This is a difficult subject. For me, having attained to Understanding, it is not difficult to understand. The only complications seem to be those caused by misinformation from charlatans and crackpots, as well as from relatively honest people who are either the victims of hoaxes or who have misidentified natural, if sometimes rare, phenomena. These factors added into the equation can very easily interfere with the discovery of the solution to "the UFO problem". Furthermore, considering the known conditions necessary for the creation and sustenance of lifeforms that are most likely to develop intellectually, the probability of the number of planets that could provide those conditions, and especially the vast distance between planets, the galaxies and other systems in this perhaps infinite universe, while there does seem to be no rational reason for there not to be intelligent life upon other planets, it is highly unlikely that such life, even if it has ventured further out into space than we have, can or ever has made it this far. Also, the likelihood of them discovering us amongst all of the planets and heavenly bodies in the universe is like finding the proverbial needle in a haystack - or worse! It seems to me that the answers to the questions raised in UFOlogy are not to be found by looking outside of ourselves.
Psychology can, in many cases, find the solutions to many mysteries involving UFO sightings and so-called abduction cases or "close encounters of the fourth kind", just as the other branches of science can often reveal UFO hoaxes. However, psychology is still an infant science and not all UFOs and "abductions" can be explained away as hoaxes, misidentified natural phenomena, and such things as psychologically induced dream states. While about 95% of all cases can be explained in this manner, there remains approximately 5% that remain unexplained and apparently unexplainable. Does this mean that UFOs exist? Certainly they exist! If your neighbour's son throws the latest Frisbee rip off into the air and you catch it out of the corner of your eye but do not know exactly what you saw, you have just seen an apparently flying object that is unidentified! All too often people, even highly trained UFOlogists - including, at least once, the man we are about to discuss - confuse the term Unidentified Flying Object with "flying saucer", "extraterrestrial spacecraft", and so forth. UFO is not synonymous with these other terms. Once an object has been identified it is no longer unidentified. It is a small matter, true, but it illustrates the kind of sloppy reasoning, even on the part of obviously intelligent people, that has caused the UFO problem to remain a probem.
If a certain percentage of UFO sightings and apparent abductions by alien beings cannot be explained by one branch of "orthodox" science or another does that not prove that the UFOs are alien spacecraft and that people really are being abducted by the UFOnauts? No. Exercising reason and common sense it only proves that nothing has as yet been proven one way or the other. It remains an open and unanswered question. Yet there are less "orthodox", less widely accepted sciences that actually have a much longer history than the modern sciences - sciences that exercise reason and logic although it may be carried several steps further than modern science is willing to go - sciences that are not so readily calculated and calibrated by mechanical devices due to the subtle nature of the elements of these sciences, due to the extremely personal and individual nature of them. And why should we confine ourselves to the narrow and restricting boundaries of "orthodox" science if it fails to solve the problem and answer the riddles? Perhaps for the answer to the problem we should go back further, to the very roots of science, and seek our answers in what is commonly called "magic". Day by day, little by little, modern science is discovering that the village witch really did know how to cure certain ailments, that the alchemist was far from ignorant of the science of chemistry, and perhaps, just perhaps, the ceremonial magician really did know something about human psychology and, like the yogi, understand better the powers of the mind and the workings of consciousness. Naturally any "enlightened and intelligent modern individual" would scoff at the magician who dons his godawful silly robe, places a crown upon his head, waves a "magic sword" about while prancing in his circle to evoke a "demon" to physical manifestation in a "triangle of art", constrain it by the power of his will and then banish it. What bloody nonsense! And yet, it is not all that different from what a psychoanalyst does. It is, in fact, more efficient since no one is called upon to do the job for you - you do it yourself, directly and possibly better. The problem with "modern man" is that he has forgotten his subconscious self. He has locked it into a cramped closet - little realizing that it has a key and can slip in and out whenever it wishes - and he no longer attempts to communicate with that subsconscious self. He even tries to deny its very existence. And so he has forgotten the language of the subconscious - the language of symbols. Thus the actions of the magician who is ever aware of the subconscious, its tricks, its powers - actions which seem silly to the "modern man" who, through his lack of understanding and intellectual conceit proves himself to be very much less enlightened than he believes himself to be.
The ceremonial magician simply exteriorizes psychological, mental and emotional, functions and by way of dealing with them in a physical, concrete manner, is able to at least temporarily unite the conscious reasoning self with the subconscious feeling self to come to a better understanding of himself as a whole and to better deal with his imperfections. He may don the white robe to symbolize his intention of pure aspiration unto the highest aspect of humankind and the universe. He places the crown upon his head to symbolize the highest's dominion over all, even his own basic animal nature. That brilliant white robe and crown representing that which he aspires to, union with the True Self - a perfect unification and integration of the psyche, conscious and subconscious no longer two but one, symbolized on the Hebrew Tree of Life as Kether, the topmost white sphere also called "the Crown", the Yechidah aspect of the psyche. The sword that he not merely waves about but employs in a very definite way as an artist employs his brush or a draftsman his pen, symbolizes the reason which delineates the boundaries of his work and represents the ability to take a thing apart and analyze it. It is the knowledge that he gains through analysis which gives the magician his power over the forces which he has conjured into manifestation. The circle, drawn by the sword, is very generally the eternal within which he lives and moves and has his being, beyond and outside of the limitations of time and space, while the triangle is, also very generally, the three-dimensional space within which manifestation takes place. It is within this triangle of art that he evokes his "demon", the particular subconscious complex he wishes to deal with - communicating with it, forcing it to obeey his will, employing that complex to work for him instead of against him, and when he has mastered it and no longer has need of his "demon", the magician carefully and completely banishes that subconscious complex from his personal universe. What could be more logical, more efficient and more simple? What the magician does in one or a few simple rituals, on his own, for relatively little if any money, the so-called "enlightened modern man" who scoffs at magic, mistaking for the truth the silliness he reads in books or sees in the movies as well as the nonsense he hears from others, relies upon another person to deal with his psychological complexes, seldom learning to stand upon his own two feet but rather becoming dependent upon his psychoanalyst, suffering through innumerable sessions to accomplish an essentially simple task, costing him a great deal of hard-earned money, and when all is said and done he is seldom any the better for his experience.
Enough. Suffice it to say that the true initiate of magic/k is not the primitive who is afraid of his surroundings, a victim of his insecurities, trying desperately to have some effect upon an apparently hostile environment, as he is so often depicted by the intellectually conceited. The art and science of magick may have begun upon such foundations, but then so too did all of the more "orthodox" sciences. Let us then take our UFO problem and see what solutions a modern day initiate and practitioner of magick, in particular yours truly, a genuine Thelemic Magician, can come up with. We will here approach the subject of UFOs and abductions through an all too brief review of a current best seller, Communion, by Mr. Whitley Strieber, published by Beech Tree Books, William Morrow and Company, Inc., 105 Madison Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10016, copyright 1987 E.V., $17.95 hardbound.
Dealing with Mr. Strieber's book as I would like would produce a book in itself, even if my verbosity could be curbed, and since we cannot deal with every detail of the book in this small encyclical we ask for the author's as well as the readers' forgiveness if we simplify matters from time to time and neglect to explain each and everyone of those magnificent details. However, if one follows the lead of this encyclical those details which are not specifically dealt with should seem to explain themselves. I sincerely recommend any person interested in the subject of UFOs and apparent abductions, especially those who feel that they have experienced a sighting or a close encounter, to read Communion - with, of course, this humble Encyclical Letter in mind.
I agree with Whitley. Something is happening and we must identify it and deal with it as soon as possible before it is too late. Yet, what exactly is happening and what can be done about it? That, I hope, is what this encyclical will explain, despite the limitations. And, interestingly enough, during my efforts to study Communion and then the UFO phenomenon in general, pro and con - while struggling with all of the data, trying to organize it and put together some kind of an outline - even while sitting down to write the first draft of this review, my IBM Selectric 2 constantly breaking down, me dashing to the place where the old IBM Selectric 1 is stashed so that I can cannibalize it for parts - it seems that everything that could conceivably happen to halt the project was happening. At one point, typing into the wee hours of the morning, the electricity on the whole street went out, which naturally killed my electric IBM typewriter. I could only sit here in the dark and laugh. Maybe, I thought, "they" are up there, watching me and "they" are unhappy with what I am trying to do. Then on came the lights, the IBM came back to life, and I finally finished the first draft, which, to judge from the following, this will have only a slight resemblance to.
