Not the Monthly Post

The Power of the Mind

While Andrew Jackson Davis was attracting huge crowds with his discourses in trance, and the Fox sisters were listening to tapping noises, another important 19th century American occultist was pursuing his researches in a small town in Maine.  His name was Phineas Parkhurst Quimby, and his impact on the magical history of America would be far greater than that of any of the figures we’ve discussed so far; a good half of American occultism, and some of the most distinctive religious groups in the United States, would never have existed without him.

Phineas P. Quimby

Quimby was born in Lebanon, New Hampshire in 1802, one of seven children of a blacksmith and his wife. When he was two his family moved to Belfast, Maine, where Quimby would spend much of his life. Since blacksmiths weren’t exactly well paid in those days, Quimby grew up poor, received little education, and was apprenticed early on to a clockmaker.  That turned out to be an inspired choice; the boy had a talent for machinery of all kinds, became a successful clockmaker and watchmaker, and patented a series of inventions, including a steam-powered chainsaw and a steering device for that cutting-edge marvel of ultramodern technology, the paddle-wheeled steamship. He married, had children, and to all intents and purposes seemed to be settling down into the mold of the classic Yankee type of inventor.

Then, in 1836, a Frenchman named Charles Poyen came to Belfast. Poyen was a mesmerist, one of the disciples of Franz Anton Mesmer’s healing art who helped spread it across the young United States by going from town to town and giving lectures and public demonstrations to paying audiences. Quimby attended one of Poyen’s lectures and was hooked. He had the chance to talk to Poyen after the performance, and the mesmerist admitted that anyone could master mesmerism given proper training. That was all it took; Quimby raised the necessary funds, shuttered his clockmaker’s shop, and spent two years from 1838 to 1840 traveling around New England with Poyen, learning mesmerism.

Quimby and Burkmar

In 1840 Quimby met a young man named Lucius Burkmar who had the same sort of talent for being mesmerized that Andrew Jackson Davis had, without Davis’ charisma or his eye for the main chance. Quimby had enough ambition for the two of them, and found that he could put Burkmar into trance easily, with colorful results.   The two of them quickly became an act on the New England lecture circuit, with Burkmar reading minds, practicing remote viewing, and diagnosing diseases—the standard features of mesmerist performances in those days.

As the tours proceeded, though, Quimby began to have doubts about the theory of mesmerism he’d learned from Poyen.  He noticed that the diagnoses Burkmar gave had less to do with what illness the patient actually had than with whatever the patient or some other nearby person thought was wrong.  He came to the conclusion that mesmerism wasn’t about working with the life force, but had to do entirely with the mind. He accordingly stopped touring with Burkmar and returned to Belfast, where he plunged into further experiments, first using mesmeric methods and then moving in directions of his own.

Over the course of the 1850s he developed his own theory of health and disease, which with characteristic modesty he called “the Truth.”  He became convinced that all disease was a function of wrong thinking, that it had no independent existence at all, and that any apparent disease could be cured at once if only the sick person could be convinced to give up their wrong ideas and accept “the Truth.” Since at that time the profession of medicine was unregulated, he hung out a shingle as a doctor, and proceeded to demonstrate that in at least some cases, he was right. Ailments that had baffled ordinary doctors gave way to prompt recoveries once Quimby sat down with the patient, discussed the apparent problem, and in his grave, serious, and earnest manner, set out to convince the patient that the ailment did not actually exist.

Does that sound preposterous?  It was a commonplace of medical practice before physicians let themselves be turned into shills for the pharmaceutical industry.  A very large proportion of the illnesses people suffer—quite possibly a majority of them—are what the irritable jargon of an earlier day used to describe as “nonspecific psychogenic conditions:”  the products of stress, emotional conflict, and other mental states, acting on the body. Researchers in the jawbreakingly named medical field of psychoneuroimmunology have even identified the physical means by which many of these conditions happen:  the vagus nerve, which runs from the brain’s underbelly down into the vital organs and carries messages in both directions.

These conditions aren’t imaginary; they actually do cause measurable changes to organs and systems; they can cause a vast amount of pain, dysfunction, and misery—but attempts to treat them using medicines and surgery have consistenly proven ineffective, because those attempts address symptoms rather than causes. These frustrating conditions were extremely common in the 1850s, too, especially among women—and the reason for that can be laid squarely at the feet of Victorian morality.

It’s one thing to decide not to have sex, for reasons of religious scruple, social pressure, or what have you.  People have been doing that for thousands of years without suffering any particular ill effects.  It’s quite another to be taught from the cradle onward that you have no sexual desires at all, that no healthy and right-thinking woman could ever possibly want to have sex, and that to feel the least twinge of sexual desire was proof positive that you were a vile, corrupt, unnatural creature doomed to live a life of infamy, die a shameful death, and then fry in Hell for all eternity. That’s what Victorian preachers, pundits, and physicians in Britain and America taught women, as part of a package of beliefs that insisted that any other sign of dissatisfaction women might feel toward the lives assigned to them was another bit of evidence that they were sinful, degraded wretches who deserved to get the divine boot in the face forever.

The result was a bumper crop of what psychiatrists today call “conversion disorders”—mental illnesses, that is, that express themselves in the form of apparently physical symptoms. Those used to be called hysterical disorders; they were very common in the 19th century, and are much less common today. During their heyday, they provided mental healers such as Phineas Parkhurst Quimby with their bread and butter.  If your illness is a result of emotional stress because you’ve had to bottle up a vast number of allegedly nonexistent feelings, sitting down with a grave, serious, and earnest man who will listen to you, let you talk about all those feelings you’re not supposed to have, and then kindly explain to you that you’re not physically ill at all, and that what’s hurting you is your own thoughts—that can be a profoundly healing experience.

Mental healing made respectable.

Yes, this is also what provided Sigmund Freud with his bread and butter. I’m not sure how many people realize that Freud was doing exactly the same thing that mental healers in the occult scene had been doing for half a century before their time.  Freud was simply better at decking out mind healing in scientific drag, and so managed to cling to a veneer of medical respectability that his more overtly occult predecessors never achieved.  If you’ve ever heard the famous anecdote told by Freud’s pupil and rival Carl Jung about Freud’s dread of “the black tide of mud—of occultism,” now you know what was behind that. He was afraid of being mistaken for the people that he was, in point of fact, imitating.

In 1859, though, Sigmund Freud was but a twinkle in the Id’s eye, and so Quimby had the field largely to himself.  That was the year that he moved from Belfast to the bustling metropolis of Portland, Maine, where he set up shop as a mental healer.  He faced a lot of pushback from other physicians, of course, but in those days what’s now the mainstream of the medical industry hadn’t yet succeeded in imposing a jealously guarded monopoly on health care in this country—that had to wait for the 1950s—and so Quimby could practice without having to worry about being thrown into prison and having all his papers burnt by the FDA.  He quickly attracted a steady stream of patients, many of whom seemed to benefit greatly from his approach to therapy.  One of them was a woman named Mary Baker Eddy…and thereby hangs a tale.

Mary Baker Eddy

Eddy was another child of New Hampshire, the youngest child of a hardscrabble Yankee farmer and a doting mother, and her childhood and youth were made colorful by an endless sequence of fainting fits, hysterical outbursts, digestive upsets, and other standard conversion disorders, which continued into her adulthood. In 1862, having tried every other medical treatment available at the time, Eddy went to Portland to consult with Phineas Quimby. Within a week she was cured.  She continued to study with Quimby for three years, learning his system of treatment, and her letters at the time show that she was profoundly influenced by him.

In 1866, Eddy slipped and fell on ice in Lynn, Massachusetts, suffering a spinal injury, the seriousness of which has been the subject of lengthy debate ever since.  After three days in bed, she asked for a Bible, happened to read the description of Christ’s healing of a palsied man in Matthew 9:2, and rose from the bed, completely healed. (That’s what her memoirs said, though she sued the city of Lynn some time later, claiming that she was still suffering from the injury.)  She separated from her husband and spent the followng years working out a healing system of her own, which combined Phineas Quimby’s “Truth” with the Christian faith of her childhood.  She called the resulting system Christian Science.

Exactly how she would present her Christian Science to an unbelieving world was a matter of some concern to her. For a while in the late 1860s and early 1870s she boarded with a sequence of Spiritualist believers, and there are fairly well-documented claims that on several occasions she acted as a medium. By 1875, though, she had left Spiritualism behind and set her system of Christian Science on its feet with her most important book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. In 1879, having gathered a substantial following of students and believers, she founded the Church of Christ, Scientist.  Where Quimby finished his life as a successful healer with a steady income and a local reputation, Eddy finished hers as a hugely famous and controversial figure, the head of an international religious movement and the author of bestselling books that are still in print today.

This is a pattern we’ll see more than once as our exploration continues—one person invents a system, another takes it over and turns it into a huge organizational presence—and there’s a reason why women very often ended up taking on the second of those roles.  In the 19th and early 20th century, women who were talented, ambitious, and good at organizing had very few options in the social mainstream. Alternative religion, on the other hand, was a field in which women had taken the lead from early in American history.  Jemima Wilkinson, the “Public Universal Friend” of colonial Rhode Island, and Mother Ann Lee, the founder of the Shakers, were only two of many women who used alternative religious movements to extract themselves from the very limited sphere assigned to women at the time, and become the heads of organizations.

It’s quite standard for the person who fills the second of the roles mentioned above to do everything possible to erase the contributions of the person filling the first of those roles. That’s certainly what Mary Baker Eddy did. As her own reputation grew and her church found its feet, she went out of her way to minimize Phineas Quimby’s contributions, and came to insist that the whole of Christian Science was her own unique discovery.  Like many people who fill that second role, she also did everything she could to try to prevent anyone else from doing what she’d done to Quimby, and using her ideas as a springboard to establish teachings and movements of their own.

Eddy in her later years

She succeeded in the first of these attempts—Quimby was all but forgotten until well into the 20th century—but failed in the second. Partly that was the result of her own contentious nature, as the period from the founding of the Church of Christ, Scientist until her death in 1910 was enlivened by constant, bitter quarrels with her subordinates in the church. There was another factor, though. From the 1870s onward she was a morphine addict, and as many opiate addicts do, she became paranoid.  She became convinced that people were trying to kill her by beaming “malicious animal magnetism” at her. By her last years she was convinced that 50,000 people were streaming evil thoughts at her in an attempt to cause her death.

If you want to encourage schism, a quarrelsome nature and a steadily deepening streak of paranoia is a great way to do it.  That’s certainly what happened with Mary Baker Eddy.  One of her protegées, Ursula Gestefeld, was thrown out of Christian Science in 1888 for the sin of publishing a book of her own on the subject; she responded by coming up with her own teaching, called Science of Being. A far more dangerous rival was Emma Curtis Hopkins, a woman as ambitious and headstrong as Eddy herself, who tried to pressure Eddy into giving her control of all Christian Science activity in the western regions of the United States. Failing to force that division, Hopkins left Christian Science, founded a College of Metaphysical Science in Chicago, and taught students who went on to found a panoply of organizations of their own. Long before that happened, though, the movement that spun off from Christian Science and from Quimby’s otherwise forgotten teachings had found a name for itself:  New Thought.

Emma Curtis Hopkins

The role of New Thought in the history of American popular occultism is impossible to overstate. Freed of the constraints of Eddy’s doctrine, New Thought teachers borrowed raw material from every conceivable source, and Western occultism became one of the standard quarries worked three shifts a day by New Thought writers and teachers. Meanwhile ideas flowed the other way as well:  all through the 20th century, it was rare to find an American occultist who didn’t draw heavily on New Thought ideas.

What were those ideas?  The most important of them, the keystone of Quimby’s teachings and the essence of the movement that developed from him through Eddy to the New Thought explosion of the late 19th and early 20th century, was neatly summed up by New Thought teacher and occultist William Walker Atkinson:  “THE ALL is MIND; the Universe is Mental.” From the perspective of New Thought, matter is an illusion. All things are mental in nature; matter is our term for certain mental objects we have not yet learned how to shape with the powers of our own minds.  To the believer in New Thought, the universe is a vast thought held in the mind of God, and all beings are thoughts of God given the power to think themselves.

From this unfolds the second basic principle of New Thought, which is that illness and all other forms of human suffering are the result of wrong thinking. If the universe is mental, then any unsatisfactory condition we experience in the universe is a mental effect of a mental cause. Since matter does not exist, there can be no material causes for anything, and so the place to look when something goes wrong is the mind of the sufferer.  Figure out what is wrong with your thinking, and then change your mind, and as the mental cause goes away, the effect vanishes as well.

The third basic principle of New Thought starts from the second principle and takes it to its logical conclusion.  If all illness and suffering is caused by wrong thinking, and wrong thinking can be changed, then it should be possible to become free of all illness and suffering.  More, by replacing wrong thinking with right thinking, it should be possible to become radiant, joyous, and immortal, a superhuman being capable of fantastic achievements.

It’s probably a good idea to stop here and mention that these teachings don’t actually mesh that well with those of traditional Western occultism. In the magical traditions that the colonists brought over from Europe, and also those that the slaves brought over from Africa, matter is not an illusion:  it is one of several realms of being, each of which has its own laws and rules.  In these older magical traditions, human beings are capable of bettering their lot by attuning themselves to the spiritual realities of the universe, but only in the teachings of alchemy did anyone suggest that it was possible to overcome illness and death itself, and the alchemists believed that this required a fantastically difficult process of alchemical labor—not merely a change of attitudes and beliefs.

It’s also worth pointing out that not all New Thought teachings went to the extremes noted above.  From the early 20th century on, there were also New Thought pragmatists, who adopted the basic attitude of “straighten out your thinking, and your life will straighten out in response” without claiming that matter did not exist. Early 20th century American teachers such as Burks Hamner and Norman Vincent Peale typified this approach to New Thought, while their opposite numbers such as Charles and Myrtle Fillmore were spreading the more colorful version of the movement, and laying the foundations for the New Age movement of the late 20th century.

Meanwhile, from the late 19th century on, New Thought ideas blended in the American occult scene with older occult traditions, in an unstable and wildly creative mix that gave rise to some of the enduring classics of American occultism, as well as some of its most embarrassing flops. In future posts, we’ll be discussing how those unfolded. First, however, we need to circle back to Spiritualism, and trace from there the pyrotechnic career of another of the great occultists of American history: the first African-American occultist to achieve international fame, the astounding and tragic Paschal Beverly Randolph.

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On the off chance that readers might want to know more, one of the pragmatic New Thought courses offered in the middle years of the 20th century—the Life Science course written for the Order of Essenes by its founder Burks L. Hamner—is available from this website. As it was in Hamner’s time, it’s offered free of charge.

278 Comments

  1. Another one of the great legacies of New Thought is Alcoholics Anonymous, that in turn spawned the whole recovery movement. While I won’t say AA is a universal panacea for alcoholics and addicts it has removed the desired to drink from

    The spiritual underpinnings of AA come from three main sources (as I understand the history). Carl Jung, who tried to help one alcoholic and told him he couldn’t, that the only thing that would change him would be a spiritual experience. This person went on to have direct contact with Bill W. and some of the other early AA’s. The other two influences were the Oxford Movement and the writings of Emmett Fox, who was a Christian of the New Thought persuasion who had his own Divine Science church.

    AA is one of the outstanding legacies of New Thought, and all the lives it has changed by changing “stinking thinking” to straighten out lives.

  2. I thought this question would be off topic, but it is about mental structures. With the Scientific Revolution, the Enlightenment, and the whole shift to the modern mindset, what was the opening shot? What aspects of it first start showing up in history and culture? Also, do you have a catch-all term for the process?

    Orhan Pamuk’s novel My Name is Red features Ottoman Istanbul miniaturist painters seeing Renaissance European art, what they call ‘the Frankish style’ for the first time. It really conveys how uncomfortable looking at it makes them feel, and how wrong it seems, especially perspective. Do you think that’s an accurate depiction of how it would have felt for members of an older culture to come into contact with products of modern thought?

  3. This is really good and the timing could not be better for me. I can’t help but think that the lineage from New Thought to New Age is still manifesting today in the myriad of “Personal Growth” conferences and workshops. Thanks for uncovering those roots!

    Given the recognition that some ailments do have roots in mental processes, but not all, how can someone distinguish between the two? I do have personal experience of physical symptoms manifesting in times of stress and anxiety, but I have been completely incapable of distinguishing, from a subjective perspective, when pains, physical discomforts, or other symptoms are caused by mental processes and when they originate from a pathogen (ex: flu) independently of my mind. So multiple times I ended up consulting a physician, only to come back home with a negative diagnosis for the most common ailments doctors typically treat, but not knowing anything more about what I actually have.

    So I first tried Vipassana, only to find out that the McDonald approach to spirituality did not work for me. Then I tried Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, which worked better and was better compatible with the rest of my belief system. But it seems those meditation techniques worked enough to somewhat cope with the worst of symptoms but did not address the underlying imbalance.

    What I am finding hard to mentally cope with these days is the disconnect between the priorities of our Western culture (ex: increasing the efficiency and speed of our industrial processes) and the nature of the predicament we face of reaching energy and material limits on a finite planet. The level of denial around me is driving me crazy. It takes quite a bit of mental gymnastic to hold both viewpoints at the same time, to be able to function professionally while still putting things into place to prepare for what is actually coming.

    So I guess I am almost diagnosing myself already… Anyway to turn that into a bullet list of actual questions:
    1. How can someone distinguish, from a subjective experience, when physical symptoms and ailments have a mental root and when they don’t?
    2. What kind of training can be used for this? Any theory to back this up? Suggested reading list?
    3. In an age of descent, in which old narratives still apply in some aspects but seem increasingly disconnected from a growing aspect of our experiences, and new narratives are not complete and mature enough to fully take the place of the olds, how can one preserve their own sanity and well-being while being able to be functional in both?

  4. Dear John Michael Greer,
    Thank you, it is such a delight to read such an important contribution to the history of metaphysical religion / ideas and, relatedly, the history of the United States itself. I am very much looking forward to reading your book on this subject.

  5. Quite fascinating! Thank you for this week’s post.

    I have 2 short questions:
    1) Where, if at all, would Ernest Holmes’ “Science of Mind” fit into New Thought?
    2) Am I extrapolating too far to suggest that I may see some influence from Gnosticism (even the non-Christian varieties) with the reduction/dismissal of matter? I could see some possible Manichaeism if I squint hard enough.

  6. Viking, I’ve just been watching videos on machine shop layout and organisation. Speed may be a problem if you’re having to throw more energy at it to make it happen, but how is efficiency a problem? The more you can do with less, the more you can do overall, and that’s only going to become more important as things go downhill.

  7. Justin, yep — AA is a classic New Thought organization, over toward the pragmatic side of the spectrum, and all three of its sources were heavily influenced by New Thought: Jung indirectly via Freud and the entire psychoanalytic movement with its “talking cure,” the Oxford Movement and Divine Science directly as both of these were New Thought offshoots. Once you learn the basic notions of New Thought you can find its traces in an astonishing range of cultural phenomena.

    Yorkshire, the opening shot was fired well back in the Middle Ages. There was a philosophical movement called Nominalism, in which William of Ockham (he of the famous razor) was a major player, that first started moving toward an understanding of the world like the one we had today. The basic idea of the Nominalists was that only specific individual objects in space and time are real — there are no transcendent realities beyond space and time, no Platonic forms or ideas. Of course they made room for God — you had to do that if you wanted to avoid being burnt at the stake — but their arguments for his existence were not especially convincing or hearfelt.

    As for the Ottoman miniaturists, that’s a very accurate description. We have parallel accounts from Japan, which had an equally rich artistic tradition; Japanese artists spent a long time trying to make sense of the bizarre art of the gaijin — then, after the Meiji Restoration of 1868, embraced Western perspective as part of the push for “modernization” (i.e., Westernization). The results, especially at first, were impressively clunky.

    Viking, (1) that’s a real challenge, because there’s no straightforward litmus test that allows you to say for sure, “this is a physical ailment, but that is a nonspecific psychogenic condition.” One thing I’d point out, though, is that Vipassana and its offshoots — “Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction” is one of those — are actually not well suited to deal with these issues, precisely because all they do is reduce stress a little. They don’t deal with the underlying issues which, as New Thought points out, are very often a matter of attitudes and beliefs that don’t work. (2) The Order of Essenes course, which I linked at the bottom of the post, is the form of New Thought practice that helped me most. Your mileage may vary, of course. (3) That’s a huge issue, and one that I don’t think anyone has solved yet. All we can do is muddle our way through.

    Millicently, you’re most welcome.

    KevPilot, (1) Ernest Holmes was right in the mainstream of New Thought. He studied Eddy and William Walker Atkinson, among others, before taking up his own teaching career, and his book Science of Mind is widely considered one of the classics of New Thought. (2) Well, in a certain sense. Classic Johannite Gnosticism saw the material world as unreal, but it was a manufactured lie, created by the evil Demiurge and his archons to trap the sparks of light from the realm of the Aeons that became human souls. There’s a profound pessimism that runs through the Johannite tradition — the world is a black iron prison from which only the intervention of the Aeonic powers can free the trapped souls. That’s worlds apart from the New Thought idea, which is that matter is simply a silly little mistake on the part of ignorant human beings, and once you realize that, you can start living a heavenly life right now.

  8. Later on, William Walker Atkinson surpassed the vanilla version of New Thought and revised his prior ideas, as can be seen in the following quote:

    “Many philosophies have held that the universe is mental, in its last analysis, and that the Universal Mind is the reality behind the appearances. Others have held that the universe is merely an imagination, illusion, or dramatization, in the mind of a Supreme Being. But all of these conceptions use the terms ‘mind’ or ‘mental’ as something having no connection with material substance, the latter being an illusion. But the Arcane Teaching recognizes Substance as being as real and actual as Mind or Motion—the three being but aspects of the same thing—the Three Principles which are really One. And in giving to Substance and Motion equal places with Mind, the conception is seen to be rather more like a ‘World‑Brain’ than a ‘World‑Mind,’ for like the brain it contains the principles of Substance, Motion and Consciousness. Thought is the product of these three—the action of Consciousness upon Substance, by means of the vibrations of Motion. As in the human brain, so in the Cosmic Brain—’as above, so below; as below, so above.’ From One know All. Substance and Motion are not illusions—they are co‑equal with Mind, in reality and actuality. There can be no Mind without Substance and Motion; there can be no Substance without Mind and Motion; there can be no Motion without Mind and Substance.
    The ‘Three Principles’ are always found together—in Everything the Three are found. There is no separateness in the Three Principles—there are, and must be, always in combination. And this combination in the Cosmos, gives us that which may be called the World‑Brain.” (quoted from The Arcane Teaching)

    Personally, I find this more reasonable.

  9. @Darkest Yorkshire There is nothing intrinsically wrong with efficiency (or speed for that matter). The problem happens when the focus on efficiency and speed is done at the exclusion of the bigger picture of the impacts of a process or technology. For example, you can become really efficient (and profitable) at turning forests into shipping boxes and mailed advertisements, but at some point, regardless of how efficient you are, you need to come to terms with not turning the entire forest into stuff and losing the myriads of ways in which the original forest supported your life.

    So my point is, it is much easier today to be employed and well paid to improve the efficiency of today’s processes, for example, than to find employment recognizing the limits we are facing and preparing the aftermath. Knowing the problem yet facing constraints in how much attention and ressources I can dedicate to the alternatives is a source of mental tension to me. Yet I know that even if I were to drop everything, I would still face contraints in how much attention and ressources I could dedicate, but for different reasons.

  10. I admit to dabbling a bit in New Agey texts in the mid-2000s, after my childhood bond with the Catholic Church finally broke with the abuse scandals and I found myself looking for a new spiritual direction. It all smelled a bit fishy, though, and reading your Mystery Teachings of The Living Earth nudged me out of its orbit before I got in too deep. Reading this series of posts reminds me again how much of a debt modern New Age authors owe to occultists and New Thought thinkers, I wonder how many of them know that. Books published in the last 20-30 years generally don’t acknowledge these roots, although they do make nods to various strains of Eastern thought.

    Regarding the mind-body-spirit health connection, I spent a lot of time looking into the attitudinal and spiritual roots of the anxiety and nervous tension I’ve experienced all my life. I made some important discoveries – through meditation, journalling and a few other techniques – and learned to steady myself through MBSR. But then, a few years ago, I decided to give up sugar and salt in my diet, and pretty much all of the tension and moods swings melted away and quick. Turns out my nervous system was turned up to eleven from too much dietary stimulation. Point is, sometimes it’s all or mostly in the tissues. So, I would recommend starting out any health investigation with getting the physical basics cleaned-up first: diet, sleep, exercise, hydration, stress reduction – and then move on to attitudes and beliefs.

  11. Hi JMG,

    Thanks for the guided tour of the history of religious ideas in America. This is great stuff!

    I have a question about the quote above from William Walker Atkinson. My understanding is that while he maintained that the material world was governed by the mental, it was not really an illusion or a dream. That is to say, while ailments in a physical body might have a mental cause, they were still subject to physical laws that are real. That might be another way of saying that the mind has limits on the amount of influence it can have on the physical.

    This is in contrast to later New Age type thinkers who maintain, that just by exerting enough mental energy, anything is possible. Am I on the right track here?

  12. On the darker side of New Thought…

    … Some people I know had parents who were Christian Scientists. Apparently their died of gangrene due to complications from diabetes due to not going to the doctor. They believed Christ & the mind would heal all -even when all evidence was to the contrary.

    (Is this another form of “The opposite of one bad idea is usually another”? I think it might be!)

  13. Viking, that kind of efficiency is what Russell Ackoff called ‘doing the wrong thing righter’. 🙂

  14. JMG,
    I see why you don’t fear the eventual collapse of the internet. It seems that TED talks and you tube videos are no match for the richness and personal experience of traveling occult teachers, mesmerists. spiritualists and entertainers. Makes one wish for a chance to go back in time and live for a summer in one of the towns along the erie canal in central New York in the 1850’s.

  15. @JMG and @Yorkshire,

    Orhan Pamuk’s anecdotes in his novels shouldn’t be taken seriously as real historical information. He used this kind of small details to attack the overall Turkish modernisation movement in the late Ottoman period and the early Republic period; while promoting the reactionary values of Ottoman ruling classes. Between 2001-2012, Pamuk was one of those so called “left* liberals” that supported AKP’s Islamic-authoritarian counterrevolution. Now many of those “left liberals” (including Pamuk himself) have deep regrets about the monster that they had helped creating.

    *Those upper middle class “intellectuals” have no relation whatsoever to genuine leftist movements and actual working class struggles in Turkey.

  16. I downloaded the introductory lesson of the Essene program, and ran across the slogans and sound bites, which gave me trouble. You see, I’ve seen those slogans on a million “inspirational” posters and management-mandated PowerPoint presentations in the workplace, etc, etc. They feel to me like a mandate to smile, smile, smile all the while, while, while, and eschew “negativity” and always have a positive mental attitude – one step away from the mandate to be a perky as Flo in the insurance ads. Essentially, to deny one’s emotions in favor of the prescribed smiling, happy persona.

    There was an op-ed in the Gainesville Sun a while back which explained what was wrong with the image of the smiling chef on the Cream of Wheat box. Not that he was a chef, but that he was smiling, which plays into the Southern stereotype of the Smiling Southern Servant who is So Happy To Be a servant. [And had blasted well better be, Or Else. Maya Angelou can provide chapter and verse on that.]

    Any woman of my generation and older knows exactly what the mandate to smile and seem happy is like. And for that matter, everyone working in the service sector. Lack of a smile and an upbeat manner = discontented = uppity = troublemaker and all that….

    However, what does serve the same purpose for me has been the statement which keeps coming to mind with bad news, bad oracles, bad mornings, etc “All right. I’ll deal.” And to mean it on all levels. Again, for what that’s worth.

  17. @KevPilot I thought of Gnosticism, too, but less Manichean and more Plotinus or Iamblichus – where matter is the necessary petering out if the Good that comes at the end of the creation; to create the evil that induces souls to look back up to join God after their separation. I found that interesting that following that current through either Christian Science or New Thought gets to the more occult non-dualistic interpretation of that theme in the Cosmic Doctrine.

    @Viking in my experience, if anxiety is a problem, the mindfulness- or Yoga-lite taught at the average studio are bad news. I suffered from an extreme undiagnosed anxiety disorder of precisely the type that Quimby would have cured for seven years (I felt nauseated every second of the day, so had trouble eating, couldn’t eat in public because I feared vomiting, etc.). I had a lot of tests, scopes, medications to fight stomach acid… A lot of missed life opportunities. A doctor at a walk in clinic finally told me I was just having an anxiety attack. I had never even heard that phrase before. It rocked my world. He handed me 12 Ativan and said to cut them in half, but use them sparingly to quell the feedback loop of symptoms panic symptoms. Never needed them. Just knowing I wasn’t actually ill in some undiagnosable way was enough to allow me to steel myself through it. But he also told me to do yoga or something, and that went badly. It was okay at first, but eventually I had huge panic attacks in class and had to run out. The teacher was quite sneering about it, he said that isn’t what yoga does.

    Later teachers said that was actually really common, they usually saw it in people with trauma or abuse or serious repressed memories. Certain moves and postures would release it from where it is locked in the body. Without someone trained to help integrate that, it’s a really damaging experience. Fortunately terrible trauma was not my problem, it was more the beyond torn in two directions you speak of, and I was only as damaged as I was before 😉

    FWIW discursive meditation from any school has not had the same triggering problem, and short mindfulness followed by discursive meditation was once very effective at helping me stay alive and pregnant twelve days longer than I was “supposed to” last. Anything that refills your mind in an intentional way rather than trying to just leave it empty.

  18. Hi JMG,

    I believe the same dynamic around “mental” issues manifesting physical symptoms still exists today but in different form. I was once talking to a doctor who had moved here from India. I asked her what differences she had noticed and she said: “In India, my patients were actually sick.” She reckoned about two thirds of the people she saw here didn’t have anything wrong with them physically.

    I recall a similar theory once for the rise of the Catholic church. That is, the church didn’t even try to treat physical symptoms, it talked about spiritual matters. The medical interventions of that day would often kill the patient and so the simple act of not intervening physically led to better outcomes and made people more likely to go to the priest than the “doctor”.

    Perhaps this is another cycle of history that we are about to go through given that the current medical industry seems to be doing more harm than good.

    Cheers,
    Simon

  19. Minervaphilos, he did indeed — and he’s important enough in our story that he’ll be getting a post of hos own down the road a bit. Atkinson is one of the giants of American occultism, right up there with Theron Q. Dumont, Yogi Ramacharaka, and the three initiates who wrote The Kybalion — all of which, btw, were none other than William Walker Atkinson. 😉

    Mark, some people start with the habits and beliefs, some start with diet, both usually figure out sooner or later that the other side is also involved! That said, as the discussion going on right now over on my Dreamwidth account suggests, diet really does matter (though not in a one-size-fits-all manner).

