Two Abuses of the Renaissance Sage’s Eros-Magic: Part 1. Hermes T. vs. Aristotle: What is the Origin of Transhumanism?

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Two Abuses of the Renaissance Sage: 1. Hermes vs. Aristotle: What is the Origin of Transhumanism?

       Many conspiriologists, following writer Michael A. Hoffman, like to kick around the phrase “the alchemical processing of the masses,” and claim to see the claw-prints of ancient secret societies on all contemporary pop culture and political events. Hoffman and others like Alex Jones rant about the Masonic/Illuminati programming that readies us for the “it shall be” and “it must be” of transhumanism, which is the ultimate goal of the secret scheme: to make humans into gods (and others apparently into food for those gods).

The use of alchemy and magic as descriptors is not metaphor. Although it’s easy to draw a parallel between the CIA-Pentagon’s secret body augmentation/mind control/propaganda labs and that of the alchemist or magician, many like Hoffman go further and posit that events such as the Kennedy assassination and 9/11 are “alchemical psychodramas” meant to traumatize and imprint mind control schemas upon the American soul.

Judging by what passes for “the truth,” what once were genuinely “fringe” beliefs 25 years ago has become a worldview for millions of Americans.

The origination for these ideas goes back millennia. We could speak of the anti-Mason movements of the mid-19th century, or Adam Weishaupt’s Bavarian Illuminati conspiracies of the 1760s-90s, but the genesis of psychological imprinting/priming of which Hoffman and others speak is supposedly ancient, and originates in the Mysteries that emerged from the Neolithic.

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RENAISSANCE WYZRDS

Its modern incarnation encompasses the past six centuries. As the story goes, the humanism of the Italian Renaissance originated in rediscovered ancient texts that spurred a revival in “natural philosophy”—a concept which grew to encompass a double meaning, science and magic.

This new learning eventually superseded the Scholastic model of the universe used in the Roman Catholic monasteries. In the 1460-80s, the Florentine Medici family bought and translated the ancient Greek texts obtained from scholars fleeing the sacked Byzantine capital, Constantinople. This influx had a double effect: some of the texts bolstered belief in the existence of angels, that had already been codified for the Catholic masses by Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) and his study of Pseudo-Dionysius’s The Celestial Hierarchy.

But some of the new texts also laid the foundation for undermining ten centuries of Nicaean doctrines. The Aristotelian-Dionysian classifications that informed the medieval “Great Chain of Being” doctrine—that a naturally hierarchical cosmos had been created only once, ex nihilo, by God—were especially affected by these textual discoveries.[1]

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       In opposition to the Aristotelian scheme, Plato’s mysticism was strengthened by new, independent sources via the Egyptian/Hellenistic Hermetica that the Medici purchased. The texts raised Plato’s Egyptian-Pythagorean theogony to a near-unimpeachable status in intellectual circles. Scholars had found the Catena Aurea (Golden Chain).[2] This was the esoteric lore concerning self-transformation and transcendence that had been passed down from adepts from the time of ancient Egypt.

The figure of the sage Hermes Trismegistus symbolized this tradition. The Greek/Arabic Hermetic writings purchased by the Medici family book-buyers were, over the next century, translated and elucidated by Marsilio Ficino, Giovanni Pico Della Mirandola, Giordano Bruno, and Tommaso Campanella.

Opposing the dominant Roman Catholic-Aristotelian view of creation, these scholars came to view humanity as unfinished as opposed to fallen from a paradise (Pico entirely abandoned this view and recanted, but was put to death nevertheless for heresy).

The Hermetic tracts Poimandres and Asclepius that had been discovered proclaim that it is possible that humanity may become “whole beings” and possess powers co-equal with God. Pico wrote his Oration on the Dignity of Man in 1486 using this idea; the tract is a blueprint for secular humanism, albeit through a mix of Neoplatonism and a proto-existentialism.[3] Humanity’s Golden Age existed in the remote past, yet processes for achieving apotheosis were still available by using theurgic ritual to channel the stars’ and planets’ energies and evoke daimonic assistance in the task.

