Welcome to The Castalia Foundation

A Peyote Awakening

By Joyce James, 1964
Shapes that make you feel high

Back at The House; three of us, with one other — Marolyn, a friend. It was the weekend of Easter, and the early evening of Good Friday. It was also just one year ago that we had commenced the deeper meditation of Yogananda’s initiation into Kriya Yoga.

As Monty had recommended, we had eaten lightly, nothing more than an apple. From the jar of liquid he poured us each a thumbfull. Considering all the claims that were made for it the amount seemed scant enough, but holding that brown-green, soupy mud where once one could smell it, one’s nose of itself would rear nostrils aback, with refusal. Oh but it was bitter! Unbelievably alien to the human taste. One’s whole body was affronted. We thought that perhaps if mixed with honey and slowly rolled on the tongue, at least we should be able to swallow it. No sense of anticipation remained, there was no prelude to awe, but the act of sipping that brew was a total experience in itself — the reluctant gagging.

“Sure must need something pretty badly to endure this...,” I thought. Slowly, and very surely, we extracted from our senses the condensed savor of all the bitterness there is in life, slow distilled to almost unassimilatable lees of taste. And the honey, with its polarity of sweetness merely seemed extension of the slow drip poison dreg of bitter.

Down at last. I was disappointed — phooey, there seemed nothing to this stuff. I might have known it wouldn’t work on me. I felt no change. I do not know my expectation, something like champagne perhaps — a deeper sensing of beauty, an intensifying of color, and significance in form — less that dulling of perception that drunkenness can bring, Oh ignorant, naive.

Bodies still, and waiting; after some time Don claimed some new sensation at the base of his skull. It seemed like idle conversation, for I myself was not aware of any change, except I did not feel so pleasant or indifferent as I had, and a light remark from Marolyn, with her usual mocking humor drew from me overweighted, snapped rebuke. My contempt was quite apparent, surprising me at least, so unguessed its existence and extent before. But Don, in voice so thinned and cruel with answering disgust replied for her to me in accent from the gutter — “Jesus Myrtle! Aint you the little lady though?”

Some such thing, but his expression as he flung it, his lip a writhing of disdain, was a disproportioned, embittered consignment to derision. Never had I heard him speak that way in all our lives together. The cause I did not understand, but my response was immediate and frightful to me. That voice of his that darted venom hit like frozen falling into water. Shock rippled unsuspected depths of all my being, encountering underlying other shock of knowing that all along such hate had been before, never acknowledged, suppressed, denied; counterpointing, chording, leaping scales of expanding recognition.

I knew such freezing anger, I could not describe; such indomitable, rigid anger, and cruel shock and pain that I was battered — and forever removed from ignorance of our relation. Why — he had only hated me as the woman, any woman — and had negated my rights to become one; suppressing me had practically turned me into a boy — neutered me in fact. Gone forever the humble pleading to God to try to reflect my husband’s elevation, incorporate within myself the superior nature ascribed to him. Now I knew. He was an affront to nature while refusing of its existence should it manifest as woman. Oh, what the mother of such a boy? And who actually was this stranger with whom I’d ridden dreaming nightmare for so long?

Final and irrevocable, that anger loosed in me — and fatal — for it embodied death. Heart bursting into mind’s reflected anguish the churning of my diaphragm lashing on torment, the sudden weakness of the knees under sickened, goaded body, I spoke: “Aaagghh. I had better leave this place Don Naylor, or I'm afraid I would kill you...”

And I groped out of the house, nauseous, wracked with the burgeoning vision of our state together. Unbelievable! Yet somewhere, somewhere, I had always known this. Oh why so unconscious that fear, that hate of him, smothered in guilt and delusion?

I left them in the warm hearth room, all firelit and calm — in just those few seconds an exile, “Ah, I am really alone then. The outcast, the nonbelonger, and have I not always known it?” And a subtle change in sense occurred. That hate was true, my answering leap of violence real. Fear had always been. Now I saw the veils were lifting, and the view was black and wasted. Nausea mounted. Thirteen years’ experience became as naught, or cycled round again to that other night of life, when ‘they’ had told me I was not their own. Sickening as that shock had been, aftermath had brought relief — “at last the things that are, are seen as so, and desperate though they be, they are not so fearful as delusion.” Now again that grimness of relief, with vision freeing from the webs stranded on mockery. My God! How that man did hate — and it wasn’t even hate for me — only intervening phantoms interpolating image and reality. Ah, how blinded my poor, weak eyes. (“Jesus Christ”... . I'd said it myself, that I would not marry any other than He !) And what of him, was he blind too, or did he really know? Oh dear God, NOW is upon me! Again! For I see as clearly. We are blind.

And helpless. These words that take a page and half an hour to write them take no motion of time for their living — lived as they are outside it. In less than the reach of a footstep, the fast racing knowing of how things have been for a lifetime!

Falling now, so weak with wrack and shame, but on up to the roof, “I’ll be alone this night, whatever it should bring. At least is less danger apart.”

And up the slow stairs, in utter aloneness, I stepped on the roof to the deck— reached the mattress —— prostrate I was ill. Nausea flooded up the bitterness of down savored drug, throwing up the apple that had comprised my dinner. Oh poor, poor Eve! That apple choked her daughters all through time, so abysmally wretched with the good and evil phantasy. It bubbled like a fountain in my throat, the grief.

Body quietening, I lay with racing mind forming picture after picture of our ‘marriage’. Came vision with new emphasis, informing as a dream, and I shuddered at the cruelties hidden but implicit. I could not weep — weeping is a part of the sad scenes that it mourns, an extension of the past with some hope for its future — but I saw only a past that had never existed, replaced by realities that had never been dreamed; crouched like a stone under the moon-deflecting screen, Like a sad, sad stone.

