Consciousness & Liber AL
Magick is not created by man, it is a part of man, having its basis in the structure of his brain, his body and his nervous system in their relations to his conceptual universe, the matrix of thought, and of speech, the mother of thought.
Many authorities today agree that consciousness is somehow associated with the nervous system, in that the nervous system is an area of its operation, in the same sense as, for example, an electromagnetic field will form itself around a wire. It is worth noting that an electromagnetic field is not a product of the wire, so consciousness cannot really be considered to be a product of the nervous system. Rather, it seems as if consciousness 'requires' the nervous system for it to manifest in. Therefore, it is rather that the brain exists in consciousness, than consciousness exists in the brain. It is necessary, therefore, to give as brief as possible an introduction to the brain and nervous system before continuing with the central thrust of this essay. However, before this, it also seems necessary to say a few words about the prevailing, generally accepted (and, in the opinion of this author, inaccurate) split-brain theory. It is claimed that abilities such as speech, logic, mathematics, reasoning, etc. belong to the left hemisphere of the cerebrum, while such things as art, intuition, aesthetic appreciation,and so forth belong to the right hemisphere. Around this theory, a tradition of calling the left hemisphere 'dominant' and the right 'minor' has grown up. And yet, experiment after experiment has consistently shown that an adult individual can have one or the other hemisphere removed entirely, without permanent loss of the abilities said to reside within that hemisphere. It is true that, immediately following the operation, severe impairment of function occurs; but, in as little as five to six months, the 'lost' abilities are almost completely restored. It is not simply a question of the individual having to relearn various functions from the beginning; for it would take far longer than this to learn how to construct an articulate sentence, for example, as any person who has learned a foreign language will appreciate.
Furthermore, if the left hemisphere controls the rational, the masculine, and ensures that the individual is right-handed, as the theory claims, and the right hemisphere is involved in the intuitive and the feminine (and if it is 'dominant', ensuring that the individual is left-handed), then surely we should expect more women than men to be dominant in the right hemisphere and subsequently left-handed. But this is plainly not the case: more women are right-handed and dominant in the left-hemisphere than men. Considering that dreams are a product of the unconscious mind, we should also expect dream activity to register only in the right hemisphere. However, as electroencephalograph experiments have demonstrated, dreaming involves both hemispheres - the whole of the cerebral cortex. Quite clearly, it is time that this theory was at least modified. The only possible explanation is that both hemispheres always contain all of the functions. Removal of the 'dominant' hemisphere allows the dormant abilities in the remaining hemisphere to awaken. To return to the analogy of the electromagnetic field and the wire, it is obvious that removal of half of the wire would not destroy half of the electro-magnetic field! In this essay, I hope to demonstrate a physiological field of operation for the unconscious mind, its interaction with the conscious mind during states of gnosis, and the importance of Liber AL vel Legis in the integration of these two states of consciousness. Finally, this essay was inspired directly by an intensive study of Liber AL vel Legis, and it is presumed that the reader is familiar with this document, and its attendant literature.
The Human Nervous System
The human nervous system is divided into two parts: the Central Nervous System (CNS), and the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS). The CNS essentially comprises the brain and spinal cord, and the large majority of structures found within these. The ANS embraces groups of co-ordinating centres (not unlike the brain in function) which lie outside the central system, as well as certain sections of the brain itself, and perhaps most typically, the various glands of the body. The CNS controls the skeletal, or 'striped', muscles and voluntary movements of these. It is exteroceptive, meaning that it responds to stimuli from outside the organism. One of its major functions is to make adjustments in the external environment. The ANS is interoceptive - it responds principally to stimuli from within the organism, such as temperature change, hunger, fatigue etc. It regulates the functioning of the glands and internal organs, making adjustments in the internal environment. To this end it also has control over the 'smooth' muscles (the muscles of the heart, for example). The ANS, when necessary, can produce involuntary or reflex movements of the striped muscles.
The leading rôle in the CNS is played by the outer covering of the two cerebral hemispheres, the cerebral cortex. It is known to be the centre of volitional motor movement, and the major terminus of sensory impressions. It is also the seat of cognitive functions, thought, and waking consciousness. The learning of new, skilled activities is organized by the cortex. Language and speech are the concern primarily of the temporal lobes at the lower rear sides of the surface brain, and it is also here where initial memory traces seems to be lain down, principally by the hippocampus, amygdala and Are TE. Electrical stimulation of the temporal cortex produces random scenes from one's past, complete with the emotional feelings that accompanied the original event. The temporal lobes also house one of the several sleep centres of the nervous system.
