Friday, March 31, 2017

Pseudomonarchia Daemonum: The False Hierarchy of Demons

Pseudomonarchia Daemonum, or Hierarchy of Demons first appeared as an appendix to Johann Weyer's first book about demonology and witchcraft, De Praestigiis Daemonum et Incantationibus ac Venificiisi (1577), and was said by the author himself to have been inspired by an earlier text discussing spirits and demons. Yet, it is Weyer's work—not his predecessor's—that came to be known by renowned psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud as "one of the ten most significant books of all time."

The title of the book translates roughly to "false monarchy of demons".

The book dictates the names of sixty-nine demons, and the appropriate hours and rituals to conjure them.

The purpose of this subsequent book is to act as a grimoire, also known as a spell book, to provide the reader with important facts about demons that might be summoned, such as what they look like or what abilities they might possess.

Image taken from the book
Pseudomonarchia Daemonum

Weyer's Pseudomonarchia Daemonum ended up an inspiration itself, leading to the writing of The Lesser Key of Solomon in which one section, called Ars Goetia, contains a list of demons evoked by the ancient King Solomon.

There are some differences. The Ars Goetia lists seventy-two demons (4 more demons), and the order of the spirits varies, as well as some of their characteristics. 

The demons Vassago, Seere, Dantalion and Andromalius are not listed in the Pseudomonarchia Daemonum, while Pruflas is not listed in The Lesser Key of Solomon. Weyer censored the text, omitting necessary parts of the rituals and the more powerful demons, like Lucifer, in order to protect readers from their own curiosity.

Also, the Pseudomonarchia Daemonum does not attribute seals to the demons, as The Lesser Key of Solomon does.

Weyer referred to his source manuscript as Liber officiorum spirituum, seu Liber dictus Empto. Salomonis, de principibus et regibus daemoniorum. (Book of the offices of spirits, or the book called 'Empto'. Solomon, concerning the princes and kings of demons). This work is likely related to a very similar 1583 manuscript titled The Office of Spirits, both of which appear ultimately be an elaboration on a fifteenth-century manuscript titled Le Livre des Esperitz (of which 30 of its 47 spirits are nearly identical to spirits in the Ars Goetia). 

You can find the Pseudomonarchia DaemonumThe Ars Goetia, and the Grimorium Verum on the left side bar of our site.

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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Brain scans of spiritual retreat participants revealed changes in the brain

Spiritual retreats DO work: Study reveals just one day of meditation rewires your brain enough to reduce tension by almost 10%

Brain scans of spiritual retreat participants revealed changes in the dopamine and serotonin systems of their brain, which are part of our reward and emotional systems. 

The research also revealed that people who returned from retreats reported improvements in their physical health, tension levels and fatigue.

Brain scan images of a person who went on a 7-day spiritual retreat. The scan on the left shows the brain before the retreat, and the scan on the right shows the brain after. It shows the regions of interest used for the analysis as well as the overall reduction in neurostransmitter binding (reduced orange/red coloring) when comparing the pre-retreat (left) and post retreat (right) scans. The researchers observed decreases in dopamine transporter (5-8 percent) and serotonin transporter (6.5 percent) binding, which could make more of the neurotransmitters available to the brain. This is associated with positive emotions and spiritual feelings

'Since serotonin and dopamine are part of the reward and emotional systems of the brain, it helps us understand why these practices result in powerful, positive emotional experiences,' said Dr Andrew Newberg, M.D., Director of Research in the Marcus Institute of Integrative Health and lead author of the research. 

'Our study showed significant changes in dopamine and serotonin transporters after the seven-day retreat, which could help prime participants for the spiritual experiences that they reported.'  

The researchers, based at the The Marcus Institute of Integrative Health at Thomas Jefferson University, studied 14 Christian participants ranging in age from 24 to 76. 

The participants attended an Ignatian retreat, which is based on the spiritual exercises developed St Ignatius Loyola, who founded the Jesuits. 

