I naturally leapt at the opportunity to work with the publishers again. Once more, I would submit my prose in English, and they would translate it to their native Spanish.
However, during the latter half of 2016, I was enduring slow, painful rehabilitation from reconstructive hand surgery after an unfortunate tumble on the Mountain. (A terrible tale in itself.) As much as I approximated a stoic will to simply get on with things, my pain-and-painkiller addled perspective found a wicked way into the words.
Chronicling my own observations along the psychonaut path; this story touches upon the history of Magick, the Sephiroth, the Akashic Records, the eight-circuit model of consciousness, numerology, and more. Finally projecting into the imagined possibilities of technomancy.
Fun Fact: This story was originally conceived as something a little more light-hearted, with a working title of “Carry On Up the Kether.” A few vestiges of irreverence remain.
It was supposed to be the New Aeon. A renaissance of self-realisation and the expansion of consciousness. Of individual growth and actualisation in a glorious age of esoteric freedom. But something got fucked up along the way.
Back in the old days, the really old days, certain learned folk sought to consider their position in the cosmos. Believing there must be some deeper purpose to life other than not dying early from untreated infection, the first mages and mystics began the great journey to Gnosis. Towards ultimate knowledge. Enlightenment.
Some derived structure and syntax for the accumulated wisdom of their journey. Knowing this great work to be the heresy of their time, they locked it away in musty tomes. Others isolated themselves atop great mountains to meditate and seek introspective fulfilment.
Eager acolytes, seeking their own enlightenment, would pore over encoded abstractions of the master’s journey wherever they were found. But it all came down to the same thing. Whether studying the evils of the Goetia in dank subterranean tombs, or seeking the path to salvation in the treacherous heights of remote lands; the end result was fear, stress and duress. Primal responses to an uncertain world and a step beyond the known. Cosmic keys to unlock the reprogramming of the mind. Empowered through altered emotional states and fight or flight biochemistry.
Fast forward through centuries of sorcerous dabbling to the pre-millennial age, and we were finally getting some real progress. Post-industrial scientific method inspired independent thought. Affordable travel opened up new horizons. Medical understanding unlocked the secrets of brain anatomy and psychology. Access to reliable contraception inspired the liberation of lust. Professors and philosophers advocated mind-altering substances.
The child of tomorrow took the first steps into greater understanding. Away from the safety of the old and into a perfect storm of mass spiritual awakening. Free from the constraints of Abrahamic dogma.
The promise of the brave new world reached its zenith at the dawn of the Internet. The beast with a thousand nodes, storing knowledge long divorced from the grimoires of old. Searchable, cross-referenced and available to anyone who could double-click. The path to enlightenment blasted onto phosphor by uncountable cathode rays.
The patterns were manifesting. Scrolls and scriptures of the past shone new light on the psychology of the day. The map may never be the territory, but if you lay enough metaphors together the truth will eventually become apparent.
That’s where I come into the continuum. Through the predictable route of horror movies and heavy metal I found myself drawn to the occult. Entranced by spooky aesthetics and ritual orgies, who wouldn’t be tempted to seek their local coven? But what I found was far more exciting than the distorted VHS nightmares of my youth.
I met others who were interested in the arts and joined their ceremonies. Mostly ineffectual robeflappers and oh-so-serious rivetheads, they were more interested in tiresome politics and boasting about the books they’d read. Squabbling over dead words instead of discovering their own magick. I tolerated their pretension, and I learned.
It was all mostly bullshit, of course. Colourful fancies of demons, imagined gods and monsters from a myriad of tribes. But regardless of origin a single constant remained: The human condition. The subconscious language of the mind, formed at times of innocent misunderstanding, in turn defining the form and structure of the universe.
Or rather a personal perception of the universe. A cascade of metaphor and simile that could be deconstructed, reformed and rebuilt at will.
It was a thrilling time of infinite potential. The collective consciousness shifting to a transhuman zeitgeist. Throbbing and writhing under the strain of new ideas. In a rush of new perspectives and new possibilities, the rollover of the arbitrary Gregorian calendar inspired everyone.
At first it manifested in naïve conspiracy theories and self-help subscriptions, then in more coherent thought and application of esoteric principles. The safe consensus of the old world shattered in the anarchy of the awakened mind. The excitement was palpable. Reality could be hacked!
