The Occult

The word “occult” only dates from the 16th century, according to my etymological dictionary, to describe what is veiled, hidden, concealed, unseen, or occluded. As such, “occult” signifies the contrary of revelation or the apocalyptic, which signify dramatic dis-closure or dis-covery, as the casting aside of a veil. Everything that, with the ascent of perspectivising consciousness, became “background” or “underground” fell into the shadow world of “the occult”.

What is presently called “the occult” grew up with the development of the mental-rational consciousness structure itself — as its shadow — but which has come to lead a semi-autonomous life of its own, even though it is a tacit or implicit aspect of the mental-rational consciousness itself.

Because what is called “the occult” is a structural component of the mental-rational consciousness, the idea that it can be purged through a purification of our reason belongs to superstition. The more dominant the mental-rational consciousness structure becomes, the stronger, the more intensified also, becomes its shadow.  As noted in an earlier post, the “evil genius” of Rene Descartes’ fantasy is really this rejected shadow of the Enlightenment itself, which also began to assert itself through such ideals of Bentham’s Panopticon, and which has subsequently become, at our “end of history”, the ideal of universal surveillance.  Ironically, Descartes’ “evil genius”, as I pointed out, was nonetheless exactly what the intellect aspired to become, and which in the form of the “perception manager” it has become.

It is not the only case where “the occult” aspect of the mental-rational consciousness now begins to assert itself, and this dynamic is what alarms observers who now speak of the danger of a new “Dark Age” — our being swallowed by the shadow of the Enlightenment that William Blake already foresaw. Many writers have sought to highlight the occult characteristics of fascism and Nazism, for example. More to the point, however, is how the ideal of “pure reason” has itself taken on occult characteristics, often disguised as being something else.

A deracinated, objectifying mentality of “pure” rationality that moves inside crystalline spheres and that aspires  to be unaffected or untouched by the world or the experience of life, or detached, uninvolved, and unimplicated in the products and consequences of its own activity in the name of “disinterestedness” or “value-free science”, is no different in that regard than the necromancer who pretends to insulate or isolate himself or herself by a magical pentagram of protection against the powers he or she summons up by spell-casting.  The attitude is the same, regardless of whether we distinguish it as being, on the one hand, “objective” or, on the other, “occult” and superstition.  It is the same magical thinking.

I want to emphasise that — the same magical thinking. This remark is not meant to disparage the validity or effective potency of the magical structure of consciousness. The rediscovery of “magic” in the quantum field — or in medicine in terms of the placebo and nocebo — is the theme of the commentary that follows my last post. Rather, it is to highlight the dangers implicit in remaining unconscious of this and of not recognising it for what it is — the mental-rational consciousness being swallowed up and devoured by its own shadow — it’s Mr. Hyde to its Dr. Jekyll.

And we know how tragically that turned out.

It is in that respect that one should probably understand Martin Heidegger’s summation of his life as a philosopher — “only a god can save us now” (and, given his controversial association with Nazism, he was intimately familiar with the shadow of the Enlightenment himself).

I’m no fan of what is called “the occult”, most of which I consider perversion, superstition, and distortion, despite the modicum of truth in it. Most of it is just a caricature of the truth, and as it is said, Satan is ever only the ape of God (which is why the false and the true are never as far apart as most people merely think). That is the error of all dualism, and which was Descartes’ error in conceiving of the “evil genius” as the opposite of the pure, truth-seeking intellect.

It is against this backdrop that one must appreciate Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy’s essay Farewell to Descartes, and why his book in which the essay appears is entitled I Am an Impure Thinker. “I am an impure thinker. I am hurt, swayed, shaken, elated, disillusioned, shocked, comforted, and I have to transmit my mental experiences lest I die. And although I may die.” No pyramid of power or supernatural pentagram of protection for Rosenstock-Huessy.

Anyone familiar with the origins of fascism and Nazism will realise that the intellect is not immune to being swallowed up by its own shadow, and by those things collectively referred to as “the occult”. And it is in light of this that I, again, want to re-iterate Seth’s very pertinent warning about our time (from The Unknown Reality, 1974). Forty years on, we seem to have fallen into the very condition he earlier warned us about.