The participants began each day with a morning mass, followed by spending most of the day in silent contemplation, prayer and reflection. They also attended a daily meeting with a spiritual director for guidance. 

Before and after they completed the seven-day retreat, the participants were given psychological surveys to fill out. According to the researchers, these showed that the participants reported perceived improvements in their health as well as their fatigue and tension levels. 

Researchers also took brain scans of the participants before and after the retreat. 

The post-retreat scans revealed decreases in dopamine transporter (5-8 percent) and serotonin transporter (6.5 percent) binding, which could make more of the neurotransmitters available to the brain. 

This is associated with positive emotions and spiritual feelings. 

In particular, dopamine is responsible for mediating cognition, emotion and movement, while serotonin is involved in emotional regulation and mood. 

Participants also reported greater feelings of 'self-transcendence'  - the overcoming of the limits of the individual self and its desires in spiritual contemplation and realization.

This feeling of self-transcendence was correlated to the change in dopamine binding found in the brain scans. 

'In some ways, our study raises more questions than it answers,' said Dr Newberg. 

'Our team is curious about which aspects of the retreat caused the changes in the neurotransmitter systems and if different retreats would produce different results. 

'Hopefully, future studies can answer these questions.'

The findings of the study were published in the journal Religion, Brain & Behavior

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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Arbatel: The Magic of the Ancients – An Occult Grimoire

The Arbatel de magia veterum (Arbatel: Of the Magic of the Ancients) is a Renaissance-period grimoire – a textbook of magic – and one of the most influential works of its kind. Unlike some other occult manuscripts that contain dark magic and malicious spells, the Arbatel contains spiritual advice and guidance on how to live an honest and honorable life.

The Arbatel is claimed to have been written in 1575 AD. This date is supported through textual references dating from 1536 through 1583. It is believed that the final editor of the Arbatel was Swiss physician Theodor Zwinger, and that it was published by Italian printer Pietro Perna. The author remains unknown, although it has been speculated that a man named Jacques Gohory may be the author. Like Zwinger and Perna, Gohory was a Paracelsian (a group who believed in and followed the medical theories and therapies of Paracelsus).
Portrait of Paracelsus (Philippus von Hohenheim),
Father of Toxicology and Occultist.

The focus of the Arbatel is on nature, and the natural relationships between humanity and a celestial hierarchy. It centers on the positive relationships between the celestial world and humans, and the interactions between the two. British poet and scholarly mystic Arthur Edward Waite (A.E. Waite) noted that the Arbatel is clearly Christian in nature. He wrote that it does not contain any form of black magic, and that it is not connected to the Greater or Lesser Keys of Solomon, which were focused on demonology. 

The most frequently cited book in the Arbatel is the Bible. In the manner it is written, it appears that the author of the Arbatel must have had many portions of the Bible memorized, and that this highly influenced his writings.

The Arbatel was an extremely influential work for its time. It is said that one cannot understand the meaning of the Arbatel without also understanding the philosophy of Paracelsus. It viewed theosophy in an occult sense, and was perhaps the first written work to do so. Prior to the Arbatel, theosophy was generally used as a synonym for theology. It was the first writing to make the important distinction between human knowledge and divine knowledge. 

Not all views of the Arbatel are positive, however. Dutch physician, occultist and demonologist Johann Weyer condemned the Arbatel as being “full of magical impiety” in his book, De praestigiis daemonum. In 1617, two professors at the University of Marburg in Germany intended to use the Arbatel as a textbook for students. Actions were taken against those professors by the University, and the book led to a student’s expulsion. Further, in 1623, an individual accused of being a witch, Jean Michel Menuisier, claimed to have used incantations from the Arbatel.

The first edition was most likely published in Basel. Some claim there had been earlier editions, although there has been no evidence to substantiate this. Since 1575, there have been several reprints. In 1655, Robert Turner translated the Arbatel to English, and printed it in his "Fourth" book of Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa's “Three Books of Occult Philosophy.” In 1686, Andreas Luppius wrote a German translation of the Arbatel, and in 1855, Scheible completed another German translation, correcting Luppius’ errors. In 1945, Marc Haven created a French translation of the manuscript. Finally, in 1969, it was translated again into English in the British Library’s Sloane Manuscripts. This English translation resulted in many errors and missing sections, and included a “Seal of Secrets” not included in any other version. 

