Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Dust of the Earth, chapter 14

Welcome to the continuing serialized version of Phantom Limbs' bassist Jim Parks' novel, Dust Of The Earth, a Tucson story about Tucson history, mystery, other worlds, desert mojo, forbidden love, and the fledgling Tucson music scene... (c) by Jim Parks, reprinted with permission

We left off last time with our narrator interviewing Pedro Luis Martin as part of a "Tucson Oral History" project...
Chapter 14 
So I've actually heard of Aleister Crowley. People thought he was some kind of Anti-Christ. He had big orgies and sacrificed babies and that sort of thing.

Well...I was acquainted with Crowley. And I will tell you this. He wanted the world to think these things of him. He craved fame. But scandal and notoriety were an acceptable substitute.

I met Crowley not in England, but in Mexico, of all places. After Crowley's falling out with the Golden Dawn, he lived in Mexico for a few years. He maintained connections there and visited from time to time. I met him as a graduate student at The University of Mexico, where I was studying Mesoamerican archaeology. There were a few of us in the department who were becoming deeply interested in the shamanic traditions of the indigenous Mayans and Aztecs. We were actually participating in the rituals ourselves. And strange things happened - unnatural things. [laughs] I think Crowley wanted to see some real magic for once. We brought him around to some of the shamans we had contact with, but Crowley became impatient and left before he had a chance to see anything. Frankly, I don't think the shamans much liked or trusted him. Crowley was a Victorian and something of a chauvinist.

But Crowley did make a discovery that changed his life: the use of hallucinogenic substances to elicit a state of non-ordinary reality. The Victorians had opium and ether...and some of them partook of hashish. But none of them had substances as profoundly hallucinogenic as peyote and the other plants used by the Mesoamerican Indians. My fellow graduate students and I become our own guinea pigs in the study of these substances. We discovered that guidance and setting were vital in using substances to achieve a state of higher being - or 'different being' might be the better term. Anyone could ingest these substances and have hallucinations. One might even get the sense that they had arrived at the secret of the universe - that sort if thing is common enough. But our most powerful experiences took place when we were with the shamans - when we had been ritually prepared for the experience, and when we were under the guidance of the shamans while intoxicated.

Our interests in these subjects -- our closeness to the people we were studying - led to our eventual expulsion from the graduate program.

To Be Continued...

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