    Samurai47, you are indeed. Atkinson started out in the New Thought mainstream but gradually moved into a more nuanced viewpoint, strongly influenced by Asian philosophies and Western occultism. He’s a very good source for the saner end of New Thought.

    Justin, one of my wife’s cousins nearly died in his teen years because his Christian Science mother tried to pray away an attack of acute appendicitis. Fortunately his father overruled her and got him to the hospital in time. Yes, it’s a great example of “the opposite of one bad idea is reliably another bad idea”; it’s also evidence that the planes are discrete and not continuous.

    Clay, exactly. Exactly. The internet is simply a more gizmocentric version of what people have been doing since the invention of printing on the one hand, and traveling showmen on the other.

    Minervaphilos, upper middle class intellectuals who claim to be leftist but have no relation whatsoever to the actual struggles of the working classes…why does that sound so familiar just now? 😉

    Patricia, of course they are. Can you imagine what kind of impact they would have had when they were fresh and new, and not yet tarred with the kind of smiley-faced mandate we’ve all seen deployed so many times? One of the great challenges in making sense of New Thought is the struggle to get back to what it meant before its ideas were prostituted by corporate culture.

    Pixelated (if I may), thank you for this. Since I don’t suffer from anxiety issues, but a lot of people do, it’s very helpful to me as a teacher of discursive meditation to know how it helped you.

    Simon, that’s an excellent point. The current set of nonspecific psychogenic disorders, though, don’t seem to have extreme sexual repression for their cause. I’d be interested in a discussion of what might be causing them this time around. What is it that people can’t talk about, and can’t bear not talking about?

    Christopher, you’re most welcome.

  20. Has anyone noticed that regardless of what system of belief is being used whether it is the modern ultra materialist science and medicine, not science or Western medicine per se, but the current acceptable mainstream kind or the physical-facts-don’t-matter in current religious or spiritual beliefs. Both are identical in denying the other sides existence, resist any attempts to show that both interact with the other, and denying the validity of any deviation from accepted dogma.

    Both the materialists and the spiritualists seem to ignore any facts or experiences that might contradict their beliefs with the trend increasing. Like with blanking out the original creators of a tradition and changing the accepted narrative; it does make it easier to manipulate and control people, which is becoming more extreme and apparent in political, economic, medical, and social issues, given more power to the elites in today’s society.

  21. Thanks JMG! One thing that leaves me wondering about is whether there is a connection between Dion Fortune’s cosmology as described in the Cosmic Doctrine and New Thought. Her metaphors have some similarity to Atkinson’s in the hierarchy of the mental over the physical, although her system is much more elaborate.

    In the lineage of ideas, would you say Dion Fortune drew from New Thought here in the US, or do the two share some kind of common intellectual ancestor from an earlier time?

  22. @JMG, who asked (as a challenge?) “What is it that people can’t talk about, and can’t bear not talking about?”

    Starting with the decline & fall in the real world and of their secular religion?

  23. Ah, New Thought:
    “Talkin’ Decadent Monotheistic Fascist Metaphysical High Level Abstract I’m Into Strange Pussy Blues”

  24. Archdruid,

    I absolutely love Atkinson, he’s one of my favorite occult authors (next to you of course!). Strangely I’m still on his book on Will Power. I’ll eventually have to make my way through his many other works. The man writes with the depth of a trained occultist.

    Are we going to be talking about any New Age authors? Did anyone from the New Age movement actually contribute to American occultism?

    Regards,

    Syfen

  25. @ Justin Patrick Moore – Your first post, this week. Thanks for that!

    I notice from your web page, that you’re a library cataloguer. I remembered that you worked in libraries.

    In my life, I’ve worked for Portland (Oregon) Public Libraries, Seattle Public, Fort Vancouver Regional (Vancouver, Washington) and Timberland Regional Libraries. Always as a para-professional.

    Way back in the 1960’s, I worked for, probably, the two best catalogers in the Pacific Northwest. Miss Fox (Fort Vancouver Regional) and Mr. Zandenburg (Seattle Public). Much, much later, in life, just for poops and giggles, I took a couple of cataloging courses from The University of Maine, on-line. Got A’s.

    Also along the way, I managed bookstores for Walden Books, for 8 years (circa early 70s) and B. Dalton, for 10 years (circa 1980s.)

    After more than two months, our local library (Chehalis Timberland Library) re-opened, yesterday. Kinda. Sorta. They worked out a “no contact” exchange of books. Lew

  26. @JMG, you’re welcome. I also should say that helping to delineate our that middle ground, where the mind obviously can have effects (in my family tree, extremely strong ones) but it’s not *everything* is also a very helpful narrative you put out there. The Truth is still strong with our culture, even outside Christian Science.

    I once was reading a pop psychology book – generally quite a good one, actually, by a decent psychologist, Authentic Happiness I think it was – where he told an anxious patient to look for examples of things that went well, for example, that her friend’s pregnancy went well and she had a healthy baby because “she did everything right”. I’d had two pretty upsetting pregnancies and one very sick baby with a very rare genetic condition by then; I was reading it after the pre-eclampsia with the other one they didn’t think either of us would make another day – so that hurt pretty bad. I know you and Sara probably grok that one. Was this another example of me doing it to myself? Did I then deserve it? Did my kids? The doctors were adamant they had no reason to believe that this was a condition where that was possible, but…

    What is the thing people can’t talk about and can’t bear not talking about? This was not my specific problem, but I think…
    The future terrifies them, but they aren’t allowed to look at the past. The one that we’re told is coming – the Green Techno-utopia or the climate dystopia – it’s not a place any sane person would want to go, but we are told we must go there, must because the past is bad, and everyone good knows it. Heck, most people hate the present, and the future is supposed to be the present only more so in all the ways they specifically hate.

    I asked a woman who is very active in our town celebrations how she was doing without all the events to plan. She said great… It was like the 70’s again, there was time, there were neighbours and beach picnics on Sunday. Then she glanced guiltily at the pride flag we’d just raised. In my region, there is a COVID rebuilding plan being pushed by the progressive councils literally called Moving Forward, Not Backward. They had to make sure to specify not backward to ensure no one could preemptively wrongthink.

  27. JMG, you raised this excellent question: “What is it that people can’t talk about, that’s making them sick?

    I suspect for a lot of people, it’s about loss of society. Children are no longer raised by people, they are socialized in a machine, a hierarchy. Daycare and school are designed to keep us from relating to one another and cooperating with one another as fellow human beings—it’s all about paying attention to the top of the hierarchy. In school and in employment, people are mostly cast against one another, competing for attention, for resources, for status. Very little pulling together.

    It’s so pervasive now, that folks don’t even know what we are missing. And with social distancing……

  28. All this talk of ‘Mind over matter’ has me thinking about the book ‘Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers’ (1994) by Robert Morris Sapolsky. It is a decent book on the function of stress on the mind and body and about how the mind can have real impact on ones physical self.

    As JMG says it is ‘in scientific drag’ but there are some really good examples of how mind and body are very closely linked.

    A great and obvious example at the start of Chapter 2 (?) is done by using an erotic novel to point out how you can change your heart rate and senses with nothing more than thought.

    Just something to think about.

  29. JBird, you’ve just identified one of the core mental dysfunctions in modern Western society — the bizarre delusion that a spectrum consists solely of its two extreme ends, and you have to choose one and denounce the other. The materialist/spiritualist false dichotomy is one of the most visible forms of it, though I’m sure you can think of plenty of others.

    Samurai_47, excellent! In point of fact, Fortune grew up in a Christian Science family, and yes, some aspects of her upbringing definitely influenced her later philosophy.

    Patricia, thank you for this. That’s one contender!

    Caldera, er, what?

    Varun, we’ll be talking about the early days of the New Age, but my story ends on October 31, 1979, with the coming of pop-culture Neopaganism.

    Pixelated, pop-psych books like that make me want to slap people. The notion that if things go well, it’s because you did everything right, and if they go badly, you must have done something wrong, was critiqued in blistering terms in the Book of Job a couple of thousand years ago and it’s just as stupid now as it was then. We have some control over what happens to us, but only within limits, and the universe really, truly does not notice us or care about us: it’s long seemed to me that that’s the foundation for anything approximating sanity.

    And your suggestion that the thing we can’t talk about is that progress sucks — okay, we have another contender. As for “Not Backward…” That’s hilarious. It may be time soon to really start pushing hard on the idea that if you’ve gone down a blind alley, the only way to go anywhere else is to start by backing up…

    KKA, thanks for this — that’s another contender!

    Michael, the fact that you can move your hand where you want it to go should have disproved the claim of a rigid separation between mind and body centuries ago — but yes, an erotic novel is another good example.

  30. @Simon, @JMG, regarding “The current set of nonspecific psychogenic disorders,” I very highly recommend “Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche,” by Ethan Watters for a great exploration of that topic.

  31. For a fascinating explication of perspective in western art and it’s connection to mesmerism, see Robert Romanyshin’s Technology as Symptom and Dream. I saw it mentioned here a number of times, and got around to reading it last winter…

  32. What is it that people can’t talk about, but can’t bear not to talk about… Funny this should come up this week – as others here have noted from time to time, what gets discussed here (not always directly on topic to your post, JMG) so often seems to be directly related to the thoughts I’m having in this particular week. More evidence, if it’s needed, that our thoughts are not necessarily our own. I have recently been having a few weeks of quite bad anxiety and panic, and have been attempting to discern the reason. So far, I think its to do with a fear of death. My own, in particular. My ex-husband passed away unexpectedly a couple of weeks ago, but even before that I’ve been waking up every night consumed with fear. But to try to put this into the broader perspective of these thoughts and feelings being shared among us, and common to many at the same time – I guess it makes sense now that every single day, the media in general is obsessed with putting up statistics of how many have died from covid19, broken down by date, country, area, etc., with lots of pretty graphs and charts.

    So… in our culture we are not supposed to talk about death. We are meant to talk as if everyone can just live for ever, give medical science enough time and money and there is nothing they can’t cure! But now, with those covid statistics, it’s in our face all the time. Of course, people are still dying for non-covid reasons, in numbers far greater than the covid numbers. We are still not supposed to talk about those. Maybe, everyone’s thoughts now are being turned towards death, which we were encouraged to think is not real. Cognitive dissonance!

    And thank you JMG, for yet another very interesting addition to your series on American occultism. I am loving it.

  33. As I read, “If your illness is a result of emotional stress because you’ve had to bottle up a vast number of allegedly nonexistent feelings,” I half expected the sentence to end by re-announcing hate as the new sex. Your description of the detrimental effects of sexual repression on Victorians instantly made me think of our excessively fragile social justice warriors, Karens, and professional managerial class. Where ever could all the current bedlam and vitriol have come from, when they would swear on their Mamas’ graves that they have never, ever, ever felt any rage or hostility in their virginally pure lives? How do they manage to keep their abiding hatred hidden from themselves when their spittle-flecked hypocrisy is so frighteningly obvious to everyone else?

    Who, me, think about the carnal pleasures of deep, throbbing, obsessive hatred? Never! As one of the Good People, I could not possibly have considered such evil deviancies as loathing and resentment. As for teaching any evil people around me how despisedly, despicably hateful they are, I do that by throwing my pure, pristine love at them until it smothers the ungrateful maggots. Strange, but my pacifist, love-throwing hand has gone completely numb, and I simply can’t explain it!

    How many decades of Freudian analysis have we had to subsidize for our coddled elite class? Is the entitled, frothing frenzy we’re now being subjected to all we have to show for that? I think we deserve a refund; the product clearly does not work as advertised. Had we used those decades to send the elites into mortal combat instead, we would likely have been spared all their repressed rage today. Hindsight is always 20/20.

  34. (1) I’ve come across people who spout the New Thought canard that ‘all matter is an illusion’ and it was about all I could do to keep myself from hurling a heavy, solid object at them screaming, “Oh, yeah? Then unthink THIS!” I just never knew where it came from before, I’d always under the impression it was some debased occult teaching from South East Asia. Thanks for that.

    I’m guessing that the placebo effect is the last acceptable fragment of those teachings still grudgingly acknowledged in modern medicine.

    Now, I know someone mentioned Dr. Joe Dispenza before, and I’ll contract his ideas thusly: he empirically studies people who have spontaneously recovered to full health from terminal diagnoses and concluded that, indeed, they thought themselves back to health. He has done work on distilling the common factors in these miracle cures into a series of meditations. His emphasis is on the power of the mind and imagination to produce real effects in the physical world.
    I “believe” I am a very healthy person, and my doctor tells me in my annual checkup that I have results that are fitter than someone half my age. I am quite convinced that I do not suffer from ‘flu and, lo, the same ‘flu that knocked out people at work for up to a miserable week in bed, only left me too tired to get up one day and so I slept for most of that day, went to bed early the next night, and was perfectly fine. This has been my experience of the ‘flu for the past 30 years, and most years I don’t even take a day off work, whereas, the people around me call in sick a couple of times a year. Furthermore, where my friends complain of typical general aches and pains and stiffness of middle-age, all my aches and pains come from specific sport-related injuries which didn’t quite heal 100%, most in the past 5 years. Ergo, the power of belief (?), the mind (?), inadvertent magic (?) to be healthy.

    On the flip side, I have spent some time helping a person who literally thought herself ill. She (as can I and, I suspect, anyone who pays careful attention) could detect strong EM fields, very faint artificial chemical scents, &c. The difference was (is, I suppose, although I don’t have any contact any longer, my patience being exhausted with her anti-chemicals conspiracy theories) in my case, I can detect these things, but don’t feel affected; in her case she felt she was being made deathly ill by them. Ergo, the power of belief (?), the mind (?), inadvertent magic (?) to be unhealthy.

    (2) – re. your response to Simon: There are a whole lot of things that people are Not Allowed to Talk About these days, for fear of Cancel Culture. That’s why actual Nazis get to come out in public and talk about problems of immigration, for example. Or the extremely bigoted Christians like the Westboro Baptist Church challenge normalizing homosexuality, even though it makes many people uncomfortable, for another. I think you would have no difficulty in thinking of at least 5 more topics in as many seconds that one is Not Allowed to Discuss, since so many have been intelligently discussed right on this blog. It’s the fact that people are not allowed to have differing opinions on a very long list of subjects which is causing so much psychological stress.

    Like sex and sexuality in Victorian times, they live in fear of saying something wrong and must suppress their feelings which they are not allowed to have and keep their “unacceptable” opinions quiet lest they be subjected to an internet-shame-pile-on. Look at the number of young people, mostly girls, who have committed suicide in the past 10 years because of social media destroying their ability to have any social connection with their peers. It is hard at any age. We have so much stress when people are being forced out of their jobs by rumour and innuendo or angry overreaction. (e.g. the guy who was caught on camera kicking a dog and lost everything in his life as a result: his job, his girlfriend, his house, his friends.)

  35. @viking

    Your comment made me wonder if looking into what diseases that placebos are known to be effective for would be a useful starting point. It’s a slightly contentious approach, because placebos are somehow held to be ‘not proper medicine’ by many even when the effect is widely, although rather uncomfortably, accepted.

    Anyway, I did just that and found a National Geographic article and book written by someone who grew up in a Christian Science family – “Suggestible You” by Erik Vance.

    The NG puff piece on the book (they publish it) mentioned two facts that I found fascinating. One was that Irritable Bowel Syndrome is one of the diseases that does respond well to placebos. I know people with this and not only does it cause real suffering there seems to be no effective treatment of any kind. ‘Change your diet’ is the usual advice.

    The other was the throw away remark that he’d seen a member of his family Christian Science congregation grow back an amputated toe!

    So now I’ve got to read the book. Or at least grab it and put it on the pile.

  36. JMG – “the fact that you can move your hand where you want it to go should have disproved the claim of a rigid separation between mind and body centuries ago” Yes, indeed!

    But also, the fact that you cannot move anyone ELSE’s hand with your mind, should have also signalled the limitation of powers centuries ago, too. Incidentally, as torturers have found, now and again, to their chagrin, you also cannot move anyone ELSE’s mind with your hand.

    I keep thinking about the human being as a bridge between planes that are not, in themselves continuous. My mind can influence my body and my spirit, my spirit can influence my body and my mind, and my body can influence my mind and my spirit, there is a continuous flow from one plane to another, inasmuch as it happens where each plane intersects with the node of experience that is “me”. And yet, while sitting next to another person in a material room, we may be so widely separated from one another on any or all of the other planes, that we may not be able to meet anywhere but in the material. Rapport may be a case of “finding” closer proximity to each other in more than one plane.

  37. Minervaphilos, it sound like Pamuk straddled Turkey’s social divide in an unusual way. Do you have links to some in-depth sources on his views of the Ottomans, Attaturk, and Islam?

    Where would you say the real Turkish left stands on the same three subjects? I could guess but I’m trying not to jump to conclusions. 🙂

  38. @JMG

    This is an incredible history lesson. The way Eddy built off of Quimby’s work and then attempted to scrub his name from her own, and Hopkins attempt to cleave the western portion of Christian Science off to minister herself is very instructive in terms of human nature and power. Thank you for writing this stream of interconnected characters in such an refreshing and advanced way. These (free) articles give me a sense of the scope that History is actually able to teach when separated from single character descriptions, canned stories, and without the heavy political agency that colors everything so terribly at the moment.
    As I previously mentioned, my research into Obeah ended in finding that the connections I was looking for were not documented. However, the research took me in a direction that opened some very important currents in old relationships. To make a story short – I was given access to a form of Trinidadian cooking that was part of a household I spent many days in that went through some suffering in past. I was enthusiastically taught a recipe for Trinidadian curry chicken after making contact with the remaining elder member of the household, and I was urged to reintroduce the alchemy to the remaining members of said family. I think one more practice run with the recipe and then I will hold a dinner where I will pass the recipe on to the appropriate people. Considering this piece of ‘real’ history in your article I wonder if perhaps this is how ‘real’ social work actually works lol.

  39. Thanks for another fascinating installment, and thanks for your kind reply to my enquiry about spiritual discernment the other week. This week I will take this essay as inspiration to think more about what powers I can recognize in my mind and where their limits may be, as I creep along my pathway of spiritual practice.

    What people can’t bear and also can’t talk about — I think one candidate is what American Buddhist Joanna Macy seems to find in her teaching of ‘The Work that Reconnects’. As with everything it doesn’t work for everyone, maybe it’s related to temperament, but she finds that at least some people are deeply in touch at a nearly unconscious level with their pain for the state of the world and all that is wrong with the way we are living. This can be a sense of being in touch at an emotional level with the pain in the larger system from all the things that are broken about the way we live, extinctions, waste, poisons, industrial scale devastation, exploitation. She has found that giving people an opportunity to feel their pain for the world and witness others also getting in touch with this pain seems to give at least some people ease from a kind of psychological pressure and find a renewed sense of hope in that larger connection with each other and the rest of the world — that we are not as isolated as we fear, in fact we are deeply connected to the rest of life and instead of ignoring this, we can draw on this deep connection for strength in our efforts to make change for the better.

  40. This is a profoundly satisfying historical review. Thank you very much JMG. Regarding the second basic principle of new thought (“illness and all other forms of human suffering are the result of wrong thinking. If the universe is mental, then any unsatisfactory condition we experience in the universe is a mental effect of a mental cause. Since matter does not exist, there can be no material causes for anything, and so the place to look when something goes wrong is the mind of the sufferer…” This sounds very buddhist to me.
    I am studying the first few exercises of “The Life Science Course.” (drink a cup of water upon waking and deep breathing exercises etc.). Thank you very much for the link.
    Now that the collapse is underway and rational minded people (I think about 5-7% of the population) are looking for a new direction, this subject matter should be revitalized. An interesting problem is that most rationals (philosophers/engineers/scientists possessing an INTP/INTJ or similar personality) dont care to lead. In that context, the history of active women who founded spiritual groups is very interesting.
    Maybe someone in this group can put 2+2 together and provide a spiritual guide for the present age… based on these wonderful examples…………….

  41. @JMG – then the first step in making sense of New Thought is to ignore the sound bites and try the exercises. Thanks; that’s a good heads-up.

  42. @Samurai_47,

    Another common source that influenced both Atkinson and Fortune was Blavatskian Theosophy. Both of them studied Theosophy in detail and borrowed its sane parts while forming their own blends of theories.

    Additionally, it is often speculated that Atkinson was a member of an offshoot of the fragmented Golden Dawn (like Fortune was). I couldn’t find any direct evidence for that, but interestingly, his theories fit very well into Hermetic Qabalah in the GD tradition.

  43. Wow, so cool! I didn’t realize I was standing on the site of old man Quimby’s blacksmith shop, buying tractor parts last week.

    You’re writing this history in a way that is giving me an immense amount of insight into the origins of my own worldview – and the conflicts unresolved within. I assume this series is headed for book form eventually. In the meantime – thank you!

  44. John–

    i think others have commented along these lines, but given the connection between mind and body, particularly the focus of our thoughts and our health, it seems to me that the news coverage of That Which Shall Not Be Named (latest: “US Death Toll May Be 28% Higher Than Thought”) is designed to keep us fearful and make us sick. It’s “we’re all gonna die!” repeated over and over again. It makes me sick, but not in that way.

    The trick, I suppose, is finding that balance between simplistic Polyanna-ism on the one hand and cowering under the bed 24/7 on the other. Taking power over one’s life, but at the same time acknowledging that there are limits to that power.

  45. @Lew:

    Nice to know another library person here. I know most of us who hang out here are bookish, but there are quite a few who work in the libraries or bookstores too it seems from the comments…. Especially the one about libraries last year or earlier this year (-covid time blur-) .

    I’m actually a copy cataloger if you want to get nit picky, but I think I could be trained to be a cataloger. I do work in the catalog department. But for my bio on my website, outside of those who work in the field, I figured “cataloger” would suffice. There are some great catalogers here too. I’m just returning to full time work this week.

    I think it is a shame that the position of official “Librarian” is something that requires an MSA. It didn’t used to. This is something people could train for and take in-house or regional classes for as needed and not need a six year degree. I’ve worked in the library going on 21 years and started as a shelver and worked my way up. The next move up would require the degree -but then this position supposedly required a four year degree and I never finished undergraduate college.

    Even though I’m a bit sad to see a huge chunk of free time evaporate now that the Covid-19 staycation is over, I genuinely enjoy working for this institution. As with any other it has its problems, but I feel lucky to be here.

    I’m not familiar with those catalogers you’ve mentioned, but I’ve had a number of good mentors in the library. It sounds like you did as well.

    Reading anything interesting right now?

  46. Two more answers to your challenge:

    From the other blog: the working poor are being offered junk food and soda pop; the affluent are being offered all sorts of freaky and fashionable diets, most of which purport to be healthy. And are not.

    From observation: they are caught up in events they cannot control, and the affluent or ‘enlightened ‘can only put it down to human agency. They have no other explanation for anything short of hurricanes and earthquakes. And the president is a – I use this in its technical sense – a Fool. Channeling Coyote and presiding over Eris. Which gives them an obvious target for their wrath. Which wrath is a cloak for fear, probably terror.

  47. Let’s say that mind and matter run on a continuum, which could be assigned specific zones and names, as are the colors of the rainbow: realms. As they are all existing, anything in any realm will have some effects on adjacent realms, like a magnet in the next room. Can you see it? Not without special effort or equipment, it is however, very real and very ‘there.’
    So are the effects of mind and disease: any mind disease will telegraph down to the body, but any body disease will also attempt to imprint upward into the mind. This is easily seen in breath meditation: you can cause anxiety by breathing wrong, and you can cure anxiety and alter your mind by willfully changing your breath.

    Which is which? There’s no such thing: when there is one, there is the other. Which end of the stick should you handle? Whichever end that works of course: all sticks have two ends, all can be divided into seven parts and painted seven colors. But to lever the mind, ask this: since we are always in contact with pathogens, why does the immune system of some people at some times shrug them off, while at other times and places it succumbs?

    What is an “immune system” anyway? The homeostasis of your system. What system? Well, the physical system, but physical systems only move via *energy* systems, which are only directed by *informational* systems. That is, physical immunity is occurs via electricity, magnetism, your aura, which is directed by spirit, the ‘mind’ system (of God). Since they all exist and they’re all operating, and almost all aspects INCLUDING the physical, are essentially invisible, which end should you “cure”? Both, all, either. They would all work, if used correctly, however, it’s a lot easier in a physical body to direct your will to move physical matter: surgery, drugs, etc, and a lot harder and looser to use energetic and faith healings. However, if the cause is not primarily physical at all – as Phineas was seeing – then physical means have no leverage: it’s like fixing depression using surgery. Possible? Not even now in our present medicine.

    They prettymuch underestimate by a few orders of magnitude the power of mind on matter, which makes them on par with being dead wrong. Can a magnet lift a planet, or does moving a hairpin change gravity throughout the universe? Yes, but… Get a grip. This tells you more that they had moved out of log cabins and weren’t lifting shovels more than anything: anyone who operates against physical matter using hard work gains a special appreciation for how little your mind is worth. Or as they say, “I love work: I can think about it all day.”

    Unless you’re different from me, thinking does not turn shovels. I can, however, heal you: the placebo effect is as effective as many common drugs.

  48. Neptune’s Dolphins.
    Several thoughts.
    I grew up in northern Maine. I am familiar with Belfast in the south. I am curious if the long nights and winters spawned a lot of people to seek the Spirits. I know in my tiny town of 60 people, we were surrounded by darkness and tall pines. It leads to trying make sense of the unseen.

    Shirley McClain in the 1980s did the positive thinking thing. I remember a rebuttal was from a Vietnam veteran, who lost his leg. He said that no matter the positive thinking, his leg wasn’t coming back.

    What New Thought seems to be grounded in is Monism. Where the Creator and the Created are the same. Monism was constructed by Christopher Wolff to counter the mind body problem of Cartesian dualism.

    Last thought, AA and the like tends to replace thinking with slogans. They also seem to frighten people in not leaving. I wonder if other New Thought offshoots ended doing something similar?

  49. Dear JMG,

    If I may, regarding psychogenic illness:

    Looking into my own psychogenic illnesses through my life, I think that a major problem is that people have very little place or capacity for the very normal experiences of sorrow, sadness, melancholia, etc. In most circles I’ve been in people are not allowed to experience simple sadness or grief. Everyone has to be happy all of the time or else people get peevish and angry at the folks who are sad.

    Almost anytime I’ve confessed to sadness in a group of people, they either immediately blame me for thinking the wrong thoughts or basically communicate that I’ve broached a taboo. I’ve seen this in most subcultures in the United States. One thing that I miss the most about the Dionysian subculture of my youth that no longer exists is that there it was okay to not simply be sad, but suicidally depressed. How luminous everyone was, wearing their honest grief without shame!

    Interestingly, casually, one can talk about ongoing decline as long as one stays happy and cheerful. But if one gets honestly sad people get sincerely hostile. I’ve not idea about the casual or psychic mechanism at play here. Perhaps people think if they can amputate sorrow then they won’t have to experience it? Or perhaps people have gotten so sold on “fun” as a value in a consumerist society that they’ve gotten the idea that grief is a positive evil?

    It really strikes me as bizarre: people treat grief and sorrow of any depth with the same sort of insanity that the Victorians had around sex. That is, they act as if it were something that they cannot feel. When people begin to feel sorrow they clench up, start blaming themselves, lash out at others, go to a psychiatrist to get drugged out of it. In my experience, the taboo around grief goes much, much deeper than the taboo around hate. People allow each other to vent hatred in groups all the time, and even turn it into a party game, but social groups have a hard line of policing to cordon off any expression of sorrow with the sure, steady steps of a sleepwalker. It appears to me that people cordon off sorrow from their conscious awareness based upon deep social taboos that are profound and pervasive enough that they need no verbal formulation or conscious understanding.

  50. @Jbird

    “Like with blanking out the original creators of a tradition and changing the accepted narrative; it does make it easier to manipulate and control people, which is becoming more extreme and apparent in political, economic, medical, and social issues, given more power to the elites in today’s society.”

    This made me think of the book I am reading currently, “The new View Over Atlantis’. The author is attempting to lay out the possibility that an ancient civilization geo engineered a global technology based around underground magnetic currents and spiritual principles. There is a fear I think in the scientific community that any acceptance of this possibility, that original creators of an ancient and very advanced technology existed, would cause archaeology Professor’s their dignity and possibly their livelihood. Although both sides would benefit I’m sure from mutual cooperation, I think it’s quite obvious that one side wants complete control of the historical narrative. I guess this kind of research into ley lines and ancient technologies is a direct rebuttal to the myth of progress as outlined by JMG and so in consequence is taboo. I’ve heard that as soon as you start mentioning Atlantis ect your career is over, although I’m not in a scientific field myself.

  51. What is it that we want to talk about but don’t?

    I was going to say death. It is a real conversation killer.
    If you talk about death in the abstract it is not too bad, I have had a few good conversations about “the last supper at Gaia’s banquet” but if it gets specific about say my death or the death of a loved one known to us both…. Silence of the grave.

    But then I thought more about it and it might actually be a bit more basic than that. i really don’t ever have serious conversations about my real fears. I am 55, divorced, no kids and live alone, the thing that really scares me is I will likely be getting seriously ill sometime before I die and I don’t know how I will be able to be my own caregiver. (that fear motivated me to be a relationship that wasn’t right, fortunately that relationship ended for other reasons. And I am doing a much better job of facing my fears, but man talking about it is really tough.)

  52. Regarding the current rise of psychogenic disorders and what causes must not be discussed – I recently read ‘The Mindbody Prescription’ by John Sarno (recommended for anyone with chronic pain). His thesis is that the rise in men with chronic pain – i.e. the opioid epidemic – was due primarily to unexpressed anger, particularly anger at their own families.

    I read the book to deal with a sports injury that just wasn’t improving, and in my case it wasn’t repressed anger but fear – I think in this day and age, feeling fear is completely verboten. Anxiety’s fine, that’s a medical issue, but the ordinary emotion of fear? Not in public. You could trigger someone’s anxiety. The only people I’ve heard admit to feeling fear are veterans, and even then it was about things that scared them in the past rather than anything actually present.

  53. Hopefully John you’ll bear with my reply to Denys on the previous week’s post, about why the death rate was higher in NYC during the height of the outbreak.

    Denys (and others) the primary reason that the death rate was much higher than it is now is that doctors didn’t understand the way that Covid acts in the body. They made the assumption it was a respiratory disease, which was a good guess given the previous SARs and MER type viruses, so in very serious cases they put patients on ventilators. Standard procedure for peumonia, which was showing up.

    Unfortunately it was only partially right. Covid now appears to be primarily a blood disease, which strips iron atoms from the blood cells, inhibiting O2 absorption. This is why a big indicator of Covid infection was seriously low blood O2 levels. For some reason though, it doesn’t seem to affect CO2 expulsion, which is why people felt ok with levels down in the 70s and 80s. Doctors likened it to high altitude sickness.

