Combat of the Magicians

We are all magical beings, whether we know it or not. The Magus, the Shaman, is part of our psychic constitution and configuration. The problem is, because we don’t know it, we become vulnerable to the spells and snares of others — the necromancers of our time in the form of Mickunas’ “technocratic shamans”.

Before I go much further into discussing the threat of “technocratic shamanism”, it’s necessary for me to persuade you of the fact that not only is magic effective, but that you employ it unwittingly all the time, for both good and evil. And as long as we don’t know this, we remain vulnerable. We need our own magical “shields” and magic swords.

Arthur C. Clarke once wrote that at a certain stage of development, technology becomes indistinguishable from magic. Actually, magic is implicit in all technique. If Jacques Elllul had been more aware of Jean Gebser, his famous critiques of the technological society and the technological system would have been more thorough. As it was I think his Christian/Marxist orientation prevented him from seeing fully that the technological imperative is rooted in technocratic shamanism and the magical structure of consciousness.  Ditto for his work on propaganda. But I think underlying Ellul’s more overt critiques of technological culture, including the propaganda system, is a vague intuition about technology as witchcraft and necromancy, and therefore the same “technocratic shamanism” that unsettles Gebser and Mickunas.

For, it is true. We tend to think of television, telephony, remote sensing, teleportation, shape-shifting (now “genetic engineering”), or “technique” in general, and so on as the real elements of an advanced rational civilisation. But these things were all known in the ancient world. They are not new. Zeus was “far-seeing” (ie television), the gods and goddesses, like the shaman, could transform themselves into any form they wished, or indeed change and shape others into other forms. They could, like swift Hermes with his winged sandals, teleport, ie, travel at the speed of light.  As the neo-lithic Mage, don Juan told his apprentice Carlos Castaneda: “Sure you can go to the Moon. You just can’t bring back any rocks!”

Anyone of you can do these things. You just don’t completely know it yet. And because we have channeled these latent potentialities into technologies, we don’t feel any need to develop them any longer. It is for those reasons that there is, indeed, an implicit connection between the magical structure of consciousness and techno-science, one that completely justifies Mickunas’s notion of “technocratic shamanism”. As I’ll show also in coming posts, our contemporary “brandmeisters” are also using magic and spell-casting to turn brandnames and “brand personalities” into contemporary gods and goddesses who we will, they believe, fall down and worship as such, and develop cults around their logos.

William Blake was actually a master magus, a master alchemist. The Marriage of Heaven and Hell is all about magic, and is a damned good source for learning about what magic is and awakening to one’s own magical nature, which is what Blake wanted us all to do, just even for our self-defence. You can learn as much about the magical structure of consciousness from William Blake as from Carlos Castaneda. When Blake has his Zoa Los say “I must create a system, or be enslaved by another man’s” this is our real situation in relation to contemporary “technocratic shamanism”. Los’s “system” becomes his shield against the spell-casting of the deranged Zoa Urizen. And in one of his “Memorable Fancies” in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell Blake provides an excellent example of that. I highly recommend that you read it and understand it, because it is about magic and shamanism, and why you need to become aware of your own implicit and latent magical nature, as Blake hoped. The “Memorable Fancy” is about magical combat between Blake and an angel who presumes to show Blake his future fate in Hell. Blake’s personal power, though, is such that he deconstructs the spell and image of Leviathan and Hell that the angel casts over his imagination and perception, transforming the scene, and turns the tables on the angel, exposing the angel as a fraud, a trickster, and a necromancer.

This “Memorable Fancy” is a contemporary fable and parable about “technocratic shamanism” and our own vulnerability to that. In fact, Blake considered all the angels to be frauds, tricksters, and deceivers — the equivalent of our modern “perception managers”, “meaning managers”, and technocratic shamans. And like Castaneda, and like Blake, you too need to develop your “shields” against this necromancy, and there’s no better shield, as Blake shows, than acknowledging and understanding the effective principles of magic and alchemy, and to see that they are indeed currently echoed, in sinister ways, in the techniques of advertising, branding, and propaganda. It’s all necromancy, which is why we now tend to speak of the “post-Enlightenment”.

So, do read The Marriage of Heaven and Hell in that light. It was intended to bring you to awareness of the effective reality of the magical structure of consciousness as well as how to defeat the “technocratic shamans” — the brandmeisters and Klingsor’s of our time. This is the “warrior’s way” and the Parsifal myth and legend is very relevant to our situation today.


