Saturday, August 3, 2013

Authentication of the Anomalous Part 1

Here is a small excerpt from a larger work on Rites of Passage and the Occult...Check it out!

Each initiate who undergoes a rite of passage also undergoes a corresponding change in consciousness. This change is indicative of the change in status that occurs as part of the experience. Often times, the change occurs as a time of transition during the liminal state. Literally a transitional event  within the transitional state. Sometimes this event happens while sleeping. Rothman and Sudarshan remark of this transitional period in regards to Kashmir Shaivism. They remark that “if one examines  Kashmir Shaivism, one finds extremely specific instructions for achieving various states of consciousness. We are first told that there is a junction, or transition point, between each of the three states of consciousness and the next: the waking state, the dreaming state and the state of dreamless sleep” ( 18 Doubt & Certainty by Tony Rothman and George Sudarshan. Reading Mass. 1998. Perseus Books). Proponents of this form of Shaivism state that, “you should [focus on] the center of any two movements, every two breaths. After some time when that concentration is established, then whenever you go to bed to rest you will automatically enter the dreaming state through that junction…Here you do not lost consciousness even though you feel intoxicated…Here the aspirant does not experience moving about nor does he hear or see. He cannot move any part of his body. At that moment the aspirant hears hideous sounds” (Kashmir Shaivism, the Secret Supreme. Swami Lakshman Jee. Albany. SUNY Press under imprint of the Universal Shaiva Trust. 1988. Pp 109).

The transition point is reminiscent of folklorist David Hufford’s work with Old Hag phenomenon.  Often times, an Old Hag event entails the victim being attacked by a supernatural entity. The victim usually awakes in the middle of the night unable to move or scream. Then, a horrifying presence is exerted on his or her chest. (Quote)  The Old Hag attack involved complete paralysis and is associated with night terrors. Like Kashmir Shaivism, the Old Hag  experience occurs upon waking from sleep. During the transition from dream to wakefulness, or from one state of consciousness to another, the aspirant is in a liminal state and is more susceptible to the strange or unusual.  
                Carl Jung also studied transitional moments of a liminal state. In particular, he researched the effects of complexes and neuroses when they become conscious. He wrote that, “it is felt as strange, uncanny, and at the same time fascinating. At all events the conscious mind falls under its spell, either feeling it as something pathological, or else being alienated by it from normal life. If the content can be removed from consciousness again, the patient will feel relieved and more normal. The irruption of these alien contents is a characteristic symptom marking the onset of many mental illnesses. The patients are seized by weird and monstrous thoughts, the whole world seems changed, people have horrible, distorted faces, and so on” (119- Carl Jung. Psychology and the Occult. Bollingen Series. Princeton. 1981). As transitional events during a betwixt and between state, the complex is no longer repressed and allows for experiences of the Other or Alien.
                Changes in state occur at a ritual level when the rite is used as a proxy for the mythical narrative. As Walter Otto exclaimed, “ cultic rites were frighteningly serious because they were concerned with none other than the presentation of the supernatural occurrence which the myth had expressed in words” (77 Walter Otto. Dionysus-Myth and Cult. Dallas, Texas. Spring Publications. 1981. Orig. Published 1965- Indiana Univ. Press).  Often times, the occult ritual is the most important catalyst for inducing a change in consciousness. It is within ritual that the supernatural narrative can be acted out, grasped and given legitimacy. Sometimes the climax of the ceremony extracts the numinous in the initiate and serves as the transitionary  event. Such was the case at the Isaeum in ancient Egypt.

          The Isaeum was the sanctuary and place of ceremonies for the Egyptian goddess Isis. A physical representation of the liminal state, the initiate separated themselves from the world of the profane by entering its walls. And this was serious business in ancient Egypt. When aspirants left the blazing light of the desert and entered the cool chambers of the Isaeum, it was thought they were passing from the world of the living to that of the dead. It was in these liminal spaces that their most important rituals occurred. Robert Turcan describes a becoming rite when the initiate is transformed into a god. He states that, “the initiate was dressed in a linen robe never previously worn; then the priest took him by the hand to lead him to ‘the remotest part of the sanctuary’, or penetralia. The neophyte was probably shown statues that were concealed from the gaze of ordinary followers. In the middle of the sanctuary, a platform was set up which the new initiate mounted, this time clad in an embroidered linen robe…When the curtains were drawn, he was revealed like a statue, crowned with palm leaves and armed with a torch” (Robert Turcan. 1996. The Cults of the Roman Empire. Blackwell Publishing Inc. Williston). The transitionary event and its change in consciousness becomes the focal point of the ritual.
                This state of affairs was common in the mystery cults of the Greco-Roman era. A way to resolve the immanence/transcendence dichotomy, many of the cults sought to instill the divine within thus making them immortal. As Jane Ellen Harrison remarks, “To become a god was therefore incidentally as it were to obtain immortality. Their great concern was to become divine now” (477-Prolegomena To The Study of Greek Religion. Princeton Univ. Press. Princeton. 1991).

To Be Continued....

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