Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Devil May Care



“Knowledge  forbidden?  Suspicious,  reasonless. Why should their Lord envy them that? Can it be a sin to know? Can it be death?” 

“Into this wild Abyss/ The womb of Nature, and perhaps her grave--/ Of neither sea, nor shore, nor air, nor fire,/ But all these in their pregnant causes mixed/ Confusedly, and which thus must ever fight,/ Unless the Almighty Maker them ordain/ His dark materials to create more worlds,--/ Into this wild Abyss the wary Fiend/ Stood on the brink of Hell and looked a while,/ Pondering his voyage; for no narrow frith/ He had to cross. ” 

“I sung of Chaos and Eternal Night,
Taught by the heav'nly Muse to venture down
The dark descent, and up to reascend...” 
                                                                             --John Milton, Paradise Lost
                                                                         




Happy Halloween, my friends.  I would like to sincerely thank you for taking the time to read this post, since I’m aware of how precious our time is these days.  Anyone who is a regular reader of Amid Night Suns will be well aware that this blog is possessed of a certain Gothic imagination – in the best possible sense, I would hope.  All Hallows' Eve is only a few days away.  Or Samhain, as it was known to the Gaels.  Those researchers who suggest that the Gaelic Samhain and the Christian All Hallows' Eve arose independently and share no inter-resonance are mistaken, in my opinion.  Even today, in its highly commercialized form, the night of October 31st is still clearly a harvest ritual – a liminal time of transgression that ushered the darker half of the year and the impermanence of thresholds between worlds; not simply between the realms of the living and the dead, but also between the realm of the Mortals and the hidden realms of the Others. 

There is a vast canon of magical lore that is worldwide and thousands of years older than the patriarchal Christian God. There is much evidence to suggest that Christian imagery and concepts have their genesis in far older forms of occult mythology. But even so, does this make Christian mythology any less ‘real’?  Not at all.  Our world is still filled with demons and archangels and a strange, secretive celestial politics. We needn’t immediately delve into Gnostic interpretations for our evidence; we only have to open our bibles and read canonical Christian scripture to see that Heaven is a strange, dark place.

And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.  And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

                    -- Revelation 12:7-9

How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!  For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms; That made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners? 
                                      -- Isaiah 14: 12-17





DEEP DARK HEAVEN   

Despite the War in Heaven and the Fall of Man, the truly disturbing thing about biblical scripture is that it is filled with countless references to acts of rape, murder and enslavement, most of which seem to be sanctioned by God himself.  Here are just two examples, among many. 

When thou comest nigh unto a city to fight against it, then proclaim peace unto it.  And it shall be, if it make thee answer of peace, and open unto thee, then it shall be, that all the people that is found therein shall be tributaries unto thee, and they shall serve thee. And if it will make no peace with thee, but will make war against thee, then thou shalt besiege it: And when the Lord thy God hath delivered it into thine hands, thou shalt smite every male thereof with the edge of the sword: But the women, and the little ones, and the cattle, and all that is in the city, even all the spoil thereof, shalt thou take unto thyself; and thou shalt eat the spoil of thine enemies, which the Lord thy God hath given thee.
                
             -- Deuteronomy 20:10-14

Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.

             -- Zechariah 14:1-2

Because of examples like these, that say just as much about the psyches of the men who wrote the words as it does about their supposedly ‘divine’ inspiration, I personally find myself looking further afield for context and detail and intimations of the larger picture.  I believe that the Space-Time Continuum, as we call it, has incredibly strange and mysterious non-local quantum properties.  From my post entitled Secrets of the Blind God:

It is my belief that everything in the universe is connected by gossamer filaments of information and knowledge, interlinked threads of sentient meaning.  Furthermore it is my belief that magick is the manipulation of those threads by an imagining sentience.  Is there a limit to sentience, to consciousness?  How many spirits, souls or personalities dwell in the visible and invisible universes?  Is the phenomenon of sentient consciousness truly infinite, as the mystics, shamans and visionaries have claimed?  If so, then perhaps this is our intimation of a powerful and holy secret.  That stories live and imagine just as we do, that they are somehow self-aware.  Is it possible that Gnosticism is at some strange and secret level concerned with the alchemical properties of Light?  In modern times the fields of theoretical mathematics and Quantum Physics seem to hint at the stunning and bizarre properties of such Light.  It is simultaneously a wave and a particle and seems to be capable of non-local communication, beyond the remit of what we think of as the Space-Time Continuum.  


I believe that art and mythology are indivisible from the minds that create it, and yet – art and myth seem to have a life all their own beyond the space circumscribed by its originators.  So, what does this mean then?  I think it means that stories and legends are alive and real in ways that we cannot fully comprehend.  As an artist and researcher fascinated by Gnosticism, mythology, conspiracies and the literature of Christian dissent I have always been drawn to the ideas explored in John Milton’s Paradise Lost; that of a seemingly heretical battle against the ‘Christian’ God – in the hope of toppling a tyrannical kingdom and building a democratic republic in its place. 


