Wednesday, April 29, 2015


I was planning on waiting for the book to come out, but I'm tired of emailing this constantly so if anyone needs me to take it down for whatever reason just say the word…..the right Word, mind you ;)

This is a preliminary(update 5/6: Final, submitted) version of a paper presented April 25th at the 4th Black Metal Theory Symposium: Mors Mystica and soon to be published in the book of the same. I've already started expanding it, and maybe it will be a book of its own one of these days…..


  James Harris

(I have severely questioned the worth of these moments. To no soul have I named them, lest I should be building my life upon mere phantasies of the brain...but it was in the most Real seasons the Real Presence came, and I was aware that I was immersed in the infinite ocean of God. The incommunicability of the transport may be the key to all mysticism, and these things may seem to you delusions or truisms, but for me they are dark truths, and the power to put them into even such words as these has been given me by an ether-dream.)[i]

(Cursed to Levitate : My Spell is Chemical)[ii]

(In the twilight zones arise abstract galaxies
The magic eye unveils the blackened skies
A new horizon begins to each one that dies)[iii]

It is a foregone conclusion that humans can't survive bodily death to tell the tale, but considering some 50-70 billion cells die every day on their own, perhaps the meat dying is trivial? We may have no model for the sensation of physical death, but we have an exceptional complex of models of non-existence ranging across a great variety of categories, from Zen and Tao to vegetative states, from autism to mysticism. This Mycelegium[iv] (a portmanteau of florilegium and mycelia) is a mushroom-cutting to explore the interstices of these states in the wake of psilocybin, the primary psychoactive compound found in the tryptamine “magic” mushroom.[v] In illuminating an entheogenic phenomenology of non-existence, I contend that the primary effect of psilocybin is to enact a stable opening of the attention, via the virtual annihilation of the observer, that can be practiced outside the hallucinogenic experience in order to utilize the entire brain in every calculation, in order to see with both eye and mind's eye stereoscopically aligned. This task is made easier in harmonization with a cosmic form of black metal, whose lyrical content attempts and often succeeds at description beyond ineffability, and Dzogchen, a Buddhist method of orientation in non-ordinary realities.

[Grasping the liquid glass, shaping my own sight
Staring at the sun, absorbing Death][vi]

Here, I am considering something well beyond the threshold of what is commonly referred to as the "recreational dose." What we are after is an ecstatic, breathless experience that opens a bit more every time the limits of Being. Not access to a superficial drunken haze, melting walls, breathing furniture - but access to the regions of cognition that are free fields for the projection of unconscious content. Not mere synesthesia, but volitional combinatory sensing. Beyond drift into spectral emotional geometry that consistently resolves into manifestations -in the plane of Art- of perpetual creation, a demonstration of the necessity of death, and the self-evidence of immortality. Beyond freedom from the known into the eternity of the standing now. This paper will detail a progression in the mushroom experience from biological novelty to transperceptual abilities, culminating in a quasi-death state and a sustained split from Self-representation. Many arduous paths threaten annihilation, but psilocybin promises, even to the skeptic, “a naked soul, smashed apart.” [vii]

[deep down in the black slime of the earth : restless limbs at work] [viii]

Several simple molds and slimes work in concert in the cattle's dung, in the deer corpse under the pine boughs, in the peat bog. Over 200 species from a variety of climates across 6 continents, but a shared beginning. Erupting in the aftermath of swarming bacterial murmurations of rot and insectile aeration, a cleansing occurs. From the inside out, these mold-infections metabolize impurities within precursor material then die themselves, laying the nutritional-groundwork for the higher mushroom in their own corpsing, evolved to fit a peculiar niche - that their putrescence provides the physical and biochemical space necessary for the tryptamine mushrooms' mycelium to colonize this dead substrate at the precise point of intersection of entropy and novelty. Incredibly fine wisps of root-nets building and building atop decomposition that can boast more connections per cubic inch than the human brain. As the mushrooms' own death and putrefaction in combination with fortuitous encounters with dead matter enriches the system further, it offers its bodies as sacrifice to the mycelium in order to heighten conditions for novelty, and thus “locates in the very permanence of protocol the capacity to exceed it.”[ix]

[Cadaverous and spirited; I work
Composite and uniform; I sacrifice.
Earthbound forces united with the Sorrow of Being.
O this Now is the hour of death. By taking advantage of this death, I will so act for the good of all sentient beings, peopling the illimitable expanse of the heavens as to obtain Perfect Buddhahood by resolving on love and compassion to them, and directing my entire effort to the Sole Perfection.]

