Imagination, Imaginary, Imaginal, Psychedelics, Bindu Point

Mundus Imaginalis, or the Imaginary and the Imaginal

by Henri Corbin

In offering the two Latin words mundus imaginalis as the title of this discussion, I intend to treat a precise order of reality corresponding to a precise mode of perception, because Latin terminology gives the advantage of providing us with a technical and fixed point of reference, to which we can compare the various more-or-less irresolute equivalents that our modern Western languages suggest to us.

I will make an immediate admission. The choice of these two words was imposed upon me some time ago, because it was impossible for me, in what I had to translate or say, to be satisfied with the word imaginary. This is by no means a criticism addressed to those of us for whom the use of the language constrains recourse to this word, since we are trying together to reevaluate it in a positive sense. Regardless of our efforts, though, we cannot prevent the term imaginary, in current usage that is not deliberate, from being equivalent to signifying unreal, something that is and remains outside of being and existence-in brief, something utopian. I was absolutely obliged to find another term because, for many years, I have been by vocation and profession an interpreter of Arabic and Persian texts, the purposes of which I would certainly have betrayed if I had been entirely and simply content-even with every possible precaution-with the term imaginary. I was absolutely obliged to find another term if I did not want to mislead the Western reader that it is a matter of uprooting long-established habits of thought, in order to awaken him to an order of things, the sense of which it is the mission of our colloquia at the “Society of Symbolism” to rouse.

In other words, if we usually speak of the imaginary as the unreal, the utopian, this must contain the symptom of something. In contrast to this something, we may examine briefly together the order of reality that I designate as mundus imaginalis, and what our theosophers in Islam designate as the “eighth climate”; we will then examine the organ that perceives this reality, namely, the imaginative consciousness, the cognitive Imagination; and finally, we will present several examples, among many others, of course, that suggest to us the topography of these interworlds, as they have been seen by those who actually have been there.

1. “NA-KOJA-ABAD” OR THE “EIGHTH CLIMATE” I have just mentioned the word utopian. It is a strange thing, or a decisive example, that our authors use a term in Persian that seems to be its linguistic calque: Na-kojd-Abad, the “land of No-where.” This, however, is something entirely different from a utopia.

Nobody uses language like that anymore, do they, I wish I could write like that.


I thought we could begin here with a quick Reader’s Survey, for a change


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Okay ? Done ? The winner will receive a free gold ulvfugl Death’s Head Badge !! 

These three guys have agree to make them specially, handcrafted. Very smart, tasteful, glow in the dark, guaranteed to make YOU the envy of all your friends… 


Well, that’s a bit sad, redundant, isn’t it, we all know, the people who come here to read this stuff, you do not have any friends, do you ?

Хант Козел отпущения

That’s why the readers come here… for some comfort, some spiritual sustenance, some strength to keep them going through yet another day and night, all alone, in this vast bewildering boundless whatever-it-is….


What’s on the menu ?


As bizarre as it sounds, smoking scorpions is not unheard of in South Asian countries, but according to regional media, the practice has recently been gaining popularity in several parts of Pakistan. The scorpion venom can apparently put the smoker on an intense high, becoming highly addictive with time.

So how does one smoke a scorpion, anyway? It’s a simple yet effective process – a dead scorpion is dried in sunlight for several hours or a live one is burnt on coal until it dies. The dried carcass is then lit on fire and the smoke is inhaled. Since it’s the tail that contains the poison addicts seek, some smokers prefer to crush the dried tail and mix it with hashish and tobacco, smoking it in the form of a cigarette.

In his 2007 book Drugs in Afghanistan, sociologist David MacDonald provides the account of a friend who witnessed first-hand the effects of scorpion smoke on an addict. “The effect was instantaneous with the man’s face and eyes becoming very red, much more than a hashish smoker. He also seemed very intoxicated but awake and alert, although he stumbled and fell over when he tried to rise from a sitting position … the smoke tasted “sweeter” than that of hashish, although … it smelled foul, and the intoxicating effect lasted much longer,” the book suggested.

