Psychegnosis

Daniel Mirante


Added on January 14, 2021

If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you. – Gospel of Thomas


‘Nova Era’ by Daniel Mirante (detail)

(Psyche=Soul – Gnosis=Knowledge)

Human consciousness evolution can be summerised in the catechism of Integral Theory; ‘Transcend And Include’.

As a consciousness evolves, it integrates more and more holons (Koestler), the consciousness ‘dilates’ to bring into awareness more of what exists ‘below’ and ‘above’ itself.

‘Below’ – the assembly languages of neural activity – ‘pre-processing algorythms’ that weave together into the qualia of ‘self-experience’. We may locate this ‘below’ in the biological plexus (latin; to plait or weave); the cellular, genetic and atomic organismic systems of the physical body.

‘Above’ – larger collective systems of culture and history the human mind is embedded within from birth. Creators are particularly potent ’emitters’ within the cultural plexus.

Ancestral, historical or ‘ancient origins’ material also finds inference and symbolic representations in the transpersonal psyche. The theory of the Archetypes and the Collective consciousness, epigenetics, zoologic or cellular memory, ‘akashic records’, reincarnation and karma, and pan-psychism are all various proposals for where these may originate.

‘As Above so below’, the fractal patterns of nature hold, are are experienced in visionary states, described phenomenologically as numinous, primordial architectures and systems of energy, coupled with ‘revelatory’ of recollection and realisation. An integrative emergent order may express itself in symbolic ‘monads’ or ‘gestalts’.

Yes, we grasp for words. It is the purpose of this exercise, to further the work of taking words, and using them to elude to the nature of ‘vision quest’.

History & Psychegnosis

Each neuron is a subsystem of the greater system of the brain, which then creates directed complexity via top-down or global influences on the subsystems composing it (internal self-reorganisation). As Churchill remarked ‘First we make our buildings, then our buildings make us.’ This is an expression of the principle of feedback within complex self organising systems.

And each individual is a transductive subsystem in the collective consciousness. Creative acts produce waves and rippies within the communal and cultural medium akin to cymatic waveforms or Belousov–Zhabotinsky reactions. Therefore each individual is in principle a contributor to the harmony. We each contribute to and produce ‘culture’, and in turn this creates a mileau in which the next generations, in their extended period of neoteny, are imbued by.

The human story is one of layered movements of ‘transcend and include’, with Icarus-like falls into Chaos as spires of integration are undermined by various forms of ‘dia-bolic’ (meaning to throw out, from the centre) forces. Civilisational collapse is the result of external (environmental) or internal stress precipitating a situation of the decoherence of the ‘subsystems’ – the collapse of the ability for subsystems to meaningfully or harmoniously cohere. This may result in systems bifurcating and diversifying, to later reach points of either harmonious integration or dis-integration.

Often the historical process is considered to be one governed by empire building, or almost entirely determined by the development of technology (Jaques Ellul – ‘The Technological Society). The role of human pair bonding, traditions of nuclear families and localised-but-extended, genetic kinship networks all play a role in the ‘binding’ of the human species in its journey. And religion or cultural and civic values are also considered to play a part.

However, if “True culture is based on immanence and transcendence”  one of the major and most overlooked factors of cultural formation is gnosis or ‘autopsychognosia’.

“Autopsychognosia is a neuronal process which gives rise to emotional-intellectual realizations about the content of the unconscious and the motives of behaviour.”

Dr A Kafkalides

This ever-evolving self-experiencing can be described as the evolution of human consciousness; the capacity to integrate, expand into the foundations and roots and also grow outward in the mindful and conscious knowing of its collective ramifications. These broader or farther reaches of human nature have been called ‘transpersonal’.

“Autopsychognosia is not a method of therapy. It is combined emotional and intellectual knowledge, which acquires therapeutic value only if the individual uses it in everyday life entirely on his/her own initiative. However, a person who has not undergone such a process finds it difficult to empathise with its emotional content.”

Dr A Kafkalides

The Contemporary Environment

In recent decades, cultural paroxysm for collective autopsychegnosis and transpersonal awakening via ‘psychedelic revolution’, ‘transformational festivals’, Visionary Art, Burning Man, Archaic Revival, and other movements have caused widespread transpersonal experiences in the present times but have also lead to a strange zeitgeist where the fashionable external adumberations, semiotics and signifiers of ‘consciousness revolution’ threaten to become what Chogyam Trungpa has refered to as ‘spiritual materialism’ or the Sufi Traditionist Rene Guenon refered to as ‘counter initiation’.

A counter initiation is a failure or even an inversion of genuine initiation into spiritual awakening. The risk is a rudderless disaster, involving great numbers of conceptually unmoored people without a bedrock or foundation of workable tradition. Techno-semiotic, post-modern, psychedelically decompartmentalised and deconditioned psyches whom are vunerable to re-imprinting by the cybernetic algorythms of social media.