Then the new millennium rose and the towers fell. An out-of-context event so profound it shook reality to its core. The spectre of absolute fear manifested at Ground Zero, gaining tangible form in a hypersigil of hate. The child returned to the father, bloodied and broken, and the dominion of the old reasserted itself in the warfare of hearts and minds.
Once beliefs were many and ideas could be questioned; but zealots and demagogues of every denomination twisted the uncertainty of the time into terror and political correctness. Clustered under cross, crescent and corporate branding, the fearful were easy to manipulate. And ultimately, any hope of global enlightenment was crushed.
Those who shared esoteric interests faded away. Their stars extinguished by an inevitable churn of apathy and adult responsibility. Gone were the psychonauts. Gone were the technomages. Gone were the chromium heroes. In their place came the slow process of self-censorship in a demon-haunted world. Fear of uncertainty became fear of offense. Challenging thought was no longer embraced, but consumed by identity politics and social purges worthy of ancient inquisition. The font of knowledge dried, clogged by execution videos and cat memes, and a new dark age of ignorance came to pass.
I still clung to the magick and a sincere belief that the path to enlightenment was achievable, but I became ever more degenerate in its application. Meditation fogged by a thousand petty distractions. Sacred states pared down to base acts. Scrawling sigils onto tissue paper for efficiency. Craving a simpler way.
I dropped out, most certainly. But after decades of disappointment, I could no longer be bothered to turn on and tune in.
I switched myself off.
It wasn’t so bad. Globalisation had its uses. Having some technical prowess and a reasonably up-to-date laptop, I made ends meet by trading computer work on the international market, locally supplementing this income by fixing electronics. On average I made enough scratch for rent, food, pussy, and my favourite pastime – illicit psychoactives.
From the ashes of failed states and bankrupt research grants, the appliance of science found means to fuel the descent of man. Inventing new and innovative means to get momentarily mindfucked. Breaking the sheer monotony of the mundane world. Reality is what you make of it, and I chose to make it suitably stimulating.
Despite the best interests of the nanny state, my activities lurked in a delicious legal grey area. New chemical compounds hit the market before laws could be drafted to ban them. By riding the wave of legislation I could indulge my entheogenic interests without attracting undue attention from the authorities – as long as I did so with subtlety. I always made sure to purchase my wares through an online network of anonymizing routers, which offered access to deeper, darker markets.
The Darknet was awash with designer drugs, organised by street name and priced in a variety of cryptocurrencies. Anonymous reviews compared the different compounds, offering recommendations and detailing side effects. I found myself shivering with empathic anticipation as I perused their feedback. I knew funds were tight after a slow month, but I deserved a treat, and the application of will finds other ways.
Animal testing was rightly frowned upon by my chosen suppliers, so there was always an opportunity available for a willing test subject to have some fun and earn some cash. I’d been a guinea pig before, and I hadn’t been lobotomized yet. So I clicked the relevant buttons, electronically signed the safety waivers, and took a look at the untested compounds.
I scrolled down the list and picked one at random: Compound D3C-583, an experimental hallucinogen. There wasn’t much else in the description other than some Cyrillic text indicating its source – a Russian research lab with which I had previous trustworthy dealings. A perfect synchronicity.
I threw my spare rent money into virtual escrow, to be paid to the lab in case I chickened out or died or anything. A standard requirement for this kind of transaction, and I knew with sufficiently detailed feedback I’d make it back tenfold within the month. All paperwork done, I confirmed my side of the contract with a final, deliberate click.
A few weeks later I received my package, carted by land along the old silk road and thrown into a shipping crate out of Hong Kong. Although global trade had become a lot smoother in recent years, the package had still been inspected vigorously as it crossed borders. It bore the taped-over scars of several plundering attempts, but all they found inside was yet another wooden matryoshka doll, sent to an avid collector. Just like all the others I’d received over the years. The lab had a consistent sense of humour, but it proved more than adequate protection against greedy customs officers and the occasional legal inconvenience.
I took the doll out of the package, discarding the ever-decreasing painted shells onto the pile of previous orders. Finally, the smallest doll was in my hand, to the casual observer made entirely of solid wood. I prised it open with a nutcracker and an innocuous eyedropper ampule fell into my palm.
