From Gnostic Christianity to space aliens, author, activist and visionary Jonathan Talat Phillips (author of the new book, The Electric Jesus: The Healing Journey of a Contemporary Gnostic) has an interesting tale to tell.
Jonathan Talat Phillips is a bioenergetic healer, Reiki master, psychonaut and modern-day shaman. He cofounded the cutting edge web magazine, Reality Sandwich and the related Evolver Network and is also creator of the Ayahuasca Monologues storytelling show. From his home in New York City he blogs about religion for the Huffington Post online and coordinates 40 regional communities of conscious collaborators, utopian pragmatists and “hope fiends” throughout the country.
He is currently touring his new book, The Electric Jesus: The Healing Journey of a Contemporary Gnostic, and will be in Salt Lake City for a public reading and book signing at the Salt Lake Main Library. He now goes by his Sufi name, Talat, which means “the ascending sun.” I met with Talat via phone, internet and in person to discuss his philosophy, his book, and his special relationship with Utah.
Your book is also your story and is filled with transformational moments. You say the chakras, when aligned, move prana or energy—creating and propelling transformational inner-personal moments in life. Is this kind of transformation limited to the human experience or can this transformation be experienced on a planetary level?
The old alchemists have a saying, “as above so below” and I believe it’s the same with the energy web across the universe. Just as our human bodies have a “tree of life” of pranic meridians and psychic centers—chakras—we also have a “world tree of life” with a north and south chakra—the poles. The Earth even has her own aura, which can be seen in the luminous colors of the aurora borealis.
In my book, I make an argument that many yogis believe: We as a civilization are currently oriented in a third chakra consciousness, which creates a certain vibrational reality for our species. This energy center is masculine, focused on willpower, achievement, marching forward in the world. In just 10,000 years, we went from planting seeds in the ground to splitting the atom. The destructive fires of the solar plexus are pushing us into the feminine heart chakra.
The heart is the alchemical center of the entire energetic field. It carries the geometric vibration of love that unifies opposites and brings spirit into matter. It gives us access to entire new realms of divine healing and guidance. It’s what makes “miracles” occur. And given the current economic and environmental situation, that’s exactly what we need to manifest—one giant planetary miracle.
What role do humans have in this balancing? Where can people learn more about this?
The ancient Christian Gnostics didn’t just walk out into the desert to get enlightened, they went through the initiatory process of the Mystery Schools to get properly trained. We are in a fortunate time these days where there are many places that teach advanced spiritual technologies—yoga, meditation, healing courses, ayahuasca schools. The Santo Daime church is my main practice. It’s a Christian-based ayahuasca church.
Energetically speaking, we as a civilization are a house divided. Parasitic, hierarchical systems—political, financial, medical, economic—suck up most of our resources for the top few percent, creating vast amounts of scarcity and human suffering. Our role is to resurrect the warrior spirit of humanity, to remember our divine inheritance and internal and collective power as sons and daughters of the divine, to reclaim our lives and the sanctity of the natural world, to restructure our communities and resource distribution systems and to heal ourselves and our planet.
What does the ‘warrior spirit’ of humanity represent? How would one know a ‘warrior spirit’?
It’s the wild, authentic self that we carry within, the wisdom of the ancestors in our DNA, our luminous force and unique creative spark that can shuck off the limitations, corruptions and trappings of modern civilization to engage us in a truer, more passionate, connected and poetic life.
Have you always been religious, or was there a ‘conversion’ point?
I’ve always been spiritual, but I expressed that as a young man in the form of playful adventures and light-hearted tricksterism. Religion actually held down my spirit, whether it was the Methodist Church giving me structured rules on how one is to behave, or the Fundamentalist Church that had me fearing a bloody, impending apocalypse, which is no fun at all.
Much of my book focuses on rediscovering the beauty and mystery of the early Christian initiatory schools and their belief, not in rigid rules of engagement, but an exploration of gnosis—direct, revelatory knowledge of the divine through your own unique personal experience. Exploring this has been healing in my own path, and judging from emails I get from those who’ve read my book, it’s seemed to help others as well.
What role does art play in your life?
When I first started on my path of bioenergetic training, I focused heavily on learning every correct hands-on-healing position and energetic defense structure. But as art goes, once you have the fundamentals down, you then open up to your own unique style. These days, I find the magic of the celestial realms and forest of the Amazon from my work with Santo Daime has invigorated a new spirit into my healing art. Strangely gorgeous chants come through me as healing offerings for my clients, I embrace my own energetic signatures of electric and navy blues to connect with the dancing frequencies of my clients, helping them to illuminate their own creative power and manifest it throughout their life’s journey. Each day, I awaken more and more to the poetry of nature, the universe and the cosmos within us.
You led an inspired group of street theatre activists, wearing sequinned costumes and staging political protests and flash mobs, bringing up serious political issues, while advocating for liberty. Where does your devotion to liberty stem from? How would you describe your political philosophy today?
