Book Club Post

The Cosmic Doctrine: The Forces of (Negative) Evil

This week we continue a monthly discussion of The Cosmic Doctrine by Dion Fortune, which I consider the most important work of 20th century occult philosophy. Climb in and fasten your belts; it’s turning out to be as wild a ride as I expected.

As noted in earlier posts here, there are two widely available editions of The Cosmic Doctrine, the revised edition first published in 1956 and the Millennium Edition first published in 1995, which reprints the original privately printed edition of 1949. You can use either one for the discussions that follow. The text varies somewhat between the two editions, but the concepts and images are the same, and I’ll be referring to both.

Assigned Reading:

Revised Edition:  Chapter 2, “The Forces of (Negative) Evil,” p. 14-17.

Millennium Edition: Chapter 1, “The First Manifestation,” from the first complete paragraph on p. 22 through the end of the chapter on p. 25.

Commentary:

The responses to last month’s post, the first in this sequence, were very heartening to me; a lot of people are clearly up to putting ample study and thought into this important occult text. Thank you all for taking this seriously! With that, let’s go on to the next set of ideas and images.

We pick up where we left off, with the Ring-Cosmos spinning in one plane, the Ring-Chaos spinning just outside it in a plane at right angles to the first, and the Ring-Pass-Not marking the boundary between them. In the diagram, the Ring-Cosmos is the light-colored ring, the Ring-Chaos the dark-colored ring, and the Ring-Pass-Not the dotted circle.

When you imagine the three rings for the purposes of this chapter, it’s helpful to keep them in this orientation, with each of them at right angles to the other two. Yes, I know that the Ring-Cosmos pivots around as shown by the little arrows, but symbolically speaking—and these are symbols, remember, meant to train the mind rather than to inform it—the rings should be imagined at right angles to one another. Much of the discussion  in this chapter will make more sense if that’s kept in mind.

The two versions of our text differ here in detail, but the basic concepts are the same in both cases. The first thing to work on, as you think your way through this chapter, is the series of distinctions between the Ring-Cosmos and the Ring-Chaos, or (which is the same thing) between evolution and devolution. (These aren’t the words I’d have used, but then I didn’t write our text.) To Fortune, “evolution” means movement toward complexity and integration, and “devolution” means movement toward simplicity and disintegration. These two factors balance each other; they are the yang and yin of the Cosmic Doctrine’s cosmos.

It’s helpful to spend some time learning to think about the universe in this way—to see every existing thing as held in balance between the centripetal force of the Ring-Cosmos and the centrifugal force of the Ring-Chaos, between the pull toward complexity and the pull toward simplicity, between integration and disintegration. That balance has a cyclic component to it, but we’ll be getting into that later in the text. For now, try to think of the world as the interplay of these two forces working at right angles to each other.

Fortune calls these forces “Good” and “Evil.” Notice, though, that she immediately undercuts that seemingly straightforward statement by saying that they “are not ‘good’ and ‘evil’ as you underestand these terms, but merely spinning circles of force at right angles to each other”. This kind of paradoxical speech is of course immensely common in occult writings, and in the writings of every other branch of spirituality that deals with states of consciousness.

She’s also doing a bait-and-switch job here, though that’s only clear from the title of the chapter in the revised edition. We’re talking about negative evil here. Negative evil? That’s evil as inertia, evil as the force that resists the creative movement of the Ring-Cosmos. There’s also positive evil, the actions of individual beings working along the same angle as the Ring-Chaos. This is much closer to the conventional notion of evil, but that’s not discussed in this chapter. Negative evil is far more basic, and so it comes up for discussion first.

Here as elsewhere, Fortune is trying to jolt the reader out of habitual ways of thinking—in this case, the common notion that of course we know exactly what good and evil are, that they’re whatever our cultural (or subcultural, or countercultural) presuppositions inspire us to love and hate respectively, and that we can get rid of evil (or we could, if only those bad people over there stopped being bad people, or simply stopped being). At the time this book was written, such notions were just as fashionable as they are now, and just as counterproductive.

At the heart of those fashionable confusions, then as now, is the assumption that good and evil are objective universal qualities of things: in a word, that they’re facts rather than values. Let’s take a moment to unpack that distinction. If I say, “it rained here in East Providence yesterday evening,” that is (or at least purports to be) a statement of fact, and if you were standing on the corner of James and Taunton a stone’s throw from my apartment on the evening in question, you would be able to tell whether it was actually a statement of fact or not.

Now let’s imagine that you have a garden and I have a hay meadow next to each other on the outskirts of East Providence on the evening in question. It’s shaping up to be a hot dry summer, and as the clouds begin to spit down rain, you look at your garden and say, “Oh, good, it’s raining.” At the same moment, I look at my hay meadow, knowing that rain will spoil the new mown hay, and say, “Oh, crap, it’s raining.”  For you, rain is good; for me, it’s evil.

That’s where we cross the boundary between a fact and a value. Where a statement of fact says something about the objective properties of a thing, a statement of value says something about the subjective relationship of an observer to that thing. Good and evil are values, not facts, because something can never simply be good or evil; it must always be good or evil to someone, good or evil for something, and so on.

Does that mean that good and evil are whatever you say they are? This is where Fortune’s analysis hits its stride. Good and evil, in her metaphor, are always relative to a cosmos; good is the plane in which the Ring-Cosmos forms, and evil is the plane in which the Ring-Chaos forms. A different cosmos will have its Ring-Cosmos and Ring-Chaos in different planes, and so good and evil may mean something completely different there. Note, though, that from within a given cosmos, the original angles of its rings are absolutes. If you’re part of that cosmos, you can’t change them; all you can do is respond to them.

As we’ll see, furthermore, everything is a cosmos. Your garden and my hay meadow are cosmoi—yes, that’s the plural of cosmos—with their Rings at different angles, so that rain that evening is at the angle of your garden’s Ring-Cosmos and my hay meadow’s Ring-Chaos. Everything that exists has its own Ring-Cosmos, Ring-Chaos, and Ring-Pass-Not: put another way, everything that exists is in a state of equilibrium between a set of forces that tend to sustain it and a set of forces that tend to dissolve it. At every scale of being, the same pattern repeats.

This is one of many places where The Cosmic Doctrine does a remarkable job of anticipating a body of knowledge that didn’t really come into being until after Dion Fortune’s death. Systems theory was a product of the decades following the Second World War; it was newborn when The Cosmic Doctrine was first privately published in 1949, and didn’t exist when Fortune penned the original manuscript in 1923 and 1924—and yet many of the core concepts in our text are also core concepts of systems theory. Did Fortune read some of the first tentative writings that laid the foundations of systems theory, such as Jan Smuts’ Holism and Evolution? Or was Charles Fort right to argue that human creativity is subject to something like seasonal cycles, so that ideas crop up in various minds when it’s time for them to appear? It’s an interesting question.

One way or another, we can make good sense of Fortune’s discussion of good and evil if we take the word “cosmos” and replace it with the word “system.” What is a system? There are various definitions in systems theory, but the most useful here is that a system is a set of self-sustaining interactions among a definable group of things. Quite a bit of systems theory talks about the way that systems find an equilbrium between anabolic processes (those that move toward complexity and integration, i.e., the Ring-Cosmos) and catabolic processes (those that move toward simplicity and disintegration, i.e., the Ring-Chaos), but I want to focus on a different point here.

Systems unite into greater systems and subdivide into smaller systems. From the viewpoint of systems theory, you are a system; you are made up of systems (your nervous system, your digestive system, etc.) which are made up of systems called tissues, which are made up of systems called cells, and so on. Going the other direction, you are part of a system called a community, which is part of a system called a nation, which is part of a system called humanity, and so on. Each of those systems, in Fortune’s terms, is a cosmos with its own set of rings.

So those labels “good” and “evil” can be applied to a great many rings going at a great many angles. You are part of some of those systems, and how much influence you have over them varies dramatically from case to case. Some of those systems, of course, are also part of you, and your digestive system (for example) may well have its own ideas about what is good and what is evil!  Then there are other systems that are distinct from you, and exist independently in one of the larger systems to which you already belong. Each of these are cosmoi. Each has its own good and evil, just as you have, and your interactions with all of these nested systems defines your life.

Good and evil in the usual moral sense of the words are simply the Ring-Cosmos and Ring-Chaos of the culture (or subculture, or counterculture) in which you happen to have been born, or in which you now live. Notice how this works: if you do the things your culture (etc.) considers good, you will end up more deeply integrated into it; if you do the things your culture (etc.) considers evil, you will probably end up either removing yourself from it or being removed from it—in either case, you’re following the the Ring-Chaos, which is a suction toward outer space.

If you’ve had the experience of leaving one subculture and ending up in another, as so many people do these days, you know what it’s like to drift quickly or slowly out of line with the rest of the subculture, to spiral out to the edge of the Ring-Pass-Not, and then one day to find that you’re on the outside looking in and nothing inside really makes sense to you any more. Take Fortune’s metaphors and apply them to that experience, and the abstract structure of Rings and angles may be a little less abstract thereafter.

Let’s move on.  In the last page and a half or so of the chapter we’re studying, Fortune takes her analysis of evil and builds on it in a way that many people find counterintuitive, even threatening. She suggests that there are basically two ways of dealing with negative evil: you can oppose it in order to lock it into place and make it permanent, and then do something with that; or you can draw back from it in order to let it follow its natural trajectory to the Ring-Pass-Not, where it will dissolve back into raw substance and go away.

We don’t think like this in modern Western cultures. Our basic assumption is that if you want any kind of evil to go away, you fight it and destroy it, and if you want it to stick around, you back away from it and let it follow its trajectory. That’s deeply ingrained into our thinking, and probably explains why we’re so bad at dealing with evil.

Evil in the terms we’re using, remember, doesn’t mean whatever you happen to hate. Negative evil, which is what we’re discussing, is the circle of force at right angles to the current of evolution, the suction toward dissolution and the Void. There are certainly things you and I don’t like that can’t be met with the strategies Fortune offers, but then they’re not what she’s talking about when she speaks of negative evil.

I’d like to ask everyone who’s participating in this online study group to read the paragraph above at least three times, and make an effort to remember it. I’ve noticed that in studying The Cosmic Doctrine, this is one of the places where brain cramps hit the largest number of people. They read the concept I’ve just reviewed, they seem to understand it, and then five seconds later they start going on about the Nazis this and the Nazis that and the Nazis couldn’t have been stopped by letting them follow their trajectory to the Ring-Pass-Not blah blah blah. (Yes, it’s almost always the Nazis that come up here—an interesting testimony to Adolf Hitler’s effectiveness in getting his ideas permanently glued into people’s heads.)

Anyone who does this in the discussion that follows this week’s post will have the content of their comment erased and replaced by the following: (Didn’t pay attention and started babbling about Nazis.)  We’re not talking about Nazism, or any of the concrete historical manifestations of positive evil. We’re talking about negative evil, the cosmic principle of disintegration and devolution, in terms of a set of abstract symbols; the practical applications of those symbols, and the discussion of positive evil, will follow in due time. As it happens, Dion Fortune took on the Nazis in magical combat, and won; what’s more, she did it using the exact strategy she laid out in the chapter you’re reading. (We’ll discuss that in due time, too.)

Now in principle you can do the same two things Fortune describes when you have to deal with positive evil, i.e., with persons or forces within a cosmos that are moving in harmony with the Ring-Chaos of that cosmos. You can use them as a thrust block, something to push against so that you have traction for something you want to do. Alternatively, you can evade them, and let them follow their own trajectory right out to the void. Both of those work, though they work in different ways. Both of them also require skill and a good sense of timing.

Interestingly, this is something that martial artists know. If you’re a competent martial artist and somebody throws a punch at you, broadly speaking, you can do one of two things. You can block the punch, and use that moment of hard contact between your bodies as a basis for your own response. Alternatively, you can evade the punch so that the other guy wastes his energy in empty air. Different martial arts (and different martial artists) specialize in one or the other of these, and take it in various directions; a karateka, say, may use a block so forceful it damages the other guy’s arm and then kick him in the face while the pain has him off balance; an aikidoka may slip neatly out of the way of the punch and then add a graceful push at exactly the wrong moment, so that the other guy loses his balance and meets the ground face first. Either way, though, the principle is there.

Either way, too, you’re using evil for your own purposes. That doesn’t mean that you move in harmony with it, in the plane of the Ring-Chaos; that’s what Fortune has in mind when she warns about working dynamically with evil. Instead you use evil as a static presence, either to propel yourself along the track of the Ring-Cosmos, or to take something out of existence for you. That’s one of the secrets of the initiates: since negative evil is always present, you might as well do things with it, and this is how you do things with it without getting caught up in it.

It helps, by the way, if you make sure that you’re actually moving in the same plane as the Ring-Cosmos of your system. Few things are so common in human life as a person or a group of people who are so sure they’re on the side of the angels that they never bother to check, and it’s quite possible for two parties in bitterest contention with each other—at right angles to each other, in Fortune’s symbolism—to be equally far from the Ring-Cosmos. That’s common in situations when a conflict remains stuck in place for a long time; since they’re equally balanced between the two primary Rings, neither side wins and neither side dissolves. Their opposition remains as solid as concrete.

You oppose something when you want to lock it into place in order to build on it; as some schools of psychology like to point out, “what you resist, persists.” You evade something when you want to send it spinning out past your Ring-Pass-Not. Choose carefully which of these you want to do, because the results will not be the same.

Notes for Study:

As already noted, The Cosmic Doctrine is heavy going, especially for those who don’t have any previous exposure to occult philosophy. It’s useful to read through the assigned chapter once or twice, trying to get an overview, but after that take it a bit at a time. The best option for most people seems to be to set aside five or ten minutes a day during the month you spend on this chapter. During that daily session, take one short paragraph or half of a long one, read it closely, and think about what you’ve read, while picturing in your mind’s eye the image you’ve been given for that passage of text.

As you do this, you’re likely to find yourself facing questions that the text doesn’t answer. Some of those are questions Fortune wants you to ask yourself, either because they’ll be answered later in the book or because they will encourage you to think in ways that will help you learn what the text has to say. It can be helpful to keep a notebook in which to write down such questions, as well as whatever thoughts and insights might come to you as you study the text.

Questions and comments can also be posted here for discussion. (I’d like to ask that only questions and comments relevant to The Cosmic Doctrine be posted here, to help keep things on topic.) We’ll go on to the next piece of the text on August 8. Until then, have at it!

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In unrelated news, Zendexor, my coeditor for the Vintage Worlds anthology, is looking for stories set in the Old Solar System for an online magazine, “Tales to Astound,” on his Solar System Heritage website. This isn’t a paying gig, but it’s a good way to get your work sympathetic and thoughtful attention from readers. If you’d like to submit a story or three, read the website first – rule #1 for a writer: always make sure you know your market! – and then submit your stories to heritageofdreams (at) aol (dot) com.

186 Comments

  1. If I may make an interesting observation here: peak oil seems like an example of a negative evil. And we had two responses to it: double down on what made it a problem (resist it), or change to a sustainable lifestyle (get out of the way).

    I suppose this also means Green Wizardry is a way to get out of the way of that negative evil.

    This seems odd to think about to me, since the world that progress threatens to make it there were no limits on it seems even worse than the fall of civilization!

  2. John–

    I’ll be spending (considerable) time with this material, but some initial thoughts:

    First, this schema of negative evil as one aspect of building-up/tearing-down, growth/decay, and similar rhythmic processes puts the issue I spoke of earlier this week re Geburah, the interplay of the Pillars of Force and Form, and your point of, shall we say, the “necessity of Ares” in a completely different light. This makes sense to me and is a good deal less threatening.

    Second, I hadn’t made the leap to considering the model proposed as relative (versus absolute) to different things — i.e., there being a multitude of cosmoi. I’d fallen into the trap (for lack of a better term) of seeing this as a single, grand universal construct. Again, now it all suddenly makes much more sense. (And as a math nerd, I can totally relate to systems theory analogies!)

    Third, I’d thought of the Ring-Pass-Not as an absolute barrier rather than a relative one. It isn’t that one can’t pass the Ring-Pass-Not; rather, one cannot pass the Ring-Pass-Not and remain part of the cosmos in question. (Cue clouds parting and angelic choir-voices swelling.)

    Am I on track here?

    The mind-training is seriously beginning now. Back to the text.

  3. Will, that’s why the concept of negative evil needs to be approached as an abstraction first. Nothing in the universe of our experience is simple enough to correspond exactly to the three rings; at most, you can find things that more or less have some characteristics in common with one or another of those very basic concepts. The world as we experience it is too complex to provide anything else. Here’s my question for you: if you resist peak oil, what are you locking into place and what can you build on that?

    As for your second comment, I gave fair warning… (whistles while walking away) 😉

    David, excellent. The Ring-Pass-Not is absolute on the highest scale, but you and I and the rest of humanity don’t deal with that scale very often. In the microcosms generated within the Cosmos as a whole, things are a bit more permeable.

  4. John–

    Is there any correlation between the triad of Ring-Cosmos, Ring-Chaos, and Ring-Pass-Not on one hand, and the triad of Form, Force, and Consciousness in the Tree of Life on another hand, and the triad of elements of Calas, Gwyar, and Nwyfre on a third (?) hand?

  5. As I mentioned on the dreamwidth account a little while back I was recently under what I understood to be magical attack, and took measures to help with that. I began washing my floors with herbs, burning cedar, frankincense, angelica and sage, and bathing in protective herbs as well. Doing this actions helped me greatly with the attack, but after the forceful negativity seemed to subside, I still continue to do all the same things them because they’ve made my life significantly better.

    If I consider the attack to be part of the negative evil of inertia of leaving a subculture, then I can see how by counteracting it, gently as I could, I was forced to create something in my life better than was before. My vibe has improved greatly because of this experience, my room is cleaner and my relationship with my family has become significantly more harmonious. So I may have used the negative forces as a thrusting block towards a higher plane, as Fortune discusses in the text. For this reason I am grateful for the experiences, whatever their provenance, as they forced me to become a better person than I was before. Without friction there can be no wilful, directed movement. Friction, or negative evil, then is what allows for choice. Evil is what creates the opportunity towards self-betterment.

  6. David, sounds like an excellent theme for a week or so of daily meditations! 😉

    Violet, got it in one. This is also one of the reasons why daily banishing rituals are so useful.

    Yorkshire (offlist), if you want to delete the snotty personal jab and resubmit your comment, I’ll put it through.

  7. @ JMG, thanks for your response! Thinking about the Western approach to evil reminds me forcefully of the concluding paragraph of Carl Jung’s Red Book, where he discusses the double bind of evil as it is understood in the Biblical context. You’ve mentioned before that he and Dion Fortune could have switched places, with her the depth psychologist and him the mage. Well, I think that this offers some corroborating evidence, and is to my mind very much relevant to the current discussion:

    “Therefore he who strives for the highest finds the deepest.

    …he who accepts what approaches him because it is also in him, quarrels and wrangles no more, but looks into himself and keeps silent.

    He sees the tree of life, whose roots reach into Hell and whose top touches Heaven. He also no longer knows differences: who is right? What is holy? What is genuine? What is good? What is correct? He knows only one difference: the difference between below and above. For he sees that the tree of life grows from below to above, and that it has its crown at the top, clearly differentiated from the roots. To him this is unquestionable. Hence he knows the way to salvation.

    To unlearn all distinctions save that concerning direction is part of your salvation. Hence you free yourself from the old curse of the knowledge of good and evil. Because you separated good from evil according to your best appraisal and aspired only to the good and denied the evil that you committed nevertheless and failed to accept, your roots no longer suckled the dark nourishment of the depths and your tree became sick and withered.

    Therefore the ancients said that after Adam had eaten the apple, the tree of paradise withered. Your life needs the dark. But if you know that it is evil, you can no longer accept it and you suffer anguish and you do not know why: Nor can you accept it as evil, else your good will reject you. Nor can you deny it since you know good and evil. Because of this the knowledge of good and evil was an insurmountable curse.

    But if you return to primal chaos and if you feel and recognize that which hangs stretched between the two unbearable poles of fire, you will notice that you can no longer separate good and evil conclusively, neither through feeling nor through knowledge, but that you can discern the direction of growth only from below to above. You thus forget the distinction between good and evil, and you no longer know it as long as your tree grows from below to above. But as soon as growth stops, what was united in growth falls apart and once more you recognize good and evil.”

    copied from: http://ahistoryofthepresentananthology.blogspot.com/2015/06/the-red-book-liber-novus-by-carl-jung.html

  8. I’m going to try to use Fortune’s metaphors using examples from your other writings to see if I understand. Catabolic Collapse is a negative evil as it’s a disintegrating force in our (current) civilization cosmos. On that cosmological scale, there are two ways to handle it.

    One is to “collapse early and avoid the rush” and adopt to a more energy restricted world preemptively. This would be the response of “opposing it and locking it in place” since it would make the collapse in some sense permanent. There’s a lot that can be built on the more resilient base. The other is to let it run its course as it’ll ultimately pass on. With catabolic collaspe, it may or may break apart the particular cosmos in the process since it hasn’t been handled well either way. On a more personal cosmos level, there’s a similar situation and similar choices and you can execute them well or poorly.

  9. Suddenly my inner life of values and how they have changed is feeling like a study in orbital mechanics! I felt powerless as the negative evil within me pulled me away from the Ring-Comsos of a subculture I just wasn’t cut out for. For a time I tried to oppose it, but it just wouldn’t budge. Since then I let it go (somewhat) and believe I have nearly reached the Ring-Pass-Not of that subculture. However I don’t think i have quite left that cosmos entirely. Am i applying these concepts correctly? This is my first foray into this kind of esoteric thinking.

  10. The discussion of Fortune’s two strategies prompted me to think of three topics that touch the edges of science fiction: orbital mechanics, Orson Scott Card’s political advocacy, and Area 51.

    In orbital mechanics, there’s a counter-intuitive tendency that slower objects complete their orbit more quickly, and become more central to the system in which they orbit. The Integral Trees, by Larry Niven, includes a saying for children to remember this dynamic: “East takes you out, out takes you west, west takes you in, in takes you east; north and south bring you back”. Anathem, by Neal Stephenson, also has a careful treatment of the topic, where a character struggles against his intuition of how motion should work. In any event, it sounds like orbits in deep space are also a good model for this same reason: trying to stop something centers it, and may even cause a spectacular impact.

    Secondly, Orson Scott Card wrote a famous (in LGBTQ activist circles, infamous) letter in favor of California’s Proposition 8, framing his opposition to same-sex marriage as the logical result of his belief that each person has a reproductive obligation to all their ancestors. He wrote that The State shouldn’t support any dereliction of this procreative duty. I’m usually impressed by the expansive sweep of time he imagines in his writing, and the understanding he displays of long-term tides of population change; this letter surprised me by being exactly what I wouldn’t expect from him. Governments, and especially the laws they construct, are extremely short-lived compared to genes; if I felt my descendants had a duty to breed as abundantly as humanly possible, I wouldn’t trust laws to enforce any behavior that contradicts instinct. It seems prudent not to force this generation to pass along any genetic proclivity that prevents reproduction (within Card’s cosmos, according to my reading of his letter, a passive evil); resisting homosexuality in the way Card advocates, seems likely to establish it more firmly. I had interpreted this as an uncharacteristic oversight on his part, but now I wonder whether it was an effort to maintain traction.

    Thirdly, I am amazed to think how much traction was achieved in the effort to keep secrets about military aircraft, with just a few official efforts to quash any discussion of space aliens.

    I look forward to re-reading the assigned passage with this in mind, and I look forward to learning more about that historic combat.

  11. I had a similar experience to Violet’s at one of the hostels I was staying in. There were two born agains in the hostel, and I was out about my own religion, and engaged them angrily when they said nature spirits were evil. Specifically, he was talking about elves. Boy it burns me up when christians talk about any other possible spirit outside of their own pantheon as being evil! Anyways, they started following me around and speaking in tongues at me. It was disturbing.

    However, this was the moment on the blog where I started getting serious about developing a banishing ritual that would reflect my own beliefs. And now I use it all the time and I will do so until the day I die. So I think this is a good example of pushing against.

