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"Graciously bestow upon all men felicity, the summit of which is the knowledge of the Gods." [Julian, Oration to the Mother of the Gods]

Category Archives: esotericism

My Article In Pagan Friends Webzine On Nazis and the Occult

Hey everybody! Check out my new article in Pagan Friends, the webzine that all the cool kids are reading these days: Hidden In Plain Sight: The Non-Occult Roots Of Nazism. The main point of the article is to show how the Nazis didn’t need no stinking Occultism to do their thing (and that those who claim there is a “connection” of some sort between Nazism and Occultism are peddling nonsense).

Southern Poverty Law Center: There They Go Again (On the SPLC’s Nazi-Pagan Calumnies)

The Southern Poverty Law Center is often a good source of information on the worst of the worst of racist and would-be fascist groups in America. But the SPLC also has a sick obsession with the Big Lie that there is some connection between Nazism and Paganism. And in the most recent issue of their journal, Intelligence Report (Spring 2011 issue), they are at it again with an article titled “Former Neo-Nazi Explains ‘Esoteric Nazism’“.

The article consists of a very brief (<1,000 words, even including the questions), and thoroughly superficial interview with Nathan Pett, a former member of the White Order of Thule, a group that only just barely ever existed, and that has been disbanded for over a decade.

The most important passage in this interview is the following:

“Let’s face it — the White Order of Thule had such a small amount of people. The chapter in Virginia was just Michael Lujan and a P.O. box. The same with me in Washington state. I was the only guy there. I had one or two people I knew who I tried to get interested, but it was so bizarre to most white supremacists to do the weird mix of philosophy. Most people just didn’t want to get into it, you know? It was so esoteric. People couldn’t understand what the hell it meant, including me.”

The second most important thing about this article is that nothing is ever “explained” about so-called “Esoteric Nazism.” Instead, Nathan Pett serves up a bizarre word salad that makes the Unabomber sound like Thomas freaking Jefferson. For example, we are told that the group was made up of “pseudo-intellectuals” who admired Nietzsche, Hitler … and Joseph Stalin. This promotion of Stalin “as a good leader”, Pett tells us, made it difficult for the WOT to be taken seriously by the other white nationalists! As to the supposedly “pagan” content of the WOT’s ideology, Pett says that this amounted to a mixture of Christian mysticism, Theosophy and Greco-Roman Paganism, and that this made it difficult for the WOT to be taken seriously even by white nationalists who pose as “neopagans”, because these tend to “obsessed with the Nordic thing.”

Meanwhile, the main article in the same issue of the Intelligence Report is the SPLC’s annual round up of violent right-wing yahoos: The Year in Hate and Extremism, 2010. The focus of this overview is on nativist/anti-immigrant and “Patriot” groups. There is no mention anywhere of groups that promote any kind of Paganism or Heathenism.

It is no secret that there is only one religion that has always been and always will be intimately associated with racist and neo-fascist groups in America, and that religion is Christianity. Christianity is the religion of the Ku Klux Klan, and it was the religion of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party. It is also the religion of the overwhelming majority of those most active in the nativist and “Patriot” movements. It is also the religion of the Tea Party, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, Michelle Bachmann, etc.

So why does the SPLC continue with this pattern of misinformation and slanders against Paganism? At least part of the answer seems to be that the SPLC is to a great extent run by a single person, Mark Potok, who has some kind of personal vendetta against Paganism. In 2006 Potok was widely quoted (in USA Today and elsewhere) describing Paganism as “a theology that celebrates raw physical power and domination.” For that reason, Potok said the kind of person who is drawn to Paganism is “a white man who is looking for justification for extreme violence, who is looking for an ideology which explains why he should be the boss.” (Apparently, Potok has never read the Bible or the Quran, if he thinks that a “white man” has to turn to Paganism to find such a “theology”!)

The SPLC has in the past been criticized for it’s bigoted Pagan-bashing by prominent Heathens and Pagans including Chas Clifton, Jason Pitzl-Waters, and Dave Haxton. Lets hope that this most recent episode will elicit a similar response.

 

Related posts from this blog:

>Peter Kingsley: A New Age Christian Hiding Under an Ancient Philosopher’s Cloak

>Peter Kingsley is in most ways fairly typical of the modern wannabe guru type. His “teachings” are nothing more than warmed-over garden-variety late 19th century Christian Esotericism with a little pseudo-Sufism and a dash of Nietzsche thrown in. However, his scholarly pretensions do, somewhat, distinguish Peter Kingsley from the likes of Eckhart Tolle & Co.

But Kingsley himself claims to be first and foremost a “mystic”, and a scholar only secondarily. And he makes it clear that he has nothing but contempt for the entirety of the Western tradition of Classical scholarship, which he paranoiacly accuses of a “long tradition of altering the ancient Greek texts themselves to make them say what people have wanted them to say.” (See his interviews linked to below.)

In fact, everything that Kingsley has to say is very easily summarized: “true” Western Civilization springs forth fully formed from the minds of Parmenides and Empedocles. But then, no sooner had it started, but just as suddenly Western Civilization was fiendishly betrayed by Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and other effete, degenerate “rationalists”. Fortunately, and at long last, “we” can today reconnect with the long lost “roots” of “our culture” thanks to the miraculous Advent of the mind of Peter Kingsley.

Kingsley’s breathtakingly megalomaniacal message is delivered with a straight face, usually seated (he dislikes podiums), and in measured tones by a soft spoken academic who writes books packed with footnotes. It’s quite an act. And it has so far been very successful as these things go.

Who are Kingsley’s fans and admirers? Let’s look at the three interviews with Kingsley that he provides links to at his website. First there is a joint interview by Lorraine Kisly and Christopher Bamford. Kisly’s own publications include a guidebook to the Lord’s Prayer and at least two books that include the phrase “Christian Teachings” in the title. Christopher Bamford is one of the world’s leading “Anthroposophists”, an especially loopy and generally reactionary version of Christian Esotericism dating back to the 19th century.

These two good Christians, Kisly and Bamford, grovel before Kingsley, whose writings they praise as “gripping, urgent, unique, pioneering, courageous, original, challenging, learned, and enthralling.”

The next, equally fawning, interview is by Jeff Munnis, who early in life felt a calling to the ministry, but opted for a career in Horticulture instead. But then he later relented and “recognized that his interest in the ministry had never really left him.” He has since completed a Masters of Divinity is now a candidate for ordination in the United Church of Christ.