I’ve always been attracted to the liberating essence of revolution, whether it was French, American, psychedelic or sexual. Now, I look at it as also being spiritual. These days I see activism being both multidimensional and interdimensional. Like many, I’ve lost a lot of faith in our political structures—what happened to the change Obama promised?—so it’s up to us to design and build the new systems that can bring about societal transformation and create abundance for everyone. I’m talking about the eco-villages, alternative currencies, permaculture gardens, gift economies, sustainable energy networks—all the things Occupy and the Evolver Social Movement [and CATALYST magazine] are working toward.
But also, the ancient Gnostics saw, much like the Buddhists, that our entire physical world is trapped in illusion. And they believed there to be dark energies—entities that prey upon us, trapping us in these denser material planes. Through my work with the Santo Daime, I’ve come to see there is a much larger, complex astral reality intersecting with ours. Because our culture doesn’t acknowledge spirit, we are playing with only a small part of the deck. These entities create addictions, anxiety, anger, depression and mental illness. The Daime actually works to illuminate these entities through alchemical healing. It can be tough work, but it’s incredible to see the transformation when these beings are lifted from our energy field. I believe society itself may be suffering from a larger form of spirit possession and we currently lack the the healing technology of the shaman or mystic to liberate ourselves. That’s what part of this awakening process is about—it’s taking the red pill to illuminate the Matrix around us.
How much direction or control can an individual have in regard to these dark influences and therefore over their own life?
We can gain full control, but it’s often a process of illuminating and clearing the energetic body. For instance, I struggled with severe panic attacks, depression, and even suicidal thoughts my whole life. Three years ago, I discovered this was caused by a “parasitic astral attachment”—you could call it an ancestral demon—dug into my back and abdomen. The Daime says recognizing this type of interfering is a first really big step. Once you distinguish that, you can then help the being detach through a process of forgiveness and illumination. When they illuminate, you also receive a profound healing. Could you imagine what would happen if we could illuminate the demons in our political and financial systems? It would be a powerful healing for us and the planet.
In The Electric Jesus, you describe Jesus as a kind of covert, ninja-type hero who sneaks into the Garden of Eden in the guise of a snake to convince the humans to taste of the fruits of knowledge, become enlightened and, ultimately, become liberated from this material world. This is a different take on the concept of ‘original sin.’ Can you elaborate?
I think original sin is the biggest plague and energetic thought-virus on this planet. It’s a corrupt, controlling frequency that tells us we are separate, isolated beings, that God doesn’t like us, and no matter what we do, we will never be worthy of love. It’s a lie, and a very big one, as it cuts off our most important connection—that to God, or source energy, and to ourselves. It leaves us in exile. In ancient Gnostic texts, Jesus comes in with the wisdom of the light, to remind humans of their noble heritage, as sons and daughters of the divine, bringing them back to their celestial home.
The trauma of original sin happens in the Fertile Crescent, the birthplace of agriculture, and spreads across the world with violent expansion of Western civilization. Our whole society has been contaminated. We can learn from the ancient Gnostics how to purge ourselves of these parasitic thought forms and reclaim our true divine nature.
Your book also mentions paraphenomena—balls of light, auras and aliens. Is it safe to say you believe humans, as sentient creative beings, are not alone in this Universe?
Let’s just jump into the most difficult aspect of writing this book—”coming out of the galactic closet.” It wasn’t until the final draft when my editor and Evolver colleague Daniel Pinchbeck (author of 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl) told me the book wasn’t publishable in its current form. “You aren’t being honest. You have to share everything—your shadow side, your messy relationships.” For me, being honest meant saying the thing I never wanted to admit publicly—that most of my spiritual awakening experiences involved what you would call galactic contact with extraterrestrial spirit guides.
Surprisingly, this is the material that attracts most people to the book. They get really excited that there’s someone willing to discuss his experiences around a different kind of contact experience. We’re not talking clunky abduction narratives with 1950s sci-fi tinfoil-looking ships. This is more shamanic and interdimensional, highlighted by the creative alchemy of slowly opening one’s eyes to what might be our galactic brothers and sisters. I get emails all the time from people having these experiences, so I guess I’m not alone here.
Your book also brings you to Utah. What is your experience of the Beehive State?
Well, the last chapter takes place at a ranch in Southern Utah, where I see my first UFO, connect with DMT, “the spirit molecule” and meet a digital multidimensional fairy, and nearly die in an action movie-worthy rollover car crash on I-15. Before Utah, I had a pretty boring ending to the book. Thanks to your state, it ends with a life-and-death moment, literally.
Evolver Salt Lake, CATALYST Magazine and Desert Rocks present Jonathan Talat Phillips in Salt Lake for one night from New York. He will read from his book The Electric Jesus. Books will be available for signing.
Phillips Reading, May 17, 7p, Main Library, Level 4 Conference Room. www.slcpl.org
Talat will return to Utah in June to present an energy healing workshop on chakra alignment as part of Desert Rocks Festival in Green River, Utah June 7-10.
www.DesertRocks.org. www.TalatHealing.com. www.Evolver.net