Re:virus: Faith and creativity: Part I

joe dees (
Mon, 08 Mar 1999 01:28:02 -0500

At Sun, 07 Mar 1999 20:37:57 -0800, you wrote:
>joe dees wrote:
>> KMO wrote:
>> >
>> >joe dees wrote:
>> >
>> >> I can predict that if a Christian is a loan officer, and can only loan money to one of two potential borrowers, all other things being not too unequal, another Christian will receive the loan over an Atheist, if both applicants make their metaphysical convictions known.
>> >
>> >I agree with this although I would make the following alteration:
>> >
>> >I can predict that if a <Christian> is a loan officer, and can only loan
>> >money to one of two potential borrowers, all other things being not too
>> >unequal, another <Christian> will receive the loan over an member of a
>> >group whose views the loan officer perceives as being hostile to his
>> >own, if both applicants make their metaphysical convictions known.
>> >
>> > -KMO
>> Agreed. This is a particular instance of the general rule with which you disagreed,
>This rule?
>> While reason is useful in dealing with both one's "fellow" humans and the common world we share, the utility of any particular faith is limited to dealings with people who share it, as a social/cultural lubricant.
>If you mean that the loan officer prediction was intended to serve as an
>example of the general rule that "the utility of any particular faith is
>limited to dealings with people who share it, as a social/cultural
>lubricant," I don't think it is. The loan officer example does
>illustrate that faith can act as benefitial social/cultural lubricant in
>some instances, but that doesn't support the claim that the utility of
>any particular faith is limited to its lubricanting properties.
>> but your disagreement was not with common faith being a social/cultural lubricant or facilitant (as above), but with its utility being constrained to this purpose.
>Yes, exactly. (And succint too, unlike the ramblings of some of the
>inveterate stoners on this list.)
>> Please furnish specific counterexamples as to how your particular faith aids your solitary creative efforts.
>Gladly. This will take more than one post to articulate, so ask lots of
>Where to start?
>Creative Visualization.
>"Creative Visualization" is the title of a book by Shakti Gawain and the
>name she gives to a collection of meditative (I would say
>"self-hypnotic") and cognitive techniques that she prescribes in that
>book. She doesn't claim to have invented any of the techniques. She
>admits having collected them from a variety of sources, and it seems to
>me that she draws most heavily from the program Napolean Hill laid out
>in his book "Think and Grow Rich" and from the Silva Mind Control
>Method, of which she had been a student.
>The basic tenent of faith in Creative Visualization is that forming a
>clear image of something and holding it in mind and bringing it to mind
>often will "give energy" (I put that in quotes because I realize that at
>this point I can't really say what it means) to that pattern and set in
>motion a chain of events/processes that will lead to the manifestation
>of what you visualized.
>Anyone who has read "Illusions: the Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah"
>may be reminded of Richard's (That's Richard Bach, the author and
>protagonist of the novel) experiment with formulating the image of the
>white feather in order to manifest it for him. That's creative
>visualization, but it doesn't usually work as quickly for me as it did
>for him in the book.
>The element of Creative Vizualization that comes from Napolean Hill's
>"Think and Grow Rich" is the emphasis on affirmations; detailed
>statements which describe that which you would like to bring about as if
>it were already true. The object is to make the affirmations as specific
>as possible and to repeat them to yourself every evening before you go
>to bed and first thing upon awaking in the morning. Hill and other
>people who did a good job of repackaging his ideas for modern (80's)
>palitability suggested that one re-examine ones goals periodically and
>reformulate the affirmations accordingly.
>The one affirmation that I took from Shakti Gawain's book that I was
>still using in a modified form up until I discontinued the practice of
>nightly affirmations is a kind of meta-affirmation. After repeating any
>given affirmation three times I would seal it with "This or something
>much better now manifests itself for me in totally satisfying and
>harmonious ways for the highest good of all concerned." This is an
>affirmation of my faith that the events in my life and in the larger
>world are unfolding as they should. Sometimes things look pretty bleak,
>but I have faith that the bleakness is a distortion imposed on my
>apprehension by the limit of my frame of reference. I have faith that,
>even when it looks as though everything is going to shit, events are
>transpiring as they should and I'm moving towards something much better
>than I could possibly think to hope for given the limitations of my
>vision at present. Personally, I think this matter is evident
>transcendent. This side of the Omega Point, it doesn't seem to me that
