This is something I wish I had nailed down into a pithy post title prior to my interview with the amazing Miguel on Aeon Byte Gnostic Radio.
Conveniently, in between the recording and publication of the podcast, I attended the Psychotherapy, Art and the Occult conference here in London. Conveniently because there were some observations of Freud by a couple of luminary American psychological types that work well here.
And I guess the main ones are as follows:
- A psychotic episode was described as “a time when the universe has lost its symbolic richness. It is dead.” This observation was in the context of an occult tendency to over-romanticise ‘madness’… yes, yes, Maenads blah blah blah… but very often it is awful. The observation also aligns with my own experience of depression. In fact this is a perfect, one-sentence definition of it.
- Expanding Freud’s concept of the family to a nation-state level, even a supra-nation state level… when trauma is inflicted upon you or experienced in a family situation, what is awful is rejected or dissociated. People who grow up in traumatic environments tend to dissociate which makes the continuance of the trauma easier to perpetrate. It also makes ‘Mr Global’s’ job a lot easier and goes some way to possibly explaining the resistance to gnosticism in the wider occult, archonological world.
And while we’re on Mr Global and archonology, here’s a recent interview with the one and only Catherine Fitts:
So it seems to me the elevation of gnosticism within a wider occult milieu and the elevation of animism to philosophy’s Big Table are both components of the same spectrum of phenomenological observation.
Animism was in fact a regular refrain at the conference and one of the well-made points was that it is useful in minimising neuroticism. The great difference between Renaissance Neoplatonism and animism is that Man does not stand in the middle of this energetic onion, having all the forces of the universe beaming down into us, with the rest of Creation relegated to supporting cast status or background greenery. (This is incidentally what Bruno railed against and why he thought they were all idiots. An infinite universe, a cosmos lit with countless little lamps extending into infinity is directly opposed to the magical onion worldview of Neoplatonic/planetary spheres. He was a rock star space shaman.)
The great lesson of animism from a magical perspective can be found -combining Aeon Byte with Rune Soup in the form of Dr Kripal- where Jeff says “they’re not embedded in our world. We’re embedded in their world.”
From The Super Natural:
Would we, if we could, educate and sophisticate pigs, geese, cattle? Would it be wise to establish diplomatic relation with the hen that now functions, satisfied with mere sense of achievement by way of compensation? I think we’re property. Or again: “I should say that we’re now under cultivation; that we’re conscious of it, but have the impertinence to attribute it all to our own nobler and higher instincts,” which is to say: to our religious instincts and beliefs. This dark thought of a kind of galactic seeding, alien husbandry, or earth-farm secretly working below (or above) our mythologies and religions would have a long and rich history in the later science fiction, of course, up to and including Ridley Scott’s recent film Prometheus (2012). But it is not just a sci-fi notion. None other than the Harvard psychologist and philosopher William James had advanced a more domestic, less sci-fi version in a related context, that of the spirit world suggested by his own extensive psychical research with mediums. More specifically, James wondered if our relationship to the otherworld of the spirits and the dead was not like that our pets have in relationship to our world. He wrote the following stunning lines in A Pluralistic Universe: In spite of rationalism’s disdain for the particular, the personal, and the unwholesome [the modern debunker’s anecdotal], the drift of all the evidence we have seems to me to sweep us very strongly towards the belief in some form of superhuman life with which we may, unknown to ourselves, be co-conscious. We may be in the universe as dogs and cats are in our libraries, seeing the books and hearing the conversation, but having no inkling of the meaning of it all.
Gnosticism, then, is a very useful and inspiring map of our localised conditions in a wider animistic universe. It is a series of cat doors in and out of the library.
But the library may not have been built for the cats.