Thursday, October 29, 2015


The Annunciation, August Pichon

     Once, when I lived in the desert, a blinding light illuminated the terrain. I felt a sudden heightening of consciousness, a sense of eternity, a hint that something might exist beyond physical existence, but then the light vanished, and the desert seemed even more desolate and barren. I closed my eyes, emptied my mind of all thought, and waited. To my great surprise, I saw a gray figure-eight on its side floating above my head. When I opened my eyes, it disappeared. The next day, I tried again: I closed my eyes and dropped into the void. Suddenly, after a long time—how long I'm not sure because I had entered a timeless state—I envisioned a golden, equal-armed cross with an angel at each end.
     So each day I would close my eyes and drop into the void. Sometimes I would envision a symbol, sometimes I wouldn't. One day the intense light returned, again exalting my consciousness, and once again, the light vanished. When I was meditating, I saw a gigantic tree in the distance and moved toward it, and I could see the symbols that I had envisioned in the tree. Suddenly a great light illuminated branches that seemed like paths, and I understood the connections between the symbols.
     In most ways, I'm average or below. I'm not handsome or buff. I don't wow people with my personality. I don't have great leadership skills. I'm not good at math or at fixing things. I don't even have a decent job. I usually just barely get by, so I was surprised when for a six-month period, I experienced a series of spiritual visions during meditation, especially since before then I had never even considered myself a spiritual person. I consulted a few religious leaders and psychics but never heard a satisfactory answer about why I was having the visions. When I described my vision of a thousand-petaled lotus to a psychic, she exclaimed, “Why, that means you're enlightened!” I didn't, however, feel enlightened, just perplexed.
     When I was growing up, I occasionally experienced unexpected moments of exaltation. Once, when I was four, I felt total bliss for about half an hour while in the foothills near LA. My grandfather and I were ambling up a hill, the dry grass golden in the setting sun. I remember he abruptly turned around and took me by the hand. As we headed back to the picnic area, I suddenly felt ecstatic as we sauntered down the hill. My soul was ballooning with joy because I felt in contact with some great, unseen force that was part of the earth and the trees and the grass. When we reached the picnic area, I knew with absolute certainty, as if I possessed some sacred inner knowledge, that each moment is perfect, no matter how bad things might seem. I wanted to present the good news to my parents and grandparents, but I couldn't find the right words. When we got in the car and headed home, to my great disappointment the feeling subsided as if I had lost contact with an incredible force that might have continued to fill me indefinitely with inexplicable joy.
     Once, when I was a teenager, I attended a concert at a church. The musicians presented a message about Jesus Christ, and their songs about love and brotherhood moved me to the point of tears. I felt joyful the entire evening, but the next day, the world around me seemed stale, and I couldn't find any examples of Christian love or brotherhood anywhere. Often, in my teens, when I experienced stories of Christian love, I felt deeply moved, but the same lack of any further illumination left me stranded in a desert. Over the years, in the struggle to survive, I simply forgot any altruistic sympathies or quickenings of consciousness.
San Joaquin River Gorge

