Thursday, February 16, 2012

Spiritual Trauma and the Shamanic Death Trip

I love me some HGA talk!

Acher's recent publication of his initial research on the origins of the HGA has sparked more discussion on one of my favorite topics. You'd better not go Gordon and be all, "“meh, I’ll catch it next time around. Might have something new to say then.”

This is important to you personally because you've been fed a line of total bullshit about the HGA all your occult life, and if you're going to understand it and be able to work with it the way god intended, you'd damned well better be reprogramming yourself by reading these discussions when they come up.

I'll try to keep it entertaining, and interesting though, I know how you are.*

So Rose wrote a post today about the HGA and her take on it. She expressed concern about potential blogosphere backlash for expressing her belief that the published rites and rituals aren't required to gain K&CHGA, and I feel her pain.**

Rose is right on when she says the HGA is there from birth, it says so clearly in the Abramelin manuscripts. Check Mathers and Dehn, if you don't believe me. See Chapter thirteen of the Mathers version, it's online and handy so I can look it up. Look at what happens on the 7th day, what he tells you about your life with him that you've never known. Couldn't happen unless Rose is spot on accurate about the spirit being there all the time from birth.

It's there working with you and for you whether you know it or not. All the rite provides is conscious interaction with it, and the ability to see it.

Rose expresses her thoughts on the relationship between trauma and spiritual experiences, gifts, and insights, and how sometimes they can serve to kick off the ability to see, hear, and interact with spirits. I think that's not only accurate, but a key insight into understanding what actually goes on in these HGA rites anyway.

The rites and rituals that are designed to put you into contact with the HGA in modern times are functionally designed to induce a traumatic event so intense that you are able to see, hear, and interact with your HGA. You spend your six months or eighteen months ritually creating the circumstances necessary to instigate a psychic breakdown, to create a reframing experience that allows your whole perception to be altered. You use special oils and perfumes to put your brain into a particular state, and there's some speculation that you get high to help. Aaron Leitch very carefully doesn't mention that he uses Marijuana as a psychoreagent in his Work with the Holy Guardian Angel. He also carefully doesn't show it in a picture on his blog.

In my experience with gaining K&CHGA, I started doing Liber Samekh, minus the GD line dancing, and two weeks later I had the experience that indicates contact has been made. Two weeks! That's not 6 months, or 18 months. It's not even close!

But it happened after 2 fucking years of spiritual hell. I'd been pure fundy, pouring my heart out to god, literally in tears in his presence on a daily basis looking for answers, help, peace, succor. I was on an ecstatic mystic's journey to the heart of the Sun for years before hearing a still small voice telling me to go back to the occult and looking at it through the eyes of a born again new creation in Christ. The framework was laid, the pump was primed, I'd spent years enflamed in prayer, systematically destroying my psyche through the well-intended but spiritually bereft advice books of the modern Charismatic-Puritan movement in the Church. I mean, I was basically living like a Plymouth Brother, Crowley's home religion. It makes perfect sense that his rite would work for me, when you think about it.

But the trauma is the key. You've got to get yourself all hyped up, all psyched out, and maintain it for a while to hit that moment of breakthrough when you smell that smell and say, blessed is the day of the Lord! It's not a once-and-done kind of thing. It's a full on rebirth experience that drives you a little bit crazy to make you a little bit more sane.

It's just exactly like the Shamanic Death Trip, at least as far as I understand it. The shamans were ritually buried and hopped up on psychoactive drugs to get through to the spirit world, receive a vision and an ally or two, and return able to cross the bridge between the realms to fight spiritual battles for their community. I'm sure that's not exactly historically accurate, but that's basically the understanding I have. The Masons recreate the Death Trip as part of their initiations too. You go through something traumatic.

But here's the thing. These rites and rituals create specifically designed traumatic experiences. Think about it. How did they figure out they needed to artificially create trauma to establish conscious communion with the spirit realm? From real life trauma.

They saw that when someone got hit in the head and started seeing spirits and speaking in tongues. Yeah, maybe it was brain damage sometimes, but other times the weird shit they said came true. Putting a leaf in a fire under the right stars and mumbling gibberish made the hunts more successful, and when that guy died, they had to figure out how to replace him. Physical trauma didn't always work, but drugs and ritual death seemed to, and next thing you know, a few thousand years later, we have Abramelin and Liber Samekh.

They're artificial recreations of real life trauma events, modified, toned down, but geared towards the same result. And anyone who's been through attaining K&CHGA will tell you, it comes after pain. Solar initiations are represented by the Cross for a reason in Rosicrucian symbolism. Death and resurrection, man. Death hurts, even when it's temporary.

Meanwhile, in the rest of the world, the things that caused trauma didn't go away. As technology improved and populations grew and spread, new forms of psychic-vision-producing trauma evolved. Severe emotional and physical trauma ranks pretty high up there in the list of things that bring visions of angels to this very day. In a lot of ways, they're actually the more natural method of obtaining K&CHGA. Less predictable, less reliable, but still effective in creating re-framing experiences that allow you to see things that no one else can see.

So I'm with Rose. I think the rites and ceremonies are a much more preferable way to induce the trauma that results in the Vision and the Voice, but they aren't the only way at all.

* Tiny little attention span, pressed for time, and hungry for something fun and useful at the same time. Like me.

