Self As Metaprogrammer

By Chris Arkenberg


The human brain is not a static computing device merely receiving and
processing information acquired by its sensoria but, rather, it is a dynamic
and plastic network of neural centers, each specialized to handle specific
tasks, coordinated with each other through a continuously changing array of
associative connections between hundreds of billions of neural cells.
(Readers are encouraged to look through "The Self & It's Brain" by Karl
Popper & John Eccles for exhaustive studies of neuronal plasticity in
associative networks and their implications for consciousness.) While the
various regions of the brain are shared by all humans, and the functions of
those regions are essentially the same in each of us, the connections between
them and the intangible interface which integrates experience between our
senses and our mind is absolutely unique to each individual. Genetic
predisposition, early imprints, and life experiences each contribute to the
ever-evolving construct of the individual. And behind it all in the secret
center of our mind, resides the self, absolutely intangible but undeniably
real, stringing together the momentary snapshots of the sensoria, creating
our sense of time and guiding the processes of mind in accord with its will.
But while many may never question the way their mind and brain color their
world, others seek to elevate the self to the level of meta-programmer and
actively break the bonds of belief to rewire the associative network of the
brain and its mind. Many tools exist for such a task, including the archaic
techniques of shamanism, the use of psychedelic compounds, and the canon
of western esoterica commonly known as magick. By employing these and
other methods it is possible to directly modify the physiology of the brain
and reprogram the mind in accord with the ideals of the self. (Please note
that this paper is not intended to present a reductionist or mechanistic view
of consciousness. The visionary experiences of shamanism and the
phenomenology of magick are far more profound and ineffable than if they
were simply side effects of metabolism.)


Neuropsychology - the physiology of mind

The human brain is exceedingly complex. We know much about it, but what
we know is very little compared to what we don't know. The mind is far
more amorphous and slippery, often evading attempts by science to pin it
down. Indeed, most neuroscientists adhere to the convenient convention of
never addressing consciousness because it always confounds the data. Or
rather, it usually fails to generate consistent, reproducible results. The mind
remains the domain of psychology, philosophy, and metaphysics. Yet even
more elusive and intangible is the vague concept of "the self".

The self is like the secret chief of the sentient human. It is the innermost core
of the self-conscious mind - the impulse behind the thought to move one's
arm. Like some discarnate analyst, the self watches the roiling surface of
mind, focusing its attention on what it reads from the immense neural
activity of the brain. In this manner it filters the flood of data to focus on
what it needs to satisfy its intention. Moment to moment the self takes
filtered snapshots of the brain, stringing them together into the perception of
time seemingly unique to humans. The experience of time then is like
watching a movie of the brain's electromagnetic processes. The self gives us
identity and history, as well as the capacity to plan for and predict the future.
While it remains ultimately indefinable and, at its core, may be completely
without substance or dimension, our common experience of the self is one of
concrete identity, wrapped in our mental clothing and bound to the
physiology of our corporeal incarnation.

For humans, uniqueness is not merely the phenotypic expression of their
DNA. Our physical appearance is indeed a unique identifier for just about all
of us, but what really makes us who we are, what defines the self of each
individual, is the mind. We are each an impossibly unique summation of
biology, environment, experience, chance & circumstance defining the
physiology of our brains and the topology of our mental processes. We have
thoughts & memories, beliefs, dreams, chemical signatures and genetic
predispositions among a myriad of other complex influences. In the spirit of
convenience, we can define these influences by 3 levels: the genetic, the
imprint, and the experiential.

