Leave the door open for the unknown, the door into the dark. That’s where the most important things come from, where you yourself came from, and where you will go.
You are entering a space of not knowing. Here, doubting is welcomed and paradoxes are celebrated.
Over the course of this 10-month lab, we devised a collection of practices to guide the process of engaging with the unknown. Rituals for uncertainty. These are invitations. Play with them.
Solnit, Rebecca. A Field Guide to Getting Lost. Canongate Books, 2017
The unknown, a territory where no one possesses the truth. We wrote letters to the unknown, wrote until logic melted away. We choreographed with uncertainty, devised a language to describe our shapeshifting relationship to the unconscious. We gave voice to our bodies and doubts; created containers for the unspeakable to be presenced. We casted spells, gave birth to paradoxical enchantments and learned to draw sigils to capture our uncertain, ever-changing states. More than anything, we trusted in the process of unlearning and the wisdom of the blurry.
This process, like all creation, is and was chaotic. We aim to capture the non-linear nature of our research in and with this write-up. We have resisted all attempts to detangle it into an orderly chronology. We sacrifice linearity in favour of truthfulness. Fasten your seat-belt, dear fellow explorer. Bumpy rides ahead.
 Solnit, Rebecca. A Field Guide to Getting Lost. Canongate Books, 2017
Trying to write critically, academically, hurt. A lot. Why would someone do that [to art]? For what purpose, other than sadistic impulse to hush, silence, incarcerate it? It seemed like a violence to me to write that way about [art]. It seemed false at best and repugnant at worst - murderous even. 
We choose to mash-up sources and dissolve presumed hierarchies and divisions between disciplines. The esoteric has as much validity as the scientific in this exploration.
A guiding thread across all our practices is the reframing of the unknown. The unknown here is understood not as something to be solved, illuminated or changed, but as a powerful creative force - a habitable and generative space that is integral to the process of learning, caring, commoning and becoming.
Language is often a system of oppression, but can also be a medium for liberation. Our explorations tried to bring language as close to lived experience as possible. For that, we relied on the ritual sense of language, poetic language that dances on the edge of sense and directly into sensation.
 Yuknavitch, L., 2010. The chronology of water.
We give power to subjectivity as a producer of valid and nuanced knowledge. We reject the presumption of expertise as an external condition, while we also acknowledge that multiple forms of expertise exist; we hold a willingness to engage in collaborations of care, outside of imposed hierarchies of knowledge. We embrace the holy trinity of unreliability, imagination, and improvisation. 
Our practices are containers for experience. They are invitations. Never finished, always shapeshifting. Make them yours. Dance with them.
"Every book, remember, is dead until a reader activates it by reading."
/ The transformation of silence into language
What type of constellation and power dynamic emerges when formal power is decentralised?
What deep-rooted beliefs about learning and epistemological authority can be alchemically transmuted in alternative contexts?
We played with the practice of Circling as a way to dissolve the common polar structures of traditional pedagogy – experts and amateurs, students and teachers - and instead invited co-creation on the same horizontal axis.
The specific methodology of Circling we practiced, Surrendered Leadership, can be described as the paradoxical experience of being fully invested in your own subjective experience, whilst simultaneously being a part of the bigger context of the group. The group doesn’t have an agenda, predefined goal or point of focus. What emerges within the group is defined by the spontaneous movement of attention. Every participant is invited to share where her attention is going, follow her impulses and voice them/express them non-verbally. Silence and nothingness are essential parts of the creation.
Through the principles of Circling, group coherence forms. We experience ourselves as a vital part of the group, while at the same time strengthening our ability to sense ourselves (intraception) by remaining at all times connected to our own physical sensations and emotional experiences. We are open to surrendering our plan or timing to the greater intelligence of the present moment.
The agenda-less nature of our sessions invoked a state of uncertainty and unpredictability. Every participant was equally responsible for holding and creating the space. We recognized a tendency to frequently rely on known, but also escapist techniques, like trying to ask questions around timing, future plans or suggest concrete actions as a strategy to avoid the discomfort felt by the present uncertainty. Laughter proved to be a wonderful tension dissolution.
// Melted sense
Pour a translucent resin over the sentence, then invert it.
Keep writing until you reach it, the place where sense melts.
-Adapted from Ritual for the Darkest Night of the Year by Bhanu Kapil
On Saturnalia, a popular Roman festival dedicated to the subversion of social norms, we co-created a ritual space dedicated to honor the wisdom of the unconscious and the unknown. Our exploration was guided by the esoteric concept of The Unified Will - the fusion of the conscious and the unconscious - a basic principle in Western occultism and psychological alchemy.
We wrote letters to the unknown. In order to melt away the blockages and habitual patterns present during the act of writing, we engaged with the method of automatic writing used by dadaists and other surrealists. The practice, also known as surrealist automatism, helped us to verbally connect with our unconscious, whilst resisting the urge of making and/or creating sense.
We then dissolved words altogether and explored devising sigils to condense and abstract the essence of the letters.
///As Above so Below:
Inhabit paradoxes. Transcend patterns.
This realm is deeper than rational.
 Snake Hair Press (US) Occult Studies. 2022. "The Bioart Coven Manifesto"
There is no such thing as a 'structureless' group. The idea of structurelessness does not prevent the formation of informal structures, only formal ones. Structurelessness becomes a smokescreen for the strong or lucky to establish unquestioned hegemony over others, a way of masking power. For everyone to have the opportunity to be involved in a given group and to participate the structure must be explicit, not implicit.' 