In the Munnis interview, Kingsley makes the ludicrous claim (repeated in the Lorimer interview below) that nearly all of Greek philsophy after Socrates amounts to a “charade right down to the present day.” A charade that only the amazing Peter Kingsley has been able to see through. Ta da!

Finally there is a perfectly awful interview by David Lorimer. Lorimer is probably best known for his book Radical Prince, a 250+ page encomium praising that great modern philosopher, humanitarian, social visionary and spiritual thought-leader, Prince Charles. This book, by the way, is published by SteinerBooks, of which Christopher Bamford is Editor In Chief. It really is a small world, after all.

Lorimer begins his interview by breathlessly asking Kingsley “what first guided” him to “the fact that Plato had distorted … the essence of Parmenides’ teaching?” To which Kingsley answers: “Intuition.”

Bah.

But wait, there’s more. If one goes to the “testimonials” for Kingsley’s most recent book, Reality, the first of these is by none other than Eckhart Tolle himself, while the second is by the Grand Old Man of soft-core, sanitized, Christianized Perennialism, Huston Smith. The first “testimonial” for Kingsley’s 1999 book, In the Dark Places of Wisdom, is by Margaret Starbird, author of The Feminine Face of Christianity, while the very next “testimonial” comes from Jacob Needleman, author of Lost Christianity.

But doesn’t the above mostly amount to an argument based on “guilt by association”? That may be. But for Pagans who are interested in genuinely reconnecting with the spiritual traditions that Christianity has spent the last 17 centuries trying to extirpate, including the spiritual tradition of Philosophy, it is important to know just who and what Peter Kingsley really is.

Begin in Fire: More on Battlestar Galactica, the Aeneid, and Alchemy

“What fire cannot do, the Danaans did.” [Aeneid, II.505]
The last post on the subject of comparing Battlestar Galactica and the Aeneid (“End”, as in Telos) focused on similarities between some of the major characters in both stories, but with this post I will start focusing more on plot elements. Of course, the topics of “character” and “plot” are obviously impossible to keep neatly separated from each other.

There are three obvious areas of plot overlap between BSG and the Aeneid: (1) Both stories begin in catastrophic violence from which there are few survivors, and these refugees then become the main focus of the action. (2) Both stories lead up to a final apocalyptic conflict, but in both cases there is a reconciliation, although not before there is significant bloodshed on both sides. Despite the amount of carnage in this final conflict, the reconciliation at the end is in stark contrast to the pitiless violence at the beginning, which is literally genocidal in its intent. (3) The final conclusions of both stories ultimately hinge on a heroic leader who has overcome death, and who thereby has gained the knowledge needed to lead the people to their destiny.

Previously, in Alchemy, the Aeneid and Battlestar Galactica, I very briefly, schematically and somewhat cryptically indicated that the plot elements outlined above (and some others) can be correlated to a sequence of seven Alchemical Operations. Five of those seven Operations correspond nicely with the three areas of overlap given above as follows:

(1) The catastrophic beginning followed by the initial wanderings of the refugees corresponds to Calcinatio and Solutio (the first two Operations).
(2) The apocaplytic conflict followed by reconciliation correspond to Separatio and Coniunctio (the final two Operations).
(3) The heroic encounter with and victory over Death, and the knowledge gained thereby, corresponds to Mortificatio (the fifth Operation).

This leaves two remaining Operations: Coagulatio and Sublimatio, both of which, in this proposed alchemical literary analysis of BSG and the Aeneid, have to do with the sojourn in, and subsequent flight from, New Caprica and Carthage, respectively. The parallels between New Caprica and Carthage are especially fascinating and are among the most striking of all the similarities between these two very different stories. But those correspondences will have to wait their turn as I go through the Operations in the order they appear in BSG and the Aeneid: (1)Calcinatio, (2)Solutio, (3)Coagulatio, (4)Sublimatio, (5)Mortificatio, (6)Separatio, (7)Coniunctio.

This ordering of the Operations is taken from Edward F. Edinger’s book Anatomy of the Psyche: Alchemical Symbolism in Psychotherapy. In one of the most remarkable synchronicities of my life, I just happened to find myself reading Edinger’s book at the same time that I first read Vergil’s Aeneid. I had no intention of finding Alchemical messages in the story of Aeneas, in fact it seemed much more to be the case that these messages were intent on finding me!

In that book Edinger presents the seven specific Alchemical Operations that I have been discussing, and in the order I am using here. However, Alchemy being, well, Alchemy, there are many different ways of dividing up, naming, ordering, and explaining the “Operations” of the Art.

The fiery nature of Calcinatio clearly resembles the destruction of Caprica and Troy. Edinger states at the very beginning of his chapter on Calcinatio: .

Most lists of Alchemical Operations begin with calcinatio. A few authors say that solutio comes first. However the sequence of operations (with one or two exceptions) does not seem to be psychologically significant. Any operation may be the initiating one, and the others may follow in any order.
[p. 17]

When it is the first Operation, Calcinatio represents an initial purification and sacrifice. To illustrate this Edinger quotes from Iamblichus’ On the Mysteries (on pages 39-40):

[E]ven as the Gods cut through matter by the fire of the thunderbolt, and separate off from it those elements which are immaterial in their essence, but are overcome by it and imprisoned by it, and render them impassible instead of passible, even so the fire of our realm, imitating the acitivity of the divine fire, destroys all that is material in the sacrifies, purifies the offerings with fire and frees them from the bonds of matter, and renders them suitable, through the purification of their nature, for consorting with the Gods, and by the same procedures liberates us from the bonds of generation and makes us like to the Gods, and renders us worthy to enjoy their friendship, and turns round our material nature towards the immaterial.
[p. 247 of Dillon’s 2003 paperback SBL edition]

Immediately after that quote Edinger adds:

Similarly, certain myths speak of the fire bath that conveys immortality. For example, Demeter, in her sorrowful wanderings after the abduction of Persephone, accepts the hospitality of Celeus and Metaneira, king and queen of Eleusis. In gratitude she plans to make their young son Demophoon immortal by holding him in the fire. Metaneira sees this procedure and interrupts it by her screams. Immortality is a quality of the archetypes. Thus the psychological meaning of the fire-bath of immortality will be that a connection is made between the ego and the archetypal psyche, making the former aware of its transpersonal, eternal, or immortal aspect.

The end product of calcinatio is a white ash. This corresponds to the so-called “white foliated earth” of many alchemical texts. It signifies the albedo or whitening phase and has paradoxical associations. On the one hand ashes signify despair, mourning, or repentance. On the other hand they contain the supreme value, the goal of the work. One text says, “Despise not the ashes for they are the diadem of thy heart, and the ash of things that endure.”