The mushroom is the originary form of Philip K. Dick's Physician[x], taking the apocryphal addition to the Hippocratic oath "Primum non nocere" as axiom: No element of its life cycle imposes itself. As a primary decomposer, it negates Death to produce conditions for Life: as the yogini is friendly with Death, because Death is more intimate than Life. This peeling away and rejecting the false confusion of decay shares roots with Dzogchen Buddhism, as from this point of view, what's perplexing is "this life", not what lies "beyond" life. The penultimate yogini, it has no organs to move the world: it has learned the role of stillness and silence, of ceasing the motion of prana through the body. It takes nothing from the living and converts entropy into knowledge, literally dripping with neurotransmitters. Meditating like a corpse, in a corpse - as “a corpse is already meditating in every meaningful sense.”[xi]

 [Self-Liberation through the Appearing of Appearances]

[A re-visioning of the spectrum of visionary experiences through the lens of modern synesthesia research has lead me down a path toward the idea that the basic sensory components of the mystical experience contain, or may be entirely, some form of synesthesia. To understand this, a quick swim into hastily elucidated neuroscience...]

The outer cortical layer of the brain, the "Default Mode Network" (DMN), is the part of the brain concerned with self-reference and introspection, the subjective perspective. It is often considered analogous to the ego, as well as being the primary location of the 5-HT2A serotonin receptors.[xii] The “Task-Positive Network” (TPN) of the brain is a system of regions that activate in the face of a task or event requiring active awareness. During performance of attention-intensive tasks, prefrontal and parietal structures comprising the task-positive network are characterized by activation. In contrast, default mode network structures, including posterior cingulate and medial prefrontal cortices, are characterized by decreased activity. In self-reflective modes, this is reversed. In normal waking consciousness these networks are competitive in metabolic terms: when one turns up, the other turns down. Constrained by this pair of networks are key subcortical regions devoted to temporal, sensorial, and spatial mapping and memory storage - the historical narrative: the hippocampus, amygdala, and cerebellum.

Interwoven in this proto-cybernetic mesh, sensorial and cognitive signaling is shunted in standard directions by an equally complex array of hubs that also function as gates.[xiii] Through observing the effects of psilocybin on the hub systems we discover that these structures are progressively deactivated, or relaxed, through the introduction of increased serotonin, wherein they cease directing and filtering sensory input and reflection on these inputs into the "proper" channels for basic cognition and begin distributing the signals more freely, triggering various types of constructive synesthetic responses - responses in which a stacking of a single perceptual quality occurs across multiple sense inputs giving an innate awareness of the novel condition. Physical and psychological stress and sickness cause the body to release cortisol and adrenaline (both interfere with serotonin uptake) which in exceptional cases can trigger a strangely mirrored version of synesthesia, an improper signaling pattern leading to what I call ‘constrictive synesthesia’, wherein the subject can no longer successfully interpret incoming signals due to their being diverted from their normal path into “inappropriate” regions. This results in a confusing and disorienting blurring of the senses. Several major types of "system-overlap" are common, such as the primary five senses in nearly any combination, sensorial representations of active self-reflection, emotion, memory and the sense of time, facial recognition and spatial awareness. A number of normally autonomous brain networks become essentially continuous under the influence of serotonin or psilocybin not by virtue of their being brought to a defined or definable state of action, but by flattening the repulsive affect between the two larger arrays, effectively bringing them together into a cohesive unit which prevents the back and forth motion that is standard. We see the principle of the 2nd law of thermodynamics in an expansion toward entropy – “in a way, we have a model of brain death in the psychedelic state.[xiv]

The effects of psilocybin are extremely subjective and can fluctuate wildly, remaining rarely constant or consistent, but a few attributes seem to be persistent and common to both the mystical and the psychedelic.