At the genetic level, genes predetermine the physical structure and
underlying metabolism of neural centers. Thus, one person may have an
overactive hypothalamus, another a deficiency of serotonin, and a third an
extra sensitive limbic system. Such structural differences could also have
been the result of inappropriate diet or exposure to toxins in the formative
years of infancy or, earlier, in the womb passed from the habits or oversights
of the mother. But the physiology of the individual is the foundation of
everything else and any variations will establish a unique template upon
which the self is constructed. The next level could be regarded as the imprint
level - the very early experiences of infancy such as the degree of physical
love given by the parents, experiences to which the child was exposed,
and the types of symbols and tools introduced into its world. The bridge
between this layer and the experiential layer is language, which, once
acquired, will radically alter the way the mind interfaces with the world. The
experiential level is formed by the accumulation of life experiences as
perceived and classified by the person as they grow and live. This level is
perhaps the most intangible and convoluted as it is informed by the genetic
and imprint levels, as well as the ongoing feedback loop of experience.
These factors ensure that life for one will never be identical to another. For
example, the same event may be perceived very differently by someone with
a genetic chemical deficiency, an unloving parent, and a past characterized
by abuse than by someone with a relatively standard psychogenetic profile.
Similarly, someone with a typical genome and caring parents could
gradually be changed from a playful & cheery child into a cold and lonely
adult depending upon the types of associations made within their brain as
they respond to the circumstances of life. The person could witness the
brutal death of the loving parent and re-associate that love with suffering and
loss. In an instant their world might change from a kind and happy place to
one of loneliness and darkness as the brain rewires itself to cope with the
tragedy of loss.


The Brain

The brain is a collection of neuronal bundles - groups of cells differentiated
to handle specific aspects of neural processing. The cerebellum regulates
autonomic functions like the beating of the heart and respiration. The
thalamus is the master controller for the body's hormonal network. The
occipital lobe processes visual information while the temporal lobe houses
the speech and language centers. The hippocampus stores and retrieves
memory and the limbic system adds emotional content to everything. As
previously stated each of the bodies within the brain is present in every
person, though they often differ in physiology to some degree. But more
important to the uniqueness of the self are the connections between these
bodies and the way that experiences move within the brain and are colored
by each processor.

Microscopic pictures of the brain, particularly clumps of brain cells, reveal a
ridiculous organic mess akin to a plate of spaghetti tumbled in a washing
machine. This wild disorder is testament to the plasticity of brain cells: they
are constantly making new connections with other cells, terminating old
connections, and even arcing back on themselves. A single neuron may
make over a thousand connections. Indeed, in a mass of 100 billion neurons
the number of possible connections between them is more than the number
of atoms in the known universe. This is how the human brain is so incredibly
capable of dealing with amazingly complex situations and calculations: it is
constantly rewiring itself to make new connections, to update its hardware to
better adapt to and solve novel situations and problems.


Mind

The complexity of the brain grows exponentially when we place mind as the
mediator between experience and neurophysiology. If the brain is the
product of genetics, imprints, and experiences, then so too is the mind. Mind
and its psychological complexes - such as Freud's psyche and Jung's
collective unconsciousness, our identity and beliefs, as well as our plans,
goals, and dreams - is a dynamic evolving construct informed by every facet
of our existence. As a perceiving, self-aware organism we channel all the
information of our senses through the brain and into the evaluative processes
of the mind. Mind is the operating system running on the hardware of the
brain. But unlike silicon computers, the software of the mind alters the
hardware of the brain. Experience and how it is received by the individual
determines the evolving structure within neural bodies, as well as the
associative connections made between them. Mind is like an abstraction
layer sitting on top of the electromagnetic fields generated by the brain's
neurochemistry. The mind is focused to sift through the vast amount of data
generated by neural processes, evaluating and cataloging that data and
picking out the bits that it deems important to the current situation or query.
This disembodied aetheric wave then enacts its will upon the physiology of
the brain, modifying the chemistry and physiology of the neural substrate in
accord with its goals. It can be as simple as moving the arm, or as complex
as composing a symphony. This is how the adaptive computational abilities
of the mind grow in response to the world in which the organism is
embedded. We analyze the data, consider a response, extrapolate the results
into various models and outcomes, and then induce the body to action. The
outcome of the action is then recorded and compared to the projected
models. As this process repeats, learning occurs and the associative
connections - the physical nerve fibers arcing between various bodies of the
brain - are strengthened.

