Robert Anton Wilson
Robert Anton Wilson was an American author, essayist, playwright, poet and self-described agnostic mystic. Recognized by Discordianism as an Episkopos and saint, Wilson helped publicize the group through his writings and interviews. Wilson described his work as an "attempt to break down conditioned associations, to look at the world in a new way, with many models recognized as models or maps, no one model elevated to the truth", his goal being "to try to get people into a state of generalized agnosticism, not agnosticism about God alone but agnosticism about everything." "Is", "is." "is"—the idiocy of the word haunts me. If it were abolished, human thought might begin to make sense. I don't know what anything "is". Born Robert Edward Wilson in Methodist Hospital, in Brooklyn, New York, he spent his first years in Flatbush, moved with his family to lower middle class Gerritsen Beach around the age of four or five, where they stayed until relocating to the steadfastly middle class neighborhood of Bay Ridge when Wilson was thirteen.
He suffered from polio as a child, found effective treatment with the Kenny Method which the American Medical Association repudiated at that time. Polio's effects remained with Wilson throughout his life manifesting as minor muscle spasms causing him to use a cane until 2000, when he experienced a major bout with post-polio syndrome that would continue until his death. Wilson attended Catholic grammar school the school associated with Gerritsen Beach's Resurrection Church, attended Brooklyn Technical High School to remove himself from the Catholic influence, he would recall that the family was "living so well... compared to the Depression" during this period "that I imagined we were lace-curtain Irish at last."Following his graduation in 1950, Wilson was employed in a succession of jobs and absorbed various philosophers and cultural practices while writing in his spare time. He studied electrical engineering and mathematics at the Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute from 1952 to 1957 and English education at New York University from 1957 to 1958 but failed to take a degree from either institution.
After smoking marijuana for nearly a decade, he first experimented with mescaline in Yellow Springs, Ohio on December 28, 1961. Wilson began to work as a freelance advertising copywriter in the late 1950s, he adopted his maternal grandfather's name, for his writings, telling himself that he would save the "Edward" for when he wrote the Great American Novel and finding that "Robert Anton Wilson" had become an established identity. He assumed co-editorship of the School for Living's Brookville, Ohio-based Balanced Living magazine in 1962 and returned to New York as associate editor of Ralph Ginzburg's quarterly fact: before leaving for Playboy, where he served as an associate editor from 1965 to 1971. According to Wilson, Playboy "paid me a higher salary than any other magazine at which I had worked and never expected me to become a conformist or sell my soul in return. I enjoyed my years in the Bunny Empire. I only resigned when I reached 40 and felt I could not live with myself if I didn't make an effort to write full-time at last."
Along with frequent collaborator Robert Shea, Wilson edited the magazine's Playboy Forum, a letters section consisting of responses to the Playboy Philosophy editorial column. During this period, he covered Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert's Millbrook, New York-based Castalia Foundation at the instigation of Alan Watts in The Realist, cultivated important friendships with William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, lectured at the Free University of New York on'Anarchist and Synergetic Politics' in 1965, he received a B. A. M. A. and Ph. D. in psychology from Paideia University, an unaccredited institution that has since closed. Wilson reworked his dissertation, it found publication in 1983 as Prometheus Rising. Wilson married freelance writer and poet Arlen Riley in 1958, they had four children, including Patricia Luna Wilson. Luna was beaten to death in an apparent robbery in the store where she worked in 1976 at the age of 15, became the first person to have her brain preserved by the Bay Area Cryonics Society.
