With this post we continue a monthly chapter-by-chapter discussion of The Doctrine and Ritual of High Magic by Eliphas Lévi, the book that launched the modern magical revival. Here and in the months ahead we’re plunging into the white-hot fires of creation where modern magic was born. If you’re just joining us now, I recommend reading the earlier posts in this sequence first; you can find them here. Either way, grab your tarot cards and hang on tight.
If you can read French, I strongly encourage you to get a copy of Lévi’s book in the original and follow along with that; it’s readily available for sale in Francophone countries, and can also be downloaded for free from Archive.org. If not, the English translation by me and Mark Mikituk is recommended; A.E. Waite’s translation, unhelpfully retitled Transcendental Magic, is second-rate at best—riddled with errors and burdened with Waite’s seething intellectual jealousy of Lévi—though you can use it after a fashion if it’s what you can get. Also recommended is a tarot deck using the French pattern: the Knapp-Hall deck (unfortunately out of print at the moment), the Wirth deck (available in several versions), or any of the Marseilles decks are suitable.
“Chapter 16: Enchantments” (Greer & Mikituk, pp. 142-150).
Perhaps the greatest superstition of modern times is the conviction that magic no longer exists. What makes that superstition especially intriguing to those of us who practice magic is the frankly weird way that its defenders will cling to it even in the face of the evidence. Nor is there any shortage of evidence.
Visit one of the cheap department stores that cater to the poor in impoverished neighborhoods and small towns across America, and odds are you’ll find a little selection of incense, candles, and scented oils tucked in among the other products for sale. Those aren’t there for decorative purposes. They are part of a living tradition of folk magic that thrives in our allegedly rational age. To get past that very basic and introductory level of the tradition, you typically have to know someone in the community who can direct you to the access points: the old lady at such-and-such address who can tell you how to do this or that; the little shop in a rundown corner of town that has candles, statues, and herbs in back; the exact way to dress a cheap plastic doll, pack it for mailing, and send it to general delivery, Hell, Michigan, to get rid of someone you don’t want in your life; and much more.
This sort of thing goes on constantly in today’s industrial nations, and it always has. Only in the fevered imaginations of devout rationalists has the coming of modernity brought even the slightest decrease in the practice of magic. Our current chapter of The Doctrine and Ritual of High Magic is intended to explain why this is. In the process, Lévi has something even more unsettling to reveal: the central role that magic plays in all human social interactions. Even when we don’t talk about it—or especially when we don’t talk about it!—magic is omnipresent.
We can start by reviewing the basics. Magic is the result of will and imagination acting on the astral light, the subtle energy that links all minds and things together. If you direct your will and imagination toward some goal, that action will set a current moving in the astral light; if you confirm that direction of will and imagination through actions on the material plane—yes, we can refer to these actions as “rituals”—the current becomes fixed in place, and will infallibly have an effect, either on its target or on you. Once fixed in place, the current cannot be changed. If circumstances are favorable, it will expend itself by fulfilling the goal on which you will and imagination were focused. If they are not favorable, it will expend itself by rebounding on the caster for good or ill. Got that? If you understand these few sentences fully, you now know everything you need to know about practical magic.
In the French original, by the way, this chapter is titled Les Envoûtements, and expresses a shade of meaning hard to communicate in other languages. In English, a phrase such as “valley of enchantments” sounds appealing, like something from a well-scrubbed fairy tale; its partial French equivalent, valle des envoûtements, has a far more foreboding sound. Envoûtements are more often hostile than not. What this shows is that French has remained far more closely attuned to the reality of everyday magic than English.
Lévi, certainly, was well aware of that reality. Since every one of us goes about willing and imagining things, he points out, we are all practicing magic, and since quite often we express our wills and imaginations in symbolic actions in the world of matter, we are all setting up currents in the astral light and fixing them in place. Human social existence is a sea of conflicting magical forces surging against one another, leaving most of us to flounder and struggle in the turbulence. Peer pressure, the magnetism of fads and fashions, the social seductions that lead so many people to do things not only against their own best interests but against their convictions: from Lévi’s point of view, all these are the products of involuntary enchantment, acting as a constant and pervasive presence in human life.
Not all enchantments are unconscious, of course. It is entirely possible for someone who has no occult training to notice how often pouring out will and imagination, and confirming these with some kind of simple physical action, can get results. Human nature being what it is, the people who discover this quite often put it to use to harm others. Even in the short run, this has drastic downsides. Lévi’s metaphor is apt: trimmed of euphemisms, he’s talking about a man whose mistress was two-timing him, and got himself infected with syphilis in order to pass it onto the mistress and her other lover, so that all three of them would die horribly. (When our text was written, remember, there was no reliable cure for syphilis, and the most common outcome was a long slow descent into madness and death.)
No, it doesn’t sound like a good idea to me, either, but Lévi is correct. That’s a close equivalent to what happens to people who turn to malign magic to hurt or exploit other people, because you can’t project such influences onto anyone else without taking them into yourself. Of course there’s no shortage of people who insist that this just isn’t so, that they can fling around noxious influences freely without ever being touched by them. I’ve known quite a few people who made that claim. Most of them are dead. Those that aren’t have been slammed by one miserable crisis after another: health crises, financial crises, relationship crises, you name it. The laws of magic are as calm and impersonal as the laws of physics, and they play no favorites.
One of those laws, as our text points out, is the requirement that effective magic must come from a unified will. Pure hatred, to use Lévi’s example, is powerful for magic to the extent that it is pure. If it is mixed up with jealousy, or frustrated desire, or greed, or any other emotion, it fails. The same is true of any other emotion. Ordinary human beings are ineffective mages because their emotions are so rarely pure. This is as true of the positive emotions as the negative ones. Love is of course the great example. Sexual love is always tangled up with desire, parental love with pride, and even the most seemingly chaste love with a longing for comfort and solace. These combinations are normal, natural, and healthy; their sole disadvantage is that they have no magical power, and attempting to use them as a motive for magic guarantees that the usual result will be some unwelcome form of blowback.
The need for perfect focus of intention explains many of the oddities of magical practice. No, in a strict sense you don’t need the candles, the robes, the incense, and the rest of the clutter, and the adepts of magic don’t bother with such things. They have learned through years of practice how to direct will and imagination with perfect focus while sitting in a comfortable chair. If you haven’t reached that level of still, by contrast, the claptrap helps: it gives your mind something to hang onto, and helps you direct your still-imperfect will and imagination toward a goal with enough force to matter.
The practitioner of evil magic gets to the same place by uglier means. It so happens that you can force the mind into a temporary state of intense focus by doing something that horrifies and disgusts you. That’s what the ceremonies of evil magic are meant to do. Are they effective? Of course, for some measures of the word “effective.” Like other artificial means of stimulus, though, it has to be taken in stronger and stronger doses over time to get the same result, leading the evil magician further into various forms of crime, and eventually into the hands of the legal system. The true mage, by contrast, works on developing focus and clarity directly, without depending on such unpleasant gimmicks. The route is more difficult but it’s honest, and the results are better and far more enduring.
Three more details are worth discussing here. First, Lévi points out that it’s not at all hard to sense when a voluntary or involuntary enchantment is incoming. Since each of us is in constant contact with the astral light, attending to sudden shifts in mood can be an early warning of magic on the way. A sudden unreasonable antipathy toward someone can be such a warning sign; so can a sudden unreasonable affection. Attend to such things without falling under their control and you can very often head off the influences of everyday magic.
Second, certain things have a disruptive effect on the currents of the astral light. The ones Lévi talks about here, the toad, the basilisk, and the tard, are the least useful of them, but then he is not yet talking about practice. Certain animals, plants, and minerals have reliable effects on the astral light, and can be put to work to protect the individual against hostile magic. Toads are helpful in this way, for what it’s worth; if you happen to have a garden, and a toad takes up residence there, encourage it to stay. It will eat its weight in insect pests every few days, and create a subtle atmosphere that will help you keep your mind clear of enchantments.
(There’s an error that slipped past Mark Mikituk and I in the translation here, by the way. The toad, the basilisk, and the tard guarantee against hallucinations and the illusions of astral intoxication, rather than guaranteeing these things! Lévi was using, as he often did, an older way of speaking that came across in an ambiguous way, and the result slipped past. That it did so in the same paragraph that flaunts the mystery word “tard”—we never did figure out for sure what on Earth Lévi meant by it!—is all the more embarrassing.)
Third, there are other ways to defend against hostile enchantments. Paracelsus, whose magical and medical work Lévi knew well, includes plenty of instructions along these lines in his works, and our text refers to a few of them. The rural witches and enchanters of Lévi’s own time knew quite a few tricks along these same lines, too, and our text mentions some of those as well. The core element of most of these approaches is that the hostile enchantment can’t simply be stopped in its tracks: like any other current in motion, if baulked, it will simply build up pressure until it finds a way toward its goal. Rather, it needs to be redirected and allowed to disperse itself in some relatively harmless direction.
All these are useful points, and they relate to a subject whose breadth and importance Lévi barely hints at here. If all acts of will and imagination are magical acts, and all magical acts confirmed by appropriate actions are fixed in the astral light, then most of us live in a seething swamp of debased magical influences without ever realizing it. Vast amounts of human misery and failure unfold from the simple fact that most people never get around to thinking their own thoughts, feeling their own emotions, or using their own will and imagination for purposes other than those handed to them by the fetid, churning mess of the astral light that surrounds them.
It’s popular these days in some circles to imagine that this sort of failure of individuality is solely the result of modern high-tech media or of psychologically astute methods of advertising and publicity. Lévi reminds us that these things were already old in his time, and indeed were already old when the Great Pyramid was the hottest new construction project in Egypt. We are not born individuals. We are not born with free will. We all have the capacity to achieve at least a certain level of these things, but that capacity has to be awakened, developed, and put to work through systematic practice.
Until that happens, we remain trapped in the vast stone tower shown in the tarot card corresponding to this chapter, waiting for the lightning to fall. Only when we begin to take hold of our own capacity for individual freedom does the lightning bolt become the sudden shock of liberation that frees us from the grip of collective consciousness and enables us to choose our own path in life.
Notes for Study and Practice:
It’s quite possible to get a great deal out of The Doctrine and Ritual of High Magic by the simple expedient of reading each chapter several times and thinking at length about the ideas and imagery that Lévi presents. For those who want to push things a little further, however, meditation is a classic tool for doing so.
The method of meditation I am teaching as we read Lévi is one that is implicit in his text, and was developed in various ways by later occultists following in his footsteps. It is a simple and very safe method, suitable for complete beginners but not without benefits for more experienced practitioners. It will take you five minutes a day. Its requirements are a comfortable chair, your copy of Lévi’s book, and a tarot deck of one of the varieties discussed earlier.
For your work on this chapter, take Trump XVI, “La Maison Dieu.” Your first task is to study it and get familiar with the imagery. Sit down, get out the card, and study it. Spend five minutes doing this on the first day you devote to this practice.
Your second task is to associate a letter with it. Lévi gives you two options, the Hebrew letter ע (Ayin) or the Latin letter Q. As noted earlier, you should choose one alphabet and stick to it. The sound values aren’t of any importance here, nor is there a “right” choice. You’re assigning labels to a mental filing cabinet. Most people can make the necessary association quite promptly, but spend a session exploring it. Sit down, get out the card, and study it. Relate it to the letter in any way that comes to mind.
The third through fifth sessions are devoted to the titles Lévi gives for the card: Fons, Oculus, and Fulgur. Sit down, get out the card, and study it. How does Fons, “fountain,” relate to the imagery on the card and the letter you’ve chosen? That’s one session. How about Oculus, “eye”? How about Fulgur, “thunderbolt”? Approach these in the same way as the concepts you explored in earlier meditations.
Don’t worry about getting the wrong answer. There are no wrong answers in meditation. Your goal is to learn how to work with certain capacities of will and imagination most people never develop. Stray thoughts, strange fancies, and whimsical notions do this as well as anything.
Sessions six through the end of the month are done exactly the same way, except that you take the concepts from the chapter. Sit down, get out the card, and study it. Then open the book to Chapter 16 of the Doctrine and find something in it that interests you. Spend five minutes figuring out how it relates to the imagery on the card, the letter, and the three titles. Do the same thing with a different passage the next day, and the day after, and so on. If you run out of material for meditation in this chapter, you can certainly go back to the previous chapters and review what they have to say.
Don’t worry about where this is going. Unless you’ve already done this kind of practice, the goal won’t make any kind of sense to you. Just do the practice. You’ll find, if you stick with it, that over time the card you’re working on takes on a curious quality I can only call conceptual three-dimensionality: a depth is present that was not there before, a depth of meaning and ideation. It can be very subtle or very loud, or anything in between. Don’t sense it? Don’t worry. Sit down, get out the card, and study it. Do the practice and see where it takes you.
We’ll be going on to “Chapter 17: Astrology,” on October 12, 2022. See you then!
Very potent breakdown. Thank you.