    Covid also thickens the blood to such an existent that the heart couldn’t pump it, causing heart attacks. Kidney and liver function was also seriously effected. It also causes extreme clotting issues in the lungs, which is one of the reasons pneumonia shows up. The high pressure of the ventilators actually increased lung damage in these cases, while doing little to get O2 into the blood stream. One of the doctors in NYC who posted on a forum I followed from the beginning of the pandemic said that he had nearly a 90% mortality rate when patients went on ventilators.

    It took a bit to understand this, especially the ventilator problem. People died who don’t die now because we know a better way to treat serious cases.

    Though now people who would have died early are surviving longer and we are beginning to see other more serious complications. Covid seems to also affect the nervous system, which is leading to all sorts of other problems from phantom pains, muscle problems and even physiological problems or memory and mood. Lung damage that makes it hard to do day to day physical actions. Other things just as bad.

    It appears now the virus even inhibits cell reproduction to keep the host cell functioning, as well as generating virus laden tentacles on the cell surface which can attach to nearby cells to infect them.

    Its a nasty, nasty illness you don’t want to get.

  54. @JMG oh… That’s a good contender!

    “We have some control over what happens to us, but only within limits, and the universe really, truly does not notice us or care about us: it’s long seemed to me that that’s the foundation for anything approximating sanity.”

    In the same pop psych book: his main research focus is in how to create optimism in depressed people. He is the guy who discovered learned helplessness. They used to think that the problem with depressed people was they incorrectly perceived reality, and themselves, as worse than they are. But a series of experiments (assess how much control people think they have over randomly controlled lights, how good they are at playing new instruments, etc.) find the opposite – depressed people knew they didn’t control the random lamp, sometimes controlled the semi random one, and were garbage at new instruments. “Normal” people knew they controlled everything and were awesome at new things. Oops.

    By our own materialistic definition of sanity – having a grip on how the material world works – healthy people are insane.

    Of course the rub is that those insane people do end up better off, but then do we deliberately cultivate madness? The key was that depressed people won’t try in a world they know they can’t control (learned helplessness) and “normal” people will keep trying until they do actually gain control of the things that we can control, like musical proficiency (his technical book about how much of mental health is controlled by genetics, how much by environment and how much by personal choice/cultural belief is called What You Can Change and What You Can’t. It has not been well marketed, because it has very unpopular conclusions for pharma and a lot of the western model of mental illness, direct from the then – president of the APA). And since the universe doesn’t care whether you think you control the lamp, the lamp just does it’s thing, that doesn’t smack you in the face with failure as much as it could.

    As many commenters have pointed out, the self – appointed political wing of progress and science is full of depressed people. People who know they don’t control what their cultural programming says they do. You can’t control other people, what they think, what nature does, whether you get cancer (entirely); the locus of control is internal not external. This is easier for people whose cultural programming is bent harder to the personal liberty side, now that the evangelical ‘Goddidit for me because we paid him enough’ lens already shattered.

    What could be more madness-inducing for the culture of Material Optimists raised on Deepak Chopra than finding out the world (or your enemy) isn’t dumb and controllable, but intelligent, and still doesn’t care?

  55. @ Viking, JMG

    Re question #3: old and new narratives

    That question brought to mind John’s comment from last week about human consciousness being a membrane connecting the inner and outer worlds, and I wonder if we might not be able to use that construct as model for assisting in the navigation of this time period of conflicting narratives. Consider the two narratives as two distinct worlds, coexisting but not interactive in any direct way, yet which can both be experienced, depending which face of the membrane we’re focusing on.

    Either world could stand in for either narrative, but for purposes of analogy, consider the passing narrative as the physical world and the emerging narrative as the inner world, in that the passing narrative is the one everyone acknowledges as “real,” while the emerging narrative is less regarded, to the extent it is acknowledged at all..

    Then, if we examine how it is that we as human beings navigate the fact of our coexistence in both outer and inner worlds, that might give us some clues as to how to navigate the coexistence in the passing and emerging narratives during this period of time where the two overlap. Further down the road, of course, this will be less necessary as the passing narrative fades into history and emerging narrative expands to dominance (for a time). But that will be well beyond our lifespans, of course.

  56. pixelated said: “Later teachers said that was actually really common, they usually saw it in people with trauma or abuse or serious repressed memories. Certain moves and postures would release it from where it is locked in the body.”

    Hawaiian shamanism, which I study teaches that the heart aspect Ku, roughly corresponding to the body or the subconscious, stores memories in the muscle group active at the time of learning. Memory can be inhibited when that muscle group is tense or under stress. Sometimes if I’ve forgotten where I left my keys or phone, I find I can remember it if I take a moment to do a full body stretch and consciously relax. Kind of like how you get all sorts of resurfacing memories with a good massage.

    Deeper trauma is perhaps under deep tension or stress, even if you don’t realize it and with the more fuller movements of yoga, is then released. The singular focus you have during yoga might leave you unprepared for those memories.

  57. “What is it that people can’t talk about, and can’t bear not talking about? ”

    Is life worth living?

    This is of course the title of a famous essay by William James, the “father of American psychology.” His father, Henry James Sr., was a Swedenborgian.

    This would make a good topic for a thread of its own.

  58. JMG – What can’t we say, or not say? There’s a whole website devoted to “un-denial” of our overpopulation of the Earth and the exhaustion of its resources: un-denial.com. (It’s not a very cheerful place, to be honest.) The most recent posting is a structured taxonomy of cognitive biases, 195 of them, based on the Wikipedia article “List of Cognitive Biases”. And none of them is “denial of unpleasant realities”. Maybe that’s not a “cognitive bias”, but a “cognitive black-out”.

    As we read in an on-line Bible study last night, Ecclesiastes 1:18: “For with much wisdom comes much sorrow;
    the more knowledge, the more grief.”

    This may have inspired the cynical expression: “if you’re not panicking, you probably don’t understand the situation.”

  59. JMG, first, thank you, thank you, thank you!! You have just given me a fantastic set of leads for my currently-stalled story that I’ve been alternately banging my head against and ignoring. I see a potential path forward now!

    Speaking of stories – the week before last, I mailed my short-story collection to you and hope it’s arrived. If not, please let me know and I’ll try again.


    You said to Simon: “The current set of nonspecific psychogenic disorders, though, don’t seem to have extreme sexual repression for their cause. I’d be interested in a discussion of what might be causing them this time around. What is it that people can’t talk about, and can’t bear not talking about?”

    This question led me to ride this little train of thought:

    –The leading cause of death in all but low-income countries is “ischemic heart disease” by a large margin.

    — I recall reading this (paraphrased because I don’t recall the source) sentiment that while perhaps apocryphal may bear some importance: a native (North American) man made a comment to a Euro-descended man that “Songs are all about what we don’t have, yet hope to welcome into our lives. We sing about rain. Your songs are all about love.”

    — “Love,” narrowly defined, is one thing that people can’t bear not talking/singing about – but….

    — If you consider the heart’s more-than-physical functions of being the seat of love (at least in the West, in China, I believe the liver fills that purpose) plus, following Stephen Harrod Buhner’s proposal that the heart is an organ of perception by which it’s possible to deeply connect, emotionally, with the world and that THIS is something modern people have great difficulty talking about because of a) the extent to which we are responsible for heartbreaking destruction and b) the implication that there are ways of knowing that are not centered in the brain and not mechanistically/biologically straightforward and that we’ve studiously ignored what our hearts are telling us…

    well then yeah, there’s a strong case to be made that heart disease and heart failure are “nonspecific psychogenic disorders.”

    And in the elegant way of the universe, this is related to what my stalled-out story is trying to tell…

  60. JMG – Speaking of Job (a book of the Bible, Old Testament), my favorite presentation of it was one that I heard, by accident, near midnight, in a campground. The Grateful Dead had played a show nearby, and a hundred or so Deadheads had pitched tents in the campground for the night. Apparently, someone in the site next to ours had not had a good day (or month?). I couldn’t make out many words, but their tone of voice was anguished. Then the person sharing their tent started out something like this: “The Bible was written a long time, many centuries ago, and in the oldest part of it, there is a story about a man named Job. All kinds of terrible things happened to him.” They went on, in a conversation that I could only half hear, and I drifted back to sleep.

  61. Seahorse, thanks for this.

    Berserker, I’ve got a copy sitting on my get-to shelf, and when things calm down a bit in my professional life, I plan on reading it.

    Helen, fair enough — that’s certainly a possibility. I’m wondering, though, if it’s broader than that — or than any of the other suggestions so far.

    Christophe, one of the reasons I expect to see Freud classed with the phrenologists in due time is precisely that his methods don’t live up to their billing. As the title of a once-famous book has it, “We’ve had a hundred years of psychotherapy and the world’s getting worse.”

    Renaissance, (1) exactly. The power of the mind isn’t unlimited, but it’s real — and health is something it can definitely affect. (2) Hmm! I could see that.

  62. @Yorkshire,

    Orhan Pamuk’s views on these topics have changed in the last 10 years, since he and other “left liberals” finally realised AKP’s real agenda. Pamuk and the like used to be too Pro-Ottoman, Pro-Islam and Anti-Atatürk; but recently they either softened or significantly changed those views and most of them became apolitical due to the shame they felt after their whole narrative had bankrupted. Pamuk’s more recent views are scattered through different interviews, and not in a comprehensive article. I couldn’t find an English version of those interviews (here is one in Turkish: https://tr.sputniknews.com/columnists/201703071027533297-orhan-pamuk-evet-ataturku-begeniyorum/ – in Chrome-like browsers there is an option to translate it into English).

    As for the Turkish left, if we set aside smaller groups that orbit around social-democratic parties like CHP or HDP; we can summarise the views (on Ottomans, Atatürk and Islam, respectively) of the organisations in the main independent current* (like BHH, FKF, TKP, TKH, TİP, ÖDP, Halkevleri etc.) as follows:
    1 – On Ottomans: Since Ottoman Empire had a monarchic and theocratic regime, main Turkish left is strictly against Neo-Ottoman revivalist attempts. On the other hand, these groups have positive views on progressive movements among Ottoman intellectuals like Tanzimat Reformers, Jeunes-Turcs and the early period of Committee of Union and Progress (until CUP became ultra-nationalist after Balkan Wars). There are only a few enlightened Ottoman sultans (like Mehmed II, Selim III, Mahmud II etc.) who were reformists and patrons of arts and sciences; some socialist theoreticians like Yalçın Küçük and Hikmet Kıvılcımlı wrote positive views on these few exceptional sultans.
    2 – On Atatürk: These groups in general respect Atatürk and defend his progressive reforms against the attacks by today’s Islamists, while they admit Atatürk’s limitations and mistakes on Kurdish question and some other minority issues. These mistakes are caused by the bourgeois character of the founding cadre of the Republic. Initially, Atatürk sincerely tried to solve those problems in a peaceful way, but his hands were tied by the ruling classes that he had aligned himself with.
    3 – On Islam: These groups make a distinction between political Islamists (mainly AKP et al.) and ordinary Muslim citizens. They defend secularism (for good reason!) and fight against the Islamist reactionary agenda of AKP, while not offending ordinary Muslim citizens.

    * I’m a member of the youth organisation FKF inside that main current, so my views are a bit biased towards it 🙂

  63. What do we not talk about? Offending people. Being offended used to be called getting your feelings hurt. Someone said something you didn’t like, and then eventually you got over it. Now we’re trying to pass laws and policies based on so much as the possibility that “someone might be offended”. Honestly, who really cares? Nothing particularly dangerous happens when you get offended, and why should you care what other people think of you anyway. We have politicians and celebrities constantly apologizing over things they said that were “potentially offensive”. For once I would love to hear someone come out and say, “You know what? I said what I said, now deal with it.” Remember when we were kids? “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” It seems that somewhere in the 90’s an entire generation forgot that little bit of wisdom, and instead of calling them on it, the previous generation just rolled over and let them start believing that confrontation was evil and we’re all supposed to “just be nice” to one another.

    Now we have terms like “conflict resolution” and “holding space for one another” (whatever that means). Everyone is supposed to be sweet, never say anything controversial, do yoga, and all just get along and “stay positive man”. We’re a culture of nice, comfortable, wimpy people, and it just might be literally making us sick.

    JMG, I remember somewhere you said “hate is the new sex”. Could you foresee at some point groups of young men (or women) getting together in secret to vent their aggression on each other not unlike the movie “Fight Club”? Perhaps something serving a similar function of the sex cults of the Victorian era. Maybe a “hate cult” perhaps.

    On a side note: I spent a good deal of time in the New Age crowd out in California which seems to be the epicenter of the New Age Movement (or was, depending on whether you think the New Age Movement is still alive and well). These were some of the most dishonest human beings I have ever encountered. Everyone was very “positive”, “conscious”, and all about the “love and light”, but underneath it all most of them were on drugs. While at one of these “consciousness raising events” people stole money from the organizers. Most of them were rich Hollywood kids who pretended to be homeless to mooch of one another, so they could go to Burning Man every year. Is it any coincidence that California has become such a symbol of social decline when so many New Age ideas have come from there?

  64. The so-called leftists and liberals are not allowed to express hate. There have been many cases of White “BLM” activists screaming abuse at Black or Asian cops, or male activists screaming at female cops. See a pattern? Ironically, this proves that racism and sexism really are pervasive…among liberals! Hurling abuse at Black police officers is one of the few ways in which they can release their pent up hatred…

  65. Another thing we are not allowed to talk about: that the present climate crisis (or any other crisis) might be a predicament rather than a problem. That is, we can’t solve it. The hysteria around Michael Moore’s recent film is a case in point. Even the Greens want solutions!

  66. Here is a third proposal. Maybe we are not supposed to think about *truth itself*? Hence the hysteria about fake news, post-truth world and conspiracy theory from the very same people who peddle…well, fake news…

  67. Re: your comment about pseudomorphosis two weeks ago, so maybe it’s not too far off topic. Here in Europe, many people feel like we’ve been imitating American fashions for a long time. More like pseudomorphosis the other way around. Or, is it really called pseudomorphosis if you are doing things over there that go back to some of your population’s European ancestry? Wouldn’t the term apply to something like doing yoga in the western world or the like? Correct me if I’m wrong, please, as I haven’t read Spengler…

  68. Scotlyn, exactly. The planes are discrete and not continuous, but there are specific points of connection that link them in certain limited ways. Eliphas Lévi had a lot to say about points of contact between the planes in his books, though he was very evasive about it.

    Ian, delighted to hear it! Yes, that’s how the real work gets done.

    Dishwasher, thanks for this. To phrase it in a somewhat less Buddhist way, the issue that can’t be discussed is the extent to which life in the modern world sucks.

    Marvin, it’s not impossible that the notion that matter does not exist came from Buddhism originally by way of Emerson or one of the other Transcendentalists, since those were favorite reading among New Thought types. As for a spiritual guide to these times, I hope there would be more than one of them, and that they would disagree with one another — one size definitely does not fit all!

    Patricia M, that’s generally a good approach to spiritual teachings. Setting aside the rhetoric, what do they actually teach you to do?

    Mikeymike, seriously cool. Yes, all this is raw material for a popular history of American magic — and you’re most welcome.

    David BTL, of course that’s its intention. What the people doing that don’t realize is that when you saturate a media environment with aversive stimuli, people will tend to shut off the stimuli because it’s too unpleasant to keep watching. Seen the ratings of the mainstream news shows lately?

    Patricia M, two more contenders.

    Jasper, good. Yes, in fact, New Thought was specifically an ideology of the middle classes, and found very little traction among those who still worked with their hands.

    Walt F, so the coronavirus makes your cells turn into Cthulhu. Got it…

    Dolphins, four good points. Yes, one of the occupational hazards of New Thought was the deployment of thoughtstoppers to keep reason and common sense at bay.

    Violet, fascinating. That’s not something I’d noticed particularly, mostly because I tend to be very private about my griefs, but yes, that would explain a lot.

    Yorkshire, that’s like asking “how high is a mountain?” It varies from case to case, of course.

    Skyrider, thanks for this. I think you’re on to something important.

    Greencoat, and thanks for this. I’m beginning to notice the pattern that connects here…

    Pixelated, the poet Robinson Jeffers called his philosophy — the recognition that human beings are not of any importance to the universe — “Inhumanism.” Lovecraft, who had the same recognition but used more adjectives to talk about it, called it “indifferentism.” It probably needs a better name — but one way or another, it’s something the world needs a good strong dose of right about now.

    David BTL, hmm! That’s a fascinating proposal, and one that I’ll be meditating on. (Yes, I take my own advice!)

    Goldenhawk, perhaps, but since that’s a request for a value judgment there will be a different answer for every person who asks the question. One of the best ways to produce nonsense is to confuse facts and values, and treat a question like that as though it can have one right answer.

    Lathechuck, the thing that fascinates me about lists of cognitive biases is that given how widespread and deeply rooted those are, it’s clear that behaving according to those cognitive biases has been an evolutionarily successful strategy. What does that say about our capacity to know the truth about anything?

    Temporaryreality, your timing’s good — I just got back from the post office, and there it was. Many thanks! I’m looking forward to reading it as soon as time permits. As for your train of thought, there’s a second good theme for my future meditations…

    Lathechuck, thanks for this. That’s a great story.

    Ethan, thank you. That was the last piece of the puzzle I needed. Yes, I did indeed talk about hate as our great taboo, as forbidden to us as sex was to the Victorians. Hmm. Now to figure out what to do with the insight…

    Tidlösa, and all three of these circle around the same unmentionable reality. Thank you.

    James, fascinating. Thanks for this.

    Patricia M, and notice that the article zeroes in on the same thing so many of the commenters here have noted: the insistence on the part of “wellness” culture that you must always be happy and smiling and invulnerable. Many thanks for this.

    Admin, Spengler never got around to talking about reverse pseudomorphosis, but it happens fairly often once a culture has finished its creative era and settled into stasis. Europeans aping American fashions belong on the same page as upper-class Roman youths dressing up like Visigoths.

  69. Is it the “inhumanism” that is the unmentionable fact? Ok, I admit I don’t like it! Still, will meditate…

  70. JMG’s answer to Pixelated: The notion that if things go well, it’s because you did everything right, and if they go badly, you must have done something wrong, was critiqued in blistering terms in the Book of Job a couple of thousand years ago and it’s just as stupid now as it was then. We have some control over what happens to us, but only within limits, and the universe really, truly does not notice us or care about us: it’s long seemed to me that that’s the foundation for anything approximating sanity.

    After leaving Evangelical Christianity at the end of 2001, I surfed around for different spiritual ideas and ended up reading quite a bit from the library and bookstores sections roughly categorized as metaphysical/Eastern/New Age/New Thought. I found it quite exciting to study these ideas, some of which I had touched on back in the 80’s before I became wrapped up with the particular Christian church I ended up in for over a decade. I also had problems with the belief that you are totally in control of your life to the extent that if bad things happen, it’s your fault. I used to think “What about the Holocaust? What about abused wives and children? What about the person, loved by everyone and who donates to charity and helps the poor, who is killed when some impaired driver swerves into their lane?” The books didn’t quite word it so strongly in that way, though you could feel that was implied. However, I did find useful ideas when I started reading on Eastern belief systems, especially Taoism. There I picked up on the idea that “the universe really, truly does not notice us or care about us”. I think many people would find this frightening, but I found it freeing. No matter what type of spiritual/mystical/occult reading or practice I’m into at the moment, I keep this in mind, and instead of wishing something out there would save me, I aim to discover the natural ways of the universe and the systems around me both physical and metaphysical, and strive to work within those ways. It also helps to at least be open to the idea of reincarnation, as not having just one life to work all of this out in is also a freeing concept; much healthier than “Oh, I’ve got to find out the One True Saving way before I die, or I’ll burn in hell for eternity!”

    Anyway, thank you JMG for providing us with an opportunity to learn and discuss such topics! I’m always reading, even if I’m not always posting (and I think I set a record for my total amount of posts in the June Open Post!).

    Joy Marie

  71. Archdruid,

    That wouldn’t happen to be the date someone tried to pull the moon down from the sky would it? 😉

    Regards,

    Varun

  72. JMG’s answer to Walt F: so the coronavirus makes your cells turn into Cthulhu.

    I am breathlessly awaiting an announcement from Dr. Fauci that Covid 19 will now be renamed the Cthulhu Virus.

  73. JMG, thanks for the reference to your dreamwidth account and the ongoing discussion there of meat vs vegetarian diet – interesting. The theme reminds me somewhat of Ayurveda, which I studied a few years ago and which has some useful recommendations on diet and lifestyle for staying in balance, or returning to balance. For example, for people with Vata dosha, the ones most likely to have problems with becoming ungrounded, a diet of more grounding foods is recommended (meat, fish, dairy, nuts, seeds, root vegetables). Which got me wondering whether or when there might have been vedic influence on the development of the occult scene in the US?

  74. Skyrider,
    Becoming over-involved with someone who is really wrong for us almost always ends in tears. However, slowly building our own community of people who will become friends and who will support us in need and whom we will also support is always worth while. We do not have to see everything the same way. We just need to be interested in each other, not too insistent on having our way and be happy to go to our own homes at the end of the day. I hope the future brings the people you need, not just in the sense of using them of course.

  75. @Greencoat… that certainly rings true. Since starting occult practice, I have managed to work my way out of most of a family legacy of anger issues, but this “bad cold” business (as we call it in my family to the children) manages to bring it back up to wrestle with when I encounter the overly fearful people.

    I keep wanting to scream at them “If you’re afraid to come out of your house in a region with no cases because you just realised you have a slight non-zero (statistically by my age group… 0.2%) chance of death if it does come here, YOU ARE AFRAID OF LIFE. LIFE IS NOT SAFE.” Their kids are more likely to die on the highway in their great honking SUV or from food poisoning from the Costo bagged salad, but they still thought they were exceedingly excellent people for putting their family’s “well being” first by getting the biggest murder-mobile and not letting let their kids climb trees or into the wrong school… that always enraged me as an environmentally conscious person who valued my independent childhood… it’s the same anger button. I fear those people to the depth of my bones because their quest for what they think of as safety destroys what I think of as my safety, and the biome’s safety – to be able to not be run over while walking or biking, to let my kids play in the park like I did without having social services called on me… to breathe healthy air and not have to live through climate collapse…

    Some of us fear that we don’t have the complete control that we wanted/expected, and others of us fear that we will be controlled. There is a third category… I want to call it fear of being feared… but that’s not quite it. I noticed it in the men in my family. I bet it’s not just them, but a common issue for men now. They were never anything other than just angry. Yell. Punch a wall, maybe. But never hurt someone – but when they’d get angry, and people would cower and react in fear, that always amped up the anger “How dare you be afraid of me? I haven’t hurt you! I haven’t done anything to you!”. Which doesn’t help, and then the police are called, people stop inviting you to the family get together…Once an uncle was so enraged that another family member wouldn’t get in his car because he’d had a single beer, and he wasn’t drunk, how dare she! So he followed her home and then got out to yell at here about how not dangerously drunk he was because he was able to follow her safely through traffic for 45 minutes. Sure convinced her he was in his right mind! No… it’s all the same… maybe,..

    Fear of not being safe – and that includes our actual selves not being safe from… ourselves. I am not safe from you, and you are not safe from me. We are life, and life is not safe. To take advantage of a sweet comic book quote opportunity… “I’m not locked in here with you! You’re locked in here with me!” But I’m also locked in here with me.

  76. @JMG – the ratings of mainstream news is probably about the same as the masochists’ websites.

  77. addendum: and that’s why “anxiety” is okay to talk about, but “fear” isn’t. Fear is a perfectly normal response to an actual valid threat. Anxiety is fear in an abnormal degree or situation. We aren’t allowed to admit that there IS lack of safety, there IS anything to fear. Oh, that’s just anxiety. We’re all friends here. This is fine.

  78. “What is it that people can’t talk about, and can’t bear not talking about?”

    I heard a story which is probably apocryphal: an American and a Chinese are having a heated discussion about the merits of their respective political systems.

    The American says: “At least I can criticise my President in public.”

    The Chinese responds: “Yes, but can you praise him?”

    So, we can’t stop criticising the world and we can’t bear to praise it? Why would that be?

    My theory: we live lives of extraordinary luxury and abundance but we don’t feel that we deserve those things because we haven’t worked for them. This is especially true of the salary class where most people feel that the real value created by their work is minimal but they get paid ridiculous sums of money. Meanwhile, a nurse, a teacher, a farmer get paid a pittance in comparison.

    This is one area where I think Marx was onto something. We are alienated from our work. We don’t know how to give it meaning. We don’t know how to appreciate it properly. And maybe deep down we are scared at what we would find if we tried to appreciate it. If there was some ceremony for this thing we had just created, wouldn’t everybody stand around and say “is that all?”

    The peasants in medieval France could stand there and look on Chartes Cathedral and say with pride “I helped build that”. Could we do the same?

  79. Regarding ‘cognitive biases’ and fertility, regardless of ethnicity, among Americans, the strongest predictor of fertility is religion. The data is especially striking with white and black Americans, where there is little immigration to confound the results. On average, white and black Americans are reproducing at slightly over replacement rates, but in reality it is the religious who are doing the reproducing. The data suggests the same for Hispanics, but because so much of the Hispanic population are immigrants or the descendants of such, it is harder to draw conclusions.

    The universe may not have eyes, but it sure can laugh – belief in Darwin’s ideas being profoundly anti-Darwinian is a cosmic irony worthy of an immortal being with tentacles.

  80. addendum 2: (I’m sorry! But clearly not sorry enough! Get your own blog, Pixel!) And that’s why a white man can scream at a black woman in a police uniform about racial justice with no sense of irony: for now, victim=unsafe from everyone else, safe for everything else, while abuser/priviliged =safe from everything, unsafe to everyone. The illusion of someone who embodies the safe – the tame – has to exist, so all the unsafety – the bad thoughts, bad acts, have to be located in someone else’s body. If I can put on the victim role as Protestor, Woman, whatever, then I am a Safe Person. My thoughts and actions are safe, by definition, no need to fear what I could do, what I could become, what harm I do by living. Which means you, Police, Man, Capitalist, whatever… are unsafe to me, but I am now literally incapable of harming you – doxx you, ruin your marriage, throw a brick at your head. Water off a ducks back. (So how dare you fear ME?! I can’t harm you! I didn’t do anything to you!)

    And hence contagion is the shape of the Destroyer we choose (better than the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, I guess). An invisible miasma of unsafety for people who have to gaslight themselves the hardest every day to pretend this place is safe – it could be in anyone, now. Black, white, woman, man. Maybe it can’t even be detected reliably! Maybe you can transmit it without ever having symptoms! Maybe it will invisibly damage your organs even if you never knew you had it! Your cells aren’t even safe from themselves! Unsaaaafe!

    And it definitely ties into the unmeat conversation, and the lengths people will go to avoid eating meat to reduce their harm to the environment, themselves, whatever they want to keep safe – while being able to ignore (or go nuts trying to ignore unsuccessfully) the unsafety that comes with that choice.

  81. Late to the party, but I am seeing the same things related things we can’t talk about: we are not supposed to make anyone feel uncomfortable nor offend them, which leaves us unable to talk about all that we want and need to: our fears, when we disagree, that we are being lied to, our anger at those trying to indoctrinate us, that we have created problems that we now can’t solve, that we need to forgive people who hurt us while acknowledging that we need forgiveness in turn, that our world is not black and white but more complex, that things are not as we think they should be, and most of all, while we control some of our lives there is much more that is out of our control.

    But there is something else underlying the problem of not being able to make people uncomfortable or offend them. Which is that right now there is a fight for control over who it is okay to offend and who is untouchable. And I think many of us reading this blog fall into groups that are being told we cannot offend, but must suffer offense from others. Pushing back against this narrative can result in punishments that are all too real.

  82. Patricia Matthews, I am almost finished with the preliminary Life Science course from the Order of Essenes. At first I wanted to roll my eyes at parts of it, but I realized I had some bad habits I had to overcome as I was looking for work after a two year hiatus, including some bad self talk, and I took JMG’s advice to heart and read it with the expectation that I could still get something out of it even if I did not agree with everything. It has provided many great themes to meditate on and helped me challenge myself. And it has also surprised me with the exercises (who knew I would have such a hard time smiling at myself in the mirror once a day….). I highly recommend working the exercises and at least thinking through what is being said, even it you don’t accept it all in the end. I plan on going on once I come to the end of the preliminary course.

  83. You mentioned the Book of Job as a corrective. It came to me that The Bacchae has some equally cogent things to say to what’s needed. People need an outlet for the non-respectable emotions within them, and especially people who have been constrained to put on a public face 24/7.

    I’ve often thought every workplace should have a totally private, soundproof room with a door that locks only from the inside, in which anyone could go and have a good cry – or a good screaming fit. Except for the certain knowledge that the bosses – a much less sterile term than “management” – would have a nannycam installed before it ever opened, in order to quickly identify and get rid of those lacking a Positive Mental Attitude. But how many have used their cars for that? I did, back in the day.

  84. Judgement between good and bad choices, particularly lifestyle choices.

    That seems to be one we can’t talk about today at any level less superficial than pineapples on pizza.

    Every adult knows that if you go out and get drunk you’re far more likely to be taken advantage of, but saying so gets you accused of blaming the victim, as an example of choices you can’t judge.

  85. My great-grandmother was a Christian Scientist. She had severe rheumatoid arthritis, for which modern standard medicine still has no good treatments. She was crippled with it, but I’m told MBE’s teachings helped her cope with the pain.

  86. Great! I’m glad it arrived.

    And, I’m more than happy to reciprocate with the meditation topic, given how many times you’ve provided them for me, not to mention the very technique itself. 😉

  87. @ Justin Patrick Moore – I was in the same position, as you. Never finished my undergrad. Was the 60’s you know 🙂 . But, I took a lot of on-line classes from the U of Maine. On my own dime. Because I was working in a lot of rural branches. Sometimes, as building head … well, when there’s only two employees … 🙂 . So, I took Children’s Lit, YA Lit, and several reference classes. Those rural branches were my favorite. Theoretically, I was an on-call clerical. 5 counties, 27 branches. When I worked the large, urban libraries, it was mostly “check ’em in and check ’em out. In the rural branches, there was all that, but also, reader’s advisory and reference.

    I don’t know if it’s still the case, but U of M had AA’s in library science (two year degree) and also a BA program. Also, they did not (at that time. Now?) charge out of state fees for on-line classes.

    So, do you spend a lot of time cleaning up OCLC mistakes? 🙂 . I’d often send back new books to our cataloging department, with a note, “Take a look at this. Doesn’t seem right.” I once ran across a librarian who had worked for OCLC in management for a few years. She had some eye opening tales.

    When I was taking the cataloging class, the teacher asked what a primary character facet of a good cataloguer is. I answered, “Anal Retentive?” Correct! Give the man a cigar. 🙂 .

    What I’m reading now: “Book Love” (Tung, n.d. but it’s new). Actually, a small precious book of cartoons. “Uther” (Whyte, 2000). Part of his Camulod series, about the end of Roman Britain and Arthur. I also have a new book about the flu of 1918, “in transit”. But, it seems to have disappeared along the way. I put it on hold months before the recent unpleasantness.

