A Conversation with Virginia Bell, author of Midlife Is Not a Crisis

Enjoy the conversation below with Virginia Bell, author of Midlife Is Not a Crisis.


What does the Saturn Return mean? You hear that term a lot.

Every year we have a Solar Return or what is commonly known as our birthday. The sun returns to where it was at birth. The planet Saturn takes 29 years to return to where it began at birth. At 29 we have our Saturn birthday or Saturn Return. Saturn is that planet of reality, responsibility, hard work, maturity; around 29 we tend to get serious and make a commitment. Maybe we go into business for ourselves, get married, start a family, get sober, or go back to school. If we’re doing it right we work hard and mature in the process. We build something that will come to define us. Our thirties are our Saturn years. It’s the first life cycle and lays the foundation for whatever follows.

How did you get involved in astrology?

I’ve always been interested in astrology; in fact I had an astrologer on staff at my restaurant (he ate in exchange for readings) but I always thought of astrology as simply a form of prediction (as in, when will this crisis be over?). It wasn’t until I read Steven Forrest’s book, The Inner Sky, that I realized it was so much more. From then on, I was hooked.

What’s the difference between a sun sign column you read in the paper and having an actual reading with an astrologer?

The sun sign columns are based on one thing—the sun. Now, the sun is the most important symbol in the horoscope so it carries a lot of weight, which is why those columns are often spot on. But it’s not the only thing in the horoscope. Your individual chart is a picture of the sky at the moment you were born and includes the sun, moon plus eight other planets. All those planets are in a sign and a house (an area of the sky). An astrologer blends all that information to give you an in-depth analysis. It’s like getting a (cosmic) DNA test, so to speak.

What about all these new planets being discovered? Does that change the chart?

Yes and no. There are lots of new planets but until astrologers have enough information about them they probably won’t include them in a reading. Chiron was discovered in 1977 and many astrologers (myself included) use Chiron. Sedna and Eris are two newer planets. Sedna was discovered in 2003; Eris in 2005. Some astrologers do use them. There’s already a great deal of information to cover and sometimes it can be confusing for a client.

There are a lot of generalizations in astrology. How can all Scorpios (for instance) be sexy and secretive?

The sun is the biggest ingredient in the recipe, so to speak, but it is flavored by other ingredients. Scorpios are intense but if someone has a moon in cozy Cancer or a gentle Pisces rising, then that will influence them greatly.

What exactly is astrology?

Astrology is a system or language that uses symbols; the sun, moon, planets, signs, houses and aspects. These symbols relate to different parts of our self as well as our past and our future. An astrologer interprets these symbols to discover our strengths, gifts, and goals as well as our weaknesses and how to heal them. The birth chart is a map of the heavens; a powerful tool for self-discovery and a guide to becoming actualized.

When did astrology begin?

Since the beginning of time humans have gazed up at the heavens in search of meaning. No written records exist to tell us the exact moment astrology began, but we do know that it was in the ancient Middle Eastern city of Sumer in southern Mesopotamia that a primitive form of astrology was first discovered. Astrology has been an integral part of every great civilization, from the Greeks and Romans to the Chinese, Egyptians, and Hindus. Today astrology is flourishing in the 21st Century; thanks to the Internet, astrology is more popular than ever.

Why do so many people read their horoscopes?

Life is challenging; I think people want to read something positive and uplifting. In a way it takes us out of our ordinary world; it brings a bit of magic and mystery, even for a few moments.

How much astrology does someone need to know to understand this book?

None at all. The book is based on the generational life cycles we all share at the same age, such as the Saturn Return at 29 and midlife, etc. I do have an overview of astrology in the beginning explaining the planets, signs, houses, and many astrological terms. But it comes with a warning: astrology is addictive. It is an ancient language; one that includes mythology, gods and goddesses who, by the way, are far more exciting than reality stars. It can be very seductive.

What about people born the same day, same year? Are those people alike?

There would be some parallels, yes, but since they aren’t born at the same exact time, there would also be differences. It’s called an astrological twin. Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin were born same day, same year. So were Angelina Jolie and Russell Brand.

