Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Hallucination Engines

At this point I am fairly certain that most people who read my blog have seen the Google Deep Dream images. Those trippy reinterpretations of reality that seem to be covered with eyeballs no matter what else is going on. If you are not familiar with this, do an internet search for the words"deep dream google", then come back and finish this article. I feel this opens many doors for the attentive and proactive Mutant Mage. There are several aspects that I personally find intriguing, recursive feedback loops, mechanical neural networks, and projective imagery. The crossover between technology (the study of craft) and magic (the craft of creating) is not only natural but wholly interdependent. This has given rise to what I have come to think of as Modern Folk Magic. I will outline exactly what I think distinguishes Modern Folk Magic from other paths in another essay. For now I want to discuss what technology can teach us about magic.


Technomancy, quite simply is the use of technology for magical divination. I have come to use the term to describe a wide variety of magic that uses technology, such as, audio/visual cut up divinations, or recordings of mantra recitations, to magic that imitates technology like Gordon White's Robo Fish. Many Mutant Mages including Phil Hine, use Byron Gysin's cut up method, which was popularized by William S. Burroughs. All of these methods share a commonality in that they work under the premise of universe as information, by altering the information you alter the reality represented by that information. This is just a modern revision of magical theory stated in accordance with modern parlance.

My approach is simply that Folk Magic springs from the environment surrounding it, and is informed by the dominant paradigm. We are surrounded by technology and it should be part of our magic as well. Hoo doo root doctors used horseshoes, keys, locks, etc. because that was what they had. I am quite sure that the first person to use a hurricane lamp for conjure was frowned upon by the community at large, then again maybe not so much. The quest for "purity" and the resultant de facto Orthodoxy that springs from it is a modern affliction for our whole culture, not magical circles alone. It is what feeds most Ism's and I suspect it is born out of fear and special snowflake syndrome. As science expands our knowledge of the world around us, we the mutant mages should learn to use it to our advantage. This leads us back to Deep Dream.


The process Deep dream uses to produce images is basically a large recursive loop. The machine is fed millions of images of an object in order to "learn " what the object "is". From Popular Science article, These Are What the Google Artificial Intelligence’s Dreams Look Like, by Dave Gregshorn:
Google’s artificial neural networks (ANNs) are stacked layers of artificial neurons (run on computers) used to process Google Images. To understand how computers dream, we first need to understand how they learn. In basic terms, Google's programmers teach an ANN what a fork is by showing it millions of pictures of forks, and designating that each one is what a fork looks like. Each of network's 10-30 layers extracts progressively more complex information from the picture, from edges to shapes to finally the idea of a fork. Eventually, the neural network understands a fork has a handle and two to four tines, and if there are any errors, the team corrects what the computer is misreading and tries again.
Interestingly enough the AI did not find a "perfect Platonic form of the object" even after being fed millions of images of the same object, an example of this:

This showed that even when shown millions of photos, the computer couldn’t come up with a perfect Platonic form of an object. For instance, when asked to create a dumbbell, the computer depicted long, stringy arm-things stretching from the dumbbell shapes. Arms were often found in pictures of dumbbells, so the computer thought that sometimes dumbbells had arms.
Google's artificial neural network's take on a what dumbbells looks like.
This should immediately point to new ways to think about the assumptions we make when interpreting data. Even when we have  millions of data points we can get it wrong, perhaps the spirits we work with are like the technicians trying to correct the machines errors, and we are the machine. How do we break free of this? Perhaps we should imitate Deep Dream and replicate the image over and over again until its absurdity becomes clear. Perhaps the reason your prosperity spell isn't working is because you don't have a fundamental understanding of finances. If we are putting arms on dumb bells we have not fully understood what a dumb bell is.


Much like Deep Dream is trying to interpret layers of data with millions of images, and failing to find a quintessential essence to the objects, so too the human brain and especially the collective dream. Perhaps we need to see that dumb bells have arms, to develop a more fluid view of Universe. The collective dream is nothing more than an attempt by monolithic cultural structures to codify experience into a manageable commodity. Universe is the ultimate open source platform, our brains are lazy and project learned patterns onto the canvas of life. We fall into patterns, perform rituals, follow scripts, practice daily; none of which is bad as long as we don't let it cloud our vision. 