The dance between freedom and structure was implicit in all our explorations. Even though our interest in blurring existing delineations was very present during the lab, we also recognize that new creative possibilities can be opened up by delimiting a shared space with clear, explicit boundaries. We understand that boundaries are provisional, fluid, and subject to change. The following template emerged during our explorations with structure - it is malleable, but we trust it can set an firm foundation for ritual spaces that want to be created and held:
𒀭Circling. Creation of a circular space that delineates a non-hierarchical gathering of humans and more-than-humans. This shape states our desire to create in horizontal relations.
𒀭Grounding. We root ourselves and our vision. We open up to becoming a bridge between what's below and what's above, inside and outside. We agree to position ourselves in that paradoxical liminal space of not-knowing, between two states of being, to give potential to all possibilities.
𒀭Intention. It can take the shape of spoken words, symbols, sounds - sometimes it will come from beyond the conscious realm. Allow yourself to be surprised. Sense is not required.
𒀭Doing. Actionable task that is meant to send our intention into our world. As within so without. Can look like a symbolic performance or action that transforms matter (e.g. burning, carving words into an object, tearing something apart - options are endless).
𒀭Closing. Thank the presences that have been invoked and release them. Perform any symbolic act that feels aligned to clearly close the ritual space (clap our hands, ring a bell, recite poem - possibilities unbounded).
These steps don’t have to be consecutive, completed or separate from one another. We see them as blurry, entangled, incomplete, and therefore transformative.
/// As within so without.
Create different paths by imagining them. Imagination is the seed of creation, not escapism. Condensed essence can taste cryptic. Citric.
We invoked movement-based practices to explore the possibilities of relating non-verbally to the unknown and each other. What possibilities emerge when we learn and connect through the body?
In the realm of the unseen, somatic practices present a powerful alternative to verbal expression.
Theater is in essence about making something visible and Social Presencing Theater became a very interesting source of inspiration for our exploration. Beyond the ‘Stuck Dance’ exercise that we collectively learned as a care practice across all School of Commons labs, finding an embodied expression of our current state, both individually and as a system, served us immensely. It served us to articulate our felt experience where words failed. Over time, we devised our own vocabulary to describe the social field - the quality of relationships that we have with each other, with ourselves and with the unknown. It helped us as a system to sense and see ourselves in uncertainty.
Through the lens of system dynamics we discovered an interesting approach to resolve the tension generated by the ambivalence of not-knowing- ‘splitting the ambivalence’. This unconscious systemic dance tends to look like polarization and over-simplification. Instead of giving space to the ambivalence within ourselves and learning to be with it, one part of the system is given one side of the ambivalence equation and the other part takes the opposite stance.
Collect rocks. That's all. But not just any rocks. You are an intelligent woman, so look for the unimaginable inside the ordinary. Let your imagination change what you know.
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by Laura Cincera
What is the pedagogical potential of magick? Can practices from the realm of mysticism liberate learning from the particular institutional cages it has predominantly inhabited? Can methods used in ritualistic traditions create alternative ways of relating to resources, to each other?
This exploration at the intersection of radical pedagogy and magick aims to create a space to devise new methodologies of knowledge transmission that can invoke new possibilities of relating. Using the symbolic and ritualistic methods common in traditional and contemporary occult lineages as experiential learning opportunities, this project hopes to make radical, liberatory pedagogy accessible to non-specialised audiences.
This research project is based on the understanding that commons include ways of being together in the world, outside the realm of marketisation and ownership. The focus of the practices offered and co-created will therefore be on the relational aspect of commoning. Symbolism and vocabulary from the realm of magick will be explored as a way to transcend the mind’s habitual barricades and to invoke new worlds of relating possibilities. The research will emphasize methods that focus on our embodied nature and learning through the body. Specific disciplines that will inform the research include Social Presencing Theater, Somatic Experiencing, Systemic Constellations, Internal Family Systems, Circling, Authentic Relating and poetic ideation.
synthetic synchronicities - paradoxical learnings and unknown outcomes
This exploration at the intersection of liberatory pedagogy, self-organising and occultism aims to create spaces to play with alternative ways of learning and creating with the unknown.
The result of our 10-month research lab is a collection of invitations and practices that were co-created with the purpose of invoking new possibilities of relating and transmitting knowledge via experiential learning.
This research project is based on the understanding that commoning includes ways of being together and caring for each other - including the more-more-than-human entities. Some of our guiding threads include the reclamation of doubting as a creative force and the integration of paradoxes as legitimate sources of nuanced knowledge production.
Symbolism and vocabulary from the realm of the poetic was explored to transcend the mind’s habitual barricades and to invoke new worlds of relating possibilities. We also emphasised methods that focus on somatic intelligence and learning through the body. Specific disciplines that have informed our artistic research include Social Presencing Theater, Internal Family Systems, automatic writing,Circling and poetic ideation.
Did you change your mind about any previous conceptions after your lab?
Interrelation, comfortable with the mess and also importance of structure
I did. This is not where I, where we started. Our research, like all things alive, shapeshifted. Commoning and contamination infiltrated concepts smoothly. beyond our conscious awareness, into our once nearly defined project. Beyond our conscious awareness and grasping, the focal point of the exploration had shapeshifted from the occult to an even bigger container - the unknown. That which resists all labels, all appropriation. Embracing and reclaiming the act of not knowing is a radical act of resistance in a context in which weakness is projected onto it.Timelines vanished, scopes expanded. We became more comfortable with blurriness.
With confusion and not-knowing also came procrastination, an old fellow wizard often invoking both unease and pleasure. Paradoxes can be a cozy space. We refused the act of doing and immersed ourselves in a sea of research.