Reconstructionism and Gnosis: Some “Rules”

Reconstructionism and Gnosis: The Story (Of These Blogs) So Far

In my last post, I talked about the interplay between reconstructionism and gnosis as I experience it. If it wasn’t already abundantly clear: it is my very sincere belief that both are necessary if we are to create workable and effective magical practices.

When I first got the idea for the post that spawned this series, I had three main points I wanted to communicate/dig into:

  • The necessity of combining reconstructionism and gnosis when attempting to create modern versions of historically attested forms of magic.
  • How that process can look from the inside/up-close.
  • The historical argument for gnosis and why gnosis cannot be ignored in matters of ritual and magic.

My original plan was for this to be a three-part series, with this second post focusing on specific examples from my own practice. Essentially it would have been a storytime blog. But the more I thought about it, the less satisfied I was with the idea of just telling stories. Storytelling is one of the oldest teaching methods known to man, but stories have to be chosen and presented carefully if they are to be effective teachers. A collection of stories would only provide the same bird’s eye view of the subject as the gold mine analogy from the first post.

I make a plan for a simple, three-part series of blog posts and the whole f**king universe laughs

A New Plan Emerges

Instead, I would prefer to provide a more in-depth perspective to accommodate as many learning styles as possible. Because if there is one thing I’ve found from talking to people about this, it’s that many find it hard to imagine this process in practice. Part of this, at least in my opinion, is likely down to how the reconstructionist movement played out in Heathen spaces in the mid-to-late 2000s. From my perspective, the research phases of the method eclipsed the experimentation and evaluation phases. So, we don’t really have that space in our communities for the experimentation and evaluation discussions (yet). Moreover, when you wade into those warm, tempting waters of experimentation and evaluation, you’re inevitably getting into experience and gnosis. To return to a point I made last week: another mistake we Heathens made as a movement/group of movements back then was to largely neglect the subject of discernment. Instead, there was a tendency to either write gnosis off as “made-up-shit” or cling to it uncritically depending on where you sat on the fake “recon” vs “woo” spectrum.

So, rather than a round of storytelling, I’m going to take one story and use it as a framework to demonstrate my process of researching/creating experiments/conducting experiments/recording/evaluating/tweaking. Along the way, I will also highlight where gnosis makes an appearance, what I consider the “tipping point,” and touch upon discernment and assessing gnosis. I will also discuss the responsibility I feel to keep my family safe from any effects of my clarting around with old magical tech as well as what I consider to be necessary safety and wellness measures while engaging in this work.

Fair warning, but I have no idea how long this section of the series will be. This thing that started out as a single post seems to be spawning “babies” faster than rabbits in spring.

I guess we’ll get to the third section when we get there.

Some “Rules” For Blending Reconstruction And Gnosis

Before beginning the story though, I would like to discuss some of the unofficial “rules” I observe when engaging in this work. Though I refer to them as “rules,” I have found them to be far more helpful than restrictive. Please do not feel obligated to adopt them for yourself, but if you do, I hope you find them as helpful as I have.

Honesty

The first rule is honesty, and this applies in several ways.

In my experience, one of the biggest sources of contention between those who lean more to reconstruction vs those who lean more to gnosis boils down to labeling sources. Or in other words: not being entirely honest about where you got your information from. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen people trying to pass off gnosis as something textually attested. This is something that irritates me too even as a weird-experimenter and haver-of-gnosis.

PSA: This is what comes up if you use the search term “rules” on Pixabay. You’re welcome.

If anything, I think it’s even more important for those of us who are experimenting with magic to be honest about our work and sources than your average Heathen. And there are two main reasons for this:

The first is that it’s both dishonest and rude to the humans you’re interacting with. Moreover, when you’re found out, it ruins the credibility of your work for those who are interested.

The second and most important reason is that you essentially deny the experiences, Powers, and relationships from which that gnosis flowed when you deny their role. It’s incredibly disrespectful to pass that other-gotten-gnosis off as coming from a book. Sure, the humans you’re interacting with might take the gnosis you’re sharing more seriously. But what of your relationships with those who helped you? If you find yourself prioritizing the approval of human strangers on the internet over your working relationships with allies, then you may want to ask yourself why.