     And I grew deeply cynical. The sense of absolute certainty about the perfection of each moment that I experienced when I was four has occasionally struck me as utterly absurd though I continued to remember how some force elevated my soul and filled me with great peace. As an adult one day I unexpectedly experienced the same feeling in the foothills near Fresno, and I have continued to head out to the mountains every chance I get. No matter how bad my circumstances, while in nature I have often experienced the same kind of joy that I experienced as a child, a connection with some overarching force of deep peace and harmony. Only after I started meditating and envisioning spiritual symbols did I realize that the force goes by different names, World Soul, Holy Spirit, Goddess, and that one aim of occult spirituality is to contact this great force and experience its powerful influence—and through its influence other great forces that in Christianity go by the name of the Son and Father of the trinity.
     Recently I experienced an epiphany about why, during my six-month period of meditation, I had a vision of a golden, equal-armed cross. In the vision, the golden cross floated in a deep, blue sky, and at each end of the cross an angel hovered, each angel in a colored robe, one yellow, one red, one blue and one white. This was the second in a series of visions of archetypal symbols, all of which, I eventually discovered, are associated with the Tree of Life, the great composite symbol of the mystical Qabalah. As I mentioned, the visions came as a total surprise: Before I began meditating at the age of forty-two, I was oblivious to spiritual symbolism in general, so the full meaning of the symbols has often taken me years to understand.
     According to Dion Fortune, the brilliant 20th Century Qabalist, in the bible, which she claims is essentially a Qabalistic book, the different god-names in Hebrew refer to different states of being. The Father, for instance, refers to Kether, the Crown of creation, the first state of being emanated from the unmanifest; the Son refers to Tiphareth, the Christ center below Kether on the middle pillar of the Tree; the Holy Ghost (or Spirit) refers to Yesod, the Foundation, on the middle pillar below Tiphareth . Under Yesod is Malkuth, the Kingdom, where the energies of the Tree manifest (Mystical Qabalah 179). Kether is a state of pure spiritual energy, Tiphareth a point of transition or transmutation between the planes of form and formlessness, and Yesod a subtle plane of form directly “above” the physical plane.
Queen of Pentacles
     Even though I was unaware of it at the time, the vision of the equal-armed cross and the angels revealed the basic structure for rituals that involve the spiritual energies of the Holy Ghost and the four archangels representing the elements that form the background energies of manifestation, the basic structure, in other words, of the banishing and invoking rituals used by occult lodges. Since her book is so dense that at first it seems written in code, it has taken me years to unpack the meaning of Fortune's Mystical Qabalah. In what first seemed to me merely a passing remark, Fortune mentions that the occult lodges worship the Holy Ghost, associated with Yesod, the Foundation from which the physical universe emanated (179). In a previous section, Fortune reveals that the Holy Ghost is the feminine aspect of the trinity (47).
     These two key points have profound implications for Christianity and society as a whole. One of the goals of personal mysticism is communication with the Holy Guardian Angel, or higher self, the Individuality that develops through an evolution (also known as the soul), which is connected to the divine core of being and transcends space and time. The mystic, as Fortune points out, begins in the humble manger, not on the Mount, so the first communications from the higher self come through Yesod, the state of being associated with the Holy Ghost and the feminine principle of creation, in visions of archetypal symbols and voices. The Tree of Life itself, which is a symbol system that represents the unseen forces in the collective consciousness of humanity, comes from Yesod, the subtle realm of form.
     Tiphareth, the Christ center, is the sphere of the Sun, of blinding illumination, where form dissolves in light. Only after shaking free from the physical plane and making initial contact with Yesod, first experiencing spiritual principle through visions of symbols, can the mind begin to make sense of illuminations from the higher planes. The mind slowly builds, piece by piece, a temple of symbols representing spiritual principle, which makes comprehensible the experiences of illumination and exaltation that swing the mind beyond Yesod into the blinding sphere of the Son,Tiphareth, the center of cosmic equilibrium, harmonizing love and spiritual inebriation.
     According to Dion Fortune,

     Illumination consists in the introduction of the mind to a higher mode of consciousness than that which is built up out of sensory experience....Unless, however the new mode of consciousness is connected up with the old and translated into terms of finite thought, it remains as a flash of light so brilliant that it blinds. We do not see by means of the ray of light that shines upon us, but by means of the amount of that ray which is reflected from objects of our own dimension upon which it lights. Unless there are ideas in our minds which are illuminated by this higher mode of consciousness, our minds are merely overwhelmed, and the darkness is more intense to our eyes after that blinding experience of a high mode of consciousness than it was before. In fact, we do not so much change gear as throw the engine of our mind out of gear altogether. This, for the most part, is what so-called illumination amounts to. There is enough of a flash to convince us of the reality of superphysical existence, but not enough to teach us anything of its nature. (180)