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       Ficino developed a Christianized Hermeticism, while Pico chose a Jewish-Christian Kabbalistic method for humanity’s return to Godhood. Giordano Bruno entirely rejected the Christian worldview in favor of Egyptian alchemical/astrological religion. In 1600 the Inquisition torched him believing in an endless universe populated by innumerable worlds—or at least consensus history views it so.

There is much more to the reasons for his execution.

Essential to Ficino and Bruno’s view were the ideas of imbuing images in one’s imagination with vast emotional and psychic force, binding them to the unconscious and one’s anima (soul). Ficino viewed Eros as the prima materia or ever-present element behind all phenomena; this belief became near-dogma for the Florentine Academy of 15th and 16th century.

Eros may be characterized as the resting state of ensoulled beings; all living things possess an unconscious “self-love” that causes them to act in self-preservation in myriad ways and through sexual passion both heighten one’s sense of being and “reproduce” the self.

But for humans, sexual Eros can be very dangerous. The ancients’ conception of spirit (pneuma, “breath”) was axiomatic to Ficino’s magic; pneuma was the medium through which visual impressions passed. Drawing upon the Greek Stoics’s idea that the cosmos was all pneuma in varying degrees of tension, the individual’s hegemonikon (heart/governing principle) vibrated a pneumatic beam to its object(s) and “bound” itself with it/them. This created an impression upon the hegemonikon/heart that at times could be an eidetic image (phantasia kataleptike) of the object. These images could then be imbued, according to Ficino, with very strong mental and emotional “chains of association,” increasing the images’ (phantasia) power within the soul. Eros is normally conceived as the life-force/drive, and acts in everything from sexual vigor to sublimated forms of energy that lead to the creation of art and society’s structures.

The very effortlessness of sexual attraction is a signature that it is primordial Eros magic. The visual impressions of the beloved remain, unbidden but active, in the mind. Here they can be transformed into a higher Eros or fester into complete obsession. A very dangerous situation indeed; we think of “crimes of passion” and the extreme phenomenon of narcissism, a hegemonic-image that has unconsciously made of the world an extension of its damaged self and demands constant recognition of that self. This “black magic” is done by individuals who are spiritually lost and cannot recognize how their own hegemonikon has been captured by images of its own feeding/making. As scholar Ioan Couliano points out,

Circulating through the same pneumatic passage in which contagion of the blood is spread are images that, in the mirror of common sense, are changed into phantasms. When Eros is at work, the phantasm of the loved object leads its own existence, all the more disquieting because it exerts a kind of vampirism on the subject’s other phantasms and thoughts. It is a morbid distention of its activity which, in its results, can be called both concentration and possession: concentration, because the subject’s entire inner life is reduced to contemplation of one phantasm only; possession, because this phantasmic monopoly is involuntary and its collateral influence over the subject’s psychosomatic condition is highly deleterious.

       Interestingly, the love object plays a secondary role in the process of establishing the phantasm: it is only a pretext, not a real presence. The true object, omnipresent, of Eros is the phantasm, which has taken permanent possession of the spiritual mirror. Now, this phantasm represents a perceived image that has gone beyond the threshold of consciousness, but the reason it has assumed such obsessional dimensions lies in the deepest part of the individual unconscious. We do not love another object, a stranger to ourselves, Ficino thinks (Amore, VI, 6), thus anticipating the analytic psychology of Carl Jung. We are enamored of an unconscious image.[4]

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       But Eros is a malleable force as well and can be channeled to many uses. We can all understand these dynamics, how the beloved “infects” the imagination of the lover. As Couliano points out, the beloved can become far more than is “presented” by the simple reality of their presence. Active imagination is always at work, whether conscious or not. The unconscious may take over, leading to obsession that may entirely swallow the personality and lead to madness, the heroic fury of heightened existence:

“(Ficino writes) The lover carves into his soul the model of the beloved. In that way, the soul of the lover becomes the mirror in which the image of the loved one is reflected”….That entails rather a complicated dialectic of love, in which the object is changed into the subject, ousting the subject who, tormented by the anxiety of prospective annihilation due to being deprived of his state as subject, desperately claims the right to a form of existence.

