Turn on tha radio, nah fuck it turn it off
Fear is your only god on the radio
Nah fuck it, turn it off
Turn it off, turn on tha radio, nah fuck it turn it off
Fear is your only god on the radio
Nah fuck it, your saviour’s my guillotine, crosses and kerosene
Vietnow- RATM

Back in the day, ( and by ‘the day’ I mean the paleolithic era ) when animism was fashionable, there was a lot of concern with what you might call psychic hygiene. In those days, it was accepted fact that everything in the environment had ‘spirit’, that it could theoretically exert influence on a person, for good or ill.

Even for the hardest headed rationalist materialist, it’s easy to accept the premise that humans are influenced by the environment. All the paleolithic peoples, and their first proto-shamans, understood the necessity of exerting some discriminating control over what was influencing your psychophysical life.

It might be part of the reason certain of these tribal peoples, that still survive to this day, experience dismay with our oversaturated environment. The average modern is inundated with signals and influence that we are rarely even cognizant of. Indeed there are whole industries devoted to quashing our active awareness of influence over our interior lives. So perhaps we can benefit from learning a thing or two about how to deal with malignant spirits. You may refer to this, if you like, as ‘banishing’.

Pretty much every occult or spiritual tradition has a version of this practice. Part and parcel of developing an authentic spiritual life, or magickal will, is learning to differentiate your own consciously chosen perspectives and influences, from the ones that are conditioned, imposed, implanted or habituated into you. More refined forms of ceremonial magick place great importance on ‘purification’ of the ritual space, which means essentially to cleanse it of outside forces that may skew the actions you take there. Clarity and purity of intent are paramount.

The good news is there tend to be lots of them, that are easy to spot. The bad news is, that’s because pretty much everything in your head came from somewhere else. Aside from the odd profound innovator, everything circulating in human culture is a recombined, repackaged, blended and idiosyncratic version of something invented ages ago. After all, the physical world is more or less exactly the same stuff that’s always been here for the last several million years now. We might recombine the bits in different ways, and describe them differently, but not that much is really ever new under the sun. So don’t feel bad if you haven’t got a lot of truly original shit in your head. Very very few people do. If it makes you feel better, you’ll be well on your way to original thoughts once you’ve done a thorough housecleaning. But I digress…

My take on this skill comes in two parts. It grows and evolves in all kinds of interesting ways, but here’s how you start:
First of all, take some time to notice what is influencing your thoughts, speech, and actions in your surroundings. Other people, the architecture, the weather, your job, the media. It may seem common sense, but do you ever really think about this? Do you ever really ask yourself how different your life might be without these influences? Do you ever ask yourself how deep the hooks really go? Would you be shocked to find out how much of your life is shaped by the imagined opinions of strangers on the street? Would you be shocked to realize how much your mind is affected by a stream of pixels coming through a computer screen? How you ever thought about turning these things off? Can you even conceive of shutting these influences out?

Once you’ve done that, you can proceed to a formal banishing practice. I do recommend you take some time to do this carefully and in depth, because not many people have the concentration to do this on the fly and get any significant results. Certainly, as you get better with this you’ll develop a clearer sense of what influences you can take or leave, and how to separate yourself from the latter quickly and efficiently. For now though…

1. Find a place where you can concentrate and not be disturbed. If your mind is fairly strong you can just close your eyes on the bus or lying in bed. You may even get good enough to do this while walking.

2. Allow your mind to fill up with the felt impressions of external influences. For example, you may be bothered by pictures on tv, especially recently. But alongside that picture will usually be some kind of mental or tactile sensation which is fairly palpable. Learn to associate the images and thoughts with how they make you feel.

