The Dictionary of Traditional Magick and Etherical Science #21

The Dictionary of Traditional Magick and Etherical Science #21

 

A column by Gerald del Campo, The Dictionary of Traditional Magic and Etherical Science features ten author-selected definitions per issue. The definitions included in Mr. del Campo’s Dictionary do not necessarily reflect the views of the administrators or other contributors of this magazine.

Agnostic

(Gnostic) Someone who claims that they do not know or are unable to know whether God exists.

Altruism

(Philosophy) Actions performed for the sake of others are altruistic. Altruism is the hypothesis that morality involves acting for the sake of others.

Belief

Trust.

Clairvoyance

(Magick, divination) Literally, “clear seeing,” also known as skrying or scrying. The astral art of acquiring visions, images and other information. The actual technique used is very similar to Astral Projection. Clairvoyance has been taught by numerous magical orders in order to investigate the archetypal nature of magical symbols, or to view real-life locations. It was extensively used in England during WWII to spy on the Nazis and again in Russia during The Cold War to spy on the U.S.

Foundationalism

(Philosophy) An epistemological view which maintains that there are two kinds of knowledge or beliefs: basic beliefs, which are obvious or self-justifying, and non-basic beliefs, which are justified by basic beliefs. The basic beliefs explain why the justification of knowledge does not involve an Infinite Regress.

Hatha Yoga

(Yoga) Sanskrit. Gives mastery over the breath, and leads to the control of the physical body and vitality.

Iosis

(Alchemy) The third and final stage of alchemical transformation. Because it is marked by the purpling or reddening of the material during the Coagulation operation, it is also known as the “Purple Phase.”

Kala

A ray, star, digit of time, radiance, essence, perfume. The vital psychosomatic essence which is manifest as a result of Maithuna (linking, joining, as in Tantra), these are considered to be 16 in number, 8 manifesting from the female and 8 from the male. The Tantric “glow” of the Kala will be different according to the digit in time where, when, and with whom the Tantra is worked.

Logic

(Philosophy) The branch of philosophy that deals with the formal properties of arguments and the philosophical problems associated with them. Central questions in logic include: What is a good argument? How can we determine if an argument is good or not? What are paradoxes? Can they be resolved? How can we talk meaningfully about objects that don’t exist, such as God or fairies?

Paten

(Ecclesiastic) A plate, usually of gold or silver that is used to hold the host during the Mass. Also called a “patina.”

©2008-2013 Gerald del Campo. Edited by Sheta Kaey.

Gerald del Campo has authored three books on the subject of Thelema: A Heretic’s Guide to Thelema, New Aeon Magick: Thelema Without Tears, and New Aeon English Qabalah Revealed. He is a photographer, musician and CEO for the Order of Thelemic Knights, the first Thelemic charitable organization. You can visit his blog at http://solis93.livejournal.com and his websites at http://thelemicknights.org and http://egoandtheids.com. Gerald formerly served as Senior Managing Editor of Rending the Veil.

On Being a Noble Savage: Neo-shamanism and Popular Culture

January 23, 2010 by  
Filed under featured, mysticism, shamanism

On Being a Noble Savage: Neo-shamanism and Popular Culture

Christopher Drysdale will join Rending the Veil as a columnist beginning in our Ostara issue.

Pasty-skinned, the office-boy who has seen too many days inside the cube-farm slowly makes his way up the mountain path. Trees loom on either side, and he greets each as a new friend, with his eyes if not his voice. In places, the trail is worn by the seasonal runoff that heads to the stream below. The sound of the brook, fast moving in this season, covers the sounds of jets flying overhead, and the sounds of trucks struggling down a nearby highway.

Clattering against his side is a plastic water-bottle. In his backpack is a small rattle, bought at a pow-wow, and a drum bought at an online store. In outward appearances, there is little that resembles his spiritual ancestors who walked this land, and likely the lands of his blood ancestors. What right has he to be called a shaman?

The myth of the Noble Savage runs through most of our popular culture and media, from the famous words that Chief Seattle never spoke, to the “wise old Indian” in Natural Born Killers, to the “wise old Indian” in Thunderheart, to the “wise old Indian” in Poltergeist II. Yet it is not only Native Americans who are subject to this artistic brush: in media it is often a combination of a darker skin color and an assumption that foreigners, rural dwellers, and colonized peoples are somehow more pure and live “closer to the earth.” Their lack of technology is seen as a rejection of our culture rather than lack of access to the means of production.

Media representations of stereotypical “natives” are so pervasive that it would be impossible to tell our stories without them. However, for those who study the “other” in one capacity or another, it is critical to realize that for the most part these supposedly non-Western characters are, in fact, written by Westerners themselves. The “Truths from the Earth” that the characters spout are often created whole-cloth by the Western authors, or at best pre-digested through several Western sources and made more palatable for the Western audience. The “natives” are characters serving a purpose in a Western story, and the final product is one hundred percent Grade-A Western.

The idea of the Noble Savage was originally a European response to the excesses of European colonialism. Early colonialists thought was that the native peoples (who were being massacred or co-opted as forced labor for European profit) were somehow lesser humans. These were the same beliefs that bolstered slavery in America up until the time of the Civil War. Eventually, especially in literature, there was a counter-movement to these ideas. The “Noble Savage” was a cultural construct by the West, projecting their ideas of a “pre-civilized” man who was filled with good manners, wisdom, and knowledge, virtues the writers felt were lost to the West. These beliefs came from the same sources of philosophy and religion that started many of the Utopian movements that helped populate America. At their core was a belief that mankind, left to his own devices, would be more civilized than civilization could make him.