       The phantasm that monopolizes the soul is the image of an object. Now, since man is soul, and since soul is totally occupied by a phantasm, the phantasm is henceforth the soul. It follows that the subject, bereft of his soul, is no longer a subject: the phantasmic vampire has devoured it internally. But it also follows that the subject has now grafted itself onto the phantasm which is the image of the other, of the beloved. Metaphorically, therefore, it can be said that the subject has been changed into the object of his love.[5]

What results is obsession with an internalized, living image of the anima or animus that is always existent within the soul but now finitized, active, and intensified.

At a deeper level, there is a dialectic to this narcissism. The self’s inner image of itself is incomplete, because it does not “possess” that love object (that non-self or other) for which it yearns.[6] But in Couliano’s sense the “Western” ego/self unconsciously senses it must not ever possess it, for that would be utter self-destruction, given that the other must have autonomy in order to embody its numinous nature. This autonomy would be denied it were it assimilated or fully possessed by the ego. On the other hand, the other is apotheosized, elevated precisely because of its numinous nature. So instead of attaining it directly, the ego/self must be transformed to become worthy of this “object” infecting its inner landscape; the self must become more than it presently is in order even to meet it. This requires a synthesis, and that synthesis may be achieved through theurgy and magic. This internal ideal is, in both alchemy and magic, an asexual being because it is beyond the mundane embodiment in “given,” incomplete creation. By means of a sort of secular via negativa, we could say the human ideal is not mortal, not intellectually limited, not prone to disease, not prone to sin, not gendered, not sexed, not limited by 5 senses, etc.—all the qualities of the human, all-too-human. With this erasure comes the birth of a new being with unimagined (and perhaps unimaginable) qualities. It follows in a positive sense from that it would exist beyond the laws of physics, including perhaps time’s arrow and the entropy the arrow signifies, etc.

The problem is, as always, the supposed mind-body or spirit-matter split and how one aspect of our being affects the other one. The Renaissance sages, following their Neoplatonic forebears, found a way around this apparent contradiction.

As Ficino and Bruno learned by studying the ancient texts, a magician could use this natural procedure of Erotic fixation, amplify it with intense concentrated meditations, then reverse it and imbue physical objects such as talismans, amulets, candles, shields, pens, or paintings with this emotional/psychic power.

By these means Ficino and Bruno revived the ancient tradition of statue-animation. This, too, used angelic/astrological/planet-invoking processes, most of which date back to Sumeria, Akkadia, Babylon, and Egypt—and probably long before.[7] A transmission route can be traced from Egyptian funerary and resurrection practices on through Hebraic merkavah and hekhalot (“throne” and “chariot”) meditations to Iamblichus’s Neoplatonist theurgy and into the magic revived by Ficino; at least they all share a very strong family resemblance. All involved invoking angels/daimons, ethereal beings that inhabited both the physical world and the liminal space between the physical and the incorporeal. Eros binds them all together, and becomes the clay in the magician’s hands. The sages exploited the liminal realm, the third term, the penumbral that resists Aristotle’s excluded middle and rigid classificatory systems. Humanity’s finite nature and incompleteness becomes something amenable to transformation.

For the most part, the Florentine Academy’s “Christianized” hermetics was entirely in line with the goals of Iamblichean, Platonic, Hebraic, and Pythagorean practice: to contact the higher worlds via the daimons/angels, uplift the human practitioner of magic, and gain a vision of or even henosis (subsumption) with God. To imbue a statue with celestial/stellar energies was to create both an object of contemplation and, more importantly, a launching point for absorption to the higher spheres.

These procedures, along with those outlined in the Arabic grimoire Picatrix and remnants of the 5th-Century Greek Magical Papyri, were gathered in Cornelis Agrippa’s Three Books of Occult Philosophy (1531), which remains the largest compendium of Neoplatonic magic ever written.

