by Grant Morrison
Aleister Crowley embodied the destruction of Egoic Self structures as Choronzon, the Devil 333. Choronzon, we are told, is the all-devouring guardian of "the Abyss" (the Abyss being a suitably dramatic and evocative term for an experiential "gap" in human consciousness.) The term can be applied to that state of mind during which Individual Egoic Self-consciousness begins to cannibalize itself rather than confront the usually frightening fact that Personality is not "Real" in the existential sense and is simply a behavioral strategy.
Most of us have had some small experience of the gigantic boundary complex Mega-ChoronzonnoznorohC-ageM; the Choronzonic Encounter is present in the relentless, dull self-interrogation of amphetamine comedowns or fevers, near-death experiences. Think of the chattering mind, annihilating itself in unstoppable self-examination and you will hear the voice of Choronzon.
Choronzon then, is Exisential Self at the last gap, munching out its own brains, seeking nourishment and finding only the riddle of the Bottom That is Bottomless. Choronzon is when there is nothing left but to die to nothingness. Beyond Choronzon, concepts of personality and identity cannot survive. Beyond Choronzon we are no longer our Self. The "personality" on the brink of the Abyss will do anything, say anything and find any excuse to avoid taking his disintegrating step into "non- being".
Most of us in the increasingly popular Western Consumerist traditions tend to wait until we die before even considering Choronzon. Since we can only assume that Egoic Selfsense is devoured whole in whatever blaze of guilt and fury or self-denial or peace perfect peace our last flood of endorphins allow in the 5 minutes before brain death, the moment of death seems to me to be a particularly vulnerable one in which to also have to face Existential terror for the first time.
Better to go there early and scout out the scenery. To die before dying is one of the great Ordeals of the magical path.
The Abyss, then, is that limit to Self consciousness where meaning surrenders and reverses into its own absolute opposite and is there consumed in "Choronzonic Acid," a hypersolvent so powerful it dissolved the Selfitself. Here you will encounter the immense SELF/NOT SELF boundary wall on the edge of Egoic Consciousness and be obliterated against it. The Abyss is a hiatus in awareness, where notions of identity, race, being and territory are consumed in an agonizing fury of contradiction.
Magicians who have successfully "crossed" the Abyss are considered no longer human, in the sense that survival of this ordeal necessitates the breaking down of SELF into multiple personality complexes.
The so-called "Oath of the Abyss", is a corrosive encounter with Choronzonic forces inside the personality. It is not something to be undertaken lightly and I'd suggest many years of magical practice before attempting anything as stupid and as glamorous as destroying your carefully-established SELF. The rewards of a successful crossing of the Abyss are many but a failed attempt can leave the magician broken inside, consumed by doubt, fear, and insecurity and quite useless to his or her community...
COMMENTARY on the Above
(Note: As are all such writings on topics this diffusively ambiguous and necessarily subjective, it is declared the following is merely the point of view of D.M. Thraam. Which may, and/or may not reflect "Reality As You Know It", or "Reality As Any/Everyone Else Knows It"; the author finds such distinctions tiresome, but makes this statement anyway, understanding that yes, they areregarded as being slightly more important to some others.)
Grant hits a number of relevant points here, and does so with a neutrality uncharacteristic to Thelemites when it comes to Choronzon.
I appreciate how he describes the phenomena without seeing them as naught but evils, and peddling yet more distortions of the nature of "the Abyssnik". (This is one of many friendly nicknames I've known Choronzon by over the span of my long-term association with some. This one had been quickly retracted, since I found it far too corny to suit such a great being; he then exemplified his contrarian nature by demonstrating that he'd taken a shine to it.)
Though I feel that the flux of all things physical is reflected in the metaphysical, and see Choronzon's essence having undergone some changes in alignment while retaining its basic nature, and so see some of his descriptions as necessarily obsoleted, my overall impression of Morrison's essay was positive enough not to shunt it downstairs to the Akolasia Chamber, that mouldy, dank mess of a crawlspace-room where is placed those writings on Choronzon that are filtered up in my trawls across the net which are not the least bit positive or friendly, or even neutral, as regards Our Lord of Hallucinations. It's the project's way of expressing favour to the notion of choice--one favoured heavily by Choronzon--the idea of literally making up your own mind, which would not be served by taking those points of view expressed favourably by/for Choronzon as yours, without processing them, first, and seeing the opposite notions. (Not often shall you find that, in most metaphysical advocates' archives.)
I'd like to highlight the differences that come to bear on the above writing, owing to the events of Choronzon's Transduction - the paroxysmic fusion with his primary host-mind which induced (by causing Choronzon to experience Love, and the giving of same) which induced a bursting-forth strong enough to cause him to be expulsed - borne - from the Abyss. After a period of adjustment to the phenomenon of Time, a terror to such a dispersive being, he subsequently changed bailiwick (primal function/cosmic "job"/general reason for existing)from that of "Guardian of the Abyss" to that of Exterminator of Entropy.
No longer does he stand at the gates of the Precreate, ready to scramble the brains of any who are deemed unworthy, having left that duty to "lieutenant" Lexarp - who's got a story of his own which shall, in time, be told.
