A New Year

2012 was quite the year for me – both great and terrible.  The last few months were dominated, as many of my friends know, by my summary dismissal from the organization which claims to be the one true OTO, after over 10 years of loyal membership.    That is a phrase which, to be totally honest, I never through I’d use: “one true OTO”.  It implies that there are other valid OTO’s out there.  Presently there are not.   The whole sordid tale will have to wait until another time, but very briefly I’d like to point out that if you look at Crowley’s writing on the subject, it’s very clear that OTO was never meant to be a “California not-for-profit corporation”.   It’s an ideal towards which we aspire.  Perhaps the world is not yet ready for OTO.  Perhaps we, in the Thelemic community, are simply not ready to give the world this model, as we don’t have it ourselves.  Before anything can be born into the world, it first must be carried for a season in the womb of our hearts.  If OTO does not exist within us, it will never exist outside of us.

It’s been said that every generation has its own war – its own struggle.   I believe this to be part of ours.  What calls to us now as most essential is an engagement with occult truth itself, within the context of our own lives.  Running around trying to convince others to “sign up” to something that we don’t really understand ourselves – or even worse, nurse secret hostility towards, is an exercise doomed to failure and self-ruin.  If the present “leadership” of the so called “OTO”, and organizations like it, hasn’t taught us that… I don’t know what good it’s done at all.  Enough of that for now.  I will revisit this topic in more detail later, when I can stomach a lengthier examination of the depths of cowardice, falsehood, and willful ignorance that exists in the “leadership” cadre of the organization in question.   In the spirit of the new year, let us move on to happier things.

Vinegar_tasters

The title of this blog “Acratophorus” means “giver of unmixed wine” and is a title of the Greek god Dionysus.   I thought to use this blog to present my undiluted, but most carefully selected self.  Initially I thought this would best be accomplished by limiting the blog to magical and philosophical writings and explorations.   I’ve now come to realize that this doesn’t go far enough… it doesn’t go “all the way”.  Magick is not something that happens only within the Temple space.  Philosophy is not something you do only when you write a paper.   These things must expand and consume all the rest of your life.  This is how life is made sacred.

At the risk of belaboring the wine metaphor… I had intended to use this space as a “tasting”, to display my very best vintages.  Over the next year, I wish to transition to using this space as a “fermentation barrel”.  My hope is that the demands of “art” – in this case a more or less public blog – will be the yeasty charge that adds spirit to the blood of the grape.  If the wine is poor, or too thin, I will have only myself to blame.   If it is rich, and full, and fills the cup of Babalon, then it is its own reward.

With the breath of her kisses hath she fermented it, and it hath become the wine of the Sacrament, the wine of the Sabbath; and in the Holy Assembly hath she poured it out for her worshippers, and they had become drunken thereon, so that face to face they beheld my Father. Thus are they made worthy to become partakers of the Mystery of this holy vessel, for the blood is the life. So sitteth she from age to age, and the righteous are never weary of her kisses, and by her murders and fornications she seduceth the world. Therein is manifested the glory of my Father, who is truth.

(This wine is such that its virtue radiateth through the cup, and I reel under the intoxication of it. And every thought is destroyed by it. It abideth alone, and its name is Compassion. I understand by “Compassion,” the sacrament of suffering, partaken by the true worshippers of the Highest. And it is an ecstasy in which there is no trace of pain. Its passivity (=passion) is like the giving-up of the self to the beloved.)

Over the next year I hope to write on many things.  Some of them will be, perhaps, spiritual and sublime.  Some of them will be serious and, hopefully, of great importance. Some of them may appear vain, frivolous and superficial.  This blog will not becomes a stream of consciousness regurgitation of the mundane details of my life, but everything will go into the cup – at least everything that I can fit.  This will be a process, not a presentation.  I invite you to join me…. or not…. as it is your Will to do.  


Thoth-Tarot-Lust

 

This is the Mystery of Babylon, the Mother of abominations, and this is the mystery of her adulteries, for she hath yielded up herself to everything that liveth, and hath become a partaker in its mystery. And because she hath made herself the servant of each, therefore is she become the mistress of all. Not as yet canst thou comprehend her glory.  Beautiful art thou, O Babylon, and desirable, for thou hast given thyself to everything that liveth, and thy weakness hath subdued their strength. For in that union thou didst understand. Therefore art thou called Understanding, O Babylon, Lady of the Night….


O Babylon, Babylon, thou mighty Mother, that ridest upon the crowned beast, let me be drunken upon the wine of thy fornications; let thy kisses wanton me unto death, that even I, thy cup-bearer, may understand.

