"Chapel Perilous" is an occult
term referring to a psychological state in which an individual cannot be
certain whether they have been aided or hindered by some force outside the
realm of the natural world, or whether what
appeared to be supernatural
interference was a product of their own vivid imagination.
From the (Tek) Gnostic
perspective, to enter Chapel Perilous is to come to the shocking
realization that "the Gods are Crazy." This is
the epiphanous moment when one realizes the ambivalent... or
worse... malevolent nature of what the Gnostics identified as
Demiurge. This deranged entity is not to be confused with
the ultimate, transcendent creative power, which cannot be
Chapel Perilous was used as a
Discordian term by the
late writer and philosopher Robert Anton Wilson in his
Cosmic Trigger. According to Wilson, being in this state leads the
subject to become either stone paranoid or an agnostic... there
is no third way.
The concept of "Chapel Perilous" was used by Antero Alli, in his
1986 book, Angel Tech: A Modern Shaman's Guide to Reality Selection which is
based on Timothy Leary's Eight-circuit model of consciousness. In Alli's
book, Chapel Perilous is regarded as a rite
of passage, when moving between
the four lower circuits of
consciousness to the higher circuits. In Chapel
Perilous, the integrity of the lower circuits is tested in preparation for
activation of the higher circuits.
The term Chapel Perilous first appeared in
Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur (1485) as the setting for an
adventure in which sorceress Hellawes unsuccessfully attempts to seduce Sir
Lancelot. T. S. Eliot used it symbolically in "The Waste Land" (1922).
Students of the Grail romances will
remember that in many of the versions the hero... sometimes it is a
heroine... meets with a strange and terrifying adventure in a mysterious
Chapel, an adventure which, we are given to understand, is fraught with
extreme peril to life. The details vary: sometimes there is a Dead Body laid
on the altar; sometimes a Black Hand extinguishes the tapers; there are
strange and threatening voices, and the general impression is that this is
an adventure in which supernatural, and evil, forces are engaged.
- Jessie L Weston
The history of the term is interesting.
Traditionally, the Chapel Perilous or Grail Castle has been the ultimate
destination for knights questing after the Holy Grail. For most people of my
generation, this brings up an image out (those great tekgnostic saints) of
Monty Python, as well it should.
The story has been around for a long time,
though. The mystical experiences
within this chapel are the climax of many an Arthurian adventure story.
Those who entered were typically subjected to a rigorous battery of
challenges, some of which seem to be training exercises of sorts, while
others are ultimate tests of purity, conviction, and understanding.
Dangerous traps are to be found there, often tailored to force a
confrontation with an individual knight’s personal weaknesses. Those who
failed would not be allowed to access the Grail and might even be killed or
driven mad in the attempt. On the other hand, a candidate who proved worthy
might hope to be granted great power and priceless treasures.
The idea of
Chapel Perilous as it is commonly used in
psychedelic parlance comes from
Robert Anton Wilson’s countercultural classic The Cosmic Trigger.
defines Chapel Perilous as: "A stage in the magickal quest in which your
maps turned out to be totally inadequate for the territory and you’re
completely lost." He has quite a lot more to say on the topic, having spent
a good deal of time there himself:
"Chapel Perilous, like the mysterious
entity called ‘I,’ cannot be located in the space-time continuum; it is
weightless, odorless, tasteless and undetectable by
Indeed, like the Ego, it is even possible to deny that it is there. And yet,
even more like the Ego, once you are inside it, there doesn’t seem to be any
way to ever get out again, until you suddenly discover that it has been
brought into existence by thought and does not exist outside thought.
Everything you fear is waiting with slavering jaws in Chapel Perilous, but
if you are armed with the wand of intuition, the cup of sympathy, the sword
of reason and the pentacle of valor, you will find there (the legends say)
the Medicine of Metals, the Elixir of Life, the Philosopher’s Stone, True
Wisdom and Perfect Happiness.
That's what the legends always say, and
the language of myth is poetically precise. For instance, if you go into
that realm without the sword of reason, you will lose your mind, but at the
same time, if you take only the sword of reason without the cup of sympathy,
you will lose your heart. Even more remarkably, if you approach without the
wand of intuition, you can stand at the door for decades never realizing you
have arrived. You might think you are just waiting for a bus, or wandering
from room to room looking for your cigarettes, watching a TV show, or
reading a cryptic and ambiguous book. Chapel Perilous is tricky that way."
I myself tend to think of Chapel Perilous as
the place where you find yourself when the sheer absurdity of it all can no
longer be ignored. When it all starts to add up and multiply while remaining
somehow stubbornly indivisible. When synchronicity spirals out of control
and you finally discover that you really are, in fact, the center and
purpose of the universe after all. Either that or you’re stone-cold crazy.
Or maybe it’s both. It’s the dark night of the soul, and it’s generally
understood to be some kind of a trap. But it’s also a doorway, if one has
the courage, strength, intelligence, and luck to pass through it.
CHAPEL PERILOUS is the place "souls" go
after leaving their robot bodies...while these bodies are still alive and
walking the planet's surface. Also known as "The Dark Night of the Soul." It
relates to post-Factor X activities in that both refer to "out-of-body"
states. However, CHAPEL PERILOUS is where souls go when they are lost and
Factor X communications refer to how souls are found. Can also be seen as a
negative activation of the "neurosomatic circuit," which is endured
for as long as it takes the neophyte to effect a positive activation, or
permanent body rapture.
