Book Club Post

The Ritual of High Magic: Chapter 11

With this post we continue a monthly chapter-by-chapter discussion of The Doctrine and Ritual of High Magic by Eliphas Lévi, the book that launched the modern magical revival.  Here and in the months ahead we’re plunging into the white-hot fires of creation where modern magic was born. If you’re just joining us now, I recommend reading the earlier posts in this sequence first; you can find them here.  Either way, grab your tarot cards and hang on tight.

If you can read French, I strongly encourage you to get a copy of Lévi’s book in the original and follow along with that; it’s readily available for sale in Francophone countries, and can also be downloaded for free from If not, the English translation by me and Mark Mikituk is recommended; A.E. Waite’s translation, unhelpfully retitled Transcendental Magic, is second-rate at best—riddled with errors and burdened with Waite’s seething intellectual jealousy of Lévi—though you can use it after a fashion if it’s what you can get. Also recommended is a tarot deck using the French pattern:  the Knapp-Hall deck, the Wirth deck (available in several versions), or any of the Marseilles decks are suitable.


“Chapter Eleven:  The Triple Chain” (Greer & Mikituk, pp. 285-288).


The early stages of the magical path are always solitary. Even those students of magic who have a living teacher or an occult lodge to guide their initial steps in the Great Art must do the work that matters alone.  By their very nature, the training of the will and the reconstruction of personal character and habits that make a student of magic into a mage are individual pursuts.  The habit of relying on a teacher, a lodge, an ideology, a community, or anything else besides the inner light of the Divine and the slowly developing capacities of the individual self, is precisely the great obstacle that must be overcome in magical development.

As an individual, the mage can accomplish much, but his accomplishments when acting alone will be limited to himself and his circumstances. Do you want to transform your life utterly, and replace its unsatisfactory aspects with things more to your liking?  The material already covered in our text is more than enough to enable you to do that. In fact, the process of training will and reshaping character will accomplish most of the work all by itself.  There’s nothing wrong with making such changes—quite the contrary, the more happy, successful people there are who have learned that they can make their lives better by changing themselves rather than trying to bully the world into cooperating with their cravings, the better the world will be even for those who never dream of practicing magic.

The work of the mage can extend beyond that, however.  Human beings are social creatures, and it’s a rare initiate of any magical tradition who doesn’t want to work with other people and have some effect on the wider world.  This is where the next great branch of magical practice comes into play.  In Chapter 11 of the Doctrine and the present chapter of the Ritual, Lévi, drawing (as he so often did) on the work of Franz Anton Mesmer, calls the key to that branch a magnetic chain.  The metaphor can be misunderstood; Lévi isn’t talking about the kind of chain that burdens and restricts a prisoner. Have you ever seen the kind of human chain that mountain climbers make with ropes, linking each climber to the others so that if one slips, the others can keep him from falling?  That’s what our text has in mind.

Those of my readers who know their way around modern occult writing will be familiar with the word “egregor,” which is used to label one kind of chain: the sort that is established by groups and organizations.  It’s a useful term for an even more useful concept, because any group that stays together for more than a short time will establish an egregor, a magnetic chain linking its members together. It’s important to realize, however, that our text is discussing a broader concept—one that can apply whether or not organized groups are involved.  Lévi’s concept is also more precisely focused on practical application than the idea of the egregor.  In his usual manner, Lévi doesn’t lay out more than a few details concerning the creation and use of magnetic chains, but those who have studied his book carefully up to this point and think through the examples that he gives in this chapter will be able to work out the practical method for themselves.

To understand the art of the magnetic chain, as I discussed in my commentary to Chapter 11 of the Doctrine, is to explore the ways in which, despite the claims of materialists, consciousness is not limited to the insides of certain lumps of meat called human brains. The simplest kind of magnetic chain is formed by those people who have the capacity to radiate a mood. Most of us know people whose emotional states are infectious; when they’re happy, the people around them tend to become happier, and when they’re upset, everyone they encounter tends to become upset. This is the kind of thing I mean. With some such people, every passing mood affects those they encounter, while there are others who constantly radiate an emotional state defined by their character. The phenomenon of the “contact high,” in which one person takes a psychedelic drug and everyone around them picks up a little of the same altered state, is closely related to this.

Yet these contagions of consciousness can be much more potent than this. One example that later occultists discussed at length is crowd phenomena. Sporting events, among other things, depend on these phenomena for their effect.  Under most circumstances, watching a group of people in odd costumes running up and down a field while doing something or other with a ball would get dull very quickly.  Bring in the vicarious participation in a competitive struggle that sports teams cultivate, and it becomes anything but dull. The people sitting in the bleachers are caught up in a collective frenzy of shared emotion, cheering on their team, roaring their approval when things go well and groaning in agony when they don’t.  For the duration of the game, everything that marks the fans as individuals dissolves in a collective consciousness focused on the sport.

Take that same state of consciousness and make it enduring, and you have the passionate loyalty that many people direct toward an organization, a political movement, a nation, or a religion.  Phenomena like these show the magnetic chain at its strongest. Swept up by the influence of such a chain, people can accomplish deeds of unparalleled heroism, unspeakable brutality, or unbelievable stupidity.  The heights and depths of human possibility are within reach of a strong magnetic chain.  By most people, they can rarely be reached any other way.

This is why our text refers to the formation of the magnetic chain as the Great Work of the mage, and why it also describes this as the secret of priests and kings—for religion and politics are the aspects of human life where magnetic chains tend to be deployed with their greatest force.  Thus it’s important, whether or not you intend to create such chains yourself, to understand the nature and functions of magnetic chains so that you can choose which chains influence you and how they affect you.

Lévi, with his usual evasiveness, focuses most of his discussion on the three most common material anchors for magnetic chains: signs, words, and personal contact. It’s important to know how these work, in order to grasp how to align yourself with a chain of your choice, and refuse contacts with chains that contradict your purposes.

“A chain is established through signs,” our text says, “by having a sign adopted by public opinion as the representation of a force.” This is why every successful religion and every effective political movement represents itself with a striking visual emblem.  In ancient times the standard approach was to use the image of a god or goddess, and this is still common in quite a few traditional faiths—consider the way that the image of a Buddha in lotus posture, hands folded and thoughts indrawn in meditation, awakens highly specific thoughts and feelings even in people who know next to nothing about Buddhism. More recently, abstract symbols—the Christian cross and the Muslim moon and star are good examples—have tended to replace divine images, but the principle is the same.

When you see a movement in politics, religion, or culture that has found such a symbol and focuses intense emotions onto it, you know that you’re in the presence of a magnetic chain that works through signs. What happens when you see one that systematically avoids doing so, such as the two mainstream political parties in today’s America? (Nobody in either party feels a sudden rush of love and loyalty when they see a donkey or an elephant, after all.) Then you know that the people who run the organization don’t want a magnetic chain too closely connected with it.  If your goal is the maintenance of business as usual, especially if that state of affairs is miserably unsatisfactory to most people, the last thing you want is to stir up the potent loyalties and emotional states that a magnetic chain can generate, since these can very easily spin out of control and become a lightning rod for popular unrest. Getting people to cast a reluctant vote for the very slightly lesser of two evils is much less risky to the status quo.

As this suggests, magnetic chains may not be obedient to the people who create them. This is as true of the other two types of chain Lévi discusses as it is of chains that work through signs. Chains established through words are as likely to spin out of control as those rooted in signs, though here much depends on the number of words involved; the shorter the utterance, the more vulnerable to distortion. The shout of Deus lo vult!—“God wills it!” in the bastardized half-Latin spoken in France in 1096—was enough to stir warriors across Europe to join the First Crusade, but it was also responsible for such brutalities as the mass murder of Jews in the Rhineland and such absurdities as the Children’s Crusade. The longer the text, the more thought is needed to absorb it, the more precise it can be; thus Thomas Paine’s pamphet Common Sense could be aimed straight at its target, British colonial rule over the thirteen North American colonies, and lost its force once that target was blown to smithereens.

Physical contact is the most potent and the most perilous of the means for establishing a chain. Lévi talks about round dances and Spiritualist circles as examples of the type, but of course the same process can work in other ways. Sexual contact is the most effective of all, which is one of the reasons why sexuality can lead people so rapidly to heaven, hell, or La-La Land, take your pick. More limited and controlled expressions of the same principle are found in healing or the transmission of spiritual force by the laying on of hands.

Are these the only options for creating a magnetic chain?  Of course not. One option that Lévi must have known well, though he doesn’t mention it, is music. The Marseillaise spread the ideas of the French Revolution across Europe like a contagious fever; the Internationale did the same thing with Marxist ideas most of a century later. The rock music of the 1960s very nearly had a similar effect; it seems likely that the stunning blandness of popular music ever since the big corporate combines seized control of the music industry and silenced the independent labels was a deliberate effort to prevent any recurrence of that, by doing to music what the Democrat- Republican duopoly did to American politics.

There are still other options for forming chains, but those can be left to enterprising students of magic to find for themselves. Our text goes on to talk about the way that magnetic chains exert power through the human imagination, and here we come close to one of the great secrets of magic. As I noted in my commentary to Chapter 11 of the Doctrine, “In every society there are a great many people who are impressionable, passive, and uncritical, and whose minds are therefore wide open to the vagaries of the astral light.” Such people are the raw material for magnetic chains, and amplify its effects in ways that more than occasionally stagger belief. Lévi’s own experience, in which even the rarest books inevitably became available to him as soon as he needed them, is one example out of many; most operative occultists can tell similar stories from their own experiences.

Notice, though, what Lévi is implying in the last paragraph of his chapter, where he discusses this. Once established, a magnetic chain can remain in existence for a very long time, and anyone who does the necessary work to get in contact with it.  This is true of chains of every kind; I know people who weren’t even born when the Sixties guttered out who got swept up in the chain set in motion by the music and alternative culture of that era, for example. This fact brings perils as well as possibilities, for not all chains are beneficial—quite the contrary. In creating a chain, therefore, it is essential to work out in advance whether your efforts may tap into some existing chain, and to gauge from history what the results of that connection will be.

Lévi himself seems to have been exquisitely careful in this regard. As he states in so many words in this chapter’s last paragraph, his goal was to revive the old chain of classical and Renaissance magic, and set its forces in motion in the modern world.  As we’ve discussed already, his efforts were astonishingly successful; he brought the great traditions of occultism out of the exile in which they’d languished since the Scientific Revolution, and made them a living force in Western culture—a status that they still maintain. Anyone who is interested in working with magnetic chains, or simply intends to participate in the initiatory chain that he revived and set back in motion, could do worse than to study in detail how he did it; this can be learned from his writings and also from his biographers.

Notes for Study and Practice:

It’s quite possible to get a great deal out of The Doctrine and Ritual of High Magic by the simple expedient of reading each chapter several times and thinking at length about the ideas and imagery that Lévi presents. For those who want to push things a little further, however, meditation is a classic tool for doing so.

Along with the first half of our text, I introduced the standard method of meditation used in Western occultism:  discursive meditation, to give it its proper name, which involves training and directing the thinking mind rather than silencing it (as is the practice in so many other forms of meditation).  Readers who are just joining us can find detailed instructions in the earlier posts in this series. For those who have been following along, however, I suggest working with a somewhat more complex method, which Lévi himself mention in passing:  the combinatorial method introduced by Catalan mystic Ramon Lull in the Middle Ages, and adapted by Lévi and his successors for use with the tarot.

Take the first card of the deck, Trump 1, Le Bateleur (The Juggler or The Magician). While looking at it, review the three titles assigned to it:  Disciplina, Ain Soph, Kether, and look over your earlier meditations on this card to be sure you remember what each of these means. Now you are going to add each title of this card to Trump II, La Papesse (The High Priestess): Chokmah, Domus, Gnosis. Place Trump II next to Trump I and consider them. How does Disciplina, discipline, relate to Chokmah, wisdom?  How does Disciplina relate to Domus, house?  How does it relate to Gnosis?  These three relationships are fodder for one day’s meditation. For a second day, relate Ain Soph to the three titles of La Papesse. For a third day, relate Kether to each of these titles. Note down what you find in your journal.

Next, combine Le Bateleur with Trump III, L’Imperatrice (The Empress), in exactly the same way, setting the cards side by side. Meditate on the relationship of each of the Juggler’s titles to the three titles of the Empress,  three meditations in all.  Then combine the Juggler and the Emperor in exactly the same way. Then go on to the Juggler and the Pope, giving three days to each, and proceed from there. You’ll still be working through combinations of Le Bateleur when the next Lévi post goes up, but that’s fine; when you finish with Le Bateleur, you’ll be taking La Papesse and combining her with L’Imperatrice, L’Empereur, and so on, and thus moving through all 231 combinations the trumps make with one another.

Don’t worry about where this is going. Unless you’ve already done this kind of practice, the goal won’t make any kind of sense to you. Just do the practice.  You’ll find, if you stick with it, that over time the relationships between the cards take on a curious quality I can only call conceptual three-dimensionality:  a depth is present that was not there before, a depth of meaning and ideation.  It can be very subtle or very loud, or anything in between. Don’t sense it?  Don’t worry.  Meditate on a combination every day anyway. Do the practice and see where it takes you.

We’ll be going on to Chapter 12, “The Great Work,” on May 8, 2024. See you then!


