ritual, such as in the self initiations common to most forms of witchcraft. They may also occur during formal acceptance into a group, as with the rituals of maturity in certain tribal societies, or the graded initiations of occult orders.
Initiatory experiences may also happen spontaneously, most often through crisis, revelations leading to a reassessment of identity, or other life changing events bringing maturity, individuation, and permanent change. On rare occasions, they may also announce themselves in dreams and visions. There are natural processes which happen whether we like it or not, and whether or not we are conscious of them. These processes develop considerable psychic effects, so that any thoughtful person might ask what really happened to them.
Chief among all these processes are those techniques such as meditation in which, in addition to the grace inherent in the practice, the personal endeavour of the candidate is needed to reach the intended transformations. Such formula are among the most reliable methods of initiation, yet require the most self determination and persistence. No symbolic ritual, whether performed by a group or by the individual, may ever take their place. In working through the disciplines described within this grimoire the reader will be undergoing such an initiation, not at all dissimilar to the processes undergone by the alchemist, transforming the base matter of the candidate into gold; not simply a personal change but the transformation of what is mortal into what is eternal.
Magick requires discipline; for the humble novice who may have little or no anticipation of attainment, just as it does for the Magi. Without it all ritual will be empty words and actions; whether they are drawn from witchcraft, Voudon, Esoteric Freemasonry, Golden Dawn, Thelema, New-Age, Nu-Aeon, neuromancy, or any other tradition including self created or revealed systems, it will still be merely amateur theatre. This is why so much of what passes for magick in popular occulture is little more than an extremely pretentious form of pyramid selling – with the eye at the crown nothing more than a confidence trick.
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To know something – anything – involves abstracting information and interpreting it for use at different times and in other contexts. When we have knowledge we become more capable, and can deal with new situations in creative ways. Brain imaging studies show that when we answer trivia questions, it elicits a response in areas associated with food and sex; suggesting we treat knowledge similarly as a primary reward. This makes sense from an evolutionary perspective; knowledge is at least as important to survival as either sustenance or reproduction.
Yet knowledge is an elusive concept. What we know, how we know, what we know others know, and how we know others know it, is different from what we merely believe. For example, I might say, “I know this book is going to be a catalyst for great change,” but it can be argued that until it has been published, and a suitable period of time has passed (which might be as long as 30 years), I cannot know the impact it will have – I can only believe in it. In response I might say, “Yes, but I have a near 100% accuracy with divination, and so it is unlikely that my divinations concerning this book are wrong.” Nevertheless, although I may possess empirical evidence concerning the accuracy of previous divinations, it is still the case that I am investing belief – perhaps with good reason – but cannot know.
Most people make their way through life without considering the true nature of knowledge, managing their decisions and beliefs intuitively, without reflection and calculation. Nevertheless, it rewards meditation. The degree to which we know information, and know what others know, forms the basis of all human interaction; yet defining the precise nature of knowledge remains problematic.
To know something it must first be believed, but this is not enough in itself; if the belief is to be considered as knowledge, it must also stand the tests of truth. Yet this too is insufficient; a belief can be true by chance, or we can arrive at a truth by erroneous means. For example, supposing I glance at my clock at 11pm to see that it reads precisely 23.00; and yet, unknown to me, the clock has stopped and is showing the correct time only by chance. My belief that it is 11pm happens to be true, and my clock has apparently provided justification, but in fact I do not know what time it is at all, I simply believe that I do, even though my belief happens to be correct.
Knowing something is a far richer, more complex state than merely believing. The ability to distinguish between knowledge and belief, and to constantly question what we believe we know, is vital to human progress. Knowledge is a mental state that locks us into truth; itself implying the condition of untruth, and the either / or binary coding of the Matrix.
To the hard-core relativist philosopher there can be no such thing as objectivity, hence the axiom; “Nothing is true & everything is possible”. In philosophy the sceptic questions everything, and so is left with nothing on which to base knowledge; yet if we hit this philosopher in the face with a brick they will certainly know about it – this ‘truth’ has everything to do with the reality of the brick, and very little to do with the relativity of our philosopher. The challenge is to ensure that our ‘inside’ truth aligns with ‘outside’ truth; or else we are concerned with belief rather than knowledge. We must tread a fine line between healthy scepticism and self defeating relativistic cynicism, thinking critically and assessing the credentials, track record, and potential bias of any information source. If somebody tells us something, we must ask what motive they may have for wanting us to believe it, other than that it is true. We must also ask, how do they know? These same questions we must also ask of ourselves; how do we know?
