Darkness and Silence

The Book of Onei is an antinomian dream grimoire, providing deceptive yet true information about the art of Oneiromancy or dream magic in the form of poetry, fantasy, and intentionally ambiguous instructions.

John Bauer (1882–1918)2

If you want knowledge, seek out darkness and silence.

 

I glance behind me, but there’s no way home.

The waves are foaming like a rabid dog,

Like monsters, always watching. On my bones,

On every branch and rock and fallen log,

The ice lies thick. The silent heavens sleep-

Unreadable, malicious. Earth is still.

She won’t disclose the secrets that she keeps.

Night creeps a little closer. From the hill

I hear the howl of wolves. I feel the eyes

Of basilisks upon me. Lions roar.

Don’t question heaven. Do not leave your door.

 

Dream necromancy is dangerous, especially if the spirit discovers your secret name.

 

Animal masking allows you to contact the cthonic powers.

 

To honor the gods, fumigate small images of them by hand in a cloud of incense.

 

The gods crave meat; the meat craves fire.

 

There are two types of death in dream. The dead force is like a black hole – without consciousness, dead and soulless although capable of movement. The live force is the exact opposite.

 

The universe is like the desert: a vast empty space made up of tiny particles lit by a blazing light.

 

There is no final invitation to Onei. You must find your way each time.

 

The pattern will always assert its essential points. Only a certain level of play exists in reality, and that which is destined cannot be prevented.

 

Some genii loci will abandon their home if it is clear-cut or otherwise abused. It becomes a soulless place.

 

There are time travelers who visit different eras by possessing dreamers as they sleep. If they come upon you in a night wandering dream they will try to stop your throat so you cannot get the words out, but if you force the words out you should be able to say your protective charm.

 

The whole world is filled up with gnosis. It is people who must become free in order to fill up gnosis.

 

– from the Book of Onei, Part II: The Lore of Onei

 

Image by John Bauer

Lore of Onei

The Book of Onei is an antinomian dream grimoire, providing deceptive yet true information about the art of Oneiromancy or dream magic in the form of poetry, fantasy, and intentionally ambiguous instructions.

Wilfred Gabriel de Glehn (1870-1951) , Night

The door to Sana Delayo is always open.

 

The Blue Pearl- a blue pearl of spiraling energy, capable of dissolving or transmuting any demonic power. Roll it in your hands to dissolve a nightmare.

 

The City- a magical city ruled by the Red Queen. The scene of many otherworld wars.

 

The Compass- an oracle owned by a king of Onei who was an ally of the Red Queen during the War of the Book. It is an old compass on a shipwreck mounted on a magnetic stone. It always predicts evil, and it makes sure that its own prophecies come to pass.

 

The Dark Tower- a gnostic prison where the Red Queen was once held prisoner. If you ever find it, you will discover that you have always been there. The bottom floor of the Dark Tower contains everything in mundane life, but merely spending time there causes you to forget where you really are. To escape the prison, do not run from wind or water. Allow the storm to destroy your dream.

 

Gnosis- true and sacred knowledge acquired from Onei.

 

The House- a vast, rambling house with countless rooms. Often attacked by malevolent forces. The attic is haunted.

 

The Kind- the fairies or elves. The folk of Onei.

 

The Naught- the other side of dream and death, a limitless soaring bliss or light. The Void. The divine darkness.

 

The Mysterium- magical power, a current of electricity or intoxication. It spins or spirals, either clockwise or counterclockwise. It can be dark or light. It can dissolve loops and knots and destroy nightmares. It can possess you, either in Onei or the waking world. It can destroy the world and break through to the other side. It can appear as rising floodwaters, tsunamis, tornadoes, waterspouts or in other symbolic and terrifying forms. The mysterium can destroy all structure, all order. When the true power of the mysterium is unleashed, it can annihilate anything and everything, revealing the Naught.

 

Night Wandering- oneiromancy, the art of mythic dreaming.

 

Onei- the dream realm. It sends its messages by chance, yet it can be courted in trance. If you want knowledge, seek out darkness and silence.

 

A Power- a significant entity in Onei, such as a god, saint, angel or demon.

 

The Prime- warriors of the Kind. A regiment in the Red Queen’s armies. The Prime has an initiation test consisting of strange riddles. If you answer perfectly, you pass. If your answers are almost correct, you fail. If your answers are completely incorrect, you have a second chance to pass by going on a quest.

 

Sana Delayo- another word for Onei.