The high, it seems, lasts for as long as 10 hours. The first six are said to be painful as the body adjusts to the substance, but the feeling slowly eases into enjoyment and later, intense pleasure. “Everything appears like it is dancing,” recalled Sohbat Khan, a 74-year-old former scorpion smoker. “The roads, the vehicles, everything in front of me.”

Sohbat was addicted to scorpion smoke as a young man in his 20s – he would purchase the arachnid for one or two rupees apiece from a vendor, who got his stash from Peshawar’s Matani area, rich in scorpions because of the hot weather. At the height of his addiction, he would scour the land of his village, hunting for scorpions to smoke. When the need was overwhelming and there were none to be found, he would actually travel all the way to Peshawar, in Afghanistan, to get some. “It was the worst form of addiction,” he said.

Experts agree that scorpion venom is highly dangerous for the human brain, far more so than other drugs, especially when inhaled. “Scorpion smoking causes short and long term memory loss,” explained Dr. Azaz Jamal, a medical officer at the Khyber Teaching Hospital. “Smoking causes hallucination, the state where people have perception of something which is not present.” He added that prolonged exposure to scorpion smoke could cause sleep and appetite disorders, and eventually lead to permanent delusion.

But the addiction is hard to fight on a national level in Pakistan, mainly because there are no official statistics and very little research available on the subject. A few reports suggest that the habit is gaining popularity in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunwala (KP) region, where it is certainly not just a rare indulgence. “We need laws in place to stop the killing of scorpions,” said Azeemullah, a former official at KP’s narcotics control department, pointing out that their use needs to be regulated because scorpion addiction hinders the availability of the arachnid for medical research and therapy.

While scorpion smoking is still rare on a global level, it serves as a cheap, easy thrill among the youth of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and some parts of India. “Because of our successful drives against the sellers and addicts of alcohol, opium, cough syrup, and heroin in urban areas, young people are flocking on the highways to try the new craze of scorpion stings,” a police officer in the city of Bharuch said.

Meanwhile, Umer Gul, a young man who threw his life away to scorpion smoking, wanders aimlessly on the streets of Karak in KP, often stopping to stare at nothing while mumbling to himself. “Umer used to be a clerk in the army,” his brother Mohammed Younas said. “He would smoke a little hashish now and then with his friends, but I never thought that it was a big deal.” But he soon started smoking scorpions and lost his mental health to the habit. “He left his job and started indulging in unusual habits. Scorpions are highly toxic. That is why my brother is like this. He spends most of his time aimlessly walking around.”

In some parts of India, addicts prefer a much more direct and more painful method to get their scorpion fix – they get stung, paying anywhere between 100 and 150 Indian rupees per sting. Others turn to the common house lizard for their daily fix, roasting it and grinding it to a fine powder, and mixing it with opium to use as a drug. The powdered lizard is believed to improve the sedating effects of opium, leading to superior intoxication.


So, think about this. Taking very toxic unpleasant chemicals that cause you harm, because they get you high…

People will throw their reflex responses at this, their amateur theories, that it’s because Afghanistan is a sad country, the people traumatised by the stupid invaders and their constant violence, the endless war and chaos. Or the guy is mentally ill, weak, just another loser, or a casualty in need of therapy and help.


Maybe those things are true, but that’s not it, really, because, if you dig, you discover that humans have always done this. Everywhere. Throughout known history, all around the world, people have taken all kinds of poisons that alter their consciousness. It’s really quite amazing, you could say it’s a fundamental characteristic of our species, to do this.

You don’t get that impression so much, in contemporary British mainstream culture, because the socially approved chemical are mainly tea, coffee, tobacco and alcohol, and then there are the illicit ones, marihuana, cocaine, and several more.

But if you look back into history and where the herbalists were at, and the witch’s ointments for ‘flying’ and all that sort of thing, magic mushrooms, etc, people have been into all these chemicals forever.

