Evil Dukpas, ‘Woke’ TV Reboots, and Dreams of Tibet: On the Blavatskyisms of Twin Peaks

black lodge

(Agent Cooper with the dwarf-spirit or ‘Man from Another Place’ in the Black Lodge, in Twin Peaks)

The twenty-five-year-in-the-making third season of cult series Twin Peaks has just piloted and sue me, but I have not yet watched all of the first two seasons of the show – my Dad who, aside from having worms was also into gimmick tees before they were like, even a thing, was a major fan of the series though, and he used to wear a shirt that said ‘I killed Laura Palmer’ when the show was running, so I recognize that I have very little excuse here.

i killed laura.jpg

(I guess my Dad’s t-shirt was cool, but clearly not as cool as this bro’s ‘I Killed Laura Palmer’ HOODIE. If you’re going to publicly confess to murder, I guess it makes sense to wear a hoodie?)

Still, even though I have not seen all of the show I AM well aware that the plot of Season 2 in particular is chock-full of references to Tibetan Buddhism and Native American religion as filtered through the muddy glass of Madame Blavatsky’s Theosophical imagination. It is well known that Twin Peaks’ writer Mark Frost is fascinated by Theosophy and the clips below from Season 2 offers a prime example of his Blavatsky fanboying. Appearing in a recording, Windom Earle, Agent Cooper’s former mentor, rants about the ‘evil sorcerers called Dukpas’ who tap into the sinister power of the ‘Black Lodge’ – the dark dimension out of time and almost out of space that is a key plot device in Twin Peaks – for their twisted enrichment. (As I will discuss at length below, the word ‘Dukpa’ ultimately derives from འབྲུག་པ or ‘brug pa which, meaning ‘Dragon’ in Tibetan, refers to both a particular sub-lineage of the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism and the country of Bhutan).

(I suggest you watch the whole clip because well, aliens, secret government projects, and Native American portals, but for those strapped for time, the Dukpa are first mentioned at 0.27)

 

And in a different poignant opening scene, government UFO project assistant and evil occultist Earle, the Moriarty to FBI agent Cooper’s Sherlock holds forth professorially and chillingly on the differences between the White and Black Lodges, and explains his interest in the latter:

 

(Relevant moments from 0:00 – 1:45. Tibetologists, notice Windom Earle/Kenneth Welsh’s reference to the Black Lodge as a ‘hidden land’ at 1:23)

Although the terms ‘Black Lodge’ and ‘White Lodge’ are said in the show to derive from local Washington state Indian tradition, Frost explains in a 1992 interview with The Independent  that he got the idea of the Black Lodge from the book ‘Psychic Self-Defence’, first published in 1930 by influential Western esotericist and ritual magician Dion Fortune a.k.a. Violet Firth (more on her and her comments on the concept in a moment). Fortune in turn borrowed these labels from Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, the even more influential Russian/Ukrainian psychic who claimed to be in both physical and more subtle contact with ‘Mahatmas’ or advanced spiritual Masters from Tibet and the Himalayas. These Mahatmas schooled her in the ‘Secret Doctrine’ or esoteric Wisdom-Religion that lay behind all exoteric traditions and which formed the basis of the Theosophical Society, an international esoteric organization Blavatsky helped found in 1875.

So what the fnnakk are Bhutanese people or members of a Tibetan Buddhist sub-school doing in Twin Peaks, and why are they described as incorrigible practitioners of the Dark Arts!!!??

bhutanese monk

(This Bhutanese monk doesn’t take kindly to all you chilips calling him and his friends dark mages, bro)

I’m far from the first person to notice and comment upon Twin Peaks’ occult and Tibetan/Buddhist  references (Rod Meade Sperry at Lion’s Roar did just that only a few days ago, regarding the latter subject) but in light of the recent reboot of the series and my particular research interests, I thought I might throw out some thoughts here on the broader genealogies of thinking and dreaming about Tibet that have shaped Twin Peaks and its representations. Ideas about Black Lodges and evil sorcerers called Dukpas have a long and convoluted history. And while it might not be immediately apparent to Twin Peaks fans and it isn’t addressed in Rod Meade Sperry’s piece at all, both Black Lodges and Dukpas are deeply connected with the ways non-Tibetans occultists have described and judged Tibetan religion and culture over time as part of claims about their own forms of spirituality.

Tracing the Evil Dukpa: Or A Story about White People obsessed with Celibacy and Tibetan Hats

Blavatsky wrote at length about the White Lodge or Great White Brotherhood of the Masters, a society of benign spiritually and scientifically evolved adepts who oversaw human civilization progress and worked to steer humankind towards their higher potential. The Black Lodge or Brotherhood was, by contrast a society of foul mages who followed the ‘Left Hand Path’, practitioners of black magic who lived solely to indulge their basest desires. These sorcerers made Faustian deals with lower-order spiritual entities so as to gain worldly power and pleasure. In sum, anyone familiar with the plot of Twin Peaks then, should be able to see how much Frost and Lynch’s vision parallels Blavatsky’s. More specifically, Blavatsky’s limited grasp of Tibetan Buddhism and Tibetan tantric traditions as actually practiced and her particular views on occultism and the relationship between celibacy and spiritual virtue, led her to believe that ‘Dukpa sorcerers’ from Tibet and the surrounding Himalayas were the quintessential representatives of her imagined cosmic cabal of evil sorcerers who used perverted sexual practices for personal empowerment and to tip the cosmological scales towards their preferred gross vibration.