Still plenty of botanicas on the various streetcorners here in the shadow of New York City, for what it’s worth…
It struck me how important this essay is to understanding the thesis of The King in Orange – that “we are all practicing magic . . . Human social existence is a sea of conflicting magical forces surging against one another, leaving most of us to flounder and struggle in the turbulence.” It also reminded me of Owen’s realization in The Weird of Hali: Insmouth – “That was when he recognized whatever was being done to the world, or to him. It reminded him powerfully of the emptiness that he’d seen in Professor Noyes’ bland smiling face, the void that had swallowed Shelby and left a husk in her place, but the emptying hadn’t happened to him. It had happened to the whole world.”
Amusing as I find the notion, there is no USPS general delivery service to Hell, Michigan.
I grew up in the Detroit area. Every few years we would drive north through the lower peninsula to visit my mother’s relatives in northern Wisconsin and we often stopped at the general store in Hell. As a child I was deeply fascinated by the shelves and shelves of tacky souvenirs. I remember being allowed to buy (or maybe it was my brother who bought it) a doll-sized baseball bat with “Bat Out Of Hell” printed along its length in a sort of 19th-century Old West style font. In that same store there was a mail drop where customers could get the coveted “Hell, Michigan” postmark on their cards and letters, but the store’s mailing address, like the rest of Hell, was actually in Pinckney, the nearest actual town, because Hell is an unincorporated community with no separate recognition by any government agency aside from this custom postmark created as a favor to the Hell Chamber of Commerce. It’s a charming notion but I doubt that anything addressed to “General Delivery, Hell, Michigan” would get any closer to the place than a dumpster outside the Pinckney mail-sorting facility.
This was a fascinating chapter.. I do have a couple questions:
Firstly on this paragraph: “ All that which carries the imprint of a human soul belongs to that soul; all that which a man appropriates in any manner becomes his body, in the largest sense of the word, and that which is done to the body of a man is felt, either indirectly or directly, through his soul.”.
My assumption is this is why some folks are fastidious about the disposal of hair and nail clippings, to avoid them being weaponized? However what is really puzzling me is the addendum ‘appropriates in any manner’, which would imply that the paper cup my coffee came in (which I have indeed appropriated) is now in some sense part of my body. Is this reading matters too far? Or Is the a spectrum of sorts between vital fluids and paper cups?
Secondly, regarding “ He places the omnipotence of the mage in the internal and occult Magnes”, it isn’t clear to me after some searching exactly what or who Magnes is here. There seem to be different possibilities.. might you point me in the right direction?
Fra’ Lupo, there are plenty of botanicas in the Latin immigrant neighborhoods here in Rhode Island, too!
Bill, excellent. You’re paying attention.
Joan, there doesn’t have to be. People still mail packages to that address; no doubt they end up in the dumpster you mention, but that’s irrelevant to the magic. Interestingly, in the African-American community it’s more traditional to send such packages to Paris, France; lots of people still remember the days when that’s where you went if you were black and decided to leave the US once and for all. But in the white communities where I’ve seen that spell practiced, the rule is invariant: you send them to Hell, MI.
Paul, (1) yes, exactly. Whatever you touch can be an object link to you, though the less contact you have with it, the less effective the link. (2) “Magnes” is yet another name for the astral light.
Going to try to think this through roughly with two types of flows, one physical, the other emotional (for analogical comparison):
1) Water trapped behind a dam, which threatens to break
2) A person very angry at me, and who wants to take it out
Strategy A: Dissolve the source
1) I can figure out where the water is coming from that is filling the dam, and stop or redirect the water upstream, allowing the water behind the dam to dissipate.
2) I can figure out where the anger is coming from, and by identifying secondary emotions which fuel the anger, I may be able to help that person dissipate the anger, provided I also stop doing whatever is making that person angry as well.
Both of these assume that I have some influence over the source. If I do not, then according to our text, I only have some form of redirecting the energy available to me.
Strategy B: Redirect the flow
1) If I have the resources available, some grade, and some time, I can erect groundwork to divert the flow of water to a less harmful area downhill and away from valuable things otherwise in the water’s path.
2) Levi writes: “The only remedy to this enchantment is to seize upon madness to cure madness, and force the patient to find imaginary satisfactions in the contrary order to the ones in which he lost himself”.
Of course, if someone is angry at me, then I would prefer to not do what made that person angry. But if it is someone I don’t know well, and this person is angry at me for reasons unknown, then it becomes hard to redirect it in the way Levi suggests, because I don’t understand the source well enough to figure out where to redirect it to.
If I am a politician, and the person angry at me has an issue with a policy I support, then the cynical move is to frame an argument in such a way that blame is diverted to someone else, which obviously happens all the time. This would satisfy Levi’s example in a negative manner.
A more positive redirection move would depend on the issue. If the person is really angry that I increased taxes then do I invite them to participate in how the new revenue will be spent?
This is trickier than the examples Levi used. One of his examples is a selfish person being shown selflessness, but that depends on you being able to define that person as selfish. In my example, that doesn’t work, because it may be a difference in ideology rather than a lack of virtue.
The better way to deal with it would be to understand the source of the anger, and deal with it as above with actually listening and responding to the grievances. But this takes effort and more energy than simply and cynically redirecting the flow of anger, which is probably why some politicians do this.
However, if you’re in a position where, despite your reasonable efforts at reconciliation, your efforts have failed, and the other person is still angry with you, and you don’t feel it’s right to cynical and divert the anger to a third party, then you’re left with a different type of redirection.
Strategy C: Remove yourself from the flow’s path
Removing yourself from the flow is itself a type of redirection.
1) In the dam example, it’s moving whatever is downhill away from underneath the dam.
2) In the anger example, it’s stepping away from the situation to deny the anger a target. Levi’s example uses the word ‘patient’ and so the examples he cites makes sense for a healer who is working with a patient to channel the “madness” elsewhere. In my example you may not have that level of influence, so leaving the situation makes the most sense.
There is at least one more option:
Strategy D: Holding fast and resisting the flow
1) I can’t see how this would work at all in the dam example.
2) Nor can I see it working in the anger example. If I do nothing, or if I resist, the person is still given a target, and I then feel the flow of anger.
Hmm, much to think on!
In my view the most important fruit of meditation is the ability to experience thoughts as *events that I am witnessing,* rather than as *actions that I am taking.* It’s probably also worth saying that Eastern types of mind-emptying meditation have helped me in this regard, along with the discursive meditation you teach. I ultimately see these as two parts of a whole, neither of which really works correctly without the other– in the same way that, if you had a severe case of restless-leg syndrome, you would benefit greatly from learning how to get your legs to stop moving, and even more from learning that you could actually get your legs to take you somewhere!
Of course, our situation is actually worse than that, because we believe that the fact of our legs flapping and flopping every which way, knocking over chairs and tables and taking us anywhere they like, actually *is* walking– and we have a number of people in our society who insist that intentional walking is actually impossible.
Owen’s realization was probably the most important part of the WoH series for me. It confirmed something that has been growing in me for many years, that the whole world and everything in it is under a malign enchantment, and we all have to deal with that single overwhelming fact.
I haven’t had time to read this book yet (it’s all professionally printed out, just sitting there in a binder on my shelf), but had this feeling I should still read this post today. I was not disappointed. Thank you for the cliff notes. I’m sure I’ll eventual catch up – better tard (possibly plus tard) than never.
It’s not just the swamp that needs to be drained, but the astral swamp! But I’ll want to keep some toads around…
I thought this chapter had much to say about current political situations, re: the King in Orange, Trump, populism, and such.
It seems to still be playing out in the way that the more hate and negativity are thrown against orange dude, the more people leave the dems, the more blowback the so-called resistance gets on their sticky fingers, and what have you.
The efforts to malign another person only end up bringing down more malignity on the ones circulating all the malice.
I wish I’d known some of this stuff as a teenager, but, I guess I had some karma to generate, and some karma to burn.
If I may, I have several thoughts:
First, regarding banishing through mail, I’ve read of some work with different addresses. Aura LaForest has apparently had good results sending packages general delivery to Farr, Inverness in Scotland: https://forum.luckymojo.com/post102212.html#p102212
Catherine Yronwode writes that she has good success sending packages to Paris, TX, too. https://forum.luckymojo.com/post420831.html#p420831 IIRC she developed this during the Pandemic in which she could no longer send packages general delivery to France.
Personally, I’ve never done that trick, but have done somewhat similar work with river release workings, which are much, much cheaper! This has included all sorts of workings to remove myself of jinxes. On my blog I shared one flexible recipe for doing so that I developed over the years and have found to work very well: https://violetcabra.dreamwidth.org/331423.html I’ve decided to share it after divinations and because recently so many write of evil magic and evil energies.
Second, the question of rebound is so interesting: if a failed spell returns to its sender, then any work we do on ourselves will always work, even if not as planned! If we do a working to bless or heal ourselves, then it will have nowhere else to go than the caster.
Third, how long does it typically take for a spell that fails to rebound?
Wow, a shout out to Botanicas. I’m of Puerto Rican descent and my Mom was a heavy believer in magic. She would have us wear red PJ’s to ward off evil spirits, when we were kids. My Mom and her sister would regularly go to Botanicas in NYC. She would boil certain plants and pour them over us in a bathtub. My Aunt would hold seances awaiting the arrival of Santa Barbara. She also had an altar to Santa Barbara and would offer it food. She even had a shrunken head which she said was real and I was too scared to find out if it was true or not, lol.
I grew up having a profound respect for the spirit world though I have no interest in magic.
Also, this chapter reminds me of a couple other points often discussed here, to paraphrase: “it is better to build something new up as a third option rather than take a side for or against in an argument.”
And someone on the open posts on Dreamwidth a couple of weeks ago posted a quote, something like “bring your own soul to peace, and a thousand other people will benefit”. I forget who that quote was from.
The importance of a banishing ritual is made even clearer after this chapter, too. I wonder if the “best” goal one can have with one’s own magical practice is basically astral hygiene, especially if the astral plane has always been so murky. One just has to tidy oneself up, and one’s surroundings, and to be like a filter feeder, an oyster.
I have often wondered what it means to be in harmony with the cosmos, and if I look at the metaphor of the astral swamp and turn it instead into a cacophony of overly dissonant noise, then it seems a bit clearer.
The cosmos includes these fields of dissonance, but it also includes the sense of lightness, silence, calm, and airiness that I sometimes feel, and perhaps that is what is meant – that it may not be useful to strive only for that lightness, but keep it in balance, in proportion, with the dissonance, and the striving for silence that I feel is only because there is so much dissonance. Unsure if this makes any sense.
Mr. Greer – I wonder if you could expand a bit upon the lines, “We are not born individuals. We are not born with free will.”
As the father of two children and the grandfather of three, it is abundantly clear to me that the amount of Will and Individuality each being arrives with varies dramatically from the moment of birth. I’m not sure therefore how you mean, “We are not born individuals.” I think you are saying that it takes focus, imagination, and practice to develop one’s individuality and to direct one’s will. But it seems as if we already have them at birth in my experience.
“Most of them are dead.”
I don’t know why but this made me laugh out loud
Mr. Greer – I have a second question if you don’t mind:
I began working with the tarot last winter (for the first time) and followed along (way behind the rest of the class) with the course of study you have been generously guiding each month, but just when I was really feeling that I was having some genuine insights into my own thoughts and ways of thinking and being, I suddenly stopped. It was as if I completely forgot about it. I went from studying every single morning for three months to nothing. A couple of days ago I suddenly remembered the tarot and I realized that for me to quit something like a course of study that I was passionate about is quite unusual for me and that just perhaps this very odd and abrupt cessation was not entirely my own doing.
Then this morning I read your piece above regarding protection from psychic ‘mud’ and malign intentions. I have come to think that these kind of ‘coincidences’ are sometimes a sign that I should be paying more attention. But perhaps I am subconsciously trying to blame outside influences for my own behavior? Usually I am aware of doing that because it feels shameful to me, whereas this was more like a case of amnesia out of the blue just when I felt that I was really starting to catch a glimmer of the Great Work. Is it possible that there is some mechanism built into the collective reality that is designed to prevent our recalling knowledge of our former incarnations?
Jbucks, excellent! A fine practical meditation.
Steve, interesting. From my perspective thoughts can be both — you can choose to create a thought, and you can also simply experience thoughts passing through — but yes, meditation makes that choice easier.
Bill, you’re welcome. I’ve come to think that that’s the most crucial fact of our time — it’s not that the world is “disenchanted,” it’s that it labors under a malign enchantment which can be broken…
Pixelated, ha! Mark and I chased tards down that rathole too…
Justin, good. Yes, we’ve gotten into a much more practical aspect of our subject.
Violet, thanks for this! I know there are several other destinations for package spells, but Farr, Inverness is a new one on me. (2) Exactly; that’s one of the reasons that magic aimed at oneself is so reliably effective. (3) It varies. I’ve seen blowback land in a matter of days and I’ve seen it build over the course of a decade. The latter case resulted in multiple corpses, so I gather the longer delay makes the power build.
