Notifications
Clear all

Introduction  


 Anonymous
Joined: 51 years ago
Posts: 0
Topic starter  

Hello,

93
I am fairly new to the ideas of Crowley (and magick/hermeticism in general), so I assumed that participation in this forum would assist me in getting my feet wet in Thelema, so to speak.
Being deeply interested in Jungian psychoanalysis, natural science, neuroscience, mysticism, esoterica, and philosophical ethics (I am going to school for psychology and folklore in the fall, with aspirations of becoming a psychiatrist and analytical psychotherapist) and tending to place great personal, even mystical emphasis on the ideas of personal freedom, self-actualization, willpower, sexuality, and love, it seemed to me that the Thelemic community would be perfect to associate with. I am certainly willing to learn more about Thelema and Crowley, and more about the practical applications of magick. I already have some knowledge of Gnosticism, Hinduism, tantra, Zen Buddhism, and Christian mysticism.
Still, being interested in science and empiricism, I tend to eschew, or otherwise remain skeptical of, ideas that have been falsified by more consistent or empirical approaches (like astrology and a lot of parapsychology). I prefer to look at these things from a Jungian or psychodynamic point-of-view. Is belief in astrology and fortune-telling and literal spirit/angel/demon invocation necessary to Thelemic practice? Or is it acceptable to view them as extensions of the unconscious? What is ritual magickal practice attempting to accomplish, and why did Crowley see it as necessary? Is Thelema necessarily an "occult" religious philosophy? Did Crowley say anything about scientific empiricism?
Again, I am excited to learn more about Thelema, and hopefully meet some cool people in the process.
Cheers, and thanks for reading!
93, 93/93

Dylan


Quote
Los
 Los
(@los)
Member
Joined: 12 years ago
Posts: 2195
 

Hi Dylan,

Welcome to the forums. I share a lot of your interests, so I was glad to read your opening post. I’ve addressed several of your comments and questions below.

being interested in science and empiricism, I tend to eschew, or otherwise remain skeptical of, ideas that have been falsified by more consistent or empirical approaches (like astrology and a lot of parapsychology).

That’s refreshing to hear. Too many students of “occult” subjects, in my estimation, accept supernatural claims for really poor reasons. A healthy skepticism is your only weapon against your own mind, which can almost too easily reason its way into believing all sorts of falsehoods and absurdities on the back of insufficient evidence (hence, the curse on “Because” found in the Book of the Law – see Liber AL II: 28-33).

Is belief in astrology and fortune-telling and literal spirit/angel/demon invocation necessary to Thelemic practice?

Nope, not at all.

Or is it acceptable to view them as extensions of the unconscious?

This is definitely an “acceptable” view (i.e. it does not contradict anything about Thelema). Also, I personally think that this is really the only non-silly view of these subjects.

For what it’s worth, Crowley made a lot of statements spanning his entire career suggesting very strongly that he recognized that beings such as “angels” and whatnot aren’t literally external entities.

For example, he famously writes in his “Initiated Interpretation of Ceremonial Magick” that “The spirits of the goetia are portions of the human brain.” He then goes on in that essay to explain goetic magick as the process of “stimulating,” through ritual, those portions of the brain that correspond to the spirit in question. So, for example, Crowley says that if you evoke a demon to bring you riches, what you’re really doing is stimulating that part of the brain that has to do with your “business sense” and making it stronger, and that’s how you’ll make more money.

Now, of course, we can debate whether a ritual actually can stimulate a portion of the brain in order to have anything resembling a detectable effect on the external world, and I think we’d be right to be skeptical of this, but at least Crowley was trying to explain magick in a somewhat plausible way.

Some supernaturalist Thelemites, by the way, say that Crowley’s “Initiated Interpretation” essay was written during a materialist “phase” that Crowley went through and that Crowley “changed his mind” about the existence of spooks. That’s not really true, though, because we can find skeptical statements throughout Crowley’s writing.

A few examples:

“The mind is the great enemy; so, by invoking enthusiastically a person whom we know not to exist, we are rebuking that mind.” – Magick in Theory and Practice

*

“Thus, when we say that Nakhiel is the "Intelligence" of the Sun, we do not mean that he lives in the Sun, but only that he has a certain rank and character; and although we can invoke him, we do not necessarily mean that he exists in the same sense of the word in which our butcher exists.

“When we "conjure Nakhiel to visible appearance," it may be that our process resembles creation — or, rather imagination — more nearly than it does calling-forth.” – Magick in Theory and Practice

*

“Practically, Science is true; and Faith is foolish […] I know only too well the worthlessness of single-handed observations […] So that after all I keep my scepticism intact – and I keep my Samadhi intact. The one balances the other; I care nothing for the vulgar brawling of these two varlets of my mind.” – The Soldier and the Hunchback

*

“In this book it is spoken of the Sephiroth and the Paths; of Spirits and Conjurations; of Gods, Spheres, Planes, and many other things which may or may not exist.

