Jean Gebser wrote, in his Ever-Present Origin, about a “menacing correlation” of trends that threaten global havoc — a convergence of currents, trends, forces that, as in nature, results in some very violent, choppy and turbulent waters — a “maelstrom” is what he called it. The meme being used today to reference Gebser’s “maelstrom” is “the perfect storm” — something climactic; something apocalyptic; Peter Pogany’s “havoc“.
But then, no Great Journey — no Great Quest — is ever complete without one: Parsifal, Ulysses, Frodo Baggins and the Fellowship of the Ring, the “Dark Night of the Soul” of John of the Cross, Alice in Wonderland or Dorothy through Oz. There would be no story at all if nothing happened — no great obstacles or dangers encountered, no great challenges met and overcome, no Klingsor or Circe or Saruman or Oz or Wicked Witch of the North to best and outwit. The challenges, the hardships, the headwinds, the turbulence, the powers of darkness and chaos — these are all necessary archetypal elements of the Great Journey. Without them, the heroes cannot grow, mature or fulfill their destiny. The Great Journey is all about transformational change. All such Great Journeys and Quests are but variations on the same archetypal theme of the Prodigal Son.
I was reminded, today, of Gebser’s “menacing correlation” by Mr. Trump’s latest executive orders pertaining to the “menace” of crime and the need for “safety” and such things pertaining to “security”. Nothing ever being as it seems in the “New Normal” — for we are in this stage of the hero’s or heroine’s journey where the confrontation with the dark wizard occurs (or what Algis Mikunas calls “technocratic shamanism”) — Mr. Trump’s concerns with “law & order” and security are likewise not what they seem. In Mr. Trump’s world, and the world of his minions, courtiers, and supporters, the greater “menace” is the “threat” of transformational change — the metamorphosis or “mutation” — and distracting everyone from the necessity of it.
(One of the great contemporary stories of the Great Quest is, of course, Carlos Castaneda’s journey from bumbling sorcerer’s apprentice to “man of knowledge”. It follows so closely the archetypal mythic journeys that many people cannot believe it was anything but fiction, or that Castaneda hoaxed the whole thing).
The role and challenge of the dark wizard or witch (who is the Trickster archetype) in all the Great Journey tales is the attempt to forestall the hero’s or heroine’s quest and journey towards metamorphosis and awakening — (such as the demon Mara with the Buddha). But it is in the very struggle — of Parsifal with Klingsor and Kundry, or Dorothy with Oz, or Ulysses with Circe (who reappears as her namesake queen in The Game of Thrones), or Castaneda with the bruja“La Catalina”, or Tolkein’s “fellowship of the ring” with Saron and Saruman, Neo with Mr. Smith or the Architect in The Matrix, or eventually Faust with Mephistopheles, Jesus with Satan, and the Buddha with Mara — that the metamorphosis transpires as a necessary stage in spiritual maturation and metamorphosis.
Some people have questioned whether Trump’s (or those akin to Trump) hyperbolic threat inflation and obsession with “safety” and “law & order” doesn’t mask a more sinister agenda and objective– the criminalisation of those pursuing the path of transformative change, which is classical “Trickster” behaviour in the attempt to throw up obstacles, hindrances, and headwinds in the way of those on their Quest — pursuing the “Holy Grail” or spiritual awakening. (That’s the meaning of the word “dia-bolic” — “to throw in the way”). I think they are correct. There is, in that, a disguised attempt to forestall, pre-empt, and rollback the dynamics of transformational change.
I can’t look at Trump without seeing the echo of Klingsor, (or, for that matter, Kellyanne Conway with her “alternative facts” as somewhat the contemporary avatar of the witch Kundry). Such archetypal figures also play their role, even if they are oblivious to it. It’s one reason why Goethe has his Mephistopheles lament that he is “part of that power that would ever evil do, but always does the good”. To suffer ironic reversal (or “blowback”, “perverse outcome”, “unintended consequence”, etc) — to be eventually frustrated in his intentions — seems always to be Trickster’s fate.
It was that which eventually persuaded the Greeks that there was a power beyond Zeus, and beyond the gods, that ultimately ruled the fates of gods and men, or overruled their will. For Heraclitus, that was the Logos, or very likely what Rumi referred to as “the evolutionary intelligence” — and very likely the same was called by Jill Bolte-Taylor “the life-force power of the universe”.
There is always great risk in confronting the Trickster — or what don Juan called “the petty tyrant” (as raised in the last post on Trump and the Lord of Misrule). That confrontation can be deadly, or the hero or heroine can succumb and be co-opted and compromised by the petty tyrant or the wizard or the “technocratic shaman”, which puts an end to their quest just as effectively. But it is in knowing and recognising the risk, and rising to the challenge of that risk, that the hero or heroine discovers the resources within themselves (which we call “genius”) to respond, prevail, and overcome the challenge. That is what Nietzsche meant in saying “what does not kill me makes me stronger”. That could serve just as well as the entire theme and motto of Castaneda’s own Great Journey.