Hardcover, 376 pages
Published November 1, 2011 AD
University Of Chicago Press
ISBN 0226453839 (ISBN13: 9780226453835)
Upon setting out to read the text, keep in mind that this is not some sort of peer-reviewed journal article by Prof. Jeffrey J. Kripal (who holds the J. Newton Rayzor Chair in Philosophy and Religious Thought at Rice University, where he is also the Chair of the Department of Religious Studies), but rather just a book by good ol' Jeff (private citizen). Thus, the book is actually premised upon his personal views, beliefs, worldview, theology, etc. And yet…well, you know you are in for a wild ride when the author admits that he is, and this is stated in his own words by the way, “possessed.” He actually tells the tale of his own real life possession by the Hindu goddess Kali, who, much keeping with popular depictions of her, stomped him down and had her way with him. She is depicted stepping on her husband’s corpse after having murdered him.
Long story short: Kali is battling a demon army and determines that the only way to defeat them is to drink their blood to the last drop. She becomes so engorged on demon blood that she goes berserk and in a frenzied dance of victory causes earthquakes. Her husband Shiva is sent to stop her but she is in such a demonic stupor that she dispatches him, stops on his corpse and tosses his body amongst the dead demons.
Prof. Kripal, correctly, correlates her traditional depiction to his own and that of many others in other contexts, “sleep paralysis,” whereby he was fully conscious but unable to move while this being had her way with him (and need we note that you can spell Kali with letters found in the name Kripal?).
In fact, she had her way with him physically, sensually and sexually, and she also had her way with his mind. And this is a key point as, after all and as it turns out, Mutants and Mystics is not the views, beliefs, worldview, theology, etc. of Prof. Jeffrey J. Kripal nor good ol' Jeff, but is the treatise or manifesto of the being who masquerades as Kali and uses Jeffrey as a hand puppet as it works the mind, the mouth and the hands upon the keyboard.
Have you noticed how many modern movies are just middles or, at best, beginnings and middles? The basic writing of a story from beginning to middle and ending in, well, the end, seems too much for script writers. Fortunately, the Kali being knows how to write a complete story with a premise, a laying out of the argument or facts and a conclusion (okay, okay for the sake of, let us say, sanity, we will refer to the author as Prof. Kripal—by any other name).
You see, if the book was just a middle you would think that it was just about the background of various comic book writers and the interpretation of their works—something which the Prof. tells us straight out; his book is not merely about that. But the premise/beginning and conclusion/ending tie it all together in a neat (well, not very neat) bow as he is showing how in the background of something as indicative of pop-culture as comic books are real life human beings with real life experiences and beliefs which they then express to the public via fantastic stories of all sorts.
But why “not very neat”? That Prof. Kripal has a gift for being succinct is obvious as he seeks to boil tremendous amounts of data into bite sized pieces; just enough to tell the tale (this actually leaves one wanting more and yet, with the common sense realization that detailing the minutia of each author’s life would require volumes; keep 'em coming Prof.!). The bulk of the book consists of the stories of writers, the authors of the impossible, who have each experienced various sorts of paranormal, supernatural, mystical experiences—by any other name. Many of them sought very, very diligently to understand, to make sense, of some very out of the ordinary experiences. They spent years, decades applying this and that worldview-philosophy in attempts to dissect, contextualize and, finally, incorporate their experiences.
In the future we will produce more articles regarding some of the issues and personages raised within Mutants and Mystic because it is utterly saturated with thought provoking information. Herein we will focus upon the premise and conclusion as these are where the, otherwise, mere informational rubber hits the real life road.
Mutants and Mystic is peppered with various comic book covers and pages which provide a welcome window into that world for those of us who are not privy to it. Not having been born in the USA meant, at least for this reviewer, that the standard comics are all but unknown. For example, what is the story of Superman? Well, there is no one story as there have been multiple lines of stories running for decades now. We may know the origins but the story has gone in many directions. Superman is a alien being who was sent to Earth so that when his superpowers, which are not due to the yellow Sun but to a natural Kryptonian aging process, expressed themselves he would have a distinct advantage over humans, yeah, he used them to help but…what if he had not? Although, even further back, the Man of Steel was just an Earthling who traveled in a spaceship to other planets.
