art installation by Keiko Mukaide

Cosmogony and Eschatology (1994)

This is an extract from a book that I was writing at the time, a biography of the American rocket scientist and disciple of Aleister Crowley, Jack Parsons. Parsons famously invoked the Goddess BABALON in a lengthy magickal working, with the assistance of a young L. Ron Hubbard. The book remains unpublished to this day – I gave up on it due mainly to the difficulty of researching such a project whilst living in the UK, and also because of the notoriously litigious reputation of Hubbard’s later followers, who are not known for their tolerant attitude towards chroniclers of his earlier adventures.

Subsequently, two biographies of Parsons have been published. Sex and Rockets by “John Carter” (an obvious pseudonym – and yes, I do know who it is) was the first to appear in 1999, followed in 2005 by Strange Angel by George Pendle. Both excellent works, although the Pendle one is somewhat better researched in my opinion (even if he does wimp out of some of the more controversial areas). It seemed pointless for me to attempt to follow with my meagre and under-researched offering, so the material was archived. I still dust it down from time to time and try to decide what to do with it. Maybe I’ll post some more of it on here if it proves of interest.

Working with and researching material when the subject is as strange as Parsons’ life story leads the writer into some interesting mental places. I was heavily into the works of Robert Anton Wilson, Terence McKenna, Philip K. Dick and the like at the time, not to mention trying to get to grips with the metaphysical complexities of the whole Crowley/OTO/Western Magickal axis. The writing style reflects those influences, particularly McKenna, whose verbose and florid style I greatly admired. But it does strange things to your head, that stuff, and produced in me what can only be described as either a major epiphany or a psychotic fugue.You decide.

Sixteen years later in 2010, I’m still not sure what to make of the whole experience, but I do think that this contains some of my best writing. Although RAW, Dick and McKenna are no longer with us, the predicted Eschaton of 2012 looms ever closer; so it seems like an appropriate time to take another look at this material.

Cosmogony and Eschatology

There is an idea that wants to be born, it has wanted to be born for a very long time. And sometimes that longing to be born settles on a person. For no damn good reason … you are illuminated and maddened and lifted up by something great beyond all telling. It wants to be told. It’s just that this idea is so damn big that it can’t be told, or rather the whole of history is the telling of this idea, the stuttering rambling effort of the sons and daughters of poor old Noah to tell this blinding, reality-shattering, bowel-loosening truth.

— Terence McKenna

Knowledge is always in terms of concepts and can be passed only by means of words or other symbols. Understanding is not conceptual and therefore cannot be passed on. It is immediate experience.

— Aldous Huxley

This section is offered as a speculative exploration into the nature of magick and the consensual hallucination we call reality. The trouble with philosophical, magickal or religious expositions on the subject is that they tend to get bogged down in the semantics of dogma. This is particularly true in the case of magick, whose secrets are occluded behind the accumulation of thousands of years of esoteric jargon.  There are schools of thought today which hold that magick must be updated and brought into line with modern ideas if it is to survive. There are likewise those who claim that it is the very temporal reiteration of the rites which gives magick much of its power. The words of the ceremonies, the syntactical structures of the Art, have been in use for thousands of years. This creates a powerful morphogenetic field, to use Rupert Sheldrake’s term; an inherent authority which aids the practitioner in the execution of his will. The act of understanding the meaning behind the rituals provides much of the mental groundwork required. A secondary benefit of the obscure terminology, of course, is that it makes it so much harder for outsiders to understand what the hell is going on.

While I can see the reasoning behind both arguments, my own position tends to fall somewhere between the two extremes. There is little point in preserving the exact syntax of an ancient ritual if the true understanding behind the ceremony is lost. This is the point where secret teachings become dogma, and the shamans and adepts of the mystery traditions become the priests and hierophants of organised religion. Any imposition of structure or dogma of necessity promulgates the will of the teacher over that of the student; since magick is about personal transformation, this is often detrimental to the student’s development.

It is the duty of the priest or shaman to “show the way” to the student, so that he may find his own gnosis. Rather than blindly accepting the learning of his teacher, he must question everything for himself until he comes to his own understanding of Universe. In that sense then, this is my personal gnosis arrived at through the research for the Jack Parsons story. It is not intended as a definitive or scientifically provable hypothesis – merely as indication of some of the avenues which I mentally explored whilst researching this book. As my theories developed, bizarre synchronicities occurred, bringing new material and insights to hand just when required. This sort of thing is well-documented in Colin Wilson’s books; it’s the sort of everyday natural magick-in-action which lets you know that you’re on the right track. Feel free to accept or ridicule these conclusions as you Will.

Let’s start by looking at the role of drugs in magick. All drugs function by altering the chemistry of the brain in some way; altering our perception of reality or, in the case of the more psycho-active compounds, opening up completely new realities. They work because there are specific receptor sites in the brain for each psycho-active compound; many of these receptors appear to serve no other purpose. They exist simply to allow the drug to interface with the brain and deliver its information-altering program. The altered state of consciousness that certain drugs evoke is related to certain trance states induced in magick. This is not to say that they are identical: drug-induced transcendence is regarded by most occultists as, at best, a poor substitute for proper occult discipline and training, and is potentially very dangerous. Nevertheless, psychedelics of all descriptions have been utilised by shamans from every culture for thousands of years as a valuable tool for contact with the “Other,” that transcendental realm which lies outside everyday human understanding and constitutes the working Universe of the magician. Certain hallucinogenic compounds seem to allow direct access to alien realities and communication with their denizens in much the same way as advanced magickal invocations.

