Meditations in Hell
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Association for Psychedelic Education & Culture
Psysli’s design lead Antti Kirjalainen shares his intense story of a self-created hell and going godless as a form of shamanic initiation. His article “Meditations in Hell” is a continuation of our November 2018 theme of dark trips. As an exception to most of our releases, this text is in English.
I drank from the vine and found myself overboard a boat in the Mediterranean. I was a little girl and I was sinking into the deep of the sea. They say drowning is a peaceful experience and that might be, but apart from the sun and oxygen, I was drifting further and further away from everything I knew, falling into the unknown. Dying was letting go of all my relations, along with my family, or whatever was left of it onboard. I remember how precious the existence on the surface seemed from the dark waters below. Every attachment to life came screaming in as my chest exploded and my mind shattered, foolishly thinking everything would end with it.
A moment of confusion – a liminal state between the physical and the metaphysical. Then the bottom of the sea opened up and vast tectonic plates shifted aside, revealing a vortex of teeth, eyes and tongues – the supersymmetrical gates of hell. I was lowered into the center of the world, to burn forever. Luckily, I had been here before.
Hell-fire feels almost irrelevant compared to the knowledge of having first built the damn place and then judged myself in it with a crushing guilt of having let everyone and everything down – forever and ever. The first time around, I felt as if my entire life would have been a long, arduous maze alluring me deeper into this ultimate trap. Every advice I never took, every warning I was too proud to adhere to. All of my sins lined up like a great arcade – leading straight to hell.
Damnation is a state of mind out of time. One single moment unchanged forever – a Rubik’s cube with no solution. The more elaborate schemes your mind constructs in order to escape hell, the more devastating an experience it is to find yourself right back at the same exact moment your mind started to think there’s a way out in the first place. What really gets you – in the long run, so to speak – is the inability to stop your mind from trying.
“Darkness, the truest darkness, is not just absence of light. It is the conviction that light will never return.”
Sickness, as they say, is a manifestation of health. A symptom, even the ultimate one, can be seen as information from a system looking to re-balance itself. Similarly, hell is a manifestation of heaven, and their blueprints are reflections of one another. They both play with the ideas – or illusions rather – of time, self, objective, reward and punishment. I guess that in order to work, hell has to be convincing
The way out of hell is acceptance as the precursor for love. Fundamentally, what creates death, creates life. Liberation is a matter of perception and transcending the illusion. The last time around I took it straight on. Death, now known, familiar, opened up and I dove in, consciously and in full acceptance. Sinking into death, I saw life springing from the same, single source, meeting me halfway through and creating itself simultaneously in a torus-like construct.
Hell as we know it is a view into one‘s mind. Originally derived from hella, Helios, the more recent concept of hell in the tales told by priests is widely used for mass control through fear and metaphysical trickstery. And perhaps, it too has a meaning in the path of the infinitely expanding state of consciousness. But like everything else, it’s to be transcended and integrated. For the desert tribes, the sun god was a deadly force to be kept at a distance with sacrificial offerings and prayers. Here in the north the opposite was the case. Without light there are no shadows but shadows cannot create light.
As any seasoned psychonaut can tell you, one can expect to run into their own fears and illusions exploring the mind. But whether the trips are seen as “good” or “bad”, they will equip us with multiple perspectives, interpretations and experience of progress, transmutation and transcendence. Tumbling into a mystical experience after having unknowingly eaten something fishy in a desert might lead to interpretations of the personal experience as the one ultimate truth of the cosmos. Sometimes this truth can be so horrifying that one would be willing to commit their lives, and the lives of millions of others, to rescuing mankind from it. Solipsism is for beginners and the confusion between a lesson and a sentence is known as a “rookie mistake”.
“You have to be willing not only to dive into the darkest darkness — to be really uncomfortable and see all the hideous aspects of yourself.”
- Doshin Nelson Roshi on the true nature of spirituality
According to Svedenborg, Dante and the likes, there are ways to get into (seemingly) real metaphysical trouble, both as individuals and as a collective noosphere, the interconnected consciousness. It seems to me that some of the ideas presented to us as religion take root in individual explorations into the mind scaled up to an alleged objective cosmology. If you think you know the truth, and you know this truth to be horrifying, the tendency is to develop an infinite sense of entitlement along with the duty to protect the entire world from knowing it. For a layman such as myself this seems to be the main occupation of the Catholic church – an antithesis to the idea of personal liberation, direct connection and first hand experience represented by the story of Christ they ironically enough keep referring to.
The colonisation by the West Roman church of Sumerian origin condemned the native, indigenous cultures as blasphemous and told that our ways of connecting to ourselves as individuals, communities and nature were of paganism, heathenism and witchcraft. Having forbidden, destroyed and censored from history the ways of natural, direct communion with godhead, they offered in its place their own medicine: obedience and ritual devoid of direct experience. Facing a choice between being burnt alive on the stake and accepting a false idol sold as “monotheism”, “salvation” and “Christianity”, we gradually took on the ultimate shamanistic journey – we went godless.
Today, the Nordics are among the most seemingly secular cultures on the planet. In Iceland, 100 % of the youth now identifies themselves outside the allegedly Lutheran state church. In Finland, we are far deeper in colonisation – to an extent where we are denying its entire existence. Suffering from an ultimate version of the so called Stockholm syndrome, Finland comes off as a nation that sees itself as a non-practicing lutheran while on the surface behaving like a practicing catholic. The national metaphysical construct of a people out of which 70 % identify as “protestant” seems to be boiled down to “of course I don’t actually believe in any of this”. In other words, at least on paper, we are neck deep in ideology and trapped in a narrative we cannot believe in. The creation story in the heart of our culture is a disbelief in an imported Sumerian death cult. The situation can be viewed as rationalism, fully matured reductionist materialistic individualism, a victory of the left hemisphere – a total colonisation of the mind.
The other way of seeing the situation is the shamanistic way. Here, a more, shall we say psychedelic perspective can be utilized. Like anyone having experienced loss can tell, we sometimes get to know things through the lack of them. In regards to light this means we tackled the Vatican strategy of monopolising the sacred through cutting our own umbilical cord to the source. We dove into the darkness, denied the spiritual, forgot the transcendent and disconnected from the memory of who we are. As far as collective shamanistic journeys go, this is hard core. Escape through hell is greatest trick we could never imagine. And now, it’s time to head back home.
Antti Kirjalainen for DIMENSIONS
The author is a Helsinki based designer, psychonaut and board member of the Association.
This text is a part of our November theme of “Hell: Darkness, the unknown and dark trips”. Read more about our themes here.
Soundtrack: Wimme - Agálaŝ Johtin (The Eternal Journey) - Xhaadh Remix
Association for Psychedelic Education & Culture