Another area in which honesty is important pertains to interactions with other-than-human people. It’s never a good idea to lie to the kind of beings you can come across in magic. So, be careful with your words. Don’t promise anything you won’t do or give. Don’t be afraid to use direct but polite speech instead of flowery words if you suspect those flowery words might get you in trouble. And remember that silence is an option and always better than a lie. Never underestimate the abilities of the beings you may meet, as the consequences can be dire.

Finally, be as honest as you can with yourself about what you experience. Make a point of recording your experiences as soon as you are able. Because once an experiment ends, you begin the journey into the same kind of territory as crime scene witnesses. So, try to get everything down as quickly as possible and be brutally honest with yourself. Don’t be afraid to add notes like “I also got the impression of _____ but I’m not sure that actually came from interacting with (being) or was an intrusive thought/my brain elaborating as I could feel the trance weakening and it sounds similar to something I saw/heard the other day.” The mind loves to make connections and elaborate on experiences, and often we don’t even notice it. With practice though, it can get easier to spot.

So, that’s honesty.

No One Is Under Any Obligation To Accept Your Gnosis

My second “rule” is that no one is under any obligation to accept my gnosis (but they’re welcome to it if it resonates).

In my experience, this is another bone of contention when it comes to gnosis. Gnosis is a funny old thing, and especially in a group of religious movements mostly made up of ex-Christians burdened with largely unexamined Christian baggage.

I’ve written about how Christian baggage is a proverbial elephant in the room for a lot of Pagans and Heathens. Too many of us pretend that we shook off all vestiges of Christianity or the influence of growing up in a Christian-dominant society as soon as we put on a hammer and picked up a drinking horn. But unfortunately, life (and religious conversion) isn’t nearly that simple. And is it really surprising? Changing a worldview isn’t some quick, dump-water-on-head-and-call-Odin-a-bitch thing—no matter how it’s portrayed in Christian narratives. In my opinion, one of the areas in which Christian baggage has influenced modern Heathens can be found in some of the reactions to gnosis.

Now, this isn’t just something that happens to the more “recon-minded.” I think we find the same underlying concepts playing out (albeit differently) among some of the more “woo” aligned folks as well.

I AM A VERY REALISTIC PICTURE

Ask yourself, “What does it mean to Christians when a Christian claims to have spoken to their god and received divine wisdom from him?”

It’s prophecy, right? Divine revelation that others must heed because it’s the Word of God.

This is the kind of thing wars have been fought over. Because that kind of a claim can be deeply problematic from a Christian perspective, especially if that message challenges dogma. There’s also the matter of who receives that communication and how they are viewed in the eyes of religion and society. What is their sex? Their social status? Their perceived closeness to god? The pope making divinely revealed pronouncements ex cathedra is fine, but it’s another matter if the person doing it is considered deficient or less holy in some way, or even simply too ordinary. That is when things have a tendency to get a little…spicy, shall we say?

And this is the framing that many are coming with to Heathenry and Paganism. Is it any wonder we see the reactions we do? The people with the gnosis who try to act like it’s imperative everyone goes along with it? The people who rule out the possibility of anyone interacting with a deity who doesn’t fit a certain, restrictive set of criteria? The defensiveness on all sides?

So, what do we do about it?

As someone who has a lot of gnosis, I think it’s imperative that we change the way we think about gnosis. We need to cultivate space for gnosis to simply exist without being a prophecy or divine revelation that everyone must follow. Not all communication with deities is revelation or prophecy that must be shared, or something that can only happen to certain, special people. And we do that by only considering our gnosis relevant to ourselves, listening respectfully to the gnosis of others, and retaining the right to accept or reject what you hear (preferably politely).

You Are Responsible For Keeping Others Safe!

Shockingly, conducting magical experiments based on historical sources isn’t always the safest way to pass the time. Things can happen that you had no way of foreseeing. You can find yourself experiencing unforeseen physical effects. And there’s always the chance of attracting the attention of unhelpful, opportunistic, or even hostile beings with your antics.

