Day 3 – The Gatekeeper

Image taken from the Chrysalis Tarot App

Papa Legba is one of Chrysalis Tarot’s most popular cards and personalities. One loyal fan even had Legba’s art tattooed on his arm!

Papa, consciously or unconsciously, facilitates the user’s connection and conversation with the Otherworld. Tarot works best when this connection is a conscious one; too many tarot readers believe they’re decoding a message since tarot cards have fixed meanings. They do not.

A tarot card’s meaning is derived from the contents of the user’s unconscious mind and the resonance engendered with one or more archetypes, in this case Papa Legba, Brighid and, as we shall see, Janus.

Papa is an archetype that always runs in the background like an app on a computer. That’s because Papa represents what is known as a Gatekeeper between worlds. He is always present to assist your creative imagination and raise your level of consciousness.

All mythologies feature a gatekeeper, although he or she may be more readily recognized by other attributes. Hecate, a gatekeeper, is perhaps best known for her magical attributes. Gatekeepers are the deities of transitions, passages, thresholds, change, crossroads, beginnings and endings, to mention a few. Papa is depicted seated at a crossroads; the telephone poles in the distance symbolize communication with the Otherworld.

Janus by Jeff Simpson for Deviant Art

For our Brighid novena, perhaps another gatekeeper worth mentioning is Janus, the Roman god with two faces; one which looks toward the future, the other askance at the past.

Once your consciousness enters the threshold of liminal space, past, present and future dissolve into an Eternal Now – the state of pure possibility that exists (metaphorically) betwixt and between the two faces of Janus.

Liminality is one reason dreams should be interpreted subjectively, just like tarot cards; transitional experiences are deeply personal and timeless. You have to be there.

Invocation to Janus via Papa Legba

Hail, Lord Who Looks Both Ways!
Hail, face of the past
Turned towards memory!
You see all that has been,
Not only our beginnings,
But our past deeds
Which have brought us to this day.
May we learn to take responsibility for them.

Hail, face of the future
Turned towards possibility!
You see all that might be,
A multitude of choices,
Yet that multitude is pruned
Back to a likely few
By the deeds of the past.

Hail, Lord who stands at the boundary
Of then and now, of there and here.
We stand also at that boundary.
Teach us to see how the past
Shapes the future in its hands,
That we may not be blind to our own divinity.

Papa Legba, open the gates for me so I might go through. 

This invocation to Janus from the Pagan Book of Hours is particularly relevant to our novena since tomorrow’s card will be Divine Child, a card unique to Chrysalis. Divine Child symbolizes a lesson we infrequently hear and often resist: that we indeed can become “blind to our own divinity.”



© Toney Brooks, 2019



Day 2 – Behold Thy Mother

Holly_Sierra-MoonThe Chrysalis Moon card is an appropriate symbol for the Celtic goddess Brighid. Here’s the reason why.

The ancient Indo-Europeans and Proto-Celts knew the goddess as The Great Mother. Since those days she has been known by many other names. The Israelites call her The Shekinah, the feminine presence of God. The Celtic tribes that left Anatolia in Eastern Turkey to migrate throughout Europe and beyond knew her as the Goddess Danu. They named the River Danube for her.

The names of other Celtic tribes are similarly recognizable by place names on modern maps such as the Parisii (Paris), the Belgae (Belgium) and the Britannia, Galatians, Gauls and the Hibernians (Ireland), who today still celebrate both the Old Gods and the New. Brighid, pagan goddess and Christian saint, belongs to both camps.

The Catholic Church, as we all know, sought to stamp out paganism wherever it was found. They built churches on top of pagan holy sites and made saints out of goddesses that were particularly difficult to get rid of. The goddess and the saint were, as we say, syncretized.

The supernatural family of the Celtic Danu was known as the Tuatha Dé Danann – the People (or tribe) of the Goddess Danu. The Tuatha were highly skilled in the magical arts and were banished from Heaven because, well, they knew too much. Among the deities that came down from Heaven on a cloud of mist was Brighid who, like many other goddesses, is akin to The Great Mother – the Shekinah or Divine Feminine.

