Divining a secret name via cartomancy

Because there was some interest in this method, taught to me by my mentor Scott Stenwick, I’m writing it up as a blog post for easy reading and reference.

One of the challenges in contacting any spirit is knowing its name. Knowing a spirit’s name is like knowing its private key, as Trithemius points out in Steganographia. If you follow the cosmology that every person has a spiritual helper, Holy Guardian Angel, or whatever you’d like to call it, you probably want to establish regular and clear communications with it. Having the name is a step along that path. A couple of years ago, my mentor taught me a method that produced a name that had particular synchronistic relevance and had internal consistencies that proved to me that it was valid, including finding the name of that spirit in a famous grimoire. The name was generated randomly, through the following tarot method.

First, perform a ritual to set up contact. This can be Liber Samekh, the Headless Rite, or in my case a sequence of rituals starting with the Qabalistic Cross, followed by the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, the Lesser Invoking Ritual of the Hexagram, the Middle Pillar, and the Greater Ritual of the Pentagram using all four elements to tune the space to Malkuth. My ritual sequence is another method taught to me by my mentor, following his theory of the “operant field”.

Once your ritual is complete, meditate for a moment with the intent in your mind to contact your spiritual helper. Then, take a full deck of tarot cards and shuffle well. Draw three cards.

If you draw one of the Major Arcana, keep drawing until you hit a pip card. If you are able to top deck draw at least three Major Arcana, the method was successful. Though, you should keep drawing until you get a pip card. If you don’t draw at least three Major Arcana off the top of the deck, the attempt was unsuccessful, and you should use the pip card that was revealed as guidance about possible obstacles or challenges standing in the way of your contact. Only make one attempt at this per day. If you are unsuccessful, meditate on the pip card you pulled and try again the next day or later.

If the method is successful and you get at least three top deck Major Arcana, reference Liber 777 and compare column II (Hebrew names of Numbers and Letters) with column XIV (General Attribution of Tarot). I personally preserved the order of the letters based on the order of my draws. In addition, I added an לא to the end of the name, or in English the suffix “-iel”.

Let’s try an example.

You perform your contact ritual and start drawing cards. You draw The Wheel of Fortune, The Star, and the Three of Wands. This attempt was unsuccessful, and you should meditate on the meaning of the Three of Wands to determine what might be blocking the contact.

Let’s see another example:

The cards you draw happen to be The Lovers, The Empress, the Fool, and the Seven of Cups. This attempt was successful. Referencing Liber 777, you can find that the letters corresponding to these trump cards are Zayin, Daleth, and Aleph, or זדא, which you might pronounce something like Zah-Dah-Ah. Adding the “-iel” suffix and getting a little creative, we might get something like Zadaiel.

Feel free to roast me if my butchering of Hebrew here is atrocious, my general knowledge and understanding of it are pretty limited. But, I do feel there is a degree of creative interpretation in this method and assuming the letters form a sort of abbreviation of the full name is totally acceptable as well. Massage the name a bit until you get a sound that feels “right” when said out loud. Do the gematria on the name, see if it holds some secret synchronistic relevance to your own life or situation, and look in grimoires like the Heptameron to see if your helper has been mentioned elsewhere. More than anything, use this name in further contact rituals and see if you get a hit, or something talks back.

One note about the name you divine. It is totally up to you whether or not you’d like to share it with anyone. Call me superstitious, but I would not share the name of your spiritual helper with others, unless your trust in them is absolute beyond any doubt. I treat the name like a true name, one that has power. I think keeping it secret and safe is very prudent, but do what thou wilt.

Interview with Allen Greenfield and Atelier Argent

Hello all! Long time, no blog. Hopefully that will change soon, but in the meantime I’ve been very busy learning 3D printing, CNC machining, woodworking, metalworking and other crafty type of things in order to make occult tools for members of my Discord server, Lunar Cry.

Now that I’ve got almost the entire server equipped with Trithemian Tables of Practice, I’m offering them for sale to the general public at my Etsy shop, Atelier Argent. Give it a look!

Using these tables is documented in the section called “The Art of Drawing Spirits Into Crystals” located in Francis Barrett’s The Magus. In addition, magician Sam Block has written an incredible summary of the conjuration methodology at his blog, The Digital Ambler.

Also, since a lot of time has passed from the previous post, I’d like to add that the New Aeon English Qaballah calculator – featured in Hellier S2 – is now on a website located at https://naeq.io. Feel free to use it and send me an email or comment if you have any issues. Or, feel free to join my Discord server and ask me there, where we talk about Hellier, anomalistics, the occult and other such topics.

I’ve also updated my Media page with an up-to-date list of podcast appearances. I’d like to draw special attention to my latest interview with Allen Greenfield (of Secret Cipher of the UFOnauts fame) hosted by Adam and Serfiel over at Conspirinormal. It’s a two-parter and we really get into the weeds about Hellier, sex magic, Michael Bertiaux, radical leftist politics and the future of occult secret orders. Check out part one here: http://conspirinormal.com/blog-1/2020/4/6/conspirinormal-episode-308-allen-greenfield-2-the-gospel-of-greenfield-part-1

I plan on working further on my guide to using the Trithemian table as I’ve been taught by my mentor, Scott Stenwick. Once it is out, it’ll be released freely on this site and other places. In the meantime, I hope to include some videos and photos detailing my construction process, as well as some articles about how my views and practices have changed over the last year. Stay tuned.




Secrets, Ciphers, and The Book of the Law

Tonight I decided to embark on a completely ludicrous quest, inspired by the Planet Weird documentary series Hellier that premiered last week. Suddenly, our old saucerian and former OTO clergyman T. Allen Greenfield is back on the scene, along with his pal Terry R. Wriste, the Shaver Mystery, and Greenfield’s infamous Secret Cipher of the UFOnauts.

Greenfield’s book, title aforementioned, is an exploration of what he claims is a secret cipher embedded into Aleister Crowley’s channeled message from ultraterrestrial herald Aiwass, The Book of the Law, or Liber AL vel Legis. Written over the course of three days and nights in a Cairo apartment, Liber AL vel Legis serves as the primary holy text of the Ordo Templi Orientis, or OTO for short. It was long speculated the book contained some sort of secret cipher or code, and work began on decoding it almost from the very beginning, starting with the work of Frater Achad.

As described by Greenfield in his book, the cipher was finally decoded (or so we believe) in 1974 by a group of researchers including Jake Stratton-Kent, based on the curious grid on Sheet 16 of Chapter III in Liber AL vel Legis. It was dubbed the New Aeon English Qabalah, or NAEQ for short.

Greenfield thus applied this knowledge to the high weirdness of the contactee movement and the menagerie of weird alien entities and their vaguely Greek, sci-fi nomme de guerres. As he states in his book:

I had been a UFOlogist for 30 years and a student of the western occult tradition for almost as long before I hit upon a discovery that could completely change forever the way any intelligent student thinks—or should think—about either UFOlogy or the occult. I had long noted, for example, that in the earlier contactee cases, when names were given by the purported aliens for themselves, their home world, etc.,they often were very odd names. I looked many years ago for puns. I mused thatperhaps, for example, Woodrow Derenberger’s 1966 encounter in West Virginia with INDRID COLD from the planet LANULUS had something to do with myth and legend. Jacques Vallee and John Keel had both pointed out the connection withmythic names and legends, and I thought LANULUS might be a play on “LAND YOU LOST” or “LAND YOU LUST” — a reference to Atlantis lore, or legendary shadow lands such as Færie or Magonia. But such answers seemed, like the Masonic 3rd Degree, somehow incomplete.