  12. This is the first time I have been able to follow the reading and I find it very interesting. this notion, that if you resist something you make it persist, I have heard before, and have been contemplating it a lot in the last few years. Right now I am in the process of calling into question all the beliefs that I have had, and I feel pretty isolated from friends and family, who seems to be repeating the same slogans over and over. But I feel really lost too. this reading has come at a very appropriate time for me. Also your book, “Mystery Teachings from the Living Earth”. Thanks. Kathy

  13. Archdruid,

    Okay, I’ve definitely experienced the first form of resisting evil and using it to build something better. My anger against an exfriend was so intense that it propelled me to change my whole life style. I met the anger with a drive to accomplish, and changed the very core of me for the better. So old me was the ring cosmos, the conflict with the friend was ring chaos, and the new self is the cycling of the ring cosmos into the ring pass not.

    Similarly, the martial arts I’m take is southern mantis which uses a similar offense/defense style to karate. We call it bridge hands, and slamming into someone else’s bridge is called crashing the bridge.

    I still can’t figure out what is meant by “you must hate the hate with sufficient force to lock it up…”

    Regards,

    Varun

  14. John and everyone

    I’m putting this as a separate comment so John can set it aside if he deems it too off-topic for this post. (I can resubmit during the next open post, if need be.)

    But between Will’s comment re Greenwizardy (which called to mind his journal project), John’s response to my last post here, Violet’s comment above, and a couple of other haphazard incidents here on my end, I had the craziest notion pop into my head:

    A scholarly (peer-reviewed?) journal of meditative and experimental magic.

    On-line? Print? I have no idea. Quarterly? Semi-annual? Annual?

    But a journal where folks would submit scholarly articles regarding of meditations on themes, results of controlled magical experiments, workings with correlations, and other practical magic. All of which could then be subject to further examination and experimentation by other researchers 🙂 in follow-on replications and those results reported in further articles. (You know, all the things that scientific research used to be back in the day.)

    Reactions? Thoughts? (Suggestions for a title?)

  15. Violet, to my mind the Red Book, or the extract from it titled Seven Sermons to the Dead, would have made a fine launching point for a magical system. It really is a pity that Jung and Hermann Hesse didn’t found the Ordo Peregrini Orientem!

    Chris, that’s one way to assign the labels. What about attempting to stop the collapse from happening? How would that lock it into place?

    Mitch, so far, so good.

    Yorkshire, it’s already been deleted. I don’t edit people’s posts for them, so you’ll have to resubmit if you want your announcement to appear.

    Joel, fascinating. I don’t know a great deal about orbital mechanics, but what you’ve said makes sense, and you’re certainly right about Area 51! Card’s essay always struck me as one of the classic examples of preaching to the choir, since the only people who would be impressed by his logic were those who shared his Mormon religious beliefs, and trying to tell the rest of the world “you should obey my religious doctrines even though you don’t believe in them” is a very effective way to lose. You may be right that he wanted to keep same-sex relationships around in order to have something to push back against…

    Aron, and of course they also used you to push against, so that they could make their own religious commitment stronger. So you did them a favor!

    Katherine, that’s a challenging thing to go through, no question. Try to get comfortable with the feeling of being lost, though — it’ll make it less of a challenge for you to release other assumptions and fixed beliefs in the future.

    Varun, good. If somebody hates you, and you want to fix that in place in order to build something on top of it, push back; flaunt the thing they hate, fling it in their face, and get them fixated on hating you. Then, having locked them into a rigid posture, go do something else. Donald Trump does this all the time; watch the way he uses tweets to get his opponents into a screaming frenzy of hate, and then while they’re so busy hating him they don’t have time to pay attention to anything else, he pushes through some other policy on some unrelated subject, and it goes through unopposed. I have no reason to think the guy’s read the Cos. Doc., but he’s got that particular gimmick down to a fine art.

    David, I have no idea if there would be a market for that or not, but it might well be worth looking into.

  16. I am confused as to the reading assignment. I have a pdf version of the millennium addition that someone linked to last time. Chapter one we read last time and is 3 pages long. Chapter 2 is called The First Trinity.

  17. Unobstructed negative evil generates diffusive flows. Complete effective opposition to negative evil creates stasis and pressure. Aka potential energy. Restraining negative evil incompletely can create channeled flows.

    I ordered a bag of negative evil from The Metaphor Store to experiment with, but they sent me a box of entropy instead. Should I send it back?

  18. So maybe I should get out of the way of the positive evil (?) of unchecked banks, corporations, billionaires and eternal warmongers, and let the negative evil (?) of the mindless mob undo the market-based dissolution and devolution of the biosphere, to be the end of the Aeon of Pisces and the beginning of the Aeon of the Waterbearer??

  19. Perhaps it is a pagination problem. Each pdf page is pretty huge.

    About the movement of the rings. I seem to envision the pass-not as not being a ring but more of a disk, and while the cosmos and chaos are spinning like hoops, the pass-not goes ed over end so as to create a full globe. Is that OK?

  20. I’ve been reading JMGreer for at least ten years and this is the most interesting/important post I’ve read in all that time. So much explained/discussed here that I relate to. And I still haven’t even got the book 🙁

  21. Wow. The Christian contingent of this world’s brothers’-keepers would have a real hard time with this concept, because it agrees so well with what is taught in the Bible: evil only exists because God created it.

    Do forgive my naivety, John – but what do the Nazis have to do with any of this?

  22. Yeah, I deserved that. 😉

    Resisting peak oil would mean doubling down on industrial society as the limits to it are in your face. This locks in place resource issues, and as for what to build on it, I’m not sure yet. For those with economies less dependent on cheap oil, I can see how they’re building on it, but that may be them getting of the way instead. I think it may be a theme for meditation, since I think there’s more there.

    Allow me to try again, without babbling about Nazis 😉 Let’s use the American Empire as an example. Would the forces pulling that empire into the compost heap of history count as negative evil? They are pulling in the direction of dissolution of a political system that currently dominates much of the world, so I suppose they would. This is not a good thing from the point of view of most Americans, or even most Canadians.

    Resisting them locks in place a far more destructive future, since those pressures are still there, while getting out of the way, dropping the empire, would let them pass harmlessly. Once locked in place, rival imperial powers can build on it to tear the empire down faster and build their own.

    This would seem to suggest that it may not always be the person/force that locked the negative evil in place that can build on the forces now locked in play, although I don’t know where to take that line of thinking at this point.

    David,

    I’m very interested in such a magazine! I’m busy enough at the moment, so I’ afraid I can’t help much, but I’m happy to subscribe if someone else is willing to put the work in.

  23. Two comments: first, why is simplicity linked with disintegration and complexity with integration? This linkage seems pretty arbitrary to me. Second is something that initially gave me trouble but maybe I’ve resolved it; in the next to last paragraph on p. 16 she writes, “It [“evil”], therefore passes out to the periphery of the universe till it meets the spin of the Ring-Pass-Not…,” I was thinking that this “evil” was situated in the Ring-Chaos, which would imply a second Ring-Pass-Not outside it. But after several readings, I think she’s saying that the “evil” is situated inside the Ring-Cosmos. At least that’s how I’ve resolved. Am I being too literal-minded here?

  24. How do we know if we are the evil headed to the void?

    I mentioned last week I destroyed my modern laptop in favor of this older one. What allowed me to summon the courage to do that was that I’ve found myself on a very different spiritual plane the past three weeks, rather it was the plane I was already in but all of a sudden it makes sense. And through that – A matter of geomancy I’ve been pondering for two years has yielded some very pround self-knowledge and also taught me something about where I grew up.

    I feel from an occult view point/spiritual persepctive I’m entering a very dangerous period of awakening. I keep telling myself if I conduct myself with honor and integrity what have I to fear. But suppose I should know better it’s not as simple as that.

  25. Hi JMG,
    I’m trying differentiate between negative evil and positive evil. Might positive evil be something like “wickedness”?

  26. Hello JMG and all.
    This may seem tangential, and I hope you can bear with me: When you discussed the negative evil of the Ring Chaos, I immediately thought of Homer’s Odyssey, particularly of Poseidon’s role in impeding Odysseus’s return home. I imagined Poseidon as a specific embodiment of this negative evil, and that the Ring Chaos might be a helpful concept in formulating an approach to his obstructionism. Before I get carried away, do you think this is a valid understanding, or am I just out in the weeds?

    (This is LunarApprentice, my login isn’t showing my handle as I expected)

  27. Onething, your edition has big pages! The reading for last month was the first half of chapter 1 of the Millennium edition; for this month, the second half, beginning with the paragraph that starts “Now that movement in the Ring-Cosmos, spinning in one plane…”

    Walt, ding! We have a winner. Entropy is a very common expression of that principle Fortune calls negative evil.

    William, as I said, we’ll get into practical applications a good deal further on. For now, try to make sense of the concepts.

    Onething, the Ring-Pass-Not is a sphere, not a disk — it’s formed by the Ring-Cosmos going end over end, as shown in the illustration.

    Pat, thank you. The Cos. Doc. is very solid stuff. I hope you have the book on order, or at least have been able to download one of the many free PDF copies available online!

    Steve, oh, it’s worse than that. As Lao Tsu pointed out, good can’t exist without evil, and evil can’t exist without good, because the two concepts only have meaning in contrast with each other. As for the Nazis, good question, but when I mention word “evil” people drag them in.

    Will, good. Let’s take the British empire as an example. Britain had the immense good sense in 1945 to let her empire go spinning off along the plane of the Ring-Chaos, where it dissolved. As a result, she didn’t lock decline in place. Plenty of other empires fought their decline tooth and nail, and locked it in place; they then spent centuries dealing with constant decline, often in its bitterest forms, until finally they lost the capacity to fight…and then the decline ended and rebuilding could begin.

    John, integration in systems theory terms means interconnection and interaction between different elements of a system, so it’s a kind of complexity — arguably the most important kind. Disintegration is simplification. Consider the difference between a building, and the heap of rubble left when the building is blown to smithereens. The building is complex and integrated; the pile of rubble has disintegrated, and it’s also simple — it’s just a heap of rubble, connected and related only by the force of gravity.

    As for evil, you’re confusing two different uses of the word. The Ring-Chaos is the Prime Evil of the system; things within the Ring-Pass-Not that move in the same plane as the Ring-Chaos, in harmony with the Prime Evil, are individual evils and evil things.

    Aron, exactly. You used each other as a thrust block!

    Austin, no, it actually is as simple as that. Stick to your ethics and you’ll be fine.

  28. Bird, depends on what you mean by wickedness. Negative evil is evil as friction, limitation, resistance; it’s passive. Positive evil is active.

    Lunar Apprentice, not a bad metaphor for the metaphor! Yes, you can see all the obstacles that kept Odysseus from Ithaca as forms of negative evil.

  29. Hello JMG and all,

    That changing of subcultures experience, yes! – looking at it in terms of two of the POVs (the individual moving towards dis-association with the group, and that of the group collectively) in relation to cosmos and negative evil illustrates the dynamic of the process so well.

    This section made me consider a whole flood of situations from childhood to the present- when have I acted as the negative evil element? And with intent, as positive evil? When have I acted as a cosmos or as part of a cosmos, in either directly opposing or excising what I perceived as negative evil? When have I encountered positive evil and how did I deal with that? What element was I in the eyes of the “other’s” POV?

    What things happened inside the cosmos that caused me or another to move towards the ring-pass-not and eventual cessation of existence within cosmos? What shifted in the economy of that cosmos- in terms of exchange and flow, what contracts did I make that were broken (whether by me or by others) and what assumed expectations simply did not match the reality of the relationships? What relationships were strengthened by an increased harmony within the cosmos once the boundaries and values were determined? And what inner realizations were the seeds of those actions?

    So many questions! I already have my memories, feelings, and opinions about what happened in all those many situations, but analyzing it in these terms sheds new light on the forces at play, and provides insight for the future. And hopefully more fully-conscious choice of actions.

    The reading and the discussions show me a new ways of looking at it makes it seem like all the awfulness of the painful situations was good for something, after all.

    I really feel like I’m getting a first-rate education in occult theory here.
    Thank you everyone!
    Bonnie

  30. Two notes: firstly, since last month’s reading of Chapter 1, I’ve been reading other books much more slowly than I used to. This has given me more insight into the pop-science book I’m currently reading (mostly about the assumptions and genre conventions of pop-science books). Thanks to you and Dion Fortune for that.

    Secondly, it’s a great relief to hear that direct confrontation isn’t always the best way to deal with disruptive influences. I’ve got a few contentious souls in my local community group which I have been reluctant to outright fight because I suspect they’d be better at it than me. It’s helpful to know that that isn’t just weakness on my part.

  31. Greetings all,

    (1) It seems to me that the 3 rings have a fractal nature as they are found at all scales from the grandest to the smallest.

    (2) I am currently studying the Kybalion. Is it valid to say that the ALL (the unmanifest) has imagined / dreamed the grandest of the grandest of all 3 rings that bound all subsequent 3 rings systems that fractal their way down to the smallest of the smallest of all 3 ring systems? And somehow we find ourselves somehow tangled up into a net of 3 ring systems?

    Many thanks for the online course!

  32. Oh, goodness, then I am a bit ahead. Well, immediately I see that I don’t understand this:

    “spinning in one plane and rotating while it spins as if upon an axis, ”

    because to me spinning and rotating on an axis are the same thing. I am having a hard time with the descriptions, not really knowing which thing she is referring to. I wish there could be a model in a video. I don’t know whether the thing is difficult to envision or not, but trying to follow words about it is really tough.

  33. @Onething

    The revised edition split chapter 1 from the original edition in two and added three paragraphs on the front. I did a line-by-line comparison a while ago. The material is substantially the same, but I seem to remember a couple of substantive differences. It’s just in different chapters.

    I noticed a few people getting confused last month by going past the assigned part of chapter 1 in the original (Millennium) edition. The fact that at least one of the pdfs makes each chapter a wall of text without paragraph breaks doesn’t help.

  34. Onething, the Ring-Pass-Not is a sphere, not a disk — it’s formed by the Ring-Cosmos going end over end, as shown in the illustration.

    Ohhh…so the the ring cosmos has two motions, and the ring chaos has one, and the ring pass not is not a thing in itself, but a result of the 2nd motion of the ring cosmos?

  35. Just thinking of what one could build on declining resources and growing pollution, if one does as our societies seem to be doing and locks it in place by doing more of the same. One thing some people are trying to do is to produce technological fixes to the various aspects of our predicament, so maybe that’s what they’re building on it.

    Collapsing now to avoid the rush seems more like evading being smashed by the catabolic processes involved.

    I’m not really used to thinking in terms of occult philosophy. If I think of Dion’s ‘negative evil’ as entropy, the whole thing makes sense, whereas evil already has a meaning that doesn’t fit how negative evil is being used here.

  36. I have a 60×120′ lot with a one bedroom house in Minneapolis. There are 30 fruit trees, 200 species of plants, most wild, some edible, some medicinal.

    Every year the first week of July, when the lot reaches peak rainforest/jungle-like, I receive three citations from the city. I could probably avoid it, but I tend to let nature do what it will do, after planting the veggie gardens and early weeding. I have been doing necessary garden work all week. It has felt very good. There are nine types of fruit ripe right now.

    Some of my neighbors see this garden like there is something evil about. I’d guess the city gets 100 calls a year. They might get 100 calls from people who think what I have here is good, but the city only logs complaints.

    I see this garden as a kind of perfect order, though it would be described by most as chaos. I see it as a kind of antidote to the chaos of society, the madness of the Left and Right in eternal perpetuating combat, becoming increasingly deranged.

    Meanwhile in the midst of the chaos of society, I find my life ever more ordered, ever more syncronicitous, myself ever more grounded, productive and creative.

    Ever aware of the “good” and “evil”, order and chaos, within me. Ever appreciative of your work. Thanks.

    WHD

  37. Bonnie, excellent. Yes, it does sound as though you’re getting it. 🙂

    Kfish, delighted to hear it. Reading slowly is practically a lost art at this point, but it’s worth reviving. As for avoiding confrontation, it often takes more courage to walk away from a fight than to engage in one…

    Karim, yes to both questions. Good!

    Onething, if you’ll look at the diagram toward the beginning of the post, and imagine the white ring turning as shown by the dotted lines, that might help.

    Pygmycory, entropy is one manifestation of negative evil, so you’re not wrong.

    Onething, dead on target. Yes, exactly.

    Pygmycory, I wouldn’t have used the term “negative evil” if I was writing this from scratch, but it’s Dion Fortune’s book so we’re kind of stuck with her terminology. If it helps you to think of it as entropy, go with that.

    William, it’s a classic conflict between two different conceptions of order — the order of nature, which your garden is expressing, and the order of a particular human culture, which the city government is trying to enforce. The order of nature always wins in the long run, if that’s any consolation!

  38. “You oppose something when you want to lock it into place in order to build on it; as some schools of psychology like to point out, what you resist, persists.”

    This reminds me of ‘the Resistance’. They’re actually vital to Trump’s survival! They’ve locked his political momentum into place, keeping his supporters unified & energized with every new attack! And Trump feeds the outrage to his benefit, sustaining the equilibrium. Wow.

  39. Perhaps a bit “Meta” but if you’re aware of your intentions how can you really be sure that in your attempt to draw back from something to allow it “follow its trajectory” your not just cementing it into place? Perhaps I shouldn’t be cross reading Jung, but it did make consider how this relates to unwanted impulses don’t really go away but get hidden from the conscious by incorporating them into the unconscious shadow. Hard won wisdom from Violet’s repression of sexual desire and vegetarianism? (I doubt Wikipedia is any more fair to the deceased than it is with the living so thats cheap speculation)

    This is a bit trip because it implies that mastery over your own “will” can’t be bootstrapped with the common notion of will or forced discipline, you’re astral “will” has to be won over gently with acceptance that may only be obtainable in the surrender / death of conscious. A trite and oft repeated occult notion; but the syncreticity with mystical wisdom seems to add to the legitimacy of model’s symbolism. Surrender the microcosmic will over to the macroscopic? Not something I ever saw in a new age witchcraft paperback.

  40. Archdruid,

    I was going to ask Redred’s question, but that’s a much better articulation of what I’m wondering.

    Regards,

    Varun

  41. SpiceIsNice, got it in one. Notice how the soi-disant “Resistance” is purely reactive — they’ve basically stopped trying to do anything but stop Trump. They have become his Ring-Chaos, the thrust block from which he gains traction.

    RedRed, that’s why I don’t get my magical philosophy out of new age witchcraft paperbacks. Your broader point — that it’s difficult to be sure you’re using the principles we’re discussing effectively in practice — is of course also an issue, but a different one.

  42. If a person is tired, the person’s waking state is the Ring Cosmos and their negative evil is the forces of sleep. Sleep of course is neither good nor bad. If they try to actively battle being tired with a strong cup of coffee or some nasty energy drink, they end up prolonging and worsening insomnia (yes, I speak from personal experience). If they skip the caffeine and give in and take a nap or go to bed, they give the Ring Chaos what it was headed for and dissolve into sleep, vanquishing tiredness/negative evil the next day.

    In other words, good night.

  43. The discussion about the second response to negative evil – step back and allow it to dissipate/move past – reminds me of my favorite Ursula LeGuin passage in _Left Hand of Darkness_. The narrator explains (paraphrasing), All roads lead to [Rome]. Even if you’re traveling away from Rome, you’re still on that road. The only way to get off that road is to find a different destination.

    It’s an evocatively written way of expressing that what you resist, you cause to persist.

    I also can’t help but think this effect is part of the truth behind warnings to be careful about negative or destructive magical workings. It would be easy, especially at first, to accomplish the opposite of what one intended and cause the subject to persist.

    In contrast, a simple banishing or protective ward could have the aikido effect and allow the unwanted force/person/situation to slip past the Ring Pass-Not and out of one’s personal cosmos.

    Here’s a question, though: a cosmos or system must maintain a dynamic balance between forces in order for the cosmos to persist. You suggested we examine whether we are aligned with (any given) Ring-Cosmos or with the Ring-Chaos. But the force toward simplification is merely a force, and – just as death is necessary for life to persist – the Ring-Chaos must sometimes be necessary or even preferred.

    How would one know? How could a person step outside his/her own preferences to truly judge whether expansion or contraction needs more energy or focus at any given time?

  44. I wonder if , to use another occult metaphor, that the thrust block method has been termed “left hand path” and the rope-a-dope method “right hand path” , or i could just be mixing my metaphors
    Sieg Heil ! (Just Kidding)

  45. By strange coincidence , Jasun Horsley has begun discussing the problem of evil over at auticulture.com, by way of descrbing Simone Weils “Gravity and Grace” which also seems suggestive of the concepts we are discussing here.
    In a further concidence, i have just finished reading, on JMGs reccomendation, Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson.
    Sending Starships with artificial biomes out into the cosmos to colonise seems like a yearning to explore the lmits of the ring pass not, or even active evil , while staying at home and learning to love and live with limits would seem more Graceful to me .

  46. JMG, you wrote in regards to conflict between two people: “…That’s common in situations when a conflict remains stuck in place for a long time; since they’re equally balanced between the two primary Rings, neither side wins and neither side dissolves. Their opposition remains as solid as concrete.” So my question is- might there be times when this analysis applies to inner conflict? If so, how might one discern such, and use it to advantage?

    LunarApprentice


  47. Hello, I am musing on the words “stable” vs “stability.” Chapter one says: “IT [the unmanifest] alone is stable”. Chapter two says: “the second movement, in opposition to the first, produced stability. It is always the function of opposition to produce stability”.

    The unmanifest alone is stable – perhaps this means something like moveless, historyless, unchanging.

    Whereas our Ring-Cosmos is movement, and change, and acquires history as it moves and changes moment by moment. So where is there a place to stand? There isn’t one until opposition happens. However, what it produces is “stability”, which, while not converting the manifest into anything truly stable, can dynamically produce a seeming of what stable might be like – ie “stability”, a seeming of movelessness, a seeming of historylessness, a seeming of unchangingness, which IS none of those things, but simply a seeming produced by two [momentarily, dynamically] opposed movements, opposed histories, opposed changes.

    Those are today’s jottings and musings.
    Thank you.

  48. Just as the ‘resistance’ is the thrust-block for Trump, so the Nazis were the thrust-block for decades of American exceptionalism (we saved the world, dontcha know). Stalin, Mao, Ho Chi Minh (whoops!) were not fit for purpose; no thrust-footing down those tunnels. The US military knew what it was about in self-promotion.

    The military used these principles in a different way, as laid out in your UFO book, to defuse any inquiries into their secret-aircraft tests.

    I also wonder if the end of the oil civilization is a kind of negative energy, one which will eventually alleviate problems like climate change, ocean plastic, etc (albeit at the expense of much suffering).

  49. Thanks for the very approachable commentary on this chapter. This is what you maybe call practical and brings a flood of reflections. I concur that successful politicians excel at observing the opponents and either patiently deflect ( see Merkel) or throw them irresistible sticky bits ( US is too hyped-up now for subtle deflection).
    Just few days ago actually I had a discussion( work related) where I tried to convince someone that waiting out and not taking any action may be the best strategy. They listened, nodded and said “BUT it couldn’t possibly work’ and repeated the usual tactic, which predictably failed, again. It was classic inertia-evil not purpose-evil, that could have been made useful.

    So this is fun but I still have to go back all the time and work on the first chapter. I see all the planes, rotations, angles but it just doesn’t open a meaning beyond the picture like for some others here. Hopefully upcoming chapters can trigger that for me. This is my very first occult book. Even poetry tricks don’t seem to help.

    Is this chapter the first lesson in the book how to shape the will?

  50. Re: Ordo Peregrini Orientem

    Ugh, it really is a pity. I’ve reread the Red Book countless times, and few books have given me the numina per paragraph as it does. Frankly, it is my favorite writing of Jung by a very wide margin.

    Re: Cosmic Doctrine

    Something that this text makes me think of is politics, specifically the Burkean conservatism you support. Since Burkean conservatism focuses on what has worked historically within the framework of a political institution and culture, it is operating squarely within the Ring-Cosmos of that system political/historical/cultural system. It allows for greater complexity and integration over time, as Burke’s own support of religious liberty attest. It resists negative evil by valuing both what has worked and by seeking to maintain cool-headed prudence as a safeguard against ordinary human stupidity and corruption. It resists positive evil by being wary of radical reform, like the French revolution, and being humble in regards to other political/historical/cultural institutions as well as the limits of human understanding in general.

    If I’m understanding this correctly, then the Cosmic Doctrine is exciting stuff indeed, it really does shed a lot of light on how things work out in the real world. Indeed, it provides a template in which to visualize cosmoi and their various internal forces and to then interpret them using the language of Ring-Cosmos, Ring-Chaos etc. This is good training indeed!

