Nicola Simpson, May 2017.
This typestract was composed in late February 1967. It was during a period when Houédard was intensely interested in shamanic transcendence, altered states of consciousness, the psychedelic drug experience and the non-semantic vocalization of sacred languages and performance art. As such, this work can be considered within the larger Western counter-cultural neoshamanship of the 1960s.
Two weeks later, in just three days, 8th-10th March, he would compose a series of seven typestracts that would form his publication ‘a book of chakras’, designed and printed by students at the Watford School of Art. Therefore ‘shaman w/ 5 chakras & central susumna pole’ can be understood as part of this sequence of works that focus on the chakra system of the subtle energy body developed from the ancient teachings of Hinduism, Tantric Buddhism and Kundalini Yoga. The subtle energy body is a series of channels (nadi) that allow energy (prana) to flow around the human body. Chakra is a Sanskrit word that means wheel and within this subtle energy body a chakra is a place where the channels meet. Within these teachings seven chakras have been identified as having particular importance (five of these are depicted within the typestract) and they revolve around the central energy channel, the sushumna (or susumna as Houédard calls it). Through an altered state of consciousness, either through meditation, autohypnosis or the in gestation of entheogens, the ‘shaman’ travels along his ‘central pole’, the ‘axis mundi’, the celestial pole or cosmic axis, which acts as a conduit between heaven and earth and enters the spirit world or experiences Kundalini awakening, or nirvana (depending on the tantric or spiritual tradition of the practitioner/ shaman). In the typestract the spinning discs that form each chakra create the impression of the subtle prana energy through the dynamic use of the backslash key.
Like Houédard’s performance-score ‘the cosmic ballet’, this typestract is a synthesis of spiritual ideas: his ‘wider ecumenism’ in action. It is a work of assemblage from ‘tibetan zen redindians aztec & electronic sources’ typed onto foolscap paper by this Benedictine monk, envisaging himself as a ‘poet-shaman’ and created, in all likelihood, at the very moment of such a self-induced spiritual prayer-trance-meditation-flight ‘to sky’.