Saturday, January 30, 2010

Is There A Way Out? Part One

Although certain topics I would like to put before you might not seem to directly involve Gnostic belief structures, I would like to see if people who read this blog agree that I am still essentially talking about the basic Gnostic philosophy or not. It seems to me that a great deal of Gnostic thought and discussion centers around the belief that this world we inhabit is a "false" world created by a "false" god. There may be some disagreement as to the degree of falseness of both the material world and the "god" who created it. There is definitely a huge degree of debate about the nature of the Demiurge or "false" god. To some, this being is essentially good but misguided. To others, the Demiurge is an utter imbecile or fool. And to many the Demiurge is the very embodiment of evil.

Perhaps an example of the degree of how fake our own three-dimensional world is would be the theory that we don't even inhabit a material world at all. This is what has come to be loosely known as the "Matrix" or "Simulation Argument." In this theory, which I have discussed before here in some of the "nature of reality" posts-all you see around you-and you yourself are an illusion created by a vast supercomputer -or something very much like one. Many people might be tempted to laugh at the "Matrix" theory or "Simulation Argument"--and I don't like the idea myself-but the idea that our world is projected by a hugely powerful computer (again computer might be too weak of an analogy-but the idea it evokes is appropriate) solves an uncomfortably large number of problems in modern physics. The "Bottom Layer" site on my blog under the "great links" section goes into this in great detail and will guide anyone interested through the intricacies of the theory much better than I can.

Whatever the true nature of our world is, there are many reasons Gnosticism intrigues me. There are two major reasons that come to me immediately all the time. Remember the three types of human personalities discussed in a prior post? The pneumatikoi or "spirituals"-people who have awakened to their real divine nature through gnosis. The psychikoi or psychics, whose soul-nature may be guided by faith, but who will still need exceptional effort to gain enlightenment. Lastly, there are the hylikoi or hylics ("materials")-these people are only aware of matter, material things. They only belong to matter and because of this they don't have any chance of enlightenment. From the spiritual point of view they are already dead. I find this categorization very interesting, for what it says to me is that there are varying degrees a person is "stuck" in matter-the gross, physical material world.

I am not saying that this way of classifying people is one-hundred percent correct by any means, but aspects of the three states remind me of myself and other people. I do feel that there is some aspect of my being that is not attached to this world- a little spark here and there-a little light that is both divine and "me" at the same time. I really do feel that I "have" a body and don't feel as if I am "only" a body. There are even times that I have dreams where I feel I am really somewhere else and not just a sleeping body whose matter based brain's neurons are discharging and creating an inside movie.

The problem is that these insights and intuitions seem to occupy about one to two percent of my reality and the other 98 to 99 percent is concerned with surviving- mentally, physically and psychically in this world. There is also another face to the "surviving" aspect. At first this opposite aspect of surviving-to do more than survive-to enjoy various pleasures seems good or even great but many times I wonder if the pleasure principle, the things that give us joy in the world-of course pain is pleasure to some but lets not go there:-) chains us to the gross material world much more effectively than the painful and unpleasant aspects of life.

On the surface this might seem a stupid way to put it, as no one generally likes pain. But think how often in your daily routine you become obsessed-many times-first and foremost with money. Will I have enough money to pay my bills? Will I be "downsized" or let go from work? And to many these days-even in the so-called "modern" or "progressive" nations of the world- Will I be homeless soon? or "What bridge am I going to sleep under tonight? What I am basically trying to say is that for a species which supposedly craves pleasure and despises fear and pain, many people seem to live in a constant state of fear or free-floating anxiety (even when there is no need) -this will also be a very important idea in future posts here in relation to the archons or "rulers"- many Gnostics believes the archons or rulers of our material realm "feed" of psychic energy. A junkie putting a needle into his or her arm and getting the huge (and false -and sometimes fatal) initial rush of pleasure might be the equivalent of Steak Diane with a baked potato and a Caesar salad to an archon. The millions of lives ended or ruined by Hitler and Stalin (not to mention many others) might be like a bacchanalian Roman orgy-and a seven course meal. And perhaps a person having their first smoke of the day is just a Philly Cheesesteak or cheeseburger to them. In other words the archons- the rulers of this world-who serve at the pleasure of the Demiurge -feed off any type of human emotions-but in some Gnostic thought -agony -which there is so much of in this world-is the most exquisite for them.

Tobias Churton in Gnostic Philosophy talks about the history of some of these ideas on pages 23 to 24: We now come to a key Gnostic conception, one that caused consternation to the enemies of Christian gnosis in the second century A.D. Insofar as the Demiurge claimed to be the highest God, then the Demiurge, the awful creator of the material universe, was, for the Gnostics a false god. The Gnostic had seen through his deceptive handiwork, and, free of it by virtue of knowledge, could "look down" on it. Enemies of the Gnostics regarded this posture as one of insufferable arrogance. The radical Gnostic could reply that such a position was as nothing compared to the supreme destructiveness and arrogating offense of the Demiurge-himself the blind god who knows no higher than himself.