For a long time, many Theosophists appeared to take Blavatsky at her word and seemed to assume that Dukpa was simply the Tibetan word for ‘black magician’. In line with this, in his commentary on his 1992 facsimile reprint of Blavatsky’s 1889 pseudo-Buddhist text ‘The Voice of Silence’ (which I discuss a little bit in this essay here) Boris de Zirkoff suggests a rather neat folk-etymology by claiming that Dukpa must be Blavatsky’s English transliteration of the term gdug pa, Tibetan for ‘poisonous’, ‘vicious’, ‘dangerous’, or ‘harmful’. Blogger Katinka Hesselink dismisses de Zirkoff’s proposal, however, by explaining that gdug pa cannot mean a harmful or bad (magician) because it is an adjective and not a noun. This is a little misleading since it is entirely possible to use gdug pa as a nominalized adjective in Tibetan, in which case it would refer to ‘harmful/dangerous ones’ (this line of inquiry is actually not at all uninteresting, since a case can certainly be made for connecting Blavatsky’s Dukpa/Dugpa to longstanding Tibetan ideas about hereditary ‘poisoners’, special classes of people who poison visitors. See my note on this at the end of this essay). Whatever the case, Hesselink cites the work of David Reigle – an independent scholar of Sanskrit and Tibetan literature who appears to be the most prominent ‘in-house’ researcher of Blavatsky’s Indo-Tibetan linguistic appropriations – which makes it abundantly clear that Dukpa derives from that the ‘brug pa in ‘brug pa bka’ brgyud, or Drukpa Kagyu ༼འབྲུག་པ་བཀའ་བརྒྱུད།༽ which refers to a particular sub-lineage of the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism. In his short assessment, Reigle cites some of the European texts about Tibet from the 1860s and 1870s which Blavatsky used as her source materials and shows how these routinely used various English renderings of ‘brug pa incorrectly to refer to any non-Gelukpa lineage of Tibetan Buddhism (the Geluk tradition is the school of Tibetan Buddhism to which the Dalai Lama belongs). These authors also lumped all these non-Gelukpa ‘Dukpas’ into the category of the ‘red-hat sect’ to distinguish them from adherents of the Geluk tradition, who as it happens actually are referred to at times by Tibetans as zhwa ser pa/wa, or ‘the ones with yellow hats’. That said, while the term zhwa mar or ‘red hat’ does exist in Tibetan, it refers very specifically to the lineage of Shamar Rinpoche, a somewhat controversial reincarnate lama in the Karma Kagyu context, and not to all non-Gelukpa Tibetan Buddhists, or even some of them.

Laurence_Austine_Waddell

(Laurence Augustine Waddell, 1854-1938. He was really interested in Tibetan Buddhism but he thought it was so awful, heterodox and corrupt that he didn’t even deign to call it that, and labelled it ‘Lamaism’ instead. He also thought that Tibetans’ ‘superstition’ justified the British massacring them and invading their country and that Sumerian language was really from the Indus Valley. He also published an article called the ‘Aryan Origin of the World’s Civilization’ – there was apparently only one and it was made by light-skinned Indo-Europeans. Wonder who he would have bunked with if he found himself in prison?)

The common misperception among early European commentators that Dukpa and/or ‘red hat’ was an umbrella term that referred to all and any dubious or potentially profligate sect looked down on by Gelukpas was partially corrected by another white guy with horrible opinions writing about Tibetans, Lawrence Augustine Waddell in 1895, when he emphasized that the Dukpa were a specific Kagyu sub-sect. As Reigle outlines though, Waddell  further confused the issue by going on to say that the ‘true’ red-hat sect was in fact the Nyingma or oldest school of Tibetan Buddhism. In doing so, Waddell appeared to be applying what he understood to be the meaning of a confused, outsiders’ label to the Tibetan religious landscape as he perceived it. For Waddell to insist that the true Red-Hats were the Nyingma was not a case of him describing accurately which Tibetan Buddhist group regularly wore red hats (in truth Nyingma practitioners refer to their lineage as the ‘Ancient Translation’ tradition and Tibetan Buddhists from every school wear red hats on various occasions) but rather of him expressing his opinion about which of the Tibetan schools was most ‘unreformed’. Waddell’s evaluation of the Nyingma was informed in part by his exposure to critiques of the Nyingma school as expressed by some Tibetan Gelukpa detractors, but was for the most part a product of prevailing biases in colonial knowledge production about Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism which equated non-celibacy and tantra with demonic superstition, heterodoxy and degeneration.

 

squad goals

(Theosophical squad goals. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, bottom left, with family and crew) 

This association between celibacy and virtue and tantra and perversion is one that informed Blavatsky’s writing as well. In her essay called ‘Occultism Versus the Occult Arts’ Blavatsky explains how true, spiritually elevating Occultism which is mystical ‘Knowledge of the Soul’ differs from the crude technicalities and lowly and selfish preoccupations of the ‘Occult Sciences’ or magic:

“ [Atma-Vidya, Mystical knowledge of the Soul] is the only kind of Occultism that any theosophist who admires Light on the Path, and who would be wise and unselfish, ought to strive after. All the rest is some branch of the “Occult Sciences,” i.e., arts based on the knowledge of the ultimate essence of all things in the Kingdoms of Nature–such as minerals, plants and animals–hence of things pertaining to the realm of material nature, however invisible that essence may be, and howsoever much it has hitherto eluded the grasp of Science. Alchemy, Astrology, Occult Physiology, Chiromancy, exist in Nature and the exact Sciences–perhaps so called, because they are found in this age of paradoxical philosophies the reverse–have already discovered not a few of the secrets of the above arts. But clairvoyance, symbolised in India as the “Eye of Siva,” called in Japan, “Infinite Vision,” is not Hypnotism, the illegitimate son of Mesmerism, and is not to be acquired by such arts. All the others may be mastered and results obtained, whether good, bad or indifferent; but Atma-Vidya sets small value on them. It includes them all and may even use them occasionally, but it does so after purifying them of their dross, for beneficent purposes, and taking care to deprive them of every element of selfish motive. Let us explain: Any man or woman can set himself or herself to study one or all of the above specified “Occult Arts” without any great previous preparation, and even without adopting any too restraining mode of life. One could even dispense with any lofty standard of morality. In the last case, of course, ten to one the student would blossom into a very decent kind of sorcerer, and tumble down headlong into black magic. But what can this matter? The Voodoos and the Dugpas eat, drink and are merry over heca-tombs of victims of their infernal arts. And so do the amiable gentlemen vivisectionists and the diploma-ed “Hypnotizers” of the Faculties of Medicine; the only difference between the two classes being that the Voodoos and Dugpas are conscious, and the Charcot-Richet crew unconscious Sorcerers. Thus, since both have to reap the fruits of their labours and achievements in the black art, the Western practitioners should not have the punishment and reputation without the profits and enjoyments they may get therefrom. For we say it again, hypnotism and vivisection as practiced in such schools, are schools, are Sorcery pure and simple, minus a knowledge that the Voodoos and Dugpas enjoy, and which no Charcot-Richet can procure for himself in fifty years of hard study and experimental observation. Let then those who will dabble in magic, whether they understand its nature or not, but who find the rules imposed upon students too hard, and who, therefore lay Atma-Vidya or Occultism aside–go without it. Let them become magicians by all means, even though they do become Voodoos and Dugpas for the next ten incarnations…

…Let them know at once and remember always, that true Occultism or Theosophy is the “Great Renunciation of SELF,” unconditionally and absolutely, in thought as in action. It is ALTRUISM, and it throws him who practises it out of calculation of the ranks of the living altogether. “Not for himself, but for the world, he lives,” as soon as he has pledged himself to the work. Much is forgiven during the first years of probation. But, no sooner is he “accepted” than his personality must disappear, and he has to become a mere beneficent force in Nature. There are two poles for him after that, two paths, and no midward place of rest. He has either to ascend laboriously, step by step, often through numerous incarnations and no Devachanic break, the golden ladder leading to Mahatmaship (the Arhat or Bodhisatva condition), or–he will let himself slide down the ladder at the first false step, and roll down into Dugpaship. . . .

