The Rite of Morpheus
I took three dessert spoons of valerian root and added them to one and a half litres of filtered, boiling water. Covering the pot, I kept it at a rolling boil for twenty minutes, with the window open and the extractor fan running because valerian badly stinks. Next I added three dessert spoons of passion flower and three of mugwort leaf, boiled the lot for a further five minutes, then switched off the heat and let the mixture cool for a couple of hours. Finally, I decanted the liquid and threw away the solids. The potion was a sacrament for Morpheus, the Greek god of dreams.
We sat in a circle. In the centre, the bottle of potion and a picture of a poppy, an emblem of Morpheus. There were two other pictures: one of a piece of horn, the other of a piece of ivory. I shuffled these face-downwards until I no longer knew which was which and placed one in a corner of the room, and the other in a parallel corner. Seated, we chanted the name of Morpheus freestyle for a few minutes, then I raised the bottle of potion as the signal to begin and everyone fell silent.
Morpheus, god of dreams, son of Hypnos and Erebus, eldest brother of Phobetor and Phantasos, nephew of Hades, I invoke you! I ask you to join us this evening and accept this sacrament of herbs sacred to you: valerian root, passion flower and mugwort leaf. I ask that in return you send us great and wonderful dreams. Amazing visions! Life-changing pictures that will transform our lives for the better. Morpheus, hear me, accept our offering and send us all great dreams this night!
Cups were passed around the circle, the bottle uncorked, and everyone swigged a share of the black, bitter liquid. Then we lay on our backs in silence and closed our eyes. We each visualised the feeling of falling backwards into infinite blackness: that queasy, sinking feeling in the pit of the stomach as balance and bearings are lost; the sensation of flailing limbs.
After some minutes, as the priest of Morpheus, I approached each prone figure in turn and swathed a thick cloth about their eyes. ‘Rise now.’ I helped them to their feet with eyes still covered. ‘Through which gate will you return, right or left?’ I asked. They indicated with a gesture or a word and I led them in the chosen direction, to one of the corners in which lay the face-down picture of either the horn or the ivory. Then I uncovered their eyes with the words, ‘So depart back to wakefulness through the gate you have chosen.’
For the Greeks, dreams were either prophetic in nature or deceptive. Prophetic dreams were literal and clear. Deceptive dreams weren’t necessarily false, but the figurative or indirect means by which they revealed their truth could lead people astray. Prophetic dreams were sent by the gods through a gate made of horn. The deceptive dreams came via a gate of ivory.
When everyone was roused from the visualisation, and had made their blind choice of a gate – including me – then two groups of roughly equal numbers stood in parallel corners of the room. Finally we turned over the pictures in each corner, to discover which group would receive prophetic dreams that night through the gate of horn, and which would dream deceptively via the gate of ivory.
I had chosen horn.
More people attended the ritual than expected, so the doses of potion were only symbolic. I didn’t notice much effect, except, as I fell asleep that night, some striking hypnagogics. It was as if one part of the visual field was detached and insisted on resolving into two living creatures that roved around one another. Throughout that night’s dreams I felt tight and stressful, but this might easily have been my state of mind rather than an effect of the potion. There was not a sniff of lucidity throughout the whole night, yet I passed through many non-lucid dreams, and the receiving of the dreams became itself their theme. It felt constantly as if I were reviewing what had been dreamt so far, scanning it for significance. But what I actually woke with the next morning was a short message from Alex. He had sent me the pointing-out instructions for perfect enlightenment, but they had been posted onto a staff intranet and edited so many times that they were garbled and had lost their poetry. They read: ‘(1) Be aware, all of the time; and (2) There is nothing to understand.’
I also woke with the certain knowledge that koalas will become extinct. The species has passed a tipping-point and there is no turning back. These animals will vanish from the world.
The Powerlessness of Prophecy
The Morpheus rite took place on February 18th. A day or so before I had scryed Aethyr 14, UTI. After the ritual, when I came to write it up, I found the latter part of the vision rather ominious, in which a siren sounds and I find myself wondering whether it indicates an impending nuclear apocalypse or flood. On February 21st I mailed a copy of the vision to Alan, to see what he made of it. He skyped me immediately and told of how his dream following the Morpheus rite involved nuclear incidents, disasters and floods.
The next day (22nd) I received a message from one of the participants in the rite, Frater D, complaining of the potion’s effects on his dreams:
Thermonuclear and flooding. Airbursts over the oceans to deliberately cause tsunami. Massive environmental consequence. I saw the whole thing from a mountain hideout… Intense, reality unfolding in real time as directed by my will; me making a terrible mess of things, and trying to rectify the previous unfoldings, whilst simultaneously the weather was responding in real-time to my moods. A head fuck of the highest order.
On the 23rd I received a weird pingback on this blog from someone insisting that a nuclear war would start in 2011, and who seemed to think my article on Entrances to Hell was proof. A synchronistic can of worms seemed to be opening. All these connections to floods and nuclear explosions were becoming hard to ignore. I emailed all the participants in the Morpheus rite and, without giving them details, encouraged them to share whatever dreams they had. The results were disappointingly random. It made me realise how a synchronicity is something that happens; you don’t force it. If you try to force it, you may end up destroying it.
Unbeknownst to me, Alan had decided on a more magically sensible channel of investigation. He asked Ona and Alex if they would do some astral work to determine what this cluster of linked dreams might indicate.
On February 23rd and 24th, Ona’s visions included the following:
[A] goddess manifests, enormous, pale, dark-haired her white skirts cover the world, billowing like waves, a soft sweet breeze in their movement, cleansing, destroying, not cruel, rather impartial… [Blue beings] are worshipping her, calling her, enacting her cleansing, which is purifying and draining, destructive and renewing at the same time. the destruction and cruelty is without ill-intention, simply what must be… An abandoned wooden ship, corpses floating in the water. I sit in meditation on the deck of the ship. It sinks slowly into the water. The water is foul and full of trash.
On February 25th, Alex reported:
I then see an angel called Chirspa, with two large golden wings. I ask him to grant me a vision that may shed light on the visions of my colleagues… He tells me to walk further down the hallway. There, I see a dark pit. I can see fire at the bottom. Being asked to jump, I dive into this abyssal pit to find myself on a beach. There, I see a gigantic wave rushing towards me, like an incredible tsunami. The wave blows everything away, including a large city.
Things fell quiet after this, to the extent that a familiar feeling began to creep over me: wondering whether I’d missed the point or failed to follow through on something that a vision or magical working had been trying to show me. But then, on March 11th, arrived news of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, which put these visions in a horribly clear context. The nuclear theme of the visions now seems related to the ongoing emergency at the Fukushima reactor, suggesting perhaps that the outcome might be graver than the authorities are currently encouraging people to believe.
Terrible, heartbreaking images continue to stream from Japan, far worse than any of our visions for their being materially real. No doubt, stories will emerge of amazing psychic ‘predictions’ of the catastrophe. I don’t regard the details related here in that light. Perhaps this episode suggests that some events are so psychically impactful they send out ‘fore-echoes’ before they hit. My view is that what we experienced was a synchronicity, which has everything to do with a sense of interconnectedness and meaning, but presents nothing in terms of specific information or predictive power.
I would rather reserve claims of ‘prediction’ for those who understand what they see and act on it to save lives. Retrospective prophets, such as me, must live with the powerlessness that overwhelms everyone in the face of a tragedy on this scale.