His human name, Clark Kent, also has interesting meanings: Clark entomologically derives from the Latin clericus as in cleric, scribe, etc. as in a religious order.
Ken may refer to the Kenites who were a Canaanitish people (Genesis 15:19); kenite means smith as in metal worker but beyond this also, “knowledge, understanding, or cognizance; mental perception” (Dictionary.com). Yet, much as the pseudonym Marilyn Mason was concocted from Marilyn Monroe and Charles Manson, Clark Kent was, reportedly, concocted from Clark Gable and Kent Taylor.
Superman’s father sent his son to Earth on a salvific mission. Upon his chest is a sigil in the form of a stylized pentagon which if you connect the point on its inside, form an upside down pentagram, whose Krypton name is Kal-El which could mean, drawing form the obvious Hebrew influenced “el” (as in el, eloah, elohim, eluheynu, etc.), “voice of god” or “voice of the mighty.” His arch nemesis is Lex Luthor (another one is Bizarro who is basically Superman’s anti-Christ).
Since Lex means law we have the alien super powered voice of a mighty god who is the scribe of (secret?) knowledge fighting against the law.
Of course, Jesus was raised by Joseph and Mary and Kal El by Jonathan and Martha. Jesus’ Hebrew/Jewish background had YHVH referred to as “El” and we have already commented on the name Kal El with his father being Jor El (meaning God or the mighty will uplift). They were both sent to save humanity. They both have an anti figure. They both died and were resurrected, etc.
As you can see, this can all get very complex…and very verbose. So, where were we? Oh yeah, with a little bio; by the time this reviewer got into comics it was pretty underground stuff such as Judge Dredd (only recently gaining mainstream popularity), Nemesis the Warlock, Groo the Wanderer (“Did I err?”), etc. No Spider-Bat-Aqua-Super-X for this guy. Thus, Mutants and Mystic provides many insights for both those within and without the comic cult.
Now, if we were to ask, at least, some of our readership what the end result, the bottom line, would be of what could variously be defined as Gnositicsm, metaphysics, meditative spirituality, paganism, etc. They would surely reply with one simple statement to the effect that such views lead to the goal of “you will be like God” (Genesis 3:5).
In fact, one thing that this book has solidified, although it most certainly did not mean to, is that the term “Christian Gnostic” is an utter contradiction in terms. It is tantamount to calling someone a “cannibal vegan” or referring to a “square circle.” If you could imagine taking every single biblical, traditional, historical Christian doctrine and turning it inside out, upside down and backwards you have a pretty good idea of what is Gnosticism.
The premise of Gnosticism is actually the premise of every group, cult, secret society, mystery religion, sacred school that can generally be categorized as pagan, occult, mystical, new age, luficerian, Illuminati, Freemasonic, etc., etc., etc.
That mean and nasty creator God wanted to keep humanity ignorant. The savior of humanity, that old serpent, brought enlightenment and thus freedom to humanity. And, in one way or another (according to the particular group’s prescriptions) we will become that which we already are but do not as of yet realize; that we are gods. As Prof. Kripal describes his profession:
I study how human beings come to realize that they are gods in disguise. Or superhumans (p. 1).
…the angels and aliens, gods and demons are us (p. 28 bold in original).
This premise inserts an interesting dynamic into the book as surely those who agree with this view will see it as a strength. However, others will see this as a weakness in Mutants and Mystic as this view is the worldview via which Prof. Kripal interprets the various experiences and comics which he reviews.
Granted, show me an unbiased person and I will show you a corpse. Jeffrey J. Kripal actually attempts to, or pretends to be ever in the fuzzy middle (for many of those whom he discusses the ultimate philosophy appears to the glories of absolute agnosticism) not solely with regards to theism but literal agnosticism, meaning lack of knowledge. They have very strict stances on many things but hide behind the claim to not have really put their foot down in any one camp. As the Prof. puts it:
I am neither a denying debunker nor a true believer, and anyone who reads me as either is misreading me (p.5).
