A deliberate derangement of the senses - orchestrating a personal cacophony; a descent into the depths of the subconscious, to confront and bind the 'lurkers' within.
This essay is a short account of a personal exploration of the 'demons' of my own psyche. Rather than relying on existing approaches, for the reasons given below, I preferred to develop a purely personal approach. I give this account not to foist this particular approach onto others, but in the hope that it will assist those who are experimenting with different techniques. Nor do I wish to invalidate the traditional systems of Goetic magic, merely to say that while some may be satisfied to follow the maps of Abra-Melin or Crowley, this is not the case for me.
This work began fairly innocuously, with the compilation of a 'black book' - a dissection of self, in terms of habits, shortcomings, faults, hopes, ideals, all that I was, that I wished to be, or rejected. Likes, dislikes, attractions and revulsions. Then on to self-portraits; written in the third person - positive, negative, neutral portrayals, a curriculum vitae, an obituary. To this was added a "Book of Blunders" - every mistake or embarrassing moment that could be dredged up, cuttings from school reports, photographs and letters which brought back painful memories.
Choice extracts from this catalogue were read onto tapes, and the tapes scrambled together to form cut-up sequences. A deliberate attempt at psychic surgery this - smashing the vessel in order to remould it.
Then on to the mundane arrangements. Seclusion from others, as of old, a necessity - that one's demons do not trouble the unwary visitor, and more practically, that one is not chanced upon, mistaken for a psychotic, and incarcerated.
As for food, I decided to rely on simple nutritious fare, sustaining and easy to prepare, with a stack of Pot Noodles as chemical aids. Drugs? Who needs them? Still, a selection of natural substances can aid things along.
The Temple: black, unadorned, windowless, but not uncluttered! Around its confines I heaped all kinds of junk. Sheets of hardboard, rubbish from a building skip, a bucket of clay, bottles, broken radio sets, a spray-gun. Everything I might need, plus a few more things besides.
Bringing forth the dweller within - its name is legion.
I was preparing for a descent into the labyrinth, to make known my 'forgotten ones', with only the thinnest of cords with which to map the maze.
Why risk insanity in such a way? This is the inner journey, the whale's belly, the feast of the ravening ones. Why go alone, without the security of tried and tested banishings and sigils? Well I don't trust those old books, those mad monks with their Necronomicons, dead names and blasphemous sigils. What price forbidden knowledge? About £4.50 in paperback actually. Ridiculous! So I set forth to compile a 'living' grimoire. A product of the technocratic aeon, I use its debris to mould my dreams. "The Howling" - the hiss, roar and static screams of radios tuned to dead channels.
To the work then. Some loose structure being required (or so I thought), I devised a hierarchy based on the work of psychologist Abraham Maslow - ranging from 'survival demons' such as hunger or thirst, working up towards 'Ego' demons - the need for self-respect or a particular self-image, and more abstract conceptions: the hunger for knowledge or wisdom. The deeper the level of the hierarchy, the more primal the desires and urges.
The techniques: flooding and vomiting (eating and excreting) - to flood awareness with specific images, to bring forth (evoke) the demon, giving it form, "flesh" and eventually a name or a sigil. The scrambled personality tapes were to act as auditory sigils - storms of emotion whipped up by intensive remembering (replaying) sets of memories. Letting loose the hyenas of cynicism on a cherished ideal or goal.
The means of Gnosis: sensory overload, hyperventilation, old favourites such as hunger, thirst, exhaustion. 120 hours without sleep produces a fine paranoic 'edge' to consciousness.
Cohering the images that welled up from within - using finger-painting, moulding clay mixed with body fluids and excreta, sculpture using broken glass; and the more usual methods; sigils, auto-writing, taking a line for a walk. By these means the Forgotten Ones take shape. These 'psychographs' accumulate in corners of the temple, and it takes on the clutter of an Austin Osman Spare print.
Alas, these psychographs fall far short of the images and visions that flicker around me. "Another pile of Shit for the ledger?" I scream and take a hammer to them, only to collapse exhausted and retching on the temple floor. The red lines of the yantra-circuit on the floor seem at that moment to be particularly mocking and indifferent to my efforts. There is a kind of 'wrenching' feeling in my head, the snap of vertebrae being twisted, a helpless animal having its neck wrung, and I begin to howl the names that erupt from my throat...
And the jackals rushed in to feed, and I laughed when I saw them 'cos they all wore my face.
I came back from that moment into a kind of calm detachment - 'emptied' momentarily of any further feeling. I walked around the temple, as though seeing the debris for the first time, sifting carefully through the mess, examining each half-finished piece as though it wasn't anything to do with me. Some I was able to give names to - "you are Uul, the fear of failure", "you are Hamal, guilt not yet erased." This was the beginning of the formation of an alphabet of binding.
The second half of this operation consisted of experimenting with this alphabet, binding the demons into magical weapons for later use. When the initial phase of the work was done, I slept for about 18 hours, and awoke clear of the frenetic delirium which had been built up.
Traditionally, Demons and Devils are organised according to ranks and hierarchies with "Princes" ruling lesser demons. The grimoires seem to imply that if Hell exists, then it is a bureaucracy, and so by the same token, Earthly bureaucracies are demonic structures - as anyone who has had any dealings with the DHSS will readily testify.
The hierarchy used in the Babblogue was developed by the psychologist Abraham Maslow, to show how the various levels of 'need' influence behaviour and motivation. His hierarchy of Human Needs is a pyramid of desires, ranging from biological survival needs (food, shelter, etc.) to more complex needs:
|Biological||hunger, thirst, warmth|
|Safety||i.e. freedom from fear|
|Affiliative||to be given consideration|
|Esteem||status, praise, belonging|
According to Maslow, the needs at one level must be at least partially fulfilled before those on the next level become important - so aesthetic needs are not usually high on the list when one is starving. One can become 'possessed' by one's survival demons, and consequentially able to perform actions one would otherwise not consider. Air crash survivors resorting to cannibalism is an extreme example of this.
In attempting to strip away the layers of my own psyche in this way, I was struck by the 'Russian-doll' nature of the demons - that the roots of a cognitive value could be traced downwards into the levels of self-esteem, affiliation, and survival needs. This idea seems to be implied in the zoomorphic image of the man-beast. If we deny our demons then they are indeed 'outside' and the self becomes a fortress, for an army at war with itself. In contrast, the Babblogue is a trial by catharsis, to understand and unify the dwellers within, rather than deny or subjugate them.
2. The Shaman's Journey
The central theme of all 'magical retirements' of this nature is the journey within. Shamans world-wide, and the most powerful religious myths are concerned with this descent into chaos - the confrontation with death, the demon feast, trial by fire, communion with the dead - and the subsequent return - the realisation of power, and the subsequent return to Human affairs as an initiate. The core elements in this process can be summarised as follows:
Nightside of Eden - Kenneth Grant
Shamanic Voices - Joan Halifax
The Great Mother - Neumann
Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas - Hunter S. Thompson
Cities of the Red Night - William S. Burroughs
The Book of Pleasure - Austin Osman Spare
Thundersqueak - Angerford & Lea
The Masks of God - Joseph Campbell
An Introduction to Psychology - Hilgard, Atkinson & Atkinson
Liber Null - Pete Carroll
This article was published in Nox Magazine, issue 6, 1988.