A Journey to Onei (3)

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.

Andreas Achenbach, Norwegian Coast by Moonlight, 1848

“The Book of Onei is not The Book,” my father once said. I remember him still, walking beside me on that sunless beach – but was it before he had died, or after? “The Book of Onei is only a guide, a book of riddles that don’t always lead to any answers, a book of truths within lies. I have been to Onei many times, but I have never been to any of the cities or nations mentioned in the Book of Onei, nor have I seen their ruins, nor met their citizens. As far as I can tell they do not exist, and most likely they never existed – not even in Onei.”

 

“Then what is the Book of Onei?” I asked him. “Is it just a fraud?”
“The Book of Onei is both a key and a lock,” he said. His face was haunted, as if he always listened and always waited – perhaps for a footfall. “Those stories mean something, but I do not know what. The Book of Onei hints at something, but I am afraid to ask.”

 

“Perhaps all this darkness is just a means,” I said, and yet he would not hear me and would not answer.

 

“So what is The Book, then?” I asked him.

 

“It contains all knowledge, all knowledge on any topic. It contains the secrets of the Primal Darkness! It is the gift of the Veiled One, the most ancient of all the Powers in Onei.”

 

“Did she give it to you?”

 

“And why would she have done that? I snuck in to the library, the Great Library of Onei, and I stole what I wanted. I walked out with the Book of Onei in my coat pocket! What power would give me any aid or comfort?”

 

“Maybe that isn’t something she would even care about. We know nothing about her. Perhaps the Book of Onei means nothing to her. Perhaps she wanted you to have it. Perhaps if you had ever made use of it, she would have shown you The Book.”

 

Still he did not answer, would never answer. He only looked at the ocean, at the light that flickered across the dark waters, and recited a poem:

 

“I’m Prometheus,” he told me,

“I’m the traitor and the thief.

But his eyes were still defiant

Through his horror and his grief.

 

Then the eagle stuck its beak in

For the hundred millionth time,

And I watched in guilty wonder.

Was I worthy of his crime?

 

Have I used the gift he gave me?

Have I kept the embers warm?

Have I fed the god inside me

Striving daily to be born?”

 

And now here I stood, deep beyond the Borders of Onei, among the gorges and mountains. How far would I travel, how many mountains would I have to cross, until I discovered the secret? Was there even a secret to be uncovered, or only lies within lies?

 

I dug into my bag and found the Book of Onei, opened it up to a random page and read a poem about these mountains.

– notes found in the handwritten original of the Book of Onei

 

Image by Andreas Achenbach

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

Journey to Onei

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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.

 

Notes found in the handwritten original of the Book of Onei

 

I was nearly forty years old when it first came over me, the strange feeling that I no longer knew myself. I was sitting in my own house at three in the morning, thinking back on the life I had lived. You start off with so many choices and then you start to pick between them, and every time you choose one path instead of another all your options start to narrow in. You become who you are, and it’s easy to forget you could have been a lot of other things. You could have been once, but you no longer can. Now you are whatever you decided to be, and there are no more open vistas.

 

The whole house was asleep. You can only have thoughts like that in the first place when everyone else is asleep, because that’s the only time when your mind is free enough. It’s the only time when no one needs you.

 

I looked up at the fan blades as they turned and turned, and their long shadows flew across the ceiling like angelic messengers moving rapidly before the sun. My wife and my little daughter lay asleep in their beds, but I hadn’t slept in at least three days.

 

What I was thinking as I was lying there is that yearning is everything. The whole structure of the universe is based on it. The craving for fulfillment is in every seed, reaching up for the untouchable sun. It’s not an anomaly; it’s right there in the blueprint. So when a little girl yearns for her mother, or a man for his lover, or a mystic for the god she serves, it’s not some pathos to be cured. That suffering and that yearning and that loss is the fire of creation.

 

“Maybe we should take a trip to the mountains,” my wife had said that morning, lying with her head up in the crook of my shoulder. She was trying to comfort me, trying to give me something to look forward to. But I wasn’t sad, exactly.

 

“We are what we are,” I answered her. “And we can’t pretend. The dead come easily to us and the angels don’t. How often do you see the shining ones? How often do you see the dead? You know what we are as well as I do. We are darkseers, not lightseers. I’ve been thinking a lot about the basement lately.”