 

The Secret Library- a library on the rim of the Valley of Shadow, containing books on any and every topic from multiple different realities. The keepers of the library were cruel men, torturers and slavers, but the slaves rebelled and killed them, then disposed of their bodies in a lake. Not all of the masters were killed in the battle, and the survivors later counterattacked. The fate of the Secret Library remains uncertain. Later glimpses suggest that at least some grim powers may still be present there.

 

The Valley of Shadow- an infinitely deep valley of total darkness into which the dead must walk, led by a faceless guide with the mannerisms of a carnival barker. Many are too terrified to step down into the darkness, so they wander along the rim of the valley, angry and confused. If you go down into the darkness you can break through to the other side. The Valley of Shadow is the womb of the Naught.

 

Dream Quest– A journey or quest that occurs within a dream or series of dreams, for the purpose of achieving some mythic task or acquiring gnosis.

 

Answer all riddles; complete all quests.

 

– from the Book of Onei, Part II: The Lore of Onei

 

Image by Wilfred Gabriel de Glehn

The Three Relationships

Form is the Illusion is a book about Relationship Theory, an unusual system of metaphysics developed by the late David Douglas Thompson. Relationship Theory addresses questions of ontology and epistemology in a way that is likely to be of interest to pagans and occultists.

Evelyn de Morgan (1855-1919), The Kingdom of Heaven Suffereth Violence

Α (Ø, 1,2, …) Ƶ Β (Ø, 1,2, …)

 

Α Ƶ Β (Ø, 1,2, …)

 

A Ƶ Β

 

Any set of objects will have all possible individual relationships with another set of objects as well as set to individual relationships and a hierarchical relationship to relationship set.

 

I was at a New Year’s Eve celebration in 1992, featuring a symbolic battle between two huge dragon puppets on a stage in a public square. One dragon represented the old year and the other dragon the new year. My ears were burning with the cold, but the crowd was big and getting bigger. The air seemed to buzz with a dark energy, as the drummers played an aggressive beat and the dragon puppets danced around each other menacingly.

 

The performers didn’t know it, but some of the people in the crowd belonged to a street gang active in the hardcore punk scene. Not everyone liked them, naturally – and some of the other people in the crowd could be considered their enemies.

 

As the drumbeat continued, an announcer wearing a carnival mask came up front on stilts, and started trying to incite the crowd. “Ladies and gentlemen, who will win the battle? The old year or the new year?”

 

The crowd roared in anticipation, feeding on the energy of the drums and the dancing dragons, the appeal to primal instincts. A ripple of energy seemed to pass through us from the stage, affecting the young men most of all. There was a shove here, a bump there.

 

The dragons fought, a choreographed display of ritual violence between the light and the darkness. The dragon of the new year won the battle and drove the old year from the stage, and the man in the mask called on us to cheer our victorious champion. Hundreds of voices yelled out together, and clusters of young men began to gather and face off with each other along the edges of the square.

 

As the crowd dispersed, fighting between the two groups of young punks and skinheads spread rapidly along a front stretching from the square to a nearby movie theater. A gang fight doesn’t look much like a Hollywood battle. There are no clearly-defined lines of fighters, only a constant turning and wheeling like a flock of birds.

 

Someone I knew got pulled down by several attackers, but he came up roaring and swinging punches from underneath them. Someone else pulled a screwdriver, and stabbed his opponent with it several times. (This was the only part of the whole incident that ever made it into the local newspaper, which presented it as a fight between two people when in reality there were about thirty.)

 

The police arrived from every direction, and most of the fighters scattered immediately. One of them decided to confront the cops instead, and walked toward them rapidly striking his chest and gesticulating. He got pepper-sprayed in the face, and the cops started hitting him as soon as he hit the ground.

 

I went to the same New Year’s Eve ritual for a number of years, and it always featured the same battle between dancing dragons, the same aggressive drumbeat. However, nothing remotely like that ever happened again. So why did it happen that time?

 

The performers had obviously studied the folklore of seasonal festivals, and were trying to create a similar magic. Although officially secular, it was in some sense a pagan event and intentionally so. On this one occasion, the magic created by the performance seems to have triggered an outbreak of violence, but on every other occasion it was just an innocent civic gathering.

 

According to the Three Relationships formula given at the start of this article, “Any set of objects will have all possible individual relationships with another set of objects as well as set to individual relationships and a hierarchical relationship to relationship set.”