The text that Edinger quotes from is the Rosarium Philosophorum, as quoted by Jung in his Mysterium Coniunctionis, in which Jung adds this: “In other words, ash is the spirit that dwells in the glorified body.” This “ash” is the final end to which the Operations of Alchemy are directed, and the “glorified body” is the only vehicle, or means, by which one can be transported to that final goal. Both the goal and also the means to that goal can be none other than the True Self, which is revealed in a very preliminary wayat the beginning of the Great Work. This is a promise of things to come — like the first tentative kiss of young lovers. Calcinatio provides the first glimpse of the Undiscovered Self at the very moment when the process of discovery has just begun.

"Hitler was not an occultist": Mitch Horowitz is right but his sourcing is all wrong

A post (“Author Mitch Horowitz Says Adolf Hitler Was Not An Occultist”) over at the always interesting blog Prometheus Unbound drew my attention to Alexander Zaitchik’s recent review of Mitch Horowitz’s book Occult America: The Secret History of How Mysticism Shaped Our Nation. Here is a direct link to Zaitchik’s review: “Into the Weird” (originally posted at Killing the Buddha, but also found at Alternet as well as The Witches Voice).

Of course Horowitz is absolutely right that Adolf Hitler was not an Occultist, and also that left/progressive movements in the US have had strong links with Esotericism (which I think is a better term that “the occult”). And Zaitchik is right to praise Horowitz for saying that. But it turns out there is a serious problem with how Horowitz supports what he says about the Nazi/Occult connection.

Here is what Horowitz says in his book:

Is there a natural affinity between fascism and the occult? Today commentators and historians increasingly speak of occultist and pagan influences on Hitler. The subject is a favorite of cable-television documentaries. It has even spawned a subgenre of historical literature, ranging from the speculative to the serious, that casts the Third Reich as an occult empire….

But the following cannot be stated clearly enough: Hitler was not an occultist. He contemptuously dismissed the work of fascist theorists who dwelled upon mythology and mystico-racial theories. In Mein Kampf, he specifically condemned “volkisch wandering scholars” — that is, second tier mythically and mystically inclined intellects who might have belonged to occult-nationalist groups, such as the Thule Society, with which the Nazis shared symbols. From the earliest stirrings of Hitler’s career in the tiny Germany Workers’ Party and its street-rabble allies, he was consumed with brutal political and military organization, not theology or myth. He employed a symbol as a party vehicle when necessary and immediately discarded the flotsam around it, whether people or ideas. He castigated those members of his inner circle who showed excessive devotion to Nordic mythology, dismissing the theology of Nazi theorist Alfred Rosenberg as “stuff that nobody can understand” and a “relapse into medieval notions!”

Historian Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, who has done more than any other scholar to clarify these issues, noted that:

Hitler was certainly interested in Germanic legends and mythology, but he never wished to pursue their survival in folklore, customs, or place-names. He was interested in neither heraldry nor genealogy. Hitler’s interest in mythology was related primarily to the ideals and deeds of heroes and their musical interpretation in the operas of Richard Wagner. Before 1913 Hitler’s utopia was mother Germany across the border rather than a prehistoric golden age indicated by the occult interpretation of myths and traditions in Austria.

Under the Nazi regime, Theosophical chapters, Masonic lodges, and even sects that had produced some of the occult pamplets that a young Hitler may have encountered as a Vienna knock-about were shunted or savagely oppressed, their members murdered or harassed. Despite astrology’s well-publicized appeal to a few of Hitler’s cadre, the ancient practice was effectively outlawed under Nazism, and many of its practitioners were jailed or killed. The man sometimes mislabeled “Hitler’s astrologer,” Karl Ernst Krafft, had no contact with Hitler but briefly reached the attention of mid-level Reich officials for predicting the 1939 assassination attempt on him. Krafft later died en route to Buchenwald. Nazi authorities sentenced Karl Germer, the German protege of British occultist Aleister Crowley, to a concentration camp on charges of recruiting students for Crowley, whom they styled a “high-grade Freemason.

[pp. 185-188]

The problem is that Horowitz cites, and extravagantly praises, Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, who turns out to be the world’s leading advocate of the very theory that Horowitz wishes to refute: that there is “an affinity between the occult and fascism”!!

The following is taken from Lapis magazine, it is “based on a talk he [Goodrick-Clarke] gave at the New York Open Center in April 1997”:

How much of the original dynamic of Aryan racial cultist ideology was preserved in the Nazi party itself, once it was dominated by politicians, rather than occult cranks, is a matter of debate. It’s fair to say that Hitler really wasn’t an occultist in his own right, but he was certainly someone who could relate to gnostic dualism in a strong way. While he was raised as a Catholic, there’s evidence to suggest that he tended towards that heretical side of Catholicism that sees the world in very sharp black and white terms. Certainly, Hitler’s anti-Semitism owed much to the famous anti-Semitic forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, to which he was introduced by his mentors, Dietrich Eckart and Alfred Rosenberg. This notorious Jew-baiting document was first published in German in 1920, but had originated in Russia in the late 1890s. It was highly popular among Czarists during the Russian Revolution as a way of attributing the forces of disorder and radical change to the Jews. There’s also very strong evidence to suggest that Hitler actually read Lanz’s magazines in Vienna, before World War I. But after the war there was tremendous acceleration in Hitler’s dualistic worldview – most probably due to the Protocols – that the world can be saved only if the Jews are destroyed. Many contemporary observers, people like Albert Speer and others who knew him very well and saw him daily right throughout the Third Reich, noticed that an almost eerie, strange light came into Hitler’s eyes whenever Jews were the subject of discussion. He looked kind of haunting; he looked paranoid; he looked strange. He looked as if he was up against something he couldn’t beat in the end, because ultimately it was a projection of his own fear. There was the sense that he was a prisoner of dualism.

