DSDC: Case Study


What is a daimonic initiation?

It is when you eat enough death cookies that your Daimon trusts you to handle an initiation into the next stage of your dharma.

Imagine the insects that molt and metamorph.

It has two kinds of transformations:

  1. Molting
  2. Metamorphosis

Molting is when an insect sheds it’s current exoskeleton to make room for the new larger self to emerge.

Metamorphosis is a categorically different phenomenon then molting.

Metamorphosis is the death of what came before, and the birth of something entirely new.

Metamorphosis is what Ken Wilber calls moving from Tier 1 to Tier 2.

It is what Bill Plotkins calls ‘Soul Initiation.’

It is what Jung would call his Red Book.

These people believe (and I agree), that we each have multiple moltings in our lives; and only one Metamorphosis.

This article is going to focus on navigating moltings (what we’re calling Daimonic Initiations).

(If you think you might be in the midst of a Metamorphosis, I recommend this book).

For our purposes; think of molting as the process humans go through when they move from one stage of development to another.

Don’t worry about metamorphosis, daimonic initiation is about molting.

The case study today is an example of a molting.

My First Daimonic Initiation

My first meta-cognitive moment in my entire life was on an ugly yellow couch.

I had just finished my first year of college.

I ran away. As soon as it got hard, I stopped going. I started lying to everyone.

Then I smoked some weed, watched a stand-up special and heard a joke.

I tell the story other places, but the heart of the joke was that we think we’re smart but we’re actually dumb and don’t know it.

I realized I didn’t know how to do anything other than argue with teachers and play basketball. I had no real skills. If the power went out and didn’t come back on I would be helpless.

Something happened that I didn’t have the words for then; but I entered a perspective where I was able to observe ‘Erick.’ I could see where his life was headed if he didn’t make a massive change. It was headed towards a tragic nightmare.

The next day I shaved my head, drove 36 hours to Washington State, and spent the summer reading and working out, not talking to anyone other than my family.

I didn’t know it then, but I had accepted my first self-induced initiation.

My life changed. I turned my 0.7 GPA into a 3.7. It took me an extra year to finish, but I did it.

Most Notable: The Daily Pages Initiation

Fast-forward a couple years and I’m laying on the floor in shock.

I just had a back spasm so violent that for the first couple of moments on the ground I wasn’t sure I’d ever walk again.

My back spasm happened the day before my partner of 3 years was to move out.

It’s a story for another time, but I ruined that relationship with my cowardice and unconsciosuness.

On day two of the five days on the floor, I had the urge to buy a book called ‘The Artist’s Way.’

Thanks to Amazon, it arrived on day four of my horizontal life and as I read the first chapter I was seized by a religious feeling that the most important act in my life to commit to was to write three pages of what the author called ‘morning pages,’ until I filled a journal.

I tell the story other places, but in hindsight, I can see that this is the most important thing I’ve ever done.

These are examples of what I call Daimonic Initiations.

These are moments of intervention by a force within you that you don’t understand but you trust. This force asks you to commit to something. If you do, the process changes you.

How do you call a Daimonic Initiation to you

Both of my examples are examples of how to call in a DI (Daimonic Initiation) through blindness and pain.

But we can call them in with grace if we know how.

That is what this article is a case study in doing.

That’s what we’re going to cover here.

The way I see it is this:

  1. Learn to tell the truth
  2. Learn to eat death cookies
  3. Mix truth and death cookies until moment of insight
  4. From the flash of insight: AIM
  5. Create the container (intelligently)
  6. Build momentum
  7. Listen for the Mystery
  8. Eat Your Shit (face the shame, guilt, and fear)
  9. Document Everything

Now, it’s worth noting; the above recipe is how to have graceful diamonic initiations. And by grace I don’t mean easy. I mean, instead of cancer or divorce, our moltings can be a 40-day devotion to telling the truth, or a year of celibacy, or two months without social media.

There’s a living intelligence inside us. Telling the truth calibrates this inner intelligence. Eating death cookies amplifies this inner intelligence.

Tell the truth long enough and eat enough death cookies, and an insight will find you.

First Ingredient: AIM

The nature of insight has always fascinated me. The image that comes to mind is a man walking at night over a vast land in the wild of Montana.

Insight is like a flash of lightning at night.