…. For, whoever indulges after having pledged himself to OCCULTISM in the gratification of a terrestrial love or lust, must feel an almost immediate result; that of being irresistibly dragged from the impersonal divine state down to the lower plane of matter. Sensual, or even mental self-gratification, involves the immediate loss of the powers of spiritual discernment; the voice of the MASTER can no longer be distinguished from that of one’s passions or even that of a Dugpa; the right from wrong; sound morality from mere casuistry…”

To her credit (?) Blavatsky did at least make some effort to dispel the idea that all ‘brug pa were devoted solely, as Windom Earle might say, to the cultivation of “evil for the sake of evil, nothing else.” In the excerpt below, in line with some of those same old European ‘experts’, Blavatsky associates Dukpa with the geographical location of Sikkim, but also Bhutan (She also neatly conflates all Dugpas with Bön, the pre-Buddhist state religion of Tibet). This would seem to demonstrate that she was at least peripherally aware of some of the actual technical meanings of ‘brug pa. Clarifying that not every Dukpa is necessarily a black magician under the thrall of evil spirits, Blavatsky hedges her bets as follows:

“In the East, they are known as the “Brothers of the Shadow,” living men possessed by the earth-bound elementaries; at times—their masters, but ever in the long run falling victims to these terrible beings. In Sikkim and Tibet they are called Dug-pas (red-caps), in contra-distinction to the Geluk-pas (yellow-caps), to which latter most of the adepts belong. And here we must beg the reader not to misunderstand us. For though the  whole of Bhûtan and Sikkim belongs to the old religion of the Bhons, now known generally as the Dug-pas, we do not mean to have it understood that the whole of the population is possessed, en masse, or that they are all sorcerers. Among them are found as good men as anywhere else, and we speak above only of the élite of their Lamaseries, of a nucleus of priests, “devil-dancers,” and fetish worshippers, whose dreadful and mysterious rites are utterly unknown to the greater part of the population.”

 

Yet notwithstanding this disclaimer, insofar as Blavatsky’s Black Lodge is peopled with the likes of ‘fetish-worshiping’ Tibetan Dukpas, savage Haitian Voodoos and spiritually uneducated hypnotist-neurologists it presents us with a particularly racialized and anti-materialist view of esoteric depravity. While Blavatsky helped to popularize and defend the legitimacy and profundity of Indian and Tibetan religious and cultural concepts like karma, reincarnation, chakras, gurus and the like for both colonizers and colonized, her positively evaluated ‘Oriental Wisdom’ was still something she curated and assessed on her own terms (terms which more often than not betrayed a whopping amount of misinformation and ethnocentric prejudice, as is clear in the quote above, where she portrays the standard large-scale exorcistic masked dances or ‘cham  performed as a regular part of religious and cultural life by Tibetan Buddhists  as the ‘devil-dancing’ of an evil club of sorcerers). Not a little ironically too, the Russian/Ukranian clairvoyant reads non-dual Indo-Tibetan tantric traditions through a decidedly dualistic lens, one which pitches spirituality and the mind against the body and materiality in no uncertain terms. To be a black magician for Blavatsky is to refuse to disengage from embodied experience and sensuality and tantra, with its focus on an enlightened and non-dual engagement with precisely these things, starts looking sinister and perverted indeed from a Theosophical perspective. As Phil Hine has shown in his brilliant analysis of the child abuse scandals relating to Blavatsky’s Theosophical collaborator Charles Leadbeater, early Theosophical doctrine posited that celibacy and spiritual advancement were synonymous. Phil points out how the Leadbeater scandal helped cement the association between sexual abuse, homosexuality and black magic in the Victorian popular occult imagination, something Dion Fortune and other occultists would go on to develop in their subsequent writings.

Followers of the Left Hand Path: Dion Fortune’s Defense Against the Dark Arts and Demonic Buddhism

Blavatsky’s misrepresentations of Tibetan Buddhism in the late 19th century have been extraordinarily religiously and culturally generative. Her through-the-orientalist-meat-grinder visionary re-renderings of Indo-Tibetan tantra as black magic have influenced the development of representations and traditions in both esoteric and popular cultures enormously. Blavatsky’s ideas about the ‘Left Hand Path’ of Black Lodge magicians have been significantly developed and transformed by more recent occultists and ritual magicians. As I briefly touched on in an earlier post, Western esoteric ideas about ‘the Left Hand Path’ as a catch all term for ‘transgressive’ filth-and-flesh celebrating spiritual traditions, while inspired by Indo-Tibetan tantric practices, owe as much if not more to Blavatsky and her successors and “their pretty blatant misrepresentations of Hindu and Buddhist tantra and weird ideas about black magic and sexuality’s role in spirituality.” As I explained there:

“As indigenous, Asian tantric ideas have migrated out of their native contexts and have been appropriated and re-imagined by outsiders, the Hindu tantric distinction of ‘Left-Hand’ versus ‘Right-Hand’ practices has come to take on great meaning for Western neo-tantric practitioners. The title ‘Left-Hand Path’ derives from the Hindu term vamamarga, a word that is supposed to refer to Indian tantric specialists who historically emphasized the actual consuming of impure substances, the actual frequenting of charnel-grounds, the engaging in actual sex with physical consorts, and the actual breaking of social taboos and flouting of social mores. These practitioners are conventionally contrasted with ‘Right-Hand’ pathers, individuals who still practiced tantra but in a supposedly more ‘sanitized’, internalized or symbolic way…[Be that as it may], notwithstanding its frequent allusions to Asian traditions, ‘The Left Hand Path’ in Western esoteric contexts emerges out of very different histories and has very different aims and orientations to Indo-Tibetan tantra. LHP discourse in Western esotericism is often connected with Satanism, Lucferianism, black magic, and ideas about radical autonomy, counter-culturalism, self-reliance and empowerment… The extent to which Western LHP’s anti-mainstream heavy metal diabolism and counter-cultural rebellion or ‘deviance’ is at all comparable to the orientations of tantric saints who, though they were subversive and oppositional, still operated in contexts where tantra was mainstream, remains open to question…”

violet firth  (Influential ritual magician and esoteric Christian Violet Firth, 1890-1946, who wrote under the pseudonym Dion Fortune, produced non-fiction books on the practice of occultism like ‘Psychic Self-Defense’ as well as novels inspired by her occult training, experiences and acquaintances. ‘The Secrets of Doctor Taverner’ a sort of Sherlock Holmes-inspired occult detective novel drew in part on her experiences training under Irish Mason and occultist Theodore Moriarty, who yes, was really called that)

