Tuesday, 24 November 2015
SEE, SAID ELELETH, AND I SAW
Archon – for me the very word opens a kind of psychic-linguistic rift. It creates a cognitive aperture into a host of interconnected meanings that encompass fact, fiction, history, myth and psychology. Historically speaking, we don’t need to argue the fact that there have always been very real power-elites, and the enforcers and administrators who serve them. Pop-culturally our movies and television shows and comics are filled with sinister archonic figures. Pop-culture is no less potent a mythology than our classical tales, and as Chris Knowles from The Secret Sun explores through a superhero perspective in his book Our Gods Wear Spandex they often draw on the same sources. The Agents of The Matrix, the Strangers of Dark City, Captain Pinbacker in Danny Boyle’s Sunshine, Brando’s Kurtz in Apocalypse Now, The Overlook Hotel in Kubrick’s The Shining – in my opinion all draw heavily and explicitly from Gnostic mythology. In modern fiction the Archons and their Demiurge have come to us in the forms of ravens, black dogs, sinister children, ingenious serial killers, malevolent Artificial Intelligences, mysterious alien races, fallen angels, and interdimensional spirit beings.
I get why Gnosticism still has a kind of edgy underground vibe to those with the insight and acumen to get what it really means – because the moment you take the idea seriously it becomes frightening. But frightening in a rather particular way – in that uneasy shit–is-about-to-get-real kind of way. There’s stuff in life that’s just too painful or horrific to process directly. I imagine for some of the more astute and prescient thinkers out there Gnosticism might be painful in not a dissimilar way. Because however you cut it, however many of the edges you try to smooth away, Gnosticism in all its various permutations takes the idea of spiritual slavery very seriously. In many Gnostic texts this idea of spiritual slavery is often symbolized by the intellectual state of sleep or ignorance, and the literal act of rape. In Hypostasis of the Archons the Authorities of Darkness – the Archons – attempt to rape Eve in the Garden, as they later attempt to rape her daughter Norea. She petitions Heaven to spare her from this horrific act and is visited by Eleleth, a powerful angel of the Aeons.
Eleleth tells Norea that she isn’t just a fallen shadow-creature, but that she has the spirit of truth emanating within her, a fragment of the imperishable light, and is therefore a holy immortal being of the Pleroma. Norea has the mother of wisdom Sophia within her, in the form of Zoe, or Life itself. And this means the Authorities of Darkness despise her in their jealousy. This insight is crucial. I personally believe this insight cuts to be the very heart of Gnosticism in all its permutations. Which is the fact that Knowledge, Enlightenment, or Emancipation isn’t just a state, it’s a process; the process of becoming free, of literally seeing spiritual truth. Inherent within this notion is the implication that the illusory world of matter, the realm of chaotic shadow-form overseen by the blind demiurge, can still be reconnected or transformed or taken back into the Pleroma, into the infinite, imperishable Light. This is admittedly my own personal interpretation of some pretty hardcore variations of Gnostic cosmogony. But what this suggests to me is that even the demons and dark angels of Samael can still cry out to the Holy Spirit just as Norea does, and ask for their sight to be restored. To no longer be avatars of Samael, blinded as he is blind, but to become more than shadow-soul – to become independent agencies gifted with a fragment of the Pleroma within them by awakening to the reality of pneuma; the divine spark and breath of life. Here at Amid Night Suns I often refer to this luminous pneuma as the Innermost Light, or the Midnight Sun. In Gnostic lore the feminine Sophia and the masculine Father of the Entirety want to redeem everything in Creation by bringing it all into the true Light. In some variants of Gnostic cosmogony it is the presence of Christ who allows Sophia to reconnect with logos, her syzygy and male counterpart, and thus restore balance to the cosmos. But what all of this lore implies is that the Archons are, in a sense, artificial beings. They have ‘souls’ born from the realm of Chaos and shadow-form, and are technically sentient, but they are also cold, unfeeling and spiritless. If Sophia’s desire is to redeem the entire fallen world of form (and in some Gnostic variants, also redeem herself) then it must be possible for even the Archons to experience enlightenment, to awaken to pneuma and achieve Gnosis. To transform themselves into beings of imperishable light. In fact, this happens to a son of the Demiurge in Hypostasis of the Archons. Sabaoth witnesses his father Yaldabaoth (another name for Samael, along with Saklas) being cast down into the Abyss of Chaos by a powerful angel of divine fire created by a single breath from Sophia. In seeing this internment of his blind, power-obsessed father Sabaoth renounces his part in his father’s false claim to supreme godhood and prays to Zoe and Sophia for redemption. His prayers are answered and he is taken up and made gatekeeper of the portal between the Pleroma and our shadowy, chaotic world of forms.