  1. Greetings all!

    Just a heads up, as of April 1st I am now following the guidelines I announced at beginning of the year, and no older prayers are grandfathered in any longer. Which is to say, I’ve removed any unupdated prayers older than three months from the list. If anyone should notice themselves removed from the list, and wish to be included again, it is a simple matter to leave a comment or private message me, and I will be happy to re-include your prayer for another three month cycle.


    At this link is the full list of all of the requests for prayer that have recently appeared at and, as well as in the comments of the prayer list posts. Please feel free to add any or all of the requests to your own prayers.

    If I missed anybody, or if you would like to add a prayer request for yourself or anyone who has given you consent (or for whom a relevant person holds power of consent) to the list, please feel free to leave a comment below.

    * * *
    This week I would like to bring special attention to the following prayer requests.

    May Pierre’s wife, Julie, and their gestating baby be healthy and safe.

    May Erika’s partner James, who passed away on April 4th after a battle with cancer, be blessed, soothed, and lent courage in his soul’s onward journey; may Erika be blessed with the support she needs in this difficult time, and be granted the strength and self-understanding to avoid unhealthy levels of darkness and despair.

    Jay (SDI) and his family are being seriously impacted by an increase in chemical use in their area; may circumstances come together for Jay, Liz, and their children to relocate swiftly, and that they are well enough to manage until then.

    Tyler A’s wife Monika’s pregnancy is high risk; may Mother and child be blessed with good health and a smooth delivery, and be soothed and healed from their recent pains and discomfort in a manner that supports a positive outcome to the pregnancy.

    May Deathcap’s friend Mike, who has begun a 5 week course of radiation treatment after a nearly fatal surgery for a malignant tumor on his leg, be healed of his cancer and return to full health quickly and as completely as possible.

    May new mother Molly M recover quickly and completely from her recent stroke and the lingering loss of vision and slurred speech that ensued, and may newborn Lela and husband Austin be comforted and strengthened through this difficult time.

    May John Michael Greer’s wife Sara Greer, who passed away on February 20th, be blessed and soothed as she moves into the next stage of her spirit’s journey. And may John Michael Greer be blessed and lent strength in this most difficult time.

    May Frank Rudolf Hartman of Altadena California (picture), who is receiving chemotherapy, be completely cured of the lymphoma that is afflicting him, and may he return to full health.

    May Just Another Green Rage Monster‘s father, who is dealing with Stage 4 Lymphoma, and mother, who is primary caregiver, be blessed, protected and healed.

    May Kyle’s friend Amanda, who though in her early thirties is undergoing various difficult treatments for brain cancer, make a full recovery; and may her body and spirit heal with grace.

    Lp9’s hometown, East Palestine, Ohio, for the safety and welfare of their people, animals and all living beings in and around East Palestine, and to improve the natural environment there to the benefit of all.

    * * *
    Guidelines for how long prayer requests stay on the list, how to word requests, how to be added to the weekly email list, how to improve the chances of your prayer being answered, and several other common questions and issues, are to be found at the Ecosophia Prayer List FAQ.

    If there are any among you who might wish to join me in a bit of astrological timing, I pray each week for the health of all those with health problems on the list on the astrological hour of the Sun on Sundays, bearing in mind the Sun’s rulerships of heart, brain, and vital energies. If this appeals to you, I invite you to join me.

  2. Does this have anything to do with the Mozart effect? There’s a popular opinion that listening to Mozart (specifically Piano Concerto No. 23) makes you smarter. Don’t know how much truth is to that. But I always wondered if Mozart’s music can make you smarter because other smart people like to listen to it. Or perhaps it’s all just a placebo effect.

  3. It’s ever interesting for me to think on how Harry Smith helped set the chain of sixties music into motion with the release of the Anthology of American Folk Music. I think you are right about corporate rock. There was that slogan from punk record label SST. I’ll translate it for this blog as “Corporate Rock Still Shales” Yet the musical chain set off by the 60s couldn’t be broken by the corporate musical lenocrats. It spun off, as you mentioned, into wildly divergent avenues, not predicted by Harry Smith either. It seems to me that the main currents of it continued in all manner of underground music, that still flourishes, but doesn’t get mainstream airplay, or streamplay, I guess you could call it.

    You’re other point, about the way some of the movements from the past can be tapped into for good or ill is spot. My mind has often returned to an article from Adbusters buy Douglas Haddow titled “Hipster: The Dead End of Western Civilization.” He pointed out how after the first waves of rap, their really wasn’t a “new” music that raged against the machine of corporatism, as had punk, and before that the hippies.

    Haddow also writes, “We’ve reached a point in our civilization where counterculture has mutated into a self-obsessed aesthetic vacuum. So while hipsterdom is the end product of all prior countercultures, it’s been stripped of its subversion and originality.”

    “The dance floor at a hipster party looks like it should be surrounded by quotation marks. While punk, disco and hip hop all had immersive, intimate and energetic dance styles that liberated the dancer from his/her mental states – be it the head-spinning b-boy or violent thrashings of a live punk show – the hipster has more of a joke dance. A faux shrug shuffle that mocks the very idea of dancing or, at its best, illustrates a non-committal fear of expression typified in a weird twitch/ironic twist. The dancers are too self-aware to let themselves feel any form of liberation; they shuffle along, shrugging themselves into oblivion.”

    I still think his opening line in this is great. It’s still online here:

    By plugging in to all the styles of the counter-cultures more recent past and amalgamating them into one, they haven’t come up with new Lullian combinatoria, but a bland tasteless paste. This is the boring music of the day.

    One more thing to pass along on this topic, Ted Gioia wrote this piece “14 Warning Signs That You Are Living In A Society Without A Counterculture”:

    He makes some interesting points, even if I think there are signs of a different kind of counterculture emerging.

  4. Thank you very much for this. Your commentary is such a help in wading through Levi. Hmm, this post prompts me to cast back glance over the last 4 years when it seems some very powerful “magnetic chains” came into play. (I could always sense such “magnetic chains” at sport events, and for this reason I have always disliked attending them. Little ball, little ball, I do not care about you at all.)

  5. “The conditions of a solitary bird are five:
    The first, that it flies to the highest point;
    The second, that it does not suffer for company,
    not even of its own kind;
    The third, that it aims its beak to the skies;
    The fourth, that it does not have a definite color;
    The fifth, that it sings very softly.“

    Tales of power

    (Non post…I apologize for my inappropriate, out of place rant on the last Doctrine post. From time to time I fall into the darkness and meaningless of void
    in a destructive manner)

  6. What a fascinating subject. The first thoughts I had were of the strong chains formed by musical movements and by particular books and their authors.
    When I was 16 I read Jack Kerouac’s book The Dharma Bums and immediately found my personality totally altered. Among other things, I gave up trying to become “popular” in high school, focused on doing whatever I felt like instead, and, naturally, tried to become a “Buddhist.” I quickly devoured much of the rest of Kerouac’s work and those of his friends, especially Ginsburg and Gary Snyder, though not Burroughs, as I couldn’t get past the third sentence of Naked Lunch. I also never liked On the Road, for some reason.
    In any case, by my early 30s I thought I had long since put my Beatnik phase behind me, when a friend of mine, an older Bohemian type then in his 70s, said to me, “You’re a total anachronism, man, because you’re a beatnik from the 50s.” I’m now convinced that this is a chain I’ll ever quite detach from, though I haven’t read a work of Beat literature in many years.
    Of course, I’ve experienced the same thing with other writers and thinkers, and seen others do so as well. Plato is a prime example here. Those who are bitten by Plato become Platonists as surely as those bitten by Dracula become vampires. Even when they don’t want to– I’m convinced Aristotle’s hostility toward Plato in so many of his writings his way of trying only half-successfully to break free from the mental chain connecting him to his former teacher. Moreover, there is a certain way of talking about Plato, a tone of excited reverence, that I find in Platonists from ancient times down to the present day, myself very much included. Aristoteleans, meanwhile, nearly always find themselves re-enacting their teacher’s daddy issues, often in so many words, in arguments with Platonists of their own time, whatever time that may be. This is as true of Aquinas as of George of Trebizond as of present-day Aristoteleans on the internet.
    As far as I know, the image of the magnetic chain itself comes from Plato’s Ion, where he describes it thusly–
    “The gift which you possess of speaking excellently about Homer is not an art, but, as I was just saying, an inspiration; there is a divinity moving you, like that contained in the stone which Euripides calls a magnet, but which is commonly known as the stone of Heraclea. This stone not only attracts iron rings, but also imparts to them a similar power of attracting other rings; and sometimes you may see a number of pieces of iron and rings suspended from one another so as to form quite a long chain: and all of them derive their power of suspension from the original stone. In like manner the Muse first of all inspires men herself; and from these inspired persons a chain of other persons is suspended, who take the inspiration. For all good poets, epic as well as lyric, compose their beautiful poems not by art, but because they are inspired and possessed.”
    But I really only brought that up as an excuse to quote Plato, by whose chain I am possessed.

  7. I always want to get in here the first day and get my “say” in. This one is going to take a lot more thinking than that.
    The post did remind me of a great song. This is a cover of a classic, that in my mind, is better than the original.
    I am not even finished with my essay that last week’s post so this is all you guys get from me this week. Looking forward to what very well may be an interesting discussion here.

  8. Fascinating. And goes some way to explaining my question last week of how we can find ourselves in the thrall of terrible things. I’m not immune. But I’ve found the meditation helpful in at least deducing where the entry and exit wounds of mad ideas lie.

    One thing that had occurred to me, as a mechanism for these “magnetic chains” – I appreciate this is a metaphor – is that when we are exposed to something, be it a slogan, a story, a symbol, we actually ingest it into our consciousness. We internalise it and it becomes internal to us – yet as other should the same concept we are linked or chained to them.

    I’m reminded of the exhortation to be aware of what you are thinking, feeling and doing. Because this idea of auto-ingestion is quite terrifying.

  9. I wonder why our political class, which has gone to such lengths to keep the passions of the masses contained and anesthetized using dull images and inane slogans, chose in 2020 to whip the populace’s passions into a manic frenzy with striking visual emblems such as spikey, Shrek-eared coronaviruses, burning business districts, and dancing syringes? Our rulers certainly went all in on forging potent new magnetic chains, carefully designed to tether scads of pre-existing chains to them in order to strengthen their sudden impact. The infallibility of white lab coats, the allure of sudden apocalypse, the ease of going with the herd, the shame of being heterodox, the effectiveness of vaccines, the muzzling of all dissent, the unquestionable altruism of Dr. Salk, mayhem in the streets, safe and effective elections, good walls making good neighbors, man against nature — why, the list is almost endless!

    Perhaps our overlords were unaware that the magnetic chains they were so enthusiastically invoking were in no way obliged to stay obedient to their creators’ questionable intentions. It will be very interesting to watch as their ill-conceived frenzy-whipping continues morphing unpredictably and boomeranging around on them. I also wonder how many of the presumptions they tethered their mania-inducing images and slogans to will get dislodged from their carefully constructed shrines in the collective imagination to go careening about in the national psyche like so many deadly projectiles?

    Allowing clueless idiots to craft magnetic chains meant to bind the populace to their will is quite the dangerous experiment. Allowing the same clueless idiots to attempt to decommission those magnetic chains that had been holding the national psyche together is even less advised. Perhaps these poor idiots have simply become so entangled in all of the contrived magnetic tethers necessary to keep their hallucinated materialist worldview from collapsing under its own inconsistencies that they now imagine all magnetic bonds to be arbitrary and optional. That’s not going to play out very well for them in the end.

    Despite our wannabe despots’ hopes of seizing absolute power by stage-managing a cultural revolution, they appear instead to have foolishly laid the groundwork for real revolution. They certainly have succeeded in incanting some potently inspiring magnetic chains, bonding together peoples they had so long worked to keep isolated apart. I would feel obliged to give them credit had they had any clue about the compelling magic that they were actually succeeding in casting through their myriad malign intentions. Let us offer up a little prayer of gratitude for truly clueless adversaries, who benevolently, though quite unwittingly, lighten our heavy loads. Don’t the gods just get a kick out of working in mysterious ways?

  10. BeardTree, good. I’d encourage you to think of at least five other magnetic chains in your recent experience, and notice how they are communicated and how (or whether) they are controlled by their originators.

    Quin, thank you for this as always.

    Ecosophian, no, that’s a different effect. Baroque music generally (you can get the same results with Telemann and Bach, for example) calms and steadies the emotions by the quality of serene order that pervades it — my guess, though it’s just a guess, is that it effects the limbic system in the brain and the sympathetic nervous system more generally — and emotional stress is a huge part of what makes people unable to think. Come to think of it, some Telemann sounds very appealing right now…

    (Gets up and puts a CD on to play)

    That’s better. Now, where were we? 😉

    Justin, Smith was a thoroughly learned occultist, and it’s quite possible that he set that in motion deliberately. Someone could do the same sort of thing a second time by reactivating the chain he created, you know. As for corporate music, back in the punk era there was a poster in a record store in Seattle’s University District that I appreciated. As I recall, it was a dictionary definition in white on black:

    corporate adj: (fr. Latin cor, heart, and poratus, fr. Med. Engl. “pour rate,” rate of sewage movement through medieval London sewers) heart of flowing s**t

    C.M., you’re most welcome. I’ve always found sports events unutterably boring, because Aspergers syndrome keeps me outside those magnetic chains — there are chains I can participate in, or even get sucked into, but crowd-mediated chains miss me completely.

