Magick and mysticism have long been associated with trance states, ecstatic experiences, and transcendent awareness. How important are techniques for altering consciousness in achieving magical outcomes? Are there safe and effective methods for exploring and understanding how our minds shift from state to state, from mundane to magick and back again? Get ready to wear a lab coat over your ceremonial robes as we join Brain Magick author Philip H. Farber for a 2-day live event in scenic upstate New York on March 25 and 26.
Magick and mysticism have long been associated with trance states, ecstatic experiences, and transcendent awareness. How important are techniques for altering consciousness in achieving magical outcomes? Are there safe and effective methods for exploring and understanding how our minds shift from state to state, from mundane to magick and back again? Get ready to wear …View full post
Words and the World, ONLINE COURSE with Philip H. Farber January 18 – February 29 Our ancestors once had to hunt for words in libraries and bookstores. Today, vast torrents of words pour into our homes via modems and networks. The new familiarity with flowing, scrolling text gives many of us a new ease with …View full post
HOO-HA BOOKS PUBLISHES NEW NOVEL BY BRAIN MAGICK AUTHOR PHILIP H. FARBER Legendary Blue Smoke: An Epic Rock’n’Roll Fantasy! That’s right! We’re pleased to announce the publication of Philip H. Farber’s newest novel, Legendary Blue Smoke, a fantasy tale set in New York’s Hudson Valley and in realms of imagination. Available wherever books are sold! …View full post
Ticks, Meditation and State Management By Philip H. Farber In the part of New York State where I live, Lyme disease is at an epidemic level. Quite a few of my friends, family members and acquaintances have experienced this illness. One friend holds the record, as far as I know, having contracted the tick-borne illness …View full post
Words and the World, ONLINE COURSE with Philip H. Farber
January 18 – February 29
Our ancestors once had to hunt for words in libraries and bookstores. Today, vast torrents of words pour into our homes via modems and networks. The new familiarity with flowing, scrolling text gives many of us a new ease with words – and yet we rarely lift the lid on the word machine to learn what makes them effective, how we respond to language patterns, and what distinguishes fantastic and inspiring prose from ordinary efforts.
Words and the World will explore the structure of textual interaction to gain insight into how to get the most from our own words. In the process, we’ll highlight how our minds use words to create beliefs, belief systems and the models that we sometimes mistake for “reality.”
Read more and Register Now!
HOO-HA BOOKS PUBLISHES NEW NOVEL BY BRAIN MAGICK AUTHOR PHILIP H. FARBER
Legendary Blue Smoke: An Epic Rock’n’Roll Fantasy!
That’s right! We’re pleased to announce the publication of Philip H. Farber’s newest novel, Legendary Blue Smoke, a fantasy tale set in New York’s Hudson Valley and in realms of imagination. Available wherever books are sold!
(Order from the publisher here: http://hoohabooks.com/ )
“Imagination, Insight and the Third I – Irreverence. Phil Farber serves as the hyphen between Science and Fantasy; the ‘n’ between Rock and Roll. Along with style and wit, the secret ingredient in his prose is magic galore.”
– Paul Krassner, author of Confessions of a Raving, Unconfined Nut: Misadventures in the Counterculture
Legendary Blue Smoke
by Philip H. Farber
paperback, 464 pages
With a world-vibrating whoosh, a vast saucer-shaped spaceship dipped down through the atmosphere, blotting out the afternoon sun. Ian turned and there she was: Jane, his wife who had passed away 15 years ago…
Once upon a time people wore t-shirts that said “Ian is God.” In this century, though, Ian Better, 1970s guitar god, is old, alone, and about to lose everything he owns. In order to reclaim his life, Ian has to reunite Blue Smoke, his legendary band, and play a few concerts. But then there were flying saucers and dead wives and everything tilted into mythic confusion. On tour in a world where gods, aliens, imaginary friends, dead relatives, and cartoon coyotes are part of everyday life, the aging members of Blue Smoke discover the government’s secret archive, history’s greatest pot farms, the Land of the Dead, a town without rock’n’roll, and the secrets of time travel. Legendary Blue Smoke is a crazy psychedelic trip through worlds both perplexing and profound.