The initial perception of fire is one of color, warmth, awe, and wonder.
Touch it and those associations quickly change to include pain and damage
to the organism. With the shock of sudden pain the internal representation of
"fire" has been modified and updated to better fit the external experience.
Not only does the brain now include pain in its internal representation, but
also a host of emotional content relative to the experience. Did Mom tell you
to stay away from the fire but you disobeyed and touched it anyway? Desire,
embarrassment, betrayal by the warm colors, fear - for humans, associating
emotional content with an experience is like a tag which makes memories
stronger and more readily retrievable, better enabling the individual to deal
with the world.

Emotional associations are strong defining features of the individual. They
determine how we react to people, places, events, colors, sounds, everything.
Even to our own thoughts, our own physiology. They are the lenses through
which we view the world. The critical point to understand with respect to
our thesis is that these associations are rooted in physiology and are not
static. They can be willfully modified and changed, affecting the actual
physiology of the brain by modifying connections within and between neural
bodies. We are programmable. We are constantly being programmed every
day by our perceptions, our experiences, what we eat and drink, our music,
our movies and television, the people we encounter, even a single word or
symbol has the capacity to affect physiological change deep within our
brains, subtly altering the associative network of consciousness. Indeed,
language (as we will discuss later) is perhaps the most powerful program we
know.


Metaprogramming - becoming the mind you want to be

Most of us will live our lives without much consideration of these ideas,
content to exist as semi-automatons, acting & reacting based on genetics and
imprints and the accumulated experiences of our lives without ever
questioning these habitual responses to our world. In spite of the brain's
ongoing updates, the perceptions and beliefs of most people will change
little after about 30 years of age, barring some sudden traumatic or visionary
experience which disrupts their ingrained view of things enough to allow the
brain to rewire a new way of seeing the world. Yet the hardware of the brain
and the software of the mind is open source. We can each become mind
programmers - metaprogrammers - actively rewiring our beliefs and
associations towards whatever goal we may have. This is no new revelation
and there are many techniques, both modern and archaic, for breaking the
mold of belief and mapping novel associations in the brain.


Shamanism

Shamanism is perhaps a good starting point. Shamen have been subjecting
the brain to physical and chemical stressors for millennia, seeking to shatter
the boundaries of knowledge and walk between the worlds of the real and
imagined. If anything can be said about reality, it's that it only exists in the
eye of the beholder. Or rather, behind the eye in the depths of the brain and
its mind. The slightest modulation of chemistry will radically alter one's
"reality", like the onset of schizophrenia or 150mcg of lysergic acid
diethylamide. The shaman understands this malleability of reality and seeks
to use it to hir advantage. Trance, dance, pain, hallucinogenic plants, fasting
- all of these things can radically alter human physiology. The substrate of
mind changes and the shaman's perception of reality is altered allowing hir
to view the world through different lenses, to see formerly hidden aspects of
self and nature. It's like suddenly having bee vision. Bees are known to see
the 3-color RGB spectrum like humans, but they can also see into the
ultraviolet bands. Many flowers have special markings only visible in the
UV spectrum to attract bees who will then aid in cross-pollination of the
flowers. So humans only perceive a specific region of nature, adapted as it is
to their unique brand of evolutionary survival. This observable bandwidth is
further narrowed by our conditioned beliefs and imposed expectations of
what is acceptable data. The shaman seeks to widen the perceptual
bandwidth and retrain the mind to see more levels of reality.

To return to our notion of the self as a discarnate interpreter and integrator of
complex neurological processes, the effect of shamanic techniques is to
present that self with a novel set of data in an attempt to break up the crust of
belief that limits the accepted notions of how things ought to be. Although
the self is not entirely bound by physiology it nevertheless has a tendency to
become rigid and narrow in its conceptual map of how reality should
behave, due in large part to the strength of the ego - the ultimate abstraction
of the biosurvival mechanism inherent in all creatures. The narrowing of
focus establishing the boundaries of the self and its world is strengthened by
a feedback loop between the logical and emotional constructs of the mind
and the physiological substrate of those constructs as they exist in the brain.
The mind, it seems, seeks stability. It seeks order and, most importantly,
predictability. We are, after all, organisms trying to survive in a potentially
hostile environment so it is a beneficial and adaptive mechanism to create
functionally accurate & static maps of the world. As we move through our
lives our maps, our expectations, our ingrained responses to events and
situations, images and ideas, become more defined and concrete. The human
mind wears its belief systems as armor and the techniques of shamanism are
ways of breaking through that armor by eroding the fundamental
expectations of reality as defined by our beliefs.