Tree of  Life

     Before I knew the Tree of Life even existed, I had during meditation envisioned many of its symbols. Eventually I realized that these symbols have enabled me to translate spiritual principle into “terms of finite thought” so that illumination would not merely blind me. The symbols revealed not only spiritual principle but, in one instance at least, the basic structure of practical magic that connects the practitioner with powerful unseen forces, such as the Holy Ghost and the Son of the trinity as well as Gods and Goddesses and Saviors created by the human mind to represent unseen forces throughout the ages. Contemplation of the paths of the Tarot on the Tree of Life and of the symbolic representations of the Gods, I discovered, is another effective way of translating spiritual experience into comprehensible ideas.
Path 20, Virgo
     The Annunciation, on one level, symbolically suggests this process.The Annunciation is the announcement by the Archangel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary that she would conceive the Son of God. Gabriel told Mary to name her son Yeheshua, meaning “YHWH is salvation.” The Archangel Gabriel in the Qabalah is assigned to Yesod, the sphere of the Holy Spirit: Through the feminine principle, the conception of the Son, in other words the recognition of higher modes of consciousness, occurs. The higher self links up with the macrocosm, the cosmic consciousness associated with the Father. In fact, the God name of Tiphareth, the Christ center, is “Eloah va Daath,” which can be translated as “God manifested in the mind.” The Holy Ghost elevates the mind beyond the physical into the superphysical, into greater and greater illumination. 
     As Fortune points out, through the type of consciousness associated with Yesod, “mystical experience gradually builds up a body of images and ideas that are lit up and made visible when illuminations take place” (180). In order to build this temple of images, symbols, and ideas illuminated by higher modes of consciousness, the mind must be open to spiritual influences, which requires a passivity and a receptiveness of the mind associated with the feminine Holy Ghost and Yesod, the sphere of psychism and the etheric double. One must go deep into the subconscious mind, below worries and desires and fears and frustrations, to experience these astral treasures with the psychic senses. Spiritual development, instead of just being a series of magnesium flashes of illumination and exaltation, is a gradual expansion of the mind, a process that is aided by the symbol system on the Tree of Life, a gift from the Holy Ghost in the sphere of Yesod.
     Before I began having visions, I was a materialist, believing that only the physical universe exists. To understand my visions, however, I was forced to reexamine my life and expand my idea of the cosmos. I had also experienced accurate premonitions and intuitions which revealed that some part of my consciousness transcends my brain and physical senses, but I had simply forgotten or dismissed them—until I had the visions. When I began piecing the moments of illumination together, I discovered that it is helpful to think of the cosmos as consisting of many types of energy in one vast fabric, from the finest spiritual vibrations to the grossest physical matter, and that as an extension of the cosmos, my being also contains those energies, hence the paranormal experiences of nonlocal consciousness that have occasionally surprised me over the years. At the “higher” end of the pole in the cosmos, the energies are formless, evolving into planes of form, the physical universe being the plane of densest matter. We experience “nonphysical” or subtle planes of form in the imagination when we dream at night or daydream or have visions of symbols. When we simply know something through intuition, consciousness is operating on a higher, formless plane, rising from Tiphareth, the sphere of the Son, toward Kether, the sphere of the Father.

