“All initiated systems of ritual are methods of establishing contact with beings of the ‘other side.’ Whether these are considered to be extra-terrestrials from outer space, or subjective denizens of inner space, makes little difference to the practical occultist. Both are areas of magical powers equal to those possessed by the gods themselves.” – Kenneth Grant
The navigation and exploration of the shadow side of the Tree of Life has been a longstanding fascination within the western occult world. Esoteric Judaism views this realm as the home of chaotic and destructive forces capable of devouring the unprepared while some occultists believe this realm to hold the keys to liberation.
This inverse Tree of Death or Nightside realm evokes frightening and fascinating images painting a macabre landscape of ghost realms and chthonic tunnels peopled with vampiric entities and kliphotic shells. The writings of Israel Regardie, Kenneth Grant, Michael Bertiaux, and David Beth have discussed this shadowy realm and touched upon important precautions for the practicing occultist who desires to traffic with denizens of the Nightside. However, few if any writings exist within the occult which discuss the particular preparations that must be undertaken prior to entering the backside of the Tree.
Preparation is Paramount
In the path of Left Hand Tantra, preparation is paramount and practitioners are demanded to ruthlessly prepare before any ritualistic communication with trans-human entities occurs. If one approaches deeper areas of the mind and / or numinous beings outside of the human mind without proper preparation, it is possible for the practitioner to suffer distortions in thinking or complete psychotic breakdown; when this occurs, the practitioner then becomes a hollow shell and fodder for any parasitic entity.
In this essay I will explore several common methods used in Yoga sadhana to prepare Tantric practitioners for deeper states of consciousness and communication with outside intelligences. Although specifically Eastern in praxis these methods can easily be used by western occultists to compliment and deepen ritualistic workings and prepare the mind and body for journeys to the shadow side of the Tree as well as protect the practitioner from negative experiences.
The Readiness of the Student
Although not exclusively tantric by any means, the Sanskrit word “adhikara” is of prime importance when discussing esoteric matters of a particularly dark timbre. Adhikara essentially means the readiness of the student to pursue a certain path, his or her ability to grasp and digest the true essence of a particular method.
The gnostic teachings of Shankaracharya offer many insights into this important idea, particularly in the text “Viveka-Chudamani: The Crest Jewel of Discrimination.” Shankara described the “sadhana chatushtaya” or the “four-fold wealth of spiritual practice” as the crucial doorway into any deeper realm of study.
This was a specific method of preparation which enabled the aspirant to approach deeper realms of ontological being in a manner which would allow for true gnostic perception rather than simply academic mimicry or posturing. It is comprised of the following:
- Nitya Anitya Vastu Viveka: The ability to discriminate between that which is permanent and that which is impermanent.
- Iha Amutra Phala Bhoga Vairagya: Non-attachment to the fruit of one’s actions, in this world and the next.
- Shata Sampatti: The “six virtues”: Shama or control of the mind, Dama or control of the senses, Uparati or lack of ultimate fulfillment from the enjoyment of sense objects, Titiksha or endurance, Shraddha or faith, and Samadhana or proper concentration.
- Mumukshutva: The intense and unyielding desire for liberation.
It is of paramount importance that the practitioner realize the above “four treasures” are not dry philosophical theory. These practices are a complete sadhana and must be incorporated into the practitioner’s entire life.
Each technique serves to hone and focus the mind, removing obscurations and emotional trappings which if not addressed prior to entering the Nightside realm can cloud and overpower the will of the practitioner. In workings on the Left Hand Path, particularly rituals involving sex magic and communication with outside intelligences, there is no room for error.
Emotional baggage and an unfocused mind will serve as the ultimate trapdoors whereby the practitioner will lose direction or worse yet his or her mind. These techniques allow the practitioner to avoid personal delusions and seek to establish a fearless state within the mind and body which is critical when communicating with shadow intelligences.