Personally, this idea comforts me. That darkness can eventually become light; that a cancer doesn’t just have to be cut out, it can eventually be healed completely. Or in a more mainstream Christian sense a fallen angel can become a true angel of light once more. Our sight can be restored. Our wings can be returned to us.
Our real tangible world seems more Archonic and more apocalyptic than ever. We’re experiencing terrorism, war and the promise of war, mass migrations, famine, disease, and grinding, unending poverty. It’s not exactly a snapshot of human civilisation at its best. We could argue that there are various global elites who are currently attempting to massively centralise their power, thus extending their reach over the control of our lives. We could further argue that in doing so they are attempting to hollow out all joy and purge any sense of mystery from the human experience. In their inability to awaken to the reality of Pneuma, the divine spark and breath of life – as Sabaoth and Norea do in Hypostasis of the Archons, these elitists desire instead to synthesise their own false Spark. In their reductive, essentially atomised worldview the closest things to gods or unknowable forces with any agency are themselves. The power-elites sell this hubris to us as ostensibly rigorous ‘Science’, thwarting all primitivism, superstition and fallacy, yet doing so with virtually godlike anthrocentric power. You don’t have to be a genius to see the religious desire behind this kind of materialist fundamentalism, and the logical conclusions of its worldview.
In this highly exclusionist paradigm, devoid of all magical thinking, we are a race of purely biological entities on the cusp of a transhuman critical-mass – a singularity that ushers the blending of biology and technology, man and machine. This fetishized cosmogony assures us that human beings are destined to become quasi-artificially intelligent super-beings. A parahuman A.I. that will eventually go off-world and journey through the stars. But these elites don’t mean everyone. They don’t mean third-world inhabitants, or even you and me. Their transhuman Prometheus will only share this digital fire with the Elect, the truly powerful, the very Highest in the Land. The rest of us will be used, as now, to feed the new race of Synthetics, to maintain the infrastructure that supports the demiurgic A.I. to which these elite Synthetics will fervently supplicate. It’s all complete nonsense, of course. It’s an indulgent, exclusionist horror-fantasy. But we can see how this kind of thinking is the logical extension of the human imagination trapped within a hierarchical, Archonic system. This is what an Archon’s idea of apotheosis might look like.
Even today, in the grim real world, mainstream culture seems determined to think like an Archon, an Artificial Intelligence; a spiritless shadow-entity. The mainstream will seemingly go to any lengths to reject nuance, subtlety and context. Like the elites who have colonised their minds and appropriated their discursive spaces the average mainstream individual is invited to see things in only the most extreme polarities, in virtual binary. Either everything is a conspiracy or nothing is. And since those who question authority and officialdom and believe in conspiracies are obviously idiots or mentally ill, therefore nothing at all is a conspiracy. But the truth is that corruption is nothing more than the visible manifestation of conspiracy. In order to deny the fact that we are being manipulated in extremely sinister ways we must ignore political, financial and corporate corruption, evidence of which is all around us, and growing. I believe this clinging to denial in the face of overwhelming evidence creates fractures and schisms in the human psyche, what others have called ‘cognitive dissonance’. Furthermore, I believe it’s this dissonance that can breed psychopathy in the general population. Feeling like a caged being, and seeing evidence of other caged beings – but not being allowed to articulate what you see – can drive you mad. I think we express this dissonance as the general ‘pressures’ of modern society. And it’s these societal pressures – poverty, zero-hour contracts, austerity, unaffordable housing, cuts to healthcare and social services – along with the overwhelming psychic pressure to conform and survive, that assures the continuing supremacy of this elitist, hierarchical system.
It’s a predator/prey system in which a self-appointed few control and feed on the many. It’s a society in which ‘civilisation’ uses maintained third-world slaves to build both its trinkets and its infrastructure. It’s a hideous form of Social Darwinism in which only the most perverse and mercenary will prosper. And herein lies the heart of Gnosticism and the truth of Archonic reality – that of manipulation as a strategy for maintained injustice, imbalance and inequality. A false system of hierarchical power differentials, a vampiric cannibal culture of orchestrated and strategized oppression. Just as in Gnostic lore when the Archons became enamoured with Sophia’s reflection as she peered into the waters of the Abyss, so to has human society become. Narcissistic and petty and vacant, obsessed with eidolons, icons and phantoms, but unable to capture their true spirit within those echoed images. We’ve lost touch, lost our connection to the Source, to ourselves. We continuously deify and glorify and apologize for the hideous actions of our rulers. It’s almost as if Gnosticism in all its forms is outlining the mechanics and metaphysics of a kind of cosmogenic capture-bonding – that the human race encountered something it didn’t understand, was captured and enslaved by it, and fell deeply in love with it, worshipped it, and would die to defend its authority. The reason I take this Archonic version of Stockholm Syndrome or capture-bonding so seriously is, in part, because the shamans and storytellers and occultists of various cultures all over the world have explicitly or implicitly suggested such notions for thousands of years. Not only do we defend our abusers, we turn them into politicians, priests, kings and gods.