Rod, thanks for this! That’s all good to know.
Jbucks, yes, exactly.
Ken, my comments were by way of instructive exaggeration. We are born with the capacity for individuality and free will, but that capacity has to be developed, by education, by personal effort, or both. Most people never achieve this, and are mass-minded — that is to say, they think the thoughts and have the desires their society, their family, and the media tell them to have. Only those who break out of mass-mindedness can go on to become genuine individuals.
Aloysius, oh, there’s a certain grim humor in watching it sometimes.
Ken, several different factors can cause something like that, but my guess is that it’s the pushback from collective consciousness, trying to keep you in the state of mass-mindedness. Don’t worry about it — just pick yourself up and keep going.
Wer (offlist), I prefer to keep the comment thread for book club posts on topic. Thanks for complying.
Levi’s mantle that he laid before us is very impressive and generous, even scary sometimes. I’m appalled though. How can he or his work be doing that with such aliveness so long after his death?
In the horrorthography that is French, envoûtements unfolds into envoustements, which calques into Spanish as investimientos, which in English renders as investments, as in the investment of a priest.
In our doing magic, we are investing into other beings, and other beings invest into us. To invest properly, you need will and discernment, with concentrated effort to cultivate your investments. If investing is like dart throwing, most will have a handful of darts, unconciously casting whichever way, at the ceiling, behind them, at their feet, or letting them slip out of their hands into the ground. The dart player who consciously casts darts in the direction of the target board is in relatively better shape, this person has the will and imagination to seek the bullseye, despite his level of skill; with practice, this person will hit precisely and accurately. The GI-GO principle applies here, malinvestments yield malefic results, bene-investments result in benefits.
As an aside, valle des envoûtements sounds like an apt descriptor for several Californian valleys.
Thank you for this discussion! This chapter feels quite timely for me. It seems some of us are more inclined to resist the group think. I’ve always had this to some extent, but this last year staying true to myself has come at considerable cost. I feel like my system was depleted. Having a system of redirecting this negative current must be very important to staying strong and healthy. Apparently I need to develop that next. I’m using the Judson’s exercise for this purpose, but will approach it in a new maybe more focused way.
I am sorry about the last thing. But there was once a old woman living in an small village next to the town i live and she had a “bad aura’ about her, when you mentioned this forcing of astral light and It might lead to bad things happening. i wonder if she was doing something with pure evil emotions or something. Once she walked around the village and saw that a young helathy lamb was born she came up to the lamb and said “what ahealthy little fella” that lamb went sick really fast and died, no poisoning was found, It is almost scary some people said she was a witch. you probably have an idea what happened do you? some bad ritual or consorting with dammed things? You said yourself that there is concrete evidence about an evil manifestations and as a Catholic I belive that demons exist and must be resisted.
A follow up question then, to your comment “a malign enchantment, which can be broken”. I’ve spent my life obsessing over what I could do to heal the dire state we are in. I’ve finally come to the realization – work on yourself. Let people be. The world can take care of itself. Is this, do you think, how the spell is broken? If there are enough of us waking up, or at least trying to?
This comment thread and the posting helped me finally put together something that’s puzzled me for a long time. With respect to, for example, the COVID vaccines (and this is just an example, not an attempt to start a discussion which belongs elsewhere), I haven’t really understood how so many people have simply fallen into line with the official narrative at the risk of becoming their own victims. I’ve observed it, but haven’t been able to explain it. A conspiracy theorist might think of this in terms of a controlling interest somewhere manipulating what people think, but that doesn’t explain why even those who might gain from it in some way still sincerely believe in the controlling narrative, and it doesn’t explain why they would create unintended consequences (e.g., economic) by their actions; there seems to be something else involved. John’s use of “mass-mindedness” just now suddenly made it all click for me, coupled with what Levi says about how the astral light is influenced. Of course it is the case that true believers behave in a certain way regardless of how much or how little they might have to gain from their actions. They’ve each contributed to the manipulation of consciousness which is enveloping them. It comes from their own consciousness directly, but also from the streams of consciousness of others, which is as if to say that even their own consciousness is not in a sense entirely theirs. They put something out there which then comes back, mani-fold, because so many others did the same thing, at the same time, so even if they tried, unless they’re used to exercising their mental muscles in a contrarian way (contrary to the mass mind), it’s not going to work well or quickly. They’ve each _willingly_ (an act of will, of intent) fed the same fire. The people directly and indirectly hexed themselves, in other words. This means that people can willingly lead themselves to slaughter if they so choose, because it’s not the individuals who are doing that; it’s the mass mind, the involuntary enchantment. Wow. This is mind-blowing.
Augusto, Kant showed us that time isn’t objectively real — it’s simply a subjective structure of human consciousness. In the eternal Now, Lévi is sitting in his study, dipping a pen in an inkwell and writing the chapter you’ve just read in a blaze of inspiration, and those words go echoing out across the dimensions of conscious being to light up your thoughts. Writing is always like that.
Ighy, a fine little meditation, and “horrorthography” fits French very well indeed. What a language — eight hundred years of fossilized slang…
Tamar, no question, it takes work. One piece of advice — nap when you can. The subtle bodies are healed by sleep.
Wer, that’s a classic example of witchcraft — right down to the compliment that acted as a curse. Typically the people who do that spend all their time brooding on negative thoughts and so their aura becomes toxic.
Bill, exactly. If you free yourself from the enchantment, you loosen its grip on the world. The more people who free themselves, the weaker it becomes, until finally it cracks and comes apart and goes whistling down the wind.
Asdf, exactly. I’ve recently been studying the writings of Harry Gardener, a 20th century occult teacher who was involved in publicizing the Five Rites. The core of his teaching, which seems very useful to me, is that spirituality is about shaking off mass-mindedness and becoming an individual. Until you do that, your thoughts are not your own, and everything that goes through your mind is part of the enchantment that holds you and most other people stuck in counterproductive thoughts and feelings.
I have a question. In the ‘70’s, I believe, a man got cancer and there was nothing the doctors could do. He decided to laugh his way to recovery. It worked. Is this magic, and, if so, why do magical cures so rarely work?
I’m scratching my head trying to figure out what a “tard” is. Apparently a basilisk is created when a toad hatches a chicken egg, so maybe whatever this is, is also part of the same life cycle? Just spit-ballin’…
JMG: “Once fixed in place, the current cannot be changed. If circumstances are favorable, it will expend itself by fulfilling the goal on which you will and imagination were focused. If they are not favorable, it will expend itself by rebounding on the caster for good or ill. Got that?”
This makes me wonder about the effects of various wishes / spells as they either rebound upon the sender, or not. Churches all over the world pray for world peace, and of course there is no peace, so…peace rebounds upon the pray-ers? That makes a certain amount of sense, but what if I pray for a big bag of money? Then my prayer joins a tumult of competing ones, most presumably destined for frustration…which means it rebounds upon me, and I get rich anyway? That can’t be right. And what if the “rebound” is logically impossible–e.g. if Amber Heard were to curse Johnny Depp with male pattern baldness? Witches need canon lawyers for this stuff.
On a personal note, last year I bought new Tibetan prayer flags, and realized too late that the ones I bought featured prayers to Jambhala, the wealth deity. Not that I have anything against Jambhala, or wealth, but since this is not really my calling or ideal, I wasn’t comfortable flying the flags.
JMG: “We are not born individuals. We are not born with free will. We all have the capacity to achieve at least a certain level of these things, but that capacity has to be awakened, developed, and put to work through systematic practice.”
I had always associated this idea with Gurdjieff, but maybe he took it from Lévi.
Buddhist scholar Jayarava Attwood notes that “free will” is difficult to define. (What if I am controlled by my own desires?)
Thank you very much, JMG!
I was listening to the prelude of Parsifal when reading this and it made a truly great soundtrack for falling into daydream. Now let me just gather what I was doing before… because I really want to go and munch on that on a banished and incensed space. I’m happy I’m getting the hang of this a little bit. I don’t usually like slow and steady but this clearly has to be done that way and I need to learn how to do it if I want to get good at it.
Regarding writing, that is very interesting! I felt it with your novels, clearly –I kid you not I jumped out of my seat on one of the scenes in Kingsport when they are looking for the RoE. Everything was whizzing by in a moment!– and I’ve started to feel it with other books I encounter too. I think I just wasn’t exposed to the right kind of books and the ones I was presented with were just bleached cellulose typed by an insipid character instead of the juicy anchor of a timeless, accessible world narrated by a colorful personality… It just sounds silly, but I’m learning to use my imagination and it’s freaking awesome! And I hadn’t noticed until yesterday just how childishly angry I am that I had forgotten how to use it.
(Still, take that, abusive authority figures, I can learn and and in fact you don’t know what doing that means. To borrow a phrase from Lady Cute Kitten. Harrumph.)
Esteemed and wise Archdruid, I’m struck by how often Levi speaks about sickness and illnesses in this chapter. I’d argue that it’s the prime topic, since the sicknesses and illnesses are the result of various enchantments which he discusses. I’d almost rename this chapter “Illnesses” rather than “Enchantments.” Does the original French word carry an implication of illness?
His statement at the end of the chapter that “…you will ALWAYS [my emphasis] find at the source of a physical illness a moral disorder; it is an invariable law of nature” has to me an odd flavor. I’m meditating on it, since to me on first impression it sounds like “You’re sick because your mind is disordered, so you deserve to be sick ‘cause you brought it on yourself.” The additional implication is that those who are very healthy are so because their minds are balanced and wise. Hmmm. Really? (I’d like to personally believe it, but that seems like a glittering temptation. Oooh, shiny.)
I also have some difficulties (though also for personal reasons I’d like to believe it!) with his statement that “true virtue is a guarantee of longevity.” Again this seems to be a “those who died young deserved it as they lacked virtue” sort of odd put-down.
The tarot card for this chapter seems out of sync; “God House”, really? What do figures being lightning-blasted off a high tower have to do with God(s), illnesses, enchantments, and virtue or lack thereof?
Good thing I have a month to mull all of this over. As always, my very best regards.
Fascinating stuff really!
“Human social existence is a sea of conflicting magical forces surging against one another, leaving most of us to flounder and struggle in the turbulence. ” A very apt description of what happens to most of us. It takes hard work to shake off this trance This may be why a lot of mystics and occultists say that we live as if half asleep…
If I understand correctly, egregors could be ordered magical forces in the astral light set up with intent and purpose?
“if you confirm that direction of will and imagination through actions on the material plane—yes, we can refer to these actions as “rituals”—the current becomes fixed in place, and will infallibly have an effect, either on its target or on you.”
I’m interested in the ritual part of the process. So if I decided to get fit, for example, then the will is the ongoing desire, the imagination may take the form of affirmations or visualisations, and the ritual is the actual physical practice?
If I decide to write a novel then the will is the ongoing intention to finish, the imagination may be all the thought process that goes into the plot and research, while the ritual is the actual writing?
Or is there something more involved in the ritual part?
Until you do that, your thoughts are not your own, and everything that goes through your mind is part of the enchantment that holds you and most other people stuck in counterproductive thoughts and feelings.
Do you have a sense of the history of the malign enchantment, as in when it may have started? If the astral swamp has always been around, as your post suggests, and it’s always been the task to free oneself from it, then it sounds like the malign enchantment has always been around – or are the astral swamp and the malign enchantment two different things? I.e. has the astral swamp been further flooded by a malign enchantment?
Somewhat tongue-in-cheek: After bathing in JMG’s enchantment for several years, I did succeed in developing a better sensitivity to the narratives circulating and becoming a bit more critical of the most egregious ones. But true individualism won’t be achieved until I can equally criticize JMG’s perspective and not need to rely on it to better understand the others circulating. I am not quite there yet.
I have also noticed that there is no “ground truth” from which to objectively assess every other perspectives, but there are indeed some perspectives that are definitively more illuminating than others, although all are incomplete.
Also, I am getting the distinct impression from all the threads on occultism that one of the societal roles of practitioners is to actively and willfully help balance the world against the most destructive uses of will and imagination, starting with themselves. Knowing that there exists a tradition and lineage of practitioners who have done that throughout the ages, and are actively working to carry that tradition forward, gives me better trust in humanity and the future. Although that future is really not looking like what I was imagining 15 years ago, there is a luminous quality in imagining humanity as a collective experiment in learning fruitful use of free will.
@Ken #16, if I may. I read your post with interest and was nodding along with a wry grin. I started learning magic earlier this year, following along with the Fellowship of the Hermetic Rose material our kind host is serialising on his other blog. And the resistance you describe is something almost scarily real. Despite my ardent desire and interest, fascination, even, it is taking much longer and I am progressing at a much slower pace than I ever have before when learning something new. It is amazing how many roadblocks I have faced and expect to continue to face, both from within me and from outside. It used to be that come Magic Monday, I’d post a frantic plea for help, and after JMG’s patient repetition of the advice to recognise the hurdle and JUST DUST YOURSELF OFF AND KEEP ON, I finally do just that. Still very slow going, but I feel I am getting there. It is all part of, (in my case a key part of) training the will. Which is one of the most important tools of magic, if I understand it correctly. So I just keep on slogging away.