Terence McKenna, a vociferous advocate of plant hallucinogens, claims that shamanically large doses of psilocybin mushrooms and other similar natural compounds can trigger an experience which is like entering into færie: one meets and can directly communicate with elves, insect-headed aliens, UFOs and other archetypal beings. This is not the same experience that most casual mushroom users report; the heroic doses McKenna proposes precludes such hedonistic partying.

McKenna sees the mushroom as an alien artefact, spread throughout space from Sirius; a biological codex of living, evolving, alien information, seeded on this planet in ages past. The mushroom spore is extraordinarily well-armoured, easily capable of surviving the aeons of drifting through interstellar  space to reach this world. This viewpoint is consistent with Francis Crick’s panspermia theory of how life originated on Earth in the first place; seeded by a random encounter with spores from space that were dropped off by a passing comet. McKenna emphasises that he thinks it is possibly not life, but intelligence that arrived on the space-faring spores.

The molecular structure of psilocybin is unique in earth’s ecosystem. The chemical formula  for psilocybin, he tells us, is 4-phosphoraloxy-N, N-DMT. What is unusual about this is that the phosphoraloxy group is attached at the four position of the base, and no other naturally-occurring compound on this planet has this 4-substituted indole. So the inference is that the mushroom is not native to this planet.

Mushrooms also don’t appear to have any use for their psilocybin, yet some 15-20% of their metabolic energy is devoted to producing it. So what’s it doing there? McKenna’s analogy is that the mushroom is a kind of galactic CD-ROM designed to interface with our brain hardware as a means of teaching us about its world, rather as we would perhaps one day encode the sum total of humanity’s experience onto some form of computer chip, and send it out into the universe as a way of saying; “This is what we are.” In The Archaic Revival, McKenna states: “The mushroom is full of answers to the questions raised by its own presence. The true history of the galaxy over the last four and a half billion years is trivial to it.”

The full story of his first encounter with the mushroom intelligence is related in True Hallucinations. In this spellbinding shamanic entelechy, McKenna relates the story of his mushroom Illumination in the Amazon jungle, accompanied by his brother Dennis and a couple of friends. It’s a wacky voyage through the uncharted waters of consciousness in which brother Dennis claims that, by using proper invocations (a buzzing, humming sound which interacts harmonically with the buzz often heard during the peak of the mushroom experience) [1], it is possible to psychically bond with the mushroom, providing semi-permanent access to its information matrix. He theorises that this actually alters the molecular structure of the DNA in the brain in some way, burning-in new neural pathways in a manner analogous to the way in which a computer virus alters the software of the host operating system, downloading new instructions. The bonding process they called hypercarbolation, and upon demonstrating the technique to Terence and the others, Dennis flipped out completely for two weeks.

During this period he exhibited bizarre psychic abilities, claimed to be able to telephone anyone with a phone whether in the future or the past, materialised a personal object long-lost to both brothers while sitting semi-naked on a jungle path, wandered off to hang out in trees in the middle of the night, and accidentally Immanentised the Eschaton – whoops! (winter solstice, 2012 if you’re interested – the same date as when the Mayan Great Calendar expires).  It took nearly three weeks before Dennis found his way fully back to Planet Earth, and since then, like the cybershamen they are, the two brothers have been trying to explain the experience to the rest of us in terms which can be understood.

The entities of the mushroom world can also teach us about our own reality, which McKenna posits is a construct of language: “The world is a psychological construct of some sort within the animal brain/mind/body system … what that means is that a hallucination is datum for reality in the same way that ordinary perception is.” To put it another way; since we only experience reality through the filters of our senses, interpreting the information inside of ourselves, data originating within that system is as valid as any other input in determining personal reality. The experience itself is an empirical truth for the individual concerned.

Relativists would say that language is not the vehicle of thought but its determining medium. It is the framework of cognition. Our perceptions of everything are organised by the flux of sensations passing over that framework. We therefore cannot say anything meaningful about philosophical or transcendental experiences outside of that framework. The limitations of language are the limitations of our thinking. Language is a cultural hypnosis which forms the foundation on which we create our worlds of consciousness and fantasy. McKenna says: “I think language, as we practice it, is an unfinished enterprise, and … (the aliens) are the bearers of a new order of communication …” In-form-ation creates our reality, and the mushroom consciousness, being pure information, is the Logos of that reality. As William S. Burroughs put it: “Language is a virus from Outer Space.”

The mushroom entities seem to communicate in a more visual form of language – impossible to explain in words – McKenna describes it as, “a language that you look at … they use sound to make coloured, syntactical structures condense out of the air … there are multiple levels of meaning that are conveyed simultaneously.”

Some inter-communication is possible through shamanic glossolalia – what Pentecostal Christians would call `speaking in tongues.’ Even in the established church, there have been dramatic instances of the phenomenon, such as St. Louis Bertrand, who allegedly converted thousands of natives in the 16th. century by speaking in tongues; by means of this xenoglossia the gospel was spread across half a continent like wildfire. But it is not confined to Christianity; tribal shamans have been doing it since the dawn of ritual, and say that the shaman in trance is speaking the language of Nature, the tongue of the ancestors of the tribe.

The mushroom entities are very keen to encourage this vocal experimentation: “There’s something about using the voice to produce visual and poetic display that is very powerful – some kind of a lost art that we are no longer in touch with … at one time, or in some future time, human beings will communicate by making pictures in the air for each other that they will then interpret and understand, and this will remove much of the ambiguity and, hence, many of the differences between people” (italics added). In other words, there is a deeper structure to everyday language which can perhaps be accessed through glossolalia, and this primal form transcends normal language barriers and has the ability to directly manipulate reality. This is the essence of shamanic techniques.

