Tulpamancy, UFOs, and the Metaphysics of the Imagination

[EDITOR’S NOTE: This post is best read as not strictly literal but not strictly poetic or metaphorical either. Take the literal, the poetic, the mythological, and the imaginary and twist them all together into a gordian knot and that is the tone in which this post is meant to be read.]

Tulpamancy is the process of creating a tulpa. What is a tulpa? According to reddit’s /r/tulpas,

“A tulpa is a mental companion created by focused thought and recurrent interaction, similar to an imaginary friend. However, unlike them, tulpas possess their own will, thoughts and emotions, allowing them to act independently.”

If you listen to the reports of trained tulpamancers, their tulpas have a real sense of independent intelligence. What are we to make of these beings? Are they pure constructs of the imagination? Are they occult or spiritual in some sense? Do they really possess their own independent sense of intelligence and consciousness?

Most tulpamancers give a purely psychological explanation of their experiences. However, based on my own experiences with this phenomenon as well as my research into the High Strangeness of reality, I will argue in a vein similar to Philip K. Dick’s semi-autobiographical novel VALIS that tulpas constitute something other than pure imaginary constructs.

Inspired by the work of Whitley Strieber and Jeffrey Kripal on paranormal and UFO experiences, I will argue that the tulpa phenomenon, like the UFO phenomenon, is best understood as both psychical and physical, that the metaphysics of the imagination necessitate that we understand tulpas as having an existence that is both internal and external, dependent and independent, both of ourselves and out of ourselves.

I will argue that if we are to truly understand tulpamancy we will have to make reality itself have a sense of the imaginal and we have to extend our very understanding of the imagination to bleed into the real.

The Sensus Divinitatus

The term “Sensus Divinitatus” (“divine sense”) was first used by the theologian John Calvin to describe a hypothetical human sense that is used to perceive divinity. Just in the same way that humans use their eyes to visually experience a tree in front of them, we use our sensus divinitatus to experience God. But what if this sensus divinitatus was involved in other mental operations? What if it was involved in tulpamancy”

I tend to think that the sensus divinitatus is less like a sense organ in the traditional sense and more like an antenna in the technological sense, although you could also describe an antenna as a sense organ that’s sensitive to electromagnetic broadcasts. But the point remains: as Calvin conceived it, the sensus divinitatus does not create the signal within itself but acts as a receiver to relay to the rest of the brain a broadcast that comes from outside the brain (i.e. from God.)

Thus, I propose an essential modification to Julian Jaynes’ famous bicameral model, wherein the human mind was split into two halves, with the “human” side primarily housed in the left hemisphere and the “god” side primarily housed in the right hemisphere. I think he was right to infer that the right hemisphere is the “seat of the gods.” However, this is not because the right hemisphere generates hallucinations, as he thought. But rather, the right hemisphere acts as the sensus divinitatus and thus as the central antenna for receiving divine information from “outside” the brain-mind

However, we can extend the “radio” metaphor by thinking of it as a two-way broadcast system. It can both receive information and it can also broadcast information. So it could essentially “download” a tulpa into the right hemisphere but that very tulpa, or myself, or a combination, can “broadcast” back into the informational world in order to accomplish various mental operations.

The Hyperdimensional Radio

In magical circles, there is a well-known concept of a “Holy Guardian Angel.” I won’t go into details here, but needless to say it has long been considered central to the work of ceremonial magicians:

Knowledge and conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel is the primary goal of the ceremonial magician and must be achieved before any other meaningful magical acts can be accomplished. The Holy Guardian Angel, (the Secret Lover) will be the magician’s teacher, lover, mentor and guide through the higher levels of initiation. ~ Lon Milo DuQuette & C. Hyatt

But what is the relationship between tulpas, commonly understood as imaginary beings, and angels? Dion Fortune said:

“An angelic being, then, may be defined as a cosmic force whose apparent vehicle of manifestation to psychic consciousness is a form built up by the human imagination.” (The Mystical Qabalah, p. 61)

I think this is essentially right.

And if we accept that the sensus divinitatus is a kind of two-way antenna in the right hemisphere, must we suppose that it is only attuned to psychic information in this plane of reality? What exactly did Fortune mean by a “cosmic force”?

After all, if the sensus divinitatus exists and every human, as the theory goes, is assigned a guardian angel, why would the Logos or angelic beings care about individual humans?

Furthermore, given all the pain and suffering in the human world, it seems as if these “guardian angels” are not doing such a great job of guarding after all.