Laughter floated the roof, came drifting over the garden. They all seemed happy enough down there! I cannot tell you to what depths my spirit dropped — deep, deep fathom-plummet beyond all reach of feeling. Anger and sadness, hot-lipped words; they were so far away. They were of the living and no life moved in me except for my body breathing the life of its own. I was nearly shocked to death and beyond characteristic of the living.

The night drew on and their voices murmured above the trees. Sometimes music played, and I alone — on the top of the house — was a part of the house for all the feeling left to me. I do not know how long I sat, and after a while found my legs of themselves had folded into lotus, seat of many a morning’s quiet, and that I was not so sad as then.

Dropped away the daily life that had distraited so — little but the moment and the knowledge that I had no life, and likely never did, was peace enough. It was a certain knowing — and that is all we pray for: certainties. I raised my head to the moon sky and met the silent core of Self inside on which all things turn, but is lost to the mundane vision by overflow of dream. It is itself the dreamer also, and not the one in dream. Self is a quiet thing, a strong thing, and it is all there ‘is’. Free of dreams, free of the see-saw of the thoughts of them, it is neither good or bad. It just is. And for a while, it was.

I heard the slow walking of someone under the trees, and although it was quite distant the hearing was acute, as I had not experienced hearing in years. Someone moving nearer to me and on up the stair. In the doorway, head against the moonlight and looking as I had seen him look the last time he was ‘He’ and real, there stood my old friend Monty.

He quietly sat himself beside me — understanding in his manner, and in his self-containedness was reflection of my own. “Oh” (In my everyday mind —— like a mind going on at the foot of the stair.) “Then I must seem as he. This is the answer to that question of how must he have felt? Ah, it is a far country that manifests so.”

A sense of shock for myself this time, in the little conscious mind that existed with this other Self, for now I also knew the distance travelled from that daily world existence. As if the outer skin purports to be the person, but when the skin is made transparent and the Being inside is seen, one learns what was the skin only, with a pockmark seam of pain of unguided belief that has nought to do with the inner self, and is merely a record of the dream — and that the Self was never known.

There is the split in the mind.
I answered, “No, my soul is sick to death.”

He looked very kind there in the moonlight, and utterly remote. As remote as anyone actually is, and as he had formerly appeared to me, when I adored what had then been far beyond me, I understood. In the quiet of my soul before it plunged hell-bound on the soaring way to heaven, I understood, regarding him without the love which he evoked before — for I was far away from love.

"Bard-oh ! Bard. Sing to him who passes now quietly slipped from mooring of his clay. Bardo! Bard pray now. Pray forever that he may, now and forever bridge the stream from life to death, unslain by knowledge of his own lie in breath-taking pictures constantly pray for him now all is one. Now he descends into Bardo! Bard, oh pray!"

And the sound of my own voice astounded me, A deep booming ring from the bottomless tomb. It was myself, that tomb! With voice as low and endless as all the bounded earth that comprised my form; a voice that used up ravening strength to merely utter of itself. I observed its force of travel in every muscle, nerve and tissue, before it transformed the ether into corresponding sound. God! What a journey. Each sound, each thought, each word was the echo of a lifetime of existence, choice and action.

All history went to form one sound! No utterance is made but it employs totality. A fact existing without our notice in our usual slow-body-consciousness. My own voice frightened me come issuing from the grave. I had never heard my voice before! Buried in my body! So obvious a state I did not know how I had so long successfully evaded it. The days of my life had been mostly death ! Was I now alive?

Implication of a judgment yawning now before me as the soul stands free of its tomb, this which :was happening to me: for great changes are taking place in this little structural universe of myself.

Sitting rapt as lotus, there before me was the person calling himself ‘Monty’. No one I had ever known! Oh God, the world as I know it is slipping from me, what is taking place? This . . . this form beside me, who was he, and ahhhhh... who am I? So long I have asked that question, gone the years I thought I knew. Just another dream-filled period obscuring deep issues that have those few times caused me to ask it. Heaven above, I ask you now! WHO AM I?

For fearful was my vision, racing was my vision. The moon and stars were nearer and leaping on the sky. Centuries were flashing in those sky journeyings. Light was changing now for me, the light that was in things, a central core blue flame. My eye struck the wood beam, and up to the stones that, glowing too, filled me with rising horror of recognition — the world of dream was loosed from sleep and the world of dream was real! I could not jump to the sleep of the day and flee it all behind. In every thing the cold blue fire — moving, moving on itself. Appalled, I felt the mounting rushing speeds inside, far below was my plodding mind, duly recording the doings of a consciousness far beyond itself; still down there in a familiar world. I had left that world behind for another and another and even then another.... “Shouted from the housetops” that were our own heads. Christ told us, long ago. “Oh, I’m afraid,’ I moaned to him beside me. “Please don’t leave me now.” “I shall stay with you, but don’t you know you’re cold? Let me fetch you a blanket.” “No! No, please don’t go, Cold! What is that to me?” I shrugged a shoulder and it seemed an hour, so complex and lengthy that procedure. I was beyond the hold and protection of a body. I raised my head to look at the town, and the lights were demon’s eyes, Hell-firelit evil holes, burning in the night that did not veil the pit beyond. “Oh God!... Does no one know how things really are? Doesn’t any one see the terror and the evil?” Wherever vision turned, eyes, Everywhere were eyes, and things were contained within the eyes; not the eyes contained in them. Everything had vision, saw with the countless sights of thousand-eyed gods.

“You experience yourself,” he said, “there is only you.”
But I could endure no longer and lowered lids to turn their vision into encounter loathsome horror at the pictures spawning, swarming in towards me. They opened with a bang! my eyes. I was wearied to death and broken-hearted.

“I should never have done this, never have come.”
“Perhaps it is a good thing” was his only answer, and our voices sounded as thunder, and as timeless.

Now I was approaching another effect. I will not waste words defining terror. Terror is at least this side of life, and I had ventured far beyond it and all antidote. Now I was alone and adrift in infinities— lost in the universe of myself, vast and teeming, and in no thing different from the one we call outside. There is no outside.

“Speak. Speak, Confess before it is too late.”

