Zero Equals Two is a blog on magical news and culture sponsored by U.S. Grand Lodge, O.T.O. A diverse collective of contributors comb the worlds of magick, art, science, history, philosophy, and more every day for articles and events of interest to Thelemites and other modern free-thinkers and explorers, collecting them on this blog for your enjoyment.
2022-08-17The Day the Avant Art World Stood Still
Harry Smith Archives’ FB page posted this thang which utterly blew my mind:
“Discovered quite a strange throwback in the archives: Harry in a Sotheby’s World Mastercard ad.
From left: Jack Smith, unidentified man, Harry Smith, Panna Grady, William S. Burroughs, and Andy Warhol at El Quijote restaurant, New York City, winter 1964-65. Photograph by David McCabe.”
The amount of underground talent in this pic is incalculable. Harry, Bill and Andy you’re (hopefully) familiar with. Jack — was a seminal avant-film maker known for joyfully messing with gender norms and lack of plot, likely influencing Warhol to a large (and usually unacknowledged) degree. Just WOW.
And let us not forget that Harry was consecrated a Bishop in EGC.
Thanks to Soror Amy for the tip!
2022-08-16Mantras, Magic, and Magicians
Here’s an excerpt from Jason Miller’s latest Magick Monday Newsletter:
This morning a student asked: “could one receive a siddhi from accumulation of one of the gods mantras, for example Helios’s mantra or Jupiter’s chant?”
Given that they used the term “Mantra accumulation” I am assuming they have a background in Tibetan Buddhism, but like me, apply some of what they learn in that context to the wider world of magic.
We really can’t answer it properly without asking more questions though. Let’s cut to the heart of it: How does one receive Siddhi (enlightenment or magical power) from accumulating Mantras at all?
The answer is that a REAL mantra IS the deity and you are resonating with that power as you speak it.
So what then is a REAL MANTRA?
This is the tricky part. Some mantras are really just the name of the deity with prefix and a suffix stuck on. You don’t just see this in Tantra, but in early Zen texts like the Masters of Lanka.
And that’s fine if that’s the mantra that has been revealed by the Deity in a state of communion. Sometimes the Mantras are much more than that though, and speak secrets of their own. There is so much to be found in the twists and turns of mantras that it is a delightful exploration not just on the linguistic, but the physical and psychic levels.
Then there are tweaks and changes to mantra that are made over time by people that may or may not have actual experience in meditation. Two examples:
1. Tweaks by scholars or religiously motivated people that want to make it more specifically of the religion. Almost any time you see NAMO ETC ETC BUDDHA ETC ETC TADYATHA followed by OM you are looking at a root mantra that has a prefix added basically saying “Hey this mantra isn’t some stupid Pagan bullshit, its Buddhist, hail Buddhism, yay buddhism, and-a-one-and-a-two-and-a….
For instance, the root mantra of my weird summer obsession Chundi is NAMO SAPTANAM SAMYAKSAMBUDDHA KOTINAM. TADYATHA: OM! CALE, CULE, CUNDI SVAHA! I would basically chant the first part one time at the start of the mantra, then continue with OM! CALE, CULE, CUNDI SVAHA! for the rest but many continue with the whole thing over and over starting with NAMO.
Hear different versions and variations here: https://www.themathesontrust.org/…/zhunti-mantra-cundi…
2. Tweaks that happen naturally as the mantra moves from place to place. The most famous being VAJRA, which changes to BADRA in Western Tibet then BENZAR in some areas of central Tibet. So OM VAJRASATTVA HUM changes to OM BADRA SATTVA HUM changes to OM BENZAR SATO HUNG
Is the original better?
Depends on what we mean by better. More questions:
How does the power of the deity remain in a mantra after it has been given or discovered by the first human to use it? By the correct pronunciation that is closest to what the original Yogi used, or by the people that use it?
My first teacher used OM BANZAR SATO HUM but I knew that OM VAJRA SATTVA HUM is better Sanskrit: so what is true and authentic?
My answer lies in the four authenticities: https://www.strategicsorcery.net/the-four-authenticities/
Historically the Oldest pronunciation is the most authentic.
Culturally the pronunciation from my own teacher is the most authentic.
Functionally, whichever works best is the most authentic, and perhaps whichever is easiest for my mouth to make given my own language training.
From the perspective of Meaning perhaps an English translation would be best!
Which do you place value on? Which of these types of authenticities overlap or reinforce each other? Perhaps one is good for one thing and another for another.
For me: I’m a function guy, but I am also pretty sloppy with details sometimes. I happen to have a habit of using OM BENZAR SATO HUNG when doing that short mantra, but using OM VAJRASATTVA SAMAYA etc when doing the 100 syllable mantra.
Sometimes I get asked why I don’t have Global Rites and Mantras for all the Greek/Roman deities, or why I didn’t focus just on the planetary ones and instead included Goddesses like Juno.
The answer is that I haven’t been given a mantra of Luna or Venus yet. Could I just make one? Sure. Would the deity respond? Yeah, probably. I mean that’s the power of magic right? We name things and bind powers to those names. But its not quite the same as a mantra (or seal or sigil or image) that comes directly from the interaction between a Deity and a Human. This is why I don’t tend to favor sigils generated by the Rose or Kameas and don’t work with “angel names” generated by calculating birth times and such.
Sometimes someone will take the Hekate course and tell me “That was amazing! I am going to go off and make something like this for PatronDeityX!” Like they can just run off and throw it down on paper like they are rolling stats for a D&D character. It took 15 YEARS to work that material out and get the thumbs up from Hekate to teach it. Now, maybe some of those years are because I am kind of a dullard, but I do marvel at the way people think that Spirit can just be shat out of a brain fart or a midjouney prompt.
So, that then is a far too long answer to a simple question.