The development of the frontal lobes is the most distinctive feature of primate brains, particularly so in humans. Experimental lesions or accidental damage in this area produce a marked, sometimes drastic drop in general drive and the will to achieve. Stimuli originating in the cortex can block outright, or otherwise modify, impulses from centres lying below the hemispheres. In other words, 'ideas' can produce these blocks. Commands such as "Pull yourself together", "act like a man", etc. may calm an hysterical individual, or rouse someone from a state of shock or torpor to a state of action. It has also been shown that the cortex can put an end to sleep when necessary. The frontal lobes seem to be most instrumental in drawing upon memories so that they can become part of our plans for future action.
Alcohol, like similar drugs, depresses the higher centres, releasing behaviour which is normally held in check. ['To worship me take wine and strange drugs whereof I will tell my prophet, & he drunk thereof!' AL.II.22.] This demonstrates that without any effort on the part of the individual, normal cortical consciousness is restraining or modifying a good deal of wouldbe behaviour. In fact, waking consciousness can be seen as a kind of 'inhibitor'. It is inhibition which we appeal to when we say "Make your mind a blank". The act of remembering may consist of the removal of an inhibition; and it seems that we do not really have to 'will', since the brain is willing to do anything it knows how to do, all the time. All we really have to do is decide what is to be done, and then take the brake off. ['For pure will, unassuaged of purpose, delivered from the lust of result, is every way perfect.' AL.I.44.]
Despite neurobiological evidence that indicates the frontal lobes as playing a large part in the functioning of the will, some psychologists (such as William James in the 19th Century, and Rollo May in the 20th) assert the identity of Will with Love. Not only does this idea sit very happily within Thelema (Thelema = 93 = Agapé); it also means that Will, like Love, is a deeper, older function "belonging" to older, deeper parts of the brain. Indeed, the Tantrics identified the ajna chakra, the pineal gland, as the seat of the will. Whatever the truth of this, the idea that Love and Will stem from similar sources, that they are not opposing, forces, has important implications that we shall return to.
As the ANS is aroused, impulses from it to the cortex become progressively stronger and more difficult for the cortex to control (rising excitement or mounting anger, for example). A relatively small amount of subcortical stimulation causes the cortex to function more efficiently, but arousal beyond that low level causes a deterioration in performance. In a state of extreme anger, it is difficult to perform simple tasks - like pouring a drink without spilling it, for example, or inserting a key in a lock. When stimulation reaches a point where the cortex is 'flooded' we then experience states such as overwhelming panic, blinding, rage or dazzling ecstasy.
The Hypothalamus is connected to, and directly below, the Thalamus, which is part of the CNS. The Hypothalamus, on the other hand, is much more part of the ANS. It is, in fact, the highest level of the integration of the ANS with the CNS. In this small structure are contained the most highly evolved centres for the regulation of the sexual functions, aggression, general emotion, body-temperature, hunger, thirst, etc. Like a number of other centres, it also controls sleep.
'Autonomic' means self-governing. The ANS is not normally under our conscious control, but it will frequently override or operate in advance of the CNS, particularly in moments of crisis. A person will find, for instance, that he has removed his fingers from a hot object before consciously appreciating that it is hot. More complexly, we may find ourselves running away 'against our will' in the face of danger, despite a conscious effort to stay and be brave. A person who attempts to stay awake indefinitely succeeds only in the short term. Similarly, it is not possible to hold one's breath until one becomes unconscious. ['I see thee hate the hand & the pen; but I am stronger.' AL.II.11.] The ANS is further divided into two sub-systems: the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous system (referred to from now on as the SNS and the PNS, respectively). The SNS is regulated by the posterior hypothalamus. This prepares the body for the emergency reactions of fight or flight, rage and fear. It augments the blood supply to the brain and muscles whilst denying it to other areas, such as the skin and stomach. It inhibits saliva, increases heart rate, and inhibits the secretion of gastric juices. The PNS is regulated by the anterior hypothalamus, which works in precisely the opposite manner: it encourages the secretion of gastric juices, facilitates salivation, urination, defecation, and controls aspects of sexual readiness, such as the erection of the penis and the moistening of the vagina. Here also is located one of the so-called 'pleasure centres'. When an electrode is implanted in such a centre, an animal will endlessly press the lever which activates the current, stimulating itself until it drops of exhaustion.
The actual 'headquarters' of the ANS is the cerebellum ('little cerebrum'), an apple-sized organ at the back of the head, almost completely covered by the vault of the cerebrum. In evolutionary terms, it is far older than the cerebrum, and it has never ceased to evolve. It is a very complex organ, just as complex as the cerebrum, although it remains incompletely examined by medical science. If the cerebellum is split down the middle, the folds form a pattern resembling a tree, which Medieval anatomists termed arbor vitae, the Tree of Life. Despite weighing only 11% of the cerebrum, it is, by virtue of its complicated folds and fissures, actually 75% of the size of the cerebrum in terms of surface area. Like the cerebrum, it consists of two hemispheres, covered with a layer of cortex. It receives extensive projections from all sensory systems. In the cerebrum, such projections are considered to be associated with the production of consciousness.