The harrowing vision and the overwhelming realization that all around were other worlds, other beings, other kinds, became too muchfor me — and inner resources overtaxed, I moaned again,

“T should never have come.”

I was in another place. Vistas opened on new world terrors in the ether, showing infinite departures of various heavens and gaping hells, either kind inspiring dread and none of which I had the freedom to avoid— not while their maddening interpenetrations had their way with me.

“Look at me!” he said, for desolation was covering the end of the earth. “Look at me, and be still.”

And I looked, Looked and took measure of his calm, Yes, it reassured me for the instant. His face was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen, scarcely known in its perfection, and certainly it was a beauty betokening little of the human. What there was seemed only signature of the way that he had come, a mapped indication of his forces. I saw the face that had walked with me the desert — but now I saw with an inside view!

No more a girly-worly-worldly eye titivated by the vision of a beautiful young man. This was the ageless perfection of a very old ‘soul’, in a body held perfect, unmarred by the ravage of timing passion. This was impersonal face, and so it had been before. It shamed me what I had made of it only so recently. He... he had been kind, in the face of that blind, angry figure. So blind, so angry, and empty. Incredible, that one could be so sightless and so hungry! Then, possessed by his calm, by his utter repose, I gazed at him as if to meditate.

And there on the roof, and out of my head, the heavens rent their veils and vision came clear. I saw Monty (as he must have meant it previously when he said he ‘saw’ me) and I sobbed afresh at the sight. Cleansed my eye, released from the clutches of corpus that had only thought to interminglemangle, there was the hope — the human encounter with the human soul. (Pandora stalks eternal fruit sawn seed of Hope.

Ageless Pandora walks the heart. There will always be the baulks to open.) I gazed and was humbled forever as I saw the unsheathed face of the Being cleared of all his veils. A great one. An old one — and I bowed before him. He smiled. He knew, and raised the tear-stained head. Light was truly all round him. For an instant my gaze held clear, but shame overcame and I hung my head. The light was a great wide halo — from toe to the head to the sky, and the light was myriad rays divided, and each pulsing ray was the soul of a man. The multiple light of all men’s souls was forming the halo, like great shimmering wings, converging his center which held them contained.

“Everyman must come through Me. For I am the Way, and The Light of the World.”
Thundering, awestruck recognition of the Christ spirit, resident within him. That is the path that Everyman must travel! I know why people grovel and touch the head to the ground before the radiance of The Light made human. One knows one’s humblest state on the scale of spirit married to form.

And as I, humble, worshipping, was ready to prolong, from every part of consciousness the words blared forth as trumpet :


I lowered lids, and there with the completest understanding saw the center of creation — The Light of The World issuing from Itself the Center, eternally departing triad, like a universe of fleur-de-lys, golden moving of the lotus which is ever a becoming.


And light was sound, issuing forth to penetrate the ether, welding sound to thought, and thought to form, apprehended by the impact of any eye, And as the sun to earth is, to the sun is this inner model of a universe.

I opened my eyes to look at the one I'd called ‘my friend’, as had Arjuna called Krishna, while unseeing and deluded. So recently with the eye of woman had I yearned for his form, now ‘I’ saw — not with the web of circumstance that calls itself Joyce, but ‘I’, my Self. (Joyce is of the world, and time. Perhaps ‘I’ should not have been so hard on her, had ‘I’ not just then learned of her separate existence, to our mutual embarrassment. One need not negate the other, for both are quite dependent. Perhaps always at the first, it is that movement from one state causes shame in another — but the novelty of one cannot deny the old, else one has not conjoined one’s understanding.)

Gaze shifted once again — his form was changing there before me.

Strange sound issues forth from me, Blue core flame in him reveals to me the skull. Gone the face, gone the being I know somewhat.

“I’m looking through you! I see your skull, your fleshless eyes.

Now too they vanish, I look beyond. I'M LOOKING THROUGH YOU! Through a hole in the web of our world. The world is gone. I pass through you and see. . . the universe! The galaxy! The All There Is in motion, orderly, predictable. The vague shadow of your circumscribing skull is as easily a world. Gods, demons, fathers, mothers, devas, prophets, angels, worlds and stars; landscapes, saints and deities of oceans — all the forms of every kind that have inhabited the mind of man on earth, all slowly suspended in the world dance of an atom of infinity, turning on the spheres of themselves. Forms their total composition the features of a Being, eyes of distant suns and moons, gaseous clouding forehead, upholding all the stars of ever were or shall be; the atoms of the galaxies form gigantic head and mouth that terrifies with appetite spewing forth and gathering in all the hordes of souls and men and god and planet.

Not so much The Lord of All — for He Is All There Is, cosmic man or cosmic mountain, the many levels of existence through which all must climb.
"A god."
“A God? The God?”

“No, He Is All. Nameless, formless and terrible, composed of nought but all there is, and isn’t — slowly interweaving the traces of its forms, A mountain of being in your head! Monty! A mountain are you!”

Awe-struck my gaze sped on, in this moment of my life taking place outside of time. Looking through the ‘whole’ in the universe. (As Thomas before me had looked at the hole in his God and saw the whole of everything. I do not play with words — do you see how the words do play with us— and the sleepy minds that do confuse their meanings?)

And with all my being transfixed in the moment that answered the quest of my life, I shuddered in my soul, for Grace carried even further and with new velocities of divining sight I saw our universe sphering on its destiny, dissolving in the ether of some inconceivable infinity of future, and then another vortexing of itself in the place made absent — then another, and another. Deeply my warning spirit chastised :


Shame anguished me... “I haven’t the right,” I whispered.
“I haven’t the right, I know,” and turned away the paltry gaze that faltered on eternity. The Word was not mine. My own word had never been with God. But I had! seen the Beginning. Not of earth, my spirit sang,

“This you will always know. This you will take with you back to earth and you will always remember. Now that you have seen — let thine eye soon become holy!” Humble, vision focused swiftly back to earth before me, and my spirit bowed me low to the one who had led me on the journey.