3. Define your personal space. This is the area where you have comfortable emotional and physical distance from things that are pressing in upon you. Depending on your comfort level, this could be limited to your skin, or as far as the room, or your house. Keep the perimeter of ‘your space’ as clear as possible. Any visualisations you can do to augment your sense of enclosed space will help. All kinds of symbolic angels, guardian animals, pillars of fire, moats and whathaveyou will work. If you have a connection to some kind of higher force, by all means draw upon that as well. As you do this, allow yourself to feel anything outside your space recede and diminish in significance.

4. You may find just doing the last step will work fine, but I’ll add a little submodal trick from NLP. You’ll probably find that your ‘demons’ ( which is a nice conceptual shorthand for negative psychic influences, at the very least ) have some kind of interior visual or auditory aspect. What you can experiment with, is purposefully altering the sensory presentation of these things. If the pictures are big, make them small, if they bright and in color make them dim and monchrome. If they are loud make them quiet. And again, if defining your space is insufficient, and they still feel very close and urgent, allow them to be spatially displaced away from you.

5. Once you’ve got a good sense of detatchment, contemplate how you might change your relationship to these external factors, now that they aren’t urgently assaulting you. In particular, examine your list of goals and determine exactly how much of that list is a result of someone or something else influencing you. While a certain amount of that is inevitable, particularly in the formative stages of a goal, you need to establish how much you want that pressure coming in on you, as an ongoing thing. What level of conditioning are you prepared to live with right now?

Repeat this practice as often as possible. ‘banish often’ is a tried and true dictum of occult practice. The seemingly endless amounts of prayers and mantras of the devoutly religious have their roots in this concept. As you get more skills, you’ll find that you can get a good sense of personal autonomy at any time you wish it, and even when you’re not consciously thinking about it.

Homework: Obviously, do the above banishing practice. Having done it at least a few times, return to your list and decide what level of influence you will accept, and if necessary change your list accordingly.

You may have noticed that I haven’t been demanding that you go out and ‘do’ anything on your list of goals yet, right? That’s intentional. You may also have noticed that some of those things seem to be happening anyway, or at least in the case of far away goals, that things seem to be coming more into focus. It may also be the case that you’ve gone out and one some stuff already. That’s fine, just add more items to your list, keeping in mind all the criteria and practices we’ve done so far.

Next; Full-On Muthafuckin Sorcery, Bitch!

7 thoughts on “Alchemy for the Braindamaged III: Keep Chillin’

  1. Ah, banishing! Good stuff: I find it especially useful before having to do a task that I can’t allow myself to screw up, like tests at school, for instance. I find that when I’ve properly centered myself, information and actions arise without conscious thought, greatly streamlining any process and encouraging efficiency.

    I also, however, am a long-time ADD person who has the tendency to either unfocus or to hyperfocus, and I tend to find that while banishing aids specific tasks, it also tends to narrow my vision when it comes to spontaneously generating ideas, or “re-arranging” the leftover thought masses of others that I’ve absorbed into new configurations; IE, when I write fiction.

    That being said, banishing is a highly useful psychic tool: I find that using it is a lot like refreshing an operating system and purging old stray data packets for optimization. Lately I’ve taken off my “magician’s robes” and given up direct practice in an attempt to encourage my unconscious mind to develop efficiency on its own. I’ve met with some success in this with memory and with intuition; but perhaps it’s time to dust off the old toolset and clean things out. This whole New Orleans mess has had me all twisted up inside, it’s probably about time to clear the decks.

    Thanks for the suggestions with the NLP-bent, Zac. I find that the NLP practices I’ve read are highly similar to Chaos-magick techniques, without the handicap of jargon that recalls Dungeons and Dragons (the terms bump against the fiction barriers in my mind; I like “demon” as a description for a renegade self-serving thought process, possibly implanted by others, but I find that “meme-construct” or “Vmeme” for the powerful meshworks, works nearly as well).

    They say that magick is the most personal art, and a good magician works with what works for him, what turns him on. Whatever floats your boat!