>one could credibly claim to have examined all the potentially relavent
>I first read "Creative Visualization" when I was 18, the same year in
>which I first read "The Lazy Man's Guide to Enlightenment" and the year
>in which I first started taking LSD.
>For the next two years, I adhered quite religiously to a program of
>meditation, vizualization, affirmation, and tripping my brains out at
>every opportunity. After those 2 years I slacked off quite a bit, but I
>still said my affirmations each night and continued to refine them for
>the next 7 or 8 years (with a couple of very long periods between
>When I first started this practice, my affirmations and visualizations
>were primarily aimed at manifesting material wealth, sex/romantic love,
>and a fit and attractive body. The first aspect to show improvement was
>the one concerning my body. My teen years were largely sedentary. They
>involved lots of television, RPG/wargaming, reading, and from my 16th
>summer on, LOTS of alcohol. By the time I took up creative
>visualization, I wasn't what many people whould call "trim." In what
>seems in my memory like an instant and what on the calader was just a
>couple of months, I lost a lot of weight. Sure, at about that same time,
>I also discovered the use of the amino acid L-ornithine, and shortly
>thereafter, my best friend, the one with whom I did most of my drinking,
>went off to Marine Corps bootcamp, leaving me to a largely solitary
>existence in which I devoted lots of time and energy to my new age
>religious practice and to preparing myself for my own impending
>departure for the Marine Corps training facility at Camp Pendleton; a
>departure which was multiply postponed and eventually aborted.
>So, I started visualizing a slimmer, more attractive body, and within a
>few months it had manifested itself for me. The rational mind would see
>a more significant causal connection between my increased physical
>activity, use of L-ornithine, and quitting drinking and my new body than
>between my visualization and my physical transformation, but I didn't,
>and still don't see it that way. (btw, I started drinking again at the
>end of that summer, but where I drank beer in my mid teens, I drank hard
>alcohol, vodka mostly, in my late teens and early 20s. Also, about the
>same time I resumed drinking {my friends and I called it "partying"} I
>took up weight lifting and tae kwon do so I didn't get tubby again.)
>The sex/romantic love thing manifested itself for me next, starting for
>real in my 22nd year and reaching a seriously faith-affirming level in
>terms of intensity and the specificity of my realized vizualizations
>over the next couple of years. The details of that period can be found
>in the "members only" section of my website. All major credit cards
>The financial payoff for my early creative vizualization has just
>started to kick in within the last year, to the point where I have been
>able to give up the
>M-F-push-some-rich-guy's-boulder-up-the-hill-to-make-him-richer routine
>and devote my days to writing and drawing comics and developing the
>skills and talents that I value most in myself.
>Anyway, wealth, sex, and looks were the focus of my early practice. I
>had affirmations that described the exact cars I would own and how much
>money I would be making and have stashed away. As I reformulated my
>goals and affirmations over time, they shifted away from things that I
>wanted to aquire to characteristics that I wanted to instill in myself
>and later to patterns that I wanted establish in my life. Affirmations
>about cars and sex grew into affirmations focussed on transforming
>myself into a channel for divine creativity, establishing poductive
>habits, and treating the people in my life with respect.
>After my physical transformation but before the sexual payoff is when I
>came under the spell of the super-skeptic philosophy instructor and
>embarked on my evangelical athiest phase. Durring this period which
>lasted for just a couple of years, I continued my visualization and
>affirmations because I thought that I had ample evidence for thinking
>they worked even if the touchy feely new age mysticism that served as a
>just-so explanation for why it worked was bunk. I drank frequently and
>heavily durring this period and continued to take a lot of acid but got
>very good grades owing to the fact that I only signed up for classes in
>which I had an interest.
>Well, that doesn't bring us up to the present or get to how my faith
>aids me in my solitary creative endeavors, but it does lay out two
>components of my faith; the efficacy of creative visualization, and my
>general meliorism and a thumbnail sketch of how they were introduced,
>reinforced, and thoroughly integrated into my cognitive landscape.
>End part I
> -KMO

You have been practicing Wiccan and Shamanic Magick without realizing it. Before you snort and hit the delete key, let me hasten to explain. Magick is conceived of in Wicca as the science which is not yet widely understood, but which is not supernatural, but very much natural, and it falls firmly under the umbrella of cause and effect. Magick falls into two categories, spellcasting and divination, having to do with doing and knowing, respectively.