    Travis, no prob — we all have our difficult moments, and one of my jobs is to keep people from embarrassing themselves unless they’ve earned it. Thank you for the Castaneda quote! That’s a keeper.

    Steve, good! That’s one of the secret powers of great (or even not-so-great) literature. I’ve somehow managed to stay out of the two chains you’ve described, but I have my own connections to magnetic chains acquired through books, and so I know the experience you’re describing well.

    Degringolade, I’m very glad to hear this. Lévi’s definitely one of those authors who takes much reflection to unpack.

    Justin, thanks for this.

    Boy, we ingest these things so long as we respond to them passively. There are alternatives.

    Christophe, I’ve spent quite a bit of time brooding over the whole business, of course, and I keep on circling back around to a sense that the people who launched that misbegotten project were desperate. It’s not the action of a ruling elite comfortably settled in the seats of power, in control of its destiny. It’s the act of a bunch of has-beens who are losing their grip and are just aware enough to realize that fact, and who stagger over to the panel to hit the panic button, so freaked out by what’s happening that they can’t spare the time to think about the consequences.

  11. Yes, I know about his magical activity. The Smith chain might have had some recent reactivation, in 2006, when some people put out The Harry Smith Project: The Anthology of American Folk Music Revisited with covers of the songs from the original by current musicians. I’ll note that alt-country and Americana have had a continuing upsurge in talent and voices since then. That doesn’t mean it isn’t worth reactivating in other ways, again.

  12. “ Lévi isn’t talking about the kind of chain that burdens and restricts a prisoner”

    I confess in reading the chapter, that the idea of mental slavery came to mind more than once. I read somewhere that the word ‘religion’ comes from the French verb ‘relier’ (to link). Which gives me a mental image of batteries of believers wired up in series as a source of psychic power. Some of Dion Fortunes fiction similarly demonstrates this concept of the leader of a ceremony using the psychic energies of the participants to achieve magical goals.

    The problem with this in my mind is whether any human can be really trusted with such power. It seems to me that humans will inevitably be led to overreach in such a situation, leading to self-aggrandizement and hubris (I do not exclude myself from this judgement). Similarly it seems like the followers are surrendering their will to favor of a passive existence. Maybe magnetic chains are inevitable in the human condition, and may occasionally be benign, but I do question whether they are a positive goodness..

  13. It’s occurred to me that not all participants in the chains need be human. To use the mountain climbing metaphor, if you can get a mountain goat, or a bear, to join, you certainly do a lot more than you could with just humans. I wonder if this is part of how these can bring us to the true heights and depths of what is possible with human nature, and why some of them go spiraling completely out of control…

  14. Since you mentioned songs, the magnetic chain of “After Dark” by Mr. Kitty might be worth a weather eye since it connects to a very peculiar subset of the man-o-sphere, sigma males, who actually do go their own way without regard to culture or resistance to it… which suggests both an egregore and a lack of one connecting a whole lot of disaffected young men…

  15. Please, archdruid… I wanted to mention your quote about ritual being poetry in action (or so) in my lodge, but can’t find where you named the source (and exact text) …sorry for being off topic!

  16. Love the sign from the punk shop, too, bte. Great definition. Very vivid.

    Hey, isnt that celestial event happening next week on the 20th going to kick in some new cycle of revolutionary consciousness?

    Thinking of the different subcultures Ive been influenced by, I am reminded, again, of the dodecagram card, fro SGO, reversed, being complexity. This is something I have to contend with in my GSF work, according to the divination I did. Yet, it seems, I can transcend those complex chains I am attached to, with some hel feom SoP and discursive meditation. Knowing when to choose to throw on a light switch, and when to shut down the circuit of connection as it were.

    Thanks. As ever, enjoying thus space and chain of conversations.

  17. Having first read Aurelian’s latest post just before this I am struck by how this offers the perfect overlay to his discussion of the role of historical fear in international relations.

  18. I was thinking today about my kids and how one of the benefits of homeschooling is they get to cycle more organically between up growth and inward growth so education develops as a part of their person rather an imposed task. The best analogy I could think of was trees (how they alternate between root growth and leaf growth depending on moon and season cycles) which made sense given I believe in reincarnation so we follow a plants cycle.

    I would think the tree of life imagery makes a benefitual sign to pass along both for its beauty and also the values it conveys once our societies toppled over from forgetting to grow healthy roots. I’m guessing it has a strong magnetic chain tied to it given it’s quiet perserverence on the fringe.

  19. Justin, it’s got a lot of power to it, and could be put to good use in several ways I can think of.

    Paul, whether human beings can be trusted with that power is kind of irrelevant, because we all have it — every single one of us. Magic isn’t something that only a few special people have; I like to call that the Harry Potter fallacy. The only thing that distinguishes occult practitioners like me from supposed “muggles” is that I use my powers consciously, and thus can control what I’m doing and guide it according to my ethics and my goals, while they use those same powers unconsciously, and thus can’t control the chains they set in motion and as often as not end up messing over their lives and the lives of those around them. Which of these do you want to do? That’s the choice that awaits you.

    Taylor, oh, granted. A lot of Native American holy people make much use of such participants in building their magnetic chains!

    Rhydlyd, “sigma males” isn’t a term I’d heard before, and it’s a useful one. Thank you.

    Njura, the quote is “Ritual is poetry in the world of acts,” and it’s by the Druid teacher Ross Nichols —

    I don’t think he ever put it in one of his books: I got it from his student and successor Philip Carr-Gomm.

    Justin, it is indeed. I’m still working on the delineation but should have it up before the planets conjoin.

    KAN, it does indeed. I read it, of course — I follow his blog pretty closely.

    Rosie, excellent! Yes, and that’s a good example of a magnetic chain passed on by a concept.

  20. Hi John Michael,

    Yes, absolutely. And then there is Pepe the frog. A harmless little stoner character, or is it?

    Man, we’re all doin’ what we can. I shall say no more. 😉



  21. Hi John Michael,

    Apologies, I almost forgot to mention that the card brings to mind the Monty Python killer rabbit scene: “Look at the bones! I did apologise…

    Personable young ladies performing dentistry work on lions are probably a very potent force of nature.



  22. ‘…the great obstacle that must be overcome in magical development.’ So was Charles Bennett a failure as an occultist, because he became a Buddhist monk?

    One of the most powerful ‘chains’ I’ve encountered was the Iranian Revolution. As a kid I visited the gates of the occupied US embassy in Tehran. The large crowd outside were chanting ‘Ayatollah Khomeini’ repeatedly (with an occasional chorus of ‘America: Shaitan’). I quickly became carried away with the crowd’s tsunami-sized collective emotion (of righteous wrath), the memory of which has never faded. In my view, true revolutions of this kind are unstoppable.

  23. Thank you for the thoughtful answer. It had seemed to me that one could apply one’s will and purpose towards not creating chains, by deliberately eschewing attempts to influence and control others. On reflection I guess I was being naive.

  24. One thing I notice is that very few people can see the whole of any given chain; and many of them are vast enough that no human being ever could see it all. So for all we know, it may be extremely common for other beings to decide to jump into particular chains and direct them for their own purposes.

    In fact, it’s almost certainly common, because now that I’ve written it out, that sounds like a fair description of what happens when a god takes interest in our world….

  25. @Steve T #7:

    I was bitten by the Plato chain too! Five years ago, the summer before the pandemic, I was visiting family and awoke in the morning feeling with complete clarity that the first thing I needed to do that day was pick a certain book off of the shelf and begin reading it. That was a book-length interview of the philosopher George Grant, a twentieth-century Platonist who led me on reading The Republic later that summer. (Hmm, so I guess I too can confirm Eliphas Levi’s experience with finding the right book!)

    I have a shelf at at my own home which is devoted to books that changed my life irrevocably, in chronological order of when I encountered them. Nothing has since surpassed The Republic for me, which is like a riddle inside of a riddle inside of a drinking game, and the drink is pure mirth.

  26. “A well-formed chain is like a whirlpool which pulls in, and absorbs, everything.
    A chain can be established in three ways: by signs, by words, and by personal contact.”
    If there ever was an anti-Harry Potter manifesto that was it.
    Once you see the chains you can not unsee them. They are everywhere. Signs: The ominous coronas of coronavirus splashed on thousands of internet sites and seen by millions of people come to mind. Also, if you know what the Ukrainian flag looks like raise your hand. What about Honduras? I didn’t think so 🙂 Words: From the River to the Sea Palestine Will Be Free randomly popped into my mind. Personal contact: the effects of the infectious smile of Barack Obama and the empathetic demeanor of Bill Clinton were truly magical for the democratic party.
    I vividly remember the first covid post on the ecosophia blog with its 706 comments. As a healthcare worker in California, I felt, almost physically, as if a huge burden was lifted off my chest, “I’m not crazy. THEY are.”
    Thank you for that magic, JMG.

  27. Chris, Pepe is a really first-rate example of a chain spread by signs that took on a life of its own, tapped into some very old chains, and is still at work. As for the card, it’s occurred to me more than once that a tarot deck using scenes from that movie would be enormously funny. “Strange women standing in deserts performing dental work on lions is no basis for a system of government!”

    Tengu, not at all. Bennett decided to work with an existing chain, for reasons of his own, and played a crucial role in the transmission of Buddhism to the West. He didn’t depend on Buddhism, he participated in it and helped direct it.

    Paul, that’s certainly something you can do — but by doing so, you’ll create a chain of independence and self-reliance, by which other people will be influenced. Every action and every inaction each person does affects everyone else. “We live one life.”

    Taylor, yep. That’s one of the many reasons why divination is useful, since it can allow you to glimpse a bigger picture than reason can embrace.

    Kirsten, I know a lot of people who had that reaction, and was (and am) very pleased by it. That was one of the central things I was hoping to accomplish by creating that magnetic chain, using words as a vehicle…

  28. There are people who chase after total solar eclipses. Once they see one, the intensity of the event becomes a magnetic chain that holds them and others together and draws them to repeat the experience as often as they can. I saw my second total solar eclipse on the 8th, so I can verify from personal experience that natural events like a total solar eclipse become magnetic chains for some of us, me included.

    My husband and I watched it from a city park in Jackson, MO. When the moment of totality occurred, the crowd spontaneously cheered, and I felt the charge of that cheer. It’s not just that the eclipse is beautiful – of course it is – but by disrupting the normal flow of the solar current, it teaches something about the way the three currents interact and how we are totally dependent on that interaction and its continuance. I think it’s that which constitutes the magnetic chain; at least it is for me.

  29. I’ve always found egregors / mass psychology to be a fascinating topic, so this week’s post is definitely up my alley! When I first read the reason you gave for the absence of emotionally-charged symbols among the mainstream parties, I thought it was odd – until I read that it is for preserving the status quo. Well, that certainly makes sense! Canadian political parties, for the most part, have followed suit (each part has its own colour and that’s about it). Of course, some countries depart from this rule: in India, for example, the Congress party has the upright hand as its symbol, and the BJP part has the lotus flower as its symbol. Some people explain these symbols as being necessary due to the lack of literacy especially in rural areas – but I am not totally sure that is the only, or even main, reason.

    Back to North America. I also got to wondering that when new political parties or social movements that are vehemently anti-status quo arise, I would expect to see people rallying around certain emotionally charged symbols. Being a relatively new country, Canada has few such symbols at hand. And so, when a sizeable proportion of the population rose up in January 2022 in the Freedom Convoy, the national flag became the immediate symbol to rally under. I know, terribly unoriginal. But, I would argue, it was powerful nonetheless, especially since the national anthem includes lines such as ‘we stand on guard for thee’ (many times) and ‘God keep our land glorious and free’, and therefore it was easy to make the connection to the maple leaf flag which we face while singing those lines. It became so effective a symbol of protest that following the convoy, the woke crowd (headed by Canada’s equivalent of Pravda) complained that the flag had been irreparably damaged by ‘persons with unacceptable views’ and particularly hysterical individuals expressed feelings of fear and dread when in the presence of our national flag. Whatever…

    Meanwhile, the social Marxists are violently pushing against the social status quo with the modified pride flag, the trans flag, and (now in the past year in Canada) the red hammer and sickle. For the social conservatives, these flags are the visual equivalents of ‘fighting words’ and are therefore highly polarizing.

    I suspect that when the time is ripe for a populist movement / political party which is vehemently opposed to the crumbling, corrupt status quo, some emotionally charged symbol will make its way to the forefront (other than the standard torches and pitchforks). Of course, if a talented mage is highly placed in the movement, a deliberately designed symbol will emerge; otherwise, whatever spontaneously bubbles up from the group-mind will have to do.

  30. The morning after going to southern indiana amish-adjacent country to watch THE TOTALITY WITH OUR GLASSES OFF (a wondrous experience and not a bad short road trip w family!), I wrote this ** about our marketing work, and I’m so excited about the work and also about so many convivial feelings and experiences that reading these posts evokes in me!

    ** ‘For me, our intention is to go as far and fast as we can in the cultural transformation of our place; and to support ourselves by providing food and supplies which match the needs of the culture we want, while recognizing that you have to start “here” to get “there”.

    We are ambitious mixed with people who are content to trust the pathway chosen by the ambitious and work it.

    We are on an edge of growing importance in a global movement (savory, among others) itself on the cusp of growing importance due to high level desire to financialize ecosystem services.