  2. Homework: assess external influences, perform banishing practices, and revise list of goals if warranted.
    Well as usual, I tend to overvalue the symbolic accomplishment over the state of being reached for. For example I’m concerned with having lots of students because that validates me as a good teacher, supposedly. Same with my ordination test: if I’m ordained, i must be spiritualy accomplished.
    Moving right along, I think it’d be more prodcutive to focus on the quality of my training rather than some symbolic representation of that training. So I’ll be making a distinction between actual meditation and insight practices vs rote study and memorisation. both are important and it’s good not to overlook the value of threshold events in helping one’s growth along.
    I also allow myself to spend way too much time obsessing about job security. I don’t live in mogadishu or new orleans so i doubt i need to be concerned with poverty, at least not for a few more months anyhow, and by the time the economy tubes i will have made other plans anyway. permitting myelf to be the on-call joe-job boy is getting old. if I got on with my medical massage rotuine i’d be in much better shape all around.
    So all in all, even though i’ve done these banishing practices for rather a long time, i do indeed still ocilate though disempowered and socially condtioned states on a regular basis, which only makes the occasional breakthroughs into free space more jarring by contrast.

    So: I’ve dropped the request for more students, more carefully specified some things, and rearranged some priorities. The ebay is rolling good and i expect i can drop it from active focus soon. I need a more concrete strucutre to hang with jeff and do tracker stuff, but that’s been a issue for over a year now. I need to pull some influence in from somewhere else to make space for that. you may hve guessed that my time is rather tightly regimented, between my martial arts, work, buddhist classes, my lady, and the few people who I consider ‘friends’.

    but in any case, for now:

    1. I want spend an hour a day in insight or concentration practices.
    2.I want to complete the study process for my buddhist disciple ordination test, and engage my teacher in a dialouge to discuss my readiness to take that test.
    3. I want a job I can invest more of my personal interest into.
    4. I’d like to complete the practicum component of my medical message course.
    5. I want to eliminate dairy products and refined sugars from my diet as completely as possible.
    6. I want to spend an hour a day on flexibility and postural training to supplement my ninjitsu practice, and aquire a dvd player to watch training materials at home.
    7. I want to spend more time practicing tracker skills with my friend Jeff who is very knowledgable in this area. I want more practical opportunities to make this happen.
    8. I’d like to continually sell my old comics and gaming materials on ebay.
    9. I want a used bike so I don’t have to spend so much on buses, and walk in the mornings when I don’t feel like it.
    10. I want to feel secure enough in my finances to invest some savings in physical silver or gold bullion.

  3. Seeking counsel from elders seems to be a lost advantage. Experience usually translated into lessons learned that may contain pearls of wisdom that could have benefited the lost or struggling. Having survived my share of crises, I am using technology to share a thought or two. The main lesson is to never stop learning. Reading and seeking other points of view like visiting your blog is one way. Finding what is ultimately important leads one to appreciate actuality, efficiency and mindfulness. Helping others to see some of the forest through the trees is a benefit of age and maturity. happy thought

  4. I’m unsure whether the “felt impressions of external influences” you speak of are in the tactile or emotional sense. In other words, if I am laying in bed doing this, do I focus purely in the physical sensations I receive while doing so, or am I focusing on my emotional state? If it is indeed my emotional state that I focus on, is it in reference to recent events and memories of my experience, or restricted to the emotional state of the present moment?

    Also, my apologies for posting so many questions on here. After reading Jung, and lamenting the fact that he didn’t seem to offer any practical advice for integrating the unconscious, I disovered your Alchemy series–and it honestly appears to be the very thing I need. If you’ll pardon my ignorance on some of these matters, I can assure you that I am quite dedicated to this path.

  5. tactile and emotional. or rather, both, in separate circumstances. part of this exercise, and vipassana practice in general, is learning to distinguish physical from mental sensation, which is much harder than it first appears to be, as much of what we think of as physical is actually an after image created subjectively in the mind.

    and speaking of jung, you’ll probably find this helpfull in terms of the jung/alchemy/plato intersection:


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