When I was 13 I read George Orwell’s classic, 1984. While the book is superb and offers many deep insights, several passages hit me hard:
The problem was how to keep the wheels of industry turning without increasing the real wealth of the world. Goods must be produced, but they need not be distributed. And in practice the only way of achieving this was by continuous warfare.
The essential act of war is destruction, not necessarily of human lives, but of the products of human labour. War is a way of shattering to pieces, or pouring into the stratosphere, or sinking in the depths of the sea, materials which might otherwise be used to make the masses too comfortable, and hence, in the long run, too intelligent.
Right now the people in Iraq and several other places around the globe are getting to understand the concept of ‘continuous warfare’ first hand, while we lucky sods in the US and other ‘coalition’ countries experience it vicariously and through cuts to essential services.
Orwell was bang on the mark, particularly in relation to the control of mass consciousness. For example, as I mention in this post, during 2002-2003 I was one of a few lone voices on a couple of magical/Pagan user groups who questioned the upcoming Iraq invasion and predicted the calamitous results that would follow. Fast forward ten years and the general opinion changed remarkably: my brother who wanted to ‘nuke Saddam’ in 2003, was in 2013 critical of the politicians who sent the troops in the first place.
Nobody voted for Nixon.
We have always been at war with Eurasia.
AIN’T NOTHIN BUT MAMMALS
The point here of course is not so much the particular war, issue or circumstance, but rather as a whole we poor, benighted humans have locked in consciousness. We see through a glass darkly and react, rather than think, with a simple binary push-pull mind. In one sense, it’s not our fault; we are made that way. After all, we’ve got several million years of mammalian and animal DNA running us and only 30 000 years of being the ‘wise man’.
A classic example of this occurred this week with Australia’s Prime Minister, Tony (Mad Monk) Abbott threatening to ‘shirt front’ Vladimir Putin over the MH17 disaster. For those unused to Australian slang, lookee here: Shirtfront Explained.
Yes. That did happen. I mean, could there really be a better example of politics as a mammalian territorial pursuit? Abbott’s posturing here is functionally equivalent to any alpha male warding off another. And Abbott, like us all at times, just can’t help it. It is in our genes.
Dr Tim Leary and Dr Robert Anton Wilson analysed the various ‘circuits’ of human consciousness and explained these seemingly mysterious acts really well. You can read about it all here and in the books listed there also. Essentially we have the first four circuits, called ‘terrestrial’ or common:
- Bio-survival. Infant. Oral stage. Concerned with physical safety, comfort and survival.
- Emotional–territorial. Toddler. Anal stage. Concerned with domination or submission, territoriality and pecking order.
- Symbolic or neuro-semantic. Childhood. Latency. Concerned with language, mental dexterity, calculation, communication, knowledge.
- Domestic or socio-sexual. Adulthood. Sexual stage. Concerned with cultural values, fitting in, sexual modes and taboos, social networks, reproduction and raising of young.
The basic premise is the lower circuits (I and II) have operated in our DNA and ancestry far longer than the higher circuits (III and IV) and have veto power over them. Thus we often act out of pleasure/fear (circuit I) or domination/submission (circuit II) and then after the fact use our mind and language (circuit III) and reference to morals and social mores (circuit IV) to justify our actions. And, really, on a social level this sums up politics and international relationships perfectly, eh?
No wonder, the two good Drs often talked about ‘escaping from the Planet of the Apes’ – meaning our world! :)
We can of course apply these four circuits to the lower four Sephrioth on the Tree of Life, Malkuth through Netzach, and they fit kinda neatly. Ideally, in the mature human, these personality aspects would be overseen and ruled by the conscious self in Tiphareth. And even more ideally, our leaders would act from this consciousness too. As the Beach Boys sang, ‘Wouldn’t It Be Nice’.
Magic is all about change. And for me, like anyone really touched fully by the tradition, this change involves the rest of the world, not just myself. After all, there is no actual separation. And just cos I love it SO much, once again, I quote the blessed Martin Luther-King Jr:
We are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality. And whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. For some strange reason I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. And you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the way God’s universe is made; this is the way it is structured.
There are three basic methods of changing the social fabric and world within any given culture or country:
- Working within ‘the system’ of established laws and politics.
- Resisting the system through acts of civil disobedience, non-violent or violent.
- Changing group consciousness.
No matter what method(s) we personally engage with, I think we should be actively supporting folk engaging in the other methods. I mean, ‘We all want to change the world’, right?
There is also the possibility of full scale revolution involving ‘insurgents’ or ‘freedom fighters’ – depending on which media outlet is reporting the events. Now despite a small part of me, inspired by the memorable Citizen Smith, drawing up lists of those who will be ‘first against the wall when the revolution comes’, I really doubt revolution in most western countries is on the cards. The Marxist analysis that the worker’s revolution never came in the west is because we were ‘bought off’ has some truth here. The increased standards of living, better food and more recreational time meant we are happy to be pawns of the capitalist state (at the expense of the third world, whom we never meet). Sad, but true. Besides, I cannot easily support armed struggle.
Working within the system is a slow tortuous process. This is particularly the case in western democracies with a Westminster ‘two party’ Parliament. Last night at a talk on the vicious treatment asylum seekers in Australia are receiving, from both ‘sides’ of politics, certain Green politicians were pointed out as being pretty much the only MPs vocalising concern. Yet, in the discussion time people bemoaned their hopelessness as the cruelty was bi-partisan. They simply could not think outside the two-party paradigm! Two party systems too easily engage our dualistic, second Circuit consciousness. Us and Them. Left vs Right. Sometimes our teams wins, sometimes their teams wins. Just like football :/
Civil disobedience, particularly when motivated by deep religious and spiritual convictions, can make magnificent changes in society – via the sacrifice of the participants. Just ask the sainted MLK quoted above. In Australia today we have a wonderful movement of mainstream religious leaders working the non-violent methods of MLK in relation to asylum seeker children in detention. Called ‘Love Makes a Way’, these folk are inspiring to the max-max.
