The View from the Abyss Part 1
by Brian Allan

‘"Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster,and if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you." - (Fredrich Wilhelm Nietzsche 1844-1900)


 It is likely that Nietzsche intended the above quotation as a metaphor describing how we are affected and influenced by the world around us and the people we encounter. It is also likely that when he mentions the abyss, he specifically refers to evil as an entity in its own right and how we may eventually pay the ultimate price for engaging with it. However, it is also sufficiently wide ranging enough that it might also describe what can and does happen to those who look into and immerse themselves in the hidden worlds and mysteries that surround us. In this essay we will journey into the realms of magic and what might exist there.

The View from the Abyss

 What is the nature of ‘The Abyss’ that surrounds us; is it the true source of the power harnessed by magicians and psychics? Is it the realm of ghosts, poltergeists, demons and devils; is it what for aeons has been referred to as heaven or hell? Is it the pitiless, personal snare of madness, or is it something that is only now gradually being recognised as a limitless energy and information field that can be tapped and focussed by anyone possessing sufficient knowledge, discipline and dedication? It has been suggested that if this is the case, and you ‘gaze’ (or meditate) upon it, it may be possible that some its essence returns with you into this world. As we shall see, it is also possible that the very nature of both what it is and what it might be have the power to destroy the intellect of the casual or dilettante observer. Is this because the minds of those who glimpsed the infinite chaos of the abyss recoiled when the implications of what they saw there suddenly erupted upon their understanding, or alternatively, they simply could not accept, comprehend or absorb the ultimate nature of it?

Science and Magic

Perhaps one of the most interesting dichotomies in paranormal research is the deliberate segregation of science and magic that cameabout millennia ago due to a variety of social, cultural and religious reasons, when in truth, both disciplines act as mirrors precisely reflecting one another. At one time the practise of scientific research, especially alchemy, was classified as magic due to the fact that so little was understood, by anyone, about natural processes and functions. Gradually, perhaps because of powerful patronage, alchemy achieved a measure of respectability and although there is no conclusive evidence that lead was ever transmuted into gold, it was this particular branch of early science that, over time, developed into metallurgy and a host of other disciplines. Witchcraft on the other hand had developed from various non-Christian, pagan belief systems that had more in common with animism and nature worship than anything else. Although this type of homage did not present any real threat to the emerging Christian Church, it represented a challenge to both its power and inflexible orthodoxy and was therefore suppressed with unremitting ferocity. 

In common with the fledgling science of alchemy, it was from the much older practise of witchcraft that many important discoveries into the medicinal uses of natural substances were made. A typical example of this is the commonly used medication, aspirin and its derivatives. The drug, aspirin, or at least one of its constituents, salicylic acid, was originally derived from the bark of willow trees and although now produced synthetically, if necessary it could still be obtained from its original source. Interestingly, it was also witches and their cousins, shamans, who discovered and employed the effects of hallucinogenic plant extracts to empower their journeys into the realm of spirits where they were frequently able to gain information predicting future events. The discrete use of hallucinogens was also employed by ancient Greek and Roman priests and priestesses who assumed the role of  and to make the experience of those seeking advice from the oracle truly mystical, there was also the deliberate and sophisticated use of disorientation and other theatrical techniques. Nowadays however, virtually all of these old practises have either disappeared or been modified to suit modern tastes and oracles have since evolved into mediums and clairvoyants. Alchemy on the other hand, in addition to its original purpose, is now regarded in some quarters as a metaphor for the pursuit of spiritual perfection. While the practise of witchcraft is now is more or less tolerated, it still attracts much unfavourable and ill-informed comment. In spite of the evolution of both alchemy and to a lesser degree witchcraft, there is still no clear point at which conventional science and magic converge. This is not because it does not exist, because it does, but instead, because of the refusal of Newtonian science and the corporate status quo to admit or accept the obvious, esoteric science remains in a hinterland of rejection, self-interest, fear and superstition. is arguable that anyone who practices magic, black, white or any shade in between, continually walks on the edge of the abyss whenever they invoke the forces that supposedly inhabit the invisible worlds that swirl and eddy around us. Depending on how one interprets the term ‘magic’ it becomes evident that it is not only confined to the traditional practitioners of that science, for indeed science it is. Those who are also involved in the magical process include, amongst others, psychic mediums, channellers, scryers, and healers. They do not see themselves as magicians, but by the nature of what they do and the results they achieve, the word, magic, summarises their abilities exactly. The denial is almost akin to a form of snobbery and a desire to distance themselves from the techniques and practises of their magical cousins. In fact, it may be that it is mediums rather than magicians who actually gaze into the abyss on a regular basis, particularly those talented few who are physical or transfiguration mediums. However, among those who have styled themselves in the conventional image of mages or magicians, some, by design, for whatever reason, have most definitely cast their lot with the ‘dark side’.

© Brian Allan 2004

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