I’ve been reading Azoetia regularly now and find that I can get the gist if I read a section on maybe three different occasions. The book touches upon so many topics I want to write about, but something that stood out for me right away was what Chumbley has to say about the Crossroads, which as you know is a core idea in various types of magic.
One connection with the Crossroads is the goddess Hekate, the pre-Olympian deity connected not only to magic but to the Underworld (much like her “twin,” Hermes). She was and is propitiated at crossroads, for instance, especially the sort that is shaped like a Y. So I thought of her when I read the first sentence of this passage, but as I read on…:
It is taught that the Primal Goddess is to be invoked at the meeting-place of three roads. This teaching is a hieroglyph, symbolizing the meeting-place of junction of the three states of Awareness (sleeping, dreaming, waking), where it is said the Gateway until the Continuity of Existence lies. This ‘Continuity’ is the Deity of which the Goddess is the feminine aspect.
The Gateway is the state of Hypnagogia, call’d the ‘Abyss of the Non-Integral’; being the passage of the Praedormitium [the transition stage between wakefulness and sleep] leading directly into the oracular trance. Although Initiations into these Mysteries take place in the Outer, such acts are only symbolic of the True Initiations that occur in the trance state. It is there that the true meaning of the Rites is taught and the Way unto the Grand Sabbat or Greater Vision lies. (p. 10)
I take from this section that: the Crossroads is not a physical crossroads but a physiological one. It’s the hypnagogic state rather than an intersection of physical roads. Initiations can happen in the physical world, but they are symbols for the real initiations that happen in the crossroads between sleep, dream, and wakefulness. I really like the idea that the crossroads is a symbol of a mental state.
I already knew that the Cultus Sabbati considers dream to be an essential aspect of the world. I’ve had a number of dreams that I think of as a major part of my connection to the spirits (such as my werewolf dream). But this puts a much finer point on it, since it is actually hypnagogic hallucination that is profoundly central, and that’s different from dreaming. That state is where I’ve had my most profound spiritual/magical experiences. These have happened mostly when I lay down to take a nap in the daytime. I immediately see myself lying on my bed as I float above. I can go through walls. I see my house as it is but also with odd extensions. Things are often of a peculiar color, as if it is darker than it really is and that blends colors together, or everything has a reddish tint. I encounter beings in my house who generally speak to me. Several times I have fended off attack–by something invisible, by a half dog/half man critter, among others. Usually these visions are way more informative than threatening, but a couple have been the scariest experiences I’ve ever had–scarier than being chased by a guy with a knife in a deserted nighttime Chicago street.
I always called these dreams, although while I was in them, I was certain that I was awake–so for instance, in the half-man/half-dog dream, I realize I don’t have my glasses on, which I would never think about one way or the other in an ordinary dream. Feeling like I am actually awake is unlike my regular dreams, which I experience as if they are real but if I think about it in the dream, I know I am dreaming and can remember many other dreams in a continuum, much like thinking over events in one’s life when awake. My only concern when I know I am dreaming is that I will not be able to wake up–that what I am in is the afterlife and that I am trapped there.
I do have night terrors also, but these never make any sense and usually are very brief. Like I’ll think that I have woken up to see a colored light shining right in front of me that I know has no business being there, and I’ll yell and strike out at it–and wake up.
It just occurs to me that the colored light horror is quite different from my moth dreams. In both I think I’ve woken up, but in the moth dreams, I’m not terrified to see a large moth flying towards me, even though behind it I can see that the living room stretches off into far distant dark space. Quite different from the horrific “Wtf is this light doing next to my bed???” thing of the night terrors.
I’ve never tried to cause such a dream to happen, but I have noticed that these hypnagogic experiences happen more often when I nap in the daytime, especially the afternoon. So I would try napping if I wanted to bring them on. From what I’ve read, about 1/3 of the population have hypnagogic experiences, so it isn’t that rare.
At any rate, I like the importance given to hypnagogic visions in Azoetia and the idea of the Crossroads as a state of consciousness.