Thursday, 31 March 2016
So, I might be a little late to the party but I recently read an interdisciplinary masterwork by Gordon White, he of Rune Soup legend; a seminal new book called Star.Ships: A Prehistory of the Spirits. It’s an exquisite, scholarly and profound book, and gets my highest possible recommendation. Among other things Gordon applies his considerable intellectual and magical prowess to an exploration of star lore, genetics, geology, linguistics, Laurasian, Gondwanan and Pan-Gaean mythologies, and more specifically how they interrelate and why. He draws upon the work of Harvard Indologist E.J. Michael Witzel through that author’s book The Origins of the World’s Mythologies. Deepening Witzel’s research and contesting it where necessary Gordon presents a deeply compelling and nuanced case that the lineages and practices that shaped the Western Magical tradition are located at a time depth far, far earlier than has previously been understood.
Gordon covers a stunning array of sites and myths from all across the world, going back much further than one might imagine. He delves into the antediluvian antecedents of much of what we think we know about human culture and spirituality – and in doing so he presents us with far more nuanced understandings of both shamanism generally and also its practical application through culture-specific magical technologies. In my humble opinion Gordon has a very keen hold on how things bleed, blur and intermingle. Not only does he attempt to historicise all these threads more elegantly and effectively, he also succeeds in revitalising a far more interdisciplinary and sophisticated approach to research itself. It seems our current human pastimes and dominant stories – the Murdering of Monsters and the Mirroring of Heaven on Earth – goes back far earlier than we’ve been led to believe. Through Gordon’s work and the work of others like him we might be able to better contextualise our apparent belief in separation or a ‘Fall’, and thus our apparent concordant desire for unification. Such insights are useful not only magically, but culturally. This book has a staggeringly wide scope, and as such I suspect it will have a staggeringly wide array of subtle effects on those who read it. The following video is directly inspired by it. Any riffs, poetic licences or misinterpretations are my own. I’m not an Indologist, an archaeologist, an Egyptologist, or even a magician in the obvious sense of that term – but I do have my own Cathedral of Stars, my own ways of navigating and creating meaning. I speak with spirits too. Notes and aphorisms from my own Thief’s Journal are etched into the stone of this place. My own Cathedral predates my City, and it has been undeniably enriched and recontextualised through exposure to Gordon White’s seminal text. Which you can find here at Scarlet Imprint. Seriously, go read it. It is more than worth your time and money.
Not only is Star.Ships a powerful and lucid discussion about the magical, spiritual and cultural histories of the human race, to my eyes it’s also a keenly observed study on the nature and purposes of storytelling – how its vectors and contexts can affect and shape human consciousness, in ways that are both Seen and Unseen. The stars, and thus the spirits, are powerful. They communicate. Grandmother would be proud.
Tuesday, 1 March 2016
There are some people who see war as a useless spiritual metaphor. I’m not one of those people. I’m always trying to add nuance, context and sophistication to my understanding of this world. I’m always trying to peer with ever-deeper insight into the intricacies of human psychology, our soul and our spirit. But I make no apologies for my own subjectivity, my own interiority. After all, I can attempt to broaden and deepen it, but how could I ever escape such a thing? In my world the human race is at war both physically and spiritually. In my world dark forces covet our energies and dreams. They attempt to cloak themselves behind our fears, and walk amid the blind-spots of our cognition. I’ve been told that viewing human spirituality, divinity and creativity in terms of war is counter-productive, pessimistic even. Everyone perceives things through their own particular metaphoric lens, I’m aware of that. I’m aware that this world is coloured and inflected by the soul behind the eyes that is viewing it. Having such awareness, it would be dishonest of me to not recognise the potency I feel when viewing art, imagination and spirituality as war of a kind. Why is this metaphor so potent to me? Because it inspires me to action. It disinclines any latent passivity. If there is such a thing as a Good Fight, it encourages me to take up arms. I have said before here at Amid Night Suns that Art is the Oldest Magick. Well, the imagination – from where art is birthed – is the site of the Oldest War. For me, imagination is sorcery;a holy sepulchre filled with the dead, the unborn, and other things we dare to give names to.
The War of Imagination is the only war I’m interested in, the only war worth fighting. Why is this important? Because I believe that the human race has been colonised by sinister forces both banal and exotic. And I believe that the human imagination or soul was the site of this original colonisation. Archons, demons, dark angels, vampires, psychopathy, mental illness…all facets of the same gestalt. We tell each-other tales concerning those things that move through our shadowed inner temples. We create stories about how those temples fell, how we were manipulated, and the psychic scars we carry with us still. It doesn’t have to be ontologically real, but it is undeniably powerful. Like Love, or Hope. When I’m asked if dark entities actually exist, I don’t usually give the short answer. The short answer is yes. On the psychic, imaginal plane discrete boundaries become fluid and are harder to discern. But a wound is a scar that hasn’t healed, regardless of the ontological status of the thing that hurt you. Inspired by occult forces or not, the sheer depth of human depravity in our times staggers the imagination. The inner temples tremble, the stones fracture under the strain. The western world is a slave-economy. We only have these trinkets and charms because of hideous exploitation and abuse. Third-world economies that are forcibly maintained by first-world psychopaths, predator-elites who view this Earth as a slave market, a flesh-fair.
From my post entitled The Lost Knowledge:
Every single freedom, human right and protective legislation we have in society today was fought for by individuals and collectives who were brave enough to stand up against terrifying and overwhelming odds. Every positive social reform – be it for the rights of women, children, or sexual, social and racial minorities – was fought for by brave men and women putting consistent organised pressure on the existing power-structure.
Every freedom we have today is because of individuals throughout history bravely deciding to become soldiers of truth, of Innermost Light, and taking part in the Oldest War. People who found the vast schism between the powerful and the powerless utterly abhorrent. People who couldn’t shut their eyes to the indignities visited upon their fellow brothers and sisters. People who couldn’t pretend not to hear the liminal howling shriek of the voiceless, the defiled and desecrated. War, any war, is frightening stuff. It’s disturbing, unsettling. Most people want to close their eyes to it if they can. I understand that. I’m not insensitive to human anxieties. But I will not close my eyes to war, literal or otherwise. I will not turn away from the genocides, the death-camps, the sexual-slavery networks, the media entrainment, the chic negations, the corrosion of human will. But mostly, I won’t turn away from war as a useful personal metaphor for spirituality and creativity because I’m agonisingly aware that I’m at war with myself. I’m trying to transform, and that’s no easy task. I’m trying to engage in my own particular kind of shadow-work. I value the Shadow and what it might potentially teach us about the depths of our own consciousness. I am filled with monsters and gods. I am dark and light. I am ferocious; loving and tender and dangerous. I’m not perfect, in fact I’m deeply flawed. But I’m willing to fight for my freedom and the freedom of others. I can only do that with the humble tools I possess, and I’m always honing my tools. If I am War, then knowledge and art are my weapons.