This wasn’t a rebranded street high for amateurs, cut with chalk and stamped with a whimsical emoji to make an easy sell. This was the cutting edge. The real deal. A direct dosage vector straight into the skull.
I waited until evening, having fasted for the entire day to ensure the best results. My apartment was dark, save for candles on the floor at the appropriate cardinal points. The rich scent of Palo Santo incense hung heavy in the air – I was treating myself after all. I sat in loose clothes at the centre of the candles, legs folded in the traditional Sukhasana pose. After making sure there was plenty of water to hand, I broke the seal on the eyedropper.
Tilting my head back, I squeezed a few drops into each eye. The viscous, milky fluid dribbled into my tear ducts. Numbness washed through my sinuses as the drug trickled to the back of my throat, breaching the mucous membranes. I blinked a few times as my eyes watered and the sniffles started, and then the trip began.
The tingling started at the side of my skull as I became substantially aware of my breathing. Calm, measured, assured. Reality dissolved into a sequence of interlaced diamonds on the periphery of vision. The diamonds hung in the air as tangible crystals, swaying and moving with each breath, and I was enraptured by their splendour.
Then the doorbell rang, followed shortly by a banging on the apartment door. The diamonds fell and soundlessly shattered. My heart pounding with primal terror, I stood up suddenly, knocking the candles over. I shouted at the interloper to wait as I attempted to ready myself, stamping on the flames to put them out. I brushed myself down several times in an attempt to anchor myself back to the mundane, checking my shifting self in the mirror before peering through the door’s peephole.
Through what seemed to be a constantly expanding fisheye lens loomed the familiar yet very much unwelcome face of my landlord. He wasn’t supposed to come around now. He never was. I pay my rent on time. Mostly. Except. Oh Shit.
He wasn’t going away anytime soon. I bit my lip in the hope the pain would bring focus, and opened the door.
I cannot remember anything he said, as all I heard was the trombone warbling of old cartoons. It was raining outside, and I saw each individual drop run off his scalp and down his pockmarked face. It looked like his face was melting, and I supressed the urge to grin.
Except all I could think of was grinning. Features contorted as my jaw jutted forward with lips pulled back. I began to grind my teeth. The taste of blood was strong in my mouth and I was sure it was pouring out uncontrollably.
I presume he asked if I was okay, except by now he was moving in slow motion as I sniffled and snorted through my nose in response. I became fixated on the slow, meticulous blinking of his eyes. The sound as his eyelids met was deafening. His eyes then snapped open to deepest black. Eyelashes became dark razor teeth and I could feel them biting into me. I yelped and pushed my way past, nearly falling down the stairs leading out of the block.
I was barely in control of my body as I lurched out onto the street. My senses overcome by a kaleidoscope of neon, refracted through a thousand drops of suspended rain. A fog of sickly greens and purples swirled around me, intercut with the harsh red and white lines of passing traffic. An ever-increasing cacophony of city noise hammered against my eardrums, and I instinctively threw my hands up to block it, screaming in response. I barrelled across the pavement, bumping into people, ever more aware of a persistent throbbing inside my skull. An ache that spread across my senses. Beyond any human capacity to perceive.
I must have stumbled into the road as bright white light filled my vision. The accumulation of sensory overload struck me and I felt myself tumbling in the air. Around and around, without end, it felt as helpless as in vitro suspension. The fragility of anatomy, constructed of fractals and infinite golden ratios turning in asymptotic spiral. Around and around.
I felt flesh peel away from me as I spun, then muscle and then connective tissue. Deconstructed yet still complete. A spiral of parts, the sum greater than the whole. Veins and arteries branched out from the husk of what once was, suspending the remaining meat and bone like a marionette. And with a final wrenching tear, I was undone.
I had no eyes, no limbs, no breath, but I perceived. I existed as a consciousness floating in neon black. The components of my body branched away down infinite corridors of iridescent blue, and I was bound to their perspective. I found I could move, and as I did so the deconstructed me pulsed in response. Distant spheres of primary colours beckoned soundlessly, shimmering and perfect.
As I moved toward these spheres, the floor of veins and muscle shifted underneath. Lifting me up, guiding me. I focused on the infinite branching of my veins, then the capillaries, then each individual cell. Beyond mitochondria into the strands of my DNA. Their familiar double helix shot upwards, spiralling toward the spheres. I found I could climb them, remembering my teachings from the time before the fall. The map is not the territory.
