Analogue Reality Autopsy: The perilous plunge into decadence and madness

An Occult Library

The Peacock’s Tail

Such a small world Los Angeles is. Come to find out, I’ve been living a block away from Botanica El Congo Manuel, the infamous Santería shop of Los Angeles, for several years now. I’ve even dined at the Thai Restaurant a few doors down from the shop, but since the shop is hiding in the corner of the small strip mall, I’ve never noticed it enough to walk by and see its Santería
-influenced window display (which would have interested me enough to visit). The shop is very small and the supply selection is short of extraordinary, however all of the candles and oils needed for a basic Santería ritual are available. The statuette selection is either extremely limited, or they’re hiding all of the good ones in the back of the shop. While walking down the street to El Congo Manuel, I planned on purchasing a statuette of Santa Muerte, however there were only about a dozen figurines of Catholic saints, and nothing much else. There is one wall devoted to oils and incense, and the other wall is shelved with its various candles. That’s basically it. Aside from the limited amount of supplies available at this Botanica shop, I still plan on candle shopping at El Congo Manuel, considering I live so close, to make up for the lost time. Rumor has it that Charles Guelperin, the Santería priest and owner of the shop that supposedly channels a 500-year old Congolese spirit named Manuel, gives initiations into Santería for an outrageously large price. I’m interested in how much he charges just so that he can spray holy water on the participant while rolling his eyes into the back of his head.

I’ve been having interesting encounters involving my alchemical ritual as of late. Peacock feathers have been popping up everywhere lately, and yesterday I bought a set of large matches, but hadn’t noticed that the artwork on the box was that of a large peacock. Also, when visiting Botanica El Congo Manuel to-day, I was recommended the ‘Road Opener’ candle. I bought it of course, but hadn’t really noticed until I returned home that the candle was rainbow and filled with many colours. It is said that the phase in which many colours appear may take place before albedo, whiteness, although some alchemists place it after albedo. I take this chain of synchronocities as an auspicious sign. As it is so be it.

Entrance into the Void (Opening the Doorway)

Because of many synchronicities involving myself and Haitian Vodou, I have taken an interest in Papa Legba, the guardian of the crossroads in Hatian Vodou. Yesterday I began staring at his vever, the traditional symbol that serves as a link with a specific Loa. After about thirty seconds my eyes unfocused and the vever seemed to morph. At that moment, something struck the apartment loudly, causing a bright flash in my window. I was startled, and can’t help but weave the event into a synchronicity chain, those currents of inbetweeness which propel the initiate beyond linear confinements. Magick is not a grotesquely oblique self-help strategy, but a deep penetration of the unknown into the unknown. Instead of rehashed Junganism, this seems like a taste of that old time occultism, where weird shit happens just from opening up a dusty antique book, where that “other” world impinges upon ours in ways that are not always “safe” and fanciful.

This evening I initiated a Vodou doll conjuration, with the help of Papa Legba. I feel as though this ritual served as a sort of ‘opening of the Vodoun doorway’, as it was the beginning of many Vodoun rituals to come. I must focus one conjuration at a time, however. Hopefully Mr. Legba enjoyed the taffy!

Grant assigns Legba to the 26th Path, which links Hod with Tiphareth, and whose Tarot card is the Devil, the road from Splendour to Beauty…

Morning Star

Lucifer, Lucifer stretch your tail, 

and lead me away, full speed through the narrow passage,

the valley of the death,

to the brilliant light, the palace of the gods. 

There is no existence save His existence. The existence of the beggar is His existence, and the existence of the sick is His existence. And the existence of all created things, both accidents and substances, is His existence; and when the secret of one particle of the atom is clear, the secret of all created things, both outward and inward, is clear; and you do not see in this world or the next anything except God.” –ibn Arabi

Nigredo, Part II

After spending most of the afternoon at the cemetery, intensely mulling over the past several years of my life in heavy contemplation, I’ve realized that I was stuck in a sort of full-circle survivalist mode, fueling my depression and wasting away any hope of potential or reason. The infection is a deadly pandemic disease that continues to spread until the infected is finally dead, as one struggles to survive the nightmarish reality that worsens by the day. I was taken to the eternal void; an alternative universe on an alien planet. As I struggled to swim to the other side, the current was transparent though nearly impossible to reach, as I watched myself drown to the bottom of the abyss.

As I was sitting at my desk, the Nine of Wands fell from the deck of tarot cards located firmly on my desk. The man’s bandaged head indicates that he has already fought and is prepared to fight again. The staves behind him suggest the boundary of that which he protects. Its divinatory meaning is the pause in a struggle. Preparedness, strength in reserve. Eventual victory but steady force must be applied. Obstinacy, strength, power, health. I take this all as an auspicious sign.

In the preparation of the Stone, the hollowed out Egg is subjected to the sacred Fire, thus bringing it to a blackened state. During the night of the full Moon, a return to prima materia, or akasha, the black egg of spirit.