“Who are you?” I breathed, “And why have I not known these things before? Why have I scorned and tried to teach you? Why do you use that accent and act like a boy?”
“It’s only a body, and is a boy,” he states.
“Oh, forgive me, please... Henceforth, I am your servant!”

But as the soul ascends to heaven, it must descend to hell, if hell there be within. Shame had been of grace for me, but shame indicates that the soul is split — what one is, and what one was not — knowledge of fission, not simple duality. So I was not holy at home in “heaven” (a word that applies to state, not place, unless one begets the other), hence I must fall to the home of shame, Had | known this earlier there might not have been such far-flung fall — for now the depths rose up and over me — everywhere — appalling me with heartbreak, horror, and the sickness in my soul.

Vastnesses of evil forms (inside and out: no difference), coupling every aspect of perverted attribute with eternal variation and mocking dissolution — all comprise a total Being, enormous and blasting, a shifting containment of chaos, with foul, obscene intent — engulfing heaven and galaxy threshing, the typhonic tails suspending organ, form and visage of every beast and demon, animate plant and wasted angel, all engaged in blasphemous conjunction, creating ever new genesis of mutations that shatter in the comprehension — all in gaseous revolution about the form that was Itself. Framing deceptive, dizzying transformation, servitors all, of It’s will, The Merciless Affliction, was ravishing the sky.

A paralysis of shame held me in helpless captivation to the leering serpent-dragons, help meets to demons, darting incessantly as substance from the mist, infinitely vortexing in repetitive horror. Sky high devils formed only of evils, searing in their signs and attributes of unac- knowledgeable lusts; significances unfamiliar but put to abhorrent usage — angel faces peering from immensities of nether generative organs, with mask of frozen beauties incommensurable and shattering in the horror of their context; heads of dripping, watering forms, unknowable but for a recognizable orb of an eye goggling the inconceivable tails rearing up from their slime — converging all upon me, rushing in and out of me, making free of my form with delirious authority. There was no place to close my vision of inner and outer life of teeming pit, to close an “aye” (no misspelling, that!) open to all sight, no flesh curtain shading me from what was the sight of the soul.

The world of symbol, dream and madness is no less real than any other when our insulation is removed — (the insulation of the flesh combined with loving spirit) no less real than the daily world, differing only in that one could not flee to curtaining sleep. These creatures, beings, elements, call them what you will, manifest and live as any others in realms only more tenuous and molecular than those we apprehend in our usual range of vision.

The break-through called as dream or madness merely means the opened door onto another realm of all creation. (Was this the opened door I’d prayed?) What is symbol to us is reality there. All penetration of one’s sight is dependent on the speed of vision. Each speed has a differing view of the worlds, the realities of each are but symbols of another. And all is but symbol to another speed of vision, when all is seen to converge as one. But the sickness of the soul was mine — for no matter what I gazed upon I turned it into chaos and extremity.

To my guide I turned soul’s eyes, befouled, besmirched with their knowledge of hell, dropped my gaze in anguish as I found I could not even see his form through my every corruption which transformed him into hideous loathesomeness. “I can not look at you...” my soul groaned speech. “I make of you such dirty things, Forgive me. Forgive me. Oh my God !” Wherever turned, my gaze obscured with demon resident. There was only for me to look at the sky.

All the while, my mind of earth had watched and strained and sickened at its post, somehow waited and held on in hope it could reclaim me, teach, interpret, make coherence of that death in the night. Now that mind was wracked and wrenched as it watched new consciousness approach a state so swift it must crack ! A drayhorse and a comet — the mind and the vision. For the first time I saw that I might die. Death was my possibility for such energies as these could shatter their container.

“I think my mind will break. I don’t think I can hold on, Dear Father! I should never have come. I did not know and I am not fit. I am not ready to be born — and oh, Father! I am not fit to die!”

I bowed my head. I could only endure. And silent, broken, I let them have their way with me the distorted fragment writhings of hell. Bosch and Breughel, Dante Alighieri (allegory is not meant at all except as human mind can not convey the limits of endurance.) With hanging head of blaspheming knowledge I became the worm of symbol, as coming round full circle, chokes and bites the venomous taile of itself, “Forgive me, Forgive me. God, I am unclean, unbearable. Monty, I think I shall die. I cannot contain any more.”

He puts his arms around me a million miles away, but spirit of his body flew to mine and held me, sore afraid but conscious, conscious all the way in every view.

To whatever depth of consciousness extant in a person, to whatever height of longing his soul has ever yearned —his obscuring veils will be removed and all will be revealed to the end that nothing of ignorance will be left remaining — nothing of himself unlearned, That is the state of death.

All that was hidden is opened and exposed to the view of one’s widest Eye — resolved and fused as one single note of a greater harmonic, one golden sphere that is truth. Truly, “the veils of the temple are torn and rent” and usurers must surely go—a temple is for worship. “Sore afraid, but unto you is born? this day? A saviour? Who? Is Christ the Lord?”

I am sorry about the words that so long have seemed to have their meaning. Revelation of the meaning shows how empty was the concept. And if I wrote words solely of the times of that night, I might convey to you my friend their most unholy fright with nothing for your succor — for watching those flocks by night, seated, grounded in one’s body — is the shock of awakening. A new testament of a new possibility.

But on and on again, the panoply of planet’s hosts of Lucifer; visions of the sight that has fallen from its high estate to this dark abomination. Everyman is Lucifer, Everyman is Christ, but to Light alone is it given to create an expansion within the soul. Darkness is The Vanquished-In-The-Ultimate.