Path 14, Venus

     Immersing myself in nature, the realm of the Goddess, is one way that I began to open myself to the Holy Spirit and the illuminations of higher consciousness, at first unknowingly, then intentionally. The beta mode of consciousness, the dominant mental state in this highly competitive society, allows intense focus on the external world but blocks access to unseen spiritual influences, which is why for me at least there will always tend to be a basic conflict between the driving forces of capitalism and and the subtle forces of the spiritual world, why, in fact, I lived so long in a desert. The affairs of business channel the mind away from spiritual frequencies. In a predominantly masculine, patriarchal, capitalistic culture, a barrier remains: Attaining an understanding of Christ consciousness requires receptiveness and a fair amount of passivity, both qualities associated with the feminine.
     Dion Fortune states that a religion without the Goddess is halfway to atheism: In the Qabalah, the masculine and the feminine as well as the physical and the spiritual are polarities that allow the One to manifest as the Many. To vilify, exploit, or misuse the physical or the feminine is to blaspheme the Source of all creation. By demonizing feminine, passive, receptive states of the mind, patriarchal religions and societies block access to the Holy Ghost, thereby effectively establishing a barrier to understanding the other forces of the trinity. One can experience the illuminations of the Son, the Christ force, but cannot fully understand them without experiencing the feminine state of the Holy Ghost in Yesod—and, let us remember, the Son shows us the Father. Perhaps that is why so many Christians love the Virgin Mary and Saint Francis of Assisi, the great soul who loved all creatures, who empathized so much with the Christ and the suffering of humanity that he experienced the stigmata.

Baby Blue Eyes, San Joaquin River Gorge

     One of the places where I have often experienced the Holy Spirit is the San Joaquin River Gorge, an ecosystem that might soon be utterly destroyed by a dam at Temperance Flat. In an example of an economic development described by Naomi Klein as “disaster capitalism,” which results in a redistribution of wealth from the public sphere into private hands, farmers in the San Joaquin Valley are using the drought as a way to “take” public lands for private benefit even though a large percentage of the water created by a new reservoir would go to water-guzzling crops such as almonds and grapes in a semi-arid region (the biggest crop in the San Joaquin Valley is almonds, and each almond takes over a gallon of water to produce), as well as to commodity crops and fodder crops that have no business being grown in a desert. Ensconced private interests hope that a dam will save the economy because those with wealth, land, and the means of production will be able to continue business as usual. If the dam is approved, the private interests who benefit will not be required to replace unique public land with another public park or to compensate the public in any meaningful way for the loss of land, nor will those private interests be forced to modify their unsustainable practices. 
     The bottom line of capitalism prevails. Based on my experience in the political realm, I've discovered that the public's opportunity to connect with the spiritual forces within nature is rarely, if ever (I am tempted to say “never”), a concern to those with power and money or to the politicians they influence. Approval of the dam would simply be one more example of how capitalism can block connection between the average person and the Holy Spirit, and by extension with the Son and the Father, revealing a basic conflict between Christianity and capitalism.
     To say that in patriarchal societies the feminine gets a bad rap is understating the case. The feminine brings forth physical life, and since whatever is born must die, the feminine also ushers in the King of Terrors. Physical life is corruptible, always subject to the vagaries of time and the infirmities of sickness and old age. But to the Qabalist, “the natural is but the dense aspect of the spiritual”(194), the outer robe of concealment that covers the inner robe of glory. All life, including plants and insects and reptiles and animals, is spirit manifested in matter. Everything dies but rises through regeneration. Spiritual beings exist everywhere around us in physical forms that sometimes ravish us, sometimes please us, sometimes repulse us, sometimes terrify us. The false dichotomy that presents physical energy as impure and spiritual energy as pure suggests that at the heart of patriarchy is the fear of the subtle emotional, sexual, psychic and spiritual power of women, a fear that has manifested throughout the centuries as witch hunts and as an emotional disconnect from the Holy Ghost.

Ace of Cups, Water

     In the Tarot, the equal-armed cross, which “is called by initiates the Cross of Nature, and represents power in equilibrium” (197), is included in cards that represent aspects of the Holy Spirit: Judgement, the Ace of Cups, and The Priestess. In the Tarot, color has great symbolic significance. In the Ace of Cups the cross is black, in Judgement red, in The Priestess white. In the symbol system of the Tree of Life, the black equal-armed cross is associated with Malkuth, the Kingdom, or physical universe; the red in Judgement symbolizes compassion, which is linked through the Archangel Gabriel to Yesod, the etheric plane; the white in The Priestess is associated with the spiritual laws of the supernal spheres above the abyss. The gold equal-armed cross, which appeared in my vision but does not appear in the Tarot, is symbolically associated with Tiphareth, since gold, representing the incorruptibility of the spirit, is the color assigned to the Christ-center. In my vision, the golden equal-armed cross links the Son with the Holy Spirit.