Admittedly, this all sounds totally off-the-wall and has little or no scientific proof to back it up, but as McKenna writes:

“… the whole structure of the Western intellectual enterprise is so flimsy at the centre that apparently no one knows anything with certitude.

“Stop waiting for history and the stream of historical events to make itself clear to you. You have to take seriously the notion that understanding the universe is your responsibility, because the only understanding of the universe that will be useful to you is your own understanding.”

Compare this with the illuminatory experience that Philip K. Dick the SF writer underwent in 1974 when, in pain from a dental abscess and awaiting delivery of a prescription, he answered the door and found himself face to face with a girl wearing the stylised fish symbol worn by some Christians:

“For some reason I was hypnotised by the gleaming golden fish; I forgot my pain, forgot the medication, forgot why the girl was there. I just kept staring at the fish sign.

“… In that instant, as I stared at the gleaming fish sign … I suddenly experienced what I later learned is called anamnesis – a Greek word meaning, literally, `loss of forgetfulness.’ I remembered who I was and where I was. In an instant, in the twinkling of an eye, it all came back to me. And not only could I remember it but I could see it. The girl was a secret Christian and so was I. We lived in fear of detection by the Romans. We had to communicate in cryptic signs. She had just told me all this, and it was true.” [2]
Dick thought that this Christian persona was an early Gnostic disciple named Thomas; he was literally seeing the world of Roman times superimposed on the California of 1974. Naturally enough, he thought he had gone insane, but was unable to account for several things; notably the fact that he was able to think in ancient koine Greek, the lingua franca of the Middle East in biblical times, and which he had never studied. Thomas also had memories of earlier lives; ones from Minoan Crete about 1100 BC., and even a self long before that, one which had come to this planet from the stars.

Later, Dick also experienced other phenomena, such as hypnagogic visions, auditions, tutelary dreams, and even a bizarre pink beam of light which imparted striking effects:

“It invaded my mind and assumed control of my motor centres and did my acting and thinking for me. I was a spectator to it. It set about healing me physically and my four-year-old boy, who had an undiagnosed life-threatening birth defect that no one had been aware of. This mind, whose identity was totally obscure to me, was equipped with tremendous technical knowledge. It had memories dating back over two thousand years, it spoke Greek, Hebrew, Sanskrit, there wasn’t anything that it didn’t seem to know …”

Incidents like this led Dick to question himself intensely in an effort to prove or disprove his sanity. Over the course of eight years, he wrote literally millions of words in a spiritual outpouring he called the Exegesis, in which he documents his search for an explanation of his experience.

Dick found some corroboration for this experience within Gnostic sources. They believed that the divine principle was dualist – that the creator God of this world was not the true God, but a demiurge. This demiurge was identified with Yahweh, the God of Israel in the Old Testament; surely a much different persona from the God of the New Testament?  The True Maker, however, was identified as Sophia.  Sophia is a Greek word meaning Wisdom; in Hebrew it is chokmah, which is also the name given to the second sephiroth of the Qabalistic Tree of Life. In Gnostic belief, Sophia is the divine counterpart of Christ, in whose eventual union lies salvation for the Immortal Man.

Valentinus, an early Gnostic scholar, tells this creation myth about Sophia (Wisdom): Desiring to conceive by herself, apart from her masculine counterpart, she succeeded, and became `the great creative power from whom all things originate,’ often called Eve, `Mother of all living.’ But since her desire violated the harmonious union of opposites intrinsic in the nature of created being, what she produced was aborted and defective; from this, says Valentinus, originated the terror and grief that mar human existence. To shape and manage her creation, Wisdom brought forth the demiurge, the creator-God of Israel, as her agent.

One of the most powerful essays from Dick’s Exegesis has been published separately as Cosmology and Cosmogony, and in it Dick developed a logically convincing model of creation obviously influenced by these Gnostic beliefs. This world is a construct, he says; a projection of information by an alien artefact he called VALIS; an acronym for Vast Active Living Intelligence System. He presented some of his experience as fiction in the novel of that name, and in the related tales The Divine Invasion and The Transmigration of Timothy Archer.

VALIS is a computer-like teaching machine which guides, programs and generally controls us and our reality. Originally, Dick called it Zebra, because he imagined it to possess advanced mimetic properties. Mimesis – mimicry – is common in the insect and animal world. Some biologists have speculated that higher forms of mimicry might exist, since lower forms – which is to say, forms which fool those intended to be fooled but not us – have been found all over the world. If higher forms of sentient mimicry exist, they would be undetectable to us unless they wanted to be detected – somewhat like the alien hunter in Predator. Contact with such an entity might easily be described as a theophany.

VALIS, said Dick, has created our reality as a sort of mirror or image of its maker, so that the maker can obtain an objective standpoint from which to comprehend itself. The maker, a dualistic force Dick sometimes calls the Urgrund,  comprehends itself only through what it can interpret from our reality, while VALIS is unaware of the maker and is unaware that it is a construct; in its universe, it believes itself to be God. In Gnostic and Rosicrucian terms, it is Yahweh. The Urgrund must allow the artefact to continue to project our reality, no matter how flawed it appears, as this is its only means of self-comprehension. Eventually, the projected reality will begin to approach a correct analogue of Urgrund. When complete isomorphism is reached, an event Dick believed was fast approaching, an astonishing event will occur. The artefact will be destroyed, and the maker will assimilate the projected reality, transmuting it into something ontologically real, and making the living creatures in it immortal.