It is immaterial whether these exist or not. By doing certain things certain results will follow; students are most earnestly warned against attributing objective reality or philosophic validity to any of them.” – Liber O

*

“There is the story of the American in the train who saw another American carrying a basket of unusual shape. His curiosity mastered him, and he leant across and said: "Say, stranger, what you got in that bag?" The other, lantern-jawed and taciturn, replied: "mongoose". The first man was rather baffled, as he had never heard of a mongoose. After a pause he pursued, at the risk of a rebuff: "But say, what is a Mongoose?" "Mongoose eats snakes", replied the other. This was another poser, but he pursued: "What in hell do you want a Mongoose for?" "Well, you see", said the second man (in a confidential whisper) "my brother sees snakes". The first man was more puzzled than ever; but after a long think, he continued rather pathetically: "But say, them ain't real snakes". "Sure", said the man with the basket, "but this Mongoose ain't real either".

“This is a perfect parable of Magick.” – Magick in Theory and Practice

*

“The "reality" or "objectivity" of these symbols [i.e. “spirits” or “angels”] is not pertinent to the discussion […] The Astral Plane – real or imaginary […]” – Magick in Theory and Practice

*

“You say "the elemental spirits and the Archangels are watching." (!)  My dear, dear, sister, did you invent these beings for no better purpose than to spy on you? They are there to serve you; they are parts of your being” – Magick Without Tears

The above are just a handful of the ones I can recall from off the top of my head. Anyway, you can see that Crowley sure as shoot promotes skepticism of these supernatural ideas. And while we can find examples of him making some claims about supernatural beings and powers in various places, we have to keep in mind that Crowley was a chronic bullshit artist and enjoyed fancying himself a wizard or something. His system, at least – if not his personal beliefs – is skeptical to the core.

What is ritual magickal practice attempting to accomplish, and why did Crowley see it as necessary?

This question involves a kind of lengthy answer, so I’ll shorten it up in order to encourage conversation on it.

Thelema is entirely about the discovery and execution of each individual’s True Will, which is defined as that individual’s natural, authentic inclinations in a given environment. Now, that may not sound all that special – after all, doesn’t everyone always follow their inclinations? – but we have to consider that given the way the human brain works – having been produced by evolution, which did not produce us to be “happy” or “fulfilled” but to be fit to survive – and the way that humans are inculcated by society (with certain ideals drilled into them as “objectively good”), it can be very difficult for an individual to properly perceive his or her natural, authentic inclinations.

The work of Thelema – what is called the “Great Work” – is learning to see through the veil of false desires that the mind casts over one’s perception and perceive one’s actual desires (or “True Will”).

This True Will is not – repeat, not – necessarily something “good,” as defined by society or even by one’s own mind. It is just what one’s actual inclinations are, as opposed to artificial ones imposed on the individual by the individual’s own mind. Thelema is not Christianity in drag. The goal isn’t to become a “good person” – the goal is to be a more authentic person. Whether that authenticity translates into what people might call “good” is neither here nor there.

In other words, your “True Will” is not necessarily going to be to give up your possessions and become a selfless public servant. It could be your True Will to eat a cheeseburger right now, for all I know.

So how do we discover that True Will? There are basically two methods. The first is the way of meditation: to still the veils of the mind and let the “inner light” shine through (forgive the fruity metaphors). The second is the way of magick: to excite the veils until one is “shaken” out of their hold.

The purpose of ritual, in the context of Thelema, is to assist an individual in shaking off the shackles of his or her mind and perceiving the True Self (also called the “Holy Guardian Angel,” a term Crowley specifically says that he selected because it implies an “absurd” theory of the universe and thus no one would be tempted to take it literally).

There is absolutely nothing “supernatural” about the process. Crowley writes in Liber Samekh, a ritual he devised for attaining Knowledge and Conversation with his Holy Guardian Angel, that the purpose of the ritual is to distract the magician’s body, mind, and imagination so as to enable the magician to concentrate on his “deepest self”:

“the Adept will be free to concentrate his deepest self, that part of him which unconsciously orders his true Will, upon the realization of his Holy Guardian Angel. The absence of his bodily, mental and astral consciousness is indeed cardinal to success, for it is their usurpation of his attention which has made him deaf to his Soul, and his preoccupation with their affairs that has prevented him from perceiving that Soul.”

As to the question of whether ritual magick is necessary, it’s not. You’ll have easier success if you design your own methods for discovering your True Will, based on your own inclinations.