[a spirit light comes through : furious distortion : again and again and again[xv]
in Silence of divine accord : in the law of Ruins : toward the sky, into the Light][xvi]

Anecdotal evidence across mystical and psychedelic literature combined with personal research suggests to me that the amount of visual brightness or light or color intensity triggered by a perception in this state may be correlative to the novelty to the brain of the new signaling pattern. My theory is that the truly novel perception or set of perceptions, when diverted through the memory in the synesthetic state, triggers a neuronal map of representations that include the sun, as the "tutelary genius of universal vegetation"[xvii] is the most easily "visualized" common conception of origin and therefore a prime symbol of the divine and the unknown. This causes incredibly intense glowing patterns, intensified further by further novel insights and perceptions. As the visionary state deepens, its trajectory continues through an aggregation of symbolism of myth and religion most represented in memory being activated in the thoughtstream as if the memory and the DMN collaborate in an attempt to integrate this new experience by comparison, starting at the "beginning", the easiest, or most open possible conceptions. As if the search for any way to represent the new stimuli patterns in active consciousness came up linguistically and logically empty, forcing the growth of new representations. This would explain why visions of god, angels, aliens, infernals, and all manner of oddities show up even in primitive stages of these experiences, often seeming to be perceptibly connected to the primary sensorial component in direct but strangely-mirrored contrast with the mythological convictions held by the subject. I think that this also implies that the overwhelming aspect of the light, or what I judge to be the automatic rebound through self-reflection of a novel perception (and thus the natural movement through pre-existing prejudices and ideology) can be "practiced away" or properly ignored, until the new sensing pattern can be assimilated practically within abstract thought, which Vajrayana practitioners call prabhāsvara, or luminosity.

[The pure light in a moment of awareness in your mind is the Buddha’s essence within you. The nondiscriminating light in a moment of awareness in your mind is the Buddha's wisdom within you. The undifferentiated light in a moment of awareness in your mind is the Buddha's manifestation within you. The subtlest level of mental activity (Mind), which continues with no beginning and no end, without any break, even during death and even into Buddhahood is individual and constitutes the mental continuum of each Being. It is naturally free of conceptual cognition, the appearance-making of true existence.][xviii]

The marvels and mundanities of existence then become equally wondrous or fearful because they do not automatically get swept into pre-formed epistemic categories and channels of thought. This gives the impression that everything around is equally profound and worthy of reverence. Unlike subjects suffering from psychotic or psychophysical disorders, however, subjects who experience drug-induced synesthesia can often immediately recognize the nonphysical nature of their perceptual disturbances with a rudimentary application of attention, which I posit stems from the constructivity of this variety of synesthesia. That stacked phenomenal properties -move together- give the lie to perceptions that span multiple senses, and allow us to tell false perceptions from true. When the signaling is constricted and erratic there seems to be a much greater difficulty in assessing the subjective nature of these hallucinations. At many levels of the psychedelic experience each individual sensory input is perceived as a separate “channel” and their collation into ordinary reality itself is also perceived as its own individual channel. Without this knowledge, the many strands and strings of inputs are often seen simply as chaos.

[I saw no God nor heard any, in a finite and organized perception, but my senses discovered the infinite in everything.[xix] I assented my eyes on the face of the crucifix…after this my sight began to fail, and it was all dark about me in the chamber, as if it had been night save in the Image of the Cross whereon I beheld a common Light, and I wist not how. All that was away from the Cross was of horror to me as if it had been greatly occupied by the fiends.][xx]

Conversely, the perceptible blackening or blurring of perceptions within (at least) the audiovisual field in these modes of non-ordinary reality, while sometimes being accidentally perceived as a feature of the object or representation in question or a defect of perception itself, seems to be representative of the distance between perception and reflection, i.e.: how much “signal decay” or filtering occurs between direct sense input and attentive perception. While this in no way gives novel information to the subject, it freely exposes the dimensions of the rift between thought and Being. As tis rift is immeasurably vast, the warpings and wildings of perception in even the lowest regions of the psychedelic state are just as vast.

