Gods, Demons and Imaginary Friends

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When I first began my study of
magick, almost thirty years ago, I was fascinated and bewildered by the
numerous, often conflicting, systems for cataloging entities. Every school of
thought and every religion offered a pantheon of entities, avatars, teachers,
and earthly representatives. There were catalogs filled with icons, pantheons
crowded with gods and goddesses, angels organized in hierarchies more complex
than government offices, and demons lined up behind their bigger,
badder brethren. Even the most ostensibly monotheistic religions still had
lists of saints, prophets, teachers, legendary characters, and further subdivisions
of their One True, yet nonetheless divisible, God.

All these systems were fascinating,
of course, and I spent many days, weeks, months and years focused upon exploring them. I studied
Jung’s Man and His Symbols, pored
over Crowley’s 777, spread tarot
cards on my living room floor, tossed coins among the piles of tarot cards, and
created magic marker enneagrams, veves, and hieroglyphs. I soon found that a
few of these entities had the ability to affect me in surprising ways. Some I
found I was inexplicably drawn to – I wrote short stories and created tarot
cards for the god Pan for many years, performed rituals involving Aleister
Crowley’s triumvirate of Nuit, Hadit, and Ra-Hoor-Khuit and placed candy, rum and cigars on altars for
Voodoo loas, for instance. Similarly some entities repelled me–although most simply did
not touch me in any immediately significant way. But ultimately my question
about all of these was, “Why this
stuff?” The teaching was that these entities were symbols, archetypes from the
collective unconscious–from a Platonic dreamworld in which the proper
shapes of all things were stored.

I'm fine with the idea that our unconscious minds intersect someplace and that
we share the common implicit information that is the world beyond our immediate
awareness. It makes sense to me on a very practical level – that everything in
the universe influences everything else, no matter how slightly or
significantly and that information about everything is available everywhere,
if we have the ability to decode it. That still doesn’t offer an answer as to how
we came up with this particular stuff from among all the potential
shapes and forms, gods, angels, demons and symbols of the unperceived world.
What is it about that memetic complex that we call a god that makes it a god?
How was this stuff first derived? I wanted to understand the
nature of the gods and goddesses from books and esoteric lore that I had come
to love – ultimately, I wanted to find a pantheon within my own life and experience.

After some years of contemplating
this issue of the origin of archetypes, I decided that the emphasis on the
"stuff" was only half the equation. The stuff – the names, shapes, clothing and
bedroom habits of the gods – represents the content, the collection of ideas
and perceptions that we circle in a metaphysical Venn diagram to delineate
exactly what constitutes a particular entity. The answer to my question lay as
much within the circle as in the hand that pushes the pen to draw it – or rather in the mind
that guides that hand.

The question became, “What is
it about a particular collection of stuff
that fires off the part of my brain that recognizes it as something
meaningful?” What makes the character of Ganesh recognizable to worshipers as a
god, for instance? It’s a more complex question than it might appear on the

The first level to be peeled back
deals with how we recognize anything as conscious, as something with which we
can communicate. An intuitive Turing Test performed by the
unconsciousness mind seems to immediately categorize things into “conscious
entity” and “inanimate lump.” We look at each other and, hopefully, we
recognize one another as human and conscious and at least reasonably intelligent.
Some very simple visual patterns, for instance, seem to fire off this sense of
recognition – a smiley face, have-a-nice day symbol is recognizable to us as a
human face; a South Park cartoon character can be identified with–for a half hour at a time–as a conscious entity with the ability to communicate,
make decisions, and act– however stupidly–upon the world.

Linguistic patterns
also seem to have a similar ability to reveal the conscious state of an entity. A sentence formed with proper syntax
suggests that its writer or speaker is possessed of some measure of
intelligence. Based on such unconscious intuitions, we recognize writers
as conscious entities when we read their well-formed sentences. We recognize other
humans as such when we communicate with each other in text environments such as
Internet forums. And we even recognize fictional characters as entities for
whom we might predict behavior and sympathize. (What would Captain Kirk do?)
There are many behavioral patterns and cues that help us to,
unconsciously, tell the difference between a conscious entity and a brick of

This all made much more sense to me
when I came across the concept of mirror
These are
physical structures in the brain which enable us to build predictive models of
intelligence or consciousness. In effect, mirror neurons build models of entities
and use our own consciousness as computing power to run those models. We look
at another person and we a) recognize them as another person, and b) try them
on for size to some degree. This suggests that mirror neurons are not only the
operative force behind empathy, sympathy, and most forms of communication, but
may also explain some of the phenomena involving gods and demons with which I
was struggling to understand.