In their Secret Book (Apocryphon) of John, written sometime in the second century A.D., we hear of how the Demiurge, here called Ialdaboth, took counsel with the archons and created seven planets-hence the false god's claim to "have none before him." (The zodiac provided the image for the grim fetter that held humans in ignorance, or agnosis: that is, "without gnosis").

I would also like to go to pages 40 and 41 from the same book to give some information about the "Unknown God And The Demiurge: The Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria, a contemporary of Jesus wrote polemics against those who taught of two gods; at the same time, Philo himself called the Logos (the divine instrument of creation) "a second god," "archangel," "Lord," and "Name."

"After Philo's time, Jewish rabbis complained of heretics (minim) who believed that God had a representative who bore his name, Jao (an abbreviation of YHWH, the proper name of God) or Jaoel. These Jewish heretics said that this figure sat on a throne next to God's and was called Metatron. Metatron became a significant figure in what Gershom Scholem called "Jewish Gnosticism," which contains much of what is now generally referred to as the Kabbalah."

"Some dissident Jews, called Magharians, said that all anthropomorphic names in the Hebrew Bible referred not to God, but to the angel Metatron, who created the world. In the Gnostic Apocryphon of John, which is dated before A.D. 185, something like this angel appears as the Demiurge, or "the archon who is weak," with three names: Ialdaboth, Saklas, and Samael... "

"Come," says Ialdaboth in a terrifying parody of the Genesis account of the creation of Adam, "let us create a man according to the image of God and according to our likeness, that his image may become a light for us." Having made a "luminous" man, the archons recoil in jealousy, for their combined efforts have made a being greater than themselves individually: "And when they recognized that he was luminous, and that he could think better than they, and that he was free from wickedness, they took him and threw him into the lowest region of all matter".

"This is hard-core Gnosticism, where the false god has become a perfectly sinister deity. The philosopher Hans Jonas, for one, has doubted it could possibly be the work of Jews-especially since its knowledge of Hebrew scripture seems limited to the Book of Genesis, which certainly did fascinate Gentile readers. In a short and typically clear paper of gnosis, Professor Quispel observes, "Only people who had been brought up to believe every word of the Bible, and to cling to the faith that God is one, and yet found reason to rebel against Law and Order may have been inclined toward the Gnostic solution: God is one and the Bible is right, but Anthropomorphisms like the handicraft of a creative workman and personal lawgiving are to be attributed to a subordinate angel".

"Perhaps Quispel is right, but there is all the difference in the world between a subordinate angel and the vicious, scheming, sinister bunch of archons who make Man on to kick him into the dark dungeon of matter, there to all but tread the life out of him. This was the disturbing revelation of the cosmoclastic Gnostic texts such as the Apocryphon of John."

I hope to have the next article here as soon as possible. This series might be somewhat more difficult to do because I would like to use many different sources for it. I wish I had known I would stay on this subject for so long because I would have done it very differently. If anyone is confused about anything please let me know in comments or emails. My basic questions when I think of Gnosticism are: Is this world of matter we are in inherently evil? Is there any good in it at all? Or is the gross, material world indeed more like a prison than anything else? And why-if the material world is absolutely no good-why and how did we come to descend into it? And-what is the best way to regain our "real" spiritual nature-or to "break out of prison"? Thanks again for all of your wonderful comments! The next time I am online I am going to try to get caught up with everyone's work on their blogs and other things. This should be fairly easy to do because I don't think this series can be rushed in any way from here on out-especially as I want to use seven different books and other sources for it, and don't want to confuse anyone by needlessly rushing it-and if I already have please let me know. All the best to anyone stopping by!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Stephen Morrissey: The Summing-Up

After wo I rede us to be merie.
---Chaucer, "The Knight's Tale"

My life isn't quite
an open book,
but I stand behind
what I've done--
I did what I had to do
to survive. I thought
survival was enough
but it leads to stasis,
and denial of transformation;
I thought redemption
lay in confessionm,
but it can lead to
or strengths beyond
what others know.

The beginning of wisdom
is in the love of God,
but some people
have to wait a long time
before they learn anything.
I am like the body of a man
found preserved in a bog--
he was removed
from his thousand year long
rest, both legs broken
so his spirit couldn't return
at night to haunt the living
--his wrists
tied with rope
braided from straw

My legs aren't broken
but something kept me here
long after others fled this place.
My hands aren't tied
behind my back,
but I carry the burden
of my parent's life,
unconscious, unaware,
and deflected onto me
to examine. I've lived
on the end of strings,
controlled by obligations,
duty, responsibility
and a rigid sense
of who I am.

In early November
in my fiftieth year,
I lie in bed
by the open window,
sunlight illuminating
autumn's yellow leaves;
ivy around the window
while in the yard
the single apple tree
still hasn't lost its leaves.
The complexity
of every leaf,
vein and fibre;
sunlight traveling
millions of miles
before casting long shadows
across the yard.

