Say You Want a Revolution: The Invisibles Started 20 Years Ago

invisiblesWhen people ask me what my favorite pieces of psychedelic literature from the last 20 years are, I immediately tell them Graham Hancock’s Supernatural and Grant Morrison’s The Invisibles without even having to think twice about it. Of course, I’m not sure if anyone I’ve ever told this has actually taken my advice and read either one, but I’ll just keep repeating it in the off hope that at least one person will have their mind blown by the genius of either one of those epics. When people ask me for suggestions regarding books about magick, The Invisibles immediately jumps to the top of my list. This usually leads to someone arguing with me and informing me that The Invisibles isn’t an instruction manual on how to do magick to which I reply, that’s exactly the point. Since you can sum up basic sigil magick techniques in a few paragraphs, and chaos magick was supposed to be about pushing these techniques forward and creatively fitting them to your subjective microverse, I have zero idea why books regurgitating technique are even of much value at this point. They bore the shit out of me personally.

The Invisibles communicates to you how magick feels, not how to do it. That’s more important in my mind, as how to do magick should vary based on the participant as we’re all wired differently. Not to mention the fact that The Invisibles is entertaining as all get out and I’ve never gotten a single thing out of reading say Crowley or Spare. I personally wouldn’t recommend reading Crowley to anyone (just listen to a Robert Anton Wilson lecture), and after recently re-reading The Book of Lies (the Crowley book, not the Disinfo compilation which is fantastic) I can honestly say that it is the most boring, most pointless book I’ve ever wasted my time on twice. Crowley was a trust fund kid, not a writer. Oh, but it’s all secret code containing mystical messages. Yeah, but it’s also terrible poetry and exactly no one seems to be able to explain to me what the fuck the hidden messages are exactly. They all have their theories.

The fact of the matter is, Uncle Al’s dead. He died a long time ago. He existed before there were even things like AM radio and therefore his magickal concepts are going to seem a bit alien to someone who grew up with shit like the internet. Plus he was a total piece of shit human being and never bothered to grasp the concepts of karma seemingly on purpose. Grant Morrison strikes me as a decidedly less creepy individual and started writing The Invisibles when I was senior in high school. Of course, recommending The Invisibles is a bit strange because you have to give people a heads up that it doesn’t get very good until after the first book, which was initially comprised from like 25 individual comics as far as I can tell (which started in September of 2004). Sort of an odd recommendation, just keep reading it, you’ll see. I can understand why the casual head tripper would bail on it pretty quickly. But, of course, the reason it starts slow before launching into the upper echelons of mind fuck awesomeness has to do with the fact that Grant didn’t even know why he was writing it at first. He had to be “abducted” by extra-dimensional freaks in Katmandu before he figured it out. Why people obsess about the Bible rather than just listening to Grant’s Katmandu story ritualistically every week I haven’t a clue. More to the point, something like The Invisibles actually threatens the very foundations of materialism our society is based on.

Let me explain. It’s one thing to claim you came into contact with transcendent weirdoes from the outer reaches of human imagination in the privacy of your hotel room while stoned on hash. A skeptical materialist will then say, it’s all in your head, you have no proof. But when shortly thereafter you start churning out the utterly strangest and consciousness expanding literature ever known to humanity, what then? You took an internal experience and externalized it into something quite tangible and real. This gets even more peculiar when the piece of art you created starts influencing the consciousness of those who come into contact with it, and those people’s behavior (which is a decidedly physical and measurable thing) starts changing. It would then seem that whatever you came into contact with effectively channeled information into the human realm that measurably affected it. The hard boundaries of binary thought between “real and unreal” start to dissolve with this infusion of dark mind into our culture. Of course, Grant intended The Invisibles to be what he referred to as a hyper-sigil, so that was the intention from the start and of course, the further it goes along, the more it becomes a tome rallying against the very limitations of binary thought which enslave us.

