Friday, July 19, 2013

Liber 821 or How I Found the Goddess and What She Did to Me When I Found Her Part 1

by Zoe-Sophia-Dione (= 821, “Babylon the Great” :-P)

23 (=Zos/life [ChiH]; Kia/joy [ChDVH])

Should you find that your own revelations of The Goddess become substantially different than the revelations of Mal-2, then perhaps The Goddess has plans for you as an Episkopos, and you might consider creating your own sect from scratch, unhindered.

                                                —from  Principia Discordia or How I Found the Goddess
                                                   and What I Did to Her When I Found Her.

I had been dedicated to the goddess Durga for very many years.  I was not doing the “eclectic” neopagan thing of adopting a mishmash of foreign deities and making spiritual-practice stew out of them. I was (and continue to be despite my immersion in Western occultism and contemporary Paganism) a long-time adherent of reformed Advaita Vedanta.  I became dedicated to a certain important scripture dated to about the 3rd century called the Devi Mahatmyam, or “Glory of the Goddess.” It is a trilogy of mythologies in which the Goddess, personifying the combined power of the gods, defeats various demons in battles and, thus, restores the order of the Universe.

The full scripture, which takes more than an hour or three to recite, is chanted in the context of devotional ritual (puja) and is prefaced and followed by several auxiliary prayers, chants, mantra, and ritual gestures. I took to performing a much abbreviated version of the ritual, in accordance with guidelines given to me by a senior swami of the Ramakrishna Order of Vedanta. I performed the ritual once weekly for about a year after many years of working with the text. At this time, I also was immersed in disciplines related to Kundalini yoga and had recently removed myself from association with a Nygmapa (Dzogchen) Buddhist sangha where I was being groomed to become a lama.

The ritual and contemplation or chanting of the Devi Mahatmyam is generally done as an exercise in which the Goddess is thought of as a beneficent entity who is being addressed for the sake of gaining favors and for protection from both supernatural evil and the nasty world-at-large. I ultimately took a more Gnostic and literal approach. After all, Advaita Vedanta is jnana yoga, the discipline of spiritual integration through gnosis. In addition, the translations of the names of the demons that the Goddess is battling in the Devi Mahatmyam include The Great Deceiver (Mahahanu), The Aimless One (Parivarita), The Hypocrite  (Bidala), Anger (Kruddha), The Savage (Ugrasya),  He Who Gives  Way to Temptation (Durdhara), The Vicious (Chanda), The Malicious (Munda), Conceit (Shumbha), and Self-deprecation (Nishumbha). And the most famous demon celebrated in the scripture is Mahishasura—the “Buffalo demon” of egoism, the depiction of the slaying of which is an important piece of Hindu iconography.

So, these demons that The Goddess is protecting you from are not oogah-boogah things “out there”; they are negative qualities within yourself. How does The Goddess protect you from them? She rips you apart over and again with a barrage of weapons: the sword of discrimination, club of articulation, bow of determination, arrow of penetration, pike of attention, rod of restraint, axe of right action, net of unity, trident of harmony, and discus of revolving time. Then she cuts off your head and totally obliterates you in a confounding mush of ego dissolution that you ideally recover from changed.

So, a few years before I began to shift gears and look to Western occultism for empowerment and insight, and before I knew anything about Cabala or Crowley or the Abyss, I found myself returning to a particular difficult mind state in my meditation practices. What I would feel enveloped in would be a dark, abysmal space. In it, I would receive impressions of how I became who I am. I would receive visceral sensations and memories harkening back to earliest childhood. As a Tantric Buddhist and Yoga practitioner, I had been trained in how to maneuver such experiences. Nevertheless, and perhaps aggravated by volatility in my personal life, I slipped over the edge and plummeted into the core of a chasm one morning.

I looked and saw a great abyss and a dark funnel of whirling waters or fixed airs, wherein were cities and monsters and trees and atoms and mountains and little flames (being souls) and all the material of an universe.

And all are sucked down one by one, as necessity hath ordained. For below is a glittering jewelled globe of gold and azure, set in a World of Stars.

And there came a Voice from the Abyss, saying: "Thou seest the Current of Destiny! Canst thou change one atom in its path? I am Destiny. Dost thou think to control me? for who can move my course?"
                                                            —From The Cry of the 29th Aethyr in The Vision the    Voice attributed to Aleister Crowley   

I experienced profound ego-dissolution and it was no freaking way like the sunshine and moonbeams of an Eric Tolle New Age best seller. Whereas it was kind of like an “enlightenment” experience, it also was the antithesis of what I’ve ever read about such things.