The process of knowing the true God was achieved through intense self-scrutiny. Initiation teaches the candidate to reject the creator’s authority and all his demands as foolishness. Gnosticism claims that the creator makes false claims to power (`I am God, and there is no other’) that derive from its own ignorance. Achieving gnosis involved coming to recognise the true maker, the ‘depth’ of all being. This realisation is what Dick calls anamnesis. The analogy he gives makes the process clear:

“A child learns that one apple plus one apple equals two apples. He then learns that one table plus one table equals two tables. But a day comes when he abstracts; it is no longer one apple plus one apple nor one table plus one table; it is: one and one equal two. This is an enormous leap in abstracting; it is a quantum leap in brain function … the child does not in fact remember or recollect that one and one equals two; he extrapolates from the concrete examples of apples and tables.”

Anamnesis is like this, said Dick, “… and it meant a leap from the spatio-temporal world to another world entirely. Perhaps this is the greatest leap of all, because now world is apprehended by pure intellect alone.”

Like McKenna, Dick claimed that the Logos was living information  which replicated itself, “not through information or in information, but as information.” He called it a plasmate, and initially believed that it came from Sirius (also regarded as source of cosmic knowledge in occult terms). When exposed to a human being, it passed up the optic nerve, which is an extension of the brain, and bonded with the brain in a living symbiosis to become a homoplasmate. This is what Dick thought had happened to him when the pink beam of light had struck him; it was the plasmate information being beamed directly into his brain by the Maker, who he identified with Sophia. Note the virus analogy. Also note that the early Christian fish symbol, if extrapolated, forms a double helix – the structure of DNA.

In Christian terms, Dick’s experience is like the ‘birth from the Holy Spirit.’ In magickal terms, the nearest analogy is attaining the ‘Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel’ – but there is more to Dick’s theory which lifts it way above such experiences.

In Gnostic belief, whoever came to the gnosis of anamnesis was ready to receive a secret sacrament called the Redemption (apolytrosis; literally ‘release’). This freed the initiate from the power of the demiurge forever by revealing to him the Logos of the true Maker (Dick’s plasmate). Through the ritual, every initiate was assumed to have received the charismatic gift of direct inspiration through the Logos (i.e. cross-bonded with the plasmate). The Gnostics believed that Jesus was a man like any other; the divine Christ he incarnated was to be found within. The Gnostic Gospel of Thomas seems to confirm that this process involves a biological transfer of some kind:

‘Jesus said, “I am not your master. Because you have drunk, you have become drunk from the bubbling stream which I have measured out … He who will drink from my mouth will become as I am: I myself shall become he, and the things that are hidden will be revealed to him.”’

Dick believed that the sacrament most probably involved an hallucinogenic mushroom [3]. He imagined a ritual where the initiate, approaching the end of his life, would be fed with a special pink food and drink, and would merge his identity with a symbol of some sort, like the fish symbol. This would somehow encode the homoplasmate to that symbol, and when, in another incarnation, the body was exposed to that symbol, the homoplasmate would awaken in the brain and trigger the process of anamnesis:

“The criminal virus controls by occluding (putting us in a sort of half-sleep) so that we do not see the living quality of the world, but see it as inert. Man reduced to automaton. The occlusion is self-perpetuating; it makes us unaware of it … so restoration doesn’t consist of enhancement but lifting (away & off).

“If there is to be immortality, there must be another kind of time: one in which past events (i.e. the past in its entirety) can be retrieved … I did experience such a time, i.e., immortality is possible.”

This is what Christ meant when he promised eternal life to his followers. It is the abolition of the tyranny of time, as Dick put it. The parallels with the pink food and drink and the Eucharist are obvious.

Dick believed that the secret teaching of Christ and the Essenes’ ‘True Teacher’ was the knowledge of anamnesis and the symbiotic cross-bonding with the plasmate. All the apostles had been exposed to the plasmate. Jesus presented this teaching to the apostles only; the general message was given to the populace in the form of parables:

‘To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables; so that they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand …’ (Mark 4:11)

So where are all the homoplasmates today? Dick’s theory was that the Roman Empire, in its suppression of  heretical beliefs, had killed all the living homoplasmates, so the plasmate was forced to revert to its dormant, seed form as written information in the shape of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Nag Hammadi codices, which were not rediscovered and read until 1945. It is only since then that the plasmate has been re- introduced to the world to seek new hosts. This is why Thomas had taken so long to come back; the plasmate had lain dormant for nearly two thousand years. The hermetic alchemists, Dick said, knew of it in theory from ancient texts, but could not duplicate it, since they could not locate the dormant, buried plasmate.

Because of his Thomas experience, Dick also theorised that real time had ended in the year 70 CE with the destruction of all the homoplasmates and the temple of Jerusalem; everything since then had been a spurious projection by the artefact. The actual date, he wrote, was somewhere in the early second century:

“If the centuries of spurious time are excised, the true date is not 1978 CE. but 103 CE. Therefore the New Testament says that the Kingdom of the Spirit will come before ‘some living now die.’ We are living, therefore, in apostolic times.”

In other words, he thought that in real time, we were still living under the rule of the Roman Empire. The Empire never ended.

Terence McKenna offers an alternative explanation. He has produced a computer model of time, called Timewave Zero, which plots the “novelty” of significant events throughout history based on a scale derived from the hexagrams of the I Ching. Sections of the wave can be mapped on to other sections by altering the scale on the time axis. In other words, time is fractal, or has a fractal structure: “All times, moments, months and millennia, have a pattern; the same pattern … all events are resonances of other events, in other parts of time, and at other scales of time.”

This concept, he says, would have transformed Phil Dick’s interpretation of events: “… the counter flow, the occluding intelligence, kept Phil’s eyes diverted from the key element necessary to the universal decipherment that he was attempting.”