    We are in a localizing movement which is everywhere gaining adherents and momentum. “Global Culture” is not culture. Marlow Tackett’s, “For the Children!!!” [author’s note: Tackett’s was a wild eastern Ky byob (and whatever else) all ages dance hall juke-box driven swap meet hoedown and fight club; my partner (who reveled in it) and I (who yearned for it based on scent traces in lost winds from other places and times) intend to bring its spirit to the next generation]

    We are opposing a globalizing movement which is despised and maintained through fraud, manipulation, and force.

    Maintaining our agricultural presence on the land is revolutionary in this moment and is a force for (not “stands for”) freedom.’

    Always grateful for this thread here

  31. JM Keynes in “The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money” (1936) expresses a similar view:

    “The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back. I am sure that the power of vested interests is vastly exaggerated compared with the gradual encroachment of ideas. Not, indeed, immediately, but after a certain interval; for in the field of economic and political philosophy there are not many who are influenced by new theories after they are twenty-five or thirty years of age, so that the ideas which civil servants and politicians and even agitators apply to current events are not likely to be the newest. But, soon or late, it is ideas, not vested interests, which are dangerous for good or evil.”
    — Ch. 24 “Concluding Notes” p. 383-384

  32. Dear JMG,

    You say, “we ingest these things so long as we respond to them passively. There are alternatives”.

    Could I ask you to elaborate further, please.

    Best wishes,

  33. Hello Mr Greer,

    This is semi of topic so let me know if better placed in a weekly open post…but;

    Have you heard of the ‘gateway project’??

    Have you written about previously??

    Whats your views on it??



  34. @ Dylan, but JMG you may find this interesting as well–

    My encounter with Plato happened around the exact same time, and in a very similar way, though for me it was the sudden appearance of Pierre Grimes in my youtube feed. I wonder if you’ve noticed that there has been an explosive growth in interest in Platonism since that time. I now hear him discussed everywhere, even where I don’t expect to– A right-wing Orthodox priest preaching out of the Phaedrus on his podcast, a discussion of the Idea of the Good at the National Conservative Conference, the growth in popularity of the work of John Vervaeke, and so on. It appears that something major happened to activate the Plato-chain right around the time of the Pandemic.

  35. Good news. John Szwed, the guy who wrote the biography on Sun Ra, got his book on Harry Smith published last year. Somehow I missed it. It’s called “Cosmic scholar :the life and times of Harry Smith”.

    “He was an anthropologist, filmmaker, painter, folklorist, mystic, and walking encyclopedia. He taught Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe about the occult, swapped drugs with Timothy Leary, had a front-row seat to a young Thelonious Monk, lived with (and tortured) Allen Ginsberg, was admired by Susan Sontag, and was one of the first artists funded by Guggenheim Foundation. He was always broke, generally intoxicated, compulsively irascible, and unimpeachably authentic. Harry Smith was, in the words of Robert Frank, “the only person I met in my life that transcended everything.” In Cosmic Scholar, the Grammy Award-winning music scholar and celebrated biographer John Szwed patches together, for the first time, the life of one of the twentieth century’s most overlooked cultural figures. From his time recording the customs of Native American tribes in the Pacific Northwest and Florida to his life in Greenwich Village in its heyday, Smith was consumed by an unceasing desire to create a unified theory of culture. He was an insatiable creator and collector, responsible for the influential Anthology of American Folk Music and several pioneering experimental films, but was also an insufferable and destructive eccentric who was unable to survive in regular society, or keep himself healthy or sober.”–Provided by publisher.

    @Steve T: I have had a similar experience as yours with the Beats… as perhaps may be seen by this connection to Smith who also influenced them with his chains. I also found Dharma Bums to be my favorite Kerouac novel. I too, never finished reading Naked Lunch, though I found Burroughs other works better, especially his non-fiction, as I mentioned here not too long ago. I felt Snyder was a much brighter influence, but he, like Smith, was kind of more of an outside statesman of the movement, on the fringe of the beats. Mountains and Rivers Without End is still a fine poem, as are many of his essays, like The Real Work, which I think would have been adopted by those in the appropriate tech movement. His poetry in books like Earth House Hold also exhibit some of that flavor.

  36. SLClaire, makes sense to me. I’m intrigued that people cheered — I’d heard claims from past eclipses that people found it spooky, and hushed as totality arrived. That shift strikes me as an omen.

    Ron, seizing the maple leaf flag for the populist movement is a very clever move, especially when combined with other patriotic signs such as “O Canada”. If the movement keeps that, whatever other symbols it may generate, its chances of ending up in power as the legitimate government are tolerably high.

    AliceEm, good. Now get it into circulation in as many venues as possible.

    Martin, yep. I read that quote quite some years ago, stroked my beard, and added it to the advice from occult circles that pointed me toward my present work.

    Brian, ha! That does very nicely:

    Boy, I’ll keep that in mind for an upcoming post. The elevator-pitch version is that when you encounter something that’s meant to draw you into a chain, you can counter it by consciously assigning your own meaning to it. I do this with advertising all the time. To turn to a favorite example, you know those beer billboards that show a bunch of young, well-dressed, happy people having a great time? When you see them, analyze them; notice consciously how they’re intended to promote a fake image of what drinking cheap yellow beer is like. Do this repeatedly and your subconscious will automatically associate the image, not with the ersatz feelings the advertisers want you to feel, but with the sardonic horse laugh and the ideas you apply them. That breaks the chain. That’s not the only tactic, of course — there are many other ways to throw a monkey wrench into the machinery — but all of them require conscious intention on your part.

    Gaz, that’s something for the next open post — not least because I don’t think I’ve ever heard of it.

    Steve, Plato’s chain is strong and ancient, and it’s been revived many a time in the history of the West. No surprises that it is rising again!

    Justin, glad to hear this. Smith was an American original, one of those quintessential figures of our culture who never imitated anyone and will never be imitated.

  37. It’s not so much pulling the strings, as the conspiracy minded might think of magicians, but sometimes just giving a nudge to things that already have their own power and trajectory.

  38. This is very off topic and not meant to be added to comments. Just wondering if you are aware that there is a John Michael Greer twitter account.
    It says in small writing that it is not you. He (assuming it’s a dude) repost your material, but also post his own rants as you??🤷‍♂️

  39. JMG,
    The uses of the magnetic chain in sports marketing is obvious but in most cases very ham-handed. I experienced a more organic versions of the chain in action when I happened to end up at one of the games leading up to the Portland Trailblazers winning the NBA championship back in 1977 when I was in highschool. At that time the arena was small, the music was a lady on the Organ, and everyone was close together and had to use the same hotdog stands and restrooms. But everything came together to create one of those chains you can feel. Fast-forward to last month when my wife and I asked to go to a trailblazer game by one of the elected officials who regulates the public agency she manages. I had not been to a game in the 45 years since. Now in a new arena, there are huge tv screens, flashing lights, loud pop music, mascots, dancers , raffles, balloons etc. But despite the attempts to create a chain with the now ubiquitous use of the term “your” when describing the team and other appeals to loyalty it fell flat that I could see. The multiple catagories of seating ( steerage, coach, first class) with separate parking lots and concession stands, as well as the “skyboxes” for the elite broke up the chain, in addition to player who no-one seemed to know since they had only been there a few months. They needed to have hired a mage to correct some of those flaws, but it might have gotten in the way of money. making.
    As we left, my wife remarked ( she had never been to an NBA game) that it all reminded her of a Casino in Vegas.

  40. Steve, that’s so interesting! I have not encountered any recent mention of Plato in the media or in groups I’m aware of. I also have not read any commentaries on his work, preferring to digest at length my own interpretation of The Republic. Perhaps it’s time to change that, if you’d be willing to offer recommendations.

    For me, reading that book shortly before the dystopian nightmare of the pandemic prepared me to think seriously about the difference between an ideal state and an ideological state. In short, attempts to engineer the former in this material world will logically and inevitably result in the latter. I think the sophistication with which this thesis is unfolded in The Republic is a tour de force.

  41. I’d appreciate a post about various ways to break the chain – and preferably also about ways to use existing chains for other means (both the “when is it possible” and the “how to do it”)… 😉


  42. Justin, sometimes, yes. In other situations it can be necessary to create a chain from scratch, or to revive several long-silenced chains and weave them together, and those take a lot more work.

    Travis, I’d heard that there was a JMG twitter, but I didn’t know the guy was posting his own stuff as me. I don’t do twitter; if you or some of my readers do, could you point out to him that that’s not cool?

    Clay, no surprises there. As the recent procession of gargantuan Disney flops demonstrates, the people who are in charge of corporate marketing these days are serenely clueless about how to attract and keep an audience.

    Milkyway, I’ll consider that.

  43. Regarding breaking chains you don’t want to be affected by, my husband and I have turned this into a most enjoyable game that we play together. Whenever we see a car brand name, for example, each of us starts thinking of a sarcastic name for it. We have some guidelines to make the game even more fun, including changing as few letters as possible (only one is the best), rearranging letters or sounds from the original name, and having the sarcastic name rhyme with the original name. It may be in part due to that game that the car we drive is a 1999 minivan with 309,xxx miles, still going strong.

    My personal favorite sarcastic name, one that I thought of, was renaming something called an Xterra to Excreta. Another favorite that my husband thought of was re-naming the Yukon Denali the Puke-on Denial.

  44. I am using my Substack to very gradually introduce magical concepts to my readers. Every time I post a creative, discursive meditation based on the Tarot or some book of the esotere, I lose subscribers, who I originally gained because of something I said about politics, economics or culture. Yet my sub numbers gradually climb overall. I don’t have a lot of subs, relative to some other writers there, but I have a lot of fellow writers as subs, who I know I influence.

    I’ve also taken up the guitar, and become more intentional about singing, for the same reason. Living in rural Midwest, there are a lot of people who are open to the influence of egregores, I imagine there is increased chaos and trouble coming for America, and my message of re-localization, the rebuilding of community, restoring the land, will reach more people in the long term if I can make music too.

    I’ve been studying Dion Fortune’s The Mystical Qabalah and I recently wrote about Chokmah and Binah, the importance of the masculine and feminine and their necessity to each other, and it was like subscriber-freefall for a bit, but then I merely mentioned that on another substack without linking, and my numbers are above where I was before I posted it.

  45. @ Boy and @JMG

    After we ingest, we must then DIgest… ie. actively process and transform…

  46. @ JMG
    I’ve seen the unofficial JMG twitter, but I can’t say I’ve seen any of these original rants Travis mentions. I haven’t searched the page exhaustively, but for what it’s worth I just scrolled a fair bit down to the end of March, looked at around 70 of their tweets, and didn’t find anything that doesn’t come from one of your blogs, even if it doesn’t always link to the source.

  47. On the topic of the eclipse reaction as an omen, I noticed that the moment totality arrived, my family (who are all PMC) stopped talking and were clearly unnerved, while the masses were cheering loudly. Make of that what you will.

  48. @ST. Claire 46: I do that too, for my own amusement. For example the Yukon XL becomes the “Yucko-N Extra Large. The Cadillac Escalade becomes the Edsel-clod. I realized, at some level, that I was doing this to undermine advertisers. Edward Bernays be dashed!

  49. SLClaire, ha! Sara and I used to do that too, though not very often with cars, since she didn’t drive and neither do I. Billboards were fair game, though. Sometimes it took the form of little narratives: the folks laughing on the beer billboard, for example, were (according to Sara) actually saying, “Does anyone really believe we’re drinking what’s on the label of these cans? Hahahahaha!” (Well, to be frank, she liked to insert various highly off-color adjectives in there too; you could tell that her father was a Marine…)

    William, that’s what happened to me once I started talking about magic on my old blog. I’d lose some readers and get twice as many new joins. I took to doing it deliberately, because it tended to attract a more interesting crowd.

    Justin, yep. And in other contexts as well.

    Valenzuela, thanks for this. That’s what I’d heard earlier.

    Taylor, that’s very fascinating indeed, given the symbolism of the Sun.

  50. Although you say the chains Levi refers to are not the kind to burden or restrict, when he describes them as currents and whirlpools, it is hard for me not to visualize them as a link in a chain. And he deliberately refers to it as a triple chain, so three links.

    If you align these three links to the three triangles often superimposed on the Tree, the first link (“by signs”) fits with Kether-Chokmah-Binah and Light, the second activity from CosDoc. (The first activity being Movement, which happened before our Tree.) The second link (“by words”) fits with Chesed-Geburah-Tiphareth and Sound, the second activity. (I recognize that JMG’s example isn’t really sound-based, but Levi’s is.) The third link (“by personal [physical] contact”) fits with Netzach-Hod-Malkuth (instead of Yesod).

    “By signs” and Light align with Fire.
    “By words” and Sound align with Air.
    “By contact” and Physical align with Earth.

    I’m exploring the idea if chains by signs affect emotions and chains by words affect passions and chains by contact affect drives. Using personal examples, it seems to work, but I’d be curious if others react the same way. Regardless, it seems that if a chain included all three aspects (such as viewing the flag with your hand over your heart, singing the national anthem), it would be much more powerful than a chain only using one aspect.

  51. There are many parts of The Kybalion I like, but one aspect that I did not like was the idea of controlling the mental vibration of others. You’ve taught that good magical ethics means obtaining consent and The Kybalion seemed to contradict that.

