Is NeoTheosophy A Thing Yet?

Is NeoTheosophy A Thing Yet?


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NeoTheos 1 Chaos magic has an inherent infinite loop.

Eschewing explanations based in particular worldviews, in favour of an emphasis on personal observation (‘results’ doesn’t quite cover it), one persistently lands in a worldview that emphasises the interoperability of personal observation.

This is neither a feature nor a bug. It is the quest for a unified weird theory that you can use to build a spaceship.

It came up earlier this week in a conversation with Jake Stratton-Kent, but the persistence of this High Victorian British Museum/Fauxballah has left us with a ‘shape’ for western magic that is just not fit for purpose… It struggles to ‘hang’ praxis and western spirits on.

Even the inherent categorisation of experience or spiritual progression is sort of bent into this unwieldy shape. “We’re in Malkuth now so you’re going to learn these things… and then it’s on to Yesod so here are some unbelievably twee and inexplicably popular Orphic moon hymns that rhyme like they were written by a lonely high school girl, sobbing in a toilet cubicle…. and then we’re onto blah blah blah.”

The Lodge System also fails to match how we experience tuition and magical skill. We should have something more coven-ish that organically builds around one or two talented people and their connection to a specific spirit/current/god…. even if that particular being is up in Chesed or whatever.

NeoTheos 2

Now, I don’t play well with others and don’t especially care too. So the practical limitations of the existing occult milieu don’t bother me all that much.

But I do have a borderline-OCD need to fit everything into a unified, interoperable map… the idea is not to change the data points of the western esoteric tradition, but have them cohere in an updated fashion… one that includes all available evidence, rather than just the bits you like or fit into your lodge scheme.

So here are some of the points I made in favour of ‘NeoTheosophy’ in a long, unbidden, meandering email to Jake. Call it adding a little narrative to magic’s org chart.

My needs for a coherent, interoperable system

  • It must match the things we now know from consciousness research… ie it probably needs an underpinning consciousness model. Which ‘white people’s Hinduism’ certainly provides. These would include psi effects, telepathy, quantum observation, etc.
  • It must match what we now know about history… specifically that the Pre-Vedic tradition is our best example of what a hypothetical Ur Cult may have looked like. (But also, the story of repeated cataclysms and such now looks to be startlingly accurate.) Which is definitely an area of ongoing personal interest.
  • I would include the very good evidence for vastly ancient artificial structures on the moon, Mars, Phobos, etc in this… because, as far as I’m concerned, that’s all there in the Mahabharata.
  • Ganesha. Because SO awesome.
  • Grant Fucking Morrison.
NeoTheo 3

And finally, there is something terribly pleasing about resurrecting high imperial tech in an age of acute imperial decline (and the rise to prominence of Southern Asia).

Because we all know that Theosophy had quite the case of ‘very bad company‘… sharing lopsided racial views with the Nazis -and the rest of Europe, to be fair- about the origin of certain cultures, races and ideas… and Leadbetter never met a little boy he didn’t like… and it ultimately suffered the same fate as most white, Middle Class alternative spiritual groups: scandals, then a slide into irrelevance. (Though I note it has existed continuously since its inception. Mentioning no names.)

Like the halcyon days of empire, our world has never been faster moving or more unequal. The sheer volume of everythingness washes old ways of seeing the world off Mount Meru and out into the ocean. Whereas the first Theosophists had to struggle with the existence of electricity and whether or not it was a metaphor for some kind of spiritual energy, we’re in a world of invisible death rays and total surveillance. How are the plans for your latest urban harvest festival coming along?

NeoTheo 4

Besides. Look what it offers.

What NeoTheosophy offers

  • It provides an interoperable explanatory mechanism for sorcery. (Siddhis and David Gordon White’s work on the links between tantra and alchemy, etc.)
  • It provides a consistent framework for energy and consciousness manipulation (chakras and meditation) that doesn’t rely on goy misinterpretations of Hebrew or bashing certain concepts into a shape you like.
  • It provides a thin veneer of civilisation (which I might argue is a necessary interface for those of us living in it) that makes it easier to access its obvious neolithic shamanic underpinnings: Shiva/Lord Of The Animals/Death/Entheogens/etc.
  • It provides a more inclusive bestiary for demons and elves and spirits and gods, right up to UFO phenomena. (Obviously important to me.)
  • It offers a post-death framework that isn’t binary: ie not either/or reincarnation.
  • It provides different levels of sainthood and is built around the spontaneous eruption of groups around charismatic or talented leaders. Each group can work with whatever Masters, beings and gods it has an affinity with.
  • It finally de-yahweh’s the antiquarian fauxbbalah shape of spiritual progression inherent in western magic, where the ultimate goal appears to be merging with the angry cloud man you rejected in the first place.
  • The notion of maya or material illusion provides a way to incorporate a gnostic view of the universe in such a way that it de-contextualises Gnosticism’s Roman imperial occupied milieu. As does the Kali Yuga, of course.
  • Does not require silly aprons.

