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2019-11-30 - Ceremony Notes

No ceremony last night (12/7); I went to see the mighty YOB at the Bossanova Ballroom. It was a welcome break! As you’ll see, last weekend’s Rite was a real ass-kicker. A lot happened, and I recorded a lot of commentary. I had some ambitious about editing the actual footage into something I could post, but honestly, I just don’t have time. You’ll just have to take me at my word that the following is an accurate (edited for clarity in certain places) blow-by-blow recounting of an evening that included maybe the hardest, scariest 15 minutes of my life. 

I recorded my first comments after the song “Up and Atom,” which is the third song of the Rite’s Ritual of Transformation, the StereoMyth. 

0:27:45 - That was an epic little dream that I had there. I was taken into the upper realms, where it was explained to me that if you want to call the Goddess, if you want her, the best way to do that is to feel. I realized that I was so locked in against the fear that I had choked off the emotion of the song. How much I love that song, and how that song makes me feel. So I had to learn how to do both. I had to learn how to armor up against the fear while at the same time allowing myself to release and love that jam. And that’s how you call the Goddess in. 

“Resistance” is a concept I borrowed from Steven Pressfield to connote the sudden attacks of anxiety verging on panic, invasive negative thoughts, and discomfiting imagery that can sometimes spring on you from out of nowhere during the psychedelic experience, no matter how carefully you construct your set and setting.

In psychedelic research, “resistance” usually refers to the reaction of neophyte experiencers when the effects of the medicine unsettle them too much—their reluctance to “turn off their mind/relax and float downstream” causes a bad trip. That’s not what I’m implying by using this term. For Pressfield, Resistance is that which opposes the creation of beauty, complexity, and meaning; it’s analogous to entropy in the physical world, as an observed phenomenon in the activity of consciousness, many cultures have mythologized it as the Devil (however they image it). That’s how I mean it, too.

Resistance is conflict; in the traditional psychedelic sense, it’s conflict between the experiencer’s desire to maintain “sober” consciousness and the effects of the medicine. But I’ve performed this Rite over 80 times; I am familiar with the psychedelic experience and have a clear idea of where I want to go.

In this case, sometimes the conflict may be between me and the medicine, as it has an agenda, and I have mine, and I have to bend its energies to my will. Other times, though, as was the case on this evening, Resistance sets in well after the onset of the substantia’s effects. It often presents as a nearly instantaneous onset of disordered thinking and negative emotions, triggered by nothing in particular. It can be accompanied by an intense sense of an uncanny, malevolent presence; I’ve found it useful to go with that, and treat these sudden panics as an attack by an outside agency—what my friend Matt eh ayahuasquero has referred to as shitana, spiritual witchcraft, but which could just as well be a psychic parasite or a demonic entity. You can conceptualize it any way you want. The main thing it, treating it as an assault gives you a place to plant your feet and push back. You don’t have to give in to it. And in fact, if you did, on such large doses as I use in my ceremonies, the effect would by psychologically catastrophic. You really have no choice but to fight for your life, as you’ll see from the following entries. 

0:30:13 - Fuck! Big hit, big attack from Resistance, right in the middle of “Used for Glue.”

0:32:34 - I can already feel the malevolent presence of “46 and 2” starting to creep up while I was finished “Used for Glue.” You can just feel it coming. It’s fucking gnarly. 

Here’s what I wanted to remind you, Pa: this is training. The immediate reason you’re doing this is so you can get through these songs and then have all that energy to work with your visions (in the second half of the night). But this is where you earn it. It’s oftentimes not very much fun. But that’s one of the things you can work on. If you get okay with being uncomfortable, it will pass. You will get through it. You will get to the exalted place you want to go. I promise. 

After "46 and 2" I was starting to experience some invasive thoughts along the lines of I’m too tired, it’s too cold in here, this was a bad idea, how much longer? Oh my god I’m never going to make it, I don’t wanna do this anymore, make it stop, make it stop. Phenomenologically, this is how Resistance usually presents, although sometimes it also manifests as odd synchronicities that verge on poltergeist activity.
When you can't control those kinds of thoughts, grow in strength until you feel like you're on the precipice of madness. It's deeply terrifying--like body horror (which is based on a primordial fear of having something take over and consume your body from the inside), except it's your mind that's being annexed. Resistance is attack you right in your reptilian brain, and it's all you can do to maintain self-control. At that point, it's either fight or flight. On the video, I am talking aloud—not to myself, but to the entities I feel moving in on me. 

0:41:08 - FUCK RIGHT OFF WITH THOSE KIND OF COMPLAINTS. It’s my consciousness. Don’t try to sneak those by me. Oh, I see how you are. Okay, fine. No. We’re going to fucking fight this out during this song ("Blood and Thunder" was up next). Fuck your mother! I’m fucking throwing down with you. Yeah, I’m gonna fucking put you down. Right here, right now, I’m not giving in to your fucking bullshit. Fuck you. Move on, partner. 

