Tag Archives: apocalypse

The Witchcraft at the End of the World. Peter Grey & Alkistis Dimech of Scarlet Imprint on AEWCH!

6 Oct

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Friends,
For a time now, we’ve been walking around with a stone in our shoe – an unavoidable feeling throughout the day. And that feeling is: it’s the end of the world. The end of the world shows up again and again in history, and we’re in one of those end times, it’s risen into public consciousness. That’s why I write it’s the stone in the shoe, we’re aware of it even when we’re not aware of it. How does this new presence change the way we walk, the feeling we have about the day and have about each other? How do we walk with the minor and major imbalances it creates? If something permeates the general consciousness, it has a different effect on us; it becomes a companion. So what does it mean to not just intellectually or creatively entertain ourselves with the apocalypse, but to actually experience it in our daily lives?

And there is, to paraphrase Marx using his own supernatural language, a spectre haunting the end of the world, and that spectre is witchcraft. It’s magic, the occult. Whether it’s the symbols of the political elite, the black magic conspiracy theories of Q Anon, the presence of new thought and new age in the US democratic primary, the resurgence in the interest in tarot and astrology, the aesthetics of witchcraft on Instagram, we see again and again the presence of a new and old version of looking at the world, paired with the constant presence of its end. The end of the world and witchcraft are siblings this time.Maybe it’s not surprising, since the end of the world is always brought by prophecy and oracles, always seen by the knowing in its portents. And the end is always changing the way we relate to time; when we think there’s an end of the road, so many of us move away from linearity and start to think in layers of time. In synchronicities and correspondences. In creative ruptures outside of the normal flow of things.

We think in witchcraft.

So, I needed to discuss all of this, and give it flesh. I invited two people I know working with witchcraft and art in the apocalypse – Alkistis Dimech and Peter Grey. They’re also authors, performers, and the founders of the occult/witchcraft publishers Scarlet Imprint.One of the most interesting aspects of this conversation is that Alkistis and Peter and I come from differing traditions – they’re working with Babalon – the being that appears in Revelations, in thelema, in enochian magic and more.Whereas I am working with The Christ and the Archangel Michael via anthroposophy.So there’s a tension between our traditions – almost a sort of antagonism. What’s important to remember here is that through me and through Peter & Alkistis, a conversation takes place between these end of the world and beginning of the world beings – through Christ and Babalon. Conversations – real ones – become sites for the interaction of spirit as well.It is through that that tension found only in friendship that we ask a lot of big questions for our big time.

ON THE EPISODE

  • The rise of apocalypse in consciousness
  • The way the spiritual world selects or discards people to give itself life
  • What to do when we notice what we’ve lost and what we depend on
  • Why to look for spirits in experience, not books
  • The way location interacts with spirituality
  • The nature of spirits, the spirits of nature
  • How spirits get crowded out by other spirits that live with electronic devices
  • How do we differentiate between spirits (and which ones to not mess with)
  • The problematic view of Babalon and Christ versus the ones that creates a real view of humanity
  • Encountering a Christian sex riddle in Vietnam
  • The importance of sex in spirituality

SHOW NOTES

• For more Alkistis & Peter: here’s Peter’s talk, “Becoming No-Man” and here’s Alkistis’s talk, “Where the Daimon Dwells,” both from the Trans-States conference in 2017. Here’s Alkistis’s performance, “The decollation of flowers” and another, “Visitation.” Both of them have been on the Rune Soup podcast multiple times, and here’s the latest (and I think greatest, so far).• Scarlet Imprint has published the work of other AEWCH guests, including Phil Legard and Gordon White.

• I talked quite a bit about apocalypse with Mark O’Connell on AEWCH 105.

• Here’s a short article on the style of dance that has influenced Alkistis, butoh. Pictured below is a performance of one of butoh’s most profound elaborators, Tatsumi Hijikata.