Through its original edition and later translations, the Arbatel remains a fascinating look into ancient spiritual advice, and the different philosophies and views of the world from the 16th Century.

Find the book on the left bar of our site.

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Friday, March 17, 2017

1666 Redemption Through Sin

Most people have heard of Jesus Christ, considered the Messiah by Christians, and who lived 2000 years ago. But very few have ever heard of Sabbatai Zevi, who declared himself the Messiah in 1666. By proclaiming redemption was available through acts of sin, he amassed a following of over one million passionate believers, about half the world's Jewish population during the 17th century. 

Although many Rabbis at the time considered him a heretic, his fame extended far and wide. Sabbatai's adherents planned to abolish many ritualistic observances, because, according to the Talmud, holy obligations would no longer apply in the Messianic time. Fasting days became days of feasting and rejoicing. Sabbateans encouraged and practiced sexual promiscuity, adultery, incest and religious orgies. 

After Sabbati Zevi's death in 1676, his Kabbalist successor, Jacob Frank, expanded upon and continued his occult philosophy. Frankism, a religious movement of the 18th and 19th centuries, centered on his leadership, and his claim to be the reincarnation of the Messiah Sabbatai Zevi. He, like Zevi, would perform "strange acts" that violated traditional religious taboos, such as eating fats forbidden by Jewish dietary laws, ritual sacrifice, and promoting orgies and sexual immorality. He often slept with his followers, as well as his own daughter, while preaching a doctrine that the best way to imitate God was to cross every boundary, transgress every taboo, and mix the sacred with the profane. Hebrew University of Jerusalem Professor Gershom Scholem called Jacob Frank, "one of the most frightening phenomena in the whole of Jewish history". Jacob Frank would eventually enter into an alliance formed by Adam Weishaupt and Meyer Amshel Rothschild called the Order of the Illuminati. The objectives of this organization was to undermine the world's religions and power structures, in an effort to usher in a utopian era of global communism, which they would covertly rule by their hidden hand: the New World Order. 

Using secret societies, such as the Freemasons, their agenda has played itself out over the centuries, staying true to the script. The Illuminati handle opposition by a near total control of the world's media, academic opinion leaders, politicians and financiers. Still considered nothing more than theory to many, more and more people wake up each day to the possibility that this is not just a theory, but a terrifying Satanic conspiracy.

About the author:
Robert Sepehr is an author, producer and anthropologist living in Los Angeles, CA.
He specializes in linguistics, paleogenetics and archeology.

Check Robert's books on the left bar of this site.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

According to an old Hindu legend...

..there was once a time when all human beings were gods, but they so abused their divinity that Brahma, the chief god, decided to take it away from them and hide it where it could never be found.

Where to hide their divinity was the question. So Brahma called a council of the gods to help him decide. "Let's bury it deep in the earth," said the gods. But Brahma answered, "No, that will not do because humans will dig into the earth and find it." Then the gods said, "Let's sink it in the deepest ocean." But Brahma said, "No, not there, for they will learn to dive into the ocean and will find it." Then the gods said, "Let's take it to the top of the highest mountain and hide it there." But once again Brahma replied, "No, that will not do either, because they will eventually climb every mountain and once again take up their divinity." Then the gods gave up and said, "We do not know where to hide it, because it seems that there is no place on earth or in the sea that human beings will not eventually reach."

Brahma thought for a long time and then said, "Here is what we will do. We will hide their divinity deep in the center of their own being, for humans will never think to look for it there."

All the gods agreed that this was the perfect hiding place, and the deed was done. And since that time humans have been going up and down the earth, digging, diving, climbing, and exploring--searching for something already within themselves.