0:43:22 - That was an incursion. And it was to the extent I was getting sick. I felt like I might be getting diarrhea. And I was like, “You know what? No.” I steeled myself and I banished whatever it was. And I…feel better. 

Part of what it was, it was offering hours of torment. Of fear. I can still feel the resonance of its desire, of what it wanted to happen. How it was going to exploit me. And so (I made my attitude) Fuck you very much. 

It’s just like having a bully encroach on your physical space. It’s a matter of recognizing the threat, and then deciding how you’re going to fucking respond. You have to have that attitudinal stance in this work: what you say goes in your consciousness. 

That’s what it means, in my personal mythos, to be a Sword Clan EXULT! bodyguard (for the Holy Ma).  If she’s going to incarnate in my consciousness, my attitude needs to be on point and un-fuck-withable. From anybody. 

That’s a metaphor, but it’s also literal: if you’re going to have the experience of Her presence, you need to be completely relaxed. Safe. And of course, that kind of emotional openness is difficult to achieve when there are evil spirits about. 

0:45:58 - Another symptom associated with that attack was how dried up the medicine became. The colors of my visions became so muted and shabby. And dry. Everything was very arid as the result of the presence of that specter, whatever it was. 

0:54:52 - It’s not always fun and games. I’m seriously going mano a mano with something that is trying to take me down. It’s a ferocious struggle, kids. I’m not kidding. This is hard. And ongoing. It’s a struggle to determine how this is going to go. 


It’s saying Fuck you with everything at its disposal. 

So we just keep working. And yeah, peace is preferable. It’s always better to be at peace than at war. But if you’re in a fucking war, then bring it, Pa! Find the fighting spirit. 

This is one of the ways the psychedelic teaches you who you are. You’re not somebody who cuts and runs. When someone is stepping to you, you correct them. Don’t run. Not when the stakes are this fucking high. 

You are on a very, very high dose of psychedelics, and things could go tragically wrong. So I know this is a little unpleasant, but keep going. Yeah. 

Ohhhh. Ha. It’s using that against me. “It’s going to be too hard. You won’t be able to keep it up. And then we’ll get you.”

Well…fuck you guys. You know why? I’ll you why. Because

 I am Dammit. Primus, the First, the One Who Shows the Way Forward, impeccable sorcerer of Sword Clan EXULT!.
I shape my reality in accordance with the True Will: all broken hearts must someday be healed.
Stalwart, indomitable, implacable, I engage challenges with ferocious joy, because each one is an opportunity to prove myself worthy of my desires.
This is my troth:
No matter how long it takes,
No matter how much it hurts,
I swear on my name that I will achieve my purpose:
To reunite with my beloved Holy Ma, Celestial Mother of Heaven, in a gamma ray burst of annihilating desire.
Our love gave birth to the stars.
Our love is the churning sea of fire at the heart of the sun.
Her call to me reverberates throughout the universe.
I have heard it, and baby, I’m coming home.

Do your job, Pa. 

Find the joy in it, and call Her in.

Apparently whatever was messing with me was still controlling my visionary input. When I closed my eyes, what I saw looked like 8-bit video game animation. It felt tawdry, cheap, ersatz. 

1:01:56 - Ha! I’m working with "Space Lord," and they best they can manage in my visionary space is “Mario Kart.” That’s their best approximation of what they think I want to see. 

1:05:38 - They’re making me pay for every inch I’m gaining. 

But one way or the other, time is passing. We have the indomitable will to get through. Trust yourself, Pa. Now matter how bad it gets, you will see it through. It’ll be hormetic. 

What I want to talk about now is the cold. One way that Resistance is really coming at me, and I can’t deny it, is that it’s fucking freezing out here. And doing this out here in the freezing cold might, to some people, seem like an unreasonable activity. But I know I need to do this. 

I mention this because the very unreasonableness gives Resistance a way in. Or whatever this malevolent force I’m dealing with is, the one that’s trying to take down my experience. 

You cannot give in to the weariness or the discomfort or the fear. It’s the most natural thing in the world to want to be comfortable, to want to be able to relax, when you’re in this state, until you feel better…

You can’t give in to the fear. Because it wants you. It really does. Tonight, it’s particularly savage. It’s trying to take you down, it’s very personal and nasty. You have to respond in the same way, Pa. It’s a direct invitation to dance. So that’s what we’re going to do. 

1:09:04 - It’s so strong, it’s ganging up on me. Trying to get me to lay down. It unsettles you. 

