Two young men both tried to move scraps of paper with their minds, one failed, he became a notable physicist and a bit of a philosopher and he became harshly dismissive of parapsychology, although he did develop a fondness for the utterly bizarre Everett-Wheeler (10500+) multiple universe hypothesis. The other one felt an unexpected breeze suddenly move his scrap of paper, ‘that will do’ he decided, he became a notable wizard and a bit of a philosopher but he became too sceptical to become an acceptable scientist. Oddly they shared a surname.
Emergent phenomena arise when systems exhibit properties and behaviours that their component parts do not seem to exhibit on their own. ‘Weakly Emergent’ phenomena like the bulk behaviour of many solids do seem in principle reducible to the properties of the atoms which compose them.
However ‘Strongly Emergent’ phenomena like living organisms, the weather, and economic behaviour do not seem similarly reducible, epistemologically or ontologically, to the behaviour of their component parts at lower levels. Something about the complexity of these systems allows them to exhibit properties that do not seem to come from anywhere except from the very complexity of their structures.
Even if we eventually discover a ‘theory of everything’ consisting of a small handful of equations which describe all the fundamental processes of the universe, the existence of grasshoppers or the Mona-Lisa would probably not appear as inevitable consequence of them.
At the time of writing we do have a Core Theory, see picture above, most of the symbols in it act as shorthand for rather more complicated entire equations. It can tell us precisely what a wave/particle will probably do under certain circumstances. However it offers no clue as to which way time will flow, the reasons for the vales of fundamental constants, or much of a clue as to what forms of complexity could emerge from it, rather like the hypothesis of causality it has far better explanatory power when used backwards. Plus it only works in weak gravity situations and the Higgs part of it looks a bit dodgy. The supreme achievement of the Core Theory lies in its revelation of the enormity of what we didn’t even realise we don’t know, it has massively expanded our awareness of our ignorance.
According to Science, consciousness arises as an emergent phenomenon from matter. As biological complexity and the processing power of nervous systems becomes selected for, then the process of ‘consciousness’ gradually develops. Even if we cannot precisely specify what we mean by ‘consciousness’ we can appreciate some kind of a quantitative and probably a qualitative difference between the behaviour of ourselves and our fellows and say, rocks for example. Dogs and many other animals quite plainly exhibit something of what we recognise as consciousness as well.
A phenomenon such as consciousness plainly resists a complete reduction to the functions of the component parts of the systems which give rise to it, such as the nerve cells, the chemistry of those cells, and the particle physics underlying the chemistry. Rather the incredibly complicated arrangement of matter in a brain supports behaviour which does not seem present in its component parts.
Or does it? The philosophy of Panpsychism attempts to explain the existence of consciousness by describing it as a fundamental attribute of all matter. Thus even individual subatomic particles must have it to some degree. Well individual particles do exhibit indeterminate and thus unpredictable behaviour and they seem capable of simple communication with each other by quantum entanglement, and emergent properties arise all the way up the scale, the properties of water for example do not seem entirely defined by those of its constituent hydrogen and oxygen atoms, but they at least have the freedom to exhibit such behaviour.
The tired debate about Free Will versus Determinism usually becomes bogged down by the assumptions that matter can only behave deterministically or randomly, neither of which satisfies any criterion of free will, and so free will must either arise from something immaterial or ‘spiritual’, or prove illusory. However if consciousness arises as an emergent property of matter, then so can free will. Beyond a certain level of complexity an organism (and perhaps even a machine) will start to self-generate behaviour that does not always causally depend on its component parts, or on its inputs, or on pure randomness either.
According to many Religions, matter arises as an emergent phenomenon from consciousness. Thus some immaterial but conscious deity or other simply wishes or imagines the material universe into manifestation. Just how such deities achieved consciousness in the first place they do not say. However the material universe then seems to exhibit emergent properties and to manifest phenomena not apparently intended by deities, creating multiple failures of omnipotence and omniscience, and awkward questions about theodicy (deities permitting bad stuff).
Some religions (like many of those of the classical civilisations) had the fallible gods co-evolve with matter from a more primeval chaotic state and then muck around with it or fight over it for a while before humans appeared or got created.
The superiority of ‘mind’ over matter really seems to have taken metaphysical hold with the advent of Platonism and Neo-Platonism. The late classical thinkers became so obsessed with the very idea of ideas that they came to regard them as more fundamental than the phenomena they related to. From this point on, the interface of late classical thinking and Hebraic monotheism led to the doctrines of Gnosticism, Hermeticism, and Kabala, in which ‘The Prime Consciousness’ or something of that ilk, gives rise to a series of descending thoughts and emanations which eventually result in this miserable flawed material world. Such doctrines have formed a strong thread in religion and mysticism ever since.
Today the old Pagan view appears somewhat more realistic than the top-down Monotheist view. Matter plainly tends to evolve complexity and to manifest emergent properties, and these emergent properties act rather like gods, controlling the very substances from which they emerged, to create waves and turbulence in water, to make forests out of dirt, water, air, and sunlight, and to make animals and self-aware creatures out of bits chewed off plants and/or bits chewed off other animals.
Some theorists suspect that once an emergent behaviour has developed it may set some sort of a pattern for similar behaviour to emerge in similar systems. Here we enter controversial and occult but potentially testable territory populated with ideas about Morphic Fields and the possible weak quantum entanglement of all similar phenomena and/or the ontological rather than the epistemological reality of wave-functions as in the PBR theorem.
In an odd way such ideas about Morphic Fields and the non-local effects of information begin to resemble the old Neo-Platonic ideas about discarnate Ideals or ‘Forms’, but with a crucial difference: - In the modern information theory, matter and information co-evolve, information requires embodiment, it requires matter to process it, to emit it, to receive it, and to decode it.
This implies both limitations and extensions to our ideas about the esoteric possibilities of information. Completely discarnate sentient ‘Spirits’ of deities, or of the deceased, or of events which have ceased to exist seem unlikely within the new paradigm. On the other hand, information about such things can persist in living minds (and evolve there) and possibly have effects beyond them if information can have the sort of non-local effects suggested by quantum and morphic field theories.
Non-locality in space either effectively means ‘instantaneously’ regardless of distance and lightspeed, or it means the effective cancellation of distance by the exchange of information backwards in time.
Non-locality in time does seem to occur in some quantum experiments; the present can seemingly modify the past and seemingly modify the future without actually ‘touching’ it in the classical sense. Of course the annals of the magical and the occult lie littered with such claims, most of them dubious and/or explained in terms of an antique ‘spirit’ hypothesis.
Nevertheless temporal non-locality leads to the opening of a very large can of worms which could include retroactive enchantment and divination of the future on a probabilistic basis, and maybe ‘talking’ not with the dead but maybe with the previously alive. Plus the correction to the gravity part of the Core Theory for high gravity as suggested by Hypersphere Cosmology leads to the intriguing speculation that a positively curved vorticitating universe finite and unbounded in both space and time ‘always’ has consciousness in it.
If something like a Core Theory Equation does govern the basic mechanics of the universe then the magic lies in the Emergence of improbable events yet it will always give the appearance of having happened naturally, if somewhat improbably. That will do.
Yes, I have just read this https://www.amazon.com/Big-Picture-Origins-Meaning-Universe/dp/0525954821
It contains much to stimulate and to argue with.
Finally, let us hope that Comrade Jeremy Corbyn wins the UK Labour party leadership resoundingly. He would make a splendid leader of the opposition, a proper democratic government needs a lunatic opposition from which it can borrow the very occasional sensible idea.
And, post-finally, Grammar Schools, I had the good fortune to go to one from an upper working class home, later I taught in one and in quite a number of secondary modern schools during 5 years at the chalkface. If you want a comprehensive school to have mixed sexes and mixed ability and a wide range of academic and vocational subjects then it has to become pretty large. The largeness usually screws it up, the staff don't know each other personally, the staff don't know the pupils personally, instead of an educational community you get a dysfunctional educational factory. Inevitably the kids get heavily streamed anyway within the school. Because large schools don't work very well we should concentrate on making them smaller, to allow this they would need to become more selective. To allow for social mobility we should have much more mobility between schools that have specialisms but a smaller size. I never worked in a school with more than 4-form entry that didn't seem like a mediocre shambles blighted by disruptive behaviour.
In this season of Harvest Festival a number of items seem to have come to fruition.
Tarot. I recently received a copy of the Chaos Magic Tarot direct from the printers but with no indication of who authorised its dispatch to me (but thanks anyway).