Psychedelics

Perhaps the most powerful technique originally pioneered by archaic shamen
is the ingestion of psychotropic agents – the "mind manifesting"
psychedelics. No other technique short of the experience of near-death
seems to work with the same efficacy as psychedelic compounds. These
unique molecules, originally produced by plants for some as-of-yet unknown
evolutionary function, induce changes in brain chemistry by binding to and
modulating the activity of neurons in neural controller bodies like the
reticular activating system. These changes in chemistry have profound
effects on higher brain centers radically altering the pattern of data presented
to the mind. Increased activity in the occipital cortex induces visual
hallucinations, sounds take on new depth, the boundaries of self begin to
dissolve as the emotive centers become unleashed imbuing the perceived
world with a rich depth of meaning and emotion. The initial shock of seeing
the world in such a different way can be enough to undermine the currently
held belief system with the basic understanding that the world as we
normally perceive it is far more rich and malleable than we had thought. The
associative network of the brain shudders and can enter a state of uncertainty
as the mind attempts to make sense of the visions. It is in this state that it is
possible for the self to reprogram those networks, as if the drug were a
passkey granting access to the mainframe of the brain.

John Lilly has written much of this ability of psychedelics to induce
flexibility in the mind, coining the term "metaprogramming". Timothy
Leary, Robert Anton Wilson, Alexander Shulgin, and other hallucinogenic
visionaries & therapists have honored this ability of psychedelics to launch
the user into a state of psychological malleability. Indeed, the U.S.
investigated these substances as potential mind control agents in the
MKULTRA and ARTICHOKE projects but found that they were too
unwieldy, and the subjects difficult to control. These diverse agents seem to
be keys that induce specific neurochemical profiles like software programs.
The program of LSD is unique from the program for Psilocybin which is
itself different from DMT. But they all share the common ability to dilute
the ego, break down the beliefs held by the mind, and open the brain to
potential reprogramming by the self.


Magick

But it’s not enough to simply shake up the physiological foundations of the
brain and open the mind to whatever happens to be floating by. Indeed, it
can be very dangerous to do so. As shamanism offers a wealth of cultural
myths to guide the shaman and give meaning to hir visions, so to does the
rich collection of myths, symbols, deities & entities, rites & rituals,
commonly known as Magick. For the sake of this discussion the ability of
magick to affect the material world will not be addressed here. An entire
volume could and has been written on the subject and it remains as elusive
as ever. Instead we will focus on the role of magick as a process of selfactualization
through the invocation of god forms, mythologies, and
symbolism designed to empower the self with the will necessary to
reimagine and remodel the individual according to their ideals. As a model,
magick is open-ended and encompasses any technique, including the one's
we've already discussed, that is useful for transforming the individual. The
key is that magick proceeds by will - we are in charge of ourselves and have
the capacity to actualize our visions of who we wish to become. As noted,
the trick is putting the brain into such a state that it is open to the change.