– Liber 418:12th Aethyr


A Journey

Tonight, two friends and I are leaving the City of Angels for the “Valley of the Sun” .

There is something special about packing a bag and departing from the known, for however short a time period, that raises the energetic level of our lived experience.  It is something like dance: a motion that carries meaning.  While the place we are journeying to may be pedestrian for those that live there, and our own domicile may seem mysterious and exotic to other people all over the world, the very act of departing, and the uncertainty that comes with it, calls to something in our souls.  While the proverbial “road trip” technically requires a destination, this is only a formality.  The point is the pleasure of the journey itself, and the unknown that it carries us into.

Also the Holy One came upon me, and I beheld a white swan floating in the blue.
Between its wings I sate, and the æons fled away.
Then the swan flew and dived and soared, yet no whither we went.
A little crazy boy that rode with me spake unto the swan, and said:
Who art thou that dost float and fly and dive and soar in the inane? Behold, these many æons have passed; whence camest thou? Whither wilt thou go?
And laughing I chid him, saying: No whence! No whither!
The swan being silent, he answered: Then, if with no goal, why this eternal journey?
And I laid my head against the Head of the Swan, and laughed, saying: Is there not joy ineffable in this aimless winging? Is there not weariness and impatience for who would attain to some goal?
And the swan was ever silent. Ah! but we floated in the infinite Abyss. Joy! Joy!
White swan, bear thou ever me up between thy wings!

-A. Crowley, Liber LXV II:17-25

There is a tendency in the modern world to put “safety first”, but this attitude has done little to improve the quality of our lives.  Instead we have made the world monotonous, sterile and boring.  Even the relatively bourgeoisie days of this author’s youth seem a mad cap adventure, compared to what passes for childhood in the increasingly codified, styro-foam coated, bubble wrapped present.    As modernity increasingly removes all sense of the transcendent from daily life, it becomes harder and harder to risk ourselves in any great adventure –  to find anything worthy of risk.  This is why, I believe, we have become so concerned about the welfare of “future generations”.  We seek to put off the questions of our own time by invoking the struggles of our children and living for their sake.  Paradoxically, this tends to make our lineage less likely to survive into the far future, as a few generations of risk-averse, over-protective, indulgent parenting has succeeded in producing risk-averse, cowardly, intellectually and physically flabby descendants.

Anyhow, there’s no such thing as safety.  Life is a gamble.  From the moment of incarnation a million accidents are possible.  Miscarriage, still-birth, abortion; throughout life, until your heart beats for the last time, “you never can tell” – — — — and then you start all over again with your next incarnation!

-A. Crowley, Magick Without Tears, Ch, 80

Nietzsche put forward the idea of the “eternal return” as a way to test an individual’s fitness.  If life were repeated, over and over again, in all its unfair, strange, incomprehensibly terrible glory, would you rejoice or fall down weeping?  Are you strong enough to live for the journey, or do you need a safe pasture – well fenced,  to graze in for all eternity?

This is not a question of logic, but of fundamental orientation.  It can, perhaps, be called a matter of “taste” but this serves to reduce what is, essentially, a hierarchical difference in spiritual temperament to an issue of personal preference.    What is most vexing about the modern, socialized, corporatized world is not that it exists,  but that it seeks to put itself forward as the only rational type of existence – the ne plus ultra of human evolution.    This “one size fits all” approach to human culture is incredibly unpopular, yet it persists because people cannot imagine a viable alternative.  Despite this cultural myopia, the material for the construction of an alternative is out there – it exists.  It is, perhaps, not yet polished and “turn key” material, but that is what makes it truly dynamic and compelling: a risk, a gamble… a journey.

Democracy dodders. Ferocious Fascism, cackling Communism, equally frauds, cavort crazily all over the globe. The are hemming us in.  They are abortive births of the Child, the New Aeon of Horus.  Liberty stirs once more in the womb of Time.

Evolution makes its changes by anti-Socialistic ways. The “abnormal” man who foresees the trend of the times and adapts circumstance intelligently, is laughed at, persecuted, often destroyed by the herd; but he and his heirs, when the crisis comes, are survivors.

Above us today hangs a danger never yet paralleled in history. We suppress the individual in more and more ways. We think in terms of the herd. War no longer kills soldiers; it kills all indiscriminately. Every new measure of the most democratic and autocratic govenments is Communistic in essence. It is always restriction. We are all treated as imbecile children. Dora, the Shops Act, the Motoring Laws, Sunday suffocation, the Censorship— they won’t trust us to cross the roads at will.