Henbane – The Insane Seed that Breedeth Madness


The neolithic beaker folk, who spread all over Europe, named after their pottery, drank out of that pottery, some sort of ale that they brewed, which appears to have been flavoured with several different ingredients, including henbane, which is like full of toxic alkaloids… so I am reading up on this…


I mean, you have to be fairly crazy, obviously, to start to smoke scorpions, and you are certainly going to become an advanced case, as you indulge, but all of these drugs are insanely dangerous, I mean, like I read somewhere, the effective dose of some stuff is 2 to 4 mg, but the lethal dose, that kills you, can be 3 to 5 mg, so that’s not much margin for error… it’s kind of fun, if you are into Russian Roulette, I suppose, and start out intending to die… because you might surprise yourself and survive…


Even worse, the plant, the chemical, the concentration is highly variable, there might be a lot in some leaves and stems, or almost none, and they vary, from time to time, so you pick them one week and nothing much happens, very weak, and then then next time you try twice as much, and you are at death’s door for days… It’s all horrendous…

khakassia 1

Asthmador, a physically fine powder, is a nonprescription mixture of belladonna and stramonium; the directions on the package state that the powder is to be burned and the smoke inhaled to relieve bronchial asthma. The mixture contains between .23 percent and .31 percent alkaloids. Hyoscyamine, the principal alkaloid in both belladonna and stramonium, is the levorotatory isomer, and atropine the racemic form of the same compound. The 1-isomer is reported to be about 12 times as strong as the d-isomer in mydriatic and cardiovascular effect. All forms are reported to have about the same effect on the central nervous system; there are reports that atropine is a more potent cerebral stimulant than hyoscyamine and reports that the d-isomer is more of a stimulant to the spinal cord of the frog than is the 1-isomer(2, 4, 5).

The patient stated he took no particular care in measuring out one and one-half tea- spoons; he probably ingested between eight and 12 and perhaps as much as 20 mg of hyoscyamine. The description of atropine toxicity in this dosage range includes hyperpyrexia, accelerated pulse, mydriasis, confusion, delirium. hallucinations, exaltation, and bizarre neurological symptoms(2, 5). Datura stramonium (one of the ingredients of Asthmador), of which hyoscyamine is the principal alkaloid, was used in the Middle Ages in demonology, and to evoke hallucinations. It was smoked by the Arabs and Swahili of East Africa and in the Bengal legion of India in recent times.

It has been ingested in the Darien and Choco regions of the Americas, by the Aztecs and by Indian tribes in the southeastern and western United States to evoke hallucinations and for religious and ceremonial purposes( 1, 3 ). A colleague has spoken of the suspected present-day use of Datura stramonium (Jimsonweed) in the southeastern mountain region of the United States. Vegetable products containing scopolamine have also been used many times and places for similar purposes. Hyoscyamus niger was used in ancient Greece to evoke prophecies and in the Middle Ages to conjure up demoms and give the gift of prophecy. Hyoscyamus albus was smoked in recent times in Egypt, Balucstan, and the Punjab. Datura arborea was ingested by many South American Indian groups and Duboisia hopwoodii was so used in Australia(3). Scopolamine has essential similar but perhaps a different ratio of peripheral effects than does hyoscyamine. When used in moderate dosage, scopolamine occasionally stimulates but usually depresses the central nervous system; hyoscyamine is usually a stimulant.

Mr. B. knew directly of two other individuals, and indirectly of at least four others who took Asthmador. Inquiries were made of several individuals who took marihuana, peyote, and LSD as to their knowledge of Asthmador. Most had not heard of it; those who had classed it with “glue sniffing.” The pleasure derived from Asthmador is of a peculiar kind and would not appeal to many people, even to most of those who use marihuana and peyote. The patient did not speak of a state of well being, of insight (spurious or not), of character change, or of mystic understanding, but rather of disorganization, intoxication, and hallucinations that were not particularly attractive. There are undoubtedly many individuals (although a small percentage of the population even of drug users) who will use Asthmador or similar preparations as a hallucinogen and intoxicant. The nature of the full reaction is such that, if seen by others, they are likely to be brought to medical attention. Even when they take the drug in the company of a friend who is not using it, the nature of the reaction may be so distressing that the friend will bring them to medical attention.