Arlen Riley Wilson died in 1999 following a series of strokes. Among Wilson's 35 books, many other works his best-known volumes remain the cult classic series The Illuminatus! Trilogy, co-authored with Shea. Advertised as "a fairy tale for paranoids," the three books—The Eye in the Pyramid, The Golden Apple, Leviathan, soon offered as a single volume—philosophically and humorously examined, among many other themes and magical symbolism and history, the counterculture of the 1960s, secret societies, data concerning author H. P. Lovecraft and author and occultist Aleister Crowley, American paranoia about conspiracies and conspiracy theories; the book was intended to poke fun at the conspiratorial frame of mind. Wilson and Shea derived much of the odder material from letters sent to Playboy m
The occult is "knowledge of the hidden" or "knowledge of the paranormal", as opposed to facts and "knowledge of the measurable" referred to as science. The term is sometimes taken to mean knowledge that "is meant only for certain people" or that "must be kept hidden", but for most practicing occultists it is the study of a deeper spiritual reality that extends pure reason and the physical sciences; the terms esoteric and arcane can be used to describe the occult, in addition to their meanings unrelated to the supernatural. The term occult sciences was used in the 16th century to refer to astrology and natural magic; the term occultism emerged in 19th-century France, where it came to be associated with various French esoteric groups connected to Éliphas Lévi and Papus, in 1875 was introduced into the English language by the esotericist Helena Blavatsky. Throughout the 20th century, the term was used idiosyncratically by a range of different authors, but by the 21st century was employed – including by academic scholars of esotericism – to refer to a range of esoteric currents that developed in the mid-19th century and their descendants.
Occultism is thus used to categorise such esoteric traditions as Spiritualism, Anthroposophy, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, New Age. Since the late twentieth century, various authors have used the occult as a substantivized adjective. In this usage, "the occult" is a category into which varied beliefs and practices are placed if they are considered to fit into neither religion nor science. "The occult" in this sense is broad, encompassing such phenomenon as beliefs in vampires or fairies and movements like Ufology and parapsychology. In that same period and culture were combined to form the neologism occulture. Used in the industrial music scene, it was given scholarly applications; the idea of "occult sciences" developed in the sixteenth century. The term encompassed three practices—astrology and natural magic—although sometimes various forms of divination were included rather than being subsumed under natural magic; these were grouped together because, according to the historian of religion Wouter Hanegraaff, "each one of them engaged in a systematic investigation of nature and natural processes, in the context of theoretical frameworks that relied on a belief in occult qualities, virtues or forces."
Although there are areas of overlap between these different occult sciences, they are separate and in some cases practitioners of one would reject the others as being illegitimate. During the Enlightenment, the term "occult" came to be seen as intrinsically incompatible with the concept of "science". From that point on, use of the term "occult science" implied a conscious polemic against mainstream science. In his 1871 book Primitive Culture, the anthropologist Edward Tylor used the term "occult science" as a synonym for "magic". Occult qualities are properties. Aether is another such element. Newton's contemporaries criticized his theory that gravity was effected through "action at a distance", as occult. In the English-speaking world, prominent figures in the development of occultism included Helena Blavatsky and other figures associated with her Theosophical Society, senior figures in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn like William Wynn Westcott and Samuel Liddell Mathers, as well as other individuals such as Paschal Beverly Randolph, Emma Hardinge Britten, Arthur Edward Waite, and—in the early twentieth century—Aleister Crowley, Dion Fortune, Israel Regardie.
By the end of the nineteenth century, occultist ideas had spread into other parts of Europe, such as Germany, Austria-Hungary, Italy. Unlike older forms of esotericism, occultism does not reject "scientific progress or modernity". Lévi had stressed the need to solve the conflict between science and religion, something that he believed could be achieved by turning to what he thought was the ancient wisdom found in magic; the scholar of esotericism Antoine Faivre noted that rather than outright accepting "the triumph of scientism", occultists sought "an alternative solution", trying to integrate "scientific progress or modernity" with "a global vision that will serve to make the vacuousness of materialism more apparent". Hanegraaff remarked that occultism was "essentially an attempt to adapt esotericism" to the "disenchanted world", a post-Enlightenment society in which growing scientific discovery had eradicated the "dimension of irreducible mystery" present. In doing so, he noted, occultism distanced itself from the "traditional esotericism" which accepted the premise of an "enchanted" world.
