On New Years Eve I fell in my shower, and I ended up bruising my ribs. I fortunately didn’t break or fracture them, but even bruising them was painful and for the first couple of weeks it hurt to pretty much do anything. It typically can take up to 6 weeks for bruised ribs to heal and I knew as a result that I was going to have to take a break from my usual exercise routines and just focus on letting my body heal. But I also figured there was no reason I couldn’t also help my body with that process of healing.
I've told this story a couple of times, but its one that's pivotal to my magical practice and life. I was 18, when I was diagnosed with bipolar 2 depression, otherwise known as manic depression. My family on my mother's side had a predisposition toward depression and I had spent a good part of my life depressed, as much by life circumstances as by genetic predisposition. I knew that such a disorder usually brought with it medication and I was very reluctant to use medication because I didn't want to deal with the said effects. I decided to look toward magic for a solution. I already did daily practice, which included some form of meditation, so that helped quite a bit. Even to this day I still meditate every day, in part because of the mental health, but those benefits alone weren't enough.
It wasn't until I was 20, and now living in State College, Pa, while attending college that I found the solution to my problem. I was reading Hands of Light by Barbara Ann Brennan and Programming the Human Bo-Computer by John Lilly. Brennan talked about Lilly's concepts at length and included an exercise where you could travel into your body as a cell. I thought it intriguing and used the technique to travel to my brain. I then made some adjustments to the reuptake cycle for my serotonin production. This adjustment slowed down the absorption of serotonin, which in turn stabilized the electro-chemistry of my brain. This experiment also started my fascination with neuroscience and magic, which I still pursue to this day.
That experiment taught me to look beyond the conventional perspectives that were available in magical works, but also to look beyond such perspectives within any discipline or tradition. I realized that conventional thinking would always blind people to alternative routes and possible solutions, and that sticking with it would have had me on medication for something that I ultimately could treat through my own methods. I've continued to refine and develop techniques based off that initial working, in large part because I don't believe people should have to suffer because of a biological or genetic predisposition. I do think its important people consult with a doctor or psychiatrist, but I also think there's nothing wrong with trying to find your own answer to the problem, so long as that answer doesn't harm anyone else.
That initial experiment inspired me to start exploring other aspects of magic with an eye toward meshing that magical work with other disciplines. I explored elemental magic with an eye toward applying it to DNA, as an example. Nothing was too outlandish or impossible for me...and even to this day that's still the case. Some people have and likely always will dismiss this as being too open or being flaky, but I think the profound results to the quality of my life speaks much more eloquently than anything else. It's better to pursue your ideas, and your path, than let others tell you how to do it.
On May11th I'll be teaching the Neurotransmitter Entity class, and we'll be meeting for 3 weeks via a teleclass to learn about how to work with Neurotransmitters and other aspects of the human body. It should be an exciting class and if you haven't signed up yet, I invite you to, as it's an opportunity to explore your relationship with your body from a different angle. I find the body to be a universe all its own, complete with mysteries. This class provides techniques that can help you start to unravel the mysteries of that universe and develop an entirely new relationship with your body. Most importantly it's an opportunity to have some experimenting with magic and seeing what you can learn about yourself in the process. If you haven't signed up already, click on the link above, or this one here and RSVP for the class. The cost is $60, and what you'll get is a free chapter of Inner Alchemy and a free chapter of my upcoming book Neuro-Space/Time Magic, as well as recordings of our class and access to a members only site.
Dynorphin appeared as a snake. He explained that he can act as a painkiller, causing numbness where there's pain, and is particularly useful to call on when a person has just been hurt. However he can also be used to cause pain or rather make people aware of pain. Dynorphin is also responsible for appetite control and temperature regulation. Secretin appeared as a pair of eyes. She explained that she helps to regulate the stomach and pancreas, specifically the production of digestive fluids, and also helps with damaged connections in those areas of the body by providing lubrication for them.
Corticotropin showed up as a white snake. It explained that it helps with the stimulation of adrenalin and helps with the focus a person has in moments of stress. As an interesting note corticotropin also helps with the lipoprotein uptake uptake into cortical cells, which increases the availability of cholesterol in the cells of the adrenal cortex. Betalipotropin showed up as an alligator, easy going but also quick to anger and explained that he primarily helped with the stimulation of anger and related emotions.