Unfortunately, if you’re not careful, the unforeseen consequences of your experiments can all-too-easily spread to the people around you.

Think about your roles in life and who you live with. I’m a mom; I have a little person entrusted to my care, and they tend to be attractive to a lot of beings. I’m also married, and my little family also counts a dog and a cat among us. These are all lives that I could inadvertently bring stress and harm to if I’m not careful. In addition to this, I live in a row house and my neighbors on both sides have family members who have been made vulnerable by sickness—yet more lives to take into account. And on top of that, the town where we live is bizarrely busy with the Otherworldly and generally strange activity.

(I say “bizarrely” as no one can figure out why the town where I live is so active. As an aside, it was like that before I moved in).

These are all factors that need to be taken into account when planning magical experiments. Because they don’t deserve to deal with any unwanted interlopers or other consequences from my activities, and it’s entirely down to me if they do.

“Cleanliness” is next to “Clean room” in The American Heritage College Dictionary.

So, I factor them into my planning. I build extra layers of containment and protection into my experiments. And when I really have no idea what could happen, I find the time to go and do my experiments somewhere away from other humans. I always keep a good supply of apotropaics handy. And I am careful with shutdown and clean-up.

Also important is what I do outside my experiments in my day-to-day life. I have and maintain close relationships with the deities I worship and my allies.  Those relationships are often a magical practitioner’s first form of defense. I also regularly meditate, practice basic skills, and check in with my souls. And as someone whose practice is also informed by the Old English magico-medical manuscripts, I am very careful with purification practices too. All of these are intended to ensure that I am as hæl as I can be going into my experiments, that I’m not out of practice, and that I remain me.

Final Word

The “rules” I have just given are not the only ones I observe, but they are the main ones. I will introduce others as they become relevant throughout the rest of the series. It should go without saying, but whether you choose to adopt them for yourself is entirely up to you. Either way, I hope the accompanying discussion has given you plenty of food for thought.

In the next post, I’m going to take you through the first stage of the reconstructionist process: research. This is where I’ll introduce you to a fascinating Swedish site archaeologists refer to as the Götavi grid. I’ll talk about where I first found out about it; the various features of the grid, their symbolism, and other examples of those features; potential references from textual sources; and possible meanings and interpretations. If the post doesn’t run too long, I’ll also talk about my first attempt to recreate the grid and what happened.

So, until next time!

Why Not Both? Bridging Reconstructionism and Gnosis

Reconstructionism vs Gnosis: A (Lame) War Between Two Ideological Camps

Once upon a time (well, back in the mid-2000s) a complete and utter weirdo got involved in a reconstructionist community online. Things were kind of wild back then. I was teaching English in South Korea and had just met the love of my life. Like me, he was a Heathen, and through him, I was increasingly introduced to the US Heathen community.

Nowadays, I know that’s a silly thing to say. The “US Heathen community” sounds like a monolith when there are very clear regional differences. But as an outsider looking in, you tend to notice the broad strokes before the nuances.

One of those broad strokes was the fault line stretching between two seemingly separate ideological camps: the reconstructionists and the gnosis-focused (or “woo”) people.

Straddling Camps

As a neurodivergent person, reconstructionist spaces were much easier for me to inhabit with their clearly defined “rules of engagement.” I couldn’t talk about the stuff that made my soul sing—namely my experiments and experiences in magic. But that was a small price to pay for knowing where I stood. Conversely, the gnosis-centered groups were confusing and the rules far less clear. Sometimes people wanted to hear about my research and read my sources, but other times…well, I may as well have been offering them the option of sitting in a diarrhea-filled spacesuit.

This was a time during which one camp extolled the virtue of keeping gnosis to oneself (like genitals) and the other seemed to consider bookishness a barrier to gnosis.

(Fun fact: I was once told I was too bookish to have gnosis.)

If you were lucky enough to miss the whole thing, it was like Romeo vs Juliet, only with less death and mostly online.