 

This formula describes the different ways in which entities and sets of entities can relate to each other in information space. In this situation, there were two sets of people – the dragon dance performers and the crowd attending the event. Every year except one, the crowd consisted of a random mix of people – but this one time it included a number of rival gang members. If we examine what happened using the three relationships and the six bells, what we get is this:

 

1- Α (Ø, 1,2, …) Ƶ Β (Ø, 1,2, …) 

 

All the individual zed objects in set A interact with all the individual zed objects in set B. A performance is intended to affect the audience using a mix of techniques. In this case, the performers were using a physical performance of ritualized combat (the first bell) with carefully designed aesthetic elements (the fourth bell) to convey mythopoetic symbolism (the sixth bell). Every performer in the dragon dance was trying to create a certain atmosphere and emotional experience for every member of the audience.

 

2- Α Ƶ Β (Ø, 1,2, …)

 

Every individual zed object in set A interacts with set B as a whole. As an individual member of the crowd, I was emotionally affected by the ritual. I had a personal and subjective reaction to the ominous yet compelling energy created by the performance.

 

3- A Ƶ Β

 

Set A as a whole interacts with Set B as a whole. The third relationship is “hierarchical” in the sense that one object set gives some form of energy to the other object set. In this case, the performers gave an intentionally dark and aggressive energy to the crowd, without knowing that a number of people in the crowd were rival gang members. Every member of the crowd was affected by this energy, but in the case of the gang members it was like tossing a lit match into kindling soaked with lighter fluid. The result was a small riot.

 

The performers were basically playing with magic, and didn’t mean for things to turn out the way they did. When you’re designing a magic working, you always want to ask yourself what information set your magic will affect, and what type of energy you’re adding to that set.

 

Image by Evelyn de Morgan

The Bells of Delta Epsilon

Form is the Illusion is a book about Relationship Theory, an unusual system of metaphysics developed by the late David Douglas Thompson. Relationship Theory addresses questions of ontology and epistemology in a way that is likely to be of interest to pagans and occultists.

Henry Justice Ford

Ƶ + Δ Ɛ = Ƶ¹

 

If there is any change of energy in a system, the relationships will change.

 

Zed Magic is the art of changing relationships between objects in information space. If you want to change the relationship between two billiard balls, you hit one of them with a pool cue. If you want to change any relationship in existence, you must introduce new information energy.

 

Traditional forms of occultism already work with this concept. The idea of information space is built in, a starting assumption that is never fully articulated. Consider this description of sympathy and contagion from Frazer’s Golden Bough:

 

“If we analyze the principles of thought on which magic is based, they will probably be found to resolve themselves into two: first, that like produces like, or that an effect resembles its cause; and, second, that things which have once been in contact with each other continue to act on each other at a distance after the physical contact has been severed. The former principle may be called the Law of Similarity, the latter the Law of Contact or Contagion. From the first of these principles, namely the Law of Similarity, the magician infers that he can produce any effect he desires merely by imitating it: from the second he infers that whatever he does to a material object will affect equally the person with whom the object was once in contact, whether it formed part of his body or not.”

 

Frazer’s work has a lot of issues, but this account of sympathy and contagion does accurately describe how a lot of magical practices work. Both of them assume the idea of information space. Two objects that are symbolically linked are close to each other in information space. Two objects that have once been in contact remain close in information space.

 

Magical workings are mythopoetic, relying on the occult or unseen power of mythic symbols and correspondences to affect changes in information space.

 

This is the implied logic of using symbolism and ritual in magical workings – for example, when a witch in seventeenth-century Scotland made a “picture” or clay doll of some laird in order to slowly roast it over the fire, she believed it would harm her oppressor because of the symbolic correspondence. Although she would not have used this terminology, the “picture” and the laird were close together in information space.

 

In all likelihood the target shared basically the same worldview as the witch, thus bringing them closer in information space whether he was aware that he was being targeted by witchcraft or not. If the laird held a skeptical materialist worldview, it would have pulled him away from the clay doll in information space. Not many people held a skeptical materialist worldview in seventeenth-century Scotland. Not many people believe whole-heartedly in the power of witchcraft in our society. Thus, any working based exclusively on a single mythopoetic worldview will have less leverage in information space and cannot be expected to work as well as it would in a society with only a single dominant worldview. Magic itself is no less powerful, but we need a different strategy to effectively access it.

 

The average person had access to fewer worldviews in the past, and magic gained power through total commitment to a single worldview – thus the traditional emphasis on unquestioning faith in the power of the charm. Zed Magic assumes the postmodern reality of multiple and often conflicting worldviews, and “rings the changes” on them by never operating through just one of them at a time.