Undoing the Root of All Terrorism

by D. Patrick Miller

The world is often terrifying.

A toddler drops her toy underneath a table and screams in terror at its disappearance. A six-year-old faces going to school for the first time, seized with fear by having to leave his mother at the door and enter an unknown universe of strange kids and even stranger teachers. All this before we encounter the far more fearsome challenges of adolescence — including sexuality, heartbreaks, and deep confusion about identity and purpose.

If we manage to enter adulthood with any degree of confidence, the really big terrors await us. Not just the individual challenges of making our own way in the world, but the societal and political frights. At any given time, another culture, religion or nation is out to get our culture, religion or nation, and will use any violent means they can: bombings, hostage-taking, public massacres, or deadly drones.

While we’re all prone to blame others for our fears, the temptation to disguise the source of our terror is especially powerful at the political level. After all, those whom we identify as “terrorists” really do kill people, at which point it seems necessary to hunt down those terrorists and administer “justice” — which ultimately means killing them. But that doesn’t make us terrorists, of course, because we are just innocent, peace-loving people who are rightfully defending ourselves.

Over time, balances of power may shift and the particular names or identities of “terrorists” may change, but the endless cycle of attack, vengeance, and renewed attack never alters. That’s because hardly anyone seems to pay attention to the fundamental source of all the terrors we feel. As the contemporary spiritual teaching known as A Course in Miracles puts it:

“There is no statement that the world is more afraid to hear than this: I do not know the thing I am, and therefore do not know what I am doing, where I am, or how to look upon the world or on myself.”

This is the existential terror that befalls us from the moment we are expelled from the warmth and safety of our mother’s womb, and that dogs us to some degree in every waking or dreaming moment that follows. It is the nameless anxiety that keeps us awake at night, and the nervous compulsion that makes us seek wealth or comfort, or the reassurances of intimacy, or self-destructive addictions.  This is, in fact, the “human condition.”

This is why I believe that forgiveness has to be the basis of all our efforts to prevent terrorism. We need to admit that the world is a scary place, and that we are plagued by an “identity crisis” of the most fundamental sort.

If we do not see, feel, and take responsibility for the existential foundation of all our terrors, we will never find our way to undoing it.

But there’s another reason to recognize the fearful dilemma of not knowing who we are in a world seemingly beyond our control. As the Course suggests: “Yet in this learning is salvation born. And What you are will tell you of Itself.”

Our normal self-awareness is what psychology calls the “ego.” It is basically an uneasy fiction that we keep telling ourselves is true, built from a selectively remembered past and all the shaky strategies we have devised for simply keeping it together from moment to moment. That the ego often fails us  is evidenced by the high incidence of addiction, depression, and anxiety in the general population — all forms of what might be called terrorism against ourselves. Those who choose to turn their terrors outward are simply coping less well than those who only suffer inwardly.

There is another way of being that can calm our terrors on a daily basis. When we acknowledge that our self-created identity is a fearful fiction, then our true identity can emerge from a deeper level. That reality is Love Itself, which can tell us What we are.

What this means on a practical basis is that when we know ourselves at a deeper level, we are enabled to act more wisely and compassionately in every kind of circumstance. Instead of automatically responding to threats with self-defense, we can instinctively respond with actions that will reduce everyone’s terror. Instead of judging others as less-than or more-dangerous-than ourselves, we recognize that everyone struggles with the same basic terrors — and there is a better way to deal with them than what we’re used to.

It may seem humiliating at first to admit that we really don’t know who or what we are, or what we’re doing here. But when we forgive this human condition, we can actually open ourselves up to enough love and wisdom to undo all terrors.


D. Patrick Miller is an author and literary agent living in Northern California. You can contact him at www.fearlessbooks.com.