  51. I’ll admit that I only got started on the previous month’s exercises a few days ago. I don’t have anything to say about this month’s reading because I don’t plan to do it until halfway through this monthly cycle, but I will comment on the Red Book. I don’t think I can really derive much that is useful from it at this stage, but it is nonetheless fascinating – everything about it, including the fact that I spotted it in a used book store probably less than two months after I learned what it is – is, as Violet says, numinous. I have the cheaper version without the colour plates, but the art is available online anyway.

  52. One thing to keep in mind in this exercise is that the map is not the territory. The model is not the work. So using a limited metaphor in a limited mind has limits of understanding. So the questions of “is this quite exactly that?” will have to stand as we attempt to connect understandings with the original author and their intent.

    While this is true of all thinking, all works, it’s saying there may not be answers. Maybe the author themselves fell short or were wrong in some way; we’re trying to know what they knew and think what they thought.

  53. Kimberly, good! I trust you slept well.

    Obsidian, the easiest way to do that is to let energies follow their own trajectory as often as possible, so that they can either add their force to the spinning of the Ring-Cosmos, or diffuse into nothingness with the Ring-Chaos. (This is what Lao Tsu talked about as wu-wei, “not-doing.”) Competent mages only intervene in the flow of events when they’re sure that a sequence of events is a temporary distortion in the flow. How do they figure that out? Divination backed up with a solid grasp of occult philosophy is the standard approach.

    Fabian, you’re mixing your metaphors, and they’re metaphors that have already been run through the blender too many times! In classic Tantra, where the terms come from, “right hand path” refers to the modes of practice that maintain traditional disciplines such as celibacy and avoidance of intoxicants, while “left hand path” refers to modes that occasionally and deliberately relax those prohibitions. Both use the thrust-block approach — the right hand path uses ordinary sensual desires as its thrust-block, while the left hand path uses the pride and self-righteousness of the ascetic as its thrust-block, and so both achieve their goals.

    As for space travel, I don’t think it’s accidental that Fortune specifically used the metaphor of heading for outer space as her core image of positive evil. Think through the logic of space travel in the context of where we are as a species: the resources that could be turned to fixing the mess we’ve made on this planet get turned instead to sending a very, very small fraction of humanity to another planet, while everyone else gets left with the mess. Pretty morally bankrupt, if you ask me…

    Apprentice, in the case of internal conflict, since you yourself are holding the conflict in existence, you simply need to let go of one of the two contending forces, and follow the other. If you’re stuck between two options, choose one — at random, if necessary — and don’t look back. Alternatively, if you don’t want to make a decision, accept that refusal to decide as your thrust block: given that you’re not going to decide, find something else to do, and do it.

    Dr. Juliet Ashley, who was the third Grand Archdruid of AODA, had a thing her students used to call, laughing, the Ashley Technique. It consisted of two steps. The first was to identify your problem; the second was either to do something about it, or learn to live with it, take your pick — there’s no third option. I think of it as a practical application of the Cos. Doc.!

    Scotlyn, good. That’s the distinction between stasis and dynamic balance.

    Expat, excellent! Yes, exactly. As for industrial civilization, I see what’s happening as an example of letting something follow its own dynamic out to dissolve against the Ring-Pass-Not. Nothing is stopping industrial civilization; it’s encountering no opposition that could fix it in place — and so it has become its own nemesis, and is spinning out toward the Void in its own proper time.

    Anne, take your time with the images. Some people have an easy time converting visual metaphors into practical applications, some find it much harder; with any luck the conversations here should help. As for the shaping of the will, indirectly, yes — Fortune realized that your will is guided by your basic assumptions about reality, and if you adjust those assumptions — even in subtle and roundabout ways — you change the way that the will works.

    Phil K, exactly. If you fixate on taking revenge in some more obvious form, you lock your enmity into place and waste energy you can use for other purposes. Use it as a thrust block to seek your own goals, such as living well, and you benefit.

    Violet, yes, exactly. Like any really good work of symbolic philosophy, the Cos. Doc. can be applied in astonishingly diverse ways. I’m pretty sure, though I’m still mulling over the details, that it can be used to understand healing; I’m quite sure that it makes an effective guide to military strategy, and that certain martial arts in particular match its approach to a remarkable degree. So, too, politics; we’ve talked already about the way that the current US administration uses some of its opponents as thrust blocks to pursue its own agenda, and allows others all the rope they need to hang themselves; the same principles can be applied more broadly, as you’ve suggested.

  54. JMG- Does Fortune’s Ring-Chaos concept relate to the current reemergence of Kek, the Egyptian frog headed deity of chaos and rebirth? I find it almost hilarious to think of Alt-right guys chanting “praise Kek!” in front of their computer monitors. I would be interested in your thoughts on the subject.

  55. Justin, no question, it’s a remarkable book. Have you by any chance read Hermann Hesse’s novels — in particular, Steppenwolf and The Journey to the East? Hesse was a good friend of Jung’s, and there’s a lot of crossover between their work; jus for exampel, the Red Book to my mind is a fine instantiation of the “magic theater” of Steppenwolf.

    Jasper, of course. Just don’t let that become an excuse not to understand the text when it challenges your presuppositions.

    Danae, that’s one end of a huge issue. I really do need to talk about the Kek phenomenon, and the magical end of the Alt-Right generally, don’t I? I’ll consider a post on the subject.

  56. In considering how to deal with negative evil, for some reason the first example that came to mind was that classic work of children’s occult literature, Bread and Jam for Frances. In the story we find Frances the badger, at the dinner table, refusing to eat anything except, well, bread and jam. Her mother, initiate as she must surely have been, chooses an interesting strategy to deal with this stubborn behavior which is in opposition to her Ring-Cosmos. Rather than force Frances to sit at the table until midnight trying to get her to eat her healthy dinner, which would surely have gone poorly, she says, okay, you want bread and jam? Have fun. You can eat as much as you like. So Frances goes on a bit of a bender and eats only bread and jam for three meals a day, plus snacks. After a few days she is practically begging for a bowl of spaghetti and meatballs, as her mother knew she would be. Rather than oppose this strange obsession, she allows it to be for a time, steps out of the way, and thus causes it to run its course until it runs out of steam.

    At least, I hope that is an example of one of the strategies for dealing with negative evil. The distinction between negative and positive evil is still fuzzy in my mind. I’ll keep reading and meditating though. Lots of ideas have been stirred up so far.

  57. Seems to me, that for those of us who understand evil to mean deliberate actions/inactions out of line with the will of God, that negative evil here might be read well as non-beneficial. The rain on mown hay being non-beneficial, but on the garden beneficial.

  58. Stefania, that works!

    BoysMom, what you’re calling evil is one aspect of what Fortune calls “positive evil.” Her terms aren’t yours — which doesn’t mean that either of you is wrong. (Is the four-legged critter barking at you a dog, un chien, or ein Hund?) “Beneficial” and “non-beneficial” — how about “harmful” for this latter? — are good also, because they beg the same questions as “good” and “evil” — harmful to whom? Beneficial for what? — and that, which draws the line between facts and values, is a crucial point here.

  59. If my interpretation is not mistaken then the Ring-Chaos is Entropy as seen in the perspective of System’s thought. In IT we often use both strategies, depending on the needs we have. We usually block entropy in our applications to make them last as much as possible, and we evade when we replace an obsolete application (thus letting it die “naturally”) when we replace it with a different application that was designed to deal with the previous app’s entropy source (and of course we know the new app will have new entropy paths).

  60. Touching slightly on kimberly’s note above (re tiredness and sleep), a co-worker of mine showed me a bio-engineering article recently that was predicting the achievement of thousand-year human lifespans in the near future (meaning the capability, obviously, not the actual attainment…which would take, well, another thousand years). My first thought was, “Who’d *want* to live that long? Wouldn’t we get tired of seeing the same foolishness over and over again?” But my second thought was the observation of our desperate attempt to push back against the natural forces of dissolution. (We are, of course, going to achieve no such thing — but the energy, whether physical or psychic, consumed in the effort will still have consequences.) The natural consequence of birth is death; concretion (Ring-Cosmos) and dispersion (Ring-Chaos) are components of the same process; Chesed and Geburah each have their roles.

    Understanding this (intellectually) is one thing. Integrating it (emotionally) is something else completely.

  61. When the discussion of the Cosmic Doctrine started I was working with the original edition, and tried to tackle the whole first chapter at once, which includes the discussion of evil. I found it impossible to understand, and even a little alarming. I was very grateful for the pdfs of the revised edition, which break the material up in a way that’s much easier to make use of.

    That said, I’ve been afraid to comment on this because I’m still not sure if I’m getting it.

    The way to deal with evil is to either allow it to disperse of its own accord, or to use it as a thrust-block on which to build a greater good.

    Good, in this context, is defined as that which allows a cosmos– I love the image of every system as a cosmos, which matches the way I naturally think about things– to move toward complexity and integration, while Evil is defined as that which pushes a cosmos toward simplicity and disintegration.

    So, what does that mean?

    The thoughts that come to mind are these:

    There was a time, I seem to remember, when leftwing protest movements were largely ignored both by the media and by their opposite numbers in the political scene. Certainly there were people who protested Bill Clinton’s bombing of Serbia in 1999, and who protested both the Republican and Democratic conventions in 2000, but very little was made of it and nobody really cared. In this kind of context the protest movement gains very little traction, and eventually dissolves of its own accord. Is this an example of “creating a vacuum around Evil, and allowing it to join the Ring-Chaos” in the context of whatever system-cosmos is being protested?

    I then thought of the way that wars, and especially wars that can be portrayed as great defensive wars against an aggressor, can be used to unify nations. World War II uniting the country around Roosevelt and the cosmos of New Deal government gigantism, the Franco-Prussian War uniting Germany, and so on. Is this an example of an evil being to “lock up the forces of good by opposition, and so secure stability,” “a purchase on space?” Remembering that Good is that which allows a system to grow and integrate, I suppose this must be so.

    Fortune tells us that this latter approach serves no useful purpose “unless you have a superabundance of good which shall stand upon the platform thus formed and leap up from it to greater heights.” What exactly does this mean?

    Hmm. Take the case of protest movements– and now I’m also thinking of the shrieking fixation on Islamic terror during the George Bush administration. Endlessly replaying images of Trump supporters being assaulted by masked Antifas serves the purpose of unifying Trump’s supporters and hardening their support. Of course, the Antifa crowd and the Left more generally does precisely the same thing in their own propaganda. Popping over to a popular Left-wing news site, I see that there are five stories on the front page. Every single one is about Trump. Three have pictures of Trump. One asks, “Will Kavanaugh Make Trump A Monarch?” Another: “Trump and Congressional Republicans Are Working to ‘End Welfare As We Know It.'” “American Democracy is In Peril — And It’s Not Because Of Bots [this underneath a picture of Donald Trump.]” The result, certainly, is the creation of a thrust-block for The Resistance(TM).

    Two days ago I visited a friend who, after almost five years of sobriety, went back to drinking upon the election of Donald Trump, and who now spends hours a day reading this sort of propaganda, flying into a blind rage, and drinking himself into a stupor. So, as you wrote in the example of the garden and the hayfield, Good doesn’t mean good for everything, nor Evil evil for everything. Good for systems of political mind control is pretty Evil for systems of individual human lives.

    How, then, would you oppose this sort of Evil– that is, Evil from the perspective of a human life? Okay, now it makes sense. Back in the day, there was a popular cartoon that had two Fox News-type talking heads braying something like “WHAT can we DO about this TERROR!?!?” and in the next panel a guy turned off the TV. This is what I told my friend the other day: Back then people weren’t being terrorized by Osama bin Laden, but by Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly, and the solution was to stop listening to them. You’re not being terrorized by Donald Trump, you’re being terrorized by Rachel Maddow. Turn off the TV and get off the internet, and you create a vacuum around Evil that allows it to return to the void.

    On the other hand, how would you use mentally destructive political propaganda as a thrust-block– not for another system of political propaganda, but for the system of your own psyche? I suppose– If you had the personal resources, that is, the superabundance of Good, of internal drive and energy, you could use the existence of these kinds of massed psychic attacks as an impetus to self-development. In my own case it’s another incentive to practice daily banishing rituals to fortify my psychic environment; to continue to read widely from outside of the contemporary American political spectrum; and to build up my home as a place of refuge from the outside world. I’ve also used my fear of violent Antifas (I believe it’s a legitimate fear in my case, as I used to be part of that crowd and my apostasy is well known in some circles, but even if it isn’t, it was still useful) as an incentive to deepen my martial arts training in case I need to defend myself, and to build up my savings in case I need to leave town.

    On the other hand, I already practiced magic and martial arts before Donald Trump, so this suggests that I may already have been in possession of a “superabundance of Good.” In the case of the friend I talked about above– I don’t know that this approach would work. His energy seems near complete exhaustion and what remains is chaotic; more than anything else he needs a break from the TV and the booze that comes with it. On the other, other hand, I’ve been minimizing my own exposure to news for the last few months and finding myself much happier for that, so… maybe the two approaches aren’t mutually contradictory. Or maybe I just don’t fully understand them.

    Okay. Am I getting this, or is there something I’m still missing?

    I’m sorry if this post is either rambling or redundant. These ideas are difficult, and I find that I can’t understand even a simple problem unless I work through it on my own. No matter how many times I watch you add two and two and get four, I won’t get it until I personally set two apples alongside two other apples and count the total.

  62. JMG–On the subject of space travel–selfish from one point of view–but cast by its advocates as the only hope for humanity.

    Once science established that the Earth will eventually be destroyed as part of the natural life span of the Sun the race for space was no longer just to satisfy our curiosity or to exploit resources; it became a duty to establish colonies. Like a puffball spreading spores, or something. It is just inconceivable to some that the human race may not be the unique and irreplaceable capstone of evolution. More of our duty to our ancestors mentioned earlier in regard to Orson Scott Card’s essay against gay marriage.

    There seems to be a persistent idea that if something ends or disappears its very existence is thereby rendered meaningless. By this logic, no song, film or story should ever end. Yet most wisdom traditions teach that it is the existence of limits that allow meaning in both life and art. Consider the difference between the actual Mona Lisa and a room covered in wallpaper of the Mona Lisa.

  63. Thinking about the personal-physical implications of this, I feel like the “get out of its way” approach is, on a very basic level, what my mother always said about both pimples and mosquito bites: it’ll only get worse if you pick at it. I find this to be true of many negative emotions as well, but the challenge there is to properly get out of the way rather than repress, which seems on the surface like it’s getting out of the way but actually is creating a thrust block for some fairly nasty ongoing stuff, much of the time. Meditation seems to help there, especially some of the thought-redirection aspects: being able to say “Okay, I feel sad and disappointed right now because of X, and that’s all right,” but breathe through it and then go read a book rather than trying to make it go away and then dwelling *or* trying to vent everything right then and making the situation worse.

    One question that interests me is how, in situations where confronting negative evil or its effects directly is necessary (an operation to remove an inflamed appendix, for example), you can use the thrust-block effect for good. What comes to mind for me is either using the recovery time as an opportunity to learn something new/meet new people/etc, or using the situation as an impetus for developing better habits of health, exercise, etc–but I’m not sure whether or not that’s totally off base.

  64. “The Ring-Chaos has its desires turned toward the space that encircles it” – no wonder Spengler identified our culture’s impulse toward the conquest of space as Faustian! I’m also reminded of Lewis’s conception of Hell in The Great Divorce, the lonely grey town expanding endlessly into the darkness as its inhabitants retreat from each other into isolation.

    My meditation this morning focused on the impact of the ring-pass-not’s rotation on the alignment (little pun for D&D players) of entities within. Their orientation with respect to the ring-chaos will be constantly changing as the ring-cosmos rotates on its axis, right? But they don’t go from “evil” to “good” to “evil” again, since their relation to the ring-cosmos in which they’re embedded remains the same.

    What I thought was that while their fundamental polarity doesn’t change, their ability to act effectively may wax and wane at regular intervals, throughout the cycle of the ring-pass-not. (Btw can I propose we abbreviate these terms going forward? How about Rcos, Rcha, and Rpas?) These would presumably be the kind of cycles that electional astrology is intended track.

    Imaginesay, a movement within America that is explicitly and totally anti-American – a 100% embodiment of the anti-religion of America’s civil religion. It’s Rcos is at a perfect right angle to the Rcos of America. Presumably the optimal time to act would be whenever the Rcos of America is passing through the plane of its Rcha.

    The question is, how would you recognize such times? The Vietnam war came to mind – the unusual strength of the counterculture during that period could be partly explained by America’s involvement in a colonial war, which you could view as being close to a right angle from our nation’s initial revolution…so to speak 🙂

    (To be clear, I’m not suggesting that the peace movement or the hippies actually represent a perfect and total anti-Americanism of the kind I outlined in my initial thought experiment. But they did cast themselves in explicit opposition to the prevailing motion of the larger culture at the time.)

  65. Today’s thoughts on negative evil and entropy. I hope the thinking will justify the length; if not, my apologies.

    One way to picture extremes of order and disorder is to Imagine two variations of Borges’s famous Babylon Library. (That metaphorical Library is a vast collection of every possible book of a certain length using a certain alphabet, including every possible book-length sequence of characters and spaces. Assuming the length of each book and the size of the alphabet are somewhat similar to what’s familiar to us, the number of books in the Library is incomprehensibly huge, though finite. Our entire known universe couldn’t begin to hold a hardcopy Babylon Library, even if each book fit into a cubic Planck length, whose sides are 20 orders of magnitude smaller than the width of a proton. In fact, Planck-cube-sized bins filling our entire known universe couldn’t even hold more than a tiny fraction of a collection of all the possible 140-character Tweets.)

    The two variations I’m thinking of, call them Libraries A and B, are the same vast size and contain the same collection of books, arranged on some organized sequential array of shelves. But in Library A, all the books are shelved in lexicographic (roughly speaking, alphabetical) order, with the book filled with “aaaaaa….” from beginning to end at one end of the shelf array, and the book of “zzzzzz…” at the other.

    In Library B, the books are completely jumbled up, all shelved in random order, as Borges’s original story/essay describes.

    Now suppose one wanted to summarize the entire contents of either Library, sufficiently to produce a copy that had the identical arrangement of texts on an identical array of shelves. To summarize Library B, one would need a catalog giving the shelf position for every book, cataloged in the books’ lexicographic order, OR a list of the contents of the book in each sequential shelf position. (This is because there’s no way to uniquely identify a specific book that’s any shorter than the book’s contents.) Either way (or with any combined way no matter how clever) the summary ends up being about the same length as the entire Library itself.

    But to summarize Library A, one only needs the simple description already given here and a few pieces of data: the book length, the set of symbols in the alphabet, and the schema for the shelving system. With just that information, an extremely patient and long-lived Librarian, or a computer program a few lines long, could then write/print out a letter-perfect reproduction of Library A, or of the book(s) in any specified shelf position(s).

    Those differences between the two Libraries represent extremes of entropy. Library A is very low entropy; that is to say, highly ordered and able to be exactly summarized in extremely compact from. Library B is high entropy; it takes a lot of description to specify its exact state.

    We can say that Library B is at “maximum entropy” but there’s a caveat: each book in Library B is still itself a highly ordered system. Vaporizing all the books in Library B into separate ink and paper particles and mixing them all together would give them much higher entropy still. A concept like “maximum entropy” only seems to be meaningful at a given level of granularity, or dare I say within a specific “plane,” of systematic description.

    For our purposes, neither extreme on any given plane is desirable or useful. Library A is really nothing more than an encoding (in base n, where n is the number of different symbols in the alphabet) of a list of the integers from 0 to (something like) n to the 500,000th power. That entire Library, written out in full and filling innumerable universes, contains nothing that the previous single sentence hasn’t already fully described. And while Library B cannot be summarized precisely without a huge amount of description, for practical human purposes it can be described quite adequately as “an enormous collection of books of random gibberish.” The vaporized Library B is even easier to describe for practical purposes: “a uniform gaseous mixture of ink and paper particles in such-and-such proportion.”

    That’s one of the reasons why entropy (and no doubt, negative evil as well) can be a difficult concept. A volume of a uniform gas mixture might seem more simple, more orderly, than a comparable volume of pages of random symbols. But it only seems so because a non-intuitive comparison “between planes” is involved. You don’t increase order by burning a library, though many have tried! (A clue to the nature of positive evil there, perhaps?)

    Speaking of planes or levels of systematic description, in nature as we know it nothing actually opposes or resists entropy. When that seems to occur, entropy is being shifted between such levels, resisted or arrested or even “reversed” in one subsystem by increasing it in another. That’s why refrigeration, the generation of complexity via biological evolution, and the writing of libraries don’t violate the laws of thermodynamics despite representing dramatic local entropy decreases (increased order) at specific levels of description. If the same principle applies to negative evil, that’s an important similarly; if not, it’s an important difference. (Either way, another clue to the nature of positive evil?)

    In Fortune’s elaborate metaphor I’d associate the condition of Library B with the Ring-Pass-Not or the Ring-Chaos outside it. And while I haven’t read ahead so I don’t know if Fortune uses or describes the concept of a cosmos-center, given how she describes the negative-evil polarity I’d expect to find Library A there at the opposite extreme, and I’d expect any such center in general to resemble the frozen center of Dante’s hell more than some sort of paradise or perfection.

    In any case, we mostly experience the middle reaches, where there are flows and balances and rhythms; where (real) libraries are neither exhaustive nor random but full of meaning; where chaos/entropy/negative evil acts but does not reign.

    Stepping back a chapter it occurs to me that, unusually among cosmic metaphors, Fortune’s does not originate at either of its experiential extremes (neither from some perfectly ordered cosmos-center nor from the Ring-Chaos or Ring-Pass-Not which arise later). No primordial atom (e.g. Big Bang) or singular primordial intelligence, and no primordial chaos either.

  66. “You must hate the hate with sufficient force to lock it up…” I don’t really have much experience of doing that, and less so as I grow older. But its always been a difficult step for me to take, principally because I’m not sure what’s actually angling for devolution, and what’s just angular to my current direction. This is a course of action to apply only if and when I know I can muster the required passion/energy, which means I must truly know that what I oppose is “positive evil” – whatever that is.

    I’m a bit of a master at the aikidoka approach however … I actively ignore what I perceive as being in opposition. I let it go smash itself into oblivion, or alternatively … prove me wrong.

    Evil is “Live’ spelled backwards. Love is “Evol” spelled backwards. I’ve known this for several decades, and it has served me well. I choose to put my energy on what I support wholeheartedly. But I have not escaped this current bringing me in seemingly irresolute conflict with most of civilised world/society. I simply don’t understand, for instance, how a judge can rule guilt or innocence, or why I should drive myself hard to achieve a particular goal, when neither the goals nor the means are justifiable. I’ve tasted sufficient wealth (and success) to know it isn’t what I want, and definitely not worth the time/energy/trouble they require.

    There are times, epochs perhaps, when the force of dissolution is on the ascendancy. To gain any purchase one can’t waste one’s time blowing against the wind; I’d rather quietly construct my own alternative reality, and protect it. I have a way of refusing to compromise on my integrity, and wait to ride the updraft currents. One only needs those currents for lift-off … once in the air, there is no lack of support.

    And yet … that sentence “you must hate the hate with sufficient force to lock it up…” intrigues me. It suggests there are instances when it is right to exert that “nuclear force” I have only really experienced in destructive manifestations of rage, and in life-threatening moments. I have no experience of summoning hate – it only “happens”, and usually with piss-poor consequences.

    My question is … what could be worth the energy needed to summon hate, and block evil, when evil itself is only a value perceived as such because at odds with my preferred outcomes? I guess that’s my first meditation.

  67. I took several physics classes and they trained my brain to start with as simple a system as you can imagine.

    So I am thinking about a simple system (cosmos) that makes music – a violin with a single string.
    I am thinking that the bow is the ring cosmos and the violin is ring chaos. The motion of the bow is resisted by the sting held in tension. The friction (resistance) between the bow and string sets the string in motion and produces the music. The violin is an example of negative evil that dissipates the energy of the bow by resisting its motion. (the structure of the sting and violin make sure that the energy is dissipated in a structured way)

    Is that the right way to think about it ? because I started out thinking that the violin was the ring cosmos. But if I am looking at this example correctly ring chaos and negative evil can be beautiful and well structured.