If a camel consists of a horse designed by a committee then what do you call a tarot designed by 47 artists? Well it looks CHAOTIC. Some may find it creatively chaotic; others may find it a rather random entropic mess. I remain doubtful about it. The coordinators of the project have stuck to the traditional 4 suites and court cards and 22 trumps and the continuing influence of antique and discredited ideas of the classical elements, astrology, and kabala remains vaguely apparent. Well I suppose occultists can continue to use it for the same old attempts at tarot reading without seriously challenging any paradigms. Overall it looks rather like someone bought 78 different tarot packs and selected one card from each, a lot of bother for no real improvement in principle, plus it doesn’t seem to have the usual accompanying booklet to broaden the users’ appreciation of the images with written exegeses, and some of them seem to have arisen from minimal thought and effort.
I feel a little disappointed that a bunch of self-professed modern Chaoists has fallen back on the old formulaic structure rather than boldly creating something new and imaginative.
Just how much of a hand the Ineffectualists Of Transgression XI0 had in this remains unclear, nobody seems to have claimed responsibility.
Graphic images on moveable cards can certainly prove useful for a lot of esoteric purposes beyond sortilege for divination, they can additionally function particularly well as an aid to visualising forms for invocation and evocation, and for this reason Matt Kaybryn and I decided to break with the old tarot structure and do something completely different with EPOCH.
Brexit. The sky has not fallen in since we voted for Brexit, cocked a snook at the Synarchy of big-business and the political class, and demanded back the right to address the challenges of globalisation on our own terms. The export side of my little enterprise has achieved a magnificent harvest over the last weeks as a result of the currency correction.
Frequency. Hypersphere Cosmology on this site has clocked up nearly 1/3 of a million reads with some sign of argumentation or agreement but no sign of a refutation in sight. For this month’s Ouranian meditations on Arcanorium College I took a fresh look at Cosmological Redshift from the ‘other side’, and it provided an interesting clarification. Redshift of course refers to the increases of wavelength that we can readily observe with spectroscopes and the simplicity of that observation has led to the fundamental misconception underlying standard cosmological models; that the expansion of the underlying spacetime has led to the observed increases. If we had chosen to focus on the accompanying decrease of cosmological frequency shift instead we might have ended up with a very different explanation. Frequency decreases in proportion to cosmological distance, implying a deceleration and this appears quite clearly if we rearrange the Redshift equation to show the Frequency Shift instead, we get the more intuitively obvious: -
fo/fe = c – (dA)1/2/c
Where fo = Observed frequency, fe = Expected frequency, d = Astronomical distance, A = Acceleration due to the small positive curvature of the universe, as appears in the residual Anderson deceleration.
Sculpture. As I have already fashioned a ‘bronze’ of Lugh, this year’s summer sculpture consists of a figurine of The Morrigan. (I need the long hours of natural daylight to work on small fiddly constructions in dark materials).
The Morrigan represents the Celtic Ishtar, goddess of love and war, sex and death, so in the absence of authentic historical Celtic iconography I’ve borrowed a bit from Babylonian and Greek imagery and given her a Raven’s headdress and mask, an instrument of war, and a suggestive fruit in the form of a peach (debate rages over whether the ‘golden apple’ of Eris actually implied an orange or an apple, or another fruit). Inside her milliput form she has skeletal reinforcements of steel and copper wire for war and love, and some sheet aluminium (the Ouranian metal of magic, flight, and extreme amphoteric chemical reactivity) in her headdress. I might arrange a limited edition in bronze if anyone has an interest, they will come out at around a couple of grand each, admittedly rather more than the JV tea towel, but they will last for millennia.
On what we will remember as Independence Day I voted very early, cast my final spells, and later adjourned to my cabin in cyberpurdah in Wales for a long weekend, hence my lack of early response to the amazing result.
So much of what I heard on the radio sounded like hysteria, sour grapes, denial, or triumphalism, none of it helpful. Politicians and financial markets all stand guilty of over-reaction, but this will pass.
Enough of the British People came forward and simply put Democracy itself before their short term economic interests.
And this despite the frenzied predictions of Project Fear and hollow threats from the EU.
Britain taught the world Democracy, Britain had the first revolution, it put a king’s ‘divine right’ to the axe and invested sovereignty not in a sovereign but in a Parliamentary Democracy, and as a result it has never fallen under Dictatorship.
Thus it seems fitting that Britain should have struck the first serious blow against Synarchy, the continental European delusion that we should hand over government to a largely unelected self-selected clique of people who think they know best.
To the younger people of Britain the Remain campaign made a strong pitch to conflate European culture with European politics. This seemed basically dishonest, whilst European cultures contain much to delight us all, European politics has become disfigured with a Synarchist agenda that plainly doesn’t work and has The Totalitarianism of the Centre as its final federal objective.
Hopefully the EU will now start to disintegrate and become replaced by a limited number of sensible agreements between sovereign democratic nations, each pursuing their own unique contribution to European culture(s), rather than striving for some ghastly vision of Synarchist Monoculture.
To the Scots the SNP made the basically dishonest pitch of ‘The Auld Alliance’ once again, siding with continental European power against the English & Welsh merely to increase its regional bargaining power. This didn’t work in the Scottish referendum, most Scots realised that divorcing from the UK and getting fully into bed with the EU and adopting the euro didn’t actually look like a very attractive proposition at all.
Britain now needs to show Europe what a free democratic nation can do.
So Keep Calm and Carry On.
The only thing worse than Democracy is every other system ever tried – Winston Churchill.
EU Referendum, 1 week to Independence Day!
A vote to ‘remain’ means giving up most of the power of our hard-won democratic votes forever, for after that, voting would become basically pointless.
Britain sends just one appointed representative out of 28 to the almighty European Commission which already decides about half of our laws and will soon decide on most of the rest. Voting for the sham ‘European Parliament’ has no effect whatsoever, as it has no actual power.
So a vote to remain means permanently devaluing all our votes to just one twenty-eighth of their current value.
If we remain in we basically surrender our country to Brussels and Germany and we will not succeed if we press for reform, they have already made that abundantly clear.
The economic arguments cut both ways, nobody really knows, but plainly Britain can survive and prosper independently.
The EU has anyway proved a terrible economic screw up for most of its members, with low growth and high unemployment driving hundreds of thousands to our shores. Britain thankfully never joined the euro.
Vote for Independence on June 23rd.
Any half decent wizard can survive even under the most trying circumstances; however we do generally flourish better under conditions of religious, economic and political liberty. I could tell you plenty of horror stories from colleagues in Islamic theocracies and in the remnants of the Soviet Union, without of course naming those involved.
Magic attracts those with a penchant for self-reliance and free thought, many of us in the west have our own businesses for example, and most of us have our own personal and highly unorthodox moral and social values. Magicians value individuality and eccentricity above most other things. We do not accept the consensus view and the received wisdom; we want to experiment for ourselves, whatever the cost. We appreciate a modicum of freedom.
Over the last few decades a threat has started to grow against many of the freedoms that we have enjoyed in Europe since the fall of the last crop of totalitarianisms. I speak of the EUROPEAN UNION, and you may laugh, but I have looked deeply into this and uncovered the philosophy that underlies the EU. I have found out where it comes from, and I regret to inform you, Fratres et Sorrores, that, as with Theosophy & Fascism, the fault lies with ourselves, yes us occultists and wizards again. It all began with a French occultist Joseph Alexandre Saint-Yves d’Alveydre (1824-1909).
D’Alveydre devised Synarchy.
Many of us in the goldfish bowl of Anglo-Saxon wizardry will probably never have heard of Saint Yves d’Alvedre, but he remains a seminal figure in French esoterics. As grandmaster of the Martinist Order he mixed it with Blavatsky, Theodore Reuss, Eliphas Levi, Papus, and all the rest of them. I strongly suggest that you source the history and the connections and the ideas, because this man’s ideas about Synarchy have finally started to happen for real and we have a potential war situation. If we do not wake up to events soon, then things may get very nasty.
I will not go into the history here; the web offers plenty of starting references for that tangled tale. I will however briefly outline what Synarchy means so that you can see for yourselves the challenge that we face and the probable consequences of inaction.
Synarchy literally means Joint Rule. D’Alveydre used the term to imply several things in particular:
1) Synarchy implies Government by an Enlightened Elite. The Elite themselves of course decide on what Enlightened means, naturally it means those who agree with them.
2) Synarchy implies the opposite of Anarchy. Whereas in Anarchy the state should have minimal controls over individuals, in Synarchy the state has maximal control over every aspect of individual’s lives. Zero freedom in all spheres.
3) Synarchy comes neither from the Right or the Left; rather it consists of the Totalitarianism of the Centre.
Already in the post-communist states of Russia and China we see the adoption of the Non-Democratic Mixed Economy as the preferred model. The Euro-Synarchists appear to want to follow suit.