    But in light of this Levi chapter, I’m thinking that people who are not deliberately choosing or forming a chain themselves are going to passively get pulled in to existing chains unwittingly and that might be a form of consent. If a mage is forming a chain (rather than deliberately joining an existing chain) and a person actively chooses to join that chain, that choice is an act of consent. If, on the other hand, a passive person allows himself to get pulled into a chain, is that lack of resistance also a form of consent? (And then the mage who created the chain does exhibit some control over the passive person via the chain, but with consent?) (And so The Kybalion is not really encouraging us to control other, but rather warning us that, as mages, we will inadvertently control others and we need to be mindful?)

  52. Regarding the Strength card, I do not recall if it was mentioned in our last Chapter 11 that Wirth (Tarot of the Magicians) thought that the lion represented the constellation of Leo and the maiden represented Virgo, as the heat of the summer is tamed by the cooling temperatures of fall.

    But I recently read an interesting tidbit that gives a slightly different take on the card. Herakles, after all of his Labors and tasks were complete, was brought to Olympus to become a god. He was married to Hebe, who is frequently referred to as the Goddess of Youth and the Cupbearer of the Gods, serving them nectar and ambrosia (which made them immortal).

    However, one reference referred to Hebe as the Goddess of Mercy. (Actually, after I read it once and started looking for it, it was not uncommon. I obviously wasn’t ready to see it before.) The cool part, though, is once Herakles did everything he was supposed to do, he married Mercy. The Pillar of Severity/Strength married the Pillar of Mercy…

    So perhaps the maiden on the card is really Hebe… 😉

  53. @Paul #25
    I’m meditating on the chain concept out loud here but your comment concerning will and purpose towards not creating chains immediately evoked Steppenwolf’s Screaming Night Hog ( for me.

    “Well I’m nobody’s slave, I’m nobody’s master
    Time is mine, morning, night and afternoon”

    This has always resonated with me. On first reflection, Screaming Night Hog is influenced by or is part of the biker chain. May be multiple chains involved as the song’s protagonist is on his way to “say goodbye to his lady” and she’s probably not the one at fault as

    “The highway sign is my only call – Cause a demon deep inside keeps driving me to roam”

  54. Dear Mr. Greer:
    Two questions I hope are pertinent enough to today’s topic:
    (1) I thought an egregore was a collective thoughtform; a spirit, of sorts, brought to life, of sorts, by group intention/will (including things like pledging allegiance to the flag). It was this in mind that I’ve raised a number of questions in past weeks about what happens when something like “the American dream” arises . . . and, then, is murdered. Is my definition enough correct that my questions make sense?
    (2) Today I was going to buy a tarot deck, as you advise, and try it out. It is pretty hard to find any of the three brands you specifically recommend on Amazon. On the other hand, there are a million and one unique tarot decks. What do you make of this plethora of everything but the traditional? I understand these are not advised for purposes of these posts. But, outside of that, how widely do you advise people to avoid these decks — and why?
    (3) I know you often stress the importance of training the will. Do you have any particular posts or chapters in books you recommend on the topic? I have a lot of willful focus training, visualizations, etc. But I want to make sure my understanding is fully in line with your definition.

  55. Random, an intriguing meditation! Thank you for this. As for the Kybalion, good — that ethical issue is a constant one in New Thought, and it’s worth reflecting deeply on it.

    Gnat, (1) that’s one way of looking at egregors. Your questions do make sense, but they’re huge questions, difficult to answer simply. (2) I don’t advise avoiding those decks in general — only for this one purpose — and the decks I named are in fact readily available on Amazon:

    3) Yes:

  56. JMG, you say “I’ll keep that in mind for an upcoming post”. I appreciated your answer here and would greatly appreciate it’s further elaboration. Thank you, Boy

  57. Hi John Michael,

    It would be pretty funny, yeah! And you know, those were almost the exact words I could hear in my mind when typing the earlier comment. 🙂 Is “The Holy Grail” movie itself a form of a magnetic chain?



  58. There is a very easy way to break the chain when it comes to those adds for pharmaceuticals that pop up on you tube and can’t be skipped. Just focus on the list of side effects that they have to recite at the end. Of course the commercial message is delivered with an exciting and enthusiastic verbal performance while the side effects are read in a dead-pan monotone at a slightly lower volume level.
    But the effectiveness is amazing when the side effect of the medicine to reduce moderate skin rash is “suicidal thoughts”, or kidney failure.

  59. JMG #350 last week

    > That was one of the things I was hinting at in my earlier post about population contraction, and I’ll be discussing it in more detail in next week’s post.

    I am sitting on the edge of my (hardwood) chair for next week’s post. Oh, man, waiting a week is tough.

    💨Northwind Grandma💨🪑🪨
    Dane County, Wisconsin, USA

  60. Frightening Magnetic Chain – the compulsion of the Western globalist elite to fight to the last Ukrainian, their hatred of Putin and hatred of a more traditional nationalistic Russia. I am concerned that chain is reaching the point of dragging the NATO countries into evermore explicit and directly involved conflict with Russia. The initial buzz of popular support for the noble Ukrainians may be wearing out but the elite seems to be digging in regardless of consequences. Convinced no doubt those consequences won’t affect them.

  61. May be off topic, so feel free not to post. You, JMG, and another fellow I read on Substack have astrologically predicted near term the curse of living in interesting times, seen from events and conjunctions in the heavenly realms, especially this month. A type of magnetic chain in action, promulgated by non-human influences? I am following the news to see if what happens confirms these predictions. Looks ominous at this time!

  62. While it nauseates me to even contemplate it, I figured that since the topic has been raised, I might as well purge the thought from my mind by expressing it. “Sexual contact is the most effective [means for establishing a chain] of all, which is one of the reasons why sexuality can lead people so rapidly to heaven, hell, or La-La Land, take your pick.” What I am thinking of is the more-than-just-alleged pedophilic proclivities among our society’s uber-parasites. The reason for it (for example, blackmail, controlling the fortune of others, or something more depraved) does not interest me – but the concept of a “chain” for this organized criminal activity does. “Once established, a magnetic chain can remain in existence for a very long time, and anyone who does the necessary work to get in contact with it.” Given this fact, it sounds like it is not so easy to ‘nuke’ this horrifying chain into oblivion (sadly). Not as though I will be satisfied with a ‘magnetic chain’ excuse for permitting its continued practice. I wish that there were some magical means of fraying and pulling apart the various ‘threads’ that form this ‘chain’ and scattering them to the four directions. Harming children in any way is never OK in my book…

  63. JMG, I hate to use this man’s name and example in relation to this week’s essay, but I saw a TV documentary about him and his organization a long time ago that I think illustrated what you’re saying about human chains.

    It was about Hitler and the NSDAP. One video clip in particular comes to mind. It showed Hitler in what looked like a lecture hall with a couple of hundred portly, well-dressed and prosperous looking, middle-aged Germans, businessmen by the look of them. You know the stereotype, hardworking, sober, matter of fact.

    Hitler stood at the front at a lectern, starting quietly and by all appearances it looked like it would be a boring policy speech. But, little by little over about five minutes, Hitler raised his voice until he was shouting and shaking his fist and inside that time, Hitler had those fat Germans on their feet shouting ‘seig heil’ and doing the straight arm salute. They collectively lost their bloody minds, turning into howling, braying lunatics. It was an amazing spectacle.

    There was another brief clip that featured a German veteran who recounted his attendance as a drummer boy at a Nazi rally in the early 1930s. He said he was right in front of Hitler. He said Hitler looked down at him and right into his eyes and he said at that point he would do anything for the Fuehrer. The man’s manner was interesting. You could see shades of shame and regret wash over his face but also nostalgia as if missing the days when he was young and had a leader and a cause.

    The program had some clips of those stadium rallies and you could see the crowds caught up in the frenzy, what with the torches, trumpets, drums and banners. And also there were columns of SS troops in their spiffy uniforms and tall blond teenaged girls in farm girl dresses, all shining examples of the Aryan master race.

    So, could Hitler radiate a mood? Boy, he had crowds eating out of his hand. And whoever organized those rallies surely knew their business.

  64. > The simplest kind of magnetic chain is formed by those people who have the capacity to radiate a mood.

    Could St. Francis of Assisi be an example of someone who could radiate a mood so powerfully it affected even the animals and birds?

  65. Boy, there are five Wednesdays next month; you might consider bringing it up when I call for readers to recommend a theme for the fifth Wednesday post.

    Chris, good! Yes, in fact, cult movies are very good examples of a certain kind of magnetic chain; cult classics in all media, likewise.

    Clay, a nice crisp counterspell. I wonder if saying the word “death!” out loud when that shows up in the list, as it generally does, might amplify things.

    BeardTree, oh, it’s more than a magnetic chain. I don’t think most people realize just how big the stakes are here. The long-term survival of the elites in question depended on getting unimpeded access to Russia’s resources and maintaining their grip on those of the global South. Now they’re losing both. I note that Russia and China are in the process of slapping economic sanctions on Europe —

    — and Russian troops and antiaircraft gear are arriving right now in Niger —

    — so a Russian victory in Ukraine is game over for the attempt by European elites to turn the EU into the nucleus of a global government, with Europe in the driver’s seat. The center of global power is shifting east, to south and east Asia, and if that process completes itself, Europe will once again become the economic and cultural backwater it was before 1492. So, yes, European elites are frantic to stop that from happening and will gamble everything, including their own survival, in an attempt to get their grand strategy back on track. It’s that or accept total defeat.

    Ron, I suspect it’s simply a matter of mutual blackmail; that’s common enough among decadent ruling elites, who have much to fear if any of their members break ranks and start talking. But we’ll see.

    Smith, Hitler was a very capable mage. He was originally self-taught — accounts by friends who knew him in Linz and Vienna describe him as reading all the usual books occultists read in those days — but later on he received a great deal of training from Dietrich Eckart and several others once the Thule-Gesellschaft, the magical lodge that originally sponsored the Nazi Party, identified him as their golden boy. His speeches and rallies are textbook examples of a certain class of magical working.

    Martin, yes — or rather he was capable of having a mood radiated through him. Mystics can do that; by attuning themselves with the deity they worship, they can quite often manifest various effects of the deity’s presence, including emotional states.

  66. JMG,
    Did some of the power that a successful cult leader like the Bhagwan shree Rajneesh have over his followers result from magnetic chains? Would the emphasis on free love ( sex) within his followers amplify the power of those chains as was mentioned? Could that dangerous ( sex amplification) have not only led to the rapid rise and success of the Rajneeshies but also ultimately to their downfall?

  67. @Smith (#67):

    Decades ago, when I was a young associate professor, teaching Slavic Linguistics a much older colleague of mine, a Professor of German and Linguistics, brought in to our departments’ shared office as a curiosity an old 78rpm record of one of Hitler’s speeches which he had recently found. He played it for everyone there to hear. My German was quite good in those long-ago days, but Hitler had a very thick Austrian accent and I couldn’t understand him very clearly.

    Nevertheless, during the three minutes the record was playing, I became wholly entranced: I would have followed that man anywhere and done anything he asked of me, no matter what or where. When the record ended, I was astonished by my own response to it, and knew that I had just received a most valuable lesson in the power of the trained human voice.

    Conventional wisdom among historians is that Hitler had few or no occult interests, in contrast to his deputy Himmler. So I am intrigued by our host’s mention of Dietrich Eckart, and will be following it up. JMG, what sources did you read?

  68. Clay, three direct hits. Yes.

    Robert, I deeply regret that Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke bracketed the Nazi phenomenon with two fine books (The Occult Roots of Nazism and Black Sun) but never filled in the gap between them; unlike most historians who’ve dealt with the subject, he knew enough about occultism to know what he was seeing, without falling for myth-mongering of the Trevor Ravenscroft variety. I’ve considered someday doing a book on the subject.

    We have contemporary testimony that (a) Hitler’s reading in Linz and Vienna was a typical occult reading list; (b) he was an avid reader of the journal of the Ordo Novi Templi, one of the chief Ariosophical orders in prewar Vienna, whose racial policy his regime copied in many details; (c) Eckart, whom Hitler described as the “spiritual co-founder” of National Socialism, was Hitler’s chief mentor and an associate of the Ariosophical Thule-Gesellschaft; (d) Hitler in his post-Beer Hall Putsch days showed an impressive practical command of the technical methods of polarity magic — did you know that he usually arranged, in those early days, to have the first few rows of the auditoriums in his speaking gigs filled with middle-aged women, “the varicose veins brigade” in the jargon of the SS guys who did usher duty? Dion Fortune would have approved; (e) his table talk and other conversations reported by people who were there at the time quite often include references to concepts from Ariosophical occultism and the broader occult scene; (f) detailed rumors in the occult scene in Europe before the Second World War specified that Eckart had been Hitler’s mentor and talked in some detail about the occult inner circle that used, and was used by, Hitler.

    Now of course none of this proves the contention that Hitler was an occultist or that Eckart taught him things, but we’re dealing with a secret tradition, and also with a man such as Hitler, who was exquisitely careful to manage his public persona and to construct a myth around himself. Under the circumstances I feel that the contention I’ve offered here is the most likely explanation for Hitler’s extraordinary power to cause changes in consciousness in accordance with will.

    (By the way, I’ve watched Leni Riefenstal’s film Triumph of the Will — iirc it’s available on YouTube these days — and I can certainly understand your reaction to the recording!)