The presence of mydriasis, gross disorientation, confusion, and muscular incoordination, particularly when circumstances and appearances suggest that a drug is involved, justify consideration of hyoscyamine toxicity. The degree of mydriasis would, in most cases, exceed that which would be expected with the degree of alcohol intoxication compatible with the other signs. Peyote and LSD are also mydriatics; those individuals who would take Asthmador would also take these drugs. The degree of confusion and disorientation caused by hyoscyamine exceeds that of LSD or mescaline, and this should be useful in distinguishing the two conditions to those who have observed patients with LSD or mescaline toxicity.


So why do people do it ? You know, you feel miserable and unhappy, and you take some stuff, and wow ! you feel fantastic, everything is so weird… but what if you are experiencing is the disintegration of some vital bodily organs and your precious brain being melted and fused into lumps of toffee that will never be any use ever again… this is not really a wise procedure to pursue. If you are intent upon pursuing wisdom, that is.


Obviously, a very unhappy person is less concerned about wisdom, more concerned about the distress that they are experiencing, that’s what they wish to fix. I understand that. I understand this problem. I do not like my suffering. I suffer a lot.


It says above that theyoung man …threw his life away to scorpion smoking, wanders aimlessly on the streets….often stopping to stare at nothing while mumbling to himself’


You see, although my guess would be, he probably is mentally ill, he probably has messed his brain up with the cannabis, opium, and scorpion venom. However, I tend toward the view, that our natural healthy condition should really be something just like that. Aimlessly wandering, staring at nothing, and mumbling…


Because, we should be in a state of absolute stunned incredulity. That ought to be our baseline state. We should be so amazed, astonished, astounded, that we are rendered speechless, and can only mumble… maybe giggle and gasp in awe…


Not because we are standing by some so called ‘natural wonder’, like Niagara Falls, or some so called ‘sacred site’ like Stonehenge, but just this very place, wherever you happen to be, right now… the Great Miracle. The Only Miracle. The one that is always with you, you are it, here is is, in front of you nose, inside you, all around you, all the time.


People don’t see it, because they are switched off, by their conditioning, so they like to get high, because then, they escape briefly, from their deadened state.

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So, the solution to this problem, is to know how to wake yourself up, without causing harm to yourself. There’s lots of ways to do that. There’s safer drugs, and there’s ways that do not involve drugs.


How to Have a Bad Trip…

Alienate Friends, Get Hospitalized,

or Die from Taking Relatively Safe Drugs


But if you do wander about aimlessly, mumbling, overwhelmed with wonder and awe, the other people, who do not understand, will think you are odd, crazy, and will very likely mistreat you. So this is another thing you need to learn.


So, really, there are only two things, arts, skills, that need to be learned. They are both quite hard and you start off making mistakes and then you get better and better, as you master them. The first is how to get high safely and effectively, and stay at a level that suits you, getting control over your inner being, so that you don’t need to rely on anything extreme, like smoking scorpions, because you are quite happy and at ease.


Then, as you wander around aimlessly mumbling, in awe and wonder, you need some sort of disguise, that will act as a cover, in the social circumstances where you have to operate.


I mean, this is not a new problem, is it. You need to keep one foot in the conditioned ordinary world, the social reality that is taught, shared, accepted, and then the other foot in the Otherworld, where it’s all quite different. I was reading some comments from South American shamans re some Datura related plants – very interesting, because apparently they are not known in the wild, and the botanists have no idea where they originated, they seem to be a human cultivated plant – and they have some mind boggling mixture of alkaloids, scopolamine, etc, and the shamans don’t like to use them much, because it’s impossible to retain the connection to this world.


That’s the thing, isn’t it. If you wander about, aimlessly gazing. Who feeds you ? Who does anything that needs doing ? If everybody is doing that ?