The principle attribute of all Great Mother goddesses is the Moon just as the Sun is the principle attribute or symbol of their male consorts. The return of the Divine Feminine to share dominion with the masculine are central themes of the New Paradigm – not to replace the patriarchy, mind you, but simply to restore proper yin-yang ☯ balance. You can easily anticipate how much turmoil such “balance” might create in the corridors of patriarchal power, most notably The Vatican.

St.Brigids-Flame-Christmas-2009Brighid is the Goddess of Home and Hearth. In olden days she along with her 19 priestesses tended Brighid’s Flame, a tradition that lives on. Today Brighid’s Flame burns bright in a town square in County Kildare (left).

Throughout the British Isles and Ireland you will come across Holy Wells and other monuments dedicated to Brighid. Many wells are decorated with “clooties” like the ones on the Chrysalis Six of Spirals card. The clooties represent the intentions of the faithful.

My personal favorite Brighid tradition is her Cauldron of Rebirth, which is actually a Welsh tradition. Like Ireland, Wales, Cornwall, Brittany, Scotland the Isle of Man were once Celtic countries.

We celebrate Brighid in February because according to the Celtic lunar calendar Feb. 2, 2019, is Imbolc, one of the major festivals of the year. From the link:

“It is time to let go of the past and to look to the future, clearing out the old, making both outer and inner space for new beginnings. This can be done in numerous ways, from spring cleaning your home to clearing the mind and heart to allow inspiration to enter for the new cycle. It’s a good time for wish-making or making a dedication.” Or a novena!

Imbolc art by Nicol Skaggs

© Toney Brooks, 2019


Day 1 – Novena to Brighid

Chrysalis Tarot art by Holly Sierra

A novena is a 9-day mindful supplication made on behalf of a particular intention, grace or favor. Among religious types, it’s a 9-day prayer frequently bedeviled with sin, sacrifice and a general sense of unworthiness. Among spiritual types, on the other hand, it enlivens the beautiful image of Chrysalis’ Lovers card (left) – airy, worthy and free.

In either instance a novena carries a sense of urgency and focus. The supplicant wants answers! Personally, I’ve found that novenas always produce answers and quite often in less than 9-days. So please add your own intentions to this novena.

Over the next 9 days our blogs will feature Chrysalis cards whose specific intention is clarity. We seek clarity of understanding about what’s really going on in our turbulent world.


Tarot is especially useful in attaining such clarity and, of course, so is prayer, meditation active imagination and lucid dreaming. Tarot is especially useful because it is a dialog – indeed a union – between the supplicant and the Otherworld.

The depiction in the lovers card, rich with nature’s symbolism (Tree of Life, Sun and Moon), is of a marriage – a union. On the microcosmic profane level, this card can be interpreted as the apotheosis of Arthur and Brighid, whose special day was February 1. (Tomorrow’s novena will center on Brighid.) Merlin performs the microcosmic ceremony as High Priest.

hieros gamos
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On the macrocosmic sacred level, the lovers’ wedding feast depicts the union of Heaven and Earth, of the seen and the unseen. It’s known as the Hieros Gamos. This is important because unless we as taroists recognize that our discipline necessitates mindful dialog across the threshold and into the unseen world to engender ascension or Higher Consciousness, then destiny becomes simply a 7-letter skeleton holding a deck of tarot cards – a mere chrysalis of potentiality frozen in time.

Higher consciousness is the fulfillment of destiny. It allows us to burst forth from the chrysalis into eternal time.

Please pay particular attention to the Music of the Spheres during this novena. By that I allude to synchronicities, symbols, oddities, dreams, etc. This novena is composed to reveal not only clarity for the here and now, but also to glimpse forward into the next 9 years.