The canon of western esoterica has contributed the most to the field of
magick. Hermetica, Kabbala & Judaica, Egyptian mythology, The Old
Testament, Greek & Roman, Norse & Celtic, all western mythologies have
contributed in one way or another. In the last century or so, thanks in large
part to the work of Aleister Crowley, magick has expanded to include many
of the techniques of the eastern path, such as yoga and meditation, and the
modern techniques of Chaos Magick have extended the canon even further
to include just about anything. But the core of the western path is
represented by Alexandria. It was here that the confluence of the Egyptian,
Christian, and Judaic schools met and established the Hermetic Philosophy.
This foundation established the principle deities, the descriptions of god, and
the rites and rituals used to speak with them. These deities were
representations of the aspects of external nature and the internal voices
solidifying into the elements of the young human psyche. The gods were
anthropomorphic embodiments of life's rich collage, and they would avail
themselves to their worshippers given the appropriate conjurations and rites.
These humanized archetypes offered a way to understand the mysteries of
creation and to integrate their secrets into the individual. The stories of their
lives and deaths were like plays written about the trials of life and the
mysteries hidden within. The myths offered guidance and meaning for a
world destined to grow more and more logical under the weight of language
and economics.


Mythology

While myths like the resurrection of Christ or the dismemberment of Osiris
offered keys to the processes of life, death, and rebirth, the gods themselves
embodied archetypes of nature and consciousness that could be invoked into
being. The real value of the goddess Isis, whether or not she actually exists
in some form, is in the archetype of the earthly mother that she embodies.
Invoking her essence - running the program Isis - allows us to understand the
archetype of female creator and relate it to ourselves as humans. We feel
motherhood, earth, water, womb, form applied to force to create being. We
understand the balance of Isis and her husband Osiris as the balance of
goddess and god, female & male, form & force - subtle universal concepts
sometimes difficult to grasp without this anthropomorphic key. The deities
of myth embody universal concepts and the stories in which they appear
give us paths by which to engage those concepts and transform ourselves by
their integration. We become Isis walking along the Nile trying to find the
pieces of her dead husband, Osiris, to bring him back from the grave. The
myth of resurrection shows that, out of the ashes we can rebuild ourselves
anew in the image of the transcendent gods.

This concept of the resurrection, perhaps best symbolized by the phoenix, is
a key to our understanding of magick as a tool to reprogramming the mind
and brain. The phoenix is a bird engulfed in fire that rises from the ashes
aflame, speaking to the notion of death preceding rebirth. As in the
shamanic path and the use of psychedelics, the crust of the psyche and the
rigidity of the brain's associative networks must be confronted and
challenged, torched and torn down to be rebuilt in the new image. The myths
and rituals of magick offer paths to tear down the edifice, and the gods and
goddesses act as role models to guide the reconstruction.


Ritual

The networks of the brain are not designed to change at the slightest whim
or passing fancy. Nor are the constructs of the psyche. Sudden, radical
confrontation can inspire change, as in our phoenix analogy, but so can
persistent repetition, like learning to play the piano. We acquire this skill
through diligent practice, over and over, slowly rewiring our brain to adapt
to the task and integrate the art. Much of eastern mysticism proceeds by this
path, like a river slowly wearing down the hardened stone until it is soft and
polished. Magickal ritual may employ radical initiations, but for most it is a
daily practice that gradually reprograms the practitioner to be more in line
with the metaphysics of the path. Anything done regularly and consistently
will forge grooves in the brain.

A classic example of a ritual recommended to any serious student of magick
is the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram. This practice seeks to bring the
student into a magickal space by visualizing key metaphysical concepts like
the four cardinal directions, the four elements, the symbolism of the
pentagram and hexagram, angelic watchtowers, and the notion of creating a
protective space within which one can safely engage higher archetypes.
Thus, by daily regimen the aspirant becomes more in tune with these
concepts, reassociating their worldview to include the magickal and the
divine. To return to our meta-programming metaphor, the Ritual of the
Pentagram is like a software application running in the OS of the mind.
Initially it must be launched by the user every time but gradually, as it
modifies the associative networks of the brain to integrate its code, it begins
to act like an agent always running in the background re-enforcing itself in
everyday consciousness. The program becomes part of the operating system
and even part of the hardware.