Re. this month’s post, my addition to the meditation on the theme is to imagine that we are swimming in an ocean of the stuff of magic: I immediately remembered swimming in the sea as a teenager growing up in Africa:
The Indian Ocean off the Southern African coast, also the freezing Atlantic on the other side. The waves you get are powerful. There are lulls, there are very powerful waves, there are phases to them. Catch a wave at the right time and you can body surf it to your own destination. If it is close to breaking, your best bet is to dive deep, deep, to the stillness beneath it, and let it pass over you. If you do not, you will get battered and bruised and churned to a pulp. Or worse. But seeking the stillness beneath and following it to the other side *also* takes you further. Sometimes things are calm and you can float, sometimes there’s a rip or strong current and then the only thing to do is to not fight the current, as that could be deadly. Surrender to the current and at all costs do not panic as you see yourself swept along because if you do and you start struggling you will exhaust yourself and surely die. No. Your best bet is to remain calm, swim WITH the current and try to steer yourself as gently as you can. Float when you are tired.
Finally: When there is a storm brewing, or sharks spotted, stay out of the water altogether 😉
then, is the tard an animal? Is it ‘late’? or is it anything else? Looking for the word in french, no animal is called that way, but it could be that in the time of Lévi, some animal was called such, known for being always late.
Option 4: Facing the evil.
If you have enough energy to opose the evil, you create something new. In the case of the dam, you have enough resources to build another new dam that can hold the flow again. If the case of the angry man, you have enough money and connections to stand against him and block any attempt against you, but in doing so the angry man will double his efforts, forcing you to double yours. It will escalate until one of you falls or the fight will become a feud, an important thing in your lifes that you cannot ignore anymore. Like these family feuds in Romeo and Juliet.
Please, remember the cycles. There are four phases: learning – working – harvesting – assymilation. You read about a new notion in the book, you study it with interest. Then you try to put the new concept into practice, and discover that your understanding wasn’t very good, so you work through it until you understand it to the point that you can do something useful with it. Then it’s the time to profit about your new knowledge. Finally, you become tired of all that work and need some rest before attempting the same with a new concept. Now the ability is set in you, like learning to ride a bicycle, you are ready for learning a new ability. It seems that you worked too hard and needed some extra rest to assymilate everything you learned. You will notice when your mind is ready to learn again.
Also, I agree with your perception about children. They are full of will and imagination, but they lack knowledge. We could say that they have the Flame but are missing the Form. They are full of wild magic and they are developing rapidly their personalities, gaining abilities at a mind boggling speed, but they know very little about the world, so that astral mud barely touches them. We could say that’s the time when the Great Entity is only conscious of itself. It’s when society pressure starts to build in ourselves when free will must be worked.
Say it one way or the other, we still need to work at some moment to think our own thoughts.
Dear John Michael Greer,
Thank you for this– I am finding the series of commentary on The D & R of HM immensely helpful.
Now I can only wonder whether a good protection against the current “-ism” discussed on your other blog’s forum would be to keep a toad. What about a cast-iron garden (decorative) toad? Do you think? I am asking quite seriously.
The card for this chapter is interesting. My first association for the three-windowed tower and the lightning is St Barbara–the patron of people who work with things that explode. (She’s among other things the historical patron of artillerymen.) It seems that part of the theme here is sudden disruption–the kind of disruption that both enlightens and destroys. Still thinking about how it connects to everything else. (The Chesterton poem The Ballad of St Barbara gives my picture of her better than I can.)
Well this was a consequential chapter for me. In my 3 card draw this morning I had 10 pentacles, Tower reversed, and 9 cups. I chuckled to myself because I was reading this chapter immediately after and the cards told me today would bring have me to surrender to something I now saw clearly.
What I see with sparkling clarity now is the enchantment the world has with science and reason. I’ve noticed how ineffective the arguments against the narrative have been the last few years – arguments all based in data and numbers. Levi calls it out, the spell can’t be broken that way, it must go to the extreme to resolve itself and so we are watching it play out. I also understand why not the most effective counter was discordian. I did it, felt it work, and now I get why.
I continually wonder how the USG got Americans in such large numbers to register for the WW1 draft and go. There was so little resistance. I’ve seen the propaganda posters and read the news paper articles and thought them ridiculous. Now I respect what was done, not in an approving way, but in a way of understanding how it was magic that was done on people in the images and symbolism used.
And I do agree with Steiner on how our cultural absorption with technology has blinded us to the way we are affected (or infected) by who and what is around us. I don’t want to say it was intentional conspiracy to replace rural common folk wisdom with rationality, but certainly when it occurred, we as a society have never been more controlled by something we can’t name. The erasure of magic by the turn of the 20th century (or maybe it’s better said the mockery of magick) has been the most consequential thing to happen to humans ever. Every disease we suffer from comes from this denial. I’ve know this logically for some time, but today I feel it in my bones.
I’ve always loved the phrasing from the Bible “in the world but not of it” to explain the framing to adopt. And like the typical person who intends to start that diet next week, or will read more in-depth when I have more time, I can blindingly see now that my continual going along and fitting in (and even paying attention to all the current things) is just propping up this hideously ugly thing.
It’s like the card – the grand conception of the world (crown) just popped off and out spilled the person I thought I was. I’ll make sure to provide a gentle landing to that being. No need for more violence. Without the lid of my preconceived notions, I can now let in that wind or breath there.
I want to raise aquestion about how do we protect ourselfs from the mass formation psychosis that is emerging right now in Europe. i think that maybe after enough hardships some people will start to form a blocade agains this psychosis or will it become worse? Like when WW2 the nazis used the power of occult and changed the mentality of Europeans, I’ve heard about the Wotan and Jungs analisis do you see something simillar emerging right now in Europe or perhaps like youn said in earlier posts “The hill to die on” mentality and currents of the astral light are shifting again?
I find that prayer is also channeling the energy of the lord throught the astral light and changing things in the reality around us?
JMG I apologise that I am mentioning these things again but the current of the astral light are chaotic right now there is a sense of anxiety brewing here and only my familly their love and my faith are kepping me from descending into something bad. Yousaid that all of us are mages even without realizing it, right now bad currents are everywhere and i am really concerened about the future. Magic can change people’s perceptions of reality but this is the real world with material limits imposed on so..
I am seeing the Tower as something of a metaphor for our pandemic times. All the must vax, mask up, isolate proponents has created a currant that has placed many in our society into a tower. But the resistance of those opposed to vax, mask, isolate, has created turbulence and a tower of their own. The lighting bolt is the consequences of all this astral force and will strike both towers and no one escapes. Seems to me that this is where a third way is sorely needed along with a clear head. Magic indeed.
re: Viking: “Also, I am getting the distinct impression from all the threads on occultism that one of the societal roles of practitioners is to actively and willfully help balance the world against the most destructive uses of will and imagination, starting with themselves. Knowing that there exists a tradition and lineage of practitioners who have done that throughout the ages, and are actively working to carry that tradition forward, gives me better trust in humanity and the future. Although that future is really not looking like what I was imagining 15 years ago, there is a luminous quality in imagining humanity as a collective experiment in learning fruitful use of free will.”
Thank you for this.
Thank you for this post, Mr. Greer
I felt at some point in my life that I was not sufficiently aligned with the prevalent currents of the universe or more specifically with the currents that existed in my little corner of the world, the upper great lakes region of the midwest. I started reading what was available on the understanding of the spiritual world by the aboriginal people of the area, the Ojibway. I also started practicing how to bring myself into alignment with the physical world of the region that I lived in. My feeling was that the European culture that had become prominent in the region was not doing a good job of aligning but rather seeking to dominate the natural flows of the region.
It seems that if I read your essay correctly that my quest for alignment with the spiritual forces is something akin to the practice of magic as defined by Lévi.
The only difference of my practice with that of magic seems to be that I am not seeking to achieve specific ends with my practice but rather to politely keep myself aligned with what is already there.
Directionless drifting with the currents you might call it.
I’ve been practicing reiki for some time…Your essay on magic has me thinking that reiki is pretty much the same thing, once you have attuned yourself to it…
JMG– My view is the same as yours, I just wasn’t phrasing it very well. Especially in our unawakened state, most of our thoughts are automatic, but we respond to them as though they were actions. As we go through the process of spiritual development, we gain the abilities to calm our thoughts, to notice which ones are automatic and decide whether or not to respond to them, and– critically– to begin to think on our own.
One of the most helpful examples of the foregoing, actually, is the scene in the first of your Hali books (I don’t have it in front of me so may get some details wrong) in which Owen is being hit by a malign enchantment, and his Innsmouth hosts teach him to see the thoughts it produces as events that are happening, rather than as something he is either doing himself or must believe in.
Princess Cutekitten #26,
I believe you’re referring to Norman Cousins: “Told [in 1964) that he had one chance in 500 of recovery, Cousins developed his own recovery program. He took massive intravenous doses of Vitamin C and had self-induced bouts of laughter brought on by films of the television show Candid Camera and by various comic films.” He went on to live until 1990. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norman_Cousins
I don’t know if laughter can cure you, but it can’t hurt! (Unless you try to read Mark Twain’s “Roughing It” while healing from bruised ribs. I did that once and had to stop reading it, as it was actually painful to laugh!)
“Visit one of the cheap department stores that cater to the poor in impoverished neighborhoods and small towns across America, and odds are you’ll find a little selection of incense, candles, and scented oils tucked in among the other products for sale.”
In my country, Chinese big stores have a lot of that items. I’ve always been attracted by that lumpen.proletariat magic, of course…
Your Kittenship, I don’t know enough of the details to tell you whether that was magic or not. In response to your broader question, magic isn’t omnipotent. Cancer’s a very difficult illness to treat by any means, mainstream or otherwise, so it’s not surprising that it’s also hard to treat via magic. Interestingly, though, there used to be a fair amount of research and a significant number of successful treatments via visualization and similar means, before those got squeezed out by Big Pharma and its pseudoskeptic enablers.
Bei, trust me, we looked for tards everywhere we could think of. As for rebounds, magic always takes the path of least resistance and it always responds to your actual intentions, not your surface intentions. Churches that pray for world peace are very often engaging in virtue signaling — they’re certainly very rarely interested in reflecting on how their lifestyles depend on the international injustices that drive wars — and so the blowback they get is an increased state of self-righteous smugness which eventually drives more and more people away. Praying for a bag of money typically means you’re asking that someone who earned that money should have it taken from them so that it can come to you, without you having to earn it; the blowback from that is that you lose a bunch of money. It’s all very straightforward.
Augusto, nice! That’s one of my two or three all-time favorite pieces of music. As for novels, I’m sorry to say that there’s a fantastic amount of very bad, formulaic fiction out there. I may someday soon do a post on that, as it has much more to do with magic than many people think.
Bryan, causing and curing illness is one of the main focuses of folk magic. There’s a reason why the English word “medicine” got picked up by Native peoples all over this continent as a convenient word for the spiritual forces they work with. You’re right, btw, to be suspicious of some of Lévi’s comments, and he expected and wanted that reaction. I highly recommend exploring in meditation why that might be.
Karim, egregors can be deliberately created that way, and they can also be created accidentally. That’s part of what gives them their power for good or ill!
ShadowRider, those are very simple rituals. You can take it much further. For example, if you want to get fit, in addition to your exercise routine, you might use some more formal ritual method such as burning a candle in the day and hour of Mars each week to keep your intention strong and focused. Equally, if you want to write a novel you might set aside fifteen minutes a day to imagine yourself in conversation with one or more of the characters, as a way of helping to make them and the story more real for you.
Jbucks, that’s a huge question. I’ve begun outlining a book on the subject — the working title is The History of Enchantment: An Essay on the Evolution of Consciousness — but it’s going to take me at least half a dozen years to do the necessary research and writing. The very short form is that the astral swamp has always been around, but civilizations when their creative era ends typically add a malign enchantment to that, and that’s an important part of what drags them down. More as we proceed!
Viking, not tongue in cheek at all. If you always agree with me, that’s not much better than always agreeing with the mass media. (It’s a little better because my books won’t rot your teeth.) As for your distinct impression, exactly. Exactly.
Abraham, Lévi speaks of it as though it’s an animal. My best guess is that it’s a word in some local French dialect that Lévi knew.
Millicently, if you purchase a cast iron toad and put it in your garden as a deliberate act to free your mind from collective pressures, that’s a magical act and it will have at least some effect.
Sam, I’m pretty sure Lévi had that very point in mind.
Denis, a fine meditation on this theme. Yes, exactly.
Wer, prayer, religious ceremonies, and magical rituals are the tools that will help. Remember that the first step must always be to get your own mind free.
Kay, that had occurred to me too. We’re waiting for the thunderbolt.
