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    Thread: An interesting view on modern times

    1. #1
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      An interesting view on modern times

      I found this article on a blog a few days ago. The blog is about Ritual and Ceremonial Magick and earth-based spiritual traditions (Wicca, neopaganism, etc.), but weather or not you have any interest in Ritual Magick, it certainly makes some relevant and, if you ask me, quite accurate points about where we are now and where we need to go.

      It's a lengthy read, but it's worth the time.

      The following article was a chapter that was completely yanked from my book “Disciples Guide to Ritual Magick” although I have found that it is still relevant and an important piece even today. I wrote it back in around 2005 when the nation was mired in two wars, economic uncertainty and extreme political polarization. Even though we have a different president in the Oval Office today, not a lot has actually changed. I don’t fault the administration for this lack of real progressive progress - it seems to be more an affliction of our nation and its media than who is president. Be forewarned, the following is something of a rant, which is why it was pulled from the book.

      So here we are in the much vaunted twenty-first century, a time that heralds a new age of technical and spiritual enlightenment. We would expect to find a high-tech utopia, with space exploration just another means of traveling and human outposts in orbit around the Earth and on the Moon. We would also expect to find talking computers that think, particle beam weapons and hand-held laser rifles, robots and androids, and a world-society virtually clear of disease, famine, disaster and war. The fruits of automation should have made the problems of poverty and social inequality obsolete.

      Yet the new millennium that has recently started has not materialized any of the promises made by the high tech prophets of the sixties and seventies, nor has it actually succumbed to the total destruction of the doomsayers of the same period. Every age has its prophets of utopia and doom, and every age is lived in the usual manner. The results of this crooked progression seem to indicate a staggering course somewhere between utopia and doomsday. However, in the present era, we are engaged in a period of change that will prove to be more daunting than at any other time. It is a time where we should approach the world and its mysteries open minded and unprejudiced if we are to ally ourselves with changes that are required to ensure our survival as a species. It is now becoming obvious that we can no longer live our lives in the banal and oblivious manner that has been done in the past, and that we need to fortuitously adapt to new pressures and plot a new course based upon our accumulated knowledge and wisdom if we want our future progeny to be able to see the next millennium.

      We, the people of Earth, have entered the twenty-first century with hardly an acknowledgment that anything has actually changed in the last half century, other than our technology. We have made this lintel-crossing so distracted by the past that it is almost as if we had made it facing backwards. The proof that we seem to be regressing rather than evolving can be found in the events of any day, printed in the local and international news, seen on satellite, cable television or the internet, or even heard in the biased and ignorant pronouncements of our peers.

      Thus we might appear to others outside of our troubled world. We are prone to fighting bloody wars amongst ourselves, perpetrating acts of extreme terrorism on innocent victims, practicing forms of ethnic genocide, engaging in sectarian strife, economically and politically exploiting minority populations (colonialism), living in self-absorbed shells, callously indifferent to other people’s suffering (except in the event of natural disasters, when we become ridiculously generous), and in all, behaving sometimes more like barbarians from an earlier age than a maturing planetary culture.

      We must, of course, grant that only a minority of individuals are behaving in this manner and getting all the press, but the rest of us have not yet really become cosmopolitan or world-conscious, either, even though we live in an ever shrinking world, dominated by the engineering phenomena of a sophisticated science. Our world is buffeted by a media storm that produces a blizzard of information. We have become unwitting captives of an ever advancing high technology driven by avaricious multi-national corporations, whose only devotion is to Mammon. It would seem that our humanity is something that can be easily misplaced in the hurry to adopt modernity and throw out the old ways.

      Media saturation has caused us to be aware of everything that is happening anywhere in the world, no matter how trivial or irrelevant, and this saturation has caused us to become cynical, cold and indifferent. Despite our startling wealth of advanced technology, we have not really changed as a people. We still can act in an unenlightened and brutal manner. These are strange and terrible days that we live in, and the utopian hopes of the future, that were so much a part of the millennial fortune telling of the sixties and seventies, seem so foolishly optimistic and naive today. The world appears more dangerous now than it ever did during the cold-war era. However, these are the stresses of a changing world; the future is still indeterminate and needs a great deal of compassion and open-mindedness to become what the utopian prophets predicted decades ago.