AND THEN THERE’S MAGIC
The last method, consciousness change, is where magic (and art) comes in. A magician’s raison d’être is to change their consciousness, transform themselves and unfold their beings into who they actually are. Now who we are is both individual and unified, the Elohim, the Many and the One. The more we become ourselves, the more we lose ourselves. Ideally this should mean, therefore, that as a magician unfolds they also affect and change the group and civil consciousness. Several occult and esoteric groups have been explicitly clear that they aim to change and transform human consciousness. Again, ‘Wouldn’t It Be Nice’.
One such esoteric organisation is the Ordo Templi Orientis (Crowley redaction), which has very noble aims indeed. To quote the man himself:
Civilization is crumbling under our eyes and I believe that the best chance of saving what little is worth saving, and rebuilding the Temple of the Holy Ghost on plans, and with material and workmanship, which shall be free from the errors of the former, lies with the O.T.O.
Bishop Allen Greenfield, among others, has pointed out how hard it is for the OTO (or any group) to meet these goals. It would require folk who, in Golden Dawn parlance, are ‘more than human’ – that is operating with more circuits of consciousness than the average person who is trapped within the four common circuits described above. These ‘higher’ states of consciousness the magician aspires to have also, somewhat, been mapped by Drs Leary and Wilson.
They postulate four ‘extra-terrestrial’ or developing circuits of consciousness, V through VIII. I won’t go into them here, except to say they ‘sit upon’ or build upon the lower circuits, and relate (again roughly) to the next four spheres of the Tree of Life, Tiphareth through Daath. So circuit V sits upon and transcends circuit I, the bio-survival circuit, and circuit VI sits upon and transcends circuit II, the emotional–territorial circuit etc
The problem is simply that most magicians do not actually transform their consciousness at all, but remain mired in the lower neuro-circuits as much as anyone, but now with bodacious methods to tinker with the mind, other people and the universe. Again, to pick on Crowley (hey he’s dead and supposedly a Master, so he won’t mind) – even while claiming the initiatory equivalent to Christ (9=2), Crowley wrote in his diary that he needed to do something about his ego. So, yes, high consciousness but the lower consciousness and circuits still having veto power.
DISTORTION FROM THE DEPTHS
When the terrestrial circuits, lower Sephiroth, personality grades, are not worked through deeply and PERSONALLY, their presence and patterns of behaviour ‘infect’ or distort the higher modes of consciousness, the extra-terrestrial circuits or higher Sephrioth. The results are something like this:
The magician becomes focused on themselves, expanding their own ego and importance in the world and their place in magic. This distortion stems from an incomplete working through of the realisation of the ego’s existence as a baby in the bio-survival circuit (I). We can relate this to the negative aspects of Tiphareth.
The magician becomes focused on carving out territory in the magical community, expanding their groups, attacking others, engaging in magical warfare, seeing themselves and their groups as victims of a vast conspiracy. This distortion stems from an incomplete working through of the domination and submission axis within the emotional–territorial circuit (II). We can relate this to the negative aspects of Geburah.
The magician becomes obsessed with the minutiae of ceremonial, lineage, ritual practice, words and acquiring original documents and ‘secret knowledge’. This distortion stems from an incomplete working through of the acquisition of language, writing and intelligence in the symbolic or neuro-semantic circuit (III). We can relate this to the negative aspects of Chesed.
The magician becomes focused on esoteric or occult eugenics or sex magic and the creation of ‘vehicles’, such as ‘Solar Bodies’, whereby their ego can survive physical death. This distortion stems from an incomplete working through of the sexual and reproductive capacity and legacy forming aspects of the domestic or socio-sexual circuit (IV). We can relate this to the negative aspects of the Supernals operating through Daath.
THE WAY FORWARD
To correct these problems good folk like Dr Israel Regardie suggested all magicians undergo some form of therapy. I am not sure how much of this goes on these days, but I suspect very little. The need to personally work the outer grades, the terrestrial circuits of consciousness is acute. Yet the language, the texts of magic still often ignores these problems, presenting material within a non-personal paradigm. So a great deal of reframing is needed here.
I would also suggest, coming from both a depth Christian and Buddhist perspective, that alongside personal work, non-personal work is essential. By focusing on others we broaden ourselves, engage with transpersonal, higher aspects of consciousness that will speed and smooth our personal rectification. When applied consciously this is the function of community work, social engagement, charity and communal action within churches and fraternal lodges. The two side-by-side, personal therapy and non-personal giving through action and engagement, can have amazing transformational results.
Hopefully then, we can, when ready, work the deeper magic and activate the extra-terrestrial circuits and become really human, unfold to who we are – one and many – without the lower circuits taking veto power every so often (or less often). We would then be in an ideal situation to do some real magic – the third method of social change; changing group consciousness.
As real humans, activated by the deeper consciousness, we can choose to open to the greater mind, the group mind, the racial mind. We can then act within it, working out the issues and problems within it, in our daily lives. Healing and affecting the group mind is not simply a matter of powerful ceremonial on a Sunday night. The blocks, the issues, the injustice and damage in the group mind has to come through and be rectified in the individual magician’s life as one of the Many. This is not at all easy and the best examples are of course given by the ever-living Dion Fortune in her novels and a few of her essays. Read her. Many times.
So in a nutshell: do the personal work, support others, give, practice the deep magic and live the issues of your time and culture, to change them, as directed and inspired by your Gods :) Thanks.