 

If you want to introduce delta epsilon or “change energy” into any zed or relationship, you should ring the changes on the situation by combining as many different worldviews as possible in your approach.   If some forms of delta epsilon are more effective in a given situation than others, does that contradict “interactions are the reality; form is the illusion”? It may seem to be a contradiction, but it’s actually a confirmation of the principle. If I try to lift a heavy object and succeed, that is a successfully completed interaction – a reality. If I try and fail, it is the opposite. In our magical workings, the change we are looking for either happens or fails to happen. If it doesn’t happen, we didn’t succeed in completing the interaction so there is no reality to speak of. If it happens as planned, the specifics of how and why no longer matter. The interaction is the reality and the form is an illusion.

 

So if we need to ring the changes and apply as many different types of change energy as possible, it might be helpful to consider what types or modes of information energy are available to us. I can think of at least six. In reference to the concept of “ringing the changes,” I’m going to refer to them as “bells.” When you construct any magical working according to the principles of Zed Magic, you should try to ring as many of these bells as you can:

 

1- Physical

 

2- Political

 

3- Ideological

 

4- Aesthetic

 

5- Rational

 

6- Mythopoetic

 

Applying the six bells to the use of magic, remember this formula:

 

 

Ƶ + Δ Ɛ = Ƶ¹

 

If there is any change of energy in a system, the relationships will change.

 

The basic idea of any working is to add delta epsilon or “change energy” to an existing relationship, changing it into something new. If the relationship in question is a “zed cycle” or information loop, a repeating pattern incapable of changing on its own, then your working should break the loop and free those trapped by it.

 

Unfortunately, the Archons and ruling powers are already applying Zed Magic to create and maintain the information loops they benefit from. If you consider the current structure of our society, it becomes immediately obvious that mass media and popular culture are constantly and effectively ringing all six bells on behalf of the status quo.

 

The first bell is physical, the use of force. This can mean any sort of force at all – you need the first bell to build a house or a temple, to pick up a child or to push an object out of the way. However, physical forces can also be used to inflict violence – and it is never possible to rule other people without the threat of violence. In a military dictatorship, outright violence would be used to crush dissent. Representative democracies like the United States will try to avoid being seen to do so. However, the system uses military force almost constantly outside its borders, and relies on the violence of law enforcement to control its lower classes and maintain order within its borders.

 

The organs of the state, while theoretically democratic, are actually under the indirect control of corporate interests. This is political power – the second bell. Because this control is indirect and unacknowledged, people are encouraged to believe they can influence the system through constitutional means when in fact their political power is very limited.

 

A system based on nothing but political and physical power would be highly unstable. People must be made to believe in and support the system, even though it does not operate for their benefit but for the benefit of the ruling classes. Vast numbers of people are deeply convinced that “free market” capitalism equals Liberty itself and that even the most compromised forms of socialism are fundamentally immoral. This is the power of ideology, the third bell, constantly sounded by the news media and repeated from mouth to mouth by millions of people.

 

Ideology is very powerful, but it becomes much more powerful when it is attached to emotion. In movies and TV shows, video games and pop songs, the emotions that benefit the system are constantly evoked and encouraged – hedonistic consumption fueled by manufactured self-hatred, fear of the Other in various forms, sentimental idealization of the military. This is the power of aesthetics, the fourth bell.

 

The system is supported by the seemingly rational arguments of mainstream economists, presenting their opinions as neutral and incontrovertible facts and dismissing all opponents of capitalism as people who “don’t understand economics.” This is the power of reason, the fifth bell. (This doesn’t actually mean that the opinions in question are reasonable or even rational – only that they use reason to make their case. One could argue that a “science” based on limitless growth is irrational at its core.)

 

Finally, the system encourages adherence to certain forms of religion and spirituality – forms that encourage people to do whatever would benefit the ruling classes. The Protestant work ethic is an obvious example, but even non-mainstream forms of spirituality often serve the interests of the system. Some teach people the “Secret” of wealth while explaining why the poor are at fault for their own poverty. Others teach people how to reduce stress and be a better employee through “mindfulness.” Others teach people the “witchcraft” of entrepreneurial success. This is the mythopoetic power, the sixth bell.

 

The forces supporting the system are already using Zed Magic, and they are very good at it. In fact, the Left has been somewhat inept at this sort of thing in comparison to our antagonists. The Nazis, for instance, created a total package of social control based on an effective mix of aesthetics and ideology combined with the reckless use of physical force to seize and maintain political power. Everyone knows there was some interest in occultism within Nazi circles, but the formal practice of occultism was only one small part of their use of magic. The Nazi aesthetic captivated and hypnotized far more people than any ritual Himmler and his SS cronies ever performed.