The traditional religious frameworks that would supply a kind of initiatic bedrock for transpersonal development have been destabilised by Cartesian rationalism and materialism. Quite clearly, there is a need for a re-sacralisation of the world, but people who function on criteria of frequent reality-testing and healthy skepticism in the face of mass counter-initiation do not know how to cohere a new ‘sacred worldview’ in the wake of the crisis of war, cross-cultural multiplicity, and transhumanism of the 20th and earth 21st century.

Visionary Art & Symbolism

The provisional answers I put forward here place the creative process at the centre of the being. The ego of the magician, shaman, spiritual aspirant etc is secondary to the creative impluse of life expressing itself through the pure channelling and processing of cosmic energy then expressing itself in creative formations.

It is not the magician or artist or psychonaut that makes creativity special or remarkable, it is creativity itself that is special and remarkable. The creative capacity, which is the life and consciousness process itself in action. The ‘Promethean flame’ – ‘The gift of the Gods’ released to humanity, the creative will ‘used and misused’ (Tolkien).

From this perspective symbolism and sign are creative and interactive phenomena that hold initiatic potentials and function as a transpersonal logos or lingua for presentations and representations of autopsychognosia to consciousness and from consciousness-to-consciousness.

Herein is the value and potential of visionary art. Visionary art is a stimulating behaviour for symbolic intelligence, what the Islamic scholar and scholar of I’bn Arabi, Henri Corbin, called ‘The Imaginal’.

The Imaginal is a layer or bandwidth of human consciousness involved in symbolic self-organisation. It is the phenomenological, visionary realm in which autopsychognosis processes unfold in their integrative capacity.

We can provisionally lay it out in four aspects to this psychegnosis:

A) Abreactive, cathartic reactivations of latent emotional systems, complexes, including biographic material, and even including experiences before birth. (Underworld, purification or ‘healing’ experiences).

B) Integrative, consolidatory, balancing and harmonising processes which Michael Winkelman called ‘psychointegrative‘. (Transcendent, numinous and holy experiences). Experiences of the Sacred. Divinity. God.

C) Symbolic representation in experiential Imaginal space of autopsychegnosis resulting in development of visionary creativity.

D) Enaction, in creativity, speech, behaviour, expressing higher orders of integration and insight feeding into the collective consciousness.

In this respect, the poetry and art and symbolism of religious and mystical systems refer in their imagery to Imaginal spaces of autopsychegnosis, either narrated or interpreted directly from visionary states or else gradually accrued, through intuition and day-to-day creativity, as the capacities for autopsychegnosis steadily mature in the individual.

Consciousness Evolution : The ‘Great Work’

When a system is far from equlibrium small islands of coherence in a sea of chaos have the capacity to lift the entire system to a higher order.” – Lllya Prigogine

Consciousness Evolution and the concept of spiritual realisation were not always conceptually connected. In some systems, the ship cannot be saved, as it were, but the individual can find salvation. Life is seen more as a clearing house, threshing floor, or transitionary loka (realm). Different systems of religious tradition place differing emphasis in the vehicles of faith, salvation, realisation or gnosis.

The altruistic and compassionate instinct in humanity seeks for the wellbeing of the entire community if not all sentient beings, and so the reason for application of spiritual effort is not only driven by the individuals longing for Union but also for the spiritual enlightenment of humanity and for the reduction of suffering wherever possible.

We can call this collective effort ‘The Great Work’. As its heart or centre is the individual communion with the Divine, which we have described as autopsychegnosia.

Many spiritual conceptions envisage a U shaped descent and return to God via way of a ‘heros’ quest’, the soul’s ‘forgetting and remembering’ beautifully crystalised in the parable known as ‘The Hymn of the Pearl’.

But the human species is not experiencing its ‘spiritual evolution’ in a calm, consistent world but within an often extremely convulsive historical process punctuated by catylcylsmic wars, plagues, diaspora and huge disparities of resources.

Technological innovation continusly redefines parameters of life expectency, medical treatment, human pair-bonding and reproduction. Salvific ‘transhumanist’ visions of technologic advancement for achieving immortality via heavily altered machine augmented bodies and minds, and transcendence of matter into virtual ‘wish fulfilment’ simulcras play through the prevailing zeitgeist.

Transpersonal psychotherapy throughout the 20th century has attempted to wrestle with the fact that within a market-and-machine regulated secular existence. Autopsychognosea remains an important and central part of individual human experience, art and culture.