7 responses to “Combat of the Magicians”

  1. abdulmonem says :

    Yes we can be worse than a devil or higher than an angel depending on the thought we embody. Rumi says, brother we are this very thought, the rest is bones and fibers. if roses are your thought, you are a rose garden. if thorns, you are fuel for fire. It is so simple and so clear if only we be more attentive and intentional to work ourselves outside this murky lagoon of unhealthy thought through mobilizing our creative and harmonizing light of our innate soul which every one has but alas is ignorant or oblivious of its mobilization. If they forget Me, I make them forget themselves,because I created them to know me, because I enjoy to be known by another knowledge beside my knowledge of myself. After all what is god but a thought that wants you to go up higher and higher. I like to end with Ibn Arabi statement that opens the way toward Him that reads
    It is he who is revealed in every face, sought in every sign
    gazed upon by every eye, worshiped in every object
    pursued in the world of the seen and that of the unseen
    no single one of his creatures can fail to find him
    because he is in his primordial and original beingness pervades everything, ( that is he is their beingness, that is if his will to be, is drawn every thing will vanish into nothingness, the one in essence and many in manifestations). I can not resist feeling Him, the one who makes me speak.

  2. davidm58 says :

    I still haven’t read any Castaneda…never had a desire before reading this blog.
    An elderly friend gifted me much of his library, which includes an anthology of Blake (which includes The Marriage of Heaven and Hell). But I find him very hard to interpret. Other than this blog, are there good Blake commentaries out there that you recommend?

    • Scott Preston says :

      Northrop Frye’s Fearful Symmetry is generally credited with the contemporary revival of interest in Blake. Another good book is one recommended earlier by Steve William Blake: Prophet of Universal Brotherhood by Bernard Nesfield-Cookson.

  3. Sue says :

    Always good to read here after watching Bill Hicks. Adds that extra shade and colour.

    Been meaning to get onto Blake’s Marriage. You’ve just given me a really good impetus to do so.

    • Scott Preston says :

      I just looked up Bill Hicks on the internet. And I found one of his quotes: “Life is only a dream and we are the imagination of ourselves.” Yes. This is called “the dreaming”.

      • Sue says :

        He was fierce. He saw it all – how we are duped, how we allow ourselves to be duped, the technocratic shamanism that you’ve been talking of recently. He saw behind the curtain. It never ceases to amaze me how, despite knowing a little of the tricks being used against us and a little of what comprises the sandman’s sand, it still works on some part of me that I don’t even know. To have voices like his and yours and others continue to call attention to it all – well, it’s an antidote to the tricks.

        • Scott Preston says :

          Yeah. .. Blake’s description of the trick that the “angel” pulled on him (essentially what we call “perception management” today) is very suggestive of a way of approaching “branding”. There’s an implicit ontology and metaphysics in all “perception management” or branding practice similar to the Angel’s metaphysics that Blake saw through, and that’s our task when it comes to understanding and interpreting “branding”. Algis Mickunas also dissected the “ontology” and “metaphysics” of technocratic shamanism in his essay “Magic and Technological Culture”.

          Blake never trusted the angels. He thought they were deceivers. He faulted Swedenborg, for example, for having been duped by the angels into dualistic thinking (assuming their metaphysics) about heaven and hell, good and evil. In large part, then, Blake’s Marriage of Heaven and Hell is a rebuttal to Swedenborg’s mysticism.

          That’s the irony of Blake’s “Bible of Hell” that he promised would be revealed to the world. Blake realised that this “Bible of Hell” — the Gospel of Hell, as it were — was the real one, and the Bible of the angels was the “genuine imitation” — the reverse or mirrored image, conditioned by this metaphysics of “Aristotle’s Analytics”. The “devils” were the outlaws of the spiritual world because they rejected the authenticity of the Bible of the angels, which they saw as forged in a false self-righteousness that was itself sin. Blake agreed, which is why he was fond of the company of devils.

          Blake’s understanding of “spiritual reality” is quite a bit different than anything taught by religion or that you learn in Sunday School or in Sermons from the pulpits. That’s why Blake hated organised religion as the first practice of “perception management”, as we might put it — the “mind-forg’d manacles”.

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