NeoTheo5If I wasn’t already fully booked up, I’d be half tempted to declare a Winter Book Club for those wanting to read the Mahabharata and Isis Unveiled. But I am.

Still… Even just as a mental exercise… NeoTheosophy… food for thought.

 

24 Comments

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  1. 1
    Ian

    We’s hates the clever hobbits, we do.

    Dude, fuck. I spend a few day reading and rereading around the gunas, reminding myself about how much they fit in my head alongside the West African ache talk, looping gently back to my little ooh-basic-color patterns structuring our thoughts (seriously, white, red, black are core human brain-magic tools), reminding myself how beautifully woolly the Indic spiritual world is compared to our sad backwater ass european one, and then bam, here you are racing along talking about neotheosophy (which reminds me of all the amazing color theory shit the theosophists were doing….ahhh!).

    You are worse than an amish kid on rumspringa–fast, fast, fast. You and your Hod rod chaos magician brain and your sattva fuels. Some of us Binah folk actually have to chew and digest our tammas, you know.

    Also, Moaning Myrtle is totally Yesodic, so there.
    Ian´s last blog post ..Why Variety Matters

  2. 3
    JP

    Mahabarata yes, but Isis Unveiled? *Shudder.* I’ve slogged through both I.U. and The Secret Doctrine, and I’ve come to the conclusion that reading Blavatsky on purpose is like sitting under an oak tree and looking for patterns in the bark, hoping you’ll be able to figure out why it isn’t producing any apples. You may as well curl up with a copy of your city’s municipal codes– you’d find just as much useful information, and it would likely be just as accurate.

    That said, I’m with you on the need for an interoperable map, but I’ve always been stuck between participating in a cool and interesting territory that already exists (e.g. the classical Gnostics) and developing something entirely “neo” that doesn’t come with all of the a-trope-phy of another cultural mode. Right now, I’m finding more inspiration in “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius” and the Codex Seraphinianus than I’ve ever found in the overwrought hand-shakers clubs of Nineteenth Century Occultism (in any of its manifestations).
    JP´s last blog post ..The Black Squirrel’s Conjure

  3. 4
    Mel

    “so here are some unbelievably twee and inexplicably popular Orphic moon hymns that rhyme like they were written by a lonely high school girl, sobbing in a toilet cubicle…”
    I almost spit out my coffee when I read that- so funny and so true!
    Also this:
    “It finally de-yahweh’s the antiquarian fauxbbalah shape of spiritual progression inherent in western magic, where the ultimate goal appears to be merging with the angry cloud man you rejected in the first place.”
    Yes, could we do that, please. This is something I have never understood and always rejected from a gut-level. I am sure it is fine for many, but certainly not for me.
    I do hope you will continue to explore and expand on this, if you so wish. I love having my mind expanded such a profound and entertaining way.
    Thanks!

  4. 5
    khephret

    I’ve always felt that at least from a Chaos standpoint, all roads lead right back to AMOOKOS. You know the story of Mahendranath, right?

    It’s funny how many interesting English chaos mages have ended up dusting off the charnel ground and setting up their dhuni……

    Cheers!

  5. 6
    Sunfell

    De-yahwed and de-fauxballaed? Sign me up. I’ve always had trouble trying to map today’s reality to yesterday’s map. And while I fear, that in spite of my best intentions, I’ll end up a saint/avatar-kernel, a more organic system of such recognition is definitely needed.

  6. 7
    Hierax

    @JP: It is arguable that, considering the way Blavatisky’s mythology seeped into Western Culture through sci-fi, fantasy and horror (as seen in a very interesting chapter in John Michael Greer’s Atlantis), her work IS the real “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius” of our time. :-/

  7. 8
    Hierax

    @Gordon: Yes, it is a thing already. As I said above about the seeping of Blavatsky’s ideas on Western pop culture, you could argue that, for instance, the Avatar animated series is an entry drug to NeoTheosophy.

  8. 9
    JP

    @Hierax: Ha! Yog Sothoth save us if we ever come across an unrelated dictionary article describing the Stanzas of Dzyan in a dusty old copy of the Britannica. Pretty soon, we’ll all be carrying cards identifying which “root race” we come from and creating enormous “astral cathedrals” in our minds after tea a la Leadbeater. :) I think I’d prefer a Philip K. Dickian dystopia, myself….
    JP´s last blog post ..The Black Squirrel’s Conjure

  9. 10
    Hierax

    @JP: Imagine John Carter of Mars (full of weird, if subtle references to the root races and such) written by the OTHER Burroughs.

  10. 11
    Aidan Wachter

    Gordon. I in good conscience can’t condone this, Blavatsky is up there with Ayn Rand on my ‘you-have got-to-be-kidding-me’ meter, deep in the red where the gauges starts bleeding and oozing pus.

    But the Vedic side I can pretty much see. I always refer anyone reading Spare to Danelieu, as I think Spare is essentially re-telling some Hindu cosmology in a way that made sense to his beautifully fucked up mind. It opened up so much for me, did Hindu Polytheism. I also sort of see your desire for the unified weird theory, though I am much more of a Ray Sherwin/Jan Fries/Hakim Bey kind of chaoist- Carroll is far to sciency for my hazy and globular, acid rocker mind. Carroll just does not rock me anymore.