      In such a stressful changing world environment, it would seem unnecessary, even silly, to talk about occult metaphysics, and practicing ritual magick in particular, when what seems to be needed in the world is a dire perspective of sobering realism. The study and practice of magick appear more like activities of the distant past, an anachronistic romantic belief system held over from the high middle ages, and not a cutting edge new world paradigm. Its relevance today in our chaotic post-modern world seems laughably small, and perhaps, as Carl Sagan would have had it, we would be well served to leave behind all of these erroneous philosophies and embrace the completely rationalistic world-view of science. If such a movement occurred, they say, the world would be a much brighter, more enlightened and better place.

      Pundits can point to religious sectarianism and fundamentalism as the sources of what ails our age, and throw in all of the esoteric studies and quaint beliefs of the New Age with them, consigning them all to the dust bins or trash heaps of the ages. But I believe that the pundits are quite mistaken, and that the late Carl Sagan and his crowd do not understand the spiritual issues of the human soul nor its needs in these troubled post-modern times. Albert Einstein once said, "We will not solve the problems of the world from the same level of thinking that created them." Thus science and analytic thought will not solve the problems created by science, they can only be solved, in my opinion, by Gnosis.

      The reason why so many people are seeking solace in the more conservative religious ideologies today is that they find themselves at a cross-roads, facing a great transition, and there appears to be no great wise men to help make this passage safely. The nature of this transition is that humanity is undergoing a major progressive shift in consciousness, although many people are not yet aware of it. Many more people live in the same impoverished and unrealized state that their ancestors endured ages ago. The steady and tenacious changes brought on by high technology are invading and changing even remote areas of the globe, overturning family traditions and tribal identities in its wake. Now that this time of change has arrived, many fear it, for many different reasons. Although they cannot understand what is happening to everyone and everything, they feel very uneasy about it and what the future might bring. Old ways of living and thinking are being altered and even destroyed on a global level, and little, other than the high tech crass consumerism offered by the West, is proffered as an alternative way of living.

      We are afflicted by the loss of graceful naivete, and no matter how hard we strive, we cannot regain our lost innocence nor those times of past glory. It has become ridiculously obvious that we must change as a species in order to survive. We must fulfill the next level of conscious development that is unwittingly upon us or perish. We have entered a very dangerous period of human development that seems almost completely dysfunctional, and so the troubadours of the 60's rock and roll groups (King Crimson) are shown to be prophetic, for they called this time the age of the “21st Century Schizoid Man.”

      However, modern occultism has shown an alternative perspective to these troubled times, and it dismisses them as merely the disturbances of an inner awakening. We had no idea that the genii unleashed by modern high technology, without an associative high tech spirituality, could cause our eventual extinction. This is truly along the lines of the myth of Atlantis and the rampant soulless technology that caused its demise supposedly ages ago; but ironically it is actually a myth of our own near future. We should heed this myth and learn to moderate our technological prowess with spiritual understanding, compassion and a willingness to adapt both our material and spiritual expectations to the realities of the post modern world.

      Perhaps becoming spiritually conservative in these unstable times appears to be the obvious antidote to the crisis caused by this newly emerging nemesis that is slowly and subtly spreading throughout the world. World change is profoundly upsetting the various orthodox sects of the status-quo and threatening life as we know it. Yet adopting a neoconservative religious ideology is but a short-sighted solution, which in the end causes more problems than it solves. There is another way to co-opt these changes into one’s spiritual life, and that way is through practical occultism. Because unlike the ultra-conservative and orthodox creeds, the disciplines of practical occultism do not advocate narrow and exclusive opinions about the nature of Spirit, nor do they encourage any kind of dogma or religious superstition. They also do not strip away the spiritual dimension from human nature, as the secular humanists and followers of scientism seem to advocate. They actually follow a middle path, which is to include spirit with science and technology, along with personal devotional practices and techniques for acquiring higher states of consciousness. In a word, occultists represent more clearly what this new century will become in regards to religious practices and beliefs about the nature of Spirit.