Then there is the flight
of birds across a blue sky,
as though synchronized
with the flight of other birds
or the rustling of leaves.
Insects move silently
in the dark soil;
I think of the human heart
and soul, the intricacies
of blood and life,
bone and thought,
brain and muscle.
I am in awe
of all creation,
and love God
as I did when a child.

I certainly hope anyone passing through will enjoy this poem by Stephen Morrissey! It is from his latest book, Girouard Avenue-please read the post below this for more details. Peace and love to anyone stopping by!

Girouard Avenue to Ogden Street

The following is just the beginning to what I hope will be much more and better thought out words to describe the wonderful work of Stephen Morrissey and other authors/poets (and even "wannabes" hopefully) that I have discovered -or in some cases have discovered My Favorite Monsters! As my health and energy levels are really all over the place anymore-I am not online near as much as I used to be-so I wanted to get these very short thoughts in before I post one of Stephen's poems next-hopefully right after this. It has also become more important to me (than it already was) to try and give applause/kudos/bravos -maybe compliments is the best word to describe the writing (fiction, non-fiction, poetry and even blogs) of the women and men who don't have household name recognition -but should-I feel anyway.

There isn't any reason in the world perhaps why anyone should care a thing about what I have to say. The only reason I think I ever got the idea to do my version of "reviews" which are hardly scholarly NYT style material to say the least, is that people over the years-some known very well and some only the slightest of acquaintances have told me I do a good job of recommending things to read in different areas. The different areas also comes in to play in that I have about a million different subjects I am interested in, which can be a blessing and a curse!

The only other things I can say is that with regard to blogfriends and others I have known awhile-I hope to soon be offering the "My Favorite Monsters Money Back Guarantee" on books I am hyped up on (books I have already talked about in the past like Rigorous Intuition, A Walk With An Irishman, Augustus, RVBICON, Gnostic Philosophy, Daimonic Reality and others apply too) Like I say-I hardly consider myself the unofficial Minister of Culture here in the U.S. (thinking of Maecenas at my other blog). This is just one small person's attempt to put a finger in the dike (OMG- no I won't go there:-) to hold back what seems like a tidal wave of "Jonas Brothers" "Formulaic" "Pre-Fab" shit that is threatening to drown the world in its utter banality, puerility, stupidity and other insults I could think of or make up.

I have often wondered-what qualities make the best writers? The best poets? Honesty is a huge one-a huge plus especially I would think in the area of poetry. One idea/image/thought comes to mind with the poetry that I have enjoyed and loved over the years-this is the notion that the author kind of takes you by the hand-and guides you-but not forcefully at all and says "Look-please look at the things that are important to me. Please look at what I have or maybe even haven't learned. This is me-this is my life. These are the things that are HOLY to me." I do not use the word "HOLY" lightly here. I would think that in every soul who has tried to lead an "examined" life to some degree-that you, me-all of us-have these "mind movies" (that's what I call 'em anyway) of things we have done -people we have known-thoughts we have had-even moods that grabbed hold of us that are HOLY to us.

Let me tell you-my good friends "Girouard Avenue" by Stephen Morrissey is a HOLY book. I say this unabashedly, without apology and in the spirit of dignity. I would also like to say that 'round the net and other works of poetry I also consider HOLY. I am awestruck by the honesty and courage and talent of Stephen and other poets who bare their minds and souls and take us by the hand to "lead us to higher ground."

The "Ogden Street" part of the post title comes from the street where I spent the first twenty years of my life. Reading Stephen's work has brought so much back to me that was already there and put it in a glorious new light-and at times a breathtakingly melancholy and wistful light-and taking a cue from David Leavitt (gosh I hope so -don't want to look stupid you know:-) "A Place I've Never Been." Needless to say-as long as I draw breath (and have a 'puter and net access:-)- I will talk more about Stephen's work. I am already wanting to order "The Yoni Rocks" and other of his books of poetry.

My insomnia is making my mind wander so I had better finish with this as I still want to post one of his poems above this post. BTW -before I forget Stephen's blog is on my bloglist by his name and his "Reincarnation" poem is also on the 1 January 2009 entry for poetry on my blog. Now a few words about Girouard Avenue from a much much brighter star than myself-to show you I am not leading anyone astray. These words are from Laurence Hutchman, author of Reading the Water (Black Moss, 2008) and also Professor of English, University of Moncton, Edmundston, New Brunswick: "...The poet accurately portrays the individual ties he has to his brother, mother, grandmother, and aunts. He expresses a central sense of loss, as well as a recuperation of the essential qualities of his father. In elegiac poems, he defines these relationships through appropriate language, original imagery and strongly felt lines..." History, family, ancestors, the spirit of place, and the legacy that one generation leaves to the next -all expressed beautifully in Girouard Avenue from Coracle Press by Stephen Morrissey!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Gnosticism & The "Real" World Part 13

Now I would like to turn to Gnostic Philosophy yet again to talk about Crowley's supposed Satanism from page 356: "...Crowley regarded Christianity as hostile to sex, associating it with sin, the work of the devil, immorality, and so forth. His experience of Kundalini convinced him that sex was a manifestation of the archetypal creative power of God. It is such a simple idea that it beggars belief how sex could ever have been seen as wrong.