But whatever methods you use, the essence of the task is to learn to see through the mind and to pay better attention to the Self.

Is Thelema necessarily an "occult" religious philosophy?

No.

Did Crowley say anything about scientific empiricism?

The slogan of the Equinox was “The Method of Science, the Aim of Religion.” That is to say, by the methods of scientific objectivity – striving to see the world as impartially as possible – one will achieve the aim of religion (re-ligio, relinking…in this context, relinking to the True Self, which has been buried under the veils of the mind).

Again, welcome to the forums.


ReplyQuote
jamie barter
(@jamie-barter)
Member
Joined: 8 years ago
Posts: 1688
 

"We accept you, we accept you, one of us, one of us”.

Welcome Dylan. (You are well come to the forum.)

"myrrhman" wrote:
Being deeply interested in Jungian psychoanalysis, natural science, neuroscience, mysticism, esoterica, and philosophical ethics [...] I already have some knowledge of Gnosticism, Hinduism, tantra, Zen Buddhism, and Christian mysticism.
I am fairly new to the ideas of Crowley (and magick/hermeticism in general)

You seem to have somehow fairly managed to miss out on Uncle Aleister in your otherwise quite eclectic study, but, apart from reading his own works, I can’t think of a more beneficial place at the present time than LAShTAL with all of its resources to get better acquainted.

There’s at least one joke I can think of regarding the profession of psychiatry but as I can’t think of the exact punchline I won’t put it here.  (Also, as I don’t know anything about what sort of sense of humour you might have yet - or even if you’ve got one! 😀 - I wouldn’t want to run the risk of possibly offending you so early!)

I trust that your own powers of selectivity and discrimination are sufficient to allow you to winnow out the dross from the Gospel According to Los and to perceive where appropriate what atom of golden good sense there may sometimes be buried away behind it all.  There are a couple of points – phrases, really - I might have picked him up on in his reply to your introduction alone, but, as you may come to discover, he prefers to pretend I’m not really here and that if he ignores me long enough I might go away…

We’ve already had the debate on whether the HGA really means one’s “Deepest”, “Higher” or “True Self” many, many times on this forum – just “search” for it if you really want to go down that particular rabbit warren!  If you wish to debate him on it, I wish you all good luck – many have tried and they have perished (the debates, not the posters!) in a quagmire of excessive wordage, circular argumentation and sheer frustration beyond a certain point.  But maybe you might have success where most others failed!  You have certainly started off on a + point with him, in averring to favour the scientific technique:

"myrrhman" wrote:
Still, being interested in science and empiricism, I tend to eschew, or otherwise remain skeptical of, ideas that have been falsified by more consistent or empirical approaches (like astrology and a lot of parapsychology).

However Woe (and woe, woe, woe, again: woe, woe, woe & even more Woe even unto the seventh repetition) betide you, or anyone else new, if you happen to aver more to what is, for shorthand purposes, best described as a “supernaturalist” inclination, or: unorthodox belief in paranormal phenomena not otherwise “explainable” by a more rigorous rational analysis and not “scientifically objectively striving to see the world as impartially as possible.”  (Incidentally, I'm not especially supernaturalist as in banging a drum for it & left to my own devices might well have pursued a more "rationalist" angle - but found myself (seemingly more by ‘accident than design’) “coming over” to the supernaturalists’ side of the fence and “adopting” their viewpoint mainly “in fact” as a result of the exasperating trend of Los’ (and others of his ilk) own arguments...

But whichever side you end up dressing on, though: good fortune to you (by whatever means)!
Norma N Joy Conquest.


ReplyQuote
Michael Staley
(@michael-staley)
MANIO - it's all in the egg
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 4119
 

Welcome to LAShTAL, Dylan.


ReplyQuote
Hamal
(@hamal)
Member
Joined: 7 years ago
Posts: 547
 

Hi Dylan,

Welcome to the forum. You'll find a lot of scholarly information here on Lashtal and some interesting debates. My advice, think for yourself and don't be afraid to disagree with any point of view. Beware Los'd causes and circular arguments.

Lashtal is great, you'll enjoy it I'm sure.

🙂
93
Hamal


ReplyQuote
Anonymous
 Anonymous
(@Anonymous)
Joined: 1 second ago
Posts: 0
 
"myrrhman" wrote:
Still, being interested in science and empiricism, I tend to eschew, or otherwise remain skeptical of, ideas that have been falsified by more consistent or empirical approaches (like astrology and a lot of parapsychology). I prefer to look at these things from a Jungian or psychodynamic point-of-view.