    For me the most elegant model is so damn simple: there’s an unknowable mechanism that works through incomprehensible means, whose Laws you must abide by but they ain’t what they seem. There’s Underworlds and Overworlds and Spirit Realms and Demonic Intrusions, and if you pay attention, pay the freight, and actually walk your walk with some integrity, with eyes and ears open to the Void and the Vista…shit just works better. Like something beautiful.

    The Sobbing Orphic Hymn Girl deserves her own 7 day candle, however.
    Aidan Wachter´s last blog post ..Seven Pointed Star

  11. 12
    Gordon

    @Aidan It’s not a promotion of Blavatsky. The ‘Neo’ is key. And if your conscience is troubled by her, then you’ll want to steer clear of Hakim Bey, whom you also mentioned, for the same reason. (Blavatsky didn’t bang little boys.)

    I’d never defend her as accurate, but, like it or not, we are all her great-grandchildren. Least that’s how I see it.

    @Hierax Good point re Blavatsky/John Carter. That’s officially the theme movie for NeoTheosophy.:)

  12. 14
    Aidan Wachter

    Gordon- I can’t claim any knowledge of Bey as a person, but you seem solid in your research so I will take your word for that part. I was given some of his work in the mid ’80s and it has always stuck. Blavatsky, like Rand I just honestly can’t read…something about both of them makes my mind rebel. Just can’t keep it down.

    What I guess at heart I mean to say is that I am too damn animistic at my core to see things from the more rational view. I tried, I really did, but I just couldn’t go there and stay. Had to move back home to the spiders and snakes being spiders and snakes unless they were being spirits, home where the Elves will steal your shit when you aren’t looking. I’m probably being completely incoherent- running on too much dreaming during too little sleep! Love your writing, though.

    Thanks for the kind words on my work!
    Aidan Wachter´s last blog post ..Seven Pointed Star

  13. 15
    Aidan Wachter

    Well. Went rooting around the web a bit, and I’d love it if you would allow me to post this here, Gordon.

    I really had no idea about Hakim Bey being a pedophile. I have quoted him extensively in several places that are still around on the web, and suggested TAZ in my Basic Booklist when writing on Chaos Magick as Fireclown in the 90′s. I’d like this to be floating around somewhere so that people do not have the wrong impression. He was an influence on me and my writing style from early on, but I am not down with pedophilia regardless of the rationalization or history behind it. Thanks for the comment that let me know about this.
    Aidan Wachter´s last blog post ..Seven Pointed Star

  14. 17
    Dylan Goodluck

    @Heirax; Agreed. Avatar: The Last Airbender is a stunningly important text for the uninitiated. The fact that they could spend twenty plus minutes on describing chakras to kids, gives me an immense hope for the next generation (and, to my own, to a smaller degree). Not to mention it’s power as a gateway to Asian cultures and martial arts.
    Otherwise, great post Gordon. I don’t know where you find half the artwork you post, but it’s aesthetic is always welcome and empowering when I relate them to my own workings.

  15. 18
    Rose

    “Now, I don’t play well with others…”

    Oh, that is such a lie. :P

    I must get back to cutting holes into their reality now.

    Luv,

    ‘Runs With Sissors’
    Rose´s last blog post ..Essence

  16. 20
    runeworker

    and here I am contemplating weltanschuung and paradigm and how it can all flow together into one.

    That and your pictures remind me of covers to D&D novels.

  17. 21
    HP

    The Tree of Life provides an idea of order and nobility that I appreciate a lot. It’s something you can come back to when you’re a little lost in the infinite loops of chaos, especially in the darker ones. It has even an adorable princess, an idealistic prince, a majestic queen and a potent king. I like it as much as I ignore the rest of the Golden Dawn stuff. And yes, the upper class of occult is in desperate need for better models ;-)

  18. 22
    FraterKKT

    “reading Blavatsky on purpose is like sitting under an oak tree and looking for patterns in the bark, hoping you’ll be able to figure out why it isn’t producing any apples.”
    I wish I could use words like that.

  19. 23
    Aidan Wachter

    Ok, fourth comment!

    I think I largely agree, actually. Had to go dig past my initial knee jerk reaction to mention of HPB, which I admit was formulated in my early teens, and think more about the meat of what you are saying. Actually got me reading the Bhagvad-Gita.

    Thanks for sharing your brain.
    Aidan Wachter´s last blog post ..Hekate’s Key

  20. 24
    Jason

    I realize I’m coming to this post fairly late, but I’m having some interesting synchronicities in reading this. I’m reading this in the bookstore of the Theosophical Society, where I work. And am doing a side project involving shelving hundreds of copies of Isis Unveiled in the TS warehouse.

    I’ve been getting a lot of synchronicities since I started doing shoaling about a month ago. Any one else experienced this?

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