According to historian of esotericism Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, occultist groups seek "proofs and demonstrations by recourse to scientific tests or terminology". In his work about Lévi, the German historian Julian Strube has argued that the occultist wish for a "synthesis" of religion and philosophy directly resulted from the context of contemporary socialism and progressive Catholicism. Similar to spiritualism, but in declared opposition to it, the emergence of occultism should thus be seen within the context of radical social reform, concerned with establishing new forms of "scientific religion" while at the same time propagating the revival of an ancient tradition of "true religion". Indeed, the emergence of both modern esotericism and socialism in July Monarchy France have been inherently intertwined. Another feature of occultists is that—unlike earlier esotericists—they openly dis
Chaos magic spelled chaos magick, is a contemporary magical practice. It was developed in England in the 1970s, drawing from the philosophy of artist and occultist Austin Osman Spare. Sometimes referred to as "success magic" or "results-based magic", chaos magic claims to emphasize the attainment of specific results over the symbolic, theological or otherwise ornamental aspects of other occult traditions. Chaos magic has been described as a union of traditional occult techniques and applied postmodernism – a postmodernist skepticism concerning the existence or knowability of objective truth. Chaos magicians subsequently treat belief as a tool creating their own idiosyncratic magical systems and borrowing from other magical traditions, religious movements, popular culture and various strands of philosophy. Early leading figures include Ray Sherwin. Chaos magic differs from other occult traditions such as Thelema or Wicca in that it rejects the existence of absolute truth, views all occult systems as arbitrary symbol-systems that are only effective because of the belief of the practitioner.
Chaos magic thus takes an explicitly agnostic position on whether or not magic exists as a supernatural force, with many chaos magicians expressing their acceptance of a psychological model as one possible explanation. It is unknown when the term "chaos magic" first emerged, with the earliest texts on the subject referring only to "magic" or "the magical art" in general. Furthermore, they claimed to state principles universal to magic, as opposed to a new specific style or tradition, describing their innovations as efforts to rid magic of superstitious and religious ideas; the word chaos was first used in connection with magic by Peter J. Carroll in Liber Null & Psychonaut, where it is described as "the'thing' responsible for the origin and continued action of events." Carroll goes on to say that "It could as well be called'God' or'Tao', but the name'Chaos' is meaningless and free from the anthropomorphic ideas of religion." Other magical traditions like Wicca, Qabalah or the Golden Dawn system combine techniques for bringing about change with "beliefs, attitudes, a conceptual model of the universe, a moral ethic, a few other things besides."
Chaos magic grew out of the desire to strip away all of these extraneous elements, leaving behind only the techniques for affecting change. This "pick'n'mix/D. I. Y" approach means that the working practices of different chaos magicians look drastically different, with many authors explicitly encouraging readers to invent their own magical style; the central defining tenet of chaos magic is arguably the "meta-belief" that "belief is a tool for achieving effects". In chaos magic, complex symbol systems like Qabalah, the Enochian system, astrology or the I Ching are treated as maps or "symbolic and linguistic constructs" that can be manipulated to achieve certain ends but that have no absolute or objective truth value in themselves – a position referred to by religious scholar Hugh Urban as a "rejection of all fixed models of reality", summarised with the phrase "nothing is true everything is permitted"; some commentators have traced this position to the influence of postmodernism on contemporary occultism.
Another influence comes from the magical system of Austin Osman Spare, who believed that belief itself was a form of "psychic energy" that became locked up in rigid belief structures, that could be released by breaking down those structures. This "free belief" could be directed towards new aims. Other writers have highlighted the influence of occultist Aleister Crowley, who wrote of the occult: In this book it is spoken of the Sephiroth and the Paths, it is immaterial. By doing certain things certain results will follow. Within the magical system of Austin Osman Spare, magic was thought to operate by using symbols to communicate desire to something Spare termed "Kia" via the "passage" of the unconscious – hence the need for complex systems of symbolism. Provided there was enough "free belief" to feed them, these desires would grow, into "obsessions", which would culminate in magical results occurring in reality. Peter J. Carroll inherited this model from Spare, but used the term "Kia" to refer to the consciousness of the individual: "the elusive'I' which confers self-awareness".
The more general universal force, of which Kia is an aspect, Carroll termed "Chaos". In his own words: Chaos... is the force which has caused life to evolve itself out of dust, is most concentratedly manifest in the human life force, or Kia, where it is the source of consciousness... To the extent that the Kia can become one with Chaos it can extend its will and perception into the universe to accomplish magic. Chaos magicians have stressed that this basic operating process can be explained in multiple different ways, from within different paradigms. For example: Within a spirit model, the job of a shaman is to communicate their intentions to their spirit helpers, who work magic on their behalf. Within an energy model, a magician might direct their own qi/ch'i towards specific aims. Within a psychological model, a magician uses symbols to cond
An incantation is a magical formula intended to trigger a magical effect on a person or objects. The formula can be sung or chanted. An incantation can be performed during ceremonial rituals or prayers. Other words synonymous with incantation is charms or to bewitch. In the world of magic, the incantations are said to be performed by wizards and fairies. In medieval literature, fairy tales and modern fantasy fiction, enchantments are charms or spells; this has led to the terms "enchanter" and "enchantress" for those. The term was loaned into English around AD 1300; the corresponding native English term being "galdr" "song, spell". The weakened sense "delight" is modern, first attested in 1593. Any word can be an incantation as long as the words are spoken with inflection and emphasis on the words being said; the tone and rhyme of how you speak the words matter on the outcome of the magical effect. The tone and placement of words used in the formula matters in influencing the outcome of the magical effect.