Philip H. Farber is the author of Brain Magick: Exercises in Invocation and Meta-Magick (Llewellyn Worldwide, 2011), The Great Purple Hoo-Ha (Mandrake of Oxford, 2010), and Meta-Magick: The Book of Atem (Weiser Books, 2008), among other titles. His articles have appeared in Green Egg Magazine, The Journal of Hypnotism, Hypnosis Today, Mondo 2000, High Times, Paradigm Shift, Reality Sandwich and many other unique publications and web sites.
Praise for the books of Philip H. Farber:
As blatant propaganda, The Great Purple Hoo-Ha is funnier than Catholicism and slightly less disgusting than ads for colonic irrigation. — Rev. Ivan Stang, Church of the Subgenius
Farber is well known for his nonfiction on occult and Neuro-linguistic Programming topics, if he keeps his hoo-ha up he might become well known for his comedic SF/F as well. – Fantasy Magazine
Farber’s writing is a joyride through the psyche. Absurdity and the internal workings of our own beliefs are less than a hair’s width apart – and Farber illustrates this with inimitable style, humor, and a kitschy sense of self- referential pseudo-realism.’ — LaSara Firefox Allen, MPNLP, author of Sexy Witch
Ticks, Meditation and State Management
By Philip H. Farber
In the part of New York State where I live, Lyme disease is at an epidemic level. Quite a few of my friends, family members and acquaintances have experienced this illness. One friend holds the record, as far as I know, having contracted the tick-borne illness a total of four times so far. I’m not far beyond, having received Lyme-infected tick bites on three different occasions over the last seven years.
The last time was in June of 2010. I found a tick on me just a couple days before I was scheduled to leave on a trip to Los Angeles, where I was teaching a weekend seminar. I carefully removed the tick using a tick-puller and figured that I’d done a good job and that the tick hadn’t been on me long enough to pass along any illness. I was extremely busy finishing up work, packing and getting ready for the seminar so I put the tick bite out of my mind. The seminar went very well and when I returned there were clients and other seminars to prepare for, in England, Europe and other parts of the USA. The bug bite didn’t itch or hurt and I forgot about it for a while.
In late August things started to get a little strange. I noticed that I was getting a bit weepy and nostalgic – and those are two words I’d never, ever pick to describe myself. And not only was it odd for me to feel that way, the emotions were being triggered by very unusual things. One day I found myself feeling sentimental about a dishwasher that we used to own. Man, I really missed that old machine. That is, I missed it until my wife reminded me that I always hated the noisy monster. I reflected on that. It was true. It was a strange thing for me to experience nostalgia, let alone for a piece of kitchen equipment that I never actually liked! The weepiness was followed, somewhat randomly over the next couple months, by other emotional outbursts, including anger, fear, and despair, all triggered by thoughts that, considered later, were really not worth the response – not to mention that I’m generally a calm, secure and optimistic person. What was going on in my brain?
What was happening in my brain was that a colony of Borrelia spirochetes, the bacteria responsible for Lyme disease, had taken up residence and was, apparently, pushing buttons that messed with my emotional state. It was around that time that other Lyme symptoms started to show up and I went to the doctor and got my diagnosis. The emotional effects of Lyme disease are rarely discussed by doctors, but a quick search of medical literature turned up over a hundred studies that recorded psychological symptoms. For instance, one study (Functional brain imaging and neuropsychological testing in Lyme disease. Fallon BA, Das S, Plutchok JJ, Tager F, Liegner K, Van Heertum R. Clin Infect Dis. 1997 Jul;25 Suppl 1:S57-63. Review.) reported that “Patients with Lyme disease may experience short-term memory loss, severe depression, panic attacks, unrelenting anxiety, impulsivity, paranoia, obsessive compulsive disorder, personality changes marked by irritability and mood swings, and rarely, manic episodes or psychotic states.” Nothing specifically about dishwasher nostalgia, but we can file that under “personality changes” or “mood swings.”
