Rebels and Devils: The Psychology of Liberation – Christopher Hyatt et al

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Christopher Hyatt was an occultist, a doctor of psychology and founder of the Extreme Individuals Institute. He was also president of New Falcon Publications, which under his watch became well known for publishing envelope-pushing and often controversial personal development material. Rebels and Devils is a collection of essays, poems, interviews and short stories from some of the best mind explorers he knew.

Some of the writers here are well known in the field, such as Aleister Crowley, Robert Anton Wilson, Timothy Leary, and William Burroughs. Others are less well known, but have equally illuminating viewpoints to share. Different styles and backgrounds come together in a thorough analysis of the individual going against the grain of society, how their perception of reality differs from the layman, and more specifically the transformation of mindset that anyone pursuing occult practices needs to undergo.

It is written from a left hand path perspective, in the sense that all of the contributions are centred around each individual being his own god who can take control of his own spiritual development, and around removing the labels of good and evil. ‘What we do and how we feel is a function of believing in fictitious limitations which have no basis except in habits.’ Having read a fair few mediocre writings on the left hand path of late, this is a refreshing and dogma-free approach to the subject – as many claim to be, but few really are when you get beneath the surface. Continue reading “Rebels and Devils: The Psychology of Liberation – Christopher Hyatt et al”

The Bricks that Built the Houses – Kate Tempest

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I am a fan of Kate Tempest. Her poetry – and particularly her delivery of it – is passionate and powerful. She understands what makes people tick and has some refreshing insights into the mechanisms of modern society. She describes the things we don’t want to see or admit, which are often the very things that define us.

Having had critically acclaimed success with her poetry and music, this is her first novel. Familiar characters and ideas from her poems are given a more thorough examination now, as we see them in a broader setting.

The novel opens with main characters Becky and Harry in a car driven by their friend Leon, escaping the world they know in forced but unexplained circumstances. Becky is disillusioned by the entertainment industry she wanted to be part of, surviving only by working as a waitress and a masseuse, but fuelled by an admirable inner will and purpose to be something more. Harry is a drug dealer, desperate to get away from the city that raised relentless bullies and inequality and a family who will never accept her sexuality. Continue reading “The Bricks that Built the Houses – Kate Tempest”

The Elixir and the Stone – Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh

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The Elixir and the Stone is an alternative history of the intellectual world, and more specifically of the Hermetic undercurrent in the development of European culture. Hermeticism is the belief in the unity of all things: the concept that there is a macrocosm (usually described as the universe or a deity) and a microcosm (man) which are interconnected and representative of one another. ‘As above, so below’. Hermetic thought encompasses astrology, alchemy and theurgy and as such is the foundation of most of what we call ‘occult’ today.

The journey begins in Alexandria in the first century AD, describing a bustling cosmopolitan culture in pursuit of knowledge, and proceeds to describe the rise of Christianity and Islam from the perspective of those not conforming to either. We are then given a chronological overview of the way philosophy has shaped society throughout Europe and Mesopotamia ever since, with surprising insights into moments when opposing religions lived alongside one another harmoniously. Famous fictional magicians such as Merlin and Faust are used to link the sections together, showing how their stories emerged from real characters. Continue reading “The Elixir and the Stone – Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh”

Quantum Confessions – Stephen Oram

 

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Imagine that just 10 years from now, a new era of politics is upon us in which a coalition dedicated to total liberalisation comes to power. Education and healthcare are put back into the hands of the people, prohibition of all drugs is abolished and campaigns are run to persuade the populace that there is no absolute truth: meaning is subjective and individuality is freedom. This has the effect of dividing people like never before. As we know them today, religion and science are most often seen as opposing and incompatible views. Yet in a world where belief in an objective reality of any sort is outlawed, these two ‘camps’ become united.

Quantum Confessions is a clever exploration of this idea, demonstrating the theoretical problems that could come of a society of individuals with little or no shared purpose. The reader is led to question: Is our innate desire to form connections with others vital to our survival? Is the joy arising from shared experiences what makes us human? How would we cope without a structure to make us feel secure, and how long would it take us to adapt if it were to be removed from right under our feet? Continue reading “Quantum Confessions – Stephen Oram”

Going Sane – Adam Phillips

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The subject of this book excites me. I am interested in the terms ‘sanity’ and ‘insanity’ because they always seem to be very subjective and yet they hold such importance in social status. What does it mean to be sane? Is it simply the absence of a medically defined psychosis, or is it more to do with the willingness to succumb to societal norms and rules without causing major disruption to oneself or others? Perhaps to be sane is to have the ability to think rationally: to use what we have come to understand as the left side of the brain, or at least never use the right side to the exclusion of the left. Which brings me to another aspect that interests me – how does sanity relate to creativity? There are many well known cases of ‘crazy artists’ and even ‘crazy scientists’, and these are often the ones making big breakthroughs due to having unbridled imagination. Can an entirely sane person ‘think outside the box’ enough to become one of the greats in these fields? Continue reading “Going Sane – Adam Phillips”

The Immoralist – Andre Gide

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I read a few reviews of this book before buying it, and it appeared to be about a man of shockingly poor morals and his homosexual awakening. But to me the central theme was rather an awakening to the self as it really is, with sexuality as something of a side-note or just one contributory factor.

What made this book great for me was its simplicity. Through an easy to understand narrative and storyline told in just 124 pages, Gide makes the existentialist ideas of Nietzsche plain and accessible.

Without a god to believe in, with only the meaning that we create for ourselves as individuals, what is the place of widely accepted morals of society? Continue reading “The Immoralist – Andre Gide”

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