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Monday, March 13, 2017

The Ars Notoria, an ancient book that teaches amazing mental abilities

Over the centuries many books have been written claiming that loyal readers and followers of the text will be bestowed with magical powers. In some cases these books are intended to invoke demons or angels. In other cases they promise to allow the reader enhanced skills or good luck.

While the concepts of magic and demonology remained controversial through history, many such books were translated and compiled over time, extending their reach throughout several centuries. One of these books is the Ars Notoria.

The Ars Notoria is one of five books within a grimoire called the Lesser Keys of Solomon , or Clavicula Salomonis Regis . A grimoire is a textbook of occult knowledge which is meant to grant the reader the ability to cast spells, create talismans, invoke spirits, invoke demons, and perform divination.  The Lesser Keys of Solomon is an anonymous grimoire that was compiled from other works in the 17th century, and focuses on demonology. The five books contained within the Lesser Keys of Solomon are the Ars Goetia , the Ars Theurgia-Goetia , the Ars Paulina , the Ars Almadel , and the Ars Notoria .

The Ars Notoria is the oldest portion of the Lesser of the Keys grimoire. It, in particular, was not a book of spells or potions, but a book of prayers and orations that are said to strengthen and focus one’s mental powers, by beseeching god for intellectual gifts. Among these intellectual gifts is the concept of a “perfect memory.”

Those who practice liberal arts, such as arithmetic, geometry, and philosophy, are promised a mastery of their subject if they devote themselves to the Ars Notoria . Within, it describes a daily process of visualization, contemplation, and orations, which are intended to enhance the practitioner’s focus and memory.

Also, the original texts were written in mash up of ancient Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. King Solomon himself used the original content of Ars Notoria to become as wise, compassionate and clever as he was made to be famous.

“…The Notory Art revealed by the Most High Creator to Solomon. In the Name of the Holy and undivided Trinity, beginneth this most Holy Art of Knowledge, revealed to Solomon, which the Most High Creator by his Holy Angels ministered to Solomon upon the Alter of the Temple; that thereby in short time he knew all Arts and Sciences, both Liberal and Mechanick, with all the Faculties and Properties thereof: He has suddenly infused into him, and also was filled with all wisdom, to utter the Sacred Mysteries of most Holy words…” 
–Ars Notoria 

Another famous user of the Ars Notoria was John of Morigny, a fourteenth century monk When he tried to achieve academic mastery, he bacema afflisted with demonid visions. 

He went on to create his own grimoire, Libor Visonum. He believed that the Ars Notoria worked but came at too high a price. 

There is a communication trick inside that modern readers will find fascinating. Labeled a ‘magnetick experiment’, details how to use a lodestone and two compass needles to communicate great distances.

If the two needles are rubbed against the same lodestone (a lodestone is a natural magnet), the needles will be ‘entangled’. 

In this fashion, if one needle moves the other does as well. By placing the needles in the center of a circle of letters and pictures, two individuals across great distances, could talk to each other by spelling out words.

The book has many clever ideas and notions that were ahead of its time. It was also attached to prominent occult and political names. 

All this combined with the fact we discussed earlier, that many people can’t read, lead people to believe it had magical properties. The expansion of perspective and attainment of knowledge made others believe that the book itself was magical.

If we were able to get an unabridged and original copy of the book, then my mind could be easily changed.

If the book did have inherently dangerous information, authorities of various types would have worked to contain and limit the public’s access to this information. 

“And know this; that if thou hast not the books in thy hands, or the faculty of looking into them is not given to thee; the effect of this work will not be the lesse therefore: but the Orations are twice then to be pronounced, where they were to be but once: And as to the knowledge of a vision, and the other virtues which these Holy Orations have; thou maist prove and try them, when and how thou wilt.” 
–Ars Notoria 

You can find a good translation of the Ars Notoria on the right bar of our site.

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Sunday, March 12, 2017

Scientists discover how to 'upload knowledge to your brain'

Feeding knowledge directly into your brain, just like in sci-fi classic The Matrix, could soon take as much effort as falling asleep, scientists believe.