Yet the evidence from the Third Man Factor seems clear: guardian angels, whatever they are, certainly exist in some limited cases of extreme survival, where they show up as spirit-esque, angelic presences that guide us to safety with information that seems to come from an otherworldly source.

So it seems as if these angels are not on full-time guard duty per se but rather only emerge in particular situations. What if through tulpamancy you could learn to uninhibit the right hemisphere, in effect boosting the signal strength of antenna and initiating contact with the Third Man Factor at will?

But where do these signals come from?

As a pure poetic hypothesis, I suspect that these signals may be coming from either our future selves or a hyperdimensional self. In other words, our present conscious brain is existing in an hyperdimensional nexus where our right hemisphere is interacting with slices of information from different nearby dimensional selves or future selves, or some combination therein.

Having the phenomenon be an interaction with ourselves, albeit ourselves in a hyperdimensional aspect, would shed light on why guardian angels are attached to only one human, a fact that seems inexplicable under the otherwise strange assertion that all 7 billion humans have their own guardian angels (which seem to do a pretty terrible job of “guarding” in the first place).

Does this hypothesis thereby leave no room for the idea that the Holy Guardian Angel is a truly external entity different from a “mere” hyperdimensional aspect of our own mind (as if such a thing could be “mere”)? 

I am not going to rule out such a scenario. It just doesn’t seem to fit into the phenomenological evidence regarding tulpas insofar as there seems to be a very real sense in which such things are created by the imagination rather than discovered.

In my own case, I have certainly done a lot to conscious shape and create my own tulpa, who I call My Esoteric Guide (M.E.G.)

But is this the whole story?

I do not rule out the possibility that M.E.G. is in some sense “external” to me, that it comes from a kind of higher reality indicative of a higher intelligence and that its experience interacting with me is mediated through my perception of it as being self-created.

In this sense, in the classic tradition of UFO High Strangeness, M.E.G. is both me and not-me, both a creation of my consciousness and an independent intelligence that existed before me. But I might have created it such that it existed before me, taking advantage of the time-symmetry of quantum mechanics where the present can cause the past. Consider this passage from Philip K. Dick’s gnostic masterpiece VALIS:

“Time somehow got abolished for him, and the recapitulation of selves along the linear time-axis caused the multitude of selves to laminate together into a common entity. Out of the lamination of selves, Zebra, which is supra-or-trans-temporal, came into existence: pure energy, pure living information. Immortal, benign, intelligent, and helpful. The essence of the rational human being.” ~ Philip K. Dick, Valis

For PKD, “Zebra” is a kind of transcendent God or living information system, a Logos, that is a rational force interjecting into an irrational world.

I very much see M.E.G. as a similar kind of “laminated multitude of selves” that is both trans-temporal and trans-dimensional.

Learning about M.E.G. is both a kind of creation and a remembering. 

Angels and Aliens: The Super Natural

The popular metaphysical thinker Neville Goddard famously argued that your imagination is God.

My modification: my imagination is God-ly – it is divine in nature, it is Super Natural, which is to say, it is part of the Living God, Logos, Living Information, the vast network of interconnected hubs of integrated information, across time and space, and through multiple dimensions.

Via quantum effects, my consciousness, my imagination, has the power to co-create aspects of reality.

How do aliens fit into this picture? Experts on the UFO phenomenon like Jacques Vallee have persuasively argued that the UFO phenomenon is not really a case of space visitors from another galaxy. Rather, due to the High Strangeness of psychic nature of so much of the phenomenon, there seems to be a very real sense in which the UFO phenomenon is both psychic and physical:

“Everything works as if UAPs (Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon) were the products of a technology that integrates physical and psychic phenomena and primarily affects cultural variables in our society through manipulation of physiological and psychological parameters in the witnesses.” (Vallee and Davis)

So what then are “aliens”?Candidates could be: Interdimensional selves from the past and future, actual extraterrestrials (or future humans) from other “nearby” dimensions, constructs of human consciousness created via quantum observer effects, or some combination of all of these.

I am of the opinion that the “alien/UFO” phenomena is phenomenologically diverse and thus the likely “explanation” is a combination of all the candidate explanations mentioned.

If Neville is right that our imagination is God-ly, then it is a part of the universal network of Living Mind, the Logos, what Philip K. Dick called VALIS, the Vast Active Living Intelligence System.