Practice of the Four-Fold Wealth
It was felt that if the aspirant did not pursue study and in-depth practice of the above “four-fold wealth” under the guidance of a qualified teacher, true gnostic transformation could not occur. Worse, the student may decide to disregard these preparatory methods and attempt contact with levels of consciousness far beyond his or her abilities to integrate. One can easily see important connections with using these methods under the guidance of a qualified teacher prior to attempting to pursue traffic with Nightside intelligences.
If the practitioner has not prepared the nervous system prior to such attempts, significant and lasting negative effects can occur. It is of extreme import for the practitioner to realize the importance of such preparation before engaging with kliphotic entities via the backside of the Tree. Each one of the “four-fold wealth” paths, particularly the “six virtues”, enables the practitioner to cultivate a level of consciousness and awareness un-conditioned by mundane experience.
This type of gnostic awareness is crucial for effective interaction with trans-mundane levels of consciousness and prater-human entities. The western occultist can make great advances in practice and ritual work utilizing the “six virtues” preparing the mind and nervous system for deeper levels of exploration without fear of psychological or spiritual derangement.
A Three Layered Method
Another yogic approach which can be of significant importance to western occultists is mentioned in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. This method is referred to as a “three layered” method of praxis which consists of the following:
- Shravana: Listening with utmost concentration and faith to the teachings of the tradition / teacher.
- Manana: Reflecting and contemplating intensely upon what was heard in Shravana.
- Nidhidhyasana: Continued deep reflection which is organically transformed into deep states of awareness. Essentially the ultimate “digestion” of shravana level whereby the consumed teachings are now a part of the practitioner’s “body.”
This three-layer approach is one of the most effective means for preparing the mind and the nervous system for deeper journeys. Such a practice resembles an alchemical approach whereby three aspects become of utmost importance: materials, treatments, and environment. Much like an effective medical treatment, each of these must be working in unison for this “three-layered” method to be effective.
The practitioner must have material or teachings suitable to their level of intelligence available to study, they must engage the teachings daily and with intense devotion and there must be an environment suitable for the material, the techniques and the student to coalesce. Perhaps the most critical aspect of this environment is the qualified teacher.
It is common for the western student to feel threatened by teachers and seek solitary study. This can be a grave mistake as a qualified teacher is necessary to “pre-digest” the material for the student as well as provide important perspectives not communicated via the written word or shared only in private. Without this kindling aspect of the teacher, the materials and methods more often than not will not take root and thrive.
This is also an extremely important fact to keep in mind when preparing for journeys to the backside of the Tree. The Nightside realm is not a forgiving realm. When one enters this realm without proper preparation they are fodder for kliphotic entities which are more than willing to take advantage of infantile delusions of spiritual enlightenment.
It is critical for the practitioner to have a qualified guide above and beyond the written word before attempting to explore Nightside realms. This unpopular idea is in many ways the most important “environment” necessary for successful trafficking with Nightside entities.
A Disintegration of Mundane Consciousness
One of the most common ideas discussed about traveling into the Nightside realm is the idea that the practitioner must be able to tolerate a disintegration of mundane consciousness. In order for this disintegration process to occur without total destruction, the practitioner must have pursued years if not decades of mentored study and practice.
It is a sobering truth which must be examined constantly by individuals who wish to establish contact with kliphotic realms. In theTantric path, the practitioner must be ruthless with self-examination and constantly evaluate their state of mind and body both before and after a ritual working. The teacher must also evaluate the practitioner as kliphotic or Nightside contact can often inflate the ego and result into deranged solipsistic behavior. If the practitioner has no one to evaluate their progress except themselves, it can pose significant dangers and psychological problems in the long run.
This is the main reason why the gurukula method of “one to one” transmission was so important in Eastern teachings and paramount in Left Hand Tantra traditions. The western consumer- driven paradigm has greatly influenced the occult world whereby practitioners are constantly seeking contact with other levels of consciousness in order to gain “power” or “control”. We must remember that the most important and powerful magical working is to establish contact with our true Self, the guiding light for any journey whether it be the front or the backside of the Tree of Life. As Ramana Maharshi states:
“Is there anything to be done for the excellent Yogi who has destroyed his / her mind and attained the natural state?”
