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The Gates of the Necronomicon
By Anne Rivers Simon
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2006 Anne Rivers Simon
All right reserved.
Readers already familiar with medieval ceremonial magick (and with the esoteric disciplines in general) will remember that there is a distinction made between the microcosm and the macrocosm. The microcosm is usually thought of as "our world," meaning our immediate frame of reference, our immediate perception of reality. The macrocosm is the world "out there": usually beyond our immediate understanding or perception. As magicians, we seek to enter the realm of the macrocosm consciously, in order to effect change on the microcosm. The macrocosm is the sphere where the planets move in endless rotations, presumably affecting our daily lives with their passage through the zodiac. The common person is at the mercy of the planetary tides; the astrologer attempts to time his or her actions in accordance with them. The magician attempts to neutralize the effects of certain tides and enhance the effects of others, thereby rewriting the natal and transit charts in accordance with will. The common person and the astrologer are passive observers of the macrocosm; the magician is an active participant in the machineries of joy. While such a role may be extremely attractive to those of us who must struggle by day to cope with the distant motions of the stars--"the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune"--there is a price tobe paid before such a desire can pay off. There is a great deal that we do not know about the workings of the macrocosm: much that takes place is invisible to ordinary eyes. Although the same rules govern both micro and macrocosms, we know so little about either one that tampering with the machinery is dangerous--not only to ourselves but to those around us.
In India this danger is described as "practicing yoga without a guru": particularly kundalini and tantric yogas, which work on the autonomic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system (ANS) works independently of conscious thought. It regulates heartbeat, breath rate, peristaltic motion, and a host of other vital, daily functions of the body. To tamper with the workings of the ANS is obviously dangerous. We can't always see what we're dealing with. We can't always predict what will happen when we experiment.
The same is true in ceremonial magick. Whereas with yoga one enters the macrocosm through a variety of physical and mental techniques, in ceremonial magick we enter the macrocosm through ritual. The concepts are much the same; the outward form is all that really distinguishes yoga from magick. Indeed, magick has been called the "yoga of the West" by Francis King and other writers, and it certainly seems to appeal more to the Western mind-set. It is intellectual, and therefore Apollonian, but it employs various heightened states of conscious awareness--some close to ecstasy--and is therefore also Dionysian.
How to pass from one state to another? From conscious, everyday reality to the superconscious reality of magick? One needs a Gate, and the ability to pass through it.
The magick circle of the medieval European magicians was a place between the microcosm and the macrocosm. It was a stylized representation of a perfect World, complete with the sacred names, signs, and numbers that represented Perfect Unity--the goal of what C.G. Jung called the process of individuation. The magick circle is a mandala, similar to those of the East and probably adopted from the mandalas and yantras of India, and from the original glyph of a temple space, the BAR of ancient Sumeria.
Yet, inasmuch as the circle represents the individual magician's concept of what Perfect Unity (i.e., Godhead) is, the circle is his or her Gate into the macrocosm. It is not merely a symbol of unconscious cohesion, discovered in dreams or through depth analysis, as it is in Jungian psychology. Rather, it is a dynamic symbol, one that is consciously used to effect a result: the goal of individuation, but on a grander scale. As magicians, we understand what Jung refers to as individuation to be but a preliminary phase of the Great Work; the next phase is the identification of that individuated (microcosmic) Self with the Macrocosmic Self: what people in other times, other places, have called God.
Then why the danger? Why the many warnings, the guarded secrets, the organization of cults in which initiates are led through various tests in order to "prove their worthiness" before the secrets are revealed to them?
What's the big deal?
If we are speaking about a goal as seemingly tranquil as Unity with God--something that appears to be the goal of every priest, monk, nun, and ascetic we have ever met or heard about--what could be dangerous? Why not throw open the Gate to everyone, reveal the secret for all to see?
Because madness, delusion, and death await those foolish enough who rush in where angels fear to tread.
Remember what was said above about unguided ANS experiments. The danger lies not in the practices themselves, but in each individual person who approaches these practices unprepared. We do not know the extent to which our lives, our ancestors, our environment have damaged the delicate circuitry that makes up our individual organisms. We are not consciously aware of the inner workings of our glands, our nervous systems, or the gentle balance--or imbalance--that may exist between the play of our organs. We can stare forever at a map of the autonomic nervous system, for instance, but still not be able to know what is going on in our own bodies. We don't know what cells have been damaged, what nerves are impaired, the degree to which we can relinquish control of unconscious functions to the conscious mind. We can look upon our physical bodies as Gates to the other side . . . but we don't know if the hinges squeak until we try the door, and by then it might be too late.
In terms of our unconscious minds, we don't know what fears, complexes, fixations, even neuroses and psychoses, lurk there below . . .
Excerpted from The Gates of the Necronomicon by Anne Rivers Simon Copyright © 2006 by Anne Rivers Simon. Excerpted by permission.
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