      The source of the chaos in our world today stems from the disintegration of the old systems of religious thought and spiritual faith. The old religious systems can’t even begin to deal with the issues of the post modern age, and human nature, being what it is, requires some kind of spiritual system of belief. So the old religious systems, as a method of self-promotion and survival, are manifesting themselves as a counter movement to the threats and fear produced by a very natural progressive evolution of consciousness pushed forward by high technology. The current world religions, many of which are now undergoing a conservative redefinition, cannot survive the on-going spiritual change occurring in the human species, and so if they are to aid us in our future quest, they will most certainly have to be represented in the future as esoteric religious systems, or they will have to be discarded as archaic and irrelevant. Surely the esoteric Christian, Jewish Qabbalist, and Islamic Sufi represent more advanced and benign versions of their faiths, as Zen, Vajra and Vendanta, represent more advanced versions of the creeds of Buddhism and Hinduism. One has only to examine the more fundamentalist versions of these religions to see how inappropriate they are in the new millennium.

      In the western world there are new religions that are being created. They are derived as modern forms of ancient earth-based spirituality, most notably, Wicca and Neopaganism, and they promote the teachings and practices of self transformation and self realization. When the old systems of religion have finally passed away, especially in the West, then these new religions will be able to grow, allowing humanity to finally emerge into the dawning of a new age of spirituality. Until that time, we have entered a dark age of spiritual transition that forces us to exist in a dangerous, precarious and tenuous relationship with each other, made all the more worse by the incendiary actions and beliefs of a minority of religious extremists.

      My reason for stating that these esoteric versions of the various orthodox faiths represent a more advanced, sophisticated and futuristic spiritual path is that they promote self-transformation and spiritual transcendentalism. As a people, the residents of this planet are nearing a time when the only relevant religions will be ones that advocate personal development and the fulfillment of the full-potential self, rather than sectarian exclusivity or literal interpretations of religious scriptures.

      If we cannot make this transition, then the world is on the long painful path to destroying itself. This is obviously true, since esoteric religions promote tolerance and peaceful coexistence, and the orthodox faiths preach intolerance and sectarian strife. Although there are many cultural and spiritual differences between people living in different parts of the world, we are one species of humanity. We must learn to respect one another and live together in peace, where every person is allowed to pursue their spiritual vocation, either in large organizations, in small groups, or alone, in spiritual retreat. The old orthodox religions are unable or unwilling to allow this kind of peaceful coexistence or flexibility, so we must either evolve out of those creeds or they will ultimately destroy our world. It takes little imagination to conceive of a scenario where some extremist sectarian group would use nuclear or biological weapons to eliminate others who did not share their beliefs, or to deeply scare the rest of the world into adopting their limited vision.

      It is ironic that this scenario of nuclear or biological world terrorism is more likely to occur today than at any previous time in the last century. We see today that religious extremists are involved in combating world-progress, calling it the evils of the liberal secular society, even as this very same world-progress attempts to eliminate social discrimination, poverty, disease and the devastation caused by natural disasters. These same groups, who talk of preserving the heritage of their spiritual values, also perpetrate astonishing acts of mindless and cold-blooded violence, or even worse, cause the world to quietly regress into a feudal stupor. Even during the “coldest” period of the cold war, the world was not so terribly dangerous as it is today, since in those times, sensible pragmatists and realists held the atomic triggers of world destruction. Such are the times we live in, that religious fanatics and sectarian madmen might be able to wield those triggers today instead of those cautious men in the past, who managed to avoid the extremes of the cold war legacy - total world destruction.

      So it would seem that occult philosophies and practices are strangely more relevant today than at any previous time. It is the obvious long term solution for integrating the expansion of consciousness that is beginning to emerge in the human species. The progression of conscious development will no longer be something to fear, nor will it be the exclusive property of a small privileged elite. We should embrace these changes, and with the shift of consciousness that they promote, forge a new creed and spiritual philosophy for each and everyone. The direction of this movement, as fostered by the perennial philosophy, has been determined by the new faiths of the Western Mystery tradition, which has its roots in Neoplatonism, Hermeticism, Alchemy, Astrology, the Qabbalah, and ritual and ceremonial Magick.