The earliest portrayals of the Noble Savage are representative of a belief that mankind is inherently good, a concept that speaks to Western culture steeped in Christian tradition. The idea of the Noble Savage is an origin myth, a cultural statement about the nature of the world and the place of humans in it. Origin myths are core statements of meaning, loci of interpretation, and bases of authority. They are not just stories, and can encompass anything from the Biblical “Garden of Eden” to the story of the founding of a corporation. Setting aside the bias of Western ideas on what makes a creation myth, they are stories of how things came to be the way they are. And because they are told as stories, there is no need to “prove” their underlying assumptions.

The true Noble Savages are not members of some far-distant tribe in a land unspoiled by Westernization and Globality. Neo-shamans are the true Noble Savages, standing as part of and yet in counterpoint to the frenetic civilization that surrounds them. In a culture caught between Enlightenment notions of what man might become and the cold, hard realities of biology, neo-shamans in particular live in a tension between the spiritual and the physical. The parts of ourselves that we push away become our spiritual guides and help us take part in a deeper, richer version of a whole human being. We become not just members of our culture, but of a longer and deeper tradition of meaningful human life.

Just as non-Westerners are the imagined “other,” so is the world of the spirit. Neither of these ideas are part of our shared everyday life. These two ideas are linked, not in truth, but in our imaginations. With the simple logic of the imagining mind, making connections where it will, both non-Westerners and all things magical are “other,” and so are connected metaphorically. This link is not a new idea, nor a purely Western one. While there is no logical truth to it, in the world of metaphor the magical “other” is a very powerful image. It is further supported by the stories with which we surround ourselves, and there are many stories that tap into this myth. As a lens for truth and cultural understanding, the Noble Savage myth is rotten to the core. But as a lens for looking inward into ourselves, and as a lens for looking at our own culture, this archetype is both powerful and wise.

The people of the Western world, for the most part, no longer sit around hearth-fires in the cold of winter retelling the stories of their people. The fires we sit around are blue lights seen through neighbors’ windows, flickering their own stories at us. We no longer sing as we work; many of us listen to our personal music devices in isolation and outward silence, sitting in front of computers in small, ergonomically designed “cubes.” The communities we create, the myths we retell, seem to be very different from those of long ago. In some ways they are, but at the core they are still much the same. While the names and the faces change, the stories that are told touch on many of the same themes as before. Where they change over time, it reflects our changing views of the world and what it means to be human.

The postmodern world is not only inundated with the interactions of people, but also with all the stories they have to tell. The dominant stories of the West: through novels, movies, and television all, are often new ones reflecting the cultural change that has occurred in the past century-and-a-half of industrialization, or perhaps reach as far back as five centuries to the beginning of the era of the Enlightenment and European colonialism. It was then that the story of what would become the United States of America began. The myth of America is the myth of a new country, a break with the past. The myth of the West, stretching from the Enlightenment, is also that of a break with the past. Neo-shamans more than others, as carriers of the myths of culture and as those who work in relationship with the land, should strive to be aware of its history and, truthfully, prehistory. While the people who live atop the land may have forgotten, the land itself remembers.

If neo-shamans are to have authority to speak, and to have relationships not just with people but with spirits and with the land, then we should know the whole story. Not just the histories of our own people, but of all people, of the animals, and of the land itself. The cultures that thrived on the land and the ways they propitiated its spirits are important, not because we should mimic these rituals ourselves, but because we need to enter into our own relationships with these same spirits. The authority of neo-shamans, just as much as that of the “shamans” in traditional cultures, depends on their relationships with the land and the plants and animals that survive on it. Western neo-shamanism looks different from other “shamanisms,” fits into a different culture, and has different stories and assumptions. Nonetheless, at its root it is not an attempt to mimic other cultures. Western neo-shamanism is ‘its own thing.’

When neo-pagans perform ceremonies honoring Mother Earth, this is not simply a myth from elsewhere, from antiquity. If it were, it would have no relevance to our daily lives. The ritual is expressing something in our culture, and about our culture. Insofar as we attribute these beliefs to the “other,” to the “ancient,” we are challenging models of authority within our culture using authorities from elsewhere — we are writing and accepting new origin myths that express a different truth about who we are as human beings.

Drawing on creation myths, the quintessential origin myths, is a common part of shamanic practice across the world — authority often extends from origins. For an American, “The Way the West was Won” is just as much a creation myth as the “Garden of Eden.” The “Noble Savage” as the ‘pure other’ is an appropriate image for spiritual renewal. Western myths are part of our rich lore: to identify with the “victim” in the myth allows us to reclaim the parts of our own culture which were lost in the dream of “progress.”

Western thought is bound up with concepts of linear time and progress. From the Christian Bible’s “Revelation” to science’s “heat death,” the universe and all things in it are seen as having a beginning and an end. At the same time, most short-term change is seen as “progress” trending from less complex to more complex, from worse to better. Just as computers get faster every year, all change is seen as “progressive” and inherently positive. While science has much to offer, for those who bridge to the world of the spirits, this perspective is not particularly useful. Yet these ideas have become dominant and intertwined with Western thought and knowledge. It is no surprise that those who are called to step away from this perspective might look elsewhere for models of time and space.