Did the hyper-sigil work? Well, my personal experiences with The Invisibles are beyond abnormal. Of course, a 2004 interview with Grant in Arthur Magazine was the impetus that got me interested in magick and reading about it in the first place, but it wasn’t until 2006 that an entity showed up in my room and forced my hand. When that happened, I instantly became a practicing magickian. Though I’d still never read anything he’d written. When I read the interview, I didn’t even know who he was. So after diving head first into Occult madness I also conveniently realized that the library had a wealth of graphic novels, which was a medium I’d turned my back on as a broke college student and instantly started diving in. Brilliant stuff, but they didn’t have The Invisibles, so I had to actually get it via inter-library loan. It took forever to receive all the volumes, but I ravaged through each one as they showed up. It’s not often that I get near the verge of tears when a work I’m reading is nearing its conclusion because it’s so fucking good, but that’s how I felt. I was so enamored that I bought the whole series and re-read it a year or so later. I could not freaking believe how much I’d missed the first time through. The thing is so rich with mystical currents and bizarre subconscious suggestions it’s staggering, and I’m surely going to read it again in another few years and see another thousand things I missed during the first two run-throughs.

Anyway, it’s stranger than that though. While reading it the second time, I was in the process of starting a new psychedelic band. We needed a name, and were going to go with The Power Cosmic, but in the time between when we’d discussed that and when we were getting things moving someone had put up a Myspace page (remember that?) claiming the moniker. I wrote down a bunch of alternate band names and gave them to my mates. Black Science was one of them, named after the story line in The Invisibles where the crew go to Seattle and encounter the men in black among other things. My brother liked that the most, but I wasn’t entirely sold on the idea. Then that weekend, while waiting for my wife to finish up some errand, I unwittingly found myself in a chain bookstore reading an issue of Rolling Stone where The Mars Volta were discussing the influences on their Bedlam in Goliath album (their finest work by my estimation). They referenced the Invisibles quite specifically. That settled it. Black Science it was. Amazingly, no one had claimed the rather obvious name at the time. There was a Geezer Butler album but no band called Black Science. Of course after choosing it, within 6 months there were at least 2 more, but what are you going to do? We got there first.

Fast forward four years to 2012. We’re recording our second studio album. We’ve just finished a 15 minute plus instrumental track which was partially channeled under the influence of psilocybin but we hadn’t chosen a name for the thing as of yet. We’re working in my friend (and now Chapel Supremesus bandmate) Dean’s studio and he has Patrick Meaney’s book on The Invisibles appropriately titled Our Sentence is Up lying around. Since it’s 2012, I’m like, yeah let’s do it, that’s the perfect name for this thing. Of course, much like how Grant wrote himself into the hospital while writing his classic hyper-sigil, two weeks after naming the song Our Sentence is Up, two of the members told me they were going to have to leave the band…on the EXACT SAME DAY in the studio. We played one more show, and the album ended up coming out after the band was done, garnering by far the best reviews of anything I’ve ever put out. It still sells intermittently 2 years later. Our Sentence is Up was the last and best thing we managed to get to disc. Be careful what you wish for and all. (If you want to hear me telling this story in greater detail, I do on this podcast).

It gets stranger. I also finished writing a book in 2012. Of course, this book was inspired by an experience I had in 2010 when I summoned my Holy Guardian Angel and the first words it telepathically imparted on me were: “We are the beings from the Sirius star system who were communicating with Robert Anton Wilson.” I wrote the entire book and when I finished went back and re-read Cosmic Trigger which I hadn’t done in years. By god, I seemingly accidentally wrote the Occult sequel to that book that Wilson never penned. Shortly thereafter I realized that Wilson’s classic on Occult alien communique came out at almost the exact time I was born, and I was just turning 35. I desperately wanted to get it out around that date to commemorate the event, but that was not to be. The thing got lost in editing hell for the better part of the next two years. I really wanted to get it out this summer, but ran into a phase where everything involving formatting the text and art in Createspace went haywire. Fuck, I suppose it’ll just have to be September then and was like, well, the fall equinox is on the 23rd, so I supposed that’s perfect. What I didn’t realize until a few weeks later though is that I’m now accidentally releasing the thing on the 20th anniversary of the start of the Invisibles. Oh, and it’s a trilogy. Book 2 is already written and will come out in the summer of 2015. Again, I couldn’t have planned this shit if I tried, so stay tuned next week for details on my new book The Galactic Dialogue: Occult Initiations. If you like The Invisibles but would have preferred if it was a straight up account of Grant’s inner dealings with Occult madness (which he’s still never done) rather than a fictionalized comic series explaining those experiences to himself, you’ll love it. Prepare to have your conception of reality fucked with anew. Until next time true believers.