    I do hope Mr. Greer doesn’t mind us highjacking his blog for a side conversation. If so, I will desist. Lew

  88. Tidlösa, nope, but by all means meditate!

    Joy Marie, thank you. I also find the thought that the universe does not notice my existence, much less care about it, incredibly liberating. What a petty universe it would be if it had to concern itself with the antics of our absurd little species on the damp film covering the orbiting rock we call Earth!

    Varun, good. That’s the day two books were published, one in Boston and one in San Francisco, and launched an era in pop-culture religion — an era that’s winding to a close right now.

    Joy Marie, nah, he’d only say that if his friends in the pharmaceutical industry could slap a patent on Cthulhu and make obscene amounts of money off the Great Old One.

    Mark, as far as I know, no, nobody in the American occult scene knew a thing about ayurveda until quite recently. My guess is that American occultists noticed the same thing that ayurvedic healers did!

    Patricia M, I suspect it’s the same people going to both!

    Simon, interesting. Thank you for this; definitely something to ponder there.

    Justin, one of the things I find uncomfortably compelling about the eldritch deities of the Cthulhu mythos is precisely the fact that the universe has the morbid sense of humor you’d expect from Cthulhu, Hastur, et al…

    BoulderLovin Cat, thanks for this. Yes, the unmentionable power dynamic — the privilege that comes from claiming to be underprivileged — is also a huge issue.

    Patricia M, an excellent point!

    Methylethyl, that doesn’t surprise me at all. The cases that make me wince are the ones where the pain could have been treated effectively by medical or alternative means.

  89. Violet wrote, “How luminous everyone was, wearing their honest grief without shame!”

    That could easily be a description of Jane Yolen’s book “Cards of Grief”. In it, Yolen created a civilization centered around grieving, one in which the appropriate response to “May your lines of grieving be long,” is “May your time of dying be short.” Rather than seeming macabre or morose, it comes across as deeply vital and luminous, reflecting something our culture has discarded and denied. If you have not read it, I highly recommend “Cards of Grief” as a celebration of sorrow.

    When I read it in my twenties, it helped me to see how utterly arbitrary our cultural obsessions are and how different our lives can be simply by attending to another set of values. Perhaps Yolen’s book is part of the reason I was drawn to Balinese culture, where multiple weeks of a full village’s work get sent up in smoke from a cremation fire ensuring the proper deification of a beloved ancestor. And a rollicking good time gets had by all! “May the roofs of your cremation tower be many.” “May your smoke please the gods.”

  90. @ Ian Duncombe, frankly I am skeptical of all things Atlantean, but I also know how determined scientists are to ignore or actively quash anything that is not acceptable or expected. The reverse is also true. “Evidence” for expected results are uncritically accepted.

    Piltdown Man and Raymond Dart and his Taung Baby are two notorious examples in anthropology. The first was an easily verifiable hoax, which was used to attack Dart’s legitimate find.

    Then there is the fact that the first written and printed news story about the Wright Brothers’ airplane was in a beekeeper’s magazine and catalog by the owner because he saw some flights. Reporters had filed stories earlier, but they were rejected, and the editors would threaten to fire them if they tried again. Because it could not be true.

    If inconvenient solid evidence is found, don’t worry about it being not rejected. The Atlantans themselves could appear in Times Square in an anti gravity palace and it would be rejected as a hoax.

  91. “One thing I’d point out, though, is that Vipassana and its offshoots — “Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction” is one of those — are actually not well suited to deal with these issues, precisely because all they do is reduce stress a little. They don’t deal with the underlying issues which, as New Thought points out, are very often a matter of attitudes and beliefs that don’t work.”

    I have to disagree with you JMG through practice. Vipassana meditation deals with the underlying issues by clearing away the fog of mind that clouds over them. Meditation unwinds the habits of mind and thought, and when the chattering monkey mind quiets down, insight and revelation into the underlying issues follow.

  92. Yes. Another way to look at it, that would be consistent with the monist Mind approach, but also acknowledge true limits, would be to say that the material world we encounter is made of thoughts that are in Someone Else’s Mind, which is why they are not be amenable to us “getting our minds right”. Also, the social world resists us (as we are all very aware of just now) inasmuch as most of it is contained within the minds of other people, despite our participation in it and the way it influences us.

  93. Pixelated – please do get a blog. You have wrassled with some really interesting ideas there about safety. Also about the fetish of the Victim.

    (I’ve always thought this fetish is one of the things that messes with rape trials and prevents them from functioning as they need to – the idea that a rape victim has to be a “Victim ™” – absolutely pure, absolutely harmless, and often, in a rare Victorian throwback, absolutely uninterested in sex. Women who do not match “Victim ™’s” outline do get raped, of course. But they rarely gain convictions in a court twisted from judge to jury with this need to see in her the embodiment of the true “Victim ™” archetype.)

  94. Minervaphilos, the way I understand it, one of the worst unintended consequences of Ataturk’s reforms came from suppressing the relatively laid-back and easy-going Sufis. That cleared the way for authoritarian Islamists to fill the gap decades later. Is that accurate?

  95. I’m getting a kick out of your history lessons! When I get a little time I’m going to have to check out the link you provided.
    I have and know many others who have an ailment mainstream medicine refuses even to acknowledge, which means we have to treat ourselves in whatever way we can, and one of the most important is harnessing mind over matter, since that is within the sphere we can control. This ties in well with energy medicine techniques that work via the meridians, and many of us have taken up one form of that or another and found it of great help.
    I have heard people take this to mean that “it is all in your head,” and a certain amount of psychological research has been performed to try to prove that we are imagining our condition (that electromagnetic waves cause us physical distress). No, it’s just God granting us the ability to change the things we can and accept the things we cannot change.

  96. Re things we can’t talk about

    Others may have mentioned this one, but: limits, particularly limits to technological complexity, but also limits generally. But this is, of course, a core element of the narrative of Progress.

    There was no Midwest Energy Fair this summer b/c of you-know-what, but I’m seriously considering proposing a workshop for the 2021 Fair on ecospirituality and limits, using my experiences and path over the last six or seven years particularly as a vehicle to explore the benefits of acknowledging and working with such things.

  97. As for the thing that people won’t talk about some of the comments so far made me think that loneliness is a contributing factor. Even in a crowd, people are alone with their devices. But being alone and without the distractions of electronic devices and a person may suddenly realize they will die alone in a universe that is completely indifferent. We seem to have lost the capacity for the kind social interactions that feed the soul and make it tolerable to die alone with grace or even to live alone without despair or share to your griefs with a caring person who will just listen.

    Maybe these rioters feel brotherhood while they are protesting and breaking things up. Maybe they get some positive sustenance from their experiences but there doesn’t seem to be much sense of community behind these riots, not like during the civil rights era. So to me it appears to be a desperate ploy by the rioters for something to create community and relieve the void of their loneliness.

  98. Hi John Michael,

    Thanks for the history and you live in a country with a colourful history.

    I’m curious about the New Thought folks at what they earned from their belief of matter being irrelevant and that somehow right thinking produced right results? It seems to me like a worldview that is set for failure. But then I guess there is a lot of provisional living going on all about me right now, so do you believe that it falls in the same category?

    Whatever else you can say, the group sure tapped into some deep human need.

    Of course, as they say: Talk does not cook the rice!

    Cheers

    Chris

  99. My $.02 here, having had an insight this morning into what the non-lunatic left – the ones who feel it’s their *civic duty* to be out there protesting – like my quiet, gentle, deeply religious brother, who has aged out of it, and like my local daughter, and some other friends – think they’re doing, and what it has become.

    They think they’re finishing the job that was left undone 150 years ago, and cleaning up the last of slavery’s garbage. The Reconstruction done right, for the good of all.

    What it has become on that front is the Second Civil War, in the form of J.D. Robb’s Urban Wars. In her sf/near future police procedural “In Death” series, which presents the sort of postwar future you’d expect in the Long Descent – real coffee and meat are luxuries for the rich, for instance, but people are still going about their business and enjoying life – she postulates a war fought in the cities by several contending factions, with a lot of brutality and damage, having already started but not recognized.

    Today’s protests and riots are taking place in the cities; the violence on both sides are overwhelming the peacefulness of the non-lunatic protesters, and whether or not it amounts to a hill of beans to the rest of the nation (unproven), that’s what’s happening on that front.

    Personal update and possible context: I spent a lot of last night in dreams in which I was, for Part One, under fire in my house from the house to my left, which was full of nasty people. I wasn’t hurt, but those around me were either denying what was happening, or getting in my way of cleaning up the shell casings.

    In the rest, I was a young wizard/special agent, a generic youth of the clever lightweight non-macho variety (Hermes, anyone?) taking the war to the attackers. That lasted most of the night. And I am not and never have been any sort of a warrior; and war dreams are totally foreign to me.

    At the end of Part One, I had the sense to ask if it was coming from me, from my reading, or from the outside. No answer. So I called frantically for a deity whose job was protection, and in the morning meditation, got Minerva, Goddess of wisdom, scholars, and teachers – who will defend her city if need be. There is a mini-shrine to her in the east even now, with the apple she said was an acceptable offering.

  100. In Stephen Donaldson’s otherwise pretty pedestrian fantasy series of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, the main character is a leper who has lost all feeling and is isolated in his world. During a traffic accident, he is transported to another world, The Land, where all the inhabitants can feel the health or illness of the world itself. I wanted desperately to be a part of such a world, one in which my connection to the whole was real and true and meaningful.

    I think the thing we want so very much to talk about is our profound, self-inflicted alienation from the Earth. Being orphaned hurts. And we don’t want to talk about our crimes of attempted patricide and matricide. We pretend that living comfortable, superficial lives is enough, and try to ignore the yawning chasm of emptiness within that our alienation has created.

    E.O. Wilson coined the term biophilia to describe our natural bond with the living systems of the earth. I know it’s real, but I think for too many of us, it’s a dream as well as a nightmare.

    Many thanks for this space in which to think.

  101. @skyrider @JMG

    “the thing that really scares me is I will likely be getting seriously ill sometime before I die and I don’t know how I will be able to be my own caregiver”

    “i really don’t ever have serious conversations about my real fears. I am 55 (I am 69), divorced (widowed), no kids and live alone, the thing that really scares me is I will likely be getting seriously ill (I have COPD) sometime before I die and I don’t know how I will be able to be my own caregiver….”

    Many thanks skyrider for sharing this; after being caregiver for my wife during her recent passing from cancer (my first “live” experience with death), this has given me many sleepless nights. At least now I can acknowledge my fears; that is a beginning.

    JMG, I am so grateful to be part of this family you have gathered; truly an oasis

  102. Just imagine if Norman Vincent Peale’s take on New Thought had been the dominant one.

    Currently reading his book and find them very interesting.

  103. Justin – I think you might be on to something there. While growing up in the mainstream Americanized church I would sometimes hear people imply that God hates homosexuality because gays don’t reproduce (which is absolutely absurd of course). But, perhaps there is some kind of ironic joke to the idea that the Universe cares little for New York City liberals because they don’t (on average) reproduce. Cue maniacal laughter…

    On a serious note though, I just finished George Friedman’s new book “Storm Before the Calm” where he says that the people who will genuinely change political landscape of this country will not be the people who voted for Trump, nor will it be the current far-left Millenial generation. It will be the children of the people who voted for Trump, 2nd generation Hispanics, and inner city blacks who are children and teenagers right now. Considering the fact that the parents of these three demographics are for the most part the ones you mentioned who have higher birth rates and tend to be more religious, it makes sense that in the next few decades their children will by default be the ones who hold the reigns of power in this country. It seems that when democracy is a numbers game, over time, power will eventually go to those who’s lifestyle and worldview encourages increasing in numbers. Hmm…

  104. I read “Dark Star Rising” by Gary Lachman who goes into how Trump was exposed to New Thought through Norman Vincent Peale. That Trump and the Right magic types employ New Thought. I do know that Peale influenced a lot of people such as Robert Schumer of the Crystal Cathedral with the idea of Positive Thinking. I wonder if the Prosperity Gospel that is preached by Joel Olstein is also an off-shoot of Peale’s ideas.

    Would Peale be the spreader of New Thought in the 20th Century?

    Back to Lachman, I wonder if the Magic Resistance and Neopaganism in general are off shoots of New Thought or heavily influenced by it. I do know of a group of “experienced feminist witches” who are doing an eclipse working (July 4) to punish Trump for the crimes he has committed (in their view). They are putting pins into a Trump doll and calling upon selected Gods (who have little to do with justice) to do their bidding. I wonder how much of that is “if you think it, you believe it, it will happen.” That as Shirley McClain said and other New Age types believe – “you create your own reality.” You are responsible for what happens. The subtext is that “you are powerful and your mind can change things.” I wonder if that is what is going on with these people.

    How much does New Thought permeate the modern spiritual communities – i.e. we are spiritual and not religious groups. (FWIW, I see religious and spiritual to be the same thing.)

  105. OT: personal metaphysical question. after breakfast and a cold shower, I am still feeling quite drained of energy, but not depressed in mood, and not sleepy, this morning. I don’t feel any particular food cravings except for ice cold water – not sweets for energy nor meat for grounding. Is this to be expected after last night? And exactly what did happen? For good or ill.

  106. I was thinking of getting a “Cthulu for President” bumper sticker, but am kind of afraid because I might be accused of supporting the work of a racist.

    JMG: I also find the thought that the universe does not notice my existence, much less care about it, incredibly liberating.

    Is it possible the thing everyone is afraid of facing is that the Universe, God, the Higher Powers, etc. really do not care about us? I know a lot of liberals and leftists love to quote “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice” and if you challenged that would argue vehemently that it must be true, “Martin Luther King said so, and before him Theodore Parker!” I understand King and others of the Civil Rights movement quoting it, as it gives hope; but it’s better for hope to be based on what is really working in the world and not on some thought-stopping platitude. But as Pixelated pointed out, people are afraid we don’t have complete control of our lives, much less the control of others.

    Pixelated said: …YOU ARE AFRAID OF LIFE. LIFE IS NOT SAFE’

    More people (especially on the liberal/leftist side of society) need to be told “Life isn’t safe; you can do all you reasonably can to protect yourself and others, but if you go too far you still are not any safer, and instead are stomping out the joy and freedom in life” but I have a feeling that most won’t listen. They are afraid of such a thought. That’s what started making my head spin, and realize that I’m more of an “old” liberal (maybe what some call a “Classical liberal”)and not whatever liberalism is morphing into now. I think I really have to find a new term to call myself!

    Joy Marie

  107. @Lew:

    Yes, I edit OCLC records most of the day when I’m at work. I’ve done a few originals and had them checked by the catalogers above me, and had a few that I did that they uploaded to OCLC. Yet, I can’t edit the records inside OCLC…

    When I got the library to buy the Weird of Hali series I was able to really enhance the subject headings on all of those books, and get them to be more in line with what they are actually about, so hopefully some people will find them that way. I try to do that as much as I can where and when appropriate.

    Now my wife would not say I’m very detail oriented -except when it comes to something I’m interested in- and with the majority of things it can get kind of repetitive as I’m sure you know, but that type of work over all suits me very well. So I’m happy to be a part of the catalog team.

    I’m familiar with the Jack Whyte books on the Arthurian legends, but I’ve not read them. Thought about picking them up from the thrift store a few times but I’ve not. I really did like Stephen Lawhead’s Pendragon cycle of books, and his take on Robin Hood. I’d hazard the guess that he is a Christian Druid… It’s clear he is Christian, and if you read the books, you’d have to think he is a Christian Druid though he never says so. The other book of cartoons sounds fun!

    If you want to geek out some more on library stuff off the comments here, or whatever else may come up, you can send me a note via the contact form on my website here as I prefer not to post my email address directly. The contact form is below the sign up form for my monthly email newsletter, Seeds from Sirius.:

    http://www.sothismedias.com/seeds-from-sirius.html

    I’m enjoying our conversation and would like to continue it!

    @ALL:

    Now for a quick plug for Seeds from Sirius, my monthly newsletter, since I’m posting the link to that here above:

    It is my hope that the monthly newsletter will become a print newsletter at some point. I have sent out five email letters and have done one print zine version that I circulated through American Amateur Press Association, and also through the Freedom APA so far. Making zines is a bit time consuming though, so I’m not sure how often those will come out. I hope to do quarterly or at least bi-annual version, that is in turn slightly different than the emails. Getting back into the zine scene is one of the ways I am trying to set up offline communications networks and practicing the maxim of”collapse now before the rush”.

    Besides collating links to shortwave and FM radio stuff I do, the email newsletter also rounds up any articles I’ve written in the month, and I have content that is exclusive to the newsletter itself. The original content is usually in a humorous-magical-occult vein. Think Church of Subgenius & Discordianism & Robert Anton Wilson type material with a strong dollop of articles by made up characters that I use also on the radio shows I do (as was inspired by Don Joyce and Negativland). So I would say there is a Sirius element, but also some levity.

    Here is a description:

    “The Sothis Medias newsletter, Seeds from Sirius, is your chance to be entertained and informed while staying abreast of the new developments being cooked up inside the library and laboratory at our research center. This format allows us to approach you with concepts that do not necessarily fit within the scope of our other Media outlets. With these dreamed, found, salvaged and retrofitted briefings, we hope to give readers recondite access to what we have been researching, listening too, reading and thinking. Some material will be provided by our Celestial Intelligence Agents out in the field. Each transmission will include the astral seed-form-patterns of what we have been building. We hope these seeds will inspire new ideas and provide an overall benefit to your day, bringing the stellar light of Sirius into your inbox with each epistolary missive. We encourage you to stay tuned-in to the work of Sothis Medias by subscribing to Seeds from Sirius today.”

    Previous email newsletters can be looked at here if anyone is curious about Seeds from Sirius:

    https://us4.campaign-archive.com/home/?u=f03f0589bcfd6069cf134031c&id=7219201c01

    @ALL again: I also just wanted to give a quick plug too for the Order of Essenes course JMG linked to at the end of this weeks article. I am currently going through it myself and am a bit more than halfway through the second series of weekly instructions. It has been very beneficial to my daily life in general and also a boon to the projects I’ve been and continue to work on. I recommend it to anyone who is at all interested in doing some New Thought work.

  108. Hmm, several good responses to the question of what is ailing our psyches. As the resident conspiracy theorist, I have watched a couple of documentaries about, for example, CIA being involved in the entertainment industry and even the music industry. Mind control techniques used by social media.
    My conclusion is stay away from social media. It is poison. Stay away from mainstream news. It is lies and poison. Half of movies and TV shows are poison. Much of it is aimed at our subconscious minds. Aimed at emotions and bypass the thinking mind. And c’mon, stop being so PC and take notice of how unwholesome a lot of it is.
    It adds up to a weight of hopelessness, helplessness and fear.
    Mostly bunk anyway.
    We are simply overloaded, our threshholds are breached. We can’t take anymore but they dish it out.
    Turn away.

  109. Whatever’s causing the nuttiness, it’s not unique to the U.S. Last week in Scotland, a statue of medieval King Robert Bruce was vandalized. The vandals thought his majesty was racist. 🙄

    Hoot, mon, yon Social Justice Warriors be mad as a March hare!

  110. Dear JMG, especially when I was younger I was extremely labile and also I tend towards being extremely expressive. People always got mad at picking up when I was sad, and usually when they picked up on it they got angry in short order and told me I was not allowed to feel that way. This is part of the reason I think that this particular taboo accounts for so much: I’ve been in plenty of spaces where people sit around indulging in hatred, anger, and fear. People turn that into a party game all the time, and indulge in it pretty freely, at least in my experience. Whenever there’s a space where people can nominally express themselves fully and someone expresses sorrow, everyone else starts looking around with the attitude of “when will this person stop?” the longer the person continues in their honest sorrow, the more malicious the people around them get.

    I have no idea what’s going on with all of that, but it seems that people police each other’s grief with a sinister zeal, which means inevitably that they police their own. Not merely in the sense of self-control and continence, rather, in the sense of splitting the self in two as to not experience it. When I’ve had the greatest sickness, often I had this sort of disassociation present as regarding my own internal experience of grief, and it often took a process of physical sickness, healing and grieving to bring myself back into wholeness.

    Dear Christophe, that’s a very good point! I really feel that Sorrow has the same touch of the Sacred as does Sex, and when people rock Sorrow without shame and with the full depth of their souls they can become — to my eye at least — as beautiful in their own way as those filled with the touch of Eros, fairest of the gods.

  111. Scotlyn wrote:

    “But also, the fact that you cannot move anyone ELSE’s hand with your mind, should have also signalled the limitation of powers centuries ago, too.”

    I think I know what you meant, and you’re right about that. But what you said leaves room for a tiny bit of wiggling.

    There are indeed subtle methods, well known to 19th century mesmerists and still used by some stage magicians, that can make a person’s hand to move in accord with another person’s will, no matter what resistance the subject may consciously offer. (It can be really scary to find oneself the subject of such an experiment.)

    Without going into too much detail here, most interpersonal communication between any two people happens below their conscious awareness, and does not involve workd or other overt symbols. Subtle operators can put other people in rapport with themselves, thereby enhancing the power of the channels of communication between them. Once that has been accomplished, an operator can direct another person’s thoughts toward moving his hand as the operator desires. (Often this involves the operator making the desired motion himself, and the subject mimicking what the operator is doing.)

    One of the better handbooks for this and similar techniques is the famous “locked book” by Chandos Leigh Hunt [Wallace], “Private Instructions in the Science and Art of Organic Magnetism” (no date, but from the 1870s). There are PDFs in various places online, including archive.org. It is an utterly fascinating work; the author was not only a profound thinker, but a superb show(wo)man; she was also an early and influential vegetarian.

    The very last exercise given in the book involves what we would now call a decisive act of “power exchange” between operator and subject. IIRC, the operator (Chandos herself, I think is meant here) “magnetizes” her subject to be an even more powerful magnetizer than she is, and then he is instructed to magnetize the operator in turn, placing her under his absolute and irresistable control which she cannot break, try as she will. — I can just imagine how that feat went over when performed on stage in Victorian Britain!

    I count myself very fortunate to have an original copy, complete with the trick lock on the cover to seal the book closed.

  112. I’m not a fan of New Age ideas, but I certainly believe that some sort of philosophical/spiritual revolution is the only thing that can defeat the ideologies of SJWism, consumerism, etc. While a spiritual revolution will not automatically undo the effects of the ecological damage that has been done, some new philosophy, which deals with life in its entirety, and focuses on helping everyone live with dignity, will be needed to help us survive and live through the tough times ahead of us. It certainly won’t be Utopia, but such a philosophy will give us the psychological strength needed to face the consequences of our own anti-ecological actions.

    @JMG
    On a rather irrelevant note (sorry for this), [Deleted by blog editor because it’s irrelevant to this week’s post].

    @onething
    Have you seen the interview of ex-KGB agent Yuri Bezmenov by G. Edward Griffin? There are some parts that Bezmenov is wrong about, but otherwise the interview is worth watching. He accurately predicted the rise of identity politics, SJWism, etc.

  113. Neptunesdolphins wondered whether “the Magic Resistance and Neopaganism in general are off shoots of New Thought or heavily influenced by it.”

    Certainly Wicca/Witchcraft quickly transformed itself in the United States under the strong influence of New Thought; that was one of the things that Starhawk’s “Spiral Dance” did in spades! It was she who first introduced the concepts of “grounding” and “centering” into Witchcraft. Before her, centering was a distinctly New-Thought practice, recommend for example by Lida A. Churchill in her New-Thought primer “The Magic Seven” (1901). (I can’t cite a published early New-Thought source for grounding yet, but I’m virtually certain there is one out there somewhere, and that I’ll track it down eventually.) Those practices were nowhere to be found in Wicca or Witchcraft before her book came out.

    Back when she had still been just Miriam Simos, Starhawk had clearly been exposed to New-Thought ideas. That shouldn’t be surprising, since she was a Californian, and forms of New Thought have been a major component of Californian alternate spirituality ever since the 1880s.

  114. I was thinking about what bothers me about monisms like New Thought’s “all is mind,” and the answer turns out to be, nothing. The problem’s not in the idea, that particular mental model of how we experience reality as informed by the principle. It’s in forgetting that like all ideas, like all mental models, it is less than reality itself. It’s a tool, and a good one, but heaven help you if you’re so enamored of it that you, like infomercial announcers shout, “throw out all your other tools because this is the only one you’ll ever need.”

    Our culture provides us with dozens of phrases and adages that relate to applying a less useful mental model to a particular situation. We speak of mistaking the map for the territory, of every problem looking like a nail, of not seeing the forest for the trees (or conversely, missing what’s right in front of our noses), of blind men and elephants. But instruction on how not to fall into these errors is not only lacking, but often seems outright discouraged. One is expected to pick one view and defend its truth. It’s a cliché of recovery narratives that one has to “reach rock bottom” of failure of some mental model in order to even consider adopting a different one.

    Yes, it actually is possible to address a hole in your roof by means of prayer or purging of bad thoughts. (The bad thoughts that must be changed include e.g. “I dislike having rain falling on me in my living room.”) Just as it’s possible to address a hole in your emotional life by means of manipulating matter. (Matter arranged into an X-Box is one popular approach.) It’s just that, except in cases where one has no other choice, neither is wise and neither will have ideal results.

    What “movement” in the history of occultism has focused on, instead of some shiny new idea to take to absurd extremes and attempt to solve everything with, adeptness in the appreciation and application of a wide variety of narratives, beliefs, mental models, and practices as the vast variety of life experiences requires?

  115. @Yorkshire,

    Not really. In the Western countries, there are some misconceptions about both Sufi orders and Atatürk’s reforms. Let me try to clarify them:

    1- People in the West know only about the touristic face of Sufism, and they think that those Sufi orders are all about music, dancing, love, peace, humanism etc. That is not true at all. At least most of the Turkish Sufi orders are involved in politics (especially Naqshbandi groups) since the 19th century. These groups had a privileged status among Ottoman clerical elite (ulema), and they used that status to legitimise the unpopular policies of Ottoman ruling classes and they were an impediment to all reformisation efforts. They were not “laid back” or “easy going” at all.
    2- Atatürk’s reforms did not target all of the Sufi orders. Some of them (like Malamati, Bektashi, Mevlevi, and Bayrami orders) were okay with the new republic and secularism, so they didn’t face any persecution. Atatürk’s family in Selanik (Thessaloniki) had ties to these orders and he knew that these orders had a progressive outlook, though he was not a member of any of them. So they could survive those reforms.
    3- Most of the political Islamists in today’s Turkey are members of Naqshbandi orders and their offshoots. Those groups did not have any social or political significance until the end of 1960s. They were on the verge of extinction until Turkish bourgeoisie and military rediscovered them and started to use them as a paramilitary force against socialists (in 1970s) and against Kurds (in 1980s and early 90s). During those decades, Naqshbandi type of groups infiltrated to all institutions of the state and they also formed their own sections inside the Turkish bourgeoisie. Now AKP et al. are the products of that process which we can call “Islamisation from above”. This has nothing to do with Atatürk’s reforms. On the contrary, it was caused by Turkish bourgeoisie that became alienated to its own earlier aspirations and betrayed Atatürk’s ideals.

  116. JMG

    I had to laugh when you compared Freudianism to phrenology. That’s about right. A long time ago I was referred to what turned out to be a Freudian therapist (although she wouldn’t say what she was, when asked). It was like talking to the wall – completely useless. I found it hard to believe she thought she was doing any good but I guess Freudian therapists are cult-like in many ways; if the Master says they are transforming the psyche by sitting there saying nothing, then they must be.

    I read a Freudian journal she had contributed to. They all looked down on Jungians because they were followers of the infidel who defied the Master. They seemed oblivious to the fact that Jungian thought turned out to be far more influential in the end. Then again Jung was more open about his belief in occultism. He was an occultist in medical drag which is one of the reasons his theories have not dated the way Freud’s have.

  117. Ethan wrote, “It seems that somewhere in the 90’s an entire generation forgot that little bit of wisdom, and instead of calling them on it, the previous generation just rolled over and let them start believing that confrontation was evil and we’re all supposed to ‘just be nice’ to one another.”
    Yes, except I think it’s the other way around: children were taught this, explicitly, by the adults. An emphasis on keeping children emotionally safe and teaching them to express their feelings and consider those of others–arguably an important project, knowing what happens when feelings are repressed or silenced–has produced not emotionally literate and mature young adults but instead young people who are very preoccupied with how they feel. It’s not “just be nice and avoid conflict,” it’s “express all your feelings and other people should be nice and avoid conflict by doing what it takes to make you feel better.” That’s a bit hyperbolic, but it makes the point. In the extreme, of course, you do get people who live as if how they feel at the moment is the most important thing and are accustomed to having someone or everyone drop everything to attend to them.
    I think we’re seeing the far side of a pendulum swing, the opposite of another bad idea. What might have been a healthy realization that emotions are in fact important, because they give you information and because not knowing what to do with them can mess up your life, somehow turned into the notion that emotions are important and therefore should be expressed fully and responded to by everyone–and that if you’re feeling a bad one, that’s a sign that something’s wrong and needs to be fixed. (And, increasingly, that the whole community is responsible for fixing it.)
    I can see how this happened. I can say from experience (as an educator, counselor, and parent) that when you coach a young person step-by-step through the process of coping with a difficult emotion, it can be very easy to accidentally give them the idea that this is something someone should do for them, rather than something you’re teaching them to do for themselves; the fact that you take the time to care can make it seem like everyone should treat them that way, when in fact it’s the opposite: they need to learn this because no one else is responsible for their feelings. It’s somewhat hard for me to even blame the young people for this. They’ve been raised with this particular emotional language and encouraged to have a pretty distorted sense of proportion about the significance of their feelings. Many seem paralyzed trying to process everything they feel, and in so insane a time I think they’re prone to being completely overwhelmed. I’m afraid we may have really crippled a generation here.
    Of course, the conflation of actual emotional distress–signs that something important iswrong–with feelings like offendedness, frustration, discomfort, disgust is an extension of this… There’s some obsession with the idea of ’emotions as truth,’ it just occurs to me, as if any upsetting emotion is secret evidence of a big, important problem that needs to be exposed. Something very strange and dangerous in the conviction that “your truth,” though it’s uniquely yours, is also “the truth,” the only one you have to engage with, and which everyone else is somehow also required to engage with. Huh.
    Jonathan.

  118. @David

    Limits! There is so much of this! Limits to the amount of energy we can extract, and limits to how long we can extract it are the obvious top of the heap, but that heap is SO much bigger.

    Try saying out loud sometime that there are limits to what you can achieve in your working lifetime. Limits to how much time you can devote to your job and still have a family life. That there are natural boundaries to how old you can be and still reasonably hope to find a decent husband. There are limits to how old you can be and still reasonably expect to have children. Limits to human ingenuity. Limits to how much technology can improve our lives, or substitute for actually living. Limits to how much formal education most of us need. Limits to how much we can abuse our bodies and still recover. Limits to how much we can use our joints, our teeth, our stomachs, our ears, before they fail. Limits to how much we can know. Limits to how much we can find out…

    Be ready to duck and cover when you say it, though.