0/10 would not recommend.

And the absolutely wild part of it all? It was completely unnecessary.

Reconstructionism and Gnosis, Sitting In A Tree…

Before continuing, I want to get something straight: there is nothing wrong with either reconstructionism or gnosis.

(Well, reconstructionism the methodology is fine. I’m not so keen on the weird sect-like version of reconstructionism found in online groups.)

They’re also not really at opposing ends of a spectrum either. I would even argue that reconstructionism is one of the most useful methodologies for reviving/creating workable magical practices rooted in accounts of historical Heathen magic.

However, if I have learned anything from my twenty-or-so years of experimenting in this way, it’s that scholarship (regardless of methodology) can only take you so far. At some point, you want gnosis to take over and guide you the rest of the way.

But what do I mean by this?

Seams of Gold and Old-Ass Mineshafts

I would like you to imagine for a moment a seam of gold under the earth. It’s a special seam of gold—let’s say it represents all the ritual and magical knowledge we’re currently missing. Now, you could just try digging for that seam without any instructions. But who in their right mind would do that? Mining comes with hazards, and if you’re not careful, you might miss the seam entirely and happen upon something you don’t want. Moreover, the soil in different places is…well, different. The composition is different, the kinds of rocks are different—these are all factors that affect how you dig.

This is where the sources and reconstructionism come in. Imagine that the sources contain the equivalent of geological data, analysis of the material you’re looking for, and possibly even instructions for how best to dig down.

Sometimes they may even purport to reveal the location of an older mine. A mine that the historical Heathens originally dug (but almost always never works out).

So, what to do?

Enter Gnosis

This is where reconstructionism ideally hands the baton over to gnosis.

Like many, I used to fall into the trap of thinking that historical record was the same as authenticity and/or efficacy. But years of research, experimentation, evaluation, and experience have taught me that gnosis/inspiration/guidance from the Holy Powers can be just as important. More often than not, it’s the latter that makes the difference between practices that work and practices that fall flat.

And regardless of era, the proof is always in the pudding with magic.

You see (and I’m probably going to blog about this in the future), magic has never solely been the product of human hands. As a technology, magic is inherently Other —- something that is passed from Themselves to us. There’s a good example of this exchange in the witch-familiar relationship as recorded in English and Scottish sources from the Early Modern Period. I wrote about it in more depth here, if you’re interested. But the quick version is that the source of the witch’s power and learning was the familiar (who was Otherworldly vs demonic in earlier accounts). It was the familiar who was in charge.

Pro-Tip: This is not your familiar (and neither is your dog/cat/hamster/opossum/fish).

I would argue that this makes interacting with that Other (as well as associated deities and ancestors) an important part of the process for creating workable practices rooted in accounts of Heathen period magic. It’s their tools we work with. And if anyone knows how to work with those tools (or how best to work with them over a thousand years after other humans used them), it’s Themselves.

You just have to get their attention first, and this is where reconstruction and other methodologies can help. Because in my experience, if you reconstruct enough for somebeing to recognize what you’re trying to do, then you might find somebeing who’s inclined to help you out.

(I’m sure that’s like a form of ergi for some folks out there, but whatever.)

Thwarted Words, Insufficient Mechanisms

Unfortunately, all of the above requires something called discernment. And if we’re being honest, the ridiculous war between Reconstructio and Gnosiet stymied a lot of necessary discussion about how to assess and process gnosis in a healthy way. I believe this has been to our detriment.

You see, there will always be people in any religious group who have a drive to go deeper and to experience more. There will always be those of us who need to be in those liminal spaces and working with weird practices.

One of the most curious things about modern US Heathenry is how protestant it can be at times. A number of Heathens are simply uncomfortable with other people having gnosis and even go so far as to refer to it as MUS (or “made up shit”). I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen the assertion that “magic isn’t a part of Heathenry” (despite accounts of magic in every genre of ON literature and probable physical evidence). And there’s a segment of Heathens who would probably be far happier if all of us subscribed to the “gods of limited access” model.