Estrogen appeared as a snake with a with wide mouth that, when it enfolded me felt warm and moist. My experience with her was one where she had a similar feeling of femininity in counterbalance to the masculinity I experience with Testosterone. At the same time the experience was also of a rhythmic cycle, which was steady in its beat and yet nonetheless powerful in how it moved me. She told me that she helped to modulate the balance with testosterone and provide grounding to his energy.
I'm working on chapter 5 of the new book today, which deals with neurotransmitters, and neuro-physiology, and how the magician can work with neurotransmitters, cells, etc., in order to induce change in the magician's identity. I recall once a conversation I had at a campfire when I was speaking at Gathering of the Tribes about DNA, cells, and magic. One of the people said that he thought I was making mountains out of molehills, but as I've continued to explore the connection between neuro-chemistry, magic, and now identity, I find that it has opened entirely new vistas to consider, and also a healthier relationship with my body. As we continue to learn more in general about the universe, it behooves us to take that information and apply it meaningfully to our lives. To me, applying it to magical work makes perfect sense, because with magic we can not only learn the information, but actually interact with it, and that's what magic is about.
I know I've written about that before in my blog, but I think its such an important principle of magic: interaction. And I don't think you can really know anything until you've applied it to your life and interacted with it meaningfully. So for me, really understanding neurotransmitters and neuroscience hasn't involved just reading about it, but has involved exploring the soundness of the information via magic.
Don't ever let anyone discourage you from being curious about exploring something you've learned. Over the years I've practiced, I've had a number of people try to discourage me, telling my ideas were fluffy, or that I was overthinking it, or any number of other things. If I had listened to those people I don't think I would've written any of my books or had as many of the experiences I've had. Many people will try to tell you how to do magic, how to live life, and all kinds of other, often unsolicited, advice. Don't listen to them or let them stop you from trying something new, with or without magic. We learn best by experience.
Magic, as a process, and a way of applying information to life, provides each person the opportunity to genuinely learn and explore their own place in the universe. That's the single most important lesson I've learned about magic. So go out and learn and experience and be curious with your magical practice and with your life in general. Make mountains out of molehills, because what you might discover is something other people will overlook in their haste to go where others have already gone.
Arginine showed up as a red skinned person. I got a symbol of two V's connected by lines. He told me was useful for helping with the circulation of blood and reducing stress, especially for circulation for the internal organs. I've worked with Arginine before, a few years ago, and I did find it useful for lowering stress and developing better circulation. Testosterone showed up as a brash noble, the symbol was a sword (how phallic). The sensation of working with testosterone was centered in the testes and there was a sensation of libido rising as well as the feeling of "maleness" for lack of better word.
Phenylalanine: Appeared as an Emperor. He explained that he provides information and instructions to other neurotransmitters. He's one of the more common NT's and can cross the blood-brain barrier. He showed me a network and his role in that network was that of an overseer of sorts. Epinephrine otherwise known as Adrenaline appeared as a yellow cloud with flashing eyes. He explained how he stimulated the body, and how pain and other sensations could activate him and help him activate the body to handle whatever needed to be experienced.
My partner Kat also had some intriguing experiences. She's going to start posting on here as well.
Book Review: Sorcerer's Stone by Dennis Hauck
This is an excellent beginner primer to Western Alchemy and its tenets. The author does a good job of presenting and explaining the symbolism of Western Alchemy, and the relationship of the planetary and elemental energies to alchemy. More importantly, he emphasizes the importance of doing internal work and explains how Western Alchemy can be used for internal work. This is an excellent starter book for anyone who wants to learn about the fundamental basics of alchemy.
