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People keep asking me to talk about the occult, so it’s time to define my terms a bit. So for this episode of AEWCH, I wanted to lay out what “the occult” means to me, as well as why it matters. After all, it’s at the foundation of my philosophies, politics, and perspectives, and it’s going to keep coming up.
For me, the occult is a way of being, but why and how? Listen to the episode!
I also offer up a small occult practice you can try out on your own, and talk about the occult development you’ve already undergone, perhaps without knowing it.
As you can imagine with something as elusive as the occult, I only SORT of give a definition. But, good news, I’ll also be offering an introduction to the occult in an upcoming one-off online course, so if this is interesting to you, keep an eye out!
• Have you read Annie Dillard’s essay “Seeing”? It’s found in her book of nature essays, Pilgrim At Tinker Creek, and it describes the ways the investigating sight can surprise all of us.
• Ludwig Wittgenstein’s quote has been translated in different ways, but I appreciate this one: “An entire mythology is stored within our language.” It’s explored brilliantly by anthropologist (and AEWCH dream guest) Michael Taussig in his book, The Corn Wolf.
• Lon Milo DuQuette is an occultist and magician whose book Low Magick: It's All In Your Head...You Just Have No Idea How Big Your Head Is, is mentioned in the episode. But his best book, I believe, is his memoir, My Life With The Spirits: The Adventures Of A Modern Magician.
• OBJECT MEDITATION
1. Consider a simple object - a pencil, a tack, a paperclip, or a shoe. Don’t get too complex at first (for instance, don’t engage with something you don’t understand the inner workings of, like a computer). Hold it in your hands, turn it over, look at it from every angle.
2. Set a timer for five minutes and close your eyes and focus your imagination on the object. Consider it from many angles. You may turn it around, you may “feel” it with your inner hands. You can see it in all different directions. You can think about the process used to make it. The formation of it. The materials it sprang from. You can think about the word that represents it; its name. You can consider the letters in that word. The sound of that word.
But do not stray from the path. The object is your path.
3. When you find your thoughts going toward something else, bring them back to the object in reverse. In other words, recount how you lost the path and trace it back to the object. If for instance, you chose a pen and you find yourself musing on a conversation you had with someone at your office, you may trace the thought backwards by stating inwardly, “Oh right, I was thinking about the conversation because I thought of the guy at the office because I was thinking about a computer in his office which I thought of because I was considering whether or not pens were obsolete.”
4. Repeat each day, once in the morning, once at night using the same object. It is imperative that you do this exercise daily, and it is strongly preferred that you do this exercise around the same time of day. After the first day with the object, it is not necessary to hold and look at the object itself, just to look at it inwardly.
5. Do this exercise for a month.
(I wrote the above - please do not reproduce without my permission. I'll probably say yes, but just ask! Thank you.)
• If you don’t already know Grant Morrison, first of all, I am shocked. But second of all, you owe it to yourself to read at least some of his vast body of work. If you want to get into his theories, check out his book of nonfiction, Supergods: What Masked Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants, and a Sun God from Smallville Can Teach Us About Being Human.
Back to our regularly scheduled guest-based programming next week. Lots of great shows coming up!