Modular Occultism

You may be interested in these books by William Ian Miller


Jah Shaka talks about his process from the Rasta Farian perspective:

He’s a slow talker, but I’ve found this talk to be one of the most inspirational, when it comes to spiritual practice in music production.


Brian’s message to you couldn’t be any clearer. Find another thread where you can contribute to the conversation in a positive manner, not as a troll that enters the thread with the sole purpose of shutting it down.


This song is an intersection of many things in my life, including this thread:



This thread is haunted!


@eesn said this in another thread. cross-posting it here, because I think it points towards approaching the modular synthesizer as a ritualistic practice of ephemerality. Perhaps not “occult” per se, but the concept of the mandala does speak towards transience/impermanence, meditation, and spirituality, so thought it might be a good discussion point for this thread.


I think this does a good job of explicating why this topic is so sticky, or why so many of us seem to echo a ‘yes, but I’m not exactly sure how’ sorta sentiment. It has something to do with history, ecstasy, and the division of labor:

Actually proving his argument here would require an ethnographic project of massive proportions – the type unlikely to find a place in contemporary academia – but the idea itself is fascinating (to me, at least).


Came across this


yes but “esoteric” has a specific meaning: the knowledge reserved to initiates of a certain tradition, while the “essoteric” or “exoteric” knowledge is the one available to the public domain.
with this in mind i think i still prefer the “occult” definition, meaning something that might be even hidden in plain sight.
this is a way of thinking that the hermetic philosophers and the alchemists seemed to enjoy very much.

also it hints to something buried in the womb of the earth, the metalliferous veins running deep into the soil, the act of getting one’s hands dirty with “work” to reach his\her gold…


i definitely incorporate “occult” practices in my creative processes, whether it’s writing, visual art, or music (which is the area i feel least confident in, re: “product”).

a project—for me—typically begins with trance/flow-states, sometimes intentionally investigating a particular phenomenon (dream image, synchronicity, or other more…charged things). from there, the dialogue continues through amplification and additional riffs/associations. as the piece nears completion, i weave in more “intentional” signal as a crystallization and response to whatever arose throughout the processes.

additionally, timing and other contextual considerations are acknowledged and worked with to the extent that the processes would often read as ritual, even to an outside observer (really, the whole thing is ritual. it’s an approach—a stance—of actively engaging with normally unseen objects/networks/processes).

the release/publication/otherwise sharing of the piece is an extension of this. the “firing” of the “sigil”, to use a clunky but convenient analogy.

my influences tend not to be visible in the final products, but: coil, TOPY, AOS, gysin, & burroughs have probably influenced my style of engagement the most (& yes, i fully acknowledge where there is problematic material interwoven in the works of these folks. the latter two, especially, were misogynistic AF, and i don’t forgive them that).

i’ll not get into my history, here, b/c i feel i’ve rambled on, already. but at some point, i intend to write a piece on that for my blog (when it’s up & running again), and i’ll share that here, if there’s interest.

thanks for starting this great conversation (& to the folks who moderated/intervened when it became derailed). bookmarking this for future reference, and hoping to spend some time on replying to some of the juicier tidbits.


burroughs was misogynistic enough to have reservations about him as a person, regardless of whether his wife’s death was an “accident” or “murder” (though he clearly viewed his responsibility as significant enough to lean toward the latter).

i do think it’s important to highlight context like this, especially for folks who might not have delved as deeply into his work. fallibility, messiness, and toxicity are…important things to hold in contrast with the promises of the occult/religion/spirituality, etc, as these realms/spheres are too often used to avoid the responsibilities of working in the world(s) we’re presented with.

at the same time, all of us participate in—and make use of—technologies with questionable origins and problematic biases, on a daily basis (obviously, to varying degrees).

so—to me—the task is to acknowledge the contexts and aim to do better: to live more ethically, to create worlds worth sharing. and to acknowledge that—in order to do this—i have to navigate & intersect with authorized reality enough to survive. which often (always?) means being complicit in some way.

and regardless of my feelings re: his body of work, i find some of the technologies burroughs employed to be quite efficacious in contexts that do not further misogyny or murder (just like i find the internet efficacious in endeavors that do not further military agendas).

in short, there is no purity. it’s a mess. and all we can do is our best.

(thanks for posting that comment, btw. necessary.)