First, let’s demonstrate how mirror
neurons work. The following exercises are excerpted from the Meta-Magick Invocation Workdbook (© 2008 Philip H. Farber, used with permission).


Watch Yourself Relax:

  • Imagine that
    you can see yourself, or hear yourself, or feel yourself, as if observing
    another person
    . Make it like looking at a movie or a picture of yourself.
    If you are better at hearing or feeling, then hear yourself talking or
    making sounds, or feel where your presence would be.

  • Imagine that
    this other self that you are observing is in a place that is very
    comfortable and very, very relaxing
    . It’s not necessary to see, hear
    or feel the place, just keep your attention on this other self.

  • Watch, listen,
    and/or feel as this other self becomes more and more relaxed
    , more and
    more comfortable, and exhibits the effects of relaxation: softer muscles,
    different posture, different facial expression, and so forth.

  • Make changes
    to the structure of the image
    (but not the content):

    1. Make the image larger or smaller

    2. Make the colors brighter or more muted

    3. Emphasize the foreground as opposed to the
      background, and vice versa

    4. Make the sounds or speech louder or quieter (if the
      emphasis is on hearing rather than seeing)

    5. Speed up and slow down the action (works for all

    6. Move the image closer or farther away (works for
      all senses)

    7. Give the image a soft glow or sparkles

  • Notice any
    changes to your state
    as you experiment with these changes.


The above exercise deals not
just with our ability to recognize entity-hood in our dealings with external stuff,
but also with the things that we imagine, the dissociated images and entities
that we create in our minds. The very (im)material that gods, demons, and
imaginary friends are made from. Also notice how subtle changes in the form and
quality of our internal image have the ability to change our response to the
entity. Different configurations affect our consciousness in different ways.
Making the representation larger or smaller, brighter or dimmer, etc., will
often continue the process of making us more or less relaxed. Hopefully you
found a configuration that was wonderfully relaxing.

Although the above excersise was about our self-image, it gives us a start towards finding clues
to the anatomy of entities of any kind. And even better, we may notice some
direct connections between the anatomy of an entity and our own states of

Let’s consider for a moment our
criteria for recognizing something as god or goddess, demon or angel. There are,
generally, two major magical operations that involve these critters: invocation and evocation. Invocation is the drawing into oneself of a quality or
entity; evocation is the externalization of a quality or entity. In a
traditional invocation of Hermes, we might visit a temple of Hermes and
contemplate his image, or recite a descriptive poem in his honor, or create a
magick circle and bring into it only those things of Hermetic nature, so that
we might become more Hermetic ourselves. In a traditional evocation we might
summon a Goetic spirit into a triangle and question it about what would make
life better for us or constrain it to perform some task for us to that same
end. We perform these operations quite naturally in daily life, outside the
context of magick or mysticism. When we are inspired by another person or a
work of art, that is a kind of invocation. When we imagine conversations with
people who aren’t present, or attempt to verbally convince our computer
connection to go faster, we are engaging in mild forms of evocation.

Let’s say that, for the purposes of
this discussion, our entities become useful when we can use them to perform invocation
and evocation willfully and with well-defined intent. An entity suitable for
invocation could, ideally, change you in some desired way by contemplating the
entity and drawing it into yourself. An entity suitable for evocation would be
able to impart information or perform tasks according to your will. In our
Meta-Magical explorations, we hope to discover entities in relation to our own
states and our consciousness, rather than necessarily learning some previous
explorer’s version of a pantheon. (And when we all do this, perhaps we’ll find
that we have many of these entities in common.)

