Seeing the Shadow World

Becoming a Black Sun Seer (Borzûm-Gurûzâth) means learning to unsee the light of the White Sun that blinds most beings to the existence of the formless, Shadow World. For the White Sunlight only illuminates forms (chanz)—those objects, ideas, words and social constructs we can conceive of, speak about and interact with. We say that the White Sun is the Source (Tozg) which fills our minds with models of the world—our mundane sensory awareness, theories, philosophies, ideologies, religions, languages and cultures. To the White Sunnite, these constructs are all that one should be concerned about; anything outside of the White Sunlit World is illusory, delusional, insignificant or evil. To the White Sunnite, “the map is the territory”, outside of which he has no interest in venturing.

To the Black Sunnite, this situation is inverted. The map is not the extent of our world, but a “placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity”, to use H. P. Lovecraft’s lovely phrase. It is the black seas beyond the borders of the map that are of interest, and toward which the Black Sunnite seeker sets sail. And it is the White Sunlit forms which are illusory, delusional, insignificant or evil—signifying as they do only the extent of our mental limitations and cultural conditioning. To discover a greater reality, the Black Sunnite looks into the shadows of the White Sunlit World—and of his own mind.

Here we are speaking about the metaphysical concept of Vor-Thûlz (“Two Worlds”): the White Sunlit, formed world of Mâlzamagum-Thûl (“White Lit World”), and the unlit, formless realm of Kâmûd-Thûl (“Shadow World”). The White Sunlit World is where almost all beings spend almost all of their time; the Shadow World is where only a few mystics, magicians, madmen and prophets dare to venture. But this dichotomy of the Two Worlds is an ancient metaphysical idea that appears in many traditions; below are some other descriptions of the Two Worlds from other traditions that show how universal this idea is:

  • Castaneda’s Tonal and Nagual.
  • Plato’s Cave and world outside the Cave.
  • Hinduism’s Vyaktam and Avyaktam.
  • Shopenhauer’s world as Representation and Will.
  • Buddhism’s Taizokai (Womb World) and Kongokai (Diamond Realm).
  • Kabbalism’s Ohr (Divine Light) and Ein Sof (the Infinite).
  • Goedel’s Provable and Unprovable theorems of mathematical logic.
  • Taoism’s Ten Thousand Things and the Tao.
  • Kenneth Grant’s Universe A and Universe B.
  • Huxley’s ordinary mind and Mind at Large.
  • Islam’s Seen and Unseen worlds.
  • Shamanism’s World and Otherworld.
  • Kant’s Phenomenon and Noumenon.
  • Lovecraft’s “placid island of ignorance” and “black seas of infinity”.
  • Quantum Physics’ Observables and Wave Function.

Our notion of Two Worlds is thus in general agreement with many other traditions, and is not particularly radical or strange. What is radical and strange are the dominant ideologies of this age of “Enlightenment”, which posit a world that is only knowable through reason, language and sensory input, and which deprecate or deny the existence and power of any other world. It is this pervasive delusion that the Black Sun Seer must see through, but to do so requires a great deal of “unlearning” and “unseeing”. For the mental constructs most of us have been conditioned with in this culture are designed to draw our attention only to the White Sunlit World, leaving us totally blind to the existence of the Shadow World.

And this is why the perception of the Shadow World usually comes as such a shock and feels like such a cataclysm. It rends apart our conditioned inner landscape, like an unidentified mental object and an intrusion from an alien world that threatens to destroy our own. It is this perception that we symbolize by the Black Sun: a portal to an incomprehensible outer dimension that we didn’t previously suspect existed, suddenly opening before us, threatening to devour our inner space like a black hole devours outer space. And this perception is what the initiated Black Sun Seer signifies by putting a black spot on his forehead between his eyes, marking him as one of those rare beings who has opened his Third Eye (Zwot-Grâl) to the existence of the Shadow World and now “walks under a Black Sun”.

I’ll close this post with an excerpt from Carlos Castaneda’s book The Active Side of Infinity that contains one of the most intriguing accounts of an awakening to the Shadow World that I’ve come across:

“This is the appropriate time of day for doing what I am asking you to do,” he said. “It takes a moment to engage the necessary attention in you to do it. Don’t stop until you catch that fleeting black shadow.”

I did see some strange fleeting black shadow projected on the foliage of the trees. It was either one shadow going back and forth or various fleeting shadows moving from left to right or right to left or straight up in the air. They looked like fat black fish to me, enormous fish. It was as if gigantic swordfish were flying in the air. I was engrossed in the sight. Then, finally, it scared me. It became too dark to see the foliage, yet I could still see the fleeting black shadows.