 

Far too often, leftists become infatuated with the power of reason, a power with relatively little leverage in information space in many circumstances. Our antagonists are operating on multiple levels at the same time to make people really love and support a system that literally doesn’t care if they live or die. And what alternative do we offer them? Dense and abstract critical analysis phrased in a language you have to study for years to even understand. Leftist disdain for the irrational cedes power to the opposition.

 

All the more reason for us to get better at our magic, and to do it quickly. Magicians who rely on the mythopoetic alone have little leverage in information space. Activists who rely on the political alone cannot build up enough momentum in information space to overcome the tremendous inertia of the existing system. Intellectuals who rely on logical arguments to sway the masses might as well be trying to hold back the tide with their hands. Musicians who compose protest songs may succeed in creating aesthetic power, but never enough of it to overcome all of the aesthetic forces the other side can muster – a mindlessly patriotic war song has aesthetic power too.

 

If we try to win by ringing just one or two bells, we will never succeed. The enemy is already ringing all six of them, and has been doing so all along. We must become adept at ringing all six bells.

 

Luckily for us, we don’t have to win in one fell swoop. Remember, every change in any zed changes all the zeds:

 

An object, to all our intents and purposes, is totally defined by the “vector” sum of all its relationships. Thus, in any given system if even one Ƶ changes then all the objects are changed, i.e. become new. (Notes on Relationships; David Douglas Thompson)

 

With every small successful change, we create a change effect that ripples through the entire system, mutating every object it comes in contact with. The more effective we become at ringing the six bells of delta epsilon, the more we change the entire structure of our reality.

 

Image by Henry Justice Ford

Ghosts, Gods and Archons

Form is the Illusion is a book about Relationship Theory, an unusual system of metaphysics developed by the late David Douglas Thompson. Relationship Theory addresses questions of ontology and epistemology in a way that is likely to be of interest to pagans and occultists.

412px-Johann_Heinrich_Füssli_063

Ƶ1 Ƶ A

 

If a particular relationship is made up of the relationship between two objects, then it is possible for that relationship to also be in relationship with a third object. (Notes on Relationships; David Douglas Thompson)

 

This formula has some interesting implications for pagan theology. A relationship between two zed objects can also be treated as a zed object. In Romeo and Juliet, the Capulets have a vendetta with the Montagues. A vendetta is a type of relationship, but the existence of the vendetta has a tremendous impact on every member of both families. Romeo is a member of the Capulet family, so whether he likes it or not he has to deal with the vendetta. Therefore, the existence of the vendetta between Capulet and Montague implies that there is also a zed between Romeo and the vendetta.

 

If the vendetta can function as a zed object in its own right, then so can other relationships. The simplest way to think of this is to imagine a ghost. You can think of a ghost as the relationship between a living person and a dead person, between a place and some traumatic event that occurred in that place, or between a person and a place perceived as haunted. In each of these cases, the haunted or numinous relationship is in itself the ghost. A zed can be a zed object, so a relationship can be an entity.

 

Here’s another example. At some unimaginably ancient point in the distant past, a human being first saw a waterfall or stood in a grove of trees or on top of a hill and felt a numinous presence, a “weird awe and shuddering dread before the mysteries of the transcendent” as described by Rudolf Otto.

 

The relationship between this person and that place was numinous, haunted, spiritual – and the numen or spirit was that relationship. Over countless centuries, the behavior of human beings in relationship with the numinous power in the landscape became a body of lore and behavior – in other words, religion.

 

Because “interactions are the reality; form is the illusion,” no distinction is drawn between different types of entity. Information space includes everything, both mind and matter. The relationship between a person and an idea is not fundamentally different than the relationship between two physical objects. Both interactions are simply A Ƶ B, “an interaction between A and B.”

 

Imagine an ancient Gaul by the name of Brennos. Brennos, as an individual human being, is a zed object. Thunder is also a zed object. Brennos hears a crash of thunder nearby and touches his hand to the wagon-wheel amulet he wears around his neck, reciting a prayer to the Gaulish thunder god Taranis.

 

The Gauls (a set of zed objects of which Brennos is a part) have a particular relationship with thunder. In Gaulish mythology, thunder is the sound of Taranis rolling his thunder wheel across the heavens. Thunder is obviously a natural phenomenon, but a Roman would relate to it as a manifestation of Jupiter while a Gaul would relate to it as a manifestation of Taranis. You could say that Taranis is the relationship the Gauls have with thunder.