** I don't write up a whole lot of stuff that goes on in my practice and life because the results of the Traditional Grimoire and Aggrippinian Neo-Platonic Hermetic Magical Practice(TM) looks a WHOOOOOLE lot like the kind of stuff I've made fun of when it happens to New Agers and Paranormal Investigators. And we're supposed to be a dignified bunch, who are above that kind of poppycock. No pre-17th century documentation? It's bullshit!

That's the law.

I realized I had boxed myself into a prison of my own creation recently when I found myself jealous of Ian for being a neopagan who can just make shit up and get away with it, as long as it works. I make shit up all the time, and it works great, but I don't write it up or talk about it or sell it from the blog because it's damned hokey, and I've got an image to maintain or some shit.

Yeah, fuck all that shit.


  1. I didn't use the published rituals either, so I'm in agreement with Rose that it's very possible.

    In fact, one of the funny things about Aleister Crowley is that he got tripped up by that same misconception, and he's probably the person who's done the most to emphasize the HGA in modern magick. Aiwass contacted him when he received the Book of the Law, before he'd gone through the Abramelin working. He then went through a period of attempted HGA work in which the voice of Aiwass kept showing up.

    When he finally went through the whole process of Liber Samekh he came to the realization that Aiwass had been his HGA all along - and he was initially quite surprised at that revelation.

  2. I've never bothered to look at the literature that explains how to attain knowledge and conversation with the HGA because I've already been through trauma for most of my living years, the trauma or just major difficulties didn't stop until a few years ago.

    And then I stumbled onto this sort of path and was really drawn to it...

    In fact I was always spiritually inclined from a young age, but it seemed to climax when my capacity to deal with my internal struggles started to collapse and regenerate.

    But do I want to create more trauma for the sake of this? Nope. I don't have the K&C with my HGA but I really do believe there is still some guidance that I'm getting if I cannot attribute it to my basic intuition.

    Still trying to move out of the aftermath of whatever psychological trauma I've been through so inducing any more sounds like a shitty idea.

  3. I think that more magicians need to not only "make shit up" but to talk about the shit that they "made up" that worked because the bottom line is that the old magicians were "making shit up too", experimenting and seeing if it worked. If it worked it ended up in a grimoire if not, it was tossed aside.

    It's is nice being a Pagan who, while respecting traditional ways of doing things, doesn't see the works of 17th century magicians as holy writ. It isn't so why pretend that it is. I think that too often Western occultism of the ceremonial/grimoiric variety smacks of bibliolotry where the grimoires are treated as some sort of Divine revelation...which they aren't. They are magickal practices of a culture rooted in a specific time and specific place, nothing more, nothing less.

    I could no more ape the mindset of a 16th century Christian magician than I could the mindset of my 1st century Celtic, Native American, African or Germanic ancestors. Maybe could come a little bit closer because I'm not a Christian but I'd still be a huge fraud. We should be building on the past, not aping it.

  4. Just checking in..your posts are as awesome as ever. Although I don't comment very often..I read everything you write. Great work Frater..always a pleasure stopping by. :) (Now I am off to visit Rose's cyber-place)

  5. Elle, short on time but real quick: If you've been through major trauma, the rite doesn't induce more. That's why I didn't have to go through trauma and I made K&C a couple weeks into Samekh.

  6. I wasn't fully aware of your past, at least relating to these matters, though I knew a bit of how you attained K&CHGA.

    Very enjoyable post, RO. (nod)

  7. The comparison you make between the K&CHGA and shamanic death and rebirth is an interesting one. I've done a bit of research into both--admittedly, more on the latter--and have come up with about an equal ratio of signal to noise. The one thing that is most clear in both cases is that the people who /have/ hit that level are reluctant to speak to the details.

    I'm definitely with Mr. DeGraffenreid in terms of "everybody's making shit up". I think we all need to be a lot more honest about the work we actually do, and just how bizarre the experience of the results can actually be.

    Of course, even as I say that, I can think of two or three subjects I've danced around because "that's just too strange to talk about". Radical honesty is a process, though, just like everything else.

  8. As someone who hasn't yet had the K&C of the HGA 'experience', I'm not sure what or if I should really talk about the process. I have been working with a mala to say daily mantras in search of the HGA.

    Maybe this is a silly question, maybe not. Should I be using my prayer beads to do this mantra work while driving? I mean, is the HGA's arrival/appearance likely to be so startling that I'm putting myself and other drivers and passengers at risk?

    Should modern HGA quests come with the label, "Warning: Do not operate heavy machinery or drive while under the influence of the quest for the HGA"?

  9. @Andrew,

    I think all ecstatic states should be avoided while driving.

    The HGA experience is directly fueled by your level of intent. How badly you want HGA is a huge factor. How intently you do your rite, how enflamed you are in prayer has a significant impact on your results.

    I subscribe to Hagbard Celine's philosophy when it comes to this:

    Never whistle while you're pissing.

    If you're focusing on two things at once, you're going to do both badly, or at least less well than you would if you were focusing on it 100%. Be where you're at, and do what you're doing, and do it fully.


Thanks for your comments, your opinions are valued, even if I disagree with them. Please feel free to criticize my ideas and arguments, question my observations, and push back if you disagree.