And of course, statue-animation (i.e., idolatry) and binding spells that involve daimons are the foundation from which the Abrahamic religions censure all forms of magic (except that of the miracles inspired by Jesus and Mary in Catholic Christianity’s case, and those of the Talmudic sages in mystical Kabbalism). The ancient Hebrews censured depictions of YHVH and speaking the name of God; Muhammad went further and condemned even depictions of human beings as sacrilegious. But in Judaism we find the mystical traditions of Kabbalah and a representation of the All as the Tree of Life, and in the latter we discover many Platonically-inspired geometric designs on mosques and illuminated Quran/hadith texts, as well as the Arabic script itself as being divinely imbued.

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THE BLACKWHITEGOLDRED

Then there was the alchemical tradition. When these tracts were disseminated in Latin it gave emotional impetus and new material for the lone magicians and alchemists to practice “hidden arts.” Although it is an ancient global project, the Westernized varieties of alchemy are concerned with attaining the “Philosopher’s Stone.” The consensus view is that this amounted to achieving the elixir vitae, or immortality for the human soul/spirit of the practitioner through chemical/pharmacological means, or through the production of a kind of spiritual substance within the alchemist’s body that preserved itself. Central to the alchemist’s view also is the idea of a prima materia; what we see around us are merely emanations, mixtures, or “masks” of this singular substance.[8] The four elements Earth, Water, Air, and Fire and the base metals/materials of which they are comprised in varying degrees could be wedded together to produce quintessence, a fifth element that possessed the desired emergent properties, one quality of which is indestructibility because it “shares more closely in the nature of the prima materia” of which everything is ultimately made. Metals were considered double-natured, because they could be melted to liquid and fused together. Mercury was “king of the metals” because it naturally possessed both solid and liquid properties and an inherent coherence even when separated into drops of any size. No other element had this quality, so mercury was of central importance in transmutations.

Alchemy means controlling the processes of change, whether it’s transforming elements through a hierarchy of levels by manipulating spiritual essences, or changing the consciousness of the practitioner’s biological processes and ultimately their aging process.[9] The most elaborate alchemical procedures involved the practitioner observing astrological strictures and undergoing ritual purification before the Great Work proceeded. As with Ficino’s and Bruno’s image-magic, specific planets’ and stars’ powers were invoked for specific operations. The goal was not only to affect bio/chemical change but alter the spiritual essence of the elements by way of the alchemists’ will and the “gods” of the elements they used—putting them in service to the alchemist.

Secrecy was always imperative to ancient, medieval, and Renaissance sage alike. The rabble was not only considered unworthy of such knowledge, it was feared that the secular use of such techniques could be disastrous (and for the same reason, the secular authorities feared and condemned the alchemist, who theoretically could mint as many gold coins as desired, debasing the currency). So purity is a quality consistently stressed throughout the tradition, which is achieved through prayer, fasting, chastity, and cleanliness. The magician-alchemist dealt with angels and demons, spirits and elementals, demigods and gods. Opening portals to the higher or lower worlds was serious business.[10]

This did not prevent adepts from organizing themselves into secret societies and using particular rituals to psychologically affect individuals (which was the goal of most of the rituals of the Greek Magical Papyri and many Solomonic magical texts). It was a small step to believe the same processes could also be used to transform humanityif not in its material bodies, then in its emotions, thinking, opinions, and social relations. This is the central tenet to conspiracists’ views on the matter.

It is certain that Giordano Bruno and the Rosicrucian tracts of 1614 boosted this societal prospect. As Couliano points out, Bruno’s essay “On Binding in General” (or “On the Chaining of Chains”) describes how the magician can manipulate the pneuma-images absorbed by both individuals and groups to do their bidding through sympathies and the prima materia of Eros.[11] Carl Jung believed transformation of the practitioner’s soul via individuation (the conscious incorporation of its repressed complexes) was alchemy’s ultimate goal, if only unconsciously for the alchemist, through the materials and rituals.[12]

What is the difference between a magician bending a single person’s will to theirs, and the Erotic channeling of a crowd or a nation’s collective will to the ends of a mad Elite? Or the creation of a manikin through astral influence and charging? These practices are only a few steps away from robotics, artificial intelligence, or the creation of MKULTRA “zombies” after all—right? It only requires the adjustment of outlook from magic’s spiritual power to a hardcore physicalist stance. The same ends by other means. Or does it?