  69. I once viewed A speech by Hitler with subtitles translating his words. It was a masterful speech playing simultaneously to the superiority of the German race, their victim hood and grievances, and his own sympathy, love and concern and zeal for Germany and hope for the future. I can see how the new mass media of the day – movies and radio – would be a perfect vehicle for him. He was far from being an evil buffoon with a silly mustache as he is often portrayed today. I once read he had success as long as he followed the advice of an astrologer and success left him when he no longer did so! Hitler like Stalin, Lenin, Mao, Genghis Khan, Napoleon, Qin Shi Huang is a feature of human history.

  70. For an example of how magnetic chains can deviate from the vision of their original creators, how about one of those associated with the cannabis leaf, reggae music and the red, yellow and green ethiopian/rasta flag? Although I am sure there are still Rastafarians who associate these symbols with their original meaning, there is a huge subculture/following, made up of a very different demographic, who are part of a divergent magnetic chain associated with these symbols, one that doesnt relate them to Rastafarianism (spiritually/emotionally I mean, intellectually they might know it) though perhaps the chain retains some its cherry-picked values. You could perhaps call it the Bob Marley effect, a hugely charismatic man, but would he have even thought reggae culture in the west would evolve as it has? A twist to the magnetic chain I doubt Leonard Howell et al. would ever have dreamed of!

  71. It’s fascinating that the two main American political parties don’t use potent signs. Other parties did, such as the hammer and sickle of the Communists and the swastika of the Nazis. But less successful political parties often don’t have a strong sign. I’m reading Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia, and note that the anarchists didn’t have a strong sign; they used the color black, but so did the Spanish flag.
    The main parties in the UK don’t have strong signs, though the fringe ones do. The Liberals use a dove and the Democratic Unionists from Northern Ireland use a lion. None of the French parties have a strong sign, except perhaps the flame of Le Pen’s National Rally.
    The best recent political sign I know has been Trump’s bright red MAGA hats. He also has the most emotionally-invested followers.

  72. This topic of magnetic chains has really hooked me! It is a useful way to explain so many things, from pop culture, to people having ‘callings’, from herd behaviour to the charisma of leaders, to religion and political beliefs. From childrens play, to marketing and perhaps even the same thing being discovered in two seemingly separate places in the world at the same time…. Hmmm that last one just occurred to me as I was writing, I’ll have to ponder it some more!

  73. Dear JMG, this post is an answer to Ron M question.
    If it is in any way against the rules or against you best judgement, kindly erase it.
    Dear Ron M,
    There are (that I know of) two magical ways to pull apart a negative magical chain.
    The first one is to create an opposing magical chain and reinforce further than the original chain.
    The second one is trickier. Magically target the chain/egregore (but not the people).
    As an example we have a working that Phil Hine (renowned Chaos Mage, among other things) did in the 80’s. On his city there were increasing the episodes of violence against homosexuals and single mothers. Phil Hine and a friend decided to take action when they found out that a creep who tried to make a pass at a single mother got furious that she ignored him , broke a bear bottle and threw the shards of glass at her baby’s face.. They summoned the Furies to target the way of thinking that led people to do things like that. On the next few months not only that way of thinking (and therefore acting) receded, but also things kept happening that caused those that engaged in that behavior to be caught and swiftly punished. As an example the friend that participated in the ritual with him ( a small 5′ , slim lesbian) was on her job and a coworker ( Male, over 6′) started to insult and threaten her.. When he approached her, she punched him so hard that he was projected over a glass door and was completely knocked out There was an inquiry and it was considered that she acted in self defense. The guy, on the other hand, lost his job.

  74. My life has taken an amazing turn since I dropped meat, sex, and recreational drugs to follow your teachings, JMG – for which I’m truly grateful. But how does one create an impact beyond the personal sphere?

    Example: Annalena Baerbock, German Minister of Foreign Affairs has repeatedly provoked Russia on numerous occasions, up to and including a declaration of war on 2023.01.24. I have nothing against her personally; in fact, she’s probably one of the finest German ladies around. But she’s endangering the lives of millions of Danes and destroying our economy. It would be best if she retired.

    Question. How does one initiate a magnetic chain to achieve this goal? I pray a lot. I’ve been crafting sigils such as angels and stars with paper, cardboard and paint, and putting them up as out-of-season Christmas decorations. I even have an Annalena scarecrow for Halloween. Neighbours love it. Anything else I should be doing?

    Thanks in advance for any help.

  75. The ongoing loss of world domination by the Euro-American- English elites shows incompetence as the population, industries, and resources of home base (Western Europe, North America, Australia) were sufficient to maintain dominance or at least be equally competitive if managed well and protected along with correctly managed foreign relations (keeping Russia, and others out of bed with China).

  76. Does Levi advise we create our own chain? I remember at the beginning of the book where he mentioned that Jesus created his own tracks because the Roman tracks were so firmly embedded and intractable (okay, pun intended!) I got the impression, and I think we discussed it, that avoiding existing chains was the best option, but I imagine that is just for the harmful chains.

    When we create our own chain we can start anew–but for someone as insignificant as me, I doubt it would have any effect.

  77. “Lévi, with his usual evasiveness, focuses most of his discussion on the three most common material anchors for magnetic chains: signs, words, and personal contact.”

    This sounds suspiciously like “certain signs, tokens…” 🙂 I was very surprised that I could sense that great magnetic chain upon me after my initiation, especially now, when I’m inside a Lodge.

  78. @JMG (#72):

    Thank you for your detailed and thoughtful answer. I agree, it is highly plausible that Hitler took lessons somewhere about how “to cause changes in consciousness in accordance with will”; and I have always been curious about ‘the how and why and when, and what and where and who” of that. Of course such things are shrouded in secrecy, and we may never find out, a century after the fact, any of the details.

    I did not know about the “varicose veins brigade” — I agree, it’s a very telling detail! Nor had I known that “The Triumph of the Will” could be viewed on the web. I will be watching it as soon as I can set aside the needed hour and 45 minutes. Riefenstahl was a real master of her craft, something of a natural mage herself. (Or did she, too, ever study magic? I do not know much about her life and interests.)

    And I hope you do write that book someday. Goodrick-Clarke was a fine scholar of esotericism, and also the founder and guiding light of the Centre for the Study of Esotericism at Exeter University. But I never saw any reason to think that he was an experienced practitioner of any esoteric discipline, and it’s harder to study such matters deeply as a complete outsider.

  79. BeardTree, oh, it wasn’t just a matter of ignoring his astrologer, though that might have helped. He fell victim to the uncontrolled hubris that’s always the downfall of the politician-mage: having convinced most Germans that he was invincible, he came to believe that himself, and so made a cascade of disastrous mistakes that doomed him and his regime. If he’d simply recognized that his strength was in politics rather than generalship, his heirs would probably own Europe today.

    Free Rain, that’s a fine example. Notice how the chain’s dependence on signs rather than words left it vulnerable once those signs were cut loose from their original context.

    Tom, good. Yes, exactly. The MAGA hat is a very clever sign, and so is MAGA itself as a slogan, but Trump’s own image is the most potent sign in the chain he’s created. Watch the emotional reactions it gets from everyone — the frantic hatred any image of Trump fields from his enemies is just as effective a way of charging the chain as the adoration he gets from his supporters.

    Free Rain, excellent! Good to see you’re paying attention.

    Whispers, Hine was a very, very capable mage. I hadn’t heard of the working of his that you’ve described, but it was brilliantly aimed; I’m not at all surprised that it was successful.

    Claus, don’t focus on Baerbock; she’s simply a talking head for certain interests in German society. Focus on her bad ideas. Those are what need to be banished. You can banish them by ritual means; you can also make fun of them — mockery can have a potent banishing effect, so long as it’s genuinely funny. (The scarecrow is a great idea.) There are other options but those are probably the most accessible.

    BeardTree, nope. The core nations of western and central Europe have used up nearly all their own fossil fuels and mineral resources; eastern Europe is simply the closest region the EU is exploiting via puppet governments and predatory trade arrangements. That’s another part of why the European elites are so desperate. Their industries depend on foreign imports for raw materials and energy, and foreign markets for sales — the usual imperial gimmick — and the former colonies, despite most of a century of frantic efforts to keep them dependent, are asserting their independence and refusing to keep propping up Europe at their own expense. So the European elite classes really are screwed. If they can’t somehow turn things around in Ukraine and Africa, they face a future in which it’s quite possible, for example, that the former French colonies in Africa could decide to invade and conquer France, and impose a government of their own choosing on the French people. In another decade or so the US won’t be in any condition to intervene; the only thing the French would have that could stop such an invasion are their nuclear weapons, and at the rate that antimissile technologies are advancing just now, those may become a feeble reed to lean on…

    Jon, yes, you can create your own chains — and however insignificant you are, you’re not as insignificant as a carpenter’s son from a small town in rural Galilee. Of course you have to imagine and affirm your own power to set things in motion, and that’s frightening. Nelson Mandela was right; it’s not our weakness that scares us, it’s our potential power. As for “signs, tokens…” — excellent! Yes, exactly.

    Robert, the thing that impressed me about Goodrick-Clarke is that even though he wasn’t a practitioner, he was capable of noticing things that were right in front of his face without the usual evasive maneuvers that occultism so often gets. (Isn’t that the “first sight” in Terry Pratchett’s stories? Goodrick-Clarke had it.) Most of the Hitler biographies or histories of the early Nazi party I’ve read have gone breezing right past the most obvious signs of occult involvement, when they don’t simply avoid mentioning such details altogether. It’s like the evidence for Hitler’s homosexuality; Lothar Machtan made, I think, a compelling case that Hitler at least swung both ways, but mainstream historians went out of their way to ignore the points he made and shout him down. Or Hitler’s vegetarianism — but we don’t even have to get into that…

  80. It seems to me that the pagan wheel of the year is a good example of a chain that was woven and invented. The four main holidays were already there, but Gardner wove May day, Lughnassadh, Samhain, and Imbolc, into the fold. They were already there as well, but these interlocking squares werent yet connected up in this eight fold pattern which was his great insight. Every time a pagan celebrates one or all of these days the chain gets activated.

  81. @JMG (#83):

    Terry Pratchett’s “first sight” — yes, indeed, and there are days when I wonder whether it’s rarer than the “second sight”! Pratchett has quite a number of brilliant observations on magic scattered throughout his novels. Also, his “Theory of Narrative Causality” is very relevant to this week’s discussion of “magnetic chains” (see Witches Abroad, pp. 2-3, and in a more serious vein, his invited lecture before the Folklore Society, published as “Imaginary Worlds, Real Stories” in Folklore, 111 (2000), 159-168), downloadable from

    Another fine modern scholar who (though not a practitioner himself) is able to notice such things without evasive maneuvering is Wouter J. Hanegraaff at the University of Amsterdam. Do you know about him? Quite a number of his articles–he mostly writes in English rather than Dutch–are available gratis to read or download on Among them is one on the Cthulhu mythos.

  82. Hello JMG,
    There is something I don’t understand. Would you please clarify? When we were discussing pentacles and swastika you said that pentacles do not mean what you want them to mean. However, now we are talking of symbols being unchained from their original meaning. The implication is that they are not constant, they change with time. I once had an unpleasant experience of coming home to my Indian friends and freezing upon seeing a swastika on the wall. I had to talk myself rationally out of that frozen state (“It doesn’t mean to them what it means to you. Their mother wasn’t jailed by the occupying Nazi Army at the age of 3. Their father did not survive the siege of Leningrad as a toddler. For them, it’s fertility and love. Calm down.”). Am I conditioned to reject the symbol of love and fertility or its meaning is forever changed for WW2 survivors and their descendants?

  83. “Every action and every inaction each person does affects everyone else. We live one life.”

    This puts a lot of responsibility on us all. If we affect everyone else, we should take good care of our mental, emotional, and physical state. Health and happiness become moral responsibilities.

  84. I watched “Triumph of the Will” on many years ago. My most enduring memory is the infernal brassy martial music that kept playing throughout. I’ve noticed that martial music is much the same in many cultures even though popular music might be very different, so I guess it’s a type of magnetic chain.

    Watching “Triumph of the Will” again on, apart from the swastika one notices repetition of the fascist salute and the words “sieg heil” i.e. “hail victory”. I was wondering if they were celebrating victory over the defeat and depression of the ’20s and ’30s rather than the hope of victory to come. It’s very difficult to appreciate the mental state of the German people at that time, knowing how things panned out. It seems overblown and melodramatic today but might have been cathartic at the time.

    One of the most chilling sound I ever heard was a clip of a radio broadcast during Anschluss when Hitler annexed Austria. The Austrian crowd was lining the streets waiting for Hitler to pass. The announcer was beside himself. All he could say was “der Führer kommt .. der Führer kommt .. der Führer kommt …” over and over. In the background you could hear the crowd. They were roaring, howling, baying, screaming — I don’t know how to describe it, it sounded almost animal. It was beyond human, and very frightening.

    When Mandela was released I was in the huge crowd on the Grand Parade waiting for him. He was hours late and Bishop Tutu would periodically appear and exclaim in his squeaky voice “He is comiiiing … Mandela is comiiiing …” The crowd was much better behaved than the Austrians. Mind you we had a line of cops behind us armed with bird shot who had fired several salvoes over our heads. Maybe that had something to do with it.

