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Robert Anton Wilson

confrontational, but I do believe there are still a lot of people working for the ideals of the sixties.

DJB: You mean like in the movie industry?

ROBERT: Yeah, and in television, in computers, in banking, all over the place.

DJB: Really, in banking?

ROBERT: Yeah. I’ve met a couple of bankers who are really very hip people.

DJB: Timothy Leary and Aleister Crowley both played similar roles in history and both had a significant influence on your evolving belief systems. Tell us about the effect these two people have had on your understanding of consciousness.

ROBERT: Well Crowley was such a complicated individual that everybody who reads Crowley has a different Crowley in his head. There’s a million Aleister Crowleys depending on what part of him people are able to understand and integrate. Crowley, as the leader of the Illuminati and the Argentum Astrum the Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO), was continuing the project of overthrowing Christianity and added his own twist of reviving Paganism (which goes back to Giordano Bruno who wanted to do the same thing). Crowley is an interesting figure and has had a bigger historical impact than most people realize. The NeoPagan movement is bigger than anybody knows, except the Fundamentalists, who think it’s a Satanic movement — which from their point of view, I guess it is.

The Crowley who interests me is the scientific Crowley. He traveled all over the world, got initiated into every secret society he could, studied every occult system, studied Sufism in North Africa, Taoism in China, Buddhism in Ceylon and he tried to understand them all in terms of organic chemistry and physiology. He laid the groundwork for the scientific study of mysticism and altered consciousness. That’s the Crowley I’m fascinated by–Crowley the scientist, who co-existed with Crowley the mystic, Crowley the poet, Crowley the adventurer and Crowley the Great Beast.

RMN: The Golden Dawn from which Crowley got much of his inspiration was a mystical school which is still lively today. Have you found this system able to remain flexible enough to adapt to the cultural and psychological revisions that have occurred since the Order was first established?

ROBERT: There are several Golden Dawns around, like there are several OTO’s and several Illuminatis and so on. All of these things are fractionated, and of course, everybody with a power drive involved in these things claims to be the leader of the real and authentic Secret Chiefs. The Golden Dawn which I find most interesting is the one of which Christopher Hyatt is the Outer Head. He’s a fully qualified clinical psychologist with a good background in Jungian and Reichian therapy and a great deal of theoretical knowledge of general psychology.

He was trained in the Golden Dawn system by Israel Regardie who was also a psychologist as well as a mystic. I think Hyatt knows what he’s doing; I think he’s got his head on right. He doesn’t have delusions of grandeur. He’s not a prima donna and he’s free of most of the deviant and aberrant behavior that’s chronic in the occult world. What are the goals of the Golden Dawn? Unleashing the full positive potential of human beings.

RMN: What are the methods involved?

ROBERT: The original Golden Dawn in the 1880’s used Kabbalistic magic. Crowley revised it to include Kabbalistic magic and yoga and a bit of Sufism. Regardie revised it to include a great deal of Reichian bodywork, and an insistence that anybody who enters the Order should go through psychotherapy first. He became aware that people who get into Kabbalistic-type work, especially in the Golden Dawn tradition, who haven’t had psychotherapy, are likely to flip out or scare themselves silly. Regardie also insisted that they should know General Semantics, which is interesting since it was General Semantics which got me interested in the study of alternative consciousness.

RMN: Why did Regardie want this to be included?

ROBERT: General Semantics is a system that is very useful in clarifying your thinking. If you understand the rules of General Semantics, you’re more or less immune to most of the errors that are chronic at this stage of civilization. One of the rules of General Semantics is avoid the is of identity, which is a rule I just broke when I said “General Semantics is…” It’s very hard to avoid the is of identity in speech. We all use it all the time. I’m getting pretty good at avoiding it in my writing. Whenever you’re trying to figure out what the hell is wrong with my thinking? Why can’t I get to the bottom of this? Why am I confused about this problem? Write it down and take out every “is” and reformulate it in some other way. You’ll find that your thinking has been tremendously clarified.

It’s like the celebrated problem in quantum physics in the 1920’s. The electron is a wave. The electron is a particle. Those two things contradict each other totally, which led to a lot of physicists saying that the

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