1. I know that toads aren’t frogs, but all this talk of swamps and toads, and draining swamps put in mind of Kek.
2. Egregores & Hive Minds: on the one hand we free ourself of the mass mind via our magical practices. On the other hand initiation and inner contacts, and especially consecration (I haven’t had the latter) tap us into a different kind of mind, the hive mind of past adepts, and such that sometimes flow through our lineages, or just in spontaneous connections to various beings / people who’ve gone on to the inner and remain around as contacts, guides. Yet even in this case we are reminded that not all spirits / contacts have our best interests at heart. Like us, they have their own agendas. The egregor of a priesthood line or mystery school can have a lot of power we can tap into, but we still need discernment. So even as we disengage with the mass mind of humanity, and start aligning with currents on the inner, discernment, and the ability to think our own thoughts, remains a core tool of the initiate.
These are further thoughts that sprang from yesterday mornings discursivee meditation session. And after thinking on this article and chapter, they seem to fit in this discussion too.
I have been doing some alchemy reading, so I think my card interpretation is colored by that…
The castle is our material body. The thunderbolt is from the Divine, opening the Mind (by blasting off the material crenellated crown) so we can “see” (hence “oculus” as one of the chapter words). Once our Mind is open, our Spirit and our Soul are freed (the Spirit being the man with the crown) (and now our work begins to unite them).
On the Knapp-Hall card, the shield is blue, with a hand holding several thunderbolts. The Fire and Water of Creation, but the Fire is controlled, so there is balance.
Interestingly, the door on the Knapp-Hall card is half-opened (it is a double-door: one door opened, one door closed). That means that the Spirit and Soul *could* have just walked out, rather than staying inside the Tower until a thunderbolt knocked them out. (It also means they can walk back in, which Levi has already said would be a bad idea.)
@Viking re: #33 –
To this I would also add the converse: the mere fact that something is reported in X, for absolutely any value of X, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s wrong and to be discounted regardless of your level of distrust in X. Obviously in such a case it should be taken with greater skepticism than, say, a trustworthy source, but even habitual liars can tell the truth.
I.e.: “X said it therefore it must be false” is just as dangerous and fallacious a belief as “X said it therefore it must be true.”
JMG (no. 48): Maybe it’s short for “tardigrade”!
“Churches that pray for world peace are very often engaging in virtue signaling…”
It’s often written into the liturgy. Here’s the line in the liturgy of John Chrysostom: “For the peace of the whole world, for the stability of the holy churches of God, and for the unity of all, let us pray to the Lord.” You could say that the participants are probably not focusing very much, but just mouthing the words, and that’s why there is no peace–or maybe their prayers are effective to some degree (a few saintly types certainly do pray with intention), but have to compete in a churning sea the contrary wishes.
Another issue occurs to me. You write that “effective magic must come from a unified will.” But what could this mean, given that we inevitably balance various interests and wishes (some of them unconscious)? In the comics we might read of some character who is driven solely by revenge, or whatnot, but that is not very typical of actual human beings.Perhaps the meaning is not that the wish must be exclusive of all other interests, but that it at least not be equivocal, i.e. contradicted by other wishes from the same person?
In several religions one finds what we might call a “higher-order” wish (e.g. for the complete liberation of all sentient beings) which is permanent, and more or less defines the religion; alongside other, “lower-order” wishes that should always be made subordinate to that: “God, *if it be thy will,* give me a big bag of money–but thy will be done, not mine.”
Elentari, yes, that’s the guy I was thinking of. Thank you!
I tried seeing if it was the same in spanish and the usual words are: conjuro and hechizo which mean a spell and those usually tend towards the negative too; also the translation of a working “un trabajito”. The phrase “te hicieron brujería” is quite common as at least in mexico light posts with stapled cardboard announcing folk magic services are an everyday sight.Encantos could be the closest etymologically but it is mostly used referring to the enchantments of a romantic partner. “He/she put her enchantments on you” is a typical phrase, which seems to gets closer to the english interpretation. I guess places la Catemaco, Veracruz which is a hot spot for all kinds of sorcerers whose clients range from farmers to politicians and narcos has a lot to do with that (and some of the latter surprising successes, unfortunately).
Every month I’m like “How are we going to top the insights of last month?” right before having to pick my chin up off the floor again.
One of the benefits of spiritually focused yoga practice is that I am noticing the different “burdens” I carry around, and combining yoga with this study is like using my physical body as an occult laboratory. After getting stuck in negative thoughts and experiencing back pain again yesterday it was great to have a breakthrough. I’m aware carrying these thoughts is unhealthy but had a difficult time stopping because the logic didn’t make sense from a surface level self-preservation perspective.
After some struggle to face the difficult truth, asking a good friend for their opinion, and a couple hints from this lovely community I’m finally figuring out that the malign enchantment is working through my desire to control other people, which also opens me up to being controlled. The venereal disease analogy is most apt.
It’s good to finally have a map of these currents. Thanks much.
The Knapp Hall card XVI is a great visual expression of “muddy astral:” a grimy dark gray brick tower is blasted by a yellow lightning bolt, with roiling piles of cumulus clouds in the background. Two guys wearing crowns are about to get “crowned”….ouch!
Queasy (a word that starts with Q). I feel it in the deep heart’s core, these strange days.
JMG: “Waiting for the Thunderbolt” – possible chapter title for your History of Enchantment? I look forward to this!
“Without the lid of my preconceived notions, I can now let in that wind or breath there.”
Well said! Thank you, this rings a bell for me.
“The only difference of my practice with that of magic seems to be that I am not seeking to achieve specific ends with my practice but rather to politely keep myself aligned with what is already there.”
Yes, yes! Thanks for this.
Justin, exactly. It’s no gain if we just bail out of one set of groupthink into another; the goal is to develop the capacity to think and will freely, and the group mind of a tradition can be a help or a hindrance in that.
Random, a good crisp meditation — thank you for this.
Bei, and if it’s just a matter of following the liturgy, without deliberate focused intention, you might as well be reciting old Tintin comics in Pig Latin. As for unification of the will, nobody said it was easy!
Augusto, hmm! In English, “conjure” and “hex” are the equivalents, and of course both of them see a lot of use in folk magic.
Aloysius, glad to hear it. The introduction of hatha yoga into the Western world is I think going to turn out to be one of the most important events of the 20th century, with implications that will play out over the next millennium or so, and experiences like yours are part of the reason why.
Goldenhawk, I’ll keep that in mind. Right now I’m reading Jean Gebser, with Owen Barfield just finished and another pass through Giambattista Vico next up; I have a lot of research to do before I even work out a tentative outline.
Today I re-read the chapter and now your commentary. And I can see now why when people ask you for predictions your response many times is “we’ll have to wait and see how it plays out” because that’s exactly what has to happen!
It does make me hesitant to do any sort of magic except defensively but that isn’t the way the chapter is to be read, right? You’ve encouraging people to build up their capacity to exist outside of the flinging magic, and only part of that is defense. Another part is observation, see the world as it is and not how it is wished to be. And the third part is the active part: imagination, alignment with will, and the daily practices. Every person who frees himself from the morass creates a beacon for others. Am I summarizing this correctly and what am I missing?
The term “social media” takes on a whole new level of meaning in the world of magic. As a business owner who feels obligated to post on it so people know that I (still) exist and what I am offering now, I struggle with how to use it. It seems like scrolling the timeline is just begging to be put under enchantment (and people do say they “zone out” or “relax” by scrolling on their phones). Stop that totally (I’ve been limiting myself to 15 minutes at a time, but by gosh, it’s got to be zero). But with posting, there’s an intentionality I haven’t taken into account. Hmmm….
I counted the dots falling and got 1 white, 2 green, 7 red, 12 blue, and 15 yellow. The total is 37 which is a prime number and 3+7=10. A lot to ponder just with this.
Hi John Michael,
Lévi’s a pretty clever bloke. Now, I use magic to, err, better not let the cat out of the bag. I’d tell you, but this is a public forum after all.
I’ve heard those stories too about malign magic and seen a thing or two, and the aftermath in the peoples lives is quite horrific. The big J was handing out some good advice to keep out of trouble when he said: The meek shall inherit the earth. I’m pretty certain he didn’t mean that literally, but you know, a solid warning if ever there was one.
Mate, I learned that story by experiencing the projected negative waves and observing the negative outcomes in other peoples lives. It’s not good.
Which brings me to. A year or so ago, someone chucked a nasty enchantment in my direction. It was personal. Even today, I still have no idea why. It was weird, and at first alarmed me, then annoyed me, and finally I just felt sorry for the person who would do such a thing. It reflects poorly upon them, literally.
“…spirituality is about shaking off mass-mindedness and becoming an individual. Until you do that, your thoughts are not your own, and everything that goes through your mind is part of the enchantment that holds you and most other people stuck in counterproductive thoughts and feelings.”
I’ve been musing on this your answer to another comment, and it occurred to me that in order to be willing to put the work into achieving individuality, one must value individuality, not only in oneself, but also to value it in principle, which means valuing it in others as well.
It means valuing becoming an individual enough to risk rejection and becoming an outcast of the social group because one is no longer part of the mass mind. It becomes an existential threat because we depend on our social connections to survive.
It occurred to me that the PMC as a group have been told since early childhood that they can be anything they want. They were encouraged to develop their individuality and their special talents and dreams. But that can be terrifying, given the risk of not fitting in.
Two possible responses: firstly to encourage everyone else to also be a unique individual, so that one is part of a society of eccentrics (which means allowing and accepting others to become what we don’t like), or secondly is to make sure everyone else becomes an individual in ways that closely resembles our own individuality. I’m sure there are other options, but it seems to me the PMC chose to try to force everyone else to be like them, so that they don’t have to face the existential threat of truly being the unique person they have been raised to believe they are.
Perhaps that is why they hate the deplorables so much. The deplorables are individuals in ways that remind the PMC that they are in fact, not really individuals. Just another mass-mind cog, not unique, not special. Cognitive dissonance, maybe?
Still musing on this.
In reading through the comments about thinking your own thoughts, it occurred to me that part of the reason that people don’t is that it has something of a feel of standing in a lonely empty place with a thin, cold wind blowing past you.
This is something I have been feeling of late and it is unsettling. Since I am someone who doesn’t prefer to be “alone”, I usually seek out a group of people I can join with and that has a feeling of being warm and sheltered. Sometimes for a larger project, I try and get people to join with me in accomplishing it to get that sense of warmth.
While I have learned to do things on my own and do them frequently, that cold, lonely feeling may be why I am having trouble doing things on my own at present. Perhaps that cold, lonely feeling is caused by a broader currant then the simple desire of having company to do a particular project.
Do you just get use to that feeling or does it transmute into something else as you practice? Is there a place in the process of learning to separate from the mass mind that you gain a sense of shelter or is it just that you learn to pull up your socks and get on with it, the price of that freedom?
You’re most welcome! I’ve thought quite a bit of the swamp of enchantments of late. Currently I am reading Frazer’s 1890 edition of _The Golden Bough_ which details some of the mass-minded magic of earlier eras. Some of this magic seems to me good and right and sane while other strikes me as over the top nasty. What’s more, much of the agricultural magic he writes of for good or evil has a marked irresistible quality that I find very reminiscent of our current magical environment, although the contents of these tangles of enchantments differs.
Also, if I may, synchronistically when I woke up this morning I saw that someone on the Wikimedia foundation has tagged all of the sacred geometry that I posted there as “outside the scope” of Wikimedia. This is absurd, since some of the images are of a single circle, a vesica piscis, a trefoil, etc. Of course I do more far complex work than that and I counted something like 80 images I created slated for deletion. If folks were to want to see the link is here:
I released all of those images into the public domain, too. I find it compelling that these shapes which are mostly elaborations of the apotropaic symbol the hexafoil and also are Jungian mandalas are targeted. What’s more, I see that something like the majority of the images on the Wikimedia Sacred Geometry page come from me: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Sacred_geometry
Perhaps this is unfair of me, but I got the distinct impression of a mass-mind with its tangle of enchantments pushing back on the work I have done with sacred geometry which I have made public and accessible. You mentioned JMG before that the collective consciousness can push back on our work, and perhaps this is yet another very recent example of that.
Denis, exactly! Defense is one part, observation is one part, and self-transformation is one part. Everything else is secondary.
Chris, I know the feeling. As a public figure in the occult scene with unpopular views, I come in for noxious magic now and then. Fortunately it’s not especially hard to disrupt such things, and with practice you can learn how to absorb and redirect the energy without suffering any of the effects — think of it as a judo move. It can be useful, especially if I have a big project to get done.
Myriam, yes, exactly. Our society pretends to encourage individuality, but it actually encourages conformity — as you say, you’re supposed to become a unique individual in exactly the same way as everybody else! Those who play the game, the members of the managerial class above all, can’t bear actual diversity — of thought, opinion, talent, vision — so they make a show of approving of mere biological diversity while demanding absolute conformity to a set of approved beliefs, and turning all their rancor and rage on those who actually think their own thoughts.