I think you will, as I have, discover that a large number of folks in the Thelemic community hold this view. From what I've learned in my own studies, magick is the process of using one's imagination, the practice of ritual, contemplation of archetypes, and meditation to enter new states of consciousness or self-awareness. I've not run into any dogma or anti-rationalism in any of Crowley's works. On the contrary, he seems to suggest that the spiritual realm is entirely a product of one's own mind. As for things like tarot, astrology, scrying, and numerology, most Western Tradition occultists see them as meditative and therapeutic practices. Fortune telling and spiritualism have little to do with it and are even viewed as a corruption of their original intent.


ReplyQuote
Michael Staley
(@michael-staley)
MANIO - it's all in the egg
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 4119
 
"Andrew " wrote:
I've not run into any dogma or anti-rationalism in any of Crowley's works. On the contrary, he seems to suggest that the spiritual realm is entirely a product of one's own mind.

The problem with this view, Andrew, is that Crowley's work spans several decades and is very diverse; and although he sometimes wrote in a way that suggests the proposition you advance - his 1903 preface or introduction to the Goetia, for instance - at other times he didn't. Examples of the latter are the Abuldiz and Amalantrah Workings, the protracated Magus initiation, the reception of The Book of the Law, the Paris Working, and more besides. Not only did he advocate the reality of praeter-human intelligence, but as late as Magick without Tears he wrote about how imperative it was to make contact with them.


ReplyQuote
 Anonymous
Joined: 51 years ago
Posts: 0
Topic starter  

First of all, thank you for all the illuminating responses! I can tell that I’ll like this place already. I assumed that I would get at least a bit of flak for studying to become a full time “shrink,” and as I certainly have a good sense of humor (and a bone-dry, self-deprecating occasionally crude one at that), I’d love to hear anyone’s jokes on the subject. I am really not very easily offended (as long as the offense is funny or insightful), so please feel free to fire away at whatever I may say on this site.

Having accidentally implied otherwise in my first post, I did, however, want to clarify that while my knowledge of Thelemic practice and magick is very rudimentary, my knowledge of Aleister Crowley and his positions, accomplishments, misgivings, and biographical benchmarks is fairly extensive. I've read biographies, scholarly articles, web pages, and watched programs regarding his life and beliefs, and recently trudged through The Book of Lies and parts of The Book of the Law and The Book of Thoth. I see him as a brilliant man who, at his best, challenged the moral and ethical paradigms of his day and expanded the consciousness of the new Aeon through magick, sex, self-criticism, and psychonautics, and at his worst an egotistical, spoiled, racist hell-raiser with a tendency, as Los so eloquently put it, “to fancy himself a wizard or something.” It is his ideas I am more interested in, and a person as intelligent, uninhibited, and ultimately flawed as he was seems a perfect centrality to Thelema and the volatility of human existence in general. So, while my understanding of Crowley is by no means comprehensive, I’m not a complete novice to his thought either.

I have certainly sensed the depth of the schism between the materialist/skepticist/existentialist (I apologize if this is a poor reduction of anyone’s legitimate position) perspective of individuals such as Los and the spiritualist/supernaturalist/esoteric perspective of individuals like Joy. I am not here to initiate any heated arguments, especially in an Introductions thread, but I thought, at the risk of sounding like a pretentious thumb-twiddler, that I should comment on some of the statements made to hopefully elucidate my own positions as they stand. Before I do this, however, I should note that the vast majority of my metaphysical positions are fairly agnostic in nature; i.e., subject to internal skepticism and not always entirely strongly-held. I should also note that my unedited writing, especially when my current schedule permits little time for internet leisure, can occasionally be rather patchy. Bear with me here.

In terms of the history of my personal philosophical development, I was drawn to the seeming spiritual ecstasy of my childhood Catholic church (don’t worry, I no longer view Catholicism as such) almost as I was to the use of my favorite decks of tarot cards (I loved the Rider-Waite, but these days I much prefer Marseilles decks, much via the influence of the writings and films of Alejandro Jodorowsy). Even as a small child, I was infatuated with mythology, meditation, thinking about koans, and spiritual catharsis in general. Conversely, as stated before, I was and am very interested in chemistry, biology, and the natural sciences. Upon adolescence and sexual maturity, I realized that the grey area surrounding my sexual preferences and personal ethics in general were blatantly incompatible with the repressive Catholic paradigm that I was raised into. Atheism, and adoption of the philosophies of Nietzsche, Camus, etc., was, as I saw it, the next logical step in my philosophical development. During this time, I would read philosophical and political works whenever there was a free moment between school, work, and time with my friends and family. I became interested in Marxism and its offshoots (I kept The Frankfurt School Reader and essays by Adorno and Marcuse on my desk at all times) and also read (and sometimes understood) a lot of Heidegger, Derrida, Merleau-Ponty, Husserl, Lacan, and other phenomenological/post-structuralist/existentialist thinkers. I derive a lot of the meat and bones of my metaphysics from those influences.
It wasn’t until I had an extensive, encompassing spiritual experience that I began to consider the possibility, or even the worth, of spirituality and mysticism holding any real metaphysical salt in the world. Via reading of world religious texts, renewed interest in the archetypal/creative possibilities of tarot and mythology from my childhood, and a handful of experiences with psychedelic substances, my perspective continued to edge into the realm of the sublime. It wasn’t until I began to read psychoanalytic works and neuroscientific literature that I began to close the dialectic between the spiritual and the materialistic; discovering the works, thought, and life of C.G. Jung, as well as reading the works of D.T. Suzuki and others on Zen, is what completed this closure. I currently view Thelema, and the flawed, brilliant character of Aleister Crowley, as being a great synthesis of many of these frequently contradictory threads; it promotes the use of physically material, even mundane means to promote psychological, philosophical, and spiritual earnestness to the Self and its desires (not to mention the Selves of others, as Love is the Law, Love under Will).