It is during these coming 9 years that a new paradigm will replace the old. The thoroughly refuted scientific materialism worldview – the notion that if you can’t measure it, then it must not exist – will give way to a holistic worldview that integrates, rather than separates, consciousness and matter. This new paradigm will herald the most exciting evolution of consciousness in human history!

Please do add your own personal intentions for clarity on any matter to this novena. You can have novena blogs emailed directly to you by punching the Follow button below.

Art by Josephine Wall

© Toney Brooks, 2019

The Origins of Panspermia

This is a guest blog by Christian Orlic first published on January 9, 2013. (Edited by Toney Brooks)

panspermiaThe Earth is beaming with life and yet there is no consensus on how life arose or what life is. The origin of life is “one of the great unsolved mysteries of science” (Crick, F.Life Itself). While there is no accepted definition of life, most of us (humans) can easily discriminate the living from the non-living (Iris Fry’s Book is a good primer on ideas regarding the origins of life). Questions about the origin of life became more prevalent after Pasteur and others showed that life did not arise spontaneously.

The discovery that the raw components of life are present throughout the universe suggests that life could exist elsewhere, and that the origin of life as we know it may have depended on materials that arrived on Earth via inter-stellar travel. Some scientists have speculated that life itself originated elsewhere and made its way to earth.

In 2012 a movie called Prometheus was released. In this stunning movie human scholars find similarities between archaeological sites from ancient civilizations separated by centuries have drawn the same pictogram. The archaeologists conclude that the pictogram must be a map, an invitation, from the “engineers” who not only designed us but have intervened in our affairs. The movie is set in 2093 and researchers decide to go and find them in a quest to further understand the origins of mankind. Despite its several and severe scientific flaws, Prometheus is an interesting film because it addresses that ever mysterious quest to unveil not only how we came to be but how life began.

mars roverLife in space has been making the news, and on November 20th 2012, NPR reported that NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover had gathered important data. Mars holds a special place in our world. The principal Mars’ rover investigator, John Grotzinger claimed “This data is gonna be one for the history books. It’s looking really good.” He refused to give any more details because his team had to confirm their findings. In general, this is good practice because scientists want to avoid finding superfluous results and correlations; however, in this case, it heightened suspicion.

Shortly thereafter NASA tried to downplay Grotzinger’s statements, pointing out that it was the mission which was historic rather than a specific finding. Despite this backtracking some speculated that organic compounds had been found, some claimed that it was life that had been discovered. On December 3rd NASA confirmed, Curiosity had found Organic compounds but it was uncertain whether they were indigenous to Mars (or had been brought by Curiosity).

Most of the speculation had suggested that organic compounds were the “historical finding.” These are also important because they confirm that the stuff of life, the raw materials, are far more common than originally thought (as corroborated by the discovery of signs of water and organic molecules in mercury), or the finding of organic molecules in meteorites. Like the discovery of extremophiles which showed that once life got started it could be found in unexpected places; the advances in the search for extraterrestrial life suggest that the stuff of life, and hence life, could be commonly found throughout the universe.

Francis Crick (who co-discovered the structure of DNA with James Watson) and Leslie Orgel once proposed that life on Earth was the result of a deliberate infection, designed by aliens who had purposely fled mother nature’s seed to a new home in the sun. Crick repeatedly addressed the question of the origin of life between 1971 and 1988 (I am currently working on a historical study of Crick and Orgel’s theory of Directed Panspermia and its reception).

crick-and-orgelCrick and Orgel proposed their Directed Panspermia theory at a conference on Communication with Extraterrestrial Intelligence, organized by Carl Sagan and held at the Byuraka Observatory in Soviet Armenia in 1971. This theory which they described as an “highly unorthodox proposal” and “bold speculation” was presented as a plausible scientific hypothesis. Two years after the conference they published an article in Icarus on 1973.