  119. Also, re: “hate is the new sex”
    I’ve seen it pointed out more than once now the way the approved narrative on race and racism in America is edging closer to the very same paradigm that overtly racist thinkers use in their rhetoric–absolute, essentialist, somewhat mystical. Somewhere Richard Spencer is quoted saying something about how he thinks “woke” white people will be the easiest to turn into white supremacists, since they already see the problen the right way and are just fighting for the wrong side. That seems to be getting truer all the time now.
    Jonathan.

  120. On the topic of “what can be said”” can I suggest that it’s “We’ve all been made fools of”..

    People believe the story of Progress. They believe that they and their societies – all their friends and neighbours, their community leaders and politicians – have been working hard, living the lives we lead, in order to make the world a better place. They know that in the past, their parents’ and grandparents’ generations this was really true: that people’s lives palpably got better, in the way that is still happening in much of China and South-East Asia.

    But, it’s sinking in that people in Western societies, and especially in the the Anglosphere, have been played. They have been working hard and making sacrifices like they were told to, only to see the environment degraded, most people get poorer, and all the profits go to the 1%. They are suckers, and they’re fighting very hard not to have to admit it to themselves (let alone to anybody else). Thy’re starting to ask themselves “How long has this been going on? When did this start?”, and realising it’s been their whole life.

    The current outbreaks of unrest and populism are, I suspect, the signs that large numbers of people are going beyond the self-medication stage of denial to a stage of violent understanding. The Covid-19 behaviours of refusing to wear masks, mass gatherings at beaches, littering on a vast scale, are all symptoms of “well, now I’m just going to do what I want”.

    I don’t think this bodes well.

  121. Hi Justin Patrick Moore,

    “I’m familiar with the Jack Whyte books on the Arthurian legends, but I’ve not read them”

    Mate, do yourself a favour, and take the plunge. 🙂 The literary swim is worth it. One of my favourite series of books.

    Cheers

    Chris

  122. Jonathan (and JMG, I’d love to hear your input on this ) – you touched on something I’ve been thinking about lately. The one thing about “woke” intersectional idealogy that is so glaringly obvious (and I haven’t heard ANYONE point it out. Not even conservatives) is that it is basically eugenic Aryan race philosophy in reverse. The Nazis said, “Yes, whites are indeed privileged. That’s a good thing, and we embrace it”. The SJW left is essentially saying the same thing but that white privilege is evil and we have to crush it. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems like a much shorter conversation to get from white privilege = evil, to, white privilege = inevitable, to, white privilege = YAY! Than it is to try and convince these people there is no such thing as white privilege to begin with.

  123. Dear Violet,

    The taboo against showing grief or sorrow goes very far back in American culture.

    When I was a boy, grown-ups were still singing the very popular 1929 hit song, “Keep your sunny side up, up; Hide the side that gets blue!” (There was a lot of singing within families back then, in the days before TV and even all that much radio. You sang as you did housework or yardwork, or you whistled, or you hummed.)

    Verses of that song include lines such as “If a load of troubles should arrive, laugh and say, It’s great to be alive” and “If you think it’s raining for you, just remember, others are blue.”

    Thirty years earlier, the New-Thought poet, Ella Wheeler Wilcox, published a widely circulated (and somewhat cynical, IMHO) poem, “Solitude.” It begins “Laugh, and the world laughs with you; Weep, and you weep alone.” It continues with such verses as “Rejoice, and men will seek you; Grieve, and they turn and go. ….. Be glad, and your friends are many; Be sad, and you lose them all.”

    And so forth, even farther back in history …

    This was perhaps the most pervasive theme of them all in American culture when I was growing up in the 1940s and 1950s.

  124. @Ethan

    ” Could you foresee at some point groups of young men (or women) getting together in secret to vent their aggression on each other not unlike the movie “Fight Club”? Perhaps something serving a similar function of the sex cults of the Victorian era. Maybe a “hate cult” perhaps.”

    It’s not exactly what you’re describing, bu as a student at a liberal arts university, I have toyed with the idea of starting a “judgement club.” This is both out of contrariness/for amusement and because I and my peers really need practice with expression of honest judgement—I have found myself sometimes unable to actually honestly judge something *within my own head* due to the niceness culture; all peers I described examples of this too said they had also experienced it. I think it would be funny to describe the club as providing a ‘safe space’ for practicing judgement, which is so difficult in our cultural circle.

    I’m not sure how such a club would actually work in practice. Also, it probably would not recieve official and could land me in some socially hostile waters; I do wonder if I could get away with it with very strategic phrasing.

  125. Justin, I understand that that’s the theory, and it may work that way for some people. As a teacher of meditation, though, I’ve seen a very large number of American practitioners for whom that didn’t happen. Instead, the habit of observing thoughts rather than thinking about them reflectively became a major barrier to recognizing the problems with their ideas and attitudes. Now it may well be that this is a function of inept teaching, and especially so of the watered-down versions of Vipassana marketed so heavily to America’s comfortable classes, but I’ve seen it far too often to be willing to dismiss such cases as outliers.

    Scotlyn, that’s another effective way to communicate the same crucial distinction — the recognition that there are things we can shape with our minds, and things we can’t.

    Patricia O, the kind of idiot materialism that insists that if something’s not material than it must be “all in your mind,” and then takes that to mean it doesn’t exist, is one of the crowning stupidities of our time. Of course it’s very convenient for those industries that don’t want to have to pay damages!

    David BTL, I”ll be fascinated to see what kind of response you get to that. I’ve seen audiences go from enthusiastic to frosty in 3.2 seconds on being confronted with the L-word.

    Kay, the existentialists would agree with you! Rioting is loud, it’s busy, and it doesn’t leave you a lot of time to brood and notice how lonely and miserable you are…

    Chris, the emotional payoff from New Thought is a feeling of power, and it’s one that meshes well with provisional living. If you believe that you can shake off all pain and sickness and suffering someday by repeating affirmations or what have you, you get the rush of power now, without having to confront the fact that you still have pain and sickness and suffering here and now.

    Patricia M, hmm! Strange dreams. I wonder if other people are having such dreams these days.

    MizBean, so there’s someone else in the world who remembers Thomas Covenant! Yes, I can see that.

    JeffinWA, the ability to look at one’s feelings honestly, reflect on them, and decide what to do about them is something too many of us have lost these days. It’s worth the labor of recovering!

    Russs, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if that happened in the wake of the Trump phenomenon.

    Neptunesdolphins, I was profoundly disappointed by Lachman’s book. Partly that was because, like almost everyone in the comfortable classes, he scrunched his eyes shut to avoid noticing the issues that actually put Trump into the White House, but partly it was because he missed nearly all of the magic that was being tossed around by both sides in 2016, and went for cheap targets like Julius Evola. The role of chaos magic on the “chans,” among other things, seems to have missed him completely.

    As for the Magic Resistance — oog. I did a series of posts on my Dreamwidth account a while back discussing that whole fandango; the very short form is that the people who were doing it seem to have forgotten everything they ever learned about magic, if they ever learned anything in the first place, and the results were what you would expect. It was par for the course that the day they started doing a working to keep Brett Kavanaugh off the Supreme Court, the last effective resistance to his nomination collapsed and he was approved by vote of the Senate. I’ve come to believe that the total failure of the Magic Resistance is going to play a central role in ending the Neopagan era.

    To your broader question, the answer is “it varies, but there’s a lot of it.” The New Age movement was New Thought warmed over, and a lot of “spiritual but not religious” people are basically quoting P.P. Quimby without knowing it.

    Patricia M, I don’t know. That’s fascinating, though.

    Joy Marie, I think it’s quite possible that the thing nobody wants to think about is that the universe is not interested in playing along with their sense of entitlement! As for the Martin Luther King quote, yeah. In my experience, that’s always spewed out by people who are utterly certain that they know exactly what justice is, and it happens to coincide precisely with those policies that further the crass economic interests of their social class, or the class to which they aspire to belong.

    Onething, conspiracy theory or not, it’s excellent advice. There’s a reason why they call what’s on TV “programming.” Read books, and spend time developing your own creative abilities rather than being a passive consumer of the products of others’ creativity — that’s part of my recipe for a better life.

    Your Kittenship, that’s just insane. The word “racism” no longer means anything at all.

    Violet, thanks for this. Serious meditation fodder there: why are we not supposed to grieve? And for what are we not supposed to grieve?

    Rajat, when I ask you not to do something, please don’t keep trying to do it. Apologizing does not excuse that. Save your off topic comments for the monthly open post, okay?

    Walt, that’s an excellent point. For what it’s worth, the core traditions of Western occultism tend to have a much more balanced approach to problems and their solutions — that’s why they’re the core traditions — and access to a wide range of metaphors and narratives is an important part of that. New Thought, taken as a set of metaphors, found a constructive place in occult practice among some groups — and taken too literally, it became a destructive factor in others.

    Bridge, one of the oddities of Western culture is that thinkers from the German-speaking countries tend to attract cultish groups like that. Freudianism is one; there are people who are just as dogmatic about Jung’s ideas (which is why Jung himself is reported to have said “Thank God I’m not a Jungian”); way too many of the followers of Rudolf Steiner are just as rigidly doctrinaire, and of course we could say quite a bit about Karl Marx! Freud made a couple of really good points that helped a lot of people — specifically, in tracing conversion disorders to sexual repression — and he also had a lot of very bad ideas which have not helped people. I expect him to be all but forgotten in another fifty years.

    Jonathan, of course. Once you insist that the value of a person can be judged by that person’s skin color, you’re a racist, no matter how loudly you insist otherwise.

    Patricia M, just what we need now. Sigh…

    Bogatyr, it doesn’t bode well, but it doesn’t necessarily bode ill. What usually happens is that people discard a dysfunctional set of beliefs, and then go looking for something that offers a clearer view of the world. One of the things I’ve been trying to do all this while is to get certain options out there so that people have the chance to encounter them in that latter search.

    Ethan, there’s an old maxim in occultism that goes, “what you contemplate, you imitate.” The wokesters spend so much time fixated on the idea of white supremacism that it was all but inevitable that they’d end up imitating it — and it’s quite plausible that many of them will complete the process by snapping from one extreme to the other and going full-on Nazi.

  126. Bewilderness – I wasn’t advocating such a club. I think it’s really bad idea actually. I would much rather people learn to freely express their emotions in a mature, healthy manner in front of others and have the courage to be honest.

  127. @Bogatyr,
    I think Confucianism has shielded most of Asia from the worst effects of Progress so far. Society’s expectations of the elite make it harder for them to overstep certain boundaries, and when the time for self-sacrifice comes, the elites have to do their part or the condemnation can be quite serious, even fatal. In China and Southeast Asia, diminishing returns of technological progress have started to set in, but most people are affected only indirectly, so while they are aware of environmental problems arising, they are at the stage where they think a technofix will set it straight again. Those who are directly affected have a much harder time convincing society that changes must be made.
    This plays into the hands of transnational interests quite well. Since these countries fail to protect their own environment, business concerns can move polluting factories there quite profitably.
    Because Science is highly respected, scientists come forward with their concerns, but just like what is happening in the West, confusion is manufactured by citing other research, much of it from the West (I’m speaking of the field in which I have a lot of knowledge, EMF effects, but have heard this tactic applies broadly). The researchers raising concerns are granted respect and the ability to publish their findings in relatively mainstream publications, but of course their voices are drowned out.
    It’s a divide and conquer tactic I’m seeing worldwide. Because they are rewarded for diligence and being rigorously scientific and rational, the most knowledgeable people feel they must distance themselves from anyone who does not apply this approach, and in extreme cases I’m seeing now in Japan, refusing to have any connection at all with religions, including Buddhism which is mostly rational but inclined to help victims, out of fear of being tarred with the “religious nut” brush that was applied early on to the victims by widely publicizing the case of a nutty religious group opposing the imposition of the harmful technology in a picturesque manner. This case is trundled out again each time the victims speak up. This sort of attack leaves the victims in a mess psychologically, giving more credence to the claim that they are just being emotional–a vicious cycle..

  128. Hi Robert,

    Laugh, and the world laughs with you; snore, and you sleep alone.💤

  129. @Bewliderness (I love your net name),
    For what it is worth, Buddhism is quite supportive of judgement (though I don’t know about the current American varieties). They practice compassion but condemn sympathy. We all learn by subjecting ourselves to judgement and being grateful for it. Good luck to you with the Judgement Club! It sounds like fun to me. God gave you two eyes to discern–use ’em!

  130. Somewhere Richard Spencer is quoted saying something about how he thinks “woke” white people will be the easiest to turn into white supremacists, since they already see the problem the right way and are just fighting for the wrong side. That seems to be getting truer all the time now.
    Jonathan.

    Actually, I can see that in large part because they are already racist but are totally projecting that shadow, thus blind to it and thus won’t clean it up.

    I m constantly gobsmacked by the racism I see in the liberal whites. Of course, they are currently anti-white, and I don’t know what will happen with that, but I am talking about the regular kind of racism. What they have is the soft bigotry of low expectations. There’s a guy who has done a couple of videos where he goes to an upscale white area and asks questions about blacks getting ID to vote or how blacks feel about the police and the answers they give are pretty sad. They think blacks don’t have enough intelligence to find the DMV and that they want to get rid of the police.
    Then he goes over to Harlem and asks black people the same questions. They are incredulous. They say of course I have ID, of course I know where the DMV is. They say getting rid of police is a dangerous and crazy idea and “my son wants to be a policeman.” This tells me the whites are out of touch with actual black people.
    They think working class whites are a bunch of Archie Bunkers. But Archie Bunker has moved on, a long time ago. The liberals are living in 1970 and have not dealt with their own ideas of black people. When they promote only black criminals for national attention it gives them the impression that is all black people have to offer. Deep down, this reinforces their racism. In fact, there are many wonderful and articulate black people, but those don’t seem to be of interest.
    The implicit idea is that blacks are children who can’t take responsibility for themselves.

    So many black people are ready to move on but these well meaning whites won’t let them.

    My advice is that love is the answer. Black people, like all people, want love and respect. If we’re to go in a good direction, that is the way to go.
    We all – both races – should stop pretending that black ghetto culture is viable when it isn’t but also showcase black success, not failure.

  131. @Robert Mathiesen,

    In the words of the old blues song (Jimmy Cox, 1923), nobody knows you when you’re down and out…

    ‘Cause no, no, nobody knows you
    When you’re down and out.
    In your pocket, not one penny,
    And as for friends, you don’t have any.
    When you finally get back up on your feet again,
    Everybody wants to be your old long-lost friend.
    Said it’s mighty strange, without a doubt,
    Nobody knows you when you’re down and out.

    Eric Clapton did a really good job with this song.

  132. @Lady Cutekitten of Lolcat,

    So how is Robert the Bruce, King of Scotland and a man who died in 14th century, a racist? They did not really have a concept of race as we understand it now. The identifying categories were nationality, religion, and class and sex.

    Why the heck do some insist on cramming today’s concepts onto a fantasy past? It’s rather like denying reality, whatever it might, because it’s inconvenient. Like the Taung Baby or the Piltdown Man. Or Karl Rove’s saying “we create our own reality.”

    Race and racism, as we modern Westerners understand it, only fully arose in the 17th century. Before that it was nationality, religion, and class. The idea of their being real Black and White races only happened because those who made their living from slavery.

    They wanted to create a category of the other, the less than, the intellectual inferior. Perhaps subhuman as we would understand it. That as opposed to the better in every way Whites. What’s wrong with enslaving “them.” This was used to divide the slaves, lower classes, and the natives from each other while they fought against the ruling class and to eventually to try to fight off the growing abolitionist movement.

    Today, we have internalize this that we cannot conceive otherwise. It is like the Woke or the Evangelicals, or the hard sciences; we’re not being led by our prejudices because we have The Truth and it’s the whole truth.

  133. Saw my copy of The Ecotechnic Future , picked it up, noticed I’ marked and highlighted many of the paragraphs. Here is one great triad I hadn’t highlighted before in Chapter 1. To wit, humans and nature can live without industrial technology. Seems very apt to contemplate just now.

  134. Has anyone else noticed how in much of the left a lot of the rhetoric of the Victorian Era has changed genders? Men are taught that our sexual desires are immoral, and that to so much as talk to an attractive woman is evil; that noticing anyone other than our significant other is the same thing as infidelity; and any effort to discuss the issues of how our lives are troubled is proof we are evil sexists. Hmm….

  135. @Ethan and JMG

    There is a 2012 book, “Whitebound: Nationalists, Antiracists, and the Shared Meanings of Race” that involved a study bringing white nationalists and white antiracists together. It found that in spite of their virulent antagonism, they shared many common assumptions particularly those related to attributing whites with being all-powerful and unchallengeable.

    https://books.google.ca/books/about/White_Bound.html?id=iD5Qn0LvcuYC&source=kp_book_description&redir_esc=y

  136. @Onething, you speak well-documented truth. A lot of people are too aghast at the ramifications of it to acknowledge what’s happening, so they call you names.

  137. I tried meditating on the grief question for a bit, and something interesting occurred to me; what if grief is supposed to be a function of the group, and tightly controlled to not imperil progression of individualism and progress? In American culture, before the mass collectivist era, progress and the rough-and-tough individual were semi-synonymous. Creating a social order which encouraged individualism and go-getter attitudes was the goal, at least that is my read of mainstream American ideology of the 19th and 20th centuries. So, from the perspective of individualist-myth-of-progress thinkers, grief is supposed to be for the group, which acts merely as a sort of utilitarian emotion-remover so that John and Ted can continue to subdue to earth for their own sake. From that the final conclusion is clear; having crippling individual grief which isn’t ritualized in something like a funeral or ceremony for war dead is a giant screw-you to the idea that everyone can be atomized and happy at the same time. I saw a previous commenters talk about alienation from the deep richness of the earth, this seems similar to me in that avoiding the feeling allows one to continue the myth. What is grief but a chthonic and crushing emotion, something emanating from a deep valley in the ground of the soul?

  138. @Scotlyn, @Violet I think there is a link between the refusal to grieve and the refusal to live (obsession with safety). I have never ever ever been able to publicly grieve, it feels far too dangerous. Even when I’ve wanted to at funerals. Like unscrupulous people could steal a piece of your soul if they saw it.

    I read ahead in Cosmic Doctrine yesterday, and in the Law of the Seven Deaths, she repeats that Life is Death and Death is Life many times. I think that is key for why fear of grief and fear of life are the same. Two sides of the circuit between the planes?

    Since I seem to be having synchronicity around having picked up a book on the Gnostics on a whim, and now Gordon White is suddenly obsessed with them in his weird chaos magician way, and today he’s agreed in my sense of the life force surging while technocracy simultaneously increases… I’m going to follow where that goes using the different takes on the Fall myth. The thing about refusal to see limits is in there too,because Geburah is limitations, and the gate to the whole Tree.

    And maybe Vine Deloria’s ancient astronauts… And the gold that led through the Kingdom of Gao (Africa’s age of gold – Fall of Civilizations podcast) straight through the New World to the riots on the streets of Chicago today… Hmmm… Maybe that’s too many pins with string, back away from the corkboard…

    Back to White:

    “Life binds the demiurge. Life binds and defeats the will to power and control. More than that… the breath of life.” https://runesoup.com/2020/07/hypostasis-of-the-farmers/

  139. @ Jonathan, RE the Richard Spencer quote.

    I am reminded of a famous quote from Adolf Hitler; “the trade unionist or the petit bourgeoisie might not make it as a National Socialist, but the former Communist will always be welcome”. A lot of Nazis, including Joseph Goebbels and Ernst Rohm, came from the radical left. Indeed, the NSDAP started out as a party of the revolutionary left, as evidenced by its name. Will history repeat itself?

  140. TJ, it’s a good day for my commentariat to celebrate, as they’re some of the most independent thinkers I know.

    Jenxyz, it’s even better advice now than it was when I wrote it!

    Kevin, excellent! That strikes me as spot on, and useful.

    Aidan, thanks for this. Interesting.

    Derpherder, hmm! You may well be onto something very important. I’m going to brood over that.

  141. @pixelated

    Oh my gosh the synchronicity! I JUST wrote “death is life and life is death” completely unconsciously as a main payoff for a story I’m writing right now. I haven’t started the Cosmic Doctrine yet; maybe this is a nudge from something or someone to rectify that!

    @onething

    The unbelievable, gob-smacking ignorance, intolerance and racism of progressives is part of what has driven me away from progressivism in the last year, despite a deep emotional connection to left politics that I’ve had since childhood. I just can’t square the “equality and kindness” rhetoric with the reality of people engaging in a totalitarian mindspace.

    @JMG, glad to be of help! On the topic of the last paragraph, I can’t thank you enough for fostering a space where I could be de-conditioned. The tightening of left orthodoxy in this fraught couple of months has only increased my appreciation for this calm intellectual oasis.

  142. @onething

    Have you seen the interview of Yuri Bezmenov (interviewer is G. Edward Griffin)? He was an ex-KGB agent who defected to the US. There are a few things he’s wrong about, but a lot of other things he was absolutely right about. He accurately predicted the rise of SJWism and identity politics in universities across the democratic world in the 21st century (the interview was taken in the 70s or 80s).

    @JMG
    Sorry about that, I’ll be more careful in the future.

    You have often spoken on this blog about the rationalists on one hand and the New Age people on the other. To me, this is reminiscent of the mathematical concept of a complex number, whose standard representation is z = x + iy. If we try to find a real world analogue, we can say that x (real part) represents that part of reality which can be measured and mapped out, and that which modern materialist science specializes in, and y (imaginary part) represents that part of reality which can best be explored using Raja Yoga or traditional Western occultism, for example. The problem, IMO, is that both sides insist that only their worldview is correct. Thus, you get the materialist rationalist arguments on one hand, and the ‘you create the reality you experience’ by the New Agers on the other. What is needed, IMHO, is an acceptance of z, and not x or y selectively. The sooner we do so, the better for us.

  143. Hi John,
    The French occultism seems it had a very powerful and rich tradition, is there any modern exponent of it or it just died out?

  144. Hi John Michael,

    Thanks for the reply. Hmm.

    A few people are commenting upon dysfunctional modes of being, and unlike the New Thought folks, as a comparison I tend to not wish such modes of being away. Instead I embrace them and then take a good long and hard contemplative look as to how they came to be and what role they play in my life (thus my question to you). And then if I can change the circumstances that led to such a state of affairs I do so. More easily said than done!

    Now the thing is, time is actually of the essence, and distractions there are in plentiful supply. So the upshot is that to my perspective there are diminishing returns from the act of rooting out dysfunctional modes of being – and that is how life rolls. But then I guess that is why life is a wheel, rather than an either/or scenario which many folks seem to be rather fond of.

    If it means anything to you, I likewise try to keep my grief to myself.

    Cheers

    Chris

  145. @Jonathon re: children and their feelings. For the same thing a century earlier, the children’s novel Understood Betsy lays that on the operating table and dissects it. As often in that period, the cure was living with the down-to-earth country cousins and doing things.

  146. @pixelated

    “I’m not locked in a room with you – you’re locked in a room with me!”

    -Quote from a comic book issue of Impulse by DC Comics, circa mid 1990s? Actually it may have appeared many times,it’s such a good line, but I definitely remember reading it then and it has stuck with me for so many years proving what a good quote it is..

  147. Thank you Robert M. for answering about Starhawk. I have wondered how much of Neopaganism is really warmed over New Thought.

    Mr. Greer.
    I had the same reaction to Lachman’s book. I keep wondering why he spend half of it on the Russians.

    As for the Magical Resistance, I read very carefully all of your writings on it and the books written by the MR people themselves. What occurred to me was that these folks are believing that they can create their own reality with their minds and wills. If you think it is so, then it is so. Which brings me back to the New Thought which seems to permeate the whole thing. The idea of the creator being the created and that the mind is all.

    Therefore, they believe they can ignore what laws of magic there are or laws of physics. Or anything that is restrictive to their thinking. Think it away…. That reminds me of Napoleon Hill’s book, “Think and Grow Rich.” Which became “The Secret”. But you are right in that the Neopagan movement will probably die off since its believers are frustrated that their will is being thwarted by the universe they find themselves in.

  148. @ JMG Re: “The word ‘racism’ no longer means anything at all.”

    It’s become just another snarl word like ‘fascist’, ‘commie’, etc, stripped
    of its meaning and now just being used as a way to howl incoherently about
    your bad feelings but not make any effort to understand them or find a way
    to resolve them.

    On the brighter side, it’s been fun reading about Phineas Quimby and Mary Baker
    Eddy, all local people (New Hampshire). Must be something in the water as
    we also produced Samuel Thomson who while not an occultist founded an alternative
    system of medicine called ‘Thomsonian Medicine’ which helped start steering treatments
    away from bloodletting and toxic compounds such as calomel (mercury based!). But
    that’s probably a topic for a future posting….

  149. Minervaphilos, I’ve been reading a bit about reform efforts going back to the Ottoman era and spotted a way to annoy Turkish conservatives. Clearly a true conservative should also want to close down all the factories and go back to the guild system… 🙂

  150. @Ethan

    It’s worse than that. It’s eugenic in nature, but *not* in reverse. Abortion is sacred to the progressive left, but they can’t bear to look at the fact that proportionally, far more black babies are aborted than white babies. I don’t want to argue the right or wrong of abortion here (it’s a done deal, after all), but by some estimates, America would already be a white-minority country without it. It’s also taboo to point out that transgender surgeries and puberty-blocking hormones render people sterile. At the same time, we must not mention the high prevalence of autistic tendencies and various kinds of frank mental illness in the trans population. But in the end, doesn’t a lot of “trans-advocacy” amount to getting autistic and mentally ill people sterilized?

  151. Patricia Mathews and others:
    As to the protests and rioting, I think some of the reason people are participating is not just to fight racism, but just plain ol’ self-centeredness. A newspaper article I read quoted one white woman as saying “This is my time to shine, and shine on others”. Sounds like she’s taking advantage of the situation just to feel good about herself. At least the local demonstrations have been peaceful…and nowhere near my house.

    Jonathan said: …he thinks “woke” white people will be the easiest to turn into white supremacists, since they already see the problem the right way and are just fighting for the wrong side.

    And Ethan said: Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems like a much shorter conversation to get from white privilege = evil, to, white privilege = inevitable, to, white privilege = YAY!

    I read somewhere that after WWII, many of the Germans who were Nazi True Believers that ended up in East Germany easily made the switch to devoted Communists. I wish I could remember where I read that at!

    And, as to all forms of resistance, whether it’s carried out magically, by protest and riot, by ignoring facts (example: Limits? What limits?), or (as in Patricia M’s linked article) by creating an enemy; I’ve always heard “what you resist, persists”. Or, as JMG said, “what you contemplate, you imitate.” They are playing with Mind Power in the wrong way!

    Joy Marie

  152. @Yorkshire,

    Indeed they have closed down the most important public factories that used to be the backbone of Turkish economy. And what did they do instead? The answer is even worse than the guild system. In the last 18 years, they have placed most of the economic resources on construction sector which is highly dependent upon cheap labor without any social security, heavily relying on imported raw materials, and ruining our natural and historical assets (forests, rivers, coasts, archaeological sites, public squares, natural parks etc.). One does not need to be a clairvoyant to see that this will lead to massive disasters in economy and ecology very soon.

  153. By playing a clown (prankster, joker, card reader, loon, cuss, weird-o, philosopher) with people I have found than many things folks in this thread claim people don’t talk about, people will talk about with someone who is clowning around in the right way. Death, in the certainly personal form, poverty, fragility, decline, pervasive injustice that spares none the political factions of culpability. With clowning I have found many folks can talk about such things, and the younger the more comfortably. Based on the people I know the following things are what make sense to me about the taboo complexes of today. Where they connect to the physical symptoms I do not know, except the two observations that when I think of my own lonesomeness my physical heart acts weak and gives me fits, which I fear may be the end of my some day; and when I feel certain frustrations and resentments in my family my digestion becomes sensitive such that certain food leave me exhausted and inflamed; I don’t know how to connect these two observations to the general madness and taboos of our society the rest this post is about.

    I think Violet might be on to something with the suppression of grief. That being said, I’ve never felt overly censored in being able to express my grief publicly, but clowning helps. One reason I think I have gotten away with showing grief in the past is that in my public life I mark myself as an outsider very vigorously; I ain’t competing with those around me for the same kind of status they are competing for, so I can show weakness, because I am a non-combatant. If I were striving for position in a social game, it would be foolishness to show weakness to fellow players; in the parts of life where I do strive for position I hide my tail thoroughly.

    I have seen that American’s of good standing are ruthless in jockeying with each other, and if you are in a race with folks don’t show a gap in your armor or get cut. If you persuade someone you ain’t playing in a given game, most people, even some vicious drama hounds, are surprisingly peaceable.

    That brings us back to what we cannot talk about, which is the alienation folks feel in living lives of all against all. Especially people that preach kumbaya live John Nash. When I look for the crazies around me, they ain’t divided by politic, but by the degree that Nashian gamesmanship underlay the reality of their key relationships. Folks cannot talk about anything that makes them vulnerable to attack, because they will be attacked if let slip to someone who wants their lot. Grief is a vulnerability, fear is, doubt is, in a mob even thoughtfulness is a terrible weakness.

    In America we have many class issues, but they cannot be discussed, as to do so makes you weak to attack from any class beneath your own if you affirm egalitarianism and weak to attack from above if you don’t. We have issues of militarism and empire an many systemic violence which together supply an imperial feeding trough few people I have even met, from any position in life, to not rely on. To actually address these issues would be to risk losing what we have in a very personal way, so we ‘fight the system’ but pull our punches; left right, all the same. Conservatives on food stamps complain about welfare, liberals preaching equality to demonstrate their ‘superiority’. Both sides romanticizing the fight against what they hate in our society, but snarling with false teeth that quiver before hand that feeds them, and mock their enemy for taking the same bribes they do.

    There is so much to fear, because we do not know what our vulnerabilities might be if things change, but we feel change roaring it; but to feel fear is to doubt progress, and to doubt progress is the most fearful thing! I think of my life, I have with fortunate guidance from many teachers positioned my self pretty well for a weird world, I am in a nook out of histories way, and practicing organic farming in a big community that produces much its own needs and might well prosper if many things go wrong; yet there are countless disasters of health or unluck which could wreck me with little recourse available to me, which could wreck my loved ones who I cannot protect. Scary.

