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For a time now, we’ve been walking around with a stone in our shoe - an unavoidable feeling throughout the day. And that feeling is: it’s the end of the world. The end of the world shows up again and again in history, and we’re in one of those end times, it’s risen into public consciousness. That’s why I write it’s the stone in the shoe, we’re aware of it even when we’re not aware of it. How does this new presence change the way we walk, the feeling we have about the day and have about each other? How do we walk with the minor and major imbalances it creates? If something permeates the general consciousness, it has a different effect on us; it becomes a companion. So what does it mean to not just intellectually or creatively entertain ourselves with the apocalypse, but to actually experience it in our daily lives?
And there is, to paraphrase Marx using his own supernatural language, a spectre haunting the end of the world, and that spectre is witchcraft. It’s magic, the occult. Whether it’s the symbols of the political elite, the black magic conspiracy theories of Q Anon, the presence of new thought and new age in the US democratic primary, the resurgence in the interest in tarot and astrology, the aesthetics of witchcraft on Instagram, we see again and again the presence of a new and old version of looking at the world, paired with the constant presence of its end. The end of the world and witchcraft are siblings this time.
Maybe it’s not surprising, since the end of the world is always brought by prophecy and oracles, always seen by the knowing in its portents. And the end is always changing the way we relate to time; when we think there’s an end of the road, so many of us move away from linearity and start to think in layers of time. In synchronicities and correspondences. In creative ruptures outside of the normal flow of things.
We think in witchcraft.
So, I needed to discuss all of this, and give it flesh. I invited two people I know working with witchcraft and art in the apocalypse - Alkistis Dimech and Peter Grey. They’re also authors, performers, and the founders of the occult/witchcraft publishers Scarlet Imprint.
One of the most interesting aspects of this conversation is that Alkistis and Peter and I come from differing traditions - they’re working with Babalon - the being that appears in Revelations, in thelema, in enochian magic and more.
Whereas I am working with The Christ and the Archangel Michael via anthroposophy.
So there’s a tension between our traditions - almost a sort of antagonism. What’s important to remember here is that through me and through Peter & Alkistis, a conversation takes place between these end of the world and beginning of the world beings - through Christ and Babalon.
Conversations - real ones - become sites for the interaction of spirit as well.
It is through that that tension found only in friendship that we ask a lot of big questions for our big time.
ON THE EPISODE
- The rise of apocalypse in consciousness
- The way the spiritual world selects or discards people to give itself life
- What to do when we notice what we've lost and what we depend on
- Why to look for spirits in experience, not books
- The way location interacts with spirituality
- The nature of spirits, the spirits of nature
- How spirits get crowded out by other spirits that live with electronic devices
- How do we differentiate between spirits (and which ones to not mess with)
- The problematic view of Babalon and Christ versus the ones that creates a real view of humanity
- Encountering a Christian sex riddle in Vietnam
- The importance of sex in spirituality
• For more Alkistis & Peter: here's Peter's talk, "Becoming No-Man" and here's Alkistis's talk, "Where the Daimon Dwells," both from the Trans-States conference in 2017. Here's Alkistis's performance, "The decollation of flowers" and another, "Visitation." Both of them have been on the Rune Soup podcast multiple times, and here's the latest (and I think greatest, so far).
• Scarlet Imprint has published the work of other AEWCH guests, including Phil Legard and Gordon White.
• I talked quite a bit about apocalypse with Mark O'Connell on AEWCH 105.
• Here's a short article on the style of dance that has influenced Alkistis, butoh. Pictured below is a performance of one of butoh's most profound elaborators, Tatsumi Hijikata.
• As Peter and Alkistis and I try to define what spirits are, I am reminded by Alkistis's comment about spirits being "semi-material" of Valentin Tomberg's passage in Meditations On The Tarot about ghosts: "Ghosts exist. This is not a question of belief; it is a matter of fact. There is an immense literature, without speaking of facts that one can find in the sphere of personal experience, which bears witness to the existence of ghosts. Now it is no longer a matter of believing or denying; now it is a matter only of understanding and explaining. Ghosts exist therefore. Thus it happens from time to time after someone’s death that this person or “something” of him or similar to him manifests in an outward and physical way (noises, movements, etc.) in the guise of an active energy. It is as if a certain quantity of energy, freed through death, but remaining condensed and not dispersed, manifests as an entity or as an individual “body”. … (p. 358)
What, then, is a ghost?
A ghost is always constituted as a consequence of crystallisation, i.e., crystallisation of a desire, a passion, or a purpose of great intensity, which produces a complex of energy in the human being."
• To understand what spirits are, you can find a good and easy picture (not definition) of them in Lon Milo Duquette's My Life with the Spirits: The Adventures of a Modern Magician.
• I talked about Wilhelm Reich on an "Against Saturdays" episode. And my saying about sex and individuality is "If you ever want to know how someone feels about freedom, start talking about sex."
Until next time,