Prior to any Nightside journey, it is crucial to examine the motives for seeking communication with these shadow realms. The door way of Daath is the opening into the Nightside and the entry way into the Noumenal , the anti-universe of Non-Being.
To safely and completely pass through this doorway, the aspirant must offer the ultimate sacrifice: the granthi or “knot” of the ego existing as the sole source of consciousness and self –identity. This granthi is a type of pranic blockage which serves an important function for existence in the mundane realms, the Jagrat or waking state of consciousness. To function in a balanced manner we must have a clear and established sense of self.
This function is assumed by the Ahamkara , the principle of individuation which creates an illusory subjective sense of self identification with the body and mind. This state is necessary for balanced perception in the waking mundane layer of consciousness. However, if one is not able to perceive this state as only one of many levels of consciousness, complete mental breakdowns will occur upon losing this illusory waking state.
The Pranic Knot
The pranic knot or granthi which keep our perception tied to subjective identification is the chit-jada granthi. For one to pursue journeys beyond Daath, one must address this pranic knot or the dis-identification of ego based consciousness will inflict deep trauma upon the nervous system as well as potential mental breakdown.
The aforementioned “four treasures” and “three layers” are utilized in a systemic fashion in order to gradually loosen this pranic knot of sole identification of the body and mind as the true self. This process must be pursued over years of intense study and self-examination under the direction of a qualified teacher.
If this is not done prior to journeys into the Nightside via Daath, the ego will either be permanently fractured or will become the food for parasitic entities existing on the Tree of Death. When the latter occurs, the personality literally becomes possessed by the Nightside denizen and the practitioner’s state of mind is literally consumed.
For true Nightside perception to occur, one must also address the Rudra granthi located in the Ajna chakra area. This is a pranic knot which if unraveled allows the practitioner to transcend mundane thought, the mind and body consciousness altogether.
The methods of Left Hand Tantra are used primarily for this granthi whereby the Tantric literally build a new pranic body which can transcend mundane waking consciousness and travel to the shadow realms with impunity. To achieve this goal, specific Ayurvedic preparations are used which prepare the nervous system for the influx of kundalini shakti which is necessary to dissolve the Rudra granthi.
Phases of the Moon
Herbal medicines and minerals are processed according to specific phases of the moon and used along with concomitant mantras which serve as catalysts for the herbs to penetrate deep into the nervous tissue. These ayurvedic preparations are crucial and one of the most overlooked aspects in the western examination of Tantra. The consumption of this sacralized substance during rituals to specific Dark Goddesses allows the tantric practitioner to dissolve pranic blockages in the mind and body.
In this method, the practitioner’s body literally becomes an alembic as well as a funeral pyre which functions to incubate a new pranic body capable of Nightside journeys whereby the practitioner himself can feed and acquire significant gnostic insights into the shadowy realm of Non-Being with the protection of the Dark Goddess.
The Tantric is literally able to consume his own ego and cross the doorway of Daath without concern for psychic injury or physical harm to the nervous system. This is referred to by the words of Ramana Maharshi:
“He who by discernment has effaced all objectivity is one established in the Reality of Awareness. He is the Fire of Awareness ( Agni) and the wielder of the thunderbolt ( Indra). He is the Hero who has done away with death, canceling time itself.”
One important aspect that must be kept in mind is that even while Left Hand Tantric has specific preparatory methods, the subject is complex and dense and each individual practitioner must be treated in a unique fashion. The western mind is used to a homogenous, linear and standardized methodology.
Tantric transmissions do not function in this manner, even when Tantric rituals exercise exacting methodology. Perhaps this alone may be the most important teaching in Tantra to the western world:
The practitioner must commit to a dedicated preparatory method in order to be able to withstand deeper journeys or to extract gnostic insight from the Nightside realm yet must be prepared to adjust and adapt as is demanded.
This essay was originally published in Zazen Sounds Magazine, Issue #1 (ZZS 027)