Crick and Orgel were careful to point out that Directed Panspermia was not a certainty, but rather a plausible alternative that ought to be taken seriously. In the paper Crick and Orgel recognized that they “do not have any strong arguments of this kind, but there are two weak facts that could be relevant”. The 1973 paper focuses on the universality of the genetic code and the role that molybdenum plays in living organisms (I am likewise working on a history of molybdenum and the origins of life) which is more than one would expected given the abundance of molybdenum on the earth’s crust.

Crick and Orgel used the universality of the genetic code to support the theory of directed panspermia because if life had originated multiple times or evolved from a simpler genetic code one could expect living things to use a slew of genetic codes. Further, if there was only one code, Crick and Orgel reasoned that as organisms evolved they should evolve to use the same codons to code for different amino acids.

Molybdenum_crystaline_fragment_and_1cm3_cubeTheir most convincing argument was the importance of molybdenum in organic processes and its relative scarcity on Earth. They had argued that living organisms should bear the stamp of the environment in which they originated. Organisms, Crick and Orgel held, would be unlikely to develop a dependency on elements that were extremely rare as organisms that relied on elements which were more abundant would be favored by selection. An organisms that was able to substitute the rare element for one which has similar biochemical properties but is more frequent would have a clear advantage.

Crick and Orgel pointed out the “anomalous abundance of molybdenum” in organisms made it possible that life arose in an environment rich in molybdenum. The abundance of molybdenum in living organisms suggested that life started in a molybdenum rich environment and they found that the Earth is not sufficiently rich in molybdenum (this was later challenged as the amount of molybdenum found in the ocean is higher than in the Earth’s crust). Thus, they suggest that this difficulty could be resolved if life began in a molybdenum rich environment. Likewise, the fact that all organisms use the same codons for the same amino acids could be explained if life had arisen elsewhere and the organisms which were used to infect lifeless planets shared a language.

Crick and Orgel also suggest that the universe is sufficiently old that other intelligent civilizations could had arisen elsewhere. One of these other intelligent civilizations could have built a spaceship and seeded the universe with life. One can easily imagine a not too distant future where humans accept that our planet and all that lives within it will perish. In the unlikelihood that this is the only planet that harbors life in the universe its demise would leave a lifeless universe.

This is an illustration showing the cosmic epochs of the Universe.

The demise of our kind is hard enough to accept but the prospect of a lifeless universe, a universe that could never come to know itself, a universe so grand and yet with no one to admire it or even dwell in it could be too much to bear. In order to save our kind we can envision our zealous and hard working descendants endeavoring to colonize other worlds (by sending microbes through interstellar journeys). Microorganisms are easier to transport and could more readily adapt to new conditions; sending larger organisms would be too difficult (Crick and Orgel pointed out).

The origins of life remains an unresolved mystery. I argue that Crick and Orgel’s paper was meant both as a serious and plausible scientific alternative and as a means to criticize concurrent origins of life. Considering the life arose elsewhere could also free scientists studying the origin of life from trying to imitate the alleged conditions of a pre-biotic Earth.


anima_and_animus_by_pockacho-I don’t want this piece to devolve into dry psychological theory, so I chose this lovely art by Madison Simpson to spruce it up. She goes by the persona Pockacho on Deviant Art and this piece is titled Anima and Animus.

The Anima, as you probably know, is the unconscious female aspect of Self inherent in men. Likewise, the Animus is the male aspect in women. Both are archetypes of the Collective Unconscious, upon which Chrysalis Tarot is based.

In other words, when we use Chrysalis, we communicate with other Collective Unconscious archetypes via these two. Chrysalis, somewhat intentionally, engenders this communication by redefining the unhelpful reputation tarot has acquired over the years away from a woo-woo contrivance akin to a Captain Midnight Decoding Ring toward honest, forthright, fun conversations with the Unseen World. Carl Jung, who defined the Collective Unconscious, calls such conversations active imagination. They are essential to enlightenment (self-awareness).

The Anima and Animus represent the persona, the public masks we wear when interacting with others; we see ourselves one way, others see us differently. Together, these two archetypal symbols, along with the everpresent shape-shifting shadow, formulate the archetype of Self.