Greenfield’s hypothesis was that a cipher was purposefully buried into Liber AL vel Legis, which the UFOnauts – or ultraterrestrials – used to communicate symbolically with us and other ultaterrestrials. By calculating the numeric value of a word using the embedded cipher (like INDRID COLD), and then matching up that value with the numeric values of words contained in Liber AL vel Legis, you gain insight into the true nature of the ultraterrestrials and possibly even eavesdrop on their communications with each other.

If you’d like to calculate some words yourself, the NAEQ cipher is as follows:

A=1 B=20 C=13 D=6 E=25 F=18 G=11 H=4 I=23 J=16 K=9 L=2 M=21 N=14 O=7 P=26 Q=19 R=12 S=5 T=24 U=17 V=10 W=3 X=22 Y=15 Z=8

While it’s fairly easy to do this calculation by hand, if you’d like to make a calculator in Google Sheets or Excel to do this for you, this should do the trick. Throw this into cell B2, with your word (lowercase) in A2.


Following is a list of all unique words – and a few whole phrases – along with their numerical values calculated using the NAEQ method. This comes out to around 1294 unique words, give or take. I eliminated the chapter headings (Chapter I, Chapter II, etc) as well as any punctuation, including hyphenated words with the exception of god names and “hawk-headed”. This list is sorted in numerical value, from lowest to highest. There are probably small mistakes here and there.

The intent here is to use this list in conjunction with T. Allen Greenfield’s Secret Cipher of the UFOnauts method, programmatically pulling out all possible subset arrays from values contained in Liber AL vel Legis for values of words calculated using the NAEQ method.

For instance, TERRY R WRISTE would equal 192, the same value as the word SECRET MASTER. INDRID COLD equals 112, which also equals INK AND BLACK, as seen in Hellier.

Unfortunately, as is common in numerology, it would also equal literally tens of thousands of other possible phrases using the key provided here. Probably even more than that. I wrote a program in Java tonight that solves the subset sum problem; I plugged in 192, hit enter, and almost 30 minutes later it’s still spewing out combinations into my console at an eye-watering rate. Needless to say, the smaller the number, the smaller the number of subsets. AJAX, for instance, equals 40, and only has maybe a few hundred or so permutations.

I’m still going to plug away at a possible solution, and I’ll keep everyone posted on progress there. I wish I understood how Greenfield arrives at the values he gets in his book. They all check out numerically and adhere to his method. I suspect his deep familiarity with the text of Liber AL vel Legis and perhaps a dash of PSI helps a lot. It may turn out that calculating this programmatically is a fool’s errand. Still, the promise of unlocking the secrets of the ultraterrestrials is a treasure that’s far too tempting.

Here follows the NAEQ Value Dictionary for Liber AL vel Legis. Have fun, nerds.

