Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Church of the Ragged


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.    
 

 
TEMPLES OF DARK LIGHT

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

That Old Black Magick



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.