Kay, since I have Aspergers syndrome, that cold, windy place is where I spend my life. The sense of being warm and sheltered by the presence of others is something I can’t feel — I don’t have the mirror neurons that would give me that sensation. So I’m not sure I can help you here — what it feels like to deal with freedom if one has an ordinary nervous system is not something I’ve experienced in this life.
Violet, that doesn’t surprise me in the least. Sacred geometry has been one of the most thoroughly suppressed dimensions of occult practice precisely because it’s so dangerous to the existing mindset of our age. Sacred geometry, to use the appropriate Greek word, is cosmos — a state of beautiful and meaningful order — and nothing causes worse indigestion among the defenders of the status quo than that. That’s why our built environment is so sickeningly ugly!
JMG I would be honest with you I know literally nothing about rituals and to me a Christian it sounds suspicious. Yoga and everything I seriuosly don’t have time for this and you said that using some technices without preparations and fortitude can lead to real problems, how do i free my mind about this, some quiet recolections? I never read an occult book or talked about this I can only reply that being with my little daughter and an occasional dark beer with my brother are the moments I feel at peace.
“If circumstances are favorable, it will expend itself by fulfilling the goal on which you will and imagination were focused. If they are not favorable, it will expend itself by rebounding on the caster for good or ill.“ – I wonder if this works the other way around as well? Like, if you do magic for your own improvement, and you are not ready for it, will the positive influence manifest on someone else?
Thanks JMG, for your response. I should have remembered that about those with Asperger syndrome. I suspect that even if you find like minded folk to hang with that have learned to think their own thoughts, it won’t feel at all like sinking into the warm shelter of the group mind. There will always be that sense of a cold wind passing by you. I will look for a sweater.
I have not commented much recently but the book club remains one of my favorite aspects of your work.
In your description of this chapter you mentioned that a spell (will & imagination via action setting a current in the Astral Light) could either have its intended effect on the target or rebound on the caster. This means that an evil will of sufficient ability could cause ill effects with minimal chance of “blow back”.
For a very successful evil will or evil mage my thought is that even if there is no returning current on the astral plane there will be a price to pay, karma, for the ill intentions and acts?
Probably not a good career choice to be an evil mage as if one is incompetent, the mage would get both the rebound of the ill intentioned current on the astral plane and associated karma.
Dear John, I would humbly suggest that “tards” is probably a dialect form of “têtards” i.e. tadpoles in french, the larva form of frogs, toads, and other batrachians. Just my two cents.
Perhaps in your plunge into the rabbit hole you encountered the following idea, and if so, please tell me if I am very far off the mark. I imagine un tord as a young bull, or bull calf. It is a homonym of une taure, a young heiffer, and even though the masculine today is taureau, perhaps an older dialect might have used un tord for the bull calf. Or perhaps if Lévi only heard it spoken he may have used this spelling instead of un taur, but it’s not too different when you consider the word toreador, a bull fighter and toro, a bull in Spanish.
Given the symbolism of bulls in various mythologies, it seems fitting in this context. Mind you, a toad would be easier to adopt.
Did you consider the Great Bustard (otis tarda) as a possible candidate for the tard?
@violet your experience and JMG’s response makes me want to learn about sacred geometry.
Hi John Michael,
Hmm, after reading one of your replies above: “It’s no gain if we just bail out of one set of groupthink into another”, my mind kind of suggested that possibly this is the very reason why the second religiosity is an historical possibility. You can almost hear the voices crying: “Gimme shelter from these troubling thoughts and events”. Dunno.
Deflection and reflection is a good way to go – and it works, and I will cogitate upon thinking of the response as a martial arts move. Taking oneself to an out of the way location is also a pleasant break. The city is a mess and I find as time goes on I’m spending less time there.
Hi Kay. Hope you are well. An intriguing question. Forging your own path can be a stressful and rewarding experience. The warmth you speak of is not something I have enjoyed, mostly due to circumstances, as distinct from internal wiring! Inevitably your words suggest that you are feeling a sense of loss? It’s real and part of the energy that binds you. Why wouldn’t you pursue both paths? We aren’t all that good at compartmentalising our activities, but the skill is worthy of developing. It is very possible that the loss is in your mind alone, but need I remind you, it is not your responsibility to alter or change others? Mate, you just have to enjoy people as they are, challenging them needlessly is possibly a way for you to channel your own energies away from the goal of working upon yourself, which ultimately is where the energy is best spent, at this stage. Dunno.
Violet (no. 62), Wikipedia has an article on literally every Pokemon.
Wer (no. 64) ” I know literally nothing about rituals and to me a Christian it sounds suspicious”
Er, Christianity has rituals.
Many thanks for your reply! I’m very glad to report that SDI has archived the public domain sacred geometry work threatened with deletion on his website: https://amissio.net/violetcabra/
I seem to remember that you have had many publishing difficulties with your Sacred Geometry Oracle, too. Today I’ve tried to incorporate some of my sacred geometry studies into some Wikipedia entries to keep them from being all deleted, and that include a proof I did with the Vesica Piscis, using the overlap of the circle to create a Cross, a Circle, and a Square. I put this image — https://amissio.net/violetcabra/vesica_piscis_square_proof.jpg— in the section of Symbolism in the Vesica Piscis entry, since it seems to me to obviously and strikingly relate to the Christian symbolism of the Vesica Piscis, which was under discussion. It took rather less than an hour for a Wikipedia _administrator_ to erase the image, literally scoffing at the idea that it might be interesting that one can draw shapes inside of other shapes!
This vehement hostility did indeed surprise me. Your observation that beautiful order of the κόσμος threatens the prevailing mindset as quite true. Frankly it appears that this touches on some sort of mass enchantment of the sort Lévi discusses in this chapter. Suddenly I feel like one of your characters in the Weird of Hali who suddenly find themselves way out of their depth, except all I did was fiddle with a compass and straight-edge in perfectly obvious ways!
Kay Robison @#61, I read your comment last night and went “Ahhh, but what you describe is the place where we all truly reside.” Your quote:
“…standing in a lonely empty place with a thin, cold wind blowing past you.”
When I was younger, I had an… experience where I was told in no uncertain terms that human existence is at its core unique to every human. My ally was unemotional and firm when telling and showing me this. This experience has stayed at the foundation of my being for many decades.
JMG’s response brought forth in me an affirming sigh, as I too am one of those Aspie folks.
Levi in this 16th chapter says several things which may be construed as forwarding a similar viewpoint. Notice what he says on p. 143 of the translation about the inevitability of involuntary enchantment within the “social world.”
Going back in the chapters a bit, on p. 111 mid-page are several paragraphs discussing isolation and the characteristics of independent adepts. Yes, it’s a lonely place.
However, we gather in this space as an affirmation of our humanity, and use the invention of words (thank you Thoth) to reach out to others who are perhaps also shivering. Sweaters (real and metaphorical) are good, and the sharing we do here furthers, I think, the Great Work of exploring and expressing our imaginations and our thoughts.
Many thanks to all!
All, Hm! Given those similarities in tone (not structure, by a long shot) maybe Spanglish could become the vulgar language of a future Middle Age in the American continent, despite its capacity for the cringeworthy. I’ve been saying “terrorific” this whole time, which would be like saying “terroroso” en Spanish. Of course, the right words are “horrific” and “horroroso”!
Kay, thank you very much for sharing. I have some degree of Asperger’s myself and hadn’t considered what you mention about it being hard because of the cold. It is true and perhaps I hadn’t seen it that way because I haven’t felt the warmth. I can value company and being considered, heard and specially understood, but that sounds like a completely different order of connection to me!
It can be sad but if it serves at all, that same cold, crisp, wind can sometimes be a top of a mountain with a majestic view. Loneliness is very valuable there and sometimes there are other people in peaks nearby that bring a sort of company you didn’t know you needed.
JMG, I was studying my notes on the book today. “And to share it is death” isn’t a threat, is it? Sounds more like…
Wer, if you came to me and said, “Help, I feel sick, but I don’t have time to take care of my own health and I don’t trust doctors,” I’d tell you there was nothing I could do for you. You’re basically saying the same thing here: you’re aware of the presence of hostile magic but you’re suspicious of rituals and you don’t have time for protective practices. That being the case, there’s not much I can suggest!
Njura, yes, that can happen.
Kay, yep. Sweaters are helpful.
Scotty, an evil mage can avoid blowback to some extent, but only to the extent that he only chooses targets that can’t or won’t put up a fight — and even then there’s what I call “the raspberry jam effect,” the thing Lévi was discussing with his metaphor about syphilis. Karma’s another matter, and that can’t be evaded or bargained with at all. The incompetent evil mage actually gets off easy, since some of his karma gets worked off by the blowback; the competent evil mage piles it up, and piles it up, and finally gets crushed by it.
Laurent, we considered that. In fact, we speculated that têtard might be a contraction of petit tard, from an old word for frog. The problem is we weren’t able to find documentation to prove it either way.
Myriam, hmm! That’s not one we considered, not least because it’s a bit of a challenge to carry a bull calf around with you…
Daisy, no, that’s another new one. Thank you.
Chris, exactly. Most people flee to the second religiosity as the age of reason collapses, precisely because it’s a ready-made set of thoughts they can adopt.
Violet, I did indeed have some troubles getting the Sacred Geometry Oracle in print, though fortunately those are solved now and the new edition is exactly what I wanted. I have another sacred geometry project in process — it’ll be interesting to see whether it runs into any trouble. As for Wikipropaganda, they’ve probably labeled you an Undesirable Person and anything you try to add will be taken down.
Augusto, an English-Spanish hybrid is almost certainly the linguistic future of most of North America, and I for one don’t think that’s terrorific. 😉
Wer, I am Christian (catholic, though I don’t care much about labels) myself and an occult student. What I can tell you is that the word “ritual” for an occultist and for a Christian mean totally different things. For complex historical reasons “divination” got to mean necromancy and talking to evil spirits and magic got to mean to work with forces “other than the divine”, like demonology for example, to cite the official Church statement.
Witchcraft, nercromancy and demonology is what the official statement of the Church I read condemns __not magic__. I think, in its original, uncorrupted sense, it was very sensible to say that for the same reason the The Code of Hammurabi used to punish cursing someone with the death penalty, it just got impressively twisted. None of those definitions apply to what we are referring here because we are doing it with the help of the divine, that is one of the reasons the names of God are there. One is to protect and ensure we don’t do anything impressively idiotic and the other one is to get in sync with his rhythms.
As for precaution and safety, I used to spin myself into all sorts of things to be careful and to not offend God (or hurt myself). If you are the same kind, consider that the rule is not so strong for you, though don’t dismiss it, just make it less grave. That way you also learn to build self-confidence. For what is worth, my experience is that God doesn’t care about magic as long as it is ethical and that Jesus likes magic in religious practice, like praying in an “open temple” or meditating on the Rosary –the same we are doing with Levi’s chapters and cards you can do with the Mysteries of the Rosary its prayers and its images. I highly recommend this.
If you are curious, after I have probably said more than what you wanted to hear: Brother ADA’s (aka Agostino Taumaturgo) in his excellent The Magic of Catholicism has devoted the whole first chapter __Magic as defined in Catholicism__ to the topic in a lot of detail, from Greek etymologies to arcane Church Law.
Ha! Thank you for that.
I just stumbled across the following quote from Tobias Churton, “Gnostic Philosophy: From Ancient Persia to Modern Times” (2005), p. 305:
“Lévi left a last prophecy. After the appearance of the Antichrist, ‘Enoch will appear in the year 2000 of the Christian world; the messianism of which he will be the precursor will flourish on earth for a thousand years.’ ”
An endnote gives the source as “Éliphas Lévi (last words), Clés Majeures et clavicules de Salomon (Major Keys and Minor Keys of Solomon) (Paris: Chaumel, 1895), quoted in McIntosh, Éliphas Lévi, pp. 151-152.” This last seems to refer to the first (1972) edition of Christopher McIntosh’s “Éliphas Lévi and the French Occult Revival” from SUNY Press.
So, what’s this about Enoch and the Antichrist? Apparently the latter should have appeared before the year 2000. (Putin barely slips in under the deadline!)
JMG (no. 77) “…an English-Spanish hybrid is almost certainly the linguistic future of most of North America, and I for one don’t think that’s terrorific.”
It’s going to be a “Dora the Explorer” themed linguistic hellscape.
“Hasta la vista, baby.”
I guess it’s good Karma then (if my self-improvement ritual would spill over on others because I wasn’t ready)?
“Laurent, we considered that. In fact, we speculated that têtard might be a contraction of petit tard, from an old word for frog.”
In my spanish version of Levi’s “Dogma y ritual…” there is written “sapo”, that is “toad” in english. May be this could help you.
JMG wrote: “Kant showed us that time isn’t objectively real — it’s simply a subjective structure of human consciousness”. Albert Einstein once wrote: People like us who believe in physics know that the distinction between past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.
In my understanding causality is linked to time, if the above quotes are true then does it not mean or follow that causality too would be illusiory or what least a special case in a very curious universe where synchonicity would be the rule? Your thoughts?