a [1], all [5], ah [5], ha [5], as [6], law [6], o [7], was [9], ka [10], had [11], ho [11], oh [11], so [12], sad [12], low [12], do [13], add [13], shall [14], who [14], how [14], also [15], old [15], an [15], war [16], hawk [17], call [18], go [18], or [19], way [19], asar [19], hold [19], show [19], away [20], asks [20], glad [20], and [21], no [21], say [21], on [21], am [22], us [22], why [22], day [22], x [22], hawks [22], i [23], calls [23], fall [23], hard [23], slay [23], now [24], god [24], wand [24], ways [24], dog [24], own [24], glass [24], odds [24], claws [24], of [25], at [25], half [25], look [25], hand [25], whoso [26], gold [26], says [26], son [26], lord [27], always [27], ill [27], days [27], is [28], word [28], can [28], dark [28], woods [28], we [28], holy [28], cold [28], gods [29], he [29], ox [29], isa [29], sky [29], dogs [29], khu [30], will [30], any [30], hands [30], world [30], wanga [30], nay [30], down [30], hail [30], flow [30], drag [30], to [31], work [31], nu [31], good [31], shadows [31], pall [31], soul [31], crawl [31], his [32], last [32], what [32], well [32], lords [32], oil [32], laid [32], door [32], kaaba [32], loud [32], know [33], fold [33], sword [33], hell [33], words [33], hath [33], nor [33], wast [33], aloud [33], seal [33], rays [33], she [34], dew [34], two [34], hast [34], fool [34], long [34], deal [34], by [35], said [35], whom [35], laugh [35], fly [35], hangs [35], man [36], my [36], sun [36], swoon [36], amn [36], shalt [36], goods [36], folk [36], our [36], head [36], mask [36], kill [36], talk [36], souls [36], drawn [36], in [37], for [37], art [37], may [37], pass [37], song [37], avail [37], age [37], swell [37], dusk [37], royal [37], aiwass [38], are [38], joy [38], weak [38], only [38], dead [38], harm [38], hells [38], swords [38], too [38], dwell [38], nia [38], khabs [39], you [39], fools [39], follow [39], task [39], aum [39], lose [39], awake [39], arms [39], full [39], awake [39], shed [40], ye [40], have [40], sake [40], woes [40], gross [40], hair [40], hour [40], cry [40], hardly [40], lurk [40], host [40], altar [40], her [41], whole [41], if [41], save [41], wear [41], doth [41], aye [41], yea [41], awful [41], star [42], kiss [42], sin [42], blood [42], hear [42], skew [42], dost [42], new [42], damn [42], want [42], cross [42], than [43], slave [43], joys [43], book [43], thy [43], foods [43], red [43], cast [43], up [43], does [43], worm [43], back [43], off [43], brass [43], run [43], each [43], din [43], liars [43], love [44], folly [44], wrath [44], fail [44], whose [44], dare [44], play [44], be [45], not [45], fill [45], black [45], end [45], slain [45], woman [46], me [46], few [46], when [46], one [46], swear [46], floor [46], kin [46], sorrow [46], easy [46], ink [46], toy [46], it [47], known [47], stars [47], glory [47], brows [47], which [47], fell [47], wrong [47], bond [47], foam [47], shoot [47], egg [47], use [47], flap [47], cowards [47], him [48], body [48], out [48], lust [48], goodly [48], marks [48], child [48], dove [48], slaves [48], dung [48], called [49], moon [49], key [49], loves [49], jews [49], rose [49], solve [49], alone [49], crown [49], lit [49], meal [49], bid [49], mary [49], thus [50], six [50], rare [50], stand [50], eat [50], send [50], lie [50], axle [50], self [50], dread [50], rain [50], fade [50], again [50], showed [50], harlot [50], coph [50], let [51], many [51], adore [51], your [51], care [51], ones [51], sink [51], sorrows [51], drugs [51], large [51], sorry [51], knew [51], bed [51], island [51], try [51], thou [52], close [52], wilt [52], aeons [52], rich [52], dust [52], done [52], poor [52], its [52], buy [52], push [52], wet [52], nigh [52], the [53], that [53], made [53], sign [53], lazuli [53], dress [53], clear [53], sing [53], tell [53], ordeal [53], cakes [53], over [54], with [54], among [54], soft [54], vault [54], learn [54], four [54], gums [54], pale [54], hate [54], die [54], snake [54], miss [54], chose [54], khut [54], set [54], flesh [54], big [54], both [55], see [55], naked [55], seat [55], east [55], much [55], stands [55], value [55], catch [55], wanded [55], bliss [55], rule [56], yours [56], this [56], lest [56], make [56], lover [56], wise [56], wings [56], chant [56], fear [56], beds [56], still [56], shrouds [56], help [57], hurt [57], saith [57], obeah [57], else [57], lapis [57], west [57], while [57], aught [57], core [57], king [57], canst [57], most [57], around [57], face [57], torn [57], top [57], hadit [58], sweat [58], ordeals [58], from [58], signs [58], house [58], some [58], colour [58], bare [58], drunk [58], droop [58], hide [58], bear [58], abased [58], sparks [58], take [59], once [59], wheel [59], grave [59], reward [59], like [59], kiblah [59], ready [59], men [60], ardours [60], none [60], grades [60], death [60], bosom [60], evil [60], vital [60], live [60], deny [60], gleam [60], veil [60], harder [60], spell [60], get [60], ahathoor [60], cower [60], but [61], name [61], lovely [61], arched [61], choose [61], find [61], amen [61], honour [61], caress [61], rules [61], clerk [61], shape [61], unto [62], sacred [62], bowels [62], found [62], just [62], fellows [62], kings [62], masses [62], fallen [62], tear [62], order [62], hope [62], animal [62], already [62], locked [62], pour [62], tum [62], mongol [62], above [63], azure [63], burn [63], adorer [63], bind [63], leave [63], behold [64], light [64], blue [64], upon [64], pain [64], seek [64], bound [64], drink [64], robe [64], yet [64], languor [64], stir [64], reason [64], fresh [64], weave [64], didst [64], line [64], wheels [64], twin [64], forth [65], globe [65], bend [65], wisdom [65], spells [65], adorant [65], assuage [65], blind [65], pen [65], wine [65], rise [65], water [65], lying [65], more [65], lives [65], honey [65], were [65], heart [66], come [66], earth [66], speak [66], lofty [66], gates [66], means [66], rest [66], charge [66], calling [66], foolish [66], babe [66], here [66], raise [66], mix [66], arise [66], argue [66], then [67], flame [67], obey [67], teach [67], must [67], turn [67], though [67], yearn [67], put [67], arouse [67], sight [67], lift [67], stops [67], masked [67], thrill [67], joyous [67], olive [67], place [67], skies [67], stain [67], headed [67], they [68], chosen [68], into [68], lidded [68], change [68], palace [68], [tzaddi], [68], life [68], burns [68], rapid [68], proud [68], smooth [68], orison [68], dine [68], jesus [68], starry [69], give [69], wife [69], about [69], where [69], saying [69], seen [69], left [69], dying [69], danger [69], gladness [69], spare [69], third [69], warrior [70], bends [70], space [70], chance [70], feel [70], wines [70], absolve [70], second [70], faith [70], women [70], eyes [70], knower [70], truly [70], proof [70], girt [70], beat [70], armour [70], hearts [71], faery [71], style [71], vice [71], limbs [71], surpass [71], globed [71], longer [71], pillars [71], ever [72], other [72], flowers [72], curse [72], kisses [72], open [72], tomb [72], attack [72], chaste [72], power [73], ra-hoor-khu [73], taken [73], great [73], demand [73], store [73], strong [73], runes [73], pit [73], damned [73], feast [73], console [73], cannot [73], fates [73], group [73], thick [73], forge [73], swift [73], holier [73], peck [73], keen [73], under [74], them [74], right [74], gives [74], sense [74], think [74], even [74], doubt [74], spears [74], exalt [74], best [74], assume [74], beast [75], union [75], manyhood [75], aright [75], reveal [75], cube [75], force [75], factor [75], symbols [75], city [75], count [75], abide [75], warriors [75], thing [76], heru-ra-ha [76], five [76], night [76], jewels [76], coiled [76], nine [76], vices [76], withdraw [76], seem [76], gather [77], silver [77], devour [77], stamp [77], enjoy [77], venom [77], nought [77], deem [77], serve [77], curses [77], others [77], double [77], nuit [78], lithe [78], thee [78], mantras [78], fire [78], hidden [78], true [78], willing [78], cries [78], unknown [78], enough [78], feasts [78], test [78], spit [78], heaven [79], state [79], through [79], ritual [79], against [79], consoled [79], higher [79], yonder [79], working [79], abrahadabra [79], homeward [79], worship [80], bring [80], since [80], faint [80], pure [80], fine [80], single [80], beasts [80], beggar [80], length [80], after [80], vigour [80], until [80], bahlasti [80], fight [80], stones [80], isthe [81], knowing [81], things [81], hiding [81], giver [81], stele [81], image [81], steel [81], truth [81], khephra [81], ta-nech [81], indian [81], paste [81], winged [82], scarlet [82], sweet [82], balanced [82], deep [82], first [82], longing [82], money [82], fourth [82], crushed [82], these [83], mine [83], given [83], chief [83], middle [83], shrine [83], dissolve [83], might [83], these [83], success [83], mere [83], rituals [84], hundred [84], been [84], english [84], convey [84], kept [84], naming [84], hawk-headed [84], whence [84], glorious [84], result [85], jasper [85], consoler [85], reign [85], makest [85], visit [85], squared [85], soldiers [85], nemyss [85], knoweth [86], loathing [86], scents [86], bride [86], never [86], beware [86], filthy [86], forbid [86], mercy [86], images [86], throne [86], breath [86], courage [86], creeds [86], every [87], knowest [87], write [87], eight [87], kinsfolk [87], verily [87], armies [87], another [87], weakness [87], fifth [87], green [87], beyond [87], monthly [87], burnt [87], breast [87], fourfold [87], their [88], ecstasy [88], invoke [88], circle [88], nations [88], pity [88], modest [88], blessed [88], master [88], fullness [88], likest [88], breed [88], theban [88], sheets [88], trance [89], sixty [89], headdress [89], spangles [89], obtain [89], cattle [89], there [90], apostle [90], availeth [90], kissing [90], three [90], thine [90], tried [90], peace [90], sunset [90], nowhere [90], flaming [90], unlike [90], suddenly [90], fever [90], paper [90], ompehda [90], answered [91], servant [91], trees [91], veiled [91], within [91], sighing [91], outcast [91], forest [91], spring [91], rightly [91], availest [91], forsaken [91], eagerly [91], leavings [91], appear [91], herself [91], feet [92], accursed [92], pride [92], strange [92], caressed [92], million [92], mockers [92], hither [92], undergo [92], divide [93], apparel [93], time [93], being [93], coiling [93], tahuti [93], thyself [93], listen [93], ordered [93], soften [93], poured [93], unity [93], shameless [93], original [93], ending [93], cometh [94], depart [94], sister [94], bright [94], whereof [94], destroy [94], trodden [94], girders [94], system [95], delight [95], perish [95], servants [96], desire [96], highest [96], confound [96], laughter [96], unfit [96], remain [96], battle [96], winners [96], mingle [96], unveils [96], company [97], nothing [97], bathing [97], desert [97], spices [97], sphere [97], purged [97], giveth [97], itself [97], heathen [97], greet [97], secure [97], readeth [97], tongue [98], fifty [98], scribe [98], covered [98], times [98], lifted [98], strike [98], exhaust [98], delicacy [98], mighty [98], smite [98], cluster [98], eating [98], quickly [98], failure [98], children [99], divided [99], indeed [99], sorroweth [99], strive [99], little [100], queen [100], enter [100], daughter [100], hrumachis [100], adorations [100], deadlier [100], crapulous [100], abrogate [101], remains [101], eleven [101], misery [101], desires [101], mystic [101], mentu [101], achieve [101], divine [101], discover [101], knowledge [102], severe [102], thelema [102], refuse [102], unassuaged [102], eighty [102], beauty [102], leaping [102], begone [102], afterward [102], consume [102], entrap [102], without [102], thebes [103], smelling [103], unite [103], direful [103], seeing [103], friends [103], eternal [103], alphabet [103], disposed [103], standeth [103], speaker [103], lighten [103], tongues [103], bottom [103], secret [104], hoor-pa-kraat [104], wonderful [104], mystical [104], overthrow [104], victory [104], hurting [105], jasmine [105], asecret [105], chapter [105], knewest [105], blessing [105], object [105], convert [105], buddhist [105], revealed [106], starlight [106], concealed [106], because [106], anything [106], mohammed [106], before [107], lambent [107], magician [107], conquer [107], trouble [107], matter [107], beautys [107], silence [107], mistake [108], fortress [108], resinous [108], purple [108], veiling [108], garment [108], stature [108], spelling [108], refuge [108], visible [108], traitors [108], number [109], gemmed [109], hermit [109], whososeeth [109], meaning [109], establish [109], oversee [109], strangely [109], brothers [109], writing [110], stronger [110], greater [110], powerful [110], quarter [110], division [111], invoking [111], people [111], burning [111], trample [111], breathe [111], become [111], thereon [111], empty [111], letter [112], spendour [112], further [112], wretched [112], certain [112], engine [112], centre [113], prince [113], touching [113], pleasure [113], service [113], garments [113], splendour [114], redeem [114], numbers [114], blindness [114], hermits [114], meaneth [114], desolation [114], business [114], hungered [114], forties [114], translated [114], priest [115], thereof [115], unique [115], virtuous [115], meanest [115], ninety [115], quarters [115], alienate [115], shrinking [115], despise [115], writest [116], exceed [116], fierce [116], peoples [116], adulterous [116], hoor-paar-kraat [117], stooping [117], breathed [117], mystery [117], letters [117], burnest [117], rapture [117], refine [117], expound [117], defunct [117], fortify [117], support [117], ankh-af-na-khonsu [118], princes [118], purpose [118], miraculous [118], splendrous [119], creation [119], emblems [119], incense [119], empress [119], strength [119], poverty [119], desirable [119], sweeter [119], promise [119], abramelin [119], moreover [119], utterly [119], blasphemy [119], ra-hoor-khuit [120], overcome [120], especial [120], streets [120], rapturous [121], rejoice [121], delicious [121], mountain [121], torture [121], despised [121], compassion [122], threefold [123], earnestly [123], temple [123], understood [123], revealing [123], pinnacles [123], understand [124], prophet [124], conquest [124], promises [124], thereby [125], comment [125], disappear [125], pointed [125], argument [125], dropping [125], written [125], particle [126], conqueror [126], beetles [126], shattered [126], midnight [126], therein [127], equinox [127], neither [127], untouched [127], throughout [127], torment [127], righteous [128], bes-na-maut [128], wickedness [128], precious [128], prophets [129], exhausted [129], tremble [129], position [129], inviolate [129], multiply [130], equation [130], better [130], spectre [130], printed [130], serpent [131], exorcist [131], supreme [131], passionate [131], forbidden [131], protect [131], enthroned [131], universe [131], love is the law [131], sufferer [132], voluptuous [132], eyesight [132], subtlety [132], dissolution [133], sacrifice [133], perchance [133], undesired [133], laughterful [133], foursquare [133], delivered [134], unattacked [134], inspired [134], expect [135], brilliance [135], between [136], heru-pa-kraath [136], worshipped [137], ultimate [137], vengeance [138], enemies [138], unveiling [139], judgments [139], exposure [139], enginery [139], hierophant [140], eighties [140], beauteous [141], continuous [141], victorious [141], elements [141], uplifted [141], bendingdown [143], perfect [143], worshipper [143], terrible [143], mightier [143], perfume [144], rejoicing [144], innermost [145], invisible [145], presence [145], professional [145], drunkenness [146], hereafter [146], concubine [146], minister [147], extended [147], regretare [147], beautiful [147], presently [148], meetings [148], innocence [148], worshippers [148], love under will [148], perfumes [149], creeping [149], meetest [149], do what thou wilt [149], priestess [150], eighteen [151], certainty [151], lightening [151], therefore [152], intellect [152], performed [152], excellent [152], consciousness [153], thereupon [154], mysteries [155], abomination [155], tenderness [155], intimate [155], everywhere [156], emphatically [157], centuries [158], uttermost [159], abstruction [160], remember [161], sweetnesses [161], reverence [161], eternity [162], infinite [164], beautifully [164], penetrant [165], expected [166], tribulation [167], attribute [170], unimaginable [172], inspiration [172], continuity [174], regenerate [174], existence [176], hierophantic [176], expiration [177], understandeth [177], thelemites [178], complement [178], difference [179], initiating [180], unutterable [181], restriction [182], reproduction [186], magnificent [187], manifestation [200], omnipresence [210], circumference [231], every man and woman is a star [261]