The person who best exemplified this kind of messianic occultism was undoubtedly Himmler, leader of the SS, Hitler’s terrifying police and security force, who was responsible for the administration of the Holocaust. The SS combined the idea of recreating a racial aristocracy on purely eugenic lines with the idea of an ideological elite representing wisdom derived from the Aryosophists. Himmler was totally dominated by these ideas. He maintained within his staff a private magus named Karl Maria Wiligut, who came straight out of the occult tradition. Wiligut was born in 1866, demobilized after a perfectly respectable and successful military career in the Austrian-Hungarian army at the end of World War I, went into retirement, but was hospitalized because he had a nervous breakdown and exhibited traits of schizophrenia and paranoia. Then in the late 20s, he moved to Germany and became a prominent figure within the Aryosophical underground. By 1933 he’d joined Himmler’s staff on the recommendation of an SS officer who happened to be a member of Lanz’s order. Wiligut was promoted from the rank of captain to brigadier and joined Himmler’s private staff. His job consisted almost exclusively of recording myths and symbols and stories that he intuited from the ancient Teutonic past, because he, like List, considered himself an ancient priest king, a magician who had direct knowledge of Germanic traditions. From Himmler’s archives we know that anything that Wiligut produced, Himmler read, marked with his signature HH, and assiduously filed. Wiligut also designed the death’s head ring that was worn by all SS men and claimed by Wiligut to be his ancient family’s seal. Wiligut also administered to Himmler all kinds of stimulants and special medications that unfortunately had a very damaging effect on his health. Himmler was aware of Wiligut’s psychiatric history, and it was widely known that he’d been committed as a patient in Salzburg before 1933 and he was obliged to resign. But he made one final, extraordinary contribution to Himmler’s SS mythology and ritual, and that was the design of a great medieval castle celebrating Teutonic glory, intended as a kind of pagan Vatican, a Germanic center in opposition to Rome and Christianity. The Nazis were ultimately determined to replace the Christian heritage of Europe with something that reflected their pagan past.

Such dreams and visions and beliefs were redolent with gnostic and manichaean heresies. But while Nazi racist beliefs have plenty of theological precedence, in terms of dualistic doctrine and a fanatical desire to change the nature of life on earth, such heresies had never ignited historical events of such consequence. I am convinced that the Nazi fantasies of being a missionary-elect, the Nazi pursuit of the millennium in the name of nationalist racist ideology, and the extermination of six million European Jews in death camps are political events which can be understood only in a theological context. It is perfectly consistent with earlier examples of militant heresy in Europe that the Nazis should have wanted to destroy Christian civilization in the name of a new dispensation under pagan influence. When endless columns of Nazi legionaries were marching beneath crooked crosses in the massive marshal displays at Nuremberg, Nazi Germany was effectively saluting its first founder-emperor and Führer of the new one thousand year Reich. But those feelings of exuberance and hope were matched by equally intense feelings of fear and a conviction that destruction of evil was a condition of this new age. Again I’m reminded of the eerie expression that Hitler allegedly wore whenever the word Jew was mentioned in his presence. The proposed shining eternal city of Germania, Hitler’s resurrected Berlin, was to be the political center of a vast Germano-Eurasian empire, predicated upon a network of slave and death cities where the antagonists of the millennium would be worked to death or immolated in a holocaust conducted by god’s chosen people, the Aryans. The Nazi crusade for a new eon was entirely dualistic in its conception of battling deities for good and evil, order and chaos, and Judeo-Christian in its adoption of cultural symbols involving the destruction of the followers of Satan in a lake of fire and brimstone.

In Auschwitz we see the stain that Nazism cast upon humanity as a whole, an undying testimony to its perverted crusade. The Nazi crusade failed, despite its appeal amongst eccentric apologists for new empires and faiths, because of its hysterical narcissism, its paranoid hatred of things outside itself. You could say that the fundamental pathology of Nazi Germany’s hysterical rejection of things that were foreign to itself was a rather brittle talisman. If we think about the lessons of Nazism and the shadow within certain kinds of new age belief, it really comes down to the fact that there is a terrible risk in such projections. When you start to split the world into light and darkness, order and chaos, goodness and evil, it’s important that we also bear in mind something that comes very strongly to us through Christian belief: the idea of mea culpa, my fault. List and Lanz, the founders of Aryosophy, cast themselves as shining knights. But their religious dualism was shot through with the idea that they were right and the rest of the world was inferior or wrong. It’s this terrible danger of the narcissism and paranoia that run through these pseudo religions and their hysterical assertion of rightness against all that seems disorderly or different that constitutes the ultimate risk – the sense that one can only solve one’s problems by destroying the other.

In summary of the above, according to Goodrick-Clarke, the Holocaust “can only be understood in a theological context.” And this context is that the Nazis “wanted to destroy Christian civilization in the name of a new dispensation under pagan influence.” This could only happen because the Nazis had abandoned “Christian” ethical principles in favor of Occultism, thus becoming morally debased because of the “narcissism and paranoia that run through these pseudo religions.” Bah. This is exactly the bullshit that Mitch Horowitz wishes to argue against, and rightly so!!

In the first two sentences of the Author’s Preface to the 2004 Edition of his The Occult Roots of Nazism (originally published in 1985) Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke could not possibly make himself any clearer:

As we witness the renewed growth of the far right across Europe and America and the former East Bloc, The Occult Roots of Nazism helps illuminate its ideological foundations. By examining the occult ideas that played midwife to the Hitler movement, the most destructive right-wing ideology in history, we can better understand their implications today.

So while it is true that Goodrick-Clarke concedes “that Hitler really wasn’t an occultist in his own right,” he nevertheless has literally made a career out of the following claims:

1. Nazism has it’s “roots” in the Occult.

2. Occultism was the “the midwife” of Nazism.

3. Under the sinister influence of Occult ideas and neopaganistical “pseudo religions”, the Nazis abandoned the “Christian” belief in personal responsibility (“mea culpa, my fault”), and therefore succumbed to the “terrible danger” of “narcissism and paranoia.”

4. The Nazis “wanted to destroy Christian civilization in the name of a new dispensation under pagan influence.

5. The Occultism of the Nazis also provides the “ideological foundations” of the modern day “far right”.

In this blog I have previously discussed the false claims that the Nazis were anti-Christian and were guided in some way by Paganism and/or Esotericism, in the following two posts (which both contain reliable and extensive sourcing):
European Christendom and the Historical Background of Nazism
Quotes Demonstrating the Christianity of the Nazis

In addition, we know that Christian missionaries working in Africa up through the mid 20th century incorporated scientific racism, especially in the form of the so-called “Hamitic hypothesis“, into their strategy for spreading the Gospel on the Dark Continent. The point is that the Church itself saw nothing whatsoever problematic in the racial theories that are the heart and soul of Nazism. This has been discussed, and documented, at some length by me in the following two posts:
Preparing the Way for Genocide in Rwanda
“Conflict and Genocide: Lessons from the Rwanda Experience”

Alchemy, the Aeneid, and Battlestar Galactica

“You are the harbinger of death, Kara Thrace. You will lead them all to their end.”
The Hybrid to Starbuck

