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Philip K. Dick and I had a series of rather similar experiences. And out of his experiences he constructed Valis, which looks like a science fiction story most of the way, and then abruptly at the end, you suddenly find out maybe it's not a science fiction story, maybe it's an account of Philip K. Dick going crazy. Or maybe it's an account of Philip K. Dick being contacted by extraterrestrials. In Cosmic Trigger, I had pretty much the same structures. Why would Robert Anton Wilson be contacted by extraterrestrials? No, it's Robert Anton Wilson going crazy. No, it's just Robert Anton Wilson experimenting with alternative realities and coming out of chapel perilous at the end without believing in any of them. But structurally, they are very similar because they are based on very similar experiences.

When I woke up after doing a ritual to the holy guardian angel, I woke up with this vivid memory of this guy with a long, white beard, long, long white beard, like Mr. Natural, an old white man looking rather like Jehovah in the illustrated Bible, writing on a blackboard things about time that I was supposed to memorize, "Sirius is very important to you." And I went to the town library and looked up Sirius in all the astronomy books, and I found out that July 23rd is the day when Sirius seems to rise behind the sun, beginning what they call the dog days. Why did I have that dream on a day connected with Sirius? What had I invoked? It was my way of experiencing the world, and there were flashes of psychic ability which I to a degree never had before or since.

Well, I believed it passionately for a couple of months, and then I began to have doubts.  And then suddenly, I had this flash of insight about 2-1/2 years later:  "My God, this is the same sort of thing that has been called by different names in different traditions. This has been going on all over the world for centuries. And every shaman has an ally, and I was an apprentice shaman, I had to find an ally, and I found one, boy did I find one.

Chapel perilous a stage in the magical quest in which your maps turn out to be totally inadequate for the territory, and you're completely lost.  And at that point, you get an ally who helps you find your way back to something you can understand. And then after that, for the rest of your life, you've got this question: "Was that ally a supernatural helper, or was it just part of my own mind trying to save me from going totally bonkers with this stuff?" And the people I know who've had that kind of experience, very few of them have ever come to an absolutely certain conclusion about that.

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