The Soft Machine

I recently discussed the phenomena of strange lights on Seriah Azkath’s show “Where Did the Road Go?” where I once again brought up the oddities surrounding the human visual system and its relative “hackability”. To be more precise, the entire human sensorium is a rickety house that is not terribly hard to trick. I’ve talked about this on several shows, and it was a major talking point on my first appearance on Greg Bishop’s “Radio Misterioso”. I often reference Peter Watts’ brilliant 2006 sci-fi novel Blindsight since while ostensibly a first-contact story featuring space vampires, it’s also a deep examination of both consciousness and cognition. In the notes to Blindsight, Watts elaborates:

The Human sensorium is remarkably easy to hack; our visual system has been described as an improvised “bag of tricks”13 at best. Our sense organs acquire such fragmentary, imperfect input that the brain has to interpret their data using rules of probability rather than direct perception14. It doesn’t so much see the world as make an educated guess about it. As a result, “improbable” stimuli tends to go unprocessed at the conscious level, no matter how strong the input. We tend to simply ignore sights and sound that don’t fit with our worldview.

The point that Watts is communicating here is that the sensations we experience are not concerned with truth – only survival – and it processes those senses based on probability. Not the probability that a sensation is accurate, but the probability that it will allow us to live another day. Evolution is a haunted house, it has never been a perfect process and its primary concern is replication and fitness. It leaves behind ancient artifacts and is full of weirdness and one-offs.

Watts continues:

Sometimes electrical stimulation of the brain induces “alien hand syndrome”— the involuntary movement of the body against the will of the “person” allegedly in control29. Other times it provokes equally involuntary movements, which subjects nonetheless insist they “chose” to perform despite overwhelming empirical evidence to the contrary30Put all this together with the fact that the body begins to act before the brain even “decides” to move31 (but see3233), and the whole concept of free will—despite the undeniable subjective feeling that it’s real—begins to look a teeny bit silly, even outside the influence of alien artefacts.