“The way to Hades is easy; night and day lie open the gates of death’s dark kingdom: but to retrace your steps, to find the way back to daylight—that is the task.”
The Sibyl to Aeneas

Calcinatio
Destruction of the Colonies/Fall of Troy

Solutio
The initial wanderings of the refugees in their ships

Coagulatio
New Caprica/Carthage

Sublimatio
Leaving New Caprica/Carthage

Mortificatio
Death of Kara Thrace/Aeneas’ journey to the Underworld

Separatio
Divisions among humans and Cylons/War between Trojans and Latins

Coniunctio
Final reconciliation of humans and Cylons/Reconciliation of Trojans and Latins

The Western Mystery Tradition(s): Factions and Fault Lines

This is a subject that has been rattling around in my mind for quite some time. It began to come into focus more clearly a few years ago when I was reading Joscelyn Godwin’s The Theosophical Enlightenment. One of the subplots of that book, especially in the concluding four chapters, is that of the the increasing amount of tension over the “East versus West” issue among Esotericists during the 18th and early 19th centuries. In one corner were those wished to drink deeply (and ever more deeply) from the fonts of Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism. In the other corner were those whose motto was “East is East, and West is West and never the twain shall meet.

Another theme that pops up in Godwin‘s book is that of “therapeutic blasphemy“, a term Godwin borrows from one of Britain’s most prominent Buddhists, Sangharakshita. The idea of “therapeutic blasphemy” is, in essence, that Christianity is such a pervasive influence in western culture, that only by a positive and concerted effort can one break free of its pernicious (and largely unconscious) influence. In particular, all those born in a Christian society (even if not raised Christian, even nominally) must go through a period of public denunciation of Christianity, ie, “Therapeutic Blasphemy”, otherwise they are doomed to remain perpetually under the thrall of the cult of the creed making fishermen.

Reference to therapeutic blasphemy always reminds me of Jesus’ own advice to his disciples to “shake the dust from your feet” upon leaving a place where the people were not receptive to his teachings.

Another book that I read at the same time was Christopher McIntosh’s The Roscicrucians, in which McIntosh draws attention to two types of factionalism among Esotericists: (1) that of political conservatives (in particular, monarchists), versus political liberals (in particular, republicans), and (2) that of Hermeticists who are “Christian only in that they include some Christianity but do not stress it”, versus Rosicrucians who “are primarily Christian but draw on other non-Christian sources”. [Those quotes are actually from Kathleen Raine’s Yeats, the Tarot and the Golden Dawn, which McIntosh quotes from on p. 105 of his book.]

A third book that influenced my thinking on these matters is Richard Kaczynski‘s Perdurabo: The Life of Aleister Crowley (of which I am the proud owner of a signed copy, and also of which a revised and expanded version is due out later this year – yay!). In that book Kaczynski portrays Crowley (and to a lesser, or possibly greater extent Allan Bennett) as a Hermetic/Pagan (or in Bennett’s case Hermetic/Hindu/Buddhist) presence in the Golden Dawn at odds with the more staid Rosicrucian/Christian mainstream of the Order. The “conservatives”, led by William Butler Yeats, won the day in the end, despite (or possibly because of) Crowley’s alliance with S.L. McGregor Mathers. Christopher McIntosh, in his book mentioned in the preceding paragraph, concurs with this view, saying that the Golden Dawn became “totally ‘Rosicrucianized'” under Yeats, with all rituals rewritten so that they were now “Christian in emphasis” [pp. 104-105].

My personal interest in (and attraction to) Traditionalism and my abhorrence for Modernism have also led me to investigate the writings of Julius Evola, Arturo Reghini, and similar characters, despite my own (ever waning) leftist leanings. It has also led me to keep an eye on Mark Sedgwick’s Traditionalists blog, where a a fascinating item appeared just yesterday about a new English translation by Joscelyn Godwin of some writings by Marco Baistrocchi (an Italian Traditionalist and next-generation fellow-traveler of Evola and Reghini). These writings by Baistrocchi were critiques of Rene Guenon’s The King of the World. From what very little I know, the basis of Baistrocchi’s criticism of The King of the World, was that the story presented by Guenon in that book (first published in 1927), according to Baistrocchi, “was a deliberate manipulation, designed to shut off Western seekers from Eastern wisdom and to divert them, first into Catholicism, then into Islam.” For more details see this page (where the immediately preceding quote is lifted from), which is part of the Theosophical History website. At that page there is also ordering information for Godwin’s translation of Baistrocchi’s writings.

Here is a little excerpt mentioning Evola, Reghini, and Baistrocchi (among others), from another book by Godwin: The Golden Thread: The Ageless Wisdom of the Western Mystery Traditions:

In Italy after World War I there was a concerted effort to restore the ancient Roman religion, led by Arturo Reghini and supported, for a time, by the young Julius Evola, whose Imperialismo Pagano (1928) is a forceful defense of Pagan imperialism against its Christian supplanter. Evidence of more recent activities emerges from the journal Politica Romana, which serves as a forum for a number of distinguished scholars and thinkers including the late Marco Baistrocchi (a diplomat by profession), Piero Fenili (a judge), and the expatriate American Dana Lloyd Thomas. Roman religion appears there in a broad context of philosophical polytheism, keeping company with Mahayana Buddhism, Vedanta, and Neoplatonism. The feasts of the Roman calendar are commemorated, the Gods and sacred sites of the city are honored, and the Italian Renaissance and the Masonically-inspired Risorgimento are celebrated as manifestations of the original spirit of Italy. An effort in a similar direction was the journal Antaios, edited by Mircea Eliade and Ernst Junger. Avowedly polytheistic, Antaios aimed at a Europe of mutually respectful homelands rejoicing in their ancestral myths, their Gods and Goddesses, and in the earth from which, in the Greek legend, the giant Antaios derived his strength.
[p. 165]

To tell you the truth, Dear Reader, I am amazed that I have finally organized my thoughts on this subject even this much!! For now I will leave off with this unapologetically schematic list of dichotomies that seem to be ever present, just below the surface (if that much) of the swirling currents of the Western Mystery Tradition(s), for future consideration and investigation:

East vs. West

Pagan vs. Christian

Traditionalist vs. Modernist

Conservative vs. Liberal

Nota Bene: The books mentioned above by Godwin, McIntosh, and Kaczynski are all simply magnificent. Tasty, tasty brain-food for all discriminating occultist bookworm types!
UPDATE:
Richard Kaczynski just yesterday announced to the world that he has “sent off the revised and expanded edition of Perdurabo for copy-editing”!! Check out his blog for the details.

