Sunday, March 20, 2011
Sunday afternoon, after work, Jones meets Kevin and Leah at Chakras to discuss plans. Having two leads on a ritual to finally close the Otherspace gate to Khalifastan, they ultimately decide to divide the labor and approach both targets. Kevin and Leah will drive to Las Vegas to meet with Brandon Frazier, while Jones will fly to Chicago to meet with Brian Lane. They make the necessary arrangements, and both parties are going to leave in the morning.
Leah also calls Bex to ask if she knows Dave Blankenship. She does, although not well; she’s never heard anything bad about him, but he gives her the creeps. They’ve met at one or two gallery showings, but she can’t say she knows much about him.
When Leah notes that she’s hanging out with Jones and Kevin, she invites Bex to come hang out. After spending time at Chakras, the quartet is joined by Jane to head to a jazz club for the evening, as something of a double-date, albeit with Leah in tow. It’s a lovely time.
The next day, Jones awakens early to head to Chicago by plane. He meets with Brian Lane at a South Side bar called Smitty’s around mid-day.
Brian is old, bearded, and tired. He claims he shouldn’t be drinking beer on account of his diabetes, but what are you going to do? One probably won’t hurt. They talk a little about Mabel — Brian claims she would steal away that girlfriend of his, were she a younger woman — before conversation turns to the Otherspace problem in Los Angeles. Brian notes that if Jones’ cabal is looking for some kind of ritual, he knows exactly the person who can provide it, but he can also guess what the price will be. His ritualist contact, a rare-book dealer in Chicago, took a bullet in the spine in a robbery-gone-bad about three years ago, and although she survived, she’s been unable to walk since. She’s been searching for someone to cure her paralysis; she’s apparently been seeking out the legendary Dr. Frakes — the old rumor is that he’ll cure any ailment for $1,000,000 cash, although Brian suspects “Dr. Frakes” is just another name for the Freak — with little luck. If Jones knows a fleshworker, or someone else capable of healing such ailments, that’s likely to be the price. Jones says he’ll have to make some phone calls, but he might know just such a person.
Before Brian leaves to try to make contact with this book dealer, conversation turns to the occult underground in general, and Brian decides to drop some cosmology on Jones. He notes that Mabel doesn’t believe this stuff — she doesn’t like the idea that we are not totally the architects of our own destinies, although Brian doesn’t think the views are incompatible — and Jones might not, either. But here’s the skinny.
Jones and his cabal are aware of avatars channeling the Archetypes, but one has to ask, what is the source of the Archetypes? How does the collective unconscious determine which concepts are important enough to merit inclusion? What is the process by which well-worn paths turn to magick?
Archetypes are created when a concept reaches a certain level of conceptual gravity in the collective unconscious. The Mother is a good example, because it’s so resonant: everybody understands what The Mother represents. Well, when the concept of “motherhood” became understood enough to merit inclusion, the Archetype of The Mother took shape in some place called the Statosphere, a place where statistics gain objective reality. But to embody this concept, the person most representing this concept goes up with it. The Archetype of The Mother, then, was once an actual person who embodied motherhood so much that she literally became a god.
The gods are the ones we make.
When any concept is important and universal enough in the collective unconscious to merit inclusion in this body of gods called the Invisible Clergy, the person best representing the concept at the time gets drawn into the Statosphere to become an Archetype. The cosmos, then, is a republican democracy writ large.
Incidentally, it is possible to stack the deck in someone’s favor if you have a particular candidate. If you provide enough symbolism around a given concept and a given person, you can ensure your chosen Archetype and your chosen representative go up into the Statosphere. Brian himself attempted this back in the 1960s. He tried to ascend as The Hippie, to bring a positive Archetype into the Statosphere. However, his symbolic attempts were trashed: first, Easy Rider deconstructed the hippie concept, and then the Tate-LaBianca murders turned the concept of the hippie murderous in the minds of the public. (Brian has always suspected the Manson Family usurpation of the concept was intentional.) His symbolism undone, Brian gave up the crusade.
Brian notes that someone else tried to do this back in 1999. An occultist named Simon Diulio, actually from the Chicago area, tried to hijack a plane in a bid to ascend as The Terrorist. He didn’t get very far before he was disarmed and jailed, however. (Jones remembers that event. The hostage situation on the flight lasted less than an hour, and led to some tighter regulations surrounding airline security and guns aboard flights. Turned it into some TV movie called Flight of Madness. Sadly it still wasn’t enough to prevent 9/11, though.)
There is another way to ascend into the Clergy, and that’s by challenging a sitting Archetype. Called an assumption, only the godwalker of an Archetype can attempt this. Assumption requires that the godwalker continue to embody the Archetype — otherwise they cease being godwalker — but that they redefine the Archetype as they do so. If you think The True King is outdated, and should more accurately represent a CEO or a political leader, then you starting pushing your symbolism in that direction. If your symbolic push moves the collective unconscious in a certain direction, then the old Archetype is cast out of the Invisible Clergy, and you and your shiny new interpretation ascend in its place.