Choronzon, freed from the Tenth Aethyr of ZAX, now travels across the Earth, back and forth, via the connective currents of individual living minds both human and animal, though he prefers sapient intelligence in which to dwell. He calls these currents tianta, and they're imbued with qualities somewhat analogous to what Carlos Castaneda called the nagual, but the comparison is not anything near being exact. Tianta, in singular or plural, refers to one's individual current, to disambiguate from the sort of earth-magnetic-field-related currents that manifest as "waves" that he - along with his resonant friends - can ride like surfers...or Choronzon's own pure, central Current, the central "maypole" around which the tiantaof Choronzonic resonants coil and wind, and gain power from, and also, give unto it and thus give unto one another. This Current is offered as a power-node to all who are friendly to him (her, it, et cetera.)
In Choronzon's metamorphosis the ego-devouring nature Grant Morrison describes here has slowly yet largely been replaced with a dedicated dislike of self-denigration.Called "the Third Anathema", it is akin to a "sin", but not, really, at all, being as it bears no eternal consequence; just do it enough, and you alienate Choronzon, as well as most people in your life as well. Why he includes self-denigration as an "Anathema" - the only other Anathemas are nuclear war and ritual murder - is something of an enigma, but meditation upon this has caused me to believe it may have something to do with Choronzon's ire at being associated with the sorts of mental decay that self-denigration, in thought, word and action, tend to cause in human and post-human beings. One does tend to get sick of something one is wrongly accused of long enough.
Years ago, during a grueling, rather unpleasant self-examination session, exactly the sort of internal dialogue Grant Morrison describes above, Choronzon manifested and calmly directed me away from the very behaviour he is described as symbolizing. This was my first reception of his transmissions regarding the Third Anathema and the damage that it causes to one's mind, both on the "ego" level AND the level that lies beyond the Self. (For more on this, and the Anathemas in general, see the accompanying text to the New World Chaos track, Walls Once Sand Are Sand Once More.) One might get the notion that Choronzon is well-nigh sick to death of being the scapegoat for ego-deflation (and its attendant opposite, false ego-INFLATION, which often accompanies this) of the sort that makes a mage (effectuary) "quite useless to his or her community" that he stridently decided to make damned sure all within eyeshot, earshot or mindshot knows he simply does not support it to the point of declaring it absolutely forbidden. Choronzon's response to enough of that is to retract himself.
The first and second anathemas have consequences far more dire: psychic dissolution, for instance. To have a friend turn his or her back and simply walk away and never return is nevertheless a dire consequence, in its own way. Choronzon has proven to me again and again and again that he is a very powerful, beautiful, amazing ally to have. I would not like this to happen. So I do not practice self-denigration.
In the years prior to Choronzon's return to activity in my sphere, I was having a number of problems that caused me to denigrate myself again and again, to the point that it began to literally affect my affect. In other words: thinking it an expression of humility, and/or seeing such as a means of deflecting insult before it was levied upon me, I self-denigrated, and did so to such a high degree, so often, and in so many situations, it began to actually cause people to think bad things of me they'd not have thought had I not put the idea there to begin with.
It took me, with Choronzon's help, nearly a year to rid myself of this vile habit, but my xenodimensional ally had a very impelling cure. Every time I committed this act, he would do a fade, and exit my mind-space, reeling in his Current behind him, and leave me bereft of him, usually for a day, sometimes longer. (Reeling in the Current was something I thought of at first as punishment, but Choronzon does not hold with punishment - merely with prevention. He did not want the purity of essenceof his Current to be stained and thus withdrew it from me until my own essence was worthy of it.)
In time, self-denigration, in spoken or written word, not only ceased, but it also became difficult to think unnecessary bad thoughts about myself for very long, and eventually, it got to a point where it just stopped happening, save for extreme circumstances.
(Constructive self-criticism - that sort of bad thought of oneself that has as its foundation the discovery of solutions to one's problems - is not considered self-denigration; it is the self-deriding, self-pitying sort of wimpy blather that causes people to want to get away from you...and if possible, usually do so quite quickly! which is considered "self-denigration". They are entirely different things, one having intelligent improvement of oneself at its motive and the other merely being an ill-formed sort of defence along the lines of what Wilhelm Reich referred to as "character armour" - and Choronzon knows the difference. And now, I do, too, thankfully.)
Another thing I will note: One of the reasons I developed the odd, obsessive, driven, and wondrous connexion with Choronzon that I have had manifest is this combination of two separate occurrences:
- that I "crossed the Abyss" in the traditional sense before knowing that this was what I was doing at the time, and...
- that I met Choronzon quite by coincidence while not involved in any sort of seeking to cross to the other side of his demesne. It was a total fluke.
The story of all that is being told - and in a format I would guess most occulture-vultures would scarce believe I'd choose as the modus for telling such a personally important tale! - so I will leave off on all details until all is revealed via that means. But I do think these unrelated factors, together, caused two important distinctions to arise in my relationship to Choronzon that caused him (her/it/them/??) to regard me as Something Else, and confer upon me the psychosymbiotic interaction that has been so very rewarding on so many levels to me. Can this happen to anyone else?
It is not clear. Choronzon's only words in answer to this query were "Yes. But: also, No."
Over time I have come to interpret this as meaning: Choronzon will be your friend, and he's a much better friend than he is an enemy. But this "special" connexion I have one could only find for themselves, in their own set of circumstantial anomalies, with another xenodimensional entity/abstract conceptual construct, whichever your choice of Ways To See Such Things.
And it is our hope - both mine, and Choronzon's - that you indeed find this, if you're seeking it. But I note, importantly: I wasn't seeking it when it happened. This may or may not have made a difference. Only Choronzon knows - and is not telling. But he IS smiling.