As in the preceding exercise, we
begin with an image of the self. Our hypothesis here is that a self image is
the very essence of entity-recognition. It is our basic reference point for
consciousness and can also help to reveal our own innate pantheons, the
entities who already inhabit our world of consciousness. To change that image
from our human self to that of a god, we have to tweak the parameters in order
for that image (or voice or feeling) to rise to the level of something useful
in invocation or evocation, something with the potential to change us through


Instant God(dess):

  • Decide on a
    that you either have and would like to enhance, or one that
    you don’t have and would like to acquire. For instance, creativity,
    compassion, patience, strength, assertiveness, financial skill,
    adaptability, understanding, concentration, flexibility, love, sex appeal,
    or whatever you decide upon. Make sure this quality is a positive one,
    that is, it is one that stands on its own and is not expressed as a lack
    of something else (for instance, “reduced stress” might be expressed here
    as “relaxation”, “no more bad luck” might be expressed for these purposes
    as “good luck” and so on).

  • Breathe and
    Imagine a circle around yourself, at about the diameter of
    your spread arms. Sit or stand in the center of that circle. Fill your
    lungs completely, with a slow, even inhalation. As you inhale, allow your
    attention to expand to fill the circle. As you exhale, slowly, evenly, and
    completely, allow your attention to contract to a single point in the
    center of your chest. Repeat at least three times.

  • Create a
    dissociated image of yourself
    (an image, voice or feeling of you as if
    perceived by another person or in a recording), standing or sitting.
    Eliminate background and any accessories, objects, props, and so on that
    might be in your image, so that the image is just you.

  • Begin to
    adjust the physiology
    of the imagined person to include more and more
    of your desired quality. Pay attention to and adjust facial expression,
    posture, breathing, movements, skin tone, muscle usage and anything else
    that might pertain.

  • Adjust the
    structure of the image
    (submodalities) for greater impact. Experiment
    with image size, color depth and quality, image location, and special
    effects such as glows, sparkles, shimmers. Take each of these to its
    greatest intensity – for instance, the image could be increased to much
    greater than life-size. If this image were a god of that particular
    quality, how would these submodalities manifest? Just how big, bright,
    loud, strong and sparkly is a god(dess) of x?

  • Begin to add
    in extra features and aspects
    from other humans, from animals,
    machines as appropriate to a god(dess) of this quality. For instance, if
    cunning and strength are useful to this entity, give it some qualities of
    a tiger or other animal that might represent those qualities (head, body,
    teeth, eyes, whatever). If enhanced intelligence or processing speed is
    important, then maybe a computer chip or having a computer as an accessory
    might work. Take as much time as is necessary to test out some of these
    qualities. Notice which ones feel the best and keep them. Have fun with
    this and make your image fantastic.

  • Adjust
    physiology to account for the additions
    . If you added a computer chip
    to the brain, how would that be reflected in facial expression, breathing,
    posture, etc.?

  • Contemplate
    the image for at least 30 seconds.
    Pull the image
    into the circle with you and draw it into you.
    Wear it like clothing,
    wrap it around you, let it interpenetrate your body and mind. Let your own
    body, posture, breathing, facial expression, etc. reflect what you saw in
    this image. Let the memories of this (future) self who has already
    resolved this basic need be your memories. Breathe and
    . Be open to
    thoughts, epiphanies, and suggestions from your unconscious mind
    may occur throughout the day as a result of this practice.

  • This exercise and the early one are offered
    here for demonstration purposes, to give some practical experience of the
    relationship between entities and consciousness. For the most part, entities
    produced or contacted in this way are personal ones, not necessarily god or
    goddess archetypes familiar to us from the astral storehouse of sacred images.
    However, sometimes they do rise to that level and first-time practitioners
    occasionally find themselves face-to-face with deities who offer names and
    abilities drawn from known pantheons and belief systems.

  • The exercises demonstrate an extremely stripped-down and basic mode of working. There are
    endless modifications and enhancements to these processes of deriving personal
    pantheons from our unconscious minds. At some point, they become much more than
    simple demonstrations of a point – but I’ll leave that, for now, to your own
    imagination and experience…


(…And before you’re off to read the
next article, I’ll just note that to fully understand the point that this piece
dances around, no matter how well you think you get it on an intellectual
level, it is most likely necessary to actually perform the experiments. You
have to look through the microscope and adjust the focus before you really know
what a micro-organism is like. And it likewise helps to change the focus of
your mind before you really understand the nature of the entities all around us,
including gods, goddesses, demons, angels, imaginary friends, ideologies,
corporations, schools of art, mass movements and those mysterious bipeds we
call “human.”)