 

Now, if the Gauls as a whole have a relationship with thunder and that relationship can be spoken of as Taranis, then Taranis can also be in relationship with any specific Gaul. So Brennos, as an individual Gaul, can be in relationship with Taranis.

 

This relationship is not strictly identical to the relationship between Brennos and thunder considered purely as a natural phenomenon. As a natural phenomenon, thunder indicates the presence of lightning and possibly of rain, both of which can have various practical implications for Brennos such as healthy crops, the risk of fire and so on. However, when Brennos touches the wagon-wheel amulet and recites his prayer, he isn’t just thinking about rain and fire. He’s acknowledging the divine presence of the numen and holding it in religious regard. The numen, in other words, is a particular way of relating to the natural phenomenon – yet the numen itself is also a real entity. Why? Because it is something that Brennos interacts with, and “interactions are the reality; form is the illusion.”

 

Now, if the relationship between thunder and the Gauls is itself a zed object, then the relationship between Brennos and that zed object must also be a zed object. Therefore, the relationship between Brennos and Taranis is a zed object in its own right. Therefore, there is a version of Taranis that is unique to Brennos, and it is a really existing entity while also remaining a part of the larger information set that is Taranis as a whole.

 

If Brennos has a dream vision in which Taranis tells him certain things, while his neighbor has a dream vision in which Taranis tells him other things, neither is wrong and both are right. They are each relating to a different entity, yet also to the same entity from another perspective. The Taranis of any one worshiper is more specific and more individual yet very much smaller, less complex and less powerful than the full information set of Taranis. This further implies that Taranis as a whole is part of a larger yet still real zed object – the information set containing all thunder gods, which is less individualized and specific yet larger and more complex than Taranis.

 

Thus, every deity is all of the following things simultaneously:

 

1- a zed (the relationship between a people and some phenomenon or set of phenomena).

 

2- a zed object (that relationship considered as an entity in its own right).

 

3- a member of an information set (a larger and less specific deity).

 

4- an information set containing many zed objects (all of the zeds between the deity and specific individuals, recognized aspects of the deity, specific local manifestations of the deity and so on).

 

It gets still more complicated. The ancient Carthaginians worshiped a goddess known as Tanit, Tanit, like most deities, is not just one specific thing. While the name “Taranis” actually means “Thunder” in the Gaulish language, Tanit seems like a more complex entity and cannot be reduced down to one phenomenon such as the sky – although she was definitely a sky goddess. There is a large and complex information set of associations important to the Carthaginians, of which the sky and celestial objects such as the sun and moon are only a part. Tanit is the relationship between the Carthaginians and this entire set.

 

When the Romans conquered Carthage, they encouraged the people of the area to continue to worship Tanit as the Roman goddess Juno. The synthesis of Juno and Tanit was called Caelestis. Caelestis is the relationship between Juno and Tanit, and like any other relationship Caelestis is also a zed object. Thus, Caelestis is a goddess in her own right – separate from both Juno and Tanit yet not distinct from them.

 

The cult of Caelestis spread to Roman Britain, where it merged with the worship of the local Celtic goddess Brigantia. The goddess Caelestis Brigantia is the relationship between Caelestis and Brigantia, yet is also a unique and really-existing zed object – a separate goddess, simultaneously Celtic, Roman and Carthaginian.

 

Based on this analysis, the hardest of hard polytheisms is accurate from one perspective – and the softest of soft polytheisms from another perspective. This would definitely be an occasion for “ringing the changes.”

 

In polytheist religion, we normally seek to interact with more specific and localized forms of deity. What if we tried to relate to the entire universe as a single information set? Now we’re talking about monotheism, because the religious relationship between a single worshiper and the entire universe is a zed object too, and this zed object could be described as “God.” As a religious category, monotheism is that branch of religion that favors relationship with the whole, and devalues relationships with parts of the whole. Yet there is more than one monotheism, because the relationship between a Christian and the whole is different from the relationship between a Muslim and the whole.

 

What if we do not acknowledge or experience any spiritual relationship with any entity? Now we’re talking about atheism. The relationship between a person and the whole is valid for some people and the relationship between a person and some part of the whole is valid for other people, yet there will always be some people who experience no such relationship. Thus, Relationship Theory is in some sense naturally polytheistic (because it predicts the existence of an infinite number of relationships and treats them all as entities) yet it also accounts for the existence of monotheism (the preference for relating spiritually to all of reality as a single set) and atheism (the experience of reality without numinous relationships).