As humans, we all have varying levels of religious/mystical/spiritual needs. True communities (vs the protestant church model many seem to emulate) focus on inclusion instead of shunning. In an actual community, there are always people you don’t like and who believe differently than you. That’s normal; that’s just organic communities for you.

Moreover, when a religious community doesn’t address discernment in a useful way;when a community doesn’t provide tools and space for “woo-inclined” members to mutually support each other; or worse, when a community ostracizes the “weirdos,” then the ground is ripe for bad actors to come in. And when it comes to the magical and mystical, humans are especially vulnerable to exploitation.

This is something I’ve seen play out over and over again.

So, we need to have those conversations, I think. In the meantime though, Jason Miller created this excellent checklist for assessing gnosis. I encourage you to check it out.

Final Word

Thankfully, many Heathens (at least in the communities I’m in) have moved on from such hard divisions between scholarship and gnosis. Discussing gnosis has become less of a fraught proposition, and previously hostile communities have become less so.

If you are curious about the line where reconstruction (or any scholarship) can end and gnosis begin on a practical level, hopefully this post has given you some ideas. This is not the only way in which scholarship and gnosis can enrich, enable, and support each other either. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve given up on a line of research only to be told what to look for next in a dream. Or been told in a dream to look into something seemingly unrelated to my research interests only to find that lead panning out. On occasion, I’ve even had people randomly message me sources they felt they needed to send to me that filled in some research gaps.

In the next post, I’m planning to dig deeper into the gnosis element of my magical experimentation with some examples of things I’ve experienced (story time!). After that, I’m planning a post on the Otherworldly origins of magic and partnership between witches and the Other.

Finally, I’ll be holding a free online class on the 28th of January 2023 at 2pm EST on spinning. Nothing magical (you’d need to develop muscle memory first for that). Just a bunch of people learning to make yarn out of fluff with spindles. If that interests you, save the date. I’ll post an event sign-up later this week and guidance on beginner-friendly fluff and spindles. If you do not have any spinning tools or fluff, you will need to order them. Spots will likely be limited, so please only order after you’ve signed up.

Reenchantment and the Psychic Censor

psychic censor - see no hear no

Resistance to Reenchantment

As far as invocations go, this had been a disaster.

I’m not going to go into all of the ways I’d fucked up, but I had. The pinnacle of that fuck up

however, was the fire alarm going off. Instead of giving up though, I’d chosen to see the first attempt as some kind ofpsychic censor - scrying botched practice run, attended to the fire alarm, and started again. There’s a lot to be said for perseverance and not giving up too quickly.

So I’m standing there in my living room, with my less than stellar table of art set up (I’m really no artist), surrounded by various sigils, and rattling through invocations. You know, as you do. Time passes, and I begin to feel a little hopeless – I’m used to getting things in the air much sooner than this – but I carry on.

Then I start to doubt myself and this can be disastrous for a magic user. Maybe I’d messed up too badly? Maybe I’d gotten something wrong? Maybe I’d even offended the spirit I’d been attempting to conjure? There had been a sense of build-up before the fire alarm, so maybe the alarm had put the spirit off somehow?

Refocusing again, I set myself once more to purpose and continued to rattle through the invocations, allowing myself to fall into their rhythm. To pull me up and build with them. In short, I allowed them to put me into a kind of altered state – an ecstatic one in which my body thrummed, my voice soared, and spittle formed on my lips. My vague swaying became a purposeful rocking as I moved with the words.

And somewhere in that, that’s when things began to happen.

There was a sensation of something with weight descending into the scrying bowl before me, then a sense of expectation.

I greeted the spirit in the water and waited for a response.

Nothing.

I had been so certain it had been there, but I was beginning to have serious doubts. Forcing myself to refocus on the water, I let my eyes relax and got into my usual headspace for scrying.

Still nothing.

The doubts began to coalesce and take on a life of their own. Melding together, I found they formed an almost tangible barrier – something against which I could push and that would in turn push me back.

I tried a different tactic and fell back on the physical cues I’d programmed into myself over time with self-hypnosis. I’d done that work for times such as these when the doubts and disbelief weigh heavy but I need to work anyway.