We must also discipline ourselves to ask whether our reaction to new knowledge is rooted in truth or wishful thinking. Consider ‘Satanic ritual abuse’, which the USA and UK governments both deny the existence of (while also facing constant accusations of same – coincidence?), despite mounting evidence to the contrary. To do something about this problem might require a considerable amount of inconvenience, a reframing of previous ‘information’ together with its source, the potential sacrifice of certain contacts, friends, dearly held beliefs, and perhaps even our view of ourself, and so many people choose to believe the problem does not exist at all; despite the idea of Satanism being the only religion in the entire history of the world to harbour no paedophiles – or that even if it did they would be unique in never twisting the beliefs and rituals of their religion to further their abuses, terrify and control their victims, and to cover for their crimes – being rationally untenable.
Knowledge (information) is power, and power is knowledge (information); hence the first teaching of the Mystery Schools was Gnöthi Seaton; “Know Thy Self”, expressed in the Greek term gnosis, meaning ‘knowledge of the heart’, attainable only through meditation and introspection. The academic study (epistimology) of magick may become a lifetime’s work, yet the knowledge gained in such a fashion may only ever be secondary to experiential knowledge (gnosiology). No text, including this one, can ever provide a substitute.
Plato addressed this problem in Phaedrus when he spoke of Thoth’s invention of writing. The magician-god presented his discovery to Amoun, who replied;
“.. it is no true wisdom that you offer your disciples, but only its semblance, for by telling them of many things you will make them seem to know much, while for the most part they will know nothing, as men filled, not with wisdom, but with the conceit of wisdom, they will be a burden to their fellows.”
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“Where there is a Will there is a Way, and it is often the Will that matters more than the Way.”
Success in the work of magick, by whatever name we call it, requires the awakening of the True Will. The first stage in this is to ascertain where and what the True Will is.
The True Will is the source of all motivation and meaning. It may be sensed, discovered, and directed by countless means. In essence it is a knowledge that may be grasped through the instincts, without conscious deliberation. In the preliminary, the training of the magician involves the calming of the mind so that these instincts may be sensed.
In learning to know the True Will begin with the smaller tasks and desires of mundane life. Seek to be fully satisfied in everything that you do. To you, it must be a perfect work of magick, even if it is the most mundane task imaginable. If it does not fully satisfy, the Will must be directed and exercised until it does. Effective magick requires the disciplined focus of the mind. Those seeking to develop such abilities must become perfectionists unto themselves. It is up to each individual to decide what they accept as perfection yet the magician must seek to control the level of their own workings. In doing this, greater influence is gained over the material world (i.e. the Matrix), the physical body, the instincts, the emotions, and one’s own consciousness.
It may initially seem dissonant to compare the wisdom of the ancients to discoveries in modern science, but many recent advances offer confirmation of what might otherwise seem like abstract metaphysical theory. From a neurological perspective the phenomena of Will presents something of a paradox. The frontal cortex, being that part of the brain that conceives of an individuated ‘I’, takes up only a very small area of the brain. The majority of processing happens below the level we call ‘conscious’. Furthermore, our brains also consist of mirror neurons, which respond to signals without differentiating between the ‘self’ and ‘other’. Through the electromagnetic resonance of the planet all brains are ultimately in communication with one another. This immense Greater Mind could not possibly be assuaged by the output of an individual brain, or even many of them working together, and ultimately drives all our behaviour and apparent decision making.
Neuroscience has confirmed that the frontal cortex only processes information retroactively; that is, it makes sense of the decisions and actions already taken by the rest of the brain rather than directs its activity, reprocessing this information as if it had retroactively made a decision based upon reason. Our sense of ‘I’, and of having an individual will, is an illusion, the purpose of which is to prevent what would otherwise be a permanent condition of cognitive dissonance, too immense to integrate. In truth there is nothing that separates us from the Greater Mind. Again, this is not an abstract metaphysical concept – it is verifiable science supported by empirical evidence.
This is the difference between simply ‘doing what you want’ and following one’s True Will ; the one is directed by the ego, the other by the Greater Mind.