The person, speaking magical words commands for the magic to be carried out. The incantation performed can bring up powerful emotions and remind one of a sense of awe in childhood. Surviving written records of historical magic spells were obliterated in many cultures by the success of the major monotheistic religions, Islam and Christianity, which label some magical activity as immoral or associated with evil; the Latin incantare, which means'to utter an incantation', or cast a magic spell, forms the basis of the word "enchant", with deep linguistic roots going back to the Proto-Indo-European kan- prefix. So it can be said that an enchanter or enchantress casts magic spells, or utters incantations, similar to what are called Mantra in Sanskrit; the words that are similar to incantations such as enchantment and spells are the effects of reciting an incantation. To be enchanted is to be under the influence of an enchantment thought to be caused by charms or spells. Magic words or words of power are words which have a specific, sometimes unintended, effect.
They are nonsense phrases used in fantasy fiction or by stage prestidigitators. Such words are presented as being part of a divine, adamic, or other secret or empowered language. Certain comic book heroes use magic words to activate their powers. Examples of traditional magic words include Hocus pocus, Open sesame and Sim Sala Bim. Craig Conley, a scholar of magic, writes that the magic words used by conjurers may originate from "pseudo-Latin phrases, nonsense syllables, or esoteric terms from religious antiquity," but that what they have in common is "language as an instrument of creation." In Babylonian, incantations can be used in rituals to burn images of one's own enemies. An example would be found in the series of Mesopotamian incantations of Maqlu. In the Orient, the charming of snakes have been used in incantations of the past and still used today. A person using an incantation would entice the snake out of its hiding place in order to get rid of them. In Jewish rites reciting a bible verse, a person has to follow strict Jewish rules.
The performer of an incantation has to prepare three days ahead of time with fasting and studying. The Jewish law requires that incantations only be recited during the new or full moon, before sunset, during the Sabbath; the Jewish commentary, the Talmud mentions. An incantation of a bible quotation attached to a charm or object is recited backward and frontwards. Incantations are seen in demonic activity where the devil uses words to bring misfortune or sickness to someone; some illnesses include mental anxiety. The aspect of the devil in incantations is feared by many; the demon's can create other horrible events of divorce, loss property or other terrible catastrophes in ones life. In traditional fairy tales sometimes magical formulas are attached to an object and when spoken can help transform the object into the imaginable from the unimaginable. In these stories incantations are attached to a magic wand used by wizards and fairy-god mothers. A known example is the spell that Cinderella's Fairy Godmother used to turn a pumpkin into a coach.
Incantations nonsense or whimsical rhymes are performed. The performance of magic always involves the use of language. Whether spoken out loud or unspoken, words are used to access or guide magical power. In The Magical Power of Words, S. J. Tambiah argues that the connection between language and magic is due to a belief in the inherent ability of words to influence the universe. Bronisław Malinowski, in Coral Gardens and their Magic, suggests that this belief is an extension of man's basic use of language to describe his surroundings, in which "the knowledge of the right words, appropriate phrases and the more developed forms of speech, gives man a power over and above his own limited field of personal action." Magical speech is therefore a ritual act and is of equal or greater importance to the performance of magic than non-verbal acts. Not all speech is considered magical. Only certain words and phrases or words spoken in a specific context are considered to have magical power. Magical language, according to C. K.