And if you take some really heavy dose of some stuff, where you are way out, somewhere else… and cannot remember much of anything, you know, how do you even know if you are back in the right body ? Perhaps you are back in someone else’s because you didn’t even pay attention…


And then, there are all these other people, who operate at very much lower levels of consciousness, they have no idea about any of this, there’s no point in discussing it, but they are engaged in all kinds of ghastly activities, and so it behoves some of us to try and do something about that, doesn’t it ?


If you get this stuff just right, you gain, or can gain, access to all kinds of powers, siddhis, that most people have no knowledge or experience of. So you can use those towards good ends. I mean, what else are you going to do, with the time that you exist here ? Make it even worse than it already is ? There’s already too many demons doing that, aren’t there ?


I mentioned that some of the chemicals that people have used to alter their consciousness are extremely poisonous and if you take them you, quite regardless of any beneficial or pleasurable experience that you might encounter, there is a grave risk of serious damage to your physical anatomy, I mean, it might be irreversible, you do not recover, the stuff might kill you. So, that’s a fairly strong argument not to take those.


But on the other hand, some folk are already suicidal, and simply do not care, and very many people risk their lives doing all sorts of things, recreationally, every weekend, or as a paid job, so doing dangerous things, of itself, is possibly not a conclusive argument. However, the staff, the people who have to deal with the mess, the casualties, they may think differently.


I think the conclusive argument is that some of the very best psychedelics are safe, or proven to be almost entirely so, and that’s the clincher. Because why take really nasty toxic third rate crap, that gives you a grotty experience, leaves you feeling incredibly ill, with a good chance of death by miscalculation, when you can have a very positive and safe experience and know you’ll survive, even if it is gruelling and changes you into some different order of being, as a result ?


I mean, these are personal matters, not my business, but it is part of the ‘one foot in the socially conditioned world, and one foot out in eternity’ sort of thing, as a paradigm for functioning, in the circumstances that we have.

In this soceity, the general attitude, the legacy from materialism, is that ‘reality’ is the dull boring solid tedious world of factories, streets, work, religion, politics, etc, that we are trained from childhood to fit into. To be preoccupied with the ‘Otherworld’, the nebulous, numinous, ethereal, weird domain of whatever-it=is, well, it is considered as illusion, or hallucination, or some kind of pathological aberration,

catalhuyuk goddess

But I have read that for some people, I think it was the Shuar in the Amazon, they see it the other way around, this material world of ‘stuff’ is the illusion, and the real world, everything important that matters, is all the weirdness that goes on in the invisible spiritual realm. Our social discourse centres on what occurs in the material domain, their social discourse is dominated by events occurring in the spiritual domain. So, it is a cultural variable.


We have what we have, and must acknowledge that. I do not think it is correct to disparage the culture that fears and disapproves of ‘drugs’, they are people who mistrust what they do not understand, and rightly so.  There are millions of people who have to get up to milk the cows, to drive the vehicles to make deliveries, to clean the offices while they are empty, etc, etc, to do all the work that keeps the soceity, the country, operating and everybody provided with all the essentials that they demand.


The system as it is, is designed in such a way that it requires people to function as they do, to make money to survive, and they are trained to perform within that context. It could, in theory, hypothetically, be re-designed, but this is not an easy thing to accomplish, given the prevailing circumstances. To elaborate on that point is too big a digression, of course.


I do not think the majority are expected to be sympathetic to those who only wander about gazing and muttering because they are tripped out of their skulls, particularly if they are a nuisance or cause trouble. The place for it used to be confined in a monastery, nunnery or lunatic asylum, or else faraway in the remote forests or mountains.


The medical profession seems quite progressive towards psychedelics, even if the politicians are not.

“One of the interesting things about psychedelics is that there is an enormous amount of sympathy in the general public to their use, particularly as medicines,” explains Professor Nutt. “A lot of people are very angry that they have been denied to the public as medicines for over 50 years. My own view is that this is the worst censorship of medicine and clinical research in the history of the world. If you really want to use [psychedelics] as medicine, it’s important to have a sound scientific underpinning.”