D’Alveydre proposed that a secret society of The Elite should take over the three main instruments of social control, the Political, the Economic, and the Religious institutions.
He and his followers envisaged taking over first France and then creating a Federal European Union, and then perhaps One World Government. They wanted to create a classless but Profoundly Hierarchical state, or mega-state, run by Elite Technocrats of neither the right nor of the left, but simply The People Who Know Best, and that this Elite should seek to control every single aspect of the lives of the populace.
D’Alveydre delved deeply into the crackpot mystical utopianism and freemasonry of the late nineteenth century and considered that his inspirations came from The Mystical Adepts of Agartha. So we have another Black Hat Illuminati sponsored project here I’m afraid, another dystopian conspiracy to put certain cliques who know what’s best for us into power.
Now French society has always suffered from domination by Elite Cliques. Ever since the revolution France has led the world in elitism and corruption. They replaced an elite and corrupt aristocracy with another clique, and just carried on with added enthusiasm, for now even peasants could in principle get a foothold on the elevator of the meritocracy of those colluding with the political class.
D’Alveydre’s ideas failed to really take off for some decades, because two world wars got in the way and France came under intense American pressure to become more democratic at the end of each one. Yet Synarchic ideas continued to spread throughout many of the elite French academies. The USSR and Russia of course provides an almost perfect example of a Synarchic state apart from the personality cultism associated with Lenin and Stalin, and now Putin. (Synarchs usually prefer the faceless anonymity of the technocrat) During WW2 French Synarchists collaborated with the German occupying forces in Occupied France and in Vichy France on the principle that they wanted to preserve their apparatus of state.
However with the advent of the European Union the Synarchist Conspiracy took its chance and grasped at it with all of its tentacles. It started to cleverly persuade most of the European Political Class that it had the perfect formula to perpetuate and aggrandise the Political Class itself, without reference to the tiresome niceties of democracy.
The Synarchist Eurocrats of the EU have largely circumvented democracy and now work on putting themselves beyond the reach of law. The real power in the EU lies not in its elected sham parliament but in the unelected Commission and in the vast bureaucracy and array of Quangos attached to it. The Commission provides the perfect home for members of the Political Class who would either rather not risk submitting themselves to democratic selection or for those who have failed in that selection. Once a person has become accepted into the Eurocracy they cannot easily become removed from it, no proper de-selection processes exist. We cannot vote them out, and they strive for increasing immunity from prosecution. Once inside, they become the arbiters of whom else they will admit or exclude. The Synarchists have almost completed step one of their agenda and taken over the political apparatus.
The Synarchist Eurocrats have created the most prolific Law-Mill in the history of the world. The sheer volume of laws and regulations staggers belief and seems to go beyond all sense and reason until you recognise that it constitutes step two of the Synarchist agenda in action, take control of the economy in minute detail. To do this, simply gradually make everything illegal, pass arbitrary regulations just for the sake of having them, pass regulations that nobody can comply with properly, and then apply them selectively.
Do this and you have effectively legalised what medieval monarchs dreamed of, you have legally given yourself the freedom of Arbitrary Rule.
The Synarchist Eurocrats seem to have upgraded d’Alveyde’s third step of taking over the Religious powers of their domains because they have ended up with a huge domain with too many religions in it. Thus they seem to have decided to create a new religion whose morality and dogma have legal precedence over all of the religions within that domain. They call this new religion Social Democracy and we should recognise it as a religion despite that it never advertises itself as such. Social Democracy permits slight shades of opinion but no real dissent. (Neither of the left nor of the right, remember?) You will never enter the Eurocracy if you do not basically agree with it. Like all religious ideals it remains forever unattainable because of its inherent paradoxes, socialism remains incompatible with real democratic freedom. Like all religions it has its own Thought-Speak, in this case mainly what we identify as Political Correctness. Like most religions it seeks to restrict the activities of competing religions. In this it has acted with considerable subtlety. Yes, you can have complete religious freedom, but we will increasingly take away your freedom to observe or to promote any of the customs of your religion. You can believe what you like, but you have to behave exactly as we tell you.
Some wizards and occultists may gloat over such aggressively irreligious secularism; however, as we have learnt from both fascist and communist totalitarianisms, your turn for persecution will come eventually as the Synarchy gets into its stride.
Europe became the cradle of so much of the world’s art, culture, science, and politics precisely because it has usually existed in a highly divided state. Various nations have tried many different social and political experiments and nations have struggled against nations, religiously, politically, economically, and militarily. The modern world arose almost entirely out of that crucible of struggle and experiment. Geography accounts for much of this. Europe contained enough mountains and rivers and forests to make hegemony difficult and to allow experiments to take place.
Technology (nearly all of it invented in Europe) has now broken down those barriers and a new form of hegemony now threatens to radically reduce the diversity of the entire continent.
Welcome to The USE, The United Synarchy of Europe.
Does Synarchisn exist as a hard conspiracy or merely as a pervasive soft consensus amongst the political class? The answer to this question will probably tell us whether to expect a Europe that merely becomes amorphously boring, dull, mildly oppressive, and fairly unproductive for a while until it breaks up acrimoniously or violently, or whether it will descend into full-scale Orwellian totalitarianism.
I leave it to the historians and the conspiracy theorists to find out the details and the philosophical lineages of the guilty. History suggests that it probably exists in both forms simultaneously at the time of writing. Most of those who act out of self-interest in the service of the Synarchy have probably never even heard of it as a formal concept. The status quo just seems to move in that direction and they move with it because it pays them to do so. However I cannot believe that Eurocratic Synarchy has evolved entirely by screw-up. Some element of conspiracy appears necessary to explain the contra-logical economics, the contra-liberal politics, and the covertly aggressive secularism of the EU.
We know that d’Alveydre formally enunciated the principles of Synarchy and we can now see them coming to fruition. We know that d’Alveydre had enormous influence in French Freemasonry and esoterics and in the French elite academies. Can we track the intellectual lineages of his followers and challenge them before they achieve complete hegemony and plunge Europe into totalitarianism?
If this all seems a little paranoid, then try reading the proposed ‘European Constitution’.
This astoundingly pompous, ambiguous and incredibly lengthy document ultimately reduces to a single terrifying sentence that perfectly reveals the agenda of Synarchy.
“The Government of the EU can take Any and All powers that It deems necessary.”
Of course nobody in their right mind (outside of the Political Class itself) would ever sign up to such an agreement presented in such stark terms. Any proper constitution should both Define and Limit what a government can do. The EU constitution basically gives the EU government carte blanche. Thus the actual document dissembles and waffles for hundreds of pages in a ponderous legalistic attempt to disguise what it actually means. It actually means quite simply that: -
“The Government of the EU can take Any and All powers that It deems necessary.”
Perhaps we should look further into the record of the author of this Synarchist Manifesto, Valery Giscard d’Estaing, ex-President of France. Even a cursory analysis throws up much that appears disquieting.
As Churchill so astutely observed; “The only thing worse than Democracy is every other system that we have ever tried.”
Above all we must not follow the examples set by Russia and China or feel compelled by difficult world economic conditions or fear of social unrest to allow our freedoms to disappear by stealth.
‘The EU Constitution’ got formally rejected in referendums in France and in Holland and it would have got rejected by the British, so the Eurocrats simply retitled it and persuaded the Political Class they they could simply sign it off as The Lisbon Treaty without any democratic consultation.
Thus we do effectively have a European Union Constitution in place, a vastly long document that simply reduces to a single horrifying sentence: -
“The Government of the EU can take Any and All powers that It deems necessary.”
The ‘Remain in the EU’ argument now runs along the line that the EU has evolved into a terrible mess, but Britain must remain in it and try to reform it because the alternative of leaving it seems even worse.
This cowardly and defeatist argument does not actually work. Things will most likely become much worse if Britain remains in.
In refusing to meaningfully renegotiate Britain’s terms of membership the EU has already flatly stated its refusal to reform, it remains hell bent on forming a Synarchist Superstate.
Britain can only change the EU by leaving it now. This will hasten its collapse, other nations will soon follow, and Europe will become liberated from the EU.
A Europe of free nations will then undoubtedly agree to some modest and sensible trading arrangements.
If Britain hadn’t joined the EU it certainly wouldn’t try to enter it now.
With the possible exception of the Germans, the great majority of the people of the EU would not have let the EU project go ahead if they had known of its real agenda, and they will now vote to get out if they get the chance.
Those who give up their political freedom for economic gain will end up losing both, as the Greeks, the Irish, the Spanish, and the Portuguese have already found out, and the French have just begun to realise.