Beyond Brain Chemistry: Exploring the Wider Context of Mental Illness

by Hilary Smith

When I wrote the first edition of Welcome to the Jungle: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Bipolar But Were Too Freaked Out To Ask, my mission was to provide positive, engaging companionship for young people being diagnosed with bipolar disorder. My goal with the second edition, Welcome to the Jungle: Facing Bipolar Without Freaking Out, was a little bit different: to help people understand the wider context of their diagnosis, and encourage them to think about bipolar as not only a matter of biochemistry, but as a complex interplay between a person and his or her cultural, social, economic, geographic, political and environmental contexts.

Why is it important to see bipolar disorder in a wider context? Didn’t that public service announcement I saw last week explain that bipolar disorder was a chemical imbalance, best managed by taking lifelong medication? While the biochemical model has been useful for some, it has had the unexpected consequence of blinding us to the other factors feeding into mental distress, and to the many free, healthy and safe ways that people experiencing mental distress can help themselves.

For example, the destruction of the natural world and lack of access to nature are both factors that increase a person’s stress levels, yet people diagnosed with bipolar are rarely encouraged to reconnect with nature. Homelessness and economic pressure can give people symptoms resembling mental illness, yet most books about bipolar disorder do not consider housing status or economic security. Social isolation, not brain chemistry, is one of the greatest predictors of suicide, yet the biochemical model of mental illness makes no allowance for this or other crucial facts.

My hope is that Welcome to the Jungle: Facing Bipolar Without Freaking Out will help individuals, their families and friends, and their doctors make wiser decisions about dealing with depression and mania—decisions that go beyond the limited “brain chemistry” model to take the whole person, and their whole environment, in mind.


The subject of mental health has fascinated Hilary Smith since being diagnosed with bipolar disorder in college. She is the author of the novels Wild Awake and A Sense of the Infinite, both of which explore the themes of mental health and illness. She lives in Portland, OR. Visit her at www.hilarytsmith.com.

Our April Titles Are Here

Happy reading!


Find Your Soul’s Purpose

Janet Conner

“Here’s the secret to Janet Conner’s wonderful new book Find Your Soul’s Purpose: your soul’s purpose is you at this very moment. The sacred path she offers you doesn’t lead to your soul’s purpose; rather each step is your soul’s purpose. She isn’t teaching something you don’t know, but pointing out the simple truths you have forgotten how to see. Don’t think—look!” —Rabbi Rami Shapiro, author of Perennial Wisdom for the Spiritually Independent

“Discerning our life mission is a central task for conscious spiritual seekers of any faith or tradition. Find Your Soul’s Purpose offers thoughtful reflections and meaningful exercises to help you do just that. It’s a delightful book, filled with gentle wisdom and playful practices that will help anyone discover their own innate genius.” —Carl McColman, author of Christian Mystics and Answering the Contemplative Call

“Come and take a deep dive with Janet’s magic whale into the depths of your inner brilliance to weave together the tapestry of your soul’s purpose. As you circle through the spiral with Janet’s exceptional guidance, you will be flooded with memories and invaluable re-discoveries of your creative destiny, so that you can now fully step into your soul’s path joyfully and with certainty. Janet is indeed one of the most innovative spiritual teachers of our time.” —Gail McMeekin, executive creative career coach and author of 6 books including The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women and The Power of Positive Choices

With Conner as our guide, we embark on a mystical journey to see far beneath career or calling to remember who we really are—divine beings—and to embrace the divine gifts and purpose we carried into this life.  Your soul’s divine purpose is not a goal. And it’s not one thing—it is a whole package of things including gifts, talents, teachers, stories, and woes. Readers will come away from this journey with hands and hearts overflowing with love for themselves and the lives they’ve chosen.