Something about the initial spark startles us. The energy of the startling moves into awe at the sudden illumination of the badlands. For a brief eternal moment, the heavens and the earth are bathed in clarity and light.

In that sliver of illumination, we can see the horizon, the mountains, the valleys and rivers and lakes, and something within us that is both behind us and larger then us calls out to us;

“That way; go there.”

When we feel the voice, so tightly coupled with the illuminated landscape, there is no doubt. We know this voice is the way. We accept completely. We begin towards where the whisper beckoned.

But satori fades. It is night again. The whisper is crowded out by other voices, and before we’ve noticed we’ve forgotten, we forget.

One of the tasks of your metaprogramming conscious is to study the one who walks at night; get to know you’re sleepwalker. Study how you forget you forget like it’s the puzzle that if you solve, you will save the world.

When you understand the sleepwalker, you can change the world (at least your world).

Case Study: Me

I haven’t had a daimonic initiation come for me in awhile.

Or, to put it more honestly, I hadn’t heeded my calls for awhile.

My dream is to help create regenerative cities. I see a hospital on the horizon of this future city. It tells me it’s name is Hermea, and my life is dedicated to helping Hermea stand on the skyline in the future.

My goal for my life is to contribute as much as I can to the creation of the education system that could produce the future doctors that will be the keepers of Hermea.

My medium-length goal is to doula 10,000 dharma artists (because dharma artists are the kind of people who I want to build with).

That level of clarity took years.

It is also that level of clarity that has put pressure on my present self to re-design my daily habits to fit into a form that feeds these goals.

The truth; my art is writing.

When I’m writing; I’m in alignment.

When I’m not writing, I’m bullshitting myself.

I knew I needed to figure out a new writing routine that would feed these goals.

Enter James Clear.

To prepare for one of my class lectures, I revisited James Clear’s book Atomic Habits. It’s incredible, highly recommend.

Reading it brought back a whole chunk of my life I forgot.

Before any of my success, I ‘stole like an artist’ from James.

Here’s a powerful way to grow as an artist:

  1. Find artists you admire
  2. Pick one of their creations to imitate
  3. Practice until you can do their form
  4. Interate and Remix

I noticed that I loved James’s website layout (minimalism), and I admired his achievements (100,000+ email list).

So I started a project to create a website that looked like his (but with my own spin).

This was 8 years ago, in 2016.

Flash back to the present; I’m reading his book and I got the ping;

Practice his writing form.

I had an insight moment where for a brief flash I saw how; if I committed myself to writing two articles a week like James Clear did his first three years as a writer, all the threads of my professional life would begin to be woven together.

So I set began to do some research.

Deconstructing Your Idols

The people you admire (or envy), are people who embody some set of habits or perspectives that your daimon is whispering to you to learn or acquire.

You do that by putting on your metaprogrammer glasses and deconstructing your idols.

Goal: Commit to James Clear’s two articles a week output.

So the first thing I did was start a timer for 20 minutes, and set the intention to find as many useful articles on his writing routine and his thoughts on his writing process (I chose 20 minutes to constrain the impulse to sabotage myself by over-researching).

Here’s what I found:

✅ James Clear’s Writing Process: https://unmistakablecreative.com/steps-in-the-writing-process/

✅ Clear on his writing Process: https://jamesclear.com/sabbatical-improvements

✅ Clear’s Writing Routine https://medium.com/shanesnow/how-to-write-like-james-clear-bestselling-author-of-atomic-habits-dbb25bbaffa0

✅ Clear and why he is moving to once a week: https://jamesclear.com/once-per-week

✅ Podcast clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DG1BN7RHwhY&ab_channel=AlexandBooks


  1. Average post length is 1,000 to 2,000 words
  2. Most articles have a 5 part structure
    1. Introduction
    2. Insight 1
    3. Insight 2
    4. Implementation
    5. Conclusion
  3. Most articles begin as self-experimentation
  4. He writes for about 4 hours a day
  5. He credits 80% of is writing success on being a good editor

In 30 minutes I was able to find incredibly useful parts of his code. There are a bunch of gems here for me. For example, I barely edit. I intuit the quality of my writing would dramatically improve if I invested more attention into editing. Another helpful insight for me is the word count capping at 2,000. I cannot describe to you how important adopting that rule as been for my weekly writing.

