A personal exegesis on Cleanthes “Hymn to Zeus”.
Author Archives: Acratophorus
Heraclitus On the Unity of All Things
All things resolve into Unity and from Unity resolve all things – binding wholes and parts, things combined and distinct, in harmony and disharmony.
Nature’s law is the Will towards Unity.
Wisdom is oneness with the purpose that steers all things.
To learn this, listen not to me but to the cosmic reason.
Friendship and the Political
Political allegiance in the West has an taken on an aspect of religious devotion and fervor. Perhaps because religion no longer occupies the same space within our society, we have simply replaced that “god shaped hole” in our hearts with the nearest available ideology? To be sure, there is a messianic tendency at play. I’ve fallen into it myself, believing if I just converted the right people the world could be saved, or at least stopped from getting much worse. We have, after all, been told all our lives that we, the people, are the government – or at the very least determine its decisions. Strange then that the government seems to do very little that we actually want, and a great many things we emphatically do not want.
The New Rules
One of the chief difficulties for aspiring artists of all kinds, is that we often misunderstand the relationship between what our art could be and what it presently is. When we encounter great art it appears like the transformative power of the magician’s staff. Great art opens a gateway to the realm of the gods. It reveals things hidden to our normal senses. It changes our view of the world and ourselves. Great artists seem to pursue their art as a sacred calling, as if it were the grail itself: a chalice of solace and renewal to which they return again and again throughout all of life’s vicissitudes. Even among those artists who are merely technically excellent, and not necessarily endowed with greatness of insight and expression, we wonder at the power their art has to move the world. We see it bring to some riches and renown. We see it used to shield the weak, humble the wicked, build communities of friendship and tear down prison walls. Our own work of course does none of these things. It seems rote, mechanical, and immature. Our enthusiasm for what art represents rubs against our experience of actually doing it. We stop. We balk. We falter. Why?
There is a pernicious lie we believe. It is the lie of the “inner genius”. The substance of this lie is that somewhere within us resides an homunculus – a tiny person. This “inner artist” possesses all the wondrous creative power we seek, complete and fully developed. In order for us to achieve the artist’s life, it is only necessary to contact this mischievous imp, who will then spin thread into gold, make the sun still in the sky, and open the doorway to Narnia. This is assuming of course that we are “real” artists. Non-artists don’t have an inner Shakespeare, a miniature Gauguin, or a tiny Beethoven. Perhaps they have a pet genius for spreadsheets, or an innermost sacred accountant. Having this model of the creative process, we are disturbed when we sit down to work and find our minuscule demon missing from his station. Perhaps we have done something to drive him away, and should seek out some kind of artist’s penance? There is a whole industry of books, support groups, and retreats providing this service. Perhaps we are not sensitive enough and must “develop” our “creative intuition”? Most occult and spiritual practices are substitutes for nothing else. Perhaps we are – horror of horrors – not a “real” artist at all, and should resign ourselves to corporate mediocrity and mindless entertainments? Whatever it is, we must do something. Clearly something is wrong with us, for the magic gate is closed.
“Whenever you experience mental vacillation, cast your mind back to the Greco-Roman mentality as it was before the second century.”
“In the first place, paganism is not a ‘return to the past.’ It does not consist of what could be called ‘one past versus another’… It is not a manifestation of a desire to return to some kind of ‘lost paradise’ (this is rather a Judeo-Christian theme), and even less… to a ‘pure origin’.
Contemporary paganism does not consist of erecting altars to Apollo or reviving the worship of Odin. Instead it implies looking behind religion and, according to a now classic itinerary, seeking for the ‘mental equipment’ that produced it, the inner world it reflects, and how the world it depicts is apprehended. In short, it consists of viewing the gods as ‘centers of values’… and the beliefs they generate as value systems: gods and beliefs may pass away, but the values remain.
Far from being confused with atheism or agnosticism, it poses a fundamentally religious relationship between man and world – and a spirituality that appears to us much more intense, much more serious, and stronger than what Judeo-Christianity claims for itself. Far from desacralizing the world, it sacralizes it in the literal sense of the word; it regards the world as sacred – and this is precisely, as we shall see, the core of paganism.”
– Alain de Benoist
David Hume, in his Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, presents a refutation of the argument from design, sometimes called the teleological argument. This argument suggests that a transcendent creator exists based on perceived evidence of deliberate design in the world. It is perhaps better known today as the “watchmaker argument”, the idea that if one comes across a watch on the beach, with its intricate and obviously purposeful construction, it argues that somewhere there must exist a watchmaker: a being or beings capable of applying intentionality to blind extended matter. Hume’s refutation of this argument is upheld as definitive, and a principle herald of the modern view of nature, as the desacralized and random interactions of blind and non-perceiving substances. Does, however, this argument hold up under scrutiny?
Whither Thelema? Part One
I imagine that no one who has taken the time to read the works of Aleister Crowley with an open mind has not, at some point, felt inspired by his vision of human freedom, open inquiry and spiritual attainment. I also cannot imagine how any stable and emotionally mature adult, spending any time in or around the organizations that claim to carry on his work today, could come away with a favourable impression. From the high promise of the source material, we fall to the present manifest reality of mismanagement and dysfunction. What are we to make of this vast discrepancy?
Seven Traditionalist Definitions
Perennial: Perpetual or everlasting. Perennial truths are universally valid for all mankind, throughout history.
Tradition: An arrangement of symbols and rites which transmit perennial truths.
Lineage: A chain of beings who articulate a particular tradition.
Initiation: Inclusion within a lineage.
Adept: Skillful. In this context, one who can relate traditional forms to perennial truths.
Master: One who embodies the perennial truths indicated by a tradition. A source of tradition.
Religion: Traditional myths, stories and rites without necessarily any connection to meaning and perennial truth.
A Stoic Mnemonic in Hexameter
All beings chase their own good
Will rising from judgements,
Of all things in the world,
Our success or failures.
Happiness is our choice,
Virtue ever close to hand.
Mind is always up to us,
And with it our emotions.
To live in harmony
With all sacred nature,
Means first and most of all
Being joyous in your self.
For excellence in action,
Regardless of outcome,
And steadiness of soul,
Lie always in our power.
Selections from Seneca’s “Moral Letters”
trans. Robin Campbell
To be everywhere is to be nowhere. (Letter 2)
The spirit and the intellect cannot be of different hues. If the spirit is sound, if it is properly adjusted and has dignity and self-control, the intellect will be sober and sensible too, and if the former is tainted the latter will be infected as well. (Letter 114)