However, due to his worldview, due to Kali’s manipulation of his mind, the book not only interprets via the application of, and thus promulgates, a worldview. But “Kali’s manipulation of his mind.” Really? Well, yes, and according to Prof. Kripal.
In fact, the section in which he tells the tale of his possession is titled, “The secret life of superpowers (and this book).” Therein, he reveals that no, he was not just minding his own business and suddenly found himself possessed. Rather, he was in Calcutta, India in “November of 1989, to be precise” (when this reviewer was in Israel) actually participating in the annual Bengali celebration of the goddess Kail “for days” in the streets and temples (plural). Of the possession, he tells of how “that encounter is the true ‘Origins’ of the present book” (p. 6):
…my brain felt as if it had suddenly hooked up to some sort of occult Internet and that billions of bits of information were being downloaded into its neural net. Or better, it felt as if my entire being was being reprogrammed or rewired. A door in the Night, a portal, had opened….as if some kind of direct, right-brained, mind-to-mind transmission took place…until they could appear, now though the prism of the left brain’s words, as my books (p. 6, 8).
Aleister Crowley devotee, Kenneth Grant, notes that his book Aleister Crowley and The Hidden God (intro.):
…contains a critical study of Aleister Crowley’s system of sexual magick and its affinities with the ancient Tantric rites of Kali, the dark goddess of blood and dissolution represented in Crowley's Cult as the Scarlet Woman.
And, of course, Crowley’s concept of the scarlet woman came directly from Revelation 17:3-5:
…I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast, full of blasphemous names…The woman was clothed in purple and scarlet…having in her hand a gold cup full of abominations and of the unclean things of her immorality, and on her forehead a name was written, a mystery, "BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH."
Jeffrey Kripal, tells us the following:
Mutants and Mystics is about the prehistory of such magical writing practices. It is about how we go here and why it is so important for the deep reader of science fiction and superhero comics to think, rigorously, about the mind-blowing terrain of gnostic, esoteric, and mystical literature. If we can do this deeply enough, we are going to end up reading out of science fiction and superhero comics a very different story (p. 24).
The story is the middle portion of the book, the fascinating bulk, which details how these goofy, fictional, comics that are just for kids after all, were and are written by occult, magick, witchcraft, psychic spirit channeling medium, Eastern mystical, hallucinogenic drug taking, mental disorder experiencing personages who are preaching their gospel (which is no gospel at all) to young impressionable minds in the guise of fun time made up wacky stories.
Just consider Prof. Kripal’s wrap, delightfully succinct wrap-up reminder of where the book has take us:
What can we say, really, about the mythical patterns and paranormal currents that have absorbed us over the Last seven chapters?
An erotic transmission under a Tantric goddess in Calcutta, a magical conversion, a Goetic demon, a time-transcending DNA snake, shiny silver anti-bodies from the fifth dimension, and a god electrocution in Kathmandu; polar holes, conscious mythmaking, a mushroom-Like manuscript in a book of Love spelled backward, and a Martian in a Swiss silk shop; occult supermen, imaginal insects, flying saucers, a new American Bible, and ancient astronauts; an od and an id, a superspectrum, a Mothman, sex and violence become radioactive superheroes, and an evolutionary yoga ; a morning of magicians, California mutants, Cold War psychic spies, military spoon benders, an Israeli magician- psychic initiated by a UFO, and a NASA astronaut's yogic union in outer space; a storm-raising contactee named PK Man, a thought experiment named Starman, Superman and Batman in Tantric Tibet, and a discarnate spirit named Roy ; time Loops, a summer of superpowers, a pink cosmic zapping, a sci-fi gnostic, a possessing bishop, and a divine humanity evolving itself backward and forward in time; an ancient Mesopotamian goddess showing up in a New York cabin, sunglass-wearing aliens in a bookstore, and a non-driving, Canadian tax evader bestowing secret teachings in a hotel room-if you are not really confused by now, you have not been paying very close attention (pp. 329-330).
Wild ride indeed!