Path 31, Fire

     In the Tarot card Judgement, the Archangel Gabriel, who is associated with Yesod and the Holy Ghost, blows a trumpet to awaken souls in their tombs, and the souls arise in gray, etheric bodies. These souls heed the trumpet call with psychic senses, not physical senses, and rise in exaltation. As in the other two Tarot cards representing Archangels, Temperance and The Lovers, on one level the Archangel represents a higher mode of consciousness linked with the daimon, or higher self. In Judgement, the Archangel Gabriel also suggests the individual's first encounter with the Holy Ghost and the superphysical nature of the psyche, which leads to a reassessment of the nature of existence.
     In the symbol of Venus, the circle on top of an equal-armed cross reveals the perfection of the spirit above the elements in equilibrium. In the Ace of Cups, on the other hand, the equal-armed cross within the circle is being carried by the dove into the cup of manifestation: The Holy Spirit brings the black, equal-armed cross within a pure, white circle to the realms of form where the spiritual and the physical coalesce. In this way also, the Holy Spirit brings the conception of the higher self to the planes of form, resulting in expanding knowledge about higher modes of consciousness and the integration of the psyche.

Path 13, The Moon

     In the Tarot card The Priestess, the soul is confronted by the feminine principle on a higher arc, on a path across the Abyss between the planes of form and the supernal planes of formlessness. Here the equal-armed cross is white, in opposition to the cross of Malkuth, the Kingdom, suggesting a spiritual logic very different from the ways of the physical world, which suggests that the logic resulting in harmony within higher modes of consciousness is also very different from the logic of brain consciousness and the lower personality. The higher self can bring the soul into balance in a way that the lower personality doesn't expect or understand at first. As in Tarot card The Lovers, for instance, the masculine aspect of the psyche looks to the receptive feminine aspect in order to know the higher self, which is very different from the belief systems of societies with long, embedded attitudes of patriarchy.

Path18, Gemini

     Several times recently during invoking rituals, I have experienced a vision of the jewel in the lotus, which represents the spiritual energy of the Father in the crown chakra, coming down the planes through my primary chakras to the earth. The vision emphasizes for me that one of the most important spiritual practices of our time brings spiritual energy into the mind and manifests it in the world here and now. My visions of the jewel in the lotus coming down the planes is part of a long process that began with my long-ago vision of the golden, equal-armed cross, which is related to the Holy Ghost and the elements in equilibrium, and I am living proof that, with an openness to the feminine aspects of the psyche and the cosmos, and with a little knowledge and effort, the average person can bring powerfully transformative spiritual energies into all levels of his or her sphere of influence.

