Julian Jaynes Society Discussion Forum: Exploring Consciousness and the Bicameral Mind Theory since 1997

"Three Kings": a Bicamerality-inducing modern ritual?
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Author:  elaso [ Sat Apr 27, 2013 12:49 pm ]
Post subject:  "Three Kings": a Bicamerality-inducing modern ritual?

Hi to everybody

A few months ago I stumbled upon this Reddit's list:


Which is about "paranormal experiencies while doing rituals".
But what commanded my attention was the eponymous ritual, "The Three Kings", which, disregarding the paranormal babble, seems to me somewhat of a "Bicamerality-inducing" procedure (arrived at by chance, I guess, but prima facie very effective).
Let me quote it (from http://www.reddit.com/r/nosleep/comment ... _try_this/):

The name of this game is THE THREE KINGS, btw.
    A very large empty and quiet room, preferably without windows. If windows exist, you need to be able to cover them and ensure total darkness. Basements usually work well, if they're roomy enough.
    A pack of candles (you'll only use 1, if all goes well), and a lighter.
    A bucket of water and a mug.
    A fan.
    Two large mirrors (like the one on your dresser. Don't worry, they won't be harmed. Or if they are, it'd be the least of your concerns).
    Three chairs.
    An alarm clock.
    An active cell phone (don't forget to charge the goddamn battery!)
    A loved one willing to follow rules and go along with all this madness.
    A small toy or dear object from your childhood.
Start setup at around 11 PM. Place one chair in the center of the room, facing north (this is important). Place the other two chairs exactly to the left and right, facing your throne. The distance between your throne and that of your queen and fool should be about the length of your arm to each side, more or less.
Place the two large mirrors on the queen and fool chairs left and right of you, facing you (and each other). Try your best to have them stand at a 90 degree angle (or else you may get more or less than three kings). If you sit on your throne facing straight ahead (north), you should be able to perceive your own reflection in each of the two mirrors without actually having to turn your head nor your eyes to do so. If you see your own reflection in the corner of your eye, just barely there, then you've done it right.
Place the bucket of water and the mug in front of you, just barely out of reach.
Place the fan behind you, turn it on. Don't set it to maximum power -medium or low is usually enough. Leave it on.
Turn off the lights, leave the door open and go to your bedroom.
Set the candles by the side of the bed, next to a lighter, your alarm clock and your cellphone (leave it charging).
Set your alarm clock for 3:30 AM.
Turn off the lights and sleep while holding your power object, get some rest.

Wake up at 3:30 AM with your alarm clock. Turn it off, but don't turn on the light. You have exactly three minutes to light your candle, grab your cellphone, and make your way to the dark room to sit in your throne. You should be seated by 3:33 AM. Don't forget your power object! Check for potential red flags: if your cellphone didn't charge for whatever reason, abort the mission. If the alarm didn't go off exactly at 3:30 AM, abort the mission. If you find the dark room door closed (remember you left it open) abort the mission. If the fan is turned off (you left it on) abort the mission.
(Side note: if you have to abort the mission due to any of the above, leave the house with your loved one. Go to a hotel or something. There's no need to run; you have time to grab a jacket and your keys and what not, but leave. After 6 AM the coast should be clear.)
If all is going as planned, you can proceed and take your throne. DO NOT look directly at either of the two mirrors besides you. DO NOT let the candle go out. The fan is behind you. You must protect the candle with your body, which is standing in between (there's a reason for this; as you'll soon see).
Look straight ahead, at the darkness. Not at the candle, not at the mirrors, just straight ahead. Eagle-eyed readers surely noticed I didn't say during setup which chair was queen and which chair was fool. That's because it's your job to find out. And from their point of view, you are either their queen or their fool, too. Hence three kings.
I won't spoil what happens next. Suffice to say, you won't be alone and if you have questions, you'll get answers. Sometimes in the form of new questions, but hey, that's the story of humanity eh? Just stay put and try not to move. Again, DO NOT look directly at the mirrors, nor the candle. Just straight ahead, trust me. Don't chicken out either; you need to wait until 4:34. By 4:34 it's all over. It's okay to tremble a little bit, just try not to. Not because it affects the ritual or anything -it's just a - thing to do while in polite company.
Did I mention not to let the candle go out? That's what the fan is for. You're protecting the candle with your body, but if your body were to be suddenly moved then the fan would turn off the candle. That's backup number 1. Your loved one is backup number 2: at 4:34 she has to come in the room and call your name. If that won't work, she has to call your cellphone. If that won't work, she has the glass of water and the bucket. She can't touch you though -that's a newbie mistake. Backup number 3 is your item of power, the toy, or locket or whatever object of strength you brought along for the ride. It'll show you the way if SHTF.

A few comments:
1. The ritual has to be done at 3:30AM, when the body temperature is at its lowest point. The fan at the back of the person adds up to this.
2. The person is supposed to go to sleep and get up at 3:30 for the ritual to work. Waking up in the middle of the night leaves him/her disoriented, sleepy and probably in the midst of an hypnopompic state or hallucination. (Even if the person couldn't sleep, he/she will surely be tired and nervous, which amounts to the same).
3. The fan's white noise provides the ground for auditory hallucination; the chairs and the "A King, a Queen and a Fool" rationale, the "cognitive imperative" to raise it up and give it some measure of meaning ("If you have questions, you'll get answers").
4. The candle's flickering, low light, reflected sideways by the two mirrors, and the fact that the person must not look at the mirrors but have them within his/her peripheral vision, provides with some "visual noise" that easily lends to perceptual distortion.
5. The "redundant backup plan" gives the whole affair a sense of danger, raising expectations and lowering perceptual thresholds (because of anticipatory anxiety).

All in all, it reminds me of some of the trance-inducing rituals referenced by Jaynes.

Now, I haven't tried it out, but judging by the "experiences" described in Reddit (which have, no doubt, some measure of fantastic embellishment), it tends to "conjure up" two hallucinated voices, one kind and conforting (usually located in the left chair) and the other vicious and violent (usually at the right), which give commands, mock, read the person's mind, confort or blame... Just what one expects from a Jaynesian point of view.

Any thoughts?

Author:  Moderator [ Thu May 02, 2013 11:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: "Three Kings": a Bicamerality-inducing modern ritual?

This is very interesting. There are a wide range of ways to induce hallucinations, such as sensory deprivation or even just prolonged lack of sleep. The mirrors remind me of something called a "psychomanteum," which is basically just a booth with mirrors that also induces hallucinations (mystics suggest it facilitates communication with the dead). I'll have to look at this in more depth.

Author:  elaso [ Sat May 04, 2013 8:53 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: "Three Kings": a Bicamerality-inducing modern ritual?

Yes, very interesting. Didn't know about the psychomantheum, but it surely was part of the inspiration for the Three Kings scenario.
In any case, I sometimes think we're heading for a kind of "revival" of the bicameral mind; a "secondary bicamerality" which is already present in some forms of Christianity (see T. M. Luhrmann "When God talks Back") and extending by means of these kinds of rituals.

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