Chris, Bryanlallen and Augusto,
Thanks much for your responses, you are the best.
I am well, just a bit over whelmed with a few projects at this time. Chris, you are right that learning to stand on your own and guide your own course is a great feeling, very sustaining and I wouldn’t give it up for anything. However, I am one of those people that gain a lot of energy from collaborating with others in a project, simple or complex. This collaboration, especially with friends and on the right project, provides a nourishing value that I have always felt as being warm and sheltered. Part of a greater whole. It can also lead to mass formation or other undesirable group mind think which I have also experienced to my cost.
As I think further about this, thinking your own thoughts does require that you have to step out of the group, however nourishing, stand on the mountain top you described, Augusto, and see the grand landscape awakened by that cold, crisp wind. I may not like it, but if I am to maintain personal autonomy I am not sure there is a choice and the view is stunning.
Finding a metaphorical sweater may not be that hard. As you point out, Bryan, it is probably right in front of me in this forum. Thanks all.
Bei, yes, Lévi fancied himself a prophet. That’s a common occupational hazard of occultists — present company included, of course! His predictions were wrong, which just goes to show that you can be a very good occultist and a lousy prophet. As for “linguistic hellscape,” er, that’s a good working description of English in its present form, so it can hardly be worse.
Njura, yes, and the karma would probably work out by accelerating your personal development until you were ready for the improvements you hoped to achieve.
Chuaquin, the original French text reads “tels sont le crapaud, le basilic et le tard” (“such are the toad, the basilisk, and the tard”). Does your Spanish version give only one word, or does it give three as the French does?
Karim, exactly! Causality is an oddly constricted form of synchronicity that is only experienced by those beings who perceive time.
Re: Enoch and the Antichrist: The Bible doesn’t say the Antichrist will be one of the major villains of history in appearance or reputation, but rather that he will appear like an angel of light, so much as “to deceive the very elect.” My first impulsive thought on reading the above was ‘Not Putin, but the Pope (?)”
One more for the expanding tardy zoo: the sloth or sloth bear (order [I]Tardigrada[/I], in now-obsolete taxonomic terminology).
(It’s the same word roughly meaning “slow steppers” as for water bears, tardigrades, which is probably why it’s obsolete for the order of mammals.)
Wer, if it helps I am a cradle Christian and conservative Anglican. I’ve tried the red bag although I kept the cross and I’d take either one pinch although in my experience the cross is more compatible and potent for me although the other does work. The SOP and MP both work extremely well and indeed better over time. I dont do them when I’ve been to communion or evening prayer partly but not solely out of time restrictions. They have become a work that is ongoing and a privilege although fair warning, it is true that when you start you will have a few bad things happen out of the blue. In my case two car wrecks. I was not injured nor were they my fault and I was recompense. Apparently you get to clear the decks with some instant karma at the start. I can also tell you that negative thoughts were negatively impacted…my mind and head are in much better shape and my heart than when I started. I’ve never felt like Jesus or the Spirit or the Father disapproved or were jealous. Usually I say prayers before and after, including to the guardian angel and the saints but to the Creator above all. It’s not for everyone, but it’s in no way anti Christian or doesnt have to be, quite the opposite. For what it’s worth mouni sadhu has an odic sphere exercise in his work that is straight up magical visualization like SOP. I believe he hails from your area of the world.
Third time reading the chapter this morning and its timeliness is uncanny. One of my grandmother’s descriptions of people “he’s got the devil in him” came to mind. A phrase not said anymore, and Levi explains how it’s certainly something that occurs. His explanation that the more one denounces the occult the more likely it is he or she is being controlled by it, feels like he is describing the present.
Levi’s description of demonic possession and enchantment was helpful to understand how you reached the conclusion you did. I thought I understood your position and this took it deeper. Is it possible that out of what we saw take hold of people, some were possessed and some enchanted? On page 150 when Levi states that a sign of enchantment is expressing horror at anything that would break the enchantment, well, my word, that is describing how even asking to not follow mandates got the response “you want to kill grandma?”.
I don’t know how one would seize the madness to cure the madness as he explains. And doing that to people would be downright dangerous and unhealthy to do. Hoping he has some other remedies to move people back towards balance. It feels like we are so far off in one direction with leaders pressing their foot to the gas pedal.
The more grotesque the imagery used the more effective made me think of how the media/government use it all the time on screens to control the population. Every bad decision we’ve made as a society in my lifetime can come down to something people saw on the screen and then reacted to it.
So glad you are leading this book discussion!
As I have not followed your writing until lately, could you please let me know where to find your take on the different Tarot decks available.
I’m quite looking forward to your book on enchantments and the structures of consciousness! I did a little quick reading on Jean Gebser, and found a summary outline of his structures of consciousness on Wikipedia.
This reinforced for me that free will is not just the ability to choose, it is also an awareness of the options to choose from. A very trivial example: for many people, choice about what to do with their lives involves simply a choice of what career to take, defined by other people, and rarely do they widen the options to include not having a career. But to take into account the ideas of structures of consciousness that Gebser refers to I’d have to think of an example where the idea of a career is well and way outside of the way I think about the world.
It also reinforces for me that an upswelling of abstract thought, as humans moved more and more into organized societies with organized abstract thought systems to match, becomes perhaps a kind of conscious entity in the astral light which perhaps competes with other non-human entities, like nature.
Does a city itself, or a building in a certain style of architecture, have a consciousness which exudes from it, to help shape the thinking of people? If so, it makes sense how a nation would do so as well.
Very, very interesting!
Your description of evil mages needing ever growing doses of evil acts reminds me of alleged child abuse of certain networks – do you think this is something really happening?
“Does your Spanish version give only one word, or does it give three as the French does?”
Only one, the toad.
“most of us live in a seething swamp of debased magical influences without ever realizing it“ – This suddenly made more sense in the light of our new European reality: trying to squeeze out as much as possible out of every bit of energy – like using spare heat in the oven after baking a cake for drying fruit and herbs, or the last bit of warm water in the conduct for a lukewarm hair rinse – got me more sensitive to the idea of unseen powers, although this is power on the physical/etheric plane.
Feels like the act of attuning myself to go with the flow of diffuse heat wherever I can catch it has helped to break out another bit of a rationalist mindset which said that to solve a problem, you put the thing on a table and take it apart. Sometimes it will (in the case of an electrical appliance), but if the action is elsewhere, this won’t give you the solution. And it certainly helps to lose the attitude of omnipotence and entitlement we were taught to have.
Hello JMG, you mentioned that the world is under influence of a malign enchantment which can be broken. I wonder, if an individual breaks out of the enchantment, where would the negativity go to? Hopefully not to other humans?
Your explanation about astral currents made me think of something strange that happened after a Buddhist meditation intensive I attended where we practiced metta (loving kindness). One part of the intensive was that you take someone who has been a beneficiary for you and wish him well. I picked a friend and did the practice. To my surprise, when I had contact with this friend for the first time after the retreat, he started to pick a fight with me out of nowhere. This is very out of character for him. Of course I hadn’t (and still haven’t) told him about my practice. Do you have any idea what could have caused such a reaction?
“I don’t know how one would seize the madness to cure the madness as he explains. And doing that to people would be downright dangerous and unhealthy to do. Hoping he has some other remedies to move people back towards balance. It feels like we are so far off in one direction with leaders pressing their foot to the gas pedal.”
i think that means you dive into what you fear to break through to the other side. that’s what i do, how i read this. it’s what people used to use me for– to dip toes into themselves when caught offguard–then they’d back off out of fear and i think they were overwhelmed –actually spooked—by themselves.
so then you go into all you fear and avoid and see it’s not so bad. you won’t die.
but you ARE a prophet, Papa G! an amazing prophet.
thank you immensely for your service. not just to me but to all of humanity and the critters trees and TIME.
Walt, if you can find a source in French that calls sloths “tards,” I’d be delighted. Sloths are cool.
Denis, I had all these things in mind while I was writing my commentary!
Valiant, I haven’t written anything about that. There are well over a thousand different tarot decks in circulation these days! If you’re working with the meditations that go along with this book club, it’s important to have a French pattern deck — a Marseilles deck, a Wirth deck, or the Knapp-Hall deck — and not a Rider-Waite deck or one of the many knockoffs from it, which use a different symbolism. Other than that? It’s up to you.
Jbucks, Gebser’s a fascinating writer. Like Owen Barfield, the other writer I’m brooding over right now, he’s got hold of certain crucial points, but he forces them into the Procrustean bed of a linear vision of history. Take his thought out of that rigid pattern and all of a sudden much more becomes clear — and yes, the consciousness of a city, a style of art or architecture, a nation, or any other collectivity also has its place in the pattern. More as we proceed!
Njura, child abuse certainly happens. The ritualistic Satanist business — well, every time it’s been seriously investigated it’s turned out to be mass hysteria. Jeffrey Victor’s fine book Satanic Panic is worth reading in this context.
Chuaquin, thanks for this.
Njura, excellent! A fine metaphor as well as a constructive habit.
Bocaccio, to break out of the enchantment requires you to grapple with your own negativity, thus working it off and releasing it. Once that’s done, it’s gone. As for the metta practice, that doesn’t surprise me at all. As the Kybalion points out, emotions follow the law of the pendulum; pull them one way, you guarantee that they swing to the other as well.
Erika, nah, I’m a wizard, not a prophet. Not the same job category! 😉
“there’s a fantastic amount of very bad, formulaic fiction out there. I may someday soon do a post on that” – I would love to read that post. I’ve recently become much more hip to the magical potency of language, so anything you have to say on the subject would be most appreciated.
Levi from The Doctrine:
” Prayers which we address to God in the hopes of converting a man bring misfortune upon him if he does not wish to be converted”.
I can’t find an example but that reminds me of JMG comments I have seen elsewhere along the lines of it is best to ask permission before trying to work any type of beneficial magic / blessings for someone. My thoughts are that it is fine to pray for someone’s safety and protection, though using Levi’s quote above there may be some that do not wish to be safe or protected.
It does seem paradoxical that one’s well intentioned actions can actually backfire but I’m wondering if this can be related to The Cosmic Doctrine’s concepts of Ring-Cosmos (complexity and integration) and the Ring-Chaos (devolution towards simplicity and disintegration)?
Without assigning a value judgement on either ring, if a person’s intentions/situation/life are flowing in the same direction as the Ring-Cosmos or Ring-Chaos when I observe that person, especially one I love, I can’t help but to make a value judgement but my well intentioned prayer or blessing could actually cause ill effects because of my misunderstanding of the factual situation vis-à-vis the person’s position and relative movement as it concerns the rings? Of am I overthinking this and it is as simple as “you’ll never know all the facts so be careful with positive actions, let alone negative ones”?
For those unfamiliar with the concepts of the rings and facts and value judgements and are interested this is a good link from the Cosmic Doctrine book club discussion:
Re: “enchantment is expressing horror at anything that would break the enchantment…” Yesterday I saw Tobias Andersen’s play Fahrenheit 451, based on the novel. “The Chief,” Montag’s boss, was well aware of what the issues were, and was a stone fanatic, who could carry on a rant for hours, smiling, and came on like a member of a Radiance negation team. But Montag’s wife Mildred and her mother and sister, react to the sight of books in the Montag apartment react in exactly that way… expressing horror, turning away and refusing to see, making “go-away” signs, and so on.
Amusingly enough, the actress playing Mildred had a classic profile, and abundance of rich auburn hair worn in a soft bun, and the sort of richly curved figure that looked beautiful in a simple cotton dress with a full skirt – or the sateen dressing gown she often wore over it. Aha! So THAT’s why he married that moron!
A very neatly done production on a black stage with minimal props and simple, realistic costuming, 9 actors, much use of projected images …. Mark Tanabe, meet one of Gainesville, Florida’s, local and volunteer-run playhouses. With grants from the NEA, the FL Dept of State, Division of cultural affairs and the Florida Council of Arts & Culture, Visit Gainesville Alachua County, and by the City of Gainesville Dept of Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Affairs.
The Director’s Note makes it plain they think book-burning is a partisan issue, alas. (And responsible for the media-addicted Mildred? I don’t THINK so!) When, of course, the dumbing-down of today’s culture is not a partisan issue, but driven, not by blue or red, but by gold. Incidentally, at one point, The Chief makes reference to those who read books as “know-it-alls,” and you get a flash of the revolt against the arrogance of the clerisy. Or I did.
But as a study of possession and enchantment, how the enchantment might be broken, and what happens from there, with no cheap, easy world-saving “answers,” this play is well worth this readership’s time, if it ever comes to your local playhouse. I truly think Levi would consider it a strong data point.
Well. what else should one imagine those evil mages do? Is it better noe to know?
Kay, thank you for your thoughtful response! You are awesome or as my contemporaries say, that’s lit.