While electromagnetic stimulation is currently the most trendy approach to hacking the brain, it’s hardly the only one. Gross physical disturbances ranging from tumors34 to tamping irons35 can turn normal people into psychopaths and pedophiles (hence that new persona sprouting in Susan James’s head). Spirit possession and rapture can be induced through the sheer emotional bump-and-grind of religious rituals, using no invasive neurological tools at all (and not even necessarily any pharmacological ones)21. People can even develop a sense of ownership of body parts that aren’t theirs, can be convinced that a rubber hand is their real one36. Vision trumps propioreception: a prop limb, subtly manipulated, is enough to convince us that we’re doing one thing while in fact we’re doing something else entirely3738.

As Watts points out, your “will” to do anything can quite possibly be an illusion. If you decide to move your finger, studies on neural timing have shown that the electrical signal sent from your nervous system to your finger muscles actually happens before the decision making part of your brain fires up. He puts forth a very troubling question: “Are you actually behind the wheel, or do you just think you are?”

On the episode of “Where Did the Road Go?” I talked about how, on the base level, all that you see is a series of electrical signals sent to the visual processing areas of your brain via chemical processes initiated by photosensitive cells in your eyes. These signals are modulated by the brain and perceived by the “viewer”. This is where things get tricky and philosophical but that’s not my focus here. I put forth a speculative hypothesis that you could, theoretically, perform what is known in information security as a “Man-In-The-Middle Attack”, but on a human being’s senses.

A Man-In-The-Middle is basically where you put a point of access somewhere between a client and a server. This not only allows you to intercept all communications and analyze them, but also manipulate that data, inject your own changes, or possible reroute that to a third-party for exfiltration or impersonation. It’s an extremely dangerous attack, since on the surface it can appear transparent the client machine.

My hypothesis was that if you had a sufficiently advanced technology, or were able to operate outside the accepted norms of time and space, you could intercept the visual signal en route from the retina to the brain and manipulate it, either to scramble the information or inject your own images: in effect “hacking” the visual cortex. And it doesn’t have to stop there, all senses work basically the same way. You could make someone “hear”, “see”, “smell”, “taste”, or “feel” whatever you’d like them to.

In the episode, I suggested this could be accomplished via very fine control of electromagnetism. We know for a fact that this is possible in a crude fashion. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation has been shown in a laboratory by researchers like Michael Persinger to induce hallucinations, panic, and other altered states of consciousness.

However, I didn’t consider another possibility. Watts elaborates:

The latest tool in this arsenal is ultrasound: less invasive than electromagnetics, more precise than charismatic revival, it can be used to boot up brain activity39 without any of those pesky electrodes or magnetic hairnets. In Blindsight it serves as a convenient back door to explain why Rorschach‘s hallucinations persist even in the presence of Faraday shielding— but in the here and now, Sony has been renewing an annual patent for a machine which uses ultrasonics to implant “sensory experiences” directly into the brain40. They’re calling it an entertainment device with massive applications for online gaming. Uh huh. And if you can implant sights and sounds into someone’s head from a distance, why not implant political beliefs and the irresistable desire for a certain brand of beer while you’re at it?

The research that Watts is referencing is work on whether or not ultrasound can stimulate nerve tissue. Effectively,  by propagating an ultrasonic wave in the presence of a magnetic field, you can create particle motion in electrolytic tissues, inducing electric current via Lorentz forces. As the paper lays out, using this method as opposed to transcranial magnetic stimulation holds a few interesting practical advantages. For one, it has differing temporal characteristics:

Although the duration of a TMS pulse is typically on the order of a few tenths of a millisecond and the ultrasonic variation is on the order of microseconds or less (roughly the reciprocal of the ultrasonic frequency), considerable control over the shape of the ultrasonic waveform is in principle possible. For example, one can transmit an ultrasonic pulse train at essentially any repetition frequency or modulate a continuous ultrasonic wave in a variety of ways.

This would imply a greater degree of control – and perhaps manipulation – via ultrasound stimulation.

While thinking about this, I couldn’t help but draw parallels with the oft-reported “infrasound” talked about in Bigfoot folklore. Regardless of my own belief in Bigfoot, we do have to concede that there has been no solid evidence of its existence beyond anecdotal witness encounters. While there do appear to be recordings of vocalizations that seem to indicate sound in the infrasonic range, we cannot confirm that these are real. It is known though, for a fact, that infrasound is utilized by a wide variety of animals for both hunting and defense. Conversely, some animals (such as bats) use ultrasound for echolocation and cetaceans use ultrasound for long-distance communication. While I haven’t been able to find any suggestion that infrasound frequencies could be used in the same fashion as ultrasound theoretically can, the effects of certain infrasonic frequencies on humans has been studied quite a bit.

In a paper titled “Infrasound: Brief Review of Toxicological Literature” on the National Institute of Health’s website, they seem to indicate that infrasound would not be a great candidate for applications like the one we’re suggesting:

One argument against the feasibility of the use of infrasound in nonlethal weapons is that infrasound’s wavelengths (17 m and above) are so long that they spread out too rapidly to be focused (19).

19. Hecht. J. 1999. Not a sound idea. New Sci. March 20, 1999. Available at
http://trauma.cofa.unsw.edu.au/Infrasound/NewScientist01.html. Last accessed on September 16, 2001.

So while exposure to infrasound is known to induce general symptoms of nausea, fear, uneasiness, and possible hearing damage or changes in blood pressure, it would lack the necessary capabilities to perform the finely focused electrical manipulation I’m suggesting.

However, the idea of “ultrasound brain manipulation” devices got my brain spinning when I realized it sounded awfully familiar to something I’d heard before: “The Shaver Mystery”.

Most of you are probably familiar with The Shaver Mystery, Richard Sharpe Shaver’s Warning to Future Man and stories of underground civilizations filled with genetically engineered degenerate sorcerers who fed and tormented the unwitting humans living above-ground. If you’re not familiar, writer Nick Redfern did an excellent write-up on Mysterious Universe that you can read here.

Pertinent to our discussion above, Shaver described the evil underground Deros as having a technology that essentially describes our hypothetical manipulation device. From a website describing the contents of Shaver’s A Warning to Future Man:

According to Shaver, after the Deros had wiped out the underground community with which he was involved, he never again visited “the caves” in a physical sense, however he claimed that following this he began receiving “messages” via the “telaugs”, or electronically enhanced focused telepathic augmentation beams, claiming to be from the “Teros”.

While I’m personally a sucker for Hollow Earth stories of vast caverns filled with decaying ruins of a bygone age and haunted by the monstrous remnants of those declined civilizations, I’ve always been a bit wary of the “reality” of the Shaver mystery. In the most respectful way possible, it has always seemed to me that Shaver was possibly very, very ill and was being milked by Ray Palmer for stories. This is because this hypothetical device is a well known aspect of paranoid schizophrenia. Shaver isn’t the first person to be tormented via a machine that shoots telepathic beams to manipulate and torment the victim. This “Influencing Machine” is so well known that it has its own Wikipedia page. From said page:

The main effects of the influencing machine are the following:

  1. It makes the patient see pictures. When this is the case, the machine is generally a magic lantern or cinematograph. The pictures are seen on a single plane, on walls or window panes, and unlike typical visual hallucinations are not three-dimensional.
  2. It produces, as well as removes, thoughts and feelings by means of waves or rays or mysterious forces which the patient’s knowledge of physics is inadequate to explain. In such cases, the machine is often called a “suggestion-apparatus.” Its construction cannot be explained, but its function consists in the transmission or “draining off” of thoughts and feelings by one or several persecutors.
  3. It produces motor phenomena in the body, erections and seminal emissions, that are intended to deprive the patient of his male potency and weaken him. This is accomplished either by means of suggestion or by air-currents, electricity, magnetism, or X-rays.
  4. It creates sensations that in part cannot be described, because they are strange to the patient himself, and that in part are sensed as electrical, magnetic, or due to air-currents.
  5. It is also responsible for other occurrences in the patient’s body, such as cutaneous eruptions, abscesses, or other pathological processes.