Researchers claim to have developed a simulator which can feed information directly into a person’s brain and teach them new skills in a shorter amount of time, comparing it to “life imitating art”.

They believe it could be the first steps in developing advanced software that will make Matrix-style instant learning a reality.

In the neo-noir sci-fi classic, protagonist Neo is able to learn kung fu in seconds after the martial art is ‘uploaded’ straight to his brain.

Researchers from HRL Laboratories, based in California, say they have found a way to amplify learning, only on a much smaller scale than seen in the Hollywood film.  

They studied the electric signals in the brain of a trained pilot and then fed the data into novice subjects as they learned to pilot an aeroplane in a realistic flight simulator.

The study, published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, found that subjects who received brain stimulation via electrode-embedded head caps improved their piloting abilities and learnt the task 33 per cent better than a placebo group.

“Our system is one of the first of its kind. It's a brain stimulation system,” explained Dr Matthew Phillips.

"It sounds kind of sci-fi, but there's large scientific basis for the development of our system.

"The specific task we were looking at was piloting an aircraft, which requires a synergy of both cognitive and motor performance.

"When you learn something, your brain physically changes. Connections are made and strengthened in a process called neuro-plasticity.

“It turns out that certain functions of the brain, like speech and memory, are located in very specific regions of the brain, about the size of your pinky.”

Dr Matthews believes that brain stimulation could eventually be implemented for tasks like learning to drive, exam preparation and language learning

“What our system does is it actually targets those changes to specific regions of the brain as you learn,” he added.

“The method itself is actually quite old. In fact, the ancient Egyptians 4000 years ago used electric fish to stimulate and reduce pain.

“Even Ben Franklin applied currents to his head, but the rigorous, scientific investigation of these methods started in the early 2000s and we're building on that research to target and personalise a stimulation in the most effective way possible.

“Your brain is going to be very different to my brain when we perform a task. What we found is … brain stimulation seems to be particularly effective at actually improving learning.”

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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Scientists create 'impossible' new form of matter with fourth dimension

A new kind of matter – dubbed a “time crystal” – has been created by two teams of scientists in a feat once considered theoretically impossible, and could lead to quantum computer breakthrough.

Normal crystals, anything from diamonds to snowflakes, have atoms arranged in a repeating three-dimensional lattice.

However the atoms in time crystals – the existence of which was first suggested in 2012 – repeat a pattern across the fourth dimension, time.

This essentially means they should oscillate forever without any external influence.

Before their apparent creation, some researchers had expressed doubt that time crystals could be made as perpetual motion contradicts the laws of physics.

But it is thought to be possible partly because of the strange way matter behaves at the quantum level.

A time crystal seems to be a closed system, so no energy is lost to the outside world. And it also appears to have properties similar to superconductors so electrons can move without any resistance.

This allows the observed motion to continue, theoretically at least, for all time.

The practical applications are thought to be far off, but it is believed the crystals’ unique properties could help make quantum computing a reality.

Prototype quantum computers exist, but need to be heavily shielded from the slightest interference from the outside world. The crystals could help protect the stored information, overcoming one of the greatest obstacles to the widespread use of computers many millions of times faster than the ones used today.

One of the teams, led by researchers at Maryland University, created the first time crystal from electrically charged atoms of the element ytterbium.

They used an electric field to levitate 10 of these atoms above a surface, then repeatedly hit them with a pulse from a laser. 

The atoms began to flip in a regular pattern by themselves, but they did so in an odd way. Rather than moving at the same rate as the laser pulses, they flipped at half the pace.

The researchers compared this to hitting a piano key twice, but just getting one note, or squeezing a sponge regularly but seeing it rebound only once every second squeeze.

This, apparently, is the tell-tale sign of a time crystal. The purported breakthrough was revealed in October last year, but the scientific world has been waiting to see the full details in a peer-reviewed journal.

The Maryland team and another led by experts at Harvard University have now published separate papers in Nature, one of the world’s leading journals.

Professor Andrew Potter, of Texas University at Austin, who was part of the Maryland-led team, said: “This opens the door to a whole new world of non-equilibrium phases.