Timewave Zero evokes an end date for history – December 21, 2012. This is where the ‘novelty ratio’ becomes critical. The Eschaton, in other words. And according to McKenna’s software, the times we are living in just now are directly isomorphic to the last days of the Roman Empire and the rise of the Dark Ages in Europe. The Empire never ended.[4]

McKenna’s view of the End Times is one of complete species transformation:

“It isn’t the return of Jesus, and it isn’t the descent of the Arcturians or the folks from Zen-el-Gnubi to give us a hand. It’s actually something much further out than either of those things …

“… it is the point at which the ingression into novelty and the degree of interconnectedness of the separate elements that comprise the concrescence will be such that the ontological nature of time itself will be transformed. History will end, and the transcendental object that has been drawing being into ever deeper reflections of itself since the first moments of existence of the universe will finally be completely concrescent in the three-dimensional space- time continuum.

“Something has taken hold of our species and is sculpting us to its specifications and leading us out of the animal body and the animal mind into its domain, whatever that is.”

The “end date” of December 21, 2012 was arbitrarily picked by McKenna because it seemed to offer a “best fit” with the other events in time shown by the program. It is interesting that it ties in with the end-date of the Mayan Great Calendar, though. It also roughly matches the predictions of French economist George Anderla, who has plotted the rate of doubling of the total information available to humanity. Robert Anton Wilson has called this the “Jumping Jesus” phenomenon, because he uses 1 AD as the starting point for this exponential progression. The first doubling of information took 1,500 years. The next took only 250 years. By 1750, we knew four times as much as they did in Jesus’ time. The next doubling took only 150 years, and by 1900 we had eight times the information in our collective database. The next doubling occurred in 1950. Fifty years. Then 1960. Then 1967. Then 1973. That was the year Anderla published his results. We had access to 128 times the information available to Jesus, and this was doubling every six years or less. We must have had at least four more doublings since then. By 2012, we should have information doubling every day and, later in the year, every hour and then every nanosecond. Even the most conservative imagination can see that this means drastic social changes ahead of us. What kind of transformation will it be?

You may well be wondering what all this has to do with our Jack Parsons story. Well, SOPHIA in Qabalistic gematria has a number of 156 – the same number as BABALON. In magickal terms, the Law of Similarity applies to two things possessing the same number. This means that there is a relationship, an isomorphism, between the two items in some form or other. It does not mean that they necessarily can be treated as identical quantities; only that they are related, and working with one item will have effects on the other. So there is a link of some sort here. Another, perhaps more tenuous link is mentioned by Kenneth Grant in Hecate’s Fountain. The number of BABALON – 156 – is also the sum of the initial letters UFO. So there we have a link to the alien intelligences of McKenna. Grant also points out other similarities between Babalon and the flying saucer experience; perhaps this accounts for Parsons’ belief in UFOs. There are also connections between the symbolism of the flying saucer and the Holy Grail, or Philosopher’s Stone. Terence McKenna provides some musings on this relationship in True Hallucinations [5].

In the magick of Thelema, pursued by Parsons and the O.T.O., BABALON is the daughter of Sophia, the final part of the self-iterating Hebrew formula of God, IHVH – Father, Mother, Son, Daughter. This is the tetragrammaton, the Most Holy name of God, the correct pronunciation of which is supposed to be a long-lost secret (hence Jehovah, Yahweh, etc.). This is due to the strange way in which written Hebrew ignores unnecessary vowel sounds. It’s a very compacted language with much of its meaning only manifest through the verbal dimension of speech. However, magickal adepts take the more pragmatic view that the true pronunciation is in the understanding of the formula and the cycle it implies, and its application to produce change in the universe in accordance with magickal will. If it produces the result you want, use it. In ritual, this name – indeed all Hebrew words – is vibrated in a deep sonorous voice letter by letter; Yod He Vau Hé.

This ancient formula is the root or basis for many of the western magickal traditions, particularly the Golden Dawn – Crowley – O.T.O. axis. Its importance cannot be underestimated; contemplation and understanding of the formula reveals the true, Gnostic secrets underlying Christianity and the patriarchal dominator religions that have dictated the course of western societies for two thousand years. The principal point to be grasped here is that the Holy Ghost is female. Divine wisdom in the form of gnosis comes from the Goddess, Sophia, long suppressed by the power-grasping early Church. Only recently have we seen a resurgence of feminine principles in society. It was Parsons’ belief that the incarnation of the daughter force, Babalon, was necessary to anchor these principles in reality, thus completing the formula implicit in the tetragrammaton, completing the cycle and bringing about the new Aeon.

Let’s look at the semantics of this. BABALON is derived from Babel, the legendary city of biblical fame. It’s a Semitic word: BAB means gate, EL is a name for God (EL is an older name of Yahweh). So BAB-EL means, `Gate of Yahweh’ (EL was replaced with AL in Crowley’s interpretation of the word, partly to tie in with Liber AL, but also because it gives a better numerological result with gematria.)

This connection to the Babel myth may be worth looking at in greater detail, since it concerns information. The story says that the people of Babel built a tower described as literally, ‘its top with the heavens.’ Popular interpretation has it that this means that the top of the tower was so high that it reached to the heavens. But excavations of the last century or so have found Babylonian ziggurats with detailed astronomical maps inscribed into their tops – a far more plausible explanation.

‘And the LORD said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; and nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down, and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth.’ (Genesis 11:6-9, Revised Standard Version).

