In my baby wizard days, I was particularly enamored of Crowley’s presentation of The Trance Of Sorrow.
To experience ‘sorrow’ is an error because it implies there is something wrong with the universe.. and how could that possibly be?
To my tiny, idiot mind, here was the ‘get out’ clause for activism or helping anyone but yourself.
Children living in Mumbai slums? Trance of sorrow. Lack of housing assistance for Australian Aborigines? Trance of sorrow.
But see… I grew up in a financially and emotionally stable, loving, white family in a house overlooking three beautiful Australian beaches, in a safe (albeit boring), prosperous town. Of course, sorow looked like an illusion in such circumstances.
The only thing that was sorrowful about my fifteen years of existence was how little I knew about sorrow. That’s changed.
The ongoing archonology series has attracted four or five emails and comments around these internets with two broad messages: “this is awesome” but “it makes me want to sit in the corner of a dark room, silently drinking great quantities of cheap bourbon, waiting for my inevitable and utterly meaningless expiration.”
To the first point, may I publicly say athangewe! To the second point… well… I did kinda warn everyone. Literally. The series opened with a one thousand word warning that you’d get slimed so here’s an almost-extinct Cathar prayer to wash yourself down with at the end. (It’s also why I have resisted doing the series for so long, to be honest.)
The other message seems to be “what can I do about it?” My immediate response is disabuse yourself of the notion that you are in any way an actor in what’s unfolding. Now is a suboptimal time for macro probability manipulation… that will indeed come. But for now, it would be like holding your breath as the plane crashes.
So that’s some little comfort in its own way. Then there’s:
I get that gnostic cosmologies are pretty unpopular toward the pagan end of the spectrum because it supposedly considers the physical world evil and the stapler on my desk has a spirit or some shit. And as such, it has to be discounted or wrong or ill-fitting.
But there is a lot of value here if you think of gnostic perspectives as tech rather than worldviews… in the same way chakras aren’t a worldview but have a higher concentration in worldviews that have been influenced by Hinduism. (The analogy is apt as there is no such thing as ‘gnosticism’ as a cohesive set of beliefs anyway.)
If you think a gnostic perspective somehow literally life denying then you need to get yourself down to the Languedoc and see how the descendants of the Cathars still live. Warmth, family, amazing wine, seasonal hyperlocal food, an enlightened pace of life. Europe can (and will) come crashing down around them again and they’ll still be feeding olives from their own trees to their stupidly beautiful, happy children. How are you living? How did that soda you drank in the car taste? Who is the one denying ‘real’ life here?
A big part of my day job is to communicate complex ideas as simply as possible. The people I speak to are by no means unintelligent, it’s just that the broader context is entirely irrelevant for the purposes of grasping an idea so that one might take action. Most digital media nerds struggle with that kind of discernment.
Having briefly touched on this last week, I have a suspicion that many of the world’s great spiritual teachers did the same thing. It’s only human to want to know that, yes, there are gods and angels and Sandalphon is partial to hummus. The Buddha flat out said to meditate through divine visions, Jesus’s message can be cooked down to “do as I do, which is not be a dick”.
Behind ‘not being a dick’ is a clearly enlightened understanding of what we might call karma or the myriad ways that one little act of darkness echoes across creation. (“Our lives are not our own. We are bound to others. And by each crime and every kindess we birth our future.”) Jesus didn’t go into detail about how the continuous manifestation of universal consciousness generates atemporal, non-local ripples and every little hurt or act of generosity reorganises it. (Or however this place actually works.)
He said don’t be a dick. It’s a shortcut, a hack. Because, as Cat says, this is a rescue mission.
Enlightenment on the London Underground
A gnostic perspective is another hack. It is a means of orienting yourself to better discern what is important and what is not. The esoteric interpretation of which god built which realm is a deliberately skewed version of largely hermetically cosmology. (Their shared origin is the giveaway.) It is an hermetic accelerant, it is an inaccurate map that is more helpful in completing your journey than an accurate one.
Like London’s tube map. It is not an accurate depiction of the topography of the capital but it has been getting visitors and citizens around much more effectively than a ‘proper’ map for almost a century.
Don’t dismiss -in this case- chaognosticism just because it doesn’t map the fact you think you can talk to rocks.
‘Divided for the chance of union’
To some extent I was saving this next part for the conclusion of the archonology series, but it has been made clear to me that a few people might need a breather on the way there… some way of orienting the very bad news in a constructive map of reality. (We haven’t even gotten to the assassinations yet!) So here it is.
It’s not unreasonable to suggest that the dominant magical worldview is one in which the universe exists in its entirely to experience and understand itself… it’s an intentional shamanic universe, it’s the Sea Org of animism.
Of course, the notion that the universe exists so that you may experience it -and vice versa- is much easier to grasp when you’re lying on a tropical beach with a handsome native bringing you cocktails that you are charging to your room. However, if it’s true there, it’s also true when you’re stuck, rammed into a stranger’s armpit at 7:15am in a tunnel blasted through a plague pit because there has been a signal failure on the Victoria Line.
And this is the secret to chaognosticism. The universe is experiencing archons just as it is experiencing you but it is also experiencing you resisting them. And all of it is continuously emanating from that First Thing. Archons may be shit but holy shit if they aren’t holy shit. The entire artifice is That One Thing which is sacred.
What I didn’t get as an idiot, fascist child was that seeing through The Trance of Sorrow is not an excuse for inaction, it is an instruction to act without despair.
The photos on this post were pulled from my phone, just from this year. Which is some wonderful ‘experiencing’. So that’s my answer.
There are certainly snakes on this game board… but there are also ladders.