Nevertheless, Crowley was intrigued by the association of Satan with sexual energy, and with darkness. He came to the conclusion that Satan or Shaitan, the Hebrew being derived from the Egyptian god Set-the sun in the south that blackens everything (and becomes to the physical eye invisible or occult)-had acquired his evil overtone from a war between rival solar priests in Egypt. Osirian priests, taking the myth of the murder of their god by his brother somewhat literally, eventually triumphed, and Set's followers went underground.

Crowley sometimes identified Shaitan with Aiwass, his unconscious self-or the self of which he was largely unconscious. The Hebrews had simply taken over from the Egyptians this idea of Satan, the Adversary (as he appears as God's servant, the one that tempts, in the biblical Book of Job). In time he became the actual and cosmic adversary in their more Osirian (or in Greek mythology Apollonian) god, with the resultthat Set/Shaitan became ever more the receptacle for ideas of evil, anti-God or antihuman, and so on.

Now from page 357 of Gnostic Philosophy: A similar range of ideas can be seen in Nietzche's Birth of Tragedy, in which the German philosopher pits the Apollonian (sun god) virtues and classical Greek theater against the earlier demonic and instinctive, cthonic and unconscious life, symbolized as Dionysus. Dionysus is the energy of the Bacchic revel that tears the ego to pieces (as the body of Osiris was found in pieces and reconstituted by Isis, the Earth Mother). We are accustomed to thinking of the artist (magician) as being driven by his demon, careless of the values of the world. All this explains why dominant Western culture has had such a problem with the bohemian (Bohemia had been the home of Hermetic alchemy in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries). The artist, the reveler, the Falstaffian figure, the rock-and-roller-all have been treated with contempt until contained and the joy or ecstasy controlled. Materialist culture is fearful of what Crowley was and stood for. It is the urge for order over what is perceived to be chaos-and repression by almost any means is the tool.

Apollo is inevitably a materialist in this context, clinging to the hope of the solid, the visible, the stable, while the whole universe (ignoring Newton and praising Bohr) is crying out that things just ain't that way! This is what Blake means when he sees the sun no as "a golden guinea" but as a host of angels crying out "Holy! Holy! Holy!" Apollo here corresponds to the Gnostics' Demiurge or Blake's Old Nobodaddy, the archrationalist, the divider, the cosmic accountant-likewise the disrespect of Gnostics fo the God of the Law. But it happened, according to Crowley's way of thinking,that the Osirian and Jehovistic wing got hold of the Christian Church, linking it up to the legality and force of the Roman Empire.

One thing that has always fascinated me is if Crowley really thought he himself was the man who was the harbinger of the New Age. It would definitely appear that he thought that the ancient conflict between Osiris (or in Greek mythology Apollo-the rational, clockwork, "materialist" god-Blake's Old Nobodaddy) and Set (or Satan. Shaitan of the Hebrews, who over the centuries became identified with all that was evil-Crowley, of course, sometimes identified Shaitan with Aiwass) intensified in April 1904 when Horus-the Crowned and Conquering Child, came to rule over the future of humanity. His involvement with the Invocation of Horus during this time and his basic anti-Christian viewpoints may indeed have led him to believe he was the Beast (the solar man, 666) of the Apocalypse.

However, depending on the light one is viewing Aleister Crowley in-this may have actually been a "good" and necessary event. Obviously if one is a fundamentalist Christian, the prism you would view anyone proclaiming themselves to be the Beast of the Apocalypse would be very different! Overall-as a human being-it is very hard to see where Crowley was any more or any less evil that the great mass of humanity. In Gnostic Philosophy on page 358: But has it not occurred to his detractors that the Satan of their personal mythology would find it more appropriate to infiltrate quietly, subtly, stealthily, under guise of being something else? In the Hermetic scheme of things, the real darkness comes from repressed energies, mangled, regrouping, and then overwhelming the psyche. It is the unrestrained Apollonian total-control, total-order, total-law states that have generated the greatest evil. The worst murderers have been found to be cool, orderly, calm, often distinguished by the ice of intellect that has frozen out the Love under Will that is, according to Aleister Crowley, the agent of the world's salvation.