One of the most famous victims was James Tilly Matthews, a tea broker from the early 1800s, who claimed that an evil criminal gang was telepathically tormenting him via what he called an “Air Loom”, an electrochemical device that could beam thoughts into his mind. He claimed that the gang was utilizing the Air Loom to target and influence various political figures of the time. More recently, there are parallels to Philip K. Dick’s VALIS, a supercomputer orbiting earth that sent him visions via “pink lasers”. And there’s Shaver, tormented by evil Deros doing exactly the same to him.

The device was even used as a fictional device in William S. Burroughs’ novel The Soft Machine – a machine that used a magnetic tape to control the population and keep them in check. The machine is then hijacked and used to destroy the civilization that had utilized it as a control mechanism. Burroughs writes:

Inexorably as the machine had controlled thought feeling and sensory impressions of the workers, the machine now gave the order to dismantle itself and kill the priests—I had the satisfaction of seeing the overseer pegged out in the field, his intestines perforated with hot planting sticks and crammed with corn—I broke out my camera gun and rushed the temple—This weapon takes and vibrates image to radio static—You see the priests were nothing but word and image, an old film
rolling on and on with dead actors

However, as people may know, I’m not a particularly materialist person. At the risk of sounding controversial, I’ve often thought about the delusions and hallucinations of schizophrenics and wondered if there’s perhaps some truth that can be found in them. Some of the esoteric and paranormal events people encounter could be described in similar terms to hallucinations suffered by people victim to schizophrenia. And sometimes these lines get awfully blurry.

Shaver claimed that he first physically encountered the remnant Teros, the benevolent citizens of the declined subterranean empire, before being tormented by the telepathic rays of the Deros. How many times have we heard this story before? Someone has a genuine anomalous encounter that then seems to latch onto them, changing them on a mental (and sometimes physical) level, completely derailing their old life and setting them on a new, far more unusual course.

The idea of subterranean kingdoms is as old as humanity. I’ll leave you with one very interesting rabbit hole I found.

In 1935, a series of serial films called The Phantom Empire were shown in American theaters. The film is primarily concerned with a group of modern humans coming into contact with a technologically advanced, ancient subterranean civilization. One of the actors, whose name is prominently feature on the poster, was Frankie DARRO.

d2f0efe3fe5d802b0f7307efedd5ea6aIs it possible that Richard Shaver saw this movie in theaters, just a few years before writing his A Warning to Future Man, and subconsciously got the name DERO from seeing the actor’s name on the poster, or in the title card? Did his paranoid delusions featuring an “Influencing Machine” get wrapped up in memories of a particularly interesting science fiction film featuring an ancient underground civilization in decline?

Let’s go one level deeper. There’s quite an interesting little note on the Wikipedia page for The Phantom Empire.

The idea for the plot came to writer Wallace MacDonald when he was under gas having a tooth extracted. (7)

7. Harmon 1972, pp. 61–62.

Assuming that this “gas” was nitrous oxide, I hardly need to comment on how nitrous has been used since its discovery as a gateway to altered states of consciousness. And so, the writer that perhaps inspired Shaver’s mysteries, came up with the idea for it while in an altered state.

“Curiouser and curiouser!”


More Podcast Appearances

Just wanted to give everyone a heads up that I’ve made a couple more appearances on Seriah Azkath’s “Where Did the Road Go”. Make sure you check out his show at http://www.wheredidtheroadgo.com and subscribe using your preferred podcast app. Make sure to rate and comment on his iTunes page if you’re so inclined!

You can also listen to the episodes above on Youtube, which I’ve linked. You can check out all my appearances by going to http://www.liminalroom.com/media

Thanks everyone!

Two Nightmares

Had my first panic inducing nightmares in quite some time last night. Thought I’d record them here because of how visceral they were and because I might like to analyze them later.

First dream involved me (in the body of a woman, possibly the first dream I’ve ever had with that scenario) walking around some house I didn’t recognize. In one hand I held an exactoknife. There was another lady with me, that I didn’t recognize. For some reason I was either shirtless, or my stomach was exposed, because I noticed this strange patch of extremely dry, itchy, scaly skin on my belly. I kept scratching this spot, and eventually used the flat of the exactoknife blade to attempt to scrape away the flakes of dead skin.

Using the blade to do this soothed the itching, but then I noticed that the spot had begun bleeding profusely. At first it was just an oozing, but that quickly grew into it almost spurting out of me. I started to panic and scream and went to a mirror in a bathroom. The woman I was with came with me, and from behind grabbed the skin around the patch and started squeezing. Thick red blood started gushing out of what had become a gaping hole in my stomach. I screamed as loud as I could and just watched in horror as I lost more and more blood. Eventually the blood stopped, and only a clear, thick slime squirted from the hole. Seeing this caused me to become faint and pass out, which meant that I woke up in the real world, breathing heavily and covered in sweat.

After shaking off the dream, I went back to sleep and had another nightmare, a more familiar one from when I was younger.

I dreamed that I was in a wooded area behind a house, in what felt like a rural place. The space behind the house gently sloped and then became a fairly steep embankment above a sort of drainage ditch. In the trees ahead of me, there were cast-iron frying pans and other heavy objects hanging from ropes, dangling from the limbs at head height. A group of teenage boys I was with decided to start running headfirst towards these objects and knocking themselves out, and I got the impression we were recording some sort of show like “Jackass”. Everyone was laughing at these guys hurting themselves, as I stood on a steep part of the embankment.

Looking down, I saw an enormous snake slither out from under the leaves and debris on the ground below me. It had a bright red triangular head, and I knew it was some sort of viper. It startled me, but since it was moving away from me I didn’t worry too much about it. But when I looked down, I saw that there were even more snakes surrounding my feet. Enormous cottonmouths and rattlesnakes were inches away from me and I started panicking. I wanted to get as far away as possible, back up the embankment and closer to the other people. But as I put my hands on the ground to try and crawl back up, the hill grew steeper and and slippery. I felt like I was about to fall back into the ditch, where countless other snakes loomed. I grabbed hold of a huge root sticking out of the dirt, only to realize too late that I was grabbing an enormous python. I felt its extremely smooth and muscular body start to contort, saw its head emerge from the debris and knew that it was going to rear back and strike me. At this moment, my fear peaked and I woke up again, hyperventilating.

The first dream confuses me the most. I’ve had body horror dreams before, but they generally always involve me as myself, and always involve something dental – teeth falling out, crumbling – because of my intense dental anxiety. I’ve never experienced that sort of dream in another person’s body. The snake dream is a variant on a theme of nightmare that I’ve had ever since I was a child, generally involving having to carefully navigate a ground covered in venomous snakes, who sometimes strike and bite me. The first dream I’ll definitely need to analyze further.

