Review of Naturalistic Occultism by IAO 131

Posted: July 14, 2011 in Book Reviews, Thelema, Uncategorized

I meat IAO 131 on the website reddit on r/occult.

When I started looking around the site I considered myself a pretty hardcore atheist with a morbid fascination with the occult. When I found IAO 131 I started to think that I may actually be able to make it among other occultists, in spite of my own leanings on religion and the supernatural.  IAO 131 presents a naturalistic world view on the occult, and naturalism is the philosophical framework of the militant atheists. I will only say this once, philosophical naturalism is not the same as tree hugging or nature worship which people occasionally misname “naturalism.”

All of the four horsemen, as they have been called in popular media: Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and Daniel Dennet have proclaimed themselves naturalists. In case you don’t know who these guys are, these 4 are the most popular current atheist writers, so naturalism is not just a meaningless trivial phrase. It establishes naturalism as a kind of co-joining metaphysical framework for atheism.

Naturalism as a philosophy essentially states nature is all there is, hence no supernature. Naturalism is a big tent in my eyes because it also includes weirdness like string theory (which at times proclaims countless parallel universes and unknown dimensions), but it does fuel the militant fight against religion.

Most of my militant atheist friends would be very surprised to know that there is a book that argues for a lifestyle of occult practice from the same metaphysical framework of the so called militant atheist.

IAO 131 knows his current research on interesting neuroscience, philosophy of the mind, and has a bibliography of well respected skeptical books that I recognized. I have a humble bachelors in neuroscience, not enough to get a fancy job, but I hope enough to say that I can judge someone’s understanding of the brain.

I am also well traveled in skeptical circles and am a published member of the North Texas Skeptics and was once a card carrying member of the atheist think tank the Center for Inquiry. (a group I still respect and support). I hope this grants me the right to judge someone’s skepticism at least from a philosophical point of view.

The book opens with a very fascinating quote from Aleister Crowley:

“In this book it is spoken of the Sephiroth and the Paths; of Spirits and Conjurations; of Gods, Spheres, Planes, and many other things which may or may not exist. It is immaterial whether these exist or not. By doing certain things certain results will follow; students are most earnestly warned against attributing objective reality or philosophic validity to any of them.” 

This is taken as the prominent bridge between the magical tradition of Thelema and the strictest of scientific thought. It tells the magician to not over attribute specific causalities in his work, to remain in a kind of utilitarian agnosticism and focus on results.

 

Indeed.

Thats only the beginning.

Some interesting ideas that stood out to me and my own practice are as follows:

Initiation is the overcoming of various mental habits and the reconditioning of the nervous system in accordance with the will of the operator. 

Conditioning and deconditioning. Like Pavlov’s dog. Like Skinner and his rats and pigeons. You can use basic behaviorism as a way to create an internalized system of reward which will allow you greater strength as you mold yourself.

This is essentially my own personal end game for magick. Through my study of positive psychology I have learned that a certain amount of mental self-manipulation is required to overcome the human predispositions to negativity. I found myself in the grip of anxiety and despair in a bad job and overcoming many errors of bad luck and a bad economy.

I found that my youthful attraction to the occult provided an answer to a question I kept asking myself as an atheist of 5 or so years, “How do I regain the energy levels I once experienced in my religious days.”

I was devoutly religious. Heretical no doubt. But in my practice of religion, which were always of a mystical bent including mainstream charismatic christianity which teaches the speaking of tongues and the miraculous workings of not only its preachers but also its laity. For some reason this kind of magical thinking gave me an enthusiasm for life that usually escapes me.

I know many who have never suffered from the appeal of religion, but I fear the evidence of majorities suggests most people do.

This book spells out in plain English how one may consciously use this kind of thinking as a form of manicured metamorphosis. A form of radical self growth, to push for a an optimum level of personal functioning. Christ, I am beginning to sound like a self-help tape over here.

As within so without. 

As opposed to, “so above, so below.” The mystical mantra of alchemists and kabbalists. My dad taught me this philosophy when I first started reading occult books at the age of 14. It is almost a dogma of occultism.

