At Daffivisionomy we performed for the first time our ritual for opening hellmouths and encountered a psychotic spirit. At Chesney Peck we employed tarot and the magic 8 ball to make contact with a thieving gnome. Vomitory we used as an opportunity for some practical sorcery. Finally, we used a ghost box to chat in real time with spirits inside Yizmeduck.
Although I’ve logged their locations and characteristics, I’ve never set down in detail what I consider the nature and function of these entrances into hell. In my view, psychogeographical magick consists of a few basic techniques. Standing still is the simplest: you simply stand in a specific location, observe what happens, and interpret the experience as a message. Following is another: either you move from location to location following specific signs or cues from the environment, or else you choose locations or directions at random. (This is, in essence, the technique of ‘drift’ or ‘dérive‘, so commonly favoured by psychogeographers.) Finding is slightly different. You decide beforehand the outcome of the journey, and then look to experiences during the journey as the provision of that outcome. (My walks to discover the chakras of the city were an example of this.) The entrances to hell, however, represent a fourth category in the psychogeographical repertoire, which I describe as going behind. It differs fundamentally from the previous three by assuming a dimension of experience separate from the manifest environment.
With this type of magick, we’re not so much interpreting experience as a message or allegory, but the experience itself is perceived as originating directly from the allegorical realm. So whereas with the first three techniques we can observe, discover and track our quarry, by going behind what is manifestly real we interact with our object more directly, on its home ground.
Splitting the world into ‘the manifest’ and ‘the concealed’ is itself a fundamental magical technique, one so powerful that it’s not limited to magick. Realising that a ‘here’ originates from a ‘there’ releases the potential to change ‘here’ simply by interacting with or intervening in ‘there’. Science does this all the time, intervening in things we can’t perceive in order to change those we can. Similarly, but in a different sphere, therapists, politicians and teachers influence our unconscious processes, in order to modify conscious behaviour. The domain of magick, however, is neither physical nor social reality, but individual consciousness, which is why in magick this technique is worked entirely consciously instead, and limited within the minds of a specific person or group.
Entrances to hell are necessarily funny. This is because ‘funny’ arises from a split between what is actually said and what was meant, or between what really happens and what ought to have happened, and so on. All traffic with spirits is at least faintly ludicrous, because of the way that what’s ‘up there’ is necessarily forced to manifest through whatever happens to be available ‘down here’. For instance, when the angels made Dee and Kelley schlep around Europe for months on end, to reprimand its kings for their sins, and later instructed the pair to swap wives – this was at least as absurd and funny as it was dangerous and embarrassing. Similarly, when Crowley, possessed by Choronzon at Bou Sada, sneaked out from the protective triangle and leapt on Neuberg – that was bloody hilarious!
Bathos and magical manifestation tend to go together. If the results of magick aren’t faintly silly, it’s worth checking that they have been truly situated as coming from some place other, and aren’t merely the product of an over-valuation of what’s to hand. I remember looking at an altar, lovingly set up for a session of group magick, when a senior magician came in and remarked, ‘What a pile of tat!’ What magick infers or represents is important, not the forms through which it manifests. Mistake the forms for the meanings and you end up with the kind of superstitious fetishism that many mistake for magick.
Comedic techniques are frequently put to magical uses, something almost as frequently overlooked. A joke, for instance, has an enormous power to entirely transform our mood, or make someone look and feel ridiculous. And the use of laughter as a banishing ritual is endemic among chaos magicians. However, comedy comes in two flavours: ironic and humorous. The former turns the world dark; the latter floods it with light. Imagine that a condemned man is led to the chopping block. If he remarks to the executioner, ‘How lovely to meet you!’ then that would be irony. But if he paused to inspect the axe and ask, ‘Are you sure that thing’s safe?’ then that would be humour. In the former, the prisoner highlights how bad things are by pretending they’re good. In the latter, he draws attention to the manifestly bad (the axe), but pretends good might come of it. The ironic remark shames the executioner, whereas the humorous one releases and absolves him. Indeed, it releases and absolves everyone, including the prisoner.
In magick, irony manifests demons and humour draws down angels. Entrances to hell are portions of the city overlooked, ugly, decayed. By awarding them attention and deciding they are intentional, and that behind them lives an organising intelligence, this ironically exposes the chaos ‘here’, by supposing that ‘there’ the chaos is planned. The disadvantage of demons is that they mess things up; the advantage is that in places messed beyond repair, a demon has control. No doubt for this reason, we heard the entities of Yizmeduck describe themselves as ‘the rape of truth’ and admit that ‘we play violent’.
So to visit and open an entrance into hell is to negotiate with the messed-up city, with all that disgusts and alienates us from our environment. We may not like it, but these forces have power over what manifests – in certain locations, at least. The alternative view is that wastage occurs by accident, and there’s no intelligence behind decay, but surely it’s better to honour and negotiate with the city’s demons rather than to accept alienation as accidental and inevitable?
So much for demons and hellmouths. Where are the angels? The technique I’ve tried for finding these I call going beyond. It involves letting go of the manifest, or – at least – holding onto it so lightly that ‘there’ unavoidably bleeds through into ‘here’. There’s nothing new or original in this. By making the angels in his film Wings of Desire (1987) so concerned with mundane aspects of human experience, Wim Wenders similarly erased the split between the other world and this. So far (perhaps) I’ve found two angels in the city: one of air, and one of earth or fire. But this is a work in progress, because they seem far harder to locate…
Oh, in case you’re wondering… Having opened one, to close an entrance to hell merely recite thrice backwards the traditional opening formula. So just say (three times): Sasaz atanatasan, sasaz, sasaz!