If the grandiose and megalomaniac EU project continues it will become ever more undemocratic, centralised, bureaucratic, synarchic, inefficient, corrupt, and oppressive. It serves only the interests of a large section of Big Business and The Political Class.
The EU Synarchists intend to remove the Political Freedom, the Economic Freedom, and the Freedom of Thought from everyone else, and to create a ‘Totalitarianism of the Centre’.
Beltane approaches, and what passes for spring in these Isles sort of comes and goes, sunny one day, glacial the next. Something has munched the leaves of the mandrakes in the greenhouse so they have come back indoors. Toadmass passed rather quietly this year without the usual raucous late night shagathon, but a few thousand toadpoles now cruise the waters in the grounds of Chateaux Chaos.
We have just had ‘Mercury Month’ on Arcanorium College and I chose to invoke the Mercurial-Ouranian archetype as exemplified by Thoth, in the EPOCH.
What follows derives in part from that.
Okay then, fingers on buzzers, your starter for ten thousand fawning acolytes: - define precisely what enlightenments come from sex and drugs. (No references to those mega-frauds Rajneesh and Castaneda permitted, and please go easy on the Crowley.)
From an early stage I decided upon a Macgregor Mathers rather than an Aleister Crowley type role. The sex and drugs ‘revolutions’ had already become a bit passé to serious thinkers by the late nineteen eighties anyway. However they did play a significant role in the whole ‘magical-revival-counter-cultural-new-age-neopagan’ subcultural meme that developed from the late sixties onwards.
Like most cultural developments in the UK, this tended to proceed in a top-down fashion with those from more wealthy and educated backgrounds getting into it first as the postwar economy gradually began to take off and people felt they had the freedom to experiment with non-mainstream identities.
Now that all social classes of western society have access to drugs and sexual freedoms and esoteric ideas, mind-altering (as opposed to mood-changing) drugs have tended to go out of fashion from the top down, and perhaps because of a perceived lack of slack in tightening economies, the willingness, and leisure to experiment with esoteric and magical ideas and identities seems to have decreased from its former popularity.
We probably passed peak esoteric booksales some years ago, and the participants at esoteric festivals and meetings seem generally well past their formative years these days.
If young people can tear themselves away from online social media and entertainment and career anxiety at all these days, they tend to do so only to engage in single-issue causes such as animal rights, vegetarianism, rainforests, or some form of anti-fascism; depending on whatever gets defined as the fascism of the month. Plus a few will always want to actually adopt the current fascism.
So what forms of magic and esoterics can the future hold?
What can the magical-esoteric paradigm bring to the table?
I like to think that it brings ‘The Promethean Quest of Will and Imagination’.
Firstly to Imagination.
Various esoteric practices such as divination, sortilege, visualisation, contemplative meditation, and invocation act to increase the imagination. Mind altering drugs can also do this and their new widespread availability played a part in the last magical revival
Imagination runs on a spectrum from Apophenia, the ability to perceive useful hidden connections between phenomena that others haven’t yet spotted, to Pareidolia, the ability to perceive connections between phenomena that will always remain questionable, to Superstition, the ability to perceive non-existent connections between phenomena, for example between the malignant forces in conspiracy theories, or between astrological charts and personality. (If astrology had any predictive power, then humans would have adopted strong taboos against mating during January and February so as to prevent the birth of those invariably evil Scorpios.)
‘Occult’ thinking at its best seeks out the hidden connections between phenomena and as such it has started new religions, undermined existing religions, initiated new sciences, and undermined old sciences. At its worst it merely creates nonsense when it fails to fractionate the crud of Superstition from the Pareidolic raw material and then to distil from it the elixir of Apophenia and to test it against reality. Nothing has Ultimate Truth, and All Things Remain Possible. However we should not waste time on ideas that simultaneously exhibit unfalsifiability and dysfunctionality.
Mind altering drugs merely lower the resistance of the synaptic connections between brain cells, allowing nervous impulses to cascade wildly through the brain stimulating unusual connections, a few of which may prove interesting, but most of which prove useless or merely entertaining. Now that so-called entheogens have become commonplace the slimy ruse of distributing them and supervising their use to gain a bit of importance and some power and influence over the users has worn a bit thin, particularly as most people now regard them as merely Smurfogenic and more likely to lead to visions of those little blue people from the television series than to enlightenment.
And secondly to Will.
‘Magical Thinking’ primarily means a belief in the power of intent. Intent works best when the magician believes in its power but also does everything else possible to bring about the desired result rather than just relying upon the capricious and rather erratic parapsychological power of intent alone. The trick here lies in regarding the ‘everything else possible’ as a series of additional magical acts, necessary to the accomplishment of something difficult or improbable.
Mind altering drugs may have some ability to stimulate the Imagination but they seriously undermine the Will. It remains pretty well impossible to maintain focus on casting a spell or an enchantment or even to remain focussed on a simple intent whilst under their influence, and chronic use tends to erode the capacity for memory and willed intention long-term.
Thus the establishment had little to fear from the ideas of the hippy counterculture for the very drugs which stimulated those ideas also undermined the capacity to make them work. Turn on, tune in, drop out, - and screw up.
Sex can stimulate both the Will and the Imagination. We all arrive on earth equipped with a biological instinct to resist death on a moment to moment basis and on a longer term basis by procreation. This instinct easily gets displaced, subverted, or perverted, or even inverted, because we have such enormous suggestibility and imagination. People will do almost anything from going to war, to wearing horribly uncomfortable and expensive clothing, to extreme physical or mental exertions, to acquiring vast power, wealth, and fame, to starving themselves dangerously thin, to building ridiculously large muscles, and many lesser variants on such activities; all to basically demonstrate their reproductive fitness or something symbolic or subconsciously representative of it.
The Sex & Death instinct thus underlies so much of our motivation, including most of the Fear & Desire, Love & Hate, and Identity & Magic dualities. Sigmund Freud understood this but then went on to build a huge speculative and unscientific edifice upon his basic insight.
‘Sex Magic’ consists of much more, and much less, than meets the eye: -
On the simplest level orgasm creates ‘Gnosis’. Concentrating on some spell or sigil or divinatory question or source of inspiration at the moment of orgasm can serve to inflame the mind with it and create some extraordinary results.
On a slightly more complicated level, sexuality can empower almost any activity and working in a sexually charged atmosphere tends to enhance performance and motivation. Actual sexual activity of course works, but so does mere sexual tension (so called polarity work), or even unrequited attraction.
End of story. Anyone claiming anything more just wants to sell you something.
The sex and drugs revolutions have become assimilated into the general cultural background and the residual search for ever more peculiar forms of sexual expression and ever more exotic and obscure hallucinogens seems unlikely to throw up any further illuminating surprises. So what forms of magic may the esotericists of the 21st century get into?
The new perception of scarcity, particularly with reference to accommodation and economic opportunities for the young, should incentivise Results Magic. That means magic to bring about tangible effects like academic success, career advancement, business start-ups, property acquisition, and high ability mate acquisition. The wizards of the next few decades will probably have to achieve measurable success in the world to get taken seriously. Mere mysticism won’t cut it any more.
The quality of life in the developed world has not increased over the last several decades because the increasingly frantic pace of life in which everything speeds up year on year has negated the benefits of the material and technical improvements which have caused that acceleration. The magicians of the 21st century perhaps need to explore the slow aesthetic, to consume culture in a more discriminating fashion, to make things carefully by hand, to write more slowly and carefully, to spend time just staring at the sky once again. I do not use a mobile phone; it might spoil my long walks.
The new perception of the perilous state of the planetary climate and ecology should provide plenty of scope for magicians to try their skills for higher causes. We need to divine for the identities and motives of the climatological and ecocidal planet wreckers, and enchant for their behaviour change or demise.
The new perception of science beginning to dabble with the actual fundamentals of existence in biology, neuroscience, cosmology, and the quantum domain, behoves the contemporary wizard to remain abreast or ahead of such developments, as wizards always did in the past. As we pointed out in the EPOCH, somewhere in the vast curved spacetime of the universe the knowledge we seek almost certainly already exists, and by Stellar Magic we can perhaps avoid blind alleys, phlogiston theories, and disastrous misapplications with existential consequences.
The majority of magicians and esotericists now seem to spend more time interacting with each other online rather than face to face in Moots, Covens, and Orders. This has tended to widen debate but also to often reduce it to a mere cacophony of abusively conflicting opinions as the costs of such behaviour become as negligible as the benefits.
Both online and in real world meetings, Better Discipline and More Research & Development seem desirable.
I don't do social media and my Specularium site does not use a reply facility although I do receive emails sent to it.
However people have drawn my attention to the activities of Nathaniel Harris as he has started up again on the social media.