As Western thought is tied up with linear time and progress, the non-Western, the “other,” is merged in our minds with all that is not part of the Western stereotype. Attempts to reclaim things lost to the juggernaut of “The West” (a broad generalization) wear the veil of “the other,” and we are quite capable of reworking other belief systems so that they become part of our own culture. This process is not unique to the West: any culture that accepts an idea from another culture changes the idea so that it fits into the matrix of its own culture and lives. Usually, in fact, individuals within a culture change the ideas in many ways, not all of them agreeing with one another.

Neo-shamans live in a world of changed and challenged assumptions, different from the dominant cultural dialogue of positivist science. The practitioners break away from the dialogue limiting the importance of spiritual existence to the afterlife, away from any notions of a transcendent deity. They are, in their very essence, liminal: living in two worlds, or in two perceptions of the world, at the same time. By their very nature, they challenge both the dominant physical and spiritual authorities of our culture, and try to maintain a relationship with the land and with spirits, neither of which are particularly valued by the dominant views. Yet the neo-shaman, as the speaker for that which does not have a voice, is a darling of our myths, of our popular culture. Americans, at least, always root for the underdog.

Neo-shamans speak with the authority of Western myths. They are not some expression of a universal “shaman,” but a part of American culture growing from our own traditions and histories. They are the inheritors of a world of colonialism, of the myth of progress, and of stripped away meaning. Yet they also see something deeper in the world, and are called to do what they do. They are indeed inheritors of duties and responsibilities, whether they have the right to use the word “shaman” or not. Through their nature, and training, they are responsible to both the spirits and their communities.

©2010 by Christopher Drysdale.
Edited by Sheta Kaey.

The Dictionary of Traditional Magick and Etherical Science #12

The Dictionary of Traditional Magick and Etherical Science #12

 

A column by Gerald del Campo, The Dictionary of Traditional Magic and Etherical Science features ten author-selected definitions per issue. The definitions included in Mr. del Campo’s Dictionary do not necessarily reflect the views of the administrators or other contributors of this magazine.

A posteriori

(Logic) The opposite of a piori. A posteriori knowledge can be established only by experience or reasoning from experience. Example: There are nine planets in the solar system. Empirical is a synonym for a posteriori.

Epistemology

(Logic) A branch of philosophy that involves the study of knowledge.

Materialism

(Philosophy) The assertion that only material things exist. Often used in Philosophy of Mind, in response to the claim that mental objects and events cannot be reduced to physical objects and events.

Nachash

(Qabalah) Hebrew The serpent in Genesis that convinced Eve to eat from the Tree of Knowledge. It is the power which imprisons and sets free.

Necessary condition

(Philosophy) X is a necessary condition of Y if there cannot be Y without X. Therefore, being a parent is a necessary condition of raising a child. Compare with sufficient condition.

Notarikon

(Qabalah) A way of creating acronyms and/or new words from other words or phrases that are believed to contain magical powers. For example: The biblical phrase “Thou art great forever, Lord” — Ateh Gibor Le Olahm Adoni can be summed up as AGLA.

Ontology

(Philosophy) The branch of metaphysics that studies the nature of existence. Some central questions include: What kinds of objects exist? What does it mean for something to exist?

Pelican

(Alchemy) A circulatory container with two arms feeding condensed vapors back into the body. It has a cunning similarity in shape to a pelican pecking at its own breast.

Political Philosophy

(Philosophy) The branch of philosophy that discusses freedom, justice, rights, democracy and other political issues. Central questions include: Is democracy the best form of government? How can we balance rights and responsibilities?

Thelemapoly

(From the author’s personal lexicon) 1) The present day phenomenon of grabbing as much as the Crowleyan pie as possible, such as copyrights and the status that “knowing” Crowley endows upon the insecure, culture-lacking pseudo-intellectuals. 2) a popular board game played by Crowleyites where the object is to use ones Crowleyness to grab a big a part of ThelemaLand as possible at any cost.

©2008-2013 Gerald del Campo. Edited by Sheta Kaey.

Gerald del Campo has authored three books on the subject of Thelema: A Heretic’s Guide to Thelema, New Aeon Magick: Thelema Without Tears, and New Aeon English Qabalah Revealed. He is a photographer, musician and CEO for the Order of Thelemic Knights, the first Thelemic charitable organization. You can visit his blog at http://solis93.livejournal.com and his websites at http://thelemicknights.org and http://egoandtheids.com. Gerald formerly served as Senior Managing Editor of Rending the Veil.

The Dictionary of Traditional Magick and Etherical Science #9

The Dictionary of Traditional Magick and Etherical Science #9

 

A column by Gerald del Campo, The Dictionary of Traditional Magic and Etherical Science features ten author-selected definitions per issue. The definitions included in Mr. del Campo’s Dictionary do not necessarily reflect the views of the administrators or other contributors of this magazine.

Allogenes

(Gnostic) A term used by the Gnostics to identify themselves and their relationship to the physical world. Literally means “alien.” The Gnostic identifies with the Spirit, thus he is “alien” to the physical world.

