Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea. Blog, Internet resources, online reading groups, articles and interviews, Illuminatus! info.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Prometheus Rising discussion/exercise group, Week Seven


Prometheus Rising: Introduction by Israel Regardie

By Apuleius Charlton
Special guest blogger 

“Darling Alice, You really are a contemptible bitch!” -Israel Regardie to Aleister Crowley, 1937

A prime example of my hubris is that I am particularly proud of the authors who have influenced me; that I have, amongst all the race, have been blessed by Plan or chance to have been taught  by the greatest minds across the gulf of time. In my blinding pride, I often forget many of the ever-looming teachers who also held sway over my development. 

In many ways, I think of Regardie as someone who is a corollary to Crowley and Wilson rather than an influence in his own right. However, that is partially based on Regardie own subtle ingenuity: he appears at times to be an, admittedly invaluable, interpreter of the generally murky philosophies of the Ceremonial Magic, Thelema, and Reichian therapy. Thus he stands in the shadows, as a consigliere for these illustrious ideologies for young students. However, Regardie innovations in magic are as important to my development as any of the more “original” authors. 

I muddled through his One Year Manual in my dorm room in rural WV which was decorated solely by an Austin Osman Spare print and his A Garden of Pomegranates is the textbook on Qabalah that clear up many of my uncertainties and helped me understand the perfection of the scheme. The Tree of Life, The Middle Pillar, Roll Away the Stone, How to Make and Use Talismans have all been housed on my bookshelves across many moves. His The Golden Dawn and Gems From The Equinox preserved and made available teachings that otherwise could have easily been forgotten. (Although his criteria for what went into Gems can be bizarre in certain instances, to say the least.)  His biography of Crowley notably cottoned Wilson to the ideas of Uncle Al and he would later write an introduction for that book. One of Regardie’s most influential ideas is one of the most essential; before undertaking the serious study and practice of magic one should go through therapy.

This is all without mentioning the direct influence he had on the modern occult scene that, for better or worse, propelled and legitimized Grady McMurtry, Lon Milo Duquette, Wilson, Parfitt, and various other writers I am forgetting to their luminary status. So Regardie was a great man who seemed content to, instead of striking out further into the shadow realm of the occult like Kenneth Grant, stayed behind to guide the next generation. 

Regardie’s talent is on full display as in the first three paragraphs of his introduction he makes you fall in love with Wilson all over again as he notes the breadth and depth of his mighty philosophy and his bubbling humor. I have been lucky to have such teachers. He manages to weave in some of his personal philosophical hobby-horses such as his extrapolation of Wilson’s “Third Mind” into the Qabalistic theory of balance, centered on the triad of Geburah, Chesed, and Tiphareth and eloquently ruminates over the unmatched metaphor of Indra’s Net. 

His incredulity toward Wilson’s optimism makes him look all the wiser as we read the book decades after its initial publication. (I do wonder though if anyone, like myself, was swept up by Wilson’s hopes and words to the point that when they read Prometheus Rising the first time, and also almost believed in Utopia.) Regardie also says the only wise thing to say about Wilson’s Utopia: “However, I sincerely hope that Wilson is right in this case.” Regardie also notes that transformative periods in society are rarely, if ever, peaceable. Like birth, there is always implicit trauma. I know I have a tendency to bemoan the state of our world, but at least I’m honest. I hope that the turmoil that seems to be set up against the 2020s like a bowling ball against pins leads to some better arrangement. We shall see, I guess. Like the monk in the Zen vignette that Wilson relates in The Starseed Signals, perhaps the best thing is to take everything with a placid “is that so?” 

So we proceed gently into the realm of "The Thinker and The Prover" which I’ll discuss in my next entry. I would suggest taking this time as we engage with Chapter One of PR to revisit Regardie’s writing. We are all lucky that he is one of the teachers in this book. 


Eric Wagner said...

I love Regardie's books. Energy, Relaxation and Prayer; The Foundations of Practical Magic; and The Eye in the Pyramid all had a huge impact on me.

Lvx15 said...

I owe Regardie a great debt. He personally taught me how to open the gateless gate.

BFHN said...

Hello Gregory, thank you for yout text. :)
I was wondering if you could expand a bit on a couple of points ?