Language

Inherent in ritual are language and symbolism. Language is the most
defining feature of humanity. All else proceeds from our internal symbolic
representations of the world. Our language defines our reality, replacing the
awed wonder of childhood with the consensual definitions of the culture.
Language allows us to analyze and catalog our environment, and to plan and
communicate our intentions – it is the code of mind. When we think, we
think in words. The words we chose not only reflect the state of our minds,
but they affect it as well. Willingly think dark thoughts and your emotions
will darken. Words are very powerful – far more so than we realize – and
magickal practice can reawaken the individual to the power of words and
languages and the symbols that seek to go beyond their limitations.

Language is the interface between reality and mind. It imposes the order of
definition on a wholly chaotic mess of inherently random stimuli and, in
doing so, ascribes meaning to life. The techniques of magick can empower
the words we use by reminding us of their role in programming mind. They
can also lead us into new or archaic magickal alphabets laden with rich
meaning, which may be lacking in our native tongue. English particularly is
a very rational and logical language adept at describing physical systems but
not so good at describing emotional abstractions such as love. The role of
the poet is to bring art and emotion into the language and adapt it to speak of
the ineffable. In this manner a profound poem is more than simply the words
of which it is composed. The arrangement of the language becomes a
transformational vehicle into the subtle realms of the human experience,
normally indescribable by words alone. It is thus apparent that the poet and
the mage have a common goal: to sidestep the boundaries of language and
logic, tap in to the deeper realms of the human experience, and to return and
convey these experiences to the world.

Obviously language offers many possibilities to the metaprogrammer.
Reading transformational poetry and literature can affect the mind in
pronounced ways. Repetition of words or phrases, engaging specific words
and examining their linguistic content and baggage, or changing the way you
speak, such as eliminating prepositions, can each alter the way the world and
self are perceived. Integrating and speaking in a foreign language can create
a very different way of perceiving the world, as the rules governing the
linguistic interface are different for each language. Indeed, language is
deeply interwoven with culture and geography and each language creates a
unique relational map of the world. Consider the underlying logical
differences between a Latin alphanumeric language like English and a
symbolic character language like Chinese. The mind using one to represent
the world is very different from the mind using the other, especially given
the historical weight of an ancient language like Chinese.

Ancient languages are common foundations for the esoteric schools. The
strongest spiritual systems on the planet are those based on ancient
languages such as Hebrew, Arabic, & Sanskrit. Each of these languages
created the mindsets of the individuals who contributed the religious myths,
and each myth is reflective of the linguistic character through which it was
created. And not only do languages create the interface between mind and
matter, but the tonal characteristics of the words affects the physiological
properties of the person speaking. The intonations of Hebrew god names, for
instance, invoke the characteristics of the deity and create a specific sonic
resonance within the skull based on the phonetics of the word. These
resonances create waves which modify the electromagnetic field of the
brain, altering the substrate of mind. In this manner not only are the mythic
traits of the deity invoked, but the feeling of the deity is conveyed through
the timbre and resonance of the spoken name. This is the basis of the mantra.


Mantra

Mantra is traditionally an eastern creation but it applies well to magick as a
metaprogramming technique and is often integrated into western approaches
to spirituality. As we’ve seen, words not only hold a definition, but also a
sonic signature that resonates through the skull. The mantra capitalizes on
both of these features to create meaningful phrases designed to alter brain
chemistry and reprogram mind. The classic Tibetan mantra “Om Mane
Padme Hum” translates roughly into “I am the jewel in the thousand-petaled
lotus of the heart of Shiva”. The definition of the mantra is the linguistic
code to be run in the mind. We understand and embrace its meaning and use
this as the conscious relationship to the mantra. It means something
significant to us and embodies a mystical experience we wish to embrace
and integrate. Likewise the words have a distinct phonic signature when
spoken. Through repetition the logical definition of the mantra recedes into
the subconscious, put to sleep by the gentle cadence and resonance field of
its vocalization. Om Mane Padme Hum Om Mane Padme Hum Om Mane
Padme Hum. This fragment of code, repeated over and over, calms the
torrent of mind and synchronizes the electromagnetic fields of the brain. In
this receptive state the meaning of the mantra is internalized, planting seeds
of change deep within the subconscious, and deeper within the associative
networks of the brain. As the individual returns to baseline consciousness
and goes on about their day, the seed germinates. With steady practice, as in
the Ritual of the Pentagram, the seed is nourished and grows to affect real
change in the consciousness of the individual.