Under normal waking conditions, the cerebellum functions as an auxiliary of the cerebrum. It works as a 'fine tuner' of movement and balance. Individuals who suffer damage to the cerebellum have difficulty when reaching for objects, tending to over- or under-reach with their hand. They often stagger in a drunken manner when walking. When impulses from the organs of the body travel up to reach the cerebrum, these impulses cross over before reaching it, so that information from the left side of the body goes to the right cerebral hemisphere, and vice versa. However, when information ascends to the cerebellum, these impulses do not cross: messages from the left side of the body reach the left cerebellar hemisphere, and messages from the right side reach the right. The cerebellum, apart from sharing the pathways leading to the cerebrum, also has ascending pathways of its own. The direct result of this situation is that when efferent messages travel from the cerebellum to the cerebrum, these now have to cross over en route to take account of the existing arrangements of the cerebrum. The net outcome is that, as far as the cerebrum is concerned, the cerebellum is left-handed. Or, to put it another way, the cerebellum is the reflection or mirror-image of the cerebrum. Because of this situation, an individual whose cerebellum has a greater influence than normal is more likely to be left-handed.
Some interesting facts have recently emerged about this previously obscure organ. In 1982 neuropsychologist R. Llinas discovered that the cerebellum is responsible for the character of our individual handwriting. This is a definite link with personality, and also with automatic writing and drawing. James Prescott, an American neuropsychologist, has discovered that baby apes deprived of their mothers show physical damage to the structure of the cerebellum and the inter-cell connections. Some of this damage is motor (i.e. the infant doesn't move around much, so its motor capabilities are under-developed) but the rest of the damage appears to be a direct result of emotional deprivation. On reaching adulthood, these apes exhibit socially and sexually deviant or abnormal behaviour, which seems to indicate that the sexual and social personality of the adult is under the jurisdiction of the cerebellum.
Writing and drawing, social and sexual skills, even co-ordinated movements, are all learned activities. Although we can exert conscious control, most of the time these activities are automatic. The cerebellum is the automatic pilot of the body: when you learn new skills, such as riding a bike or swimming, you start by using your cortex. You have to think about what you are doing. Later, you can ride or swim 'without thinking', or while thinking of something else. Your cortex has handed over to your cerebellum. (It is also worth pointing out that you never forget how to ride a bike, or how to swim. This demonstrates the superior learning and memory skills of the cerebellum, as opposed to the cerebrum, which can forget something as simple as a telephone number.) This is the basis behind the martial arts of the Orient: a person only becomes truly skilled in these arts when their movements and reactions become automatic. I believe that it is no coincidence that many of the martial art systems are also paths to enlightenment.
The cerebellum is clearly a brain within a brain. As we have seen, it has informational access to all sensory and motor systems, and full executive control when necessary. That control, overriding any current conscious decisions or wishes, is frequently exercised in states of fear, panic, anger, sexual arousal, deprivation and exhaustion - all recognised states of gnosis.
Particular cells (known as Purkinje cells) in the cerebellum can form up to 100,000 connections with other fibre bodies, compared to only 10,000 connections per cell in the cerebrum. Also, there are more cells in the granular layer of the cerebellar cortex than in the whole of the rest of the brain put together! It also receives massive input from the frontal lobes of the cerebrum. Apart from volition, the function of the frontal lobes is not yet fully understood. In our pre-mammalian past, the cerebellum once possessed its own pair of eyes. This additional pair was located on top of the head, where certain reptiles today possess a light-sensitive patch. Over the course of time, the eyes fused together and sank down into the brain, to form what is today our pineal gland.
The Pineal Gland
The pineal gland is a pea-sized knob of grey and white tissue, shaped like a pine-cone, and buried at the back of the skull almost exactly on the mid-line of the brain. It is sensitive to changes of light. The Tuatara lizard of New Zealand, for instance, has a central cleft in its skull, covered with a transparent membrane, which lets light through to the pineal. The gland responds to the changes in light intensity, and probably controls camouflage colour changes in the skin.
The German scientist Eberhardt Dodt showed that the pineal is actually a wavelength discriminator, which converts the light energy of certain wavelengths into nervous impulses within the body. These nervous impulses stimulate the output of chemical hormones which influence skin colouring and the growth of the sexual organs. The survival of many species of animal often depends on reproduction being restricted to one particular season of the year. The pineal appears able to judge the season from the length or intensity of sunlight and moonlight. As for humans, it is now well known that the moon's light directly influences the menstrual flow, and it appears to have some bearing on various male hormonal changes, too.