Thursday, October 15, 2015


The Lovers, Gemini

     Last weekend, I drove with my wife through Los Angeles on our way to San Diego. At two in the afternoon, we were inching along on a freeway and decided to consult SIRI to find another route. We ended up in the LA area for five hours. On every freeway and city street, gridlock was inescapable. For hours, on ten lane freeways we were creeping between one and five miles per hour as more and more traffic streamed in, and I grew more and more dumbfounded that millions of people have agreed to participate in total insanity on a daily basis.
     Once, as the car came to a standstill for the umpteenth time, I remembered a Saturday when I was fifteen, sitting for hours in a lawn chair, staring at the wall, paralyzed by the realization that I could be obliterated any second by a nuclear weapon. What did the other members of my family tell themselves to keep from going insane? How did they maintain a sense of normalcy? How could anyone take life seriously if everything could end up as smoke and ashes with one push of a button? How could we claim to care about each other and allow the threat of global annihilation—or the policy of mutually assured destruction (MAD)?
Eight of Swords, Gemini
     When I was growing up my father was caught in a cycle of changing jobs every few years, which eventually required him to make long commutes in the LA area. He would come home exhausted, filled with quiet rage after a long day at work and an hour and a half of maneuvering through traffic jams. He would occasionally vent his rage in long diatribes against communism. We escaped in the early 1970s by moving to Fresno.
     All of the men in my life as I was growing up were persistently quiet, as if shocked into an inability to express themselves by some unspeakable trauma or defeat. My grandfather had survived being gassed by the Germans in World War I, then had lost his job in Chicago when the Great Depression hit. My father and uncles had grown up in rural Illinois and joined the military the first chance they got. Two of my uncles were shot down, one over Germany, the other over the Pacific, both surviving the crash. As I was growing up, neither the men nor the women in my family hardly ever said a word, as if the women were taking their cue from the men to remain quiet. I am still not sure what kept them so silent, but it occasionally inspired me to question authority and say crazy things about global annihilation, especially at the dinner table.
     While we were fishing, I sensed my father moving beyond thoughts of raw prejudice stemming from fear and anger and frustration. I felt our connection as he cast his line in the water, the dark thought-forms flowing away, the wind slightly ruffling the leaves and the surface of the river. I could sense his love of the water and the rocks and the trees—I could feel it just like when I know that friends are going to call or send a letter. Some people, even though they are silent or rough and intolerant form a bond with you that cannot be broken, a bond that transcends appearances and petty prejudices.