(Conari Press)


Psychics, Healers, & Mediums

Jenniffer Weigel

“Jenniffer Weigel has done a masterful job of examining the paranormal. If you ever wanted to develop your own sixth sense about what’s ‘real,’ this is your guidebook.” –Caroline Myss, author of Anatomy of the Spirit

“Important stuff in this book. I’m so grateful I was asked to endorse it. Which means I may just get my grubby paws on it before everyone else. But, either way, it promises to be mind-blowing and the way I see it, we all need our minds blown.”  —Pam Grout, #1 New York Times bestselling author of E-Squared and 17 other books

“Being a lifelong spiritual seeker and journalist lends credibility to Jenniffer’s pursuit of Truth, and this book reflects that intention.  As with any profession, there will be those who operate from integrity, and those who do not. Jenniffer clearly sifts through that mix, and offers an engaging, inspiring and promising read!  It will leave one with their own sense of authentic faith that there are in fact many gifted healers on this planet, and psychic phenomena is real.”Rebecca Rosen, author of Awaken the Spirit Within and Spirited

“Jenniffer’s research into the lives of the intuitively gifted is both fascinating and often hilarious. A must read for the spiritually curious.” Judith Orloff, MD, author of Second Sight

“Jenniffer Weigel takes her readers on a rollicking adventure into the paranormal and its practitioners. A wise, funny and incisive book written by a first class interviewer.” Paul Selig, author of I Am the Word

“Jenniffer writes straight to my heart!  I laughed, I cried, and I rejoiced in the knowing that no matter how things look on the outside, everything is going to be alright. This book delivers undeniable proof that our loved ones can communicate from the other side.”—Concetta Bertoldi, author of So Dead People Watch You Shower?

Throughout time, people have been fascinated by those claiming extraordinary psychic abilities, a fascination that has reached a fever pitch in recent years. It’s safe to say many of these folks are either extraordinary frauds or extremely deluded.  But could some of them be legit?  Emmy Award-winning journalist, Jen Weigel makes it her duty to find out. She pulls the curtain back on Thomas John, Judith Orloff, Concetta Bertoldi, Caroline Myss, Echo Bodine, Rebecca Rosen, Paul Selig, and Michael Bodine—the results are startling and profound.

(Hampton Roads Publishing)


The Everything Answer Book

Amit Goswami, PhD

“Amit Goswami is one of those rare jewels in the pantheon of quantum physics who brings a deep understanding of reality through a synthesis of science and spirituality. He has contributed immensely to my own understanding of the nature of existence. I am deeply indebted to him.” —Deepak Chopra, author of You Are the Universe

Amit Goswami’s basic premise is that quantum physics is not only the future of science, but is also the key to understanding consciousness, life, death, God, psychology, and the meaning of life.  Quantum physics is an antidote to the moral sterility and mechanistic approach of scientific materialism and is the best and clearest approach to understanding our universe.  Here in conversation with friends and colleagues, Dr. Goswami shows that quantum physics is indeed the theory of everything.

(Hampton Roads Publishing)


A Little Book of Mystical Secrets

Maryam Mafi

At long last, a book that focuses on the teachings of Rumi’s teacher and inspiration, Shams of Tabriz.  Included is a biographical sketch of the great Sufi teacher and mystic and a new translation of 500 of his core teachings that bring into fresh focus the meaning and mysteries of life and love.  There are many books on Rumi and translations of his work, yet many are unaware of how Rumi became a mystic—Shams is the agent of propulsive mystical energy that transformed Rumi the reticent into Rumi the ecstatic poet.

(Hampton Roads Publishing)


Quotes That Will Change Your Life

Russ Kick

The wisest, most experienced, and most thoughtful people in history have left us these little thought-bombs, and this book collects them and neatly arranges them into topics everyone wonders about.  Surprising, jolting, discomforting, and comforting insights urge us to live a full, unbridled life, question authority and reality, relate to fellow humans, create, risk, love, live with uncertainty, and stay sane in an insane world.  These rousing insights and challenging thoughts appeal to everyone.

(Conari Press)


Fairies, Pookas, and Changelings

Varla Ventura

If you believe fairies follow you about on gossamer wings, you’re in for quite a shock—the kingdom of the fairy is one of vengeance, thievery, trickery, and wild creatures.  Included here are tales and myths from Wales, Scotland, Ireland, and Scandinavia plus classic stories by the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, Clara Stroebe, Joseph Jacobs, and others on goblins, trolls, gnomes, pookas, banshees, and more—all guaranteed to keep readers wickedly entertained.