 

If Relationship Theory treats a spirit as a pattern in information space, does it therefore deny the agency of the gods? No, not at all. In Relationship Theory, the direct perception of any zed object is sufficient proof of its existence, since “interactions are the reality; form is the illusion.” Some patterns in information space display the signs of agency – through mystical visions and natural processes, through the actions of human beings in relationship with them, through our dreams and our deeds. Since they display the signs of agency, they do have agency as far as Relationship Theory is concerned.

 

“Information space” refers to all contexts in which information can operate, and therefore includes everything from the physical universe to the unconscious to subtle levels of reality currently unknown to science (assuming such levels exist). A pattern in information space may play out across any or all of these.

 

Thus, ghosts are patterns in information space initiated by people who were once alive, demons are patterns with malicious intent, gods are especially powerful patterns, and archons are patterns of information that distort our perception of reality and function in such a way as to prevent humanity from fulfilling its potential.

 

A single entity can fall into more than one of these categories at the same time. For instance, the information pattern of a freshwater spring could be a nature spirit, nymph or fairy – but if that pattern began as a person who drowned in that spot, it is also a ghost. A posthumously deified hero is both a ghost and a god. A dead spirit possessing a human being for harmful purposes is both a ghost and a demon. A powerful spirit seeking to manipulate and control humanity could be seen as both a god and an archon at the same time.

 

This brings us back to the strangest passage in Thompson’s notebook:

 

“We are not, as some think, the pawns in some cosmic war but the battleground itself.”

 

Our minds and our bodies are part of information space, and the patterns in information space interact within us. We are their battleground, and the prize in this war is control of reality.

 

My father drew no distinction between the archons and the gods. I don’t agree with this view, because I see no reason to assume that every numinous presence or power would want to control or abuse human beings. Some of them, however, certainly do. By introducing new information energy into looped patterns we can break the cycle, freeing people from possession by the archons – the information patterns that hold us back from our potential as a species.

 

From this perspective, Relationship Theory is a philosophy of revolutionary exorcism.

 

Image by Henry Fuseli

Zed Cycles

Form is the Illusion is a book about Relationship Theory, an unusual system of metaphysics developed by the late David Douglas Thompson. Relationship Theory addresses questions of ontology and epistemology in a way that is likely to be of interest to pagans and occultists.

Theodoor Rombouts (1597-1637), Prometheus

“All paths are eventually cyclical.” (The Six Axioms; David Douglas Thompson)

 

“Time is a catalogue of cyclical zeds.” (Notes on Relationships; David Douglas Thompson)

 

Some of the most important aspects of Relationship Theory were never fully explained by my father, only hinted at in cryptic notes and conversations. One section near the end of “Notes on Relationships” shows a diagram of a spiral with two dots at the center, and another diagram showing that a quarter of a wave slope could be interpreted as a radius. The two dots at the center of the spiral are linked by a curved line and seem to indicate the same quarter-wave, but the underlying logic is not explained. There is only the statement that “A quarter wave contains all the info of a full wave,” although this statement takes on added interest when paired with another statement in the notes: “Time is a catalogue of cyclical zeds.”

 

This may remind some readers of True Detective’s “time is a flat circle,” and it actually means something very similar. A zed cycle or cyclical zed is a repeating pattern of interactions. This relates to one of the six axiom or corollaries to the Ten Laws: “All paths are eventually cyclical.”

 

The “paths” in question are opposing tendencies in a relationship pattern. As previously discussed, the process of differentiation and opposition is necessary for perception to be possible. When opposites are differentiated, the interaction of those opposing forces will reverse and then repeat itself in an infinite number of iterations. This is essentially the same concept as Yin and Yang in Chinese classical philosophy. When either Yin or Yang becomes too dominant it begins to transform into its own opposite. (This concept was developed at some length by Jason Thompson as the “Zed Tree,” a diagram based on the same idea as the 64 hexagrams of Yin-Yang interactions. The Zed Tree is a very complex topic in its own right but is a separate concept from the original version of Relationship Theory.)

 

The important point for our current discussion is that relationship patterns loop and repeat themselves in an endless cycle, so “time is a catalogue of cyclical zeds.” Nobody trapped in one of these information loops could ever escape it on their own, because a third party would have to intervene to create any change in the system. Of course, this happens all the time – although most likely as part of an even larger repeating cycle.