Lastly, the 5 part structure is something I don’t do that I want to try.

So I decided to commit to writing two articles a week, like my boy James.

Second Ingredient: Create a Container

One of the major tools of a Metaprogrammer and a Dharma Artist is what is known as ‘The Project.’

A Project is something you commit to do that takes more than one Dharma Sprint to complete.

A Project has a form (constraints) A Project has a duration (due date) A Project has a daily action that is measured (commitment) A Project can become an initiation.

At any given time you’ll have multiple projects in your life;

  • Launch your next product by December
  • Train for your marathon on July 9th
  • Finish your dissertation by graduation

But one of the secrets to life is to always have a ‘dharma project.’

Also known as ‘The Project,’ your dharma project is the current experiment you’re in.

If you’ve ever healed a profound chronic illness, you’ll know what I mean by this.

Yes, there are the many demands of the day, week, month, and year. There are taxes, quarterly reports, and trash days; but if you’re really sick, life is a couple inches away from you, and you’re one foot in the sacred.

You’re tracking your food, the flush of your skin, how this or that thing might affect your gut.

You’re in a kind of meta-state. You’re not sleep walking. You’re awake and you’re watching.

It often takes intense illness for us to taste the gift of having ‘a project’ that stimulates our waking up.

When I’m writing everyday, in service of a larger artistic project, it is as if I activate some kind of invisible spell that begins working in my favor to help me wake up; to remember that I’m going to die and there are things I want to say and do with this one precious life that I have not said or done yet, and to do so will demand from me work, excellence, and consistent discipline (and periodic crucifixion of the cross of the Mysterium Tremendum that devours work, excellence, and discipline).

This is what the Dharma Practice can be.

When you commit to ‘The Project,’ and you fit it into your Dharma Practice; the Sun Wheel beings to turn.


Step 1: Pick A Form To Practice

Let me save you a lot of time and confusion.

Until you have made enough money to be free to live your life as your dharma sees fit, your projects should produce compounding wealth creation.

Let’s break this down because it is an important point I see many modern artists miss.

Your Dharma Practice should include you practicing your core competencies (that you can use to create wealth).

Core competencies that can compound are things like:

  • writing
  • speaking
  • computer science literacy (understanding computers enough to figure out how to solve most computer-based issues)
  • automating
  • scaling
  • marketing
  • video
  • photography

You’ll notice things like gardening or architecture aren’t on there.

Those are beautiful practices that enrich our lives; but they don’t compound.

As an artist beginning to wake up in our profoundly sick culture, have the humility to recognize that in order for you to help out, you’ve got get financially competent.

Writing a blogpost compounds; write it once, and a million people can benefit from it without you doing any more work.

Record a podcast once, and a million people can benefit from it.

Record a video that has a call to action to donate to a charity you love. Say that video goes viral; for the next 16 months, that one video attracts over 250,000 dollars in donations to that charity.

Create a new $49 ebook where you teach the newest photoshop skills you learned, and for the next 5 years, you average a few thousand dollars a year in sales. In year 6, something clicks, or something goes viral, and then your entire catalogue of creations start selling everyday. By the end of year 7, you’re free to decline any employment that doesn’t feed you dharma.

Choose projects that give you the chance for compounding wealth, then design a dharma practice that cultivates the essential skills that would allow you to create that project.

My First Project: Individuationing.com

It’s 2015. I’ve graduated college and am working at Chipotle.

I know that I’m going to have to create a vocation that nourishes the whisper in me like my life depends on it.

Goal: buy the top 10 books on habit change from the last few decades; create and grow a website that teaches people how to change themselves.

Why? So that I can be free to study and teach psychology.

It took about 18 months, but this practice eventually produced this website:


This was 2016. This was living in my mom’s old house, where my desk was in the dining room because I didn’t have a table. Where I ate eggs, rice, and microwaved vegetables 5 days a week and would treat myself to Chipotle on the weekend.

This is before ever being on a podcast, before I made my first dollar as an entrepreneur, and before I had the courage to speak in public because of my stutter.

But working on this project gave my life meaning.

I could feel how everyday I was casting a vote in favor of the life I wanted to live. I could feel I was learning what I wanted to learn, I was training my ability to write and teach, and I was building something that in the short-term would not generate much financial wealth (but it was already generating informational wealth), I knew one day it could become a business I was proud of that took care of myself and my family.

