“[T]he traditional witch types don’t like to hear that toad bones and the rest of these icky ingredients are proxies for some symbolic/psychological language…”—Gordon, Chaos Magic: Fracking the Spirit World
This talk of proxies set off a chain of thought that I want to just throw up here in a notebook post for later reference. While I may not be a traditional witch in the sense Gordon talks about here, my use of the grotty bits has some affinities with them.
The grotty bits are often more than proxies. They are more like words or bits of grammar in a pidgin, the manifestation of the fusions of two forms of symbolic thinking in communication with each other. Gordon talked about veering between panpsychism and idealism, and in general the witch work leans far more toward panpsychism than idealism. Push comes to shove, I tend to think that most developed forms of idealism start to look increasingly like panpsychism.
After all, even if you posit that the world only exists as it is the subject of consciousness, your consciousness doesn’t seem to be the only consciousness out there. Moreover, some of those other consciousnesses aren’t quite like yours, they seem to be in the process of spinning out their own idealism, an objectful and objective reality.
The grotty bits are often the means through which communication between us and some of the more alien consciousnesses transpires. We reach out and take hold of the material stuff extruded by these other consciousnesses and then proceed to subject them to our form of thinking, putting them into symbolic arrangements according to our sense of the term symbolic. If the other consciousnesses start talking back, they don’t stay quite in those symbolic bounds. They become possessed of an intensity, a presence, and in this back and forth we communicate, oftentimes in a fashion that is as (or more) visceral as it is intellectual.
It’s crude not because the consciousnesses to which we speak are crude, but because we don’t entirely share the same frame of conscious reference with those other forms of consciousness. Some of these other consciousnesses seem a good bit more conscious or developed than us, and it is precisely with these that the pidgin becomes more like a proxy.
To appreciate this, it’s key to keep in mind that it is a proxy for a form of consciousness that we are not yet able to incorporate into our own. It may provide a stepping stone toward being able to think symbolically with them or it may in fact be the symbolic thought of a higher form of consciousness.
Consider how much effort we must sometimes take to communicate with our fellow humans, whose consciousness is quite close to ours, and the complexities of that. There are symbolic and psychological dimensions to our interactions, to our speech, but there are also dimensions to it that are beneath and above those dimensions. Apply that insight to the witch work and you begin to get an account of materia that makes it part of the psyche and symbol of creation, outside our own symbolic frame but capable of interfacing with it.
I suspect there is a way to look at the technical wonders of the contemporary moment from this perspective, as a particular sort of grotty trading zone between ourselves and other beings, too, as the ragged edge of a pidgin we sometimes too easily mistake as the simple projection of our own selves.