    I wonder if the fear of an uncertain future, and let’s face it compared to the risks most are accustomed to day by day the long decline is really scary, creates a hyper taught dependency on progress to avoid the fear (I know when I ditched progress as a guiding story I went through quite the motley crew of myths to keep fear at bay, over years acclimating to looking at the uncertainty behind the myths bit by bit). The commitment to progress necessitates a kind of fake niceness, because more nice is more progressed than less nice. But the real musical chairs of decline forces that niceness to coexists with cold ruthlessness if you want to keep your current seat or even get the next seat up. Now you cannot show grief to anybody that is in the same game you are in, partially because of the ruthlessness, and partially because they cannot allow themselves to be moved, for far of showing vulnerability, yet are hearing moving things, so grief becomes shunned. If you cannot grieve with folks, then you cannot be close to folks or trust them to care for you in a pinch, and boom we loop back to fear, because that is hecking scary, the thought that no one will help you when you will surely need it.

    This is consistent with the observation that these patterns seem less prevalent in those who do not eye sitting in one of the chairs that is currently getting pulled out when the music stops. If you like sitting in the lower wage class, the gig class, or what have you, well you got plenty of chairs waiting for butts. But welfare, or middle class positions could lose a million seats with a pen stroke.raziness ain’t determined by where you are sitting, but where you are eyeing sitting.

    That’s my best guess how these factors fit together, its a bit more complicated then needing to get a good lay 150 years ago.

    Also a lot of folks around my area are turning to the rugged individualist or family values as an alternative cooping narrative, which seems to work a bit more gracefully, but they have some xenophobic consequences that ain’t roses and gumdrops neither.

  154. A stunning perspective on race, health, and violence (from the July 5 Washington Post, p. E3).

    In an interview with a Post reporter, the (white) musician Steve Earle said “This is an opportunity. And it’s as good an opportunity as we’ve ever had for changing this that we’ve ever had… Black folks are more likely to die of coronavirus than white people are. That’s a fact. And they’re probably more likely to die at the hands of a police officer than they are from the coronavirus….”

    1. Note that Black citizens are “folks”; white citizens are “people”.

    2. According to https://mappingpoliceviolence.org/, 598 people, 28% of whom are Black, have been killed by police so far in 2020. 28% of 598 is 168.

    3.The total number of coronavirus deaths in the US is 132,000. According to https://www.apmresearchlab.org/covid/deaths-by-race, 26,747 of these are Black.

    Which is bigger, 26,747 (covid) or 168 (police)? The covid death toll is almost 160 times greater than the police violence toll!

    When I see something as absurd as the original claim, I try to imagine some missing context that makes it more plausible. MAYBE he meant that “for a black male between the ages of 15 and 25…”. But even if only 1% of the total Black COVID death toll fall into the “15-25 demographic”, they’re still 60% higher than police killings.

    But then, we might also try to estimate the number of killings by police which were unjustified, which I’m sure is a much smaller number than 168. ANY unjustified killing by police is a tragedy, but anyone who wants to talk numbers has an obligation to know what the numbers actually are. They’re not “whatever you think they should be.”

  155. @DXN: It’s the disturbingly amoral justice crusader Rorschach in Watchmen, surrounded in jail by all the men he helped put there who think they’ll finally be able to get him with their sheer numbers, but are comic-book-violence wrong about that 😉.

    @derpherder – for some more synchronicity, when *I* was meditating on the link between grief and life, I saw Tristitia, which I associate with the Path of Tau and Inanna’s descent and return from the Underworld. Then all the comments went through and there was yours!

    And for sadder synchronicity, but on the topic we’ve devolved into; I spoke with my mom yesterday, and it seems my brother, who is Bipolar and Borderline, has gone completely around whatever bend was left to him, and whatever is wearing my baby brother’s skin, it ain’t the same person. There are people here who might like to say it’s a demon, but it isn’t, divination has always been clear, this is something human of the nature of Shin, karma, actions that can’t be undone. I asked should I pray, who to pray to, I have never been given the names for gods, as I’ve said to David by the Lake before… There is a Someone, but she had been nameless, chthonic, maybe of the sea as well. A deity to heal the mad? Once in a dream I had to solve a riddle – but then I woke up so I don’t know what I accomplished by solving it – in which she showed me a table with a small heart of ruby like an infant’s heart, a white dove feather, and a pile of sand. She told me one of the things was wrong. I realised “it’s the wrong sand, this is beach sand warmed by the sun, you need the cold sand of the desert at night” then pulled a handful out of my pocket. She was pleased, it was the right answer, but the obvious Egyptian death deity linkage was a dead end. I was told only “nope – Caput draconis”. Today, when I asked who to pray to about my brother, and I get Caput draconis again, generated from a shield chart full of Tristitia and Populus, with Via transforming Laetitia to make Caput draconis in the list witness. And what do I bring? Rubeus. (obviously answer is yes, judge is F major). Passionate involvement in life… The moon all the way through it, with grief, the Path of Tau up…the god name for Yesod is Almighty Living God, and her Archangel is Gabriel, the healing breath of Life. And of course, duh… The Moon rules madness. And the fluxes of life. And something tells me the camel of the Path of Gimel does not cross *burning* desert sand at all.

    I am still not smart enough to figure out exactly what is happening here, but I think I’ll go eat some meat before I cross that fine line meself… But I also bet that having a real good cry does exactly the same thing…

  156. @neptunesdolphen, re:Think and Grow Rich

    I believe that Napoleon Hill was quite different from Rhonda Byrne and The Secret(tm). The Secret was about “thinking all the good things into your world,” whereas Napoleon Hill had two questions in mind:

    1) What do you want?
    2) What are you willing to give for your want(s)?

    The second question is key, as it implies (amongst other things) that the wealth you’re asking for comes from SOMEWHERE and that to attract you want(s) into your life you must have something to give worth your desires. Rhonda’s film/book avoids that insight even as examples are put on display.

  157. @JMG

    A quick book report on “Suggestible You” by Eric Vance.

    I’ve based this on a less than usually thorough read because I wanted to put something additional here over the weekend. I came across the book when thinking about @viking’s comment on distinguishing diseases coming from the outside and diseases coming from the inside. I thought placebos might offer a clue as of course a placebo in the form of as pill or injection is supposed to have no pharmacological effect at all. Therefore any impact comes from within. ‘Find out about this’ I thought, turning towards Google, and subsequently Amazon.

    Synchronicity struck hard here as not only was Eric Vance at one time a Christian Scientist, he was also a poster boy for Christian Science – he was infected with Legionnaires Disease as a toddler, and was cured over the phone by a Practitioner. He says that this event was widely circulated in the Christian Science community in the 1980s, I’ve got no reason to disbelieve this.

    Then at some later point he had what I’m going to call a deconversion experience and now he makes a living writing – amongst other things – pop science books like this. It’s readable book, filled with interesting stories and conversations with scientists who are working on the subject of placebos. That’s not quiet a respectable field for scientists but the effect is so very strong, and so very repeatable, and has had such a commercial impact on the drug industry, that it’s pretty much impossible to dismiss the way that late 20th century research into psychic phenomena has been. My money is on the fact that it’s the money side of this story that has made the subject of placebos bulletproof.

    So what does he make of this? There’s a survey of current (as of 2016) of research, including something on a genetic variation that makes some people more ‘susceptible’ than others. He presents a view that a number of alternative medicine techniques such as acupuncture and homeopathy can be ascribed as placebos. He goes over several kinds of disease that react well to placebos – Parkinsons and Irritable Bowel for example. The regrowing toe, alas, turn out to be a story circulating in Christian Science rather than something he witnessed.

    But then in the final stages of the book the sorry phrase ‘self delusion’ rears its head. He even goes so far to catalogue his own recovery from Legionnaires Disease to a placebo – even though the Practitioner was on the other end of a telephone and his mother who was making the call was in another room. It’s hard to imagine deluding a toddler, or even convincing a toddler to fool itself, under those circumstances.

    So interesting book, but it fails to explore the obvious point. The placebo effect is undeniable, we’ve known about for over a century. There’s still no mechanism that fits into the tenets of science and materialism. It is a dagger pointed at the heart of medical materialism. I suspect that this is more understood than acknowledged amongst the medical profession. In my experience, mentioning placebos even in passing to qualified medical people generally gets a pretty hostile response.

    As for the book itself, it went into print as a hardback in 2016, but unlike many in this genre, it didn’t see a cheap paperback edition. Poor title? Not enough sales? Or something more sinister? I have no idea.

    Happy 4th to everyone in the US. I note that you crashed out of the British Empire without a deal all that time ago. That gives me some hope.

  158. Hi Jonathan,
    I have a grandson called Jonathan. It is a fine name.
    I found your comments interesting and I pretty much agree with them. It is more important to teach people to recognise and deal with their emotions than to agree and try to make it better. I remember telling one of my children when they were teenagers that the days when I could kiss it better with a bandaid were over. Teaching resilience is so important.

  159. The current marches remind me of the Freedom Rides of the 60s or 70s. A group of those who know it all would ride into a town, stir things up and leave to share the joy elsewhere. This left the locals to get on with building a community which they were doing anyway.
    The current riots and troubles are like the 60s anyway. So where are those who were protesting then? Oh that is right they all got jobs in finance, messed up the financial system and retired to the Bahamas.

  160. If we spend a lot of time contemplating the illiberal outrages perpetrated by woke left, don’t we risk emulating them?

  161. Lathechuck said:
    2. According to https://mappingpoliceviolence.org/, 598 people, 28% of whom are Black, have been killed by police so far in 2020. 28% of 598 is 168.

    3.The total number of coronavirus deaths in the US is 132,000. According to https://www.apmresearchlab.org/covid/deaths-by-race, 26,747 of these are Black.

    LC, the one flaw in your math I see, is you are comparing total numbers. Shouldn’t you be comparing percentages?

    You aren’t taking account of percentage of black in the over all population. If blacks make up 14% of the US population (according to Google) but make up 28% of the number killed by police, what is the probability of them being killed? Whites make up 72% of the over all population, but get killed by police in 72% of the total times. Would that mean blacks are twice as likely to die from police as whites?

    The same with the number of covid deaths: If blacks are 14% or the population but make up 20% of the deaths, what’s the comparison of the probability?

    Seems to me that blacks are more likely by percentage of their population to die by the police than by covid? Or am I misunderstanding the math?

    For more clarity as I understand it, if you have two populations, one is of 1000 people, where 100 of them die of an illness, and a second of 100 people, where 50 of them die of an illness, then you can’t say the first set has a bigger chance of dying than the second, can you? The first is 10%, the second 50%.

  162. Onething–bigotry of lowered expectations. Back in 1991 I was doing student teaching in a high school whose mostly middle class black kids had the administration completely buffaloed IMO. After a situation in which a young woman refused to take her seat while I was calling roll, my white mentor teacher explained to me that “their culture makes them confrontational.” I felt like saying “and my culture makes me not take [shale] off a fifteen year old.” But I didn’t–I just thought to myself “does this nice woman realize that her statement amounts to ‘you can’t expect these kids to be civilized.’?”

    On Freud–according to the recent biography _Freud: the Making of an Illusion_ by Frederick Crews, Freud was a lazy researcher and bad doctor and created a system based on his own neurosis. Much of the book is based on Freud’s diaries and papers that were only recently released for researchers. If even half the book is true Freud was both a fraud and a nasty piece of work. It seems to me that Freudian theory became a major influence because Western culture was ready to drop the Victorian attitude toward sex and Freud gave them a ‘scientific’ excuse.

    Re reworking of Wicca. Gardner taught that the major Wiccan magic method was raising the cone of power by dancing, chanting, etc. then visualizing the released energy going toward the target, such as a person needing healing. There is more to this than just wishing hard. Various methods of traditional natural magic may have been part of original teachings, but some of the more detailed bits, such as harnessing planetary energies, got dropped in the US. Starhawk version of witchcraft incorporated material from Victor Anderson’ Fairy tradition and I don’t know enough about the history of that group to make informed comments–except that they claim to be separate from British Wicca.

    In California in particular you also had influence from the women’s spirituality movement. This ranged from Christian and Jewish women trying to obtain more power and influence within their religions to women who were leaving male gods behind entirely and creating a vision of the Great Mother goddess that incorporated every female deity they were exposed to. Barbara Walker’s _Encyclopedia of Womens Mysteries_ is an example of this, as was _Womanspirit_ magazine published in Oregon form many years. Some women formed covens and called themselves Witches, others were more into New Age activities.

    IMO the major problem with having chosen the transgressive label of ‘witch’ and the structure of secret initiatiatory groups was that it makes building community difficult. While successful indigenous pagan religions usually have some kind of youth initiation and many have ecstatic cult available for the interested, I don’t know of any that reserve the ‘real deal’ for a minority and leave the remainder of family, including their children waiting on the outskirts, or even completely ignorant of the religion.

    I feel like I am being beaten to death with COVID statistics. Case count and death counts on every newscast. And the panic level on social media. Saw a meme that said “Dear friends. It is not the 1370s. We do not have to see a third of our country’s citizens die from COVID. We can behave sensibly.” I commented that this was more than a little alarmist given that the death rate from COVID in the US is less than 5%. The poster replied with a news clip about people having COVID parties to see who gets infected, which apparently was done during the Black Plague in 1370. Good grief–numbers matter–there is a huge difference between 5% and 33%. I snapped back that attitudes and posting like hers were actually going to kill people because alarmism=panic=stress=reduced immune response=more likely to become infected and more likely to die. I think I threw in ‘scientifically know’ somewhere too.

  163. Aiden Barrett- re overproduction of academics—It has been going on for years. Hit the humanities first, as those are the disciplines that are less demanding in terms of math and science background. The Modern Language Association (teachers of English and other modern languages) started keeping statistics about job placements and I think they tried to get institutions to give prospective students accurate information about job prospects. But it is a little like show business or sports in that you can know the % of success and somehow convince yourself that you have a shot. And of course, professors who enjoy mentoring promising students will encourage those students in that belief. I got my PhD in 2003 at age 54. At no point did any advisor suggest that my efforts might not lead to a job. Cheap labor, and on my campus the university wasn’t even paying into social security for teaching assistants,

    Rita

  164. Hi John

    Many thanks for this fascinating series of posts

    Talking about the “The Power of the Mind” as you named your post, recently I remembered this bearded man from Vienna you mentioned in it; specially his book “Totem and Taboo”. I remembered it when I was thinking about the defacing and destruction of statues and past symbols of the society and I start to think it could be a kind of “Murder of the Father” in the mind of many citizens, that may be is related to the total destruction of bonds in the later phase of our civilization that breeds people with destroyed or non-existent bonds between the new and old generations and even inside the nuclear family. We could call the “Lost Father Syndrome” or even the “Proximal Abandonment Syndrome” as Alan Schore call it, where the parents (or supposed caregivers) are physically presents but emotionally absents (many in electronic worlds, before analogic, and now digital) which correlate quite well with the emotional symptoms children had in the past when they were abandoned in institutions but now it appears in children “living” with their “families” (in a combination of day “care” and phone-zombified parents).

    OK, there are political agendas behind the struggle against the past, but people are not so easy manipulable if there isn´t an emotional narrative with a meaning for them. And I think this explain also the works of Michel Foucault and other postmodernists thinkers with such visceral obsession around power in the lower scales of it (of course these are exactly the scales of “The Father”)

    I think this also could explain why the placebo effect is becoming more and more powerful with time, cause many disease are the product of the altered minds due to a civilization, or a society, in an emotional decline (in fact the emotional decline is a very important part of the converging crisis of all civilizations, as it is also our case):

    https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/placebo-effect-grows-in-u-s-thwarting-development-of-painkillers/

    For example, now the placebo effect works even if the doctor openly admit is giving the patient a sugar pill:

    “His own randomized controlled trials found that giving patients open-label placebos — sugar pills that the doctors admit are sugar pills — improved symptoms of certain chronic conditions that are among the hardest for doctors to treat, including irritable bowel syndrome and lower back pain. And he wonders if chronic fatigue — a hard-to-define, hard-to-treat, but still debilitating condition — will be a good future target for this research.”

    https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2017/7/7/15792188/placebo-effect-explained

    Yeah, this heralds the dawn of the “Second Religiosity” phase, product of the same destructive dynamic.

    (Unconditional) love is like the dark matter, you cannot see it, but his presence or lack, in the soul forming stages, conform and explain a good part of what people do, say and want, because all what is desirable are, if you think about it, some degraded succedaneous of it, like fame, power, money, drugs, possessions, etc…
    For the civilization to thrive it has to destroy the authentic to make the succedaneous more attractive (that is the root cause of addictions).

    Cheers
    David

  165. Archdruid,

    I have a theory about the role of the holy clown in American culture. I recently listed to an episode of Joe Rogan’s podcast, where he interviewed Jon Stewart formerly of the Daily Show. Mr. Rogan started the podcast telling Mr. Stewart how much he missed having Mr. Stewart on the Daily Show. Mr. Stewart went on to explain that being on the show had burned him out, because he was bound by the same schedule and same pattern for over a decade, stuck watching the same noise on politics and social events.

    Down in the comment section under the clip someone commented that they really missed Mr. Stewart because he was the voice of sanity and reason during the madness of the Bush years. He kept the left-wing from veering too far into the realm of crazy.

    That’s when it hit me, the role of the holy clown isn’t to speak truth, as most people assume. Since truth is perspective, and one mans truth is another mans lie. Rather, they exist to blunt the edge of maddness that periodically works its way through our culture.

    Dave Chappelle was supposed to be our current Holy Clown, but he purposefully stepped away from his role. He has plenty of personal reasons, but he himself said that “we need to hear the streets.” In other words, we need to hear the madness.

    Regards,

    Varun

  166. Rajat, a fine mathematical metaphor. Yes, exactly — and for what it’s worth, that’s the worldview of classic Western occultism. It’s not that science is wrong, it’s that it’s incomplete, because its tools and methods only allow it to study the material plane.

    Ed, I believe it’s still alive and kicking in the Francophone countries and also in Latin America, though I’m not up to date on the last half century or so of events in that tradition.

    Chris, it used to be a common habit. I’m not sure what changed.

    Neptunesdolphins, agreed on both points. The entire business about finding sinister Russians under every damp rock — didn’t that use to be called “McCarthyism”? As for the Magic Resistance, I think you’re quite correct that it marks the triumph of New Age thinking over pop Neopaganism, and thus the likely death of Neopaganism. It’s quite possible that Donald Trump will turn out to be their December 21, 2012…

    Jeanne, I didn’t happen to know that Thomson was another New Hampshirean! It must indeed be something in the water — and yes, we’ll have to talk about the medical scene of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, not least because back in the days before the American Medical Association got a deathgrip on US health care, a lot of occultists supported themselves as homeopaths or Thomsonian physicians.

    Aidan, since it’s not on topic for this week’s post, I’ll put the link in the file where I keep things to get to when I have spare time.

    Ray, thanks for this — a good broad meditation. I think you’ve made some solid points.

    Andy Dwelly, thanks for this. I’ve noticed that books by rationalists that stray into verboten territory almost inevitably have a chapter at the end where the authors back away from the implications of what they’ve been discussing, and affirm their faith in the religion of Progress. It’s like all those books on the difficult future ahead which had a final chapter ignoring the preceding material and insisting that nevertheless we’ll all unite and go marching on to the stars somehow. I had to push back more than once against attempts to make me put that kind of conclusion into my peak oil books!

    Your Kittenship, thanks for this.

    Jill, yeah, that sounds about right.

    Aidan, thanks for this.

    Alex, good! Yes, in fact, we do — which is why I finished up a cycle of posts discussing the psychology of the privileged left, and launched into a cycle of posts on American occultism.

    Rita, hmm! I hadn’t heard of the new bio of Freud, but I’m not at all surprised. As for Wicca, one of the things that gets missed sometimes is that Gardnerian Wicca (and its first generation or so of imitators) is a very different kettle of fish from post-Margot Adler eclectic pop Wicca, and had a lot more meat to it. And the coronavirus business — yes, it’s getting quite absurd. Turning off the mainstream media is a good bit of preventive medicine, I’d say.

    DFC, of course there are major emotional narratives at work here. The civil religion of Progress is dying, and a lot of the rage we’re seeing is I think driven by that recognition — thus the frantic attempt to erase the past. As the end of faith in progress becomes more and more pervasive, I expect to see some very dramatic shifts.

    Varun, thanks for this. I think you may be on to something important.

  167. Reta Rippetoe said:
    “Back in 1991 I was doing student teaching in a high school whose mostly middle class black kids had the administration completely buffaloed IMO. After a situation in which a young woman refused to take her seat while I was calling roll, my white mentor teacher explained to me that “their culture makes them confrontational.” I felt like saying “and my culture makes me not take [shale] off a fifteen year old.”

    Anyone here remember the movie “To Sir, With Love”?

    Alex said:
    “If we spend a lot of time contemplating the illiberal outrages perpetrated by woke left, don’t we risk emulating them?”

    Yes we do.

    As someone who considers himself a moderate conservative politically, I’ve notice a real chill here over the last few months towards any sort liberal leaning attitudes. I suspect others have noticed as well and are holding their comments to the posts as I am.

    John taught me decensus and the acceptance of the difference of opinions, something I try very hard to have at Green Wizards (though I sometimes let my own leaning show in posts). Politically I’m not seeing that acceptance here anymore.

    I keep reading John’s posts here because Ecosophia is much more than just politics. I just ignore most comments of that sort and scroll past them. I figure by the end of the year most of this will be back in the closet, no matter what happens with the election.

  168. David and Alex,

    I’ve noticed the shift here too, and am somewhat worried. The discussion about that which shall not be named was especially worrying, but that’s probably because I’m Indian and our reaction to pandemics is very organized.

    However, this is the Archdruid’s living room, and he encourages us to think our own thoughts, thus if the conversations make you uncomfortable then dissent. I’ve just stopped reading comments about that which shall not be named, and the “woke.”

    Regards,

    Varun

  169. @David Trammel

    Excellent reminder about politics and toleration. As someone who has been part of the left wing world and feels betrayed over the shape it’s taking, I suspect that this is something I need to watch in my thinking and writing. I’ve been trying to assume the best of people I meet in real life lately; perhaps it is also time to do that for representatives of political views on the internet.

  170. Lathechuck,

    What sort of charges, if any, do you think are appropriate for media persons who deliberately foment race violence and revolution by knowingly putting out terribly false narratives to the public?
    Should there be any accountability?

  171. “So where are those who were protesting then?” (1960’s)

    All the hippies I know are fully brainwashed. It is disappointing and disconcerting. They saw through a lot of the narrative in their youths, but now they have turned into their grandparents.

    Oh, and the death rate from covid is nothing like 5%.

  172. Violet,

    I wonder if the problem a lot of people have with grief and sorrow is it isn’t goal-directed enough, and people who are very driven or competitive don’t know what to make of it.

    Fear, hatred and anger however are more likely to lead to some kind of action being put forward in response to it.

  173. Chiming in late with a book recommendation. There’s a book on mind-body connection in illness by retired Canadian physician Dr. Gabor Mate called “When the Body Says No,” about the author’s experiences with patients and illness over many decades, and his observations and theories about what contributes to the development of serious illness. (I say “contributes to” and not “causes” because what I remember from Mate, as well as other writings I’ve read that touched on similar things, is that the consensus seems to be that the mind-body connection doesn’t so much “cause” illness as create conditions that make the illness more likely to take hold; a subtle but important distinction, I think.) Anyway, Mate’s book is IMO worth a read, if one has the time and interest. He’s also recently written another book on addiction, which I haven’t yet read.

  174. In regards to JMGs responce to Andy Dwelley, a good exaple of these books with the positive ending would be `Collapse` by Jared Diamond (2005).

    Endless chapters about the ways civilizations can end and then at the end he proposes “The Australian Solution”… I mean… Saint Delia give me strength! Living here, it so far from a solution and yet it is there to practically invalidate the entire book. Time and time again I have seen this same writing technique only to be disapointed.

    JMG, I have always found that your last chapters to be generally positive in nature but in entirely in line with the overall message. Nice cap stones to the ideas presented, it is something I rarely see, maybe that is why I am here and not on some other authors blogs.

  175. @ David T, Alex

    Re imitating what we contemplate

    Yes, it is a danger. That said, however, I have no issues arguing against something I see as foolish or misguided (or in the case of many current events, downright insane). I’m not a conservative by any means: I’m a civil libertarian and an economic nationalist. I see human freedom as something to be valued and promoted, which means allowing behaviors that I personally don’t agree with, so long as those behaviors don’t impact the rights of others. I’m more liberal than liberals in some cases. Got a dose of that back on PoliticalWire when I mentioned that I’d not only support the marriage rights of gays, but I’d support plural marriage as well: a marriage contract is the concern of the (adult) parties involved, not the government. You can imagine the pushback I got with that one.

    I think there is a heightened awareness here right now because of the foolishness running amuck out there and because this election will say something about whether as a nation we’ve actually managed a fundamental change in direction or not. The choices are crap, I’ll grant you, but one is clearly better than the other in that regard.

    Personally, this blog here is the only place I really talk politics. The TV is gone. I don’t dwell on the news elsewhere other than to try to keep a sense of what’s going on. I’m not on FacePlant or other social media. And I have no issue with disagreement, as anyone who recalls the discussion about abortion (an excellent and most civil debate) a ways back would note.

    I think there’s a healthy balance between ignoring things on one hand and obsessing over them on the other. Generally, I think this community holds to that level of reasoned awareness, which is one reason I’m grateful for all of you and our host, even when we disagree about things.

  176. An insight from this morning: these “eye of the hurricane” crazy times have found their theme, and it goes far beyond the words of one man being slowly strangled in public. “I can’t breathe,” yes, from him and sparking the public demonstrations. “I can’t breathe” from those who have had the virus and got very, very sick. “I can’t breathe” behind this blasted mask. “I can’t breathe” metaphorically “under this lockdown.”

    And “I can’t breathe…a word of what I really think.” Lest I be cast into outer darkness by my family, my friends, my employer (who provides my only access to health insurance, hence to healthcare), or some passing stranger with a bad attitude and a rock in their pocket. Or a bully in uniform or without….the list, like the beat, goes on and on. Society is strangling and knows it.

    Make sense?

  177. Many people have offered suggestions for why people might be ill and consult doctors without a physical reason. I am sure there are many cases of grave illness in this category. On the other hand, a doctor also told me that maybe a third of her patients made an appointment for no other reason than to have somebody to talk to. That is of course a sad indictment of our society, too, and inevitably frustrates both the patient and the doctor.

  178. Ray, your suggestions are very interesting. I have never lived in the US and base most of my suppositions about life there on movies, so find a real opinion like yours a welcome break! Are American high schools actually as focussed on competition for popularity as on screen? My own school experience was very different. It seemed to me there were different groups of students, each of which quietly thought themselves to be at the top of the heap: musicians, richer families, party people, ambitious students… There was not one single ranking of popularity, and as a classic nerd I was never dunked into a toilet!

  179. Dear Robert, thank you, as always, for your historical perspective! Do you have a sense what’s at the root of this tendency? On my end I view Grief and Sorrow as oceanic emotions that can bring me to mystical states of awareness. And so, given how I regard these states of being, the rejection of these states seems facile and asinine. Furthermore, while I’m not a Christian, it seems that to reject sorrow and grief as profoundly anti-Christian in the extreme. And so it seems strange that an ostensible Christian culture would have this relationship with sorrow and grief: I can’t be the only one thinking of that scene at Golgotha where we read: “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” It seems to me, that Christian culture would have immense respect and acceptance and even reverence for grief. Perhaps the culture in the United States hasn’t been Christian for awhile?

    Dear JMG, you’re most welcome! Those are great questions, too. It’s clear that the grief taboo touches on some hornet’s nests burrowing in the collective unconscious, and I’m not yet clear precisely where the tunnels lead.

    Dear Pixelated, please forgive my denseness, but I don’t think I can follow the abstractions you’re laying forth. Basically, I rarely if ever can follow highly abstract lines of thinking that don’t reference sensual experience first and foremost.

    Dear Methylethyl, if I may, for what it’s worth I happen to agree with your regarding much of the eugenics in humanitarian-drag discourse that occurs, especially as it relates to transgenderism. Basically, I’ve been appalled at how quickly folks have transgenderism *pushed* on them for showing almost any nonconformity. It’s utterly obscene. Certainly I have no issue with transgenderism as such, and imagine it is the right choice for many, but I’ve lived in college towns and I’ve seen how it’s pushed on vulnerable people and, frankly, it made me sick. In fact, it’s been a source of utter horror watching these events unfold, especially from my perspective as a transgender person.

  180. @David Trammel:

    Speaking just for myself, I have never regarded myself as either a liberal or a conservative, neither on the left or on the right–not since I encountered the terms in high-school American history. (I guess that makes me a radical who positions himself firmly in the center.) In terms of the bygone world in which I grew up, the quite different politics and ideologies of Hitler and of Lenin were both equally despicable, and equally to be fought against and overcome.

    So I have always watched our political scene with some detachment, and it seems to me that respect for any differences in political opinion–no matter which way they tilt–has reached an all-time low these days. Non-confrontational types like myself have learned just to keep our mouths shut about anything political in almost every situation, and vast numbers of ordinary people (in the USA, at least) seem to be doing just that nowadays, whether they are liberal, conservative, centrist, or whatever. Our fellow commenters here from Europe and elsewhere still seem willing to talk politics, but very few of us from the USA seem willing to do that even slightly now, even in the forum that our host provides here.

  181. The history of Witchcraft as a benign religion in the US is more complex, and reaches much farther back, than is usually acknowledged. The first self-identified religious Witches were a number of Spiritualist mediums, and this self-identification can be documented as far back as the 1860s and the 1870s–a good century before any of Gerald Gardner’s coveners ever came to the US.

    Many features of their practice still survive in today’s Witchcraft. The Spiritualist Circle and the Witchcraft Circle each ought ideally to consist of 13 people: 6 men, 6 women, and the leader (who is almost always a woman). In the Spiritualist Circle the 13 people are seated; in the Witchcraft Circle they are standing and often in motion. In each sort of Circle, however, a sort of power or energy is deliberately raised by the 6 man/woman pairs, and sent around and around the Circle to amplify it; then it is directed to some purpose (chielfy) by the leader of the Circle.

    There was also some historical knowledge of ceremonial magic among these Spiritualist-Witches, so that they were able to find antecedents of their Circles in the magic circles of various grimoires such as pseudo-Agrippa’s “Fourth Book of Occult Philosophy.” LIkewise, the notion that “born Witches,” often born into families of Witches, were superior to any other sort of Witch, was taken from the early modern magical treatise “The Arbatel of Magic” (where, however, the contrast is between “born Magicians” versus other kinds of Magicians).

    In the 20th century one of the clearest survivals of this sort of Witchcraft was the woman in Michigan who called herself “Gundella, the Green Witch” (Marion Koclo in mundane life). Another survival seems to have flourished inside Olney Richmond’s Order of the Magi in the Midwest. (Richmond himself came from an old Rhode Island family of the otherwise minded.)