“STOP THAT!”

The voice rang through my head, loud and booming, and the doubts – though still persisting – began to fall away.

Then the surface of the water began to change, appearing to ‘burn over’ with what I can only describe as “purple fire”. With the exception of my level of focus, this was more typical of my scrying sessions. They all seem to start with that burning over of “purple fire”.

Suddenly though, this time, a face rose from the fire, and startled me a little as it turned from side to side (presumably to show me its profile).

Normally when I scry, I don’t get anything like that. Usually I have to hold the bowl in some way and receive images, each one seeming to bubble up from a depth deeper than the shallow bowl I use. Each image is preceded by an icy coldness, the bowl paradoxically switching between colder and warmer despite being held in my hands for the entire time.

This was a far cry from the usual flat images sent though, and somehow clearer despite my working in broad daylight. Moreover, I wasn’t even touching the bowl, when normally I get nothing if I do not.

Regardless, my brain still went into debunk mode.

The mouth began to move, “Why do you do this when you know what is real?”

And thus followed a 30 minute berating session with a spirit in a bowl.

 

The Question

We talk about reenchanting the world in modern Paganism/Witchcraft a lot, but there is relatively little discussion of the barriers to that re-enchantment. Or indeed, whether that re-enchantment is a case of needing to bring something back, or simply see what has been with us all along.

It’s one thing to advocate for something, but it’s quite another to get down into the weeds, examine strategy, and come up with a plan. The spirit’s question to me was insightful.

psychic censor - fairytales “Why do you do this when you know what is real?”

I’ve seen and experienced so many things that are considered ‘impossible’. I’ve seen, heard, felt, and been physically moved/scratched/touched by unseen forces. You’d think someone like myself would no longer have any doubts or constant urge to debunk what I experience. You’d think my world already completely re-enchanted.

Yet if there’s one thing I’ve found in around two decades of this kind of thing, it’s that in the cold light of morning, the walls always come back up again. It doesn’t matter how many scratches you’re wearing from whatever you were dealing with, or how many other people witnessed what you did, the walls always come back.

So why does this happen? Why do those walls come up in the harsh morning light and the brain work to convince us that what was lived is not real? After all, that’s pretty rich coming from a brain that functions in a remarkably similar way dreaming as it does while awake.

 

Introducing the Psychic Censor

The best explanation for this, in my opinion, is the Chaos Magic concept of the “psychic censor”. In Psychonaut, Peter J. Carroll introduces the concept and provides the following description:

”When people are presented with real magical events they somehow manage not to notice. If they are forced to notice something uncontrovertibly magical they may become terrified, nauseated, and ill. The psychic censor shields us from intrusions from other realities. It edits out most telepathic communication, blinds us to prescience, and reduces our ability to register significant coincidences, or recall dreams. The psychic censor is not just put there out of divine malice; ordinary physical life would be impossible without it……The psychic censor on the other hand, is a material thing, which protects the mind from magic and from being overwhelmed by the awesome strangeness of the psychic dimension which appears to us as chaos.”
 Liber Null and Psychonaut 162

Now, how many of us have felt that? How many of us have found ourselves pressed up against that barrier and wondering how to bring it down because we know there’s something there seemingly just beyond reach? How many of us have felt it resurrecting itself after an experience?

It can be hard to see the psychic censor as the necessary and protective thing it is. But imagine a world in which it did not exist! Carroll talks about this on the individual level, but imagine it on a wider societal scale. Imagine if everyone had nothing but certainty – it would be a disaster. You would have an entire world full of people either going insane or trying to change reality to fit with their ideas of how it should be.

Which wouldn’t be so much of a problem if we humans could agree on how things are supposed to be, but you know, we can’t.

So we struggle with the censor, and anyone who doesn’t is likely either lying or just plain crazy.

 

The Censor and Reenchantment

This concept of the psychic censor though, raises a lot of questions about the very idea of re-enchanting the world. After all, at what point has that re-enchantment gone too far (and to what lengths would the censor go to maintain psychic censor - forestcontrol)? And yet, it might be argued that we live in a time in which the psychic censor not only exists but is further supported by human-made material distractions and barriers.