I do not know what strength it is that can bear those sights. I do not know That which held me anchored to my body — unwilling host to monsters, that penetrated each and every body organ as their seats of generation as well as that of my own — (such imperfect generation if these had been the dwellers heretofore !) instead of angelic life for organic balance of the instrument I had called “me”. Heart, breath, head and belly; the seats of all creation, be it man or god — the realms of the nether world exist in all of them as well as those celestial —— but in the lifelong, blind misuse is spawned mean dropping,

recognizable even now as offshoot, composed of anything and everything associate to them, A universe of forms, repressed, undreamed; cruel and fierce and ghastly mocking; evil-winged and twisting slithering slimes, goading to agony with deathly shame, benumbing me as the sport of hell’s tormentors, familiar with and all at home in me.

For they are in us — archangel to demon; creating forms of beings — and all employ one’s power of loving or not-loving consciousness as their medium of expression and that power of love or not-love is the energy of their animation. And the One who knows them all, uses them and draws one, that One is the Angel; unobstructed by the shadows that imprison demons, freed by the Light of that knowing All. Hell is delusion and darkness no Light.

Then, out in the heavens, out by the planets, beings of similar intent, but actual, more ethereal, diffused — thus closed to daily view of corporeal, non-ether-seeing human eye, revealed what were the principal forces ever deflecting into the human world, Whatever they were — they were only that — a pure and perfect principle of some force. Mixed and admixed to a soul-sick eye they could mean only terror: of themselves and without that blending of a watery vision, they merely represented other order, other world-force harmony.

Beyond them was the universe-womb of every seed. Angel, human, devil, interminably inhabiting their different speeds of form. All influential to men and struggling for conjunction into absolute-with-their-father-spirit, whichever one he might be, but who were ultimately The Only One.

Hierarchies angelic, hierarchies demonic, as much a part of human as the expression that he wears; leaving their subtle markings on his form, and all he uses, touches, gathers to him, imprinting their signs on all he makes. Subtle are the forces that do comprise a human : divinities and builders, and doers of destruction.

They had their will with me, the hierarchies, Their infinite appearances assumed in all of their dimensions, transformed earth and sky to homeland, the playground of their action, Enormous gross backdrops to the finer formal lines of heaven and hell — stately crescendos of vibrato-pulse light, heart-straining beauty of quivering geometries, ultimate equations creating their forms — endless symbolic answers to questions new arising as to expansion of creation which was itself just born of them — endless constructs of heaven’s new arising — endless action in destruction, encroachment of a form, a soul or anything: shambles, chaos, seemingly — but with a strange new energy released, directly formed another symbol issuing out from heaven. Seen on circle — hell was a source of all arising and not its dissolution.

I recalled myself to myself from the miracles revealed — revelation was not necessarily salvation and my flashing brain seemed fire recording the open skies — only illusion, the empty sky? Only a dream, the quiet earth?
“Ah...” I cracked on grief.
“I am not sure that I can hold on , . . I can become insane. Is peace gone forever and has my world gone with it? Shall I never see the earth like that again?”
Monty, the chameleon phantom beside me told me, “Yes, there will be peace. Come downstairs to the light, for it will be better in the warmth and firelight.”

“Oh no. No, I cannot. I do not dare encounter ‘him’, I do not know with whom I have lived. I cannot bear to know! And you. Why are you so kind to me? What do you want, my body? You always have!” Jesus! I stopped — revolted by my Self’s betrayal.

“I’m sorry, I see it is I who have wanted you. I can stand no more. Will you go? I am ashamed, unclean. Not fit.”

Somehow he understood the agony of a self that to itself was so untrue. He left, and I was alone with that self! A fate that is death! I lifted a hand and examined it. Mine? How strange. Each finger, thumb, and palm, intelligent beings all, and perfectly conscious, A struggle for will with the hand. Conscious, it wished to live of itself. No! Damn you, you’re mine to rule, control and use aright! And the anger in the hand that seemed to know of magic, wished its use, showed me the transgression of some other unknown time, (for I was aware of myriad lives) and left me unhanded of right hand’s use. Left- handed by Right. (Words, words that hide from us their meanings.)

Emotions, feelings, crystal, plant, animal and angel rotating in my hand; quick spiral tracings weaving form, the pattern of their movement. Skeletal and flesh, muscle, nerve and bone, the disposition of the fold of knuckle, all were seen and read as the lives of those composing them — me and mine unearthly hosts,

There was great silence in this eternal night, and my turncoat mind, untrue to itself and befouling, remembered the name of my friend, downstairs, Eeeeee... what is happening to her? Oh great heaven, is she all right? She could be dead. She could be raped? She could be in ecstasy for all I knew, whatever it was I was responsible, for she knew nothing. Nothing at all. How would she fare? She’s prone to rape! With Don? Ah, ghastly thought, but may it not be so, and likely?

“Well,” reason counters, “it’s what she’s always wanted.” But daily life remembers something different than unadmitted desire. Will it ever be that way again when and if this is ever over? Oh, I do not know. I do not know what is right and what is wrong, and yet I cannot leave her unprotected, inadequate helper though I am.

She and Don! She might become pregnant, So deeply I knew the ways of this sister! How had I never thought of those two before that way? I had. I had, but consciousness had not ventured further than a jest. Of course she would go to Don, who might ask her, if never me. Oh no! The doings of this night cannot be left to work their ills across our lives. If these be desires, then at least let them take place in the daily world of thickened dream again, for that is where we live and do comport ourselves. Here, is the world of judgment. One dare not act in that!

I proceeded to stand; and the effort! Hercules would stagger at the weakness in the limbs that needed superhuman strength to move them, An eternal effort of my rising — and pushing up and down of leg and foot on stair; long years of minutes and the effort was supreme. Ached and bruised for many days the muscles that actualized that walk, I reached the ground, and slowly, faultily walked the walls of he House to where I thought they were — but I could not go in! I could not face them, so ashamed and appalled in extremity.

“Marolyn! Marolyn!” A voice from the outer world issued from my head. A voice to terrify the living, so sepulchral and ghastly up the open column of sound of despairing and desolate body.
“Marolyn. . . .”

