State of Emergence

State of EmergenceExperiments in Group Ritual Dynamics

preface by Jogen Salzberg
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Pages:180 pages


State of Emergence is a compendium of methods drawn from physical theatre, dance, vocalization and ritual practices to gain access to the internal landscape of impulses, emotions and sensations in the body. This somatic work offers a dynamic visceral interpretation of Carl Jung's "active imagination" for making the Unconscious, conscious in movement, vocalization and action. The dogma-free bias of this ritual technology can be integrated into any ritual, dance, movement or theatre practice in need of greater depth of inner work. It can also serve those who are ready to start their own group with five rituals, from the least to the most challenging: Verticality, The 4 Elements, The Dreaming Ritual, Shadow Work, and Ritual of the Muses Dialogue. Ritual methods include The Five Intentions, No-Form, Conscious Projection, Sourcing, Space Forming, Presence Actions, Boundarywork, Non-directional Jogging, and much more. This book also includes stories from those who have done this work, the author’s personal ritual journals, an interview with singer Sylvi Alli on "The Embodied Voice", the Potential Dangers of ritual work and much more...

Read an Excerpt


Welcome to Post-History!

I'm writing this six months into the era of Covid here in Portland, Oregon where peaceful protests and antifa riots have owned the downtown streets every night for the past four months; it's an intermittent war zone. Terms like "quarantine" and "social distancing" are spoken and heard in hypnotic repetition without much thought about what they actually mean. I thought quarantine meant triage or separation of the sick away from the healthy, such as happens in hospitals. Yet it's presented in mass media and by governing officials as if that's what's actually happening all around the world. What's happening looks more like voluntary house arrest than a quarantine.

The "social distancing" thing caught my attention which looks more like an asocial experiment to me, something we do in paratheatrical work where everyone pays more attention to the space around themselves and around others. In paratheatrical work, there's a method called "space forming" where we redirect our attention off of ourselves and onto the space around and above us, as well as the space between others and ourselves. Space forming amplifies spatial awareness, and cultivates an asocial climate that supports an exploration of energy sources in the Body as movement resources.

During the Covid pandemic, the populace is being conditioned to increase spatial awareness. This seems important. The awareness of space as a value runs counter to the consumerist, materialistic mindset defined by a constant filling of space—within our minds, in our homes, in our schedules—with more and more things—more stuff. Losing a sense of space can lead to a wavering sense of dislocation, of not knowing where or who you truly are. This juncture in time and space feels like a crossroads of wavering discontinuity in history, as we know it—the end of democracy as we've known it, the end of money as we've known it, the end of socialization as we know it. With history in the rear view mirror and Post-history on the horizon, this interim era feels like what Tibetan Buddhists call the "bardo" realms between incarnations. The Covid bardo?

Welcome to Post-History! This paratheatrical approach to ritual is very, very old and very, very new. It initiates participants into the art of sourcing energies, or spirits, in the Body through a kind of neo-shamanic discipline of soul-making. Read the previous sentence, again. Over time, the somatic practice of this "sourcery" builds a kind of psychic immunity to the toxic dying cultures at large and the hypnosis of mass media. This book was written for those ready to explore novel ways of being, relating and doing through asocial group ritual experimentation. Those seeking a philosophy, belief system, religion or dogma might be better served looking elsewhere, such as your neighborhood churches, synagogues, monasteries, ashrams and temples.

Some or much of this book may seem abstract to those with little or no somatic, movement, dance, ritual or physical theatre-type experience. Those already swimming in these waters may recognize the terms in this book and their sometimes incomplete definitions and directions. This incompleteness is intentional. When things are too spelled out or explained, it kills the spirit of discovery to experience things for oneself. Those who require everything spelled out or explained before attempting anything new may find this book a bit frustrating. This book may not be for everybody.

In the paratheatrical process outlined in this book, the Body is presented as the living embodiment of the so-called Subconscious mind with its vast internal landscape of interrelated, interactive bio-systems and their autonomous forces, buried memories, emotions, sensation, images and sovereign empire of passions. When the Body can be felt deeply (see "The 5-Phase Warm-Up Cycle"), a door opens to the peaks and valleys of this interior dimension and its soulful domain of humanity, creaturehood and divinity. The ritual sources introduced in this book are assumed to already exist within us as the existing conditions of our inner and outer lives. There is nothing to make up or believe here. These ritual sources refer to living psychic dynamics within each of us at various degrees of depth and accessibility. The rituals are designed for accessing these depths and giving them outward expression.

The current hypermedia era, with its internet addictions and over-reliance on gadgets, diminishes the capacity for actual experience. Simulation replaces stimulation; immediate gratification supplants the sense of immediacy. Since the primary aim of this work is to restore the capacity for direct experience, or gnosis, no doctrine or dogma is attached to it. There is nothing anyone needs to believe before doing this work. If there is a belief involved it would be a committed belief in oneself or more specifically, a belief in one's direct experience as a source of spiritual authority. But these beliefs must be earned through firsthand experience. As the capacity for experience deepens and gains breadth within us, there's simply less need for beliefs. Who needs belief when you have experience?