Chinese Houses, Tarweed, Ithuriel's Spears near Fence

     My father has been gone almost forty years. In that time, we have edged even closer to the brink due to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction combined with perpetual destabilization of economies and societies, as well as global warming, overpopulation, ecocide, dwindling resources, species extinction, pollution...and we keep scrambling around rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. The question remains: How can a society become sane?
     One day a few years ago, I was swallowed up by eternity. I had a vision: In the middle of the desert, the wind started whipping around the rocks, lifting away the sand. I was afraid that the wind would carry all the sand away, and suddenly there was nothing left, only a golden snake biting its own tail in a deep blue sky. Suddenly I was inside the snake. At first, I was afraid, but then the darkness comforted me. I realized that I could change perspective anytime. With one thought, I could be outside of the golden snake again. When I was outside, I discovered that I was a mere atom compared to the snake and the sky, so after awhile I shifted back inside.
     Oddly, like most of my visions, but unlike most of my memories, the golden ouroboros remains crystal clear, as if symbols from the archetypal plane are more real and enduring than experiences of daily life. That vision seems like a pretty good symbolic depiction of eternity, which suggests that maybe I shouldn't worry about the end of the world, but I don't live on the archetypal plane—I live with a family and a community that I need to protect, so the problem remains: How can anyone help their own culture get a little saner?
Nine of Swords, Gemini
     I wasn't on drugs when I had the vision. Once, though, a long time ago, a friend handed me a tiny tab of paper as we were finishing a meal at a restaurant and commanded, “Put this under your tongue. It'll dissolve in a few seconds and will take affect in about ten minutes.” I was still young enough to try new things. The simple act of placing that tab under my tongue resulted in a crazy, indelible memory from an otherwise ordinary night in America. Oddly those few hours of insanity give me some perspective on what it means to be sane.
     My friend had never taken any drugs in front of me, nor had he ever shared drugs with me before, and I wasn't exactly sure what he had handed me, but we had just finished a grueling week of canvassing for environmental and social justice. I trusted him completely after struggling in the trenches with him for several months. After we left the restaurant, suddenly the breeze on my skin induced ecstasy. My friend drove us to a gas station, and it seemed like pumping gas was one of the most magnificent acts that a human being could perform. We ended up at a local club, and the rock and roll was astounding, every note absolutely perfect, lifting me into greater and greater heights of exaltation.
     At the club, we hooked up with another canvasser, then drove out to a reservoir at about two in the morning. We kicked back in the car for awhile, and I noticed a fly between the dashboard and the windshield. I wondered what it was like to be a fly, and my sight suddenly broke up into numerous facets. I heard a great buzzing, which annoyed me until I realized the sound was coming from me—I was the fly, but my consciousness wasn't processing the fly's perspective in a way that I could comprehend. However, even though I had become the fly, I didn't feel different, as if one overarching consciousness was experiencing life from countless perspectives. I suddenly felt trapped, so I stepped out of the car, and human sight immediately returned to me. The grass was breathing, each blade aware of me. I hiked toward the woods and felt many eyes watching me in the darkness. I sensed a great hatred toward people emanating from the forest. I didn't understand why until I turned back: The reservoir had eaten away all life from the hillsides.
     I told my friends that I was going to the car because I needed sleep, and they nodded at each other knowingly. One of them chirped, “Okay, go ahead, but you're not going to sleep.” I stretched out on the back seat and realized that I was dreaming with my eyes wide open. I knew that I would not get to sleep for a long time. I would just have to deal with it, possibly, I remember thinking, for the rest of my life.
Ten of Swords, Gemini
     When dawn finally arrived, we drove back to town. I stepped out of the car onto some gravel and suddenly knew that an absolute logic exists behind everything in the cosmos. Forces beyond my comprehension and control had operated throughout the ages, eventually depositing pieces of gravel on the dirt for a parking lot. Complex processes had occurred so that one piece of litter was resting upon the gravel at the exact moment that I stepped out of the car. Each atom was in a particular time and place for a reason that as a human being I would never be able to fathom. At the same time, I understood that all processes were linked and that I was part of every thing that had ever lived or would ever live. I felt so exhausted that I almost lost my balance.
     Back at the apartment, I tried to sleep but started hallucinating. When I went to the bathroom, everything synthetic on the sink—hair brushes, toothpaste tubes, toothbrushes, combs—elongated and twisted and wiggled and bent as if the plastic in the bathroom had gone crazy, unable to stay still for a second. I went back to bed and finally fell asleep after many hours. The odd thing is that I didn't feel frightened by the hallucination, only trapped in a bizarre reality.
     My friend had subjected me to an acid test, which shook me to the core. I would never knowingly take LSD again because of its potential for inducing psychosis. I eventually came out of it, but others have not. However, if I had not placed that tab under my tongue, I would never have experienced some of the potentials of the human mind. I felt indescribable ecstasy while performing the most mundane acts, such as walking down the street and pumping gas. I experienced the reality of a humble fly and recognized that its consciousness is probably not very different from my own. I understood that everything is sentient and perhaps keenly aware of the damage that people have done to this planet.
     While hallucinating, I understood that chemicals in my brain made all synthetic items seem alive and totally insane, just as before taking the drug, chemicals in my brain had provided me with “normal” human consciousness. My experiences seemed to be more than the result of a chemical reaction, though. The drug seemed to suppress normal brain consciousness and allow another dimension of my psyche to surface, some part of me that could experience absolute joy in the smallest acts and connect with the humblest of creatures and understand the absolute logic of the cosmos, a logic that extends all the way back to the beginning of time and will continue to the very end—if indeed there is a beginning or an end—an absolute logic that usually appears like randomness to my very limited human brain.
     I felt trapped in a strange reality for many hours, but then again I have been trapped in the bizarre, collective reality of the human race my entire life. I have trusted relatives, friends, teachers, politicians, doctors, capitalists, and authorities on this or that, believing in our accepted collective reality even as our species continues to lurch toward global destruction.
     After my trip, I understood the meaning of “turn on, tune in and drop out.” In other words, tune in to the vast, living cosmos and drop out of meaningless behaviors. Cut through the bullshit and live a meaningful life.
     A psychic once suggested that the acid trip woke me up to the spiritual nature of things. That experience, along with paranormal experiences that I've had since that time suggest that consciousness is essentially nonlocal. In other words, consciousness is not limited to what my physical senses perceive or to what my brain processes in one particular place and time. My soul can experience and know things that my physical senses cannot perceive, such as the consciousness of other creatures and people and spiritual entities, and the future and the past, and other dimensions of the cosmos (such as the archetypal plane).
Four of Cups, Cancer
     Based on my experiences, I must conclude that consciousness is limited by the physical senses and the brain, not created by the brain. The part of consciousness that transcends brain consciousness has been known by different names in different cultures throughout the ages: daimon, genius, holy guardian angel, higher self. If consciousness is only created by the brain then the key spiritual experiences of my life are unreal and absurd, in which case many of my clearest, most meaningful memories are merely a sign of insanity.
     In quantum physics, nonlocality describes the ability of objects to know about each other's state, even when separated by large distances, potentially even billions of light years, as if the universe instantaneously arranges particles in anticipation of future events. The cosmos consists of field upon field of entangled, interconnected energy, and consciousness, like physical matter, is energy.