I could think of no word to say or what to ask — but ultimately, “Are you all right?” Oh inadequacy of inadequacy! What was I to do? Suddenly came certainty — she would do what she would. She was subject neither to me or my molding, no matter my previously mistaken thoughts. No, this night would have its way, whatever it might be. It would be done. I got back to the roof, alone and unanswered. Red, the cat, was there, and brokenly I called to him, “Red. Red. Little friend.”

The gratitude with which I saw him! The great relief to see this little being. He in all the universe did not dissolve before my eyes into every other simulacrum. He stayed as he was, beautifully centered between the worlds, poised and unsurprised. Only the striping of his coat glowed with a greater light — those markings in his fur were in some way antennae of perception. A magic creature, a cat — and good friend to a human. I sat there with some slight relief afforded.

The hierarchy was changing forms, and while the spirits in forming showed no differing of intent, at least their posturings and sculptures were of more familiar things— not the mad-inducing terrors of creature unimaginable but known and loathesome in its thousandth dimension, twisting in and out of light. I do not make this plain, this leaping in and out of multiple being, the voids and dementias of infinity, repetitive, eternal as endless mirrors of distortion, the courtier forces of the being we project, called Satan — Natas backside mirror of the born. But enough of hell !

God was in his heaven and I would have to find him — wend the way through horror, back up the path of the loins, through the bowel, past mid-rift the guardian of the pit, guarding well the hell from upper heaven-breast heart-breath-of-God. Paradise and Eden, guardened by the serpent eating of the tale of the serpent slain by its end. Yes, just as they tell you, it’s all in the mind . . . but — how does one get out?

In the force of conscious turning came the choice — and God turned love, Spirit fearfully wrought now lightened, flew the space — up past the demon spirits guarding threshold—on up the air of peace.

All was still and calmed and poised in sweetest order. Angels, heavens, I did not wish them, knowledge of their existence could have also formed their presence, but God’s own earth was the most gracious formation of them all and I yearned for nothing else than that, that earth which was so freely given.

The moon had three quarters crossed the sky, and I knew I had not succumbed to the temptation of the unconscious, I see that death of consciousness of life is great temptation to the spirit. In that awful knowing in my weak and helpless soul, there had also been proffered grace, Although I had not thought to ask for mercy, I had thrown my lot on God, and in the helplessness of soul that shattered on its con- tents I could only bow the head, endure — and in the bowing resign myself with yet no wish to deny, go mad, retreat to the womb of unconsciousness in the final and complete rejection of a soul that needs must acknowledge and regenerate itself. No, No refusal. My God no! No pride, that shell was broken, and in the breaking, freed? Fearful! Fearful the hold of imagination! What had it not taken to break me loose?

I lay in the moonlight, emptied, but clean. Clean! That vomit of the apple. I must clean the stinking mess. Miles of steps and volcanic will to bring the bowl of water. I washed it away, on cracking notes of gratitude that I was alive and sane — and whole! Yet death would not have been too great a fee for such a house-cleaning !

Came voices —Don’s and hers — rising on up to the roof, Then all three of them confronting — laughing, he and she. And came the moment that must occur in death — the facing of the enemy. I buried my face — my appalling face, covered it with my hands; that mask of furies spent and wayward, blasted out of order, not yet recomposed in new birth.

“Ha!” Incredibly gentle, Don’s voice. He bent and took my hands, and forced my head to meet his gaze. “Oh !”, he murmered, and for the first time in my life (or death?), I saw and knew his pity. And he? Oh how can I describe the blazoned flame that licked the skies around his head, the broken arch of running gold, the flaring blazing fire? A god. Familiar and terrible.


Oh God! The beauty and the terror of him to me — The Angry Buddha! And I shuddered. Mortal pain burst spearing, burning, wracking into sobs of eternal pain. I had always known the truth of him; the love that burns, destroys — the beauty and the terror of the flame turned demon. Demon-mocker of the questing spirit that does but lead it to its freedom — but through such torture of a way! I knew him! And I always had. I had worshipped demon wearing human angel. God forgive me, for there are no Others, but You! The cry of my spirit wounded by the hopeless pain — with head sunk in my knees I sobbed to the ends of my earth.

He laughed, and said, “Come old girl. It’s not that bad!” Did he not know as I knew then? Evidently not — until I really looked into his eyes with the stripping sight of my own. “JESUS!” He exclaimed and mirrored my agony.

His voice was familiar, but his face was composed of only ball and bone — jaw slap-hanging, hung by nondescript thread of tendon, flapping — flapping. A skeleton. No more. No less. Shudder after shudder tore my form. My vision had free passage, in and out, through, beyond and on the surface of form — nothing resisted the penetration of the sight that knew its arising in solar fire (for that light is in us, too.) So many levels of perception any one of which could place its vision where it willed — but oh, one might fall through the things one saw so very easily.”

Marolyn came forward. “Joyce... Look at me,” she said, and laughing. I turned my gaze to hers; she shuddered and tried to turn away, but not before my hand had covered her eyes shading what I saw there. Each and every line of iris like a camera shutter, opened on a life vignette — her eyes were like the kachinas, the pupils telescoped, projecting to the foreground animated vision of imagery that was within her — as if the eye was also a container of rolls and rolls of film— any one of which could be run in full life-like dimension. (Presumably they exist in everyone, and the external pictures that fall on the eye — subject to each varied lens never quite reach the Self — “Let thine eye be single,” should there be one to offend ye, then pluck it out...) She shot out a powerful picture, it revealed an early death of mine. She was a Candace, an early queen of Ethiopia — older in that scene than now she was — an older and more conscious ruler. Two men held me captive before her, hearing her direction to “Take that one away”. I knew it was for death. An offense of love and sexuality — jealousy caused her deathly insult.

My voice still issued from below my ankles — as I used it, it took the hoarse strength for scarcely more than a whisper. “Marolyn? Have we then been only enemies?” The part of her unconscious, effecting her misunderstanding, laughed high, laughed light. “Ha. Ha. Oh what problems for these humans! You do have a beautiful voice.” No perhaps she did not understand my sight. Only the heartless cold of her smile expressed the long insult and animosity. Marolyn and I had mistaken the old wounds for friendship! Karma, coma, comic.