I realized in that moment in a way that cut far deeper than mere intellection that I was not a person. I was a mask, an automaton, a provisional being not of my own making. Unconscious and automated.  I was a composite of experiences and perceptions, habits, and conditioning that were not necessarily my own. Mere non-conscious karmic momentum of an interdependently arising neurotic fiasco called nature and nurture that stretched back to beginningless Time. 

My spirit is no more; my soul is no more. My life leaps out into annihilation!

                                                            —From The Cry of the 2nd Aethyr

In that moment, to borrow words from Kshemaraja’s commentary on the experience of enlightenment in the Spanda Karikas, “all my thought-constructs were split asunder by the recognition of [my] true essential nature.” The event indeedsurpassed common experience” but was anything but “replete with unprecedented bliss.”  My reaction was rage. Life appeared to be an oppressive lie foisted on me by others who themselves were utterly in the grip of the same lie. I was mostly angry because the way I felt about myself for so long—the way I persistently operated and struggled—didn’t have to be as it was. Everything was mere fabrication born of a delusion about Reality that I was force fed from the doomed moment that I took my first breath.

But what was worse than realizing the prosaic blather that Life Is but a Dream was the notion that the oppression of the illusion would continue to be suffered despite my new insight about it; I was not something other than this inexorable composite of karmic momentum. It was my ways of thought, my emotional responses, my personality, all the structures and nuances of my physiology. 

The Bengali mystic Sri Ramakrishna was known to say, “God is real; the world is illusory.”  I understood what that meant in that moment of crisis because I experienced the profound difference between myself as a personality construct and this organism called Reality.

Herein no forms appear, and the vision of God face to face, that is transmuted in the Athanor called dissolution, or hammered into one forge of meditation, is in this place but a blasphemy and a mockery.

And the Beatific Vision is no more, and the glory of the Most High is no more. There is no more knowledge. There is no more bliss. There is no more power. There is no more beauty. For this is the Palace of Understanding: for thou art one with the Primeval things.

—From The Cry of the 14th Aethyr

Prior to this episode, I had been an “insufferable know-it-all.” In a moment, however, the value of all concepts shattered. It was all vain blather, “sound and fury signifying nothing.”

I was “out-of-it” for several days, weeks perhaps. Humbled, humiliated, and feeling gyped and screwed about life. But when the dust settled, I felt free. Relieved. Off the hook. Nothing was true; thus, everything was permitted. I became relaxed. I put away my beliefs, books, and allegiances. I also arrived at a new sense of compassion, having glimpsed the roots of happiness and suffering concerning the human condition. There was no place to put blame; the cause was an interdependently arising phenomenon that drove the World Machine.

Yea! verily this is the Truth, this is the Truth, this is the Truth. Unto thee shall be granted joy and health and wealth and wisdom when thou art no longer thou.

                                                            —Liber Cheth vel Vallum Abiegni, 13

But, actually, life went on with its twists and turns, joys and disappointments, peak experiences and hard lessons.

There have been other instances in my life in which the end result of fervent goddess work has been crisis: upheaval, pain, loss. Even though things turn out “all for the best” in the end, the pattern has made me skittish about working with goddess energy. So I wince at folks who look to the Goddess for a kinder, gentler kind of spirituality, who look to the self-effacing, ever-doting mother or else the ever-accommodating and never-clinging lover. The contemptible idealized woman. The Goddess is not this. Rather, she is the maw and secret of creation, sustenance, dissolution, and transformation.

O Circle of Stars,
Whereof our father is by the younger brother,
Marvel beyond imagination, soul of infinite space,
Before whom time is ashamed, the mind bewildered, and the understanding dark,
Not unto Thee may we attain unless Thine Image be Love.
Therefore by seed and root, and stem and bud,
And leaf and flower and fruit do we invoke thee,
O Queen of Space, O Jewel of Light,
Continuous one of the heavens;
Let it be ever thus
That men speak not of Thee as One, but as None;
And let them not speak of Thee at all, since Thou art continuous.

                                                            —From Liber XV (Thelemic Gnostic Mass), Aleister Crowley 
This essay appears here:
Available in Kindle format at this page


  1. Beautiful description of the dissolution of the ego and the experience of incomprehensible eternity. As you say, chastening and humbling. We become open, expansive and free to be us. The demons are always with us in this world, lurking on the periphery of our consciousness but now the angel stands at the gates of our Eden and blocks the way.

    Thank you!

  2. Much thanks for the rapport and validation.

  3. You've even quoted Macbeth from the midst of his despair. I know divorce was my transformation time as I rose from ashes to again become a sentient being who enjoys life and found renewed passion in creative work and the love of women.