Thus, while I acknowledge, respect, and typically defend hard scientific rigor and empiricism, as well as a more-or-less materialistic phenomenology, I am very much a Jungian in the sense that I acknowledge that the literal existence of spirits and exterior supernatural forces, however unlikely, is ultimately irrelevant, as their perception by the psyche implies their reality to the individual experiencing them. I believe, as Jung did, that spiritual experiences, sublime hallucinations, and supernatural events are all extensions of the unconscious, perhaps the evolutionary collective unconscious; however, I don’t see how this position, while seemingly materialistic in scope, is incompatible with a “supernaturalist” position. After all, Jung wrote The Red Book about his experiences with supernatural and psychotic impulses and hallucinations, simply describing them as being vestiges of the unconscious and products of alchemically transformational active imagination, and regularly criticized the small-mindedness of hard empiricism, especially when dealing with psychological or spiritual matters.
So, if you guys get nothing else out of that, while I certainly reject the literal existence of demons, deities, etc. (except perhaps in a Spinozist, pantheistic sense), I’ll position myself in the happy middle of the empiricist vs. supernaturalist debate. Nonetheless, I would love to debate with some of you on the actual existence of “True Will,” but that seems like a topic for a different thread.


ReplyQuote
James
(@james)
Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 251
 
"myrrhman" wrote:
Thus, while I acknowledge, respect, and typically defend hard scientific rigor and empiricism, as well as a more-or-less materialistic phenomenology, I am very much a Jungian in the sense that I acknowledge that the literal existence of spirits and exterior supernatural forces, however unlikely, is ultimately irrelevant, as their perception by the psyche implies their reality to the individual experiencing them.

Isn't this always the case? There is still a sense in this statement that psychic reality is inferior to material/empirical reality. In the case oft quoted by Marie Louise von Franz about the young woman who thought she was on the moon that Jung accepted her assertion that she really had visited the moon.

MLvF reflected that she wondered if Jung was mad or perhaps she was stupid? In the end she came to the conclusion that Jung was saying that psychic reality is really real too!

Where do you stand on this?

Regards

Jamie


ReplyQuote
Anonymous
 Anonymous
(@Anonymous)
Joined: 1 second ago
Posts: 0
 
"MichaelStaley" wrote:
The problem with this view, Andrew, is that Crowley's work spans several decades and is very diverse; and although he sometimes wrote in a way that suggests the proposition you advance - his 1903 preface or introduction to the Goetia, for instance - at other times he didn't. Examples of the latter are the Abuldiz and Amalantrah Workings, the protracated Magus initiation, the reception of The Book of the Law, the Paris Working, and more besides. Not only did he advocate the reality of praeter-human intelligence, but as late as Magick without Tears he wrote about how imperative it was to make contact with them.

All good points, Michael. Also, in EOTG, Crowley is insistent that Aiwaz was something that happened TO him rather than came from him. There are also numerous references to "secret chiefs" who control the world (I don't think he every abandoned his belief in them, did he?).

Still, in my own interpretation of things, I tend to view his references to angels and praeterhuman intelligences within the context of the whole "aim of science, method of religion" thing. In an effort to fill, as Pascal phrased it, the "god-shaped hole" and desire for the spiritual, Crowley wrote about spiritual entities. This adds mystery, intrigue, and the realm of the extra-natural to his system of thought. The actual reality of these beings seems up for debate, in my own limited view of things at least. I welcome evidence to the contrary!


ReplyQuote
 Anonymous
Joined: 51 years ago
Posts: 0
Topic starter  

Isn't this always the case? There is still a sense in this statement that psychic reality is inferior to material/empirical reality. In the case oft quoted by Marie Louise von Franz about the young woman who thought she was on the moon that Jung accepted her assertion that she really had visited the moon.