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Cannabis and Ayahuasca: most people believe they shouldn’t be mixed. Read this personal experience peppered with thoughts from a pro cannabis Peruvian Shaman.


Ayahuasca Retreat 101: Everything You Need to Know to Brave the Brew
Ayahuasca has been known to be a powerful medicinal substance for millennia. However, until recently, it was only found in the jungle. Word of its deeply healing and cleansing properties has begun to spread across the world as many modern, Western individuals are seeking spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical well-being. More ayahuasca retreat centers are emerging in the Amazon and worldwide to meet the demand.


Ayahuasca Helps with Grief
A new study published in psychopharmacology found that ayahuasca helped those suffering from the loss of a loved one up to a year after treatment.


Ayahuasca Benefits: Clinical Improvements for Six Months
Ayahuasca benefits can last six months according to studies. Read here to learn about the clinical improvements from drinking the brew.


Ayahuasca Culture: Indigenous, Western, And The Future
Ayahuasca has been use for generations in the Amazon. With the rise of retreats and the brew leaving the rainforest how is ayahuasca culture changing?


Ayahuasca Guide: Effects, Common Uses, Safety
The Amazonian brew, Ayahuasca has a long history and wide use. Read our guide to learn all about the tea from its beginnings up to modern-day interest.


Ayahuasca and the Godhead: An Interview with Wahid Azal of the Fatimiya Sufi Order
Wahid Azal, a Sufi mystic of The Fatimiya Sufi Order and an Islamic scholar, talks about entheogens, Sufism, mythology, and metaphysics.


Ayahuasca and the Feminine: Women’s Roles, Healing, Retreats, and More
Ayahuasca is lovingly called “grandmother” or “mother” by many. Just how feminine is the brew? Read to learn all about women and ayahuasca.

What Is the Standard of Care for Ketamine Treatments?
Ketamine therapy is on the rise in light of its powerful results for treatment-resistant depression. But, what is the current standard of care for ketamine? Read to find out.

What Is Dissociation and How Does Ketamine Create It?
Dissociation can take on multiple forms. So, what is dissociation like and how does ketamine create it? Read to find out.

Having Sex on Ketamine: Getting Physical on a Dissociative
Curious about what it could feel like to have sex on a dissociate? Find out all the answers in our guide to sex on ketamine.

Special K: The Party Drug
Special K refers to Ketamine when used recreationally. Learn the trends as well as safety information around this substance.

Kitty Flipping: When Ketamine and Molly Meet
What is it, what does it feel like, and how long does it last? Read to explore the mechanics of kitty flipping.

Ketamine vs. Esketamine: 3 Important Differences Explained
Ketamine and esketamine are used to treat depression. But what’s the difference between them? Read to learn which one is right for you: ketamine vs. esketamine.

Guide to Ketamine Treatments: Understanding the New Approach
Ketamine is becoming more popular as more people are seeing its benefits. Is ketamine a fit? Read our guide for all you need to know about ketamine treatments.

Ketamine Treatment for Eating Disorders
Ketamine is becoming a promising treatment for various mental health conditions. Read to learn how individuals can use ketamine treatment for eating disorders.

Ketamine Resources, Studies, and Trusted Information
Curious to learn more about ketamine? This guide includes comprehensive ketamine resources containing books, studies and more.

Ketamine Guide: Effects, Common Uses, Safety
Our ultimate guide to ketamine has everything you need to know about this “dissociative anesthetic” and how it is being studied for depression treatment.

Ketamine for Depression: A Mental Health Breakthrough
While antidepressants work for some, many others find no relief. Read to learn about the therapeutic uses of ketamine for depression.

Ketamine for Addiction: Treatments Offering Hope
New treatments are offering hope to individuals suffering from addiction diseases. Read to learn how ketamine for addiction is providing breakthrough results.

Microdosing Ketamine & Common Dosages Explained
Microdosing, though imperceivable, is showing to have many health benefits–here is everything you want to know about microdosing ketamine.

How to Ease a Ketamine Comedown
Knowing what to expect when you come down from ketamine can help integrate the experience to gain as much value as possible.

How to Store Ketamine: Best Practices
Learn the best ways how to store ketamine, including the proper temperature and conditions to maximize how long ketamine lasts when stored.