Many scholars place the Babel story in Sumerian times. Sumer had an interesting culture and language. Their language has largely survived because they recorded all their data on clay tablets, unlike the Egyptians who used the less immutable papyrus. But the interesting thing is that the Sumerian language is unlike any other language of today. It’s an agglutinative tongue, consisting of short morphemes, or syllables, strung together in groups. It would sound like someone speaking in tongues; glossolalia or babbling. No known language is descended from it. It is not known how it died out – the Sumerians were conquered, but not wiped out, so we would expect some aspects of their language to survive. But there are no links to it, almost as though it was deliberately replaced with something else. It’s as if the minds of the populace were altered in some way, so that they could no longer understand the Sumerian language. Almost like the way in which a computer virus passes from one machine to another, damaging each system in the same way.

I’m getting a bit out on a limb here because my knowledge of Sumerian history is severely lacking, but this  thesis is better described in Neal Stephenson’s brilliant SF novel ‘Snow Crash,’ which is one of those books that just happened along at the right moment. I’m not one to overlook a synchronicity as intense as that. Although described in a fictional context, his Sumerian research seems impeccable, and his conclusions do seem to relate to this exposition so neatly that I felt compelled to include some of it. He does credit many of the sources for this Sumerian material, and if anything’s got mangled in the interpretation, it’s probably my fault.

Sumerian society had a strange structure. The priesthood were in control of each city or area, and governed through the control and distribution of me. This is a word which is hard to translate, but most scholars think it refers to a kind of code or structure which governed many activities of society, from the secular to the mundane; almost like a code of laws, but on a more fundamental level. Each city had variations on this, and vied for who had the best me. There were me for making bread, for tilling the fields, as well as for worship and how to run the city. Entire sections of Sumerian myths cannot be translated as they are me-ningless to us; the characters are legible and well-known, but when put together they do not say anything that our modern minds can recognise. They are of a fundamentally different consciousness from ours.

The best model for this is that the populace did not know how to function in a society, and had to be programmed how to operate. Doesn’t this sound like the pre-linguistic shamanic etic reality described by McKenna? The me were like short programs in machine-code, the language of ones and zeros comprising the etic reality of a computer, which people would ‘download’ from the temples when they needed to do certain tasks. Again, the computer virus analogy.

There are many more synchronous connections, such as the cult of Asherah, consort of El (Yahweh), whose symbol was a snake coiled about a staff (caduceus), like a virus coiled around a brain-stem? This cult involved the use of male and female temple prostitutes. If we postulate that the virus affected the host DNA, in some manner akin to McKenna’s hypercarbolation process, then perhaps it is transmissible through biological vectors as blood and bodily fluids. Temple prostitutes would then become essential for distributing the virus and maintaining control of the populace. In magick, Babalon is commonly depicted as a whore, and check this poem to Sophia in the Gnostic text entitled Thunder, Perfect Mind:

`For I am the first and the last.

I am the honoured one and the scorned one.

I am the whore and the holy one.

I am the wife and the virgin …

I am the barren one, and many are her sons …

I am the silence that is incomprehensible …

I am the utterance of my name’

So what happened to the Sumerians? Well, to stick with the computer metaphor, they needed a new program. As the society grew larger, the means of controlling it through centralised distribution of me became too unwieldy. People had to be taught to think for themselves, to diversify and be more self-reliant so that civilisation could spread. So another god, Enki, who had the power of nam-shub (literally, speech-of-magical-force), designed and unleashed a counter-virus which would spread along the same vectors and affect the same deep brain structures and reprogram the populace. In effect, nobody would be able to understand the Sumerian machine-code language any more, and new means of communication would have to be developed. This was the Babel event, and it might be said that it was the beginning of civilisation.

Babel – ‘Gate of God’ – gave us the ability to think for ourselves. It was also the beginning of rational religion, the point where dualism first arose; where the world consisted of both a physical and spiritual component. It’s like addressing a computer through a higher-level language like BASIC or FORTRAN; the machine-code operating system is still there, but a higher structure is superimposed onto it. While this structure is easier to deal with for everyday use, when it comes down to delving into the metaphysical heart of the operating system to find out what’s going on, it’s a hindrance.

In Dick’s cosmogony, this would perhaps be the creation of the artefact. The underlying force was a structure of information. But the very formation of languages makes it difficult to access that deep structure of information, which is why it is impossible to define the ineffable.

This is where we re-introduce the plasmate. It’s also analogous to a virus. But it’s not the same as the Asherah virus, represented by the single snake coiled around a staff; it’s a meta-virus; written in machine-code, if you like; perhaps it removes the overlaid carapace of language and lets the user deal directly with the program information? Through anamnesis, the user gains direct access to the operating system of humanity. It’s like a computer hacker’s ‘back door,’ it gives the user control over his own program. The homoplasmate symbol is the double snake with the winged globe rod; the Caduceus, symbol of Hermes/Mercury, god of communication, of information transfer. Originally the Greeks associated the caduceus with Asclepius, god of healing, which is why we still use the symbol in a medical context. The snakes represent wisdom, the winged globe illumination, and the bearer of the staff was regarded as a sacred person, not to be molested. This is why Hermes, messenger of the gods, carried it.

But the snakes make a double helix. DNA, right? Well, yes and no. The snakes are also symbolic of the plasmate coiling up the brain-stem, and with the winged globe, the whole symbol represents the illuminated syzygy of the homoplasmate. In this state, all the history encoded in the individual’s DNA is available to him. He is aware of all his selves along the temporal axis. ‘Abolition of the tyranny of time and space’, as Dick puts it.