Thus, what we are dealing with is basically the good ol' ABC: Anything But Christian. But why should Christianity have anything to do with it? For various reasons such as that perhaps with the single exception of Alan Moore, we are dealing with American authors (Moore’s work is very popular in the US) and America is, at least supposed to be, a majority Christian country.
Secondly, considering that Prof. Kripal and the authors attempt to understand the paranormal via all seemingly possible explanations (worldviews, philosophies, etc.) with one notable exception: Christianity.
Thirdly, Jeffrey Kripal may be surprised what he may uncover were he to run the paranormal tales via the Christian filter.
But, in fact, Mutants and Mystic, via Prof. Kripal’s and the author’s views, is not only non-Christian but actually anti-Christian (on the rare occasions when anything resembling traditional, historical, biblical Christianity is referenced, that is).
Yes, Jeffrey Kripal has a Catholic background (whatever that means) and yes, the neo-Catholic church (presumably) has no problem with a Catholic worshipping a demon blood engorged Hindu goddess. But even considering Catholicism as a manifestation of Christianity; Prof. Kripal is not a Catholic any longer, at least not in the traditional sense of the word or the theology.
But Prof. Kripal also seems to miss some things which both his knowledge of mystical writings and his knowledge of comic books should have kept him from missing (frustrating, it must be, to have a demoness manipulating one’s thoughts). One thing that set Jeffrey Kripal upon his journey of, quite rightly, correlating comic books (and other forms of science “fiction”) with the paranormal is retold by him as follows (note that he references Michael Murphy who is the co-founder of the Esalen Institute and a key figure in the Human Potential Movement and author of The Future of the Body and yes, Prof. Kripal is a shill for this Tantric-New Age-Transhumanist organization):
I spent the first seven years of the new millennium researching and writing a history of Esalen and, while doing so, found myself, with no little embarrassment, becoming more or less obsessed with the comic-book mythologies of my
Adolescence…Murphy’s evolutionary mysticism not only looks very much like the X-Men. It is the X-Men. To add insult to injury, the evolutionary mystical school that would become Esalen was founded in Big Sur in the fall of 1962, that is, one year before Stan Lee and Jack Kirby dreamed up a similar occult school in Westchester, New York, for their X-Men…Then, like all things paranormal, these mythical musings literally entered my physical world in the summer of 2006. I was walking out of the cave of a cool dark movie theater after watching X-Men 3: The Last Stand and feeling especially perplexed, again, about how close this popular mythology was to Murphy's evolutionary mystical system, about which I had been writing and thinking all that same summer. As I…approached my minivan in the hot parking Lot after the movie, something suddenly appeared “out there,”' something golden and shining in the painfully bright sun. I couldn't possibly miss it, as it was lying immediately below the van door, as if it were waiting just for me. At first, I thought it was a Christian cross (I live in pious Texas, after all). It turned out on closer inspection to be a cheap piece of costume jewelry in the perfect and unmistakable shape not of a cross, but of an X.
That was the final straw that broke this rational camel’s back. That was the moment
I decided to write this book (pp. 29-30).
Something or someone seems to have blinded Jeffrey Kripal to a few facts which are paramount.
Firstly, note that he looks back at the event and, accurately, describes the “cave of a cool dark movie theater.” Indeed, caves have long been the place in which mystical initiations have taken place; think of Muhammad who initially thought (rightly) that it was in a cave that the Jins were deceiving him to the point that he contemplated suicide only to later call the demanding being “Gabriel.” Or, think of Bodhidharma who meditatively stared at a cave wall for nine years and thus, gained knowledge of energy (Ki, Qi, Chi, Prana…The Force, etc.) which has been applied in acupuncture, Qi Gong/Chi Kung, martial arts, etc. So yes, the modern day tribal story tellers, Hollywood, has us go into caves wherein they may indoctrinate and initiate us.
The symbol, the sigil, of the X-Men is not an X but is rather, a X within a circle. And, pray tell, what is the meaning for X within a circle?