Ogden and I. A. Richards's categories of speech, is distinct from scientific language because it is emotive and it converts words into symbols for emotions. Magical language is therefore adept at constructing metaphors that establish
Divination is the attempt to gain insight into a question or situation by way of an occultic, standardized process or ritual. Used in various forms throughout history, diviners ascertain their interpretations of how a querent should proceed by reading signs, events, or omens, or through alleged contact with a supernatural agency. Divination can be seen as a systematic method with which to organize what appear to be disjointed, random facets of existence such that they provide insight into a problem at hand. If a distinction is to be made between divination and fortune-telling, divination has a more formal or ritualistic element and contains a more social character in a religious context, as seen in traditional African medicine. Fortune-telling, on the other hand, is a more everyday practice for personal purposes. Particular divination methods vary by religion. Divination is dismissed by skeptics as being superstition. In the 2nd century, Lucian devoted a witty essay to the career of a charlatan, "Alexander the false prophet", trained by "one of those who advertise enchantments, miraculous incantations, charms for your love-affairs, visitations for your enemies, disclosures of buried treasure, successions to estates" though most Romans believed in prophetic dreams and charms.
The Oracle of Amun at the Siwa Oasis was made famous when Alexander the Great visited it after conquering Egypt from Persia in 332 BC. Deuteronomy 18:10-12 or Leviticus 19:26 can be interpreted as categorically forbidding divination. However, some would claim that divination is indeed practiced in the Bible, such as in Exodus 28, when the Urim and Thummim are mentioned; some would say that Gideon practiced divination, though when he uses a piece of fleece or wool in Judges 6:36-40, he is not attempting to predict the outcome of an important battle. Communicating with God through prayer may in some cases be considered divination. In addition, the method of "casting lots" used in Joshua 14:1-5 and Joshua 18:1-10 to divide the conquered lands of Canaan between the twelve tribes is not seen by some as divination, but as done at the behest of God. Both oracles and seers in ancient Greece practiced divination. Oracles were the conduits for the gods on earth; because of the high demand for oracle consultations and the oracles’ limited work schedule, they were not the main source of divination for the ancient Greeks.
That role fell to the seers. Seers were not in direct contact with the gods. Seers used many methods to explicate the will of the gods including bird signs, etc.. They did not keep a limited schedule; the disadvantage to seers was. Oracles could answer more generalized questions, seers had to perform several sacrifices in order to get the most consistent answer. For example, if a general wanted to know if the omens were proper for him to advance on the enemy, he would ask his seer both that question and if it were better for him to remain on the defensive. If the seer gave consistent answers, the advice was considered valid. At battle, generals would ask seers at both the campground and at the battlefield; the hiera entailed the seer slaughtering a sheep and examining its liver for answers regarding a more generic question. The battlefield sacrifice only occurred. Neither force would advance; because the seers had such power over influential individuals in ancient Greece, many were skeptical of the accuracy and honesty of the seers.
The degree to which seers were honest depends on the individual seers. Despite the doubt surrounding individual seers, the craft as a whole was well regarded and trusted by the Greeks; the divination method of casting lots was used by the remaining eleven disciples of Jesus in Acts 1:23-26 to select a replacement for Judas Iscariot. Therefore, divination was arguably an accepted practice in the early church. However, divination became viewed as a pagan practice by Christian emperors during ancient Rome. In 692 the Quinisext Council known as the "Council in Trullo" in the Eastern Orthodox Church, passed canons to eliminate pagan and divination practices. Fortune-telling and other forms of divination were widespread through the Middle Ages. In the constitution of 1572 and public regulations of 1661 of Kur-Saxony, capital punishment was used on those predicting the future. Laws forbidding divination practice continue to this day. Småland is famous for Årsgång, a practice which occurred until the early 19th century in some parts of Småland.
Occurring on Christmas and New Year's Eve, it is a practice in which one would fast and keep themselves away from light in a room until midnight to complete a set of complex events to interpret symbols encountered throughout the journey to foresee the coming year. Divination was a central component of ancient Mesoamerican religious life. Many Aztec gods, including central creator gods, were described as diviners and were associated with sorcery. Tezcatlipoca is the pa
An invocation may take the form of: Supplication, prayer or spell. A form of possession. Command or conjuration. Self-identification with certain spirits; these forms are not mutually exclusive. See Theurgy; as a supplication or prayer it implies to call upon a god, goddess, or person, etc.. When a person calls upon God, a god, or goddess to ask for something or for worship, this can be done in a pre-established form or with the invoker's own words or actions. An example of a pre-established text for an invocation is the Lord's Prayer. All religions in general use invoking liturgies, or hymns. An invocation can be a secular alternative to a prayer. On August 30, 2012, Dan Nerren, a member of the Humanist Association of Tulsa, delivered a secular invocation to open a meeting of the City Council of Tulsa. Nerren was invited to perform the invocation as a compromise following a long-running dispute with the City Council over prayers opening meetings; the invocation was written by Andrew Lovley, a member of the Southern Maine Association of Secular Humanists who had used the invocation in 2009 to invoke an inauguration ceremony for new city officials in South Portland, Maine.
