Dialogue with Chicken Qabalist Rabbi Lamed Ben Clifford
AKA Lon Milo Duquette
This week, the Baron had a few questions he needed answered. Needing to confer with the wisest unorthodoxy, the Baron sought the spirit of the heretical Kabbalist Rabbi Lamed Ben Clifford. Considering that the old coot kicked it a number of years ago, the Baron was forced to resort to good, old fashioned necromancy. At the old cross-roads of time, space, being and nothingness, the Baron said all the right things.
Rabbi Lamed Ben Clifford, though he never published any of his work while living, was fittingly eulogized by noted occult writer Lon Milo DuQuette in The Chicken Qabalah, a brilliant series of introductory essays on modern Qabalah. It has been argued by some that this was all a clever façade for DuQuette’s own diabolic arcane purpose, but these rumors remain unsubstantiated.
Baron: Rabbi, how good of you to come. As you can see, I have provided the necessary offerings: malt liquor, wine, and gin.
LMD: Thank you. Wherever three spirits are gathered in my name there am I.
Baron: Cheers. Cool hat.
LMD: Jacob had his ladder. I have a propeller driven yarmulke.
Baron: Yeah…I’ll stick with the skull-cane. Now, dear Rabbi, I have called your enlightened shade in order consult with you on the interplay between astrology and “the occult.” This is an ancient association. The beginning point of Horoscopic Astrology can be traced back to the period of worldwide philosophic and scientific ferment around 500 BC. For example, the earliest Horoscopic Astrology texts are part of a series that includes discourse on magick, angelology, deities, demonology, and the properties of herbs. These texts are ascribed to Hermes Trimegestus, the patron god of magic and knowledge.
In your esteemed tradition, Rabbi, how are these overlaps preserved?
LMD: The overlaps, as you call them, preserve themselves. For in truth these are not separate divine sciences they are one … the original unified field theory if you will. To these you can also add the Qabalah, which, like it or not most likely has a deeper Greek influence than Hebrew. Whoever invented it, it’s simply just a way of organizing the components of the big “What It Is” the better to see, analyze, and destroy it.
You’re certainly right about that period in time being a period of worldwide philosophic and scientific ferment. Man o man! There must have been something in the water! The last few years of the Age of Aries was something else! Within two hundred years, Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle all lived and taught. In a single century between 600 B.C. and 500 B.C., Lao Tse, Confucius, Buddha and Zoroaster roamed the earth. “My god! All these guys could have had the same personal trainer! Karl Jaspers called this era the “axial period”…a time of great transition in human consciousness when the mythological world view gave way to philosophical speculation. From one very important point of view this was the death of the gods. Deity was now thought of in terms of a unified dynamism.
Baron: Hmm. So how do you think historians will characterize the present era?
LMD: The unimaginative historians won’t be able to see past the melee and will probably call it the “Great Tribulation.” Those with more insight will call it the “Great Morning Some Of Us Woke Up.”
Baron: You mentioned Karl Jaspers’ characterization of the “axial period” as a time when the mythological view gave way to philosophical speculation. Do you think there is there a way to characterize the present era in the same way? Philosophical speculation giving way to…perhaps…knowledge?
LMD: Philognostical? Hmmm. Can’t say I would disagree with that.
Baron: Astrology, like magick, has crossed in and out of the mainstream of the cultures it has resided within. At some points hailed as prophets, at times as respected advisors, other points burned as heretics, and still other times, such as ours, simply regarded as insane, the astrologer has found him/herself in many different houses of the public eye. Our time finds people mistrustful of the university truth-production, yet skeptical of alternatives. What place do you see magical spiritualities, such as the Qabalah, and transcendent sciences, such as Astrology, in a culture like ours?
LMD: I see a rapidly broadening esoteric world view in developing in the consciousness of mainstream culture. The popularity of science fiction and fantasy literature and media is more a symptom of this than the cause. Even the most nauseating cell phone-in-the-ear–the-guy-who-dies-with-the-most-toys-wins materialist believes in the magick power of things he can’t see (micro chips, bubble memory, wireless internet). We’re reprogramming ourselves minute-by-minute to accept an unseen world of limitless powers and possibilities. It’s only a tiny step from there to viewing the universe and life as a function of consciousness.
Baron: Wow. Excellent point. I knew conjured you for a reason. The direction our world is going increasingly relies on an acceptance of things whose mechanism is unknown but whose effect is clear. How do you think this “rapidly broadening esoteric worldview” is going to work out for established exoteric religions- Christianity or Islam, for example?
LMD: I believe that the outer manifestations of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have long ago ceased to be religions per se and have now become political parties; and that presently the greatest evil in the world is religion used for political purposes. Although these three will probably be with us for a long time to come, for the sake of the survival of all life on planet earth their influence must and shall be shriveled to insignificance. Oscar Wilde once said something like, “War will not end until war becomes vulgar.” The “rapidly broadening esoteric worldview” is moment-by-moment awakening more-and-more people to how silly – how unhealthy – how unwholesome – how dangerous – how embarrassingly VULGAR the crippling doctrines of these political parties really are. Hey! Take it from me. I now live in the afterlife and you wouldn’t believe how pissed these guys are at what’s going on in their names!
Baron: No doubt. All that heavenly kvetching has got to get old.
Whereas Modern Astrology is primarily psychological in focus, predicting the felt meaning of events rather than the events themselves, most pre-modern astrological systems tend to focus on objective predictions, the events themselves. Having an ability to predict potentially lethal events, a system of remedies or “fixes” developed as result of this dire ability. Interestingly enough, many of these “fixes” are all what we would consider “magickal” in nature- a ritual involving the deities or spirits connected to the troublesome planetary doom predicted.