“We’ve taken these theoretical ideas that we’ve been poking around for the last couple of years and actually built it in the laboratory. 

“Hopefully, this is just the first example of these, with many more to come.”

However, in a commentary published by Nature, one leading expert in the field suggested more research was needed to prove without doubt that time crystals truly exist.

Professor Chetan Nayak, of University of California, Santa Barbara, wrote that based on our current knowledge it had been natural to see if it was possible to “spontaneously break the time-translational symmetry of the laws of physics”.

But he said it was possible that the unusual flipping motion seen in the purported time crystals might not last forever.

“Both groups present evidence of a time crystal,” Professor Nayak said, “but their combined results point to the need for experiments that truly show that the oscillations remain in phase over extended times and are not washed out by the inevitable fluctuations.”


Monday, March 6, 2017

Astral Projection (O.B.E.)

Astral projection is the ability to mentally and spiritually leave your body and travel the world around you. 

O.B.E. stands for out-of-body experience. Many people get confused with the difference between O.B.E.’s and astral projection. There is no real difference between O.B.E. and A.P.

O.B.E. is considered to be the more scientific term, although science had barely touched the subject. Astral projection is thought to be the more spiritual term, but both terms mean the same thing.

Although most O.B.E. happens when the person is asleep, or close to sleep, O.B.E.’s can be done when awake. It can be done consciously or unconsciously. For people who unconsciously, but are awake, have an O.B.E., they describe the experience as seeing the room or environment with an unusual clarity and a different point of view, other than their own. The people say that they feel like they have stepped out of their body for a minute and can see the world around them.

When you project, you enter into a plane. The most commonly known and visited plane is what is known as the astral plane. This has been misnamed because the astral plane is really a term that sums up all the planes that exist and not just one plane. There are many other planes that you can go to. Astralnauts are constantly discovering a new plane. The one plane that is most visited it's called by some the Real Time Zone plane, due to the fact that the plane is an exact copy of the world you see, breathe, and live in.

Projecting yourself and walking seems pretty fun and wild, but there is much more that can be done in the astral plane. There are many properties of the astral plane and what be done while astral projecting. The first rule to remember is a hard one to remember. The rule is anything is possible in the astral plane. Only your mind will stop you.

On earth, we are bound to the laws of gravity. In the astral plane, there is no gravity. You can jump as far as you want. You can throw a ball as far as you want. You can be light or heavy as you want. You can be as strong as you want. You can run faster than you ever have and not get tired. Many people find joy in flying around their home. You can walk through anything you want to. You can walk through wood, stone, fire, ice and so on. Your astral body can not die and can not receive any long lasting damage. You will not feel any pain to your astral body, but that does not stop your earth body to feel pain, heat or cold.

There is an interesting ability that can be done in the astral plane and it is called manifestation. On earth, manifestation is possible, but hard to do. Manifestation is the ability, through hard and constant concentration, to make certain events happen. In the astral plane, manifestation takes a more literal meaning. You can just think of an object and it will appear. If you want a cup of water, just think of the exact cup of water you want and it will appear. You can create anything you want through thought.

The astral plane also contains psi. This means you can safely and privately practice anything from meditation to telekinesis. It is said that transferring skills from what you learned in the astral plane to real life is not as hard as one would think. You can also affect your body in a positive way in the astral plane. You can practice healing your body in the astral plane, or have someone, project and heal your astral body, which will heal your physical body.

You can meet people in this state. They can be either astral proyecting themselves or just noticing you. If they are not projecting, they must be strong enough in psionics to be able to sense your presences.


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Saturday, March 4, 2017

Major breakthrough as scientists confirm out of body experiences are REAL

A breakthrough study in Sweden has shown that out of body experiences are real.

Many people have claimed to have experienced the phenomenon when they come close to death or when undergoing surgery, for example, claiming that they can see everything that is going on around them from a different perspective while unconscious.

Medical experts have debated for some time whether it is real, but a breakthrough study has seemed to confirm the existence of the phenomenon.