In this usage, it is comparable to an affirmation as an alternative for those who conscientiously object to taking oaths of any kind, be it for reasons of belief or non-belief. The word "possession" is used here in its neutral form to mean "a state in which an individual's normal personality is replaced by another"; this is sometimes known as'aspecting'. This can be done as a means of communicating with or getting closer to a deity or spirit, as such need not be viewed synonymously with demonic possession. In some religious traditions including Paganism and Wicca, "invocation" means to draw a spirit or Spirit force into one's own body and is differentiated from "evocation", which involves asking a spirit or force to become present at a given location. Again, Aleister Crowley states that To "invoke" is to "call in", just as to "evoke" is to "call forth"; this is the essential difference between the two branches of Magick. In invocation, the macrocosm floods the consciousness. In evocation, the magician, having become the macrocosm, creates a microcosm.
Possessive invocation may be attempted singly or, as is the case in Wicca, in pairs - with one person doing the invocation, the other person being invoked. The person invoked may be moved to speak or act in non-characteristic ways, acting as the deity or spirit. A communication might be given via imagery, they may be led to recite a text in the manner of that deity, in which case the invocation is more akin to ritual drama. The Wiccan Charge of the Goddess is an example of such a pre-established recitation. See the ritual of Drawing Down the Moon; the ecstatic, possessory form of invocation may be compared to loa possession in the Vodou tradition where devotees are described as being "ridden" or "mounted" by the deity or spirit. In 1995 National Geographic journalist Carol Beckwith described events she had witnessed during Vodoun possessions: A woman splashed sand into her eyes, a man cut his belly with shards of glass but did not bleed, another swallowed fire. Nearby a believer a yam farmer or fisherman, heated hand-wrought knives in crackling flames.
Another man brought one of the knives to his tongue. We cringed at the sight and were dumbfounded when, after several repetitions, his tongue had not reddened. Possessive invocation has been described in certain Norse rites where Odin is invoked to "ride" workers of seidr, much like the god rides his eight-legged horse Sleipnir. Indeed, forms of possessive invocation appear throughout the world in most mystical or ecstatic traditions, wherever devotees seek to touch upon the essence of a deity or spirit; some have performed invocation for the purpose of controlling or extracting favors from certain spirits or deities. These invocations involve a commandment or threat against the entity invoked; the following is a curious example of such an invocation, found engraved in cuneiform on a statue of the Assyrian demon Pazuzu. Although it seems to constitute an identification with the demon, it was considered a protective amulet with the power to command this entity not to harm people or their possessions.
I am Pazuzu, son of the king of the evil spirits, that one who descends impetuously from the mountains and bring the storms. That is the one. Another example is found in the book Aradia, or the Gospel of the Witches during the Conjuration of Diana, where the goddess is evoked into a piece of bread and threatened to grant a wish: Invocation can refer to taking on the qualities of the being invoked, such as the allure of Aphrodite or the ferocity of Kali. In this instance the being is called up from within oneself or into oneself, depending on the personal belief system of the invoker; the main difference between this type of invocation and the possessive category described above is that the former may appear more controlled, with self-identification and deity-identification mixed tog
The Himalayas, or Himalaya, form a mountain range in Asia, separating the plains of the Indian subcontinent from the Tibetan Plateau. The range has many including the highest, Mount Everest; the Himalayas include over fifty mountains exceeding 7,200 m in elevation, including ten of the fourteen 8,000-metre peaks. By contrast, the highest peak outside Asia is 6,961 m tall. Lifted by the subduction of the Indian tectonic plate under the Eurasian Plate, the Himalayan mountain range runs west-northwest to east-southeast in an arc 2,400 km long, its western anchor, Nanga Parbat, lies just south of the northernmost bend of Indus river. Its eastern anchor, Namcha Barwa, is just west of the great bend of the Yarlung Tsangpo River; the Himalayan range is bordered on the northwest by the Hindu Kush ranges. To the north, the chain is separated from the Tibetan Plateau by a 50–60 km wide tectonic valley called the Indus-Tsangpo Suture. Towards the south the arc of the Himalaya is ringed by the low Indo-Gangetic Plain.