  68. One of the things I’m noticing as I think through examples of negative evil and how they work is the frequency with which someone else can build on an “evil”* locked in place. Locking an evil in place without a plan of action thus seems really dumb.

    *I’m putting air quotes there since “evil” isn’t a useful term as far as I can tell: it covers too much to be useful.

    Steve:

    I’m not sure what the obsession with Nazis is either. I only used them because they were mentioned, and they could make a point that had occurred to me (the one about polities falling). If I’d picked any other example it would still work, so that was just my sense of humor getting the best of me.

  69. Expat had hit on this somewhat, so hopefully I’ll be safe in making the following point (and if not, I fully understand if you delete my post): the persistence of certain infamous ideologies past what we might consider their sell-by date probably has something to do with how hard they’ve been pushed against since, oh, 1945. I’ve read arguments (which I find convincing) that the narrative structure surrounding the Allied conflict with such ideologies fulfills the same purpose in Western culture as foundational myths do in other cultures. In other words, Western culture requires the persistence and reification of certain ideological “evils” in order to maintain a particular cultural trajectory.

    Where likelier candidates aren’t to be found, others (e.g. Qaddafi, Hussein, Bin Laden, etc.) are shoehorned into the role.

  70. The passage me of how important balance is – the two forces must co-exist or the cosmos itself will either implode or explode. Taking this analogy a step further, it seems as though the universe we are currently experiencing together must eventually explode unless time itself can be reversed. Perhaps the entire purpose of this universe that is currently in motion is to be the thrust block to the human discovery of time manipulation? Or inter-cosmos travel?

    Also, this idea s very much related to your recent post on the Alt-right and the Ctrl-Left – it seems as though real trouble is inevitable when one gets too close to the periphery of any system.

    I like the idea that there are an infinite number of cosmoi and they all impact one another. As I read this it brought to mind a passage at the end of Siddhartha:

    He no longer saw the face of his friend Siddhartha, instead he saw other
    faces, many, a long sequence, a flowing river of faces, of hundreds, of thousands,
    which all came and disappeared, and yet all seemed to be there simultaneously,
    which all constantly changed and renewed themselves, and
    which were still all Siddhartha. He saw the face of a fish, a carp, with
    an infinitely painfully opened mouth, the face of a dying fish, with fading
    eyes—he saw the face of a new-born child, red and full of wrinkles,
    distorted from crying—he saw the face of a murderer, he saw him plunging
    a knife into the body of another person—he saw, in the same second,
    this criminal in bondage, kneeling and his head being chopped off by the
    executioner with one blow of his sword—he saw the bodies of men and
    women, naked in positions and cramps of frenzied love—he saw corpses
    stretched out, motionless, cold, void—he saw the heads of animals, of
    boars, of crocodiles, of elephants, of bulls, of birds—he saw gods, saw
    Krishna, saw Agni—he saw all of these figures and faces in a thousand relationships
    with one another, each one helping the other, loving it, hating
    it, destroying it, giving re-birth to it, each one was a will to die, a passionately
    painful confession of transitoriness, and yet none of them died, each
    one only transformed, was always re-born, received evermore a new face,
    without any time having passed between the one and the other face—and
    all of these figures and faces rested, flowed, generated themselves, floated
    along and merged with each other, and they were all constantly covered
    by something thin, without individuality of its own, but yet existing, like
    a thin glass or ice, like a transparent skin, a shell or mold or mask of water,
    and this mask was smiling, and this mask was Siddhartha’s smiling
    face, which he, Govinda, in this very same moment touched with his lips.

  71. Hi JMG,

    After I read this post I went out to mow the lawn. Other people do walking meditation; I do lawn-mowing meditation. 😉

    During the meditation I thought about the severe thunderstorm which rolled through this area on June 28. When the siren went off to announce a tornado warning, my husband Mike was cooking chicken on our electric stove. He and I went into the basement to wait out the storm. Soon the electricity went off, which made it impossible to continue cooking the chicken. In this example, eating chicken for dinner is the Ring Cosmos, and the lack of electricity is the Ring Chaos.

    Our two strategies became these:
    1. Passive: decide we weren’t hungry after all and skip dinner altogether, or give up on the chicken and eat crackers and cheese for dinner. In this case we let the lack of electricity pass out of our lives in its due time.
    2. Thrust block: knowing that storms can take the electricity out, we prepare by having non-electric means for cooking on hand. This way we snicker at the outage and get to eat chicken for dinner as planned.

    In practice we had to wait for about 45 minutes for the storm to leave the area; then Mike finished cooking the chicken on the gas grill. So we got to eat the chicken no matter what the electricity did. (Turns out it wasn’t a tornado but was high straight-line winds that played havoc with the many old silver maples that are planted too close to electric lines. It was about 40 hours later before the electricity was back on.)

    As I thought of some more examples, it occurred to me that the first strategy has value in that it can win some breathing time while considering how to work a thrust block. Let’s say I was being harassed by someone. I could learn their schedule well enough to avoid being in their vicinity (passive). That would give me some time to figure out what it might be about myself that I could change that would reduce or eliminate the possibility of future harassment (thrust block). Another way to put it is that ineffective resistance in situations like this focuses on changing others’ behavior, whereas effective thrust-block resistance focuses on changing the conditions within myself which elicit such behaviors. This wouldn’t account for all of the negative evils that could affect me, but I suspect there is a good-sized fraction of them that I could best use as an indication of areas in which I need to make changes in myself to neutralize them.

    Do I understand Fortune’s points correctly?

    SLClaire

  72. Interesting symbolism, especially the mulitiered cosmoi. On that subject: In my early adult years, I lived overseas, including three years in a third-world country. Your comments about finding myself on the outside looking in at American culture are spot on. I was rather hoping that my experiences would result in something of a “higher synthesis” in my knowledge and beliefs, and perhaps to some extent this has happened. But it’s a lonely cosmos, as I have found few others who have not had similar experiences to share it with.

  73. John Roth,

    I am indeed using the one with the wall of text. I think last month someone linked to the other in pdf…it would be good if we could have those links stay up in the essay each time we do this class.

    All,

    It seems obvious to me that negative evil is more or less the same as entropy or that entropy is contained within the set of negative evil. I think I said something about that last month. I also think we have a tendency to be prejudiced against entropy but it is really a blessing. No entropy = no existence, no newness, no new chances, everything stuck.

  74. William H,

    That Sadhguru guy said something interesting. He said, if you look at a garden you think it is very orderly, and if you look at a forest it looks like chaos. But if you neglect to take care of the garden for a month, you see it is falling apart. But the forest is in perfect harmony and is taking care of itself. I guess this is not a very good analogy because your land is somewhat more garden-like than forest-like, but I am equating it to a forest in that it is a fairly complete ecosystem and has a wild beauty.

  75. In understanding the difference between negative evil and positive evil, I find it useful that schizophrenia has positive symptoms and negative symptoms. Positive symptoms are florid ad active, like speaking in rhyme or nonsense, paranoid delusions and such. But negative symptoms are mainly severe lack of motivation.

    Positive evil is doing something that detracts from another being, like stealing or threatening them. If this happens by intent. I wouldn’t call it evil if a lion kills a wildebeest because it’s hungry.

    Negative evil isn’t really action, I don’t think. It’s more like doing nothing when things need to be done, saying nothing when something needs to be said.

  76. Stalin!

    John didn’t prohibit mention of Stalin… 😉

    More seriously, Helix mentioned feeling like an outsider in his own country after living in another. Does anyone have the same feeling having NOT lived in another country? I’ve lived in the same country for 59 years and STILL don’t understand some of the “local” customs.

  77. Nicholas, thanks for this! I know next to nothing about IT, so it’s intriguing to hear that the same principles apply there.

    David, the interesting thing is that I’ve known a fair number of very old people who are okay with death. Most of them have lived good lives, and are ready for their lives to wind up when the time comes. On the other hand, it’s not unreasonable for people who aren’t yet very old to want to keep living, since they’ve got a fair chance at many more years of life.

    Steve, good. You’re neither rambling nor redundant; these are genuinely difficult ideas and take some time to grasp. With regard to Fortune’s comment about a superabundance of good, let’s take your example — the torrent of frightening propaganda coming over the TV. If you’re strong enough — if your cosmos has enough momentum in its Ring-Cosmos, let’s say — you can watch the propaganda, recognize what it’s trying to do to you, counter it mentally, and use that to attain something else: for example, greater self-knowledge through watching the propaganda stir up emotional reactions in you. On the other hand, that’s a lot of work, and it’s also an option just to turn off the television.

    Rita, got it in one. You will die someday, so will I, so will every one of us, and so will our species and our entire evolutionary lineage. Coming to terms with that is called “maturity,” and it’s a commodity in very short supply these days…

    Isabel, no, it’s not off base at all. Remember too that your conscious mind is not the only thing involved. Surgery is basically the process of turning an illness into a wound, because the body’s good at recovering from wounds, and so part of the response to the negative evil of the inflamed appendix is to give your body a chance to do a general healing and housecleaning — thus the benefit of bed rest and easily digestible food during the recovery time.

    Fred, Fortune talks about astrology later on, in some interesting ways, and we’ll discuss that when we get to it. Being able to judge the moment when, say, America is at right angles to its original plane of rotation, and has thus turned into its own opposite…that’s a challenge but not an insuperable one, so long as you remember what the original plane of rotation was and can compare it to the present movement!

    Walt, good. There is a center in Fortune’s cosmology, and we’ll be talking about it in the next chapter and repeatedly thereafter; it’s not frozen stillness, though, because it engages in a series of repeated rhythmic interactions with the rest of the Ring-Cosmos. Stay tuned!

    Marco, and it’s a good meditation. You can choose to lock up a force that’s at right angles to your own Ring-Cosmos, but you do it — as Fortune says — when you want to fix it in place, and use your relationship with it as a source of stability. Thus, for example, you might look at some aspect of the society in which you live, and reject that, so that your rejection and the thing in society form something solid in your life; whatever else you do is conditioned by your rejection of that aspect of your society; and you then go on to do something else on the basis of that presence and its rejection. I loathe television, for example, and I choose to make my rejection of it something enduring; once the TV has gone crashing into the dumpster, I then follow through on the rejection by finding other things to do with my time, such as writing, playing a musical instrument, joining a lodge, or what have you.

    Jim, to my mind the Ring-Cosmos and the Ring-Chaos are much simpler and more basic than that. The Ring-Cosmos is sound, the Ring-Chaos silence, the Ring-Pass-Not is rhythm. Once you’re down to violins, you’re in complexities we won’t get to until much further on in the system of thought!

  78. I was just today in a pointed conversation re the nature of (my) inner work and, as is not uncommon for me, I felt myself digging in to resistance. It is like a palpable thing that rises in my chest. I watch it happen; I know what is happening; and I can’t stop it. I know the other person is right. I know intellectually what the situation is, what needs to be done (or not done). Reframing my issues, my mind is not who I am, I am the actor and not the role, the purpose of the dance is itself, construction and destruction are both elements of existence. I know these things, but in these moments I refuse to accept them — and I’m back where I was before, searching for that absolute anchor, that point of reference which will bring order, meaning, and permanence to existence. I want to not go through this, but it seems the only way to manage it is to let it pass, to let it sping along Ring-Chaos out into the void. Talking through it (resisting the resistance) seems to just make it worse and the resistance more intense. Very frustrating, since I’ve got crap to do and a cosmos to attempt to comprehend. I’d like to focus time on that and not dealing with the fog of emotion like this. Can’t we just dwell in the Supernal triangle and not have to dally about with Yesod, Hod, and Netzach? (Ok — that question was rhetorical. I know the answer. I just have to accept it.)

    Sigh. And double-sigh.

  79. Let me try this:

    1) Okay, so a building falling apart due to time and neglect would be a passive evil, provided that your ring-cosmos aligned with the building’s ring-cosmos.

    2) Concrete is a good building material and is very strong in compression and pretty good in shear, but has minimal tensile strength. From the perspective of a builder, concrete’s excellent tensile properties and ease of use align with the ring-cosmos, but its weak tensile strength is aligned with the builder’s ring-chaos.

    3) A building like the Parthenon is built by letting the passive evil of concrete whirl away into the Ring-Pass-Not (of concrete, the people who built it. the concrete or the Parthenon, I’m not sure I know which) by only using concrete in compression, which is why the Parthenon still exists.

    4) A building like a parking garage is built by resisting the passive evil of concrete, by putting pretensioned steel rods into the concrete to pull all of the concrete into compression, thereby allowing the construction of a mostly-concrete structure with elements that would be impossible in pure concrete. (You could build a durable all-concrete parking garage, but you would have to include space for arches and pay for all the extra concrete that would consume).

    5) In the example of the parking garage (or any other prestressed concrete construction, of which there is quite a lot in the industrial world), the passive evil of concrete has been locked into place – it isn’t making the structure break, but prestressed concrete structures have short lifetimes even with extensive and costly maintenance because water inevitably gets in and rusts the steel tension members away, letting the low tensile strength of concrete back into play.

  80. JMG, nope, although Steppenwolf is in my ‘books/movies to read/watch’ list – but I will add the Journey to the East as well.

  81. Well, I’ve read half the book and now that I re-read the first chapter it is much more meaningful. It’s a book that will unfold into deeper and deeper layers. Funny enough, it reminds me of Beowulf in it’s difficulty to decipher with great reward.

    I still don’t understand why it’s important to imagine the two rings at right angles (originally I was imagining their axes as right angles. It’s much easier to imagine them on the same axis going opposite directions. Thank you for the clarification.) My inclination is to imagine them in motion, so most of the time they would be not at right angles. Why should I imagine them stationary? The starting orientation before spinning is the most important? Also in a future month, I hope you will explain what Logos is. I looked up the definition, but I still don’t understand in this context.

    Various thoughts on the reading and some is in response to other comments:

    Tainter/Seneca Effect:
    Society becomes increasingly complex to solve problems (many of which the complexity created – such as desertification caused by industrial farming) This requires ever-increasing amounts of energy. Eventually it becomes impossible to maintain – it overshoots and collapses. From the perspective of The Cosmic Doctrine: Evolution is the movement toward complexity in a fractal growth pattern. Something like a tree or neural branches. Some branches do not find homeostasis and pruning (Devolution) occurs. So increased complexity or Evolution, should not be assumed to be good. Just like Devolution should not be assumed to be evil.

    Magic circle:
    I’ve been thinking about outside of the Cosmos, and I think it is zero dimensional, as in nothing, no space. I don’t know how to imagine that, but it’s the conclusion I’ve come to. Whereas, within the cosmos, there are fractal replicas of the cosmos, but outside of their borders, something exists. So it’s not an exact replica, but it’s the border that matters, the barrier between ‘me’ and ‘not me’. If there is no border, you don’t have any power. There’s nothing to push off from.

    Nation borders:
    The imaginary border of a nation is an example of this power. When I hear people calling for “no borders,” I don’t think they understand how extreme that is, how destructive that would be. I understand the desire to feel empathy for all people of the world, but seriously, you can’t have everyone in your circle, then the circle doesn’t exist.

    The book was originally secret because she thought it could be dangerous in the wrong hands:
    I’m curious about why you would use it for the book club, if you also believed it could be dangerous. She does mention why it is dangerous in a later chapter. But that left me unsatisfied. I wonder if there is something even more dangerous that she wouldn’t even mention. Also, simply defining it as dangerous gives it some special magnetism. So, she is using the principles of the book within the book. I’m also curious about why you would put your cross-street in your blog, perhaps to spin that sort of attention out of your Ring-Pass-Not?

    I’ve written a lot more about my thoughts on dimensions, the Ring-Pass-Not, and Yin-Yang, but I will save it for another time.

  82. @JMG and David, re: death: I’m currently at home with my parents, who are in their late sixties/early seventies. Both of *them* are (or at least seem, though I admit they may be putting on an act for my sake) fine with the notion of death–when they go, they go, and so forth. The notion of losing them bothers the heck out of me, more so in some ways than the eventual prospect of my own death*–I don’t feel at all ready to be the oldest generation in the family–but they both are very much of the opinion that you do what you reasonably and enjoyably can with medicine and healthy living, but living to a hundred doesn’t sound like fun.

    @JMG: That’s an excellent point! Of late–actually, starting around the time I started meditating and so forth–I almost welcome the times when I have a cold or minor illness, because it’s an excuse to stay in, go to bed early, and so forth, often on an occasion when I really need it. (The sinus part, not so much. I don’t know that I’ll ever be spiritually advanced enough not to hate a runny nose.) I’ve started feeling the same way about the first two months or so of winter, too: even when I don’t get to work from home, there’s still something satisfying about a regular signal from the world to stop running around and get some rest.

    @Fred: If I recall my excessive true-crime reading correctly, a few of the small groups within that counterculture did define themselves as pretty explicitly and actively against America or American society, and with results that seem to go along with the “dangers of working dynamically with evil” warning: namely, the SLA, the Peoples Temple, and the Manson Family.

    My mom’s currently watching a Ken Burns documentary on Prohibition, and it does seem like a really good example of how direct opposition really does lock a thing in place, and this particular form of opposition to a negative evil (the mammalian tendency to act ridiculous and sometimes get violent after an excess of fermented substance) made everything worse.

    * I’m vaguely dismayed when I think of the number of books I likely won’t get to read, but still.

  83. I think part of what Fortune means about the need for a superabundance of good is that it’s not enough to simply desire to resist something you see as evil. You have to have a genuine drive to create something, or build on something you love. A desire to preserve the status quo doesn’t cut it if you want to genuinely oppose evil rather than just letting it run its course.

  84. Will, excellent. Yes, exactly — you only use opposition to lock something in place if you’ve already got the plan and the resources in place to do something constructive with it. If not, you may find that it’s you who’s been locked in place, and somebody else is building on top of your opposition…

    Nicholas, I ain’t arguing. Have you noticed, along the same lines, how deeply dependent American society is on having an opposing force identified with the color red? From the redcoats to the Native Americans to the Communists to the, ahem, red states, it’s rather distinctive…

    Docshibby, anything that gets a Hesse quote is a good thing in my book. 😉

    SLClaire, you do indeed. Thank you!

    Helix, it may well have resulted in a higher synthesis, but you’re facing the usual problem faced by those who make a higher synthesis — those who don’t have the raw materials to synthesize it for themselves generally can’t make heads or tails of it.

    Onething, true enough. As our text says, if the Ring-Cosmos has everything its own way, you get a static condition. Both rings are necessary.

    Tripp, good. Clearly the spider and the fly have their Ring-Cosmoi at decidedly different angles!

    Pogonip, you can certainly talk about Stalin; given that his regime killed around three times as many people as Hitler’s, he deserves more discussion than he gets. My prohibition of talk about Nazis is a function of the way that the Nazi regime has come to function as a black hole for thinking.

  85. David, have you considered giving a voice to your resistance and seeing what it says to you? Journaling is great for that; just pick up a pen, ask your resistance to explain to you why it does what it does, and imagine it answering you — and write down every single word without censoring anything, no matter how crazy or scary or absurd it becomes. It’s by bringing such things up into the light of consciousness that we can sort them out.

    Justin, fascinating. That makes sense. When you get to either of the two Hesse books, imagine Jung’s Red Book as playing a role in the story…

    Radha, the point about imagining the rings at right angles is that it makes it easier to understand some of the passages in this chapter that use that specific symbolism. If you’ve got the point of those passages, don’t worry about the right angles. As for the Cos. Doc’s dangerousness, I think Fortune greatly overestimated the ability of the average reader to make sense of it. It’s been readily available in print since the 1950s, there have been classes taught publicly on it and at least one doctoral dissertation published on it; if it was going to cause problems, it would have caused them already — instead, most people who try reading it give up after a few pages, so I think an online discussion group will be fine.

    Isabel, no argument there. I think middle age does the same thing in terms of the life cycle.

    Fred, very good. Exactly; if you want to preserve the status quo, evade the evil, don’t fight it. If you fight it things are going to change.

  86. @Marcos It occurs to me that you may be taking the word “hate” too literally. What do you do when you hate something?

    Recoil from it, reject it fundamentally, do not let it take space, define yourself in opposition. Move away from it in all manner of ways. – it doesn’t require expression of rage or anger, necessarily.

    Similarly, this is why Fortune says the doctrine of meeting hate with love fails so often. What do you do when you love something?

    Think if it, fantasize about it, imitate it, try to become it or something it would approve of. Go toward it, embrace it. It isn’t necessarily positive; infatuation, obsession is mistaken for love.

    I struggled with this passage, as it seems to give one an excuse to do nothing in the face of challenges, and declare you are just letting evil reach dissolution, man. Be a wimp, or a doormat, and declare your goodness. I have always found a contingent of people who like to think of themselves as “just too nice to say anything” are actually just cowardly, and afraid of being disliked at all by anyone.

    So I think there is a very important point in here about the fact that entropy, or negative evil, is the factor that stabilizes the cosmos, and is a thrust block – if what you are doing is not hating the thing, not running in the intentional way where you know what the thing is, but rather in a fearful way in the manner of a child, you are not truly letting the evil dissipate, nor using it as a thrust block for good as you could. You are goin not at right angles, around it, but opposite to it, in the direction that counters all movement, and removes the potential for good.

    At least, that’s what I’m telling myself – there is a trick of engagement hidden in the use of “hate” – it is not passive. Aikido takes tremendous skill and little to throw a man with a crook of your finger – you must be paying attention, but soft, not just floppy.

  87. Hello, here’s a thing. When I was reading through the correspondences set out for Ring Cosmos (Good, Life, Light, Spirit, Being, God) and Ring-Chaos (Evil, Death, Darkness, Matter, Not-Being, Devil) “because each of these potencies has its root in its respective Ring”, I found myself jarred, or resistant to seeing the pair Spirit/Matter in this terms.

    Initially, because in terms commonly used, matter is conceived of as the densest (“most manifested”?) plane of manifestation (and so, closer to the “centre” of Ring-Cosmos’s sphere, as it were. Whereas spirit is conceived of as less dense, perhaps less complex, and less “concretely” (Ring-Cosmos preference?) manifested as matter, and closer, perhaps, than matter, to the original Unmanifest.

    Secondly, in personal experience, matter and spirit are tied up so closely together that I cannot think of how to experience one without the other, and their separation is, for me, a matter of language and conceptual categorisation, only, and not of experience. Whatever I am, whatever living beings I know and interact with are, are spiritual matter or material spirit, in some indivisible way.

    So I tried to think of myself as a miniature set of Rings. My “Ring-Cosmos” being my spirit seeking to evolve, to complexify, to integrate and “extend my centre”, to “solidify by contraction”, and my “Ring-Chaos” being my matter seeking to devolve, to de-compose, to disintegrate, to “extend my circumference”, to turn to “space that encompasses it”. This would give my spirit some interesting “earthy” qualities I had not formerly associated with it, and likewise give my matter some interesting etherial qualities likewise not formerly evident.

    I came back then to the thought, “remember, these are metaphors”….

  88. I quite agree with you, John. Not only does Stalin deserve more attention than he gets, but I’ll bet most of these idiots running around yelling about He—Who-Must-Not-Be-Babbled-About-In-This-Discussion couldn’t identify 10 leading Nazis or intelligently discuss the reasons why they came to power.

  89. @JMG

    I’m a little late to the discussion but have been trying to catch up on the last two posts. Of all of various associated references that might help me to understand / visualise the Cos Doc, I’m most familiar with systems theory and complexity, so have been trying to build some bridges from those directions.

    So, is it on track to think of the ring cosmos as being akin to positive or reinforcing feedback, the ring chaos to negative or balancing feedback, and the ring pass-not as a description of the kind of dynamically stable over time patterns that emerge from the interation of the two, giving the system as a whole a kind of identity or boundary condition?

  90. Oops, paragraph 2 of my previous post should read:

    2) Concrete is a good building material and is very strong in compression and pretty good in shear, but has minimal tensile strength. From the perspective of a builder, concrete’s excellent compressive properties and ease of use align with the ring-cosmos, but its weak tensile strength is aligned with the builder’s ring-chaos

    I take it my use of the Ring-Cosmos, Ring-Chaos and Ring-Pass-Not was correct in my Parthenon vs. Parking Garage example?.