Perhaps we should ask the wizards of Madison Avenue, and the AI gurus of MIT, DARPA, and Alphabet?

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       When we combine the ideas of Ficino and Bruno’s Eros magic with the alchemical program, plus a scientific-humanist Elite bent on transforming our concept of the “human,” we get the belief-system to which millions subscribe today. Couliano alluded to this in his book in a very oblique manner (and some say that was why he was mysteriously murdered).

Although many conspiriologists see alchemy and its life-extension goals as the philosophical and practical beginning of transhumanism—and we can see how this is at least a possible rationalization—it is only plausible because of the physical aspects to its program, i.e. transmuting the elements, and by analogy transmutation (or perhaps just mutation) of the alchemist’s body, whether it be for longevity or the gaining of “superhuman” powers…By extension, according to the conspiracists’ thinking, the process implies a long-term project to transform humanity as a whole into another kind of being, as imagined spiritually in the writings of the 15th-16th century Florentine Academy and implied in the Rosicrucian tracts of 1614-18.

The Rosicrucian writings describe their members as “invisible healers.” In addition to healing diseases in the manner of shaman-physicians (by accessing the “otherworld” for help), these mystic physicians could be said to be performing theurgistic feats to convert their patients into adherents to their “new religion,” and set them on the path to spiritual perfection. This is called “perfectibility,” and its practitioners Perfectibilists.[13]

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       The principles and structure of the first Freemasonic Grand Lodge of England chartered in 1717 would expand outward throughout Europe and America. The organization preserved both the esoterica of the Renaissance/Rosicrucian alchemists such as Heinrich Khunrath, Michael Maier, Robert Fludd, and John Dee, but also material from “Solomonic” grimoires; the latters’ contents can be traced back to the Egyptian-Greek magic papyri of the 2nd century CE via the Hygromanteia.[14] Many groups split off from this Grand Lodge and there’s evidence that Masonic fraternities far predated its 1717 public establishment. The fraternity’s secrecy spawned rumors of concealed atheism and political machinations. The former charge is entirely spurious, but the latter is true to an extent (as far as the German chapters go). As the empirical sciences spread, the “science of the spirit” was taught by degrees in the Lodges; a man could thus be a scientist by day and a mystical epopt by night.

This double-face is what brought the Lodges under public censure, despite the fact that freedom of worship was a core Freemasonic tenet and the dignity of humanity as free beings, first expounded by Pico della Mirandola in Florence, was the underlying ethos of the American and French Revolutions. The connection between the Florentine “free thinkers” and the Masonic beliefs vis a vis the struggles against monarchy and arbitrary tyranny cannot be under-stressed.

Although Masonry’s goal is to spiritually transform its members, primarily in the death/rebirth rituals of the first three grades of Master Apprentice, many scholars see Freemasonry as an extension of Rosicrucianism, or as Rosicrucianism’s evolved form, or an alternate public front for a very secret society. The great financial wealth of many of its members and their philanthropic activities, which include the underwriting/endowing of think-tanks and medical programs (some with an openly transhumanist bent) is seen by conspiriologists as proof of the long-term project to transform certain members of society into what amounts to demigods; all the transhuman research is done “under cover” of extending existing medical techniques to relieve existing diseases.

What can actually be accomplished with secret medicine goes much further, these conspiricists say, pointing to NIH, DARPA, the Rockefeller Foundation, the thousands of subcontracted medical research facilities across the globe.

But we have a problem here with distinguishing between a) the existence of a secret program, which undoubtedly openly exists as “normal science” looking to cure disease and slow the aging process, b) the technological means to carry it out, which is equally probable, c) the psychological motivation of its technical practitioners, i.e., are they covertly bound to certain institutions and expected to deliver certain results for select clients? d) and most importantly, the end-purpose of such a program.