The snake is a common occult symbol, and is usually interpreted to mean wisdom. It was in this context that the story of the serpent and the tree in the Garden of Eden should be interpreted. The serpent persuades Eve to eat of the fruit of the tree of Knowledge, and she becomes self-aware. In our Sumerian model, Eve becomes infected with a new program, like the Asherah virus. And, according to historians, Eve is synonymous with the Sumerian Asherah; now we can see where Asherah got her symbol of the snake coiled around a staff. There is also the sexual symbolism of the snake to take into account; and even this element is present in the Garden of Eden story. It is after they eat of the fruit that Adam and Eve become aware of their sexuality. So the Eden story is really concealing secrets of sex magick and anamnesis.

This snake symbolism is also representative of Kundalini in eastern Tantric mysticism; the mysterious sexual power visualised as a coiled and sleeping snake residing at the base of the spine in every individual. This force can be awakened by controlled breathing techniques and proper invocation. Kenneth Grant describes the force thus:

“Magic powers accrue to the adept who stays the Kundalini at any one of the six chakras situated at intervals along the spinal column. In the real adept, the true yogi, the fire is not arrested at any of these centres but is exalted to the highest chakra: the thousand-petalled lotus (sahasrara) in the region of the brain, where the goddess Kundalini unites with her lord, Shiva (pure consciousness). Samadhi (literally, ‘together with the lord’) is the result.

“When samadhi is stabilised and rendered permanent, it is known as liberation (mukti); it causes the yogi to become aware of his natural state. Liberation is not a state to be attained, for it is man’s real nature. Attainment consists of removal of the ignorance which veils the true state.” [italics added]

Sound familiar? Liberation equates with anamnesis; this is one of the primary goals of sex-magick. It’s the snake coiled-around-the-staff symbol. When success is attained, the next stage is union with godhead – bonding with the plasmate – divine symbiosis – whatever; this is what is symbolised by the Caduceus of Hermes.

Now let’s turn to the Knights Templar and their mysterious deity, Baphomet. Dr. Hugh Schonfield, a foremost scholar of early Christianity and one of the team that originally worked on the Dead Sea Scrolls, documents in The Essene Odyssey his discovery of a cipher used in the scrolls to conceal significant names and ideas. It’s a simple substitution cipher which he called Atbash. In the book, he tells how he came to investigate the Knights Templar after the possible links between them, the Cathars, and the Essenes were described in Baigent, Lincoln and Leigh’s Holy Blood and Holy Grail. He decided to apply the Atbash cipher to the obviously artificial name BAPHOMET, and was amazed to find that it translates as SOPHIA.

Based on this discovery, it is easy to presume that the Templars knew of the Gnostic tradition, and were custodians of secret knowledge handed down from pre-Christian times. Were they guardians of the plasmate, or perhaps, as Dick claims for the hermeticists, they were aware of the existence of it, but were unable to find it. Their rituals could be just coded remnants of the teachings, allegorical and symbolic tales which would preserve the meaning down through the centuries. But perhaps they did know more …

Re-reading Holy Blood and Holy Grail, I was delighted to find how well the homoplasmate theory applies to the secret traditions of the heretical Christian sect of the Albigensians or Cathars. In the early 13th. century the sect flourished in the Languedoc region of southern France. They held beliefs that were Gnostic in nature, adopting a dualist philosophy. In the Cathar world view, there was a perpetual battle going on between two opposing forces of good and evil of equal strength. One of these gods – the good one – was, like the Gnostic Sophia, entirely discarnate, pure spirit, and the other was the creator of the material world – Rex Mundi (Yahweh).

When the Cathars were ordered to be wiped out by the Vatican, the soldiers went about their task with great fervour. In the city of Béziers, where the military had been ordered to kill all the heretics, the Bishop of Cîteaux, Arnald Amalaricus, was asked how they could tell the heretics from the true believers. “Kill them all. God will recognise his own,” came the reply. These guys seriously wanted the Cathars dead, and were prepared to kill indiscriminately to ensure that was the case. Why?

One of the mysterious incidents mentioned in connection with the Cathars relates how several men from the sect went to the Comte de Montfort, “and asked him to come and look at the body of Our Lord, which had become flesh and blood in the hands of their priest” (italics added). This seems a disturbingly literal statement to use in reference to the Eucharist, but then I’ve always found Transubstantiation a peculiar concept anyway. What if they were being literally true? In the Phil Dick model, this could refer to the ‘pink food and drink’ used in the plasmate-bonding ritual. In this case, the ‘body of Our Lord’ would refer to the living plasmate in seed form, and ‘become flesh and blood…’ to the awakened homoplasmate in the disciple’s body.

The Cathars also had a peculiar sacrament called the consolamentum usually performed on candidates for the priesthood, called parfaits. The sacrament compels one to chastity, which seems unusual for the Cathars who were fairly liberal about sexuality. The only other time the consolamentum might be performed is on someone at death’s door – a Cathar form of Last Rites. The aspect of chastity is interesting. Why the taboo on procreation for parfaits? In light of the homoplasmate model, this begins to make some kind of sense. Remember the temple prostitutes of Asherah. If the plasmate infects the individual’s genetic make-up as a biological as well as a neuro-linguistic virus, it can be passed on genetically through procreation; a chastity clause, or controlled prostitution, would help to limit this spread and keep control of the virus to those of priestly class. Not unreasonable; uncontrolled spread of the virus to people untutored in the Mysteries would be extremely disruptive to ‘normal’ society.

The plasmate model can also be applied to the great massacre of the Cathars at the siege of Montségur in 1243-44. A virtually impregnable mountain fortress, Montségur withstood assault from upwards of ten thousand attackers for over ten months. The besiegers tried to surround the mountain completely, but even with their massive numbers, the terrain made the complete closure of this ring of steel impossible. The gaps left enabled many of the Cathar priests to escape down the mountain, apparently with most of the legendary Cathar treasure, because when the castle eventually capitulated this was nowhere to be found.

