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.