As the techniques of nanotechnology and genetic manipulation mature, they may move from quantitative organic changes to qualitative changes, as explored in my previous essays. When humans begin toying with the molecule and the chromosome and the gene we are dealing with very unpredictable results and a range of unintended consequences—just like our toying with the atom did. Market forces supposedly ensure that delivery of new medical miracles to the public be swift and uncluttered by moral subtleties…But of course it never happens that way, does it: recouping R & D costs is always given as the reason for astronomical prices for new treatments, despite the fact that in most cases taxpayer dollars were used to fund such studies through government NIH subcontracting.[15] Only the super-rich can afford the most avant-garde treatments that cost millions a year to deliver. Religious-conservative members of the American Congress are rhetorically outraged over the use of embryonic stem cells in disease research, etc., but the secular humanist/transhumanist subtext is that we must have no illusions that other countries, namely China[16] possess no such scruples as we do, and they will be the ones to push ahead in the biological race to immortality. If you doubt, consider this:

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/01/china-monkey-clones-zhongzhong-huahua/551318/

But to give the conspiracists some credit: Excluding the popularity of Shelley’s Frankenstein, what by the early 20th century was a marginal literary genre called science/speculative fiction has now become a 360-degree cultural bestiary. In other words, at this point transhumanist propaganda of all degrees of acceptance or critique is ubiquitous, and has almost “normalized” visions of a future humanity that just five decades ago would have been considered horror shows.

No doubt humans are intrinsically fascinated with our abilities to magically change our selves, our destinies, our capabilities—and equally fascinated with our penchant to mess up everything we touch. Culture has reflected this from the beginning of recorded history in myth and history. So, according to the conspiriologists, the body-augmentation work goes on in secret military and private sector labs whose fingerprints are seen in published papers that do get mainstream coverage: DARPA works on “supersoldiers” who possess pharma (and possibly genetic) alterations for enhanced hearing and vision and drugs that can keep them awake for days without deleterious effects.[17] Since World War Two, arms races both real and ginned-up have been the norm between the US military industrial complex and other countries. The armed forces are always the beneficiary of breakthroughs because “national security” ensures the Pentagon and its vast network of subcontracted labs and university research receives billions to further their secretive aims.

In any case, this split between viewpoints on the original source of transhumanism seems to depend on how one views humanity: as a finished product, set for all time (as the Abrahamic religions and Aristotle’s Lyceum academy saw it) or unfinished/able to transcend by its own efforts the physical, mental, and spiritual bonds entailed by our “thrownness” into the world, as Plato, the Neoplatonists, and Florentine Academy saw it. One professing creation ex nihilo by God will see humanity as the property of God; one seeing emanation as the human matrix will see us as properties of God, blinded and unable to change our state of existence without special and hidden knowledge and techniques.

——

Generally, humanism came to mean the belief that humanity can be studied, and through that study, its behavior altered to conform to a “higher ideal” of its own choosing.

       Who does this choosing for the masses is another matter.

Secularism became synonymous with a rejection of any power perceived as higher than humanity’s intellect and aspirations, as seen in the Enlightenment’s philosophes and science’s embargo on morality in favor of “value-free” research. It is in this wider sense that transhumanism is defined—but we must never lose sight of the source of this vision of improvement or perfectibility in the alchemists’ visions.

The alchemists’ quest to “return to the cosmic origin” is a noble one. The creative, eternal force of God/Tao/Ungrund still exists, shattered by embodied nature into the “ten thousand things” of Lao Tse, or Jewish alchemist Maria the Prophetess’s axiom “from the one comes two, from the two the three, and from the three, the all (completion).”

The alchemist and Neoplatonist seek reunion with the One by various reversal and reuniting procedures for vision, guidance, and elevation, an intensification of being, a heightened sense of interdependence and connection with the Creator and Creation. In this, alchemy is ultimately a spiritual program in which salvation from the bonds of materiality may be said to be the goal—and not particularly the augmentation of the body’s existence.