[We now know that only a fraction of the estimated 38,000 trillion operations per second processed by the brain finds its way to consciousness. This means that experience, all experience, is profoundly privative, a simplistic caricature of otherwise breathtakingly complex processes...The metabolic costs associated with neural processing and the sheer evolutionary youth of human consciousness suggest that experience should be severely blinkered: synoptic or ‘low resolution’ in some respects, perhaps, but thoroughly fictitious otherwise.][xxi]

This has two major effects that are explicated in great detail in several psychedelic trip reports[xxii] that bring a competitiveness with the mystical state to the table. One, as everything seems to become altered in some way, a fear or anxiety about nothing being true or known occurs - the ungrounding; second, the subject feels an ecstatic feeling of awe at the true size and complexity of the mysterious. This second effect relaxes the first as a desire to understand that transcends the assumption of never understanding, but that these positions can freely overlap and shift also results in kaleidoscopic physical sensations and visual effects as the connections between the brain and the autonomic nervous system are assaulted with the electrochemical fallout of these extreme emotions. In this stage is where the most frequent divergences into "bad trips" occur as the emotions and feelings evoked feel tremendously physical and seem to operate similar to feedback looping, wherein a phenomenal state 'speeds up' and deepens as it is focused upon. The fact that psychedelic drugs induce a greater sensitivity to these oscillations can speed up the influx of impressions from deeper levels of consciousness and raises the immediate question of how these energies can be properly understood and handled. According to Yoga philosophy, the most spiritual and powerful aspect of human's nature is the faculty of attention or consciousness. The most fundamental aspect of man's free will is the choice as to what he allows his attention to dwell upon. The attention always has to be on something, but we can choose what we allow it to dwell upon. The goal of all Yoga practices is to discover and directly experience what the attention or faculty of consciousness in man is. The yogi seeks to know that principle by which all else is known. This goal is achieved by observing the observer or placing the attention upon the attention itself.

[Night-sight is bliss : the darkness shines and illuminates the abyss
Bless her, this uplifting splendor
Whose brightness gives birth this shadow and discovers the gulf
A world where you embrace the opposite.
Like a voluptuous and endless flash, showing nothing other than that there is something one does not see. To follow this flash as beacon, as initiation into the exploration of the darkness. To “intellectually navigate the negativity binding thought and being, to definitively illuminate the darkness of one’s relation to the real.”][xxiii]

[wiring diagrams]

[The sea and the mountains, and the fire and the sword,
All these together, I live in their midst.
The mountain, he'll not leave me, who has seized
My intellect, and taken away my reason.][xxiv]

Deeper into this chemical integration, a visual synthesis of our abstracted view of human biology with the possibilities of non-existence develops that seems to be related to a de-linking or muting of self-reflective capabilities as the DMN begins to lose its top-down control over the memory and historical narrative. This synthesis gives us a glimpse of the "intuitive mapping protocol" of memory and spatial determination, often seen as the classic visual geometry of the psychedelic. This visualization of symbolic schemata exposes the calculatory procedures that are used to construct visible reality, and is equivalent to a set or stack of subjective wiring diagrams. Mathematical form is the first reflection and most pure image of our subjective activity. Then follows number, having a close relation to linear conception. Hence mathematical form with number supplies the fittest system of symbols for orderly representation of the spiritual evolution of life, plane after plane.  Or, as Philo says, “Number is the mediator between the corporeal and the incorporeal.” When overlaid on incoming sensation, these diagrams explicitly show how incorrectly we assimilate perceived data, as the geometry of accurate perception aligns with that of accurate cognitive interpretation. Reality of realization felt first in connection with external things, appearances, is gradually perceived more and more interiorly as consciousness develops through succeeding stages, until finally Truth is perceived as the only reality. These processes can be tracked to a high degree and in fact lend themselves to this tracking, as they can be profoundly beautiful and otherworldly, and thus draw the attention away from the Self and toward this intuitive apperception.