First this part : "One of Regardie’s most influential ideas is one of the most essential; before undertaking the serious study and practice of magic one should go through therapy."
What type of therapy are we talking about here ? I remember RAW (probably in either PR or Quantum Psychology) saying that Crowley himself was recommending to not try to undergo serious exercises and personal changes before taking the time to study a whole array of fields such as philosophy, psychology etc.
Without even going as far as proper occult teachings, I guess having a fairly good grip on some of this type of things is what set apart Leary or Wilson from your typical 60's Merry Prankster, and the reason why there was at the time so many acid casualties.

Secondly there is this : "eloquently ruminates over the unmatched metaphor of Indra’s Net."
It is a metaphor that I found beautiful when I first hear about it (in PR, I think) and that only kept on growing in my mind like an inception over time as something closer to a pretty accurate map of the territory it is describing rather than 'just' a metaphor. Would you be so kind as to give us some of Regardie's ruminations on this ?

Mostly unrelated to this article but I rewatched yesterday the Peter Brooks film Meeting With Remarkable Men, about the early formative years of Gurdjieff traveling through Egypt, Persia and Asia. The lack of budget sometimes shows a bit too much, the acting tends to be monotonous and the characterization is minimal, including for Gurdjieff himself who kinda comes out as flat and one sided. Being adapted from Gurdjieff personal accounts, one might want to take it more as a tale rather than a proper biography. But the film is still worth seeing with some filming on location in Afghanistan, some nice pieces of wisdom spread throughout the dialogues, and some truly great scenes, most notably the opening one where people are gathered in a mountainous scenery and try to make the place react to their music or singing. As well of course as the ceremonial dances at the end, worth the price of admission alone.

And since I am talking cinema, I also want to quickly mention Chemical Wedding ( ). If you take it for what it is (a fairly cheaply made entertainment flick), it is still a fun romp that actually gets pretty right many things about both Crowley and quantum physics. In no way a source of personal growth, but a funny cinematic digression about the Beast. Sure is important to never lose your sense of humor, you know. :)

Rarebit Fiend said...


Thanks for your questions. Regardie's insistence on therapy is something I believe, but can't say for certain, I read somewhere long before I met one of my teachers, Will Parfitt, who often brought up that idea while I was studying Psychosynthesis. So that experience indelibly placed that thought directly in the frontal cortex. I would say since Regardie was a Reichian he would have a pretty open mind about what types of therapy to undertake, as long as they were administered by reliable/accredited therapists. For myself, I been through a slew of therapies, none of which I began before studying occultism- I am a hypocrite, that have helped me along and correct certain unfortunate trajectories. One of the most valuable tools in my magical arsenal is Parfitt's "self identification exercise."

As far as Regardie ruminating on Indra's Net, I was specifically speaking about the paragraph in his Introduction. I do believe that he discussed, however briefly, Indra's Net in The Tree of Life. I heartily agree that it does become less of a metaphor over time. I first read about it on my Grandmother's porch when I first read Promethea. Beautiful representation.

I haven't watched either of the films you mentioned and was pretty annoyed when Chemical Wedding came out. I was a snotty little boy who wanted to somehow get people to take Crowley seriously. (Delusion of grandeur.) I actually really like Simon Callow so I will give it a watch. You're spot on, we should never lose our sense of humor. The Peter Brooks film is one of those films I've always meant to watch but never have- I still haven't watched El Topo.

Thank you for your thought provoking ideas!

Oz Fritz said...

It's well known that Regardie recommended therapy before going into magick practice. He seems one of the first to suggest preparation and warn about that particular kind of depth psychology. El Topo presents a great metaphor for Crossing the Abyss. It takes place in the desert.

Israel Regardie had a profound influence upon me, I would call him a primary teacher. I read every book and piece I could find by him. Along with the books already mentioned, I made and still make frequent use of The Tree of Life and The Complete Golden Dawn System of Magic. I also regularly used the set of cassette tapes where he gives basic magic exercises. Those recordings are still available on Amazon as cds, but rather expensive for the whole set, $75 I think. His greatest contribution to theurgy, perhaps, is the Middle Pillar ritual a silent meditation that can be done anywhere. I used to try it on a plane and before mixing concerts.

The Eye in the Triangle went a long way to rehabilitating Crowley's image at a time when very little unbiased, accurate information could be found. It also inspired and encouraged beginning practical application of that line of work.