  91. JMG
    Thank you again for your very helpful explanation and intro. I persevere very gently. I hope I am seeing a little of the same effect – improving – as Violet. ‘Clearing up’ personal environment as it were improves the platforms we find our ‘point of view’ standing on.
    Reviewing matters so far as I understand them:
    1. DF’s story of the source of these teachings can be disregarded for our purposes.
    2. Similarly, the DF model from physics does not have to be accurate about physics: these are symbols not information. I am glad about that. I usually can visualize points of view from platforms inside the gear-box as it were of Newtonian physics from micro to macro – centripetal and centrifugal ‘forces’, friction and drag, torque and so on, even angles of illumination and throw in a bit of quantized energy transfer, but admit to having struggled with DF’s geometry.
    3. A commenter a month ago raised the comparison with ‘systems theory’ and you replied that he might be onto a good thing, and so this month it proved.
    My comment just now is that ‘systems theory’, like ‘chaos theory’ seems fully compatible still with an entirely ‘deterministic’ account of the universe. DF earlier, however, brought in ‘desire’ and repeats it in the text we are looking at: page 20 and again on 22 of the hard copy edition I am looking at. Well, ‘desire’ can be part of the pre-programming I suppose of deterministic / emergent behavior, but it seems to connect both conscious and unconscious with a dynamic effect on the solid – ‘solid’ for want of a better word.
    As a bit of a non-sequitur our Meteorological Office has had to give up its monopoly of information to diverse on-line services. Even the BBC has bought into an alternative service. A friend described his wife as reviewing the different accounts – we usually have locally very variable weather – and choosing the one she likes. Her Standing Stones outdoor theatrical was actually perfect this June 21st. Just goes to show. Smile.

    best
    Phil H
    PS FWIW the photograph of Violet Firth / Dion Fortune you posted elsewhere is memorable and has kept popping up in my mind.

  92. Whew! Reflecting on the depth of thought in all these comments makes me feel about 2 inches tall.

    You said, in reply ‘if you want to preserve the status quo, evade the evil, don’t fight it. If you fight it things are going to change’.

    This reminds me of a saying (Will Rogers, I think) to the effect that, if you see ten troubles coming down the road toward you, don’t run out to meet them; nine will run into the ditch before they get to you.

    This leads me to want to be on the lookout for proverbs, quotes, etc. which capture a bit of the wisdom of The Cosmic Doctrine. I’m expecting them to be everywhere once I’m duly sensitized. I’ve got an inkling that actually it’s present in every meaningful tension that exists, but a good aphorism or saying is a bite-sized chunk that’s easy to remember and recall when you need to put something into perspective.

  93. I enjoyed David’s comment, and your suggestion in reply. The rubber hits the road for me when the dynamics of the rings can be seen playing out in my inner world. You suggested journaling, and I would add painting as a path that allows those deeper forces to be consciously seen. At the end of the day, it seems to me that the text is leading me to accept that everything in the cosmos has its place and reason. As a corollary, everything in me has its place and reason. Unconscious suppression is not the answer.

    I thought of astrology as a profound analogy for explicating these dynamics. Maybe my birth-chart is my Ring-Cosmos, and as I move I generate a Ring-Chaos. The passage through time generates the sphere of the Ring-PassNot. At any given moment those foundational angles in my birth-chart are impacted by the changing angles of the shifting spheres on the Ring-Chaos.

    The first place these influences manifest is in my inner world of feeling and thought. Surely this is where the real action is. Jung predicted the rise of nazism through his experience of the archetypal forces at work in human nature, his own in primis. That’s where the choice of letting or resisting evil might be usefully applied. It seems to me that by the time these manifest in the external world … its too late to do anything about them; then we are just reacting to projected images in Plato’s cave.

    I was 12 years old when I moved from Italy to Zimbabwe (Rhodesia at the time). I was 19 when I moved to Cape Town, South Africa. I was 27 when I moved to France, after a year in Italy. I was 36 when I moved to Spain, and 39 when I moved to Seattle, WA. I was 46 when I moved to London, UK, and 50 when I moved to Amsterdam, Netherlands. I was 56 when I moved to La Gomera, Canary Islands, Spain. I have unaspected Jupiter in the 9th House of my birth chart. I know intimately what it feels like to enter a national cosmos, adapt to belong, then leave it and enter a new one. Every culture has essential values, essential voids, magnificent uniqueness, and gross exaggerations. None are worth basing one’s identity on.

  94. John–

    Re journaling

    I appreciate that advice. I may have to concede defeat and give that a try. My wife has been journaling for many years now to some effect. Of course, the whole reason I have these things taped up tightly in a small box and tucked away in a dark corner of the attic is precisely so I that *wouldn’t* have to waste time dealing with them in the first place, but it seems that I ultimately don’t have a choice in the matter. Eh bien.

    As usual, much of the intensity of the resistance had passed when I woke this morning. This is par for the course. I was laughing at myself yesterday during the conversation I referenced earlier, because practically everything my wife was saying (in slightly different language, of course) paralleled what we are studying here in Cos Doc or what I’m studying in the DA course or what I’ve been told in meditation. Again, understanding all this is one thing; incorporating it into my life is something else entirely. Understanding that “the point of the dance is itself” — that existence is the self-referential foundation of meaning and that meaning is ultimately subjective, not objective — is well and good. Being able to look at that and not throw one’s hand’s up in despair while lamenting “then nothing means anything because all meaning is just made up” (because, of course, only the objective is real) is a different challenge altogether and one with which I struggle regularly. I lock myself up, in the language of this month’s discussion here.

    I keep stubbornly trying to fit this existence into a purely intellectual framework and existence is having none of it. The wrestling match is, among other things, with the voices that tell me I should be doing grand works, not “sitting with my emotions” to peel back layers of childhood issues from when I was sent to my room when I was three or from our having to move every other year (as a military family). But, as you pointed out the “necessity of Ares,” there is a necessity for these other factors as well, regardless of my preferences to the contrary. I’ll have to deal.

  95. I was thinking about this passage and it reminded me of an epiphany I had a few months ago while meditating – that what I seek to do while meditating is finding the quiet in the chaos. After reading this I wonder if I was on some level using the chaos to find the silence – that the two are mutually interdependent and the chaos of my mind is actually the thrust-block to find the quiet.

    That lead me to think about the the creative process and the act of creation – that the act of creation (manifestation) is “intent” (movement in Ms Fortune’s terminology) passing through chaos to manifest. Which would mean that all manifestation is intention filtered/effected by chaos. It reminds me of Citta in yoga and the quest to still the citta as much as possible to find truth (intention).

  96. I’m hoping JMG and the readership can help me on this one. Thinking of Fortune’s statement “You must hate the hate sufficiently to cause a locking up of the force.” The Ctrl-Left always says its marches and protests are “against hatred”. For example, the other day when I went to Chicago, there was a woman shouting “November is too late! Stop the fascists and their hate!” on Michigan Avenue. She had a megaphone. Is it that the Ctrl-Left only pretends to hate Trump, and that they secretly thrill at the prospect of working themselves up into a foam over his every move? Because they haven’t surrounded Trump with a vacuum, they’ve given him a surplus of potency? Am I on the right track if I say they love their own hatred? Therefore, if they hated their own hatred and refused to engage with it, would they be able to vanquish their opposition? Their hatred of Trump’s supposed hatefulness seems genuine enough.

  97. Since it came up…I’m super curious what it is about “red” that the egregore of the United States finds so offensive. I mean, our flag is red, white and blue after all, and red is always mentioned first! Red is, after all, the color of vitality, healing, protection and blessing.

    Is this an age of Pisces thing, with the devil in red and people at war with their ‘animal’ halves? I really find it baffling and sinister; the whole war on nature, which is positive evil if I’ve ever seen it, seems to be predicated on exactly the same line of thinking as the ‘red enemy’.

    That being said, this battle against the Red Enemy has allowed for a mighty nation and empire to be built up from the forces of opposition, so there is that. And there has been a great deal of stability as well, at least as politics goes, derived from the forces of opposition. So there’s that too. Still, as a mythic structure, I find it utterly confusing and counter-intuitive. Any clarifying thoughts on this is most appreciated!

  98. @JMG, @Violet

    First off, thank you JMG for getting this discussion going. For the first time I now have a daily meditation practice, which is in itself rewarding, but the thoughts provoked by reflection and further stirred by comments here are quite wonderful above and beyond that.

    Last week’s discussion of the Alt-Right arising in response to the Ctrl-Left had me reflecting on their correspondence to the Ring-Chaos and the Ring-Cosmos, respectively. But if I understand Jordan Peterson’s position correctly (just cracking the spine of his first tome, Maps of Meaning) he diagnoses the Ctrl-Left as a Ring-Chaos arising in response to the Ring-Cosmos of the evolution of western culture, and a symbol of that culture’s dissolution.

    This suggests that there can be cosmoi within cosmoi, shadows of shadows. Very interesting! Also curious that from the perspective of the Ctrl-Left, their shadow (the Alt-Right) is indistinguishable from what they themselves shadow (the normative Judeo-Christian morality of the West which Peterson seeks to champion).

    As far as I can tell, Peterson seems to be attempting a genuine Second Religiousness of the Faustian Culture, hybridizing science and myth in order to ‘save’ that culture from the forces of Chaos. But it isn’t clear to me at this point whether he is himself a reactionary force or whether he’s using the Ctrl-Left as a thrust-block to in order to work in alignment with the evolution of Western Culture, if the metaphor works in this sense. The fact that he’s championing tradition and conservative moral values in some sense suggests a Ring-Cosmos kind of aspiration on his part.

    Is my geometry way off here, or am I spinning at a sensible angle?

  99. On the peak oil question…

    I see the hard opposition to the idea as the continuing fingers in ears, la-la-la, peak oil can’t exist if we keep pretending really hard that it doesn’t!

    Of course there are myriad symptoms of this option/illness – the umpteen trillion dollar federal debt (does the number really matter), the decaying infrastructure in the teeth of imagined progress, the ongoing ethanol illusion and its cascading collateral damage, electric cars, cold fusion, and so on.

    The get out of the way and let it spin out into oblivion option is probably best correlated to your “collapse now and avoid the rush” admonition. Once one has truly collapsed to a lower energy/resource level the predicament of peak oil kind of goes away, as Fortune suggests. At least for, perhaps, that generational cycle.

    For our part, we’ve mostly done that bit, at our rural homestead anyway, and are starting to think about the next round of challenges: namely life on foot, and probably in or much closer to town. We don’t see it as abandon one and adopt the other though, but more of a both/and between us and our children (I.e. the next generational challenge)

  100. Hi JMG – I just want to say that this: “Surgery is basically the process of turning an illness into a wound, because the body’s good at recovering from wounds, and so part of the response to the negative evil of the inflamed appendix is to give your body a chance to do a general healing and housecleaning” is beautifully put, and makes a lot of clinical sense. I had never heard this thought expressed in these terms before, but I can already see how to put it to use! Thank you!

  101. I think I’m achieving entropy. The older I get, the less I know. My brain feels like it is dissipating. Especially after reading Ecosophia posts!

  102. According to the “oppose and make it concrete” option, it seems to me that the evangelical Christian church is largely responsible for making Satan as powerful as they claim him to be. They’re always on about the evil works of Satan, and demons under every mattress. I don’t give Satan much of my brain-space, and so he seems a trifling character to me, if he exists at all.

    Should I be less flippant about “the Devil”? Or am I on to something here that might correlate well with the current discussion?

  103. Hi JMG,
    I found that I particularly resonated with the “resist not evil” from the currant reading. It was something that a friend and I were discussing just very recently. I have had experience with this from time to time, but it always seemed so random when it worked for me. I think I am starting to getting the drift about negative and positive evil and how they are used should you be so inclined.

    “Resist not evil” was something I thought our country should have done with 9/11, but instead we chose to fight back and, lo, international terrorism seems to be a fixture of our modern age. I think the trick is to be able to wisely or strategically choose your battles. Guess this is where divination and meditation come into play.
    Wonderful stuff.

    David,
    I would certainly want to become a subscriber to your occult journal. I think it would be a fascinating read.

  104. I hope this isn’t too basic – it goes back to last month’s reading- I want to get the basics down before going further. The ring-cosmos is slightly stronger than the ring-chaos. This is why it overcomes inertia. Because inertia has been overcome, the spin produces an ever changing interaction between it’s force and the force of the the ring-chaos. (I’m thinking that if cosmos couldn’t overcome inertia the opposing forces would be equal and therefore everything would be in stasis)

    “The ring-chaos does not belong to the universe it encircles, but to outer space.” IOWs the ring-chaos is the unmanifest ? So what we’re being asked to imagine with these symbols is the interplay of the manifest and unmanifest, bounded by the ring-pass not ?

    I hope I’m understanding correctly. This is indeed tough going, at least for me.

    As an aside I was, like others here, taken by the idea that what is resisted is made persistant. The current political situation makes it easy to see how resistance can be used as a thrust block.

  105. @kimberleysteele007

    I think what trips us up about why “hating the hate” doesn’t mean frothing through a microphone, as it would seem to imply, is the *second* hate there. “The hate” is not “Donald Trump”. It is what the Resistance claims he stands for .

    So, since this is how the Resistance is actually using it – I’m sorry, JMG, Nazis: my friend shared a meme that goes like this, “we have a saying in Germany, if there are ten people around a table, then they let one Nazi sit down, there are 11 Nazis at the table”. This is being used to explain why under no circumstances should anyone with any sympathy toward issues that could be said to align with Trump, Trumpism/ Tories/ Conservatives be allowed to express their views at all, because it makes everyone equal to all bad things imaginable . This is obviously… Fascism, the grossest sorry of scapegoating entire groups and systems of belief and intolerance they claim to be stamping out. They aren’t hating “the hate”, they’re doing it, fixated on it – loving it.

    To hate the hate in this example, the woman with the microphone should be telling “come tell me why you believe differently!” Or ” If you think we need immigration reform to increase humane treatment of refugees and Americans losing their jobs to import slave labor, let’s come up with policy options for a petition to government!”.

    If you hate manipulating people with fear, engage their rational faculties.

    If you hate rude slurs and petty insults in your public discourse, don’t use it to attach your opponent.

    If you hate attacks on science and civil liberties, use science yourself, and don’t try to restrict civil liberties.

  106. Hello JMG,

    I love the Ashley Technique!

    Building on some hazy, part-formed strategies of my past, I’ll clarify them based on that & what I’ve been reading here:

    Something is “in my way”, assuming I know what the objectives of “my way” are- helps to have a clue about that first. “My way” being all the activities and situations I don’t wish to be diverted from within the cosmos of the kind of life I want to live, and the pursuit of sorts of questions I earnestly seek answers for.

    Is it really in my way, or am I altering the angle of my path to -make it be in my way-, based on some emotional or other internal reaction?
    If it is, can I go around it? (& can I “let it go”?)
    If I can’t go around it, can I use it and my reaction to it in some way?

    So simple, yet often so full of snarly bits.
    Emotional continence can be so difficult!

    Bonnie

  107. (I dare say the log in tech for this site will get my goat one of these days. My ring cosmos is getting ever more perpendicular to the ring of technology!)

    “The Ring-Cosmos seeks to *extend* the centre.”
    This is odd to me, in the way I have visualized thus far I would have said that the Cosmic whirl seeks to approach or contract around the center…. I will play with some different options on how to visualize this; but at present this seeks quirky to me.

    “The Ring-Cosmos, if its influence were unchecked, would be static in the immediate present.”

    Thus is the case with a mathematical construct. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCpLWbHVNhk

    This mathamatical object is what it is because its ring-pass-not is finite, and in a sense isolated from chaos by a precisely defined limit. Yet, even in this absurdly tiny and simple limit there is more resolution than can be represented of our Universe in all the terms of science. Yet, it is static, the way that the forms related to each other and the pattern iterate is all static. Of course there is a bunch of chaos involved in the process of representing this math thing to people. For contrast consider the much much more limited zoom of our universe as the Science of the 70’s could represent: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0fKBhvDjuy0

    For comparison the mandobrot zoom (my first link) zooms to a depth of [1970’s limits of theoretical scientific resolution of our universe] to the power of 27. I love the sublime effect of things far beyond the resolution limits of my imagination.

    It seems unlikely that the essence of any soul which has chaos around it, and can give birth to a dancing star could contain any less beauty than a mere fractal.

    In any case it seems to me that a ring cosmos seeks to become itself. To pull inward toward an ideal that it is always surrounding, a strange attractor. But what it is that it is to become is in communion with its ring chaos. The object of math, which is in representation pulled aside from chaos, is static in the immediate present. Only what lives in the relationship of the two forces, in their difference, is free. Freed by the sum chaos of all which IS; though ironicallly captured between that very chaos’ elder gods (so to speak) and its own order, its own ITSELF.

    Each Ring Cosmic may be rotated in relation to another in any number of dimensions needed to make a point, though 3 is going to be the limit of the usefulness of all but very quirky imaginations. The example I explored was one where there can be a comparison of two Cosmoi; such that ring cosmic of cosmos A is perpendicular to both the ring chaos and the ring comsic of cosmos B, and the ring chaos of cosmos A is aligned with the ring cosmos of cosmos B. There are a gaggle of examples one could meditate on. The one I described has some interesting asymmetries; specifically B is imperceptible to A; but the chaos of A shares energy with the order of B. Poor A could be gobbled up should they get too close! and with its own comsic ring being a jar from either of B’s rings it only senses danger as though it were from the vague threat of its own mysteriously swelling ring chaos. That’s a Lovecraftian relation right there!

    Each cosmos is like a monad, and in chaos if not in order reflects all the cosmos beyond itself.

    Evil prevents the spirit from falling into itself into the permanent eternal now at the center of its ring. A spirit cannot be lost completely, but evil could pull it so far out from a nuanced manifestation that what remains might seems to another soul closer to matter than spirit.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aFkcAH-m9W0

    Johnny Cash’s verse:
    “I fly a star-ship, across the Universe divide
    And when I reach the other side
    I’ll find a place to rest my spirit if I can
    Perhaps I may become a highwayman again
    Or I may simply be a single drop of rain
    But I will remain
    And I’ll be back again, and again and again and again and again”

    Even reincarnation makes a touch more sense in this light. There is a ‘strange attractor’ that is at the heart of the whirl that I am, and even when the matter that I am made of spins out of context, the attractor remains. Like the bend in a ditch where one little whirl pool after the next is born as the water flows by, as the bank erodes the whirl pools evolve.

    There are a couple more meditations that have sprung up, but its getting too late to do them justice now.

  108. Two political examples of making something stronger by opposing it forcefully.

    The slogan ‘Action-Reaction-Action’ was very popular among the Revolutionary Left (ie real revolutionaries, kidnapping, murdering ones) in Europe in the 60’s and 70’s.

    The rather cynical theory was that an attack on the state leads to a violent reaction( and nice crop of heroic martyrs and innocent victims) which serves as the basis for an even stronger attack by the forces of revolution, leading eventually to an overwhelming and irresistible uprising of the people in response to extreme state oppression, and the establishment of the Proletarian Revolutionary Utopia.

    In Spain, as applied by ETA, this simply led to 40 years of hopeless violence and hatred, and not the slightest weakening of the Spanish state. Simply a spiral of violence which no one could escape from.

    Similarly, the recent – ill-planned – Catalan revolt has merely reinforced, even rejuvenated, Spanish nationalism, which is now in full renewed vigour, and propelled the new and truly nationalist/ Falangist (ie Spanish fascist) Citizens’ party to a very strong electoral position, threatening the more reasonable, older, conservative party which is now in trouble. Everyone now seems locked in to their respective positions and room for negotiation has more or less vanished.

    Magnificent home goals by both ETA and the Catalan nationalists, but at least in Catalonia no on died (partly due to the fact that in the 1970’s the Spanish police were free to kill whom they chose to, but are now more constrained by international media, and also of course to the fact that the nationalist Catalans themselves killed no one).

  109. Hi John Michael,

    Just out of total curiosity, could you apply the concept of negative evil as a description of humanities relationship with the environment (actually I probably mean the biosphere)? It seems somehow apt to me.

    I have to now re-read your essay a few times in order to get to the deeper understanding.

    Far out, it is cold here. This winter has felt colder than normal and I have noted that the grass seems to be very slow growing and the wildlife is hungry. Most nights of late a truly ginormous wombat has been happily munching away in the orchard.

    Cheers

    Chris

  110. Stefania, are you aware of the fairly sizable body of adult occult literature written by “Frances” author Russell Hoban? Though I don’t expect he was thinking of CosDoc when he wrote the Frances books, then again, you just never know…

  111. Interesting how Fortune and Smuts seem to approach an idea that David Bohm developed – implicate order. As I understand it from Bohm’s book by the same name, and here I am going out on a limb because I am not a physicist, “all” is wrapped up in the implicate “ordering” of the universe. It takes one’s “unraveling” to understand the implications of that order. The unraveling is not a simple process, but one we all go through in learning. Bohm later moved into a philosophy of conversation with Krishnamurti based on that unraveling. I find Bohm fascinating, and a man well before his time. Am I on the right track in understanding Fortune’s approach as one that resembles, at least in some ways, Bohm’s? I do find this work challenging, and your commentaries insightful and “inciteful”.
    Peace, Tim

  112. @Stefania I got a really nice loaf of bread at the farmers market yesterday and ate way too much of it, and the only thing that finally stopped me was saying out loud “Bread and Jam for Frances” every time I approached the remaining half loaf! So thank you for saving me from myself!

    I am in the middle of a writing project right now and am experiencing a great deal of negative evil in my own procrastination. The way I try to manage it is to practice scales on the guitar as part of my procrastination so that I get that sweet procrastination thrill but I’m still doing something productive and “real”. But oh, it’s hard. Every time I have a deadline it’s so painful. I know I do it to myself.

  113. This month’s introduction comparing to systems theory has been helpful for me trying to map these concepts onto concrete things where I can use them.

    What follows is mostly thoughts about last month’s reading, but I hope it is still relevant enough.

    In the first chapter, I couldn’t internalize the description of the unmanifest when I compared it to the popular materialist notions of the universe, and could when I used the lens of JMG’s first Well of Galabes essay “Explaining the World”. It was so much easier that I wonder if it was meant to foreshadow this book club selection.

    When the manifest is taken as the world, man-old, what we experience, and unmanifest as unimaginable reality, phrases like “pure being” and “IT alone is substance’” become plain. I do have to twist words like “occurred”, “qualities” and “history” away from their normal usage as absolutes and recognize them as mental representations, but that seems appropriate for a work on magical philosophy.

    In this arrangement, our representations would be the ring cosmos, and the “blooming, buzzing” sensations where consciousness contacts the previously unmanifest form the ring chaos.
    Sensations can be considered negative evil in the sense they are a manifestation of an indifferent environment we have to struggle against to survive.

    Light and dark, up and down, soft and hard, before and after: Our inner world is made of dualities and their combinations. If something was a unity, constant in time and space, then we could not perceive it. It would not be manifest to us.

    I think that’s the main difference the ‘werold’ framing has made for me. Manifestation is about being manifest *to* something. Unmanifest is anything and everything that is inaccessible to the cosmos you are looking from. It’s imagined as empty space because of it’s unknowableness, not for lack of essence. This fits with the second chapter’s discussion of the mutual dependence of ring cosmos and ring chaos for existence. I am going to put more thought into if the details of the second chapter make sense this way.

    I admit maybe with this interpretation, which is the most general one that makes sense to me so far, I am taking the cosmology in a narrower sense than what is meant, since there is no mention of a perceiver or consciousness.

  114. When the idea of using evil as a thrust block was presented in the first chapter, I immediately thought of athletes who will compile all the negative press they receive in their lockers and use it as motivation to be great. Combining this notion with magic is still a stumbling block for me, though I think a small one to get past.
    Another thing I’ve been thinking about is the notion of opposite, and unequal forces and how that relates to using evil as a thrust block. The notion of giving way to evil to make it go away makes plenty of sense. I think if pest pressure in a garden…or human pressure on a planet ;). Let it go far enough, negative feedback will kick in and bring things into balance. Opposite and unequal to make a change is where I’m not so sure…unless the opposite force is so overwhelmingly more powerful…like an atom bomb. I lean toward using subtle forces…I guess they just take more time for change to unfold. This is a great chapter with much useful concepts. I’m looking forward to more of this discussion and reading and watching it play out in life. Thank you.