    As for Gardner himself, in his (auto)biography he says that one of his early magical enthusiasms was for Spiritualism. By his day, the idea of Witch=Medium was also well-known in the UK, thanks to the work (chiefly) of Emma Hardinge Britten. Sometime in the middle 1990s I made a trip to Toronto to look through Gardenr’s earieist surviving manuscript book of his Witchcraft, “Ye Bok of ye Art Magical.” It was clearly dreived from many souces: much of it was copied from Aleister Crowley’s “Goetia,” and Samuel L. MacGregor Mathers’ “Kabbalah Unveiled” and “Key of Solomon.” There was also a good amount of material from Crowley’s “Book 4” (parts 1-2) and his “Magick in Theory and Practice.” But the most interesting part of all was the three initiations into the three degrees of Witchcraft. Here he had obviously been copying from an earlier manuscript written by someone else, copying it carefully but not without misreadings and typical copyist’s mistakes. These rituals are–to slightly oversimplify–a blend of Freemasonic initiation rituals and the sort of Circle practice I have been describing above, with just a few echoes of Crowley’s “Book 4.”

    So when Ray Buckland (and the unnamed other Gardnerian who came to California a year or two earlier and initiated a few people) brought Gardner’s Wicca to the USA, it melded easily with this earlier American form of religious Witchcraft rooted in Spiritualism.

    And then along came Starhawk, Adler, and Z Budapest. Those three changed everything. They also knew nothing about the earlier history I have sketched out above.

  182. @ Alex, David, JMG and others regarding “Don’t we risk emulating the Left if we keep focusing on them?”

    If I may– This is something that’s been on my mind a lot lately, because I’ve seen it in myself and I don’t like it at all. I, if I may be perfectly honest, fracking hate the radical Left. I hate their sycophants in the media, I hate their enablers in the Democratic Party and I hate what they’re doing to my country.

    I don’t view this hatred as inherently illegitimate. They hate me, after all, and they’re happy to say as much. I am, after all, a white male, and at this point I’m planning on writing in Donald Trump’s name on every presidential ballot until I die. Moreover, I am myself a former Leftist, and I feel both deceived and betrayed by the Left on a personal level.

    Now, all that said, I have been watching the effects that all of this hate and all of this anger has had on my own psyche, and I do not like it one bit. I have found myself compulsively checking the news, eager for stories of the latest outrage. I find myself on websites that would have horrified me with their radicalism as recently as a year ago, and I find myself indulging in fantasies of political violence.

    In June, I spent 12 days driving my family across the country, from California to the East Coast. I found that, as soon as I got into the mountains east of Los Angeles, my mind calmed down immensely. I felt free, clear, and emotionally stable. I rarely thought about politics, and I had no desire whatsoever to read the news. I even found that a chronic health condition that has been troubling me for two years cleared up, all on its own, during the drive. The only exceptions to this came when we drove through the cities. My chronic stress would come back, I’d become irritable, and I’d start checking the news on my phone again. This didn’t happen in every city, may I note– Albuquerque was fine, for example, but Flagstaff was terrible.

    And now we’re in the greater Philadelphia metro area, and I find that my stress, my anger, and my compulsive desire to check the news are as bad as they were in California. The health condition that cleared up on the trip is back and as bad as ever.

    All this convinces me that, while my philosophical disagreements with the Left and even my personal feelings of betrayal may be legitimate, the worst of what I am feeling is not legitimate, and– this is crucial– is not actually mine. The two critical concepts here are these: 1. What you contemplate you imitate. 2. The Qliphothic correspondence of Kether is the Two Contending Forces. And so, yes, the Left is as bad as they seem and, yes, their movement is basically demonic. But the demon has two heads! By compelling us to stare at one of its heads, we fail to realize that we have fallen under the spell of the other. And if the thoughts and feelings that have gone through my mind over the last few months are any indication, the political violence of the Left may pale in comparison with the reaction it calls forth.

    That is the other critical reason, by the way, for building a new Druid church right now. I want to consciously take the energy that is trying to push me into checking the news, writing political screeds, and daydreaming about punching Antifas, and use it to create something healing and holy instead.

  183. David Trammel – I stand by my analysis in comparing total numbers. What I’m showing is, given the total Black population, 168 died of police violence (all types, not just the kind that get the officers fired and arrested), while 26,747 died of COVID-19. With a total Black population of about 46 million, the chance of a Black individual dying of COVID-19 was about 1 in 1700, while the chance of dying of police violence was just 1 in 274,000.

    So, for anyone to claim “they’re probably more likely to die at the hands of a police officer than they are from the coronavirus” is wildly incorrect.

    You’re right, that they’re more likely than a white person to die of COVID, and “more-more likely” than a white person to die of police violence. But that wasn’t the original claim.

    All of us should be concerned by the chances of anyone dying of COVID or by police violence. In both cases, there are complex factors in the environment, and things that we can do as individuals to minimize our risk.

  184. The other day I followed a link to J. K. Rowling’s Twitter where the SJWs, apparently unaware of how much [unDruidly word]-you money she has, were trying to intimidate her into backing down from her highly controversial stance that only females have ovaries and periods. I contemplated the insanity on display and decided I didn’t want to risk imitating that, so, although a lot of it’s pretty funny, I won’t be reading or watching any more culture war stuff. I guess that gives me an extra half-hour a day to go do something else, since I won’t be reading Rod Dreher for a while. (Sorry, Rod.)

  185. If I may, regarding contemplation, imitation and the radical Left:

    There is certainly a real mimetic hazard in the contemplation of anything, especially political things with their lurid heat and over-the-top affect. This is one reason I think that it’s good for humans to engage in, ahem, contemplative prayer. That is, to work with a deity or more than one deity, and spend a good amount of time daily listening with all of one’s heart to that deity, feeling the presence of that deity in the world, filling the heart with love and pouring at as a libation to that deity, giving material offerings to that deity, etc.

    That is to say that I think that it’s possible to correct a lot of deleterious and injurious inner-effects of the madness of the current sweep of events by balancing it with an active devotional life. As Dion Fortune wrote, one wins a magical war the same as with an air battle: by soaring higher than the opponent. And to transpose that idea to a somewhat different key, I think that the same holds true with devotion. Divine powers and beings are much, much more elevated than the current crop of political madness.

  186. One final note on contemplation and imitation

    One thing John has been helpful in reminding me, and which everyone else here in this community has also aided in getting through my particularly thick skull over these many years, is that the forces we witness—especially those we’re witnessing now—are things which are in many ways necessary and in any event are the natural consequences of prior decisions, some made many generations ago. Our ability to influence them is limited and if we are wise, we will acknowledge these limitations (!) and use our influence in a more productive manner. Some of these events are a runaway boulder that must be allowed to run its course: stand in front of it and you get crushed. But push it from the side as it passes and you might deflect that course by a small amount.

    However, as Robert mentioned, sometimes silence is the more prudent choice. I think there’s a lot of that going on right now. I feel that I can speak my mind more readily here in this forum, not because I think everyone agrees with me, but rather that I trust that disagreement will be managed in a generally civil manner. (That said, I’m as guilty of emotional overreaction as the next person, though I’ve gotten far better at pausing before I respond.) This forum is priceless in times like these.

    Our mindset during the Long Descent is as important as any physical actions we take. Likewise, our mindset during the inevitable periods of political and economic turmoil which will appear in the course of that Descent is vital to navigating that turmoil. So it *is* important that we remain self-aware of our mental attitudes and not fall into the trap of mindless rage, something that is far too easily done.

  187. Final, final thought (for real)

    I just wanted to say that I agree with Steve T’s point re the qliphothic parallels and the nature of Taumiel, the Contending Forces.

  188. Hi Violet,

    We haven’t had a Christian culture here since at least 1972, and probably earlier. Many people are unaware that one reason Christianity caught on so fast is that it treated women and children as people. Saint Paul may not have let women speak in the church, but obviously he let them out of the house—something the Greco-Roman world was often reluctant to do—or they wouldn’t have been in church in the first place. And if the patriarch of the family told you to “expose,” i.e. abandon ,your new baby, if there were Christians around they’d pick it up and raise it.

    We Christians have what we call “cardinal “ or “capital “ sins—the ones that are so bad that if you let them go unchecked, they will permanently destroy your relationship with God. These sins are: gluttony, (inappropriate) lust, greed, pride, (inappropriate) anger (also called “wrath”), envy, and sloth. So here in America, you got your supersize-type meals and restaurant portions, a dizzying array of sexual sins, “greed is good,” “We’re number one!”, “Hey, let’s attack everyone in the world!” The only one America really doesn’t go for is sloth. (One of the few nice things about modern America is that if someone asks you to do something you don’t want to do, you can just say, “Sorry, I have to work then.” This is a universally accepted excuse, like “I was drunk” in Japan.). Pride, the sin of Lucifer, is the worst of the cardinal sins, and we can easily see how America might have addressed its problems if not for the demonic pride gripping the country. I thought about that last night as Sonkitten watched fireworks on TV. Much of the program featured Americans telling each other how wonderful the country is. The same country that’s crumbling away. I’m sitting there thinking, “Don’t you people ever look out the window?” The fireworks were pretty, though.

    Whew. Sorry about the sermon. But it IS Sunday. 😄

    Trivia: He’s probably deceased now, I first read about him 50 years ago, but there was, or maybe even is, a Jaime Cardinal Sin. 😄

  189. Archdruid,

    Did the New Thought movement become tied in with politics the way the New Age movement did?

    Regards,

    Varun

  190. JMG, Sonkitten tried getting close to a bird. He got fairly close but had to be cautious; he couldn’t just walk right up as he can with the flies. We’ve been laughing about his fly technique for 30 years.

  191. David Trammel said: I’ve notice a real chill here over the last few months towards any sort liberal leaning attitudes. I suspect others have noticed as well and are holding their comments to the posts as I am.

    I don’t think it’s a chill against leaning towards liberalism, I think it’s a freeze against going left to such an extent that a lot more than statues get knocked over. I’ve been turned off by the extremes that people are pushing for on both sides. Actually, I always thought that if the US falls for a totalitarian dictator/regime, it would go right-wing because that’s the way we’ve always leaned. I would strongly be against that. But there are times in our history when the push comes from the left. That’s happening now, and I’m strongly against that also. Reform? Gods, yes, but revolution (which a lot of people seem to want), no!

    And yes, let’s not focus on the negatives of the “other” so much that we become them. As JMG said, what you contemplate, you imitate. I appreciate this series on the American Occult, as it will help ground me and show a way of viewing this nation’s development other than the scientific-materialist or the Judaeo-Christian lens. I think a lot of the political fighting has between these two viewpoints, and it’s high time we had another way to view the American story.

    Joy Marie

  192. Daer Violet,

    What follows is highly speculative on my part., and not yet completely worked out in detail. Use your critical judgement as you read it, please.

    I think part of the confusion here was sown by early school textbooks of American history when they claim that the British North American colonies were originally Christian in more than just a nominal sense. This, of course, was the result of the fact that the most influential of those early school history books were written in the Puritan colonies of Massachusetts and Connecticut, and they generalized from their own peculiar colonial history to the entire 13 colonies. The early settlers of the “northern fringe” of New England (now Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine) were, on the whole, fairly indifferent to matters of religion; and even Virginia, the most influential of the Mid-Atlantic and Southern colonies, at first had surprisingly few churches for the number of its settlers in its colonial period.

    And that brings us to the rise and spread of Deism. Ethan Allen in Vermont wrote the first defense of Deism against Christianity as early as 1784, and in the 1790s Tom Paine’s similar, more readable work, “The Age of Reason,” was reprinted in many editions and widely read throughout the United States. (So far as I know, it never was out of print for very long, or was it ever very hard to find and buy a copy.)

    Paine’s eloquent and readable attack on Christianity seems to me to have launched a genuine populist movement, a movement hated and feared by most of the upper crust, who saw any attack on Christianity as an attack on their own position and power. The heyday of the Deist movement came between two of the several “Great Awakenings” in the history of American Proterstantism; it was a home-grown reaction to the previous Great Awakening associated with George Whitefield. The next of the Great Awakenings, in turn, may be viewed as a reaction to the Deist movement.

    The Great Awakenings offered a heady cocktail of grief and guilt, followed by redemption and salvation; but it was a cocktail made to a British recipe, and thus not at all to every populist American’s taste. Britain had long played the role of the traditional and ancient enemy of the United States from the 1680s almost down to living memory, and to many, official Protestantism seemed a British tool of oppression.

    So there was a reaction to all that. I think the remarkable growth and popularity of alternative religions and new religious movements in the US was a major part of the anti-British reaction. Part of that reacrtion was a principled repudiation of grief and guilt. Spiritualism led the way in rejecting grief and guilt, but it was New Thought that provided the best intellectual justification for rejecting them, and also the tools to overcome them.

  193. @Violet

    Thanks. I find the whole scene really disheartening, and always appreciate your forthrightness on the subject. I grew up in a family that lived and breathed community theater– alternative sexualities were never something abnormal. The trans-men I know… I mostly want to hug them, as they remind me viscerally of myself, at a younger, more vulnerable and terrifically insecure time. I went through a buzzcut-and-men’s-clothing phase: I was plain, socially awkward, late to emotional maturity, had a contentious relationship with being female, and the butch look spared me being hit on by every creepy male in sight. I’m happy as a wife and mother now but that took… time, and I thank my lucky stars “trans” wasn’t trendy then. I’m afraid I would have been very recruitable– God knows I was looking for a *reason* why all the ordinary social things were so hard for me, and I never fit in with other girls. I’m sure some biological females are legit better off transitioning and living as men. History is full of them. But I have to wonder how many insecure aspie girls are getting swept up in it… and are in for a world of heartbreak, irreversible sterility, and a lifetime of unnecessary medical dependency.

    Middle-aged and cynical now, I look at the phenomenon, particularly from the biologically-female side, and see… normal, straight, socially-adept women virtue-signalling the heck out of their support for trans. And I can’t help but wonder if there’s something Darwinian going on. Female competition for good mates has always been savage. When I see publicized cases of “trans kids”, I keep a mental tally of how many of them are adopted, or conceived with donor cells. The proportion seems shockingly high, and if you analyze the parent-support dynamics in terms of who’s supporting transition, who’s not, and who is genetically related to whom in the picture… it makes one despair for humanity. It’s the salacious cases that make the news, so it’s a skewed picture. But it seems like parents are more likely to be super-supportive of transitioning their adopted/egg-donor children, than their biological children. I hope I’m wrong.

  194. Patricia M,

    Aren’t we moving toward the element of air in the Grand Mutation? Coincidence? Interestingly I have Mullen growing in my garden for the very first time and I didn’t plant it. Isn’t Mullen supposed to be good for the lungs?

  195. El, thanks for the recommendation.

    Michael, yeah, Diamond’s book is a good example. Bleah. Thank you for the compliment about my final chapters! To my mind, nonfiction books have a plot, just like novels, and they require a proper denouement at the end to make the experience of reading them complete.

    Patricia M, I think you’ve hit the bull’s-eye. Yes, it makes overwhelming sense.

    Matthias, maybe we need a new profession — that of Listener. You go to a Listener and get to talk freely for an hour, say, for a fee. Might be worth exploring…

    Robert, thanks for this. Olney Richmond is going to feature in our story; I’ll want to see what I can find about Gundella; and of course Matilda Joslyn Gage will be a significant figure as we proceed. Any other pre-Gardnerian witches in the Spiritualist scene? There’s room for all.

    Steve, many thanks for this. American cities these days are psychic cesspools; I’m not sure what’s going to happen to release all that astral crud, but at least in theory, something will do so — and until that happens, taking the toxic energy and using it for constructive purposes is one thing that any of us can do that will help.

    Your Kittenship, I think a lot of people are doing that just now.

    Varun, yes, though not as destructively. A lot of New Thought people ended up aligned with the Progressive movement, and that succeeded in many of its goals without going particularly septic.

    Your Kittenship, fascinating. Thanks for the data point!

  196. I gotta chime in agreeing with Alex here. I still consider myself “left,” but not the “loony left,” that’s taken over the movement and gotten all the attention recently. I don’t agree with all this sjw stuff, or the rioting, and I don’t worry about COVID one bit (I touch people for a living!). I think we’ve gone well beyond stating our reasonable disagreements with them on this blog’s comments and gotten well into frothing rage. I find myself getting outraged about them, when in real life, even living in a big cosmopolitan city, I hardly ever encounter a “crazed sjw.” If just reading these comments so faithfully has gotten me worked up about something I hardly ever see, I’m sure some of the more verbose, prolific posters on here are doing damage to themselves and becoming the thing they hate.

    I’m glad we’ve moved on, in terms of the main blog posts. These ancient peeps who played with hypnotism and stuff are cool, probably less dangerous for us to contemplate. I’m just waiting for the comments to catch up.

  197. Violet – We heard a personal story of grief unexpectedly featured in my Lutheran church worship this morning. I say “unexpectedly”, because the topic was “personal faith”, which could be pretty fluffy. But it turned out to be searing, so much so that I can still feel something of my visceral reaction hours later. (I’ll leave out the details; it was not my story.) There were actually two speakers prepared to contribute, but when the first was done, the second speaker said simply “I had some notes to speak from, but my words just can’t follow those.” (or something like that).

    I can’t speak for other churches, but the people in mine are not strangers to grief. I couldn’t say that if we did not share our griefs, and receive some comfort from doing so. Friends and parents get old and pass from this world, but young people also die unexpectedly, and some of us also grieve for children (or grandchildren) never conceived. To be a part of a community in which grief can be shared is good.

  198. Robert Mathiesen: THANKS for the data on Gerald Gardner’s Spiritualist sources. I knew he borrowed as freely as a magpie when founding his not-so-Old Religion (most witches know that) but had never heard of this one.

    And yes, I’m good with the magpie borrowing as long as we know about it. A good synthesis can work out fairly well – like Mulligan Stew for supper. (Or Cream of Fridge Scrapings Casserole.)

    So – add one to my Wiccan History notes, with a great big grin.

  199. Violet – Regarding your comment at 1:21pm on the vital importance of devotion. That was not only very well put, but, I think, profoundly important. I have just begun doing exactly that in my newfound devotion to Athena, and can sense Her approval. I hope more people will take it up.
    And may I take the liberty of saying that you seem to be a delightful and thoughtful person. Of all the comments here, it’s yours and Robert Mathieson’s erudite and informative ones I look forward to the most. Even in a busy week with hundreds of comments, I never scroll past yours. Thank you for putting yourself out there.
    And JMG, thank you as always for the wonderful meeting space and thought provoking essays.

    Jeff H

  200. Lady Cutekitten – as I understand it, Rowling was arguing that “only females have ovaries and periods,” a biological fact beyond dispute, but that “THE only females ARE those who HAVE ovaries and periods.” Which would, of course, eliminate not only transwomen, but women who had those organs removed because of cancer. Pushed to the limit, it might even exclude old women, though I doubt she meant it as such.

    Then we have people who look female, were raised female, think of themselves as female, but who have never had a period. Biological anomalies, sometimes chromosonal ones. So she’s pretty much off base with that statement.

    Does anyone have access to her actual words, so we can check that out?

    P.S. In Star’s Reach – Tweens were automatically classed as men (a default which most s/f dealing with such seems to arrive at), but those who could and did bear but not father children were probably passing as female in that world because they functionally were. (No, social rules don’t have to make sense; it’s easier if you don’t expect them to. Unless you’re on the short end, of course. Surprise! An sfnal culture with flaws! That’s still not a raving dystopia! [insert snarkicon here])

  201. Re COVID statistics: is there anywhere to get reliable stats? The CDC’s probably aren’t. Not their fault; they can only go with what’s reported to them, and the problem is, hospitals have a HUGE incentive to call a patient a COVID patient if they can find any excuse, because they get government money for each such patient. So let’s say an alcoholic gets brought in, liver decaying, pneumonia, toes falling off, covered in fleas, in DTs because he drank his check over the holiday, what you’d call bedsores if he had a bed, brain damage—that guy’s going to be very expensive just to stabilize. But if you test him for COVID exposure and he comes up positive, even if he shows no symptoms, now he’s a COVID patient and a gold mine. Likewise a gangbanger who comes in all shot up. And when either or both of these guys succumbs to his real problem, he’ll still end up in the COVID stats. With the stats all screwed up like this, we can hardly make good decisions on whether to mask, go back to work, etc. Usually when I see a problem I need to know about, I check overseas news sources, but in this case they too probably get their stats from the CDC. Any suggestions?

    Sonkitten’s not feeling well. Ka-CHING! 😈.

    Nothing serious; he was out puttering during our serious heat wave, and he’s sensitive to heat. He probably inherited that from me. My mom used to have to blow a fan across (not into) my crib or I’d get an itchy heat rash, and if the baby ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. Now I’m old and always cold.

    JMG, what do you do with that very warm-looking beard when there’s a heat wave? Wet it down?

  202. I think what people can’t talk about, and can’t bear not talking about is our responsibility and participation in the horror we have created in our rush to modernity. We all seem perfectly content assigning blame at the top of our lungs to some reviled other. Many of us are happy to go on at length about how terrible things are, how much better they were or will be, how we have damaged our culture and environment, and how we, of course, have already seen the light. If only everyone ELSE could wake up or get out of the way, wouldn’t the promised Utopia finally descend upon us? Half of us project that Utopia into the future, while the other half project it into the past. Very, very few consider the present to be pleasant, let alone any sort of Utopia. Whether or not we are willing to admit to ourselves how intolerable the world has become, almost no one is willing to admit that they helped create this monstrosity.

    Hence the purity cults — not us, we didn’t participate in what made things so bad! They were racists, not us! They were anarchists, not us! They were capitalists, not us! They were fundamentalists, not us! Yes, that last one is particularly humorous. So we go about rewriting history (or tearing it down) to erase any evidence of our participation in making life so grindingly unbearable. As the decisions we have so ruthlessly pursued have led us to trudge miserably through our incarceration as debt slaves, is it any wonder that those most chained to debt feel a driving need to eradicate any evidence that they ever helped enslave anyone, including themselves? We are projecting very long shadows.

    As soon as any one of us acknowledges that we co-authored the unsustainable disaster swirling all around us and sucking us toward the drain, most of our fellow inmates will be triggered into unbearable anxiety fits. Denial is always a community act, and the penalties for refusing to play our role and wear our mask in the ritual drama are considerable. Cancelling, Karening, asphyxiating, and beating are but a few of the punishments inflicted on those honest enough to call attention to the horror they helped create. Go ahead and talk about anything you like, so long as you carefully tip-toe around offending anybody by making them feel responsible for their own choices!

    So what can be talked about without running the risk of offending anyone? Not much. Education sucks nowadays, but, by mentioning that, you might trigger teachers who fought for their own protected status, parents who willingly stopped raising their own children, administrators who mandated standardized mediocrity, and taxpayers who starved schools that their ancestors had tightened their belts to get built. Industrial food production sucks nowadays, but, by mentioning that, you could trigger everyone who contributes to it or benefits from it, which includes every one of us with the ability to read this blog. Almost every topic is an offending taboo to one group or another.

    What if we ran the risk of offending ourselves before anyone else by acknowledging our responsibility for all the ill-considered, short-term benefits we were willing to buy into? I like having access to modern medicine, so I can’t honestly blame the corrupt monopoly of the medical establishment on some remote “other” when I would scream and holler were my access taken away. I have helped to build what I loathe one misguided choice at a time. And I have also helped to build what I love one imaginative choice at a time. The choice is mine.

    I think we will stand little chance of fully recovering — as individuals, families, communities, and nations —from the damage we have inflicted on ourselves, if we refuse to acknowledge our part in the great drama unfolding around us. Contemplating your question “for what are we not supposed to grieve?”, I came up with “that which we won’t admit we helped to kill.” The gods, the psyche, the subconscious, karma — none of them take kindly to the false grief of the un-confessed murderer. Perhaps America’s hostility to expressions of grief and fear come from our troubling realization that we are the problem we want fixed. Perhaps we fear that our rote and facile masks of grief will not satisfy and that a more authentic offering is wanted.

    Thank you, Patricia. Society is indeed strangling and does indeed know it.

  203. Mullein growing like crazy in Connecticut this year too. Everywhere. Good for lungs, throat, ears, GI tract.

  204. @dear Violet, sigh.and I can’t make the leap down from the abstract symbol to what it means in reality. But I try. There are three keywords: life, breath (see Patricia Mathews), and grief as you and Ray Wharton have described, as a communal emotion, only fully to be experienced when you can trust the beings around you. Trust I think is a function of the Nephesh, like sex or eating. A rapport with an Other. That’s why it seems so familiar of a malady to Victorian hysteria.

    If you picture the lower three Paths of the Qabalistic Tree from Maltkuth, you will find Shin to Hod – individuals suffer, and suffer alone. Animals feel pain, the saying goes, but they don’t suffer, that’s a human trait, because we see our death as individuals. Then you will find Qoph, from Malkuth to Netzach – group mind, passions, animal fear and animal delight. The middle path, Tau, is the path of Grief, the Cross. The balanced pillar of air up which we ascend when we die (breath ceases) or descend to be born (draw breath). An individual, so tenuously so, only as long as air goes in and out…

    Yesod is the sphere of the life force. When you breath, you interact with all of life. Breath is always associated with chi, prana, whatever. Fortune says when you draw a force down the planes, you must send a corresponding one back up. To grieve is to pull down a balancing life force into the material realm when a piece of life essence goes back up to the plane above. To make an ordinary death holy… We are killing off and disrupting a lot of the rest of the life community, and/or short circuiting ourselves by refusing to admit community, treat others with dignity, and experience the joys of life. But we don’t grieve it; we fear, we rage (if you’re not angry, you’re not paying attention!), we pretend it’s not happening or that we can forget it happened. We point fingers and break community further.

    Failing to a) live in community with Life, or b) grieve loss of Life will send you off to the side, into depression and anxiety (alienation turned to self) or rage/fear (alienation turned to others). Or leave you, apparently, with synchronicity around inability to breath.

    Fortunately, the world is very smart, and like sheep headed to the salt lick for what’s missing, we’re all being pushed outdoors, away from the city of possible, forced to staycation in our own neighbourhoods, strangely compelled to garden and make sourdough, and finally forced to face the fact that no, zoom and faceplant is not a substitute for seeing your friends.

  205. Christophe:

    I think what people can’t talk about, and can’t bear not talking about is our responsibility and participation in the horror we have created in our rush to modernity.

    Thank you for this essay. It rings true to my ears.

    About 10 years ago I wrote a poem about this. An offering, perhaps:

    Pieta

    There
    in the asphalt sunlight
    a tangle of bright blood,
    hair and bone:
    roadkill.

    I look away, at the sky, elsewhere,
    raise my open palm to block the horror
    and drive on, thinking I’ve succeeded
    – at what, it’s hard to say.

    But my side vision catches something
    standing in deep shadow beside the road:
    the doe!

    Head bowed, still and grieving,
    sorrow pouring off her like a dark river
    cold and coiling round my heart.

    Ah!
    Forgive us,
    for we know
    but turn away
    from what we do.

  206. Re. JK Rowling—https://www.jkrowling.com/opinions/j-k-rowling-writes-about-her-reasons-for-speaking-out-on-sex-and-gender-issues/
    In reading this bear in mind that British law on the subject is quite different from US law.

    Rita

  207. @Merle, I am so glad you’ve stuck with us. I’m living overseas, so I cannot get a real grasp of what is going on in America, but I know from long experience that what you hear about at a distance is all the scary, shocking and weird stuff. I’d have a different view of America overall if I ever managed to step across the puddle. A total of one US relative out of a hundred or so has been diagnosed with COVID, and none of them is reporting unrest nearby, though they continue to snipe along partisan lines.
    Because it is a topic occasioning anxiety over future events, the BLM (I knew the western ranchers had a beef with them, but when did they decide to get violent?), the Karens (when did they immigrate from Myanmar?) and the SJW (yet another bureaucratic agency?) are apt to be a topic of much emotional heat, that he polite among us would do well to refrain from for the time being.
    For the record, I am personally conservative but really grateful for socialistic aspects of Japan’s governance. This country still has a middle class and the leeway for most people to stay home during a pandemic without facing destitution. I was blaming the degree of corruption in Japan’s medical system on the comprehensive insurance system, but after reading Lady Cutekitten’s account of COVID scamming, I realize socialism has nothing to do with it. If the ‘garchs’ profits aren’t growing, they’ll finagle something.

  208. @ Lady Cutekitten

    The statistics issue is a problem. Strange as it might sound, we are using the statistics for a purpose for which they were never intended.

    For example, causes of death on death certificates have long been known to be wrong. Blind testing shows they are wrong in about one third of cases. I use the word ‘wrong’ here but actually the correct way to put it is they were ‘good enough’. Autopsies are expensive and we have collectively decided not to pay for them and to accept some error on the death certificate.

    Same with the PCR testing. It is ‘good enough’ for influenza surveillance programs which are really just bureaucratic/academic exercises.

    These and other practices/statistics have never been tested against a real time pandemic before. It is no surprise they are not up to the job. They were good enough for their other purpose but not for this one.

    What we need when all this is over is to sit down and have a long, hard discussion about what a proper pandemic response should look like. What data we would need and how we can accurately get that data.

    [Note: my two cents is you can’t have a data driven response to a pandemic and you are better off re-structuring society to be more resilient to viral outbreak in the first place.]

  209. Dear Lady Cutekitten of Lolcat, thank you for your sermon! While I serve other deities, I readily see and acknowledge the beauty, grace and majesty of Jesus Christ, who clearly deserves reverence, veneration, prayer, devotion and offerings. As for the rest of it, no argument there: this country clearly does have an issue with out-of-control pride.

    Dear Robert, that’s utterly fascinating many thanks for the elaboration! That makes a lot of sense, and I appreciate the place of deism and populism in your explanation.

    Dear Methylethyl, You’re most welcome. From my perspective, your thoughts are very much grounded in reality and I sympathize utterly. Really and truly, I’ve found it very bizarre to find myself in the place of being both trans and opposed to what the transgender movement has become. I transitioned after what I may best describe as a shamanic initiation. It was harrowing in the extreme, and transitioning brought me back to the world of the living. Back in the day, when I hung out with lots of other trans people, I could tend to sense who was coming to transgenderism from a similar place of initiation, and who came to it from what may best be described as fashion.

    Even then, the overwhelming majority of trans people were on the side of fashion. Now it’s been many years since I’ve even met any trans people on the spiritual side of it. Personally, this shift has been to my mind utterly catastrophic. The last thing I ever wanted trans to become was a polemic, partisan issue. I’m able to get along fine with folks who don’t believe in trans and think of me as male as long as they treat me decently — using whatever pronouns they may — and frankly I don’t care about the existential reality of trans whatsoever. I do care that this movement has become, to my mind and sensibility an evil vortex that brainwashes and sterilizes some of the most vulnerable members of society.

    Dear Lathechuck, good on you and your church for holding that sort of space! I think that sort of religious space for people to be fully human is absolutely vital and it does my heart good to know that your church does just that.