Angel

A spiritual being with its own unique substance, traits, and temperament that exists in the world of Yetzirah but can affect events in the physical plane. They often serve as messengers between men and gods. They are impulse driven, highly specialized and always behave within the limits imposed upon them by their function. Some texts claim that prayer can create temporary angels to send the message up through the various planes of existence to a god. In the desert religions, an angel is a typically benevolent, unearthly creature that is believed to act as intermediary between heaven and earth. In alchemy, an angel is symbolic of sublimation or the ascension of the volatile principle.

Antimony

(Alchemy) A metal that symbolizes the animal nature of man and/or nature. Latin, meaning “anti-monk,” because a handful of monks died from ingesting it. The alchemist Basil Valentine is credited for naming the metal after feeding it to some Benedictine monks. The more fortunate monks became violently sick, and the others died. It is rumored that Basil Valentine administered the antimony to help the monks deal with their animal nature. Coincidentally, the tincture of Antimony cures venereal diseases. Wink-wink. Nudge-nudge.

Balsam

(Alchemy) A resinous, semi-solid compound that encapsulates the quintessence of liquid medicines or perfumes. According to Paracelsus, balsam inhibits decomposition. Mercury was considered the balsamic agent of the metals, because it had similar qualities as a solid and as a liquid.

Caduceus

(Greek mythology, Yoga, Alchemy) The staff of Hermes, the Messenger of the Gods and professor of alchemy. A staff entwined by two serpents representing the solar and lunar forces. In yoga, the serpents represent Ida and Pingala, while the staff itself is Sushumna. The symbol suggests the method by which to obtain the Philosopher’s Stone, which corresponds to the golden ball with wings at the very top of the caduceus.

Christianitys

(From the author’s personal lexicon) A sometimes deadly mental disorder with characteristics that include repeating Bible verses one does not understand. See Thelemitys.

Thelemitys

(From the author’s personal lexicon) A sometimes deadly mental disorder with characteristics that include repeating Liber AL verses one does not understand. See Christianitys.

Valid

(Philosophy) An argument is valid if the truth of the premise(s) demand we assert the truth of the conclusion. What is valid or invalid is an argument; what is true or false is a proposition. Therefore, it is wise to avoid the hybrid phrase “valid proposition.”

Yetzirah

(Qabalah) Hebrew The World of Formation. One of the Four Worlds on the Tree of Life. It can be compared to the phase in which an idea, which the architect has willed (Atziluth) and creatively defined (Briah), takes detailed form before its actual construction in Assiah. Also called the realm of differentiation and obstacles.

Zohar

(Qabalah) Hebrew First appearing in Spain during the late thirteenth century, the Book of Splendor by Moses del Leon is considered the “bible” of the Kabbalah.

©2008-2013 Gerald del Campo. Edited by Sheta Kaey.

Gerald del Campo has authored three books on the subject of Thelema: A Heretic’s Guide to Thelema, New Aeon Magick: Thelema Without Tears, and New Aeon English Qabalah Revealed. He is a photographer, musician and CEO for the Order of Thelemic Knights, the first Thelemic charitable organization. You can visit his blog at http://solis93.livejournal.com and his websites at http://thelemicknights.org and http://egoandtheids.com. Gerald formerly served as Senior Managing Editor of Rending the Veil.

The Dictionary of Traditional Magick and Etherical Science #8

The Dictionary of Traditional Magick and Etherical Science #8

 

A column by Gerald del Campo, The Dictionary of Traditional Magic and Etherical Science features ten author-selected definitions per issue. The definitions included in Mr. del Campo’s Dictionary do not necessarily reflect the views of the administrators or other contributors of this magazine.

A priori

(Logic) A priori knowledge is comprehension which can be established independently of experience or reasoning from experience. Examples of a priori truths: Boys are male; 1+1=2; etc. Analytic truths are a priori. See rationalism.

Persona

(Psychology) The “I.” Originating from the Latin, meaning “mask.” The persona is the outer shell that the individual presents to the outside world. It is something that one is not, but which one believes oneself to be, a protective device designed to win social approval. The persona is socially forced by society as a means of human interaction; it is an unconscious compromise between the individual and society. Society rewards the appropriate desirable persona with money, respect, and power. It is an unconscious compromise between the individual and society. When we adhere, or try to become, our persona at the expense of who we are, we gamble with neurosis. We risk abandoning the our understanding of who we are, to adopt actions and behavior which are dictated by social pressure.

Prog-Gnosis

(From the author’s personal lexicon) Having intimate knowledge of progressive rock music.

Persona Non Grata

Latin 1) An unacceptable or unwelcome person, especially to a foreign government. 2) A disavowed representative of a government or organization. 3) What a person becomes when they piss off the higher-ups of a certain Thelemic organization.

Processional Cross

(Ecclesiastic) This cross is carried into church at the head of a mass procession. It is symbolic of the congregation’s sect, or a sign of their beliefs.

Quintessence

(Alchemy) The fifth alchemical element. A spark of living fire, a piece of the Absolute believed to animate all living things. See soul.

Rakiah

(Qabalah) Hebrew The sky mentioned in Genesis as separating the waters above and the waters below. A barrier. This concept may be connected to the function of Shu (the Egyptian god of the air), who created a space between Geb (the Egyptian god of the earth) and his sister/lover Nu (the Egyptian goddess of the sky) to prevent them from conceiving.