Dreams in the Witch House

So, I had a dream last night that may or may not have had some occult significance that I at least want to describe. It’s been a couple of weeks since I performed a lunar initiation in the style of Rufus Opus’s “Seven Spheres” method and I’ve been waiting for something like this to manifest.

In this dream, which was bordering on semi-lucid since in some fashion I knew I was dreaming, I was walking around the area of my old high school at night. The sky was clear and it was warm outside. As I approached a parking lot behind the school, some sort of apparition appeared to me. It looked like a cloaked and hooded human figure, but I could only see blackness where the face should be. It didn’t walk towards me, but more glided or seemed to be blinking in and out of the reality of the dream.

Instantly, I recognized whatever this was as a spirit and started asking questions. First, I asked its name, which now I can only remember as starting with a ‘Z’ and that I hadn’t observed it being part of any existing catalog or grimoire list.. I then asked it to show me its seal, which it did. In the sky above, I saw the spirit’s seal manifest in whitish-bluish light, creating sparks as it did so, but then instantly fading before I could remember what it looked like. I asked for it to continue building it over and over so I could get a better idea of its structure. Now that it was being built multiple times a second, flashing up there like a light fixture gone insane, I could see that it was effectively a pentagram, but with the lines of the star curved and bent in odd ways. Still though I felt the spirit wasn’t being honest and again I asked to see its seal. After that, the true seal was shown in the sky, this time in a solid format. It was unlike any I’d seen before in other lists of spirit seals. Now that I’m back in the waking world, I can only vaguely remember what it looked like, but I’ll try to reconstruct it tonight.

After this, I took a bundle of folders and papers from the back of a van that was nearby and started trying to draw the seal, but was unable to concentrate and accomplish the task. Eventually the dream started shifting away from me, and I ended up in another dreamplace and storyline.

Going beyond the grimoires and finding new spirits to document is something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately, and it’s possible this dream could be a manifestation of that desire. Either way, it was strange and interesting. Hopefully I can reconstruct that seal. This whole experience is a strong reminder that I need to focus more on dream recall and achieving lucidity.

Into the In-Betweens

I remember my first sleep paralysis experience quite vividly. I was very young. It was probably sometime in 1994. “Sightings” had been on TV for a few years, and “The X-Files” had just premiered the year before. At the height of my hysterical fear that I would be abducted by aliens from my bedroom at night, I would typically go to bed and cover myself completely with my sheets, leaving only a small hole for myself to breathe through, convinced that if I hid myself and made myself small enough the Greys would leave me alone. I lived in nightly rapturous fear of seeing my bedroom door creak open slowly to reveal those huge black eyes peeking around the corner.

So, one of these dreadful nights I finally fell asleep, but was awoken by a feeling of indescribable terror. I was completely unable to move and it felt like my entire body was vibrating with electricity. A loud roar filled my room, and strange multi-colored lights were shining through my window and dancing across the walls. I tried to scream for my parents, but it came out a hoarse whisper, barely audible. I felt like I couldn’t breathe, that the whole universe was ending around me, collapsing in on itself. I managed to turn my eyes in their sockets enough to look at the large red numbers on my digital alarm clock to the left of my bed. It was 2:10 AM.

Then I saw my door was slightly ajar.

A small dark head peeked at me through the open door. I felt like my heart was going to launch itself into orbit. I continued to scream, but it was as if it were being absorbed by the atmosphere of my room, sucked into a vacuum from which no sound could escape. The figure stepped into full view. It was the size of a child, not much bigger than I was, and completely pitch black. This being seemed to be made of darkness itself, the blackness oozing and writhing around it in constant flux. I got the impression it was an living artifact of static, white noise slightly out of phase with everything around it, flickering and indistinct.

It moved towards me quickly, walking with a jangling gait that reminded me of an enormous marionette being guided by unseen hands. Finally it stood right next to my bed, to my right. I couldn’t turn my head to look at it, but I could still view it in my peripheral vision. I felt it lean in towards me as my panic peaked to levels I had never experienced in my short life. Not even the terror and anguish I had suffered at the hands of my physically abusive parents came close to this. I struggled to move, focusing every ounce of willpower I had into wiggling just a toe. “Just my toe,” I thought and I could get out of this.

And then, like a balloon filled to bursting, it popped. I had moved my toe. Everything was over. It wasn’t that I had woken up from a nightmare. I had had plenty of those and knew what those were like. This was something entirely new.

I looked at my digital alarm clock. It was 3:15 AM.

For years I lived with this experience and others like it. Every so often I would wake up, unable to move, screaming out whispers. Sometimes it would happen as I fell asleep, descending on me like a cloak of night. None were quite so visceral and eventful as that first encounter, but they were always terrifying. I would hear people talking in languages I didn’t speak, parties going on inside my house when everyone was asleep. Strange laughter, the opening and closing of doors, cabinets, glasses clinking. Women I couldn’t see with foreign accents asking me for help. Every occurrence became a race against time, I just had to move one little part of my body and it would be all over. My willpower was my salvation.

Occasionally the intruders would be back, but only in my extended senses. I never saw that shadow again, but I would feel during my attacks that something – or multiple things – were coming for me. Somehow I knew that dog-headed men were on their way, almost up the stairs now, ready to enter and annihilate me, eat me up or take me away to wherever they came from. I had dreams of barren plains where giant piles of trash fell from openings in the sky into enormous piles. They were all the things that people had lost or had gone missing. I found my old stuffed frog there amongst the pile. There were also people there. I felt I knew, deep down, this is where those things were coming from, this is where they would take me.

I got older and the attacks subsided a bit. Eventually friends and people I met through working at a summer camp introduced me formally to the occult and I began eagerly reading about what the books called “astral travel” in addition to all the regular material about demons, spirits, magic circles and rituals. But it was always the astral that drew me in. These books treated the astral travel experience as both dangerous and complicated, but included methods on how to achieve the state. At this point I still hadn’t made the connection between sleep paralysis and the out-of-body state, not having realized that I knew more about this than I thought I did.

A key experience helped me understand the link between the two, and how close to piercing the veil of my physical senses I was really getting. I was in high school by this point and had come home one afternoon, completely exhausted. My parents and little brother were still away so I was all alone. Feeling tired and wanting to catch a nap before everyone got home, I laid down on the couch and immediately started falling asleep. However, my body fell asleep faster than my mind, because I started feeling a paralysis attack coming on. The vibrations grew. Unable to break it, I became completely encapsulated in a humming envelope, prevented from moving an inch. I became intensely frightened that two men were coming up my driveway and were going to open the front door and kidnap me. Terrified, I tried “rocking” back and forth, in an attempt to roll to the floor and get away. The “rocking” worked, and I felt myself roll off the side of the couch and fall to the floor. But, my fall was odd: I was descending as slowly as a feather, drifting along through the few feet that separated the couch from the floor as if I were made of mist. I touched the floor and felt myself “bounce” off it gently.

Then I was back on the couch. I sat bolt upright, completely confused by what had just happened. Had I . . . fallen out of my body? I knew that I had felt myself roll off the couch, but then I obviously hadn’t. It wasn’t long after that experience that I realized the paralysis state was intimately connected with the exit from the body that I had been reading about. I kept studying, and resolved to completely leave my physical body with intent and direction.