No such lofty program exists for the transhumanist, it seems, except more—more of everything, pleasurable experience, edification, learning! Perhaps in their extended longevity and enhanced mind they will stumble across the reality of the eternal, a preexisting condition that operates always and everywhere, encoded into the cosmos’ very fabric. One can only hope.


[1] The ethical concerns of the resurrected “pagan” philosophers allowed morality to be purged of supernatural origin. Instead, with the “new instruments” of skepticism and Socrates/Plato’s elenchus, nature’s workings could be revealed through observation, experimentation, and logic. By the 18th century, the French philosophes promoted the idea that humanity alone possessed the means and methods to determine its behavior and morality and the scope of its knowledge.

[2] Strictly, this name refers to St. Thomas’s exegesis on the four gospels; but Thomas was himself an adept and alchemist, and it has come to mean an occult tradition passed down though time.

[3] Three centuries later, G.F.W. Hegel would extract a “dialectical movement” from natural and human history that would supposedly end in self-transparent Spirit—and the Prussian democratic state. His student Feuerbach would strip theology from the Hegelian equations, creating the philosophical bridge that allowed Marx to build his materialist story of human cultural evolution. In all three eschatologies, the emancipation of humanity from nature was destined to occur, whether by Spirit coming to itself or the dawning consciousness of the workers’ conditions and their rectification (in Marx’s case). All of these end scenarios are dark reflections of the popular but theologically irregular monk Joachim de Fiore’s vision of an Earthly Paradise under divine love (the Age of the Holy Spirit) that he espoused in the 13th century.

[4] Couliano, Ioan. Eros and Magic in the Renaissance, University of Chicago Press, 1987, pgs. 30-31.

[5] ibid, pg. 31.

[6] You might say human history is the story of how we fill this lack, over and above the meeting of material needs; the monk and nun seek communion with the transcendent by any name, the shaman fulfills the spiritual needs of the community by the results of their astral journeys,

[7] These formalized procedures most likely originated with prehistoric shamanistic animation of dolls constructed for healing or harming purposes.

[8] This brings us to the Neoplatonists’s many formulations of reality, which is why alchemy is tied up with ancient Egypt by way of Plato’s supposed initiation there, and the Neoplatonist’s obsession with a “ladder” of being one could ascend to achieve the One.

[9] The most ancient forms of alchemy were Chinese and were concerned with exiles for longevity sought by emperors. See Levenda, Peter, Stairway to Heaven: Chinese Alchemists, Jewish Kabbalists, and the Art of Spiritual Transformation.

[10] I suppose they viewed their secret knowledge as akin to the blueprints for a hydrogen bomb circa 1930, as if Leo Szilard, Teller, Einstein, and Fermi had concealed from governments through (seeming) absurd symbolic codes the method for building the heinous device.

[11] Couliano, (1987), pgs. 87-143

[12] It is also possible that the chemical fumes that were produced as a byproduct (barring those that would damage or kill of course) induced altered states of consciousness in the alchemist and, by way of the psychokinetic powers unleashed, assisted in the physical transformations of the prima materia.

[13] This was the name used by the 18th-century Bavarian Illuminati sect under the Jesuit Mason Adam Weishaupt, but it has gained traction as a term for anyone sporting the attitude of limitless change for humanity through technology, whether physical or spiritual.

[14] See the works of Stephen Skinner on the history of the Solomonic tradition.

[15] See Dr. Marcia Angell’s The Truth About the Drug Companies: How they Deceive Us and What to Do About It for the full story of medical-industrial complex chicanery.

[16] The very land where alchemy is said to have originated during the unification of the first Chinese state by Tai Yu the Great in the 20th century BCE.