Rationalism

(Philosophy) The doctrine that genuine knowledge is not established by sense-experience, or at least not by sense-experience alone, and so is wholly or at least to a significant extent a priori. Contrast with empiricism.

Religion

A cultural institution dedicated to propagating a particular view of absolute truth in order to fulfill the human need to find meaning in life. True religion is completely different from dogma or a codified creed. A creed is a collective belief, and therefore resides in the Nephesh. True religion involves a personal alliance to indisputable spiritual, metaphysical, or mundane factors. It is the celebration of the spirit.

Soul

(General mystical term) The passive spirit in all things, believed to transcend all things, including death. In alchemy, a piece of the First Matter. In Thelema, the hidden spark inside of all humans: Hadit. Considered to be beyond the four material elements and therefore conceptualized as a fifth element or Quintessence. The letter Shin in Hermetic Qabalah. See Quintessence.

©2008-2013 Gerald del Campo. Edited by Sheta Kaey.

Gerald del Campo has authored three books on the subject of Thelema: A Heretic’s Guide to Thelema, New Aeon Magick: Thelema Without Tears, and New Aeon English Qabalah Revealed. He is a photographer, musician and CEO for the Order of Thelemic Knights, the first Thelemic charitable organization. You can visit his blog at http://solis93.livejournal.com and his websites at http://thelemicknights.org and http://egoandtheids.com. Gerald formerly served as Senior Managing Editor of Rending the Veil.

The Dictionary of Traditional Magick and Etherical Science #6

The Dictionary of Traditional Magick and Etherical Science #6

 

A column by Gerald del Campo, The Dictionary of Traditional Magic and Etherical Science features ten author-selected definitions per issue. The definitions included in Mr. del Campo’s Dictionary do not necessarily reflect the views of the administrators or other contributors of this magazine.

Purificator

(Ecclesiastic) A cloth used to clean the chalice after each use.

Rebirth

(Psychology) A psychological process usually experienced following the Dark Night of the Soul, whereby a restoration or alteration of the personality has occurred. In mythology, rebirth is hinted by The Transmigration of the Soul, Resurrection, and Reincarnation. Psychological rebirth is the experience in the physical body. Any of these can be effected through the use of ritual, whereby the Ruach is brought into balance. The use of group ritual to induce these changes has not been sufficiently successful, and its effects are temporary at best because a group experience takes place as a lower form of consciousness, such as the Nephesh. This is because a group mind is always below the level of the individual mind.

Retort

(Alchemy) A spherical distillation vessel made of glass and containing a long neck or spout used to break down liquids by heat or acid.

Sepher Yetzirah

(Qabalah) Hebrew The “Book of Formation.” This is one of the earliest written accounts of Qabalah, allegedly written by Simeon Ben Yochai in about 70 C.E. It is a qabalistic explanation of the creation of the universe. Westcott’s translation of the Sepher Yetzirah was a primary source for the rituals and knowledge lectures of the Golden Dawn.

Shedim

(Qabalah) Hebrew Demons, specifically the dwellers of the Qliphoth whose main function is to disturb universal balance. They have subtle bodies that permit them to move through the Fire and Air, but are undetectable by the human senses. They can be called upon to reveal predictions of the near future, but are unreliable for anything in the distant.

Skeptic

One who doubts the truth of any principle, system of principles, or doctrines for the purpose of searching for truth.

Stone

(Alchemy) The Stone is synonymous with the accomplishment of the Great Work. The Stone is said to possess magical qualities, such as the ability to immediately perfect any substance or situation. The Philosopher’s Stone has been linked with the Salt of the World, the astral body, the elixir, and even Jesus Christ.

Sulfur

(Alchemy) Sulfur is one of the three alchemical substances. It represents activity, passion, and the Will. It is linked with the operation of Fermentation.

Theodicy

(Philosophy) An argument that tries to explain how a good and all-powerful God could create a world with suffering and evil in it.

Thurible

(Ecclesiastic) A censer suspended by chains and swung during Mass, containing a burning charcoal upon which incense in the form of tree sap is placed.

©2008-2013 Gerald del Campo. Edited by Sheta Kaey.

Gerald del Campo has authored three books on the subject of Thelema: A Heretic’s Guide to Thelema, New Aeon Magick: Thelema Without Tears, and New Aeon English Qabalah Revealed. He is a photographer, musician and CEO for the Order of Thelemic Knights, the first Thelemic charitable organization. You can visit his blog at http://solis93.livejournal.com and his websites at http://thelemicknights.org and http://egoandtheids.com. Gerald formerly served as Senior Managing Editor of Rending the Veil.

The Dictionary of Traditional Magick and Etherical Science #4

The Dictionary of Traditional Magick and Etherical Science #4

 

A column by Gerald del Campo, The Dictionary of Traditional Magic and Etherical Science features ten author-selected definitions per issue. The definitions included in Mr. del Campo’s Dictionary do not necessarily reflect the views of the administrators or other contributors of this magazine.

A Priori

(Logic) A Priori knowledge is comprehension which can be established independently of experience or reasoning from experience. Examples of A Priori truths include: Boys are male, 1+1=2, etc. Analytic truths
are A Priori. See Rationalism.