This idea seems to be the essence of so many things in our modern world, though ill-understood by most.  Indeed, the idea of a democratic republic in lieu of a corrupt dictator or aristocracy seems to be at the heart of America’s own mythology.  Even here in Britain, despite still having a reigning monarch we still claim to love the idea of a “government of the people, by the people and for the people”, in the words of Abraham Lincoln.  In my opinion anyone who truly appreciates freedom, and moreover, understands what it implies, cannot help but resonate with such ‘heretical’ ideas to some degree, whether they admit it or not.  Just who or what is really ruling our heavens?  Do we have the courage to even dare ask this question?




THIS OLD SERPENT

It is my personal belief that the potential for both sides of any dichotomy exist within each of us individually, and that we choose which aspect of the polarity we manifest. Many of us are undoubtedly furious with religion for its monstrous societal control whilst still being attracted to its stories that have rightly or wrongly helped to shape our inner worlds.


As someone who has always been drawn to the literature of Christian dissent, I have often found myself attracted to the theological idea that humanity’s fall from grace was a fortunate one; a catalyst of consciousness rather than sin. For me, the idea of Eve eating the apple from the Tree of Knowledge has always been thrilling and courageous – a good thing for humanity in the sense that we must lose our innocence in order to cultivate wisdom through experience. We seem to live in a world in which we best understand our experience through a dialectic of oppositions; innocence/experience, heaven/hell.  But for me such dialectics imply that eventually we must pass through the fallen or darker realms in order to be redeemed.  We must face the possible shadow-self that may exist in an underworld of denied experience. We must face the shadow, or death, or exile from the garden, in order to know who we really are. It seems to me that this is incredibly important in achieving a sense of internal synthesis and self-governance. As the psychologist James Hillman comments in his book The Dream and the Underworld:

If we do speak in opposites, there is only one absolute material opponent to any position in life, and that is its death. If we deliteralize that statement we are saying that death is the way through the opposites, that is, it is the self-regulation of any position by psyche, by non-literal,  metaphorical perception.



When I was a child I sensed that the Eden story was somehow a powerful and disturbing idea, and while not fully understanding its symbolism, I felt that eating the forbidden fruit was the only logical thing for Eve to do. To my young mind it seemed Adam and Eve were prisoners in the garden; that they were owned by a god (whatever a god was) who thought of them as slaves, or worse, as pets. I was secretly glad they ate the apple. This interpretation of the Eden myth is entirely my own, based on a vague childlike intuition that I was not being told the unvarnished truth. I simply did not believe in the existence of the cold, joyless God that seemed implied by the story.  B
ecause a slave who feels joy will soon take pleasure in questioning such an authority, will not fear death or the whip, and will eventually rise up and take back his or her sovereignty.




THE EXORCISM OF US

Questioning authority is usually far more terrifying than we're willing to readily admit.  Not simply because it is frightening to question tradition, custom or those with power, but because we are aware on some level just how familiar we are with  servitude.  We are comfortable with it because we have been engaging in variations on that general theme for most of recorded human history.  It's easy to tell ourselves that enslavement of varying kinds are simply the prices paid for life in our world.  Part of us is aware that we might feel strangely bereft without the presence of a governing patriarch, at least for a brief time, regardless of how monstrous or controlling he was.  It's things like this that stay our hand when we flirt with the idea of attempting to take back our sovereignty on a spiritual and psychological level.  Most people claim to enjoy change, but are afraid of it when it rears its head.  Things that truly question or threaten the status quo tend to get vilified as satanic, heretical and blasphemous.



Our modern society is deeply schizoid.  But it is more than that.  In my opinion we are collectively suffering from some terrible malady that could be likened to demonic possession.  We are clearly exalted beings in some way, capable of art and magick and wisdom and compassion - the highest beauty.  And yet we are also fallen creatures capable of unholy depths of depravity, filth and spiritual sickness.  I would suggest that this schizoid Jekyll & Hyde psychology is perhaps the result of the human race possessing two minds, two forms of consciousness.  The first is our true exalted nature; our creative, divine spark.  The second is a nature that was given to us somehow; placed within us and retrofitted to appear native to the species -- a predator psychology.  But not the mindset of any earthly predator.  I'm talking about a consciousness so dark and labyrinthine that it seems, for all intents and purposes, alien.  Or, to put a finer point on it, the parasite mind of the Archon.  We needn't take this concept literally though.  I'm simply using it to elucidate the complexities of our human experience.  

Symbolically at least, demonic possession is a useful analogy.  But we must take this analogy further.  Possession has and is being used by religious fundamentalists as an excuse for all kinds of cruelty and abuse, most of it visited upon innocent children.  I'm taking about a far more subtle form of possession -- the possession by fundamentalism itself, of all kinds.  To label a particular group or individual as satanic or demonic or unholy is a tried and tested way to wage war in our world.  The Abrahamic religions do it all the time -- fundamentalist Christians and Jews and Muslims all hating each other, despite their beliefs all being variations on the same basic theme; that of monarchical monotheism.  And a particularly virulent, abrasive kind at that.  Liars come in many forms, and not all of them are fork-tongued and serpentine.  In fact, most of them come dressed in the raiments of our religious, scientific and political priesthoods.  Like all good colonists, they have given us their minds.  We must take back our psychological and spiritual sovereignty at all costs, or they will call us demons whilst they themselves defile every single sacred thing.  We must become exorcists ourselves, not of others but of our own imaginations.  What is at stake is the very fate of Heaven and Earth.