Rote and repetition are great tools for memorization, but a bad way to conduct a relationship with the divine. Daily practice is important, but it must be performed with sincerity, simple repetition will not suffice. In a world ruled by clock and dollar, it is easy to slip into a routine that can turn into a rut. There is hope, if Google can teach a machine to dream, imagine what you could do with your brain. There are programs that have been running for many millennia that need to be dismantled and reassembled. Folk Catholicism is far more vibrant than the Church in Rome, and probably better for the soul. Most of Europe runs on Democracy 2.0, the United States is still running the beta version, we need an upgrade. Unlike social revolutions of the past, which were collective and dismissive of the past, we must build upon the past but in a manner that advances the individual as much as the mass if not more.

Upgrade your brain and your magic. Quantum theory has much to support the aspiring Mutant Mage. AI can teach us much about how our brains process information about the environment around us, and thus lead us to greater understanding. Magic seems to work best as a hedged bet, if your working is able to bring about two separate but equally beneficial outcomes, you will be surprised with a third alternative that you never conceived. It will be better than what you thought you wanted. Rote and repetition work to our advantage when we want to create new patterns. When we create two or more new patterns in reality, the overlaps create new possibilities. We can anticipate some of the overlaps, but it is the unintended consequences that will always teach us the greatest lessons.


Why did Google develop an AI to produce trippy images? Truth is it didn't, Deep Dream is a side effect. The project that the engineers were working on was called "Deep Stereo". It is an imaging recognition system that would be able to take two to five images of a space and based on its library of images make a 3D rendering filling in empty spaces. In other words, they were creating a machine that could take incomplete data and transform it into an accurate 3D model based simply on what the machine has been taught should fill the gaps. Sound familiar? One day someone got the idea to ask the machine to make renderings based on what it had learned. Thus they were presented with the following:
The Google team realized that the same process used to discern images could be used to generate images as well. The logic holds: if you know what a fork looks like, you can ostensibly draw a fork.
 This is what Google's neural network thinks animals and objects look like.
Unintended consequence that lead to new discoveries. Look at all the fun people are having with this accident. Always record ALL results from your workings, further review may reveal something you had missed. The great thing about these images for me on a personal level is that they illustrate better than anything else my impression of the divine. Textures, lighting, vague impressions combined with distinct details, yes, this is an apt metaphor for life itself. Looking at the above images makes me realize that I have not noticed things that a machine considered intrinsic. The hartebeest for instance, is the grassland and the community of the herd. Look closely, every one of the renderings includes the surrounding environment, one does not exist without the other. Think about that, a hallucination engine is able to see the fluid, dynamic, non dualistic nature of Universe. 

Deep Dream teaches that unintended consequences lead to new discoveries. It shows the world through the eyes of an intelligence that views objects in a relational rather than isolated way. This machine, this hallucination engine, by following rigid programs after being fed millions of data points has come to have a fluid view of its world. There is deep wisdom there, and hope. Revisit your failed workings and find the gold buried there, nothing is as static as it seems. Perhaps, instead of showing the world what we believe it wants to see we can learn to show the world our Deep Dreams.

This is a great lecture from 1976, that has many techniques and ideas that still need further research.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Freedom and Being Free

Ganapati and Catwoman  Getting Freaky

Om Gam Ganapataye Namah.

America, we need to have a talk.
It is time we face some ugly truths about ourselves. Contrary to what many believe, this country was not founded to protect individual freedom. It was founded by religious zealots, criminals, venture capitalists, and slave traders. The intention behind the constitution was to protect the vested interests of those early power-mongers. Fortunately, people learned to hack this tool of the state towards true freedom. The quest for freedom is an always evolving pursuit. In my opinion, the surest path to this freedom is the self directed spirituality called witchcraft by so many today.

The descendants of those self righteous bigots, can be found in today's surveillance state, the Congress, Wall Street, and corporate boardrooms. Equality is a buzzword for equal deprivation. The reason they called it a trickle down economy is because we only get a trickle down here. Have you seen Mad Max? We are in the same boat, trapped between Bullet Farm, Gas Town, and Water and Power. There is no Utopia on the horizon, we must stake our claim here. Those in power fear us, "We the people", and use everything at their disposal to divide and conquer. Ask yourself, who is benefiting from homophobia, sexism,racism, class-ism, and religious bigotry?