Immanence v. Transcendence, Part Deux

The essential teaching of Hermeticism is:

As Above, So Below.

Hermes is the God of boundaries, and also, therefore, the God of crossing boundaries. This is fitting for the God who travels freely between mortal humans on earth and the Gods in the heavens. Just as it is also fitting for the God who successfully blurred the distinctions between the ancient religious traditions of the Egyptians, Hellenes and Romans, and who successfully navigated the treacherous journey from ancient to modern Paganism.

Hermes is also the God of theft and deception. He was even born in deception, for Zeus wished to keep his liaisons with Maia (from which resulted the child Hermes) a secret from the Divine Queen Hera. Maia is a Goddess herself, but by choice she lives in solitude in a deep shady cave, where Zeus visited her at night while Hera slept. It is said the Hermes was born at dawn, and by noon that day he was playing a lyre (the very first lyre, in fact, which he had made himself from a tortoise shell). The Homeric Hymn to Hermes describes him as

a son, of many shifts, blandly cunning, a robber, a cattle driver, a bringer of dreams, a watcher by night, a thief at the gates, one who was soon to show forth wonderful deeds among the deathless gods.

One of Hermes’ most famous acts was the theft of some of Apollo’s sacred cattle, which he accomplished on the evening of the day he was born. By next morning, however, Hermes was back asleep in his own crib “as if he were a feeble babe”. Only one old man, out tending his vineyard, had observed any of this, but Hermes had sworn him to secrecy:

Old man, digging about your vines with bowed shoulders, surely you shall have much wine when all these bear fruit, if you obey me and strictly remember not to have seen what you have seen, and not to have heard what you have heard, and to keep silent when nothing of your own is harmed.

However, his own Goddess mother had, in fact, noticed his coming and going, and she warned him sternly of the dire consequences of angering Apollo. Hermes replied that it was Apollo who had better look out for himself, and, besides, he had no intention of spending his life living in this “gloomy cave” far away from the other Gods.

Naturally it wasn’t long before Apollo discovered what had been done and who had done it. When Hermes saw Apollo approaching in a rage, he “snuggled down in his fragrant swaddling-clothes … like a new born child seeking sweet sleep.” Apollo, not impressed by Hermes’ little act, searched the cave and, finding no trace of his cattle, threatened the little thief:

Child, lying in the cradle, make haste and tell me of my cattle, or we two will soon fall out angrily. For I will take and cast you into dusty Tartarus and awful hopeless darkness, and neither your mother nor your father shall free you or bring you up again to the light, but you will wander under the earth and be the leader amongst little folk.

Hermes replied that Apollo’s cattle were not among his concerns, which mostly consisted of sleeping and feeding at his mother’s breasts, and, besides, he was only born yesterday, so he had no idea what a cow looked like, or even what such a thing was!

Now Apollo was impressed – by the ease and skill with which Hermes lied:

I most surely believe that you have broken into many a well- built house and stripped more than one poor wretch bare this night, gathering his goods together all over the house without noise.

Apollo is only placated once Hermes plays for him on the lyre, a sound, Apollo proclaimed “the like of which I vow that no man nor God dwelling on Olympus ever yet has known.”

Perhaps, then, it should come as no surprise that when the worship of the old Gods was made a crime punishable by death, Hermes was nevertheless able to fool the book-burning monotheists into believing he was one of them, and that his sacred books were not only to be spared the flames, but were even deserving of honor and respect, to be preserved with care in Christian libraries alongside their “Bible”.

It should, but unfortunately does not, go without saying, that any resulting (genuinely) Christian versions of Hermeticism are worse than useless, except, perhaps, to Christians themselves. I suppose even they might be able to learn something from him. And perhaps he is the perfect Pagan God for them, since they are averse to any truths outside their own narrow creed, and Hermes can only too easily oblige those who will only accept and learn from him if he is disguised as someone other than himself. But, fortunately for the rest of us, many of those Medieval “Christian” Hermeticists (and Alchemists, and Qabalists, and Rosicrucians….), like the true devotees of the son of Zeus and Maia that they were, skillfully feigned adherence to that other creed and cunningly hid the ancient teachings of Hermes Logios beneath the swaddling clothes of that other infant God.

Sadly, for far too many Pagans today, what was once well and safely hidden is now lost, and these are unable to tell the false Shepherd from the true. Despite the fact that the Shepherd in question is himself the great master of deception and disguise, one still has to wonder at such widespread confusion. As Above, So Below. Is there any hint in those words of a world-denying world view? Is it not obvious that these words refer to a vision of the Divine that is both immanent and transcendent, and that any other Divine vision is abominably hobbled? Can anyone possibly believe that the philosophy of the Emerald Tablet is a dualistic philosophy, when Hermes’ own words proclaim that “all things have been & arose from one by ye mediation of one” (in Isaac Newton’s translation)?

[The colorful Alchemical images in this post are from The Gallery at the Alchemy Lab website – please visit it!]

"The stars speak to each other, the soul of the suns communicate with the breath of the flowers."

[The following is taken from Eliphas Levi’s Introduction to his
Transcendental Magic: Its Doctrine and Ritual
The translation is by Arthur Edward Waite.]

BEHIND the veil of all the hieratic and mystical allegories of ancient doctrines, behind the darkness and strange ordeals of all initiations, under the seal of all sacred writings, in the ruins of Nineveh or Thebes, on the crumbling stones of old temples and on the blackened visage of the Assyrian or Egyptian sphinx, in the monstrous or marvellous paintings which interpret to the faithful of India the inspired pages of the Vedas, in the cryptic emblems of our old books on alchemy, in the ceremonies practised at reception by all secret societies, there are found indications of a doctrine which is everywhere the same and everywhere carefully concealed. Occult philosophy seems to have been the nurse or god-mother of all intellectual forces, the key of all divine obscurities and the absolute queen of society in those ages when it was reserved exclusively for the education of priests and of kings.

It reigned in Persia with the Magi, who perished in the end, as perish all masters of the world, because they abused their power; it endowed India with the most wonderful traditions and with an incredible wealth of poesy, grace and terror in its emblems; it civilized Greece to the music of the lyre of Orpheus; it concealed the principles of all sciences, all progress of the human mind, in the daring calculations of Pythagoras; fable abounded in its miracles, and history, attempting to estimate this unknown power, became confused with fable; it undermined or consolidated empires by its oracles, caused tyrants to tremble on their thrones and governed all minds, either by curiosity or by fear. For this science, said the crowd, there is nothing impossible, it commands the elements, knows the language of the stars and directs the planetary courses; when it speaks, the moon falls blood-red from heaven; the dead rise in their graves and mutter ominous words, as the night wind blows through their skulls. Mistress of love or of hate, occult science can dispense paradise or hell at its pleasure to human hearts; it disposes of all forms and confers beauty or ugliness; with the wand of Circe it changes men into brutes and animals alternately into men; it disposes even of life and death, can confer wealth on its adepts by the transmutation of metals and immortality by its quintessence or elixir, compounded of gold and light….