MLvF reflected that she wondered if Jung was mad or perhaps she was stupid? In the end she came to the conclusion that Jung was saying that psychic reality is really real too!

Where do you stand on this?

Hello Jamie! I've certainly heard of the famous "moon patient," and I should probably first emphasize that Jung's therapy and treatment of this woman was ultimately more effective than the "therapies" of other psychoanalysts and psychiatrists that dealt with her and denied her stories. Why is this? Jung understood that, in terms of material reality, this woman had obviously never been to the moon; still, he acknowledged that when she said that she had been to the moon, she believed it as if it had actually happened. Jung took everything seriously, listened to her "facts" regarding the moon, and developed therapies out of this "lunar knowledge." This schizophrenic woman was thus given the dignity of belief on Jung's part, and Jung was better able to understand the patient by actually listening to her psychotic (but nonetheless psychically "real") hallucinations instead of passing them off as "babbling," as other mental health "experts" of the time may have.
Ultimately, I think that Marie-Louise von Franz (who was, don't get me wrong, probably as brilliant as Jung was) may have misinterpreted his treatment methods and ways of looking at the metaphysics of the psyche as a wider attempt at a unifying metaphysical truth of existence. There is plenty of better evidence that Jung was "mad" than the moon patient thing, I'd say.
But I will concede that, from a more universal perspective, that psychic reality may be inferior to material reality; it largely depends on context. There are, I believe, things that are objectively, physically, socially, empirically real. But the psychic reality should certainly always be respected and understood. If someone believes that God implored them to kill hundreds of antelope, and there is no backing to this in any sort of unifying reality, it doesn't change the fact that it "happened" to them. The only way to reason the person out of killing these animals, in this case, would be to take the psychic experience seriously, referring to the logic or situation surrounding it.
Thus, if a supernaturalist ritual magician experiences an actual demon invocation, it should be understood, in their psychic context, as legitimate; I, however, would always keep in mind that the "experience" was probably empirically a product of their psyche, active imagination, evolutionary consciousness, etc.


ReplyQuote
Anonymous
 Anonymous
(@Anonymous)
Joined: 1 second ago
Posts: 0
 
"myrrhman" wrote:
Thus, if a supernaturalist ritual magician experiences an actual demon invocation, it should be understood, in their psychic context, as legitimate; I, however, would always keep in mind that the "experience" was probably empirically a product of their psyche, active imagination, evolutionary consciousness, etc.

You could also add that Mr. Crowley was tripping balls (shall we say, often?) when he engaged in these workings. Many profound realizations and visualizations of gods/angels were undoubtedly the product of focused psychedelic experiences on his part. I think Crowley's exceptional ability to control and direct these experiences using the power of his altered mind brought about the profundity thereof; others might suggest he just opened the door for paranormal things to come in.


ReplyQuote
James
(@james)
Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 251
 

Dylan,
I'm never too sure about 'universal perspectives' as the latter word suggests a point of view whilst the former is absolute in scope. Might it be that 'universal views' are projections of our own psychic tendency when it comes to extroversion/introversion; a material universe 'out there' versus psychic world 'in here'.

I have felt for some time that quite often the use of the word 'reality' contains a hidden value judgement on phenomena - e.g. if it's imaginary then it is not real.

Regards

Jamie


ReplyQuote
Los
 Los
(@los)
Member
Joined: 12 years ago
Posts: 2195
 
"myrrhman" wrote:
adoption of the philosophies of Nietzsche, Camus, etc. […] a lot of Heidegger, Derrida, Merleau-Ponty, Husserl, Lacan, and other phenomenological/post-structuralist/existentialist thinkers.

You have good taste in thinkers.

I should note that the vast majority of my metaphysical positions are fairly agnostic in nature; i.e., subject to internal skepticism and not always entirely strongly-held.

For what it’s worth, I think that “agnosticism” is almost always incorrectly used in these sorts of discussions.

What follows is a general observation about how I define and use words – you may or may not be using words differently, so it would be helpful to be clear about what we’re talking about.

Agnosticism – to me – has to do with what an individual claims to know, but knowledge is merely a subset of belief, and I define belief as “accepting a proposition as likely true.” People believe things (or refrain from believing things) for good reasons or bad reasons. People who think they believe a thing for very strong reasons can use the word “know” to describe that belief.

For example, I believe – based on a boatload of evidence – that the sun will rise tomorrow. In fact, I think the evidence is so good that I would be willing to put that belief in the “knowledge” category. But whether I “know” it or not isn’t really relevant in most contexts: it’s the fact that I accept it’s likely true that is most important because that acceptance informs my decisions and actions.