This was a representation of… something. Something obvious yet elusively transient. Irregular, imperfect polyhedra rushed toward me before dissolving through my being. As they passed I became overwhelmed with strong memories, both my own and, more abstractly, from others. A word formed at the brow of reason. ‘Akasha’. Aether.
The pieces fell into place. I was ensorcelled by the divine knowledge of the universe. The sum total of every thought and every emotion of every being, brought into physical form through the deconstruction of flesh. A myth, a metaphor made manifest and perfectly real to me. The grand library of the soul. The Akashic Records.
I soon realised my limited earthly perspective was unnecessary. I no longer walked along these glowing corridors. Instead I glided, spiralling ever higher around hemitropic chambers. Absorbing knowledge and wisdom unimagined, my understanding grew beyond any capacity to translate into words. The very dimensions themselves yielded to my will.
Freed from the burden of time itself, I could exist at once in every point of the aether. Merely projecting my consciousness to dance and spin around the spheres as subatomic particles would orbit their nucleus. Rushes of giddy sensation and raw emotion washed through me, and I indulged in their splendour.
Yet one sphere remained elusive, above all other. A brightness indescribable, punctuating the black. I soared, ever-rising, and found I could almost reach out and touch it. A host of faceless, cowled angels flanked the sphere, and as I approached they turned their blank gaze upon me. The sphere shone ever brighter. Again my vision filled with purest white, except for one imperceptible black point at the centre of it all. I tried to focus on the point even as the light proved overwhelming. Then the universe blinked, and I fell so far.
Rain splashed on my face as someone shone a torch into my eyes. A crowd of people in their hoodies looked down on me, chattering with concern. Reality coalesced out of abstraction, and I realised my body was intact and back where it should be. Winded, but still locked to this mundane plane. I could move my limbs reasonably well and adrenaline brought me to my feet. I felt shame at being found this way and I ran. Away from the vision and away from my disgrace.
I fell through the door of my apartment, now fortunately empty, and blacked out.
Hours, maybe days, passed unconscious before the dull ache inside my head manifested again in sharp vivisection. I gasped and screamed and woke with a painful start. I found myself face down on the floor, naked now, and the floor very much different. I pulled my face off the sticky carpet, realising my blood had coagulated into the weave, and noticed the patterns.
I was laid on a sequence of circles and lines, each painted in blood and adorned with Hebrew glyphs. I raised myself up with both hands, and as my perspective changed I realised the pattern represented the spheres of the Sephiroth – the kabbalic Tree of Life. A map of esoteric growth and development, which I realised were same spheres I had seen in the aether.
My hands rested on Chesed and Geburah as I pushed up. I smirked to myself – where else would they be? As above, so below. I brought myself to my knees and slowly, deliberately, stood up to survey the scene.
The room was trashed. My hands and chest were cut with shards of broken glass from the mirror. As I looked across the ruin of my apartment, I was amazed at how much blood my body contained.
Spreading out from the Sephiroth were other lines, circles and symbols, again painted in my blood. They stretched across the carpet and up the walls of the room. Immaculately detailed, perfectly aligned. I pondered their meaning, trying to drag the memories of esoteric symbolism from my addled mind. Then it struck me.
Journeys beyond the realm of reason cannot be codified. They have to be experienced viscerally, to be lived. As I attempt to explain my own misadventures with mere, clumsy words; so too must messages from the infinite realms of the aether be translated through mundane knowledge and practical skills.
These symbols. These arcane bloody scratchings. They weren’t the vestigial memory of some ancient scribe driven mad by smoke and sulphur. They were modern and unique to this moment.
They were the schematics for an electronic circuit.
I realised that I needed to prepare. This circuit needed to be built, whatever it was, but I also needed privacy. I opened my laptop with the best intent to give my feedback to the lab, then paused in reflection. How exactly does one explain the epiphany experienced under the influence? The sheer psychotropic beauty. The message which I had carried back with me in my very lifeblood. How this simple combination of chemicals could enlighten and awaken the user’s psyche? I stared at the feedback form for a short while, and ticked mostly ‘5’s before submitting.
