The Dark Wonderland

Exploration of a Dark and Wondrous World

Azheraeth (pronounced: azure-aye-ith) is a fantasy world, a world of magic, a landscape of dreams.

But it is also, I believe, a very real place.

It is not a physical place: Azheraeth is quite literally a dreamworld, a dream passionately shared by hundreds of thousands of departed human souls.

Yet it is a stable dream. It is always evolving, and more quickly than the environments of our physical world do, but it is nothing like the fractured dreams of the living. A dream world on the scale of our own planet, Azheraeth has a persisting geography with continents and oceans and islands, deserts and deep forests, swamps and grasslands… all manner of environments both familiar and strange.

Azheraeth is one of many, many thousands of heavens which are shared by those human souls willing to open themselves to the open, vulnerable, abounding, passionate love that defines such realms as heavenly.

A Different Kind of Heaven

Not the Heaven We’re Told to Expect

Azheraeth is a heaven that looks very, very different from the trite and uninspiring vision of heaven currently comprehended by modern western culture, and to some extent propagated by the major religions. 

In heaven as most people understand it, earthly ‘vices’ are cast aside in favor of a rather puritan interpretation of spiritual purity: asexual, non-sensual, non-carnal, plain, unexciting, calm, relentlessly tepid, eternally ‘nice’. Mundane, in nearly every sense. Undeniably boring to the adventurous soul.

A heaven very like that does exist, and it is the place many or even most heaven-bound souls end up first. Those love-embracing souls who seek mere escape from the terrors and anxieties of life - and wanting things to be simple and pleasant und unchallenging - gravitate to such a heaven. Together, they dream it into existence.

This is essentially the same petty paradise of the devas identified the Tibetan Book of the Dead. Heaven, yes, but by no means the great destination. Rather, it is a speed bump on the path to true transcendence. 

For many souls who are not constituted to explore or seek more, it is a roadblock, a trap. They exist in peaceful paradise until the meaninglessness of it - and of their own continued existence - causes them to fade away entirely. That is a great irony of the Christian concept of heaven: at least for those who seek the most unchallenging version of it, it offers not eternal salvation, but eventual extinction. Indeed, many higher souls serve as missionaries to this ‘petty’ heaven, trying to encourage souls to seek out pain and challenge once more, and to do so willingly, so that in challenging themselves, they can become more.

Less imaginative or adventurous souls may remain there for centuries, some for millenia, but many souls get bored with petty heaven quickly enough, and move on. Many more never even visit the place, drawn on to other, more vibrant dreams from the moment they find themselves in the void of death.

For that heaven is only one of many thousands of heavens which the souls of humans have dreamt up together.

There are scholarly heavens, musical heavens (including rock-and-roll heavens), orgy heavens and gay orgy heavens, bondage and discipline heavens… anything that souls with love in their hearts may want to dream, they can dream together. Heaven is only boring for boring souls.

And there are hells, as well: places where those who cannot embrace love dream their barren and frightened dreams together. Among spirits, there are missionaries to such realms, as well. But if people can be blind and stubborn and intransigent, that is nothing to what such people can be like as souls.

Azheraeth is a Lush and Passionate Heaven

Azheraeth is a lush and passionate heaven, a savage garden.

It is a shady place, frequently twisted and violent, but it is a heaven, filled exclusively with loving souls, and at that, with those yearning for growth and experience and wonder.

It is beautiful and nasty, profound, aching, even quite sadistic in its aspects. It is not a boring heaven. It is profoundly gorgeous, passionate, deeply carnal, mystical and awe-producing, filled with music, overrun with horrors and terrors, abounding with purity and perversity in every possible flavor. It is a heaven devoted to raw, fearless experience, to utter surrender, and it is infused in its every aspect with divine love.

To embrace another soul in the truest, most absolute unity requires absolute surrender, and our worldly fears can interfere with that. To be one with the unity of the divine choir requires the capacity total unity with other souls in majestic power and glory. It is like drinking from a fire hose, or throwing yourself bodily into a tornado. It requires absolute surrender, and thus, total fearlessness. And that fearlessness requires a passionate embrace of all experience, and in overwhelming intensity. It requires an exultation in it.

It is a heaven in which the participating souls willingly, passionately explore every possible experience in its full intensity, from profound beauty to absolute anguish, terror, and horror. In doing this, they willingly face the fears written into them during their physical life, and learn to embrace all of existence, all experience… a prerequisite to joining the choir of the divine, an experience vastly too intense for those still bearing the fears of their life with them, or incapable of absolute surrender.

Azheeraeth is a heaven devoted to devotion and surrender, in which gods and demigods, angelic lords and ladies, masters and mistresses - and their utterly, achingly willing slaves, spiritual and carnal - explore the absolute limits of surrender, both to each other, and to experience in all of its intensity and diversity.

In such surrender is born the capacity to surrender to that which lifts us up: to surrender to and learn from greater wisdom, to surrender to the love which enables true glory, and to surrender to the dissolution of ego which allows true unity with another, and eventually, with the divine choir that constitutes the true mind of god itself.

It is to serve this divine purpose that Azheraeth was created.