The pineal produces melatonin, which controls the spread of melanin, the pigment that gives colour to our skin and hair. Melatonin is 'manufactured' from serotonin, for which the pineal seems to be the main reservoir. The interesting thing about serotonin is that it seems to be the key to rational thought: when it is present in the brain, we can think 'straight'. When it is absent, we experience hallucinations. Serotonin is greatly affected by the drug known as LSD. The molecules of this drug go directly to the pineal, and to other parts of the brain where serotonin is found, and specifically block its actions. An LSD 'trip' is, therefore, the result of a serotonin deficiency. No reference work I could find actually went as far as to say that the production of serotonin is influenced by the amount of light received by the pineal, ['... the light higher than eyesight.' AL II.51.] but this seems to me to be the logical outcome. If this is true, then it seems to explain why we are more likely to be aware of unconscious processes, such as our dreams, at night rather than during the day. During the hours of darkness, serotonin levels drop, depleting waking consciousness. This would also help to explain why most traditional sorcerous acts, such as the Witches Sabbath, take place at night. (After all, it cannot always have been for reasons of secrecy, as the bonfire would have been seen for miles!) Similarly, when the eyes are closed, preventing most light from entering the brain, the same thing happens, which is probably why most prayer, meditation and visualisation, etc., takes lace with one's eyes closed.
The Location of the Unconscious
The Mapuch of Chile, in South America, consider the left to be associated with the female. This is quite in accordance with many other sources. But they also associate the left with children, which is interesting because children are supposed to dream more than adults, and women to dream more than men. Children have (proportionately) larger cerebella than adults, whilst women have larger cerebella than men. Orientals have the largest cerebella in the world. In a study of Chinese brains, researchers found that the cerebellum was so large, compared to Caucasians, that the vault of the cerebrum did not completely cover it. Can it be mere coincidence that the Chinese have given us Taoism, the I Ching, acupuncture, and the martial arts referred to earlier? Exactly why do most mystic practices originate in the East, anyway? The Taradja of Indonesia say that the left represents the dead, who live at night, in the underworld. Moreover, the dead do everything precisely the other way round from the living: 'Yes' on earth means 'No' in the underworld. The living do everything with the right hand, the dead do everything with the left. The dead also walk upside down and are blackskinned. In other words, the dead are the mirror-image of the living.
Implicit in our common speech is the idea of the unconscious mind as being 'below' and 'behind'. We speak of the subconscious, the depths of the mind, the underworld, of falling asleep, of going back, etc. Unconsciously, we are referring to a literal fact, that the cerebellum is situated below and behind the cerebrum, waking consciousness. It is quite obvious that what the mind is to the central nervous system, the unconscious mind must be to the autonomic nervous system. Most psychologists since Freud have noted the strong connections between unconscious guilt and sweating, unconscious conflict and indigestion, unresolved complexes and disturbed sexual behaviour, etc. Sleep and dreaming are functions of the ANS. Given this information, it seems evident that as the conscious mind is considered to be associated with the cerebrum, so the unconscious mind must be associated with the cerebellum.
Crowley mentions that the Hebrew letter Qoph refers to the moon and the cerebellum. This is because they both 'shine' at night, and both wax and wane; that is, the consciousness of the cerebellum only comes to the fore when that of the cerebrum diminishes. Crowley's assertion that the cerebellum is the seat of the creative and reproductive functions has been demonstrated above. Qoph is also said to represent 'the secret energy of Woman', which is why women are more traditionally associated with magick and witchcraft than men. Fairy gold (the cerebellar consciousness) vanishes in the light of day (cerebral consciousness). The dwarf, too, is a symbol of the cerebellum, because he labours underground. He is also small: as previously mentioned, cerebellum means 'little cerebrum'.
The Identity of Nuit and Hadit
In 1923, in Paris, a certain Dr. Sollier conducted a series of experiments in the phenomenon known as 'autoscopy'. This is the ability of a patient in trance to observe and report on the condition and structure of his or her own internal organs, in some cases down to the microscopic level. One untutored patient described, in her own non-technical vocabulary, 'her veins, heart, lungs, bronchia down to the pulmonary vesicles, intestines, ovaries, Fallopian tubes, uterus and appendages, muscles, tendons and skeleton, including that of the face, and finally the brain. She had no normal knowledge of the outer form of these organs, nor of their structure; nor of the ovaries and the brain, of which she described the microscopic structure.' (Quoted in The Secret Life of Humans by Stan Gooch; my emphasis.) This seems to indicate that consciousness can somehow travel around the body, providing a ,visual' picture or -sense impression to the brain, which then stores it in memory. But the patient was in trance. So exactly what sort of consciousness are we referring to? It can only be the consciousness of the cerebellum, the 'shadow' consciousness. The consciousness of the cerebellum is constant. Cerebral consciousness, however, is not; it may diminish or even shut off, as in sleep or trance. A person who is unconscious for a period of time, or in a coma, is unable to determine, on awakening, how much time has passed. Cerebral consciousness thinks of itself as continuous because it has no conception of the time in which it is not. For example, there is a phenomenon known as 'microsleep', where an individual can fall asleep, with their eyes open, for as little as two or three seconds. Mark Twain records such an event. He recalled seeing a man approach a house and then simply vanish. Alarmed, he ran to the house and found the man inside. Twain concluded that he had fallen asleep for the few seconds that it took the man to open the door and step inside, although his conscious a wareness had seemed to be uninterrupted. ['... the consciousness of the continuity of existence ...' AL I.26.] Cerebellar consciousness, on the other hand, has to be constant because it is what keeps us breathing, our heart beating, and so on.