To use another example, I don’t believe in psychic powers. When I say that, I don’t mean that I’m asserting absolutely that nobody has psychic powers or that psychic powers are absolutely impossible (both of which would be different claims). I’m just asserting that I’m not currently in the position of accepting the claim that psychic powers exist.

Since I don’t accept that psychic powers are real, that means that I also don’t know whether they are real (since I treat knowledge as a subset of acceptance/belief) so I guess you could describe me as an “agnostic” on the question of psychic powers, but such a description deeply misrepresents my position to the extent that some interpret “agnostic” to mean “neutral.” I’m not neutral on that subject: I’ve considered the evidence, and I don’t think the evidence is good enough to warrant belief/acceptance. It’s belief/acceptance that counts in most contexts, since beliefs inform our actions. Whether we claim to “know” something is at best an irrelevant academic exercise.

I acknowledge, respect, and typically defend hard scientific rigor and empiricism, as well as a more-or-less materialistic phenomenology

As another general note, I wouldn’t describe myself as a philosophical materialist or one who subscribes to some kind of “materialistic phenomenology,” as if it were some kind of dogmatic, cohesive philosophy that I just choose to adhere to just because. I think the position of adopting some kind of "materialist phenomenology" is kind of a weak one.

It would perhaps be appropriate to call me a methodological materialist, in the sense that I think the evidence that we have strongly points in the direction of the material world existing and not at all in the direction of other worlds existing. Hence, it appears that we only have the material world to investigate, and our method must, out of necessity, proceed in a naturalistic way (unless some evidence comes to light that suggests some world other than the natural one exists).


ReplyQuote
Los
 Los
(@los)
Member
Joined: 12 years ago
Posts: 2195
 
"MichaelStaley" wrote:
"Andrew " wrote:
I've not run into any dogma or anti-rationalism in any of Crowley's works. On the contrary, he seems to suggest that the spiritual realm is entirely a product of one's own mind.

The problem with this view, Andrew, is that Crowley's work spans several decades and is very diverse; and although he sometimes wrote in a way that suggests the proposition you advance - his 1903 preface or introduction to the Goetia, for instance - at other times he didn't. Examples of the latter are the Abuldiz and Amalantrah Workings, the protracated Magus initiation, the reception of The Book of the Law, the Paris Working, and more besides. Not only did he advocate the reality of praeter-human intelligence, but as late as Magick without Tears he wrote about how imperative it was to make contact with them.

While it's true that Crowley's personal beliefs may well have included the existence of goblins -- though in light of his numerous writings spanning his entire career in which he asserts that it doesn't matter whether these beings are actually literal external entities and that it's just a matter of notational convenience to think of them as external (a fraction of these quotes I reproduced above earlier in this thread) we might want to be skeptical about exactly how serious his personal belief on that point actually was -- what's relevant to the practice of most of us today is the system of Thelema (and not the personal beliefs of Aleister Crowley).

Whatever Crowley's actual position may or may not have been -- and he certainly said in some places that he held these bizarre beliefs in spirits -- Thelema itself does not require such beliefs. In fact, Thelema requires skepticism, honesty, and impartial investigation of the self and the universe, and I think that properly applied skepticism leads inevitably to the positions of atheism, materialism, and moral nihilism. 


ReplyQuote
Los
 Los
(@los)
Member
Joined: 12 years ago
Posts: 2195
 
"James" wrote:
I have felt for some time that quite often the use of the word 'reality' contains a hidden value judgement on phenomena - e.g. if it's imaginary then it is not real.

Well, words can mean different things depending on how they're used. For example, under one definition, the word "reality" designates anything experienced. If I have an hallucination, then I have experienced a real hallucination (of course it would be a real hallucination...if it wasn't a real hallucination, then I wouldn't have had it, duh).

But in most contexts, "reality" is a word that we use to categorize the world that we experience, to distinguish things created by the imagination from things not created by the imagination. A lot of times, people confuse themselves with philosophy and try to claim that since "everything I experience is subjective, therefore my imagination is creating everything, and therefore there is no difference between reality and imagination!"

Such arguments are utterly stupid, though, because within an individual's subjective experience, that individual is more than capable of distinguishing those aspects of subjective experience produced by the imagination from those things not produced by the imagination.

Every normal, healthy person has this ability. You can try it right now at home. Closely examine the device that you're reading this message on. Now close your eyes and imagine the device. Can you distinguish between the device and your imagination of the device? If you can, congratulations. You've just demonstrated to yourself that there is a real difference between things we call "real" and things we call "imaginary" and that you have the power to distinguish them. If you can't -- if you seriously cannot distinguish at all between real things and imaginary things -- then you need immediate medical attention.