  115. Two selections which I ran across today in my reading of _The Mystical Qabalah_, also by DF.

    First, not directly relevant to this month’s reading, but cool nonetheless: “The power of the Roman Chur h does not lie in charter, but in function. It is powerful, not because Peter received the Keys (which he probably didn’t) , but because it knows its job.” (Chapter 23, paragraph 15)

    Second, a bit more directly relevant to the discussion of negative evil and the function of the thrust-block: “We see, then, that it is through inhibitions and refrainings on the lower planes that the dynamic energy of the highest plane is rendered available. It is in the Sphere of Hod that the rational mind imposes these inhibitions on the dynamic animal nature of the soul; condensing them; formulating them; directing them by limiting them and preventing diffusion.” (Chapter 23, paragraph 24)

    The latter, in particular, speaks to the efficacy (even necessity) of limits, Ring Chaos and Ring Pass Not, in our text.

  116. What I’m enjoying most about this experience is how well it synthesizes other topics discussed here. As I understand what Fortune is getting at, the dynamic between the Ring-Cosmos and Ring-Chaos is the ultimate source of what we experience the Law of Flow and Evolution, as discussed in the last text. Or rather, they are both symbolic ways of talking about the flowing and evolving aspects of our experience. Put another way, the watery aspects of our experience and reality?
    The Ring-Pass-Not, is the symbolic definition of a given system, and can be related to the Law of Systems and the Law of Limits. Sounds rather Saturnine to me!

    I also wonder if we can think of the Ring-Cosmos as the Awen of a given system. The Ring-Chaos can be a number of things, whether just forces of “Negative Evil” (which reminds me so much of what Simone Weil called Gravity), or even the Awen of another creature, like Spiders and Flies 😀

    Lastly, I see this text could be read as a metaphysical underpinning of the principle of liberty, mentioned recently. By saying you can pursue what you want to do so long as you don’t harm others, is a way of managing the conflict between each person’s Ring-Cosmos (or Awen?) If two people are in conflict, their Ring cosmos are opposed to each other, and so enter a relationship like the Ring-Cosmos and Ring-Chaos. The principle of liberty, is a little ‘space’ so the conflict isn’t as bad as it otherwise be.

    Welp, that’s my initial jab at this stuff….

  117. Let me see if I understand Fortune’s writing by trying to put it into a modern political context.

    —–

    The currently dominant system of political economy, neoliberalism, has the following values:

    Markets are supposed to be open to capital flows, trade in goods and services, and labor across international borders. Tariffs and capital controls should be virtually nonexistent, and borders should be as close to open as the native population of a country will tolerate.

    Taxes should be fairly low on the rich, who may make use of tax havens to park their money. Regulations, where they exist, should be written to benefit corporations and the accumulation of capital. The government should pretend to be laissez-faire but in reality intervene actively to help corporate actors, such as by bailing them out if they blow an enormous bubble and crash the financial system.

    Politicians should be elected, but all serious candidates are supposed to agree on the general neoliberal model, and elections should be contested primarily on social issues and other topics that do not affect the structure of the economy. Economic issues, where present, should be restricted to fairly minor details and adjustments – no politician should question the overall structure.

    On international affairs, the United States is supposed to handle the task of policing the global empire. It may intervene at will if a nation is behaving inconveniently, using whatever combination of withholding foreign aid, instigating of “color revolutions”, economic sanctions, airstrikes, covert ops, and outright invasion it deems necessary to keep insubordinate nations in line. Human rights are to be the rhetorical fig leaf of choice. The task of managing Europe is left to the EU, which is to provide the carrots and sticks required to keep all its countries behaving in the most convenient possible manner for capital, particularly that of Germany, France, and smaller “core” countries.

    —–

    Political actors who support these stances are operating in the plane of the Ring-Cosmos of the current international order. Examples include virtually all Western political leaders of the 1980s, 90s, 00s, and early 2010s, including Reagan, Bush Sr., Clinton, Bush Jr., and Obama; Thatcher, Major, Blair, Brown, and Cameron; and so on. By acting to sustain it, they are good for neoliberalism.

    Lately, forces of negative evil have arrived, unintentionally summoned by the excess of good. The most popular label to describe negative evil wrt neoliberalism is “populist”. Despite a variety of differences, everyone called populist is acting to challenge and undermine the existing neoliberal system, and this is what they have in common. There are right-wing populists such as Trump, Farage, Johnson, Le Pen, Wilders, Salvini, Orban, Kaczynski, and Putin. There are also left-wing populists such as Sanders, Corbyn, Melenchon, Iglesias, Di Maio, Tsipras, Chavez, Maduro, Morales, and both Kirchners. They all share a belief that the neoliberal system is not benefiting their people. To that end, they withdraw from or weaken trade agreements and international organizations, reimpose tariffs and other barriers, tighten border controls (more popular on the right), improve social safety nets and other services (more popular on the left), and so on. All of these policies are aligned with the Ring-Chaos and act to dissolve our current system of political economy.

    One of the main differences between modern populists and the Nazis is that the populists are forces of negative evil – they are acting to dissolve the current system, and mostly not to create their own coherent cosmos in which the new Ring-Cosmos is aligned closely with the current system’s Ring-Chaos. That would be positive evil. Negative evil simply acts to push a system toward dissolution. (I am nowhere near sure I understand this correctly)

    Modern populists are greatly strengthened by the opposition they have received. Trump is the most spectacular example – if his campaign had been met with crickets from the media and other influential “good” actors, he would have been flung to the Ring-Pass-Not and gone away very rapidly. Instead, he was met with widespread denunciation and $2 billion of overwhelmingly negative media coverage. Knowing it strengths him, he behaves in a manner calculated to cause as much bad publicity as possible. The result is that he dominates news coverage every single day, strengthening even further. He will continue to be politically successful until the Dems figure out that denouncing him makes him stronger and that they have to instead run with compelling positive messages, rather than just opposing him.

    (The message need not have much content. Their most recent success ran with empty slogans emphasizing “hope” and “Change We Can Believe In”. The crucial part was that he portrayed himself as a positive alternative to Bushism, not that his marketing campaign had any real substance.)

    —–

    How well did I do? Was this a reasonably accurate interpretation of Fortune’s concepts as applied to modern political economy, or do I have significant misunderstandings?

  118. Hello JMG,

    Quick question with regards to your post.. you mentioned that it is very common for groups or individuals to assume the are aligned with angelic forces or Ring-Cosmos, but that they’ve never bothered to check if that’s the case. How do you check?

  119. How does one discern between something on the Ring of Chaos vs. something that I don’t like/approve of? This is what comes to mind – the other day a post on a website that was pro-pedophilia with the slogan “Love Knows No Age”. When I think of pedophilia, my next though is “I wish the sentence was stoning because I would join in!” It disgusts and angers me, and I see it as evil. Obviously not everyone sees it that way and there’s a group of people who derive great pleasure from sex with children.

    The normal human tendency is to make a statement pro or against and then start trying to get agreement. “I think this is evil and here’s why, don’t you agree?” This can make one feel better about how one feels, but it doesn’t accomplish anything in physical reality. Here’s a group of people who think X is evil and talk about it, but X is still evil and doing whatever X is doing.

    Is this where the part she say “hate must be confronted with hate” comes in?

    I didn’t read through the comments before posting so apologies in advance if this is a repeat question.

  120. “Resistance causes persistance” – oh my gosh, I’m snorting with laughter thinking of all those #resistance hashtags on Twitter. The opposing side sometimes uses #persistance hashtags and all of it props Trump up.

    OMG No wonder he doesn’t get upset or flustered by the constant complaining! I’ve been thinking how can one man deal with this constant criticism and insults when his predecessor got nothing but praise. Now I get it! The continued loud #resistance is fueling him! It makes Trump persist and what he is doing grow.

    My brain is so trained to be afraid of someone disagreeing with me and confronting me in public. Too many years in classrooms! I’ve heard people say “when people start publicly disagreeing with you, then you know you are getting somewhere”, and I thought “yes, that is logical but it is also scary and uncomfortable”. Now I see that spinning of the wheel, so to speak, is what kicks off an effective change out in physical reality. Brilliant!

  121. Re: “actions” and “reactions”, to Xabier

    Of course, after and action there is a reaction, for example in Catalonia, the Citizens’ Party (Partido Cuidadanos) was born in Catalonia and the leadership (the “Caudillo” for you) is catalan, as you said they are Falangistas (Spanish fascists) because:
    a) As the falangistas, they want to abolish democracy
    b) As the old Falange, they want to ban all the parties, except Cuidadanos
    c) They want to take the power by violent means (patriotic revolution or military coup d’etat) as Falange
    d) They have an armed paramilitary force that hit and assault leftist and separatist frequently, as good falangistas did
    e) They are against liberalism, and have an agenda of autarchy and isolationism as the falangistas did
    f) They go to the Valle de los Caidos to praise Franco and José Antonio with the roman salute

    Of course the Ciudadanos party have none of those attributes of a real fascist party, but for you it does not matter at all

    The catalonian separatists use the same strategies with the voters of Ciudadanos party in Spain that the left in USA with the voters of Trump: both must be fascists, reactionaries, backwardist, totalitarians, supremacists, etc…. All of this is just a mixture of straw-man-ism and thought-stopper-ism, as our host has talked in the past, and the results (“reaction”) of this strategy will be the same in both sides of the pond

    I do not want to bore people with the Spanish politics, and also it is not the topic of this week, but another day I would like to talk about the slogan “Espanya ens roba” (Spain rob us) and the real “reasons” for the Catalonian crisis (or “Roma Ladrona” in the case of the Lombardy crisis)

    David

  122. @Saradee

    Thanks for your comment. We each translate the text according to our personal experience, habits, convictions etc., or in the analogy being used, our location and direction of movement. Those are our starting points. For instance your translation of the phrase in question “You must hate the hate with sufficient force to lock it up…”, sounds like a recipe for a “pinball existence” from where I sit. Let’s just say I’m more selective with what I choose to hate. I have no reason to assume I’m correct in my approach, but it appears that you may be confusing “dislike” for “hate”. If I unholstered my colt at every dislike … or defined myself by what I refuse, I’d rapidly reduce my existence to a tiny cage. Or, as someone said to me once … its very difficult to hug a hedgehog.

    The way I see this exercise is that its value for me will be measured by the degree to which I let the major rings alter my direction of movement into greater alignment with purpose; in other words how much I will grow as a result of the exercise. I’ve noticed my mind’s discomfort with resting in the unformed of giant spinning circles of unmanifest space, and its desire to congeal the forces into concepts I can relate to. In doing so, it tends to reveal its customary ruts, and patterns, as much as valuable breakthroughs. The point in returning to the text is to suspend judgment, re-attune to the basic words/images, and see what changes unfold.

    Posting comments here is for my own benefit – like page-marks in the book of my process. The point is not to score brownie points, but to release that thought, and make space for something new. Whether my words happen to piss you off, uplift you, or leave you stone cold is not really my concern. But I wish you well.

  123. * Notice how the soi-disant “Resistance” is purely reactive — they’ve basically stopped trying to do anything but stop Trump. They have become his Ring-Chaos, the thrust block from which he gains traction. *

    OK, I’m trying to understand the concepts with a practical example, and I suppose Trump and the Resistance is as good an example as any. So if the Resistance is Trump’s Ring-Chaos, what is the Ring Cosmos here? Is it Trump? And what is the Ring Pass-Not?

  124. Firstly, this is really helping me understand the principles and practical application underlying the laws of balance and limits. Secondly, it’s giving me some better insight into a phenomenon that has shaped much of my experience. All of my life I’ve bounced between a strong desire to do things in the world, and then recoiling in response to various fears and anxieties that arise inside me. My make up includes a strong will to live and accomplish things, combined with a sensitive nervous system and bouncy mind which generates a good amount of anxiety. So I might decide to do something in the world, and after some time thinking and planning I feel a wave of anxiety and uncertainty which can dissipate my commitment. The relationship between these two forces, my will to live and fear/uncertainty shapes my cosmos, day to day.

    As I’ve come to understand this about myself I can see I have basically two ways of handling it, which correspond to DF’s two thoughts on how to handle “negative evil”. Often, when faced with nervousness or uncertainty, I simply decide to push against it, and go ahead anyway, almost defying it with my will. Psychologists call this counter-phobic behavior. I completely get what DF is talking about, in terms of using the anxiety as a thrust-block, defying it almost, kicking against it to get something done. It does provide a certain type of fuel for my actions, but it also locks the anxiety in place, so that I’m almost surfing along on anxiety as I do what I do. It’s a powerful force, but it doesn’t feel comfortable at all. It can be exhausting ultimately. The other way, which I think corresponds to DF’s idea of treating “hate with hate” is to just acknowledge the fear, be completely aware of it, but allow it to be there as I do what I do, not fighting it. Letting it be. And I find that the sense of fear dissipates or dissolves by itself when I do that, which is good; but it also makes me feel a lot more mellow and calm, and so I don’t always get as much done when I’m in this more allowing or accepting state. I’m 57, and it’s taken me most of my life to figure this out about myself – this chapter of the Cosmic Doctrine is really helping to clarify it all. Hopefully I am not building a firm grasp of the wrong end of the stick?

  125. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. For every motion there is an opposition of unequal forces. For every thing there is a stalemate of equal and opposed forces.

    So oppose (negative) evil to create a stable thing, because that thing is a stalemate of force from the ring chaos and the ring cosmos it is not over determined as a contribution of evolution or to dissolution. It does how ever lock up the forces that found balance in that thing; those forces, being locked up, can no longer be free to participate in either ring with out a surplus force from one of the rings. If there is a surplus of force in the ring cosmos it can be used to found a motion toward the rings further evolution. In addition to that it becomes like a sail to the winds of the ring chaos. This is behind catabolis; that which has accumulated in the building up of the stairway to heaven is now an additional susceptibility to chaos. That which is created (by opposing evil to stalemate) then requires upkeep to continue using it; force which is no longer available to build up further. By opposing evil when the surplus of energy is lacking one creates a wound that bleeds out life force toward the outer region of the ring of pass not, and the powers of evil redouble acting on each reaction. Thereby creation causes the preconditions for destruction. In destruction the sails of the winds of chaos are shredded, and those winds can find no purchase, the evil goes unopposed to the Oort cloud of the system along side the parts which were destroyed; the essential desire of the ring cosmic condenses in a spin (like a figure skater) and begins a cycle again. As not all things (which remember are a stalemate of equal and opposed forces) are the same in their susceptibility to the winds of chaos, nor are they equal in their functionality as steps in the stair case to the heaven of that ring cosmic; the golden core of the sun of that system, the Logos; nor are they equal in their effect upon other things in the system, their complex of alignment to the other rings with in the cosmos. Thus as the cycle repeats, it tweaks, such that the beats of the tempo of a cosmos rhymes more than it repeats. The exploration of this rhyme scheme is the poetry of the rings.

    For the sort of cosmos that a human being might be and the freedoms and limits common to such cosmoses, a powerful freedom is the (limited) freedom to choose what evils to face with the courage of creation, and there by to build of the complication of the system; and what evils to be serene before, and there by to allow the evil to drag away to the outer realms that which is not long for the inner system; also what evils to contemplate, and what evils to ignore.

    The tighter into the cosmos things (as defined above) build, the deeper into the cosmos the forces of evil may blow; and as those forces are pulled inward to the depths of the cosmos they take on the character of that which is deeply cosmic (as opposed to deeply chaotic) and thus negative evil in time gives way to positive evil; and yet the basic nature remains so similar, but now the positive evil is possessed of cunning such that in can not longer be treated as a simple wind -spirit- which animates it; as its understanding takes on the character of the cosmos it partakes in.

    It is no wonder that The Faustian Cosmos has been so fantastically creative, and has accumulated such a surplus or artifacts compared to all its peers, considering that its relation to evil was so strongly influenced by the mentorship of St. George.

    “Things” as I have defined them for the thought experiment above, are there for not not chaos, and not cosmic; and not without chaos, nor with out cosmic order. They are cosmoi in their own right. To oppose evil creates a stalemate, such that a cosmic and chaotic current entwine in a ringsystem; yet the stalemate is never set on perfectly balanced terms, there are always fluctuations in it so satisfy the preconditions of motion (opposition of inequal forces). Thus things are possessed of their own life, a share of the force spend in their host cosmos’ act of opposition (creation). If they are created by a preponderance of the good, then they will be created such that their own rings are aligned with the rings of their system, like Jupiter ( 82 degrees tilt).

    By opposing evil you create. If you create that which is off kilter to your cosmos you create a foundation of sand, and you pre-doom that which you build upon it to be eroded by evil, unless continually subsidized by energy from the greater system, but that subsidy is obviously bought at the expense of where else in might be better spent .

  126. Scotlyn, good. What is Fortune implying by reversing what seem like the obvious relationships of spirit and matter to the Rings?

    Pogonip, you’d win that bet hands down.

    Leo, yes, that’s one workable way to think about the Rings.

    Justin, it certainly worked for me.

    Phil H., good. The text will be talking about the origin of nondeterministic phenomena a little later on.

    Mailinglists, that’s a useful habit! Another thing you can do is, as you read through the text, see if there are specific sentences that stand out to you, either as summarizing things clearly or as raising questions you want to explore more deeply.

    Marco, if you’ve got a visual imagination, painting would likely be a very good way to work with inner conflicts — I know Jung used to encourage his patients to do that. Me, I think entirely in spoken language, and I’d have no idea what to paint.

    David, I get that. The universe is serenely uninterested in our opinions of what matters, of course — though it’s often in the course of wrestling with these unwanted necessities, trying to do something besides the one thing that has to be done, that insight is born.

    Phil K., good. Very good.

    Docshibby, I like that! You’re right, of course — the chaos of chattering thoughts becomes the thrust block against which you build focus in meditation.

    Kimberly, there’s a trap in the notion of locking up force by opposition; you really do have to have more force than the other side, or you’re the one that gets locked up. That’s what’s happening to the Resistance. Trump tweets something, his enemies go into one of their shrieking hatefests, and while they’re frozen in that reactive posture, he builds on top of that. They assume that Trump hates them, because that’s how they justify the hatred and rage they fling at Trump — but have you noticed that when he walks past a bunch of protesters, he’s usually grinning? He doesn’t hate them at all; he knows that he can make them do whatever he wants them to do, simply by tweeting something at them..and they keep on falling for it. Every. Single. Time.

    But you’re also right that Trump’s opponents love their own hatred. After all those years subject to the tyranny of mandatory niceness, they can hate right out there in public to their heart’s content — and they owe that to Trump. My working guess is that the Democrats will nominate someone unelectable in 2020, just so they can have four more years of wallowing ecstatically in hatred.

    Violet, good question. I don’t know why the War against the Red Enemy is so central to the American psyche; I’ve just been struck by the fact that it is.

    Dylan, seems sensible to me. I don’t follow Peterson so don’t have a clear sense of what he’s up to; it sounds from what you’ve said that he’s into what Toynbee call archaicism — the idea that a civilization in crisis can rescue itself by going back to the “Good Old Days” in some, usually moral sense. But I’m not at all sure how to fit that into the Cos. Doc.

    Tripp, that certainly makes sense to me.

    Scotlyn, you’re most welcome!

    Danae, when the oracle at Delphi said that Socrates was the wisest man in Greece, he responded to the news by saying that it was because he knew that he knew nothing, while everyone else thought mistakenly that they knew something. So you may be getting wise…

    Tripp, no, you’re on to something. I’ve been reading a book on Christian meditation — fascinating, but not one I’d recommend — and the author makes it clear that to him, and to other Christian meditators, when they go into meditation there’s the power of evil sitting right there reaching for them. Meditators who aren’t Christians don’t experience that at all, as far as my experience extends (and I’ve taught a lot of people to meditate). So something in Christian belief or practice is quite literally constellating the power of evil and bringing it into manifestation, in a way that other people (even other devoutly religious people with a strict code of morality) don’t experience at all.

    Kay, excellent. Yes, we could have dealt with the 9/11 attacks the way most nations deal with terrorist outrages — in a measured, unflustered way — and the whole thing would have blown past. Instead, we convinced every terrorist on the planet that blowing up Americans is a great way to generate a vast overreaction.

    Christopher, you’ve mostly got it. The Ring-Chaos isn’t the Unmanifest — it’s another spinning ring of moving space — but for those inside a cosmos, it expresses the Unmanifest and leads toward the Unmanifest. Think of it as the Unmanifest’s doorman!

    Bonnie, excellent. Remember you can also treat emotions as you would any other force; you can lock them up by opposition and build on them, or you can create a vacuum around them and let them follow their bliss to the Ring-Pass-Not and dissolution.

    Ray, a fine meditation! The extension of the center is something we’ll get into in a later chapter, in quite a bit of detail.

    Xabier, a lot of radicals in the US in the late 1960s and early 1970s made exactly the same mistake, and helped the system stabilize itself in reaction to their activities. It’s an old source of failure, very frequently practiced.

  127. Dear John Michael Greer,

    A most intriguing post this week, and again my thanks to you for blogging.

    Re: the insightful comment by Stefania about the childrens’ book, BREAD AND JAM FOR FRANCES:
    https://www.ecosophia.net/the-cosmic-doctrine-the-forces-of-negative-evil/#comment-21936

    I admire the charming BREAD AND JAM very much, but I had never heard it described as “occult literature.” Is there more to say about that?

    (My own favorite part is the veal cutlets scene, where Frances asks her father (to the best of my recollection), “Where do veal cutlets come from?” And he mildly answers, “We can talk about that later. Now it is time for you to go to bed.”)

    MILLICENTLY LURKING

  128. Getting personal at last.

    I have done several meditations on this material, its fantastically playful and interesting mindscape to explore, even in my map is as yet stained with an unknown level of misrepresentations of DF’s thinking, its good enough to have a very fun time exploring.

    I have been stressed for the last couple months. Its happens generally in the summer, as I like to be free to follow my bliss in the winter, it means that I got to squirrel a way big time all summer to afford that; balance. It is more than this, a little less than half of my work actually makes me any profit in the sense of assets that I can use to follow my bliss in the winter and do my part as a pillar for my kin and kith (which is the meaning of profits for my ends). In addition to those projects are numerous projects, either my own or following a friend’s lead, most of which pay me only in satisfied curiosity, but which collectively draw from me more energy than I can realistically afford, with out taking energy from systems that can ill afford the cuts.

    There are various evils, most of which are popular topics to Green Wizards at large, which draw my attention, and I choose to react to. Having reacted it becomes a “thing” in my life. So many things.

    There is a general evil in my life, aging. At 30 I can notice a few hints at its course, most importantly by constitution which use to be health eating any thing that can fit in my mouth, now leaves me feeling very blah if I am reckless in my diet. This evil of a diet which is accelerating my dissolution, seems to be a priority to respond to. Aging also acts upon my life indirectly. My parents are nearing 70, and aging has been hitting them pretty hard the last few years. Since my parents being dragged out of the this life by way of wretched poverty isn’t an evil I am particularly inclined to treat serenely, I am gradually taking on more responsibility about providing a basic living for them… in fact this is the main cost that the above mentioned squirreling pays.

    The nitty gritty of that opposition. My parents can no longer afford the way of life they are use to. Either the capacity to work full time, or the energy to do for themselves certain things they once did. This intersects with my own issue of diet in a most frustrating way. My Mom hasn’t the energy to get out of the house more than a couple times a week, and she does what she can to cook for the family. But, mentally she has difficulty doing things outside of long earned habit. Furthermore my Dad is ever less adventurous to eat new things. This means that there is an abundance of white bread, cheese like dairy product, sweets, and industrial meats in the house; each of which are proving to present challenges for me beyond mindful servings. Because my main income source is working harvest for a friend’s organic market garden, I have an arbitrarily large supply of veggie ‘seconds’ and various other fresh local foods. Aging deprives my family of the energy to know what to do with exotic produce like kettice, cabbage, squash, or carrots, and I work too long to cook family meals at the time they are used to eating. This leads to conflict, where I come home hungry and tired to a set table of plates full of delicious food which, if eaten, will leave me feeling weak, wretched, and resentful for hours. Commenting on how this is an unwelcome situation for me leads to tantrums on my Mom’s part which are very tiring to endure, if I am not exceedingly careful with timing and wording; regardless of timing and wording the situation repeats.