It is while the cerebrum sleeps that the cerebellum comes into its own. It is the vampire that rises from its tomb at night, and the toys that come to life while we sleep. Our dreams are the direct expression of the life and consciousness of the cerebellum. However, the cerebellum lives through the cerebrum, just as the moon's light comes from the sun. It uses the contents of the cerebrum for its own purposes, haunting it, dressing up in its abandoned clothes. Dream researchers have demonstrated that if an individual wears red goggles twenty-four hours a day for a week or more, by about the third night they are dreaming 85% in red. This shows that it is the contents of our waking consciousness that is drawn upon and utilized by the cerebellum. If the cerebellum receives sensory information then it must be capable of interpreting it. But, as it has no direct access to the senses, it must therefore interpret information using the contents of the cerebrum as 'reference'. As a simple example, pressure on your eyelids results in the perception of colours and sometimes shapes. But colour and form relies on light; and with your eyes closed and fingers pressing on the lids, no light is getting in. Your brain is using a memory of colour and shape that it has already experienced to 'clothe' the stimuli it is receiving.
Information is relayed through the cells of the brain in the following manner. Subjected to a stimulus, a single cell (neuron) will 'fire' or 'flash' an electrical current. This stimulates the production of chemicals (neurotransmitters) which flow along pathways interconnecting other cells. When the chemical reaches another cell, it stimulates that cell to fire its own electrical flash, and so on. During normal waking consciousness, the cerebrum is highly active, involved as it is in all the complex actions of daily living. Its neural activity, therefore, appears as a kind of rhythmic pulse. However, during sleep (and any other mental state in which consciousness shuts down, such as trance) the neurons flash intermittently. Some activity is still going on; but in the absence of the Ego, there is 'no-one' there to define exactly what that activity is. During an orgasm, for example, electroencephalograph readings show clusters of millions of nerve cells, low in the limbic system, firing in unison, just as in a small epileptic fit. It also shows a near blank-out of cell-firing in the rational/cognitive centres of the cortex. This is preceded by a blast of activity in the occipital cortex (where the processing of visual information takes place) at the back of the skull (directly above the cerebellum). This, in all likelihood, explains why most people experience an almost overpowering 'burst of light' at the start of an orgasm. Again, this demonstrates that parts of the brain can interpret some non-visual stimuli as a visual sense impression. If the cerebellum can, in certain circumstances, somehow experience 'visually' (and it did once posses eyes, remember) the cerebral cortex as it arches over it, how would the cortex appear? What would the intermittent flashes of neural activity, during sleep or trance, look like? "Nothingness with twinkles", perhaps? In the same way that the eye needs a mirror to see itself, the cerebrum needs its mirror-image, the cerebellum, to perceive itself. The cerebellum uses the information and experience stored in the cerebrum to interpret the cerebrum. The only 'comparison' the cerebellum can possibly make is with something that the cerebrum has already experienced, and in this case the most appropriate comparison is with the star-studded night sky. Crowley's "Star-Sponge" vision is, in fact, a near perfect description, in poetic terms, of how the cerebrum would appear from the 'point of view' of the cerebellum.
By now it should be clear that the image of Nuit, the Goddess of the Night Sky, is an image of the cerebrum. ['I am above you and in you.' AL.I.13.] If this is true, then it must equally be true that Hadit is an image of the cerebellum, the Dark Twin hidden within us. ['Nu! The hiding of Hadit.' AL.II.I.] More properly, if we consider the known functions of these organs, Nuit is rather the consciousness of the Central Nervous System, while Hadit is that of the Autonomic Nervous System. ['I, Hadit, am the complement of Nu, my bride. I am not extended, and Khabs is the name of my House.' AL.II.I.] Hadit, imaged on the Stele of Revealing as a winged globe, can be interpreted as those mid-brain centres such as the hypothalamus and the limbic system, the wings being the two hemispheres of the cerebellum, and the two serpents being an almost literal interpretation of the hippocampus. The hippocampus is associated, as part of the limbic system, with our emotions, learning, and short-term memory. This arrangement of winged globe and serpents has a more familiar form: the Caduceus. If we interpret the staff as the spinal column, we can see that it leads directly to the cerebellum and limbic system, which together comprise the oldest (in evolutionary terms) parts of our brain. As the Serpent Power ascends the spinal column, it is precisely these brain centres that are activated.
The major nerve pathways of the cerebellum are the terrestrial manifestation of the Tunnels of Set, so expertly documented in Kenneth Grant's Nightside of Eden. The illustration of the cross-section of one of the cerebellar hemispheres shows that there are eleven main 'tunnels', twenty-two in the cerebellum as a whole [not on-line]. Those individuals who have experience of the Tunnels have, in fact, 'visually experienced' their own cerebella. Emmanuel Swedenborg claimed that the angels who visited him inhabited his cerebellum, and the 16th Century physician Jerome Cardin also claimed that his trances came directly from here. From my own experience of trance states, I can verify that the trance seems to 'wash' over normal waking consciousness - rather like the overflowing of a cup, or the breaking of a wave - from the direction of the back of the head towards the front. At times, this can also feel like a 'falling backwards' into an engulfing darkness.
The Location of Daäth
The cerebellum is attached to the rest of the brain via the pons, which, together with the medulla oblongata, form what is called the brain stem. 'Pons' means bridge, and it is indeed a bridge between the cerebellum and the cerebrum. It is in the pons that information crosses over from left to right, and vice versa, as discussed earlier. Deep within the pons is a latticework of short-fibred nerve cells known as the reticular formation. Here are the centres which control breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure (all of which, it is important to note, can be influenced by yogic means). Most importantly, here are also the cells which control the level of consciousness which we experience. (Paradoxically, we can, with training, control the activity of these cells.) At their most active, in the sense of processing information, we experience full 'waking' consciousness. When the level of activity drops - when we either fall asleep or enter trance, for example - then so does the level of waking consciousness, allowing our other' consciousness to rise to the fore. It is specifically this reticular formation that is the gateway, or bridge, the Place of the Crossing, the 'pathway between ecstasies', referred to in myths and legends as the entrance to the enchanted land, the astral plane, the alternative universe, or simply 'outside'. It is, in other words, Daäth, and 'outside' means outside the cerebral consciousness. Furthermore, the entrance to 'outside' has often been considered to be a mirror or the reflecting surface of a pool: so again we find this reference to reversal and crossing over. Speaking of mirrors, the reason why vampires and ghosts are said not to cast a reflection is simply because they are the reflection. Similarly, the Doppelgänger phenomenon, where one sees a double of oneself: it is often reported that these doubles are seen only from the waist up, and reversed left for right, which strongly suggests that they originate in impressions of oneself seen in a mirror.
The Nature of Consciousness
We have seen above that it appears that consciousness can move around the body. However, it is rather that this sense of awareness extends throughout the body, and beyond, all of the time; and in particular circumstances this awareness can be focused into a specific location. Most of the time, this focus resides within our heads, because this is where the majority of our senses provide a window onto the world. ['There are four gates to one palace.' AL. I.51.] It could be said that the brain and nervous system act as a kind of lens for the focusing of consciousness. At some level of consciousness, we are constantly aware of everything in our immediate environment: sights, sounds, smells, the pressure of our clothes against our flesh, their texture, our temperature, our position and the innumerable functions that go on within us. This level of consciousness does not actually disappear or switch off when waking consciousness surfaces, despite the symbolism of the dead returning to their tombs at dawn, etc. In recent experiments, a person has been hypnotized to perform a specific action 2,000 minutes after waking. On being hypnotized again, after correctly performing the action requested, and asked how they knew how much time had elapsed, the responding 'inner self' said that it had simply counted the 120,000 seconds! This demonstrates a level of active awareness of which waking consciousness normally remains unaware. It is somehow overshadowed by waking consciousness, shouted down. The mental activity of thought makes too much 'noise', so that we can no longer 'hear' what our shadow consciousness has to 'say'. This is why all prayer, meditation, etc. is designed to still the mind: it is to get waking consciousness to 'shut-up' for a while. On this basis, it seems that the process we refer to as dreaming also does not stop when we awaken. It is just that, awake, we do not notice. It used to be considered that dreaming occurred only when we entered the 'Rapid Eye Movement' (REM) stage of sleep (also known as Active Sleep); but it now seems that this is merely a reactionary stage to an ongoing process. Both nightmares and sleep-walking occur mostly during non-REM, or Quiet Sleep. In experiments to deprive animals of Active Sleep, the results showed that, although all of the animals spent a greater portion of their recovery sleep in the Active phase, as if 'catching up' on the amount lost, only some of them exhibited abnormal behaviour in their waking hours. Many other animals of the same species appeared unmoved and endured stoically weeks of 'dreamless' sleep without ill-effects. This ran completely contrary to the experimenter's expectations. It was discovered that bursts of sharp electrical activity occurred in various parts of the brain just prior to the onset of Active Sleep, and continued throughout. This electrical activity began to appear uncharacteristically during Quiet Sleep in those deprived of Active Sleep, and even during wakefulness in some of them. This suggests that these animals were hallucinating, but as we can't ask them, it is impossible to be certain of this. The electrical activity occurred specifically in the pons, and in the occipital cortex.
The absence of ill-effects in some of the animals implies that those individuals were not totally deprived of the 'dream process', which means that it must have continued at other times. Waking an animal or human while they are dreaming seems to be more like calling waking or cerebral consciousness away from 'monitoring' the process: the process continues uninterrupted, while cerebral consciousness turns to other matters. Cerebral consciousness can then only recall what section of the process it was monit oring up to that point, and this is remembered as the dream. The electrical activity referred to above would be the cerebellar consciousness entering, via the pons (Daäth), the cerebral cortex, in order to avail itself of the memory store and any other functions it may require.
It is as if we have two separate consciousnesses, total opposites of each other, which appear, on the surface, to have no knowledge of each other. Yet, not only are they aware of each other (as we see when we dig a little deeper into our psyches); they are also, paradoxically, one and the same consciousness somehow appearing to be divided. It is helpful to think of a Möbius Strip, a strip of paper which is twisted once with the ends joined to form a ring. Although it seems to have two sides to it, in fact it has one continuous side, as can be proved by drawing a line all the way along it. This is the reason why our thinking tends to be dualist; although again, unconsciously, we sense the true situation and express it in our language. There are many words in all languages that sound identical but have two opposite meanings. For example, 'cleave' means 'to divide in two' or 'to stick together'; again, 'raise' (up) and 'raze' (to the ground). The actual origin of this situation is another matter, to be dealt with elsewhere, but it extends back to the dawn of humanity ~ in Pact, to our very 'creation'.
The conscious mind works by taking in information through the senses and producing an internal representation of external events. Since the unconscious works in a manner diametrically opposite to that of the conscious mind, its ultimate power must be to produce external representations of that which it creates internally, in the first instance as hallucinations or visions, but in the final stage as 'real' or objective phenomena. Let us take a moment to clarify this. One of the easiest methods of accessing the mind is via hypnosis, and in the available literature on the subject some remarkable cases appear. One concerns a boy of sixteen who suffered from a disease known as Ichthyosiform erythrodermia complex, which is a congenital, structural disease of the skin, present from birth. The boy had a thick, black horny layer covering his entire body except for his face, neck and chest. This layer was as hard as fingernails; and whenever he bent or flexed his limbs, it cracked and oozed a foul-smelling, blood-stained serum. All attempts at treating his condition had failed, until in 1951 he was hypnotized and instructed that his left arm would heal. After f ive days the horny layer softened and broke away. After ten days the arm was completely healed. The process was then transferred to the rest of his body with great success. The important point to note is that this disease is genetic in origin; and, in the words of an independent doctor who observed the treatment in progress: '...it is as much an anatomical maidevelopment as is club-foot'. Now, those of us who practise Magick are aware that change can occur in conformity with will; yet there still seems to have been a tendency in recent years to reduce Magick to the status of some kind of 'Do-it-yourself psychology'. The above case clearly demonstrates that this sixteen-year-old boy, through hypnosis, reached down into the microscopic depths of his being, scrapped an existing genetic defect, and 'rebuilt' himself, manipulating his own genetic 'building blocks'.
An even more spectacular example of transformation occurred on March 23rd 1933, when Dr. Gerald Kirkland, a government medical officer in Zimbabwe, witnessed a ritual 'jackal dance' by an unidentified tribe or clan of natives. Kirkland's presence was not known to the natives, which meant that he was able to witness the event to its full conclusion. After a combination of uninhibited dancing, drumming, the consuming of partially rotted meat, drinking liquor, and repeated frenzied sexual intercourse with several women, two of the natives actually transformed into jackals. Kirkland was a trained medical officer, and was confident enough about what he had seen to risk public ridicule (and, no doubt, the loss of his position) by publishing his account.
The implication of the above two cases is clear: we are capable of moulding our own flesh to whatever form we believe, to suit our environment. Or to be more specific: we can cause change to occur, not only in our external environment, but also in ourselves, right down to the genetic level.
In conclusion, then, Nuit and Hadit represent the macro-polarity of consciousness. To refer again to the analogy of the electromagnetic field made at the opening of this essay, Nuit and Hadit can be considered to be the negative and positive poles of consciousness. Physiologically, Hadit is represented by, or generated about, the two hemispheres of the cerebellum. Nuit is represented by, or generated abou the two hemispheres of the cerebrum. The four hemispheres together form a single entity, symbolised by a simple mandala: the Mark of the Beast. [AL.III.46.]