This ability to distinguish between real things and imaginary things is one of the most basic magical skills, and developing this skill is part of training oneself to gain mastery over the "astral" plane. Remember, Thelema postulates that individuals often mistake their True Will for things that they imagine that they desire.

One way to describe the Great Work is as the quest to develop the ability to distinguish real things from imaginary things and then apply that ability to one's observation of the Self (in order to disentangle one's actual inclinations from the fantasy self-image that one has of oneself in the mind).


ReplyQuote
jamie barter
(@jamie-barter)
Member
Joined: 8 years ago
Posts: 1688
 
"myrrhman" wrote:
I have certainly sensed the depth of the schism between the materialist/skepticist/existentialist (I apologize if this is a poor reduction of anyone’s legitimate position) perspective of individuals such as Los and the spiritualist/supernaturalist/esoteric perspective of individuals like Joy.

This is the first time I’ve ever been called “Joy” here, Dylan incidentally I take it you are referring to me!?!  As there seems to be another “Jamie” active on this thread, maybe it might very well be better to stick to “Joy” here to avoid confusion?!?...

Also (as I previously remarked) I wasn’t particularly intending to “bang a drum” in the cause of the “supernaturalists” pov, since originally I might have actually employed a rather more “sceptical” tone and approach myself - had it not been for the rather insufferable “know-it-all” approach that I have seen exemplified by the 'official' "skeptics", in comparison (with the more ‘level-headed’ supernaturalists(!).)  Which rather got up my nose!  As it were.

"myrrhman" wrote:
I am not here to initiate any heated arguments, especially in an Introductions thread,

Good-oh!  (I think! 😉 )

"Andrew " wrote:
[...] Still, in my own interpretation of things, I tend to view his references to angels and praeterhuman intelligences within the context of the whole "aim of science, method of religion" thing. In an effort to fill, as Pascal phrased it, the "god-shaped hole" and desire for the spiritual, Crowley wrote about spiritual entities. This adds mystery, intrigue, and the realm of the extra-natural to his system of thought. The actual reality of these beings seems up for debate, in my own limited view of things at least. I welcome evidence to the contrary!

There certainly is a mountain of debate on this one on the Lash, Andrew.  Only the other day I spent a considerable amount of time ploughing through just such one extraordinary thread active from just before I joined it – “Cleansing & charging a new lapis lazuli ring” from the Magick board.  That’s roughly two hours my life I will never get back again which after TWENTY TWO long pages didn’t really arrive anywhere at all significant I regret to inform you!  In fact don't you know I’m beginning to feel a distinct sense of déjà-vu already reading from this thread (and especially Reply #14) so soon afterwards.  And there’s even some more treble postings from Los here, too!  Oh, lordy! (As Seymour would say...)

"myrrhman" wrote:
[...] But I will concede that, from a more universal perspective, that psychic reality may be inferior to material reality; it largely depends on context. There are, I believe, things that are objectively, physically, socially, empirically real. But the psychic reality should certainly always be respected and understood. If someone believes that God implored them to kill hundreds of antelope, and there is no backing to this in any sort of unifying reality, it doesn't change the fact that it "happened" to them. The only way to reason the person out of killing these animals, in this case, would be to take the psychic experience seriously, referring to the logic or situation surrounding it.

But why stop at antelopes here?  The analogy would surely fit the fundamentalist suicide bomber also, who will quite cheerfully take a bus, tube or plane full of passengers - who have nothing to do with his cause one way or the other - to oblivion, maybe on the promise of being tended by a gaggle of giggly virgins ‘on the other side’ across in Paradise.  In such a case, I hardly think they would pay much attention (or have been “reasoned” out of their killing spree) by anyone “taking their psychic experience seriously”.

"myrrhman" wrote:
Thus, if a supernaturalist ritual magician experiences an actual demon invocation, it should be understood, in their psychic context, as legitimate; I, however, would always keep in mind that the "experience" was probably empirically a product of their psyche, active imagination, evolutionary consciousness, etc.

Plus also, of course, it is never a good idea to “invoke” demons: evocation being a better way to deal with such (imaginary?!) entities.

Yes, this “probably” (along with the old “should”) works well in covering a multitude of sins, doesn’t it? (It also helps to dilute the sheer unconditional absolutism of the “always”!) Some (including me) would consider it the ideal “default” position, especially if one wants to sit on the fence in some fashion.  I’ve even seen Los do/ use it!!

So, Where to next, driver?!
N Joy


ReplyQuote
michaelclarke18
(@michaelclarke18)
Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 1264
 

Welcome to Lashtal myrrhman!


ReplyQuote
Share: