THE SEVENTH RAY
THE SEVENTH RAY is a Mixed Reality platform inspired by Mystery School initiation techniques of the ancient world. The platform employs the latest in perceptual and sensory augmentation technologies to explore the meaning and modern day significance of these ancient ceremonies. The historic texts provide a formula and the new technologies provide the tools to revive these rites into previously unimaginable formulations. The Seventh Ray seeks to explore the combined power of drama with the particular state of awareness one feels when they fully inhabit a mixed reality. Might the MR brain exhibit closer parallels with the ‘book reading brain’ than that of the ‘movie watching’ one? The ancient texts give us a formula; the emerging technologies of VR and AR give us the tools to revive these ancient rites into unimaginable dimensions.
‘Initiation’ has been a part of human culture for centuries and underpinning every expression of the process is the core precept that ‘you have to die in order to live.’ This is not a physical death, but rather the deliberate obliteration of the Ego - which might involve using intense fear, intoxication, sensory deprivation or utter surrender as a tool.
Essentially, the release of Ego and over-identification with the Self, provides an individual with a spiritual rebirth and a personal experience of the divine potential integrated within. An over-identification with mortal flesh, blood and a personal thought world that one believes to be the sum of oneself, is seen as the root cause of humanity’s misery.
Cross-culturally, ancient cultures recognised the human race as the result of a union between heavenly and earthly forces. Their ultimate destiny to return to the divine source of all things. Initiation was preparation for this moment, for the moment of death, for the continuation of an eternal spirit. Another important aspect in the mysteries is the ceremonial linking of the human life cycle, with that of the cycle of the Seasons of Earth, the process of decomposition, decay, death, rebirth and renewal, the Spirits of nature and the cosmos.
Since antiquity much has been written about the positive effects of the initiation experience upon the individual. Our experiment is an attempt to provide these transcendental and liberating gifts in a modern way for those who may not even be aware that anything is missing. The positive effect we might recognise contemporarily might be similar for some as facing and overcoming the worst fear. If our worst fear is dying and we pass through that process and come through the other side, our joy in life comes through our releasing fear.
In studying centuries old initiation techniques we can find common symbols and systems that still have transformative power, that still resonate with our collective unconscious. We are surrounded by symbols and meaning in every moment of life, but our connection to the deeper significance of these symbols is buried beneath a strong attachment to material reality. From street names, to brand logos to movie plots - the power of symbols to speak directly to the human psyche about its own nature has been watered down, or worse still - polluted and confused. We might explore these symbols and meanings in our dreams or in other altered states, but our waking awareness is so bombarded by a culture of distraction we often fail to see the meaning and significance in these ever-present stories and symbols. These symbols exist apart from ourselves in the normal world and therefore our Ego preservation narrative persists.
THE SEVENTH RAY COLLECTIVE was formed in 2017 by Carl H. Smith and Sarah Janes to create immersive mixed reality experiences inspired by ancient technologies. Developers Matteø Zamagni, Jose Montemayor Alba and Pablo Bueno Melchor were later brought on board to help design our first experience - THE SEVENTH RAY, A Virtual Initiation Experience.
The project was funded by the V&A and premiered at the Electronic Visualisation and the Arts Conference, 2018
Since then the experience has traveled to conferences around Europe, including the Occulture Conference in Berlin (see below) with the Cyberdelic Society and the collective have collaborated on a number of creative and cultural projects in which the oldest technologies and the newest come together.