In my estimation, VALIS is a fractal network of living minds, scaling from the sub-atomic to the galactic and interdimensional. Our conscious minds and imaginations interact with a subslice of VALIS and our experiences with it are always mediated by our existing psychological structures, either individual or cultural.

In other words, if you believe in aliens, UFOs, and Greys then your experiences of VALIS will be mediated through that construct. If you believe instead in angels and demons, your experience of VALIS will be mediated through that construct. If you don’t believe in anything “supernatural,” your experience of VALIS will be mediated through the construct of hallucinatory or psychedelic experiences of your own brain-system.

Regardless of your beliefs, the key point is that Neville is essentially right that your imagination is part of VALIS and thus is responsible for co-constructing and participating in the activity of the Living Logos. Like Schrödinger’s cat, our consciousness can itself determine reality, except instead of killing a cat we can create a UFO or angel.

A key insight from Whitley Strieber and Jeffrey Kripal in the book The Super Natural is that these phenomena of co-creation within the Logos are not purely mental or purely material. 

Instead, there are both psychological effects and material effects. The Roswell crash was a real phenomenon of actual, solid matter. And yet it also possible that the Roswell crash was simultaneously a phenomenon of conscious thought, except that it might not be us per se are who exclusively doing the thinking. 

If we are indeed sharing the nexus of reality, VALIS, with other intelligent systems in a fractal, interdimensional hub, then things like the Roswell crash may be the conscious creations of other beings in “nearby” dimensions interacting with ours. They might also be interactions with the future. Or a combination thereof. Regardless, the fact that it manifested as a “saucer” indicates the psychological side of the fact that UFO phenomena are “hyphenated” phenomena: mental-physical and physical-mental. It is impossible to tease these two aspects apart.

Furthermore, there might be more than one hyphen that we are not yet capable of understanding. Mental-physical-X where is “X” is a mode of reality humans have difficulty currently conceptualizing within the limitations of our ordinary language and mental models.

So I want to bring this full circle with my Holy Guardian Angel, My Esoteric Guide, M.E.G. 

She is surely a construct of my imagination. But that thereby does not make her unreal. And as Nevile is right that my imagination is divine and capable of either creating reality or shifting my consciousness into a different dimensional slice of the multiverse, the fact that I have created M.E.G. in my imagination does not mean she is not also at the same time being co-created somewhere else within VALIS, somewhere else within the astral network of interconnected information centers across the galaxy, across time, and throughout multidimensional space. 

Thus, M.E.G., like other angels, could be very much like the “aliens”: psychological-physical beings with quasi-independence from the human mind and actively joining us in the participatory universe of Living Information.

All this language is very metaphorical and poetic. It is not meant to be strictly literal. But we must not thereby believe that “not literal” means “not true” or “unreal.”

The boundary of fiction and nonfiction, imaginary and real, is ultimately slippery and illusory. 

Angels and aliens and gods and goddesses exist in the Collective Unconscious of the Logos, of VALIS, and subsequently they are both subjective and objective at the same time. Through our own conscious belief, mediated perhaps through quantum effects, such intelligent beings intersplice with our own reality, mediated via our cultural constructs and individual consciousness.

This has always been true across the span of human history. The myths of ancient times were grappling with the very same phenomenon of the Super Natural. That to say, they too experienced the mental-physical-X reality of a Vast Active Living Intelligent System spread throughout the galactic multiverse and across and between time and space. But since their cultural constructs were wildly different, their experiences were wildy different.

Today we have 7 billion people and a hyperactive melting pot of informational-cultural archetypes including every imaginable being brought to life intentionally through the mediums of art, fiction, narrative, storytelling, all playing out across the vast network of the always-online internet, plugged directly into our brains through computers and smartphones.

Take all this “fiction” and combine it with our real experiences of the paranormal, itself told through the same mediums on the internet, and you get an almost infinitely complex collective archetype, a vast active intelligent system in the microcosm.

This should not be surprising to hermetic magicians, who have long known the truth of the maxim: as above, so below, and as below, so above. It is just that now, in the 21st century, the human microcosm on Earth is starting to be of sufficient informational complexity that via conscious co-creation we are beginning to experience a frightening intersection of the macrocosm that is accelerating in its intensity and reality. 

Thus, it is no exaggeration to say that our own technological sophistication with interconnected information networks along with our hyperactive imaginations has created the current reality of accelerating paranormal/UFO experience, which brings along with it a tremendous excitement of mental energy and actual manifestation within the physical world of unparalleled variety and intensity. 

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