Symbols & Sigils

As we’ve noted language is a very strong force binding us to our cultured
perceptions of reality, dominating the internal landscape of mind, so much
so that it can become an obstacle to the goals of the metaprogrammer. Logic
and rationality, it seems, serve more to re-enforce our conditioned beliefs
than allow us to bypass them and change their foundations. The efficacy of
foreign languages like Hebrew or Tibetan (foreign to us Anglo devils) is that
they lack such rigid definitions as the English tongue. At best we have a
translation but in the practice of mantra, the logical meaning of the words
must be worn down so that the essence can slip past the constructs of the
conscious mind and be embraced by the subconscious. To this end symbolic
representation of archetypes, spiritual ideals, personal goals, or any other
concept valuable to the metaprogrammer can circumvent the limiting
definitions of language and rationality to affect the nonrational layers of the
subconscious. Indeed, symbolic representation preceded language and was
its precursor, language being the codification of symbolism. It is very old
and a very deep and fundamental part of human consciousness. Because
symbolism is not restrained by the definitions of language it has been the
repository of the ephemeral and indefinable traits of the human experience,
particularly emotional and visionary experiences - deeper aspects of the
human experience which do not lend themselves well to language.

Though language and symbolism may seem somewhat at odds, Austin
Osman Spare created a magickal technique for uniting the two. The
intentions and goals of the individual are generally formulated through
language, spoken internally in the dialog of the self and its brain. We
imagine that we wish to be more disciplined at the gym, for instance, and
plan a logical course of action to accomplish this goal. What Spare created
was a way to translate the logical conscious intent of the individual into a
symbolic subconscious representation: The sigil. A sigil is a symbolic
representation of a written intention. “It is my will to be more disciplined at
the gym” - a simple metaprogram which can meet much resistance when run
in the conscious mind (I’ll do it tomorrow, I’m tired, I have a meeting later,
etc…). By isolating the unique consonants of the written intent and
rearranging them in a symbolic fashion bearing no coherent resemblance to
the words, the intention is encrypted in a visual package designed to fool the
conscious mind and slip into the subconscious. Spare postulated many
ecstatic techniques, some of which we have discussed here already, for
putting the brain into a receptive state. His favorites, probably quite telling
of his disposition, were death postures and orgasm. The point is that at the
moment of peak exstasis, when the brain has all but shed it’s mind entirely,
and the boundaries of the self are shattered in a great limbic shiver, the sigil
is stared at and absorbed in 100% concentration. The steady state of the
brain is disrupted, the conscious mind is beaten into submission, and the self
injects the symbolic intent – the metaprogram – into the subconscious where
it can readily rewire the associative networks of the brain.

Symbol, language, myth & ritual - invoked and repeated - form the
foundation of the western approach to magick. The process is by no means
instantaneous, though shocks and traumas can suddenly jar the individual
into a state of gnosis or illumination, but is rather an ongoing path of
practice and dedication; an open willingness to give oneself to the higher
forms and constructs in hopes that they may become part of the aspirant. It is
a process of internalizing and integrating the human maps of spirit and soul,
invoking and becoming the idealized god forms of our myths. In doing so,
our language takes on new meaning and depth, our mental constructs expand
to include the subtle aspects of nature and metaphysics, and the associative
networks of the brain change to re-enforce the new mode of behavior.


Mind, Matter, & Magick

It is difficult to discuss the profound metaphysical experiences encountered
within shamanic, psychedelic, and magickal practice within the context of
neurochemistry without sounding mechanistic. While we can attempt to
show some of the physiological processes that underlie such experiences, we
can never rely solely on chemistry to explain the depth of these visions and
the bizarre synchronicities and seeming violations of physical law that so
often attend mystical states of consciousness. Suffice it to say that there
appears to be much more going on than we suppose and the boundaries
between what we imagine to be “reality”, the mind we use to interact with it,
and the individual self that guides us through it all, is likely very thin and
tenuous, if real at all. At best, reality is an ever-shifting map of language,
emotion, associations, and chemistry, unique to every sensory apparatus in
the universe. We each look at creation through our own facet of a single
infinitely vast diamond, and the world may simply be the result of this
infinitude of observation, nonexistent without consciousness. The only thing
that is really real to us right now is what’s going on in our own heads.