Ego consciousness must now be familiarized with its roots, or it will turn into something else. You are in a position where your private experience of yourself does not correlate with what you are told by your societies, churches, sciences, archaeologies, or other disciplines. Man’s “unconscious” knowledge is becoming more and more consciously apparent. This will be done under and with the direction of an enlightened and expanding egotistical awareness, that can organize the hereto neglected knowledge–or it will be done at the expense of the reasoning intellect, leading to a rebirth of superstition, chaos, and the unnecessary war between reason and intuitive knowledge.

When, at this point now, of mankind’s development, his emerging unconscious knowledge is denied by his institutions, then it will rise up despite those institutions, and annihilate them. Cult after cult will emerge, each unrestrained by the use of reason, because reason will have denied the existence of rampant unconscious knowledge, disorganized and feeling only its own ancient force.

If this happens, all kinds of old and new religious denominations will war, and all kinds of ideologies surface. This need not take place, for the conscious mind – basically, now —  having learned to focus in physical terms, is meant to expand, to accept unconscious intuitions and knowledge, and to organize these deeply creative principles into cultural patterns…

I am saying that the individual self must become consciously aware of far more reality; that it must allow its recognition of identity to expand so that it includes previously unconscious knowledge. To do this you must understand, again, that man must move beyond the concepts of one god, one self, one body, one world, as these ideas are currently understood. You are now poised, in your terms, upon a threshold from which the race can go many ways. There are species of consciousness. Your species is in a time of change. There are potentials within the body’s mechanisms, in your terms not as yet used. Developed, they can immeasurably enrich the race, and bring it to levels of spiritual and psychic and physical fulfillment. If some changes are not made, the race as such will not endure.

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18 responses to “The Occult”

  1. Scott Preston says :

    I came across this quotation just now from the late conservative political scientist (Harvard) Samuel Huntington — he of “clash of civilisations” infamy. To my mind, it describes pretty well what I might call “occult politics” (as distinct, say, from the politics of the occult), The quote is from a book called American Politics

    “The architects of power in the United States must create a force that can be felt but not seen. Power remains strong when it remains in the dark; exposed to the sunlight it begins to evaporate.”

    This statement, to my mind, really exemplifies the Enlightenment mentality being swallowed up by its own shadow, while remaining completely oblivious to it.

  2. Heraclitus says :

    liquid gold…

    it’s been a few weeks since I have read your post, but each time I do… I feel like your post is writing my script for me. Or, at least what you write is somehow getting at the very things I’m trying to get at, but I don’t have the knowledge or intelligence to articulate.

    Can you illuminate the problem of dualism or the dualistic world view? It’s a been a theme or hangup in several areas of my life. Examples….

    God as internal vs external

    As a disillusioned Christian trying to “journey on” with a new perspective, I’ve been reading on Christian Mysticism or generally things that assert a mystical worldview and it seems this tradition says God is within us. It’s saying right living is an inward journey of self awareness or detached objective watching of the ego self (flesh) wrapped up in the world …. yet I was taught a model of Christianity that is externally positioned. Christ is this external thing that fixes our broken ego selves, we’re powerless to change without him, looking “in” is bad, etc…

    True Self vs False Self

    The mystical readings also assert a dualistic True Self vs False Self paradigm and I see that being conflated with the Mind/Spirit vs Body/Flesh split like the language of “not of this world”… and this “split” makes me so immobile, so I’ve been trying to journey past or around or through it, cause it doesn’t seem right or helpful.

    Just the other day, these Christian leaders were saying things that in the same two minutes completely contradicted itself. In discussing trying to overcome a sin, they are saying we need to acknowledge “we are weak, evil, helpless and nothing without Christ”, essentially our flesh is “bad” and we need something external like Christ to fix us… and then they say to overcome our guilt/shame of sinning we need to do the character work on ourselves which a step is accepting and realize we are “worthy, dignified, loved and cherished by God”, essentially “good” and of the Spirit and that it is a lie that we are “worthless and no good”. WTF!!!

    thinking side vs creative side (rational vs intuition)

    This theme is present in all my screenplays. Essentially I can summarize the theme in all the scripts as The Intellectual murders/enslaves The Artist, which I have always found at the center of Hesse’s Steppenwolf and Herzog films. Everything I struggle with creatively comes back to this split. I don’t know how to allow them to coexist. I don’t know by which faculty to write the scripts. They seem mutually exclusive and I have the feeling that this whole “split” is just wrong thinking or a wrong model taught to me and continually affirmed by the Christian world view.