[Curiously, putting this and the companion article into HTML format for publication on the internet met with obstacles that caused me to fall a month behind schedule. However, having no recovered suppressed memories of an encounter with the "greys" or Men In Black, I must conclude that this is simply a coincidence, the obstacles encountered just the way things sometimes go. Probably.]
Whitley Strieber seems like a fairly intelligent man, relatively stable and what we commonly call "sane". That final word does not mean much to me personally as I generally consider "sanity" to be the degree of "insanity" that is common and commonly tolerated. "Sanity" equals the acceptable degree of "insanity" in society. No one is "perfectly sane". No one is perfectly balanced. A degree of imbalance is part of the human condition. However, when all is said and done I think we can call Whitley a fairly rational fellow. He is, furthermore, a husband and a father, and a cracking good writer of horror fiction who has recently become increasingly interested in the more scientific aspects of fiction, in the possibility of nuclear holocaust and ecological disaster. He calls himself an agnostic and explains that agnosticism is an active state of mind. Very often agnosticism is a term used as a synonym for skepticism and Webster defines an agnostic as "one who thinks it is impossible to know whether there is a God or a future life, or anything beyond material phenomena." However Whitley may define the term agnostic, it is important to point out that the agnostic as well as the skeptic is a person who sincerely desires to believe in something, but who finds it very difficult to believe in anything. Such a person usually has to be inundated by apparent facts, and if he is immersed in his data his resistance eventually breaks down with the distinct possibility that he may then become, too prematurely, a believer. Such a person is a kind of convert, his fervent agnosticism traded in for equally fervent belief, and the rationality that he once cherished sometimes becomes a forgotten love. The convert generally becomes too enthusiastic in his new found beliefs and loses some or all rationality, accepting any and all data that at least superficially seems to support his new belief system, indiscriminately, whereas the person who was raised into those beliefs is generally more relaxed and rational. I would not call Whitley a fanatic. However, he has been converted to a certain belief, although he appears to be trying very hard to remain objective. As is obvious in his book, and most especially in his television appearances, which, we must remember, do not always present a speaker and his subject in the way they should be presented, Whitley seems to be convinced that "the visitors" that he encountered were physical beings from another planet or perhaps another dimension, and that the experiences he had were physical experiences. Although he explores various possibilities in his book, it is obvious that at least upon some level, Whitley Strieber is convinced of the physical reality of his experiences.
Either that or he is perpetrating an excellent literary hoax. This, however, I do not believe to be the case.
And what kind of a person is the writer of this Encyclical Letter? This too is relatively important if you are going to form your own opinions based upon Communion and this writing.
I am a Thelemic Magician and I too enjoy writing horror and science fiction, with a sound basis in magical fact, although I am not as yet quite as successful as Mr. Strieber. I am not an "occultist". In my personal vocabulary the common "occultist", as well as the typical "religionist" and the crass "materialist" are most often irrational, unreasonable extremes. When asked about occult matters, generally the only time I discuss them with others, it is my habit to say the following:
"My conservative estimate is that about 99.9% of the individuals, groups and books dealing with magic/k, mysticism, metaphysical and new age philosophy, is worthless, inaccurate rubbish. Most of the individuals involved are irrational and illogical, even the ones who superficially appear to be just the opposite, and a vast number of them, if not outright charlatans trying to make a buck at the expense of gullible people or gain worshippers for their ego, are crackpots or seriously unbalanced. For the basic esoteric philosophies, the magical and mystical arts and sciences, however, I have a great respect as they are firmly grounded in reason, logic and human pyschology, despite how they may sometimes appear due to the expressive but not always well-defined terminology employed."
Very generally this is the essence of Communion. Through a series of very strange events and then by way of hypnotic explorations, Whitley became aware of not only the presence of what he calls "the visitors", but also his interaction with them. Not only have the visitors abducted him upon numerous occasions and apparently studied him, physiologically as well as psychologically, but they have also involved his wife and son, and they have never been far from him during his entire life. He claims to remember incidents in the past involving the visitors. Now that is incredibly general and I do strongly suggest that you obtain and read his book for a more detailed examination of the alleged facts of the case.
I cannot here employ as many direct quotations as I originally wished simply because it would make this encyclical far too long - and frankly I cannot afford the cost of printing and distributing what could well turn into a book itself! I will, however, from time to time interject specific page numbers in parentheses, like so (93), for quick reference to the volume in question.
After hypnosis Whitley was haunted, day and night, by the image of the primary visitor (164), and while this is most interesting and informative, providing us with many details which we will find may be irrelevant, it suggests the possibility that despite their credentials the doctors involved were rather careless as this definitely indicates what the magician has long called "the mixing of the planes". Throughout the hypnotic sessions, by the way, if Whitley has relayed them properly, it is apparent that the hypnotists were occasionally careless, sometimes failing to formally bring Whitley out of hypnosis simply because he seemed to come out of it himself. Rarely, yet still misleadingly, some of the questions asked were indeed leading and at one point (192) psychiatrist Robert Naiman hypnotized Whitley's wife Anne and told her to get as relaxed as she could, "I want you to have a little dream. A fantasy. About what all that activity was. What's happening?" At that point her testimony could become invalid for a fantasy is probably what the subject would then provide. However, it seems as if Anne was a tougher nut to crack and more firmly grounded in fact than anticipated. It is also worth noting that experiments have been conducted, the results of which being that subjects without prior knowledge of such things were easily led into relating, under hypnosis, completely fictional encounters with extraterrestrials, with a sense of complete sincerity, that were in no way different from the accounts given by allegedly "real" abductees. The point of all of this being that since the subject can lie while under hypnosis, even if he or she is not aware that he or she is lying while in this highly suggestible state, and since by even a slip of the tongue that subject can be led into an entire fantasy that is automatically accepted by the subject as reality, since in this state of consciousness the difference between fantasy and reality seems to be nonexistent, testimony while under hypnosis is practically worthless. Likewise, Whitley provides the results of a carefully worded polygraph [lie detector] test to prove that he is at least not lying, although he admits that he could be wrong about what he perceived and experienced. However, it should be remembered that under the circumstances testimony here too is practically worthless because (a) how the questions are worded may effect the outcome one way or the other, (b) one expert's evaluation may differ from another's, and (c) if the subject undergoing the test believes that a lie he is telling is the truth the device will register his answer as the truth, however untruthful it may be. Now, with all of that aside, let us finally study the visitors themselves.
Generally we are informed that Whitley encountered four basic types of beings. Being #1 (22, 24, 29) was a "small robotlike being" wearing a square plate on which was etched concentric circles and he had the impression of a face mask, which automatically reminds me of the face masks often worn by participants in mystical rituals. Being #2 (29, 30) was a large group of short, stocky beings dressed in dark blue coveralls. They appeared to have deep-set glittering eyes, pug noses and somewhat human if broad mouths. Being Type #3 (29, 30), certain "huddled figures", were smaller than type #4 as yet to be described, with similarly shaped heads and round, black eyes that reminded Whitley of large buttons.
As we said down on the farm, this is no time to pussyfoot around. These beings were not, are not, "real". Specifically, they are not physical realities. This is not to say that it was "all in his head". These beings are real, but in another state, upon another level of consciousness. One of the things that has caused Whitley so much suffering, a problem most people seem to have, is what I call the Either-Or Syndrome. He seems to be of the opinion that either these beings and his experiences with them are physically real, or they are psychological manifestations, i.e. not real. The fact of the matter is they are not physical realities, but they are nonetheless quite real. His experiences were those of what I call the astral state of consciousness. Occultists generally speak of the "astral plane" or the "astral light" with little or no understanding of the matter. They speak of "astral projection" as the leaving of the physical body, to inhabit an astral body made of a finer type of material substance, in order to move about in the astral wherein the laws of nature are somewhat less restrictive than upon the physical plane. Now while it is true that anything that can be conceived and said is untrue, that is only a partial or relative truth since absolute truth is inexpressable through our three-dimensionally oriented ideas and speech, it is yet less untrue, or , more true to say, that the adventurer into the "astral light" is projecting his consciousness into the astral state, or is, in some way, shifting mental gears to become aware or more aware of existence within the astral state of consciousness. Generally speaking, we are aware of the physical state of consciousness most of the time, concentrated upon it, fixated by it, and only rarely, subtly, aware of the "higher", "finer" levels or states of consciousness. When our bodies are at rest the hold upon our attention is lessened and we tend to slip into the astral state. Upon awakening the reasoning consciousness tends to blend our experiences of the astral state and our simple dreams and usually, at most, some astral experiences are vaguely remembered, in a somewhat confused manner, as if they were merely "vivid dreams".