(1) Spellcasting

Spellcasting can be done repetitively by individuals or singly by a group. A coven gathers and agrees upon a common and specific goal to be achieved; then they start "raising energy", as you call it (it is really a process of activating emotions) theough a combination of dancing (usualy circular or spiral and repetitive, and most commonly around a common bonfire), chanting (what is desired to happen), and drumming (to co-ordinate and focus the group). When the collective emotion is at its peak, the priest(ess), by shouting "So Mote It Be!", signals the members of the coven to simultaneously launch their collective wills toward the realization of the common desire. Whether or not something "really" sours through the apex of the "Cone of [emotional] Power" and physically effects things in the world is beside the point; everyone in the coven has just engaged in a mutually supporting act of mass imprinting. When they return to their (generally shared) social milieu, their! actions are adumbrated in both overt and subliminal ways toward the realization of the group purpose. All these little differences sooner or later usher in the "butterfly effect" (as in chaos theory) where due to SDIC (Sensitive Dependence upon Initial Conditions), these little differences snowball into an social avalanche, carrying the goal to completion, and "magick happens." When this imprinting is a solitary and self-programmed practice, it just takes more persistence and repetition.

(2) Divination

Long ago, before the vocation was polyfurcated into medical doctor and psychologist and social worker, when the tribe had a problem, they would bring it to their shaman. (S)he would listen to the concerned and involved parties explain what comprised the problem, then would enter into a trance state by one or more of many means (mantra (chanting), mandala (single-point concentration), mudra (rhythmic dancing), tantra (sexual stimulation), soma (psychedelics), fasting, etc.).While in trance the shaman would ask the question the answer to which would solve the tribal problem. When (s)he returned from his/her journeyings, (s)he would pronounce a remedial course of action, not just for the afflicted one(s) to follow, but for the whole tribe to jointly pursue. This still happens today among preliterate aboriginal tribes, and more and more among e-literate and postmodern NeoPagans. But what is really happening here?

     To get an insight, we turn to past artifacts and the testimony of contemporary shamans.  The cave paintings in Lascaux France, the !Kung tribal paintings in Africa, the rock carvings of the Australian aboriginal Dreamtime People, Tibetan mandalas, Zuni sand paintings, all separated by thousands of miles and years, contain a common thread.  There are depictions of their native ecologies and societies (the !Kung paintings include trees with horizontal leaf patterns, elephants and giraffes, the Lascaux frescoes include mastodons and bison, etc.), but they all include certain common geometric patterns.  The Grid.  The Zig-Zag.  The River S.  The Concentric Circles.  Why, separated by thousands of miles and years, should these common patterns continually manifest themselves?
     Psychology calls them endoptic forms.  They are hard-wired into the human visual apparatus, and are thought to relate to the shadows which capillaries cast upon the retina.  If you close your eyes and press on the outside corners of your eyes, you can invoke them.  But the question remains, what do these have to do with shamanic divination?
     When we sleep, truths which we wakingly deny or overlook come to us in the imagistic language of dreams. There is a gating mechanism of the hippocampus of the midbrain which paralyzes our will so that we will not will to move in our dreams and hurt or reveal ourselves. This mechanism may be overridden by sonic or somatic driving in a particular frequency, (dancing, chanting or rhythmic dancing) or by entering a state of altered awareness (fasting, mandalic concentration and psychedelics).  In such a condition, an experienced shaman may wilfully direct waking dreams, and properly interpret the imagery confronted.  This is the first appearance of the use of the brain as one would a computer, maximizing access to all that one actually has learned and (if only subliminally) knows through the long span of one's life, rather than merely what one might remember.  The modern shamanic uses of indole alkaloids (LSD, mescaline, psilocybin and all the rest) are, when they are used fo!
r exploration rather than mere entertainment, supercharged instances of the same phenomenon.

Joe E. Dees
Poet, Pagan, Philosopher

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