Bezoar

(Alchemy) Hard clumps of undigested food or solid balls of hair sometimes found in the intestines. During the preparation of mummies Egyptian priests discovered bezoars and believed the hard balls to be magical pills formed by the large intestines. In alchemy, any compounds that clump together into a ball as soon as they are mixed (like sulfur
aureum and red mercuric oxide) are called Bezoars.

Calcination

(Alchemy) The first operation in alchemical transformation, calcination is a process in which a substance is subjected to high temperature, causing a loss of moisture, reduction or oxidation, and the decomposition of carbonates and other compounds. It is denoted by the symbol for the first sign of the zodiac, Aries.

Deontology

(Logic) The basis of duty as morality. Deontology is the doctrine that there are acts for which rightness or wrongness is not wholly dependent on the goodness or badness of the resulting consequences. The phrases “No matter what the consequences,” and “My country, right or wrong,” are signs of a deontological view. The opposite of Deontology is Consequentialism.

Satan

(Qabalah) Hebrew Secularly, the profoundly evil adversary of God and humanity who is identified with the leader of the fallen angels; the Devil. In mysticism, Satan is the steadfast servant of God who enables human free will to exist by offering the option of evil.

©2007 by Gerald del Campo.
Edited by Sheta Kaey.

Gerald del Campo has authored three books on the subject of Thelema: A Heretic’s Guide to Thelema, New Aeon Magick: Thelema Without Tears, and New Aeon English Qabalah Revealed. He is a photographer, musician and CEO for the Order of Thelemic Knights, the first Thelemic charitable organization. You can visit his blog at http://solis93.livejournal.com and his websites at http://thelemicknights.org and http://egoandtheids.com. Gerald formerly served as Senior Managing Editor of Rending the Veil.

The Dictionary of Traditional Magick and Etherical Science #3

The Dictionary of Traditional Magick and Etherical Science #3

 

A column by Gerald del Campo, The Dictionary of Traditional Magic and Etherical Science features ten author-selected definitions per issue. The definitions included in Mr. del Campo’s Dictionary do not necessarily reflect the views of the administrators or other contributors of this magazine.

Abrasax

(Gnostic) A Gnostic symbol of a being of light. Usually depicted as a man with a chicken’s head. It is often incorrectly spelled “Abraxas,” partly due to some confusion on behalf of Latin translators. Among the early Gnostics, Abrasax appears to have had various meanings. Basilides gave this title to Almighty God, and claimed that the numerical value of its letters gave the sum of 365, because the Abrasax is enclosed in the solar cycle. Sometimes the number 365 signifies the series of the heavens and corresponds to the year. The name is believed to have been used as a substitute for the unpronounceable name of God of the Jews: YHVH.

Aleisterian

(From the author’s personal lexicon.) See Crowleyite.

Cincture

(Ecclesiastic) Traditionally, a rope tied around the waist to act as a belt. Modern cinctures are largely ceremonial and color coordinated to indicate rank within the church’s hierarchy.

Crowleyite

(From the author’s personal lexicon.) See Aleisterian*.

Demiurge

(Gnostic) The creator, or architect, of the material world. The Gnostics view the Demiurge in a negative light due to the belief that the material world distracts us from the work of the Spirit.

Gnostalgia

(From the author’s personal lexicon.) The act of reminiscing the days one had Gnosis.

High Redefinition

(Philosophy) A fallacy in which the meaning of a word is narrowed in an attempt to defend a questionable proposition. For example, “No Thelemite supports charitable organizations. . . at least no true Thelemite does.” Contrast with Low Redefinition.

Low Redefinition

(Philosophy) A fallacy in which the meaning of a word is stretched in an attempt to defend a questionable proposition. A justification. For example, a person that graduated five years ago is still using their discount card and you question their ethics. They reply, “Ah, but we’re all students, really.” Contrast with High Redefinition.

Natural Theology

(Philosophy) Proposes that knowledge of God can be obtained by reason alone, without the aid of revelation.

Postulate

(Philosophy) To assume without proof in order to speculate other more pertinent points.

*Technically, those who zealously believe that Aleister Crowley could do no wrong.

©2007 Gerald del Campo
Edited by Sheta Kaey

Gerald del Campo has authored three books on the subject of Thelema: A Heretic’s Guide to Thelema, New Aeon Magick: Thelema Without Tears, and New Aeon English Qabalah Revealed. He is a photographer, musician and CEO for the Order of Thelemic Knights, the first Thelemic charitable organization. You can visit his blog at http://solis93.livejournal.com and his websites at http://thelemicknights.org and http://egoandtheids.com. Gerald formerly served as Senior Managing Editor of Rending the Veil.

The Dictionary of Traditional Magick and Etherical Science #2

The Dictionary of Traditional Magick and Etherical Science #2

 

A column by Gerald del Campo, The Dictionary of Traditional Magic and Etherical Science features ten author-selected definitions per issue. The definitions included in Mr. del Campo’s Dictionary do not necessarily reflect the views of the administrators or other contributors of this magazine.

Anima

(Psychology) A Jungian term meaning the feminine side of man. The anima is the archetype of life. It is a personal and archetypal symbol of the woman in the male psyche. It is an unconscious element embodied afresh in every male child, and is responsible for the apparatus of projection. Starting with the identification of the mother, the anima later matures and is applied to other women. It is a repetitious influence in a man’s life. It manifests as mother, daughter, sister, mate, and Goddess.