One does not have to be "asleep" to slip into the astral state. Anything that causes us to lose our bodily, physical awareness, even if only for a single moment, can facilitate the shift into the astral. Fatigue, and sometimes anxiety, or a combination of the two, can lead to this shift in levels of consciousness. A common situation in cases of UFO sightings is the solitary driver, usually late at night, tired, perhaps partially hypnotized by the centre line, guardrails or passing telephone poles, who suddenly sees a UFO. He is certain at the time and later that the thing he saw was a physical reality, yet because of the insidious subtlety with which one can sometimes slip into and back out of the astral state, and how sometimes one can be between levels, so to speak, as if the astral realities had been superimposed over physical reality, those astral realities can easily be mistaken for physical matter. This is a mixing of the planes - the planes, levels or states of consciousness - and if it happens frequently, unexpectedly, then there is a problem which must soon be attended to. If it happens rarely to a person ... well ... that's life. Accidents will happen!
There is also this to consider, which perhaps most applies in Whitley's case. One may slip into the astral state of consciousness, experience the realities of that plane, but because of their subtle and/or abstract nature, because they are more natural to subconscious feeling or supraconscious gnosis, as they are they make no sense whatsoever to the conscious reason. Therefore, upon "awakening", upon returning through the gates of dream to the physical level, the reasoning mind sets about to fit concrete physical symbols to these subtle, abstract experiences. As is always the case with translation, something is inevitably lost in the process and error in interpretation is all too easy to make.
However that may be, one must remember this: truth, as we know it, is relative. It is relative, primarily, to one's point of view. Truth upon the physical level is not necessarily truth upon the astral level. Reality - everything - is relative. While those realities Whitley experienced are not, as he perceived them, or later symbolized his perception of them, real upon the physical plane, they are quite real upon the astral plane. They are as real there as a two-ton truck is real upon the physical plane - and if you are not careful, sometimes reality can run you over.
So what were these beings? Facets of Whitley's total consciousness, yet with an apparent independent existence within their natural state. I tend to think that Being #1 was the personfication of his automatic physical functions - the beating of his heart, respiration, reflexes, and so forth - that part of the brain and mind that controls these things. Remember its robotlike nature and the concentric circles etched upon the plate that it wore over its body, not only an ancient symbol common to Native Americans, the Kelts and so forth, but a representation of perpetual motion - or at least the closest thing to it.
Being Type #2, the short stocky ones in the dark blue coveralls which, he tells us, were apparently responsible for moving and controlling him and which he had the distinct impression that they were a kind of "good army", although he does not know why he had that impression, are personifications of his more voluntary physical functions, motor responses and so forth - that part of the brain and mind which controls the muscles of the physical body.
Being Type #3, then, the "huddled figures" in what appeared to be an operating room, were no doubt more psychological in nature. These were, in all probability, subconscious complexes, "demons" if you will, or the "qliphoth" in qabalistic terminology.
Occultists, especially Theosophists, love to categorize the various "subtle bodies" of man and the various planes of existence. Some say there are seven distinct planes, others ten, and so on. The truth of the matter is that all "bodies", whether astral or physical, etheric, casual, whatever, are merely convenient constructs of consciousness for the sake of perception and "movement" upon or within various levels of being. The physical body, for instance, is just as real or unreal as the astral body. However, as essentially unreal, say, your physical body is, relative to the absolute, it is, nonetheless, relatively real, i.e. real relative to its natural plane of consciousness. Therefore, to say that your body is not real, to intellectually comprehend this and realize that ultimately you are the master of reality, and then to leap off of a roof convinced that you can, by simply willing it, alter reality so that your physical body will fly without craft within the physical plane, is to probably make the last move you will ever make upon that plane or level of consciousness. That is to say, you will probably "die" and look pretty foolish doing it. "No one is above the law", to borrow a phrase, and each level of consciousness has its own cosmic laws, its own natural laws, some of which hold true upon other planes, while some run contrary. No matter what plane of consciousness you are on, you are concentrated upon, you must obey the laws natural to that plane and function accordingly.
A simple example of the variances in the laws of nature on different planes or levels of consciousness can be found in the differences experienced by an individual living and working on dry land at one moment, and deep under the ocean the next. To breathe and function deep below the water he must wear a pressurized diving suit, much as the astral traveller dons his so-called astral body to function upon the astral level of consciousness. Below water the man who can lift only 150 lbs. may suddenly be capable of lifting twice that weight or more, he can leap higher, he can float upward, he can move through the "atmosphere", seemingly unconstrained by gravity. Should he fall from the surface of the ocean to the very depths, he is unlikely to injure his skeletal system, whereas if he falls from the sky to the land he is likely to break bones and rupture internal organs. What the individual can do within the ocean waters he cannot necessarily do on land, and likewise, what is possible upon the inner astral planes of consciousness may very well be impossible upon the outer physical or somatic plane.
How many planes are there? I would naturally choose to say ten and employ the qabalistic Tree of Life to explain them, but I would also hastily point out that there are probably any number of subplanes between these and state that like frequencies in sound and light they are perhaps infinite in number, blending, ever so subtly, into one another.
Finally we come to Being #4, which Whitley says (29) was the most provocative and with which he frequently says, one way or another, he seemed to have a very special, very close relationship with. This being appeared to be tall and slender - he gives a plethora of physical details which are somewhat irrelevant in fact, but its cranial and facial features are at least relatively important. Bald, with a largish head, a rather pointed chin, no ears, no eyebrows, vestigial mouth and nose, and most striking very large slanted eyes, slanted more than an Oriental's eyes, he says (68), which had a buglike quality and which he found very disturbing. (85, 87) Although insectlike, there is also a humanoid quality (96) and he seems to waver a bit in his description of this being. At one point he suggests that these beings are rather insectlike, that they may have a kind of hive-mentality, a hive-intelligence, and that they find us interesting because of our individuality, which they lack - an individuality that makes us unpredictable and which frightens them. In fact, this is an example of poor reasoning. If beings with insect- or hive-intelligence were capable of space travel, the bees and ants of our planet would have probably developed sufficiently to leave earth long ago, but instead they remain in a somewhat stable and changeless social order. The technology attributed to extraterrestrials is capable only if individuality exists, for it is individuality from which technological advances come. It is individuality that is responsible for advancements in technology, philosophy, and so forth. Without individuality only the most rudimentary physical development is possible so as to adapt to environment.
This is, however, beside the point [except to show that even a man with apparently above average intelligence is more than capable of illogical thought] as Being #4 is not an extraterrestrial "visitor". In fact none of these beings are either visitors or invaders. If anything, in this instance, Whitley Strieber is the visitor. It is Whitley, the persona, that is invading their realm, not the other way around, and this being with which he seems to have a very special, very close relationship is the supraconscious self or mind. The supraconscious is, in a manner of speaking, the product of the union of the conscious mind and the subconscious mind, or apparently divided aspects of mind. It is that which has been called "the Beloved" because of the close relationship between it and the aspirant. It has been called Adonai, the Lord, the Buddha nature, sometimes generally "the soul" or "God". In ancient Rome the supraconscious was referred to as the Genius; in Greece the Daemon (daimonos), which should be distinguished from the English "demon"*, and which means "a god, goddess" as well as "fate, lot, destiny". While sometimes Thelemites refer to it as the Holy Guardian Angel, after the fashion of Abra-Melin the Mage - H.G.A. for short. Also it is often called the True Self, the True Will being the active aspect of It, one's purpose for existing, and so I generally prefer to call the supraconscious the Daemon as this term includes both concepts, the True Self [a god, goddess], and the True Will [fate, lot, destiny]. The names by which the supraconscious was and is known are too numerous to list completely, but it has also been called the Augoeides, the Zeitgeist, or spirit of the age, and Atman. Jesus the Nazarene often referred to It as "the Father" who is the creator of "the Son", which in many instances in his recorded words referred to the persona. In a fragment of an ancient Gnostic ritual commonly referred to as The Bornless Ritual, It is called akephalon or akephalos, which is Greek for "headless" or more accurately, if not more literally, "without source", "without beginning", always existing and eternal, aspects commonly attributed to "God".