In this context we can modify our world on two fronts: physical and mental.
Trance, drugs, foods, exertion, breathing, and many other techniques offer
ways to alter neurochemistry. By changing the chemistry we change the
substrate of mind. Similarly, magick, mythology, language, mantra,
symbolism, and sigils, among others, can each affect mental states and
influence the associative networks of the brain. The personal goal is to
employ these techniques to reprogram the brain in accordance with the will
of the self, but the outcome is often far greater. As we embark upon a
mystical path and engage the archetypes and mythologies of the spirit, we
integrate those ideals bringing them to life through our own actions as
individuals. As we work with the rituals and symbols, the god-forms and
holy languages, we are drawing spirit into the material world by preserving
their teachings, evolving their meaning, and strengthening their ability to
engage the human soul.

Metaprogramming offers the individual an opportunity to bring themselves
into alignment with myths, philosophies, and archetypes, and integrate the
characteristics they wish to be part of themselves. The tools available enable
us to break down our conditioning and open our awareness to much more of
the world than we are ordinarily allowed to see. In doing so we open the
mind to new ways of thinking and perceiving, and encourage the brain to
integrate these novel perceptions into its physiology.

The metaprogrammer aims ultimately to effect external change from within,
in a sort of meta-metaprogram. (This is the other half of this paper that
we’ve chosen to set aside as it would easily double the current length.)
Suffice it to say that the magick practiced by an individual does not occur in
a vacuum, and the assumed lines of boundary between us and everything
else are mere illusion. In a vast field of electromagnetic waves with far more
space than matter our flesh is only slightly denser than the air we breathe.
The fields of the self & its brain are not confined to the skull and, when
focused & amplified by the appropriate set of conditions, can influence the
dynamic interference pattern that is existence. Like the macroscopic
butterfly effect providing the initial impulse at just the right time to be swept
along and iterated into the cyclone, focused ritual can have subtly profound
influences on the fields of life and consciousness. In this way the
metaprogrammer wields a power of potentially great magnitude and is thus
not only responsible for themselves but for the entire web of life.
Human consciousness is the product of evolution and the form it has now is
very different from that of 200, 1000, or 50000 years ago. Our minds, our
language, and the technologies we produce are intimately bound to one
another, progressing in a continual feedback loop as each empowers and
limits the other. In the modern age we have seen the mechanism and duality
of Descartes and Newton supplanted by relativism and quantum uncertainty.
We have broken open the atomic nucleus and harnessed the primal powers
within to assemble molecules and destroy nations. We have established a
planetary network of communication and information, a digital hive mind
archiving culture and extending technology through the global brain. And in
making information digital we have produced a simulacrum of reality
entirely convincing yet entirely malleable, much like the linguistic maps of
belief woven within our minds. When it is impossible to tell the real image
from the manufactured image, when the fantasy of myth is brought to life in
digital cinema, when information technologies can synthesize anything, then
the lines between the real and imagined will have grown very thin indeed.
Slowly, the human mind and its culture are inexorably drawing nearer and
nearer to a time when imagination is as real as anything else and belief is a
faint vestige of the past.

The shaman, the psychonaut, and the metaprogrammer have intuited this
inevitability and are setting themselves ahead of the curve. They engage
imagination and invoke it into being, shaping mind and matter in the image
of heaven. The central goal of the western magickal paradigm is to unite
spirit and matter, the macrocosm and the microcosm - to reveal the kingdom
of heaven on Earth. We are becoming the gods and goddesses of antiquity,
poised on the edge of time, a breath away from hyperspace.

 
 

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