At the very least, Gnostic mythology is a frighteningly elegant metaphor for the history of human societies. At best it’s some kind of truth, or quasi-truths; the visible edges or remnants of a hidden or lost knowledge. A lost knowledge so incredibly powerful, so politically sensitive and spiritually incendiary, that it might allow us to better comprehend our place in a dangerous and magickal universe, and perhaps even offer us that fabled Emancipation.
Sunday, 8 November 2015
There is darkness, and then there is darkness. One is ancient and womblike, fecund, nourishing. But the other is something else entirely. It is not only the absence of light, but the absence of hope. There are various magicks living in the hearts of the human kith. Some of these magicks are stygian, predatory. But some are darker and stranger and older than any desecration. It’s these magicks the fallen ones fear – the archons, the demons, the vampires and their familiars. They know little of this greater, luminous darkness – this holy place of creation where love and joy and passion are forged, and lived. They know little of how this magick is made manifest, how these deeper spells are cast. They know nothing of the rituals of lucidity. They will look and see only their ruinous shadows, but if you look – with greater eyes – you will see holy, impossible things. And voices will speak to you, strange and benevolent, and you will know.
Wednesday, 14 October 2015
Are we living evermore in some vast corporate art installation? Here is a precis of what I see in my beloved Londinium. Militant profiteering from the nightmarishly unrepentant British Establishment. Vulture-Economics, soft genocides. A litany of elite-serving forecourts and landscaped non-spaces disguised (barely) as redevelopment and 'urban regeneration' - inert and soulless secular temples, venerations of absence - lining a sinister path to a glittering new feudalism. We are left drowning in the wake of emergent dead zones, pastel-coloured investment silos for unaccountable off-shore power-brokers. Ghost places that have asset-stripped the future.
Things are losing their texture, rough edges hewn to a porcelain sheen. A photoshop consciousness. We deny the necessary imperfections of our skin, deny our pores, our public discourses, the blind spots of our cognition. Our politics intransigent, our socialism laminated, lacquered in gloss of the eternal tragic present - no past, reforgotten, no future, unproposed and unfinanced by our self-appointed imagineers. London is being colonised. A theme park with only the merest connection to history, or hard-fought or hard-won human rights. Only as much history as can fit on a blue commemorative plaque; struggle and achievement as Tweet. Social progress (for the cash shufflers) as status update. Soundbites are far too unwieldy these days.
The corporatisation of human will, the vampirism of the counterculture. Gentrification as rapacious acquisition. Shunt the poor and the minorities from a vibrant former ghetto, made trendy through their counterculture contributions, through human will under duress. Use redevelopment as the guise; unaffordable housing, the commodification of street-cred. The unhoused and abandoned poor now forced to some greater ghetto. This ghetto's next generation, a little more broken and colonised than their forebears ( a little more inured to the practicalities and rituals of abuse), but still resisting in their way, still creating art and culture. Non-sanctioned soulmaking. The new ghetto eventually becomes vibrant, a hotspot, a scene. The vulture economists and developers notice and swoop in. The cycle of gentrification begins again. Lather, Rinse, Repeat. Brixton, Soho, Camden, Shoreditch, Whitechapel...
Reclaim our histories, renegotiate our thresholds of what we will allow, or else the new cities will be all be Damocles, razor-edged, unliveable and insouciant, hanging above our heads.
Thursday, 8 October 2015
Monday, 21 September 2015
In firelight, in the place just beneath the world, the young traveller makes marks in the dirt. He thinks of how the firmaments were formed, from stories. He knows that he is merely a poem wrapped in flesh, given cognizance for a brief time. The Magi had come here to this secret place long before him, and would return long after his death. The young traveller sits at the fire, gazing into the flames.
It was said they followed a star. Some called them kings, others called them sorcerers, prophets. Some even said that they were ghosts, daemons, strange spirits from other realms. But they spoke of a birth, that human flesh had been touched by divine fire – that a great light had been born upon the Earth. Others had foretold of this coming light. Something so powerful that it would connect rather than cripple, love rather than hate, liberate rather than enslave. Tall tales fit only for children, or the mad. But there were those who believed. In a light that loved them, bled for them, would die for them.
