You know how folks over in the evolution of humanity department are starting to talk about the family bush of homo sapiens because the number of relatives keeps growing and because there is good evidence for interbreeding between the species? There is something similar going on in the world of occultism, except that the action isn’t over yet for the world of occultism. At this strange point in history, what were once isolate populations, each with their own philosophical ecology and genome (genome and ecology used analogically here), have come crashing into each other ever more intensely.
I get that we want to avoid that, that we want to withdraw away from the hurly burly of history where what we are, intellectually and spiritually, sometimes physically and genetically, will get chewed up and reconstituted in ways we don’t fully control. But withdrawal is always partial and you never know when a swell of history will come rushing through your hermitage and chew you up regardless.
The effort to hold onto ‘our traditions’ in the face of this historical moment is rarely more than hopeless idealism. The very premises upon which a ‘tradition’ is stated are under constant stress and forced to change just to appear stable in the face of external pressure. The most basic premise of all, the organization of individuals into a community, has been undermined by a lack of economic and ecological stability.
I take the ‘rarely more than’ part of the last paragraph seriously. I don’t think it is hopeless to give your all to holding together a vibrant living tradition. There is the chance that it may yet find new purchase in a stable community after the worst tremors are over. That this traditions might also be obliterated does not undermine the value in supporting its endurance. If you seek to do this, turn to those with whom you share this intimate tradition and cling tightly to them as best you can. That will be your hope.
Your hope will not be preventing others from examining or adopting piecemeal ideas and practices from your tradition. The more you struggle with those outside your tradition, the more you will be pulled from the tight orbit of your own tradition, the less energy you will have to give support to its endurance.
I encourage you to learn to see those who are miming your tradition for what they are, refugees in the storms of history. Give them spiritual succor according to your ability if you are able because it is decent and humane, but from there much lies beyond your control. Even the converts from among these will be a danger with their alien understanding of what community means and how it holds together. That same alien understanding, properly integrated, may provide the community the tools to adjust and adapt to the storm without obliteration, but it might also be the means of your tradition’s obliteration.
For the rest of us, let us find ourselves in the wind and work accordingly. If we wish to turn our eyes to the future of our esoteric work, we must do so with the awareness that this future is yet to be. There is no past tradition to which we can return and it is unlikely that we will be able to craft a tradition between ourselves out of the storm. What we will be able to produce are the fragments around which future traditions, in the plural, might be able to constellate and constitute themselves.
There are surely many ways to go about this, but my commitments lie with working in the present according to our sense of affinity for each other and the spiritual forces manifesting here. Intellectual and dogmatic agreement are not my aim. Rather than finding those with whom I share a set of occult principles, I hope to find those with whom I share a sense of common spiritual entanglements. What the future will be, will be the concrete manifestation of that sort of thing, carried out by many, many more than just myself.
Those entanglements are precious precisely because they provide us with the tools to work through the concrete forms that define us and to extract from them the insight and energy we need to realize a deeper relationship to the ground of our being in the world, a deeper relationship to the divine.
Part of me suspects that this is all that spiritual work ever will be, all it ever was, and all it was ever meant to be; that even the most profound and deep traditions are just particularly effective entanglements that have their end in being undone. The effort to realize a bit of the future is nothing less than releasing the entanglements of the past in the present. This is why spiritualism remains central. Spiritualism is, at its core, this working through the entanglements of the past in the present, a loosening of them that permits the spiritual forces bound up within them to be released.
Spiritualism also silts up easily, producing rigid imaginary hierarchies carved out of those same entanglements. This is what makes the work of gnosis essential. Gnosis joins us to a solar force that burns off the dross and extracts from it rich and generative patterns, the sorts of patterns that diagrams like the tree of life are supposed to help us grasp. The solar work isn’t these patterns, though. We find the solar work in all the potent vibrancies that spiritualize the world around them without determining them. The solar work includes things like the mantras, sacred rhythms, meditative and prayerful practices that guide us toward pure forms of awareness and affect.
We have to work hard to keep the two movements distinct but we must not separate them. If the spiritualist work colonizes the gnostic, we start piling up associations and worshiping idols rather than releasing the dead and deepening our connection to the divine. The gnostic work is also capable of burning up the spiritualist, dissolving the temporary forms that are necessary in order to realize and ameliorate the entanglements. It dissolves the ties that allow us to undergo spiritual transformations and to help others undergo them. Divorced from each other, the two becomes empty inspiration and mechanical repetition.
The patterning force comes from elsewhere, descends down upon the lunar world and in the process of purification we can uncover and invigorate them. Those forms originate under the influence of what is often called Saturnian. The patterning force lies beyond our control and is that to which we adjust ourselves, that resistance in which we find ourselves.
We seem to be in the midst of a time when new forms are manifesting from the Saturnian. I have faith that we can expedite their operation by receiving them into the purified lunar chambers of our work. It is these fragments that I believe will best serve as the grounding for a future beyond us, it is these fragments that we will push to sea from our ruins. This is the work of the central pillar, the path that is neither of the left nor the right hand.
I have blogged on this website for some time and plan to continue doing so. However, going forward, I want to add another dimension to this website, one rooted in a cogent and extended discussion of this central pillar focused work, my work. I am not sure how slow or fast this process will go, but I want to give it pride of place, foregrounding it here, on the front page. The blog can still be found (see the handy link bar above) and be updated, though perhaps shifting focus a bit, there, too, as some of the work takes shape here.