So before we go any farther I want to go back and clarify what it is we mean exactly by depth experience, gnostic state or magickal trance, because these are not only versions of the same thing, but also exist on a line of continuity that includes things you probably take for granted. Because we’re getting to the point where we can’t talk about things in terms of just magick or just science as we normally think of them anymore without defeating the purpose. As now we’re hitting on things that both are lacking separately.
Even in mainstream science the experiential part of the knowledge process has a certain mystical connotation. It is sometime referred to, as wilber had said, as an ‘illumination’. There is a kind of mysterious aura to it, because you’re pushing out the boundaries of mind, and since mind is us, you’re pushing out the boundaries of self as it understands itself.
One need look no farther than a baby as it discovers it can control it’s own hand, or recognize itself in the mirror to find a gnostic state equal to most anything you or I will ever know again. That is a point on the line of continuity we’re talking about, and illuminations just like it are what we mean by depth experience. Something that increases the dimensional aspect of the world as we know it, and of ourselves. So it is at once both simpler and more profound than either science or magick usually thinks of it.
The difference between the simple and profound is really a matter of complexity and complexity is relative. And the seeming complexity of an experience is often a function of the skill it takes to evoke it, and skill you have to interpret it with.
And so, accordingly, the next pillar of our new structure, which probably ought to be self evident but often isn’t, is skill. Oddly enough, there are still people out there who think this field is the way to get something for nothing, and it partly why ‘magick’ has such a shoddy reputation.
One example that’s instructive for our purposes is with some users of psychedelics. Now, far be it from me to suggest that no one should approach these things as a quick ride into a depth experience for recreational purposes, but that has nothing to do with what we’re talking about, really. The point is, even in cultures where psychedelics form the backbone of the shamanic traditions, there is still a body of knowledge, and a skill base around how to use them and what to do when you are using them. White people in a delirium of cultural appropriation almost always overlook this, conveniently. Doing it in this way is a step back into treating ecstasy as an episode, not your vocation.
If you want professional results, you have to treat it the way a professional does, quite simply. And just because there are no professionals around to give you a smack upside the head doesn’t get you off the hook. A surgeon can’t get away with diving in with a scalpel and no knowledge of what to cut or where, any more than a shaman can drink some ayahuasca and hope that a cure for the guy dying over there is going to land in his lap.
In a larger sense this is implicit in our learning behavior. Not only are we constantly experimenting, but we are constantly engaged in a process of progressive mastery of our experiential domain. This is how you can build experiments on top of other experiments. If you don’t master something at the bottom layer of the pyramid, then the thing runs a grave risk of collapsing at an inopportune moment because you went and built ten more layers on top of the one you neglected. And if you never bother to master anything, it’ll be sheer luck if you even get to the upper layers at all.
Just because someone tells you that all you have to do is whack off over a sigil, or do a mantra , or some visualization, or whatever and you’ll get a result, and that’s all there is to it… does that mean it’s true? Of course it doesn’t. Does it mean there aren’t ten or twelve layers of intermediate experiments that underpin the one you started with?
In prehistory people used to bargain with spirits for boons. Then they realised, no you don’t have to do that, you can just pray to the universal intelligence, and sometimes it would work. Then they realized, if you reintroduce some ritualistic elements you can get better results. Then someone figured out you don’t need any of that. Just a statement of intent and an altered state. And maybe you don’t even need that. I regularly have my intentions manifest without having to whack off over anything. I just clean up the ecology of my intentions, and state my wishes.
So the real cause and effect mechanism behind all that is still somewhat obscure, but successive experiments bring it forth in greater and greater resolution. Each experience allows one to fine tune the injunction, and slightly changes the resulting experience. But if you never take the experiment apart to see why it might have worked in the first place, and just repeat some ritual by rote, or even worse bolt another ritual on top of the first, you could very easily lose track of the causal mechanism. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve seen chaos kiddies who think that the only way to make something happen is with squiggly lines, and they add so many layers of complexity on top of the squiggly lines they have no idea what they’re doing or why. That’s how science turns ( back) into superstition, and we need to root that shit out.
So does this mean that you probably have some remedial work to do? Yes it probably does. But it also means that when you build the thing properly, it will start to work properly, which is almost certainly less work in the end than fucking around and hoping for the best. And if that’s too hard of a swallow then maybe you should find something else to do.
The saving grace however is that you don’t have to master what I say you should be mastering. My opinion doesn’t matter. It’s you who decides what aspect of reality requires your mastery, what parts of life are the ones where you search for depth experience. It could be anything. It could be an area where you already have skills. The point of knocking out those walls before was to show that whatever you’re doing, whatever you want to be doing, still fits into this framework. Music, painting, chemistry, or playing video games is just as valid a source of depth experience as any other. Again, just points on a line.
Depth experiences can be found anywhere, but they still all require some chops.