This book offers two levels of opportunity for active paratheatrical research: short-term and long-term. Short-term users can use the methods to augment and challenge whatever movement, theatre, dance or ritual practice you're already engaged in. Dip in and out of the book; use whatever works, toss the rest. All the methods and rituals here were distilled over decades of time-intensive workshops running anywhere from four to twelve weeks at a stretch, meeting once a week for three hours at a time, sometimes, two or three times a week. When performed in sequence, the five rituals in this book—from the least difficult Verticality ritual to the most difficult Muses ritual—were designed for long-term users who can organize a group to work over four to six weeks at a time and maybe longer. Groups of six to twelve have worked best in this medium.

State of Emergence is my third and final paratheatrical book after All Rites Reversed: Ritual Technology for Self-Initiation (1986; Falcon Press) and Towards an Archeology of the Soul (2003; Vertical Pool). This final book distills a harvest of paratheatrical work over the past seventeen years that came to a final fruition throughout a series of five Performance Ritual productions staged between 2016 and 2018 in Portland, Oregon (see the photos at the back of this book).

As of Autumn Equinox 2019, I ceased all paratheatrical workshops and performance rituals. After forty-two years, I've been deeply fulfilled and grateful to everyone joining me on this journey; we know who we are. We had an epic run and it's time to reinvent myself, again. Though I don't see teaching any more groups in this ritual process—never say never, right?—I am excited by the prospect of developing new works for a kind of theatre I haven't seen yet though it'll probably incorporate cinema and music in a ritualistic style that's become my signature. I will also keep making films when called by the Muses I follow. I've been given to taking daily walks in the many forests near where I live in Portland, and recommend this ritual to anyone overwhelmed by the static of the default and often toxic culture at large. The trees, they bring me to life.

Antero Alli
Autumn Equinox 2020, Portland OR

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Editorial Reviews

This new form of Ritual Theatre developed by Antero Alli is uniquely a product of our eclectic and revolutionary age. It is very, very old and very, very new. To enter Anter's magic circle is to experience that kind of time-warp: you become one with the first paleolithic shamans dancing to the bear-god, you will know yourself here now as you have never known yourself before, and you plunge into science-fiction futures in which humanity is expanded mentally and physically beyond our wildest hopes. Meanwhile, everybody in and out of the theatre can enjoy it and use it right now.

Robert Anton Wilson author of Cosmic Trigger

Antero Alli has been crafting and exploring group ritual technologies for over forty years, and it shows: State of Emergence presents a singular vision of somatic soul-work designed to enable dancers, performers, and seekers of all stripes to discover the creative sources of myth directly within the moving and interacting body. At a time of profound dislocation, when established ways of being in the world are breaking down, and when too many are lost in hypermedia head-loops, Alli’s no-bullshit, neo-shamanic protocols help restore magic to our flesh.

Erik Davis author of High Weirdness: Drugs, Esoterica, and Visionary Experience in the Seventies

State of Emergence is a distillation of 45 years of disciplined work on the borderlines of poetry, theater, film and ritual. Throughout this book you'll find tools to break the spells that have been cast on you and that you have cast upon yourself. If you have been searching for the links among ancient ritual, the stage, and modern cinema, or a personal practical spellbook, then get State of Emergence and get to work!

Paradox Pollack Movement Choreographer, Star Trek; Thor

In this visionary book, Antero Alli lays out his original methodology of performance-based ritual. With sections on movement, voice, solo and ensemble improvisation, and ritual, Alli’s method can support and inspire dancers, performance artists, actors and writers who want to gain more freedom and authenticity in their work.

Nina Wise choreographer/dancer/playwright

I have been working with Antero’s paratheatrical methods for over twenty years and have always been surprised by what spontaneously springs from their exploration. It reminds me of Jodorowsky’s film work in so many ways, colorful and brutal, complex and unrepentantly blunt. There always seems to be an underlying smile hidden within, gently offering to elevate our secret selves and, subsequently, the underlying shared experience of being on this planet.

Justin Welborn Professional Actor, Los Angeles

You have put in so much of what I am about and too lazy to put on paper. Wondrous feeling of spirituality. And guided by deep consciousness. A compendium of your wisdom and experiences during your long commitment to the performing arts. Aware of the dangers of inflation and self-centeredness that are a part of the path to the invisible. I am glad to have The Theater and Its Double, Towards a Poor Theater and State of Emergence in my library.

John O'Keefe Playwright, San Francisco

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About the Author

Antero Alli

Antero Alli is the author of Astrologik; Angel Tech: A Modern Shaman’s Guide to Reality Selection; The Eight-Circuit Brain: Navigational Strategies for the Energetic Body; Towards an Archeology of the Soul; The Akashic Record Player: A Non-Stop Geomantic Conspiracy; A Modern Shaman's Guide to a Pregnant Universe (with C.S. Hyatt); The Vertical Oracle (with Sylvi Pickering-Alli); and State of Emergence: Experiments in Group Ritual Dynamics. Antero is also a practicing astrologer, a prolific underground filmmaker, and an experimental theatre director.