Here is part of a letter that Crowley wrote to his son taken from the "Notes" section of Gnostic Philosophy. Written in the last year of his life this letter certainly doesn't evoke any "Satanic" images in me!: My dear Son, This is the first letter that your father has ever written to you, so, you can imagine that it will be very important, and you should keep it and lay it to your heart [...] I want you to learn to behave as a Duke would behave. You must be high-minded, generous, noble, and above all, without fear. For that last reason you must never tell a lie; for to do so shows that you are afraid of the person to whom you tell it, and I want you to be afraid of nobody. [...] There is one more point that I want to impress upon you! The best models of English writing are Shakespeare and the Old Testament, especially the Book of Job, the Psalms, the Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon. It will be a very good thing for you to commit as much as you can, both of these books and of the best plays of Shakespeare to memory, so that they form the foundation of your style: and in writing English, the most important quality you can acquire is style. [...] Your affectionate father, Aleister

That brings to an end the Aleister Crowley part of this series. I very much appreciate the wonderful, kind and intelligent comments from everyone who has enjoyed this series-the links too Anadae! I have ordered Gnostic Philosophy by Tobias Churton-I enjoyed this part so much and the many other aspects of Gnosticism he talks about and enjoy his style of writing enormously-the book is over 400 pages long and has very detailed (and lengthy) Notes, Bibliography and Index sections. I would like to return to the subject of Gnosticism fairly soon-after taking a break to work on some other things-both for this blog-and other stuff. All the best to anyone stopping by!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Gnosticism & The "Real" World Part 12

The mystery of sex and the power and understanding derived from the practice of sexual magick is very important to any understanding of Aleister Crowley. In Gnostic Philosophy on page 343 we have some important information: "On June 28, 1930, Crowley reflected in his diary, "Spiritual attainments are incompatible with bourgeois morality." The morality Crowley is referring to is based on the restriction of natural impulse; a cocantenation of fear of disease, fear of self, fear of poverty, fear of truth, and ultimately fear of life itself."

Churton also has a wonderful letter that Crowley wrote in 1913 to a Dr. Graham of Cambridge on page 343 to 344: I should have supposed that any mind could see that the finest possible thing is the indissoluble union of the whole of two personalities. Such union would be Samhadi [union with Brahman] and in accordance with the One Great Law through whose operation we get back to God.

I should also have thought even the conventional mind could see that this union was not secured by marriage, and owing to this failure, marriage has today become certainly to the young a symbol for the association of all that is vile and degrading with all that should be most pure...It has consequently already been replaced by hazardous unions between economically independent people. That such unions are not open and respectable prevents them from developing into unions which would be marriage in all but name. Respectability, as always, defeats itself.

How I love that last sentence! Also on page 344 of Gnostic Philosophy: "Crowley regarded the sexual life of his time as a mass of hypocrisy that stirred up something akin to an international neurosis that could find satisfaction only in conflict of the destructive kind. On the outside, a crisp sugary coating of sentiment, lush, romantic and dreamy; on the inside, a craven desire for satisfaction of a blind urge with the reward of a relief redolent of defecation."

I think Churton is "spot on"-especially with this last sentence. How many times have you heard- "I need to get laid" and other "romantic" :-) phrases like that to describe something that should be beautiful and also something that links one soul to another? Continuing on page 344: "Crowley cut through the whole morbid morass with a sharpened scalpel in an attempt to clean out society. His efforts, as we might expect, earned him the kind of innuendo, police harrassment, tabloid character assassination, and widespread denunciation that would later be meted out to another sexual pioneer, Wilhelm Reich. It was not society but Aleister Crowley who was King of Depravity, living on immoral earnings, debauched, diseased, and demonic."

As Churton points out-not only did Crowley want to make sex holy and ineffable again-but he wanted people to take notice -to see what William Blake meant when he said, "The Lust of the Goat is the Bounty of God" and "Everything that lives is Holy."

According to Crowley: The close connection of sexual energy with the higher nervous centres makes the sexual act definitely magical. It is therefore a sacrament which can and should be used in the Great Work. The act being creative, ecstatic and active, its vice consists of treating it as sentimental, emotional and passive. Then going back to Tobias Churton on page 345: Crowley's theory of sex departs from the conception that ecstasy is a mystical state and that orgasm represents not only the condition whose sublimation is laughter but also, more important, the temporary annihilation of the ego-bound consciousness, thereby permitting in principle the unveiling of the unconsciousness..."

Also on page 345 to 346 of Gnostic Philosophy is a fragment of Hermes Trismegistus' dialogue with Asclepius which was found in a Coptic version of the Nag Hammadi library in 1945: And if you wish to see the reality of this mystery, then you should see the wonderful representation of the intercourse that takes place between the male and female. For when the semen reaches the climax, it leaps forth. In that moment the female receives the strength of the male; the male for his part receives the strength of the female, while the semen does this.

Therefore the mystery of intercourse is performed in secret, in order that the two sexes might not disgrace themselves in front of many who do not experience that reality, [it is] laughable and unbelievable. And, moreover, they are holy mysteries, of both words and deed, because not only are they not heard, but also they are not seen.

Therefore such people [the unbelievers] are the blasphemers. They are atheistic and impious. But the others are not many; rather, the pious who we counted are few. Therefore wickedness remains among the many, since learning concerning things which are ordained does not exist among them. For the gnosis of the things which are ordained is truly the healing of the passions of matter. Therefore learning is something derived from gnosis.