It is said to be the first coat of arms, or first sigil, of the Dragon Kings. The ancient Egyptian Imperial and/or Royal Court of the Dragon are said to have used the circular ouroborus symbol, the snake eating its own tail (G.K. Chesterton noted, “a serpent with his tail in his mouth. There is a startling sarcasm in the image of that very unsatisfactory meal”) within which they placed an X (the Papyrus of Dama Heroub has the ouroborus sans the X). This all relates back to the claim that the mark placed upon Cain after he murdered Able was an X or an X within a circle—but this is conjecture.
The aforementioned Kenneth Grant notes (Aleister Crowley and The Hidden God, p. 161):
THERE is a legend known to Initiates concerning the secret abode of the Goddess:
The Spirit of Nodens―God of the Great Deep-flashed forth as lightning from the depths and formed a throne in celestial realms―a seat of stone―whereon the Goddess was established…The Heart of the Sigil of Nodens is identical with the Mark of the Beast: (X), the fusion of O and X which produces the lightning flash…In other words, the Goddess who grants all desires is invoked by the union of the X and the O (the Phallus and the Kteis).
…also in other words, the occult mark of the beast is exactly as it is depicted by in the X-Box game system.
Lastly, let us wrap up this review by focusing on Whitley Strieber as Jeffrey Kripal gives him quite a bit of attention and approbation. This will also give occasion to see how even bothering to consider the Christian view would elucidate matters.
Both Whitley Strieber and Prof. Kripal lament that “religious right…fundamentalist Christians” reacted negatively towards Strieber’s claims. Specifically, it is noted that it was asserted that Whitley Strieber was dealing with, and thus promulgating, contact with demons. Now, why would “religious right…fundamentalist Christians” come to such conclusions?
Well, one reason is that, and this is something that Prof. Kripal does not tell us, they were actually reading Strieber. Yes, Strieber’s view are ever fluctuating but at some, recordable and quotable point in time he wrote the following published statements from his book Transformations:
Increasingly I felt as if I were entering a struggle that might even be more than life and death. It might be a struggle for my soul…so far the word demon had never been spoken among the scientists and doctors who were working with me…I worried about the legendary cunning of demons…I wondered if I might not be in the grip of demons, if they were not making me suffer for their own purposes, or simply for their enjoyment…I felt an absolutely indescribable sense of menace. It was hell on earth…I couldn’t move, couldn’t cry out, couldn’t get away. I’d lay as still as death…Whatever was there seemed so monstrously ugly, so filthy and dark and sinister. Of course they were demons. They had to be…(pp. 44-45, 172, 181).
You can tell that he is thinking out loud and what is he thinking? His words, not those of the “fundamentalists” or, rather, the words of them both in agreement. This is why it was asserted that Whitley Strieber was dealing with, and thus promulgating, contact with demons. And this too is something that they got from the mystic’s mouth:
What if they were dangerous? Then I was terribly dangerous because I was playing a role in acclimatizing people to them (p. 96).
Note that Whitley Strieber not only let the demonic cat out of the bag but revealed some interesting tid bits. Firstly, just like Prof. Kripal’s Kali stomping sleep paralysis experience, Strieber experienced the inability to move or even cry out. Secondly…well, let us take a step back as the section about Strieber almost has to be read backwards in order for it to make sense.
If you read it as written, you would think that Whitley Strieber was just minding his own business and out of nowhere and for no apparent reason; something showed up. We say something because whilst many think that Whitley Strieber is the front man of the UFO alien movement he does not claim, and claims to never have claimed, that his tormentors are “aliens,” he calls them visitors (and demons, etc. depending on his current state of mind).
Yet, early on in Mutants and Mystic we learn that Strieber was a horror writer and had some of his books made into movies. Okay, just fund and fictional tales right? Yet, at about midpoint of his section we learn of the meditation room he had in the cabin in which the visitors manifested themselves. Then, towards the end of his section we learn that Strieber “had been involved for some time” with the “work of contemporary mystic Gurdjieff” who teaches a “bizarre synthesis of alien intervention and Tantric Yoga.” And what does Strieber end up involved in? Alien/visitor abductions and sensual/sexual relations with them (“sacred” sex Tantric yoga).