Imagining the visual cortex as a screen and perception as the video source, we can trace the buildup of perceptual feedback in a monotonic fashion in order to both remain aware of shared reality and follow this progression toward the near-infinite variety of sense data that is generally filtered out by active consciousness. Huxley's Pure Interval, is in this regard, analogous to inhabiting the position within this visual feedback loop where all perceptions and images are "in phase" and stable, without the observer to decompose or block formation of image stability and infinite recursion. The concept this presses to the fore is that of perspective and pattern without observer, in all dimensions as memory and the thoughtstream becoming highly active in the visual field. At this moment of self-loss, a seemingly supra-physical, sensorially apparent, boundary is crossed and every sense input in addition to the thought stream are activated in every component structure of the physical brain and synesthesia becomes effectively totalized. Whether virtual or actual, every point in the brain becomes electrochemically connected to every other point in the brain. This experience is often recalled as a feeling of connectedness to all lifeforms, of "everything is everything" - a complete breakdown of the subject-object dynamic as the vast array and complexity of the sense stream completely overwhelms any ability to recognize the Self and subjectivity vanishes. Suddenly, input and output are perceived simultaneously across all senses. When this barrier has been passed, the subject ceases to perceive images from the exterior world, being left only with their symbolic representations. “If one is able to orient at all without the direct support of these images, they will find themselves in a state of reverie, and then in the dream state, in which the energization of the imaginary activity, dissociated from the external senses, is accompanied by further reduction and emptying of consciousness of Self…when that alienation increases…consciousness is abolished. Farther beyond lie trance, lethargy, and the cataleptic state. Farther still, when the separation is complete, one enters into a state of apparent death, and finally into the state of the dissociation of the
organism no longer held together by the vital force, which is to say: death.”[xxv]

[Feel the heartbeat of the earth,
As you’re on the threshold to death or birth.][xxvi]
[operational instructions for your interface to god][xxvii]

[Lightless voyage, blinding speeds
Abstract shapes, enigmatic design.
Don't fight it, you'll only
Whirl up all mass hysteria
In your thousandfold self
Certain; I'll stay the distance
shake down withering poison and die.
I understand a substance consisting of an infinity of attributes,
of which each one expresses an eternal and infinite essence.][xxviii]

This is universally expressed as an experience of the death of the Ego, a sustained breaking of the correlationist circle, and an immediate manifestation of the mental trappings of death in several powerfully analogous and metonymous forms, as death is the most readily available, most powerful, and most distinctly coherent symbolic representation of the loss of self across literature, media, and history perhaps both despite and because of its ineffability. Such that when the self is cognitionally "lost" the entire death-symbolic memory repertoire activates, pressing a primordial or emergent idea of death and loss to the front of the imagination and forcing it to construct a conceptual representation that is then dumped unceremoniously into the senses. As the Self expects to feel the loss for and of itself, the expected sorrow of death never touches the Perception, having been split from the Self. Instead, the feeling of hyperconnectedness via synesthetic response persists despite the perception of the death of the "I", lending it rather a significantly positive emotionally integrated component as the Perception is surprised, in awe of, and ultimately relieved to find itself surviving a death-experience by virtue of remaining in this connected, aware state. A death-like silence felt more intensely than any experience within common shared reality.

[The delusion of ignorance becomes the wisdom of reality. The spirits cut his head open and took out his brains, washed and restored them. They planted barbed hooks on the tips of his fingers to enable him to seize the soul and hold it fast; and lastly they pierced his heart with an arrow to make him full of sympathy for the sick and suffering.][xxix]

[All is present in every particular, the absolute in every relative. And associated with this obscure knowledge may come a new mode of apprehension, in which the ordinary subject-object relationship is somehow transcended and there is an awareness of self and the outer world as being one. Such propositions as "god is love" are realized with the totality of one's being, and their truth seems self-evident in spite of pain and death.][xxx]

[When my last sign of humanity will be heaved
When I'm finally alone with no one to speak to
I'll pass away without regret, without fear in this endless cosmos
As I'll have lived everything from deception to deception
I'll leave without sorrow, without hate, without fright in front of the mouth of death
My destroyed dreams will then reveal mightier gain.
Close your eyes, sense the below
Torment and separation points ahead.
But tonight
I'm Houdini
Gonna kill my shadow][xxxi]

-sine fine renascentia-[xxxii]