Finally, after practicing for weeks at night, meditating in bed on my back, trying to feel a way to get out of my physical form, I found it. The books I had been reading offered a number of “exit strategies”. One that I had tried – to no avail – was to visualize myself climbing an imaginary rope out of my body and into the air. This never quite worked out, I just couldn’t get the feeling of it down. I remembered my earlier experience on the couch and the “rocking” motion that had eventually caused a spontaneous OBE. I imagined that I was falling through my bed, and then rising back up through myself into the air. I tried to feel this happening to me, as if I were on a roller coaster or some carnival ride. Eventually I was able to mentally get into it so effectively that it really did feel like my stomach was turning from the experience.

Then, on one of these “upswings” it felt like my hands were peeling off a large sticky counter top. I went with the feeling, completely freeing my arms from the glue and then lifting my body as well. I felt the whole universe shaking violently, as if I were coming apart. I tried to open my “eyes” and could see, but just barely. It was like opening them for the first time: Everything was fuzzy and gray and washed out. But I could see! I realized I was floating a few feet above my bed, but didn’t dare look at my body. Excitement raced through me as I realized what I had accomplished. I knew immediately what I wanted to do and moved, stumbling and feeling along the floor as if I were crawling on newborn legs, to my closed bedroom door. I had read about how you could simply pass through matter like a ghost in this state, and I wanted to experience this unique sensation.

But, when I tried to “phase” through the door, I hit it and stopped. “What?” I asked myself. I thought I was out-of-body? What’s the big deal here? I “touched” the door again with my misty pseudopodial “hands”. I could feel the wood, firm and hard. But, when I relaxed and just let myself “melt”, my pseudopods went right through it – along with the rest of me.

I use these terms in parentheses because there’s no easy way to translate this experience to our waking, material world. Much like in “The Matrix” when Morpheus points out to Neo that it’s not air he’s breathing, you have to come to terms with the fact that this liminal, non-physical form does not have analogues to your flesh. You don’t have hands, you don’t have feet, you don’t have eyes. None of these things translate anymore, and the sooner you let them go the better.

I found myself in my house’s hallway and floated through the open door of my parents’ bedroom. I saw my mother and father asleep in their bed, illuminated by the moonlight filtering in through the bedroom window. Everything seemed as real as if I were awake. My vision had cleared and I could see almost as clearly as I could in my waking body. Wanting to still prove to myself that this was happening, I “jumped” on my parents’ bed and started trying to wake my mother up. I don’t know how I thought I could accomplish this, but in my mind I was yelling for her to “wake up!” and “shaking” the bed.

Her eyes shot open.

She stared right into me and she looked terrified. I became intensely embarrassed and scared that I had done something awful. I felt myself snap back into my room as if I were a rubber band stretched out that had been let loose. I “woke” up and sat up in bed, listening carefully for any noise coming from my parents’ room, scared stiff that I had angered them. I didn’t hear anything and soon laid back down, closed my eyes and fell asleep, still brimming with excitement from these first, hesitant steps into the unknown. The next day I asked my mother about the night before, not giving details but inquiring if I had somehow woken her. She said no. To this day I’ll never know if she really woke up or not, but I was sure I had made a real breakthrough in my attempts to move outside my physical form.

The next time I accomplished the out-of-body state, I decided to explore outside. I floated up towards the ceiling of my room and relaxed, drifting right through the plaster and insulation and roof beams into the clear night sky. I kept drifting up and up, wanting to soar through the evening like a witch on her broomstick. The only issue was, I looked down.

It’s easy to think that you’re ready to fly outside of the confines and contexts of a plane or helicopter, but the first time you’re really up there all alone, you learn how you really feel about the situation. It’s disorienting to be just above the trees and like Wile E. Coyote not realizing he’s in the air until the Roadrunner points it out to him, once I noticed how high I was up I panicked and started descending. Not quickly, as if I were falling, but slowly and gently. It was as if I were a balloon that had begun to deflate. In a sense, I don’t think that’s an entirely metaphorical analogy for the situation. It was as if my confidence and intent were the forces keeping me aloft. I could fly because I believed I could fly. Once I lost that magic feather, Dumbo started plummeting. I lost control of the out-of-body state and snapped back into my body.

Another time I went out-of-body, everything felt so real that I wasn’t quite sure if I hadn’t just woken up and got out of bed. It had been early morning, and I had suffered a sleep paralysis attack upon awakening. I had since learned that I could transition those attacks into an out-of-body experience if I so pleased and had done just that. I floated down my hallway and into the kitchen. I was so confused by the clarity of the experience that I thought it was an aborted attempt. There was a noise from behind me and I watched my little brother walk into the kitchen, pour himself a glass of orange juice, drink it and return to his bedroom. Figuring this attempt a bust, but still sensing something was “off” about the world around me, I opened (as if I were in the flesh!) the backdoor and went into our backyard. I could feel the dew on the grass wetting my “feet”. Deciding to give it the old college try (and because no one was watching) I leapt into the air, attempting to take off like Superman. Either it would work, or it wouldn’t work and I would feel extremely silly.

I shot off into the sky like a rocket. I watched the trees in my backyard shrink to the size of toothpicks and could see for miles around me. Not having expected this, my stomach ate my heart and in this panicked moment I snapped right back to my body.

It took several years of experiences to really get the hang of moving in the out-of-body state. One particular experience I remember is that while staying the night at a friend’s house, I felt an attack coming on and transitioned it into an OBE, floating up to the ceiling and through the roof. By this time I had flown enough to get a feel for it and felt very comfortable gliding just a few feet off the ground, moving like a silent, ghostly manta ray through the humid night. Pretty soon I left what I call the “local” area – the area around your current environment – and had bled off into what I call the “in-betweens“: the dreamlands, the over-there, the other sky, or if you prefer: The astral. I found myself in what I interpreted as a park. It was very dark, but there were a few streetlamps here and there, dim but providing some light to see by. Through the park ran a blacktop road along which drifted a few antique cars, silently moving through the night without a driver I could see and with no headlamps on. As I explored this place, I noticed – to my surprise – a middle-aged looking man sitting on a bench. I froze, curious if he could see me or not. After a moment I started moving towards him.

He turned in my direction with a look of utter fear and panic on his face. I realized quickly: “He can see me!”

“Hey!” I shouted.

Then he did something I never expected: Without saying a word, he turned and launched into the night sky.

“He’s like me!” I realized. “I have to talk to him!”

I immediately gave chase. We flew through the night, me just barely keeping up with him. I kept grasping for his leg. He was right there. I wanted so badly just to grab him, stop him, tell him it’s okay and that I’m not going to hurt him and I just have a ton of questions. Sir! Please stop! I have so many questions!

But it was to no avail. I lost him, he was just faster than me. Utterly lost in the in-betweens, I let myself snap back to my body, feeling dejected.

These are just a handful of experiences I’ve had over the years. Working in the out-of-body state, exploring the in-betweens, trying to find out what’s real and what is fiction has taken up a large portion of my childhood, teen years and now adult life.

Everyone can have these experiences, you don’t need to be a sufferer of sleep paralysis or even believe in the occult. This is why I dislike the term “astral” and all the spiritual baggage that word brings with it. I tend to think most people have these experiences naturally – probably all the time – and either write them off as hallucinations or dreams. But I’m here to tell you: they’re real, they can be explored. Even today, I’m still trying to plumb the depths of the human mind, figure out protocols to make the OBE state more reliable to achieve, explore the dreamlands that we create and that have always existed, hidden yet within reach, somewhere in-between here and there.