 

As mentioned, the Black Lodge shows up prominently in Dion Fortune’s 1930 book on spiritual cleansing and protection, ‘Psychic Self-Defence’. In her chapter called ‘The Non-Occult Dangers of the Black Lodge’ Fortune lists some of the less esoteric or supernatural threats of Black Lodges. In Fortune’s usage, the term Black Lodge, while still potentially pointing to an ‘inner planes’ or ‘Inner Court’ reality involving intelligences beyond ordinary time-and-space, also appears much more in the plural. It refers to much more down to earth and everyday menaces and organizations. Alluding to some of the occult fraternities and personages of her day, Fortune follows Blavatsky’s lead and contrasts Left Hand Path and Right Hand Path Occultism. For Fortune, the Right Hand Path is the a path of occult training which emphasizes purity, discipline, continence, selflessness, service, divine exaltation and all that is good, while the Left Hand Path is well, everything else. Fortune’s chapter reads today like a curious mix of pretty sensible and relevant advice for occult newbies about what to do in case esoteric fraternities and self-proclaimed gurus try to scam, blackmail, extort or abuse them, and of rather familiar Theosophical-throw-back scare-mongering about depraved wizards who want to do drugs and engage in forms of sex forbidden or not mentioned in the Bible. Here are some highlights (including a misreading of a joke by Aleister Crowley in his ‘Magick in Theory and Practice’ where he describes the loss of his sperm through masturbating as part of sex magical procedures with the euphemism “sacrificing a male child of perfect innocence and high intelligence”, and then lists the number of children he’s killed over a sixteen year period):

fortune 1fortune 2fortune 3fortune 4fortune 5

 

Things get decidedly less down to earth, however, when Fortune goes on to warn her readers to be careful of casually interacting with statues of Buddhas, as

“Some of the worst black magic in the world is a debased form of Buddhism. To say this is not to insult that venerable faith, for it is only lack of opportunity that prevents the Black Mass from occupying that dubious eminence. In the Thibetan monasteries of the Dugpa sect there are temples each one of which contained literally thousands of statues of the Buddha. On various occasions one or another of these monasteries has been raided, either by rival religionists or Chinese troops, and its curios scattered. To be the possessor of one of these Buddhas, magnetised by Dugpa rites, is not a very pleasant thing.”

Fortune then relates how she once had a run in with a Buddha statue from Burma, which  one of her neighbours had dug up from a ruin in that country and was using as a door-stop. Feeling sorry for the morose little, disrespected thing Fortune throws it a marigold flower as an offering, only to unleash some sinister presence inside the statue who seeks to vampirize her of her energy. She banishes this presence and ceases making offerings to the hapless icon, which she now knows is one of the bad Buddhas, some of which she tells us, “are consecrated with the blood of a human sacrifice.”

Fortune is at pains to assure us that Buddhism is for the most part benign and noble-minded. In describing the evil Dukpa or Dugpa Buddha images floating around the market-place, she leans on a Christian framework, suggesting that Dukpas are the Satanist Black Mass celebrants of the Tibetan Buddhist world. Both Blavatsky and Fortune’s invocations of Black Lodges and black magicians serve as an affectively charged foil against which to articulate ideal or aspirational forms of spiritual or magical morality. I am reminded here of anthropologist Tanya Luhrmann’s observations in her 1989 ethnography about ritual magicians in England ‘Persuasions of the Witches’ Craft’ about the work she understood talking about black magicians ‘somewhere else, out there’ did for the people she studying:

 

luhrmann 1

luhrmann 2

 

A Typhonian Make-over: Kenneth Grant’s Defense OF the Dark Arts and Dukpas as Aliens

While Fortune equates the Left Hand Path of Black Lodges pretty much exclusively with ultimately superficial or destructive practices, disciple of Aleister Crowley Kenneth Grant (who I write about in another essay), was one of the most important figures in Western occultism to promote the Left-Hand Path as a set of disparate but ultimately internally coherent religious and magical practices, and to demonstrate how these might add up to something quite a bit more profound or transformative than just vulgar notions of demon-ridden black magic.  Grant rehabilitates the ‘Vama Marg’ from Blavatsky’s smear-job at least to a certain extent and aligns his definition of the Left Hand Path somewhat more closely with actual Indo-Tibetan practices (for example, in his ‘Aleister Crowley and the Hidden God’ first published in 1973, he notes that “Vama Marg is the esoteric aspect of Tantra, of which the exoteric aspect is the Dakshina Marg (Right Hand Path). These distinctions have nothing whatever to do with “white” and “black” magic, as often and erroneously supposed”). Nonetheless, his vision of the Left Hand Path remains highly idiosyncratic, and even if somewhat indirectly, he perpetuates Blavatsky’s weird reframing of the Drukpa Kagyu. As for Blavatsky, the Dukpa feature significantly in Grant’s alternative esoteric historiography.

kenneth grant

(Kenneth Grant, 1924 – 2011, contemplating the Beyond…and also trying not to look too worried about the Doctor Who murderous Weeping Angel quantum-locked humanoid standing behind him)

Part of Grant’s life work involved fleshing out, through both standard library research and more visionary, magical investigation, what he dubbed the Draconian or Typhonian Tradition, a primordial and perennial current of esoteric gnosis which for Grant was an animating force and linking thread behind a range of ancient and contemporary magical and religious traditions across the world, not least of which included Indo-Tibetan tantra and the new religious revelations of his mentor Aleister Crowley. The Typhonian or Draconian Current was named for its connection with the monstrous, primordial, chthonic, titanic gods before (and after) the gods of man as well as the ‘Fire Snake’ of the inner psycho-sexual heat of tantric yoga. Grant explained that this esoteric transmission revolved around the skillful use of sexual orgasm and secretions, controlled dreaming, and magical ritual to transform consciousness and permit contact with extra-terrestrial, non-human entities. This occult technology could be traced from Crowley’s more recent revelation, to “the tantras of India, Mongolia, China and Tibet” to the “highly specialized cults” of pre-Dynastic Egypt and even earlier “African mysteries”, all the way back to Atlantis, and even further to its  supposedly non-human, extra-terrestrial source. Pulling insights from his own and others’ magical experiments and the theories of ufologists like Jacques Vallee (who incidentally, would seem to be another of Frost’s Twin Peaks influences) Grant argued for connections between religious and ritual magic traditions, alien abduction experiences and the weird cosmic horror fiction of American writer H.P. Lovecraft as he traced his grand and lurid vision of ancient and hidden Stellar Gnosis.