Divide and conquer has always been the game. How do we address this? What is the proper response to Power when that power is waiting for an excuse to use all the weaponry it protects itself with. This is Peter Grey's perspective, Beneath the Rose, read it and then come back. There are things I agree with in this article and some things I strongly disagree with. First I do agree that secrecy is the greatest tool a Mutant Mage can have in this day and age. I also agree with the call to return to visceral experience of magic and the world in general. The late Peter Paddon also believed strongly in the execution of Visceral Magic. Before I get into my issues with the article, I would like to address a side issue. I have come to the firm conclusion that although I find some of the ideas expressed in the Traditional Witchcraft circles, I personally am not enough of an anglophile to follow this path. I prefer more homegrown esoteric traditions. One of the many reasons I refer to myself as a Sacred Artist, or Mutant Mage. I am a Twenty First Century American who works with magic.

The main problem I have is the most obvious, going on the internet to argue that the internet is to persuasive is a bit, well hypocritical. Just like all the TV preachers in the late 80's and early 90's, railing on and on about the evils of television. Whenever some one uses the medium they profess to be opposed to, I am immediately slightly dubious. What would Mr. Grey have to benefit from this double-blind? The same thing as every other person doing it, a captive audience guaranteeing a steady income stream. Kind of like the anti-capitalist that sell anti capitalist books, for capitalist dollars. I do not begrudge one making a living, in fact I do not believe that capital and freedom are contradictory. The democratization of capital has lead to far more good than harm. It is the concentration of capital that causes problems. What is the solution? Magical Activism.

Build large street theatre puppets of political and religious figures and race them in the parks. Flood the Internet with nudity, not pornography, plain old nudity, especially nipples. Flood Facebook with male nipples to counter the absurdity. Big Data is running experiments to control human behavior, use social media to run your own experiments.  Counter measure the countermeasures, information technology lends itself to chaos and discord, help it. Meanwhile build cabals and communes both physical and virtual with like minded individuals. Everything is spectacle and theatre now, Break The Proscenium. Perform public curses on your state capital steps, they are doing it to you inside, most of all engage the public. Be a clown for Lucifer.

I see I have struck a nerve, that name, Lucifer gets a lot of peoples goats, so to speak. I believe this may be due to confusion between Sataniel (satan), and Lucifer. Lucifer is an old Roman god, the light bringer, and he was a twin, his brother is Noctifer, the dark bringer. Lucifer has gotten a bad rap for  a long time, all because the Roman Catholic Church does not like competition with its brand. Sataniel was the fallen angel who dared to rebel against God and received his own kingdom as a reward. I do not want to get bogged down in a discussion on Lucifer, one can find plenty of info online. Oh, and the aforementioned Mr. Grey has a book on the subject, if that's your sort of thing.

Ultimately the goal is freedom, personal freedom won out of love and respect for your fellow beings. We are evolvers and so we must evolve always being a Mutant Mage, use science and finance, buy a 3D printer, become a bio-hacker, study sorcery, play RPG's IRL, stay one step ahead, and laugh. If Tank Girl and Delerium have not joined your pool of inspiration it's time to invite them in. I use the methods that work for me; subterfuge, secrecy, outlandishness, and the dead. My ancestors lead me, folk catholic saints sustain me, Rebel Saints inspire me, Hoodoo and Santeria inform me, and angels comfort me. I am a dreamer, a mystic, a spirit warrior, sacred artist, and spirit guide. Above all others I am a Mutant Mage.
Praxis Sasquatch Jones 2015

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

This Place

Bindweed Sasquatch Jones 2015

This place.
I ask again, the answer is the same.
This place.

I have lived on this land for eight years now, but it only began to speak to me about two and a half years ago. This place, is only my interpretation of the vibratory sensation that pulses through me from the ground. The first time it spoke to me I was naïve enough to believe that I understood. Days later I went to talk to the land again, but at first I thought I misunderstood.

This time the tone was different, yet still familiar. At last I thought I understood, I was in a different place so that would account for the difference. I could have not been more wrong. The next weekend I returned to my original spot and began again to speak with this place, again it was different but somehow the same . Over a period of months I came to realize some very special things about this place.

First lesson I learned was about temporal relationships. This came to light after conversations at different times of day. Time is as intrinsic as space to this place, time and space are not separate. This place was as much a time specific event as it was a space specific event. This wisdom has lead to major shifts in all of my relationships. Just as this place and all that inhabit it, including me, are corporeal and spiritual in nature, so too is all of Creation.

I began to discern two distinct vibratory sensations; like a sound that you hear with your bones. The low background drone that is always there I have come to call the spirit of the land. The tonal variations and differing energy frequencies I have begun to think of as the spirit of place. This place is both two distinct aspects, each unique in itself, yet completely inseparable. This undifferentiated duality encompassing the whole relates directly to the shamanic and Taoist worldview, there is no true "other". We are all here together. This profound truth continues to reshape my vision of Universe.