Animus

(Psychology) The male side of woman. (See Anima.)

Collective Unconscious

(Psychology) Oftentimes referred to as the Universal Unconscious, this is a layer of the human psyche accommodating historical genetic material distinct from the personal unconscious. This genetic memory is often referred to as “racial karma.”

Dark Night of the Soul

(Psychology) A condition marked by depression, and lack of energy both mental and physical. Not pathological. The energy that is not available to the conscious is re-routed and used in other areas of the mind, usually the imaginative functions of the brain. Often encountered during magical work, the Dark Night of The Soul often signals a new beginning. It is a decent into Hades, the underworld; it is an immersion in the unconscious. The experiences of Osiris, Christ, Dante, etc., are examples describing this condition. The condition is normal, and even desirable, since it often leads the individual to a break in neurosis.

Diagnostic

(From the author’s personal lexicon) A person who does not believe in two gods.

Docetism

(Gnostic) Like most Gnostic concepts, this has its roots in a Greek word whose root is “image.” Docetism is a belief which subscribes to the idea that the way to salvation is not through the belief in the historical Christ, but in the Gnosis caused by the scripture which explains his account.

Ethical Egoism

(Philosophy) The doctrine that actions are right only insofar as they are advance the agent’s own interests. Ethical Egoism is a form of Consequentialism. It differs from Psychological Egotism, which dictates that concerns itself with things that motivate the agent into action, whereas Ethical Egoism is a doctrine about what it is right to do.

Pranayama

(Yoga) The Hindu processes of controlling the breath. Breathing properly is at the heart of good health. Each inhalation brings in oxygen, which in turn sparks the transformation of nutrients into fuel. With each exhalation, the body purges itself of carbon dioxide, a toxin. Breathing affects our state of mind. It can excite or calm us. It can make our thinking confused or clear. Ancient yogis created many breathing practices to take full advantage of the benefits of prana.

Scientific Illuminism

Scientific Illuminism was a term coined by Crowley, probably after reading Nietzche’s arguments against the existence of a living god. It is a fantasy many Thelemites indulge in, where science has become the new religion and a suitable method for measuring Gnosis. A well-intentioned idea wherein a person’s most personal spiritual experiences and processes are compared to Crowley’s advances, and disregarded as trash when they don’t match. The arena for this “Scientific Method” is often the internet, where well-intentioned magicians have their most personal and beautiful experiences posted all over the Internet to be critiqued by “scientific” individuals that couldn’t illumine themselves out of a wet paper bag.

Scientufalism

(From the author’s personal lexicon) A classical Scientific Illuminist blunder. The mental gymnastics and justifications which occur when a Scientific Illuminist attempts to use the principles of Scientific Illuminism to force some badly formed philosophical, magical, spiritual or metaphysical opinion where it doesn’t belong.

©2007 Gerald del Campo
Edited by Sheta Kaey.

Gerald del Campo has authored three books on the subject of Thelema: A Heretic’s Guide to Thelema, New Aeon Magick: Thelema Without Tears, and New Aeon English Qabalah Revealed. He is a photographer, musician and CEO for the Order of Thelemic Knights, the first Thelemic charitable organization. You can visit his blog at http://solis93.livejournal.com and his websites at http://thelemicknights.org and http://egoandtheids.com. Gerald formerly served as Senior Managing Editor of Rending the Veil.

Into the Aethyr #2 – Belief and Metaphor

Into the Aethyr #2 - Belief and Metaphor

The first step to expanding your reality is to discard the tendency to exclude things from possibility. — Meridjet

Paradigm Shifting and Reality Tunnels

“‘Paradigm shift[ing]’ has found uses… representing the notion of a major change in a certain thought-pattern — a radical change in personal beliefs, complex systems or organizations, replacing the former way of thinking or organizing with a radically different way of thinking or organizing…1

Robert Anton Wilson uses the phrase “reality tunnel” to describe looking at reality from a certain perspective2. In occultism, these two concepts, paradigm shifting and changing one’s reality tunnel, essentially represent the same thing — changing your point of view in a profound way that influences your overall belief system, whether temporarily or permanently.

Within the spectrum of alternative spirituality, there are many beliefs that could be (and often are) labeled “unusual” or even “strange.” Anything from the Otherkin phenomenon to past lives as someone important, to believing one has a special destiny, and so on. It could be said that even Aleister Crowley bought the myth about having a special destiny, and if there’s one reality tunnel that I’ve seen in play with most consistency across great numbers of occultists, it’s the belief that one has some greater role in the shifting of humanity’s collective consciousness. There are people who believe they are angels incarnate, here to initiate great change. There are people who believe that they are going to become some powerful all-knowing guru/leader who will single-handedly shift the dominant paradigm.

We’re on a Mission From God™

Most commonly, there are people who believe that they’ve got something important, as yet unknown, to do in the overall change to a New Age or a New Aeon. These people typically believe that not only will they have an individual role, they will also be part of a small collective of super-VIPs. This typically evolves with a group of close friends, who will have a prominent collective role and purpose, even if they don’t know yet what that purpose is — and typically as friends are dropped or gained, the people playing the individual roles in the group change. Again typically, rarely does someone within the chosen few dare to question why this occurs. They tend to chalk it up to mistaken identity with regard to the rejected individual.