Thanks. Just wanted to get it out there that because purity is not a thing, we must be conscious of the ethical dimension of our behavior.

When we discuss the esoteric, where the nature of the thing we’re dealing with may be partially or completely hidden from direct view, it becomes important for us to tune our antennae especially sensitively to this dimension.


full agreement with your emphasis on “especially”.

there are enough unexpected results in this type of work—as it is—without doing our best to mitigate known problems.


i’d like to say a few things about the science vs occult conversation, then i’ll give my phone (& this topic) a rest.

i’m not going to reply to anyone specifically, because the conversation is relatively old and appears to have gotten quite heated. i’d rather not reawaken any specific conflicts that may have found resolution outside of here.

first, i think a lot of folks who align with the occult/spirituality/religion can get quite reactive to use of the word “science”, which—unfortunately—has a tendency to reinforce conflicting views. but this reaction (in my experience and observations) typically isn’t against science, itself. it’s against the “hurr-hurr but it’s not even real!” commentary from scientism.

folks who have created deeper richness in their lives—maybe even to the extent that they’ve been able to continue living, despite other inclinations—don’t need to be told that their carefully cultivated pleasure isn’t valid. at least any more than mourners at a funeral need to be told that their beloved departed is not on their way to an afterlife.

folks who engage in scientism seem to delight in identifying these things as weakness, to which i respond: is it weak to demand more?

seriously, i’ve not met an occultist—to date—who didn’t have at least some appreciation of science. as evidenced in delighting in various technologies like…refrigerated food, medicine of some kind, transportation methods, and probably identifying various species of plants and animals (as just a few examples).

what the conversation really boils down to, then, is maps and tools. if i’m trying to find a way to get on the F train, i’m probably not going to look at a topographical map. if i’m trying to hang a light fixture, i’m probably not going to use a paintbrush.

it’s very rare (but not never) that the maps and tools of occultism and science overlap, because use of these is (typically) for very different purposes. (i’ll leave aside examples of occultism and magic that attempt to use scientific concepts and language as a means of validation, because. well. that’s a bit embarrassing.)

many folks in this thread have already discussed the value they’ve sympoetically found in their lives, as a direct result of engaging with…i dunno, “the unseen”? so i’ll not go into why/what/where the importance is.

the only conflict between science and the occult is more comparable to the conflict between fans of opposing sports teams, during their spectacular theatre of war. it’s a construct that perpetuates the game.

that particular game is one i have very little interest in playing; there are other worlds than these.


i love this thread (aside from the crustfunk). i just finished hereditary with film group leading to wonderful discussion and this a month or two after seeing (and loving) midsommar. i just love the thoughtful exploration of the occult. something feels so right about it and soooo wrong but definitely and altogether acknowledging of a wider lens view on humanity than is generally accepted (as fact). :gift_heart:

on the modular end of this spectrum, amusingly… for months i have been trying to summon a modcan b series dvdo. i have no spiritual method of doing this nor particular occult path leading or means of purveyance. a few days ago not a dvdo but an old beloved arp filter clone 4075 low-pass 36b showed up as available. an opportunity to re-evaluate years old plan: 7 modules

, the prior 6 all happy as clams in hand built case awaiting final “vco” arrival. so, without going into detail, i am just hoping the filter tracks 1v/o to be semi-misused as sine vco. it may take some modular voodoo to get this plan to work. and maybe the long planned complete system including dvdo will manifest with slight derail… or maybe i am on the right path? we shall see…


(initial reply got lost, will try to recreate…)

i’ve been ruminating on this for a few days, and find i still align with “mythic” over “tradition”. given “tradition”'s overtly political misuse in so many cases, it quite leaves a bad taste in my mouth, even aside from other aesthetic preferences.

the only folks i’ve witnessed using “myth” in a pejorative sense also tend to say things like “just fiction” (which, what else do we have but fictions?), and also make statements/stances i briefly discussed above re: scientism.

i can’t think of a word that simultaneously conveys a sense of the numinous, the liminal, and narrative better than “mythic”, so that’s much more of a match, for me.

(also, i deeply appreciate the precision with which you approach your language choices. thank you.)


and it has arrived

something sine wicked this way waves coming







You contain multitudes. Don’t give up. Your music will be transformed by what you’re experiencing now, and it will become even more essentially “yours” in the process.

Be well, cheers.