- From The Game of Life by Dr.
review of Angel Tech - A Modern Shaman's Guide to Reality
What I found to be the most compelling part of Angel Tech was the section
called Chapel Perilous, which could've been expanded on and rewritten as
another book altogether. For those acquainted with Robert Anton Wilson's
Cosmic Trigger, the mention of Chapel Perilous should ring hell's bells.
According to Alli, the Chapel is a "place where souls go after being
catapulted out of their bodies, groping aimlessly for their other half...
while their bodies remain alive, on automatic, walking the planet"
(paraphrased). This section of the book explores the process of "Initiation
as creative response to the shock of the unknown." It is presented
dramatically as Eight Sermons told to a congregation of lost souls by a
priest that is vaguely reminiscent of the Sermons of the Dead in the back of
Carl Jung's book, Memories, Dreams and Reflections. Sermon titles include:
Fatal Romantics, Suicide and Free Will, Heaven and Hell, The Crucifixion...
among others. Chapel Perilous is not a pretty place to be and Alli looks
through its stained glass, darkly...
The following is from
by Mike Morgan...
Between the lower and upper circuits lies a place of uncertainty and fear.
It has many names but the Cybernaut refers to this place as Darkmoor. When
the individual, through life's events or dedicated study, learns of the
existence of newer, better states of mind there typically follows with a
time of uncertainty.
Why do I feel this way? Am I crazy? Will I get in trouble? What about my
family and friends? Will they shun me? What if they do? These are all
typical questions we ask ourselves. Mine was "Am I demon possessed?"
Unfortunately some 10 years ago I struggled against the flow. I fought
myself in Darkmoor. I became a victim of my own fearful projections. I
became obsessed with the fear of demonic possession. I was trapped in
Darkmoor for ten long years.
We feel comfortable in our four circuit lives. Yet some internal pressure
drives us onward toward newer lands. CyberCraft teaches us that what drives
us is into Darkmoor is our genetic heritage. This is something we are
completely unable to constrain or withhold. Struggling against it is about
as effective as the young teen struggling against their awakening sexuality.
And indeed ignoring the arousal brings on increased states of emotional dis-ease.
Many of the neo-Pagan aficionados have already experienced this time of
uncertainty and proceeded. Goddess religion helps us to realize that circuit
two and four religious establishments are incomplete because they neglect
the body and mind as one unified entity. The universal processes of life
reminds us of that unity.
Darkmoor is not a bad place really. It is a time of trying. A time of using
new mental and emotional muscles; stretching old ones to newer limits; and
of growing new links to the Matrix, Patrus, Lady and Lord. For some folks it
is a time of joy and discovery. For others Darkmoor is indeed very dark.
CyberCraft Chapter 8: Sharing Bio-circuit Experiences
Bio-Circuit 5 Experiences... I have had some very wonderful
experiences with the upper 4 circuits. Some of this may sound threatening
but I hope not too much.
Between circuits 4 and 5 is a place I call Darkmoor. Antero Alli terms it
Chapel Perilous... Darkmoor is the region of doubt we experience when we
begin to notice the upper 4 circuits. Some, perhaps most of us, start
thinking that we are betraying our parents, sometimes our peers, and perhaps
ourselves when we modify our lifestyles toward circuit 5. After all most of
us were taught from early on that we had to "work hard" to live. Circuit 5
lets us know that we can enjoy ourselves, even be a little lazy when we
need, or when we want.
The upper circuits do somewhat parallel the lower circuits. The bodily feel
goodness of circuit 1 is paralleled and amplified in circuit 5. For most
people life can be good, for some it can be great, yet others live fantastic
lives. Generally when we learn not to fight ourselves, our general need to
feel good and be happy, we learn to live well.
Cybercraft Relationships of the Circuits
Switching Gears into the Programming Circuits: Circuit Five
Relationships... Circuit Five is the most important of the upper
circuits for the novice CyberNaut. Antero Alli refers to Circuit Five as
Chapel Perilous. When the novice first ventures through the previous
Circuits they form stable relationships between themselves and their world.
However Circuit Five has the tendency to change previous programming. This
Circuit upsets the apple cart. A seemingly instantaneous realization occurs
that things aren't what they really seem to be. Now everything is in doubt.
Nothing is sure. Only the brave and mature should venture into Chapel
Perilous. But as can readily be seen, life seems to propel us into Circuit
Five whether we are ready or not.
Circuit Five is the Holistic Neurosomatic circuit. Circuit Five conflicts
arise over what it takes for the individual to feel good. This circuit is
the first attempt at taking control of one's own life. Knowledge based upon
the holistic integration of the previous circuits enable the Cybernaut to
proceed smoothly through times of personal and social stress. All lower and
upper circuits can be processed with this circuit. If it's not fun why do
it? Circuit Five is the springboard into the other upper circuits. And
through Circuit Five we can take that long first step toward understanding
and achieving our short and long term goals.
Rituals should be written that include Circuit Five inflections for all