The range varies in width from 350 km in the west to 150 km in the east. The Himalayas are distinct from the other great ranges of central Asia, although sometimes the term'Himalaya' is loosely used to include the Karakoram and some of the other ranges; the Himalayas are inhabited by 52.7 million people, are spread across five countries: Nepal, Bhutan and Pakistan. Some of the world's major rivers – the Indus, the Ganges and the Tsangpo-Brahmaputra – rise in the Himalayas, their combined drainage basin is home to 600 million people; the Himalayas have a profound effect on the climate of the region, helping to keep the monsoon rains on the Indian plain and limiting rainfall on the Tibetan plateau. The Himalayas have profoundly shaped the cultures of the Indian subcontinent; the name of the range derives from himá and ā-laya. They are now known as the "Himalaya Mountains" shortened to the "Himalayas", they were described in the singular as the Himalaya. This was previously transcribed Himmaleh, as in Emily Dickinson's poetry and Henry David Thoreau's essays.
The mountains are known as the Himālaya in Nepali and Hindi, the Himalaya or'The Land of Snow' in Tibetan, the Hamaleh Mountain Range in Urdu and the Ximalaya Mountain Range in Chinese. In the middle of the great curve of the Himalayan mountains lie the 8,000 m peaks of Dhaulagiri and Annapurna in Nepal, separated by the Kali Gandaki Gorge; the gorge splits the Himalayas into Western and Eastern sections both ecologically and orographically – the pass at the head of the Kali Gandaki, the Kora La is the lowest point on the ridgeline between Everest and K2. To the east of Annapurna are the 8,000 m peaks of Manaslu and across the border in Tibet, Shishapangma. To the south of these lies Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal and the largest city in the Himalayas. East of the Kathmandu Valley lies valley of the Bhote/Sun Kosi river which rises in Tibet and provides the main overland route between Nepal and China – the Araniko Highway/China National Highway 318. Further east is the Mahalangur Himal with four of the world's six highest mountains, including the highest: Cho Oyu, Everest and Makalu.
The Khumbu region, popular for trekking, is found here on the south-western approaches to Everest. The Arun river drains the northern slopes of these mountains, before turning south and flowing through the range to the east of Makalu. In the far east of Nepal, the Himalayas rise to the Kanchenjunga massif on the border with India, the third highest mountain in the world, the most easterly 8,000 m summit and the highest point of India; the eastern side of Kanchenjunga is in the Indian state of Sikkim. An independent Kingdom, it lies on the main route from India to Lhasa, which passes over the Nathu La pass into Tibet. East of Sikkim lies the ancient Buddhist Kingdom of Bhutan; the highest mountain in Bhutan is Gangkhar Puensum, a strong candidate for the highest unclimbed mountain in the world. The Himalayas here are becoming rugged with forested steep valleys; the Himalayas continue, turning northeast, through the Indian State of Arunachal Pradesh as well as Tibet, before reaching their easterly conclusion in the peak of Namche Barwa, situated in Tibet inside the great bend of the Yarlang Tsangpo river.
On the other side of the Tsangpo, to the east, are the Kangri Garpo mountains. The high mountains to the north of the Tsangpo including Gyala Peri, are sometimes included in the Himalayas. Going west from Dhaulagiri, Western Nepal is somewhat remote and lacks major high mountains, but is home to Rara Lake, the largest lake in Nepal; the Karnali River cuts through the center of the region. Further west, the border with India follows the Sarda River and provides a trade route into China, where on the Tibetan plateau lies the high peak of Gurla Mandhata. Just across Lake Manasarovar from this lies the sacred Mount Kailash, which stands close to the source of the four main rivers of Himalayas and is revered in Hinduism, Sufism and Bonpo. In the newly created Indian state of Uttarkhand, the Himalayas rise again as the Garhwal Himalayas with the high peaks of Nanda Devi and Kamet; the state is an important pilgrimage destination, with