Due to certain synchronistic patterns between what I was doing, and what he'd experienced, we entered into contact. He was a cool guy; young, like myself, and definitely talented. (His long-range sex magick practices with his partner were something I certainly envied. I'd had some decent experiences with it, but nothing as constant as what he was doing.)
We talked shop. I explained some of the premise of what I was doing at the time, some of the feedback loops, and some of the less extreme things to expect. Over time, he seemed to be doing better. (Except that he'd occasionally become convinced he'd found an astral “Black Lodge”; once, I'm fairly sure, he was right. The rest of the times it was connecting random data and filtering it through his own fears and anxieties; I told him as much.)
Then he began experimenting with Enochian. We lost contact.
As of today I can say that he's not coming back from where-ever he took his mind. Three weeks ago, he claims, he was abducted by aliens. And then the voices began. I'm not joking here. But it underlies something I've always stressed:
Magick is weird. And that it's filtered through the mind, as it must be for we to be consciously aware of our experiences, is sometimes a drawback. Whether he triggered long dormant schizoid tendencies in himself and stress caused the break with reality or not isn't really something to debate. The fact of the matter is that as of today he's found himself subjected to near-constant audio hallucinations ranging from the “end of the world” spiels to “you have AIDS.” He doesn't have AIDS. He's just bugfuck crazy, and there's a very slim chance of coming back from that level of crazy.
He asked me what to do. I was at a loss for words. After all, telling him that he'd experienced the clinical break from reality was pointless. He knew it, he just didn't want to admit it. “I can't accept that,” he told me. “It's this constant pain in my head... and the voices...”
He could medicate himself. He could perform an exorcism—or at least, he could have. But I have my doubts that it's external. Rather, it's underlying internal patterns I might've noticed years ago and warned him about. But I didn't really think it'd ever come to this. I can't blame myself—after all, it's not my mind.
But there are things you just might not come back from. Not now, not ever. If you lack the focus to perform an exorcism, then you won't be able to get rid of the problem. If you get eaten... well, sometimes you just get eaten. Medication is an option, but it's one he has to choose for himself. And it's not one I'd really try to force on him.
What you let into your mind – and I may never know what it was that caused the “aliens” to “beam him aboard the mother-ship,” – may just end any chances you have of making it out of the situation fine and dandy. Grounding is important: if aliens are telling you the world is ending, skepticism isn't always a bad thing.
It may be a drawback, but it's better to be careful sometimes.
He may make it out of the Abyss, and I hope he does. But sometimes it's best to take a step back and look at things logically. Otherwise you can end up far, far worse than when you stepped into the spiritual ring and declared yourself to be “a magician.” It's a fine line we dance on, and the more aware of that we are then the better off we are.
Because oblivion may be mystically necessary, but sometimes you need to consider how necessary it is at this place in life.
Grounding, banishing, testing spirits and not taking them at their word; these are things that many magicians do. Some shunt the banishing and use other methods, especially if they're more Shamanically inclined, but those protection rituals and practices? They exist for a goddamn reason. The mind is a great thing, and weird can definitely be good... But for me? I like being able to balance my checkbook and talk to people without voices screaming in my head. And I like to be somewhat coherent. Perhaps I'm wrong, and of course there are other views, but from where I sit: sanity is a borderland we wander on. That we employ schizoid tactics is true; that trance states induced patterns akin to schizophrenia is uncomfortable to admit, but one must. But still reconsidering what surrounds one and if we can handle it should always be an option.
Years ago, in a long bout of ritual practices without banishing, I followed a voice from beyond that was ensconced in static on a payphone (friends had watched it happen similarly days before) with an obscure claim: “don't forget the donuts!”
In the middle of the night, sleep deprived, and likely hallucinating a bit due to that I ran to a coffee shop and bought donuts. Nothing happened. Nothing at all. It wasn't “the dolphin flies at midnight,” but sometimes you've got to take those messages from “beyond” and toss them in the can. When I woke up the next morning I didn't rationalize what I'd done at all. I banished, laughed hysterically at myself, and found myself becoming somewhat skeptical when it came to my own practices. If I don't see actual results, I can that shit. It may hold me back a bit at times, but it's necessary for functioning. And since I enjoy being functional, I don't make any goddamn claims otherwise.
Years from now I may end up married and then divorced by my wife if I forget the donuts, but until that day happens it's an experience in not taking yourself so seriously. And furthermore, taking your state of mind very seriously. Sometimes you need to go a bit crazy; it's part of the process of transmutation. Other times you're just going crazy because you're neglecting something important. Ground it out, laugh at the experience, and get on with life. The other road may lead to madness unending, with voices telling you that you have a disease that isn't in your body and encounters with the grays. Fuck that shit. I don't see how it'd help a damn thing, spiritually or emotionally.
Magick is serious business. Take it and your brain seriously. That's all I have for today.