Professor Nutt and his team, along with the Beckley Foundation, have been busy pioneering the use of techniques called ‘brain imaging’ to explore how psychedelics work in the brain. They have achieved three studies with psilocybin and have just completed the world’s first ever brain-imaging study with LSD, and the results are exciting for scientists, doctors and patients alike.

“We’ve [discovered] that these drugs have quite profound effects, for instance, they switch off the part of the brain that causes depression. Now we’re doing a trial using psilocybin to treat depression because we think where conventional treatments fail, psilocybin might work.”


On the whole, for those who try the entheogens, like DMT, psilocybin, LSD, mescaline, etc, the danger is not that they’ll harm their physiology, the danger is the law, the police, and the courts. And also how, once you have ‘opened the doors of perception’ you integrate yourself into the coarse soceity that surrounds you in a way that permits you to survive.

Continuing the melancholy of new year's eve day this post is all about transitions as well - lets go see what's on the other side, bet it'll be colorful, fun and exciting!

Continuing the melancholy of new year’s eve day this post is all about transitions as well – lets go see what’s on the other side, bet it’ll be colorful, fun and exciting!

In the the traditional ethnic and tribal soceities that used some of these drugs, like ibogaine or ayahuasca, they had developed specific rituals and roles that catered for the users, as part of their culture and cosmology. We don’t have that. You can try and tack on some sort of second hand structure from buddhism, hinduism, or anything else like that, if you are attempting to follow a spiritual path, or try and resurrect paganism, or whatever, but it may be quite hard to do that.


It probably depends how deep, or how far, you feel inclined to take it. Most people need some social milieu, maybe a martial arts club or group of friends and acquaintances to keep them grounded in some sort of social relations.

Felix Kelly (3)

There is the traditional shamanic path, which was a role always somewhat outside the main tribal group, but was typically passed down through generations, from adepts to selected initiates. Without any intact surviving traditions, and in this crazy contemporary world, this has got to be a very demanding and difficult choice for anyone.


There’s the Crowley tradition, of course, and chaos magic, and witchcraft, and so forth, all sorts of people doing all sorts of things. I guess each individual has to work it out for themselves, according to what they can comprehend, and what they experience.


Speaking for myself, at this moment, seems to me, I am completely out on my own, unaffiliated to any beliefs at all, which is extremely strange, and sometimes very frightening, if I contemplate it, as being ‘odd’ to be so isolated. But when I face that fear, it is also an exquisite and beautiful terror, so pure, to be totally alone…


It came through, in a sort of lucid dream, half awake, half asleep, sitting high up on a mountainside, bleak and bare, and before me stretching as far as the eye could see, a long valley that slowly opened and broadened into the distance, perhaps fifty miles or more away, where there was only haze and some far off hills. A small river wound down that valley, small stream joining it from the sides, so there were some flashes of bright water. But no people. No people at all. It would take weeks to walk up here to where I am, clambering over the boulders and finding a way.


So, just a man, the sky and this valley. To contemplate. Very simple. A simplification.

If there is any question, it is a question within me.


I eat just enough to remain alive, not too much, not too little. It is very many years since I took any psychedelics, any marihuana, or anything of that kind. I take several pharmaceutical compounds for the strange severe headpain that afflicts me. I like my consciousness just as it is. I find it is an enormous challenge, so subtle, fascinating.


What I can do, after so many years, and so many different techniques and practices, is to become one single concentrated point, so that all else vanishes. A hot fiery dot of consciousness, like a glowing ember, and nothing else at all. It can be white, very bright, and then fade and become yellow, orange, dull, pale, dim, and then disappear, and then there is nothing at all. There can be the ocean of background bliss, but that is not required, because there is no one who requires it.


This is a classical hindu and buddhist advanced practice, that was described millennia ago, of course. You can also encounter it, if you take drugs, but then you will not understand how you got there, it will be frightening, confusing, you might not get back unscathed.

Here is a description, the usual sort of stuff.


Here is a nice text about a buddhist saint who goes to visit the buddhist gods, teaches them a lesson, and then returns to this Earth, to take care of a dog that needs looking after.



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