It would seem that Aleister Crowley realized that sexual magick was a virtually constant thread that was hidden in the symbolism of all of the world's esoteric teachings. Going way back to Hermes thinking on the subject "God eternally generates the cosmos, and that cosmos possesses generative power, and thereby maintains all races that have come into being." Another way of looking at this thinking is that a higher-more ineffable kind of "sex" is not only how God generates All but is also how he "looks" through the "eyes" (or any other sense organs) of the beings and things he has created.

Crowley did have a new take on the classical ascetic and Gnostic concepts of divine sexual union. His notions of purity and virginity were set against the framework of Einsteinian relativism. This should come as no surprise as Crowley was a contemporary of Einstein and many other great physicists of the day who realized the deeper implications of the theories (special and general relativity and quantum mechanics). The concept of relativism was spreading out into the liberal arts, and other areas too. One could make an argument that on the "bad" side of this revolutionary way of thinking about man and his place in the universe that relativism in the political world really got a much unwanted (I would think so anyway!) boost after these discoveries were made exemplified to the greatest degree by two real "Beasts"- Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin-who seemed to embody the "relativity" of morals when the ends justify the means.

True Will was what guided the adept in his or her experiential untion with God. On page 347 of Gnostic Philosophy, Churton lets us know the true meaning of some of Crowley's symbolism: Due to the repressive laws governing sexual material-as well as many other things-in Crowley's lifetime, in addition to the (necessarily) initiatic character of Crowley's teaching, much of his writing on the subject is expressed in symbol, metaphor, euphemism, and humorous plays on words in the old occult tradition. "Bloody sacrifice," for example, does not denote something out of a horror novel but refers to the expenditure of semen (=life="blood") for magical purposes other than reproduction of the species, and "child sacrifice" meant, cheekily, masturbation or contraception.

I am almost done with the "Crowley" part of the Gnosticism series. I really appreciate all of your thoughtful and open-minded comments about this part in particular. I didn't know what to expect when I started this -because of course-all I had ever heard of for the most part was how "evil" Aleister Crowley was. It has been fascinating for me to see this vastly different viewpoint from Tobias Churton! All the best to anyone stopping by!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Gnosticism & The "Real" World Part 11

The Book of the Law not only was important in "predicting" -in a fashion-the importance of the youth movemnent-it also predicts the victory of the rebellion of Woman. Aiwass believed that Woman-whose body is the door to the manifest (material) world and that is should never be closed: "Let Mary inviolate be torn upon wheels for her sake
let all chaste women be utterly despised among you!"

"We do not foul and flatter women; we do not despise and abuse them. To us a woman is Herself, as absolute, original, independent, free, self-justified, exactly as a man is...We do not want Her as a slave; we want Her free and royal, whether her love fight death in our arms by night...or Her loyalty ride beside us in the Charge of the Battle of Life..."

From Gnostic Philosophy on page 353: "Crowley was prepared to go to virtually any lengths to unite esoteric bodies behind this system, whether it was recommending that Krishnamurti be brought into the OTO (Rudolf Steiner had been a member) or, as in the following letter to the German OTO G.M. Herr Hopfe, urging contact with Adolf Hitler, written on January 20, 1936:

"Under the present circumstances, if I understand them aright, the only means of propaganda is to address the leader himself [Hitler] and show him that the acceptance of these philosophical principles is the only means of demonstrating to reason instead of merely enthusiasm the propriety of the measures he is taking for the rebuilding of the Reich. Unless he does this, the Churches will ultimately strangle him; they have an almost infinite capacity for resistance and endurance for this very reason tha their systems are based on a fundamental theory which enabled them to survive attacks and restraints. They bow as much as they are compelled to bow by force and they subsequently excuse their yielding on the grounds of expediency. If the Fuehrer wishes to establish his principle permanently he must uproot them entirely and this can only be done by superseding their deepest conceptions.

Enthusiasm for a man or an outward system dies with the man or with the circumstances which have brought the system into being. The Law of Thelema being infinitely rigid and infinitely elastic is an enduring basis. Love is the Law, Love under ?Will."

Tobias Churton in Gnostic Philosophy on page 354 goes on to talk about Hitler's will and the balance of forces: "Hitler's will was already irredeemably perverted, and its duration was consequently short, overpowered as he was by unconscious forces that he was utterly unable to balance under the point of crisis. His ego simply grew and then cracked under the strain of those reactionary forces he had himself evoked and that manifested themselves all over the planet. In magick as in nature, equilibrium is all. Should a country ever lose grip of the Golden Mean, we shall know what to expect."

"The key to equilibrium may lie in a consideration of sexual magick: balanced forces of male and female, right and left, Jachin and Boaz, sun and moon, positive and negative, the duality whose apex is the unknowable One, projected in creation. Crowley denied the ascetic, encratite, and Buddhistic view that duality must mean evil. According to Crowley, "Love is the uniting of opposites" In a letter of May 27, 1913, to George Macnie Cowie, Crowley wrote: "I have just got back and have read Transcendental Universe. It is rather interesting but I think of no great value. This alleged contest between intellect and spirit makes me tired. It shows a totally wrong conception of the nature of the cosmos. It is just as bad as the alleged antagonism between mind and body."