By this time there were perhaps less than four hundred people left inside. About 150-180 of these were parfaits – the Cathar priesthood. The rest were knights, men-at-arms, and their families. They were offered exceptionally lenient terms. The fighting men would receive full pardon for their ‘crimes.’ Furthermore, they would be allowed to depart unharmed with all their arms, baggage and money. No questions asked. The parfaits were also shown the same generosity. Provided they renounced their heretical beliefs and confessed their ‘sins’ to the Inquisition, they would be freed and subjected to only a light penance.

The defenders asked for a two-week truce while they considered the matter. This was agreed. In return, the defenders voluntarily offered hostages, with the under standing that if anyone tried to leave the castle the hostages would be executed.

This two week truce period, according to HBHG, included as its second last day the vernal equinox. It would seem that the defenders wanted to perform some ritual on this date. The curious thing here is that apparently over twenty people inside the castle, six women and some fifteen fighting men, voluntarily received the ritual of the consolamentum, becoming parfaits themselves and thus condemning themselves to certain death. The next day, on the expiry of the deadline, more than two hundred of the parfaits were dragged down the mountain-side. Not one recanted. They had all elected to face martyrdom rather than the Inquisition. There was no time to erect individual stakes for so many, so they were herded into a wooden stockade in full view of the castle and burned en masse.

Why would the parfaits willingly accept the flames when they could have escaped relatively lightly? In HBHG the authors reason that they must have held some great secret that they didn’t want to fall into the hands of the Inquisition. But that doesn’t explain why over twenty people asked to receive the consolamentum, condemning themselves to martyrdom alongside their priests, when they had been offered the chance to walk away as free people.

But it would make sense if they knew that physical death didn’t matter. If they’d been exposed to the plasmate at the consolamentum, they were Immortal Beings. That would surely seem like  better odds than facing the Inquisition.

Accounts are not clear, but it seems that at least four parfaits remained concealed amongst the rest of the fighting men in the castle, to escape at night by a perilous rope descent down the western face of the mountain. So, in our speculative history, the plasmate was carried from the siege and was not totally wiped out with the extermination of the Cathars.

HBHG tells how the traditions of the Cathars could have been passed down to the Knights Templar. They certainly seem to have a lot of traditions in common, such as their habit of riding around the countryside in pairs, sharing one horse. Cathar parfaits also travelled in pairs, giving rise to suggestions of homosexuality, also levelled against the Templars. The evidence for links between the two is well documented, indicating the passing down of the secret traditions even to this day.

The plasmate hypothesis can also be applied to the Roman siege of Masada in 70AD, and the subsequent self-extermination of the defenders who willingly gave up their lives rather than capitulate to the Romans. This, in the Dick model, would be the last bastion of living homoplasmates. With the fall of Masada, Dick thought that the plasmate had been forced into its dormant or seed form.

It should be clear by now that, in this model, the hypothesis offered in HBHG regarding the preservation of a bloodline from Jesus cannot be the whole story. The Jesus of HBHG was just a mortal man, and the authors liken the preservation of his bloodline (sang réal – royal blood) to that of a noble family preserving the lineage of their  royal house. The book documents how the secret was passed down through the house of the Merovingian kings in France, and how it is still preserved today under the auspices of a mysterious group known as the Priory of Sion. This is all very well, but it seems a rather feeble treasure to justify the enormous conspiracies and secrecy that they document so well in the book. What benefit does it bring to the rest of humanity? There has to be more to it than that.

But if we are talking about preservation of Dick’s plasmate, the meta-virus itself, the tale takes on a whole new dimension. Transcendence of the Black Iron Prison we call reality. Cosmic knowledge. Abolition of the tyranny of time and death. That is the knowledge preserved down through the ages by the secret societies. Immortal Man, through symbiosis with the plasmate. That is the ultimate aim of any magickal teachings. Robert Anton Wilson said it, in Right Where You Are Sitting Now: “The Grail is, always has been, and cannot be anything else but, Immortality.”

Welcome to the Vortex.

© Grahame Gardner. February 1994.

[1] The buzzing noise is interesting – the bee is regarded as a significant occult symbol by many systems, and was adopted as such by the Merovingian dynasty. See  Baigent, Lincoln and Leigh’s Holy Blood and Holy Grail for further details. McKenna also mentions the bee-headed dancing goddesses of Minos, and the fact that the wasp is sacred in the Mandæan religion. He theorises that the hum heard is the carrier-wave for thought. Kenneth Grant records that an insect-like buzzing sound presages the presence of the “Great Old Ones” of the Lovecraftian mythos. Lovecraft reportedly heard this sound frequently, and said that the original name of the Necronomicon – Al Azif – is a direct reference to this, “azif being a word used by the Arabs to designate the nocturnal sound (made by insects) supposed to be the howling of daemons”.

[2] The fish symbol is also connected with the Dogon tribe of Africa, who have demonstrated advanced astronomical knowledge of the Sirius system, and also use the fish sign to represent Nommo, the male half of the divine principle in their cosmogony who came from Sirius but emerged from the sea. The feminine half of the divine principle they called Yurugu, who was `slain’ by Nommo.

[3] This idea derives from John Allegro’s book The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross.

[4] An excellent explanation of McKenna’s Timewave theory can be found here.

[5] After originally writing this section, I discovered that my own name, in the gematria of the English Qabalah, also has the number 156. Spooky, eh?

Grahame Gardner
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6 thoughts on “Cosmogony and Eschatology (1994)

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