My Most Recent Project: Launch Sun Wheel on June 20th

A quick refresher;

Projects are multi-sprint commitments you have made with life to fulfill.

They have a set duration. They have due dates (unlike areas of arete, which do not have due dates).

There are two classes of projects:

  1. ordinary
  2. dharma

Your ordinary projects are multiple. Your dharma project is singular.

Your dharma project is your current medium-term or long-term creation that will both cultivate your core competencies and also plant compounding wealth generators.

Committing to learning how to woodcut is great; but without some creativity, it does not qualify as a dharma project.

However, if you stack your aspiration for woodcutting with vlogging, and learning the art of capturing video and getting it onto the web, that can be a dharma project.

The key to the dharma project is; does it cultivate one of my core skills and can it compound?

So, I had the flash of insight to commit to a new project: Learn James Clear’s Form

✅ He is someone I admire

✅ His form compounds (write articles on a website; grow email list)

✅ This form cultivates my core skill of writing and teaching

I consider the deconstruction of my idol phase complete when I’ve extracted a checklist I can use.

James Clear Form Checklist:

Write an article every 3 days (Wednesday and Sunday)
Write outline first (choose the 5 chunks listed earlier)
Write aggressively rough until 6,000kish words
Edit down to 2k words
Add call-to-action at end for reader to get on email list
Send a weekly email

Duration: until June 20th

Intention: to facilitate the creation of the Sun Wheel Course

I had my structure. Now it was time to go eat death cookies.

Third Ingredient: Momentum

The next day sucked.

Creating this plan the day before was exhilarating. We all know the high that comes with the inspiration to drastically change some part of your life.

The brighter the insight, the thicker the proceeding darkness.

I was in my office, the door was closed, the music was playing and the caffeine was coming through;

and I felt stuck.

Stuck isn’t the right word. I wanted to smash my head on the keyboard.

But I’ve written enough to know this part of the process intimately.

This is what it feels like to begin something. For me at least.

The first day of really actually trying to write something I care about is a day where the majority of my dharma practice is me working through my self-judgement, the voice that whispers that this is just another project I’m going to fail to keep my word to, that my dreams are delusions, that I am utterly, disappointingly ordinary, and all this talk about dharmas and daimons are childish stories to cope with my insignificance in a random universe.

And I’m resisting the urge to smash my face into the desk.

But this inertia forcefield always eventually yields. Often on days like this I emerge from my hours of deep work without a single line of useful material written; but I emerge fulfilled.

Days like this are days where the muck from the spokes get cleared. Like clockwork, the next day’s writing flows like a wheel that missed the feeling of spinning.

Momentum is when we show up the second day in a row.

Relentless means to be ‘oppressively consistent.’

Each of us are the children of warriors. All of us have ancestors in our lineage who killed human or beast with their hands, with sharp tools, with blood gushing over their skin.

The warrior in the dharma artist is the relentlessness. It is the oppressively consistent commitment to show up to our dharma practice and to do our work.

Building momentum potentates magic.

Fourth Ingredient: Listen

Once we’re in the form and gathering momentum, the task is to learn how to listen.

This is subtle; and can be the difference between ordinary work and strokes of genius.

Listening also opens the door into the container for Part X to slither in; to begin to whisper anything it can to get you to stop.

Creating the container for our project is sun energy.

Listening for synchronicities while the project hums is moon energy.

I know many a thwarted artist who haven’t created anything in years because their ‘listening’ had been usurped by their inner doubter.

Listen, but be relentlessly consistent.

My Trail of Winks

After a few days of working in this form, I watched the movie Annihilation one night on a ‘whim.’

Because I was practicing the form of actually writing articles; I watched the movie like an artist gathering materials.

I have to understate it; I had insights.

The insights bled into my writing form and I wrote two long articles on ‘The Shimmer.’

Working on these articles reminded me of a project I started months ago called ‘KTHDRLing.’

(It’s an experimental website/blog medium I’m playing with).

