“Chapel Perilous, like the mysterious entity called “I” …cannot be located in the space-time continuum. It is weightless, odorless, tasteless and undetectable by ordinary instruments. Indeed, like the Ego, it is even possible to deny that it is there. And yet, even more like the Ego, once you are inside it, there doesn’t seem to be any way to ever get out again, until you suddenly discover that it has been brought into existence by thought and does not exist
- Robert Anton Wilson
Beware! If you value normalcy... if you value a comfortable, predictable world... turn back now. Once you cross the threshold of Chapel Perilous, there is no going back... for to enter this portal is to enter into the realm of magick, meaningful coincidence and synchronicity. Here the laws of common sense do not apply. Chapel Perilous is guarded by that ancient, daemonous trickster, Fate. Should you, in your courageous audacity, choose to proceed... you have been warned.
As indicated in book one of this series, there exists between the four, lower mundane, monkey mind circuits and the four, higher transcendental, true human circuits… a conceptual chasm of doubt. This inevitable moment comes to all who question the meaning of existence, beyond the corporal provision of survival and security needs. The ancient Gnostic mystics called this spiritual, psychic and mental no-man’s-land, the: Valley of the Shadow of Death. The more literal translation of the archaic text being: Deep Darkness.
The Valley of the Shadow metaphor refers to a significant crisis of belief wherein an individual is faced with profound questioning of his/her worldview. This event begins with the questioning of one’s assumptions of the meaning of life, or how the world works. Invariably, this quandary leads to a realization of the inequity of the human condition and/or the shallowness of one’s earlier assumptions. This moment of awakening comes as a shock, as we had grown comfortable with our previous world view, thank you very much.
On a side note, the famous and most-often quoted 23rd Psalm of the Old Testament, not only commentates on the Valley of the Shadow, it contemporaneously and synchronistically ties the balancing point, or no-man’s land of the Eight Circuit Model, into the serendipitous, cultic phenomenon known as the 23 enigma. This phenomenon was popularized by none other than Robert Anton Wilson, as first recognized by William S Burroughs.
Beware as you read these words dear reader, for just as with that rascally trickster synchronicity, the 23 enigma virally expands within your consciousness, once observed. Once exposed, the 23 contagion will magickally appear everywhere, when you least expect it! But I digress…
Returning to the topic at hand, this ancient, Gnostic metaphor is akin to the more modern and intellectually accessible concept of the Dark Night of the Soul. The connotation of Dark Night of the Soul infers a spiritual bankruptcy of the materialism of mundane existence. Leary and Wilson et al, metaphorically referred to this moment of crisis, utilizing the epic “Quest for the Grail” mythologies (such as Chrétien de Troyes’ unfinished poem: Perceval) as… Chapel Perilous.
The term Chapel Perilous first appeared in Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur (1485) as the setting for an adventure in which the powerful sorceress Hellawes unsuccessfully attempts to seduce Sir Lancelot. More recently, T. S. Eliot referred to and used it symbolically in his epic poem: “The Waste Land” (1922).
As in the Valley of the Shadow, Chapel Perilous refers to a psychological state in which an individual profoundly questions the very nature of reality. Perplexingly, they cannot be certain whether they have been aided or hindered by some occult force outside the realm of the natural world… or whether what appears to be supernatural interference was in fact a product of their own vivid imagination.
Within the Applied Tek-Gnostics system, to enter Chapel Perilous is to come to the shocking realization that “the Gods are Crazy.” This is the horrific, epiphanous moment when one comes face-to-face with the ambivalent... or worse... malevolent nature of worldly powers… what the Gnostics identified as: Demiurge. As examined in more detail in chapter two of this volume, this deranged entity is not to be confused with the ultimate, transcendent creative power, which cannot be named.
The concept of “Chapel Perilous” was artfully used by Antero Alli, in his 1986 book: “Angel Tech: a Modern Shaman's Guide to Reality Selection” which, in turn, was based on Leary’s appropriated Eight-circuit model. In Alli’s book, Chapel Perilous is regarded as a rite of passage, when transitioning from the four lower circuits of consciousness to the higher circuits. In Chapel Perilous, the integrity of the lower circuits is tested in preparation for activation of the higher circuits.
So too does Applied Tek-Gnostics utilize Chapel Perilous as myth, metaphor and map. We imagine Chapel Perilous as the gateway to the Gnostic Valley of the Shadow of Death… to be traversed at great peril, where the intrepid traveler is ultimately “reborn” once emerging on the far side. The rebirth metaphor is useful in assessing the seriousness of the situation. It is one that has been used by ancient Gnostic teachings and misused (born-again) by certain modern Christian sects.
It has been alluded to in Jungian psychology as the harrowing “ego-death.” This metaphoric death is essential in Jung’s individuation process. The doors of Chapel Perilous are often traumatically burst open in the throes of the psychedelic experience, wherein the ego-death becomes a very real misperception of honest-to-god (better have your affairs in order), death. In this sense, to pass through the valley of the shadow becomes an excruciating self-assessment.
For the unaware or unprepared, stumbling upon Chapel Perilous is profoundly traumatic. It may manifest as an existential crisis that threatens faith, belief, certainty and sanity. Depending upon one’s worldview, this pervasive and all-consuming doubt may shake the foundation of religious faith, shatter the illusion of ego, or question the veracity of one’s sanity. Upon entering Chapel Perilous, the very shackles of reality appear to be at stake.
For the prepared, this most dangerous navigation, this perilous crossing, can be achieved… at great cost. The price to be paid is one’s presumption of the fixed, static, unchanging and dependable nature of reality. Those who have been reborn, emerging from the chapel, having traversed beyond the valley of the shadow… those tempered souls, no longer are afforded the luxury of an unvarying reality. At this juncture, and in the words of Robert Anton Wilson:
“Reality is what you can get away with.”
Note: The above is an excerpt from Jack Heart's New Book: "Applied Tek-Gnostics - A Field Guide for the Collective Conscious" ...This title is available now on Amazon, in paper and electronic editions. Find the link below...