The tester’s fee and returned rent money bleeped into my account within minutes. A tidy sum, the majority of which I wired to my landlord as way of apology and payment for the next few months. The only way he would intrude now would be over my dead body, and that was never going to happen. This just left me alone in the apartment with the message from the aether and the tools to bring it to form.
Cut to the montage. It took weeks of painstaking effort to obtain components to translate my unconscious daubing into something that could operate in the real world. I left the schematics where they were painted, as any attempt to retranscribe would miss the point. Solder fumes were my incense. My fingers sacrificed daily to burns and cuts. I tested and retested the circuits; realising there were eight
separate components. Each component terminated with an induction coil. I wrapped all eight around the sides of a hollow ferrous octagon. The schematics for separate tone generators were also present, tuned to low frequencies.
The purpose of these eight circuits, I deduced, were to stimulate the deepest regions of the brain through resonating infrasound. This would be my path to enlightenment. A shortcut, compelling the same physiological change in minutes that a lifetime of soul-searching meditation couldn’t hope to achieve. How thoroughly modern!
The components formed a single device which I fashioned into a crown. The octagon would sit squarely on my forehead as the tone generators rested over my ears. The device was controlled with a toggle switch and an eight-point dial, activating the coils in sequence. I sat on the floor once more as the controller rested in my hand, ready to accept this gift from beyond the veil.
I flipped the switch and the first coil throbbed into life. The tone generators hummed a subsonic binaural medley, and I began to feel lightheaded. I focused on my breathing, calm and measured, and let the device do its work.
I turned the dial to the second point and the throbbing intensified. The humming from the tone
generators increased and I felt my mind begin to soar. I turned to the third point, then the fourth, eager to progress beyond.
But as I switched to the fifth, a profound agonising ache pierced my mind. The pain I felt coming down from D3C-583 distilled into the purest form. A cold sweat washed over me and I felt dizzy and nauseous. The torment was unbearable. I ripped the crown from my head and hunched over, dry heaving.
The ache would not subside. It grew and festered as if it were trying to explode out of my skull. I craved the drug once more. If circumstances were different, if I wasn’t disturbed, it would take me back. I would learn. I would reach the sphere. I would achieve the Gnosis denied me.
I tried to contact the lab through the Darknet, but new legislation had finally caught up with their work. The site had been shut down and all research materials impounded. I sobbed, desperately clawing at my eyes to relieve the pain. It continued for days. Restless. Agonising. A wild-eyed man rolling across the bloodied carpet in desperation, hammering my skull against the floor just to release the pressure and provide some respite.
I paused, realising where I was laid. My head was above the very crown of the Sephiroth. Kether, the manifestation of enlightenment in kabbalic cartography, drawn as a hollow circle. I watched as a single drop of blood fell from my nose, landing perfectly in its centre.
I laughed loud and cackled in revelation, understanding where the ache was coming from. A part of anatomy buried deep within the brain, at the very base of the cortex spiral. The third eye, calcified and moribund from underuse.
My pineal gland required more direct consultation.
Although I could no longer contact my supplier, the Darknet proved useful for other tools and medical supplies. Fortunately, they arrived quickly. Every piece was now in place and I could begin. I sat once more in Sukhasana pose, a new full length mirror in front of me. Meditation ensured calm placidity, but the anaesthetic would ensure there were no involuntary movements. I was reckless, compelled to drastic measures by the pain, but I wasn’t stupid.
I rubbed my forehead with an antiseptic wipe, ensuring the area was clean. Peering into the mirror, I held a scalpel carefully, cutting diagonally into the skin above my eye line. The tip of the blade was immaculately sharp and sucked into the flesh. Blood trickled down my face and into my eyes, but I persisted. The first cut a sacred declaration of intent. The second, at a ninety-degree angle, a confirmation of will.
I peeled the four triangles of skin back from the bone, feeling resistance from connective tissue. The front of my skull was exposed now, roughly the size of the octagon. A moment of grotesque transformation with no turning back. I sliced the flaps away, splashing water onto the remainder to staunch the flow of blood.
I reached for the drill, judging its location from my reflection. I stared directly at myself, blood-soaked eyes boring into the photonic facsimile under the glass. I switched the drill on, held it up to the exposed centre of my forehead, and pushed. The drill bit into bone. I felt the grinding reverberate through my teeth. I was delicate in my actions, not pressing hard so the tool could do the work. Time seemed infinitely slow as I worked, the grinding ever louder. Then I was through.
