Into The Wilds

The Dionysian Mysteries were a ritual of ancient Greece and Rome which sometimes used intoxicants and other trance-inducing techniques (like dance and music) to remove inhibitions and social constraints, liberating the individual to return to a natural state.

We all need to return to that natural state from time to time – if not, too much sanity will drive us mad.  It’s particularly important for creative people.  This is how you tap into the unconscious where stories and art and music are borne.

It won’t happen naturally.  How you do it is down to you – I have many ways that work for me.  One is to make sure I get away into the wilds a few times a year.  Trek across wind-swept moors where there’s not a soul around for miles.  Sleep under the stars.  Dive into the ocean and let the swell carry you.  The Wild forces the front-brain to switch off.

And when you do, you start to see strands of myth all around you – like the installation above. And myth is the way the Wild communicates directly with the unconscious – the real – you.

I took this photo at the Eden Project (Motto: Transformation: it’s in our nature) on a recent journey through Cornwall, one of my favourite places.  If you want to see more of what I do in my life, make sure you follow me on Instagram.

The New Counterculture Tarot

The Moon
Hexen 2.0 (c) Suzanne Treister

There’s a rising spirit of rebellion in the air – and the whiff of repression – that seems very much like the sixties.  The parallels were driven home when I visited the excellent  ‘You Say You Want a Revolution?’ exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum.  It examines how a range of cultural activities combined with political activism across the globe to try to bring about epochal change near fifty years ago, but also, tellingly, links those times to today.

One aspect examined the resurgence of occult thinking during that time – as much a metaphor for spiritual transformation and advancement as it was magical thinking.

A key part of this section was the tarot designed by conceptual artist Suzanne Treister, a redesign of the traditional tarot deck and one that echoes other historic re-imaginings, say Aleister Crowley’s Thoth tarot deck.  It’s a fantastic piece of work that fully understands the psychological dimension of the tarot and links it to a very contemporary drive for change.

At the top you can see The Moon card from my own deck – the card for intuition, dreams and the unconscious – which here summon up transhumanism, techno-gaianism, futurology and more aspects of radical change thinking.

The Hanged Man
Hexen 2.0 (c) Suzanne Treister

The Hexen 2.0 deck’s alchemical drawings pick up the interconnected histories of the computer and internet, cybernetics and counterculture, science fiction and futurism, ideas of the control society, as well as philosophical, literary and political responses to advancing technology.

Here you can see Stewart Brand as The Hanged Man, creator of the Whole Earth Catalogue in the sixties and an associate of Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters in the tarot’s traditional archetype of the spiritual thinker who accepts sacrifice for the greater good.  Treister recognises Brand’s key role in today’s digital culture.

Other cards feature The Control Society as The Devil, Aldous Huxley as The Fool, the wisest card in the deck, Timothy Leary as The Magician, Ada Lovelace as the Queen of Chalices, Quantum Computing and A.I. as The Star, and many more fascinating pieces that are well worth reflection in the true tarot spirit.

I’ve found this deck is actually influencing a lot of my thinking about this new world that we’re all moving into, and particularly the kind of response it needs.  Hexen 2.0 is available online in the V & A shop.

Alan Moore And The Art Of Magic…And Writing

Image courtesy of Joe Brown
Image courtesy of Joe Brown

A few wise words…many wise words…from Alan Moore on imagination, creativity, writing, and magic. He’s long been an inspiration, and I’m very much looking forward to his novel Jerusalem.

“As previously stated, it is my position that art, language, consciousness and magic are all aspects of the same phenomenon. With art and magic seen as almost wholly interchangeable, the realm of the imagination becomes crucial to both practices.”

And this:

“The Bardic tradition of magic, when satires were justifiably more feared than curses and when the creator was respected as a powerful magician rather than as someone getting by out on the fringes of the entertainment industry, is one that today’s artists, occultists and writers would do well to reacquaint themselves with. You can kill or cure with a word. Get off of your knees.”

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