  85. A few questions if I may JMG:

    How do magnetic chains and karma or the law of consequences interrelate? I feel that karma is perhaps the internal loop initiated by action, or alternatively that determines ones actions. Magnetic chains are the outward or external loop which one intiates or is drawn into when one interacts with the world. Therefore ones karma and the magnetic chains one is part of both influence and are influenced by each other.

    The second question is about the interrelationship between archetypes and magnetic chains. Archetypal symbols are often used to initiate/ affect chains, but do magnetic chains affect the meanings of archetypes? Even temporarily? Or perhaps slowly over time? And can magnetic chains create new archetypes? For example was Jesus as archetype created as a result of initiating a very powerful magnetic chain, or was the chain so powerful because there was already a jesus shaped gap (or perhaps gathering) in the human psyche just waiting to be filled (or perhaps defined)?

  86. Thanks a lot for the discussion of the chains – that’s very enlightening, and came in very timely! 🙂

    JMG, I, too, second the book about Hitler – would love to read your take on that.

    I hope this doesn’t lead too far away*, but there is an interesting (non-occult!) book by Sebastian Haffner, “The Meaning of Hitler”, with a somewhat uncommon take on Hitler. Haffner himself had an interesting life, and wasn’t afraid to take unconventional viewpoints in his writings.


    * If so, my apologies and please delete the comment. 🙂

  87. What would be the interest to in Hitler’s vegetarianism? Just curious because of the way you mentioned it.

  88. Robert Mathiesen, as an Austrian I want to object to the perception of Hitler speaking with a thick Austrian accent in Triumph des Willens, for what it’s worth . He shows no more regional accent than the other speakers, for instance the Alemannic speaker before his appearance. What makes him hard to understand, even for German speakers of today, is his very artificial pronunciation, akin to a trained actor of his time.

  89. Hi John Michael,

    Hmm, well that is interesting. Yes, I see. Makes sense.

    I may have mentioned that one of the hippy periodicals I used to write for, had a venerable history which began in the early 70’s. After half a century, the thing ceased to be published. I’d long given up on them prior to that point. It’s hard to know what happened there, and for all I know, the masthead was not sold – which was a fact which interested me greatly (was competition perhaps feared?) What also interested me about the story was that the decline appeared to me to begin after the thing took on a slick new look. I could almost hear the possible echoing words of: “We just want a bit more out of this thing” An unsurprisingly common story in our culture, and perhaps there was nothing more to be had from it? Such stratagems are at the heart of the European elite story you’ve mentioned in the comments. Hungry ghosts perhaps?

    I’d imagine that we’re soon coming to a time again in history when there is a market for the original no-frills version of the publication. We’re not there yet, but it’s getting closer for sure.



  90. Justin, good. The eightfold year-wheel has become quite a robust pattern since Gardner and Ross Nichols invented it.

    Robert, I’ve read some of Hanegraaf’s papers, though not as much as I probably should. I’ll go see what I can find on!

    Kirsten, symbols have universal meanings but they can also be given personal meanings, of the sort that people get from their experiences and family traumas. The Christian cross is still a deeply negative emblem to many Jews, for example, after all those centuries of persecution! It’s necessary to take those personal meanings into account for practical purposes, but on a deeper level the swastika means what it always has.

    Ecosophian, yes, you can see it that way. I prefer to say that maintaining one’s health and happiness is just plain common sense.

    Martin, thanks for this. That sound — I’ve heard it in other contexts; it’s what happens when a crowd becomes a single entity. That entity inevitably has less than human consciousness, and makes noise accordingly.

    Free Rain, karma and magnetic chains are two of many influences that shape and are shaped by human behavior. It’s a complicated world out there! As for archetypes, those are fascinating questions that, as far as I know, nobody has yet been able to answer conclusively.

    Milkyway, I’ll see if the local library system has a copy of that book. I should probably review the recent scholarship on the subject sometime soon anyway.

    Njura, purely because some vegetarians have a hissy fit if you mention that Hitler was vegetarian. (Not, of course, vegan — vegan diets were extremely rare in the Western world until the 1960s.)

    Chris, the same thing happened here to Mother Earth News, once a thoroughly hippy periodical before it went all glossy and corporate. I have no idea if it even still exists. Down the road a bit, though, I think you’re right that there’ll be a market for something along those lines again.

  91. @Njura (#92):

    Ny comment (#71) about Hitler’s accent wasn’t about Triumph des Willens, but about the old 78rpm record of a speech of his. I haven’t watched Triumph yet, but I’m sure he’ll be easier to understand there.

  92. So there I was thinking about chains as I was translating another of J. B. Kerning/Krebs’ works and I encountered this reference to chains (note: this is just a first draft of the translation of Principles of the Bible [Grundzüge der Bibel (1838 – so predating the Doctrine and Ritual)]):
    Here there is actually nothing to add and nothing to take away. It is a whole, but hanging together so gigantically that it dizzies the weak understandings of humans to imagine it. Life is everywhere, from the lowest to the highest, and nobody can say it is not possible, because we must also assume what we see realised in one endpoint of creation at the other endpoint. Strictly separated, floating around any heavenly body are circles on circles, strongholds on strongholds, they attach onto and intervene in the circles of other worlds, suns, and stars and, forming an immeasurable chain, share with one another their life potencies and powers so that every star, even our simple earth, absorbs into itself the influence of Sirius, of Orion, indeed of yet undiscovered universes. In the visible creation we see living beings for which the power of thought sees no possibility and no yardstick anymore. In the upper circles are beings of a spiritual sort which only our inner eye recognises. Over the possibility or impossibility, over the truth or falsity of them, nothing is to be said. It is, like everything in creation, and must be so because God can still be infinite and eternal, and in him there is no standstill and no emptiness. His life is poured out over all regions of creation and lifeless, unused space contradicts just as much his being as if we wanted to claim the sea was uninhabited because the blind do not see it, and in the midst of the water no breathing of air is possible.

  93. Martin, JMG, i’m waiting for the left to realize that Hitler was also a progressive and socialist as well as nationalistic. Boy won’t that be a wild ride. The NSDAP platform is rather interesting. If that part of the chain links to theirs,, no telling what transpires. Maybe it cancels out

  94. This is OT for this post, but I thought you might be interested in this datapoint for the long descent: – an archived article from newspaper Die Welt, titled (translated): “The Oranienburg case: a city is running out of power”
    Excerpts: ““Stadtwerke Oranienburg GmbH informed the Federal Network Agency on Monday that sufficient power cannot be provided in the upstream high-voltage network for the growing city of Oranienburg,” explained Peter Grabowsky, Managing Director of the Stadtwerke. “This means that the supply options in the city of Oranienburg have been exhausted.”
    The consequences of the supply gap are serious: “In order to keep the electricity network in Oranienburg stable, the municipal utilities can no longer approve new registrations or increases in the performance of house connections,” the municipal utilities announced. This not only affects the connection of heat pumps and charging infrastructure: “New commercial and industrial areas cannot currently be connected to the grid and supplied with electricity.”

    And: “Mayor Alexander Laesicke notes that strong economic growth, the influx of new residents to Oranienburg and the increased installation of heat pumps have led to the increased demand for electricity: “The electricity demand of our growing city has developed enormously, faster than we anticipated in the past.”
    House builders, investors and wallbox buyers are now facing a long dry spell. The construction of a new substation that will enable more electricity to be purchased has been decided, but the system is not scheduled to go into operation until the end of 2026. “We now have to find ways and means to remedy the situation as quickly as possible,” warns the mayor: “For the core city of Oranienburg and Sachsenhausen, otherwise it would mean that we would no longer be able to build anything in the next two to three years.”

    Yes, our government experts are handling the Energiewende as expertly as expected. A small taste of what’s in store for Germany, but maybe not only for us.

  95. Hi John Michael,

    Yeah, I’d encountered a copy of that particular magazine once (it’s not commonly sold down under that I’m aware of), and was surprised to see the full page advertisement for a very big tractor just inside the front cover. To be honest, I was scratching my head wondering who the publication was aimed at. Dunno, a mystery.

    What? That Austrian bloke people keep mentioning was a vegetarian. It’s outrageous and a sleight against all proper good vegetarians! 😉 Just kidding, I couldn’t give a toss about the guy. In fact, I do wonder what the obsession is with him, after all despite the many advantages he had at his disposal, that lot lost everything really badly. Didn’t you once mention that the plains are discreet etc…



  96. It occurred to me while musing on chains that the prayer attributed to St. Francis (who seems not to be the original author: is asking to be part of a chain of divine forces. I read “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace” as “Lord, make me a link in your chain of peace”.

    I think also the author of the prayer understands that the divine force of understanding, peace, etc., if stopped at the one who is praying, will be less effective than if allowed to flow through to another, articulated especially in the last four lines. The flow of divine forces are most powerful when allowed free passage through, touching all as it flows.

    We really do start to see chains everywhere when we look for them, as someone else has noted.

  97. Kerry, I’m not surprised — the metaphor goes way back. There’s a passage in Homer where Zeus points out that if he took one end of a chain and all the other gods and goddesses, along with Earth itself and Tartarus, took hold of the other end, he could lift them all and leave them swinging helplessly in midair. Neoplatonists early on took that as a metaphor for the dependence of all things on the One, and it went from there into the general stock of Western mystical imagery. One of the last great works of European alchemy is Anton Joseph Kirchweger’s Aurea Catena Homeri, and that title translates out as “the golden chain of Homer.”

    Celadon, nah, you’re missing the most important thing about Hitler, and fascists generally. They’re moderates; they occupy the abandoned center of politics, taking a few ideas from the left, a few from the right, and a great deal from ordinary people whose wants and needs are being ignored by the two contending sides. That’s what makes fascism so appealing to so many people: it embraces the excluded middle.

    Althaia, thank you, but in the future could you hold these for the last Wednesday open post? I try to keep conversations on topic here, especially in the book club posts.

    Chris, glad to hear it. I’ve seen vegan activists go into saliva-spraying tirades when it’s mentioned that Hitler was a vegetarian; after all, all vegetarians are peaceful and loving and kind!

    Myriam, good! Mystics usually figure this out, and Francis certainly did.

  98. Sorry for the OT, JMG. I had actually not expected you to put it through, but rather to file it away as a datapoint for another post about the topic. Maybe I should’ve put something like “not for posting” at the top. I didn’t mean to derail the discussion.

  99. “ I’ve seen vegan activists go into saliva-spraying tirades when it’s mentioned that Hitler was a vegetarian; after all, all vegetarians are peaceful and loving and kind!” Yeah, reality is an equal opportunity offender with inconvenient facts and happenings to offend all persons of any persuasion and belief system. Myself included and probably even you, JMG. But as Saint Paul (for many, Aint Paul) said “If it is possible, far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” Romans 12:18 and “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church” 1 Corinthians 5:12 as my mom would say “mind your own business and leave other people alone”

  100. Another possible way to think of these chains is in terms of systems theory, cybernetics, and the feedback loops that happen within ecology that create a series of interlinked connections, including those related to mind as it permeates nature.

  101. ‘The only thing that distinguishes occult practitioners like me from supposed “muggles” is that I use my powers consciously…’
    Ancestral karma from Celtic druids, preceding lifetimes of magical practice, and in this life, tuition from qualified teachers. That’s three things which distinguish you from a ‘muggle’.

  102. Hi John Michael,

    Yes, it is true that some folks can get rather hot under the collar when inconvenient facts stress out their belief systems.

    Hey, the same people probably never quite thought through what it means for the nice animals, birds, insects etc. to be excluded from the very fields used to produce the nice vegetables. There’s a lot of hurt out there.



  103. Athaia, no prob. A “not for posting” label is always a good idea, though, if you don’t want me to post something. 😉

    BeardTree, oh, I’m very much included in that. The world serenely ignores my beliefs any time it feels like it!

    Justin, I doubt I’m going to be the one to do it, but a fusion of occult philosophy and systems theory would be a very, very productive thing.

    Tengu, and none of those would have been worth diddly-squat if I didn’t take conscious responsibility for my own will and imagination, and their effects on the world. I’ve known people who had the advantages you listed and who made a steaming mess of their lives anyway.

    Chris, oh, granted! And there’s the little fact that, if you hook a raw tomato to an electroencephalograph, and then bite into it, you’ll discover that it feels the bite, and screams

  104. Robert Mathiesen #71

    That was an interesting anecdote. It brought to mind Churchill who was also a great speaker with the ability to stiffen spine and sinew but I wonder how people would stack him up next to Hitler.

    Maybe we’re too close temporally to the events in question and so a comparison might have to wait for future generations. Even then I doubt we’d get much objectivity even if objective analysis in such a thing is possible.

    My own German is nonexistent so I just watch and listen to vocal expression and read the English subtitles . Much is lost though in translation. Regardless, I would describe Hitler’s performances as “guts out”.

  105. JMG,

    Please don‘t post if leading too far away… 😉

    The actual tomato fruit, as in plucked and separated from the plant? How would that fit with occult theory? My understanding is that plants have a divine spark, and once a tomato seed germinates, it gets one, too, but the fruit as conscious being… I‘m at a loss here as to how that might fit. 🙂

    (Or maybe it‘s just really early Monday morning and I haven‘t had my first cuppa tea yet, which could add to the confusion??)