    • Scott Preston says :

      There is scarcely a word of truth in anything called “fundamentalism”, and especially Christian fundamentalism. I wouldn’t even concern yourself with it.

      For one thing, what is called “fundamentalism” emerged simultaneous with the Newtonian worldview, and thus with the mental-rational consciousness also. Christian fundamentalism is the mirror image of reductionism. As Newton sought to reduce all reality to a few primary laws, Christian fundamentalism sought to reduce faith to a few fundamental principles or absolutes. It was the application of Occam’s Razor to the problem of religious faith posed by the new mental-rational consciousness (the “Greek mind”), and an adjustment of “religion” to the perceived facts of the Newtonian cosmic clockwork, just as everything else was adjusted to Newton’s “single vision” (as Blake called it). Fundamentalism is as thoroughly mechanistic and materialistic as the Newtonian cosmos that it apes because it shares the same ego-consciousness structure, and therefore the same basic, unexamined assumptions and beliefs about the nature of physical existence.

      If it is your proclivity, spend some time with the Sufi masters or with some good Buddhist texts and then return to Christianity. I guarantee you will see it in a completely different light and will see how much pure folly and foolishness there is in mainstream Christianity.

      Essentially I can summarize the theme in all the scripts as The Intellectual murders/enslaves The Artist, which I have always found at the center of Hesse’s Steppenwolf and Herzog films

      I wouldn’t go so far as to throw the baby out with the bathwater. The intellect is a great servant, but a terrible and tyrannical master. In assessing the proper balance between reason and imagination, and the other actors in the psychic household, Blake is your guide. You do not want to set up a false opposition and dichotomy between reason and imagination, or between love and will, and so on. Keep in mind what I call Khayyam’s Caution (after the Persian poet Omar Khayyam): “only a hair separates the false from the true”.

      The “dance of the seven veils” and the cloud of unknowing are the same thing. Even if Blake, for example, proves resistant to understanding at first, persevere and persist. The veils will drop one by one. No one makes a good artist anyway who doesn’t persist and persevere and overcome.

  3. alex jay says :

    t
    Echoing your Seth quotation from another angle, here is one from Doris Lessing:

    “This is a time when it is frightening to be alive, when it is hard to think of human beings as rational creatures. Everywhere we look we see brutality, stupidity, until it seems that there is nothing else to be seen but that – a descent into barbarism, everywhere. Which we are unable to check. But I think that while it is true there is a general worsening, it is precisely because things are so frightening we become hypnotized, and do not notice – or if we notice, belittle – equally strong forces on the other side, the forces, in short, of reason, sanity and civilization.” ~From the first lecture, “When in the Future They Look Back on Us”

    • Scott Preston says :

      That’s a good quote from Lessing. Reflects my sentiments anyway. Gebser would also advise not to fall under the spell of the demonic aspects of the present, by not overlooking the seedlings of renewal growing amidst the detritus and decay of the old. In that quote, anyway, Lessing and Gebser share something in common.

  4. abdulmonem says :

    No wonder Lessing turned to Sufisim, early in her life. Is it the place of birth or her ruthless honesty or her self-educating mode? I do not know but what I come to know she is a visionary, a message-bearer that warns humanity that it is running out of time unless we work to develop ourselves, pursuing the basic concept of Sufisim, namely the idea of the seeker having direct access to God without intermediary, that is inner transformation can only be experience not discussed. Her image is Idries Shah.

  5. LittleBigMan says :

    The elite lose so much to be in the elite. The Occult is one way of inserting back makeshift values to a social class that has no values. A factory for voodoo values.

  6. Dwig says :

    You’ve mentioned fascism a few times lately. Maybe it’s just a coincidence ;^), but John Michael Greer over at The Archdriud Report has just completed a 3-part series on “real fascism” (not his term) and the prospects for it coming to the US.

    • Scott Preston says :

      Thanks. That’s an engaging and interesting three posts Mr. Greer has assembled, although it is a bit fanciful at times and suffers from a few subtle, but glaring, errors. In a few places, it is simply wrong.

      In some ways, this is understandable. Fascism — in all its flavours — is notoriously resistant to definition because of its presumption of being what we might call “post-ideological” or “third way” (I cringed when I heard UK’s Tony Blair describe New Labour as “third way”, too). Mr. Greer wants to represent that “third way” as a movement of something he describes as “the totalitarian center” or a movement of the radical center or some such.

