The Living Dead - or finding the right time for death
The Oxford Pitt Rivers Museum is one of the most outstanding places to visit if you have an interest in magic and/or anthropology. However, from a magical point of view it is not only the most fascinating collection I have seen, but also the saddest. Rarely have I encountered so many spirit remains locked up in limbo and frozen in their graves made from glass and silence...
All of the thousands of ritual objects in this museum exist for a reason and many of them are still animated with what little is left of their original spiritual entities. Here is a place for the living dead, a graveyard full of ancestral, chthonic and celestial entities - waiting in their graves to be allowed to fade away or to be restored to their original glory.
Here is a short account of what happened when a fool like I tried to help... The Pitt Rivers museum had been closed for renovations during our previous visits to Oxford and so competition for the Ashmolean had been low at that time... After our visit to the Pitt we went to a park, laid in the sun, relaxed and had lunch. It was a beautiful sunny day - yet my head and heart were still spinning from all the fleeting spirit contacts and impression I had encountered while wondering through the exhibition. My initial excitement started to make place for a deep felt sadness and frustration for what was happening to the spirit remains locked into this huge dark room. I could still hear their silence in my head - and clearly felt that there was something I needed to do to help them - knowing that my limited magical means didn't match the challenge in any way.
So when my wife and friends decided to go to the pub I returned to the museum for a second time. I went straight to the very end of the large ground floor and found an empty chair jammed between two of the huge glass display cabinets. I sat down, relaxed, practiced a few deep breaths of pranayama and entered the Void through the flame in my heart (for a description of this powerful doorway see Josephine McCarthy's book). After merging with the Void and giving up myself to it I opened a door and found myself back at the entrance of the museum... However, this time my body was still sitting in the chair at the back end of the room and I was entering the museum in vision.
I looked ahead, standing slightly elevated above the room in the entrance, and saw what I had only perceived intuitively before: The large dark room was still drenched in deep silence. Yet, now I could clearly saw in which of the display cases actual spirits were trapped and how they flagged their state of misery... Out of the glass cabinets I saw thousands of static, white columns of an organic smoke-like substance rising into the atrium. These smoke columns resembled white tall flags (of ectoplasm?), flowing up vertically, pointing to the covered sky, yet standing still as if being frozen in time. I looked at this deeply depressive impression for a while. Then I wondered why I couldn't see any inverted columns of smoke pointing into the earth? If these columns indicated where the spirits originally came from - and wanted to return to - some of them should point back to the chthonic regions while others to celestial? However, I couldn't find any inverted flags flowing down into the earth. All I perceived was the deep sadness captured silently in the white columns pointing to the sky.
I followed the stairs down to the displays and wandered in between them just like I had done before. Then I sat down in the middle of the hall and took up meditation. I called my HGA and allowed his body to merge with mine. Soon I was embraced by the familiar white, fluorescent cloud. At this point I didn't exercise any control of what happened next but left it to my HGA and its interaction with the spirit remains. All of this was clearly above my magical pay-grade... My HGA reacted swiftly and determined. It extended itself high above me into the sky and below me into the ground. Within a few moments it became a huge pillar of power and fluorescent light, reaching through the roof and floor of the building into the natural space beyond. Then something happened - as if a lot of doors had been slammed open - and I suddenly felt a wave of diverse spirit presence entering and rushing through my body. They came from all sides, entered the pillar of light my angel had established and were taken up by a strong wind or current that pulled them upwards. Then they disappeared.
This process didn't last longer than a few minutes. I am sure it was hugely limited by my personal magical 'stamina' or ability to remain concentrated and present in a state of not-being and not-willing. The multiplicity of spirit presence entering into my body and rushing upwards was simply stunning and such a new experience that it pulled me out of my state of quiet passiveness and letting-go... At some point the pillar of light faded and I stood up. I went back to the entrance of the museum and returned into the Void. On the other side I reappeared in my own body and opened my eyes.
I left the museum feeling tired and strangely deranged. The experience had been just as real and intense as short. In total it had only been 20min since I reentered the museum. It seems my inner self had been ready and just waiting for me to start the visit in spirit... Equally, I am sure it only was a very small fraction of the spirit presence caught in the museum that left through my body. For it to have a sustainable effect and truly set the majority of 'living dead' free I would need to return and repeat this exercise many times... Or you might - on your visit to the Pitt Rivers when you are in Oxford next time?
What this day reminded me of is that goodbyes can be a blessing. I had forgotten that death, decay and departures can be as desirous and heartfelt as birth and new beginnings. Actually, it seems the wonderful Jenny Wilson is all too aware of this as well... Here is to all the moments of dying, all the departures that come to us when they are meant to be.
No no more sugar left
No more soap to clean my hands with
No songs left for the choir
Oh no more stitches for the dress
No more bread here left to bless
I raise my hands to reach the sky
So I left my fading life
I left my house with an open door
Left it like an open sore
I couldn't stop the wind oh blow
So I left my fading life