You can order the book on Amazon (Affiliate link) or on Powells (affiliate link)
Endorphin is a guy in a jogging suit. The symbol he gave me is a fleshknot that has a tripod base, with each part of the tripod rising to twist around the other two parts. He causes pleasure, notable in runner high, but also in meditation and experiencing something new, but he also opens doors of possibility. At the same time endorphin warns about being overused because it can cause addiction. The sensation of endorphin is a tingling feeling...and also a feeling of flow. Book Review: Taoist Yoga by Charles Luk
I found this book to be an insightful read into Taoist internal alchemy, however I'd also say that anyone reading it needs to have at least a couple years experience to even begin to get the concepts discussed. What I found was that the book provided greater clarity about some of the different exercises I'd already done, but I also realized that if I didn't already have experience with those exercises, I probably wouldn't get what the author was discussing. It's a useful book to have for an intermediate to advanced Taoist meditation practitioner. 5 out 5
Dopamine: Appears as an old man/trickster figure. Dopamine causes pleasure, most notably in sex when a person orgasms. When I worked with him this time, as with when I first worked with him, he reminded me to use dopamine carefully...that it's not something to be abused. This makes senses to me, especially if you consider the possibility of addiction to the pleasure. Norepinephrine: Appears as a kabuki Actor. Norepinephrine causes numbness, so its basically a natural painkiller for the body. There's some definite applications when used in combination with other neurotransmitters.
This neurotransmitter has always appeared to me as a Young boy with a crystalline spear. The point of the spear goes into many different dimensions. When I worked with this neurotransmitter this time, it focused on showing me how it could be applied as a diagnostic tool by providing different perceptions of how the body felt or appeared to a person. It also did something else for me however, making me aware of certain feelings I had about my creative career and hadn't recognized, so it seems that it's a diagnostic tool that works not just with the body, but also with other dimensions of a person's life.
Melatonin always appears as a dark skinned woman. she's the polar opposite of serotonin, but also does similar activities in terms of balancing the neurochemistry of the body as well as a person's emotional moods. She's also helpful in cases of insomnia. She and serotonin can be worked with simultaneously in order to help with situations such as insomnia, where there might be too much serotonin and not enough melatonin or in cases of waking up, where serotonin can be upped while melatonin is decreased.
Tryptophan appears to me as a pregnant sleeping Empress. She aids in Digestion and is consequently a force for change in neurochemistry. People may wish to work with her to get help with digestion issues or sleep issues.
Book Review: The Sorcerer's Secrets by Jason Miller
In this book, the author presents practical ideas and strategies for people who are just starting out in their magical practice. This isn't a 101 book, but its safe to say it's a 102 book that also offers some insights to magicians with more experience. What I appreciate the most is that the author takes the time to focus on considerations such as finances and explains that while magic can help, it's also important to learn practical mundane skills.
I also appreciate the author's choice to draw on a wide variety of sources that fall outside the traditional bibliography usually found in books. The author illustrates the importance of developing a well-rounded strategy by exposing readers to alternative sources.
There are two reasons this book gets a four instead of a five, however. One reason is because the author doesn't address the value of doing internal work as a practical and strategic solution. while knowing how to do practical magic to solve a problem is important, being able to identify your participation in the problem and making changes is even more important, and more practical. The other reason is that while the author does draw on non-traditional sources, he doesn't address the topic of innovation and how it can be used to develop practical magic.
All that said, this is an excellent book to read, and one I'd recommend to someone just starting out.
For me, Serotonin is a 6 eyed red snake. When I experience Serotonin in my body, it feels like a fuzzy, warm light has encased my body. Serotonin is balance, the balance of the light with the dark, as well as the balance of the neurochemistry of the brain and the balance of the moods a person has. Serotonin teaches the magician how to balance the other neurotransmitters correctly, when doing inner alchemical work with the body.
Right now Portland is experiencing an unexpected snow storm, which has pretty much shut down the ability to travel in the city. I'm not one to spend my time idly, however. So I decided to do some ritual workings today and have another I'll be joining astrally later tonight for the solstice. I first decided to the second invocation of Atem from Meta-Magick: The Book of Atem by Phil Farber. In the second invocation you create a magical circle in which you anchor specific attributes of attention, passion, fitting, trance, language, and making into the formation of the circle. These attributes are used to form the entity of ATEM. By anchoring the attributes into a physical space, the magician not only creates ATEM, but also utilizes a physical space for Atem and the associated entities of the attributes to reside in. It's a clever approach. I like how it ultimately utilizes the physical environment of the person to create a space where ATEM resides, strengthening the connection it has with the person working with it.