      But every partisan position seeks, self-interestedly, to pin the roots of fascism in its opponents. Recent revisionist histories of fascism have attempted to exonerate conservatism from any taint of culpability in the rise of fascism by painting fascism as a movement of left and Hiter as “a man of the left” (Sebastien Haffner in The Meaning of Hitler for example). That is counter-factual, and unfortunately Mr. Greer seems tempted by that revisionism. The “enabling” role of mainstream German conservatism in the Nazi’s rise to power is pretty well documented (see Stackelberg & Winkle Nazi Germany Sourcebook).

      It is interesting, though, that Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy (who was a Jewish Christian conservative) blamed liberalism and faulted the German Socialists for being too timid because the Socialists feared civil war more than they feared the Nazis. (And interestingly, too, Rosenstock forecast that the United States would also have to undergo a bout of fascism).

      Three main features common to fascism in Germany, Italy, Spain, and Japan — nationalistic (it is a mass politics), anti-modernist (anti-liberal, anti-parliamentarian), and (consequently) exaggeratedly traditionalist (reactionary, “nostalgia for the absolute” as Steiner described it). It has no fixed ideology otherwise. It rules by myth and magic (representatives of that are Alfred Rosenberg and Julius Evola, respectively). The Norwegian terrorist Anders Behring Breivik seems rather typical of the fascist fanatic. Fanaticism is also typical — ie, violent and chaotic emotion. Fascism and fascination are connected through the intermediary meaning of Latin fascinum — the power of binding. It’s also the word for spell-casting or a magic spell (hence the central role of propaganda).

      Today, fascist parties and attitudes go by different names — “technocracy” for example. In Russia it is called “the Liberal Party”; in Germany some of the “green” political formations are neo-Nazi as are some aspects of neo-conservatism or “the New Right”. Canada’s current Conservative Prime Minister was, by his own confession, once a member the “Northern Foundation” which he described himself as “quasi-fascist”. Although he now presents himself as a libertarian, he has been compared to Mussolini.

      However, a comment isn’t really the place to go into fuller detail.

      • Scott Preston says :

        I was reading through some of the comments to the Archdruid’s essays on fascism, and came across one mention of a book by Sheldon Wolin called Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Spectre of Inverted Totalitarianism. There’s a Wikipedia entry on this concept of “inverted totalitarianism”

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inverted_totalitarianism

        It sounds much like what Arthur Selwyn Miller warned about back in the late 70s as “the techno-corporate state” or Bertram Gross in Friendly Fascism.

        One of the other commenters on the thread noted the “thaumaturgy” (magic) being deployed along with mass surveillance — that is, what I’ve been calling the “necromancy” of perception management. Here’s a brief article culled from the Snowden revelations about the possible uses of the internet for the “magic” of mass deception and perception management,

        http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20140224/17054826340/new-snowden-doc-reveals-how-gchqnsa-use-internet-to-manipulate-deceive-destroy-reputations.shtml

        The references to “magic” occur in the slide show. This was that aspect of “the demonic” that I referred to in my post earlier this morning, so I was quite surprised to find this afterwards.

        The Techdirt article is based on an article by Glenn Greenwald at The Intercept. Oddly, Greenwald omits all the references to “magic” in his own expose of the dirty tricks unit.

        https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/02/24/jtrig-manipulation/

        • Dwig says :

          Greer comes from a tradition of Western magic (“natural magic” if I remember rightly), and has written several books on the subject. Several of his posts discuss thaumaturgy (try “site:thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com thaumaturgy” in Google).

          By the way, he’s also written posts on Nietzsche and Spengler, although nothing on Gebser, nor any references to the evolution of consciousness.

          I’ve been following his blog for several years, and recently found yours. An interesting pairing, and I’m learning from both, in rather different ways.

          • Scott Preston says :

            Yes. I’ll have to spend more time with the Archdruid. He is quite articulate.

            Jung and Gebser, amongst others (including Seth), have demonstrated the psychic validity and efficacy of magical consciousness, and it certainly has an interesting history. At the very onset of the modern era, Francis Bacon weighed the possibilities of science or magic (natural philosophy or natural magic) for man’s domination of nature, and finally came down on the side of science. Newton continued to practice magic in secret, and magic persisted in chemistry quite a bit longer than it did in the other sciences.