This is essential to a predictive astrology, but astrology’s 20th century psychologization, though not without tremendous value, has lost this accuracy, as well as the corresponding remedial measures.
LMD: It certainly has, at least in the rarefied atmosphere of astro-analysis. It reminds me of the attitude of the Theosophist (please forgive me Theosophist friends). They can talk very learnedly all day about magical matters most esoteric but look at you with utter disgust when you mention to them that you actually USE the wand!
Among magicians and Chicken Qabalists, however, there’s always room to try a fix. And why the hell not? Look. Even by allowing yourself to be aware of astrological events you are in a sense already proactively engaged in trying to fix things. (as if you want to find out when Mercury is retrograde so you can go out and create better misunderstandings!)
Baron: An excellent point. A study done on the accuracy of Vedic (Indian) Astrology found that the statements made by the astrologers in the study were about 70% accurate when addressing people who had no experience with astrology, but only about 40% accurate with people who had already been exposed to astrology’s take on their charts. Once a pattern enters awareness, it becomes factored into one’s decision making process. I usually liken it to becoming aware of being trapped in an invisible maze. The awareness of the structure of one’s confinement does not liberate one from it, but it does make it possible to chart the best way through it. File that under “8 of Cups.”
LMD: Right you are; and the ‘indolence’ represented in the 8 of Cups is right on the money (Baron, you ARE good!). “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing” especially when one presumes to link one’s life to the movement of the stars. For those with a measure of astrological education, forewarned is not always forearmed. Consciously or unconsciously we indolently acquiesce to the flow. Far better, in many ways, to be among 70% open to Truth unencumbered by facts and details.
Baron: Thank you, Rabbi. When knowledge exceeds one’s power to understand its meaning and to act fruitfully upon its implications, that knowledge interferes with the process of development rather than aiding it. However, the 8 of Cups is also “Abandoned Success.” Success can be abandoned because it is not sufficiently authentic- it is a mere image of someone else’s success, and does not truly represent the completion of one’s karmic pattern, purpose, or True Will. Whatever you want to call it. The abandonment of one’s success for a deep reworking of what success is, is key to the action of withdrawal which often characterizes this card. Astrology can be a powerful tool for re-tooling one’s idea success in light of deep psychological and spiritual structures. Saturn in Pisces, indeed.
LMD: DuQuette once told me that the 8 of Cups was the birthday card of his wife and son (two perfectly lovely people). He observed, especially in his wife the very attitude you talk about.
Baron: There has been a large attempt to fold astrology into the culturally accepted fields like psychology and to justify it using quantum mechanics. Though this is by no means “incorrect,” astrology’s occult foundations have been shamefully obscured, bundled carefully and kept in the closet. What is ironic is the fact that those who resurrected astrology in the early 20th century after a century and half of arrogant modern contempt were for the most part all members of occult societies.
LMD: True. But even the Golden Dawn boys and girls had a healthy respect for emerging science …. Crowley’s ‘method of science – aim of religion’ and all that.
Baron: Without a doubt. On that note, it seems the famed statement addresses the popular binary, but fails to acknowledge the inevitable spawn of the two –Art. Thoughts?
LMD: True. A more accurate motto might simply be “Art – the method of Science – the aim of Religion.” Astrology is an Art. Qabalah (even Chicken Qabalah) is an Art. Magick is an Art. And if someone truly aspires to be an Astrologer, or a Qabalist, or a Magician then he or she must be prepared to become an artist and use the art form to aspire to, explore, and express the greater reality that escapes the attention of the non artist.
Baron: Astrology describes the complex of forces which structure our lives, both internally and externally, though anyone with experience within the tradition understands that fate leaves wide spaces unaccounted for, and that the will is not annihilated by astrology, but its scope framed. In the Baron’s researches, Astrological forces are said operate primarily on an astral or what you Qabalists refer to as the Yetziratic level- the level of reality just behind the apparent one, where reality is formatted. What is most interesting is that many occultists say that their magic does the same- that by structuring and infusing the astral with the form of their will, they cause that structure to manifest in physical reality. For example, by visualizing a pile of money every day, you not only focus your mind on it, you create an astral form which will tend to create that change in the manifest world.
Operating at the same level, it is easy to regard astrology and magic in a yin yang relationship. Thoughts on the matter, Rabbi?
LMD: I totally agree. Now if I could only visualize that T square out of my chart.
Baron: Quit yer cryin’. It builds character.
LMD: I needed that.
Baron: You’ll get your bill later. Now Rabbi, in your estimable adventures in this world and the next, what have you learned of the dread Necronomicon? Is it fact, fiction or an unholy hybrid of the two?
LMD: As magical artist, I say that the Necronomicon is as genuine as any magical grimoire in existence. As a book collector, I say that I have a paperback copy autographed by one of the creators in 1979.
Baron: Sweet. Speaking of hoaxes, Rabbi, how do you feel about the heinous assertions that you are in fact a mere figment in the imagination of one Lon Milo DuQuette?
LMD: Don’t be silly! Mr. DuQuette’s imagination hasn’t had a figment since 1966. After Enoch and Elijah came and picked me up, however, DuQuette was kind enough to publish my lectures in his “The Chicken Qabalah of Rabbi Lamed Ben Clifford”.
Because there is no Amazon.afterlife I haven’t been able to read it or his other books, but your readers are not so handicapped. They can visit his website: www.lonmiloduquette.com and painlessly order all his works, and they will be delivered right on their doorsteps in Assiah. Jesus tells me he’s especially looking forward to DuQuette’s novel “Accidental Christ.”
Baron: WWJD? He’d bait his breath and wait for “Accidental Christ.” Thank you Rabbi, you’ve been most helpful. It’s been a real treat having you on this plane of existence. You have license to depart.
(Originally Published December 11th, 2006)