• As Peter and Alkistis and I try to define what spirits are, I am reminded by Alkistis’s comment about spirits being “semi-material” of Valentin Tomberg’s passage in Meditations On The Tarot about ghosts: “Ghosts exist. This is not a question of belief; it is a matter of fact. There is an immense literature, without speaking of facts that one can find in the sphere of personal experience, which bears witness to the existence of ghosts. Now it is no longer a matter of believing or denying; now it is a matter only of understanding and explaining. Ghosts exist therefore. Thus it happens from time to time after someone’s death that this person or “something” of him or similar to him manifests in an outward and physical way (noises, movements, etc.) in the guise of an active energy. It is as if a certain quantity of energy, freed through death, but remaining condensed and not dispersed, manifests as an entity or as an individual “body”. … (p. 358)What, then, is a ghost?A ghost is always constituted as a consequence of crystallisation, i.e., crystallisation of a desire, a passion, or a purpose of great intensity, which produces a complex of energy in the human being.”

• To understand what spirits are, you can find a good and easy picture (not definition) of them in Lon Milo Duquette’s My Life with the Spirits: The Adventures of a Modern Magician.

I talked about Wilhelm Reich on an “Against Saturdays” episode. And my saying about sex and individuality is “If you ever want to know how someone feels about freedom, start talking about sex.”

Until next time,
Love
CH

Apocalypse now, then, and later, too. I talk with end of the world author, Mark O’Connell on AEWCH!

7 Apr

 

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AEWCH105TitleCard

Friends,

 

Obviously this is the end of the world. Or one of them, anyway. It’s our end of the world, at least, so let’s talk about it before the next one comes along. I needed an apocalyptic thinker to talk about. No, not Jor-El, rather someone who’s examined our apocalyptic fantasies and desires and has thought them through. So, I asked the thoughtful, funny, and insightful Mark O’Connell, onto AEWCH.

 

Mark is the author of the timely book, Notes from an Apocalypse: A Personal Journey to the End of the World and Back and, very much relatedly, of To Be a Machine: Adventures Among Cyborgs, Utopians, Hackers, and the Futurists Solving the Modest Problem of Death. They’re both books about how people relate to death, featuring Mark’s conversations with them: doomsday preppers and transhumanists. They’re books told in a Jon Ronson-esque tone, but with a little more theory behind them.

Mark lives less than two kilometers away, but we had to find each other remotely. So, sorry about the sound being different. It’s still good. But our lives are mediated by machinery of all sorts now in pronounced ways. Is the singularity near, or did it already happen, and was it extremely normal and somewhat boring? Anyway, this is a great episode, and I’m so happy to share it with you.

Let’s begin to think about this particular End.

ON THIS EPISODE

  • Why we have fantasies about the end
  • How to keep the sublime and strangeness when we get back from quarantine
  • Is mindfulness preferable? Is it a form of anxiety?
  • The continuity between consciousness, nature, and machines
  • How all apocalypses are not equally apocalyptic
  • Being passive spectators of the pandemic while thinking we’re active participants
  • Why our pandemic anxieties predated the pandemic
  • How and why to organize in quarantine
  • Transhumanists as preppers with money
  • Why doomsday prepping doesn’t work
  • How apocalyptic thinking is embedded in tech culture

SHOW NOTES

• For more of Mark, go to his website, and check out his excellent essay on the relevance of JG Ballard. And here’s a great interview with Mark on Utopian Horizons. Also, I highly recommend reading his books back to back. If you want some help with that, you can get To Be A Machine on Audible.

 

The World Without Us is a fine enough book for facts. The analysis isn’t so great though. Here’s Slavoj Žižek’s critique, in his essay, “Ecology as a New Opium for the Masses“.

 

Screen Shot 2020-04-07 at 2.24.33 PM• Here’s a bit on Freud and the oceanic feeling.

 

• There’s a solo episode about the problem of the concept of nature, AEWCH 82, “Destroy Nature Before It Destroys Us”.

 

• I do love Lars Von Trier’s Melancholia. Do watch it.

 

• Read Gordon White‘s heartfelt essay, “A Better World Is No Longer Optional

 

• Here’s “America Is A Sham” by Dan Kois, an essay about how much of American life is bullshit and this pandemic is revealing that.

 

• Here’s my appearance on The Higherside Chats.

 

• I love Peter Bebergal‘s book, Strange Frequencies: The Extraordinary Story of the Technological Quest for the Supernatural, which features the story about the golem and the rabbi.

 

• Now is a great time to listen to AEWCH 67 featuring spiritual teacher and christian esotericist Daniel Joseph. And I still can’t believe that I had Billy Bragg on the show! Here he is on AEWCH 79.

Until next time, friends!
CH