Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Great Rite - Presented Before the Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness

The annual conference of the Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness was held at the Edgefield McMenamins resort just outside of Portland, Oregon March 23-29, 2011. The property has an amazing natural beauty as well as magnificent hot swimming pools to soak in.
Edgefield McMenamins Resort
The conference itself was a highly interesting experience. These are not your run of the mill, ivory tower anthropologists who eek out a living holed up in the backwaters of a small university - boring their students to death. Nope. These guys are the real deal.

These are the anthropologists who fly off to the Amazon at a moment's notice just to try for themselves - and to document - the latest entheogen just emerged from the jungle with a hitherto untouched pocket of native American civilization. In short, these are the Indiana Joneses of Cultural Anthropology.
I was invited to participate in the conference as an anthropological informant (as a Master Alchemist of the Egyptian-Neopolitan alchemical tradition) for Leslie McQuade's workshop on The Great Rite. 

Master Alchemist - David Griffin
I fully expected this to be a tough audience, but to my surprise they were congenial, convivial, and truly open to the revelation of Hermetic alchemy as a lost Western variant of Eastern Tantra filtered through an Egyptian lineage, and an amazing science of the energetics of the human body.

I was a bit nervous in the beginning as, despite 30 years experience with public speaking, this was my first experience with an audience filled with anthropologists. 

Thankfully, Ms. McQuade broke the ice for me with a joke:
"Meet my informant, Og. Never mind that he forgot the bone in his nose at home this morning."
I lectured for the Society on the history of Western spiritual sexuality, its origin in the shamanic tradition of the Great Mother Goddess, how it became internal alchemy in Egypt, before being reimported to Europe with the Greeks and Romans following their conquest of Egypt. I spoke also on the true nature of Internal Alchemy as a science of energetic evolution and immortality, and how this is symbolized by mummies and the way artifacts are gathered in the tombs of Egyptian nobles. I also mentioned how Western spiritual sexuality survived the Inquisition safely hidden behind the symbols and images of Hermetic alchemy.

The information was extremely well received, but it was the physical demonstration that left these anthropologists salivating for more. I used a very elementary, non-sexual alchemical technique, using a simple manipulation of the physical body to raise the sexual energy out of the genetal area and into the upper regions of the body, thus profoundly altering consciousness. 

Numerous of the anthropologists present were astonished. One commented that he had never before experienced such a profound shift in consciousness, except with the aid of a powerful entheogen.

The following day Ms. McQuade presented new anthropological evidence documenting the survival of essential elements of the pre-Pagan shamanic tradition of l'Arte Eccelsa (The Sublime Art) into modern times. Her lecture mentioned how the ancient shamanic spiritual sexual tradition had been preserved in the Rites of Dionysos and how Gerald Gardner had been influenced by these spritual sexual mysteries during his visit to the Villa of the Mysteries in Pompeii. The question naturally arises how profoundly the Dionysian mysteries influenced what later became The Great Rite in Wicca. 
Anthropologist - High Priestess - Leslie McQuade
Ms. McQuade additionally presented evidence for Pagan survival from antiquity deriving from interviews with her anthropological informant, Lady Diana, 38th Arch Priestess of the del Bosco Sacro lineage of l'Arte Eccelsa (a reigning matriarch of a surviving shamanic-Pagan lineage in Italy). Ms. McQuade finished by presenting evidence for the continuation of this shamanic tradition through the dark age of the Inquisition, as documented by the Inquisition itself in the use by the alleged "Witches" (shamanic practitioners of l'Arte Eccelsa) of powerful entheogenic substances including belladona and datura in what was docuemtned as "Witches' Flying Ointment."

All in all, the annual conference of the Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness was a highly enjoyable experience. I am proud to have participated in it, especially as a living representative of the Italian alchemical tradition, which not only survived the inquisition, but kept our Western spiritual sexual tradition alive during the centuries when the shamanic branch of Western spiritual sexuality (l'Arte Eccelsa) had been forced deeply underground where it was preserved exclusively along family lines.

I look very much forward to reading Ms. McQuade's paper, which will be published shortly in the Journal of the Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness, published by the American Anthropological Association. I find it significant that, based on her presentations, Ms. McQuade received three academic publishing offers during the conference, which is remarkable for an independent researcher.
Who says there are no Pagan survivors?

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