Consciousness The Eight-Circuit Model of Consciousness

Published on June 13th, 2013 | by Jason Louv

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The 8 Circuits of Reality

Your Brain, and How to Push it Into Higher Circuits of Awareness

The Eight-Circuit Model is a map of states of consciousness that was developed by Timothy Leary and Robert Anton Wilson in the 1960s and 70s. It underlies much of the work they did and was later picked up by Antero Alli and other occulture thinkers. It’s a fairly simple model for navigating altered states.

The circuits represents levels of consciousness. They start with the most basic forms of mentation available to human beings and progress up to the more rarefied states experienced by shamans, meditators and other people able to catalyze such states through their own effort.

The model isn’t new: It’s a Westernized version of the Hindu eight-chakra system. (It was, in fact, passed on to Leary at Millbrook by a professor of philosophy at Rutgers who had been researching Hinduism.) Both the Hindus and the Tibetans have far more complex models than the Leary/Wilson circuits, but the eight-circuit map is more useful for our purposes—it translates better into Western ideas and is less liable for cultural mistranslations and misunderstandings. Qabalah is another similar model, but is even more exceedingly complex than the Eastern models, and even more liable to misunderstanding by the novice shaman.

The Eight Circuits are as follows:

Circuit One: The Oral Biosurvival Circuit.

This is the baseline consciousness of a human being: the pure “survival” mode of an infant looking for nourishment. Whether it finds nourishment or not determines whether the organism will later view the world as a safe place or not.

Circuit Two: The Anal Emotional-Territorial Circuit.

This is the circuit experienced by the “terrible toddler” who has begun walking and begins to learn lessons of boundaries, pecking orders, domination and submission. You can see the same behavioral patterns in a dog. This is where humans get their imprints about where they stand in the order of things.

Circuit Three: The Time-Binding Semantic Circuit.

This is the realm of numbers and written language and is imprinted when somebody learns how to read and write, thereby accessing the “magical” power of binding time by representing reality in symbols. It is where we learn “rules” and “laws.”

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Circuit Four: The Moral Socio-Sexual Circuit.

This circuit is opened by puberty and/or the initial sexual experiences. This is where we imprint tribal ideas of right and wrong — as we are conditioned by society with subtle but incredibly powerful messages about who we should have sex with and under what conditions. This forms the basis for tribal morality and reproductive rules.

The four preceding circuits are the province of nearly everybody. They are the baseline for making a human being, and most live their existences within these four circuits alone. Accordingly, we see most of our major social and tribal battles fought in the second circuit (territorial battles between groups, up to the size of nations), the third circuit (wars fought over scriptural “truth” — mass murder over symbols and whose symbol set is the right one) and the fourth circuit (sexual freedom — for instance, the never-ending American culture battles over women’s reproductive rights or the right of gay people to get married).

The next four circuits, as Leary and Wilson had it, are increasingly rarefied and experienced by minority groups of forward thinkers.

Circuit Five: The Holistic Neurosomatic Circuit.

“I want to feel good.” For instance: People who shop at health food stores, yoga addicts, people who go in for massages and other forms of body therapy, swingers, stoners, extreme sports fanatics and anybody else who seeks some form of “high” which lifts them out of the mundane rules and restrictions of the earlier circuits, even if temporarily.

Circuit Six: The Collective Neurogenetic Circuit.

The proverbial “breaking open the head.” Mystical experience in which some kind of deep access to the “collective unconscious” is gained. Leary and Wilson were writing in the 60s and 70s and were largely talking about acid here, but acid is mostly shit these days and there are many other ways to open this circuit. Magical practice is a big one.

Circuit Seven: The Meta-Programming Circuit.

This is where you figure out how to change your reality, which practically speaking means that you start dropping all your old imprints that you picked up via nature or nurture and start re-imprinting yourself. One example: Sigil magick. Neuro-linguistic programming has some techniques for this but doesn’t really go anywhere in particular. Religions re-imprint you but largely to their designs. People who get here will usually talk about it by saying things like “I realized that I was just a story, that I wasn’t real, and that I could change that story if I wanted.” Often comes after the mystic ego-death experience of opening circuit six.

Circuit Eight: The Non-Local Quantum Circuit.

Massive brain events, near-death experiences, truly weird paranormal experiences. People with a religious background who get here will talk about it in terms like “I saw God,” and whatever God they saw will usually be the one(s) they were imprinted with by their culture. It seems to occur with total overloads of the nervous system.

Hopefully this model (and it is JUST that—a model) is of use to you in your own meanderings up into higher states of mind. For more information, see Prometheus Rising by Robert Anton Wilson or The 8-Circuit Brain by Antero Alli.

(Image via.)

Want to learn more? Check out GENERATION HEX, the 21st century manual of consciousness alteration.

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About the Author

is the author of Queen Valentine and editor of Thee Psychick Bible, Ultraculture Journal and Generation Hex. He currently lives in Los Angeles.




  • Guest

    Allow me to correct some info here:

    The sixth belongs to The Meta-Programming (or neuroelectric) Circuit, wich is Psionic reality / Psichic intelligence.

    The seventh belongs to The Collective Neurogenetic Circuit, wich is Inmortal reality / Mythic intelligence.

  • Guest

    Allow me to correct some info here:

    -The sixth belongs to The Meta-Programming (or neuroelectric) Circuit, wich is Psionic reality / Psichic intelligence.

    -The seventh belongs to The Collective Neurogenetic Circuit, wich is Inmortal reality / Mythic intelligence.

  • Rasa Deva

    Tim and Bob had different ideas about the placement of the 6th and 7th circuits. Jason here is using Bob’s version with the Neurogenetic circuit as the 6th. I don’t know if one version is more popular than another, but many people agree that Bob, in Prometheus Rising, wrote the best explanation of the circuits. Even Tim thought so.

  • Aliston

    Can you pass a link to the high res version of the disp pic for this text. Thanks!

  • Jack Ramshaw

    I located the image. It is “Circular representation of cortical anatomy of normal males (Source: PLoS ONE)”

  • Jhon Hank
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