  106. > all vegetarians are peaceful and loving and kind

    Your food definitely influences your mood. I’ve seen it in myself. At a time when I was drinking heavily and eating badly, I used to have fantasies of blowing up buildings and mass slaughter with machine guns. It actually frightened me that I could even think of such things.

    I don’t drink alcohol any more and the fantasies have mostly gone. But recently while losing weight I have found while dieting that if I don’t get enough protein I start to have the fantasies again, mostly in the context of revenge or punishment for imagined wrongs.

    If they improved the diets of disadvantaged people and prisoners I suspect we’d have a lot less crime and violence in society.

  107. I will add it to my list of potential writing/occult projects. I find both endlessly fascinating. A synthesis would indeed be useful! And I am already writing about systems theory and music and art, so…

  108. If you combine the magnetic chain with the tracks in space from the Cosmic Doctrine, then it suggests that the first people to break new ground will almost always struggle, and reaching a new height or low for humanity will require large groups of people working together; but once people do this, then it’s easier for others to follow.

    The imagery I have is of a mountain camp; some paths leading up, some leading down, some going around the mountain. Certain trails have been long established; others are fading, barely visible anymore. Go far enough, and eventually there is no trail at all, and the only people around are the teams who are are slowly making their way across uncertain terrain; and every time anyone walks on any of these paths, alone or in groups, they compress the snow, clear the vegetation, and make it a little easier for others to follow. Eventually, a trail that took hundreds of people centuries of steady work to create can be walked by a single person in an afternoon; but only because of the massive effort put into establishing it in the first place.

  109. Dear JMG and commentariat,

    I have had some thoughts on these chains that I would like to share, possibly know your opinion(s) on.
    First, it seems to me that the physical anchors of these streams can be anything, but with variable strengths and effects. Very simple things close to moment-to-moment perception and manifestation (like sounds or colors or often repeated movements like steps while walking), are nearly always neutral or almost neutral; they are the easiest to connect to any meaning we want to assign to them, but because of their number and matter-of-courseness, and the easiness for anybody to assign any meaning of their own to them (children go through a stage when they do it), they are not often intentionally used as carriers on their own. Also, one needs to communicate the message, and that is virtually impossible by pointing to a color (and pointing is already a gesture, carrying yet another meaning).
    Next thought is connected to this quote: “Notice how the chain’s dependence on signs rather than words left it vulnerable once those signs were cut loose from their original context.” It caught my attention, because I realized how it is much easier to communicate average messages. Complexity of a message is not dependent on the carrier – but the meaning must be communicated somehow if it at all would be clear. For a complex message, the original context must be complex enough – say a book-length text, and the more complex and difficult it is, the fewer people are likely to read it. At least initially. It is fascinating about scriptures of various traditions that the chains are strong enough to motivate a lot of people to read those texts, creating a loop-like effect.
    Yet, the most important insight your essay brought to me, is that the most important origin of chains I can create, strengthen, brake or share is connected to my own personality, and linked to my own Arché.

    Thank you for the text.
    With deep regards,

  110. > if you hook a raw tomato to an electroencephalograph, and then bite into it, you’ll discover that it feels the bite, and screams…

    As discovered and demonstrated by that great scientist, L Ron Hubbard:

    “Dr Hubbard’s experiments soon came to the attention of Garden News, to which publication he revealed, gardener to gardener, his conviction that plants felt pain. He demonstrated by connecting an E-meter to a geranium with crocodile clips, tearing off its leaves and showing how the needle of the E-meter oscillated as he did so. The Garden News correspondent was enormously excited and wrote a story under the sensational headline ‘PLANTS DO WORRY AND FEEL PAIN’, describing Hubbard as a ‘revolutionary horticultural scientist’.

    “It was not long before television and Fleet Street reporters were beating a path to Saint Hill Manor demanding to interview Hubbard about his novel theories. Always pleased to help the gentlemen of the press, he was memorably photographed looking compassionately at a tomato jabbed by probes attached to an E-meter – a picture that eventually found its way into Newsweek magazine…”

  111. Could there be a new chain arising from your novel series, the Witch of Criswell? It is powerful and touches the heart with longing for all beings to see the richness of the world accessed by a larger mind.

  112. JMG – I read The Secret Life of Plants while in high school, and as luck would have it, was able to borrow an old EKG machine for my science project: putting electrodes on plants. Some of the experimental protocols were not reproducible. I mean, it’s not that the results could be reproduced, but not even the trial, since one of the strongest reactions reported in the book was when, during a trial run, one of the experimenters suggested putting a flame to the plant. You can’t just “come up with” that idea in a reproducible way! My project showed that it is very difficult to get good signals from a plant, given the invisible EMFs that permeate our living spaces, and which are affected by our positions and movements.

  113. Milkyway, good question — all I know is that this effect was reported, and not just by L. Ron Hubbard.

    Martin, that’s interesting. My diet varies quite a bit — left to myself I eat very modest amounts of meat and a lot of whole grains and vegetables, but then I go to Masonic events or what have you and it’s lots of meat, lots of simple carbs, and tolerably often a bunch of alcohol. Somehow none of that generates violent fantasies. I wonder if there’s some other variable…

    Justin, delighted to hear it.

    Taylor, yes, that would follow — and it certainly seems to be borne out by history.

    Markéta, thanks for this. All of this seems entirely sensible to me.

    Martin, too funny. It’s usually the crackpots who discover interesting things, though, since they ask the questions nobody else will.

    Sarah, thank you for this! We’ll see; I know the Ariel Moravec novels are starting to find fans as well as more casual readers, but this one’s only been out for a little while. Let’s see if the enthusiasm for it has legs.

    Lathechuck, so noted. I wonder if a Dianetics e-meter would get better readings, being less sensitive.

  114. @Boy #60 – For the next 5 Wednesdays in a Month post you have my vote if you bring your line of questioning here as a topic for JMG to elaborate on.

  115. I’m glad for this topic as it makes one think of other emotions chains can work on beyond the powerful desire/fear triggers that can cause changes in our consciousness and effect our will or dilute our will: anger / peace; sadness / gladness; disgust / affection, enjoyment / dissatisfaction. All these can be linked to desire / fear but for example, giving to a charity a different sub-set of emotions may be involved. Example, Planetary Charity would be a good candidate to be very close to desire / fear impulses whilst affection may be more apt for altruistic impulses.

    A note on the tarot card for this chapter. This is a pessimistic take but I view the noble and more powerful lion caught in a chain, mouth forced open to passively accept the garbage spewed out via propaganda, news, social media, “entertainment” industries, etc.

  116. Well, you and Alastair Crooke are dovetailing perfectly again. You’re both constructing potent magnetic chains, pulling inexorably on mainstream thinking/regurgitating; you’re both helping to clarify subtle meanings hidden in occult texts; and you’re both highlighting how those occult influences are currently manifesting in the world around us.

    Crooke writes, “The point here was that the Hermetic understanding of society and history – the world – was that of an integrated totality. It offered a more holistic perspective; one which can account for – rather than annul or strike out – the contradictions within the fabric of reality. Contradictions and oppositions within history and understanding were, and are today, regarded as dangerous’ and signs of a threat to established order. The Corpus Hermetica offered a very different perspective. The contradictions were but multiplicity working itself out.”

    Crooke’s full post can be read at:

  117. I’m currently reading a book on the history of mathematics, and realized that Levi might have provided an explanation for one of the weirder things in mathematical history: the odd fact that Isaac Newton and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz independently invented calculus around the same time. They approached it from two radically different directions, but arrived at a similar outcome; and this has irritated some historians to no end. Simply put, the likelihood that two people would both take mathematical ideas that had existed for centuries, and independently devise something as novel as calculus from them within the space of a few years seems unlikely enough to be effectively impossible; yet it clearly happened. What’s more, this sort of thing happens all the time.

    The obvious explanation I see is that Newton and Leibniz were part of a magnetic chain; it’s likely that their shared studies linked them together, or perhaps this is a chain of mathematicians; and Newton unknowingly yanked Leibniz towards calculus. Leibniz then proceeded to come at it from a radically different direction; but eventually reached the same spot.

    This could even explain why things like writing seem to have appeared in several different places close together in time, but arriving at their spot from different directions (Egypt, source unknown, Mesopotamia, from marks indicating quantities of agricultural supplies, and China from what seems to have been a system of divination, all around 3500 BCE); there’s no requirement that the people involved in a chain need ever meet each other, after all.

    It might be easier, but I suspect that under certain circumstances people who have no connection whatsoever can form a chain with each other, and pull each other towards new things; and it would certainly explain why sometimes ideas seem to have appeared independently in different regions of the world at around the same time.

  118. @Taylor Burgess: I’ve been doing some reading on Leibnuz this year. Fadcinating character. I thought that was cool too, how Newton and him both invented calculus independently. That serms to happen a lot in various fields. The telephone is another example, as is twelve tone music. Anyway, I find it very interesting that Bewton was an alchemist, and it is highly likely Leibniz had been an initiate of a Rosicrucian type order. His monadology bears a striking resemblance to cabala. It seems he might have tried to obfuscate his initiation later to maje his science more palatable to the incoming Enlightenment. Im just dipping my toes in to all this now, so happy reading & researching.

    Cordially yours,

  119. @JMG: I don’t think that Trump himself can logically be a sign. A sign is a symbol of something else; Trump is a person, who speaks for himself .

    He attracts a lot of attention because he’s speaking for a lot of people who feel they’ve been ignored and exploited for decades.

  120. Scotty, a very pessimistic take on the card! The lion may be noble, but those bones aren’t there by accident…

    Christophe, hmm! As Charles Fort liked to say, it steam-engines when it comes steam-engine time…

    Taylor, and as you note, these are far from the only examples — one of my favorites is the simultaneous invention of philosophy in Greece, India, and China in the 6th century BC. In case you’re not familiar with him, Rupert Sheldrake has a lot to say about such things — though I don’t believe he ever cites Lévi, his “morphogenetic fields” are magnetic chains under a new name.

    Tom, au contraire. Trump is a sign representing the far broader populist movement that has adopted him as its figurehead. It’s a very clever strategy; I’ve noted before that perceptive Democrats are practically frantic at this point, because so many people are obsessing so monomaniacally about Trump that they haven’t noticed the real struggle, which is taking place in state and local elections across the country. State after state has ended up in GOP control, and school boards in particular are falling like ripe chestnuts into the hands of conservative populist candidates…and most people on the left are paying next to no attention, because the King in Orange has grabbed them by the pussy hats and holds their minds in thrall.

  121. Taylor Burgess raises an interesting question in #123: Will physical closeness make the formation of chains easier? And/or will it make it easier for people to be pulled into a chain, if members of that chain are physically close?

    I’d have thought that closeness should make things easier, but from recent experience, even that might not matter much…

    JMG, I’d be interested in your take on this. 🙂 (and in everybody else’s experiences, if they’d care to share!)


  122. @Christophe #122,

    Thanks for the link to Crooke’s post – a very interesting read. (And also interesting to note that an essay like this, refererring society back to “Hermetic values”, seems to be perfectly acceptable…)


  123. @JMG #126
    Point taken and lesson in focus & full attention.

    That being said the bones may be a good thing, bones of poachers that killed cubs, etc. At first, I thought just to mention this as a joke but as I think it through, the card’s imagery was associated with concepts during a time when wildlife posed a significant threat and from the lion’s perspective it’s humanity leaving more bones on the ground. In a modern context, instead of a lion maybe a nurse is holding back Fauci’s arms from jabbing someone with a needle is more apt.

  124. @Taylor Burgess #123 & @MilkyWay #127.

    An argument can be made that Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz were part of the same chain or sub-sets of a chain in which many others had come before (“standing on the shoulders of giants”). The chain had reached a point in which people were prepared to discover calculus.

    Now if Newton and Leibniz lived next door to each other would calculus have been discovered earlier? I’m not so sure. I have a colleague at work and at times our approaches to a problem are dramatically different. Both solutions turn out to be correct but the path is different and at times we can get frustrated with each other’s ideas. It may have been for the better that Newton and Leibniz approached their work independently.

    But to answer Milkyway’s question in #127 I’d say physical proximity will always make the formation of a chain easier or to bring someone into the chain. In person, countless adjustments are made due to the proximity of another. Non-verbal queues, etc.

    BUT, there’s always a flip side to the coin and using an unhappy couple as an example, one person may be so unpleasant that the other person consciously seeks independence from the chains the other one is pushing.

  125. I’ve written an (unpublished) book that Nazism and Communism are religions, and their strong signs reflect that. Political parties don’t have strong signs because they don’t want to be religions; they want to be collections of interest groups.
    Trump is mixed case. There’s a lot of religious energy around him. The conspiracy theories surrounding him are myths, and he’s created a movement that’s as passionate as a religion; I agree that it’s a chain.
    Yet Trump himself is a New Thought believer. He used the Law of Attraction after his election defeat; he refused to ever accept that the defeat occurred, and now has most of the Republican party defending this reality. He’s a savant of New Thought, in its most one-sided form. I’m not the only one who thinks this. A Cambridge theology Ph.D. wrote about it in the Washington Post. Here’s the link:
    I think the 2020 election was a battle between the Trump religion and believers of the Myth of Progress, with Trump himself a New Thought wild card.
    I have no idea whatsoever is going to happen in 2024, but I’m preparing to be out of the country if Trump is inaugurated.

Comments are closed.