     Spiritual development should take place under the supervision of a master, just as the use of hallucinogenic drugs should only occur under the most controlled conditions. If one is not careful, authentic spirituality and drugs can both lead to insanity. I, unfortunately, have experienced baptism by fire in all aspects of life, never affording the luxury of expert assistance. I do not recommend embarking on any journey into the unseen without at least the most dedicated commitment to the highest good, for anyone traveling through the unknown will eventually encounter evil or the incredibly bizarre. If you encounter angels you will more than likely also encounter devils, and you will need to choose your next step with great care when you do.
     The genius or daimon (not demon) or guardian angel is the nonlocal aspect of the self that transcends space and time. Intuition, sympathy, telepathy, precognition, retrocognition, psychometry are all capacities of the higher self. I can't help but believe that we will edge closer to a sane society when the average person recognizes the transcendent aspect of the self and its connection to all things, past, present, and future.
     For the past few days, at work and at home and even at a restaurant, I have envisioned myself as the Archangel Raphael, with
Three of Swords, Libra
a golden sun at my crown, my hair on fire, and masculine and feminine forces balancing each other within my aura in naked white light, all doubt and suffering and regret cleansed from my mind. During a recent ritual, I was focusing on the feminine principle of the cosmos and suddenly envisioned the Tarot card known as Three of Swords, associated with the supernal sphere of the Goddess. Then I saw the path of The Lovers extending from my heart center to the right side of my brain, the path on the Tree of Life from Tiphareth, the Christ center, to Binah, the supernal sphere of the feminine principle. Then I unexpectedly took on the God form of Raphael, represented on the Tarot card The Lovers, and the powerful living image has stayed with me everywhere I go.
     Raphael means “Healer of God.” One of the most basic forms of healing is the integration of the self. During ritual as I move from one quadrant to another, I often recover a sense of the different dimensions of the self: the spiritual dimension, associated with the higher will (Fire); the conscious mind, associated with the intellect (Air); the subconscious mind, associated with the emotions (Water); and etheric background energies of matter, associated with the physical body (Earth). But the Tarot card known as The Lovers reveals that there is another way to look at the self that includes a distinction between the lower self, the personality within a specific incarnation; the evolutionary personality, or soul, which develops over many incarnations; and the divine spark, or spiritual core of the individual. The card represents great healing—paradise regained—because the lower personality, the soul and the divine spark are integrated into a unified whole.
     As insane as it sounds, the living image of the Archangel Raphael has made me feel more sane than I have ever felt before. I feel integrated and free of negativity. How an Archetype has such a powerful influence on me I don't exactly know, but I do have the sense that the Archetype chose to help me, and I was open enough to the possibilities of nonlocal consciousness to allow it to happen. I have always, at least since I found my spiritual path, felt a great kinship with Raphael. Perhaps, once the soul becomes entangled with healing influences from spiritual dimensions, they remain connected, just like a particle remains connected over great distances with other particles, like one person can remain connected with another, no matter how far away they are.