You’ve got to find your spirit. You endure, but you know you’ve got it when you get your sense of humor back. 

1:10:19 (still in the middle of "Three Days") - DO NOT GIVE UP, PA. DO NOT GIVE IN TO THAT FEAR. This is a serious incursion, but you can handle this. 

This right here is where you prove your mettle, Pa. Yeah it’s tough! DO NOT GIVE IN. You fight, and do not let the fear it’s putting in you, that this will be an endless struggle, don’t give in, because that’s a one-way ticket to Bad Tripistan. You recognize that. This is serious business right here. So FUCKING FIGHT FOR YOUR LIFE, PA. YOU CAN DO IT. 

1:19:17 (after “Three Days”) - Holy shit! Fuck. Goddamn. Holy…holy shit! 

Fuck man! That was maybe the hardest fifteen minutes of my life. That was brutal but it ended up well. What a struggle! I was white-knuckling it. I was on the verge of a psychedelic catastrophe right there. 

For you kids out there: if you’re going to do this work and push these limits, you gotta understand what you’re letting yourself in for. It’s like a real fight, not a contest in the ring, but combat where you realize, “I might be over-matched here, I’m losing, and if I lose this thing is going to kill me." That’s where you really have to manage the fear and bend it to your will. Realize it’s just energy. You don’t have identify with it.

The best thing to do when you get scared is get mad. Yeah, that’s a useful emotion to respond with.

1:21:28 - Okay. That was good, Pa. Good job.

It is fucking freezing out here, but if you give in to thinking, “This is a bad idea, I should inside where it’s warm,” well, it gives It a way in. I still have two-and-a-half hours of work to do, and the collision between those two certainties are a ticket to Bad Tripistan. If you let it be. Don’t think about it. Keep calm and carry on. Love how much this sucks. 

You’re in a war. In austere conditions. Like those poor jokers at the Battle of the Bulge. Don’t cut and run because you’re cold. Do your job. You’ve got your why. Don’t give it an in. Hey buddy, you’re on your way to feeling really good again, I promise. You will get there, no matter what. See it through.
I can feel Resistance coming in right now from every side. Here it comes again!

It’s strong. Really, really titanically strong. Hang tight. You’ve got this. Keep the faith. Believe in yourself, Pa, and believe in the process. You will win this fight. 

At 1:25:06, I’m still battling resistance. Talking to someone who is invisible: Uh huh. Yeah. I know. I’m going to get past you. I swear on my name. To Her.
At 1:27:43, during the guitar solo from “Don’t Look Back,” I was once again seized by the Divine. Here's the video:

At 1:29:58 I was speaking to someone invisible: I will! I will, I promise!

1:30:20 (after “Don’t Look Back") - I had to turn on the lights so you could see what was happening to me during the guitar solo.
The trick is to pay attention to how you’re feeling. The more you concentrate on that emotion, the stronger it grows, until becomes this overwhelming cyclone of emotional energy through your body.

I should note that in my current thinking, emotion = energy = spirit. Strong emotions are literally divine energies, colors prismatically derived from the Clear White Light of the Everlasting Loving Is-ness. I said something about this later that night:
Divinity is an endless sea of silent, raging white light that is love. But that white light can be broken up prismatically. From it you can derive the experience of specific emotions, and if you focus those emotions on a particular image from the unconscious mind, it’ll blow up. It’ll become animate; it’ll become real. You capture what you can while in that state, then you go back later and process it.
When you plug into that energy, you have visions. Sometimes these are images that seem fraught with meaning. Luminescent landscapes, or magical symbols, or less, often, figures of persons. Sometimes you hear voices in your head, and sometimes you yourself seem to be translating the emotions you’re feeling into words you can parse. That’s usually the case during this guitar solo; the roaring guitars, harmonizing in a grand theme, seem to be speaking of noble sacrifice, but also daring, and encouragement, and affirmation. You can do this. Don’t be afraid. Carry through with your mission, Pa, so much depends on you. We see you and we love you and you can do it. 

It’s deeply moving…but it’s more than that. It’s a promise of salvation, that there will be a happy ending to all this, and reward for my sacrifices. It’s what I need to hear. It’s part of why I do this, to have the experience of being told, It’s all going to be worth it. Just believe. 

Goddamn. The place I just got delivered from, the struggle, you guys…and the grace, the redemption. That’s the thing…these are just words until you live it. 

Okay, that's all for now. The rest of the night was a blast, and I had a number of insights and ideas for projects. But not a lot of visionary fireworks. I seemed to have expended most of the energies of the 7.5g of psilohuasca in fighting off whatever the eff that was that so had it in for me. 

I was actually about to type "There won't be a Part 2" for this one, but I just found a few things in my notes that really demand to be explained here. Stay tuned, all three of you reading this.


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