I also did another space/time Tarot invocation of my future self, as well as the evocation of Thiede, Purson, the spider goddess of time, and Xah. I've thought about the role those entities have in this type of working. Thiede is my Space/Time guardian spirit, Purson is finder of potential, and the spider goddess is the weaver of those possibilities into reality. Xah, as my personal Daemon, is both the future self I invoke and also the fox spirit that walks alongside me whenever I walk the silver strands of the web of time. With this working I did my invocation and evocations and then invoked Xah, entering into a trance wherein I could interface with all of the entities while letting my future self shuffle the cards of the second deck. It felt odd to shuffle the cards and yet be in a trance...the movement was much less directed, so the shufflking continued for a while...It actually helped increase the trance. The working itself showed me the steps I needed to take...a lot of it being confirmation of some situations in my life...so I think for the meantime, I'll likely hold back on doing further space/time tarot work until those situations are fully taken care of.
Tonight, I'm going to take a ritual bath and use music, chanting, and trance work to synch in with the solstice working...and enjoy relaxing in the comfort of my home while doing it.
A friend of mine asked me recently if I had considered working with the neural network of the brain. The neural network basically is a network that is created by how you learn, but also be the paterns of behavior you engage in. As you continue to repeat a behavior it becomes more and more imprinted in the patterns of psynaptic firing. To change a behavior, the change has to occur in the neural network. The change ends up creating new pattern of pysnaptic firing. That's a rough summary of it. I'm probably not entirely accurate in my description of it, but I'm still doing a lot of research on neuroscience. In anycase, my latest work has involved working with this concept of the neural network. Mainly it's been focused on exploring what it feels like. when I interact with it, I see a web fulls of lights with energy going in particualr directions. I'll be writing more later...it's at an early stage.
Each morning I've been doing the meditation I described in my last post about neuro-sorcery. What I've felt is a tingling feeling in the center of my brain. It's been a pleasureable feeling. I have felt more focused using the meditation. This working has given me some inspiration toward how specific psychological or physiological issues could be eased by working with the neurotransmitters. If we know what neurotransmitters cause specific effects or what nt's can be used to meditate an effect than we can start to work with our biology to aid the psyche of the mind. I'll be writing moreo n htis later...this is just a brief update for those who are interested.
Today I re-established contact with the Endorphin and Serotonin neuro-transmitters. The Endorphin neurotransmitter gave me a ball with a synaptic fire in it. Said it would be useful for activating the psynapses for my experiment. Serotonin showed me how to combine the symbols for each neurotransmitter together and apply the synaptic fire to the symbols to start the process. You might wonder how I'll experiment with this, if I don't have an official diagnosis of ADHD. It's a fair question...But I figure by applying this technique in an environment where I'm really bored, it'll approximate to some degree what i'm trying to test, which is to see if stimulating the neurotransmitters will help me focus my attention more. The place to do that: work of course. Using the NT's to focus my attention on what I need to get done in a manner that has me sharp and focused instead of bored would be useful, both to see if my experiment can work and to get some work out of the way. We shall see what happens. I won't report on this for a little while, as I'll need time to compare and contrast the results.
Readers of my book Inner Alchemy will recall that some of my experimental work focused on working with neurotransmitters as entities. I've lately been reading a book called the User's Guide to the Brain by John Ratey. In one section, he focuses on Attention and the functions in the brain related to it. He suggests that a cause for ADHD (and to some degree depression) is lower then normal levels of dopamine, serotonin, and Endorphins in the nucleus accumbens, which is the reward center of the brain. People who have lower levels of these neurotransmitters will tend to be more focused on extreme behaviors apparently so they can get the rewards they want, and less able to focus on taks that don't seem to have more obvious rewards in sight. I found this rather intriguing and it presents an opportunity to further some of my work with neurotransmitters. My thought is that if a person has ADHD, but knew how to work with a neurotransmitter entity or several of them, the person could work with the entities to produce more of the neurotransmitters and regulate the ADHD. This kind of magical work could be done as a supplement to medicine being taken or done by itself.
I made contact with dopamine today, and will be contacting the other NT's soon. While I've never been diagnosed with ADHD, it would still be useful to work with the NT's to see if in fact, in working with that part of the brain, it's possible to focus the attention better.
I'll be writing more about this as events progress.