      The practice of ritual and ceremonial magick represents the technology of gaining those higher states of consciousness and using them to change oneself and the world. A magician practicing such a regimen will experience a constant periodic immersion in these higher states, and this will also cause a continual transcendental transformation to occur. A regimen such as this will eventually cause the permanent establishment of super-consciousness. A practitioner of magick experiences a series of transformations that cause him or her to evolve from the normal adult level of mental-egoic consciousness into the transcendent levels of psychic, subtle and the causal states of consciousness.

      Magick is the method of achieving transcendental enlightenment in the Western Mystery Tradition, as Yoga is the method in the Eastern traditions. There is also a differentiation made in the West between the path of the Mystic and the path of the Magician. Both paths use the same methodologies, but their objectives are completely opposite. We will need to identify what is the Western Mystery tradition, what is the perennial philosophy, and also define what is magick and how it is used, to prove our previous statements. The urgency of such actions cannot be said with greater emphasis - we need to change our whole way of looking at the world, and how we see ourselves living within it.

      After two thousand years, we are still deeply haunted by this tenet, and it causes us to live with a guilty conscience, where pleasure and material satisfaction are somehow sinful or indicative of ungodliness. Even now we are seeing a battle between secular humanists, who advocate accepting physical existence as the only reality, and orthodox sectarians, who believe that physical existence has no real value. Both perspectives are correct, as far as they go, but also wrong, in that they both miss an important point, that the duality of spirit and matter is actually an illusion. It is the earth-based spiritual systems that bring spirit and matter together into a unified perspective, which allows for an intimate experience of spirit within nature. This appears to be the best approach for our post modern era, and if it is allowed to grow and evolve past its infancy, it will assist the West in progressing to the next great conscious evolution.

      The future holds many promises and challenges, and perhaps the greatest challenge of all is the necessary change to our economy and way of life. Our economic world is based on the premise that there will always be an abundant supply of cheap oil. This assumption will prove to be false, since we have already used up all of the oil that is more easily acquired, and what is left will require ever greater resources to harvest. We will be forced to shepherd our resources in a manner not seen in our current age or the previous, and this will create a whole new spiritual perspective, too; for no longer can we use the resources of the world as if they are ours to dispose of whatever the cost.

      Also, Western Christianity, particularly the more fundamentalist kind, has always turned a blind eye to ecological concerns and conservation, since what is in the physical world is devalued compared to the spiritual world. This attitude is also found in Islam, as well as other religious systems of the east and west. It would benefit the world and humanity specifically for all of us to develop a more spiritual perspective that included the ecology of the planet, so that material things are put into the proper perspective and no longer devalued except as commodities to be exploited. This also means that we will need to be more cautious about our future development, weighing the long term costs against the short term gain - something that we seem to be completely unable to do at the present time.

      If we fail in this important endeavor, then the predictions of the doomsayers will come true, and our world will collapse into a post technological apocalypse. We will need to be creative, open minded, very resourceful, and visionary in order to overcome the challenges of the next hundred years. It would also seem that our spiritual perspective also needs to be adjusted as well, since the current spiritual status-quo has little to guide us in regards to the proper management of planetary resources. An earth based spiritual tradition would probably be the best solution, since it would change our minds in how we view the earth and our place within it.

      Thus our world is faced with profound changes, whether we seek them out or not, and we will have to change and adapt with the times if we are to survive. It is important to consider that we will need to not only change our way of life, our manner of governing ourselves and the way that we live and make money, but we will also need to change our spiritual perspectives. The old times and their religious creeds have become spent and there is little left in those bankrupt ideologies to help us make this great transition. What is required for this lintel age are the new faiths, based on earth spirituality, and a new way of living and being. It is time for us to gain entrance into the domain of Spirit. In that sublime state we will be able to express the joy of that transition as a paean to the new millennium. Yet the tool we will use to gain that entrance will be the practice of a new transcendental magick, used to drive a new age and a new era.

      Frater Barrabbas

    2. #2
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      Wow, thanks for sharing, that was an excellent article. I share those same thoughts.

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