They had asked for me when Monty had descended. He told them that I was not well. Now with a blanket on my sagging shoulder they led me down the stair — so cold. Marolyn and Monty proceeded on indoors leaving Don and I alone together. He held me by the shoulder, deeply tender, smiling: “It’s my old friend Li Po,” he said . . . referring to my masklike face. “Paul,” I thought I heard him say.

“Yes, I am like Paul, And you — you are the one I always thought you were: Jesus. I do not like you. Yet this is the bargain and I will keep it. I will call Monty, John, henceforth, harbinger of Christ and what is yet to come.” It seemed our passion had become eternal, and daily life a dream, This was real, the story of the crucifixion of the soul — but to whom was assigned the various roles had not been seen quite clear —it seemed a changing constellation. Mary Magdalene, unchastened; Christ not born of Jesus yet — only John come forth — and I — I seemed never to have existed!

The instantaneous knowing of: Twelve apostles to serve — intermediaries of twelve great angels. Everyone in human flesh partakes of them, their archetype angel. So mixed, confused and bastardized, their features almost lost, except as they are clarified, embodied in a human nearing consciousness, and them.

Then are the angels seen, with the markings of their planet on every beast and human, flowering and mineral. The lost tribes still roam the earth, lost only in miscegenation — not to the eye of God. As the heart approaches center, it knows something of from whence we come, feeling fewer, ever fewer differences of Self’s and others’ Selves. Outer signatures fall away and the purer integrated countenance shines out, the incarnated atom of an angel, The goal is to know and return — and the play goes on forever in the soul until all duality of consciousness has vanished, and what was seen as outer has become the inner. Living this passion as we were, it seemed all there was or had ever been — an eternal now, forever renewing the intensity of the ever-present drama — only illusion to the Self, the dog-tag of identity.

I learned that time is not. Not — to the soul, not — to the spirit. Action is. Action is of bodies, form — that which we have called time is the release and expression in process, of the possibilities of experience inherent within a life-form, From its first arising to its last dissolution — that which is designated as the life-time-of-an-object, is life-action, in and upon it — action of its possibilities that have themselves determined its form. Without a form there is no time, for neither is there action, Possibilities and Qualities are not of forms, but are signatures of the force inhabiting — call it what you will. Form falls back to earth, but qualities endure. And on a level other than that apprehended by the common means of perception, all things cohere.

What seems separate, is separate no more. Only apparent is division, and division is in the divided beholder, Underlying daily vision ARE the same forces, of all and everything, more fine, more subtle and swift than mundane sight, Generating form and substance we perceive their manifest creations and shapings which are but their imprints, the bridgings of an apparent duality. What we call the “object” in our perception, is as an island emerging, suspended in the mother river of that which cannot be seen. The shape of one level of perception is symbol to another less gross, more fine. A thought at one speed, then in continuance, of slower process through matter, a form of that thought, but it is still a thought as well.

All things are suspended in the hierarchy of forces, culminating in the highest archangel (for what else can I call them?) passing thence beyond the realm of vision into the force of Purest Light. (The Light that enters the world and IS in darkness, and not necessarily known to the darkness of the clay inhabited — The Light that is consciousness and will make The Self known to Itself.) All the forms, from the veriest stone to the greatest god, all escalate in a spindling dance, whose webbing traceries weave and form the being of a Greater One, and whose patterns while most solid, to us seem as only thought. Subtly indicating all His creatures with His signatures’ glyphs as they separate into emerging form, their whirling patterning becomes as solid: faster and faster, they now seem dense, have taken on shape as an object. As high pitch of sound escapes our ears, so does ethereal light, but in those unapprehended realms, there is seen The Beginning, for that of everything.

All is connected to everything else, and all will merge as One; The All, The Everything. “In the Beginning . . .” where all creation IS. Mark you the cathedral, Mont Saint Michele. From amorphous, cumbered, undifferentiated rock, inertia rises, separates, divides and lightens, soars to pinnacle of ethereal, fragile spear — converging as great Angel Michael, out of time and space; creating and created out of everything, The experience of the One is the experience of all, the composing atom creatures of His Being. Separate to themselves, their lives and consciousness all blend in Him as field of total consciousness and Light of all of them. There is no one person, One is all. I am you. All is inside you, All is in me. Nothing IS outside, really. And that was only a moment.

We stood there, Don and I. He was near, yet further than the day. Still proud and sure, indifferent, much as he usually was, Un-touched. Yes, that is the word, and standing in the moonlight with his changing head, its spirits hovering over, making free of his form, he seemed to need protection, unaware of his subjection and his need. He who now has eyes and ears, let him see and hear. It is very hard to bear.

We spoke no more and went inside, to the warmth of a fire incredibly beautiful. Everything glistened as new washed crystal; hues were fresh, new born to my sight. Only the flame leaped unchanged, but with a deepened life. As it leaped my heart leaped — the flame and my heart were akin.

I had come through! At least I had gained the outskirts of that land, promised, promised in so many ways. At least I knew it was there, there where the twins will meet their father, the split silent halves of Self who rarely suspect they are twain.

I sat by the fire, gazing on flame and silent. Spent, apart, there were no words left in me. Here in the light that glazed the stones of the walls and wood beams the same ceaseless activity of their matter, the same incessant whorling of their atoms in ether, that did not hide the space beyond. With me, there was no comfort.

An urge to see my face. I rose and went to the mirror in the small stone cell of the bathroom: Gazed in horror at that which I beheld. The wall alone supported, as with boneless knees I encountered the hydra-headed host of — My Self. The Medusa of the many tales of flesh unvanquished. Ah! One is ashamed to know the facts that words can scarcely bare. The faces. The faces!