Death-Rebirth Mysteries

One of the most significant propositions developed through transpersonal therapy in the latter half of the 20th century concern the pivotal formative impact of conception, gestation and birth experiences upon the adult personality. This proposition was derived through empirical observation of a vast body of subjects and formalised into theories such as Stanislav Grof’s ‘birth perinatal matrixes’ and Athanassios Kafkalides ‘cellular memory traces’.

Numerous transpersonal psychologists, in the latter 20th century, contended that perinatal experience required factored in to our understanding of the psyche. Graham Farrant, one originator of ‘Primal therapy’, claims that : 

“…when memories of conception were achieved, expressed, relived and integrated, and there followed by a dramatic, sudden and sustained change in personality, behaviour and interactive life experiences, it became convincing to me that the experiences relived in therapy must have had some basis in a concrete reality”.

Graham Farrant

Perinatal means ‘around-birth’. It refers to the stages before, during and immediately after biological birth Stanislav Grof proposes ‘birth perinatal matrixes’ explain of much of the emotional conditioning and predilictions of personality of the adult psyche. The birth perinatal matrixes, when activated through ‘holotropic’ triggers such as breathwork and psychedelic substances, express themselves through intense autonomic arousal/fight-flight and struggle, and through visionary experiences which hinge the consciousness between the individual biographical life and the transpersonal.

In an interview, Stanislav Grof contends :

“The perinatal level of the unconscious is the fist level of the psyche that we encounter when we transcend biography. You never hear about perinatal experiences. Because the idea in western medicine is theres no consciousness at birth. Birth is not experienced. You can talk about conditions but not experiences.

So the new thing here is that we discovered that the entire process of birth is recorded with all the emotions, physical sensations, and even other elements, such as for example the anaesthesia that was used, the forceps that was used. It constitutes an important part of an entire domain of the unconscious that I call perinatal because its related to the trauma of birth.

When people are reliving their birth it has two different aspects, one is like a replay of what happened to them biologically, but the other aspect is a very rich symbolic imagey that comes with it, which cannot be derived from birth but what Jung calls the Collective Unconsciousness.”

Stan Grof

The perinatal matrixes do not encompass all that can be said of the human spiritual process but represent a very important tide-mark in our understanding of death-rebirth experiences which aim for catharsis, recognition and integration of the individual. It can be presumed that such knowledge was part of initiatic schools from time immemorial – part of the culture of psychegnosis through the Great Work occuring through the generations.

Becoming Anarchon – The ‘Twice Born’

That which has no beginning (unbegun), that which has no principles or laws (unconditioned), is the Great Liberation. A new visionary art will depict this liberation aesthetic, and guide humanity to its ‘second birth’. For we may be born physically, but our process of highly sentient creatures with long, neotenous periods of psychological and physical development beyond the womb, means we continue our development, our formation, toward the transpersonal, spiritual birth.

Basilidese visioned God as creating a ‘World Egg’ which is in the process of refinement, a process of seperation of elements or purificatory flux, where the ‘subtle’ or Pneumatic (spiritual) is seperated from the ‘mental’ or psychic, with the ‘Gross’ or Hyletic (matter orientated) precipitating and drifting further from source. This vision is compelling as it suggests a divine realm, and an earthly world of mixed principles which is imperfect, incomplete, yet evolving. In such a world, the role of the spiritual aspirant is not only to make an ascending or transcending movement but also to call down the spirit into the immanent or material world for a rectification or realisation ‘On Earth as in Heaven’.

We currently live within a collective birth process, a phase of immense pressure and constriction, collectively enacted as lock-downs, shut-downs, various forms of restriction of freedom of speech. And yet within apparent tyranny and loss of liberty, the human race reflects upon itself and its history deeply, and new healing and growth responses spring forth. This formative pressure leading to the transcendental moment of the ‘hatching of the world egg’. This is the birth of the Anarchon, the liberated consciousness, the ‘Sophia Transcendis’ (The transcendental wisdom being).

As far as my capacity to Imagine, the ANARCHON, the Sophia Transcendis Anthropos, represents the Heiratic Body, the ability for humanity to inhabit the physical, cellular body in the full resplendence of spirit, ‘crowned’ and crowning creation, in recogition of the purity of the elements, the fulfilment of the spiritual journey accomplished on a collective level – ‘Heaven on Earth’.

And yet it is ego death, because it is a consciousness that knows itself to be a tiny quantum grain of crystaline sand lapped upon by the shores of an inconcievably vast, glistening cosmic ocean. It is precisely on this fractal interface between something and nothing, that the miracle of creation is possible. The miracle of the dance of radiance emptiness, the freedom that those ancestors who guided the Great Work long ago wished for their Children.

Daniel Mirante

Byron Bay, Australia October 2020

One Response to “Psychegnosis”

  1. Hi DANIEL
    Have we met or spoken? Curious how you talk about psychegnosis?
    Eamon

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