Fascism is like Communism, and dishonest into the bargain. The dictators suppress all art, literature, theatre, music, news, that does not meet their requirements; yet the world only moves by the light of genius. The herd will be destroyed in mass.

The establishment of the Law of Thelema is the only way to preserve individual liberty and to assure the future of the race. In the words of the famous paradox of the Comte de Fénix— The absolute rule of the state shall be a function of the absolute liberty of each individual will. All men and women are invited to cooperate with the Master Therion in this, the Great Work.

– A. Crowley, Introduction to Liber AL vel Legis, Ch. 5

Thoughts on “The Grey”

The fundamental principle underlying all justification of war, from the point of view of human personality, is heroism.  War, it is said, offers man the opportunity to awaken the hero who sleeps within him.  War breaks the routine of comfortable life; by means of its severe ordeals, it offers a transfiguring knowledge of life, life according to death.  The moment the individual succeeds in living as a hero, even if it is the final moment of his earthly life, weighs infinitely more on the scale of values than a protracted existence spent consuming monotonously among the trivialities of cities.

– J. Evola, The Metaphysics of War

Joe Carnahan’s latest film, starring Liam Neeson, is generating a highly polarized response.   Extrinsically, it follows the exploits of  a group of men stranded in the wilderness, as they try to survive and reach civilization, while they are pursued by an aggressive pack of wolves.   Existentially, the film is about finding a reason to live and struggle on, in a seemingly uncaring and meaningless universe.  Hence the name:  The Grey.

This struggle is, itself, nothing new.  All thinking men doubt and wonder.  The ancients, by their records, were no less thoughtful than modern man, although the manner in which they encountered the struggle for existence, and encapsulated its vicissitudes in art, poetry and music is foreign to us.   Where they saw gods and titans, we see only matter and brute instinct.  While it is still possible to rally one’s self  in the struggle against these cthonic forces under the present zeitgeist, the character of that “rallying”, and the possibilities it opens up for the individual, are markedly different today than those known by our ancestors.

Given all this,  it is obvious that the term ‘hero’ is a common denominator which embraces very different types and meanings.  The readiness to die, to sacrifice one’s own life, may be the sole prerequisite, from the technical and collectivist point of view, but also from the point of view of what today, rather brutally, has come to be referred to as  ‘cannon fodder’.  However, it is also obvious that it is not from this point of view that war can claim any real spiritual value as regards the individual…

If we proceed with this train of thought it becomes rather clear from what has been said above that not all wars have the same possibilities…

These points correspond, basically, to three possible types of relation in which the warrior caste and its principle can find themselves with in respect to the other manifestations already considered.  In the normal state, they are subordinate to the spiritual principle, and there breaks out a heroism which leads to supra-life, to supra-personhood.

-J. Evola, The Metaphysics of war

 This form of heroism is only,  in the West today, suggested by myth and legend.  Where encountered directly it is only in its negative and adversarial, counter initiatory form, as “fanaticism”.  The Islamic terrorist’s heaven of virgins is but a crude and childish echo of this promise.   At one time this form of heroism was, if not the norm, at least the goal of the trained fighting man.  This seems to have been universally the case among civilized people, regardless of “race” or land of origin.

The warrior principle may, however, construct its own form, refusing to recognize anything as superior to it, and then the heroic experience takes on a quality which is ‘tragic’: insolent, steel-tempered, but without light.  Personality remains, and strengthens but, at the same time, so does the limit constituted by its naturalistic and simply human nature.  Nevertheless, this type of ‘hero’ shows a certain greatness, and, naturally, for the types hierarchically inferior to the warrior, i.e. the bourgeois and the slave types, this war and this heroism already mean overcoming, elevation, accomplishment.

-J. Evola, Metaphysics of War

This is the heroic form displayed in The Grey.  While Liam Neeson’s character, John Ottway, never achieves anything transcendent, there is a dignity in his struggle with life and death that, to some extent, elevates him above the herd and grants him an initiation of sorts.   This possibility may remain open for some individuals today, but the door is fast closing.   While the warrior may find meaning in struggle itself, the markers that allow him to orient himself in this action must come from somewhere outside and “above” the struggle.  He must fight for something and, by necessity, against something else.  In the film, these markers are the absent family and loved ones of the stranded men, primarily children and “sweethearts”, which appear to them, ghost like, in moments of hardship.  While this is not, necessarily, a bad thing, these relationships depend on a metaphysical framework (romantic love, family, etc) which is quickly evaporating in the modern west.  The “for the sake of the children/women/free people at home” rhetoric of the modern state-run intellectual apparatus is an attempt to call up this kind of possibility, although what it actually results in is the third type of heroism, which Evola goes on to articulate.