Chrysalis, as I noted in a previous blog, was designed to increase self-awareness. Here’s an example of why that’s important.

patton-1970-george-c-scott-sicilyIn the movie Patton, the famous general’s aide (far right) reminded Patton that his subordinates (staff), who’d just been severely scolded by him, often did not know if he was acting or if he was serious. Patton replied, “It’s not important for them to know,  it’s only important for me to know.”

Patton was a great general, one of America’s greatest, for a number of reasons, not the least of which was that he was keenly self-aware: he held in his consciousness a clear demarcation between his persona and his true Self – a key to attaining one’s destiny (self-actualization).

Self-awareness is a rare commodity in today’s world. That’s because self-awareness creates existential anxiety, sometimes called the “trauma of non-being.” Non-being implies we no longer choose to hide behind the comfy mask(s) of persona.

15-bella-rosaOur politically correct pop-culture, as well as pop-psychology itself, promote self-esteem rather than self-knowledge. We are encouraged to avoid “negative” thoughts in favor of a delusional “feel good paradigm,” as author Neel Burton phrases it.

He adds, ” Facing up to non-being can bring a sense of calm, freedom, even nobility and—yes—it can also bring insecurity, loneliness, responsibility, and consequently anxiety. But far from being pathological, this anxiety is a sign of health, strength, and courage.”

Self-aware reality vs. self-deceptive delusion.

© Toney Brooks, 2018

Making the Unconscious Conscious

PapaLegba appThe main goal of Chrysalis is increased self-awareness. You’ve heard many times assurances that “all the answers are already inside us.” We just have to coax them out. Tarot is one of many modalities people employ to achieve this highly desirable goal.

Increased self-awareness = spiritual growth and higher consciousness. This is one reason Chrysalis is widely recognized as a “spiritual deck” – one that promotes “active imagination.”

I recently ran across a piece that speaks eloquently to the quest of making the unconscious conscious and I would like to share it. The author is Doug Hilton, a frequent contributor to Quora.

To the question of how to make the unconscious conscious Doug writes:

The unconscious does it for you. We are the subconscious/unconscious, which does the data processing, and has no awareness.

What is conscious? It helps to direct our senses, by constantly providing feedback to the subconscious.

Being able to remember the exact sequence of events, cause and effect, is vital to survival. In theory, every bit of long-term memory has a sequence code, or something that performs the same function. If you are not consciously aware of something, then it cannot have a sequence code, and cannot be stored long-term. That includes thoughts, decisions, everything ever imagined, and data from out senses.

How we cope, with an ever-changing world? We make predictions, in order to make choices.

How do we evaluate all things, in order to make choices? Emotional value, which is determined by a combination of our genes, knowledge, experience, the environment, our emotional and physical state, and more. Google brain chemical reward. To a great extent, these chemicals determine human behavior, by determining emotional values.

In order to make predictions, the subconscious must run simulations for every choice. That includes every physical movement. It calculates the best outcome (highest emotional value), or least negative outcome (pain, fear, shame, humiliation….etc), and decides. The decision is passed on to conscious. At times, other choices are included, which gives the illusion, that the conscious is making the decision.

The subconscious is capable of mixing and matches a million bits of memory. Imagination needs regular exercise. Search the web for subjects, that excite your brain, because you will remember more details.

Absorb as much information, as you can. You will eventually be able to ask intelligent questions. If you can’t find the answers, then press your brain. If possible, become obsessed, with discovering the answers. They should be the first thing on your mind, when you wake, and the last, before falling asleep.

Your brain will eventually deliver something. If you continue pressing it, your imagination will be “on” full time. You’ll have inspired thoughts, inspired dreams, and inspired questions. You’ll see connections, that others miss.

jung unconscious
© Toney Brooks, 2018

The Egregore

John Haverkamp, for Deviant Art

The Egregore is often (incorrectly) referred to as an occult spirit, but in fact it’s simply another archetype, albeit a negative one. Chrysalis Tarot itself features only positive archetypes, but this distinctly evil fellow warrants a footnote because ‘praemonitus, praemunitus‘ – forewarned is forearmed.

