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No wife, no horse, no mustache

Wasn't going to blog this, but hey, everyone needs a peek into someone else's head now and then, so grab your pointy stick and have a poke at this:

For the last week, I've been meditating regularly with a simple relaxation and breathing exercise and then attempting to complete the statement "I am sitting her performing this meditation...." in as many ways a possible. The answers I come up with often seem profound at the time, and I've expanded some into useful insights.
Last night, I fell asleep during the exercise, and ended up in the head-space that mystics call the "Chapel Perilous" and others refer to as "hypnogogic reverie". While there are a number of interpretations of the state, I tend to view it as the stalemated struggle between the conscious and the subconscious, where neither aspect is achieving dominance, and perception and apprehension of perceived events is a battle between disordered and unassimilated information and emotion from the Id, and an attempt from the semi-conscious mind to impose rational order on the presentation. The state is somewhere between a lucid dream and internal hallucination, and the effects range from the hilariously comical to abject terror. Embrace your inner therapist and march this way...

So, I'm sitting quietly and focusing on my breathing and listening to "Soliloquy for Lilith" by Nurse With Wound. I'm facing a thinly curtained window and the light from the setting sun is gently pulsating through my eyelids. "I am sitting here meditating because it was long day at work, and I want to relax." "I am sitting here meditating because I am learning how to focus my attention on a single task" ... "I am sitting here meditating because..."


"I am sitting here asleep because I was more tired than I thought, when I started this meditation." At this point I can hear babbling voices all around my dream self, and am seeing formless bodies of light and darkness flitting all around, like a great un-minded swarm, or current. I sense that I am standing on a rocky hillside, and in the distance occasionally hear sounds of gunfire and another noise that sounds like the great bassy flatulence of a beast with a forty-foot sphincter.

I become aware of a man walking towards me. He is portly, and walks with a stick. He is smoking a cigar. It is Winston Churchill.


It is someone in a Churchill suit. I know it is Aleister Crowley, in disguise. Although there is no evidence for this, it is essential to the mad logic of this head-space. I also seem to know that he is wearing boxer shorts with little stars and bats on them. There is no evidence for this either,

He stands in front of me and puffs up his chest, takes off his gloves and begins to shout and slap me.

He slaps me, and shouts "NO WIFE!"

He slaps me, and shouts "NO HORSE!"

He slaps me, and shouts "NO MUSTACHE!"

Everything fades out and it takes me a moment to realize that I'm mostly awake now.

There is an explanation for the content of this experience, and it has everything to do with my current reading matter and study. What is particularly amusing to me is the way that it combined with some older reading matter, which took me a while, and some help from Frater Ahazred8 to track down today.

"No Wife, No Horse, No Mustache" is a meme that gets batted around the psychedelic/fringe/esoteric communities. Most of us picked it up from Bob Wilson, who throws it around with little explanation in several of his texts, where he often uses it as an expression of mental garbage in psychedelic/hallucinatory/delusional narratives. I knew that I had encountered it somewhere else, as well, but could not for the life of me nail it down.

So here's the lineage of "No wife, no horse, no mustache" in brief. The earliest source that I have experiential familiarity with is "The Last Words of Dutch Schultz" by William Burroughs, which is a screenplay-like experiment in surrealist writing.

Dutch Schultz, born Arthur Flegenheimer, was a gangster in the 1930's. Schultz was known for the brutality with which he ran his territory, and the numbers of the dead and maimed among the con-compliant citizenry and competing gangs were high•. The Dutchman ran Manhattan for several years, and was eventually run out of the city by the prosecutor. He moved on to Newark, where he and two of his bodyguards met their end in 1935, one year after what appears to have been the earliest know appearance of the phrase in question: the film "Flirtation Walk". where the song "No Horse, No Wife, No Mustache".

At the moment, I can't locate my copy of Burroughs "Last Words of Dutch Schultz", but I am given to suspect that "No wife, no horse, no mustache" may have appeared in that text, given both Burroughs use mechanical writing techniques, the fact that the film "Flirtation Walk" is contemporary with the Dutchman, may have arrived on Wilson's plate, and thence on mine, via the Burroughs text.

This still of course leaves me pondering the matter of the meaning of this odd little trip into my head. I have generally regarded the phrase as meaningless. However, given the nature of the occurrence, the cast of characters and my compulsion to track down the origin of the phrase, something must be motivating all this, and in the spirit of inquiry, I've been cooking up a view on the the phrase incrementally.

A few weeks ago, I began looking at and reevaluating ceremonial and ritual magick, and considering making it a regular part of my spiritual practices. I have done a lot of reading but very little practical work in the area of ceremonial Magick, focusing instead of pagan and 'shamanic' work. My resolution in this area has been increasing, and while I'm waiting for some core preparatory reading to arrive, I have been laying some preliminary meta-programming down, in order to engage the kind of thinking that I have sound necessary for pursuing active spiritual development. So ending up in the Chapel Perilous was not entirely unexpected, but I found myself bouncing a little further along the path that day than I meant to be.

Adding all this together, tracking the phrase back to the film and it's context there, I've decided to sell the girls on ebay, free the horses that power my car, and then shave off the mustache portion of my goatee.

No, not really.

Actually, I'm taking it as a message that I need to proceed more slowly and with greater rigor than I have been. The reason being that the song appears to have been about the pitfalls of being an under-appreciated enlisted fellow. The slapping that accompanied the phrase in the reverie is disciplinarian in tone and nature, and the reference to the song, taken from it's context in the film becomes a phrase reminding me that, as I am returning to the practice of ritual magick, I need to relay my foundations- previous experience counts for little, and I'm back to rank amateur status. I can live with that. I find, having grown older, that I like the notion of respectful caution, particularly when I'm making decisions about how to fuck with my head. While I have not historically done any lasting damage to myself, it has periodically taken me a while to readjust my perception of reality to the neighborhood of mundane tolerances. The deleterious effects have thus far always been minimal, but only a fool doesn't learn from experience. I'd rather not end up a lunatic as the result of the careless exercise of my will.