"Yes, the long memory is the most radical idea in this country. It is the loss of that long memory which deprives our people of that connective flow of thoughts and events that clarifies our vision, not of where we're going, but where we want to go." Bruce "Utah" Phillips 1935 - 2008

Spanish Oak Sasquatch Jones 2015
There are things that have been long forgotten, and they live on, in the land . The land does not forget, it remembers all that is, and how that shapes all that is becoming. The land has a long memory. Learning to speak to the land and more importantly to listen to the land will give one access to that long memory. This knowledge will open more doors than all the libraries in the world. I personally believe this due to the physical nature of this practice. You must actually go out into the world and interact with it to gain entry to this vault of knowledge.

There are places that sing with power and crowds flock to them. This is all well and good, but I know secret places, places that only those who know This Place can enter. There are many such places, but to find them one must develop a relationship with the land they belong to. When This Place first opened up and let me enter the imaginal realms, I was immediately cognizant of the similarities and differences between this realm and descriptions I had read of Fey realms.

Geography affects relation to spirit as much as time, whereas the Realm of Fey is universal it's manifestation is definitely local. My wife has told me several times about the Sasquatch that live here. I will not go into a lengthy discussion about the physicality of these guardian spirits, I will simply say they are real in the same sense that all Faerie are. The first one I met resembled a bear in build, but its face was clearly sasquatch, and it had horns like a goat. There are others here, hobs and gobs, but not quite like the ones you find in European lore. More earthy, and bony, like armadillos. Buffalo, and Bear, long gone are remembered and live on. Many of the people who once lived here, are still represented by their spirit, the land, like the body, never forgets.

There are others here too, angels, for lack of a better term. The form that appears to me most often, and seems to be THE Guardian Angel of this place, resembles a black-jaguar headed man, with enormous wings of rainbow colored flame. His presence is fiery and fierce like midsummer sun. He likes meat, and rainwater. This is a wild spirit, we never meet indoors. He belongs to the land. Others come and go, like Shadow Rabbit, and the Sun Sprites. None of this will make sense unless you have been to This Place, but the place you find will be different because it is not This Place.

The majority of my work over the last few years has been with the spirits of This Place and the land itself. When I said that I had spent a year and a day in the Earth, in many ways that was quite literal. My work could not happen and would be incomplete without this relationship. Everything is connected from the most mundane to the most fantastic. Here there are realms within realms all overlap and informing one  another Holoarchically. This Place exists in many times and spaces and they are all This Place. This Place has a very long memory.


Baby Bur Sasquatch Jones 2015
I have been lazy in the most productive way. My garden has lain fallow for two years now, I only garden in containers. My yard is a garden in the most magical of ways, wild edible, useful and magical plants have sprung up all over my yard. I have entered into a relationship with the land. I have studied its microbiomes and it has given me instruction on how to be a better steward. A forest garden is my next major project with this land. I will mimic the natural processes at work at This Place and restore the land and garden it at the same time.

This land was once cleared for cattle grazing, for the last 30 years there has been a community here and people have reintroduced trees to the environment. This lead me to idea of working with land to create an environment that was managed and yet followed the natural variations and rhythms of This Place.The initial step involves letting the high side of the property return to woodland. The squirrels have been remarkably helpful, I now have a small forest of oaks, mesquite, and pecan, covering the front of the property. This transitions into grassland as the land slope towards an arroyo seco. It is important to keep this open because of flash floods.

Pecan Seedling Sasquatch Jones 2015
More long range projects include improving the drainage in arroyo to minimize erosion. Farther down the line, a retention pond is in the works. The retention pond would be unnecessary if my neighbors had not filled the arroyo's course through their property. It has created  a far worse flooding problem. No worries, studying the lay of the land form my roof in winter I have discerned the natural water course and how to counteract my neighbors stupidity. Added bonus, more biodiversity, more complexity to This Place. We evolve together This Place. Much as the Basque is identified by his etxe, so to does This Place inform who I am. This Place and I work towards the same goals, and we both benefit from the relationship. This did not happen because I asked the land to bend to my will, no this happened because I asked the land what it willed and how I could help.

This Place.
It is where I call home, and where home calls me.
This Place.

Soul Companion Sasquatch Jones 2015