After the colossal fable of Oedipus we find the gracious poem of Psyche, which was certainly not invented by Apuleius. The Great Magical Arcanum reappears here under the figure of a mysterious union between a god and a weak mortal, abandoned alone and naked on a rock.

Psyche must remain in ignorance of the secret of her ideal royalty, and if she behold her husband she must lose him.

Here Apuleius commentates and interprets Moses; but did not the Elohim of Israel and the Gods of Apuleius both issue from the sanctuaries of Memphis and Thebes? Psyche is the sister of Eve, or rather she is Eve spiritualized. Both desire to know and lose innocence for the honour of the ordeal. Both deserve to go down into hell, one to bring back the antique box of Pandora, the other to find and to crush the head of the old serpent, who is the symbol of time and of evil. Both are guilty of the crime which must be expiated by the Prometheus of ancient days and the Lucifer of the Christian legend, the one delivered by Hercules and the other overcome by the Saviour. The Great Magical Secret is therefore the lamp and dagger of Psyche, the apple of Eve, the sacred fire of Prometheus, the burning sceptre of Lucifer, but it is also the Holy Cross of the Redeemer. To be acquainted with it sufficiently for its abuse or divulgation is to deserve all sufferings; to know as one should alone know it, namely, to make use of and conceal it, is to be master of the Absolute.

A single word comprehends all things, and this word consists of four letters: it is the Tetragram of the Hebrews, the AZOT of the alchemists, the Thot of the Bohemians, or the Taro of the Kabalists. This word, expressed after so many manners, means God for the profane, man for the philosophers, and imparts to the adepts the final term of human sciences and the key of divine power; but he only can use it who understands the necessity of never revealing it. Had Oedipus, instead of killing the sphinx, overcome it, harnessed it to his chariot and thus entered Thebes, he would have been king without incest, without misfortunes and without exile. Had Psyche, by meekness and affection, persuaded Love to reveal himself, she would never have lost Love. Now, Love is one of the mythological images of the Great Secret and the Great Agent, because it postulates at once an action and a passion, a void and a plenitude, a shaft and a wound. The initiates will understand me, and on account of the profane I must not speak more clearly.

After the marvellous Golden Ass of Apuleius, we find no more magical epics. Science, conquered in Alexandria by the fanaticism of the murderers of Hypatia, became Christian, or rather concealed itself under Christian veils with Ammonius, Synesius and the pseudonymous author of the books of Dionysius the Areopagite. In such times it was necessary to exonerate miracles under the pretence of superstition and science by an unintelligible language.

Hieroglyphic writing was revived; pantacles and characters were invented to summarize an entire doctrine by a sign, a whole sequence of tendencies and revelations in a word.

What was the end of the aspirants to knowledge? They sought the secret of the Great Work, the Philosophical Stone, the perpetual motion, the quadrature of the circle, the Universal Medicine—formulae which often saved them from persecution and hatred by causing them to be taxed with madness, but all signifying one of the phases of the Great Magical Secret, as we shall show later on. This absence of epics continues till our Romance of the Rose; but the rose-symbol, which expresses also the mysterious and magical sense of Dante’s poem, is borrowed from the transcendent Kabalah, and it is time that we should have recourse to this vast and hidden source of universal philosophy. The Bible, with all its allegories, gives expression to the religious knowledge of the Hebrews only in an incomplete and veiled manner. The book which we have mentioned, the hieratic characters of which we shall explain subsequently, that book which William Postel names the Genesis of Enoch, existed certainly before Moses and the prophets, whose doctrine, fundamentally identical with that of the ancient Egyptians, had also its exotericism and its veils….

On penetrating into the sanctuary of the Kabalah one is seized with admiration in the presence of a doctrine so logical, so simple and at the same time so absolute. The essential union of ideas and signs; the consecration of the most fundamental realities by primitive characters; the trinity of words, letters and numbers;1 a philosophy simple as the alphabet, profound and infinite as the Word; theorems more complete and luminous than those of Pythagoras; a theology which may be summed up on the fingers;2 an infinite which can be held in the hollow of an infant’s hand; ten figures and twenty-two letters, a triangle, a square and a circle: such are the elements of the Kabalah.

Such also are the component principles of the written Word, reflection of that spoken Word which created the world! All truly dogmatic religions have issued from the Kabalah and return therein. Whatsover is grand or scientific in the religious dreams of the illuminated, of Jacob Bohme, Swedenborg, Saint-Martin and the rest, is borrowed from the Kabalah; all Masonic associations owe to it their secrets and their symbols. The Kabalah alone consecrates the alliance of universal reason and the Divine Word; it estab- lishes by the counterpoise of two forces in apparent opposi- tion, the eternal balance of being; it alone reconciles reason with faith, power with liberty, science with mystery: it has the keys of the present, past and future! To become initiated into the Kabalah it is insufficient to read and to meditate upon the writings of Reuchlin, Galalinus, Kircher, or Picus de Mirandola; it is necessary to study and understand the Hebrew writers in the collection of Pistorius, the Sepher Yetzirah above all; it is essential in particular to master the great book Zohar, to investigate the collection of I684, entitled Kabbala Denu- data, especially the treatise on “Kabalistic Pneumatics” and that on the “Revolution of Souls”; and afterwards to enter boldly into the luminous darkness of the whole dogmatic and allegorical body of the Talmud.1 We shall be then in a position to understand William Postel, and shall admit secretly that–apart from his very premature and over- generous dreams about the emancipation of women–this celebrated, learned, illuminated man could not have been so mad as is pretended by those who have not read him. The present division of our work refers only to the science, but Magic, or rather magical power, comprehends two things, a science and a force: without the force the science is nothing, or rather it is a danger. To give knowledge to power alone, such is the supreme law of initiations. Hence did the Great Revealer say: ‘The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent only shall carry it away.’ The door of truth is closed, like the sanctuary of a virgin: he must be a man who would enter. All miracles are promised to faith, and what is faith except the audacity of will which does not hesitate in the darkness, but advances towards the light in spite of all ordeals, and surmounting all obstacles? It is unnecessary to repeat here the history of ancient initiations: the more dangerous and terrible they were, the greater was their efficacy. Hence, in those days, the world had men to govern and instruct it. The Sacerdotal Art and the Royal Art consisted above all in ordeals of courage, discretion and will.