[*The most common feeling an "abductee" has in regards to this "being" is one of mutual attraction and repulsion. While one should not mistakenly think of the daimonos in the same sense as one would think of a "demon", it is noted in Liddell and Scott's Greek-English Lexicon that the Greek word not only means "a god, goddess; the Deity; fate destiny, fortune; one's genius, one's lot or fortune", but also "an evil spirit, devil." It's nature being beyond the relative concepts of "good" and "evil", and thus including both and yet partaking of neither, is confusing to the rational, reasoning mind in the relative universe, and thus the confused sensation of being both attracted to and repelled by It would be only natural.]
The ancient Hebrews divided the soul of man into four parts, the supreme part or aspect of which is Yechidah, which generally means "one", a "unit", complete in itself and indivisible. Yechidah, the Essential or True Self, is attributed to the first and highest sephira or sphere on the Tree of Life, a convenient filing system for ideas and concepts that is often referred to as the manifestation of God in the material universe - the emanations of God. This first, highest sephira is called Kether, the Crown, and in the A.·.A.·. system of grades, the grade of Ipsissimus is attributed to Kether. Ipsissimus is a Latin word meaning one's "Very Self", "He himself", and so forth, i.e. the True Self or Daemon, the very core and totality of one's being.
Kether makes the topmost point of the Supernal Triad, the lower points being Binah, Understanding, and Chokmah, Wisdom. This Supernal Triad or Triangle represents the Absolute and is above the abyss. Below the abyss are seven more sephiroth - the fourth through and including the ninth representing the Ruach, or reasoning mind, while the tenth, Malkuth, the Kingdom, represents the Nephesh or animal nature of humanity. One is tempted to equate Nephesh with the subconscious, Ruach with the conscious, and the Supernal Triad, Kether, Binah and Chokmah, or Yechidah, Neschamah and Chiah, with the supraconscious, both the result of the conscious and the subconscious as well as that from which these emanate. However contradictory that sounds, it is probably the best way it can be explained.
Whitley tells us (107) that he had the very distinct impression that this being was old, and while "her" voice had a lilting quality to it "When she spoke in my head", "aurally" it seemed very deep, as if booming from the depths of a cave - he might have more accurately said as if booming from the very depths of his being. It is here interesting to note that his "impression" that this being was old or ancient ties in with what is herein claimed. If indeed this being is the supraconscious, the Yechidah, which is attributed to Kether, the impression of great age is appropriate since the phrase "the Ancient of Days" is also associated with Kether.
For a reason he cannot understand, as there do not seem to be physical characteristics to indicate sex, he had the "impression" that this Being #4 was female, and he notes (105) "that people who have had the expreience often felt that they were familiar with one of the visitors, and usually perceived this person to be of the opposite sex." This is precisely the case with the supraconscious, the Daemon. There is a very intimate relationship with It and Its sex is usually, although not always, perceived to be the opposite of the person perceiving It. In truth, sex is not so much a matter of physiological structure as it is a matter of function and polarity, and this is more obvious upon the subtler planes of consciousness, although perceivable upon the physical plane.
In her presence (106) Whitley feels as if he has no personal freedom. He felt as if every vulnerable detail of his self, which we are to understand as the persona, ego or false self, were known to this being, which of course is logical since the supraconscious created the persona for the sake of Self-expression. He felt the presence of this being within him and found it both disturbing and curiously sensual, the latter sensation especially being the reason that the ancients have called this Daemon "the Beloved". "Can anything other than a part of oneself know one so well?" he asks, and the answer, of course, is No - although, more accurately, It is not a part of him, he is a part of It.
Looking upon this being fills Whitley with a mixture of feelings. He feels the "deepest longing" he can ever remember as well as "the deepest suspicion" (106), the latter primarily because throughout the book he reveals that he is basically insecure. He also experiences sadness, sorrow (150) in her presence and he does not understand why this should be so. It is not surprising since he is without Understanding. Binah, the third sephira of the Tree of Life, called Understanding, is commonly coloured black, the colour of this being's mysterious, disturbing eyes. Eyes that one can become lost in. Eyes seemingly as infinite as a sea. Binah is called the Great Sea from which all form originates and to which all form eventually returns. It is called the Supernal or Great Mother, Mara, bitterness, and to this sphere is attributed the mystical experience known as the Trance of Sorrow. It is obvious that Whitley Strieber has had some experience of, some direct "communication" with, that aspect of the Daemon, the True Self, the supraconscious that the ancient Hebrew initiates called the Neschamah, more or less "intuition". Being #4 is the symbolic embodiment of this particular aspect of the Total Self that Whitley Strieber is only a small portion of, a temporary expression of upon the physical plane of consciousness - Whitley Strieber being the persona or "mask".
[Note: While I have attributed the Nephesh to the subconscious and the Ruach to the conscious aspects of mind, Yechidah, Chiah and Neschamah as the Three-in-One supraconscious, on another level one may see Neschamah as the root of the subconscious and Chiah as the root of the conscious aspect of mind, in a manner of speaking.]
"For half of my life I have been engaged in a rigorous and detailed search for a finer state of consciousness." (35) Whitley spent years of study of everything from Zen to quantum physics and at one time worked with the Gurdjieff Foundation, an organization devoted to the development of consciousness which is based upon the philosophies of P. D. Ouspensky and G. I. Gurdjieff. However, it is obvious that the education he received was very faulty for when he finally achieved, at least for relatively brief periods of time, those finer states of consciousness that he desired, he failed to recognize them for what they were. He had no control over the altered states of consciousness he had experienced, no control over when and how he would shift, and he not only failed to interpret matters accurately, but he made the great error of mixing the planes. There is a lesson therein for those who wish to pursue, purposely, what is commonly called the Path of the Wise.
Now Whitley, trying to find answers for his questions, stated (96) that "Surely no change had taken place in the human psyche extreme enough to account for such a radical change in the appearance of the fairy", and he is very wrong. In the first place, such a radical change has occurred, as just a glance over recent history will show. Even if one considers only the so-called "modern era" of UFOlogy, which began in 1947 E.V., the same year, by the way, in which Aleister Crowley "died", it is obvious that something extraordinary was happening. All of a sudden UFOs were being reported all over the place and while many of these were no doubt hoaxes and misidentifications inspired by boredom, desire, fear, insecurity, and so forth, there were still many that were "genuine" - that is to say, that more people were suddenly experiencing, perceiving and interpreting as best they could those "higher" states of consciousness without real conscious effort. More and more "common" every day people began experiencing mystical states that before were primarily experienced only by mystics and magicians. Of recent years the UFO problem has started to become more critical. Now, more frequently than before, reports not only of sightings but of actual abductions are being made. Again the majority comes from charlatans, crackpots and psychologically disturbed individuals, but many are sincere reports of experiences which are, due to a lack of education in these matters, inaccurately or crudely at best interpreted.
I would say that the primary importance of Whitley Strieber's book Communion is that all this will be brought out into the open as a result. Once such experiences, in all of their symbolic detail, are laid out in the open they can be examined.
The primary importance of this Encyclical Letter is to point to the direction that examination should take so that these experiences may be rightly understood, dealt with, and properly employed so that humankind will be assisted in taking the Next Step on the Path that we all travel whether magician or not - that Next Step in our spiritual and intellectual evolution. If these basically undereducated, untrained, individuals who are "accidentally" slipping into these altered states of consciousness are not properly educated, at least in general terms, and properly guided along their Way, they will fail to take the Next Step, stumble and fall.