I find it interesting that RAW would choose a prominent magician to introduce Prometheus Rising. I read this introduction a few weeks ago. What stood out for me was Regardie's mention of group invocation regarding the Burroughs Third Mind quote - the entity that becomes present when a group, even composed of only two members, forms. This reading group creates a nonsimultaneous group invocation, a third mind of sorts. The second thing I noticed: his use of the Tree of Life to illustrate Gurdjieff's Law of Three. The interpenetration and blending of Thelema and the Fourth Way appears a significant step in contemporary esoteric studies. Leary claimed he carried on the work of both Gurdjieff and Crowley. Once, in a hallowed chamber, I got shown a diagram of the Enneagram, a prominent Fourth Way symbol, superimposed upon the Tree of Life, a prominent Thelemic image.

BFHN said...

Thank you for your kind answers !

I was not familiar with the concepts of psychosynthesis or self-identification so I quickly went to look it up, here s a short overview, for those interested :
Thanks for pointing me out in this direction, I will research it further.

I am very pleased about this reading group so far. I see what you mean about the Third Mind, and I am positive that everyone has something to learn from each other here, so who knows what will come out of it, or what we all individually will get from it. At the very least it feels interesting and enriching to allow the free flow of ideas.

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

Regardie's "The Eye in the Pyramid" is mentioned in Cosmic Trigger I; Alan Watts tells RAW it's the "best book he's read in years" and RAW buys on Watts' recommendation.

I'm still looking for my second quarter.

quackenbush said...

Eye in the Pyramid is the only book I've read more than twice. I think I've gone through it 4 or 5 times now, but skip most of the poetry and jump around. I've seen a lot of folks dismiss it as too Freudian, but I think Regardie is on to something around repression, which went out of favor with the behavioral "revolution" but is making a strong comeback in the face of modern neuroscience.

A lot of the psychotherapy modalities I see discussed in Wilsonian circles seem horribly, horribly outdated. Searching for quality practitioners of modalities that were barely popular 30-60+ years ago is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Good luck, for example, finding a Reichian therapist in 2020.

The single most important factor in successful therapy is a quality client-therapist relationship.

Body-center therapy modality such as Hakomi, Somatic Experiencing, and Sensorimotor Psychotherapy are excellent. EMDR therapy can be really powerful, but it's kind of an adjunct treatment and you want to make sure you find someone experienced. Other modalities that emphasize relationships (intersubjective experience), even couples therapy, can be very powerful. Most experienced therapists use an eclectic mix of modalities, but understand that the client-therapist relationship is fundamental.

I took Regardie's suggestion about a year of therapy very seriously when my mom died. Went almost every week for about a year and a half and ended up quitting my corporate life to become a psychotherapist.

A wise soror of high credentials in the GD summed up Regardie in one word for me. Scribe. That can sound rather dismissive, I think, but he was a top notch Scribe and its a valuable and very necessary role.

Eric Wagner said...

Interesting comments. I went through Reichian therapy in the 80s.

Snowfield said...

I have a developing pet theory that the chapters of Prometheus Rising correspond to the cards of the Great Arcana in the Harris/Crowley tarot. I know correspondance theorizing can quickly become tiresome, so I would appreciate if sombody told me whether this idea has any merit to it.

I originally got the idea from reading chapter 11, where there is an explicit reference to the card Lust, which happens to be the 11th. I found out only later that Leary already paired up the the circuits with tarot cards in The Game of Life, but this is a different scheme. Looking through some of the chapters it somewhat makes sense:

Chpater 3 The Oral Bio-Survival Circuit - The Empress (a mother figure)
Chapter 4 The Anal Emotional Circuit - The Emperor (a father figure)
Chapter 5 Dickens & Joyce: The Two-Circuit Dialectic - The Hierophant (the angel, lion, eagle and bull)
Chapter 6 The Time-binding Semantic Circuit - The Lovers (doesnt make too much sense, but it will mirror nicely the circuit four steps up)
Chapter 8 The Moral Sociosexual Circuit - Adjustment
Chapter 11 The Holistic Neurosomatic Circuit - Lust (explicit reference)
Chapter 12 The Collective Neurogenetic Circuit - The Hanged Man (the pose literally mirrors The Emperor's)
Chapter 14 The Meta-Programming Circuit - Art (also called The Art of Alchemy, and alchemy could be called a method of metaprogramming)
Chapter 18 The Non-Local Quantum Circuit - The Moon (okay, I have no idea what The Moon means)
Chapter 19 Prometheus Rising - The Sun

And there are a few more references that I could dig up I think. Obviously there is the problem that two chapters are missing two make this complete. But if we take the Introduction to be Chapter 0, we have Regardie calling RAW an utopian Fool :)