            The reason science and magic are so closely entwined in history is the common denominator of power and the pursuit of power. Magic, as a word, is related to “make”, and to German “Macht” (as well as “majesty”). The Greeks also used the word “techne” for the arts of magic, so there is also a close connection between technology and the magical or occult. Interestingly, the word “technology” originates in theology, and referred to the study of grammar and rhetoric only — as reasoning about the means for representing, in speech, eternal truth.

            The word “grammarye” (related to “glamour”) meant spell-casting, and “glamour” is a spell.

            But wherever there is an obsession with power, you can be sure magic (and a fascination with the occult) is nearby, even if it only takes the form of the technology of thought control, mass propaganda and perception management. This is what opens the door to the demonic.

            • Dwig says :

              Perhaps you’ll consider a dialogue with him, starting with a comment on the fascism series. There’s enough overlap between you, and enough differences, to make a fruitful exchange possible.

              Greer is always considerate of dissenting views, when phrased politely and constructively. (One of his themes is the need for “dissensus”.)

            • Scott Preston says :

              Perhaps you’ll consider a dialogue with him,…

              By the looks of it, he has his hands full already trying to keep up with the comments. I’m more fortunate in that respect. There are benefits to having a smaller (but quality!) readership. I can usually take the time to reflect and respond on the comments.

      • alex jay says :

        “(I cringed when I heard UK’s Tony Blair describe New Labour as “third way”, too).”

        After the political system in the UK was Maggie-fied, Blair, emulating Clinton’s sell-out of his traditional working-class base, sold his party and its soul down the river by a marriage to the banks and corporations. In this regard he fulfilled Mussolini’s definition of fascism as a conjoining of the state with big business. Yes … “the “third way” is nothing short of fascism as uttered from the horse’s mouth.” However, unlike traditional fascism which had nationalism at its core, the new fascism is globally orientated by the 1% over the 99% without national boundaries — so it’s class orientated not nationalistic. Interesting how Germany, through its corporate muscle, has been able to achieve in Europe what Hitler could only dream of without firing a shot. We live in a world designed by the corporations for the corporations and the elites that run them. Nothing could be clearer than the up-coming Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and its American-European counterpart.

        • Scott Preston says :

          “Nationalism” is for the masses, not necessarily the ruling elite. It belongs to that part of governance that Plato referred to as “noble lie”, by which he means “myth”. History is replaced by myth. This is, to some extent, why some think Plato is the originator of fascism in his Republic. And it is probable that Plato’s “noble lie” influenced Rosenberg’s Myth of the Twentieth Century, as it also did Leo Strauss and the neo-conservatives.

          It is important to note that the psychic conditions that made fascism an appealable force are still present. The psychic state of Late Modern man is dangerously unstable (as represented by the epidemic of duplicity in the form of self-contradiction, “the divided self”, “loss of self”, “liquid modernity”, “breakdown of the human form”, “symbolic belief”, loss of meaning, “death of God”, etc, etc). This is the real nature of the “crisis of modernity”. It is a crisis of consciousness and identity and under such circumstances, there is a tendency to look for saviours and messiahs and supermen, as common to Martin Heidegger as to Joe Six-pack.

          Also, a “purifying” violence as represented in, say, Perle’s and Frumm’s perverse screed An End to Evil which was as fully an example of Rosenberg’s “myth” and Straussian “noble lie” as anything (including Fukuyama’s “end of history”). Couple that with Huntington’s remark about governing through “secret force” and you have the makings of a neo-fascism or what Orwell referred to as “oligarchic collectivism”. The other aspect of this, nonetheless, is a willingness of the populace to succumb — a preparedness to toss overboard reason, democracy, common law, etc as failed institutions.

          That’s the gist of Seth’s warning about our present situation.

          • alex jay says :

            To add Thomas Paine’s observation (perception) that despotic government is a fungus grown out of a corrupt civil society. So the buck stops with us – collectively (the 99%) – for failing to be vigilant enough to squash the “oligarchic collectivism” Orwell referred to. But then … it’s not easy to unplug from the Matrix, when one has spent his/her entire life being brainwashed in an orchestrated onslaught on our very consciousness (perception management – social, economic, religious, cultural, political). “The willingness of the populace to succumb” has/is/will be the defining challenge as to whether we anticipate the metanoia heralded by virtually every prophet you cite regularly or expect (“faith and belief” again) the oblivion that stares at us in our hypnotic, zombie-like narcissistic state.

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