    It is interesting that the white bread, cheese, and meat diet costs many times more than I have ever spent on groceries; yet cost is raised as an objection to my habit of eating local meat and veggies, even when I consistently get them for between free and half market price. A $20 3 pound roast bought at $10 becomes an oft repeated stock story of absurdly high costs, the comparison of the $45 dollar pizza night must not be made; nor the hours of itis that followed the pizza. Particularly sad is contrast of the memory of my parents toughness, adaptability, and resiliency decades ago when I was a child.

    Well, venting aside, I am determined to provide what support I can for my family, even if the evils of aging will in time mercifully render the effort mute; and I am determined to improve my diet and general health, even if the evil of aging will in time (hopefully a longer time) bring that effort too to a merciful end. These two struggles are very tied up together, because doing the first is made vastly more efficient by living at home during the work season for market farming; so that I can pay my rent and their rent in one fell swoop. Since I am fixed on opposing these evils it follows that I had ought to do so with a preponderance of energy; that the patterns built upon that effort doesn’t sync up with chaos, but instead such that the patterns thereby built are wholesome and cosmic; such these particular struggles end, they leave behind something good.

    Suppose, for the sake of consideration, rising halfheartedly to this challenge. It creates a perfect environment for the foibles of my parents to pass down into me, such that my own patterns of health decline down the steeper section of the same slope as theirs, my heart accruing resentment all the way. If, however, I maintain the primary fronts of the struggle (diet and family duty), but exhaust myself on the flanks, other conflicts with evil I have engaged in become losing battles, spawning chaotic storms.

    Since there is only a limited fraction of the energy in my life which I have conscious freedom to control, then in order to not be overwhelmed I have to be more thrifty about its expenditure into conflicts with negative evil. Fortunately there is a particular negative evil I have been struggling with for years, investing a vast amount of energy, which I can afford to decrease my energy investment in by several hours a week. That negative evil is the Green Wizard concern of the unsustainable agriculture, market garden techniques as dependent on plastic as conventional growers are on sprays; the dying of traditions of growing staple foods with out machines to break to soil, till, or harvest. I threw a huge amount of energy toward growing an acre this year, with over 100 seed lines from over 60 species, to weigh in against that evil, but the battle was a rout; as herbicide had contaminated the soil, undetected from years past, and destroyed such a fraction of the crop that no profits can be made from the effort, excepting a few survivors. In an era of catabolic collapse such struggles are often like a sad battle in middle earth, as the momentum of time is against the building of new things, and for the dissolution of things which can not longer be sustained. Though there is merit in a long defeat over a quick defeat in times of decline; maybe there are differences in the applications of DF’s logic between eras defined by progress and those colored with decline.

    By changing my terms of engagement with this battle of Green Wizardry I think I can conserve considerable energy for protecting core functions (the battles I thematically described in terms of aging). For instance, since my way to acquire currency is to work for other farmers who are more talented business folk that I am (being more the mad wizard type myself) I can affect cheap wins in green Wizardry by way of minor refinements to functional gardens (that I work for, but ain’t the person where the buck stops) owned and operated by not-me. I can reduce the labor of my own personal garden by switching to growing a smaller number of highly labor effective crops; indian corn, sun flowers, winter squash, dry beans; by ditching my super jankey sprinkler system for simple ditch irrigation techniques I was learned on this year; by letting the weedy low area go feral; by accepting the help of my friends tractor for a couple time consuming tasks, satisfied that we know how to change tactics when the time comes that the evil of ‘affording to keep the tractor running’ out grows the evil of ‘having time to dig umpteem ditches.’ Fight the lesser of optional evils, that you have the preponderance of energy to rightly face the evils you can not so easily opt out of facing. I can save this energy, because I know how to use the techniques I have not the time for on large scale, and need not invest the energy again and again at full scale to prove it to myself again and again. A much smaller ‘purist’ garden, a fiftieth the size, is enough to keep the techniques evolving, at a much more affordable investment of energy.

    Then redirect that energy into cooking for my family more often, because they are keen to eat free vegetable food, and long as they don’t have to learn how to cook it. Thus saving energy by not fighting the evil of “lunch meat is expensive compared to lentils.”

    In fact, I could go through many details, where Green Wizardry is tempting to treat as an accumulation of ‘cool sustainable projects, skills, tools, and resources’ and rephrase it in terms of things evils (costs mostly) that I can let go of with as much grace as possible. The greatest win I have had in Green Wizardry is learning to use an electric bike and trailer to accomplish the tasks that pickup trucks are used for; at about 1/20 the cost per operational mile.

  129. Quin,

    No, I wasn’t aware that Russell Hoban also wrote occult literature for adults! I was joking around for the most part, although the story just seemed to be a really good example of how to deal with negative evil by letting it dissipate. It all makes perfect sense now, though – of course he must have read the Cos Doc!

    Aron Blue,

    That is too funny…I tend to do that with bread from the farmer’s market too. I’ll have to keep Frances in mind next time.

    And incidentally, I was also thinking about deadlines in the context of the CosDoc. I usually feel that unless I have a deadline, the work to be done can be endlessly put off to the point where it never gets done. I guess for me having a deadline acts as a bit of a thrust block!

  130. @Marco – indeed we all interpret through our own viewpoints and preconceptions. I must be getting something wrong in my interpretation of Dion perhaps, as your interpretation of what I meant is about 180 degrees from what I thought I was saying! Turn around your idea about what you thought I was advocating for 180 degrees and see if we understand each other better 😉

  131. One idea that has been coming up for me, not explicitly mentioned in the text but implied by it (at least to me), is that according to occult philosophy we humans have some powers of creation, as the Microcosm to the Macrocosm. Although we don’t know what force actually created the first Manifestation in an Unmanifest where by definition nothing happens, my best guess makes it somehow a product of thought and will. Like a vector with both magnitude and direction. So when I pay attention to something, my will to think about it and my thought about it makes it real in my Ring Cosmos. If that is the case, then what I think about, I create, even if I think about it in opposition or negatively. For example, in an argument with someone, if I engage with them even in opposition, I’m essentially agreeing with them that yes, I see the thing that they’re talking about is real and exists. So we end up stuck on the same coin, just on different sides. Good becomes locked up with evil in that way – once I engage with evil, I attract and bind it to myself, and then I’m stuck with it. It takes a certain amount of power or an abundance of good as Dion says to escape from the binary of simply trying to oppose evil. The Ring Chaos exerts a force on my Ring Cosmos and I’m stuck. The thought occurred that I somehow need to reach ‘escape velocity’ through building up occult power or abundance of good, an abundance of will moving in some other direction. Then I can engage with evil without merely getting stuck to it.

    Let’s say someone is sick. And they decide to tackle it by opposing this negative evil (which moves counter to their Ring-Cosmos of being healthy). So they try to do everything they can to be healthy – eat well, exercise, meditate, whatever occurs to them to do. But why are they doing all of these things? Because they’re…sick, of course. So their creative power of doing what they want with their life has become locked up with the evil – they’re spending all their energy trying to fight the evil and thus can’t do anything else. With this idea of humans having creative power, it would also send a message to their Cosmos that they’re sick, and thus their world gets created and locked into place in that way. As you said, ‘what you resist, persists.’ So sickness and health are also just two sides of the same coin. To truly be well or balanced, one would need to stop thinking about one’s self in terms of that binary of sickness/health – one would need to somehow get off the coin.

  132. Chris, indeed you could. The future of industrial society is a good example of how a force moving parallel to the Ring-Chaos follows its trajectory out to the edge of existence, and dissolves.

    Timothy, implicate order is a central concept in systems theory, as I’m sure you’re aware, and Bohm’s development of it is well worth close study. Yes, what Fortune is talking about in these chapters is the genesis of implicate order, and in chapters to come we’ll be talking about how the implicate order is explicated over time.

    Kalek, good! I didn’t intentionally model that essay on the Cos. Doc., but I’ve been studying Fortune’s work for quite a few decades, so it’s not at all surprising that there should be echoes. Yes, your analysis works well.

    Mike, that’s a great example. Thank you.

    David, true enough.

    JMA, a good initial jab!

    Grebulocities, that’s pretty good. The one thing I’d suggest is that Trump et al. do actually have a coherent policy in mind, a Ring-Cosmos of their own; it’s not at right angles to the Ring-Cosmos of neoliberalism, even though the “Resistance” insists that it is; but Trump realizes that the first requirement is to dissolve crucial elements of the existing order (free trade, open borders, and the US as the world’s policeman) so that his alternative has room to take shape.

    EcMike, that’s the number one question in the philosophy of ethics, and there’s no simple touchstone. One good indicator, though, is that if the things you’re doing are things you’d denounce the other side for doing, you’re probably not on the side of the angels.

    Grandmother, here again, that’s one of the classic questions in the philosophy of ethics, and there are no easy answers. As for “resistance causes persistence,” bingo; have you noticed that I sometimes deliberately court opposition in my writings, because it allows me to get things done I wouldn’t otherwise be able to do?

    Maria R, I’m glad to hear you’re trying to understand! Note that I specified in that comment that what’s being discussed is Donald Trump’s own Ring-Cosmos, the pattern of things he’s doing and trying to bring about in the world. The Resistance also has its Ring-Cosmos, and just at the moment his Ring and theirs are at right angles. The question then becomes which of them is stronger and more clever, because whoever loses that contest is simply going to become a thrust block to the other. The Ring-Pass-Not defines the boundary of the interaction between them; think of it as the boundary around the whole range of issues about which they disagree.

    Mark, not at all — it sounds as though you’ve grasped the core of what Fortune is trying to say.

    Ray, another solid meditation.

  133. @Stefania, re: deadlines: It absolutely works that way for me!

    Also, most of my published writing has been the result of some external imposition: the first book was the result of, essentially, a drunken bet with a friend, while the two trilogies that followed were suggestions from my editors, and the one I’m working on now is the result of a lot of back-and-forth and discarding of initial ideas. Oddly, doing projects that way seems to stretch my mind–and makes the all-my-own projects all the more exciting to write, since it means I have a long time for ideas to percolate there.

    So building upon…well, constraint, at least. It’s interesting to me that Nauthiz has stood, in readings, for constraint, hardship, need, and necessity at different times; there’s a complex interrelationship there, I think, unless that’s just the gin and tonic talking.

  134. Millicently, you’ll have to ask the reader who brought it up — I haven’t read the book in question.

    Ray, and another good meditation.

    Stefania, excellent! You get this evening’s gold star for the metaphor of the coin. Yes, exactly: if you just oppose something, you’re accepting the entire worldview of the thing you’re opposing, and just inverting the values. If you want to do something genuinely different you have to leave both sides of the opposition.

  135. Well, I hope you are all happy with yourselves! Because of your discussion, you’ve forced me to purchase The Cosmic Doctrine: I will start reading it this evening (from the volume and quality of the comments, I have *a lot* of catching up to do!).

    JMG, another quick shout out to you: Thank you for creating one of the few “must-visit” places on the Internet that I have found.

  136. Mr Greer,

    “what Toynbee call archaicism” was the phrase you used to describe the way Dylan interpreted Mr Peterson’s approach to righting the wrongs with the world. Probably accurate, as far as I know. I did not sense any derision, nor judgement, in your statement. It appears to be just how you see it. So now let’s look at the Green Wizard take on things. Going back to a less expensive (in energy terms and more) form of tech is quite desirable, if I read the ideas correctly. I agree, by the way, and I am a farmer. I do not think of the Green Wizards as going back to the “good old days” nor do I sense that from Mr Peterson. In the former it’s more of an issue of keeping the scythe sharp and in the latter being careful to say what you really mean (be precise in your speech). Both of you would agree: think clearly.

    I bring this up only to express my view that you and Mr Peterson are currently bringing a lot of new and positive ideas to my life. I’m quite grateful for all of it with one exception; I’m a bit old for all this work. (I know, sniveling.) I’m just past the “three score and ten” age and I wish I had a bit (what the heck does that mean?) more time to put all of this into practice. I’m very aware that making changes to the thoughts, and consequently, the life I live takes some large amounts of time. It’s a slow process. I’m reminded of my first class in the religions of the far East from college in the late 60s where my professor stated in his first lecture that “life is an abrasive process that ultimately grinds off all of the sharp edges” and leaves one enlightened. I still have a few of those edges. However, I do laugh a lot.

    Many thanks for all you do.

    Best wishes, Aged Spirit

  137. Thanks SaraDee, David, JMG and others for your insights. I don’t feel any esoteric, occulted subject is beyond my understanding because some of the oddest and wooliest ones have been thoroughly explained with down-to-earth, working examples. For this brilliance I cannot thank you all enough. It is life changing.

    One quick fly-by example of the Rings: diets. The Ring-Cosmos is the individual’s desire to lose weight. The implementation of a diet is Ring-Chaos. It masquerades as a helper but will act in every single way to sabotage the individual’s efforts. The human mind has a perverse way of turning on itself when it comes to limiting food, especially in times of plenty.

    A thought on Red Dread as mentioned by JMG in response to Violet. Might it have something to do with hatred of the feminine in the form of menstrual taboo? If red triggers the American patriot’s biophobia, I am suggesting it may lurk in the collective subconscious as a period stain.

  138. FWIW I tried meditating once after converting to Catholicism 30 years ago. I was reading Chesterson and Augustine in my free time. I had a boyfriend at the time who was into Hinduism and he meditated so I gave it a whirl. Shortly after calming my mind next to me appeared a huge creature with scales on two legs snarling like rabid dog. I immediately jumped up and ran out of the house waving my arms trying to get it off me. I was so scared. I can still picture this thing in my mind.

    I’ve shared this with other people over the years and they told me they never heard of such a thing. I haven’t really tried to meditate since unless I’m in a room of other people and its part of something else, like my martial arts classes. I’ll do walking meditation outside or something inside with my hands like peeling potatoes when I have a 10 pound bag to do.

    I relieved to know someone else experienced this even if I’m hearing about it third hand.

  139. @Helix I spent 3 years in the Peace Corps in the early 1990’s and I can relate to that feeling of stranger in one’s own land. I am still repulsed by parking lots, electric lines running everywhere, and manicured lawns.

    I could have stayed overseas my whole adult life, and there are several PC friends who did just that. It was easier to be a stranger in a strange place than a stranger in a place I grew up in.

    One day I thought about how we are all made of atoms spinning around. Then how everything I see and touch is also made of atoms spinning. And the space between everything is atoms spinning. So I say where one thing ends and another begins. This is me – this is a glass with water – this is a table – this is a computer. But its all connected and spinning in constant motion.

    I say I am a stranger than I am a stranger. Calling me that allows me to step back and not be a part of community. I can sit in the stands and watch, and criticize, or cheer what others are doing.

    Thinking everyone I meet is spinning atoms and we are made the same stuff, just labeling ourselves and others. So what about how I feel or what I call something? Its something the spinning atoms created and can be turned into something else.

  140. I did notice you put out challenging ideas but honestly I thought you were doing it sometimes to thin the pack of commenters or to fine tune your audience to those who “really get it”. Of course that hasn’t happened in reality; it looks like the number of commenters and readers has gone up steadily and not down!

    I did notice that for some commenters who are constantly on one topic, the idea that all Boomers are evil comes to mind immediately, you let the comments pass through without addressing them. You do that a lot actually, not ignoring per se, but focusing on that part of the comments that furthers the conversation you are trying to have.

    Not it…..not it…..there’s one…..not it…..not it…….ding, gold star…….

    And this is why social media is a wasteland – its people reacting to every little thing including spelling and grammatical errors.

  141. Are we in the midst of a battle for the future of this country – will it stick to its constitutional roots or turn into a social justice/socialist new place – or is it just me feeling it? I’m not trying to build an agreed reality here – I can certainly find a community online or in the real world that feels this battle and is fighting it – I’m just trying to figure out in the midst of the Cosmic Doctrine, is it happening? It just feels so out of balance and everything is political now. Just yesterday a neighbor friend and I were catching up and we each say how crazy things have gotten. However I realize she thinks its crazy because Trump is destroying the country, imprisoning families for no reason, and trying to supreme leader, and I think its crazy because there are mobs of people trying to force people to think all one way (we visited a campus with all social justice signage everywhere and I asked the administration about it and was told they kick Trump supporters off campus – students, speakers and faculty). I now can’t talk to her like I used to because honestly I feel like I’m talking with a dementia patient.

    I rationally know from reading you that this is what happens in the decline, and there’s going to be more of it likely, not less, so buckle up. Now I feel like I can’t just sit it out and ignore it. It feels sometimes like things are coming to a head and we aren’t finding common ground like we used to.

    So I guess I have to act based on the reality I see? Not all of us see the same things obviously. Its just scary and I’m worried about so much. Honestly the peak oil issue was easier for me to handle. Living low-energy was rational and I could take specific steps. This now feels like a battle of religions or beliefs and just so emotional.

  142. On an abstract level, what Fortune describes in this chapter is easy enough to grasp, but when I try to apply it to specifics, it becomes clear where my understanding is actually weak. In the end though, all the specific scenarios I have wrestled with brought me back to the idea that for most of the evils in our daily lives, “resist[ing] not evil” looks a bit like New Thought’s positive thinking or the Law of Attraction. It galls me a little to say that because the popular manifestations of those are so tacky. But the way Fortune describes negative evil, it sounds like you can either oppose it (understanding you will never defeat or eliminate it) while focusing on what you will build using evil as a thrust block; or you can accept that it will do its thing and appreciate its “scavenging” action. Sometimes you want things to decay (“Buzzards gotta eat, same as worms,” quoth Josey Wales). Whereas if you focus on the evilness of the evil and how horrible it is, you just entangle yourself with it more and more. Arguably you might even become part of it.

    For those familiar with the Yijing/I Ching, Fortune’s explanation of negative evil deepened my understanding of Hexagram 36 (sometimes translated as “Darkening of the Light” or “Brightness Hidden”) tremendously. The traditional text for the hexagram relates to the story of Prince Ji: Living among a dissolute court, Ji, as a man of principles that weren’t appreciated, had to survive by feigning madness. He didn’t abandon his principles, but nor did he try to persuade others to believe in them, or die stubbornly defending them. Rather, Prince Ji “resist[ed] not evil” so that he remained relatively untouched by it, knowing that it would eventually burn itself out. As indeed it did.

    On another note, one thing that intrigued me was Fortune’s obviously conscious decision to use the loaded term “evil” for these processes/forces. It is very effective in making one reconsider how those words relate (or don’t) to value judgments, and how we have personally related to those concepts through our lives. But on a mind-training level it was a brilliant move–the struggle to yank the mind out of its habitual definitions of “good” and “evil,” every time those words are encountered, is like mental weight-lifting and requires one to stay more present and focused while reading and ruminating. Clever Dion.

  143. Here is a quote from Bucky Fuller; “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete. Maybe Trump is trying to take action along these lines.

  144. I suddenly thought of something that is giving all of us ample opportunities to reflect on negative evil in our daily lives: Mars retrograde conjunct the Dragon’s Tail (South Node). I am seeing this manifest all around me in the form of interpersonal conflicts: Besides my day job I have a part time job in retail, and all of us employees seem to be hovering just on the edge of exploding due to record-high levels of stupidity, pettiness, and poor hygiene among our customers, while the customers are lashing out at us. (I’m as guilty as anyone else in this.) One member of my family recently launched a verbal attack at another that the recipient said was unlike anything she had ever witnessed. A coworker says her husband is picking fights over nothing and becoming enraged at her; she’s so mad she’s thinking of calling the marriage quits. Everyone is saying they’re “done” with this or that–jobs, relationships, long-time friendships, family, you name it. Are we “creating a vacuum” around the evil(s) by walking away, allowing it to run its course? Or are we acting out of anger and injured pride and actually stabilizing/perpetuating the conflict? What can we create with this thrust block?

  145. JMG,

    First, thanks for organizing this book club and for taking the reading as slowly as you have. This is my first experience with occult philosophy and while it has been fascinating, I can’t imagine going any faster. Much appreciated!

    I started off trying to understand this section using a medical framework, where a surgeon was excising a tumor. It didn’t make sense, I realized, since the tumor is a pathology of excessive growth–positive evil.

    I set that aside and started thinking about the decay of a building. Direct confrontation of that (negative) evil can be done by repairing components as they degrade. However, it locks the evil in place: you are now committed to an endless series of repairs forever. It also doesn’t eliminate the evil, just contains it in a manageable way.

    Using the evil as a thrust block to a higher plane would be designing a building that is more robust and resistant to degradation over time than previous designs. Accepting the decay, and letting the building collapse allows the evil to take its course which self-terminates when the building is just a pile of rubble.

    I think this metaphor works pretty well, and has some interesting things to say about entropy and how to interact with it. My question is, what is the Ring-Pass-Not in this scenario? Is it the critical threshold where the building is so run down it is condemned and can’t function as a building any more?

  146. Upon starting out with the first chapter a month ago, I had to look up what a “thrust-block” is. What I found seemed to confirm what the context suggested, that a thrust-block is more or less “something to push against” in order to move something or move oneself somewhere. So I moved on, without paying much attention to the details.

    But the discussion of negative evil might require a more specific understanding of just what Fortune was referring to. There seems to be a tendency, in my mind anyhow, for the model of negative evil within the ring-cosmos to collapse into a two-dimensional picture I think of as the “Sumo model” in which, for instance, opponents A and B might be “using each other as thrust blocks” to try to push one another out of the ring (-cosmos). I suspect that could be misleading.

    In current usage, the phrase “thrust block” (usually not hyphenated) refers primarily to two things. One is support structures that anchor pipes at certain points to prevent the pipe from being moved by the force (thrust) of the flowing liquid around a corner or through a constriction. The other is a set of special bearings (also known as thrust bearings) used in propeller-driven ships to transmit the thrust of the propeller, which is parallel to the shaft, to the ship’s hull. (And in other cases where there are similar dynamics, such as drilling.)

    It seems far more likely that Fortune had the latter type of thrust block in mind, because the former is designed only to maintain a stasis, while the latter facilitates movement; specifically, dynamic rotary motion in a three dimensional system (the plane of the rotation + the perpendicular axis of the shaft), which fits in with the rest of her elaborate metaphor.

    Depending on how specifically and how literally Fortune chose the term, some or all the following could be said:

    – To provide a thrust-block is not to create a force, nor resist one, but to transmit it from one thing to another.

    – Using a thrust block might imply re-directing an impetus in a perpendicular direction (out of the plane of the ring-cosmos, perhaps, toward the plane of rotation of the ring-chaos; or vice versa), rather than just “pushing back” along the same direction, the way the rotary push of a ship’s engine is turned into the axial push along the shaft and hull. Technically it’s not the thrust block itself that does that. it’s the angled blades of the propeller (or drill bit, etc.), but it’s that change of direction that makes the thrust block necessary in the first place.

    – Accordingly, opposing equal forces A and B could be locked in stasis in the ring-cosmos, but either or both could still be using that interaction to achieve perpendicular thrust (changes), in opposite directions or even in the same direction.

    – If you’re using something as a thrust block, you’re not pushing off of it and leaving it behind; you’re attaching it firmly to yourself and taking it with you.

  147. @Grandmother,
    well, if you believe the Strauss-Howe generational theory, the Boomer sellout of the 80s & 90s, threw a kink in (damaged) all three proceeding generations (Nomad/Gen X, Hero/Millennial, Artist/iGen) that won’t be corrected till the next Prophet generation

  148. The thing that I keep tripping over is what I perceive to be moral labels for things that are neither moral or immoral, they just are. So why is she using a moral description at all? And she even has a paragraph at the end saying the terms are unsatisfactory…

    I also find it odd that she uses the phrase “The Ring-Chaos has its desire… So is she saying that there is a being that desires these things?

    On another note: Could the animosity towards “red” be an extension of the war against the “red coats”?

  149. One of the difficulties I’m having in interpreting this section is parsing out exactly what constitutes “resisting” evil in any given situation. Take the example of a human body suffering from disease. Is taking antibiotics for a bacterial infection an act of resistance? It’s certainly an action orthogonal to the r-cosmos of the bacteria, but it’s intended to wipe out the infection, not lock it in place as a foundation for further action. Is it necessary to look at it in a more abstract way, such as viewing the r-chaos as the tendency toward disease rstger than any individual illness?

    Another question that occurred to me – can you switch between the two strategies for dealing with evil? Can you resist something long enough to create something new and then shift your focus to the new creation, allowing the initial evil to dissolve itself? Or will your new creation fade away like the good works of the Three Rings once the Ring of Power was destroyed?

    One possible answer that occurred to me in meditation was that you can make this switch, but only after a new current of resistance emerges to act as the r-chaos for your creation.