Like people, archetypes have both positive and negative aspects; negative archetypes seek reflexive control¹ of the human condition. Kali, perhaps the most gloomy and least understood archetype in Chrysalis, for example, is a Hindu mother goddess of creative destruction. We therefore can assert that the Egregore has affinity with Kali’s more negative, destructive aspects. In doing so we can more easily fit the evil Egregore into the Chrysalis schema.

We often hear talk of spiritual warfare – the forces of light versus the forces of darkness; angels versus demons and so forth as an existential reality. This is a much favored subject in church sermons. While spiritual warfare may be real enough, the battles are fought not in the heavens but in the hearts and minds of everyday people.

Remember, we are all connected to each other and to all archetypal cosmic databases. For better or worse archetypal energy influences our lives on a daily basis.


One of the recurring tenets of Chrysalis Tarot encourages us to listen to our own inner voice (Divine Child), which is always tranquil, rather than to a multitude of voices that are anything but tranquil – “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things.” (Luke 10:38-42) In the Gospel account, distracted Martha busily scurries about minding household chores while her sister Mary sits contemplatively at the feet of Jesus. Whether you’re a believer or not, there is great wisdom in this Biblical vignette.

Today, many political leaders encourage divisiveness, which they term “resistance.” It seems they actually want us to be “anxious and troubled by many things” and always at each other’s throats. They along with their lap-dog media (read: propaganda) outlets actively promote anger, discord and confrontation. They engender fear, the Egregore’s most important weapon: above all else, the Egregore is an archetype of fear mongering.

So what exactly are the other attributes of the Egregore entity? What is this grotesque looking archetype really about and why is he even important? In addition to fear mongering, the Egregore is the preeminent archetype of Group Think or Group Mind. When people are fearful they are easily controlled and manipulated; they think what they’re led to think by the Egregore’s unwitting minions. Lenin called these minions “Useful Idiots.”

useful idiot

It’s mostly these unwitting followers of the Egregore who are anesthetized by his powerful energy and heavy-handed tactics. They are stripped of all inclination and ability to hear their own “inner voice” because the Group Voice is so dominant; it becomes their god. It demands strict obedience (orthodoxy) and thereby drowns out tranquility!

To be forearmed against Group Think – and the Egregore – is to be willing and able to think for yourself – to think critically for yourself and eschew, or at least question, all dogma whether political or religious. To endure a little cognitive dissonance², if only for a little while. Anyone who marches in lockstep with the Egregore is not even capable of true enlightenment, although they might consider themselves the most enlightened beings among us (because that’s what they’re told).

The first step in becoming truly awakened – woke in urban parlance – is to renounce the Egregore’s group think in all its fetid forms. Strive to be like Mary (thoughtful) and not like Martha (anxious). Choose tranquility and critical thinking.


¹ Reflexive control is a “uniquely Russian” concept based on maskirovka, an old Soviet notion in which one “conveys to an opponent specifically prepared information to incline him/her to voluntarily make the predetermined decision desired by the initiator of the action”

² In the field of psychology, cognitive dissonance is the mental discomfort (psychological stress) experienced by a person who simultaneously holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values. This discomfort is triggered by a situation in which a belief of a person clashes with new evidence perceived by that person.

Addendum: A very interesting article on how global elites use black magic rituals to conjure up more power is here.

From the Chrysalis Tarot App

© Toney Brooks, 2018

Hear What St. Paul Saith

“St Paul in Prison” by Lars Justinen

A Chrysalis fan once asked, “Is Chrysalis anti-Catholic?”

The official Chrysalis position on this question is that our deck works perfectly well alongside all religious beliefs; it prefers no particular religion to another. We are, however, decidedly anti-dogma, which I’ll go on to explain.