In ways I’ll share another time, KTHDRLing perfectly fit with the vibe of The Shimmer articles, so I published them at:


After I finished publishing the articles, I reread the earlier entries and had a profound synthesizing insight:

Everything I’m teaching in my Mental Fitness Course fits into the mythopoetics of The Shimmer and what it means. Writing these articles are a kind of ‘field note’ from ‘The Shimmer.’ If I frame my articles as field notes I’m writing to my Mental Fitness class, I can write about anything, and I can write everyday.

Thus, a new form was birthed.

I only stuck to the James Clear form for a few days (enough to get real momentum), then I followed my artistic impulse until I found something truly unique that fits me.

It has been 5 days since this insight, and I have written and published more in the last 5 days then I have in the last 4 months combined.

My Current Daimonic Initiation: DCDS Logs

My version of ‘an article’ is what I’m calling Dharma Sprint Death Cookies.

They are ‘field notes’ of a metaprogammer entering The Shimmer.

They combine The Daily Pages with the Buddhist technique called ‘noting’ with death cookies.

I have found a form that as I work on my death cookies, I’m producing artistic stones.

KTHDRL is the digital basecamp I’m creating in The Shimmer one DSDC at a time.


Why is This A Daimonic Initiation?

Because I can tell it’s going to heal a trauma.

When I was 21 I began reading Godel, Escher, Bach.

The following weekend I ate 5 grams of mushrooms which triggered my 8-month psychosis.

At the peak of that mushroom experience, I had my second ever ‘meta-cognitive moment.’

The first one was when I was a freshmen in college. That moment almost broke my mind.

This was my second experience.

Meta-cognition is the ability to turn your perspective, worldview, habits, heuristics, etc, into the object consciousness observes.

It’s like if you could take your brain out of your head and examine it.

It’s the birth of 5.0 perspective (STAGES Matrix).

But the first few times it happens, it has the the risk of ‘spinning out.’

Have you ever seen an infinity mirror?

It’s an infinite loop triggered by the camera being turned to record the screen the camera’s recording is displayed on.

When this happens subjectively, it can trigger psychosis (being stuck in a loop ‘forever.’)

All who explore altered states of consciousness and/or spiritual development will reach this experience eventually.

As I started working on these Dharma Sprint Death Cookies, I don’t recall what triggered it, but I had another synthesizing insight:

Godel, Escher, Back was the book that initiated my metaprogramming consciousness.

It was the seed that birthed Individuatining.com which was the project that molded me into the man who was able to meet the moments that timeline-jumped him from the tragic nightmare he saw at 19 into the dream I live now.

And I never went back to the book after it happened.

(this is a hallmark of trauma; if something overwhelmed you, and you never went back to ‘complete the process,’ theres a trauma there.)

And somehow, I could feel the call was to get the book and finish it.

That somehow, reading this book slowly everyday before working on my Dharma Sprint Death Cookie Field Notes, would provide the just right artistic frame to help this project become what it wants to be.

I can intuit how profound it will be if in the process of me creating the Sun Wheel course I ‘completed the process of the traumatic experience’ that birthed my capacity to metaprogram.

I can sense that I am now in my next daimonic initiation.

The Dharma Sprint Death Cookie is the evolution of the daily pages.

KTHDRL is the evolution of Individuationing.com.

The Sun Wheel Course will generate compounding wealth.

And everyday, I will be cultivating my metaprogramming consciousness.

And all of this will eventually alchemize a trauma I haven’t been able to face for over a decade.


This is a raw case study of what we learned in Week 3 of MF.

It you want to learn more about the Dharma Sprint Death Cookies:

🍪What Are Dharma Sprint Death Cookies?

Your Task:

  1. Choose your level
    1. Sprint, Practice, Day, or Week
  2. Choose your death cookie
    1. What is the specific habit you are committing to (mine is to write a DSDC field note)
  3. Claim your duration
    1. for me, it’s June 20th
  4. Claim your intention
    1. I intend to use this to build a course a launch on June 20th
  5. Choose your method of measurement
    1. How many posts do I publish to KTHDRL per week

Good luck and big love.


DSDC Field Notes from this Article

Below are the field notes I took during the 4 DSDCs it took to create this article.

Total time:

The first one was two behind the scenes loom videos that are revealing. Check them out if you think this is easy for me.

🍪DSDC: Case Study #1🍪DSDC: Case Study #2🍪DSDC: Case Study #3🍪DSDC: Case Study #4