(Weiser Books)


Herbs Plain & Simple

Marlene Houghton

Herbal medicine is useful for a range of common complaints, and gentle and effective herbs can offer benefit where conventional medicine sometimes fails.  Houghton helps readers attain a high level of wellbeing through the use of traditional herbalism – only needing to consult a conventional doctor when you have a problem that only a medically qualified professional can handle.

(Hampton Roads Publishing)


 

Midlife Is Not a Crisis

Virginia Bell

“This marvelous book is a poetic and educational journey about juicy aging, and how to prepare, prosper and thrive in the second half of life, and it also beautifully applies to all the stages of living and growing.” –SARK co-author and artist of Succulent Wild Love, PlanetSARK.com

“What a clear, practical, and totally fascinating guide for how to thrive in all the phases of your life! With her brilliant mastery of astrology, Virginia Bell gives you the map to navigate your entire life and to become your fully authentic self. Keep this book on your bedside table!” —Jean Haner, author of Your Hidden Symmetry: How Your Birth Date Reveals the Plan for Your Life

“With her ageless wisdom, Virginia Bell has written a book for the ages. Using astrology’s key cycles, she shows us that life has a plot, and that its unfolding will give you new-found opportunities for growth. No matter what stage of life you are in, however, her book, Midlife Is Not a Crisis, is for the young-at-heart, for it will inspire you to embrace the changes and challenges you face with courage and a sense of adventure.” —Shirley Soffer, author of The Astrology Sourcebook: Your Guide to Understanding

Virginia Bell combines astrology, inspiration, and wisdom about aging to empower people to live more fully in the second half of life.  Based on the generational life cycles we all share at certain ages—Saturn Return at 29 all the way to Uranus Return at 84—these cycles are the great crossroads of life when strung together offer a road map to life’s most challenging and rewarding passages.  Every decade has trials, lessons, and loses and our freedom lies in how we respond.  This is a practical guidebook for our later years that shows us how to make the most of our journey to becoming whole.

(Weiser Books)

 

When Forgiveness Means Saying “Enough!”

by D. Patrick Miller

Over the years that I’ve been teaching and writing about forgiveness, the most common misperception I’ve heard about this spiritual discipline is that it means taking a weak or non-assertive stance toward the world.

People fear that if they forgive someone who has hurt them, or let go of resentment about a hurtful experience in their past, that they will open themselves up to being hurt again.

But nothing could be further from the truth. Properly understood and practiced, forgiveness is the key to increased clarity, power and creativity.

That’s because forgiveness is really about learning how to make your own mind work more effectively. It may begin with releasing a grievance against someone, but in doing so you also begin liberating your mind from patterns of self-punishment. And nothing dulls the mind more than habitual self-attack.

Many people who struggle with depression or even just a “normal” dissatisfaction with life are mostly unhappy with themselves — perhaps for reasons they don’t even recognize — and are hooked on finding targets in the world to take on the blame. It’s a common strategy that never works. Forgiveness means confronting one’s own malaise, resentment, and self-induced misery and saying “Enough!”

One common but often unrecognized cause of chronic unhappiness is living a life in which useful learning has slowed to a stop. And learning is slowed less by lack of intelligence than by a reluctance to let go of bankrupt ideas and exhausted ways of seeing. That is why some problems never seem to go away even when we can sense that solutions are possible, yet somehow just beyond our grasp.

When you feel cursed by fate, look to your own stubbornness; when you seem blocked by others’ stupidity or meanness, question your own perception and the way you communicate. When nothing seems to work, consider whether you have correctly identified the fundamental problem behind your struggles. The object of your blame will always prove to be less of an obstacle than your decision to blame.

When you’re always ready to blame, you will tend to be fearful. You expect to get hurt so you do, and every time you assign blame you also hand over some more of your power. Forgiveness replaces the need to anticipate fearfully with the capacity to accept gracefully and improvise brilliantly. It does not argue with fate, but recognizes the opportunities within it. If necessity is the mother of invention, forgiveness is the midwife of genius.