[i] W. James, Varieties of Religious Experience (New York: Barnes and Noble, 2004) :328-371
[ii] Nachtmystium, ‘Nightfall’ (Century Media/Candlelight 2010)
[iii] Limbonic Art,  ‘Solace of the Shadows’ (Candlelight 1998)
[iv] Mycelegium describes a technique in which the cut-up method is applied to a set of dead text to draw out living thought from the rupturings and suturings.  ‘When you cut into the present the future leaks out’ W. Burroughs, Break Through in Grey Room (Sub Rosa Records 2001). Complete list of source material follows.
[v] Psilocybin is metabolized in the body to psilocin, an alkaloid with a remarkably similar chemical structure to serotonin.
[vi] Enslaved, ‘Veilburner’ (Nuclear Blast 2012)
[vii] Lantlôs “Pulse/Surreal” (Lupus Lounge 2010)
[viii] Thorns “The Discipline of Earth” (Moonfog 1999)
[ix] China Mièville Fiction of R. Negarestani - World Literature Today 84 (2010) :12
[x] “Out of itself the Brain has constructed a physician to heal it. This subform of the Macro-Brain is not deranged; it moves through the Brain, as a phagocyte moves through the cardiovascular system of an animal, healing the derangement of the Brain section after section. We know of its arrival here; we know it as Asklepios for the Greeks and as the Essenes for the Jews; as the Therapeutae for the Egyptians; as Jesus for the Christians.” -P.K. Dick Tractatus Cryptica Scriptura section of VALIS (Boston: Mariner 2011)
[xi] T. Morton Thinking the Charnel Ground: GLOSSATOR 7 (2013) :88
[xii] Studies have consistently suggested that 5-HT2A receptor activation of cortical neurons is responsible for mediating signaling patterns and behavioral responses between systems (Presti & Nichols, 2004; González-Maeso et al., 2008; Nichols & Nichols, 2008). Serotonin can serve both as an inhibitory and an excitatory neurotransmitter in different regions of the brain (Lee & Roth, 2012), which explains the seemingly conflicting findings that hallucinogens work by increasing neural activity as well as by decreasing neural activity.
[xiii] The largest of these, the corpus callosum, is a massive bundle of nerves that connects each point on the cortex to the mirror-image point in the opposite hemisphere.
[xiv] R. Carhart-Harris Brain Imaging Studies with Psilocybin and MDMA 2014 (
[xv] Diabolical Masquerade “Fleeing from Town” (Avantgarde Music 2001)
[xvi] Locrian “Return to Annihilation” (Relapse 2013)
[xvii] A. Pike Morals and Dogma: Scottish Rite in Freemasonry (Charleston: Forgotten Books 2008)  :176
[xviii] Rinzai Teachings of Rinzai (Berkeley: Shambhala 1975) :18
[xix] W. Blake The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (Oxford: Oxford Press 1975) :Plate 12
[xx] Julian of Norwisch Revelations of Divine Love (London: Penguin “Short Text” 1999) :6-7
[xxi]R. Scott Bakker (
[xxii] Excellent examples include [Zanti. "Rotating Space, Topological Games: An Experience with Mushrooms - P. cubensis (ID 86904)". Dec 2, 2012.] and [Hiab-x. "Psychohedron: An Experience with Mushrooms (P. semilanceata) (ID 15902)". Aug 21, 2002.]
[xxiii] Enslaved “Night-Sight”(Nuclear Blast 2010)/Blut Aus Nord “VI”(Debemur Morti 2013)/N. Masciandaro Paradisical Pessimism (Qui Parle: Critical Humanities and Social Sciences Volume 23, Number 1, Fall/Winter 2014) :183-212
[xxiv] Krallice “The Mountain”(Profound Lore 2009)
[xxv] J. Evola The Hermetic Tradition (New York: Inner Traditions International 1971) :104-105
[xxvi] Limbonic Art “The Ultimate Death Worship”  (Nocturnal Art 2002)
[xxvii] Thorns “Interface to God” (Moonfog 2001)
[xxviii] Enslaved “Raidho”(Nuclear Blast 2010) /Arcturus “For to End Yet Again”(Ad Astra 2002)/Lurker of Chalice “Piercing Where They Might”(Total Holocaust 2005)/Blut Aus Nord “Henosis”(Debemur Morti 2014)
[xxix] H. Ling Natives of Sarawak and Borneo (London: Truslove and Comba 1896) :281
[xxx] A. Huxley Moksha (Rochester: Park Street Press 1999) :130
[xxxi] Mutiilation “Ravens of My Funeral”(Drakkar 1995)/Enslaved “Axioma”(Nuclear Blast 2010)/Arcturus “Ad Absurdum”(Ad Astra 2002)
[xxxii] Thank you E, P, S, B, N, M+M

nighthawking, body-snatching: raw meaterial
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A. Watts What is Zen? (San Francisco: New World Library 2000)

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