When I was a teenager a school friend gave me a few SF books he had read and decided were too “evil” to remain on his pristine bookshelves. They were the classic Illuminatus! Trilogy by Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea. Reading them didn’t get me possessed but did start a lifelong ride into the weird and wonderful as well as the mysterious Golden Dawn.
St Bob quickly became my favourite author and affected me deeply. Two messages throughout his work that relate to spiritual unfoldment and my topic here are:
- Most of the time humankind in general (and each of us specifically) behaves mechanically and without conscious thought.
- We are easily entranced and hypnotised by words.
As an example, St Bob describes an event in the life of P.D. Ouspensky who studied under Gurdjieff. Try as he may Ouspensky could not fully understand Gurdjieff’s insistence that humans act mechanically and robotically. During WWI however Ouspensky happened to see a truck load of wooden limbs being sent to the front, ready for a battle that had yet to occur. As a mathematician he realised the generals in charge of the war had calculated in advance the number of limbs that would be destroyed during the battle. Despite all this being in the future, the generals knew that the battle would ensue, that the soldiers would mechanically charge into battle and that their legs would get blown off. At that moment Ouspensky understood what Gurdjieff meant.
St Bob in one of his books describes a Satori moment of his own in the months leading up to the first Gulf War when he was still optimistic a peaceful solution would be found. Watching CNN late at night he heard a report that thousands of body bags were being sent to the US forces in Saudi Arabia. At that moment he knew war was inevitably, mechanically and inexorably ordained.
I thought I understood all this until one of those weird coincidences that hover around devotees of St Bob. Shortly before the Iraq War, I too was watching the news late at night and saw a report about body bags being sent to the front. Only then did I really get it.
We only act mechanically and robotically, maiming and killing as we go, when we are in trance. We are entranced all the time by words. Everyone knows this at some level – politicians, advertisers, writers and good school teachers especially. And of course Hermetic Magicians.
The careful of construction of words can alter our consciousness and guide us to different thoughts. Take for example:
The war in Iraq
The war on Iraq
One little word, but a wealth of difference in meaning and effect. Another case is the recent move away from describing someone “as gay” but rather as “a gay” and them being part of the group known as “the gays”. We do not say “the straights” or someone is “a straight”. By this little shift we are emphasizing a person’s sexuality as the defining characteristic of their being. We then can more easily forget that “a gay” is also a son, a policeman, a rugby player or whatever. Having sexuality or any other characteristic as the core identity, and all other characteristics backgrounded, helps us feel better when build up the fires and start persecuting.
Words are used to change our minds. Right now there is a concerted attempt by part of the United States government and military to change our minds. Nothing dramatic is being attempted, but rather a slow and concerted effort, through words, is being undertaken to prepare our consciousness to perceive Iran as a threat to world peace and a future candidate for getting the shit kicked out of it. For example, look here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2010/feb/18/hillary-clinton-iran
If we look carefully we will see the same word games were used in the years leading up to the Iraq War. Foundations were laid in our collective mind space concerning Iraq for years, so almost subconsciously we would perceive Iraq as a threat that we were justified in eliminating. This kind of subconscious influence via words should be readily apparent to all pagans and magicians. We all see it and know it when we say the words “witch” and “occult” around people not of our understanding. We can feel their discomfort, which is based solely on general societal assumptions not actual information. We may have felt it ourselves when we first branched out of the socially acceptable.
I first noticed phenomenon again as a teenager when I first attended a young socialist meeting. During the meeting it was mentioned we were going to assist a certain trade union. The very mention of the name of the union caused me discomfort as I knew they were “bad” and “corrupt”. However, since I was not one to object to things back then I sat on my hands and thought about how I knew the union was corrupt. There was no discreet answer, no factual evidence in my mind. It was all from news reports and generalisations. So too for most people it was with Iraq. There was and is still no credible reason for the invasion. People were prepared to accept it by a repeated fostering of the general ‘badness’ of the Iraqi regime.
So as the same process of constructing Iran as a legitimate target intensifies over the next few years we have a choice to do something different. As I mentioned in the post Lessons In Magic from Iraq, overall there was little concerted effort within the magical and pagan communities to stop the invasion. Right now we have a chance to stop this occurring again, to think and act consciously and to inspire and ask our loved ones and friends to do the same. While I do not expect many magicians to go down the political magic route, we can make sure we use the gifts our traditions bestow on us to ensure peace not war.