hecates fountain

In his 1992 book ‘Hecate’s Fountain’ Grant links the Drukpa directly to the Typhonian Current. While he is well aware that the word Drukpa refers to both a sub-lineage of the Kagyu school and to the kingdom of Bhutan, he suggests that the ‘Dragon’ in both titles and the apparently obvious Typhonian qualities of Nyingma and Drukpa Kagyu Buddhism confirms their key connection to his proposed Draconian lineage from Beyond. He cites a translation of a Bhutanese Nyingma/Kagyu offering liturgy to Tibetan Buddhist protector-spirits made by British ethno-musicologist and scholar of Bhutan John Levy. For Grant it is not necessary to contextualize the imagery and spirits in this prayer in their religious and cultural context. Rather, Grant’s project is to prove that Tibetan and Bhutanese religions confirm his own cosmology, which simultaneously transcends, subsumes and explains them. His interest is thus not in contextualizing Tibetan Buddhism in its own worlds or words, but in de- and re-contextualizing it, in both literally and figuratively ‘alien-nating’ it, extra-terrestrial pun intended. Here is what Grant concludes about the Drukpa Kagyu after presenting an excerpt of Levy’s translation of the Protector prayer:

“The Drukpa or Cult (pa) of the Dragon (Druk), is no less a vehicle of the Ophidian [Draconian] Current than was the Nu-Isis Lodge [Grant’s magical group which was principally active from 1950’s to 1970’s, which was set up to ritually engage with transmissions from entities connected with a ‘new star’ Grant had identified beyond Pluto] or the present Cult of Lam [a constellation of ritual practices and revelations revolving around a Tibetan Buddhist alien which I describe in an essay here]. Nor need the gods invoked by the Tibetan rites be distinguished from the Old Ones who inform the 93/696 current [i.e. Aleister Crowley’s new religious movement Thelema and its derivative]

These few passages are sufficient to demonstrate the affinity between the pre-eval rites of the Draconian Current and the present day rites of the Drukpa cult. The Buddhist tantrik rites of the Druk and Nyingma Sects are derived from the ancient shamanistic Bon Tradition of pre-Buddhist Tibet. They in turn were carried over from infinitely ancient cults which had their roots in Atlantis.” (149-151)”

Grant’s support for his claims depends both on aesthetic and linguistic sympathies. One of his principle forms of exegesis and methods for generating evidence is Gematria, a form of Kabbalistic numerology much used by Western occultists where the letters in words in Hebrew and other languages add up to a number, and numerical connections between words indicate esoteric relationships. For Grant, Byzantine non-linear threads of Gematric correspondence point to deeper truths beneath the ‘surface’ details of language and culture which a scholar of Tibetan Buddhism might consider most relevant. Gematria also makes Grant’s shaky grasp of Tibetan linguistics in its own terms less of a problem (Grant seems to misunderstand the uses of the Tibetan nominalizing particle པ་ pa, for example). Instead, what is needed is for the magician to expand their consciousness by tracing a giddy trajectory of cross-cultural mystical inter-textualities, which demand a voluminous occult education to even follow. Take a look, if you dare:

gematria

To further demonstrate that ‘Drukpa’ is ultimately derived from extra-terrestrial sources, Grant also asserts that the Tibetan word Drukpa is synonymous with the word ‘Dropa’ or ‘Dzopa.

(While ‘Sun Gods in Exile’ the book is now not so easy to locate, the heavy metal/southern rock band by the same name from Portland, Maine is just a phone call away and available for your bookings)

Dropa is the name given to a set of mysteriously un-locatable, supposedly ancient and extra-terrestrial circular stone disks, which the 1980 book Sun Gods in Exile claimed were the handiwork of a tribe of diminutive alien-and-human-ancestor hybrids called the Dropa/Dzopa whose progenitors came to Earth from Sirius centuries ago. The book’s author, a Dr Karyl Robins-Evans, explains in his book that these earthbound extra-terrestrials had been living in Tibet for centuries and recounts the details of an expedition he undertook to visit these non-humans. Turning ET anthropologist during the trip, Robins-Evins studied these beings’ unique language, history and customs and even became baby-daddy to their queen, after which he promptly left and abandoned her like any good human asshole would. Eight years later, however, the book’s true author David Agamon/Gamon would go on to reveal that his entire book was a hoax (something any Tibetologist would have realized in eight minutes, not eight years, incidentally). Dr Karyl Robins-Evans and all of his notes about the Dropa/Dzopa were completely fabricated by Gamon as part of an elaborate gag based on earlier sketchy reports about the existence of supposed space stones in China. Gamon’s pictures of Dzopa tribesmen were mis-attributed photographs of very human Tibetans and ‘Dropa/Dzopa’ rather than being the name of a ‘legendary tribe of the mountains of Tibet’ appeared to be little more than a bastardization of the Tibetan word for nomadic pastoralists (‘brog pa, pronounced something like Drokpa).