It may be of interest that this was stated during a consideration of Strieber’s elucidation of the symbol of the triangle. Many moons ago, this reviewer read two or three of Strieber’s books as they were offered for the reading upon the shelf of a coffee shop; get some java and read for hours—loved it! Well, one night a section was read wherein he notes that symbolism common with abductees is eagles and triangles—okay, yeah, whatever. Well, for whatever it’s worth, upon getting home this reviewer noticed, for the first time, that the bottle in which his favorite ginger beer/soda came had an eagle within a triangle upon the glass.
Also, something which surely many people will miss; it is specifically stated that on two occasions Strieber experiences visitations of sorts at, specifically, “3:00 a.m.” Well, this is the specific time known as the witching hour when the spells cast and the demons summoned by late night magickal workings are put to work (makes you wonder why American’s are asked, at each presidential election, whom they would want answering that, specifically, 3:00 a.m. call).
To make a long—Strieber bio—short, for a very long time, by emptying his mind via meditation, etc. he had a neon sign on his head that stated, “Come in, we’re open” and the demons came right in. In fact, Prof. Kripal specifies at some point during his torment Strieber yelled at the “provocative, even devastating, female figure” visitor with whom he had sensual/sexual relations that they had no right to do what they were doing and she yelled back, “We do have the right.”
Now, due to Jeffrey Kripal’s worldview interpretation, which we will elucidate below, he takes this to mean that they see themselves as having such a right as they see us much in the same way we see cattle. Yes, consider the Christian view of demonology, they were actually speaking litigious language that is, they were speaking of their legal right to him as he had given them an opening and therefore, had invited them right in: they technically, officially and legal had the literal right.
To wrap it all up; the main Strieberian view, the one which Prof. Kripal endorses, is the concept that, and now back to the Bible terminology and not Strieber’s or Kripal’s, “you will be like God.” Of course, this was the original lie told by the original rebel, “the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan” (Revelation 20:2).
Their main, shared, view is that humanity is evolving towards a more spiritual state whereby and wherein our mental-psychic abilities will advance to the point that our bodies will become smaller as they are largely unnecessary. We will be able to traverse dimensions, bend time, etc. Thus, Strieber believes that the visitors are us, we humans reaching out form the future and coming back in time to the here and now in order to help us evolve so as to realize that, as Prof. Kripal put it, “human beings…are gods in disguise…the angels and aliens, gods and demons are us.”
Prof. Kripal applies this concept of the future human visitors to all of the various paranormal experiences which he has reviewed. Thus, in short, the visitors are not simply, “making me suffer for their own purposes, or simply for their enjoyment” but are benevolently attempting to get us to understand via trauma that we are not our bodies and we can spiritually transcend our bodies and evolve to a higher state of being. So, the future of humanity is that we will become meta-physical, extra-dimensional, super-terrestrial, para-quantum, supra-vibratory torturing rapists (yes, Strieber even reveals experiencing the good ol' probe with a large, ugly and scaly bio-organism of sorts).
It is becoming more and more well known that one thing that the alien, visitors, Ascended Masters, higher beings, etc. consistently and exclusively seek to discredit one and only one faith: Christianity. It is also becoming more and more well known that alien/visitor abductions can be utterly stopped in their tracks by calling to Jesus. This should send up enormous red flags. Why only one faith? Why do Whitley Strieber and Prof. Kripal approve of all and any spiritual practice and belief except only one? Why does Prof. Kripal note that Strieber expresses a, “rejection of the traditional God, that ‘old greybeard in the sky’” which represent an utterly childish and bankrupt view of theology and “his understanding of Christ (‘all are God, all are Christ. The difference was that he knew it’)” which should have been stated as “his misunderstanding of Christ” or “radical redefinition of Christ” (p. 327).
What Whitley Strieber is doing, consciously or not, is teaching people how to invite demons to possess them and, moreover, teaching them to be utterly passive. The visitors are so evolved that they are beyond our quaint concept of ethics. Thus, they can rape us, probe us, torture us, etc. and they are doing it all for our own good so; grimace and bare it.
Thus, overall, Mutants and Mystic contains all of the element of which the good, bad and ugly are made. It is utterly interesting and one certainly needs to read it with its premise in mind…and a shaker full of salt nearby.