Nathaniel Harris joined a section of the UK IOT well after I retired about 20 years ago. When he first moved to the same city as me about 6 years ago we had a brief pub lunch at which he convinced me that he had become paranoid and deluded. Since then I have exchanged a few emails with him in the hope of trying to talk some sense into him, and to get him to moderate his writing and online ranting, but to little avail.
It seems to me that some members of the UK IOT played a lot of silly cult and personal games involving the fragile Nathaniel and that he subsequently developed a huge paranoid conspiracy theory involving bizarre criminal accusations. The authorities can find no substance in any of this, but Social Services have denied him custody of his own child and also that of the custody of his current girlfriend's child. The Police have been to see him about his bizarre behaviour and he has been taken in for psychiatric observation.
He certainly seems to have made an unfortunate mess of his life and to have developed a bizarre conspiracy theory to excuse and 'explain' that to himself. In particular I suspect that his now much regretted gay affair with Peter Mastin has led him to rationalize that Mastin must have acted as some great satanic mastermind.
If you want to see the full nonsense then read Nathaniel Harris' website in full, it all adds up to a depressing cacophony of paranoia in which he ends up accusing just about anyone he ever knew or even just read about.
I feel rather glad that I retired when I did whilst it still remained fun, ideas driven, and full of high achieving people. I would not have admitted Nathaniel or several others who now form the circular firing squad around the wreckage of the UK IOT section.
The following consists of a write up of the notes I made for an hours lecture entitled ‘A Magical Quest’ for the Bristol Quest Conference. 12/3/16.
I usually speak by expanding upon a list of main points I have made, so herewith the notes rendered into proper sentences with a few digressions and expansions.
It consists of part Autobiography & History, part Philosophy and Practice.
Getting born 1953 made me aged 18 in 1971, just as the whole countercultural thing began to kick off bigtime in the UK.
I got taught religion (Anglican Christianity) in school as truth, and I also got taught science which basically implied that the bible consisted of nonsense. I gave my daft old RI teacher as hard a time of it as I could, getting caned by the headmaster only once on that score.
Science represented power and knowledge to me; I very much admired Dr Who, the wizard scientist, since watching the very first memorable episode aged 11. (JFK got assassinated on that day and I don’t remember any of that at all.) Chemistry rather than physics attracted me in secondary school largely because they taught atomic theory there first; and partly because of an adolescent love of explosives, rockets, and pyrotechnics. (I still have all my fingers and eyes, some of my contemporaries lost a few.)
Going up to London University, I found life easy, we had full employment, dole, student grants, cheap housing, and Cheap Paperback Books! We also had women at Goldsmiths teacher training college, art-rock music, acid and dope, the last of which I didn’t enjoy much, so I do remember the seventies. Oh happy days, London had the air of a slightly down at heel place full of amazing second-hand bookshops and eccentric people.
A massive alternative movement developed, it seemed easy to drop out, and easy and attractive to reject the values of our parental generation.
At university I rapidly became bored with chemistry, we just seemed to go over the same old stuff we had learnt at school but in excruciatingly tedious detail, so I started to read magic instead.
I never had any career advice apart from playing at home the Careers boardgame which introduced the then revolutionary idea of having multiple careers in a lifetime. At grammar school they assumed you would either become a clerk or go to university and think of something whilst there. I gradually decided I wanted to become a wizard, when and if I ever grew up, that would provide me with an excuse to research and experience zillions of things.
Reading books like Paul Huson’s ‘Mastering Witchcraft’ proved a revelation and an inspiration, you could actually ‘DIY’ this stuff yourself, make your own wand and try out some spells!
Eliphas Levi’s books ‘The Dogma and Ritual of High Magic’ and ‘The History of Magic’ proved further eye openers. Levi’s vision of magic had a fairly scientific perspective and he asserted the primacy of the will and imagination of the magician, following the ideas of Schopenhauer rather than basing them on the old traditional Neoplatonic model.
Then I went on to read and experiment with Crowley, the whole Golden Dawn corpus, and much else.
After university I did a couple of years schoolteaching science in London, as you did then if you had only a pass degree and a love of short working hours and long paid holidays.
The London Illuminati circa 1974 – ’78 proved interesting company. They mostly consisted of public school drop outs with interests in esoterics and writing and included such luminaries as the brilliant and delightful Lionel Snell, the dour but clever Stephen Skinner, the gentleman and scholar/drunk and yob Gerald Suster, and the gifted but maniacal Charly Brewster. With some of them as members Stoke Newington Sorcerers briefly flourished.
Austin Osman Spare became a major influence, he had developed a stripped down system of magic based on accessing the subconscious mind to uncover the will and imagination and parapsychological abilities. Importantly for me he hadn’t presented himself as an almighty magus for emulation like Aleister Crowley, I already had severe doubts about thelemic theory and the religion of crowleyanity.
Before leaving London I wrote Liber Null – Book Zero, it consisted of a mix of Experience, Lore, Theory, and Aspiration.
What can you do with Magic, how can you do Magic, what does the word ‘Spirit’ actually mean, what does ‘Spirituality’ mean? Liber Null represents my first stab at these questions.
I then set off overland to India and Australia with my girlfriend for a couple of years. Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan offered hard travelling, heat and dust and filthy food and lodgings and some dangerous natives. Arriving exhausted and underweight in India we felt immensely relieved to find beer and bananas on sale and a generally welcoming atmosphere.
I spent a lot of time reading English translations of Tibetan esoteric writings in the library at Dharamsala in the Himalayan foothills. These have many interesting parallels with old western magical practise and philosophy, plus some strangely modern touches – like imaginary god-forms.
Indian spiritual traditions did not impress. The Gurus and Holy men all seemed like scoundrels; yoga seemed like a performance art for beggars. Religion as practiced looked like a family party with extravagantly baroque décor, iconography, and mythology. Indian society seemed to have very limited concepts of compassion or equality, except for cows of course.
Thence to Goa, but we rapidly tired of the stoned hippy beach scene. Instead we got together with some other travellers and built a boat and sailed it down coast as far as Cochin where a typhoon wrecked it; and almost us as well, scotching the madcap scheme to take it round the cape to Sri Lanka.
Thence to Australia direct as you couldn’t enter Burma then. I blagged my way into a job building dodgy fibreglass catamarans for a firm that specialised in cutting corners and we founded the Church of Chaos with a bunch of white natives. This did not outlive our stay but it provided a vehicle for plenty of experimental ritual and a bit of public performance art.
Thence we went back via Indonesia Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand, to India, where I rewrote Liber Null, and eventually to Yorkshire, for no better reason than I knew Ray Sherwin there.
A very active magical scene based around The Sorcerer’s Apprentice bookstore and Ray Sherwin’s house in East Morton occupied me for two years and we both did stints as supply teachers.
I re-published Liber Null – the red edition, and wrote Psychonaut, and our working group started adopting the term Chaos Magic.
James Gleick published ‘Chaos, The Making of a New Science’, and we formally adopted the eight rayed star of Chaos, a symbol borrowed from the fantasy author Michael Moorcock.
Chaos Magic defined itself partly by its opposition to Thelema, many of the early Chaoists had come from Thelema, we used magical techniques and ideas pinched from all over, but with a distaste for Crowley worship and the theory of True Will. (Original Sin?) The IOT formally formed itself as a magical order in this period.
Thence back to India for another year, mainly to see Nepal, and thence to Bristol, for no better reasons than an acquired distaste for Yorkshire and the fact that my girlfriend had friends with a couch to spare there.
After another stint of supply teaching we started a natural products business in a tiny lockup shop, and then a family.
By then in the mid 80’s, Chaos magic had become the flavour of the Aeon in the world of off-white magic. Weiser in the USA publishes Liber Null & Psychonaut.
I form a Bristol IOT temple and Chaos International magazine gets published by fellow enthusiasts
Ralph Tegtmeier, an esoteric seminar organiser, invites me to lecture in the German speaking world with him as translator and organiser.
Things go well and we decide to try and form a wider order, The IOT Pact.
Personally I do all this to meet interesting people and as a spur to developing my ideas. I have tended to find just one serious collaborator to work with at a time for a period of a year to five or more years.
Things really take off over the next 5-6 years; temples spring up in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, USA, and London. We have big annual meetings in Austrian Castles.
I write Liber Kaos. I regard this as the more thoughtful and demanding of my first two books, but the cover and appearance the publishers chose for it never seemed appropriate to its contents.
I present myself as a knowledgeable practitioner and theorist of magic, not as a cult figure, and the order seems to grow and thrive on the basis of autonomous temples and a semi-democratic annual general meeting in some splendid German or Austrian castle.