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(Waddell’s 1895 text on Tibetan Buddhism called ‘Lamaism’)

Later, Grant latches onto a tiny passage in a footnote in our old friend Waddell’s 1895 giant work on Tibetan Buddhism or ‘Lamaism’ to prove that Tibetan tantric Buddhism derives from extra-terrestrial sources. Waddell’s footnote briefly addresses native Tibetan historiographical traditions which aim to demonstrate that the seeds of Buddhism were present in Tibet before the 7th and 8th century and the so-called Tibetan ‘Dharma Kings’/patrons. Grant points to Waddell’s re-telling of the story of the ancient Tibetan King Lhathothori Nyentsen, who Tibetan historians say received Buddhism in the form of a casket filled with inscrutable objects such as an inscribed stone and stupa which fell out of the sky onto the roof of his palace one day. Although the King did not understand what these objects were he came to believe they were sacred, and set them up as objects of worship. This event was supposed to have established the ‘auspicious connection’ for the later arrival of Buddhism in a more intelligible form. Here’s Waddell’s description:

“Again, in the year 331 a.d., there fell from heaven several sacred objects (conf. Rock., B., p. 210), including the Om mani formula, which in reality was not invented till many hundred (probably a thousand) years later. And similarly the subsequent appearance of five foreigners before a King, said to have been named T’o-t’ori Syan-tsan, in order to declare the sacred nature of the above symbols, without, however, explaining them, so that the people continued in ignorance of their meaning…”

Grant makes much of Waddell’s sarcastic italicization here. Whereas Waddell states earlier in his footnote that “the historians so-called of Tibet wrote mostly inflated bombast, almost valueless for historical purposes” and dismisses the “accounts of the alleged Buddhist events in pre-historic Tibet” as ‘clumsy fictions’, Grant not only takes the story of King Lhathothori and the five foreigners as literal fact but also immediately glosses these foreigners as ‘aliens’ without further discussion thereby reframing the whole Lhathothori account as ancient alien alternative history. Whereas Waddell finds the fact that these foreigners supposedly did not explain the meaning of the sacred objects rather silly, Grant finds it mysterious and meaningful: “The entire transaction suggests a situation which, today, we associate with alien visitors from space and with traffic with extraterrestrial forces.” Grant then goes on to explain how ‘careful perusal’ of Indo-Tibetan tantra texts “will reveal the undeniably alien complexion of some of the rites described.” In an interesting reversal of old scholars like Waddell’s claims that Tibetan tantra was a degeneration of ‘the original teachings’ Grant uses his Typhonian Tradition hypothesis and evidence from H.P. Lovecraft’s short horror fiction to suggest that Tibet and Central Asia were one of the first points of contact for the extra-terrestrial Gnosis and that India in fact received tantra from Tibet, Mongolia and China.

Writing about what Tibetans Think without ever asking Tibetans what they Think AKA the ‘White Ritual Magician as Automatic Expert on Indo-Tibetan Tantra’ Phenomena

 

Beyond Fortune, Grant and Frost’s writing for Twin Peaks, Blavatsky’s ideas about the Black Lodge and evil Dukpa sorcerers continue to exert their influence in a range of contexts. The stamp of Blavatsky’s ideas is visible today on everything from the Marvel cinematic universe’s renderings of The Hand, its evil ninja-necromancer super-villain secret society, to the enduring homo- and transphobia that can still be seen in some new age tantric and Pagan literature, to Alex Jones’ alt right ranting and David Icke’s best-selling protocols of Zion illuminati satanic reptilian alien conspiracy theories (here they are talking about demon/alien possessed bankers, celebrities and politicians engaging in global pedophilic Satanic ritual abuse conspiracies together).

Just recently, I was looking through Western occultist Francis King’s 1990 book on Tantra called ‘Tantra: The Way of Action,’ and was surprised to see Blavatskyian tropes of dark Dukpa sorcerers alive and kicking in his writing.

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Here King confidently reproduces what are now familiar Theosophical categories that equate the Drukpa Kagyu with evil sorcerers and claims that Chod practitioners kidnap teenage girls for black magic sex rites. He states that Tibetans have ‘forgotten’ that what they practice is really tantra and that they look at it as something sketchy and of questionable value, and assures us that only Tibetan (but not Hindu) yogis take a prescriptive rather than descriptive stance on engaging with chakras in the context of sadhana practice (this is not the case). In addition, in a well-worn move in Western esotericism, King defaults to invocations of the ‘universalism of technique’. By saying that the mechanisms and net effect of Tibetan yoga and Western ritual magic Kabbalistic meditations are really ultimately the same, he is able to both cover up his unfamiliarity with indigenous sources and to suggest that Tibetan culture and religion is really not worth outsiders bothering with anyway – a curious claim for a white man who decided to write a book about Indian and Tibetan religion to make money, if you stop and think about it.  “For any non-Tibetan to engage in physical activities even remotely resembling those which are integral to the Chod rite” King tell us, “would be both pointless and clear evidence of psychic pathology.” (Spoiler, thousands of white people do practice Tibetan Buddhism, and many Tibetan teachers continue to teach it to them, without feeling that doing so is pointless or pathological).

King’s approach above could be summed up something like this: ‘Tibetans kind of do a bunch of stuff in their meditations, but if Westerners practiced it it would be deviant and pathological ‘cos Tibetans’ psychology and society is pre-modern, kind of gross/scary and sooo different to white peoples’. But wait, don’t worry! The Middle Pillar meditation of post-Victorian Western ritual magic is basically Kundalini, and Qabala is like the Yoga of the West so I’m just gonna teach you my Victorian occultism version of Tantra while still pretending to be an expert in Indo-Tibetan traditions‘.

In taking this line, King takes a leaf out of Carl Gustav Jung’s book, who wrote all kinds of scholarly forewords on translations of Asian religious texts despite not being a specialist trained in the traditions to which they pertained and despite the fact that he often counselled white people to not attempt to undertake the practices in them, since being foreign to their mental constitutions they might be dangerous. Jung famously wrote commentary on translations of part of the Bardo Thödol, the cycle of Tibetan ritual texts used for aiding the transmigrating consciousness of the deceased through the intermediary state between rebirths, also commonly and somewhat misleadingly called the Tibetan Book of the Dead (incidentally, Agent Cooper recites an English version of a Tibetan Book of the Dead prayer to lead Leland’s soul through the Bardo in a Twin Peaks episode (watch from 3:04):

 

In his biography of the Tibetan Book of the Dead, Tibetan Studies scholar Donald Lopez points out what is wrong with Jung and other non-native occultists and mystics’ anti-ethnographic evaluations of indigenous religious traditions in terms of universalist or culture-transcending truths which they get to define:

“[Jung] closes with the statement that “The world of gods and spirits is truly ‘nothing but’ the collective unconscious inside me.”…Thus, Jung confidently reduces a complex religious system, with its own long tradition of commentary and exegesis, to his own psychological system: Initiation is psychoanalysis; gods and spirits are the collective unconscious. Jung wrote commentaries on a number of Asian texts: Evans-Wentz’s Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation; Richard Wilhelm’s translations of the I Ching and the Daoist alchemical text, The Secret of the Golden Flower; D. T. Suzuki’s Introduction to Zen Buddhism, and others. Here, his comments on The Tibetan Book of the Dead, as well as his other writings, contain the same gross cultural stereotypes of East and West, the same admonitions that Europeans not practice yoga, the same unsuccessful attempt to interpret “Eastern” consciousness in light of his theory of the unconscious. A thorough study of Jung’s misreading, willful and otherwise, of “Eastern Religions” remains to be written.”