Neuroscientists from Sweden's Karolinska Institutet created an out-of-body illusion when they placed study participants in a brain scanner, and used an illusion to ‘teleport’ the individuals to different locations in a room.

The 15 individuals involved wore head-mounted displays and viewed themselves and the brain scanner from another part of the room.

On the display, the individuals could see the body of a stranger in the foreground and themselves in the background, protruding from the brain scanner.

They scientists would then prod the participants with an object at the same time they saw the strangers body being prodded on the display.

Arvid Guterstam, lead author of the present study, said: "In a matter of seconds, the brain merges the sensation of touch and visual input from the new perspective, resulting in the illusion of owning the stranger's body and being located in that body's position in the room, outside the participant's physical body.”

The scientists then used pattern recognition techniques to monitor brain activity and found that “the perceived self-location can be decoded from activity patterns in specific areas in the temporal and parietal lobes,” according to a press release.

Mr Guterstam added: "The sense of being a body located somewhere in space is essential for our interactions with the outside world and constitutes a fundamental aspect of human self-consciousness.

"Our results are important because they represent the first characterisation of the brain areas that are involved in shaping the perceptual experience of the bodily self in space."

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Friday, March 3, 2017

The strange life of Austin Osman Spare, Chaos Magician

Austin Osman Spare, a British outsider artist who died in the 1950s, was also the grandfather of Chaos Magick. Here’s more about his bizarre and often disturbing life.

Austin Osman Spare (1886—1956) was an English artist—and practicing occultist. He was also the inventor of many of the techniques that would later be dubbed chaos magick.

Born in the Elephant & Castle area of South London to a policeman, Spare spent his early years next to an open-air meat market; the constant exposure to the banality of death deeply colored his development as an artist. Spare’s early work was similar to Aubrey Beardsley, then in vogue as England’s “decadent” years drew to a close, and it was on the strength of his Beardsley-esque line drawings that Spare won an art school scholarship, a real chance to improve his life and lift himself up out of the poverty and squalor he had been born into.

At art school, Spare worked constantly, and also studied deeply in the nascent field of psychoanalysis and, fashionably, into the occult, delving into books by Madame Blavatsky and Cornelius Agrippa’s Three Books of Occult Philosophy, a foundational text on Western magick. Spare would claim that as a pre-pubescent he had been sexually initiated into a hereditary occult lineage by “Mrs. Patterson,” an octogenarian witch that almost certainly never existed outside of Spare’s imagination.

Spare’s hard work paid off, and by his early twenties he was on his way to meteoric success in the art world, and was declared a wunderkind by the press. Unfortunately, his timing was off: he made a name for himself just as England was losing its fascination with all things Victorian. The Beardsleyeque, decadent aesthetic quickly became as unfashionable as bellbottoms and long hair were in the 1980s, and Spare was tossed out by the changing of the guard.

Spare would return to South London, inhabiting a basement and continuing to paint unceasingly—a true outsider both to the art world and, indeed, to English society itself. Magick and the occult, explored through the medium of painting, would now become his singular pursuit. But Spare would go his own way even in the already socially-divergent world of the occult. An early member of Aleister Crowley’s A.’.A.’. (one of his illustrations is reproduced in the second issue of Crowley’s monumental occult journal The Equinox), Spare quickly became disillusioned with the formal approach to magick that had been codified by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and its alumni.

“Others praise ceremonial Magic,” he famously quipped in The Book of Pleasure, “and are supposed to suffer much Ecstasy! Our asylums are over-crowded, the stage is over-run! Is it by symbolizing we become the symbolized? Were I to crown myself King, should I be King? Rather should I be an object of disgust or pity. These Magicians, whose insincerity is their safety, are but the unemployed dandies of the Brothels.”

Crowley, however, remembered Spare fondly—the two were likely lovers for a time, as memorialized by Crowley in his poem “The Twins,” in which he compares himself and Spare to the incestuous gods Horus and Set, respectively:

"See, how subtly I writhe!