These factors make the matter of reenchantment a far more complex issue than simply reconnecting with the natural world (both seen and unseen). Historically, we humans found enough danger in the natural world to limit our interaction with it. We built our hedges and gathered together for mutual protection, and that is something that is always worth keeping in mind in all the talk of rewilding and reenchantment.

By virtue of seeking to ‘cross the hedge’, the magic user, regardless of ‘flavor’, is the odd duck here. It is also no coincidence that the strongest experiences tend to happen away from the civilized world of man. ‘Consensus reality’ must be maintained, and there’s plenty about human habitation that is distasteful to the Other.

 

Mapping the Route Past the Censor

According to Carroll, the psychic censor is more active on some levels than on others. He subdivides human consciousness into five parts: unconsciousness, dreaming, awareness, robotic, and gnosis (Carroll 121).

The awareness level – the level of conscious thought and emotion – is given the greatest level of protection by the censor (Carroll 162). Dreams can be magically useful but the censor steals away memory upon waking. On the robotic level, insights and perceptions may be received when performing menial tasks that require little thought, but this time the censor works to steal our perception or memory of them.

What Carroll refers to as the ‘gnosis’ level though, a state described as being quiescent concentration or ecstatic excitement is the least protected by the censor. This gnosis level is not what we do when we engage in most trance work though – Carroll places these as typically lying somewhere between robotic and dreaming states. Gnosis is that which comes when the mind is focused entirely on one thing – that kind of altered state you may have experienced when experiencing so much terror or anger that the entirety of your awareness has narrowed down to a single point.

 

Sneaking By

So to sneak by, we must work to thwart the censor in a number of ways. We must train ourselves to remember our dreams, making them the first thing we think of and record when we wake up in those spare moments before the material world crashes in and those memories are stolen. Some may even try setting alarms in the middle of the night, or attempt to practice first and second sleep with the aim of moving towards more natural sleep patterns for humans in order to facilitate the incubation of dream.

psychic censor - foxRemoving phones from one’s bedside is a good move here too – the psychic censor is a material thing, and those first interactions with that symbol of modern materiality is one of the best methods of banishing memories of dream.

On a personal note, I’ve found that the regular practice of the Stele of Jeu/Headless rite from the Greek Magical Papyri is one of the best methods of having richer dreams that are far more easily remembered. It’s probably not a coincidence that the rite is a form of exorcism and makes me wonder if the censor can be temporarily exorcised (or otherwise temporarily manipulated magically). The Headless Rite does involve some Judeo-Christian names, but seeing as it’s apparently “Shadow Work October”, this is the perfect time to finally confront that Judeo-Christian baggage, right?

We can also work to attain a state of gnosis by either inhibitory or ecstatic methods, and this is where the hard work will come in. Don’t be fooled, if you truly wish to reenchant the world, it’s not enough to just go spend more time in nature. Yes, it will increase your chances of coming across something simply by virtue of being in the right environment, but without working on all this other stuff you’re likely going to miss out.

There are numerous ways to attain gnosis, some more socially acceptable and legal than others. Ecstatic means include drumming and dancing, ordeal work, sexual methods, the use of excitatory drugs, forced over-breathing, and other forms of sensory overload. Inhibitory methods include concentration exercises such as image/sound/object concentration, some types of magical trances, drugs of a more hypnotic nature, and sensory deprivation. This is not encouragement, this information is provided in the interest of completeness. It is up to you to investigate the risks and legalities where you live, and make your decisions accordingly.

But the point is that none of this is easy. Reenchanting our worlds in so far as we feel comfortable is going to take far more work and experimentation than simply walking in the woods and leaving offerings (though none of that is useless either).There are also likely some very real dangers to reenchantment too – not the least insanity. And let’s face it, there’s a lot of the (currently?) Unseen that is just not that nice

As with everything pertaining to magic though, the real question is simple: how badly do you want it and what are you prepared to sacrifice?