How To Buy Ketamine: Is There Legal Ketamine Online?
Learn exactly where it’s legal to buy ketamine, and if it’s possible to purchase legal ketamine on the internet.

How Long Does Ketamine Stay in Your System?
How long does ketamine stay in your system? Are there lasting effects on your body? Read to discover the answers!

How Ketamine is Made: Everything You Need to Know
Ever wonder how to make Ketamine? Read our guide to learn everything you need to know about the procedures of how Ketamine is made.

Colorado on Ketamine: First Responders Waiver Programs
Fallout continues after Elijah McClain. Despite opposing recommendations from some city council, Colorado State Health panel recommends the continued use of ketamine by medics for those demonstrating “excited delirium” or “extreme agitation”.

Types of Ketamine: Learn the Differences & Uses for Each
Learn about the different types of ketamine and what they are used for—and what type might be right for you. Read now to find out!

Kitty Flipping: When Ketamine and Molly Meet
What is it, what does it feel like, and how long does it last? Read to explore the mechanics of kitty flipping.

MDMA & Ecstasy Guide: Effects, Common Uses, Safety
Our ultimate guide to MDMA has everything you want to know about Ecstasy from how it was developed in 1912 to why it’s being studied today.

How To Get the Most out of Taking MDMA as a Couple
Taking MDMA as a couple can lead to exciting experiences. Read here to learn how to get the most of of this love drug in your relationship.

Common MDMA Dosage & Microdosing Explained
Microdosing, though imperceivable, is showing to have many health benefits–here is everything you want to know about microdosing MDMA.

Having Sex on MDMA: What You Need to Know
MDMA is known as the love drug… Read our guide to learn all about sex on MDMA and why it is beginning to makes its way into couple’s therapy.

How MDMA is Made: Common Procedures Explained
Ever wonder how to make MDMA? Read our guide to learn everything you need to know about the procedures of how MDMA is made.

Hippie Flipping: When Shrooms and Molly Meet
What is it, what does it feel like, and how long does it last? Explore the mechanics of hippie flipping and how to safely experiment.

How Cocaine is Made: Common Procedures Explained
Ever wonder how to make cocaine? Read our guide to learn everything you need to know about the procedures of how cocaine is made.

A Christmas Sweater with Santa and Cocaine
This week, Walmart came under fire for a “Let it Snow” Christmas sweater depicting Santa with lines of cocaine. Columbia is not merry about it.

Ultimate Cocaine Guide: Effects, Common Uses, Safety
This guide covers what you need to know about Cocaine, including common effects and uses, legality, safety precautions and top trends today.

NEWS: An FDA-Approved Cocaine Nasal Spray
The FDA approved a cocaine nasal spray called Numbrino, which has raised suspicions that the pharmaceutical company, Lannett Company Inc., paid off the FDA..

The Ultimate Guide to Cannabis Bioavailability
What is bioavailability and how can it affect the overall efficacy of a psychedelic substance? Read to learn more.

Cannabis Research Explains Sociability Behaviors
New research by Dr. Giovanni Marsicano shows social behavioral changes occur as a result of less energy available to the neurons. Read here to learn more.

The Cannabis Shaman
If recreational and medical use of marijuana is becoming accepted, can the spiritual use as well? Experiential journalist Rak Razam interviews Hamilton Souther, founder of the 420 Cannabis Shamanism movement…

Cannabis Guide: Effects, Common Uses, Safety
Our ultimate guide to Cannabis has everything you want to know about this popular substances that has psychedelic properties.

Cannabis and Ayahuasca: Mixing Entheogenic Plants
Cannabis and Ayahuasca: most people believe they shouldn’t be mixed. Read this personal experience peppered with thoughts from a procannabis Peruvian Shaman.

CBD-Rich Cannabis Versus Single-Molecule CBD
A ground-breaking study has documented the superior therapeutic properties of whole plant Cannabis extract as compared to synthetic cannabidiol (CBD), challenging the medical-industrial complex’s notion that “crude” botanical preparations are less effective than single-molecule compounds.

Cannabis Has Always Been a Medicine
Modern science has already confirmed the efficacy of cannabis for most uses described in the ancient medical texts, but prohibitionists still claim that medical cannabis is “just a ruse.”

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