The third case involves a degraded warrior principle, which has passed into the service of hierarchically inferior elements (the castes beneath it).  In such cases, heroic experience is united, almost fatally, to an evocation, and an eruption, of instinctual, sub-personal, collective, irrational forces, so that there occurs, basically, a lesion and a regression of the personality of the individual, who can only live life in a passive manner, driven either by necessity or by the suggestive power of myths and passionate impulses… they do not become base, nor deserters, but all that impels them forward throughout the most terrible tests are elemental forces, impulses, instincts and reactions, in which there is not much human remaining, and which do not know any moment of light.

-J. Evola, The Metaphysics of War

Nowhere is this better demonstrated than in the plight of the modern “soldier”.  It is worth noting that the word literally means “mercenary”: one who receives pay for fighting, from the Latin word “solidus” signifying a coin ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solidus_(coin) ).  Fighting is not longer a sacred task, or the possibility of some grand adventure, but a “job”.   It may, perhaps, be puffed up by mythological references (god, country, “freedom”, somewhat paradoxically “safety” from one’s enemies, etc) but these phantasmal motivators are not living presences within the struggle itself.  At best they may motivate the soldier to throw himself into the struggle but, once inside, he can only hope to pull together the diverse, and often contradictory, telluric drives which threaten to tear his mind apart in their desperate struggle to preserve his physical existence and forge some kind of willed action out of the chaos.  This is the last form of heroism available and it is almost entirely a heroism in name only.   Here the personality is only the point of cohesion and, while it is better to be this sort of hero than none at all, the repercussions are significant.  The tremendous psychic energy of violence must be dealt with and, with no positive transmutation possible, the force simply grounds out.

Estimates say that one U.S. soldier attempts suicide every 80 minutes, and that the total loss of soldiers due to successful suicide is higher than losses in combat.  (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2057061/One-U-S-veteran-attempts-suicide-80-minutes-Hidden-tragedy-Afghanistan-Iraq-wars.html).

It is a deep error to believe that it is only through military or police service to the modern state that heroic existence remains possible.  The defining condition of heroism is not necessarily physical action with weaponry, but courageous action, of any kind, for the sake of one’s convictions, in the face of risk and danger.  In this way, the conditions that make possible the higher forms of heroism are perhaps more present and accessible to every man, today, than at any time in history!

As the values of the herd become more and more firmly entrenched, thinking differently, speaking out, simply “going one’s own way” becomes increasingly more difficult.  What calls for heroism, today, is not struggle on the battlefield, or in the wilderness, but in the spiritual wilderness of our daily lives.  This type of “wilderness” is found everywhere the nihilism of the modern world touches: from the inner cities, to the suburbs, from the nation’s capital to the rough fields of Texas.

In the quiet and ordered periods of history this wisdom is accessible only to a few chosen ones, since there are too many occasions to surrender and to sink, to consider the ephemeral to be the important, to forget the instability and contingency of what is irremediably such by nature.  It is on this basis that what can be called in the broader sense the mentality of the bourgeois life is organized: it is a life which does not know either hights or depths, and develops interests, affections, desires and passions which, however important they may be from the merely earthly point of view, become petty and relative from the supra-individual and spiritual poing of view, which must always be regarded as proper to any human existence worth of the name.

-J. Evola, The Metaphysics of War

This is the struggle that, today, calls out for heroism.   It is not the threat of violence that we must fear, so much as the threat of meaninglessness and forgetfulness.   It is impossible to wage this struggle as the third type of “hero”.  It is a higher possibility that speaks to us in the struggle for individuation.  Even to rise up to the second type of hero would be, for modern man, a vast improvement and, for those few who “have ears to hear” and “eyes to see”, the great heroes of the past still beckon, as a new and future possibility.

Each act of man is the twist and double of an hare.

Love and Death are the greyhounds that course him.

God bred the hounds and taketh His pleasure in the sport.

This is the Comedy of Pan, that man should think he huntheth, while those hounds hunt him.

This is the Tragedy of Man, when facing Love and Death he turns to bay.  He is no more hare, but boar.

There are no other comedies or tragedies.

Cease then to be the mockery of God; in savagery of love and death live thou and die!

Thus shall His laughter be thrilled through with Ecstasy.

-A. Crowley, The Book of Lies, Ch. 34