And also, most likely, to have a little fun doing it.

Discovering Azheraeth - A Spiritual History

I began experimenting with hypnosis and self-hypnosis as a teen. In about 2001, I began to become serious about learning how to use self-hypnosis as a tool of personal growth, and by 2004, I started to study them in earnest, taking professional trainings and starting a wildly popular practice group in Austin. At that time, I also started engaging in more and more advanced techniques of communication with my deep sub-conscious.

Around 2007, I read Robert Anton Wilson’s very well-titled Cosmic Trigger, which recommended an intellectual philosophy of total agnosticism - the realization that you don’t actually know anything, you merely think that some things are true, and usually are a lot more certain than is supported by the evidence you actually have. In fact, you are probably, like most people, addicted to this sense of false certainty, and terrified of realizing you don’t actually know anything at all… of discovering that reality as you define it is merely one fairly arbitrary reality, only one way of interpreting the exact same physical reality, and likely far, far from the best way to do so. 

Among other recommendations in that book was to try some honest experimentation with ritual magic, and the suggestion that you might be surprised by what such honest experimentation reveals. So I read up on it. 

I discovered that the practice of ritual magic actually had a lot in common with some advanced psychological techniques I’d been learning, and so I carefully crafted some experiments. 

I had expected them to show me that magic was real in a way, but merely psychological. Instead, my results overwhelmingly indicated magic was both real, and absolutely and unequivocally supernatural

Rationality demanded a fundamental change in belief.

Immediately thereafter, my communications with my unconscious mind revealed that I was, in fact, communicating with my extended soul, not merely my unconscious mind, and that it was time for my spiritual training to begin in earnest. Better late than never.

In 2015, I began to use deep trance dictation (much like Edgar Cayce) to obtain much richer information from my spiritual source. After about a year of this I had become quite adept, and by spring of 2017, my soul informed me that I was to explore my memories from before this life.

I’ve never been a fan of reincarnation of exploring past lives: far too many people were once Cleopatra or Napoleon. But it was not past lives I was to explore: it was the time between my last death and this life. My time in the afterlife. This, at least, sounded interesting. And so it was. 

My soul’s history is the history of Coroni, an Amazonian tribesman who died around 1930, and awoke into a dreamworld version of the Amazon, surrounded by a tribe of lost loved ones. 

Coroni worshiped and loved the great Aoani, goddess of all the bright things of the sky, of healing and transformation, of trance and the psychedelic vine and shamanic medicine, bringer of peace, unifier of tribes.

Not long after his death Aoani visited his tribe on their celebration day in her honor. As she descended from the sky, her hair burned with sunlight, and her skin shone with moonlight and sparkled with a dew-sprinkling of starlight. As she passed through the crowd, heads bowed in terror and adulation, Coroni met her eyes with unbridled love and lust, and drew a delighted laugh from her.

She took him that night the the forest, to a glade of her own creation, and then into a world of their own, a dream away from all others, and let him have her for what seemed an eternity.

Leading from him from there to a reflecting pool that revealed his own darkness to him, Aoani showed him his own nature as she could clearly see it. She taught Coroni how to heal himself, and left him a while to practice at it. But Coroni didn’t merely practice: he remained by the pool, lost to time for months, and continued working on his soul’s wounds without pause to eat or sleep or otherwise engage in the remembered rhythms of life. He healed his wounds until there were none remaining. When he returned to his spirit tribe, he was transformed, more like their goddess now than like his tribespeople.

Upon meeting Coroni again, Aoani took him as her lover and apprentice. 

Coroni proved an able apprentice. He had a gift beyond all others: he was able to surrender himself utterly to his beloved goddess, and in that surrender, to obtain total union with her, able to learn directly from her, mind to mind. 

The union transformed him utterly and rapidly, and he was utterly fearless in his transformation, willing to let go everything that he was, aware that he was not and never had been the story that was Coroni, but merely the mind that had dwelt for a time within the identity of Coroni, but had been others before then. He was not Coroni, he was that which transformed, which became.

Coroni quickly became an entity nearly matching Aoani in spiritual skill and power. For her part, Aoani was able to take from Coroni some of his rampant capacity for surrender - especially with Coroni himself. The two bonded into an eternal union, devoted to spending eternity entwined as a dual entity, exploring separately and then sharing everything, growing together.

Together they explored the world of spirit, studying - in union with higher spirits - every subject of which spirits are aware, sciences both physical and spiritual, music, art, dance and literature. Then they came together to share with each other everything they had experienced and learned.

Wishing to make a difference, to obtain a life of deeper meaning, Coroni went on mission to the purgatorial worlds, seeking to reach the souls there and teach them to embrace divine love, and step onto the heavenly realms and engage there with other loving souls. 

Though he had some success, he quickly grew a distaste for the stubborn and blind, and realized to his sadness - as many higher souls do - that the greatest gifts can only be given to willing recipients, and energy is better spent on the willing than the lost. The greater the willingness - the greater the openness and surrender - the greater the gift that can be given.

Some time after that, Coroni chose to reincarnate to perform a mission in the physical world, and funneled as much of his spiritual energy as could fit into a frail baby born in early December of 1972. 