  150. Read the Cosmic Doctrine through once, interested in that Dion Fortune reinforced some of Edgar Cayce’s notions. My organizing principle was how does Fortune’s channeling play against E. Schumpeter’s Creative Destruction? and Einstein’s “The fourth world war will be fought with sticks and stones”?

    Haven’t thought enough about Einstein’s statement. However, I looked up the term “evil” in the Index. Dion Fortune seems to be right on the money, to paraphrase, if evil is looked up, there is a vacuum created around it. The only way to meet evil is with good actions. So, yes, Dion Fortune seems to presage Schumpeter’s Creative Destruction.

  151. Good Morning everyone. So I am a bit late to the party here and I apologize for the stream of consciousness and scattershot nature of the post. Writing things out seems to be a way I work through things and I probably should expose things to some level of critique.

    What happens when various Cosmoi collide? Assuming we are not dealing with the ultimate highest level of things I have to assume that the Cosmoi will interact on some level. My first thought was that it might be like the bubbles my kids like to make. When floating through the air they can: miss each other completely, smack into each other and both pop, smash into each other and combine into something larger, or touch and stick together creating a double bubble. No model being perfect it misses that idea that the Cosmoi could just bounce off each like a billiard ball.

    With that idea in mind I wanted to think of an example of two radically different Cosmoi running into each other. Honestly I think the most dramatic one we all are somewhat familiar with would be the Spanish in the New World. At least I think we can all safely see the Aztec Civilization having a slightly different Ring Cosmos and Ring Chaos than Late Medieval Europeans. Here I think we can say that we had a case where the two bubbles became one different larger Cosmos. Or maybe two attached bubbles for a while.

    Regarding the idea that you must “hate the hate.” I haven’t seen anyone mention this yet but I have to wonder if this isn’t in part an admonition to hate the hate just enough to lock it up and NO MORE. Otherwise you are wasting energy. Ie don’t become obsessed with what you are trying to contain.
    Following that line of reasoning I started thinking about how this works practically. Which got me back along the self-defense track. The best option to avoiding trouble is, of course, not to be there when it starts. Don’t go stupid places, at stupid times, with stupid people. Basically isolate it and let it spin out of your life. If you think about it just think about it enough to establish reasonable boundaries but not so much that you are seeing a rapist or drug dealer behind every blade of grass.

    Perhaps a better example might be the idea of the Police on the societal level. Clearly they exist to contain criminal activity but if they are in place you have a group of first responders available for when life happens: hurricanes, alligators, cats in trees etc. So you have used the “evil” to build something more broadly useful.

    Hopefully I am sniffing in the right direction. But there a couple of young gentlemen that are now awake and think I should be building dinosaurs out of legos and helping them terrorize their mother.

    Other Dave

  152. John Michael,
    Thank you for your response to my question about Satan. That’s about what I figured! And no wonder Christians are so negative about meditation…what little meditating I’ve done has only ever produced calming and insightful results. Trying to get more disciplined about doing it.

    So is there another AMA post coming up? I’ve started developing a SoP ritual and have plenty of questions!

  153. Grandmother,

    My wife and I were just having the same conversation the other day. Ever since we “went sane” several years ago we haven’t felt like we have any real friends. Oh sure, we know and chat regularly with lots of folks, but real friends? Not really. The conversation can only get so deep before we run out of common ground altogether.

    My wife was lamenting the idea that even if she returned to her hometown of Spokane, WA, her real friends there might not be real friends anymore, since we’ve changed so much since then. It was difficult for her.

    Same thing you mention, that we can be talking to acquaintances and agree that the country has gone mad, but then realize that we’re talking about completely different things…it’s bizarre.

    Cheers.
    Tripp

  154. Shane W.

    That’s a fantastic mental image. Lucy with the football….

    Thanks very much! I will get repeated chuckles out of that one.

  155. Hi Tripp,

    If I may offer a correction, Christians are not at all negative about meditation. The Jesus Prayer, where you repeat his name over and over, goes back a long way, as does the rosary, which is divided into 5 decades of 10 beads each and is centered around various events in the lives and afterlives of Jesus and Mary. These events are called Mysteries. You have the 5 Joyful Mysteries (Jesus’s conception, birth, and childhood), the 5 Sorrowful Mysteries(the crucifixion), and the 5 Glorious Mysteries (the Resurrection and events thereafter). The idea is you meditate on one set of Mysteries while praying your way around the rosary beads.

    Pope John Paul II added the Luminous Mysteries but I forget what they are. 😊

  156. @Shane
    Re: Boomer generation, etc.

    My view of the cycle is influenced by John Xenakis’ Generational Dynamics as well as some Michael channeling on the subject.

    Briefly, Michael calls the Idealist/Prophet generation a Resistance generation, which is revolting against what it sees as the stasis of the preceding High/Austerity/Stability period.

    It occurs to me that it’s an example of using that stasis as a thrust-block, but when the thrust-block is broken, then there’s nothing to react against.

    You might also want to look at the term “sell-out.” Awakening periods are followed by Unraveling periods, and the “sell-out” corresponds to the transition between the Awakening and the following Unraveling. It seems to me that the people who think it was a “sell-out” were trying to build something, and Unraveling periods are essentially destructive. It’s releasing energy that was tied up in fixed patterns, but the energy isn’t being directed to build anything – the appearance of growth isn’t actually creating permanent structures.

  157. The Spirit=Cosmos and Matter=Chaos correspondences bothered me, too; what I came up with was that matter is inevitably drawn toward dissolution (after which its constituent elements may be restructured into something new), whereas spirit persists, complexifies and integrates with successive incarnations (or discarnate lifetimes, eventually).

  158. Thanks, JMG, for choosing Cos Doc for group reading. If I had the power to grant titles, I would declare Dion Fortune to be “Mage of the 20th Century”! Your interpretation and examples in this second installment have been enormously clarifying (I am working from the reprint of the original Cos Doc). The use of “negative evil” as a springboard is a concept that I am still working on (I don’t claim to be a fast learner) and am trying to compare to the traditional Hindu 4-step method of dealing with evil persons: 1) drawing to the person’s attention that what they are doing is harmful [“sarasa” in Sanskrit]; 2) offering the evil person an incentive (“trade-off”) for giving up the harmful activity [“sama-dana” in Sanskrit]; 3) warning the person to mend their ways / threaten them [“bheda” in Sanskrit] and finally 4) directly confronting with the evil person – violently, if required [“dand” in Sanskrit]. At the same time, I am a huge admirer of Mahatma Gandhi who combined traditional Hindu concepts with Tolstoy’s concept of non-violence. I will return to these concepts later when we discuss “positive evil” and practical examples from history of using the Cos Doc techniques in effectively dealing with them. For now, I am trying to get the concept discussed in this month’s reading rattle around in my conscious mind and sink into my unconscious mind.

  159. Hi JMG,

    I realized with this reading that I had part of this structure understood incorrectly which had led me to fundamentally misunderstand something about what Fortune is getting at with regards to “manifestation”. I thought that the Ring-Chaos was INSIDE the Ring-Pass-Not, which led me to believe that the reverse movement was also part of manifestation, because it was also in motion as a result of the motion of a Ring-Cosmos. I realize now that manifestation is relative to the Ring-Cosmos, it is not an objective statement about what exists, it is a judgment of a goal being realized. The manifest is the good, the motion of the Ring-Cosmos.

    Do I have that right now? It was a fairly serious mistake and I had to rethink what I believed she was getting at.

    Thanks,
    Johnny

  160. To JMG (and to Jen, who shares my difficulty re spirit and matter).
    “What is Fortune implying by reversing what seem like the obvious relationships of spirit and matter to the Rings”

    I know that this “jumps ahead” a bit, but it seems easier for me to understand the relationship of spirit and matter by adding the third concept: life. The “synthesis,” as it were, to the “thesis” (spirit) and the “antithesis” (matter), by which they are locked into a dance together that makes bodies in which dwell autonomous centres of will and awareness, and from which spring autonomous action, each bounded by a ring-pass-not in the form of a membrane (or in multi-cellular form, a skin).

    Life lives when spirit uses matter’s tendency to entropy to continually assemble itself – molecular autopoeisis, which is a beautiful use of the thrust-block principle. Spirit’s tendency is to build it’s centre (to acquire, perhaps, the experiences, and the relationships, and to perform the acts, which will make it more ITSELF, through life after life. Matter’s tendency is towards the “space” (the sea of matter) which surrounds every “3-Ring-Cosmos-Set” that is a living body. So long as a living body can continue to assemble itself by judicious control of what passes in and out through it’s Ring-Pass-Not it lives. When it can no longer assemble itself, it ceases to be, its matter disintegrates, its spirit passes on, its life ceases.

    I pondered on this a bit, as it seems that the Ring-Pass-Not of the skin and/or of the membrane (in the case of a unicellular living body), is not a proper barrier, in that individual molecules can, of course, pass through it in both directions. However, the brilliant biological theoretical work of the Chilean authors Humberto Maturana and Varela, (Cognition and Autopoeisis), develops a radical idea that a being’s “cognition” is completely built of the awarenesses that build up via changes to its own structure contained within its membrane. That, although the world is continually disturbing and provoking such changes, the awareness of the world outside the membrane is always made by the structure within, and the recreation WITHIN of a complete model of what the outside world must be like to have provoked such structural changes. That is to say, that a living being’s cognition of the world IS in some important sense, limited by the Ring-Pass-Not, that is the sensing system their own membrane and/or skin and multicellular sensing systems can model within. I struggle with this, but it is interesting to see the same idea echoed in these two places.

    As for myself, I am reluctant to go the gnostic route and conceive of the material body as the enemy of spirit. Rather I think it is more concordant with my personal love of life (biophilia), to conceive of my living body as “created” by spirit using matter as its thrust block, so that in life I may love, understand, create, and experience. My body is not my enemy. Living is creation, seized from destruction.

  161. Hi JMG,

    It seems to me that part of the goal of this work is to picture this series of mental images which are counter intuitive. For instance, I have never once tried to picture two opposing forces as having a relationship where they travel at 90 degree angles. I, like I assume everyone else, would immediately picture two forces travelling in opposite directions. It’s not impossible to conceive of it happening at 90s, but it’s unusual and takes some effort as it doesn’t follow from what you understand about the world so you have to train yourself to get it to stick. I feel like even if I were to never think about this again I would have a hard time forgetting this relationship of rings (even the way she refers to discs, rings and spheres by the same term seems like this – not exactly difficult, but not something that is natural). Is she deliberately causing this frustration as a way of providing thrust-blocks for our understanding? To push us towards building up the centre?

    Thanks,
    Johnny

  162. The distinction between ways of dealing with evil reminded of an exchange between Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins in (I think it was) The Four Horseman video they produced.

    Hitchens said that he wouldn’t want religion to disappear because he enjoys sparring with it (or words to that effect). Dawkins exclaimed his shock at this sentiment. He stated how he hoped to get rid of religion altogether.

    By Fortune’s analysis, Hitchens had locked in religion as his evil. Dawkins on the other hand believed he was fighting for a victory that would be achieved when religion was abolished.

    Thus, Dawkins is fighting a futile battle. Like Hitchens, he has locked in religion as his evil. But he thinks he can destroy religion in this way when it actual fact he only supports its continued existence.

  163. Pogonip said:

    “Christians are not at all negative about meditation.”

    That might be a more accurate statement without the ‘at’ in the middle…but I’m glad to hear that at least SOME Christians enjoy meditation! I know I do, what little I’ve done.

    Cheers.

  164. I’ve been pondering the comment that “the undisciplined man, knowing the usefulness of evil, would try to use it dynamically in the plane of its motion”. It sounds like she’s suggesting that someone with an incomplete understanding of these principles might think they could use deliberate evil or destruction as a foundation for creative work.

    I have difficulty imagining what this would look like in practice. Deliberately attacking something you value in the hopes of inspiring a constructive response? Creating a “manufactured opposition”? Or perhaps a warped version of the left-hand path approach where immorality is indulged in and viewed as necessary for spiritual development rather than a strategic tool for harnessing the power of a broken taboo?

  165. JMG,

    The surgical metaphor resonated strongly with me. In this case, the body’s capacity to heal wounds well is the “superabundance of good” that empowers the building of something new (health) on top of the thrust block (a clean wound). Having seen the poor results of surgery attempted in those who–due to chronic illness–lack the capacity to heal wounds well, it occurs to me that before opposing negative evil one must be absolutely certain that the right internal resources are at hand in the right proportion. Also, being absolutely clear of the desired outcome is essential–so often surgery is attempted for the wrong reasons and with little discussion of what it is we’re attempting to achieve. We oppose the evil of the acute illness because it is abhorrent in our eyes, not recognizing that maybe it will only result in a Pyrrhic victory.

  166. A dimension of “Hating the hate” is awareness of the responsibility and consequences of wielding force in opposition to a negative evil. It is self-restraint, inertia applied consciously to one’s own act. To return to our surgeon performing an appendectomy, she must wield the scalpel with reluctance, not vigor, incising the tissue planes with precision. The cutting stops once the insult is removed. Too wide or deep a cut could kill. The surgeon who fails to hate the hate is a butcher; the one who does is just.

  167. Hello JMG,

    What struck me meditating on this particular part of the CosDoc, is the to the extent of which we react to the word Evil by projecting it to the Other, as your Nazi reference points out, never to ourselves. Fortune’s view offers an interesting antidote to this, since it’s a given we are constantly working in a different axis in different systems at the same time. We on the margins of society are certainly viewed as at least a little Evil by those invested on the status quo! Which also reminds me of your suggestion to work building different options for the future instead of entering into open polarity with the current political aspects of our predicament, allowing ourselves to be treated as forces of chaos that have to be dealt with.

    All the best!

  168. Hi JMG,

    I spent a fair bit of time this month going back to the first chapter and working through the mechanics of the motions line by line. I wanted to be exactly sure my mental image was right because each aspect of this relates symbolically to the relationships she is describing and I thought if my concept of it was messy I would misunderstand how to apply these insights.

    As a result I have some questions about things that stood out – I suspect these are things not ready to be answered yet, or ones I need to answer for myself, but I thought I’d try.

    When she describes the Ring Cosmos encircling the Ring-Pass-Not she means encircling from within it?

    She describes the the Ring-Chaos as wanting to extend the circumference. Does she mean the circumference of the Ring-Chaos or does she mean the circumference of the Ring-Pass-Not? The way it’s written makes it sound like she means to increase the Ring-Pass-Not, but that would be to lessen the limitations of the Ring-Comsos which seems wrong.

    She says the Ring-Cosmos has it’s desire turned towards the sphere it encircles. This sounds like a sphere in the centre of the RIng-Comsos. When I read this I want to think that this sphere it encircles is the Logos. That this is where it adds “more space” and concentrates. But she used the same language of encircling to describe it’s relationship to the Ring-Pass-Not and it would make sense that the Ring-Cosmos would like to increase the size of the Ring-Pass-Not, so as to lessen it’s limitations.

    Can the same person be creatures of two opposing Cosmoses? So opposite that from the perspective of each Cosmos the other Cosmos seems evil?

    What does she mean by Scavenger of the Gods? Is it that Evil wants to return things to the realm of the Unmanifest and therefore to be freed up from specific manifestation?

    I’m also quite curious about Negative Good, it is what is attracted to Positive Evil in her explanation of the secondary motion. I am assuming she goes back to this point? Or has she already and I missed it?

    Thanks,
    Johnny

  169. Hi JMG,

    I wanted to mention another thing that has come out of reflecting on this. I said last month that I thought that this was a way of considering potential, and I think that is true, but not in the way that I meant before. Her description of the Unmanifest being without qualities and without history means that considering it is not really worth while. It’s like thinking about nothing more than it’s like thinking about anything.

    Here is an example: If I walk around my neighborhood I see people that I know and often I will stop and speak to them. There is a moment of opportunity that we both take advantage of. If I have the contacts for everyone I know in my cell phone, in theory I can have this sort of exchange with anyone I know whenever I like. What happens though is that now I am always contemplating speaking to all of them and so now I have to consider on some level that every moment is a moment where I didn’t speak to any of them. This contemplation of the Unmanifest is not useful to me, in fact being aware of it means that the weight of what hasn’t happened totally obscures the potential. I think embracing this for too long can erode the connection between me and the people I know because it places even a the chance encounter in the context of a long period of unused potential.

    I think there is a useful comparison here to the idle contemplation of numerous goals without narrowing your focus. Or do you think I’m misunderstanding her here?

    Thanks,
    Johnny

  170. I’ve studied I Ching for a while and Fortune’s good and evil sound a lot like yang and yin to me. Yang is firm and creative. Yin is yielding and receptive. Superior men are patient, which requires firmness to sustain. Inferior men have little patience and like to surround themselves with others. Some hexagrams of the I Ching have a similar warning about negative evil — that opposing it gives it strength.
    I tested Fortune’s ideas with a current problem. I found out my seventeen year old daughter smokes pot, and I’m very opposed to it.
    The I Ching said “Youthful Folly” and warned that the student had to come respectfully to the teacher. I think it means that I can’t lecture her, but have to wait for her to come to me.
    The first question was whether pot is a negative or a positive evil. She smokes because her friends do. She yields to them. So it feels yin, and like negative evil.
    So far, I’ve managed not to lecture, but its been touch-and-go.

  171. It’s been almost a year since the melee at Charlottesville Virginia, and the events have been coming to the fore in the news again, and I have been thinking of this in terms of this segment. First there was the setup: After Trump had become the Republican candidate that wasn’t supposed to win it became okay to resist him. It became useful to point out racists who endorsed him. I think this was trying to use evil dynamically – was not about stopping the racists, about using them to tarnish Trump. There were fringe crackpots – self-important youtube video makers with followings in the hundreds who overnight were lifted forward – or propelled further on their trajectory? – to become household names.
    I believe this increased their strength, increased the evil, as opposed to locking them up.
    At another scale, we have the two sides (or two of the sides,) involved in the event – I’ll call them the fa and the antifa. They seem to me to be a cosmos within the larger cosmos above, both resisting and locking eachother up. Each group within has its own two rings, and each individual within, their own two rings that wound them up in their groups to begin with. These seem to be locked up – becoming permanent, but I don’t see growth coming of it.
    By the end of it, a young woman was brutally murdered, and a young man became a murderer. Political violence, ring chaos to a deliberative democratic ring Cosmos was strengthened, seems to be spreading this summer and may become a regular fixture.
    I’ve been thinking about the concept of creating a vacuum in this context as well – how to create a vacuum around the neo-nazis and skinheads and cohorts as they tried to provoke skirmishes through the town. My first thought was, wouldn’t it be great if everyone just ignored them. But that would not work – would not be a vacuum as they would find ways to not be ignored. It seems that when the murder happened, the counter protesters thought they were done, that the neo-nazis had left town. That appearance of vacuum was shattered.
    So I think there must be a more active, vigilant aspect to creating a vacuum. I tend to think of a vacuum as the absence, but I suppose you can’t separate that absence from the apparatus and container necessary to create it. It has been argued that the police were not present that day, and allowed the conflict – the opposing resistances, certainly possible.
    Sure would have been easier to create a vacuum in the first phase of this, but I think that may not have been the intent.
    John S

  172. Hi JMG,
    I would like you to apply Dion Fortune’s principle that opposing something will lock it into place, and make it permanent to Apple/Google/Facebook’s banning of Alex Jones. I rarely listen to Alex Jones, but because of this event I find myself very sympathetic and supportive of him. I don’t disapprove of what Alex Jones says; yet, I’m reminded of the famous quote: “I wholly disapprove of what you say and will defend to the death your right to say it.” I would love to see a mass exodus from these mega platforms to block-chain alternatives. How do you see this playing out?

  173. I usually don’t post controversial subjects on my Facebook feed, but the recent 1984-ish ban of Alex Jones/InfoWars from Apple, Google, and Facebook had me coming out with anti-censorship guns blazing.

    I warned people that censoring Alex Jones would result in an unprecedented fascination with his content, because nothing is as tantalizing as that which is forbidden.

    Predictably, a strong leftist acquaintance of mine cheered the censorship, commenting how he wished Jones would be carted off to the funny farm for being a conspiracy theorist. When I pointed out how the Left was creating a martyr in Jones as well as infringing upon his First Amendment rights, he became lunatic with accusations of ad hominem, which was classic projection of his own shadow, as far as I could tell from his weird, personal jabs at me.

    True to form, Alex Jone’s app is trending as the fourth most popular Apple news app within 48 short hours after the ban. The Ctrl-Left buttressed their own opposition and gave their evil another thrust block so it could eat at them like a cancer. You’d think it would be terminal this time around.

  174. Concurrent with the visioning meditation, over the last few months I have developed a fresh awareness of my cosmic geo-location. I look at the night sky, and for the first time in 61 years on Earth I see the great plane of the solar system, the procession of planets through the night along one single line from East to West, from open sky to horizon; the orbital plane’s apparent slight tilt to the South because of Earth’s own rotational tilt, and my location North of the equator. And on a moonless night such as this … the Milky Way beyond following its own complex geometry of visual placement in the night sky.

    What I really enjoy is … sitting on my balcony facing West at sunset, and watch the sun disappear slowly beyond the horizon. A few weeks ago the paradigm shifted. Instead of the sun appearing to fall slowly, I feel my chair and planet Earth slowly rotate backward vis-a-vis a motionless sun – which is the accurate picture.

  175. @kimerlysteel
    Apple and the others’ action is more understandable when you know that Jones has two lawsuits for defamation in process. If they didn’t ban him, they themselves could be sued for assisting his defamation.
    The key thing is that false speech isn’t protected by the Constitution because it doesn’t help a free people make collective decisions. Defamation isn’t protected by the First Amendment.

  176. I was thrilled to read this chapter! I gave a lecture yesterday on the tarot Kings and Knights for a court cards class I am teaching, and the series of statements on p. 15 perfectly reflects the points I was trying to express to my class. In particular, I was contrasting how those characters vary whether placed at Yod / Chokmah (the higher rank) or Vav / Tiphareth (the lower rank) on the Tree. When the Chevalier (the Knight, or the highest rank in the GD system or Thoth deck, but lower rank in the RWS deck) is placed at Tiphareth, he expands the center. When placed at Chokmah his energy either needs to be directed inward to evolve or he dissolves out into outer space. When the Throned King (highest rank in Waite’s deck, or alternately the Prince in GD/Thoth lineage) is placed center, he increases the gravity of the kingdom, centralizing and concretizing power. When placed at Chokmah, he understands the restrictions of the outer limits and marks them. I suppose when I place these two ranks in the context of Ring-Cosmos and Ring-Chaos, perhaps you could say that the Throned King at center is the Ring-Cosmos (solidifies by contraction), Mounted King at Center is also Ring-Cosmos (expands the center), the Mounted King at the outer level is the Ring-Chaos (sucked into outer space) (unless he evolves towards center), while the Throned King at the outer level actually becomes the Ring-Pass-Not (“the bounds beyond which the creatures of that sphere cannot pass even in thought”). Huh. I’ll have to think about that one.

    How does the Ring-Cosmos extend the center when it thrusts towards the center? I suppose through consolidation, concretization, like a planet building up from space debris pulled into its gravity. The Ring-Cosmos must burst beyond the border at some point as it grows and the Ring-Chaos dissolves. That must be what she means by its influence being unchecked — static in the immediate present. (Now I need to figure out what the immediate present means. You wouldn’t think it would be so hard. Hmm. How do we build a perpetual motion machine?) Seems like the Ring-Cosmos must check its own progress to some degree. It needs Ring-Chaos. Or it gets too big and weighty to revolve and stops its evolution. (Gosh, now I sound like you with your Archdruid nemyss on.)

    Ok, evil and good. Yes, absolutely, this makes perfect sense with the tarot Kings and Knights. The Knight is Ring-Chaos without a doubt because he always opposes the trajectory of evolution, his job is to overthrow, rebel, revolt. He is at right angles to the current evolution (why Crowley returned him to the higher rank, to harness those energies).

    Well, I think that’s all I’ve got for today. I’m sorry my “homework” is so late. I was out of town for a couple weeks and before and after that working hard on preparing for this class I’m teaching, it’s a new one that I haven’t taught before.

    I don’t know if you’ll even see this, but I’m posting anyway. Thank you for not closing comments. I was always late with my papers in college…

    –Joy Vernon

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