There is a big question that is difficult to get at that nonetheless needs to be addressed if I am going to talk about gnosticism. Namely: what is gnosis? I have an answer, but I also have an allusive sensibility, so please pardon me as I make some wide circuits through this question.
I have been drafting this or that post that intersects with what I have been thinking about the evolution aesthetic, but I haven’t been terribly satisfied with them. They end up going in directions that are just too technical for the bigger picture I am working toward.
I started to think about what I could do to counter that, and this is that. I am going to rattle out what I think to be some of the bigger picture consequences of an evolutionary aesthetic, with the apocalyptic and extinction aesthetics in the background.
Spiritualism requires discernment. This discernment tends to have both objective and subjective dimensions. Objectively, this entails discerning the influence of one spirit from another. Since spirits tend to come in groupings, working with and through each other, this can be quite a challenge. Subjectively, discernment helps us to clarify ourselves, who we are and what we are capable of achieving.
These two tasks can converge. If we examine our spiritual being closely, we encounter a network of spiritual beings composing it. The self with which we most easily identify is composite and complex.
Before I get too much further, I probably ought to talk a little about myself and my magico-spiritual work in specific. I’ve been doing that all along, but I have been avoiding about talking directly about my practice, circling around it at a theological and theurgical remove. Some of that is a natural predisposition toward privacy, some of it has to do with how difficult I find translating the work into clear language. A goodly portion of my theological distance has been an effort to lay some of the groundwork for that translation. Hopefully I can put that to some use here…
Let’s talk about trash, shall we? Life in the what we once called the First World has been steeped in wealth, in technical and material improvements to the quality of life. It formed a coccoon, insulating us from some harsh aspects of life. It also insulated us from Reality, from the disruptive spiritual pulse that makes possible spiritual transformation. It wasn’t perfect insulation, by any stretch, and it wasn’t exactly malicious; aspects of it were well-intentioned and warm, protective to a fault. That insulation took a lot of energy to maintain, though, and produced a lot of waste, both psychic and material. That waste didn’t vanish but circulated along the margins and became the vehicle through which more than a little light made its way into the world.
The ‘really important’ things discussed in the last two posts (here and here) are also what I take to be the really real things. Here I diverge somewhat from some strands of gnosticism that borrow too heavily from Neoplatonism, transforming these really real things into derivative things, illusions that vanish in the bright day of enlightenment. Gnosticism depends upon making a distinction between that which is real and that which is the source of the real (the reality of the real to talk a little like Ibn al’Arabi), not on the reduction of one to the other.