However, the church’s position on tarot is worth noting: The Catholic church, as well as Christian fundamentalism in general, condemn not only Chrysalis, but all forms of what they pejoratively term divination or, even worse, New Age. The church has always feared what it fails to understand and then demonized it. But our minds are not mired in 15th century thought, are they? They shouldn’t be.

Chrysalis is tarot designed to help its users fulfill their personal destiny. Jung called it individuation. The Buddha called it the process of becoming. In other words, Chrysalis teaches how to listen to one’s Higher Self, which itself is divine. You are not able to accomplish this unless you can think critically for yourself, trust your inspiration and inner voice, develop your innate intuitive talents and reassess all dogma. Dogma, whether religious, political or cultural, instructs you specifically WHAT to believe; indeed, what you MUST believe in order to be a good ______ (e.g. Catholic, liberal, useful idiot).

5 - Divine ChildThere can be no enlightenment – no fulfillment of personal destiny – unless one refuses to become a marionette to some self-serving dogma. As Einstein said, “Question everything.” Dogma stifles free thought by depicting it as a bad thing. Dogma considers itself beyond question.

In the spiritual quest to align personal consciousness with Higher Self (or God, the gods or whatever else you wish to name that unseen metaphysical reality that is greater than the whole), certain religious doctrine, as opposed to dogma, can inform the spiritual journey. For example, Paul wrote to the Philippians (2:13) that God gives us the “desire and the accomplishment.” This is a beautiful spiritual lesson that implies several things.

First, that we must be our own spiritual directors: We ourselves, not priest, hierophant or politician, must intuit, interpret and discern the manifest desire that hails from beyond. This is the lesson of the Chrysalis Divine Child, which abides in us all. Second, we must sublimate the personal ego and surrender it so to be guided in the accomplishment. Paul’s ultimate teaching here is about accepting personal responsibility and exercising free will in the quest for spiritual growth and then NEVER relinquishing it, lest we lock up our minds with debilitating chains of weighty dogma.

Paul was literally chained to a member of the Roman Praetorian Guard for all hours of the day while imprisoned in his quarters awaiting a trial that, according to Christian tradition, led to his eventual execution – in this case in point, to his own personal destiny. Paul wrote his famous letter to friends in Philippi from prison, as well as letters to the Ephesians, Colossians and Philemon.

Actually, the art pictured above is Joan Miro’s “Constellation Awakening at Dawn” (1941) not “Ciphers and Constellations in Love with a Woman” as stated in the graphic (also 1941).

© Toney Brooks, 2018

Mysticism II

butterfly-effectThe Butterfly Effect refers implicitly to chaos theory, although the phrase has become a popular metaphor. Basically, chaos theory states that small perturbations, such as a butterfly flapping its wings, can produce a significantly larger effect somewhere down the linear road of time.

While there may be no discernible patterns in a chaotic system, scientists have been able to squeeze predictions from chaos by using machine-learning algorithms, a “field of study that gives computers the ability to learn without having been explicitly programmed,” i.e. artificial intelligence. The term machine learning was coined in 1959 by one of the pioneers in artificial intelligence, Arthur Samuel.

“It is not the world that is mysterious. Rather it is the way we view it that makes it mysterious,” is a quote from George Sugihara, a theoretical biologist who has applied machine learning to the chaotic behavior of financial markets. You could call Sugihara a secular (non-religious) mystic like Edgar Cayce and many others. A mystic is someone who practices the apprehension of truth beyond the intellect, e.g. a psychic or shaman.

As I noted in the previous blog, the West never developed a strong tradition of mysticism because the Church lassoed the practice and branded it with a narrow, self-serving definition. Anything outside that definition was heresy. In religious-speak, mysticism meant “becoming holy” or attaining “Divine union,” which were the only acceptable means of predicting the future (divination, prophecy). That’s why religion has always frowned on fortune-telling, tarot and other avenues of divination as “work of the devil,” a thoroughly medieval and preposterously childish notion.