 

What worries me about the likes of white occultists like Blavatsky, Grant, and King is not so much that they are uninformed – whether in the 1890s or 1990s, detailed, quality information about Tibetan tantra was not as readily accessible as it is today after all. I’m less concerned here about the extent to which white occultists had access to native Tibetan experts and primary sources and more concerned about whether they even ever felt it was necessary to consult these.As a published ‘expert’ on tantra King makes claims about Tibetan religions by quoting other white occultists and Theosophists without ever consulting any primary sources or even any secondary ones by Tibetans or professional Tibetan studies scholars. As we see above, his portrayals of Tibetan attitudes and religious practices thus become at best mildly kooky and titillating misrepresentations, and at worst, casual racial determinism masquerading as judicious esoteric scholarship.

Imagining the Tibetan Other and ‘The Plight of the Tibetan People’: Dreams of Tibet Meet Tibetan Realities

The specter of Blavatsky’s evil Dukpa points to the way that Tibetan culture and religion can be simultaneously othered and denigrated and also loved and relied upon by outsiders. Grant’s alternative Typhonian history centers on the rehabilitation and positive reappraisal of the spiritual value of misunderstood and demonized ‘Left Hand Path’ traditions like Indo-Tibetan tantra, Luciferianism, and witchcraft but it also arguably depends on a certain fetishizing of specific key, allegedly ‘super dark, transgressive, primal’ etc. cultural traditions. In addition to his invocation of Blavatsky’s dark Dukpas, Mark Frost also included a brief – and roughly accurate – history lesson about Tibet and its invasion by Communist China in 1950 in another Twin Peaks episode:

Agent Cooper schools his law enforcement colleagues about Tibetan geography and politics and explains how he spontaneously obtained what we might call a siddhi or spiritual power relating to Tibetan Dream Yoga ༼རྨི་ལམ་རྣལ་འབྱོར།༽ : “following a dream I had three years ago, I have become deeply moved by the plight of the Tibetan people and filled with a desire to help them. I also awoke from the same dream realizing that I had subconsciously gained knowledge of a deductive technique involving mind-body coordination operating hand-in-hand with the deepest level of intuition.”

Many viewers and journalists, unaware probably of the Theosophy-Dukpa-Tibet connection, found this scene ‘bizarre’ or ‘baffling’ when it aired. This shoutout to Tibet in a wildly popular show was a commendable plug for an often under-reported on political struggle. Yet it also captured the way in which an interest in Tibetans and their lives by outsiders is often intertwined with complex worlds of inner imagination and revelation, with dreams of personal spiritual transformation and spiritual menace that may have very little or next to nothing to do with Tibetans themselves.

open road

(Raghavan Iyer’s son, Pico Iyer’s best-selling 2008 book about the Dalai Lama)

In 1961, Raghavan Iyer, father of writer Pico Iyer and noted Indian political scientist, philosopher and prominent Theosophist (yes, brown people are Theosophists too) gave a talk on his meeting with the Fourteenth Dalai Lama. Iyer had been one of many people who had come to interview the Dalai Lama shortly after his escape into India from Chinese-occupied Tibet in 1959. At one point in his interview, Iyer talks with the young Dalai Lama about his feelings on Gandhi and his political movement. Halfway through the discussion something quite strange happens. The Dalai Lama, talking about altruistic spiritual or political commitment, mentions that there are some people who live their lives like animals, and unmoved by appeals to morality or higher virtue, will oppose non-violent efforts and crush them at all costs. Iyer – who helped found the Santa Barbara chapter of the United Lodge of Theosophists and was no doubt deeply conversant with Blavatsky – then asks the Dalai Lama, through his translator, if he is referring to the infamous ‘Dugpa’ sorcerers.

“At this point when talking about how we should combat evil on the political plane, I mentioned to him my own interest in Gandhi and that was writing a book on Gandhi. He spoke of him almost as a forerunner of the new enlightenment. He said that the truths which Gandhi embodied in his life were being increasingly recognized, especially with the advent of nuclear weapons, by people in many parts of the world. It was our duty to uphold the truth as we knew it even in the company of people whose selfishness and short-sightedness prevented them from seeing it. We must always attempt to do this as the mind of man was mutable and the soul of man was unpredictable. We never could say in advance when a person might respond to a genuinely moral and spiritual appeal, based upon personal sacrifice and a clear formulation of the truth as we understand it. However, we must recognize that there were people conditioned to regard themselves and to behave simply as animals, who showed no recognition of truth or the moral law or any of the fundamental decencies of politics and of humanity. When such men were ruthlessly opposed to our non-violent efforts, we must be ready to realize, and have the courage to see, that to persist in them would be a form of self-murder.

Then I turned to him and asked him whether he was referring to the Dugpas, to sorcerers and to ‘soulless men.’ When I said this, his interpreter could not translate it because the word ‘Dugpa’ has two senses. Literally, it refers to an inhabitant of Bhutan, and using that meaning his interpreter could not make sense of what I was saying. There is another meaning to the word, meaning an evil being, or even a sorcerer, and to my surprise this seemed to be unfamiliar to the interpreter. But the Dalai Lama showed that he understood exactly what I had in mind. The Dalai Lama hinted at an important point which was understood by Spinoza in Europe but which is often ignored. There is no real distinction in the long run between the true self-interest of a person and an unpleasant duty. There were unfortunately people who persisted in doing things which were going to harm them above all as well as others. He spoke with quiet compassion about these ignorant though cunning evil-doers. It would be most wrong for us, he implied, to condemn them or to dismiss them out of the horizon of our sympathy, as they did more harm to themselves than to other human beings, although they could not see it. Sometimes people were able to see the truth but through selfishness they could not apply it. There were also people who were utterly misguided in their view of what was in their own interest. If only they could know, if only they were not so short-sighted through their own desperation and through their own false concepts, they would see more clearly what was in their interest and that this could not be so very different for different peoples. In all conflicts the combatants ought to realize that their ultimate interests were the same, but this was exactly what was so difficult. Therefore, it was always the people who could stand outside a violent conflict in any part of the world to-day, who, by their awareness of this ultimate identity of interests between both sides in terms of their common survival and in relation to the whole of humanity, could be an active force for good. They could act as a check on the recurrent and ever-increasing nature of evil, generated by folly, selfishness and above all short-sightedness.”