These proved a splendidly productive but exhausting few years, the ideas of planetary magic, Aeonics, Ouranian Barbaric, the Equations of Magic, and liber KKK all come from this period.
Then the Ice Magic catastrophe occured. Ralph Tegtmeier under the influence of martial arts guru Helmut Barrat, tries to set up an authoritarian cult like structure and subvert the orders membership.
Eventually after a somewhat Pyrrhic victory in which Ralph and his supporters get forced out, I decide retire for an indefinite period. I have a growing family and business to attend to as well as some challenging theoretical problems in the quantum and cosmological domains to deal with. I leave the IOT Pact to develop as it wills.
I write Psybermagick as a bit of a knockabout of criticism of what I rejected and a list of things I thought worth looking into.
Then after some 15 years Maybelogic tempts me back into the public domain. Robert Anton Wilson’s friends and relatives launch an online seminar service to raise some funds for the old guy’s terminal care. It turns out as a surprisingly interesting and productive idea, and after it has fulfilled its purpose I create Arcanorium College online. The stimulus this provides inspires me to write The Apophenion and The Octavo, and feel like I get getting a second wind after my long sabbatical spent in thought.
After a titanic struggle the principles and the maths of Hypersphere Cosmology come together into a coherent whole, and it suddenly achieves widespread attention clocking up over 300K reads and a lot of correspondence. The quantum domain however remains unfinished business…….
I go back and have a look at the UK IOT Pact, but find myself not pleased with what it devolved into. The IOT began with wild iconoclasm and creativity but these didn’t seem sustainable and it seems to have failed to settle down and develop a longer program of sustainable productive works. They say that any esoteric movement tends to end up with either commercialism or a police raid. In other words, once the initial creativity has gone it either tends to settle down into something formulaic and marketable or it continues to get wilder or sillier till something regrettable happens.
I recently joined the Bristol Druid Grove. The Neoplatonist style material in the official OBOD teachings do not greatly interest me, but the civilised people involved and the monthly rituals and activities do.
OBOD probably has settled down these days and seems to concentrate on preserving what it provides, a fairly broad umbrella for people interested in a wide variety of esoteric ideas.
I recently wrote The EPOCH, my summary of what I find interesting in Neo-paganism and Magic, and where it may evolve to in the future. It consists of 3 grimoires, Elementary, Planetary, and Stellar – or Futurological. It comes with a set of elemental, planetary, and stellar icons on large cards. We did not intend these primarily for use in tarot style divination, although they will serve for this. Rather we intended them primarily as altar icons for use in works of invocation, evocation, and illumination. Matt Kaybryn and I worked on it daily for a full four years.
As I near business retirement age I think I may have some provisional answers to my questions of what do ‘Spirit’ and ‘Spirituality’ and ‘Magic’ mean for me.
I have adopted a species of Radical Materialism: -
The Radical position asserts that no mind-body or spirit-matter duality exists, the universe consists of entirely ‘material’ stuff but this stuff does a range of amazing things, it has a wave-particle duality, quantum weirdness, non-local and a-temporal effects, parapsychological effects and all, and probably more. ‘Mind’ consists of what brains do. Spirits thus exist inside minds, but this doesn’t mean that they cannot have psychological, parapsychological and other effects beyond the brains which support them. The universe almost certainly contains lots of minds besides ours.
I think this can explain most religious and magical phenomena.
Spirituality just means the way you live your life, courageously, inquisitively, and with compassion…..or not, some people acquire very unpleasant ‘spiritualities’ but everyone has one.
Magic, well that all comes down to experimenting with extraordinary beliefs and ideas and trying to do extraordinary and almost impossible things.
Lastly, a little ditty to mark the beginning of the EU Referendum Campaign
Who do you think you are kidding Mrs Merkel
If you think we’re on the run
We are the folk who will make you think again
We are the folk who will stop your little game
Mrs Merkel ain’t you heard
We will not surrender
On June the Twenty Third!
So who do you think you are kidding Mrs Merkel
If you think Old England’s done
P.S. Obama wants the UK to remain in the EU mainly because that will allow the Americans to stitch-up the whole of Europe in one go with their TTIP trade deal which remains highly secretive and controversial and almost certainly in their interests rather than ours. Try googling TTIP to see the problem.
Self and Reality.
For the purposes of this philosophical discourse, phenomena become defined by what they apparently do in relation to other phenomena. We cannot ever really know what anything ‘is’, we can only form ideas about what apparent phenomena do, what they resemble, and what they differ from, and with mathematics we can sometimes determine by how much.
Two data seem unarguable, we have a sense of Self, and we have a sense of phenomena outside of self that we can call the surrounding Reality. However the sense of a surrounding reality of course occurs inside our heads as well. Most of the more complex animals on this planet seem to share this and it seems a far more fundamental characteristic of life than the Descartesian ‘Cognito ergo sum’, ‘I think therefore I am’.
(Heck, did Descartes have one ‘I’ observing another ‘I’? My dog doesn’t do much abstract thinking so far as I can tell, but she surely has a sense of Self and her outside Reality. She thus at least shows considerable evidence of memory, expectation, and intent.)
We have no clear and exact idea of what Self and Reality consist of, or what they do, or how they work. We have only models drawn mostly from science and religion to describe these apparent phenomena. These models describe Self and Reality by analogy, by relating them to other sensory experiences and/or to mental abstractions derived from sensory experiences, and perhaps in the most challenging cases from abstractions derived from abstractions (see art and physics and political theory for starters.)
So beginning with the apparently fundamental experiences of Self and Reality we develop three different ways of describing ‘life the universe and everything’. Some people seem to use one description or ‘paradigm’ far more than the other two, some use elements of two. Rarely does anyone use all three simultaneously because they do not usually sit comfortably together, particularly in their hard-line forms where they tend to actively oppose each other.
1) The materialist/scientific paradigm deals with the relationships between reality and itself (i.e. between parts of reality).
2) The transcendental/religious paradigm deals fundamentally with the relationships between the self and itself (i.e. between parts of self).
3) The magical/esoteric paradigm deals with the relationships between self and reality.
At least two of the above propositions may sound completely crazy, blasphemous, or wrong to many people, so qualifications of terms will follow, together with longer exegeses of the overall argument.
Humanity has always enjoyed the three perspectives of Materialism, Transcendentalism, and Magic, or if you like, a belief in the powers of Common Sense, Faith, and ‘Intent plus Imagination’.
Materialism. Arguably we cannot experience reality directly; we can only experience what our senses tell us, or what our compatriots and our instruments tell our senses, and build up a picture of reality from these inputs. Importantly, we tend to use this picture of reality to interpret and to integrate (or ignore) further inputs.
Nevertheless it seems reasonable to assume that phenomena do occur outside of ourselves. The materialist/scientific paradigm concerns itself with the apparent behaviour of the physical stuff of the universe, the relations between the various parts of it. This approach or paradigm did not suddenly spring into existence with the advent of modern science. Even the fashioning of the simplest wood and stone tools requires some pretty acute appreciation of how stuff works.
Materialism depends on the appreciation of causality at work in the external reality, if only probabilistic causality; we rapidly learn to expect one particular phenomenon to usually follow another particular one.
Materialism never strays all that far from Transcendentalism or Magic either. Materialists regard the laws of the universe as effectively transcendental and they regard intent and imagination as essential in their exploitation of them.
However hard-line materialism cannot accept that anything other than complex physical processes can give rise to the apparent phenomena of the universe, living organisms, self and consciousness, and free will, or to the apparent effects of intent and imagination.
Materialism addresses Self only from the outside and then often merely as an epiphenomenon or a convenient illusion which it can manipulate either with purely instrumental morality mechanisms such as do this or don’t do that - because of the probable physical consequences, or by manipulating the physical environment of the Self. Thus in materialist cultures the Self can become fragile, without much in the way of inner resources.
Transcendentalism. All forms of religion and mysticism deal fundamentally with the relation of the self to itself. This may seem a belittling assertion about such a vast human endeavour but such a description actually elevates the transcendental quest beyond the confines of any particular faith or philosophy to the level where it addresses the great questions of how do we see ourselves, what images and beliefs and aspirations do we have of ourselves to ourselves?
The Self remains a tricky concept, like the universe it probably has no centre, does it consist of perception or of will? If we can become aware of Self, what becomes aware of what?
What boundaries does the concept of Self have?
How much of our view of Self derives from our experience of other people's apparent Selfs?
Probably quite a lot, we seem to develop ‘theory of mind’ firstly in relation to other people’s actions, we attribute mind and agency to them first, and only secondarily do we seem to attribute mind and Self to ourselves.