Curanderismo

Being now that death has suddenly become an integral part of my life with the occult and my interest in studying mortuary science in college, I have been thinking about Santa Muerte quite a bit lately. Specifically  in Mexican curanderismo. I’m not sure what this is all about, but I ran across something rather interesting this morning. Apparently eggs, of all things, are frequently used in Mexican curanderismo. According to E. Bryant Holman in The Santisima Muerte: A Mexican Folk Saint: 

Curanderos, being that they are, in fact, exorcists in a sense, primarily occupy themselves with doing “limpias” (literally “cleanings” – from the verb “limpiar,” “to clean), and limpias are essentially exorcisms. These are accomplished with some sort of instrument and with prayers. The instrument is usually either a branch of a type of tree known as pirul, or else some object already assumed to be holy, such as a crucifix – which, additionally, will have been blessed with Holy Water by an ordained priest – is used. It is also common to use eggs in performing limpias. The usual method is to take the instrument (the egg, crucifix, or branch of pirul) and stroke the patient’s body with it, normally in motions wherein the curandero seems to be attempting to move the evil spirits outwards towards the extremities of the body – to the feet and hands – and expelling them through the fingertips and out of the soles of the feet. Additionally, it is believed that the branch, the crucifix, or th egg will collect the bad energy and store it safely in the instrument itself. In the case of a crucifix that is properly blessed, it is believed that the bad energy is essentially trapped there and that it cannot escape and harm someone else. But in the case of branches or eggs, it is believed that these are now infected with the bad energy, which can pass to unsuspecting victims and harm them, as if it were a matter of contagion or of one getting an electrical shock from a non-insulated electrical source of some sort. Thus, great care is taken in the proper disposal of branches and eggs and other such instruments used in the performance of limpias

Later on he describes a curandera who uses eggs diagnostically. Specifically, she uses an egg to draw out energy from a patient and then figures out what it is by examining it.

It’s interesting that Santa Muerte, often associated with drug users, has me thinking about limpias – in other words, cleaning (perhaps staying clean from heroin): In the process of turning an ordinary egg into the Philosophers’ Stone, the second alchemical stage is albedo, that is, the “whitening” or cleansing stage. Hail Venus/Aphrodite!

Nigredo/Mortificatio: The Decomposition of the Self Within the Qliphothic Convulsions of the Void

“Our black earth is fertile earth”, an alchemical expression to express the transformation of death into new life, which is also clearly depicted in the thirteenth tarot card. The putrefaction is a necessary phase to start a new beginning. Life itself is a cycle of death and birth, ever creating new life, giving man the opportunity to work on himself and strife to improve his condition.

Blackness. Melanosis. Putrefaction. Chaos. Fire. Saturn. Death. Melancholia. Depression. Destruction. Prima Materia. Qliphoth. Shadow. Daemon. Transmutation. Raven’s Head  (‘Caput Corvi’). Beast. Ravens (Death Birds). Lion. Possession. Decapitation. Sacrifice. Nightmare. Massa Confusa. Pain. Devil. Dark Night of the Soul. Despair. Danse Macabre. Inverse Manifestation. Dreamless Sleep. Defamiliarization. Necromancy. Black Sun. Sol and Luna. Sulphur. Sacrophagi. Coffins. Cemetery. Irrationality. Meditation. Dissolution. Soul-less. Sorcery. Attainment. Magnum Opus. Opium. Heroin. Absinthe. Non-being. Silence.

“Black blacker than black.” 


Occult L.A.: Season of the Witch

On Saturday at the Silent Movie Theatre, the Cinefamily is going to present an evening dedicated to the witch archetype and the role of the witch through the ages, in popular consciousness and as conveyed through the cinematic eye. I’ll probably attend, but the reason for this being mentioned is mainly due to me being reminded of the 1972 George Romero film, Season of the Witch.

Although it has been months since watching, I still remember the opening sequence quite well. The very first scene is a dream sequence, and in it (among other things) a man is shown eating a boiled egg. Weird scenes associated with mirrors also occurred throughout the movie. The mirror (especially the magickal mirror) has featured in my past dream workings, including in the dreams themselves. In recent times, there has become a whole new phenomenon in film and in urban legend associated with “mirror horror”. The 2008 film Mirrors, with Kiefer Sutherland, is an interesting watch as well, despite it being rather predictable. Trinie Dalton goes onto describe “mirror horror” in an essay anthology.

From an article on the anthology

In any 1970s horror movie worth its splatter budget, there’s a crucial moment when a comely young woman examines herself in a mirror and is promptly killed. For Trinie Dalton, such hopelessly cliched moments are packed with clues to our darkest fears.

Dalton is the editor of “Mythtym,” a new anthology of essays, fiction and artwork — both serious and campy — about werewolves, unicorns and what she calls “mirror horror.” As she explains: “If you watch enough of those movies, they’re all exactly the same. These splatter-core movies have their own tropes — like how the best way to show blood is to cut someone up in the shower so you see it on the tiles. But then you realize that these cliches are based on archetypes. The mirror as a symbol seems most powerful in a time of fear, when people step back and look at themselves.”

 

 

I am also reminded of my recent delving into Maya Deren’s work (which I will elaborate on later) exploring Haitian Voodoo, specifically the Voodoo practice of doing things in reverse in ceremonies because the spirit world is a mirror of ours, and our actions therefore reflect backwards in that realm.

This recalls the Mirroir Fantastique, “that reflex of the Dayside of the Tree of Life, showing the shadow-graphs and inverse images of Universe ‘A,'” Kenneth Grant, Outside the Circles of Time. This quotation comes from the same book in which Grant describes the “egg” as a vehicle which allows for safe travel among star systems and dimensions.