A forgiving state of mind cannot easily be annoyed, and does not waste time arguing with the unexpected.

This doesn’t mean that the forgiven life is simple or untroubled, and forgiveness certainly does not prevent misfortunes. With practice, however, forgiveness does reduce the severity and frequency of the misfortunes that we tend to arrange for ourselves.

Thus, you can forgive not with the idea that you are doing a favor for someone who hurt you, but that you are being merciful to yourself. To carry chronic anger against anyone or any circumstance is to poison your own heart, injecting more toxin every time you replay in your mind the injury done to you.

If you decline to repeat someone’s offense inwardly, your outward anger will dissipate. Then you can more effectively tell anyone who hurt you how things must change between you. But you must first learn to say “Enough!” to yourself.


D. Patrick Miller is an author and literary agent living in Northern California. You can contact him at www.fearlessbooks.com.

Magickal & Virtual Egregores in the 21st Century

by John L. Steadman

The high tech, pyrotechnic sci-fi writer William Gibson, in his novel Idoru (1996) envisions a future in which a virtual media star, Rei Toei, or the “idol”, marries Rex, a rock star, and the two then create a virtual place to live in Tokyo, in an akashic-type locale known as The Walled City, constructed from inverted kill-file software codes.  Gibson describes the idoru as basically disembodied information, though her holographic persona is artificially intelligent and creative, and the presentation itself is beautiful in an otherworldly way, at least according to human standards of beauty.

If he [Laney, who works as a net-runner in the book] anticipated her at all, it had been as some industrial-strength synthesis of Japan’s last three dozen top female media faces…. the formula tended to be even more rigid, in the case of software agents- eigen-heads, their features algorithmically derived from some human mean of proven popularity.  [But] she was nothing like that.  Her black hair, rough-cut and shining, brushed pale bare shoulders as she turned her head.  She had no eyebrows, and both her lids and lashes seemed to have been dusted with something white, leaving her dark pupils in stark contrast…. the idoru smiled, lit from within…[i]

What is most fascinating about the idoru is that since she is a pure form of information, she affects the mind of the onlooker in different ways; one of the people at the table where she is sitting – a very basic, unimaginative man, to be sure-  sees her as only a big aluminum thermos bottle.  But Laney experiences a nodal vision which takes the form of a narrative; the narrative intensifies when he looks directly at her face.

He seemed to cross a line.  In the very structure of her face, in geometries of underlying bone, lay coded histories of dynastic flight, privation, terrible migrations.  He saw stone tombs in steep alpine meadows, their lintels traced with snow.  A line of shaggy pack ponies, their breath white with cold, followed a trail about a canyon.  The curves of the river below were strokes of distant silver.  Iron harness bells clanked in the blue dusk…Laney shivered.  In his mouth a taste of rotten metal.[ii]

Obviously, the idoru can affect all of the senses of the imaginative person who is in its presence; Laney sees a group of images that reflect historical events in the early dynasties of Japan; flight, privation and migration.  The description is very well developed visually.  And, additionally, Laney’s other senses are stimulated; he hears bells; he feels cold, and he has the unpleasant taste of “rotten metal” in his mouth (this is an interesting sensation; metal can rust, but it can’t really rot and so, there seems to be an almost organic quality to this taste).