Wer and Celadon, I cannot confirm at all that bad things start to happen when you take up regular practice of the Sphere of protection as taught by our host…
Patricia Mathews (no 87), I’m not seriously proposing Putin to be the Antichrist, any more than I accept (looks it up) Haji Mirza Aqasi as the Baha’i Antichrist. The whole prophetic-symbolic project just strikes me as unhelpful and a bit crazed (and yes, we have it to some extent in Buddhism too). Some Russians suggested awhile back that maybe it was Trump, to which I responded that I felt the devil could do better!
Bill, duly noted. One of the things I’ve noticed is that a great many people who might otherwise have become good writers have been taught instead to be bad writers; throwing out all the official advice is, as usual, a good first start.
Scotty, yes, exactly! Always, always get consent before you direct magic, prayer, or any other form of focused attention at someone else. Consent is as crucial in magic as it is in sex.
Patricia M, hmm! That sounds fun.
Njura, if you want to see genuine evil magic at work, pay attention to advertising. It’s designed to make you stupid and get you to waste your money and your time on things that won’t benefit you at all.
IQ scores have been dropping steadily throughout the 20th and, so far, 21st centuries. During that time, we were exposed to ever-increasing amounts of advertising through radio, TV, magazines, and the Internet. I don’t know how much of the IQ drop is due to increased exposure to advertising, but I bet some ofit is.
Re: seize the madness to cure the madness
I read your comment this morning and then read the following this evening:
“The great thing to remember is that the mind of man cannot be enlightened permanently by merely teaching him to reject some particular set of superstitions. There is an infinite supply of other superstitions always at hand; and the mind that desires such things—that is, the mind that has not trained itself to the hard discipline of reasonableness and honesty, will, as soon as its devils are cast out, proceed to fill itself with their relations.” (Five Stages of Greek Religion, by Gilbert Murray)
Though Murray was discussing religion and you were discussing enchantment, they seemed related to me. If someone doesn’t have mental discipline, they will be attracted to superstitions and/or susceptible to enchantments, so relieving them of their current superstition or enchantment just leaves them open for the next one.
In science teacher land, we call (some of) students’ superstitions “misconceptions” and teachers are taught that these misconceptions must be addressed (and corrected). One way to do that is to force cognitive dissonance. And I think that might be what Levi is referring to when he says to seize the madness.
With children and science misconceptions, it doesn’t have to be dangerous and unhealthy. But I agree, with some of the crazy in the world for the past two years, forcing cognitive dissonance on some people could be. (I have to admit, though, I have enjoyed the cognitive dissonance forced on the residents of Martha’s Vineyard recently.)
@Bei Dawei – The Number of the Beast has been deciphered to be a coded reference to the Emperor Nero, IIRC. (Not to mention 666 1/2, the Tenant of the Beast, and 668, the Neighbor of the Beast.) One can assume that the author of Revelations was either smoking or eating something strange, crazy, having a true vision on a horrible future, or writing a veiled “You’ll get yours, just wait and see,” about the entire corrupt and crazy Julio-Claudian era in an empire with a lot of power, a lot of money floating around, and a lot of willingness to use force against whoever they pleased.
Hi John Michael,
Oh my! How obvious, from hindsight. Oh well, I guess it’s a bit much to expect otherwise. Kind of makes the sensitive person hope that the land has more to say in the matter of what replaces progress? After all, we are one and the same. I tend to believe that the land will. And isn’t the land different from one part of the globe to another? How could it be otherwise?
Njura, your karma may be in better shape, you might have not noticed it as it could be hiding in plain sight, or I would argue it’s a different kind of “bad”: having a chance to clear karma in a fell swoop w no injuries to me or anyone else and not at fault, is pretty light service. I’d be interested what others have to say, yet pretty sure they will confirm- I’d never had a wreck before and two in one month one month after taking it up…but good for you if not…that’s a great sign. The rest of us I fear will confirm that tends to go down.
Celadon, hmmm, I see – FWIW, it took me a long time to learn the complete SOP form, like several months per element, maybe that would slow it down? Half a year after starting, I finally got rid of my violent partner, which involved losing the band we had created together… and two years later I had the only serious accident in my life so far, requiring surgery to heal.
Or maybe it’s because I’ve lived through a kind of karmic culmination (mostly on the relational level) all of the three years before I started – learning to be a therapist can start that process as well, I think. After SOP, things rather got better.
JMG, I know advertising is bad, I’ve worked there for a short time – while it’s not a business I wanted to stay in, I didn’t see that my colleagues would pile up ever higher doses of heinous crimes, although I’ve heard that some of them take drugs and maybe engage in some kind of libertarianism, sexual or other.
Bill #23, I’ve heard that position called ‘the neoliberalism of the soul’. 🙂 On the other hand I could see it working like hydrogen embrittlement – every molecule that wriggles its way out weakens the steel lattice. But then going back the other way, I recently read George Orwell’s The Road to Wigan Pier. Being exposed to proto-hippies – sandal-wearing, yoga-practicing, vegetarian socialists – was anathama to the conventional working class and made them more resistant to change.
JMG #77, Milo of Crete managed to carry a bull calf around. 🙂
During my meditation on the card the clue at the beginning of the chapter “eye”, lead me to the thought that the Tower of God shows the moment when the third eye is able to be accessed.
Looking at the tower there is the gate (mouth), then two windows (eyes) then the window serving as the third eye above. The lightening destroys the edifice above the third eye, in effect freeing it. The destruction depicted alludes to the tremendous impact this has on our current perceptions.
Darkest Yorkshire #115, Hmmm. If you’re referring to “the world can take care of itself” as neoliberalism of the soul, it’s not that anything is outwardly different. My life is pretty much the same as it’s always been. I do all the same things, but that intent is different – and that makes all the difference.
Some thought-provoking observations by Paul Kingsnorth, writing about Queen Elizabeth’s funeral, that might have some bearing on the meaning of the Tower as a symbol for the dynamic relationship between earthly and heavenly powers, and “the notion that any power exercised by a human ruler ultimately derives from the spiritual plane”:
Also, on a minor symbolic tangent, it’s curious that the translation of the word “tard” from French to English has been a topic of discussion here, when one of the significant traditional associations of the Tower card is to the confusion of tongues that followed the destruction of the Tower of Babel. In the ancient past, did all humans really speak the same language, in that participation mystique” consciousness of the primordial world?
Patricia Matthews (no. 110) “The Number of the Beast has been deciphered to be a coded reference to the Emperor Nero, IIRC.”
Yes, and by Friedrich Engels! Marx’s buddy!
I assume something like this is right. But that’s no fun, theologically speaking. If scripture is to be eternally true, then the Antichrist has to be more of an archetype. Douglas Rushkoff has a character like this in his post-apocalyptic Bible-themed comic “Testament,” even though Rushkoff is Jewish (and thus presumably not very interested in the Antichrist). His character is based off the wicked pharaoh of the Exodus (and yet reminiscent of Nicolae Carpathia, Damien Thorn, various Jack Chick villains, etc.)
JMG: “I’ve recently been studying the writings of Harry Gardener, a 20th century occult teacher who was involved in publicizing the Five Rites. The core of his teaching, which seems very useful to me, is that spirituality is about shaking off mass-mindedness and becoming an individual. Until you do that, your thoughts are not your own, and everything that goes through your mind is part of the enchantment that holds you and most other people stuck in counterproductive thoughts and feelings.”
Before this comment thread is entirely over, I thought I’d throw this in, in light of the above, by Rudolf Steiner: Individuality and the Group-Soul. It also addresses what I’ve felt about those who talk about the isolation of being an individual in this life. I’ve thought that, yes, it is lonely, but the best I can say is that it lays the foundation for a future life. Steiner, it appears, says the same thing.
Ask the Cards’ collection of tarot decks is now back online so I can compare them again. Only on the Knapp-Hall deck does the tower look to be getting hit by regular lightning. Marseille, Wirth, and Universal Wirth all have the blast coming from the sun. The latter three also have the sky full of coloured spheres, which reminds me of a computer game but I can’t remember which. 🙂
In the next to last paragraph where Levi talks about using madness to cure madness, how is that done? Is it like a con act that tricks the person in the throes to do something they normally wouldn’t in their condition – as the previous paragraph says they won’t listen to reason?
“I have also noticed that there is no “ground truth” from which to objectively assess every other perspectives, but there are indeed some perspectives that are definitively more illuminating than others, although all are incomplete.”
Yes! As the statistician George Box once said, “All models are wrong, but some are useful.”
Perhaps we have come to the place where we realize that the map is not the terrain–Best wishes to all of us, because the terrain is getting more difficult!
I think that your guess about ‘tard’ being a short form of ‘petit-tard’ (frog vs. little-frog) is probably the best we can do at this point. But perhaps Levi has given us another clue further down;
“‘Go and raise toads and tards,’…a disciple of Voltaire would tell me…” Maybe this indicates a reference to something that was said in the works of Voltaire. I’ve had no luck with it myself so far!
Another way to approach it would be from the occult perspective; What other sort of animal, in terms of occult philosophy, belongs in the set “Toads, Basilisks…?” A frog or turtle perhaps? And if identified, how does that animal fit into the context of what Levi is saying? It would be just like Levi to put an easter egg of this sort into the text to draw in the meditations of the student, while the casual reader passes it without a thought.
Bill #117, I was thinking specifically of the Thatcherite “You’re on your own, there’s no such thing as society” slogan. Doing the same thing with different intent reminded me of the Buddhist saying “Before Enlightenment – chop wood, carry water. After Enlightenment – chop wood, carry water.” But afterwards the experience is totally different.
@Abraham: Apologies for a late reply! I didn’t think of the option you outlined, and it makes a lot of sense to me. Thanks for that. It does seem that you have some influence to withstand a flow if you operate from a position of strength, but even then you’re locked into a constant conflict.
Your Kittenship, that seems very likely to me.
Chris, of course — and in countries like yours and mine, which have Faustian pseudomorphoses over the top of very different land influences, it can get very strange.
Njura, it’s not that they’re wicked people, it’s that what they’re doing is a form of evil magic. Plenty of people who are personally virtuous work in industries that exist to commit monstrous evil, you know.
Scotty, excellent! Yes, that’s one interpretation, and a useful one.
Goldenhawk, ha! Yes, the confusion of tards seems appropriate. 😉 As for the participation mystique, we don’t actually know anything at all about the consciousness of people in the Paleolithic, you know. The supposedly “primitive” peoples on whom Lévi-Strauss et al. modeled their theories of prehistory are just as far from those distant roots as you and I, and the abstraction “primitive man” so freely deployed by anthropologists of a certain stripe hides the fact that the mentalities and states of consciousness of less-technological peoples are wildly diverse, not some kind of generic cave-man state.
Asdf, thanks for this, I’m also thinking of one of Manly P. Hall’s books, The Ways of the Lonely Ones. He also recognized the solitude of the individual.
Yorkshire, it’s probably just a matter of time before some tarot deck shows a yellow circle with eyes and a mouth gobbling up the colored spheres! As for meeting madness with madness, I once knew a woman who broke her child of throwing tantrums once and for all by throwing one along with him — squalling, pounding her fists on the floor, and the whole nine yards. The kid was so shocked that it sank in how silly he looked, and he stopped doing it, permanently.
Emmanuel, Mark and I discussed all these things — and he went looking in Voltaire, too! It’s a pretty puzzle. I may stick a pet tard in a novel one of these days, and have fun with the description. (Jokes about “hoist by one’s own pet tard” would be extra credit…)
I was trying to jog my memory of what game the floating spheres reminded me of. Loads of shooting games have enemy munitions as glowing balls but the one I was particularly thinking of was a Commodore 64 game called Pang – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uNPvHxXLJcM. The Tower could easily have been a background level. 🙂
“As for the participation mystique, we don’t actually know anything at all about the consciousness of people in the Paleolithic, you know.”
I just started reading The Ever Present Origin by Jean Gebser, thanks to your nudge.
Gebser seems to think we can know something about the consciousness of people by studying their artistic creations. He writes about unperspectival, perspectival, and aperspectival consciousness, and he defines these categories using examples of artistic expressions that appeared during each of these theoretical stages of human consciousness evolution.
I’m not convinced that we can know everything about primordial consciousness by this method. Being aware of perspective and having an internal experience of it might have occurred far, far earlier than the ability to translate that experience into an external form of expression.
Apologies for wandering a bit off topic here. But you know, sometimes it just seems as if everything is connected. 😉
I am thinking that maybe an essay on the modern-day linguistic hellscape might be interesting.
Cliff (no. 130): Fo’ shizzy,
I have a question – I had subscribed years ago to Ecosophia but with work and more have not been following until lately -\
question is what is to be done with the liitle blue square that looks like something is hidden – does not open with anything that I know – feel like I am missing out on content.
I have a wonderful many year friend that is an Astrologer and has kept me informed as to what is going on in our lives – She is local in the St Petersburg Florida area. Louise Fimlaid – Love her !!
What little blue square?
This excellent essay by Paul Kingsnorth ends with a reference to the Tower archetype.
“We are living now through what may be the final triumph of Rational Man. The tower he has made has nearly touched the very roof of the world. Every old story can tell us what will happen next. ”
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