Archetypes cast out of the Invisible Clergy pass through the House of Renunciation on their way back to the world, inverting their previous agenda. (Such former Clergy members are now just regular people again, albeit ones likely to have at least a little bit of magick and crucial insight into the workings of the world.) This appears to be the primary purpose of the House, in addition to taking people and inverting their agendas in the hopes of keeping humanity dynamic.
However, doing that declares war on the Archetype, which fights back with everything is has. The Invisible Clergy can manipulate probabilities, so they can ensure you have a heart attack, or get hit by a car, or audited by the IRS. The saving grace is that making an enemy of one Archetype usually means a rival Archetype is ready to render aid, and the two cancel each other out. (Although that usually creates wildly shifting probabilities around the focus of all this attention.) This sort of attention is typically only reserved for powerful people, such as godwalkers, who outright declare war on an Archetype; most of us are below the vast notice of the Invisible Clergy.
Incidentally, this manipulation of probabilities means that the Invisible Clergy can influence the world. Humans are still in charge of their destinies, and free will is inviolable, but the Invisible Clergy can make your neurons fire to have a particular thought (although you’re free to ignore it), or make you coincidentally bump into someone. Obviously, the world tends to be better if more Archetypes are positive ones.
Notably, the universe also reincarnates. When 333 members join the Invisible Clergy, the First and Last Man ascends to join them, and the universe is rewritten. (It’s possible that the First and Last Man ascends after the 332nd member joins, but that’s largely just semantics.) The 333 members of the Invisible Clergy determine the starting state of the next cosmos. It’s unclear what happens, whether the universe resets to the Big Bang, or if it continues to be 2011 but things are just different now and nobody knows. But if we’ve “elected” more positive Archetypes, then the next world is a better place. If we’ve “elected” more negative Archetypes, then the next world will probably be shittier.
Humanity is all there is. If there are space aliens, it’s because the previous iteration of the cosmos thought it was important for them to be there. Jones asks how this impacts evolution, but Brian doesn’t know if it matters. Maybe we start at the Big Bang and nothing mystical happens until life emerges and evolves into humans, or maybe the cosmos starts with the first humans and evolution is just a justification in the background. It’s not terribly important in the grand scheme of things.
Jones also notes that Kevin had a vision of the Invisible Clergy, and he saw some clawed, harpy-like figures. Brian suspects those are the cruel ones, possibly angels or creatures like the Furies of Greek mythology. They’re called the cruel ones because anyone has only ever heard about them from demons, and they police demons, grabbing them and hauling them back across the Veil. Demons, incidentally, are the opposite of the Invisible Clergy. Rather than the ascended form of the thoughts and aspirations of the sum total of humanity, demons are the descended forms of a single person. Most of the dead go beyond the Veil, and what happens next is unknown, but demons managed to return. They’re devoid of the standard limitations and impulses of humanity, having died in the throes of obsession. All demons are obsessed with something, and no matter how minor it is — it could be anything from psychosexual murder to spicy food — they are willing to lie or kill to get it. Demons lie habitually to get what they want. That’s part of what makes them so dangerous.
After dropping all of that on Jones, Brian notes that he’ll set about trying to establish contact with this book dealer. He’ll let Jones know one way or another, and he leaves.
Jones tries to call Felicia, and when he only gets her voicemail, he leaves a message. Then he sits at the bar waiting for a call from either Brian or Felicia.
Meanwhile, the drive to Las Vegas is uneventful. Kevin picks up Leah early in the morning, and the five-hour drive stretches to something like six-and-a-half hours because Kevin keeps stopping to help stranded motorists as part of his idiom. They otherwise arrive at the MGM Grand without incident.
They find their contact, Brandon, a bald Caucasian man wearing a Rammstein T-shirt. He has the intensity and vague pomposity one might expect of a ritual occultist. After Kevin and Leah reveal their problem, he notes he might have a ritual that works — it did nothing for him, but he assumed it worked on literal doors, not metaphorical ones like Otherspace crossroads. He notes that he cannot guarantee it will work, although he can guarantee that it isn’t a trap ritual that will open them for demon possession or anything like that. He would be willing to part with a copy of this ritual in exchange for a ritual he doesn’t have; Kevin and Leah know Jones has access to at least one ritual, which they note to Brandon. Not knowing whether he can part with it, they ask if they can call, and Brandon allows them to call their “ritualist.”
Jones is waiting at Smitty’s when he gets the call. He notes he has two rituals, one to make the mirror Willett used, and another that potentially identifies long-term spells on someone. Discussion with Brandon indicates he would be interested in these rituals, and so they all agree to contact each other again soon.
With that, Kevin and Leah begin the long drive back to Los Angeles. Strangely, Leah notes that Kevin has driven continuously without eating or using the bathroom this entire trip.