This single entity is their 'Child', Ra-Hoor-Khuit. Nuit and Hadit are two fully evolved personae, evolved from the two basic energies of the personality - intellect and libido. Both comprise two universes of experience. They are seen (both physiologically and as portrayed in Liber AL) to be divergent and even contradictory. Yet the real purpose of this divergence is paradoxically that of a fruitful union and cross-fertilization. ['For I am divided for love's sake,for the chance of union.' AL.I.29.] From some points of view we can also conceive of Nuit and Hadit as a stable, binary system like Sirius A and Sirius B. Orbiting around each other, each persona prevents the other from flying off into the void, out of control. Neurosis, psychosis and schizophrenia are the consequences of one or the other persona losing its points of contact with its mate.
The whole point of all mystical practices is to unite these seemingly divided types of consciousness, dissolving both their illusory forms to form a third. This 'Child' partakes of qualities that neither 'parent' exhibited in full. Union occurs at the precise moment when the 'differences' between the two personae are affirmed simultaneously, thereby dissolving those differences. ['Let there be no difference made among you between any one thing & any other thing: for thereby cometh hurt.' AL.I.22.] This 'Unity uttermost showed' [AL.III.37.] is on full view in the creation and experience of great art, for example, which unites the opposites of thought and feeling, form and content, inspiration and execution. The experience of art releases us from the divisive compulsions of thought and feeling respectively, by satisfying both at the same moment. This total reality both 'receives' and 'brings forth', it simultaneously dissolves and resolves the opposites of objective and subjective reality. ['This is the creation of the world, that the pain of division is as nothing, and the joy of dissolution all.' AL.I.30.] It is not a return to a more 'primitive' or simplistic level of perception, but an almighty thrust forward in our evolutionary history. ['This shall regenerate the world ...' AL.I.53.] To the best of my knowledge, the experiment has never yet been tried, but I speculate that if a male and female human achieve this ,pure' consciousness, then it will be genetically transferable, meaning that any children they produce will automatically be born with a 'united' consciousness. ['Then will I breed from her a child mightier than all the kings of the earth.' AL.III.45.] Perhaps, already, we are all of us born in this state, and have the division thrust upon us by the demands of sharing that perception of reality fostered by the society in which we live. So-called magical powers are a by-product of this mental state, for the physiological reasons stated earlier. Those 'magicians' who aim only for acquiring these powers are missing the point, to say the least. Seduced by the glamour of manipulating the phenomenal world at brief moments in time, they fail to see that they can reach a state where all their desires simply fade away. ['These are fools that men adore; both their Gods & their men are fools.' AL.I.11.] Many lack the courage to leave their trivial concerns behind, but if one is conducting one's life in harmony with one's True Will, one should never need to do spells for more money, or a new lover, etc. As Austin Spare said: 'Magic is but one's natural ability to attract without asking.' Spare's emphasis was on 'without asking'; but for the purposes of this essay, I prefer to emphasise 'natural ability'. For Spare also knew what Kenneth Grant has explained in his books: that the primal gnosis was of a physical, not a metaphysical, nature.
When Love transcends Drive and Need to become Desire, Will is involved. Desire stimulates the Imagination, the image-making faculty, our creativity. The energy generated by, say, sexual union becomes a matrix from which the 'Child' is born. 'Love under Will' is, therefore, the creative faculty directed, via Desire, towards a goal rather than allowed to generate randomly, or formlessly.
Love and Will are present simultaneously in every genuine act. Both Love and Will are ways of creating consciousness; together they form a 'communion of consciousness', uniting us with Nature itself. 'Love under Will' [AL.I.57], the controlled imagination, is the formula of this communion, and in every act of Love under Will we mould ourselves and our world simultaneously.
The above essay was written in 1993 and first published in "Starfire" in 1994. The respected UK magazine "New Scientist", No.2193, 3 July 1999, contains a 4-page article by John McCrone entitled "Left Brain, Right Brain", that details brain experiments carried out during 1996/7 by Gereon Fink of the University of Dusseldorf, Germany and John Marshall from the Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford, UK. The article vindicates the above essay by finally burying the "myth" of a left/right brain split. Apparently, attention is the key, with any task the brain undertakes requiring 'local' or 'global' attention, the type of attention shaping how the brain chooses to process information. It is the nature of the task itself that determines which type of attention is brought into play. The article concludes: " ...simple dichotomies are out. It is how the two sides of the brain complement and combine that counts." Science follows where the Order leads...
The original research can be found in "Nature", vol 382, p626 (1996), and "Proceedings of the Royal Society B", vol 264, p487 (1997).
© Robert Taylor
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