Strange runes and unknown sigils
I trace in the trance that thrills us.
Death ! how lithe, how blithe
Are these male incestuous vigils!
Ah! this is the spasm that kills us!
Wherefore I solemnly affirm
This twofold Oneness at the term.
Asar on Asi did beget
Horus twin brother unto Set.
Now Set and Horus kiss, to call
The Soul of the Unnatural
Forth from the dusk; then nature slain
Lets the Beyond be born again."

After their split, however, Crowley would have different words for Austin Osman Spare, dubbing him a “Black Brother,” Crowley’s term for a magician who refuses to surrender their ego at the peak of their development, and thereafter becomes corrupted by it.

The rest of Spare’s life was spent in abject poverty, collecting cats that he usually spent his money feeding instead of himself, and drawing portraits of South Londoners in pubs for beer money. It was during this time that he would develop his deeply personal and unique system of magick, revolving around the use of “sigils” to unlock the buried abilities of the unconscious mind, and communion with otherworldly forces through the trance medium of painting itself. Spare also claimed to regularly seek to shock his unconscious mind into trances of occult power by engaging in sex with exceedingly ugly or aged women (possibly another Spare exaggeration).

Spare likely would have been completely forgotten were it not for Kenneth Grant, an over-enthusiastic young man who had grown up on H. P. Lovecraft books, who never shook the conviction that Lovecraft was writing codified non-fiction, and who soon undertook a lifelong pursuit of Magick. Like Israel Regardie before him, Grant came into Crowley’s orbit, becoming his secretary in the final years of his life; Crowley obliged the young man by demonstrating occult processes like ether-assisted astral travel.

(Letters preserved by Grant from the time, touchingly, show that the Old Beast was largely concerned with trying to assure that Grant properly looked after himself, dressed well and comported himself as a gentleman, so that Grant could get by and get a job in post-war London. He even wrote to Grant’s father pleading him to talk sense into the young man, as the “monstrous” Aleister felt that Grant’s obsession with him and Magick might well distract Grant from actually building a life and career for himself.)

After Crowley’s death, Grant floundered, convinced his occult training had been cut short; it was almost a decade later, through the Atlantis Bookshop, that Grant was introduced to Spare; Grant felt he had met the true guru that would complete his education. The aged Spare quickly became friendly with Kenneth Grant and his wife Steffi, who adored him, and Grant would work unceasingly to draw out and record Spare’s theories, including the sigil technique, which became the foundation of chaos magick in the 1970s (it is not coincidental, perhaps, that the last three letters of Chaos—AOS—are Spare’s initials and monogram).

While Grant did preserve Austin Osman Spare’s work and place in history, he also, unfortunately, mixed-up and confused Spare’s work with ideas and terms extrapolated from both Crowley and Lovecraft—as Grant would later demonstrate in his books, he seemed to think all three men were transmitting from one source, and therefore could be studied interchangeably. Biographer Phil Baker’s recent book Austin Osman Spare: The Occult Life of London’s Legendary Artist shows how much of Spare’s writing that Grant “discovered” was, in fact, just written by Grant himself. (It seems likely that Spare thought Grant was making him appear more intellectual and mysterious than he felt himself to actually be.)

Though the sigil technique has spread wide, the rest of Spare’s work remains inscrutable even within occult circles, where he is often name-dropped, but almost never directly engaged with, let alone understood. Spare was truly downwardly mobile—he holds far more in common with the aghoris, the graveyard-dwelling, filth-eating sadhus of India, than the romantic image of the imperious, glamorous, “all-powerful” Western magician. Additionally, his writing is oblique and his paintings are scarce (where’s the coffee table book?). That often makes Spare an unattractive and difficult subject of study at best. Nevertheless, his legendary status within the occult subculture—particularly in the United Kingdom, where he occupies a kind of “top dog” status in the English occult imagination—only grows as time goes on, and the reality of the man himself, perhaps, fades into history.


You can find his book The Book of Pleasure: The Psychology of Ecstasy, on the right side bar of our site.

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