    Dear Jeff H., I’m absolutely delighted to hear that! It seems that a lot of folks are praying to Athena/Minerva right now and I could not be happier about it! She is such an awe-inspiring, magnificent, and brilliant goddess and it does my heart good to know that you and others give Her the devotion that She deserves.

    Dear Pixelated, thank you for your more concrete explanation. that makes more sense to me and I think I understand.

  210. Dear Mawkernewek,

    That’s a good point. Do I understand that you’re implying that grief may be incompatible with Calvinist values?

  211. To riff a little on Patricia Matthews’ observation, the Hebrew word nefesh includes the following meanings, among others, according to the Brown Driver Briggs lexicon: soul, living being, life. The first meaning given is ” = that which breathes, the breathing substance or being = psyche, anima, the soul, the inner being of man. We tend to think of psyche as mind, but the main meaning in Greek is soul: a psychiatrist is, or should be, a soul doctor, as opposed to a body doctor. The very first meaning of psyche in the littlest Liddell and Scott Lexicon is breath, after which we get life, spirit and soul, and only at the end, mind, reason, understanding. In Ugaritic, which is closely related to Hebrew, in addition to soul, person and life, we also have throat. This is more than an academic observation, since it bears on the translation of Psalm 69:1: many translations have the waters have come up to my life, or up to my soul, while others have the waters have come up to my neck. I think neck is the preferable translation, because the passage says, the waters have come up to my nefesh, and throat makes the best sense of the image. So, as Patricia points out, COVID-19 robs the breath (and in extreme cases the life); a neck, hence a throat, is constricted, and eventually the breath and the life is gone; COVID-19 also indirectly had the effect of cleaning up the air in polluted cities worldwide (thereby teaching us another lesson related to breathing). All of these are also related to the soul, since soul in English is also used in words like soulless or soullessness, the former of which according to The Free Dictionary means lacking sensitivity or the capacity for deep feeling. Nefesh in Hebrew and psyche in Greek is also the seat of appetites, emotions, desires, or passions, in short “deep feelings”. For soulless The Free Dictionary adds “lacking any humanizing qualities or influences; dead; mechanical:”. So “what is it that people can’t talk about, and can’t bear not talking about?” End of riff. (Thank you, Patricia.)

  212. @Steve T, if I may,
    ” I rarely thought about politics, and I had no desire whatsoever to read the news. I even found that a chronic health condition that has been troubling me for two years cleared up, all on its own, during the drive. The only exceptions to this came when we drove through the cities. My chronic stress would come back, I’d become irritable,”
    Steve, you have radiowave poisoning. This is a well known ailment that the Soviets first documented, and it has been mocked and derided by the followers of Ssergorp the Unstoppable, with its more common name (which I use, shame on myself) “electromagnetic hypersensitivity.” This makes it sound like a weakness, when it is no such thing. Like the food testers in old courts, you are gifted with the ability to tell when you’re getting hit with something potentially deadly.
    You can hardwire your smart thingie and turn off its antennas if you must use it, and shield your living quarters from what’s around you. As you know from experience, though, getting out of the city restores your health. and even if you shield your living quarters, you have to go out sometimes, and I know people that take several days to recover each time.
    But you’ve learned the most important lesson: there is something in the urban environment that messes with your mind, leaving you less rational, less happy and chronically ill. Consider yourself very lucky to have realized this.
    And thank you so much for sharing this! If you need any help, let me know.

  213. @Minervaphilos, thank you for the fascinating view of what is going on in Turkey!

    @Ray Wharton, I think you can be a rugged individualist with family values and not fall into xenophobia. Quakers and Zen practitioners, among others, far quite well in this regard.

    @Patricia M, I loved the link you shared with sensible advice on staying healthy. Some of the dreams you described are much like mine when I developed self-confidence: Good evening ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the Adventures of Patricia! In our last episode she was clinging to a ladder in mid air. Will she fall today? She sprouts wings. Will the dastardly duo from the door of doom destroy her? Will the government goons grab her? Never fear, Patricia knows all the secrets of the Dream World! Still, the lava leviathan lurks, and the magnetic rainbow sunspots off the coast of Japan threaten to destroy our planet. What will Patricia do?
    Have fun!

  214. Merle, I expect that to happen as the current crisis winds down, but we’ll see.

    Patricia M, what happened to science fiction exactly parallels the rest of what’s happened to our culture — the widespread embrace of the delusion that a spectrum can only consist of its two endpoints. The endpoints of Utopia and Dystopia make for boring stories!

    Your Kittenship, the beard doesn’t bother me noticeably in hot weather, but then I’m not all that sensitive to heat or cold.

    Christophe, many thanks for this. Yes, exactly.

    And a general comment — what an extraordinary series of reflections, discussions, and meditations this week’s post has elicited! Thank you, all of you, for reading and contributing.

  215. @ Patricia O–

    Thank you very much for this, although it confirms something that I’ve feared for some time. Can you put me to any resources on electromagnetic sensitivity?

  216. Violet, thank you on behalf of Christendom’s leader for that beautiful compliment! I am sorry to hear you got caught up in the trans battles; it sounds like you’re just trying to mind your own business. Well, when the jerks bother you, you always have us, your faithful correspondents.

  217. JMG, do you have an occult explanation for the Lord of the Flies and his successful weaponization of balls?

  218. I’m really, really bad at poetry. BUT I was walking down to my local university and saw a magnificent but run-down neoclassical building that was boarded up and the bottoms of the pillars were scrawled with BLM catchphrases, some of which I liked, and others which I found newspeak-esque. It was such a striking symbolic image that I felt compelled to compose something small, appalling lack of skill notwithstanding. I had read David Trammel’s post about intolerant anger over left stuff earlier, so that cry for balance was in my mind when making this short little thing.

    Black ink anger twisting up whitewashed colonnades.
    Bleached-bone white savagely battles fire-soot black
    Will the Edifice burn, or triumph?
    Will the charcoal scribblings flower, or rot?
    I don’t want black, nor white, nor hues of gray.
    Why are the colors of life silent and absent?

  219. Mr. Greer and everyone,

    It is refreshing to find a conversation that, amongst other things, has taken on in a unique way the deep mystery of the so-called mind-body problem. Naturally, that term itself is clumsy and laden with all kinds of assumptions on the part of academic philosophers but there it is. Basically, it is my understanding, that when a philosopher sets out to make an account of the mind in purely materialistic terms, she immediately runs into problems. Even vulgar materialists like Nagel admit as much.

    Most fatally, it presumes that Darwinian evolutionary principles must have wholly dictated the development and character of consciousness– even though it is not at all clear how nature or why nature would select for the kind of consciousness that humans developed. True, it is that consciousness that allowed us to develop tools that make things like agriculture and, later, scientific endeavor possible. But, it is also the same consciousness that produces suicide, mental illness (or psychogenic disease), and warfare. These are hardly adaptive traits. There are also just formal mathematical issues, given the time horizon of our development, that would make random selection into this reality improbable*. This is to say nothing of what mystics (in the taxonomy of formal religions) or unaffiliated, or loosely affiliated, occultists have discovered about the nature of consciousness, and its relation to our biological selves, through their own craft.

    What makes me say all this is that in my journeys I have had occasion to meet many involved in the tech start-up community. In general, one of the major mistakes I encounter with engineers who are involved with AI development is that they believe that Alan Turing solved the problem of consciousness and provided a rough paradigm for knowing when we have created a machine that is conscious.

    Turing believed that the mind was a complex computer that stored statistical data about the mind’s environment so as to make predictions about the consequences of the mind’s actions. In theory, with sufficient data, a machine like a robot or a car could make similar, or better, predictions about the future. In the car’s case it would be a better driver– and that may be true someday. But, in the case of the robot, though, it seems to propose that the robot could then become something like human.

    Because Turing’s model of consciousness is just that, I claim, it is a map that mistakes itself for the terrain. Maps are very useful in telling you how to travel across the face of the planet from A to B. But maps are useless in describing the myriad experiences that would go along with such a journey in any sort of cognizable sense. So it might tell you how decisions on a basic level are made, but it can’t tell you what it smells like in the jungles of the Congo– or even how to reproduce something like smell. To that end, for some reason, researchers seem to be obsessed with speech– perhaps, I guess, in an effort to solve a heuristic about consciousness: namely, social bonds and affections. But, again, that misses the point. A machine that fools other people into thinking it is “speaking” in any sort of authorial, rather than reactive, way is of no use to anyone– except maybe the desperately lonely.

    So, to my mind, this relates to our topic of conversation because, even with these basic flaws, these mainstream models of consciousness ignore any discovery (no matter how probing or cursory) people like Mr. Quimby find. It’s also worth emphasizing, like others in this thread have, that it is one of the dirty secrets of modern psychiatry that when all else fails patients get sent to people like Mr. Quimby. Typically, they are people like AA sponsors, priests, spiritual directors, etc. Modern sciences, and medicine, just cannot penetrate that terra incognita in any useful sense.

    *NB, not impossible, but improbable. Now, before anyone misunderstands me, I don’t mean that that means evolution is bunk or that the Book of Genesis, or whatever, is the key. Rather, I merely claim the picture is incomplete.

  220. @patriciaormsby, @Steve T.

    I’ll second the getting out of the city thing. Going to my favorite camping ground restores me like nothing else. I’ve lost years of my life to the omnipresence of this awful stuff, calling it poison re-frames it in a way that is viscerally satisfying to me. I’m honestly rooting for some degree of de-techification regardless of the consequences because it will allow me to fully enjoy life again. Maybe that’s a little mean seeing as such an event will also mean a lot of pain for some folks, but I hope for it nonetheless. I wish you both the best in finding peace and strength enough to deal with this!

  221. @Steve T,
    There is absolutely tons of stuff. See https://bioinitiative.org/ for a comprehensive overview. The phenomenon is quite complex. I think from your description and the timing that you are reacting mostly to 4G. The current focus of concerns is on 5G, but as the latter relies on 4G as a back-up when receptivity is poor, 5G is bringing 4G to lamp post antennas at closer range than before. Fortunately, you can measure the levels of 4G with meters in the $100 range, and the effectiveness of shielding is understood, whereas these are not true for 5G.
    Lloyd Burrell’s site https://www.electricsense.com/ has a lot of good advice for dealing with the condition. I also highly recommend reading Arthur Firstenberg’s “The Invisible Rainbow,” which is very well researched The author is living in Santa Fe, and he says the geomagnetic properties of that area mitigate the harmful effects of the radiation somewhat.
    For radiofrequency meters and shielding see https://www.lessemf.com/ I’m going to order up about 10 yards of material for a Faraday cage. Even in rural parts of Japan, 4G levels are quite high. The most important thing is to have a safe place to sleep. Also, whatever you can do to get out in nature is valuable.

  222. @Patricia Matthews re J.K. Rowling:
    “Does anyone have access to her actual words, so we can check that out?”
    I don’t have the sum of what she’s been saying on Twitter (which I don’t have and have no plans to get an account for), but some links came up in a discussion about this I was involved in elsewhere.
    Here’s a longer-form statement by Rowling:
    https://www.jkrowling.com/opinions/j-k-rowling-writes-about-her-reasons-for-speaking-out-on-sex-and-gender-issues/
    And here are a pair of longer-form rebuttals to it:
    https://www.forbes.com/sites/dawnstaceyennis/2020/06/11/this-is-the-sequel-jk-rowling-doesnt-want-you-to-read/#1da2439a5165
    https://the-orbit.net/ashleyfmiller/2020/06/12/jk-rowlings-anti-trans-post-a-deep-dive/

    Hope that helps!

  223. For all those who have discovered Minerva or Athena – when I called for a protector, I got Minerva and have set up an altar to her on an east-facing ledge – the kitchen counter, alas – the image is an illustration from an elementary Latin textbook that I copied and pasted into a catch-all notebook I call my devotional. I have asked her what she wants from me a offerings. So far, an apple for the teacher, and a sharpened pencil. Surprise! I was able to hand-sharpen it with my little hardware store souvenir box-cutter very easily.

    She has also told me to take down the altar when the housekeeper makes her biweekly visit. So far, so good, though today is Diana’s day.

  224. JMG et al re a “Listener” new profession:

    That’s pretty much what good therapists do already no? Not to mention good priests, prostitutes, etc? Not to mention the police in many cases, social workers…

  225. Kudos to another excellent essay!

    I’d like to add another suggestion as to the unspeakable, sublimated emotion that drives us mad and creates physical ailments. For at least some of us in the salary classes, I nominate the reproductive urge.

    You’re not supposed to want kids– you’re supposed to want to travel, climb the career ladder, to live ‘your best life’– but not to reproduce. That’s always put off for a later that, for too many of us, never comes. This is not spoken of, of course.

    It’s painful. I didn’t ‘miss the boat’ on my fertility like some people I know… but my wife and I aren’t able to have children, regardless. People think we’re lucky! It has been 10 years and only now am I facing up to the fact that I have to allow myself to grieve for something I always knew I’d never have — and have never let myself admit to wanting. I don’t even know where to start.

    I don’t know what bottling up that pain has done for me, physically, but since I’ve long suffered from ailments no doctor could pin down to physical cause… yeah.

    The need to hate, the need to grieve, and the desire to reproduce. (Is there anything HUMAN our culture isn’t suppressing in the name of profit and progress?)

  226. Violet, JMG et al

    I have been following the transgender debate on twitter where it is particularly toxic. I have a friend (not trans) who posted that she didn’t want to wear a Harry Potter face mask now as she didn’t want to be associated with Rowling’s alleged transphobia. She has caught the mind virus which says that you can be anything if you want to be. Therefore a woman can be a man merely by wishing it, (not a transman) and men can get pregnant, etc. This seems to me to be a debased form of New Age thinking, ie, “You create your own reality”, which is of course only partly true. It seems to be the last decadent stage of Progressivism before that wave rolls back from the shore.

    All Rowling said was that biological sex was a reality, something that trans right activists want to deny. Why has this topic suddenly become so prominent and noxious? I think it is all of a piece with the statue toppling and BLM slogans. They want to erase the body, erase nature (even elk statues), erase the past and turn the past on its head. Therefore you can say, “Black lives matter” not “All lives matter” or Goddess forbid, “White lives matter”, while you are ‘taking the knee’. This strikes me as redolent of black supremacy, something as vile as white supremacy is.

    However I can’t retweet Rowling, much as I would like to. That would make me a Bad Person and in some cases people have lost their jobs over “wrongthink” on twitter, tiktok etc. The irony is as Violet and other transpeople have said is that the issue is complex and it has been hijacked by woke ideologues, most of whom are not trans. I also found this video interesting (for those who do video) from a transwoman Blaire White agreeing with Rowling. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jyzZ3J6IG6s

    So the trans person has become the fetishized mascot of Progressivism whether they want that role or not. In the meantime, a lot of confused and sometimes traumatized kids are being funneled down the trans “medical pathway” because of this fetishization and it takes a brave person to question the narrative. I am really grateful for your blogs where we can talk openly about these troubling issues without being smeared or banned.

  227. JMG and all – In today’s Washington Post, a 69-year old resident addressed her local city council, considering a proposed response to a current challenge (the details of which could probably be guessed, but are not important to my comment), with this statement: “Our civil rights are being trampled… We just want to return to normal.” The measure was defeated.

    If I could talk to her, I’d say “I regret to inform you that ‘return to normal’ is not one of the options that your city council can choose.” It’s not an option for this challenge, and it won’t be an option for any of the other looming challenges. It’s time for people to learn that, whatever their life experience has been, it was just stuff that happened to you under conditions that no one had much control over. It was not “normal”, and we’re not going back.

  228. Hi JMG,

    I started the lessons on Order Of Essenes, I cannot describe how helpful they’ve been. It’s almost as if something just “clicked” subconsciously and I feel empowered. I personally struggle with a lot of anxiety and depression issues and nothing has come close to this lesson in helping me change my attitudes. There are certain things I disagree with in the lessons though, but it’s positives outweigh all of it for me.

  229. Goldenhawk, your poem “Pieta” is painfully evocative. Thank you. I was not expecting the biblical reference at the end, which led me to reread the poem repeatedly to unpack your paraphrasing of Jesus’ grieving intercession.

    You have beautifully captured the futile effort we expend trying to shield ourselves from the disorienting mix of emotions we feel when life reflects us back at ourselves. Your honesty in acknowledging how far from emulating Jesus’ example we actually are tastes bittersweet, like the necessary medicine it is if we hope to recover our humanity.

    Also, your line breaks and punctuation are quite extraordinary. Has “Pieta” been published anywhere?

  230. Re grief

    I think the discussions of grief here have raised some very good points. As a culture, we are going to need to be able to better manage the process of grief going forward–not only in our personal lives, but collectively as well. As the cycle moves deeper into autumn and then into winter, we are going to continue to witness the decay, decline, and destruction of many things we hold dear. The wanton destruction and abysmal ignorance we’re seeing today is only one aspect of a much larger phenomenon of cultural collapse. The ideals on which this country was founded–civic duty, civil liberty, personal responsibility, democratic self-governance–are in scant supply these days. How do we grief their loss? How do we grieve the failure of the republic we might have been? When the light of reason trampled by the mindless mob, how does one lament the knowledge that has been destroyed? I can only weep.

  231. JMG asked about other pre-Gardnerian witches in the spiritualist tradition. My clearest example is Emma Hardinge Britten, and even she aims at a degree of plausible deniability when she writes of herself as a witch, that is, a Spiritualust medium. I don;t doubt that there were others, but I haven’t plowed deeply enough into the enormous corpus of Spriitualist publications to have spotted many others. A fairly clear example is Zena H. Maher, author of a very, very short book, “The Witch Hypnotizer” (San Francisco, 1892).

    As for the late Gundella, she published two books on Michigan ghosts and legends–“The Werewolf of Grosse Pointe” (1972) and “Michigan Haunts and Hauntings” (1992)–in which she presents herself as a Witch and also speaks a little in some chapters about her own and her family’s practices; and those practices are pure Spiritualism in action. There is a very informative website devoted to her:

    http://gundella.blogspot.com

    As for pre-Gardnerian Witches in general, there were two I know of out in California: Robert Heinlein’s second wife, Leslyn Macdonald, and Fritz Leiber’s wife, Jonquil Stephens. Heinlein’s noverl, “Magic Inc.,” has a Witch named Amanda–“she who must be loved”–as its major character, certainly modeled on Leslyn. Her practices (as Heinlein describes them) owe a great deal to E. Grillot de Givery’s heavily illustrated book on Magic and Witchcraft from the 1920s.

    There were several other popular books that took Witchcraft seriously, and which were published in English in the 1920s. Any interested person could have found more than enough in them to design a practice of her own. The most useful of the lot are J. W. Wickwar, “Witchcraft and the Black Art” (1925); Ian Ferguson, “The Philosophy of Witchcraft” (1925); and Theda Kenyon, “Witches Still Live” (1929). Oliver Maddox Hueffer’s “The Book of Witches” belongs here, too, but it was published as early as 1908.

    Shirley Jackson belongs here, too, according to her children’s memories of her. She assembled an enormous library on Witchcraft and magic, practiced out of them, and at times seriously called herself a Witch. A number of literary scholars and biographers have claimed that, of course, she couldn’t possibly have believed in such nonsense; after all, she is major literary figure, part of the 20th-century canon. Horsefeathers!

  232. Marc and others are writing about mullein, so I thought I should point out that the plant contains high levels or rotenone —- a neurotoxin. Native Americans used the plant to poison fish (the paralyzed fish were easy to catch). It’s a plant which I think it’s a good idea not to consume.

  233. Hello Robert,
    Thanks a million for the reply (and the suggested link) which I have been thinking hard about.

    I do think it is still true that the relationship between my mind and my hand is quite different to the relationship between my mind and your hand. Even using mesmerism, I don’t think I could experience an itch on my knee, notice it, and, using nothing but an inner thought, “think” your hand into scratching it.

    What I need to do is elicit your co-operation through communication and/or move you to compliance with believable threat. Both require some type of communication between one mind and the other – and the route to the other’s body is still through their mind. I do think that the kind of rapport you mention developing through mesmerism is a way of bringing the subject into a co-operative “field” in which covert forms of communication (including movements, gestures and perhaps, hidden trigger words) succeed in recruiting one part of the subject’s mind to move the subject’s body, apparently without their volition, which I assume means without the involvement of a different, perhaps more conscious part of the mind. In other words the mesmerist has created a divided will/double bind situation in the subject after first gaining the their overall co-operation for “whatever happens next”.

    Rapport is important in the clinic, but so too are ethical rules (I can’t think of a better word) I feel obliged to impose on myself, to prevent me from taking any advantage, or from sidestepping anyone’s consent. Rapport can make this so easy to do, that I am not surprised the book came with a lock. The aim of developing rapport with a patient is mainly to help them recover the all-important rapport they’ve lost with themselves, which now has them all at cross-purposes with themselves. ie to help them step out of any double binds, and to unite their will.

  234. Your Kittenship, no, I don’t. The universe is full of mysteries and that’s one of them.

    Millennial, thanks for this. I stopped believing in the artificial intelligence boondoggle after reading Roger Penrose’s very soundly reasoned book The Emperor’s New Mind, which takes apart the Turing hypothesis and shows its essential unsoundness. Your last point — that the scientific worldview isn’t wrong, just incomplete — is also crucial, to my mind, if the valuable discoveries of science are to be preserved for the long run instead of being lost in the inevitable backlash.

    Listener, sure, but the profession has been artificially restricted by forcing candidates to go through (and pay for) an education in psychotherapy or what have you, and too many of the people who come out of that process end up with unhelpful notions about doing something other than listening. What I’m suggesting is someone who will just listen — no judgment, no diagnosis, no claims of authority or threats of eternal damnation: just someone who will listen.

    Dusk Shine, that makes enormous sense. What all these repressions seem to cycling in toward, it seems to me, is the recognition that we’re embodied, biological beings — subject to pain and grief and fear, subject to reproductive urges, with biological characteristics such as sex that don’t just go away if we don’t like them. Is the thing that can’t be addressed the fact that we really do have bodies, bodies of meat and bone and fat and blood and the remains of our last meal or two, bodies that won’t do or be whatever we tell them?

    Bridge, that’s certainly my take on it.

    Lathechuck, that sounds suspiciously like the standard rhetoric of progress — “we can’t go back!” Au contraire; we’ll just go back a little further, to the point at which diseases like the present one were considered relatively normal, and nobody thought it was a good idea to shut down the entire nation over an illness that has a per-case death rate of 0.26%.

    Nomad, I’m delighted to hear it. The course certainly did me a lot of good.

    Booklover, this is, what, the third comet that’s appeared of late? I hope it doesn’t fizzle out the way the last two did.

    Aidan, since it’s not relevant to this week’s post, I’ll read it when I have a chance, which may not be soon. You really aren’t getting the message, are you?

    Robert, thanks for this. I’ve already got Emme Hardinge Britten lined up for a post of her own, of course, and I knew of some of the others but not all. As for Shirley Jackson, it occurs to me that you might recall the squawking in academic dovecotes when Virginia Moore’s book The Unicorn made it impossible to ignore William Butler Yeats’s lifelong involvement in Hermetic occultism; I got to read about it in retrospect, of course, but it seems to have been much the same sort of nonsense.

    Rita, fascinating. I figured they’d have to get to Michell sooner or later; I’ll be interested to see what Gus has to say.

  235. Re: mullein, the leaves have a long history of use/consumption by humans, and I recommend anyone interested in it to do their own research on toxicity. Rotenone seems to be present in SEEDS (which, in case you aren’t aware, are NOT leaves), rather than the typically used (tinctured, oil infused, smoked) leaves and flowers. So… Let’s not panic here, by lumping all plant parts together, but definitely, do your research just as you should with any health aid.

  236. “What all these repressions seem to cycling in toward, it seems to me, is the recognition that we’re embodied, biological beings…” “And God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul.” By this reading, we don’t _have_ souls; we _are_ souls, bodies animated by the breath of God. Animal, spirit – both mean breath!

  237. Dear Goldenhawk (if I may),

    Thank you for sharing your poem, which I found profoundly moving. It spoke to some things that have weighed heavily on my mind and heart recently, and even provided a fruitful seed for meditation!

  238. Hello Scotlyn,

    Indeed, there are hard ethical issues here in spades! Nineteenth-century ethics were somewhat different from ours today, but the “locked book” certainly seemed aware of the ethical concerns of its author’s own day.

    As for the mechanism involved in the processes described, though Chandos Leigh Hunt doesn’t go into it in detail, it seems to me that it’s not about dividing one part of the mind from another, resulting in a “divided will.” Rather, what happens resembles more the artificial creation (or perhaps the waking up) of an alternate personality in the subject than the creation of a divided will. It is actually a much scarier, riskier, and far more “fraught” thing than merely creating a divided will. I think you’ll appreciate the difference (if I remember correctly what you’ve said about your professional background in the past).

    Other thinkers of CLH’s era, working in roughly the same intellectual tradition (Frederick H. W. Myers, Charles G. Leland), offered excellent reasons to posit that there are multiple personalities, multiple independent selves, in nearly every one of us Most of us shift back and forth between our multiple selves effortlessly, almost without noticing: we are always putting a current self to sleep in a sort of “dormitory of selves,” and waking up another self that is better able to deal with the immediate situation at hand. However, some of us do this without much skill, and so we sometimes shock our friends and acquaintences. A very few of us have little or no control over the process, and at times downright terrify those who encounter them.

  239. Christophe:

    Thank you for your kind response. This forum is closest I’ve come to publishing the poem, although it does appear in a slightly different form in a chapbook I produced years ago and gave away to family and friends.

  240. Robert Mathiesen, if I haven’t said this already, I genuinely value your wise and scholarly contributions to both blogs. As an aside, I bought and read “Rede of the Wiccae” a bit before I read “Triumph of the Moon,” and your thorough and reasonable analysis helped me accept the premise of Hutton’s book, that Wicca is a modern religion and not an ancient survival. Thank you for that!

    Lady Cutekitten, on the subject of Deadly Sins, I was fascinated to find out that “sloth” is a poor translation of the original Latin, “acedia.” It’s not just laziness; it’s a dangerous spiritual crisis. Acedia begins with a resistance to spiritual practice that can, if unchecked, lead to impiety and despair. I wonder now if Acedia isn’t one of the names of the Watcher on the Threshold.

  241. Lady Cutekitten, from Magic Monday, thanks for the prompt link to the Order of the Essenes website. I’m already working on the first lesson, and it’s not as easy as it sounds, but so far, so good.

  242. Hi Sister Crow,

    I had an ugly spell of acedia a few years ago. I thought about writing about it.

  243. Thank you so much, Sister Crow! It means a lot to me that one of my works made a difference for you!

  244. Lady Cutekitten,

    You may misunderstand the patriotic program you saw on TV. I’ve never been particularly oriented toward patriotism as such, but due to the current upheavals going on, I have rather suddenly come to realize that hey, wait a minute, this country was founded upon some rather great ideas and has quite a lot to recommend it, and a fair amount to be proud of and that right now we need to get that straight and perhaps even fight for it (hopefully not physically).
    Kind of like those Protestant revivals but for our republic rather than our Christianity.

  245. Dear JMG,

    Having thought it over some more I think that you’re entirely correct that a major source of the meltdowns we see around us is the aversion of the biological reality of embodiment. Interestingly on this tip, I’ve always linked the sort of malice that people have towards grieving people as very similar to the malice that people have towards fat people. That is, there seems to be a malicious resentment against what might be termed “excessive embodiment.”

    Furthermore, if we really think about it, isn’t this whole furor about “race” also tied to embodiment? Here I think of the ribbons of blood tying the generations, the many horrible things our ancestors did to survive, the many horrible things that we’ve “progressed” away from? Here then too, we can see the current round of iconoclasms — even going after a statue of Frederick Douglas, sadly — as a rebellion against a sense of ancestral embodiment in the form of symbols and statues.

  246. Dear Bridge,

    I sadly agree with what you wrote. Really I wish there were more fine-grained language than “transgender” that wasn’t the ridiculous attempts at gender categorization with dozens of pronouns. Certainly while I’m “trans” the impulse that led me to transition is so, incredibly at odds with the whole sense of “progress” it’s hard to even put it into words. Most importantly, what led me to transition were the dark impulses of the blood, not the bright things of thoughts. Things like a crushing physical sensation of having a uterus and feeling sick, physically ill, that I couldn’t menstruate and cleanse it. Importantly, I don’t write these things to defend my “womanhood” — I hardly identify as a woman! My point is that I got, at least in part, struck by a madness with an enormous somatic component that my mind never could grasp. My mind got taken along for the ride mostly kicking and screaming. That said, life is strange and people are complex and transitioning certainly was, in the full light of many years having passed and greater self-understanding, really my best choice. As alluded to in my earlier comment there were spiritual components to it that have been immensely rewarding and if I had to relive my life I’d make those choices again, although I’d do my best to make them with more joy and with much less of the needless self-hatred I inflicted. That said, I’ve known four other trans women with my sort of experience out of many hundreds. Most I’ve known are simply people who it appears take Progress very seriously indeed…

  247. It’s late in the comment cycle, but I thought I’d just link to my dreamwidth, where I will now be writing my long essays instead ;-). The first post is an attempt to summarize where I think our discussion with breath and embodiment and grief leads, and teaser where I went all over the map in my own meditations over the past few months to get there, eventually. Big thanks to JMG for providing this and The Other Blog forum for all the stimulating discussion, and all the commenters – for this one, violetcabra, Patricia Mathews, Ray Wharton for particular ideas and links both here and there!

  248. A bit late to the party this week! JMG, thank you for this. Reading about Mary Baker Eddy filled my very small need for ‘drama’. Loved that!

    So fascinating all of this history. Also, how everything all really connects; in that similar ideas were being plucked down from the higher (or inner) planes to be expressed in the physical, around the world at roughly similar timeframes.

    Re: “THE ALL is MIND; the Universe is Mental.”

    This reminds me of the Kybalion… ahh I see and a quick Wikipedia confirms Atkinson.

    Re: “matter is not an illusion: it is one of several realms of being, each of which has its own laws and rules.”

    I agree. Matter is not an illusion; what’s perhaps illusory are the beliefs, thoughts, descriptions and ideas of whatever is being projected upon that matter.

    As each of our worldviews and experience of life and matter is unique, no one view is “Truth”, hence the illusion.

    Thanks for another great post.

    Blessings,

    Tanya

  249. Pingback: My Homepage

Courteous, concise comments relevant to the topic of the current post are welcome, whether or not they agree with the views expressed here, and I try to respond to each comment as time permits. Long screeds proclaiming the infallibility of some ideology or other, however, will be deleted; so will repeated attempts to hammer on a point already addressed; so will comments containing profanity, abusive language, flamebaiting and the like -- I filled up my supply of Troll Bingo cards years ago and have no interest in adding any more to my collection; and so will sales spam and offers of "guest posts" pitching products. I'm quite aware that the concept of polite discourse is hopelessly dowdy and out of date, but then some people would say the same thing about the traditions this blog is meant to discuss. Thank you for reading Ecosophia! -- JMG

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