 

“I don’t like it when you talk about the basement,” she said, and pulled back to look at me. The basement is where the door is.

 

So there I was, sitting up awake and alone at three in the morning, not at all certain how it got this way, how I ended up who I am. I watched the fan blades as they turned and turned, and a strange memory came over me. A strange hunger began to grow inside me, not completely unfamiliar and yet almost forgotten. I stood up silently and slipped my shoes on and went downstairs, moving quietly so as not to wake my wife up. Not only was the door down there (though it had long gone unused) but the book was too – The Book of Onei, my father’s crime.

 

The steps creaked as I walked on them, and the dead things whispered. The basement was where he had kept them bound, and they wouldn’t like my interference. But what else can you do with the dead? After all, you can’t kill them.

 

I took a match out and I lit the lamp, and rummaged around in boxes until I found the book. The door in the corner shuddered angrily, but I took the book out anyway.

 

The ancient chaos, the primal darkness. That was the answer to it all. My father had stolen this book from the Great Library of Onei, and the weight of that shadow had hung over us like an evil cloud. But I wasn’t convinced that what he did was wrong. Who are the Great Ones to withhold this knowledge?

 

The dead responded a few nights later. I had brought The Book of Onei up from the basement where it had slept for years. I had read aloud from its forbidden pages. I had begun to compose a few poems of my own about the dreams and the darkness, loose tributes to demonic geniuses such as Li Ho and Meng Chiao. I had even added a few of them to the Book of Onei.

 

In reading from the book and in composing those poems I had upset a fragile peace. The things in the basement slipped their bonds, which were only ever made of a certain mindset – a mindset I had not maintained. They came floating up after me late one night while I lay there staring at the ceiling in the lonely hours, believing myself to be wide awake.

 

My daughter stirred in her sleep and moaned. My wife opened her eyes. The whole house was permeated with a sickening dread, the presence that makes your skin crawl and the hair on the back of your neck stand up. The light in the kitchen blinked on and off. Deep in my stomach, nausea stirred.

 

“You’re going to do what your father did, aren’t you?” said my wife. “You’re going to go through the door.”

 

I nodded in the darkness of early dawn. “I’ve done it before,” I told her. “Before you and I were together. But I haven’t seen Onei in years.”

 

“You’re going over there to steal something.”

 

“Yes, of course. That’s what my father did, and it’s what I’ll do too. The things in the basement are getting restless, because they can sense the way I’ve been feeling lately. My father always said it was an evil book, that it had cursed him ever since he took it. But that’s not what I believe.”

 

“Why not?” she asked, a little harshly. “You’re endangering us all!”

 

“I think it scared him so much that he misunderstood it. He always told me that the dead things followed him over from Onei when he brought back the book, and that they were always warning him not to read it, not to use it, not to learn from it. But the primal darkness is the source of wisdom. He stole its secrets and then feared to read them, so he bound the dead up with spiderweb thoughts and left them down there to haunt his dreams. They made his last years one endless nightmare. I don’t want that to happen to me. I don’t want it to happen to my daughter either. She’ll inherit the book.”

 

“You could return the book,” she pointed out. “You could bring it back to the Great Library of Onei. Then the dead would leave us alone.”

 

“I’m not even sure that’s true. There is such a thing as retribution. And that would only make what he suffered completely meaningless. Prometheus didn’t give the fire back.”

 

“And look what happened to him! So what exactly are you going to do?”

 

“I’m going to learn how to use it. My father was never able to use the book, because he didn’t understand it, he didn’t know why it was so important to the dead. That is the knowledge I intend to steal.”

 

She was silent for a long time. The sun rose outside, and in the pale light my daughter stirred. She would soon be awake.

 

“How long will you be gone?” my wife asked. Her voice shook a little.

 

“Not long at all. I’ll be back before the sun finishes rising.”

 

“Or else you won’t be back. Not ever again.” I didn’t answer her that time. There’s no answer to the truth.

 

So I went down to the basement again and I heard the voices, whispering the things they always whisper, the threats and the warnings. I walked through the gauntlet of the voices as if they could not daunt me, although I was going into their place of strength. I had the book in my backpack. The door at the end of the basement jumped angrily as I approached it, rattled a few times, then settled in. I put my hand on the doorknob, said a prayer to the protecting powers, and paused for a moment in silent thought. Then I walked through into the land of Onei.

Image by Henry Fuseli