People by the thousand — a motley, murderous, loathesome crew of people — and all of them were “I”. Every one a variation on the theme of plastic instability — unless vice can prove the constant ! There they were — within the watery outline of my sliding head, hundreds of people, things and creatures, come to give their ugly vision to my sight.

Shifting, shifting endlessly as things seen under water, the interminable variants of Self — profuse and fearsome prodigies of subtle distortion. Oh, the ugly crippled, misshapen wretches: the slobber lips, harelips, one and all with writhen mouth; some near eyeless, or else with eye of fearful grape of swollen lechery — sucking, monstrous, lascivious and lewd, or quickly slithering into snakelike, closed and undeveloped, cruelty — enamored flesh, Heads that took in a world of vice and which still could feel no tremor.

Frozen creatures of the greatest incapacity to know or receive love — given to excess, for naught was felt but infernal cold. Rolling eyes, leprous snout, foreheads from simian and neanderthal to the highest, proudest, noblest; but one and all marked with their inherent deviation, Tenuous vicious tenants within the framing of my head, struggling for the stable vision to dominate their mouthpiece — me.

The faces —— the many “T’s” of personality — Yes, Gurdjieff, it’s just as you said. Stony with horror, aching with fear, now this tribulation was bringing on despair. I could not bear it. Was there nothing, nothing clean or pure of heart in me? No. Nothing.

And could one never reach the end of these dregs of the Self was one only the dregs? (Yes, Gurdjieff, you said that too.) But was there no voice to speak for me, my Self, ever? Or was this all there was to my self? And had I always been the pawn of whatsoever chose to speak through me — no goal, no dream, no vision not born of them? Was there nothing done or thought or suffered, struggled for of me or of my own? Ah God! What bitterness is in that cup!

Only a dreary conjunction of ancestral wantonness battening on the living sleeper who cannot know she has no life. Foul compost only of the leavings of generations of appetite unsated, living on in this one, endlessly. Was flesh only sin?

Agh. Disgust. Burning, searing, painful disgust at the flesh whose dreary features expressed only tempests of lusts. Murderers, black-guards, in sorcery and sodomy, betrayal and deceit — vast vanities of coxcomb, effeminate, perverse, thieves and freak and hunchback, and even a ravening lion! Treacherous pretenders all, and some of greatest beauty, but all impure and rotted in venery always in implacable abuse of the given talent. Traced on that face were all the crimes of the human race — from trivial to damnation and I knew them — one and all.

Bitter tears I wept for what I was and for my hopelessness — for desolation at the pit. I wept, bereft of God. Abandoned, rigid, eyes cast down before the overwhelming impurities faceted in death, before ancestral appetite gone wild and rampant, hidden only by the custom veil of blindness, here before this mirror, the thoughts had burst their deceptive, flattering sheath — it was ripped asunder by the gaze of spirit, revealing all the hidden fathers of their being. Tentacle and tentacle of the history of the drag-on flesh rampant.

I raised my eye again — perhaps to forever abandon the home of these creatures in death, but the amplified confusions fused together, making form of one more singular, but ghastly, lucid face. A leprous corrosion of power’s abuse, the face of a beast that was human still — but damned : damned by rejection of examining Light.

A colossal face of concentrated vice. The complete and total misapprehension of the goal — THE DEVIL. I shrieked.
At the betrayal of Self by the Beast.
And in the shrieking, in that final stroke<
the faces halted, vanished.
And my own visage, awestruck, ravaged, faced me
suffused in anguish of the damned.
Just once again the vision wavered,
Swam into another shape.
And as it seemed I must collapse...
I saw...
A shining, shining being...
Seated cross-legged and perfect
poised and radiant in a shining, golden garment.
Smiling, godlike and immaculate
Golden-arch-haloed vision of My Self!
The Beginning and the End.
The goal towards which we travel
And that from which we come.
Our Holy, Holy, Self!

I have come through! The past, the present and the future. I AM UP TO DATE! And for now I am free of time. HOLY. HOLY. HOLY. I am free of the long, long tail. I love you. I love you. I love you. God. I love You! I have come through. That face — that utterly radiant, unspeakable face was smiling there at me — and it was only My Self, who was Joyce. Profound and simple, of heaven and earth, peasantlike and godlike — far and near, serene in the balancing every opposite suspended in Now. Yes, it was Joyce. But I had never seen Her before.

Since this experience, I have noted Bosch’s Ascent to the Empyrean and it would indicate something of the lens structure I have described — the returning in from the surface to the inner ‘pupil’. Perhaps the analogy between a telescope and its lens structure of ‘greater powers’ might hold. Bosch painted as an allegory of angelic beings returning — but cosmically or microcosmically — it is the same.

The Castalia Foundation invites the modern reader to consider a few questions. First: Was the suffusive Christian symbology that arose in Joyce James' session merely a consequence of her early social-imprinting? Or was her experience a literal encounter with forces of the type that originally inspired Christianity?

Alternatively: Could Joyce's experiences have represented her mind's chaotic attempt to resolve some subconscious conflict that arose from Christian-programs installed in Joyce as a child? Could Joyce, for example, have been displacing Christian metaphysical ideologies onto her immediate surroundings — and the people around her — in an attempt to wrestle with these ideologies, and ultimately excise them?

This is not to denigrate the concept of Christ, who seems a perfectly plausible deity, but instead to invite consideration of the psychological damage done to some children by what are broadly called the 'organized churches' of Christianity (and other 'religions'). These organized groups often do not have any remaining practical connection with the teachings of 'Christ' (the guru) as a spirit in the wider pantheon. Instead, they are conditioning camps.

Certainly, to the modern reader, Joyce James' writing shivers with the terror of someone who has taken a psychedelic trip beyond her capacity to navigate. It would have been interesting to discover what Joyce learned in subsequent sessions, and if this standard-issue Organized-Christian symbol-set gave way to a more exotic theological position in her later psychedelic experiences.

This article was originally published in Issue 4 of The Psychedelic Review, 1964.

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