I’ve spent the last thirty or so years of my life practicing meditation and studying state management techniques. Back when I began meditating, I was told that one really starts to notice the results of meditation after 20 years. That seemed like an inordinately long time, back in my youth, and I was quite pleased to notice positive affects fairly quickly in my practice – increasing calm through the days, better sleep at night, ability to relax at will, and much more. But now, decades later, I’m pleased to say that there was also some truth to the advance hype. The long-term positive effects of meditation, for me, amount to, in large part, more of the same, a calmer mind and generally more relaxed mental state. But beyond that, the greatest benefit from all those years sitting and breathing is an understanding of the processes of my mind and an increased ability to observe those processes. Metaphorically speaking, the process of meditation has taught me how to better step back from my own thoughts and observe, listen, and feel what my own brain may be doing. While I’m not sure I’d refer to this as “enlightenment,” this ability has certainly saved my sanity more than a few times.
So, while Borrelia bacteria were messing around in my neurons, I found myself in an odd situation. While part of my consciousness experienced a roller coaster of unusual emotions, I was also sitting back, observing my thoughts and behavior. I suppose I’ve been doing this increasingly all along; now the rapid bacterial shifts in emotion threw it into high relief. Part of my mind, at least, was maintaining its cool. As in a meditation practice, when I became aware of the changes in state, I was moved to accept the change and return my attention to the present.
I think it might be important to reiterate the basic process of meditation here. The meditator attempts to hold attention on a word, symbol, breathing, sitting, being present or any of a thousand other techniques. In mindfulness meditation, one holds attention on the process of consciousness itself. The mind, through its tendency to form associations or because it just likes to wander, will stray from the object of concentration. These breaks in concentration may start from a physical sensation (my foot itches!) or a thought (did I leave the toaster plugged in?) or a daydream (imagine meditating like this on top of a remote Himalayan peak!) or from any of a thousand other distractions. The meditator notices the break in concentration, accepts it without judgment, and then returns to the intended concentration.
It’s the same process that we use throughout our lives, on long-term projects or life goals. We set out with our minds focused on one thing – a way of life, a job, a certain kind of family – and we become distracted and must regain our focus. It was this life-process-as-meditation that Lyme disease kept bringing into my consciousness – and my daily life that I had to continually return my attention to. Without the years of meditation practice, I could easily have become lost in the seeming reality of these emotional shifts.
I also found great benefit from short-term hypnosis and NLP techniques to deal with pain and to change state. First, though, I had to realize that my state had changed, which sounds like a simple thing, but when it happens the shifts are so subjective that they are easy to mistake for legitimate mental processes and not the result of illness. Some of the state management techniques that I used can be found in my forthcoming book Brain Magick: Exercises in Meta-Magick and Invocation (Llewellyn Worldwide, October 2011).
So it took a few months of powerful antibiotics, prescribed by my doctor, to get the bugs out of my system. Because of the physical symptoms of the disease, I wasn’t able to work for a good part of that time, but now I feel like my mind and body are mine again. It was a difficult few months, but I can only imagine how awful it might have been if it weren’t for meditation and hypnosis.
With the benefits of 30 years of meditation on my side, or with the tools of my trade in hand, it all came down to being prepared. In life we often take it for granted that we should learn the steps of driving a car before getting out into heavy traffic, or that we’ll do better in a fight if we’ve practiced martial arts previously, or that our violin recital will go much better if we learn the pieces and perfect them first. How about being prepared for whatever life throws at you – from changing circumstances, financial difficulties, family problems or whatever – by practicing and perfecting our ability to change state beforehand?
I’ll leave you with a quick meditation. It’s about as simple as it gets, but can be as deep and effective as any other form of meditation:
Simple Zen – at least 10 minutes
Sit in a position with your spine vertical and straight (a chair will do nicely). Allow your breathing to become relaxed and natural. Let it set its own rhythm and depth, however it is comfortable. Focus your attention on your breathing, on the movements of your chest and abdomen rather than on your nose and mouth. Keep your attention focused on your breathing. For some people an additional level of concentration may be helpful. You might add a simple counting rhythm, spoken in your head as you breathe: “One” on the inhale, “Two” on the exhale, and repeat. Or you might visualize your breath as a swinging door, swinging in on the inhale and out on the exhale.
(This piece was originally published in The Journal of Hypnotism.)
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