He who is rejected or who grows in a different direction from other individuals and thereby finds himself alone or with new friends will often face hurdles in adjusting his paradigm in a way that allows him to retain both a sense of purpose and an acceptance of past beliefs — beliefs that he may now view as “inaccurate.” He may feel that his former viewpoint was illusory and must be rejected as false, to allow full acceptance of the new viewpoint. He may feel that his earlier beliefs were silly, juvenile, or “fluffy.” Along the path of individual evolution, however, inevitably there comes a time when what is important now necessitates releasing something that was important at an earlier stage of your personal growth. When that shift concerns a key aspect of your personal mythology, such as what you believe to be your higher purpose, then there can be a great disillusionment. It’s difficult to evolve a core belief without feeling you must deny or dismiss the former view outright, either from embarrassment or from the simple need to distance yourself from a perspective that you feel is less evolved than the current view.

Does Change Have to Mean Rejection?

Reality is fluid. It changes with your perspective and your personal interpretation. Each person’s viewpoint is unique in all ways — this is the crux of consciousness, the single absolute factor in anyone and everyone’s existence. When you change your perspective and adopt a new preferred reality tunnel, the impulse to ridicule your old one is often irresistible. You can see this online with the frequent dissing of eclectic Wicca by former eclectic (non-initiate) Wiccans, who, for the most part, wouldn’t admit their past alliance in a million years. The recently-coined term “Neo-Wicca” was created, arguably, to set these eclectics apart, so that initiated Wiccans boasting a lineage could distance themselves from these fluffier, uninitiated counterparts — in other words, so they could feel superior.

However, it’s my opinion that when you dismiss a former perspective as stupid or embarrassing or otherwise not fit for public archiving, you cheat yourself out of valuable experience. It may always be with you, technically, but if you don’t embrace what you learned early in your magical history, not only will you be impatient with those less knowledgeable than you, but you will also develop a knee-jerk rejection to anything that smells too much like that old point of view, thereby potentially limiting your future growth.

Meridjet Speaks

Recently, Meridjet (my spirit companion) instructed a friend of mine about my friend’s recent paradigm shift, which was leading him to feel that his former perspective was in error. In fact, no reality tunnel can really be wrong, as Meridjet was quick to point out. . .

“All belief systems are metaphorical, because the reality is beyond your comprehension. This does not make them wrong.

“You are familiar, I’m sure, with various translations of old books, such as the Bible or the Tao Te Ching. Each translation bears the unmistakable mark of its translator. This shows in bias as well as in interpretation of more ‘objective’ concepts. Mythologies are interpretations of interpretations, ad infinitum, that give expression to basic archetypal concepts and beings. These mythologies are living and breathing histories in the sense that they have been infused with so much energy that they literally manifested accordingly. And yet, they remain interpretations, further interpreted by the translation of the mind of the reader or listener.

“The listener or seeker, for example, you, thereby invest your own energy into the personal interpretation that inspires your heart and brings you closer to something one might call “home.” When you bring others, like-minded, into your circle and together further interpret things and choose roles and what have you, this is just as literal as it is figurative — you are also creating your own group interpretation of the mythology. Through your group, the mythology continues to live and grow, just as it aids your growth.

“The figurative portion is what the mind brings into play in reaction to the literal portion, and the literal portion is created on the subtle planes in the realm of ideas by the figurative interpretation [of an experience] that you applied at the start. It’s a self-evolving paradigm, alive and real but also dependent upon a variety of factors for survival as what it is now. If you drop your role as [this person/being/archetype etc], for instance, then the mythology you lived will evolve on without you. This is how it should be. Perhaps a new being will take your place, perhaps not. Either way it does not matter, as the mythology lives through its proponents and vice-verse. What happens to you is that your mythology evolves and moves, perhaps in a new direction than your circle in general — but this is not wrong. In fact, it is very right.”

“So yes, [the events of your past, and their relative interpretations] happened. You can’t invalidate it. But you can, and will over time, shift your view of it so that it might feel invalidated. As I once told Sheta, when we see the past, we see through the lens of today, of now, and that changes the past. You can’t see then through then’s eyes.

“Therefore, allow yourself your growth. Allow others their growth, or stagnation. Allow each to be what he will be — and be yourself, too. It will all bring you closer to where you want to be, if you do not deny it.”

It’s All About the Journey

When you undertake a conscious spiritual journey, you accept the challenges that arise, or you become one of those who can’t cope and so fall away from the trials of the “dark night of the soul” that all must experience at intervals. We learn by experience, and our perceptions of our experiences change with our growth and evolution. The “then” that Meridjet refers to will change in our view with our changing understanding. This is a never-ending process. If you can beat the odds and weather the changes, you will be all the richer for it. In a future column, I will expand on these stages of learning and the challenges intrinsic to them. Meanwhile, just remember — the journey is the reason for the destination… not vice-verse.

Footnotes

  1. Wikipedia
  2. Cosmic Trigger I : Final Secret of the Illuminati ©1977 by Robert Anton Wilson

©2007 by Sheta Kaey.

Sheta Kaey is a lifelong occultist and longtime spirit worker, as well as Editor in Chief of Rending the Veil. She counsels others with regard to spirit contact and astral work. She can be reached via her blog.

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