Subscribe to the newsletter, buy his books, sign up for his classes: https://www.strategic
2022-08-15Big Interview With Neil Gaiman
Judging by the FB posts, 95% of U.S. O.T.O. members are big fans of Neil Gaiman and very excited about the Netflix series based on his Sandman comic series. So here’s a phat interview with him in the New York Times Magazine:
2022-08-12By God’s Bawllz
Earlier this year, the New York Times Book Review ran a review of GOD An Anatomy by Francesca Stavrakopoulou. Basically this is an examination of anthropomorphic conceptions of deity and the way they were eventually supplanted by the idea of an utterly ineffable, unknowable Divine Presence. One excerpt of the review reads:
“Instead, she believes, we should return to the ancient Israelite mythology. But this is not how religion works. At its best, it demands that, as circumstances change, we respond creatively and innovatively to the present. After the Romans destroyed the Jerusalem temple in A.D. 70, the rabbis rediscovered the divine presence in a highly inventive study of Scripture. The medieval mysticism of the kabbalah depicted the inscrutable divine essence emerging successively in 10 sephiroth (‘stages’), each more perceptible than the last, in, as it were, a divine evolution. Later in the 18th century, Polish Hasidim would develop techniques of concentration that enabled them to become vividly aware of the divine presence, “as though it were flowing all around them and they were sitting in the middle of light” — an experience that made them dance and sing.”
2022-08-11Art Pop Auteur Rebecca Pidgeon Releasing Album Examining the Chakras
On her tenth full-length album of sensuous Art Pop, Parts of Speech Pieces of Sound, singer-songwriter, and actress Rebecca Pidgeon taps into the ongoing communication between body, mind and spirit through vibrations and energy. Recorded in Los Angeles with co-producer Fernando Perdomo, the ten tracks here illuminate the connection between her art and her explorations of the sacred science of Yoga. The first video from the album is “Silent Sound.”
“They say sound is the most valuable sense to a yogi, because he uses mantras in his meditation,” she observes. “But it is an internal use of the sense of hearing. You don’t say the mantra out loud but in your mind. We are told that the mantra and syllable ‘Om’ is the primordial divine sound and that it’s humming all the time in the Universe. We are made of Universal stuff, so the mantra is humming in us too. In our yoga class we were learning about these silent mantras, and incorporating them into our practice, connecting them with the different chakras (energy centers) in the body. This led me to an exploration in songwriting on the theme of chakras. The chakras are interesting because they are not only tied to the five elements, but they are also ruled by certain deities. I found this concept fascinating”.
Throughout 2020, Rebecca immersed herself in yoga. As a lifelong practitioner, the COVID lockdown afforded her the opportunity to study more than ever. She regularly joined a class taught out of Mumbai on ZOOM and also started to listen to the online teachings of world-renowned yoga teacher Prashant Iyengar which led Pidgeon to a new level of understanding.
The lifelong artist literally dreamed the genesis of Parts of Speech Pieces of Sound. In the dream, she envisioned herself singing to a melody as an unidentifiable individual played a drumbeat. She recognized a symbiosis between the music and her studies, writing album opener “Now Begins” with the first three sutras of Patanjali at its core. On the track, delicate acoustic guitar and organic production brush up against her heavenly vocal delivery as the song builds towards an entrancing chant delivered with mantra-like precision.
“The second sutra in the first chapter of the yoga sutras of Patanjali, tells us that yoga is the restraint of the fluctuations of consciousness”, she goes on. “I sent the song to my mother (Elaine Pidgeon, an Iyengar yoga teacher who began studying with Shri BKS Iyengar in 1981), and I also sent it to my teacher in Mumbai. I said, ‘Here’s a little dream that popped out inspired by what we were studying’. The idea to create a conceptual body of work came afterwards.
She proceeded to write the songs in succession as displayed on the tracklisting with “Blue Lagoon” based on yet another dream tied to water, “Rudradeva” intermingled with fire, and “Tiny Room” evocative of the heart center or “Anahata” chakra. Meanwhile, the single “Silent Sound” references the throat chakra and ether. On the latter, strings wrap around a steady beat as her voice flutters between the verses and refrain with promises such as, “And in my deepest sleep, I’ll meet with you beloved, and I will sing my songs to you.”
“The song ‘Silent Sound’ is inspired by the practice of using (mental)sound forms in pranayama,” she goes on. “These are called “Prana Kriyas” and they affect the way you breathe, the shape, the structure of the breath. They also serve to focus the mind. They are essential in further practices of meditation according to Ashtanga Yoga. Our teacher told a lovely story, which is a great analogy. In the story, a little girl would go to temple every day, kneel, pray, and recite the alphabet. A priest overhearing asks her, ‘What are you doing?’ She replies, ‘I don’t know any prayers. I do know sounds of letters though. I’m saying the letters, so God can put them into the right words to make prayers for me’
Prana Kriyas are like prayers. They are not words so are not associated with any meaning or emotions for your mind to get distracted by, but are pure sounds which lead to a quietening of the mind”
As an interlude on the record Pidgeon composed music for “Savasana”, a poem written by her mother, which leads us into a sister song “I Say Your Name” through to the finale “Clouds Are Clearing” which offers a glorious exhale and reprieve over an acoustic guitar-laden soundscape.
“‘Clouds Are Clearing’ is based on the 7th chakra called “Sahasrara” which is located in the crown of the head,” she adds. “I am only imagining the light and illumination of spiritual knowledge of course, because I am not a yogi. I finish the song with the words of the Guru Vandana. I thought it was an appropriate ending to the record, because whatever has come to me, I owe to my teachers. As students we begin our practice with this mantra in gratitude to our gurus, the gurus who came before, and the guru within. It was lovely to explore these realms, and I’ve had a happy journey creating this record” .