On this Wednesday, my thoughts, prayers, and meditations go out for all those who have been affected by Hurricane Sandy. My house was lucky – perhaps blessed – for keeping its power through the night. Most of Long Island, NY is a big mess of torn trees and cut power lines. Tomorrow night, we will be enjoying Halloween, and the Feast of Samhain (a Celtic Holiday, celebrating the “end of summer,” the new year, and the passage between worlds) in the sparsely lit suburbs. In spite of tragic circumstances, this could add a little magic to that special time where the veil is lifted between us and the Otherworld. And in a certain light, Sandy has already brought with her an eruption of those edge realms, where, as Pinchbeck writes in the opening to one of our books this week: “The most interesting phenomena takes place at the edges–at the furthest periphery of what is known and understood, where the signal meets noise and chaos entangles order.”
Each of these books explore the theme of edge realms; encountering the invisible Otherworld, and exploring (sometimes unlocking) the unknown dimensions of the self.
Stay safe out there folks. If you should happen to step through one of these doorways; then I wish your journey well.
1. Exploring the Edge Realms of Consciousness:
This one is edited by Daniel Pinchbeck and Ken Jordan. The Edge Realms is a collection of essays and stories previously published on Reality Sandwich, exploring “the fringes of human consciousness.”
They include subjects like lucid dreaming, synchronicities, parapsychology, out of body experiences, sleep paralysis “visions” and even psychic research by the CIA. Part 1 explores “Minds and Molecules,” with a terrific first chapter, “Of Syllable and Sound,” that renders the borders between the scientist and the shaman ambiguous. Part 2 dives deeper, “An Adventure into the Psyche,” while part 3 goes into the “Science of the Psyche.” Then it takes us onto “Visions of Night and Darkness,” part 4, and part 5 with “Synchromysticism” and 6, “Shamanic Operations.”Part 7, “Thought at the Periphery,” takes us on a interesting trip with essays like “The Virtues of Being an Object: Touch, Pornography and Having Bodies,” by porn star Connor Habib, and “Does Consciousness Depend on the Brain?” by author Chris Carter.
So, we enter the edge realms and attempt to discover what they might teach us about our reality. With a hurricane that tore up the East Coast of the US – arriving just in time for all Hallows Eve – the veil has never been thinner to access the Otherworld. Dare we step through this passageway?
Read on then, traveler.
2. Daimonic Reality: A Field Guide to the Otherworld:
This one is by Patrick Harpur, an esoteric writer and novelist. While he has two other amazing books: The Philosopher’s Secret Fire, and The Secret Tradition of the Soul, I chose this one because it is a proper introduction to all things weird with our world.
Harpur truly offers us a “field guide” of strange sightings and encounters with what he calls the “daimonic reality.” That realm odd creatures that are neither real, nor unreal. These mercurial denizens are the fairies and elves of folklore, the goblins, ghouls, zombies and vampires who don’t literally exist. But, you can’t say they don’t exist, either. They defy our modern “either/or” language of reality. They are tricksters and shape-shifters; taking on the shape, in our time, of UFO’s, aliens, hell hounds, Big Foots, and Lock Ness monsters.
Taking us on a wild journey into a number of fascinating and freaky historical accounts, Harpur gives us a theory. He says that these beings do exist; but they dwell in an “intermediary” world. An imaginal world. Now, imaginal doesn’t mean imaginary. It means a space that lies betwixt our world and another. These beings are by their very nature shape-shifters; they take on forms appropriate for our cultures and times, and yes, they are as real as you and I. In fact, they are the “little people” of the ancient world; the personified deities and spirits that indigenous cultures took for granted.
According to Harpur, we’ve denied these beings their proper place in the world, so they’ve returned to us in all sorts of havoc-wreaking ways. Jung, for instance, believed that since we’ve made it impossible for these beings to exist in a world of science, they’ve flocked to our inner world; the world of the psyche.
Now the daimons populate our minds, causing the pathos and neurosis that was discovered by psycho-analysis. But they won’t be contained in our skulls. With characteristic trickery, they still appear at large throughout the world, recorded at the periphery of modern history.
Harpur gives us fascinating theories as to who these beings are and why they are. He draws from many different mystics and poets throughout the centuries, advocates and heralds of the Imagination. Most important of all, Harpur invokes mythos to inform us about how we can remedy the situation of our world, which so seeks to refuse the “reality of the Psyche,” the autonomy of these beings and of our own Imagination. I can’t recommend this book enough. It’s an instant classic for the reader’s book-shelf, and they can return to it again and again for an beautiful and numinous chance encounter with the “little people.”
3. The Occult by Colin Wilson:
Another RW (Reading Wednesday) book by Colin Wilson, I just got this one in the mail last week. I’ve barely cracked it open, but I can tell you that this one lines right up with the other two in an exploration of the weird, the fringe, and the edge realms of the possible. Wilson admits to being a skeptic about all this stuff. After all, his book, The Outsider, is more of a literary and philosophical work. The Occult, at first glance, appears obscure and under the surface of the events of culture. But don’t let that fool you. Of course it would appear “beneath the surface,” and what lies beneath isn’t always unimportant. Wilson began a journey into researching this book and was met with a number of odd synchronicities, and came to believe that the evidence was far too much in favor to disbelief there was something to the whole subject.
An investigation into the Occult changed Wilson’s attitude. In fact, it began to fit right into his theory of “Faculty X” – that we have latent powers within the psyche that lie untapped beneath normal, every-day consciousness. If only we could find a way to reach that secret power house of the mind, what wonders might we unearth? What dangers?
Faculty X “lies at the heart of Occult experience.” Wilson claims in the introduction that indigenous ancestors possessed these powers manifestly, while we moderns have let them go dormant somehow. His book is large, voluminous even, and covers a long history of the Occult as well as his own theories about it. I recommend it as an introduction to this unusual world of invisible forces. I’ve heard that there a number of mistakes that Wilson makes that modern Occultists or historians might mark as inaccurate, so, like a good investigator of the Otherworld, read with caution.
Happy Halloween EL readers! Stay safe on your adventures.