Whitley [I am tempted to here call him "the Home Team"] seems to be a very stable, above average intelligent man. He is, however, only human, and so cannot be "perfect" - whatever that is! He is insecure and hoped that his experiences were only a complicated series of misperceptions (56) because he had never before felt so tiny and helpless (77). "I for one would prefer an empty universe to one that reacts to us with contempt or Olympian indifference" (144). He admits to suffering from "performance anxiety" (270), and so forth, all of which tells us that he is totally unprepared for these experiences. Frequently he experiences paranoia, which does not necessarily mean he is a paranoiac, and felt like the world was caving in on him (78). Throughout Communion it is obvious that he has a habit of running from his fears instead of facing them, another indication of his unreadiness for these experiences. Yet he is coping - the very writing of Communion was an effort to cope with his experiences. "On a deeper level..." he wrote (144), "I find that I am beginning to become a little more at ease with the idea that the visitors might actually exist." The major problem is, however, his mixing of the planes. Although he tries to be very objective in Communion, considering every possibility he can think of, some of which come close to the truth of the matter, while others are fit only for science fiction, Whitley makes it obvious that he believes "the visitors" to be extraterrestrials, physical beings from another planet who have physically abducted him for whatever reasons. Locked into this belief he will only succeed in further misleading himself so that he fails to take that Next Step and instead stumbles and falls. Worse still, he will mislead others, unintentionally no doubt, so that they will either stumble and fall, or turn away entirely from the True Path to follow an interesting but useless byway.
Whitley admits (144) to having a great deal of trouble with notions of space ships and visitors, emotionally, and while he seems to be reluctantly accepting the extraterrestrial symbology to explain his experiences, it should be noted, as he himself pointed out in his book, that at no time did he ever view any kind of spacecraft throughout these experiences. The reason is simple. In the first place, having already come face to face, as it were, with the supraconscious in the astral form of Being #4 he had no need for the more general and abstract symbol of the supraconscious, the "flying saucer". And since his reasoning mind rebelled so strongly against the traditional UFO sighting symbology it refused to employ it as a symbol for these experiences as it did not seem to fit well.
It may be of interest to interject in this place that I do not draw any of my conclusions from purely intellectual sources. My conclusions are also drawn from the best educator of all: Personal Experience. I have sighted UFOs, or more accurately, objects that appeared to be extraterrestrial spacecraft, some in the traditional flying saucer shapes, some in another traditional form, the V or triangular ship. As a practicing magician I have experienced, sometimes as if by accident, although quickly taking control of the situation when it occurred, and often intentionally, those altered states of consciousness, the so-called "out of body experience". I have encountered the qliphothic forces of the subconscious as well as the supraconscious Self. Generally speaking, everything that Whitley Strieber experienced, I and most other genuine magicians and mystics experienced, although the symbolic forms are sometimes somewhat different, and, of course, the reaction to those experiences are different. I for one would love to know that there are superior beings somewhere, for after all, people, as interesting, amusing and endearing as they can be, are also too often godawful disappointing, at least when one knows the human potential and observes upon a daily basis how this potential is ignored or squandered. All of this, however, may be discussed in another place. Let us continue our examination of Mr. Whitley Strieber and his book.
Here we have a man who "was deeply conflicted about [his] Catholicism" (144), yet he "loved Christ and Mary especially" (115). Having spent the first eight years of my life in a Roman Catholic school I can well understand how internal conflict can be initiated. I myself seemed ever aware of absurdity and irrationality in Roman Catholicism and its poor representation in its catechism, educators and so forth, had little effect upon me - unless their effect was to make me more wary, more perceiving, more careful and a bit cynical. I have, however, noticed the ill-effects in many others. I will not here get into any discussion of "Christ" as my opinions of Christ and Jesus are too often misinterpreted by Christians and confuse those occultists who know that I am a follower of the Beast 666, the Antichrist, and erroneously believe that I should then hate the character of Jesus, which I do not, and loathe Christianity, which I do in a way, but which I differentiate from the original teachings of the Master Jesus. As for Whitley's love of Mary, it becomes obvious throughout that he has a special love for his mother and sister as well, that he is fascinated by a particular type of female archtypal form, a form that appears in some of his stories, as, for example, Miriam Blaylock in one of my all time favourite vampire novels, The Hunger. This is, no doubt, symptomatic of his long time, mostly unconscious, close relationship with the supraconscious, which you will recall he also perceives of as female.
Mention of The Hunger brings another aspect of Whitley's character to mind. Writers do it all the time, consciously and unconsciously - I know because I do it myself - and what it is that they do is to borrow. They borrow a name from this novel, a concept from another novel, a basic incident from some film they saw, and so on. Truly there is nothing new under the sun. In the case of The Hunger [1981 E.V.] it is obvious to me that, consciously or unconsciously, Whitley borrowed ideas from a film originally titled Red Lips [1971 E.V.] and later titled Daughters of Darkness. Whitley's The Hunger is by far the superior of the two, but the similarities are so great that coincidence must be ruled out. The primary character - and we are never quite sure whether to call her the antagonist or the protagonist - is an elegant female vampire named Countess Elizabeth Barthory. She has much in common with Miriam. Both are very sensual and apparently bi-sexual creatures who go after an attractive woman, seek to steal her away from her male lover, so as to make her a lover and companion for as long as her life can be extended. The point of all of this is not to say "Shame on you, Whit old boy", but to illustrate that Whitley commonly borrows symbols with which to express himself, and while he claims that he has never been very interested in reading UFO literature and has actually read very little of it, he also admits that with the media all around us it is impossible to say just how much information on any given subject one might unconsciously absorb, and I feel certain that a man like Whitley would tend to absorb and store a lot of information if for no other reason than that there might be a book in it some day. That is not, I do not think, what Communion is all about, but I do think that he borrowed a great deal of symbology in order to better grasp and explain, first of all to himself, the experiences he underwent.
At this point I can imagine Whitley reading this, disagreeing with this, that and the other thing, partly because I am unable to point by point deal with each and every detail in this limited space, but partly, also because I have yet to show him upon what I base my conclusions - that is that his experiences were not physical plane experiences, but adventures in the astral state of consciousness. And there is another factor involved that will make it difficult for him to accept the thrust of this review, this article, and that has to deal with a certain mystical state that he experienced, if only briefly and superficially, but which, nonetheless, confers upon the person experiencing it absolute conviction - a wonderful thing if one is properly directed, a dangerous thing if one's direction is in error.
Early on in Communion, on page 21 for instance, Whitley tells us that although "the visitors" have entered his bedroom, the burglar-alarm system was working perfectly, was activated, but had not been set off by the apparently physical intrusion. The conclusion seems to be that "they" were able to circumvent the system somehow. Reason and logic, however, dictates a much simpler explanation. If these beings entered his house without setting off the burglar-alarm system they are, in all probability, non-physical. A cynic would say "imaginary", "only a dream", but this, while a possibility, is probably not true either. The relative truth of the matter is that although he seemed to be awake upon the physical plane and encountering beings upon that plane, he was actually awake, so to speak, upon the astral plane of consciousness, therein encountering his "visitors" - which of course means that he, not them, was the "visitor"! - and since they were not physical and upon the physical plane they certainly were not likely to set off a physical alarm system designed to detect only physical invaders.
At another point in the book Whitley cannot understand how he could be experiencing such incredible invasions while his wife slept undisturbed beside him and even his dog slept soundly under his bed. There is no need for science fiction explanations. They were simply unaware, at the time, of the astral realities he was experiencing as their consciousness was concentrated upon other levels of being.
Whitley makes, throughout Communion, a common mistake. Continually he wrote that the experiences were so strange that he kept telling himself that they must be dreams, yet, as he would continue he said that that is impossible since he was so fully awake at the time. It must have been a real physical experience, he concluded. His mistake is in his understanding of the nature of consciousness. Conscious, very simply, means "to be aware; cognizant; awake; able to feel and think", and Whitley is, as I said before, a victim of the Either-Or Syndrome. Either you are aware of the physical plane of being, conscious, or you are sleeping, perhaps dreaming, but unaware or unconscious. Existence is not that simple. Nothing is black or white. There are many shades of grey in between. Besides this, consciousness is not something you slide in and out of - consciousness is what you are, at least in part. The range of consciousness is like the range of sight or hearing, roughly. "Normally" we are aware only of a limited part of the spectrum of colour and our range of hearing also seems to be limited. Some animals, we know, are capable of seeing things we cannot perceive, their sense of smell is far more accurate, and dogs prove that they are more aware, more conscious of higher levels of sound than we humans.
Existence, like the aspects of it that we know of as light and sound, also has a range, is made up of levels or degrees, and generally speaking we are only aware, conscious on, a limited range of existence. From time to time we vaguely perceive something just out of our range - that is, in fact, the case with true psychics [as distinguished from the commercial fakes]. Whitley simply became attuned to a wider range of existence. He was conscious upon levels of being that he was formally unconscious of - being conscious meant that he was awake, aware of his surroundings, of himself in those surroundings, and he carried this sense of having then been conscious with him into the physical plane as there was no break in consciousness between that level or state and the physical one. Had he experienced the break in consciousness between states, had he experienced a momentary unconsciousness during the shift, he may have remembered his experiences as only a very vivid dream - there are, in fact, indications that this occasionally happened and it was only through hypnosis that he was able to recall that his experiences had been real and not a dream.
[Anecdote: A lady friend visited, bringing with her another young woman, a blonde who looked very much like the actress Diane Lane, and this young woman, Susan, and I experienced an immediate and almost overpowering attraction for one another. While the other, dark haired lady, Bonnie, lost herself in my library, Susan and I retired to my bedroom and formed a strong bond. The next day, I believe it was, she confided in me that she was battling cancer. Not long after this and just before Susan seemed to vanish off the face of the earth, I went to bed and soon found myself "awake", an odd greyish "moonlight" pouring in from the three windows at the head of my large bed, and there beside me, laying perfectly still on my left, was what appeared to be Susan. More accurately, it appeared to be Susan's fresh corpse, wrapped tightly in grey cloth with only her face visible. Fortunately I had grown rather used to such unusual incidents and the appearance of Susan although one of death was also one of peace and serenity rather than one of horror. After a moment I found myself again awake, the lighting more natural, the shrouded figure gone. Although it seemed like an experience on the somatic or physical level of consciousness, although the shrouded corpse by my side seemed to have been a physical reality, this was not the case. It was, as I then immediately recognized, an experience in the astral state of consciousness - a perception of reality, but upon another plane of being. If one has not properly trained the critical ability of reason, it is very easy to mix the planes of consciousness and mistake an astral reality for a physical reality, especially when these levels are so close that they seem to interpenetrate one another.]
When Whitley underwent his experiences of course he was fully awake, although his physical body slept, one is tempted to say. Remember, however, that the physical body is as much an illusion as anything else. Before bed, to simplify matters, he was awake, aware, conscious upon the physical plane. After he had settled into bed, lost consciousness of his physical nature, the physical state of consciousness, he slipped into, shifted to an altered state, the astral state of consciousness. In the astral state he was conscious, i.e. awake and aware, and he could perceive that which existed in that state, the realities of that plane. A smooth, even if sudden, shift back into the physical state can go unnoticed by the critical faculty of the improperly trained mind, just as the shift into the astral state can go unnoticed, with the result of making it seem, so long as there was no break in consciousness, in most cases, as if one minute there was nothing with him on the physical plane, then the next minute there was, and poof! it's gone. Again, I do not base any of this upon intellectuality alone. I also base my conclusions upon a great deal of personal experience which makes all of this very clear to me. My first encounter, that is relatively speaking, following my first sincere studies into the esoteric "this time around", was during the night. Suddenly I was awake on the physical plane, or so it seemed. I was completely aware but unable to move - unable to move because I was in the astral state of consciousness and trying to function by the natural laws of the physical state. There by the side of my bed, as if looking down at me, there being no possible physical reason for its being there, was what appeared to be the living shadow of a man. Although it had height and width it did not seem to have depth, and yet oddly enough it had great depth. Looking into that black shadow was like looking into deepest space. The room, by the way, was dimly lit by star- and moonlight from the window, a window which faced a great expanse since I then lived atop a hill. I was paralyzed. I was frightened. And then a feeling of calmness came over me as I gazed upon the living shadow and when that calmness turned to a deep fraternal love, of it for me and me for it, the living shadow seemed to vanish. I suddenly but subtly returned to the physical level. I did not understand the experience for a long time, but again, it did not drive me to distraction as I had come, first intellectually and then experientially, to expect such seemingly unusual occurrances, and my eternal child nature, my great sense of humour, my flexible mental and emotional nature, made most of my experiences, in many of which I sometimes seemed to be tested, easy to bear. A part of me has always been rather indifferent to even my own personal welfare, set apart from things and so curiously interested that that curiosity overcomes my deeply passionate, emotional nature. I suppose you could say that the "Spock" in me always takes charge over the "Kirk" within when matters need to be dealt with in an efficient and rational manner.
Sense of humour, as I suggested, is also important. How many students of the esoteric have gone by the wayside because of an underdeveloped sense of humour, especially in regards to themselves, I cannot even begin to guess. And in Whitley's case I think I detect something of an underdeveloped sense of humour, a tendency to take himself and his experiences much too seriously, and this can be something of a barrier to his understanding and a pitfall that he can fall into, causing harm to himself.
It is also interesting to note that Anne (191), while under hypnosis, states that Whitley frequently leaves their bed to sleep with their son, while Whitley says he never sleeps with his son. She also claims that sometimes he leaves the bed at night to work at his writing. The point is that Anne perceives his "leaving" and he does not. It may be that in a kind of somnambulistic state he does do these things, unconscious of his physical actions during the act and afterwards - how could he be expected to remember anything other than having spent an evening in sound sleep? Or it could be that when he shifts into the astral state his consciousness upon that level, in that state, is so intense that there is, for that time, no awareness whatsoever of the physical, which would leave nothing which Anne could perceive upon the physical level automatically causing her to conclude that Whitley left the bed, her reasoning mind constructing, then, the most probable cause for him to seemingly disappear from her side for relatively long periods of time. Herein lies the secret to the so-called power of "invisibility". There were times in my life, while practicing simple yoga, losing consciousness of my self, of my physicality, that I apparently remained unobserved by others, to them physically invisible, even though I sat out in the open in full summer sunlight. This "invisibility" was not planned, it was merely a kind of side effect. When living with Shou Rong Wu [Soror Stella Orientis or Star], she often asked me where I had gone during the night. Hers was not the kind of mind to reason things out. She merely perceived and recorded. Physically speaking I never left our bed. I am a sound sleeper, yet ever ready to awaken at a moment's notice. During those times I would apparently become invisible to her my sense of being had been concentrated upon different levels of consciousness, so much so that there was no consciouness of the physical for her to perceive. It was as if an object of physical mass suddenly discarded its mass but continued to exist in a non-physical manner. Radar might register it as a sudden disappearance, or possibly perceive it while it would remain invisible to the human mind. But I stray far from the thrust of this review.
Whitley told us (19) that his life is sedate, that he and his wife rarely drink more than wine and that neither of them use drugs. Thus we are to conclude that these experiences are in no way the result of any form of intoxication or hallucination. He said (20) that he developed the habit of secretly touring the house, peering into closets and such, looking for hidden intruders. By 10 P.M. he and his wife would be in bed and by 11 both would be asleep. What does this tell us? First of all we may notice his paranoid tendencies. The question then is: Did these bring about the experiences or were they symptoms of them? Either is possible, despite the time sequence, and in fact both may be right. We cannot get into the nature of cause and effect and their relationship in this place, but suffice it to say that effect does not always seem to follow cause, and of course that is, in part, because between cause and effect there is, essentially, as viewed from "above the abyss", the absolute, no difference. Secondly, we notice that he led a sedate life and this is exactly what the yogi or mystic strives for. The Buddhist rule against intoxicating beverages is not a moralistic rule, it is a means of maintaining a sedate, calm lifestyle that is conducive to the attainment of altered states of consciousness. If you continually excite the physical body, so to speak, you remain upon the physical level of consciousness. To reach the "higher", "finer" astral level of consciousness you must put the physical to rest so that your consciousness is not completely concentrated upon it. Furthermore, to achieve those other states or levels ritual is performed. Habit causes one to become physically automatic, freeing the mind to range out into non-physical states, and ritual geared towards perception of those non-physical states will eventually make one more aware of those desired states, as concentration upon a thing in the dark will eventually make identification of it possible. Whitley was performing a ritual and that ritual's purpose was to seek out the "intruders", his "visitors". He was practicing magic and mysticism without even realizing it!