Aoani remained behind.

Things went pear-shaped pretty much immediately, and the hoped-for golden child became a severely traumatized, anxiety-ridden, asocial, fragilely-narcisistic twit, severed entirely from divine love and spiritual reality, utterly deaf to his soul’s own attempted guidance, and completely cut off from his beloved Aoani.

That was as far as I got, after about six months of channeling, and then the story ended.

In the following years, I learned in very general terms that before Coroni reincarnated, he and Aoani had gone on to become artists, engaging in the great art of the highest souls: the creation of experiential landscapes for other souls to engage with. 

This is the spiritual equivalent of movie directors or video game designers. In addition to a deep and rich imagination, it requires raw spiritual power: the creator must dream a dream compelling enough that the souls which participate dream the creator’s dream, rather than creating their own, and the creator must be persuasive enough that participants accept the dream fully.

And I learned that they spent a time living in a separate heaven of twisted beauty and decadence, a realm in which dwelt souls of wildly different levels of development (a rarity in heavenly kingdoms, in which souls typically interact mainly with souls of a similar level of advancement).

But over several years, those few bits of information were all the new insight that I had gathered.

I was not yet ready for the rest. I had a life to get on with: an ailing and then dying father to care for, a neglected hoarder’s house to clear out and remodel, and a childhood of traumatic experiences of my own to heal. And until I healed them, I wouldn’t be ready to act on any of the rest in any case.

Then, having finally prepared myself a stable home, and having finished with the greatest of the healing I had to do, Azheraeth unfolded rapidly before me, words and images pouring out endlessly over solid weeks of 14-hour days. 

It started, oddly enough, as I prepared to get back into creative photography.

I realized I didn’t know what I wanted to shoot. I went back to my old projects, realized that only one was meaningful to me, and started creating a ‘mood board’ of ideas and concepts relating to a fantasy world I wanted to capture in photos.

Then I realized that to truly develop that world, to do it right, I would need to begin again with trance dictation. And that’s when I realized that the world I was describing wasn’t right. The place I wanted to photograph was far more deeply spiritual than the tawdry but delicious morsel I was contemplating.

By the next day I realized that I was describing a real world, not a fiction for photography. 

I was describing a world Aoani and Coroni had created together, the world they had, for decades, been god and goddess of, providing an entire, popular, collaborative world of treasured experiences to hundreds of thousands of passionately willing souls.

Dark Wonderland is more than just a photographic theme.

It’s a world which is more than the world in which we live… better. Vastly better. It is a world we can aspire to and try to create, a reminder that we can transform and transcend the inadequacies of the world and life we find ourselves in, and breathe life into a world in which we would want to live. 

Dark Wonderland is hope.

Dark Wonderland is an aesthetic, and a set of positive values: strength, resilience, openness, love, passion, beauty, curiosity, determination, caring, and courage.

For me, it is the artistic culmination of all that I am and have been in my life, of my values, of all of the social, spiritual, aesthetic, and psychological wisdom I’ve gathered, and of the powerful direction for the future I intend to create for myself and others, not simply in pictures, but as a reality, here, in this world. 

For others, I hope Dark Wonderland serves as a reminder to reject convention, to remember that something far more amazing than what we have yet seen is possible for us, and is worth pursuing passionately.

Dark Wonderland is heaven, as I understand it: a world of wonder, in which the best things of life I amplified: love, desire, beauty, awe, passion, thrill, ecstasy, wonder itself.

But if this is heaven, why is it so… dark?

Dark Wonderland is a wild, beautiful, dark, scary, sexy world presided over by a loving god who wants us to discover the gift of experiencing everything. It is a world where the darkest parts of life are transcended, not through their rejection, but through their embrace. It is a world in which all of this is guided by profound connection with the luscious, lustful, loving, and achingly profound infinite divine.

Dark Wonderland embraces horror and terror and anguish, inviting us not to flee from them, but to explore them, with courage and passion, discovering our strength and resilience. Dark Wonderland rejects nothing, embracing even conventionality and mediocrity – in order to transform and transcend them. 

It is a powerful world where we are forced to become strong, rather than protected, beautiful, rather than invsible, wise, rather than coddled. It is a world which demands everything from us… but in return offers to make us our very best selves, so that we may ascend into divinity ourselves.

Did you really expect heaven to be boring?

Dark Wonderland is how I seek to live my own life.

I invite you to be a part of it. I think you’ll love it as much as I do.

involves a photographic project in which I collaborate with select models.  

Anybody is invited to participate in dark Wonderland as a way of life, and those who are capable of contributing – but this page is for those who are capable of contributing significantly to dark wonderland project and offers a warm and eager invitation Tim, and play with me in the creation – in the depiction of what a dark wonderland can be. Anybody can participate – can come and collaborate with me – whether we are aspiring, hobbyist, or professional participants in the world – to the vision of dark Wonderland.

Aspiring, hobbyist, or professional, I am looking for models, hairstylists and makeup artists, in photographic assistance, as well as anybody who can contribute interesting and high quality products or, most especially, shooting locations. Also wardrobe assistance.