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To practice magick means to go where others are too scared to. It takes great courage to face the vast uncertainties it brings. Only those who dare to dream, create and destroy have any place within the circle. Without this there may be no attainment. It is typical, however, for most people to both fear and resist change of almost any kind. Hence the traditional four-fold oath includes daring; from minor acts of habit changing to the most powerful acts of iconoclasm.
Through such acts of daring the sorcerer liberates their self from the mind forged manacles of cultural conditioning. Such may only be attained through the shedding of all assumptions and beliefs, even if only for an instant. Such baggage makes the difference between successfully leaping the Abyss and attaining At-One-Ment or plunging headlong into delusion and apophenia; epitomised in the individual by all those mental illnesses of ‘fixed belief’, and in culture as all forms of religious fundamentalism (including atheism).
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To Keep Silence
Success in magick requires the progressive attainment of mental silence through meditation. Such is not merely a technique of low sorcery but the key to freedom from all concerns and anxieties. This subjective non-experience remains identical if maintained for a minute or an hour. This is why the Gnostic text Thunder Perfect Mind tells us, “I am the Silence that is incomprehensible.”
Magick works when we are not looking; this is why it is important to remain silent concerning its rituals, as to speak of something brings it to attention. The conscious mind must not be turned to memories or concerns regarding one’s previous magical operations. In many cases, especially those of enchantment, they should be forgotten entirely, all memories sublimated as with hypnotism or subliminal mind control. To talk, or even ponder about, such operations is akin to constantly digging up a seed and wondering why it is not growing.
Initiations into occult orders commonly involve blood curdling oaths of silence, with it being taboo to reveal the identities of other members, or to speak to outsiders concerning secret teachings and rituals. There may even be threats of persecution, magically and otherwise, if the oaths are broken. Such oaths are vulnerable to abuse if a group falls into the wrong leadership, as any group can, regardless of how benign its origins. In such cases the oaths of silence are invariably exploited to criminal ends, protecting secrets of the most unwholesome nature. The candidate will be relieved that no such demands are placed upon them in this work, while being reminded of the need for both discipline and discretion in all their operations.
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It would be irresponsible not to give a severe warning at this juncture. The occult world, which has become such a fad and fashion, is rife with sociopathic individuals keen to exploit the wide eyed and naïve, who are also in great supply. Furthermore, there are those who are abusive, and also have rudimentary knowledge of magick, such as hypnotism or other forms of manipulative mind control, whether instinctive or learned, who have used their abilities to rise through the ranks. Initiation into any such a group may indeed prove a transformative experience, but sadly not for the better; abusive cults damage lives, often in ways outsiders could never imagine.
In such an environment as our so-called ‘occult revival’ the charlatans vastly outnumber the few with genuine integrity. Furthermore, it has become unacceptable to draw attention to the lies and self aggrandisement of these charlatans. Any book on magick published before the 1970s invariably contained dire warnings about sexually exploitative ‘teachers’ and black lodges engaged in prostitution, drugs, and blackmail. In stark comparison, especially since the so-called ‘Satanic Panic’, there has more recently been a blanket denial that, within this vast network of obvious charlatans, any of them or their groups might be abusive, or a risk to anyone involved with them; indeed, to speak up makes one an outcast of the supposed ‘occult community’. Similarly with anyone unlucky enough to find themselves embroiled in such a criminal group; to speak out about their abuses becomes interpreted as a break of the oaths of silence.
Let this also be made clear; the oaths of secrecy remain important for many reasons, the efficiency of our magick being one of them, but speaking out about crimes and abuses against others, be they adults, children, or even animals, is not in any way a betrayal of one’s loyalty to the occult community; indeed, in such circumstances it is the only way one can do it service.
The deepest betrayals are not only committed by the abusers themselves, but those who knowingly cover for them, who attempt to silence the disclosures of survivors and warnings to the community, and allow charlatans and abusers to prosper unchecked; in some cases for decades. Although such individuals may currently be beyond prosecution by the law they are not beyond persecution by means of magick.
As I write these words the problem is rife, and there are many reasons to suspect that no few of these abusive occult groups are being covered up at the highest level by those making the most obscene profits. The abuses suffered by the victims of such groups are beyond traumatic, often causing permanent damage the the psyche.
Excerpt from The Neuronomicon: A 21st Century Grimoire.