Running through a handful of matters: Whitley records (67) that one of the visitors touched him in the centre of the forehead just above the bridge of the nose whereupon he experienced a burst of images. This is the infamous pinal gland and the psychic centre or chakra known as the Third Eye, the Anja Chakra, and its "opening" does bring about a greater awareness of existence. The symbol of the triangle (122, 273, etc.) became important to him. He viewed it in the astral state several times. He even awoke one morning (131) to find two triangles, one large and finely drawn and one small, crudely etched into his flesh and pointing to the larger one. The Triangle or Triad represents the Supernal Triad, with all of its meanings, including the apparently three-in-one aspect of the supraconscious. In a way it is Macroprosopus or the Macrocosm, fine and perfect, represented by the large triangle, while the smaller triangle represents Microprosopus or the Microcosm, humanity or man as opposed to the universe or God. It is imperfect because man, being below the abyss as it were, is imperfect. If he were perfect he would be God. If he were to real-ize his essential perfection he would real-ize himself as God. The smaller triangle probably points to the larger one as an indication of Whitley's aspiration [aspiration commonly symbolized by the fire triangle, an equilateral triangle point up] unto the highest, the supraconscious. As a general symbol of the "visitors", which Whitley believes it to be, a kind of insignia, it is appropriate as not only does it represent the supraconscious, Being #4 here, but also all of "the visitors" upon a lower arc, so to speak, the conscious and the subconscious with supraconsciousness being the topmost point.
In the summer of 1947 E.V. (134), when Whitley was about two years of age, he had an experience which left the memory of a terrifying round object hanging in the sky and seeing a crowd of big, grey monkeys. Possible psychological interpretations aside as well as ill-remembered physical things, always a possibility, this may indicate a remembered perception of the supraconscious - the round object, as close to the "flying saucer" symbol as Whitley gets - as well as the subconscious elements of his own being - the monkeys in the grey, twilight area of his mind. And note the year: 1947 E.V., the beginning of the "modern era" in UFOlogy and the year of Aleister Crowley's death.
In 1977 E.V. (139) he and his wife held a brief conversation with a voice that seemed to be coming over their stereo and the fact that it was a conversation indicates that it was not simple radio or television interference. It happened only once and since his wife also experienced this it would seem to have been a physical reality. Throughout Communion we find that some of his experiences were shared. A blue light he perceived, along with a great deal of other things, was also perceived by his wife and a friend, for instance. This light was, by the way, most likely the "astral light". When a magician draws sigils in the air with hand or wand he is sometimes instructed to visualize his symbol as being drawn in blue light, and often without prior knowledge or instruction this is how he will automatically "see" or perceive it. Around the beginning of this century Aleister Crowley and his wife Rose spent a night in the Great Pyramid of Giza. While reading a ritual his light was extinguished, yet he was able to read, quite easily, the rest of the ritual by the astral light which seemed to permeate the windowless stone cell - an eerie light that even Rose perceived. They were, quite simply, attuned to the astral state of consciousness enough to perceive the light which comes, not from above, but within. In the case of the communicating voice on the stereo, Anne was attunded to the same level of consciousness as Whitley at the time. The voice only seemed to emanate from the stereo, or this is how their reasoning minds rationalized it. From time to time Anne experienced some small part of Whitley's experiences and to a greater degree his son shared those experiences. The three of them, he tells us (210), are almost never separated, they are very close, and the relationship between father and son is especially close. A psychiatrist might say that this points to an unusual type of psychosis known as folie a deux [folly or madness of two], which probably does explain many apparent UFO sightings and "abduction" cases. "This mental condition," Ms. Margaret Sachs tells us in her wonderful source book, The UFO Encyclopedia,
"is one in which the dominant partner of an intimate relationship transfers his or her delusions to the submissive, emotionally dependent partner. This shared psychosis usually affects a husband and wife, a parent and child, or two siblings."
I think, however, in this case, it goes far deeper than psychosis. Whitley experienced altered states of consciousness and in relation to their degree of closeness his wife and son were drawn into those states with him, in a manner of speaking. In relation to the "white thing" (142) they all perceived, while it "poked" all three of them at different times, the "white thing" caused a physical bruise only upon Whitley because he was the source of the experience and it had its strongest effect upon him, so strong that, as with the triangles etched upon his arm and the other minor phsical side effects, he caused them himself, psychosomatically, much as a person who believes that he has a disease causes a rash or some other physical anomaly to manifest.
Throughout Communion Whitley speaks of apparently flying or floating above the earth, looking down on things, sometimes in the company of others, although again he does not in any way perceive any form of "flying saucer". He speaks of floating out of his body, of the sensation being like rising in an elevator, and so forth, all of which are common to what is often [and erroneously] called "out of body experiences" or astral projection. The sensation of flying or floating is the reasoning mind's interpretation of the shift period and the greater sense of freedom experienced in the astral state of consciousness. His reference to an elevator I find particularly interesting as one of the methods of facilitating the shift into the astral state is to imagine that you are in an elevator and rising.
What was the cause for his "perceptual chaos" and confusion (137)? Why did it often take discussion with others to help him reconstruct his experiences (19)? Why did it take Whitley a couple of months to establish the connection between his experiences and the possible nonhuman visitors, the connection of which he thought so very unlikely (20)? Because that which he experienced was very subtle and abstract from the physical point of view, it took his reasoning mind time, with some assistance, input from others, to process the information and fit more concrete and phsycal symbols to the abstract experiences of these "finer" levels of consciousness. Then he fell into a common error: he began to mistake the symbols of reality for the reality itself.
People, he tells us (98), have similar experiences in all manner of unlikely places, while, for instance, driving a car and if, he says, it is merely some sort of hypnagogic trance they are experiencing why don't they drive off the road? Well, sometimes they do just that. Most times, however, people either unconsciously pull off to the side of the road or a small portion of their mind remains aware of their physical condition and automatically drives the car, responding appropriately to the surrounding conditions, while most of their attention, concentration, awareness is focussed upon the astral plane.
[Anecdote: an lady friend of mine had become interested in Transcendental Meditation. At one point, while driving her car down a highway, she suddenly had a "vision" of an elephant in the road ahead of her. The spontaneous visualization, while it appeared to be quite "real" was nevertheless nonphysical, and, by the way, an indication of probable poor training. This was much like a hypnagogic experience, and yet, while she could have, and with disasterous results, the lady did not drive off the road, managing not to panic.]
As for the hypnagogic and hypnopompic states, these are said to be mental states in between wakefullness and sleeping wherein images are self-generated in the mind and are of such a vivid quality that they are mistaken for real things. It explains some UFO sightings, but I am of the opinion that these states are merely sublevels, or, in fact, a single sublevel between the physical and the astral states of consciousness. But let us not get into all of that here!
Whitley Strieber, undereducated in mystical and magical matters, unprepared for his experiences, underwent certain shifts in consciousness, unexpectedly becoming aware of the astral state at one time, and at another the physical, off and on, making it difficult for him to perceive the distinction between the two, causing him to mix the planes, and so misguiding and misdirecting him. He did indeed experience realities, but realities of a different order, a different nature, a different level of consciousness than the physical realities we take for granted due to familiarity - but nonetheless real! Automatically, as it were, he underwent self-psychoanalysis, the evocation to apparent physical manifestation of his personal demons or subconscious psychological complexes, and inexpertly set about to banish these "demons", thereupon, banishing or cancelling out through a means of union, the union of the conscious and the subconscious, achieving enough balance to make contact with the supraconscious, his Daemon, "the Beloved", with which one always feels a very special, very deep, even sensual relationship with, that relationship generally being a very private matter with a person (251) as he points out in his book.