The young traveller smiles as he gazes into the fire.
The flames are fracturing time, stories splintering into a thousand mirrored shards of ancient knowledge – encoded glyphs, secret languages, dead histories rousing beneath the living.
The Magi are with him now, circling the fire. He feels their kinship. He senses their resolve. They want to show him something.
Saturday, 8 August 2015
How do we live, amongst the ruins of an ancient half-remembered holocaust? There’s been a slaughter here. I can smell the blood, and the opened flesh. Some of us remember how they came. Seething through the breach, on the backs of wild photons. A grinning hate-clutch, before we ever imagined hate. They came through a hole in the sun. They tore us from our star. They turned and marked the first brothers – the oldest twins, locked now in perpetual battle. This was the First War, and it hasn’t ended. It began before we gave names to time and space. Since then they’ve been crafting intricate cathedrals of absence and abnegation, ushering hordes into the fallow temples. These artisans. These dark and wicked things.
We are the survivors of hideous abuse, and we have made legends and fairytales of the fallen. It’s hard to look them in the eyes, to remember what was done. We make masks of their faces, or else shadows where their faces might have been. We tell ourselves we don’t believe in monsters. We doubt that a hunger could be so singular. And so we allow ourselves to half-forget. But some of us can’t forget. Some of us came here to remember, and to relight the holy places. Some of us came here to call them out by name. They never should have touched us there, at our Innermost. And when they were done, when we were hollowed, they slit the throat of Sol. I remember liquid light spilling across the black. I remember how they dipped their fingers and made sigils with the dying sun. We were not allowed to sleep. Instead we were forced to witness the engineering of a cold and false light, an altar, altered star.
But these wicked things that control the light, they are not boundless. They are not fearless. They fear the lovers, the friends, the families. They fear most the ones who can still see them. The ones who were not blinded in the first falling, or else miraculously regained their sight. They fear the Ragged. Some of us still shine with the memory of a greater destiny. Some of us are brighter than they realize, and darker than they think. Some of us live to hunt them, with one purpose. That in this hunt we may unshackle the human spirit, and restore the ancient magick to the Heart.
The seers say the fallen are stealing our names. But we don’t have to live violated and broken. We don’t have to dream in victimhood. There are better ways to remember, and to transform. Some of us are hungry for transformation. Some of us eat what you fear, what binds you, so that you may move unmolested. Some of us will move heaven and earth so that you may find your freedom.
Thursday, 23 July 2015
Temet Nosce – Know Thyself
Welcome back to Amid Night Suns, friends. Recently I’ve been thinking about the nature of thresholds and liminal spaces, indiscrete boundaries. As I’ve explained in previous posts my life is going through a period of change and transition, and so I suppose my thoughts naturally turn to notions of blurred boundaries. What kinds of things exist on the edges of our perception? What truly makes us human? I don’t have complete or definite answers to those questions. I don’t think even the wisest and most brilliant amongst us does. But we all have partial truths, intuitions and suspicions. In the end, that’s all any of us can hope for. But the sense of meaningfulness comes from our relationships with those partial truths and half-remembered visions, and our relationships with each other. I don’t believe for a second that we are living in a dead, mechanical universe – though I’m aware that there are those who honestly do believe that. For me, the universe is a dangerous and magical place; full of signs and portents, non-local connections masquerading as chaos. This has been my experience, and I’d be a fool to deny what I know. As the Gnostics understood, Knowledge is Power. But power can be raw, unrefined and destructive. To put it another way, how can we come to truly know ourselves without destroying ourselves? I think the answer is one of nuance and context, as with most important questions.
There are tools available in the pursuit of spiritual self-knowledge. Meditation, reflection, art and magick. It’s these tools that connect us to the wellspring, to the source, the spirit – even if that spiritual realm is wholly metaphorical. But the subject-object polarity seems to collapse at the deeper levels of reality. At these deeper levels, beyond the Outer Perimeter, the universe seems less like a mechanistic construct and more like a work of art or an oblique dream. Metaphor, symbolism, psychospiritual fictions – these are the tones in the palette with which we paint our lives. Breaching boundaries and testing limits is integral for human psychological health, but it is also truly dangerous and must be done with nuance and finesse. So, who am I, and who are you? Do we know each other…have we met before? Are we connected in some strange way? Perhaps we speak a shared language, a secret language that we learned in the dark, beyond the thresholds of what our oppressors can comprehend or imagine. And perhaps when we are standing in the presence of God – witnessing true divinity – we again speak our secret, native tongue.