Part 6: Shadow Sleep
But if this was true how were we to live? The answer was that nothing truly died! It just transferred from one vibratory state in the aether to another. This did not make it OK to eat animals or kill people; quite the contrary, it placed an utmost emphasis on intent. Responsibility came from intent and not action.
This is why an act like sex could be both hateful and loving; the same went for giving a gift or for sharing knowledge. Intent mattered more than action. An inversion of the usual way of thinking. One that, for me, quickly began to gain in appeal.
After this initial experience which lasted about three to five seconds, I had another lightning-bolt realization. Of course the ghost of the flower had appeared as a shadow! It was a violet and it lived in shade. It was communicating its essence.
The eerie shadow dissipated, but a strange blackness seemed to hang in the corner of the room and I was scared. Not only of the experience and the lingering darkness, but suddenly, I was afraid to fall asleep at all.
Falling asleep felt far too close to the kind of surrendering of ego-consciousness that took place at death. Fear built to the point where it seemed like an embryonic phobia. I had the terrifying thought that I might never want to sleep again.
I don't remember what happened next, precisely, but I fell into the most restful sleep I'd in years, and when I woke, the sun was shining all through my room.
Part One: The Ghost Flower's Call
For me, the Ghost Flower ritual started with two dreams. The first was a daydream that I had about doing a poetry reading where a flower (or bouquet) would be burned as a "sacrifice." I thought this idea coolly theatrical but also disappointingly pointless.
Being a self-initiated magician from childhood, I'd developed a strong distrust of magical ideas that seemed gratuitous or incomplete. Because I saw nothing more to my imagined Flower Sacrifice than stage-antics steeped in romantic imagery, I left the daydream to hover in the aether only to be haunted by it periodically over the next seven or eight years.
The second dream took place about two months ago while I was sleeping, in which a woman remarked to me that I should read the "Magickal Works of Yeats" soon.
Interestingly enough, I had made a conscious decision in my early twenties to "save" Yeats to read until I was fifty years old. I was intimidated by the breadth of his art and magickal knowledge and thought it best to wait until I'd reach a greater stage of maturity to encounter his works.
But after having the dream, I tumbled out of bed, turned on my computer and set out directly to find out about Yeats's involvement in magick.
Before I'd so much as peed or eaten breakfast, I'd read an online article in Lapham's Quarterly called "W.B. Yeats, Magus." This article contained the following reference: "Yeats’ main interest, however, was conducting magical experiments. He replicated one he had found in the works of an eighteenth-century astrologer; it involved burning a flower to ashes, then placing them under a bell jar in the moonlight for a certain number of nights. If the experiment was successful, “the ghost of the flower would appear hovering over its ashes.” Yeats formed a committee, which “performed the experiment without results.”1
This brief reference was the missing link in my own previously daydreamed conception of a "flower sacrifice." I now determined to follow Yeats's working and complete the ritual by placing the burned ashes of a flower under a bell-jar in moonlight.
As soon as I had determined to do this, I felt a sense of excitement and freedom. I also began to sense in an almost subliminal way, the presence of a kind of silver light that permeated the world and was in some inexplicable way tied to the idea of the Ghost Flower ritual. I began to notice silver around me on fixtures, cutlery, car fenders, and fences.
The next afternoon, I started off in search of the flower that would be burned.
1. James, Jaime. "W.B. Yeats, Magus." W.B. Yeats, Magus, para. 13.
Daniel E. Blackston
My experiences with William Butler Yeats's Ghost Flower ritual.