There are indications, too numerous to deal with in full, that this is so. For instance, the colour "blue" seems to be very important to him throughout the book, although he himself was probably unaware of its importance as he wrote Communion. The visitors wear dark blue coveralls (25), the eerie light he saw was distinctly blue (44), Whitley feels it necessary to mention his dark blue pajamas (85), as well as a memory of his sister in blue pajamas (125), two people in dark blue uniforms (147), the dark blue uniforms of the visitors (161) and even a dark blue cap on his otherwise naked son in a dream he relates (219). Why is the colour "blue" so important? Apparently the supraconscious has left with him an indication of the true nature of his experiences. On the Tree of Life the colour blue is attributed to the 25th Path which connects Yesod [Luna] to Tiphareth [Sol], to which is attributed Atu XIV of the tarot, Art [Temperance], an alchemical card symbolizing the union of the red lion and the white eagle, male and female, etc.. Note also that this path unites the sun and moon centres and seems to unite the Ruach. It runs up the Middle Piller of the Tree of Life. Blue is also the colour given to the 13th Path which runs from Tiphareth to Kether, Ruach to Yechidah, crossing the abyss wherein all is confusion. The magical symbolism could be expanded upon to a painful degree, but we will stop here. Suffice it to say that the supraconscious Self or mind left a message with the conscious being of Whitley Strieber that would help him to look in the correct direction for his answers.
"'Whitley' ceased to exist," (26) he told us at one point during his experiences. "The fear was so powerful that it seemed to make my personality completely evaporate." (25) At least in some small way Whitley experienced the annihilation of the ego - no wonder he underwent such an ordeal and felt as though his world was crashing in on him! At least in some small way Whitley, in these altered states of consciousness that he slipped into as if by accident, experienced that which is called Dhyana. Aleister Crowley [the Master Therion] wrote of this mystical experience in Book Four, Part I:
"the result on the mind of the student is tremendous; all his thoughts are pushed to their greatest development. He sincerely believes that they have the divine sanction; perhaps he even supposes that they emanate from this 'God.' He goes back into the world armed with this intense conviction and authority. ...
"The most important factor in Dhyana is, however, the annihilation of the Ego. Our conception of the universe must be completely overturned if we are to admit this is valid; and it is time that we considered what is really happening.
"It is probable, too, that our memory of Dhyana is not of the phenomenon itself, but of the image left thereby on the mind. But this is true of all phenomena, as Berkley and Kant have proved beyond all question.
"...Dhyana has to be classed as the most vivid and catastrophic of all experiences."
Whitley, at least upon an intellectual and emotional level, suddenly and unexpectedly found himself, quite unprepared, upon the brink of the abyss. He faced his fears, but continually ran from them. He initially faced them only because he apparently had no choice in the matter. Suddenly there they were. He did not cross but perceived the supraconscious that resides, so to speak, upon the opposite shore, which nonetheless contacted him and tried to assist him to Understanding. Mr. Strieber was in a position to achieve the Next Step in his spiritual and intellectual evolution, but due to a poor education in these matters, lack of experience, lack of training, general lack of preparedness, he stumbled. Whether or not he has fallen will be determined by his thoughts, words and deeds since writing Communion.
Whitley perceived many things, things that were apparently shown to him, which are perfectly understandable to many of us, but which seem to mystify him. For instance, he was "shown" what seemed to be the world blowing up, one of his basic fears being nuclear holocaust, if you will remember, then he realizes "It's not like the world blowing up. ... I'm told it's the world blowing up." This he is told by the subconscious complexes, his personal demons, which naturally seek to mislead one as an understanding of them brings about a union of the conscious and the subconscious which cancels them out, banishes or kills them in a way, to bring about greater awareness of the supraconscious. Whitley went on to write that "It's a red fire, a big, red, fierce fire with all of these horns of smoke shooting out from it in every direction. ..." Any student of Thelema or the Judeo-Christian Bible, Revelation or the Apocalypse especially, will recognize this as that which was symbolized as the red dragon. It is here important to point out that the symbols used in Revelation have been and continue to be mostly misunderstood to this day, and partly for politico-religious reasons this has been intentionally induced. The dragon has always been a celestial symbol of wisdom and in part represents Chaos - not "disorder", but the primal state of Unbeing, from which all things have been drawn or manifested. The Beast is called the Antichrist, but the fact that "anti" also means "in behalf of", "in place of", and "like" - antitheos is always translated in the Bible as "godlike" - as well as "opposed to", is suppressed by religious educators who wish you, in ignorance, to accept their point of view as the only truthful one. And the end of the world? The amusing thing is that it has already come and gone and the vast majority of people cannot even notice any difference! John the Divine, however, if he could see the Earth and its society now, experience the level of consciousness of humanity as it is now, would have no difficulty whatsoever in believing that the world had been destroyed and that he had somehow come to another world. From John's point of view, the world as he knew it was destroyed, and when he was "taken up in the spirit" he did indeed perceive things then as they are now, much to his chagrin and confusion. As we of Thelema put it, during the Vernal Equinox of 1904 E.V., the old æon of Osiris, the Dying God, ended and the New Æon of the Crowned and Conquering Child, Horus, roughly the same as the Age of Aquarius, began. Humankind began to take the Next Step on the Path which we all tread, but which the trained magician and mystic travels more surely and with greater awareness. There has been an important change in the psyche of humanity as a whole, and now more than ever before those higher, finer, inner planes, levels or states of consciousness are more easily accessible. The major problem with this is that more than ever before more people are slipping into these other, alternate states of consciousness, and without the proper education, at least in general terms, without the proper guidance, there is a very great chance that most if not all of them will fail to take the Next Step and stumble, perhaps even fall. And it is for this reason that Thelema exists. It exists so that that Next Step can be taken, with care, intelligently and to the benefit of all of humankind and its home planet, Earth.
To sum up: I wish it were possible for me to comment upon every fascinating detail of Mr. Whitley Strieber's fine book, Communion. If I could do that perhaps this Encyclical Letter might be more convincing to those diehard skeptics out there. Perhaps it could be more convincing to Mr. Strieber, whom I would like to help so that if he has not fallen he can regain his balance and go on to eventually take that very important Next Step and perhaps, through his writing, help others to take that Next Step without stumbling. Communion, while it can mislead the reader and especially those who have undergone similiar experiences, can be of assistance to others, but especially if they read this Encyclical Letter and keep it firmly in mind as they read Communion. The proper perspective is what will make the reading of Communion beneficial rather than detrimental.
These early decades of the New Æon are very important. How matters are perceived and begun may very well set the pace for how they will be understood and carried out during the rest of the next several thousand years. With the proper perspective, the correct attitude, and the right guidance, anything is possible - nothing will be beyond the means of humanity to accomplish. At this point in time I truly think that, however pessimistic I often seem, humanity is not so stupid that it would destroy itself by way of a thermonuclear exchange. Yet, if we begin this æon incorrectly ... well ... anything is possible...
May we all learn to exercise reason and logic, compassion and consideration for our fellow human beings; may we all learn to laugh more often, to not take especially ourselves and our feelings too seriously; and may we all cease to scoff too quickly at the thoughts and feelings of others, consider them, and together, as brothers and sisters, carefully and intelligently take the Next Step.
Figures 1, 2, 3 and 4 are drawings of typical "extraterrestrials" that people have claimed to have encountered. Figure 5 is a redrawing of Being #4 as it appeared on the dust jacket of Communion. Note the similarity between it and the dust jacket photo of the author, especially the chin and the curvature of the mouth. Figure 6, usually thought of as simply an "idealized self-portrait" to be found in The Confessions of Aleister Crowley, drawn by A.C. himself, is also his representation of Aiwass [Aiwaz], his True Self, Daemon or Holy Guardian Angel. Note the similarity between the drawing's nose, chin and mouth with photographs of Crowley. The reasons for these similarities pertains to the close relationship between the person and the supraconscious. And finally, Figure 7, which would easily be mistaken for a modern day drawing of an "extraterrestrial", is, in fact, a being called Lam which Aleister Crowley perceived and drew, and published in The Blue Equinox, Volume III, Number 1, in 1929 E.V..
The Daemon, the supraconscious has always been with us, but it is often perceived differently, by different people, according to different belief systems and levels of technological advancement, at different periods of time in human history. Whether King of the Fairies, UFOnauts or Holy Guardian Angel, certain characteristic demand a certain typical kind of symbolic interpretation revealing the supraconscious - ourselves in the future, so to speak, our full potential realized. To this, "the Beloved", should we move and not flee, being ever careful not to fall for the tricks and deceptions of the subconscious "demons" that, by nature, not by "evil", seek to keep us from taking the Next Step.