To paraphrase Doc Brown’s famous quip in Back to the Future, “Where mystics go, we don’t need roads.” All information about the future now present in any chaotic system, such as our universe, is also available to the human mind’s own algorithm (Third Eye), although machine learning may be more efficient. That’s because most human minds are laced with biases, hopes, illusions, fears and dogmas that interfere with logic, reason and clear thinking. However, we humans are better than machines at complex pattern recognition, which fuels our unique intuition and perspicacity.

The human mind’s algorithm is capable of predicting chaos well into the future (clairvoyance). Although we might still think mostly in terms of classical causation (A→B→C), causation in the quantum world is often an illusion. We live in an indeterminate universe – some stuff just happens. While mystics can clearly discern future eventualities, and even prophecize them, the precise when of such events cannot be known. There are far too many variables, such as human free will. Yet mystics do perceive things others fail to see.

C58If you insist that you live in a deterministic universe and that someone somewhere up in the sky is pulling all the strings, you may be in for a rude awakening. Your worldview of a clockwork universe will need to shift dramatically if you are to gain any hope whatsoever of coping with the enormous changes that lie in the offing.

The gentleman at the left is Aeolus, master of the Four Winds, which symbolize the future. We placed him on the  Chrysalis Tarot companion book cover to underscore the necessity for perseverance during difficult times, especially times of change, the most difficult of all.

A helpful book is Path of the Novice Mystic, by Paul Dunion. Its theme is secular mysticism. Anyone can become a mystic, and should.

© Toney Brooks

Mysticism I

002-felicien-rops-the temptation of st anthony

I thought I’d begin a series of blogs about mysticism since the subject is vitally important to understanding almost all areas of anomalous psychology, which we often term the paranormal. It’s been a subject of great interest to me personally for many, many years.

First a word about the painting. It’s titled Temptation of St. Anthony by Felicien Rops (1878). I feature it in this opening piece about mysticism because of its archetypal significance to tarot. It invites contemplation. Let us consider this painting an exemplar of the archetype of repression, the primary mechanism the ego uses to ward off danger. The woman who has replaced Christ on the cross symbolizes the nature of Anthony’s temptation, which horrifies him. The pig, by the way, is one of St. Anthony’s attributes, his totem or spirit animal.

I should also mention that this particular St. Anthony is St. Anthony the Abbot, the Father of Monasticism. If you studied theology, you remember him as one of the Desert Fathers and Mothers, the ascetic monks and hermits who lived in the Egyptian desert in the third and fourth centuries. That’s significant because all mystics are necessarily reclusive, albeit these days not to such extreme degrees. All tarot enthusiasts are either mystics in some stage of spiritual development or frauds.

After Christianity hitched its wagon to Greek philosophy, it was never able to develop a strong tradition of mysticism – a dialog with the Otherworld. That’s because the word theoria in Greek means contemplation (meditation), a subjective process, whereas in the West the concept morphed into theory, something objective to be analyzed, measured and defined.

Chrysalis Tarot art by Holly Sierra.

Inspiration we receive from the Otherworld, and tarot, should be contemplated. This may be why tarot shares far more in common with feathery Eastern thought and shamanic philosophies (Celtic, African, First Nations) than with weighty dogmatic monotheism.

One of Chrysalis’ built-in goals is to assist you in raising repressed and suppressed fears and memories into consciousness. In other words, Jungian shadow work. Becoming self-aware of your unconscious mind, by definition, will raise all kinds of flotsam and jetsam to consciousness. This act of will alone removes 99% of mind-clutter that skews effective communication with the Otherworld.

Rops penned these words about his painting, “Jupiter and Jesus did not carry off eternal Wisdom, nor Venus and Mary eternal Beauty! Even if the Gods are gone, Woman remains. The love of Woman remains and with it the abounding love of Life.”

© Toney Brooks