It was a novitiate similar to that of those priests who, under the name of Jesuits, are so unpopular at the present day, but would govern the world notwithstanding, had they a truly wise and intelligent chief.

After passing our life in the search for the Absolute in religion, science and justice; after revolving in the circle of Faust, we have reached the primal doctrine and the first book of humanity. At this point we pause, having discovered the secret of human omnipotence and indefinite progress, the key of all symbolisms, the first and final doctrine: we have come to understand what was meant by that expression so often made use of in the Gospel–the Kingdom of God.

To provide a fixed point as a fulcrum for human activity is to solve the problem of Archimedes, by realizing the use of his famous lever. This it is which was accomplished by the great initiators who have electrified the world, and they could not have done so except by means of the Great and Incommunicable Secret.

The Nuctemeron of Apollonius of Tyana
[This appears as a “supplement” by Levi at the end of the book.]

first hour
In the unity, de daimons sing the praise of God, they loose their malignity and their wrath.

second hour
By the binary, the fishes of the Zodiac sing the praise of God, the snakes of fire intertwine around Hermes’ staff and the thunder becomes harmonious.

third hour
The snakes of Hermes’ staff intertwine trice, Cerberus opens his triple mouth and fire sings the praise of God by the three tongs of the lightning.

fourth hour
At the fourth hour the soul returns for a visit to the sepulcher. It is the time to light the magical lamps at the four corners of the circles. It is the time for incantations and illusions.

fifth hour
The voice of the great waters sing the God of the heavenly spheres.

sixth hour
The spirit remains motionless. He sees the infernal monsters work against him and he is without fear.

seventh hour
A fire, giving life to all animated beings, is directed by the will of the pure men. The initiate raises his hand and the suffering disappears.

eighth hour
The stars speak to each another, the soul of the suns communicate with the breath of the flowers, the chains of harmony make all the beings of nature correspond with one another.

ninth hour
The number that is not to be reveled.

tenth hour
It is the key of the astronomical cycle and of the circular movement of human’s life.

eleventh hour
The wings of the geniuses move with a mysterious humming, they fly from one sphere to another and carry the message of God from one world to another.

twelth hour
Here are accomplished the deeds of the eternal light.

[Here is Levi’s explanation for the last illustration, named by him “The Sabbatic Goat. The Baphomet of Mendes.”:

A pantheistic and magical figure of the Absolute. The torch placed between the two horns represents the equilibrating intelligence of the triad. The goat’s head, which is synthetic, and unites some characteristics of the dog, bull and ass, represents the exclusive responsibility of matter and the expiation of bodily sins in the body. The hands are human, to exhibit the sanctity of labour; they make the sign of esotericism above and below, to impress mystery on initiates, and they point at two lunar crescents, the upper being white and the lower black, to explain the correspondences of good and evil, mercy and justice. The lower part of the body is veiled, portraying the mys- teries of universal generation, which is expressed solely by the symbol of the caduceus.

The belly of the goat is scaled and should be coloured green; the semicircle above should be blue; the plumage, reaching to the breast, should be of various hues. The goat has female breasts, and thus its only human characteristics are those of maternity and toil, otherwise the signs of redemption. On its forehead, between the horns and beneath the torch, is the sign of the Microcosm, or the Pentagram with one point in the ascendant, symbol of human intelligence, which, placed thus below the torch, makes the flame of the latter an image of divine revelation. This Pantheistic figure should be seated on a cube, and its footstool should be a single ball, on a ball and a triangular stool. In our design we have given the former only, to avoid complicating the figure.]

What’s in a name?


Why “egregores”?

An egregore is almost, but perhaps not quite, a living Being. It is not quite a living being in the full sense because it probably does not have sufficient independence to be called that. Yet it is alive, aware and intelligent (after a fashion), and very active. An egregore comes into existence through the interactions of mortal human beings and divine Beings. This is where the dependency of the egregore comes in. An egregore must be sustained by the ongoing interactions of humans and Spirits, or else the egregore will dissipate and cease to exist.

An egregore is more “real”, stable, and powerful than your average “group mind” astral thingy. But it is “lower” than a God-form. God-forms can (thank the Gods) survive for long periods without much (but probably not without any) active participation of human beings. A God-form is not a God, but rather, as the name implies, the “form” of a God that is knowable by humans.

I have read more precise Qabalistic definitions of egregores, especially in the writings of Denning and Phillips (Ogdoadic Magi extraordinaire). Bascically when a sufficient number of people over sufficiently long periods of time share a common set of symbols, ritual acts, etc, with respect to some specific God or group of Gods, a new Being is created: an egregore. The Gods being worshipped already existed, but these Gods have responded to some particular group of humans who have called upon Them. So an egregore is basically a relationship, one might even get all Biblical and say that an egregore is a covenant. But it is not just that – it is a covenant “come to life”. And like all that is born, it is mortal.

I like to think of an egregore as a dance in which one partner is human and the other divine. The music is all of the rituals, iconography, etc, that defines a particular “tradition”. When the humans and divinities come together, they strike up the music … and the dance begins.

Gabriel Emerson has put together a compilation of definitions of “egregore”:
http://www.chaosmatrix.org/library/chaos/texts/gegregor.html

And here is an essay written by occultist Walter Ernest Butler of the Servants of the Light Mystery School:
http://www.servantsofthelight.org/knowledge/butler-egregore.html

And here is an essay by Phil Hine:
http://www.philhine.org.uk/writings/ess_egregore.html

My interest in the word comes from the fact that an egregore, to the limited extent that I understand the term, only comes into existence when a given spiritual path is lived. It is not a result of mere “belief”, it can only come about as a result of what Gandhi-ji called “a constant heart-churn“. When Gandhi said that he was talking specifically about renunciation, but really I think he was describing devotion in the truest, widest, and best sense. One common perspective found in Hinduism is that there are (at least) four kinds of Yoga: bhakti (devotion), jnana (knowledge), raja (meditation), and karma (works). I think this is a useful idea – but only if it realized that (1) we must have all four, and (2) bhakti takes precedence over the other three.

Of course the greatest of care is called for in deciding what to devote oneself to.

[The cool image at the top of this post is the logo for a small publishing house called Egregore Press, with which I have no affiliation. But they do have a catchy name, don’t they?]