Iyer brings Theosophical distortions directly to the Dalai Lama’s door, discovers to his surprise that Tibetan experts find them unintelligible, yet somehow comes out feeling that the Dalai Lama nonetheless understands his references and supports his visions of forms of evil that span across political and spiritual domains. We are treated here to a wonderfully rich and convoluted example of the back-and-forths between Western and Indo-Tibetan esotericisms, of the sorts of cultural reverberations and feed-back loops I have explored in earlier essays on Tibetan aliens and Tibetan singing bowls. An Indian talks to a Tibetan master about Indian and Tibetan politics, channelling a Ukrainian who claimed to have channelled Indian and Tibetan masters but who didn’t really understand Tibetan politics – and there is both loss and gain in the translation, in Iyer’s reading into the Dalai Lama’s responses.

If the history of evil Dukpas shows anything, it’s that colonial legacies and racially charged ideas about otherness and savage debauchery cast a long shadow over ideas about magic and morality in Victorian and post-Victorian occult contexts. Representations of Dukpa as villainous sorcerers cut to the heart of long-standing exotifications and misrepresentations of tantra. I have not yet watched the new Season 3 Twin Peaks Pilot, but I am keen to, even without having watched all of the previous seasons or the movie that preceded this reboot. In another essay about the concept of tulpas, or semi-autonomous spirits produced through concentrated belief and attention and their connections to Tibetan Buddhism, Theosophy and online and popular culture, I discussed how tulpas appeared in two episodes of the X Files (itself a kind of Twin Peaks protégé) seven years apart. I pointed out that, while Agent Mulder invokes Tibetan Buddhism to explain tulpas in both X Files episodes, in the 2016 reboot episode he refutes his own earlier claim that tulpas are Tibetan ‘thought-forms’ made by trained sorcerers. When a character in the newer episode claims that he has made what “Tibetan Buddhists call…a tulpa, a thought form, using mind and energy to will consciousness into existence” Mulder, who in the 90s referenced ‘Tibetan thought forms’ himself, cuts him short:

“Tulpa is a 1929 Theosophist mis-translation of the Tibetan word Tulku meaning ‘a manifestation body’. There is no idea in Tibetan Buddhism of a ‘thought-form’ or ‘thought-as-form’ and a realized Tulku would never harm anyone let alone kill.”

(Watch from 1:26 until 3:30 or so)

2016 Mulder is more informed about the Theosophical histories that have influenced the idea of the Tulpa. He is both more educated and cautious about misrepresentation of indigenous religions by outsiders. As I noted in my tulpa essay, “whereas in 1999 Mulder is required merely to cite exotic esoteric ideas to make sense of the supernatural, in 2016 his paranormal expertise rests on being able to critically evaluate and even refute ‘emic’ claims.”

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(The twelfth Gyalwang Drukpa, Jigme Pema Wangchen, the head of the Drukpa Kagyu lineage. Turns out he wears a lot of different hats, and the one he wears most often is blue, blue/black, yellow AND red. GEEEZ!)

I am thus really curious if and how any of my Tibetan and/or Drukpa Kagyu lineage-holder friends are watching the new season of Twin Peaks, and how Tibetans and Tibetan Buddhism will be re-invoked in the new season, if at all. We are now in 2017, in the era of Google and fact-checking wars. The head of the Drukpa Kagyu – whose greatest sectarian controversy would appear to be not that he belongs to a clandestine, international order of diabolical sorcerers but that other Kagyu lineages are allegedly appropriating his tradition’s sacred monuments – is today a globally celebrated figure who has won awards for his ecological activism, including one from the Guinness Book of World Records for ‘planting the most trees simultaneously’, has visited black community leaders in West Baltimore following the murder of Freddie Gray, has led a bicycle ‘eco-pilgrimage’ from Nepal to India, and has facilitated women’s empowerment Kung Fu classes for nuns in his lineage. As such, it will be interesting to see to what extent Frost and Lynch will re-engage or refute their earlier Blavatskyisms as the new season plays out.

‘Til then, good luck keeping your wits about you in the Black Lodge!

 

*  Regarding Tibetan dug ma or poisoners – Anthropologist Giovanni da Col has made great strides in interpreting poisoner and poisoner-lineage concepts in terms of Tibetan notions of hospitality, bonds between human and non-human persons and vital flows, and possible parallels with Blavatsky’s evil secret society are certainly not hard to make. As da Col explains, poisoners are most often otherwise fairly regular lay people (especially women) who become bound to a dug lha or ‘poison god’ – this often takes the form of a snake, frog, or centipede and fastens itself to their victim’s body and household and requires that they poison their guests for its appeasement. While distinguishing between poisoners and witches, da Col draws on anthropologist Favret-Saada’s research on cursing witchcraft in the French country-side to make sense of the phenomenon, and its certainly tempting to think that perhaps Blavatsky’s fantasy of a shadowy brotherhood was inspired by half-understood reports about Tibetan poisoners. Closeness in spelling aside, however, I am not convinced that this phenomena was Blavatsky’s inspiration. Blavatsky is very clear that her Dugpa are a ‘cult’ or ‘sect’ and she cites European scholars’ discussions about non-Gelukpa red-hat practices in describing these figures in a way that leaves me with little doubt that she inherited these scholars’ confusions about the Tibetan sectarian landscape and used them to generate her ideas. For a recent news article on poisoner belief and stigma in Bhutan, see here.

* For those interested, a Twin Peaks aficionado and blogger by the name of John has pointed out some interesting connections between the plot lines of the 1926 Theosophy-inspired adventure novel, the ‘Devil’s Guard’ by Talbot Mundy and Frost’s own writing. Mundy’s book is set in India and Tibet and revolves heavily around the evil activities of the mind-controlling, demon-possessed Dukpa and their home-base of the Black Lodge. The similarities between Mundy and Frost’s work may well simply be a result of shared Blavatskyian influences, but John’s post usefully adds to the ‘representations of Dukpa’ archive in any case. Take a look.

*A lot of writing on Twin Peaks has focused on the esoteric ideas in the series, rather like I have done here, in a media studies kind of way, looking at histories of influences, representations and so on. For anyone interested in how Twin Peaks can be approached as not just a show ABOUT magic/initiation/the esoteric but also as a form of magical education itself, I recommend you check out real-life sorcerer Jason Miller’s post on what binge watching Twin Peaks taught him about communicating with spirits, over at his blog.

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