“What is it, don Juan?” I asked. “I see fleeting black shadows all over the place.”

“Ah, that’s the universe at large,” he said, “incommensurable, nonlinear, outside the realm of syntax. The sorcerers of ancient Mexico were the first ones to see those fleeting shadows, so they followed them around. They saw them as you’re seeing them, and they saw them as energy that flows in the universe. And they did discover something transcendental.”

He stopped talking and looked at me. His pauses were perfectly placed. He always stopped talking when I was hanging by a thread.

“What did they discover, don Juan?” I asked.

“They discovered that we have a companion for life,” he said, as clearly as he could. “We have a predator that came from the depths of the cosmos and took over the rule of our lives. Human beings are its prisoners. The predator is our lord and master. It has rendered us docile, helpless. If we want to protest, it suppresses our protest. If we want to act independently, it demands that we don’t do so.”

It was very dark around us, and that seemed to curtail any expression on my part. If it had been daylight, I would have laughed my head off. In the dark, I felt quite inhibited.

“It’s pitch black around us,” don Juan said, “but if you look out of the corner of your eye, you will still see fleeting shadows jumping all around you.”

He was right. I could still see them. Their movement made me dizzy. Don Juan turned on the light, and that seemed to dissipate everything.

“You have arrived, by your effort alone, to what the shamans of ancient Mexico called the topic of topics,” don Juan said. “I have been beating around the bush all this time, insinuating to you that something is holding us prisoner. Indeed we are held prisoner! This was an energetic fact for the sorcerers of ancient Mexico.”

“Why has this predator taken over in the fashion that you’re describing, don Juan?” I asked. “There must be a logical explanation.”

“There is an explanation,” don Juan replied, “which is the simplest explanation in the world. They took over because we are food for them, and they squeeze us mercilessly because we are their sustenance. Just as we rear chickens in chicken coops, gallineros, the predators rear us in human coops, humaneros. Therefore, their food is always available to them.”

I felt that my head was shaking violently from side to side. I could not express my profound sense of unease and discontentment, but my body moved to bring it to the surface. I shook from head to toe without any volition on my part.

“No, no, no, no,” I heard myself saying. “This is absurd, don Juan. What you’re saying is something monstrous. It simply can’t be true, for sorcerers or for average men, or for anyone.”

“Why not?” don Juan asked calmly. “Why not? Because it infuriates you?”

“Yes, it infuriates me,” I retorted. “Those claims are monstrous!”

“Well,” he said, “you haven’t heard all the claims yet. Wait a bit longer and see how you feel. I’m going to subject you to a blitz. That is, I’m going to subject your mind to tremendous onslaughts, and you cannot get up and leave because you’re caught. Not because I’m holding you prisoner, but because something in you will prevent you from leaving, while another part of you is going to go truthfully berserk. So brace yourself!”

There was something in me which was, I felt, a glutton for punishment. He was right. I wouldn’t have left the house for the world. And yet I didn’t like one bit the inanities he was spouting.

“I want to appeal to your analytical mind,” don Juan said. Think for a moment, and tell me how you would explain the contradiction between the intelligence of man the engineer and the stupidity of his systems of beliefs, or the stupidity of his contradictory behavior. Sorcerers believe that the predators have given us our systems of beliefs, our ideas of good and evil, our social mores. They are the ones who set up our hopes and expectations and dreams of success or failure. They have given us covetousness, greed, and cowardice. It is the predators who make us complacent, routinary, and egomaniacal.”

“But how can they do this, don Juan?” I asked, somehow angered further by what he was saying. “Do they whisper all that in our ears while we are asleep?”

“No, they don’t do it that way. That’s idiotic!” don Juan said, smiling. “They are infinitely more efficient and organized than that. In order to keep us obedient and meek and weak, the predators engaged themselves in a stupendous maneuver—stupendous, of course, from the point of view of a fighting strategist. A horrendous maneuver from the point of view of those who suffer it. They gave us their mind! Do you hear me? The predators give us their mind, which becomes our mind. The predators’ mind is baroque, contradictory, morose, filled with the fear of being discovered any minute now.

“I know that even though you have never suffered hunger,” he went on, “you have food anxiety, which is none other than the anxiety of the predator who fears that any moment now its maneuver is going to be uncovered and food is going to be denied. Through the mind, which, after all, is their mind, the predators inject into the lives of human beings whatever is convenient for them. And they ensure, in this manner, a degree of security to act as a buffer against their fear.”