East and West supposedly have different views of Self, one apparently more socially defined, the other apparently more individualistic; leading to shame in one case and guilt in the other when conflicts arise between parts of Self.
In the west the monotheistic view has led to the view of a higher good self and a bad lower self, in the east the higher self supposedly corresponds to no-self, but in both cases non-selfishness becomes recommended as an ideal social attribute of Self.
All statements about gods and goddesses, Gods and Buddhas reflect humanity back to itself in aspirational form, so that we can believe in ourselves. They act as statements of Identity. They act as metaphors for Self. Naturally we imagine these Selfs as people, for we largely build ourselfs and our self-images from experiences we get from people, family, friends, peers, celebrities, culture and mythological heroes, saints and deities, and we engage in ceaseless internal debate about our ‘self-to-self’ images. Prayer and ritual and most entertainments function entirely to amplify some aspect of Self-self-image.
People worship and pray and perform rituals mainly to maintain faith in themselves and what they do, to reinforce their identities to themselves. If they pray for something outside of themselves that technically counts as Magic. (Well it counts as ‘low grade magic’ to those using the Magical paradigm, and as ‘attempted magic’ to those using the Materialist paradigm).
Those centred in the Transcendentalist paradigm naturally regard Self as more fundamental than Reality, thus for them some form of Self must have created reality and must presumably survive the demise of Reality. Materialists and Magicians tend to regard such ideas as misguided and open to abuse, as they can lead to somewhat problematical attitudes to material reality, on one hand contempt for material conditions, and on the other the idea that material success somehow validates particular transcendental ideas.
Magic. The territory of magic often seems ill-defined as nearly all transcendental enterprises and religions embody magical or miraculous themes, and many practitioners of magic have used religious ideas to structure their activities. To magicians, all esoteric phenomena from gods to demons to spirits, spells, and divinations consist of relationships between Self and Reality. Magicians use these phenomena to embody will or perception on a material or parapsychological level to change the relationship of Self to Reality and to change Reality, all else counts a mere mysticism if it leads to no tangible result.
Thus somewhat paradoxically, religious practitioners believe in external deities and spiritual agencies in order to perform internal Self- to-Self-identity manoeuvres, whilst magical practitioners believe in internal deities and spiritual agencies in order to perform external Self-to-Reality interactions.
Materialism and science have never entirely separated from magic. A strong tendency has always existed to see some form of intentionality, if only blind intentionality, in the workings of nature. We have no clear idea of whether the mysterious wave-particle quanta of nature individually embody the laws of the universe, or whether these laws arise out of relationships between quanta, or whether they somehow impose or evolve themselves globally.
As Materialism has evolved away from the idea of ‘sentient-intent’ in apparently inanimate matter and energy towards a less panpsychic model of blind-‘intent’ based on immutable physical laws and emergent phenomena, it has tended to regard Self and Free Will as no more than convenient and probably necessary psychological illusions.
Nevertheless, despite doubts about the Nature of Self in the materialist world view, the Primacy of the Self becomes a cornerstone of its philosophy and psychology. Human will and imagination become revealed as the authors of our destiny, within limits which we can explore and challenge. Properly this aspect of Materialism counts as a Magical doctrine. Whilst Materialism may decry magical thinking when practised overtly as such, materialist psychology openly acknowledges the power of positive thinking, role models, imagination, visualisation, placebo effects, and self-belief; even if it usually denies that these can also have parapsychological effects or ‘spiritual’ effects..
Thus although the Materialist, Transcendental, and Magical paradigms offer three radically different ways of looking at and experiencing Self and Reality, none ever appears entirely absent from the human endeavour. The three paradigms have fought with each other throughout recorded history and probably since the first sentient organism drew a distinction between the experiences of Self and Reality. Indeed, drawing such a distinction probably equates to achieving sentience in the first place.
Of the three paradigms the Magical one often proves the most challenging in the contemporary world, but its practitioners would argue - also the most rewarding.
All three paradigms evolve and update themselves over time and in response to changing circumstances. Religious ideas, despite their frequent reference to the sanctity of antiquity, tend to change fairly quickly, and most religions regularly change flavour and emphasis within a few generations or a few centuries. Materialist and scientific ideas tend to change even faster with most scientific ideas having a half-life of only half a century.
Now as Magic deals with the relationships between Self and Reality it has tended to draw its vocabulary and symbolism from the ideas we have about them.
Thus Magic can often look like an aberration of religion and magicians who have failed to achieve much in Reality have often diverted into Transcendentalism to avoid complete failure. However the idea that Magic consists of a subset of Transcendental and religious ideas simply doesn’t work because magic can have effects not only within any Transcendental framework but also within non-transcendental and Materialist paradigms.
Magic can also look like an aberration of Materialism and Science. In the early days of Natural Philosophy the two subjects had a much closer relationship but today we tend to draw a sharper distinction between phenomena that apparently arise from the laws (or ‘intentions’ and emergent effects) of supposedly inanimate matter and the phenomena that apparently arise from the will and imagination of humans.
Stage magicians of course rely upon confusing these issues to entertain us. In the past magicians would sometimes resort to such trickeries to make their clients more open to the possibilities of actual magic. Magicians always used to put a dead rabbit into a hat before pulling out a live one, often to prepare clients for a session of healing by magical intent or suggestion.
However the habit of magicians of describing magical phenomena in terms of physical analogies has led to a ridiculous amount of confusion about how Magic actually works and to widespread derision and disbelief in it.
All the gods, goddesses, spirits, demons, elementals, unicorns, dragons, spells, and instruments that magicians may use have no real meaningful existence outside of the magicians head, (even though they may make physical representations of them to aid in their internal willed perception of them). Materialists would of course say exactly the same thing about the entities that religions focus upon, however a profound difference of application prevails.
Religious practitioners believe these phenomena to have independent existence and they appeal to them primarily to modify their self-images. Experienced Magicians on the other hand do not generally accept the independent and autonomous existence of these phenomena, but regard them as tools created for interaction with physical reality.
However when people of a basically religious or materialist persuasion try to depict magic in fantasy novels or films they usually end up falling back on depicting magic as arising from ‘visible imaginary phenomena’ like dragons, spirits, unicorns, demons, and lightning bolts having direct physical effects, but of course it doesn’t work like that. This seems rather like having Newton’s abstract equations of gravity or motion to appear onscreen and somehow ‘causing’ objects to move, or as tongue in cheek as having the monotheist’s God appear in person in a business suit and hand out halos.
So Magic suffers from a bit of an image problem in the popular imagination and it constantly struggles to update that image by borrowing analogies and descriptions and symbols from the realms of what we conceive of as the territories of Self and Reality, for it has only a simple (and much disputed) vocabulary of its own, and an even simpler message: -
Will and Imagination can accomplish extraordinary and sometimes impossible things.
That to me constitutes the real romance of sorcery.
And another thing....Yesterday the Dutch found the courage to give the EU monster a slap in the face in their mini-referendum.
Let us hope that on June 23rd that we can see it off for good.
If Britain did not belong to the EU it most certainly would not try to join it now. Even the ‘Remain In’ advocates concede that it has deep flaws, a dysfunctional common currency, a failing migration system, a lack of democratic accountability, fraud on a vast scale, and an overweening bureaucracy and regulatory culture that stifles productivity, competitiveness and freedom.
Only two things can keep Britain in the EU - GREED and FEAR.
GREED plays to Big Business; the EU provides the perfect vehicle through which Big Businesses can advise on a regulatory culture to exclude their small business competitors. Madness lies this way, small businessess provide most of our employment, and all businessess start small.
GREED plays to the Political Class; the EU provides incredibly well paid jobs for defeated or retired politicians, or for those politicos who don’t even want to risk trying to get elected.
GREED also plays to all those who get EU subsidies like Universities and bodies representing ‘deprived’ areas. However as Britain remains a large net contributor to EU funds anyway, it seems myopic of these bodies to demand that Britain remain in the EU. They should instead demand that a Britain free from the EU gives them the subsidies they need directly rather than pay in to the EU coffers first and get only half of it back. Outsourcing the subsidy mechanisms makes no sense whatever.
FEAR plays to those who prefer the deeply flawed to the slightly unknown. Nobody really knows what effect leaving the EU will have on British employment, trade, security, and finance, some think that all of these may deteriorate but only by a little for a short while, some think that they may all improve a bit almost immediately. However nobody can make a case that Britain cannot stand on its own two feet and that catastrophe would follow Brexit. Project FEAR lays founded upon exaggerations from the GREED lobby.
The argument that Britain should remain in a flawed EU to try and reform it seems utterly fatuous. The attempt to negotiate a few paltry changes before the referendum has yielded nothing of substance and the Eurocrat Synarchists remain as committed as ever to their power grab of political union.