There is a universal archetypal recognition that the sun-the Solar Principle-symbolizes the creative, conscious, generative and male aspect of God. The moon represents the Feminine Principle and sybolizes the receptive, unconscious, female aspect of God. It can't be stated to strongly that this view of the Feminine Principle is no insult-no "women are less than men" type thinking. I am about to say something that reminds me of the great religious and philosophical scholar-Huston Smith-said about the same subject/experiences with consciousness altering hallucinogenic drugs-with the same preamble he used (in his book The Perrenial Philosophy if I remember correctly)-"The Chinese have a saying: "Know ten things, tell nine." You will see why I think.

In the vast literature that has accumulated over the years about people's experiences wiht these consciousness altering drugs-both synthetic and natural (I also prefer "Brain filter" shutter downers" when I think of these substances as I truly believe they open vistas to the infinite reality that lies just beyond human perception, because the brain "filters" out 99 percent or more of a reality that we are immersed in -yet lies just beyond most people's perception most of the time-especially during "normal" waking consciousness.

When men and women both, report back on what they experienced when they "returned to earth" so to speak-many report that their consciousness was subsumed into -or at least witnessed a "formless void" that seems to be "pregnant with all possibility." This "void" that appears to contain all things in their as yet unrealized potential of course sounds extremely important- and maybe even "before-prior-or containing" all things. So this "feminine" void that is "pregnant" with all possibilities is at as important as the male "active" principle if not more so in some ways.

Going back to Churton's Gnostic Philosophy on pages 354-355: "As the Christian declares that "the sun and moon bow down before Him," the Hindu holds to the view that the God of which the cosmos is an expression (Brahman) has no attributes and can be considered to be absolute zero (the philosophical Nothing). While some of the early Gnostics postulated theories as to how 0 came to generate 2, the Hindu is satisfied that such things are beyond thought; from Brahman came an egg that divided into two, male and female, and their uniting created the universe in which we move. The Vedantic Vnishnava and Shivite sects worship the male principle; the Shakti sects worship the female principle. Some scholars assert the necessity of remarrying the opposites and merging into the resultant union (samadhi, and the meaning of Crowley's "stars separated for the sake of union").

Thanks everyone for your continued interest in this series and fantastic comments and links! I am sorry it is going somewhat slow-the information posted today has been ready to go since the 27th of December. I am hoping this exhausted feeling will go away soon and I will have more energy. I do think we are getting close to the end of the "Crowley" information of the series. I am indebted to the information in Tobias Churton's Gnostic Philosophy for this series. I have his book as a library book now and can't wait to order it and have a copy for myself to have around all the time-and would suggest to anyone who has any interest in Gnosticism-and the history of it -personalities and different philosphical and religious views of it to order the book! When the "Crowley" series is finished and I have done just a bit more at my other blog, I will be taking a 3 week break from blogging to work on my writing or attempts at perhaps I should say. I will try to keep up with friends and their blogs during this timeframe. All the best to anyone stopping by!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Gnosticism & The "Real" World Part 10

To finish with the quote from Aleister Crowley from part 9: "...The only Word which can unite Mankind is "Do what thou wilt" for this asks no man to distort his personality to serve a fixed idea of conduct. At the same time, the injunction is most austere; for it permits no man to go beyond the aim appointed by his nature. The real opposition to the Law of Thelema lies just here. The base understand by instinct that this Law must destroy the whole machinery of the civilization which assumes that the greatest good of man is the possession of material means of enjoyment."

Going from Crowley to Tobias Churton in Gnostic Philosophy on page 339: "The Cephaloedium Working (Cefalu, Sicily, 1920-21) produced a "comentary on the Book of the Law" that represented much of his mature consideration of its import--although, in a sense, his entire life subsequent to April 1904 was a living commentary on the book and its perils."

" The Cefalu "Commentary" contains enlightenment, rhetoric, and disciplined synthesis. We learn, for example, that the Greek kabbalistic numbers of Agape (Love) and Thelema (Will) are both 93, as in Aiwass, spelled Aiwaz, the name of the god of the Yezdis: "Our work is therefore historically authentic, the rediscovery of the Sumerian Tradition...(the earliest home of our race.)"

Going forward in Gnostic Philosophy on the same page: "It also suggested that the principal deities of the Book of the Law, Nuit and Hadit, correspond to Anu and Adad, the supreme Father and Mother deities of the Sumerians."

"It may also be added that Nuit corresponds not only to the Gnostic Sophia (Wisdom), the Lady of the Stars, bu also to Sabbaoth, the starry sky goddess of the Sabians. In late antiquity, and even after the Islamic Hejirah, the Sabians took the Hermetica as their scripture in the city of Harran."

"The Book of the Law is divided into three chapters, being the repective expressions of three cosmic concepts personified in the form of three Egyptian deities: Hadit (motion), Nuit (infinite space), and Ra Hoor Khuit (the martial aspect of Horus and archon for the Aeon)."