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Thad McKraken

Thad McKraken

Thad McKraken is a psychedelic writer, musician, visual artist, filmmaker, Occultist, and pug enthusiast based out of Seattle. He is the author of the books The Galactic Dialogue: Occult Initiations and Transmissions From Outside of Time, both of which can be picked up on Amazon super cheap.
Thad McKraken

8 Comments on "Say You Want a Revolution: The Invisibles Started 20 Years Ago"

  1. Hey Thad I’m with you on The Invisibles. I love that series. It’s almost hard to believe it got a mainstream release. Some unbelievably fascinating stuff in it. One of the things I really love about it is how seamy and atrociously awful the dark side could be. The flower power stuff that most people think of with psychedelics and the occult is replaced by characters who consciously work with advanced principles of the universe. Great stuff. Let us all know when your book comes out. You have me hooked to read it.

  2. Karen Eliot | Sep 17, 2014 at 12:34 pm |

    You’re dead wrong about Crowley and Spare. The effort you put in to understand their work is part of the process and will return insights that can’t be gotten any other way, drugs or not. “Book of Lies” in particular is an absolute masterpiece I have been reading continuously for decades.

    • Earthstar | Sep 17, 2014 at 2:16 pm |

      Trust fund wankers sometimes produce useful things, even if they are despicable otherwise.

  3. Chys0poeia | Sep 17, 2014 at 1:32 pm |

    I must’ve first read that book ~10 years ago. While re-reading it this year I actually ‘got it’ in all its complexity. It’s amazingly rich and layered and weird and full of life and ideas. I also went through a sort of shamanic illness for a couple of months which radically changed my life.

    However, with Crowley, for me, it’s actually the same thing. I feel that if you’ve absorbed enough context when it comes to magical symbolism it all starts to make sense… after a few years. And as you know magic is very into symbolism.

    The Invisibles is one amazing piece of work and it completely altered the way I think about things and probably shaped my life pretty significantly. I practice magic quite successfully, I think. You just gotta look out for the monkey paws.

  4. Nothing personal, Thad, but there is almost no substance to this post beyond an advertisement, and that is definitely not why I come to this site. I’ll assume you have good intentions with your work (and by all means Do What Thou Wilt) but aside from all of that you show zero credibility to me in your reading of Crowley and Spare. As most busy and intelligent modern humans are forced to scrutinize the material they ingest by various cues and clues, whether they be anonymous reviews or recommendations by a friend, I have to say that I will not enthusiastically look for your work.

    Crowley is most certainly not a poor writer nor a poor human being (whatever that means). Anyone with a relative command of the English language could not reasonably argue the former but I’ll leave the latter up to your personal discretion. The fact that you rightly find the material so difficult is because their work (particularly Crowley’s) is a syncretistic distillation of thousands of years of human thought and spiritual practice (for good or ill). I personally have no strong opinion either way about Grant Morrison and his work. He has an obvious talent, but how he is made to be a genius or guru by some will ever remain a mystery to me. Also R.A.W. would strongly disagree on your Crowley assessment, for what it’s worth. For someone interested in the occult, as you espouse yourself, you are unavoidably influenced to a high degree by those two figures, if only as filtered through those you would enthusiastically champion.

  5. Chys0poeia | Sep 17, 2014 at 3:37 pm |

    Some insight about its ‘companion’ “The Filth”: The Invisibles tells you it’s all real, The Filth tells you it’s all in your head.

  6. Hey I just wanna say when I was in my mid teens I had a vivid moving dream about being visited by weird/misfit looking beings who opened the floor in the living room and showed a huge spinning spiral galaxy. Before leaving the dream they said “Beware of the sixth dimension”.

  7. Jiro M. Trismegistus | Sep 24, 2014 at 10:17 am |

    Thad, why bother talking so much smack about Crowley and Spare? Why alienate those of us (and we are plenty) who have taken away things of value from their works? I personally find a lot of Crowley’s’ writing beautiful and at other times downright hilarious! It doesn’t make much sense to me to spend a decent portion of an article which seems to be intended to promote and celebrate The Invisibles (which I own the Omnibus of and adore) by bashing the forefathers of the very work you are praising? And was Crowley really all that bad as a human being? Or was he just a Mutant Zen Rascal with a penchant for Sex and Drugs (both, of all kinds)? You are turning me off man, that is all I’ve got to say. Oh and the “Until next time true believers” thing, I hope that was sarcasm for belief is the death of intelligence(R.I.P.-R.A.W.). I will probably read your book at some point though as it seems interesting and I try to separate my feelings about art from my feelings about he artist who made it, although it doesn’t always work.

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