If Britain goes for Brexit others will follow and the whole creaking EU structure will likely collapse and we will have done everyone a favour. After that we can perhaps gradually rebuild something better in Europe, a Europe of independent nations cooperating on just those matters where it makes economic, military, social, and cultural sense to do so.
If Britain capitulates to greed and fear now and votes to remain in the EU, then the EU will take that as unconditional surrender and jackboot its way all over British Common Law and the elected British Parliament as it subsumes and assimilates us into the Euro-Synarchy.
Expect absolute rule from Brussels from people of the calibre of Tony Blair. People who think their own deluded visions and self-aggrandisement actually means what’s best for us, and who will lie and dissemble and eventually screw up bigtime, in their quest to achieve it.
Science & Politics
On the subject of Euro Fraud and Euro Screw Up, have a look at the latest from CERN
The Large Hadron Collider project begins to look evermore like a metaphor for the EU itself. Built upon rather questionable assumptions at vast cost for reasons more political than scientific, the LHC has not really done what it says on the tin; or on the Nobel Prize citations either.
However after such vast expenditure they have had to trumpet almost complete failure as almost complete triumph.
A vast pyramid of committees designed and built this machine and its experiments on the basis of theories which had unresolved contradictions with other theories. It has so far failed to produce any sort of clear strong signal amongst the blizzard of statistical data and dashed hopes that it has generated. A tiny bump on a graph at 126GeV might correspond to a boson like particle, however that doesn’t mean that they have found a Higgs boson to confirm the Higgs Mechanism which supposedly gives matter about 1% of its mass (in contradiction to General Relativity theory).
Well now they have just found another tiny blip on a graph at about 750GeV. If they had found this first no doubt they would have celebrated it as THE discovery of the Higgs boson. This sort of thing risks bringing science into disrepute. For the sake of having a grandiose Euro mega-project they didn’t invest in many smaller more modest and better thought out experiments and collaborations, but went for broke and created a mess instead.
At such high beam intensities, energy and mass tend to freely interconvert and for fleeting fractions of a second, highly unstable configurations arise and then almost instantly fly apart again into fresh showers of configurations which eventually decay back into ordinary stable particles. It seems that with enough energy you can convert almost any configuration into any other and the whole notion of ‘fundamental particle’ becomes questionable, particularly when the protocols of data collection and selection and statistical manipulation allow for the abstraction of any desired result from the resulting mess. Thus we see the triumph of theory and political policy over empirical science.
Something similar seems to have happened at that other cutting edge of science up at the cosmology end of the scale. The standard model of cosmology with its big bang beginning and subsequent expansion has achieved a massive inertia because of all the government money that has gone into it. Academics have closed ranks around this theory because their grants depend on excluding all dissenting views and all dissenting interpretations of the data generated by their increasingly expensive experiments. Instead they develop ever more tortuous arguments for preserving a theory that looks increasingly flawed.
Magic & Philosophy
I always enjoy looking at the entries on Magic and related topics in the Catholic Encyclopaedia. They sometimes prove thought provoking because they usually turn reality on its head for faith based motives, so if you consider the exact opposite of what it says you can sometimes learn something. Try this for example:
“It is not true that "religion is the despair of magic"; in reality, magic is but a disease of religion.”
The Occult entry then goes on at some length to variously opine that Magic cannot happen because of its physically impossibility, but that Magic does happen but only with the ultimate permission of god, either under his direct aegis or that of evil spirits (?!).
In reality humanity has always enjoyed the three perspectives of Materialism, Transcendentalism, and Magic, or if you like, a belief in the powers of Common Sense, Faith, and ‘Intent plus Imagination’.
In practise all three of these perspectives have to varying degrees always influenced our beliefs and actions and they probably always will.
All religions seem to begin with magical events and myths and then as they develop, the priesthoods tend to try and reserve magical activities to themselves. If the religion fails to live up to expectations the laity often begin to dabble with magical practices themselves also.
Materialism, the belief in the cause and effect relationships between phenomena, does not represent some radical new world view that arose with modern science. Even the fashioning of the simplest stone tools requires some pretty acute appreciation of how stuff works. Materialism never strays all that far from Transcendentalism or Magic either. Materialists regard the laws of the universe as effectively transcendental and they regard intent and imagination as essential in their exploitation of them.
I just read Mind Tricks, Ancient and Modern, by Steven Saunders, Wooden Books
I picked it up whilst lecturing on Chaos Magic to the Bristol Quest Conference.
This quirky little gem opens with Getting Out of Your Box, the idea that we all inhabit mostly a box of faith, or of science, or of philosophy, and the suggestion that we try looking at the other two from the inside as well as from the outside.
I feel most at home in the box of Natural Philosophy which contains the sub-boxes of Science and Magic, so from that perspective I shall ask of Faith:-
What Do Spirits Do?
I asked a wise man, how come fairies wear clothes?
He said, fairies are there to represent humanity back to itself, hence the clothing.
That seems about right; they personify our feelings about nature and our desires and fears about interacting with it.
Something similar seems to apply to all the gods and goddesses; they reflect humanity back to itself in aspirational form, so that we can believe in ourselves.
They help us to justify what we do, they can en-courage us to excel.
Believing himself the son of Zeus, Alexander conquered an empire.
Do spirits really exISt? Well I don’t know what anything ‘IS’, I can only know what phenomena do, and how that doing resembles or differs from other forms of doing.
To that extent I prefer to choose my inspirations from the gods and goddesses that we can imagine, rather than from the celebrities that the media manufacture for us.
So I suppose I have Faith of a sort, if only faith in my imagination, but I now have a goddess for that as well – Apophenia, and for some reason I seem to prefer to see my Muse naked.
On March 12th I shall speak at the Quest Conference in Bristol UK on ‘The History and Development of Chaos Magic’, so that gives me free rein to meander through the terrain of autobiography, history, philosophy and practice. I shall exhibit some instruments and bring along some books, including some Epochs, in case anyone wants to see one of these extraordinary tomes.
You can get tickets by post (Marion Green does not do things electronically) and probably at the door by prior arrangement. (email me about this if you need to).
I have just finished reading Gordon White’s new book ‘Star Ships – A Prehistory of the Spirits’. This struck me as the modern equivalent of that seminal and much celebrated book ‘The Golden Bough’ by Sir James George Frazer. It has a very heavyweight bibliography of anthropological books and papers, and Gordon has certainly done his academic homework.
However whilst Frazer traces the development of ideas from magic to religion to science, Gordon White explores the development of magical ideas from Paleolithic times through historical times to the present day whilst emphasising the continuing importance of pre-historical star lore, entheogen use, and of certain ancient archetypal spirits to the contemporary magician. He considers the end of the last ice age a seminal event in magical and cultural history and he suspects that flood myths in general may devolve from this event, and that the flooding of the vast shallows between Southeast Asia and Australia may have an ‘Atlantis’ type significance. He also discusses Gobekli Tepe, the mysterious temple complex recently unearthed in Turkey; that may date back twelve thousand years, in considerable detail. It would seem that this astonishing structure upsets the conventional ‘agriculture makes cities and then cities make cathedrals’ model because here a pre-agricultural society seems to have built a ‘cathedral’, perhaps a star-lore cathedral.
His thesis seems intriguing and provocative although a little tenuous, speculative and questionable in places, it will certainly stimulate debate and further research for years to come. I enjoyed reading it. Gordon puts in some light touches and flourishes even when dealing with the most academic of materials.
Julian Vayne writes upon the nature of ‘Spirits’ in BoB.
Hmm… well Religion asserts that spirits exist; Science asserts that they do not. Natural Philosophy and Magic need not take some half-assed compromise or evasive-agnostic position; we could instead go for Radical Materialism.
The Radical position asserts that no mind-body or spirit-matter duality exists, the universe consists of entirely ‘material’ stuff but this stuff does a range of amazing things, it has a wave-particle duality, quantum weirdness, non-local and a-temporal effects, parapsychological effects and all, and probably more. ‘Mind’ consists of what brains do. Spirits thus exist inside minds, but this doesn’t mean that they cannot have psychological, parapsychological and other effects beyond the brains which support them. The universe almost certainly contains lots of minds besides ours.
Entheogens don’t contain spirits; they merely contain material chemicals that help some brains to personify ideas by turning up the amplitude on those parts of our brains which have evolved something of a propensity to do that anyway. I can do it without them, and I prefer to do so, because ‘entheogens’ also add a lot of random confusion and damage.
Independence Day June 23rd.
Let us vote like Lions, not as frightened mice.
We can secure our freedom from the EU-Synarchy - if we have the courage.