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Cerne Abbas Giant and Shiva at CERN (CCASA licences, Pete Harlow and Arpad Horvath respectively)

From Cerne to CERN: A Pilgrim’s Tale

In April, 69 Discordian pilgrims set off on a journey, perhaps better described as a mass magical act, from the Cerne Abbas Giant in England to Carl Jung’s Bollingen tower in Switzerland, via the temples of Damanhur in Italy and the CERN Large Hadron Collider. They carried with them ‘sacred objects’ including a ‘Higgs Boson’ made by The KLF’s Jimmy Cauty and a 23-foot long white dress worn in Ken Campbell’s late-seventies production of Illuminatus.

Poet and author Ben Graham was one of the pilgrims, and below he shares his thoughts on the experience.


It was the night before we immanentised the Eschaton, and we were sat in the bar at Damanhur trying to decide what intentions to sigilise for the new reality we were going to create. Me and 68 other pilgrims, who had all travelled from Cerne Abbas in Dorset and who tomorrow would head for CERN in Switzerland, where we intended to perform a mass ritual directly above the Large Hadron Collider (if the Chaos Killers Motorcycle Club didn’t stop us first), and who were now scattered in various stages of preparation around this amazing spiritual community nestled in the foothills of the Italian Alps: a community where, earlier that day, we’d been taught the phrase “Show us so we can understand” in their sacred dance language, to the accompaniment of a singing magnolia plant, and had been given a silent tour of the vast underground temples they had dug out, by hand, inside a mountain over the years since Damanhur had first been founded in 1976.  

I was sat with The Fire And The Pot and The Electric Dreamer. We had collectively created our own tarot deck for the journey, and had taken on the names of our invented cards: I was The Door. The three of us were part of the core magical crew on this mission, and I was staring into my empty notebook with a large bottle of beer in my hand, my mind having gone completely blank. I was about to take part in the most important magical action of my life (at least according to my reality tunnel at that moment), and despite having magesplained it at length in various email threads and an article for the Pilgrim’s Guidebook before setting off, I now hadn’t a clue what “immanentising the Eschaton” actually meant.

I knew what it definitely didn’t mean: it didn’t mean bringing about the end of the world. That was imminentising the Eschaton, and it was this common confusion that we were here to correct. Immanentising the Eschaton was… well, it was something else. Creating the condition of Heaven on Earth; uniting the binaries; manifesting the divine in the everyday. We weren’t here to destroy the planet but to save it, by shifting reality onto a different timeline. We were going to sacrifice the idea of story as we knew it, by tearing down all the old narratives and changing our conception of time itself. We were going to heal the environment, save the bees, invite Eris to the party and be excellent to one another.

Yes, but what were we actually going to do?     

In Cerne Abbas we’d gathered at the foot of the chalk giant with the enormous phallus, and encountered five wizards (one of whom bore a suspicious resemblance to John Higgs) who instructed us on how to arouse this sleeping incarnation of Albion, and so receive his “sticky blessing”.

On the ferry from Portsmouth to Caen we had rehearsed the musical play, or Pilgrim’s Opera, that we were bringing to Damanhur, before an overnight drive in one large super-bus, commanded by two extremely patient German drivers. The Pilgrim’s Opera had been performed, to a joyful if somewhat bemused reception, followed by a cross-cultural psychedelic disco at which The Phonomancer, The Rework and The Moment Maker had shared their best tunes and their best selves, and we’d shown the Damanhurians a few of our own dance moves in anticipation of today’s gift.

In another room, several of us were helping The Bricklayer cut up the 23-foot long white dress her mother had worn when she played Eris in Ken Campbell’s late seventies production of Illuminatus: the production during which The Bricklayer herself had been conceived. That play had originally been staged under the auspices of the Liverpool School of Language, Music, Dream and Pun, inspired by Carl Jung’s famous 1927 dream of Liverpool as the Pool of Life, a dream which we had long realised we were all living inside.

The 69 Cosmic Pilgrims included a subset of the Liverpool Arts Lab, inheritors and guardians of the Liverpool School’s spirit, and indeed of Jung’s dream. They were on a pilgrimage within a pilgrimage: to Jung’s neglected tower and garden in Bollingen, on the shores of Lake Zurich, where sacrificial stones would be placed before a small overgrown monument and a magnolia tree ceremonially planted. A second magnolia tree had been gifted to the community at Damanhur. A third was to be left at the site of tomorrow’s ritual: whatever that was.

For magical reasons I can’t reveal the intention I finally came up with, which was then worked into a sigil and inscribed on a strip of Eris’s dress. Nor can I tell you anything about the 68 other sigils that joined it. I can only repeat what The Bricklayer told us (unverified): how scientists at CERN had found that the story they create around an observed phenomenon significantly alters the nature of that phenomenon. They found that poetry had more of an effect, as a narrative, than prose: and that haiku had the greatest effect of all.

It was The Fire And The Pot who realised that the three of us, at least, should put down our intentions in the form of a haiku before sigilising.

That’s all I can say except to add that, the day after we immanentized the Eschaton (at 2.30 pm on April 23rd), I received a phone call just as I was about to get off the bus to begin the 70 minute walk to Jung’s tower. This was from my partner, who did not call me by my pilgrim name as she informed me that, completely out of the blue, we had just been given notice to quit our home of over 17 years. Themes of unravelling, letting go and embracing the great gnothing were very much on my mind on that final stage of the journey. It wasn’t a result I expected or hoped for, but in every ending there is a beginning. The Eschaton has been immanentised. What happens next may be stranger than you can imagine. 

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