 

At this point in the discussion, David Thompson’s ideas become much stranger, no longer grounded in the theoretical side of the theory although still connected to it. There is a short passage elsewhere in the notebook, separate from the “Notes on Relationships”:

 

“The way things are is the way they’ve always been. We, the race we call human, are being used, misused, and often abused. By the cold blooded manipulation of our spiritual and emotional lives our 3-D existence is shaped and our minds are programmed toward ends not our own. We are not, as some think, the pawns in some cosmic war but the battleground itself. As battlegrounds are seldom improved by having wars fought on them, it is time to consider whether choosing sides is wise”

 

As bizarre and paranoid as this may seem, what he’s talking about here is a form of Gnosticism. The passage suggests that our reality is controlled by Archons, entities capable of manipulating us into perceiving what they wish – shaping our reality against our will and without our knowledge. These beings don’t come to us from outside but from within, using our minds as battlegrounds in their secret wars.

 

“The way things are is the way they’ve always been,” because “time is a catalogue of cyclical zeds” – relationship cycles that repeat and repeat forever without ever really changing. We are effectively trapped into a particular experience of reality by these repeating loops or cycles. Two objects in a relationship with each other can never change that relationship on their own, because cause and effect requires a third party to introduce new information energy into what would otherwise be a static situation. This implies an infinite regress, but not to the benign First Mover of Thomas Aquinas. Instead the cycle of cause and effect goes back to some undefined yet far from benevolent group of entities manipulating our perception and thus our whole reality.

 

We’re obviously no longer in the realm of rational argumentation here. No arguments are given to support these assertions, only a dark mysticism based on a frightening personal experience.

 

When David Douglas Thompson first came up with Relationship Theory it was in a dream or a visionary experience. In the same experience he perceived the presence of these entities, Archons as the Gnostics would have called them although my father always referred to them as “the gods.” His interpretation of the vision is one particular worldview, and Relationship Theory tells us to ring the changes on different worldviews. There is no reason to adopt his Gnosticism as a dogma or fixed belief-system, although it is necessary to understand it and ring the changes on it.

 

My father was a composer as well as an armchair philosopher. While much of his music was light-hearted or even whimsical, some of his most interesting work was heavy to the point of morbidity, including a classical piece called “Jacob at the Pond.” The piano in “Jacob at the Pond” tells a story of tragedy, of some heartbreaking wrong that will never be made right, and of hopeless anger. When asked, he would invariably claim it was about a cat named Jacob playing at a pond. It was actually inspired by a scene in the BBC documentary series The Ascent of Man where Jacob Bronowski visits the pond at Auschwitz and speaks the following words:

 

“Look for yourself. This is the concentration camp and crematorium at Auschwitz, this is where people were turned into numbers. Into this pond were flushed the ashes of four million people. And that was not done by gas. It was done by arrogance. It was done by dogma. It was done by ignorance. When people believe that they have absolute knowledge, with no test in reality, this is how they behave. This is what men do when they aspire to the knowledge of gods.”

 

Relationship Theory was all about the death of absolute knowledge, the necessity of playing with multiple perspectives at the same time in order to approximate a larger truth. He would always say that mankind must somehow overthrow the gods, achieving a new freedom and an apotheosis.

 

In the final year of his life he composed an album of dark ambient electronic music, Whom the Gods Would Destroy, for which he chose a painting of Prometheus as the intended cover. “Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.” The music in Whom the Gods Would Destroy sounds discordant and alien, unsettling and anxious. On October 3, 2006 he passed away while competing in the Sunfish World Championships in Charleston, South Carolina.

 

Although he always referred to the entities he saw in his vision as “the gods” and spoke of overthrowing them, I do not see them as being equivalent to the pagan deities. Pagan deities in general are numinous powers associated with aspects of nature or human culture. They are part of our world, not aliens manipulating it. The entities he was talking about are more like the Gnostic Archons, holding humanity back from its full potential and manipulating the human experience of reality. Thompson seems to have thought of these Archons as supremely powerful (and thus needing to be “overthrown”), but it isn’t necessary to take this position to make use of the concept. The important point here is simply that we can become trapped in repeating patterns and that some entities in information space actively use these patterns to control human consciousness.

 

If these entities are responsible for keeping us trapped in a looping cycle of relationship patterns that can never really change, there is only one way to overthrow them and achieve the apotheosis my father always spoke of. We must learn how to do what they do. We must become magicians.

 

By resisting the Archons, we also resist their servants on Earth – the leaders of men. These people seek to manipulate our consciousness to maintain their own wealth and power, just as the Archons do. To resist one is to resist the other.

 

Image by Theodoor Rombouts