The pressure in my skull changed instantly, and what felt like a pop of compressed air caused me to drop the drill. The hole was the size of my little finger and through it I could feel internal swelling subside, releasing the pain that had tormented me.
Perception sharpened as my brain sensed the new, blissful paradigm. My sight opened up. The diamonds returned to the periphery of vision, dancing and shimmering in their elusive pirouette. My hands floated toward the crown, smoothly placing it on my head. The induction coils framed the hole, but there was one more requirement before I could switch the device on. A new addition wired into the circuitry. A thin metal needle, several inches in length.
I took the needle carefully in my hand and suddenly found my fingers shaking. The exposure of my brain had caused a loss of fine muscle control. I willed myself to be steady, holding my breath, and brought it up to the hole. Slowly, I pushed it deep into my brain matter. It was excruciating. I felt my eyes roll up into my skull as it passed the optic nerves. Lost in the void of blindness, I persisted. I knew I would
no longer need eyes to see. I counted with my heartbeat, holding my breath as the needle slid even further inside. There was a momentary resistance as the point scraped against the calcified surface of my pineal gland. One final, delicate push pierced the crust and then the needle was there.
I gasped for air, fumbled with the controller, and turned the device back on.
I am detached from time. I have discarded the burden of flesh and exist in the purest of crystalline moments. A static essence, rigid and unblinking, as I perceive the undulation of the universe around me.
I perceive the shell of what was once my body; cross legged and bleeding as the device throbs and crackles. The body convulses and spasms at the whim of technology. The needle suspended in the centre of the octagon delivers a fatal charge. The eight circuits are fully active now. Their resonance has opened this new perspective on time and space.
I perceive the trail of my life; a blur leading up to this moment from conception. I follow effortlessly, watching the repeated patterns of mundane existence carve their place in the cosmos. I perceive every decision, every vestige of supposed free will, and I perceive the branches of my life cascade through the multiverse. Different outcomes. Different opportunities. But I rush down to this instance, the only instance. Following the trail of this life over and over again, discarding the burdens of deception and what might have been.
I perceive the journey to this point with the tense of the past, and through perception comes definition. Words project a beacon in the void of time, cast into the aether as consciousness accelerates further and further away from the observer. I was, I am, and in this binary instant I will and will not be.
I perceive the singularity. The essence of Ain Soph Aur. Existing all at once and not at all. An evolution of form beyond flesh. I understand that Gnosis has a price. It was arrogance that led to this shortcut, and selfishness that compelled me to seek the soothing pulse of the machine. I accept my life is forfeit. Although I am responsible for the perception of my own universe, it will still move on without me.
I perceive other trails. Lives that cross and interplay with each other then diverge to cross with more. I perceive the reverberation that echoes through reality when these trails bond. Refractions of memory ripple in the wake of these connections. An immortality forged in thought. Through these memories I perceive the moments beyond my own brief intersection with existence.
In eleven days the landlord will receive a complaint about the smell from the tenant’s association. In thirteen days he will eventually return to the apartment. He will knock on the door three times and then force it open. He will see the decaying husk of what was, in turn spawning new life as carrion creatures feast and gestate in the remains. He will vomit uncontrollably, staining his freshly cleaned shirt. He will contact the authorities, who will arrive sixty-four minutes later to find him crying. He will deny any wrongdoing. He will be unable to let the apartment, haunted by his experience. Five years later he will commit suicide.
I have no regret. No shame. No sympathy. It simply is.
I perceive the great glowing sphere; Kether. Magnificent in its splendour, forged in the interplay of being and non-being. The zero. The one. I perceive the black point within the sphere, the truth within the splendour. The veils of negative existence fall. I perceive the needle buried deep inside my brain, and in a crackle of electricity the ‘I’ that was is dissolved.
Stimulation of synapse. The stench of burning brain matter. The needle point. The great asymptotic infinity. Subatomic nothingness. A single electron. A difference in electrostatic potential. And then light.
Fun Fact the Second: In the years after writing this story, I sustained two deep cuts across my forehead from separate headbanging injuries. Life imitates Art, and all that.