But IAO131 suggests we turn it inside-out, so to speak. To see that really our brains are not very precise measures of the environment, we see a limited spectrum, we hear the mechanical movement of molecules, our perceptions are at a base fundamentally metaphorical illusions. At least thats what I thought of while reading IAO 131 on this idea. So that we can understand that if we can affect our perception we can optimize how we interact with the environment. I am afraid of butchering this idea with what may be my own failures at perceiving its meaning. I suggest it as a totally worthy magical meditation.

Rorshach tests are projective tests. 

Perhaps the following idea will shed some light on the former. Projective tests are tests used in psychology to see what the patient has going on in his/her head. The most famous of witch is a rorshach test. In case you have forgotten I will insert the following stimulus:

If you think that the human mind is projecting meaning at baseline, its probably a good idea to get your hand on the motherfucking wheel. At least thats my ethical conclusion.

I am a walking Projective Test generator. I foretell the mysteries of my inner gods by seeing signs in all I do and adorn my house with Kali, Santa Muerte, Durga, Shiva, Krishna, and I read Tarot Cards and I follow the ley lines in synchronicity as my favorite comic book character John Constantine does in the pages of his book Hellblazer. But I know that I am doing essentially no different from the author of Hellblazer and making a work of my imagination.

One cannot deny that by definition these manner of practices are guaranteed to increase the meaning in one’s life. Some have noted that life with abundant meaning is a healthy pro-social state worth pursuing.

Invocation is the invocation of the Psyche

Invocation is often compared to prayer. Another familiar initiation from my religious days. I have observed prayer used as a psi-ops machine of mass hypnosis at Benny Hinn rallies. I have seen this in person and it holds a candle to any weird experience I have ever had:

When I say that I experienced the surreal as a Charismatic Christian, please understand that I am dead fucking serious. I went to retreats where men prophesied in what I would describe as sweaty trantric trances as they turned on the parts of their brains that they consider the “feel of the holy spirit.” I have been present at exorcisms.  I have experienced this hypnosis personally, and have used it at times when I attempted preaching. Though I fully believed that what I was doing was true and I was sincere in my actions.

Now some of you may fail to see the “prayer” in my example. But at a Benny Hinn rally all one does is pray, over and over and over again. Usually in tongues, which the speaker usually interprets as the spirit of God speaking through them in the tongues of angels. I urge you to check it out. Benny Hinn crusades are free, they just try to sell you a ton of crap once you are inside, and its more crowded than Disney World on a holiday.

This is a powerful psychological furnace. I don’t particularly like the Jehovah god anymore. I am torn between bouts of massive polytheism, and strange monotheistic worship of my HGA. For those who are not in the know Thelemites (generally speaking) believe they have a Holy Guardian Angel, definitions vary but for me its a projective idea of all the things that I revere most in life, my ethically highest form simultaneously. I will have to write more about it later. In most contemporary writings on Thelema knowledge and conversation with this being/projection is considered to be a very advanced initiation reserved for those who’s mastery of the Great Work is already well refined.

But coming from a background of talking to Jesus in my head, I kind of gravitated towards it naturally.

These days I pray to Odin, and Krishna, to the Green Lantern Guardians, whatever strikes my fancy.

I don’t mean to degrade the prayers of the true believer. I am at this point finding that a kind of conscious agnosticism is ideal. I don’t buy the metaphysical models of contemporary religions for the most part, but I think words like “being” are tricky words who’s true meaning we have yet to truly behold. I speak now as a transhumanist who believes one day computers may wield emotions and demand rights.

I also know from my Social Psychology coursework that the human personality is in perpetual flux and can be transformed by external stimuli. Perhaps Invocation is some strange form of a positive multiple personality disorder? Who knows. I fear for the lonely magician who has no brethren to share these thoughts at the brink of insanity.

There is a whole lot more in this book that I got out of it. I actually wrote my notes for this blog on a drawing I did of a tree growing through a coffin so I would have these thoughts written in a meaningful place and to remember to contemplate them.

I look forward to seeing more work from IAO 131. I believe he has been published in Thelemite journals and he has an excellent blog.

He is also my go-to guy for resolving my atheistic questions about things in the Great Work. Which brings me to the immortal words of  comic book Demiurge Stan Lee: Nuff Said!

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