"Space is motion-concealed, and by motion, space is made manifest, at the center of every atom in the cosmos. These dynamics also correspond to the Shiva and the Shakti of the Hindu pantheon and the Tao and Teh of Chinese philosophy. The conception is profound and has many intriguing correspondences. Crowley wrote: "It is cosmographically, the conception of the two Ultimate Ideas, Space, and that which occupies Space...These two ideas may be resolved into one, that of Matter: with Space its 'Condition' or 'form' included therein. This leaves the idea of 'Motion' for Hadit, whose interplay with Nuit makes the Universe. Time should be considered as a particular kind of dimension of Space." In chapter one of the Book of the Law is the enchanting thought that: "Every man and every woman is a star"; "each human being is an Element of the Cosmos, self-determined and Supreme, co-equal with all other Gods. From this Law 'Do what thou wilt' follows logically." Now of course, one can only imagine what the various major religions of the world would make of this. Every man and woman a star? Do what thou wilt? I can just imagine the paroxysms of hatred and fury these thoughts would send a fundamentalist preacher (any religion) into!

Crowley's commentary on Hoor-paar-Kraat, for whom Aiwass is a minister is informative and exquisite: Hoor-paar-Kraat or Harpocrates, the Babe in the Egg of Blue, is not merely the God of Silence in a conventional sense. He represents the Higher Self, the Holy Guardian Angel...He is the first letter of the Alphabet, Aleph [Hebrew], whose number is One and his card in the Tarot is the Fool numbered Zero...In his absolute innocence and ignorance he is "The Fool"; he is "The Saviour," being the Sun who shall trample on the crocodiles and tigers and avenge is father Osiris.

Thus we see him as the "Great Fool" of Celtic legend, the "Pure Fool" of Act 1 of Parsifal, and generally speaking, the insane person whose words have always been taken for oracles. But to be "Saviour" he must be born and grow to manhood; thus Parsifal acquires the Sacred Lance, emblem of virility. He usually wears the "Coat of many colours" like Joseph the "dreamer"; so he is also now Green Man of spring festivals. But his "folly" is now not innocence but inspiration of wine, he drinks from the Graal...Almost identical symbols are those the bisexual Baphomet, and of Zeus Arrhenothelus, equally bisexual, the Father-Mother of All in One Person. (...Tarot Trump XV, "The Devil.") Now Zeus being Lord of Air we are reminded that Aleph is the letter of Air. As Air we find the "Wandering Fool" [the Troubadour] pure wanton Breath, yet creative...He is the Wandering Knight or Prince of Fairy Tales who marries the King's Daughter.

...Thus once Europa, Semele and others claimed the Zeus-Air had enjoyed them in the form of a beast, bird or what-not; while later Mary attributed her condition to the agency of a Spirit, Spiritus, breath of air,-in the shape of a dove.

But the "Small Person" of Hindu mysticism, the dwarf insane yet crafty of many legends in many lands, is also the same "Holy Ghost," or Silent Self of a man, or his Holy Guardian Angel. He is almost the "unconscious" of Freud, unknown, unaccountable. "Blowing whither it listeth, but thou canst not tell whence it cometh or whither it goeth." It commands with absolute authority when it appears at all, despite reason and judgement.

Aiwass is there...the "minister" of this Hoor-paar-Kraat, that is of the Saviour of the world in the larger sense, and of mine own "Silent Self" in the lesser." In Gnostic Philosophy, Tobias Churton talks about the "Child" being a very important archetype in our age: "A key aspect of Horus is that of the "Crowned and Conquering Child." In the Yorke Collection, Caephalodium Working (1920-21), folder k.1., Crowley had this to say: "The Concealed Child becomes the Conquering Child: the armed Horus avenging his father, Osiris. So also our own Silent Self, helpless and witless, hidden within us, will spring forth, if we have craft to loose him to the Light, spring lustily forward with his Cry of Battle, the Word of our True Wills."

The image is a collection of the Gnostic deity "Abraxas" images. Thanks again everyone for your thoughtful and intelligent comments! I hope to post again here soon-until then all the best to anyone stopping by!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Two by Terry Robinson

The Shallow Mind

Sometimes my dreams are shattered
by sneers and ill-read frowns.
Someone again reads past my mind
with little depth in theirs.

The danger in not thinking
is a danger indeed.
To be destructive, not creative
twists the meaning of everything.

Many Holes Indeed

You turned your back in anger
when I confessed to you
the path that I had travelled
was far apart from yours.

Your fields grew different flowers
than mine. Your poems told different tales.
And when you gave yourself to me
some part of you was far away.

The moulds that shape our lives
are seldom woven by truth.
The need to find companionship
has many holes indeed.

I hope anyone stopping by will enjoy these two poems by my friend Terry Robinson! The first image is of a famous Renoir painting-for the life of me I cannot think of the name of it now. The second image is a very good looking guy named Anton Antipov if I have my information right. Again-I wish everyone a beautiful and happy new year!