For the magickal practitioner who is reading Gibson’s description, he or she will immediately think: egregore, and this is perfectly right.  Egregores are magickal constructs, “beings” if you will, usually created by magickal practitioners for specific purposes and then, deconstructed by the said practitioner when that purpose is accomplished.  However, it is important to understand two important facts about egregores: (1) these beings, once created, have an independent existence from the magickal practitioners who created them; and (2) over time, if the egregore is not deconstructed but rather, allowed to continue its existence, then it will grow stronger and more powerful.  In occult literature, this outcome is often perceived as undesirable, since the egregore will eventually reach a level of development where it can no longer be deconstructed; essentially, it ends up uncontrollable.  For example, Konstantinos, in Summoning Spirits (2005), argues: “Sometimes, creating an egregore can be dangerous…. the legend of the golem illustrates this possibility in an accurate, yet allegorical way…. I recommend…a very careful reading of the actual story before attempting this type of magickal creation.”[iii]   I would argue, however, that egregores do not necessarily become “bad” or “evil” entities, unless their creators are bad or evil men or women.  Indeed, I would contend that egregore can be more or less equivalent to the idoru that Gibson describes above, i.e. benign entities that are thoroughly real in every sense of the term except the physical, and which, in turn, evolve over time and actually “learn” and become more complex, viable beings.  In fact, these entities can ultimately become repositories of information which magickal practitioners, in turn, can access and experience, often as narrative, even though these latter practitioners did not create the entity and have no connection with it other than the basic connection of seeing or experiencing it.

As a case in point, consider H. P. Lovecraft’s Great Old One Cthulhu.  This is a fictional entity, created by Lovecraft in the tale “The Call of Cthulhu” (1926).  Over the years since Lovecraft’s death, Cthulhu and the other Great Old Ones have achieved a level of independent existence and surely, they have grown in power and complexity, drawing energy not only from the countless fans and readers of sci-fi and horror and contemporary gaming culture, but also from a small but dedicated group of magickal practitioners who work with these entities in their magickal rites.  In the popular mind, Cthulhu is usually perceived as being “evil”; he is seen as a monstrous, humanoid creature with wings, sharp claws and teeth, and a face full of tentacles.  But is Cthulhu really a monster such as this?  And is he necessarily evil?  I am not so sure. Like the rest of the Great Old Ones, Cthulhu is rarely interested in humans or human concerns; his interest in humanity is essentially no different than the interest that most humans have in lower, insignificant life forms such as insects.  This attitude might be considered “evil”, but only from a human perspective.  What I find most interesting about Cthulhu and his peers, however, is that they tend to appear differently depending on the perspective and the cognitive level of the person who “experiences” them.  In fact, like Gibson’s idoru, complex egregores such as the Great Old Ones are best understood as experiences, as nodal visions, and even, at times, as narratives that play out the individual minds and the psyches of the observers.  Lovecraft makes this clear right from the onset in “The Call of Cthulhu.”  When Cthulhu’s sunken city R’lyeh resurfaces due to a disturbance in the Pacific Ocean, Cthulhu, momentarily free, is perceived in different ways by a group of sailors: some of them see him as a monster, snatching them up in his claws; others see him as only a vague, overwhelming shape- “A mountain walked, or stumbled”, as Lovecraft puts it.  And one of the sailors perceives Cthulhu in geometrical terms, i.e. as an acute angle that behaves as if it were obtuse.

Clearly, the affinity between egregores and virtual entities such as Gibson’s idoru demonstrates just how close the line between magick and science is becoming in the 21st century.  Skilled magickal practitioners have always possessed the ability to create virtual beings; the presentation is akashic rather than electronic, but the principle is exactly the same.  Scientists, however, are only now in the process of learning how to do this.   This circumstance is a good thing, since it indicates that the two disciplines, science and magick, will eventually become one in a not so distant future, just as they were in a not so distant past.  And as technology finds ways to bridge- at least electronically- the gaps between different dimensions and the diversity of worlds inside and outside of our solar system, magick will have to be there to serve as a philosophical and metaphysical underpinning, helping the scientist/magickian to interpret and understand rightly the wondrous things that are waiting to be discovered.

[i] Gibson, William. Idoru. New York, Berkley Books, Inc., 229-30.

[ii] Ibid., 230.

[iii] Konstantinos. Summoning Spirits: The Art of Magical Evocation.  Woodbury, Minnesota. Llewellyn Publications, 2003, 5.


John L. Steadman is the author of H.P. Lovecraft and the Black Magickal Tradition, a scholar of H. P. Lovecraft and western occultism and has been a magickal practitioner for more than thirty years. He is currently a college English professor at Olivet College in Michigan.