Two Abuses of the Renaissance Sage’s Eros-Magic, Part 2: Mind Control: Ioan Couliano and a Vision of the Internalized Archon

Wrong line

Never allow anyone the luxury of assuming that because the dead and deadening scenery of the American-city-of-dreadful-night is so utterly devoid of mystery, so thoroughly flat-footed, sterile and infantile, so burdened with the illusory gloss of “baseball-hotdogs-apple pie-and-Chevrolet” that it is somehow outside the psycho-sexual domain. The eternal pagan psychodrama is escalated under these “modern” conditions precisely because sorcery is not what “20th century man” can accept as real…

–James Shelby Downard and Michael A. Hoffman II

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Many millions of people believe we are more or less living in The Matrix, an illusory reality in which our minds are imprisoned in bodies by “archonic” forces whose motives are less than philanthropic. The idea that the earth is flat was recently a marginal fad; apparently none of its proponents are familiar with how gnomon shadows differ in length at noon, which can be proven with a phone call to friends in another daylit city…Tens of thousands of Americans (maybe more) sincerely believe “crisis actors” play both the victims and relatives of victims in mass shooting and terror events. Perhaps hundreds of thousands believe that the UN’s “sustainable development” plan Agenda 21 is a nefarious, full-spectrum plot to strip cities of autonomy, despite the fact that it’s a non-binding agreement and has no lawful status anywhere in the country.

Here’s a truism: It’s natural for people in a society to exhibit fear at the possibility of losing control, whether it’s a loss of their “destiny,” a loss of life-narrative, or loss of self-determinative identity. In America, the WTO, NAFTA, GATT and other trade agreements led to the evisceration of many industries as corporations moved manufacturing elsewhere. There is no longer any job security—and with that, one’s identity as a productive citizen. To conspiracists, your acquisitive desires, which persist despite your job loss, are not your own, but the capitalist culture-makers’ mind-control machine, that has colonized your mind from birth.

When people compensate for these existential fears by believing their self is being manipulated—or has been created wholesale, even—by forces determined to use it and throw it away like packaged goods, we should not judge them too harshly, because there’s a case to be made that their agency has in fact been compromised…just not to the degree of their brains floating in vats.

Brainvat

Truism: Trust in government has steadily eroded since the late 1960s. A direct and expanding line wends through the era of the JFK Warren Report to the Pentagon Papers to Watergate to the 1975-77 CIA Senate hearings to Iran-Contra to 9/11[1] to every “whatever-gate” since. With each revelation comes a further confirmation that the US government harbors enemies of humanity, and the American people and their freedom specifically.

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The right and the left have their own versions of this evil scheme: the right, that transnational think-tanks such as the Trilateral Commission and the Council on Foreign Relations have put in the fix on the American way of life for the benefit of the Elite; and the left that simple Republican Brand® greed has ended up doing the same. Both have their version of industrial society as a restaurant in which you and I are on the only items on the menu.

On the right, critics since the 1960s have condemned the depictions of “aberrant” behavior in movies, music and television; to them, portrayal alone signals normalization (and even endorsement) of behaviors…The left hammers both cultural conservatives and evangelical Christians for imposing their morality on the rest of the population via legislation, boycotts, etc.

Yet both sides in the culture wars have endured enervation in their long fights. Call it outrage fatigue.

Just the way the Power That Be want it, naturally. The PTB are playing the Big Game for the long haul.

Both sides have also their own versions of what constitutes cultural conditioning—programming—and what it means to be programmed. Analyses of herd psychology had its popular heyday in the years after World War Two, when we were given barbarous lessons in what groupthink can achieve via the Nazis and the USSR under Stalin.

This diagnosis of our enemies’ pathology was expected; to turn the critical-historical eye upon America and pathologize the “winner’s” culture was both unexpected and outrageous. But turn some eyes did, in the works of C. Wright Mills, Lewis Mumford, and the Frankfurt School expatriates. The conformity of the “organization man” and the “authoritarian personality” and Mr. Type A got a fierce pummeling in the 1950s, and the conservative-liberal establishment didn’t like it one bit.

The young Boomers took these critiques to heart before attempting to eat their own left-leaning mentors in the mid-to-late 1960s.

Truism: It is human nature to seek scapegoats; they’re much easier to use than to uncover the convolutions of events that explain why things have turned the way they turned out. To have a system as scapegoat is even easier. One has to employ tight arguments and an evidence-chain as systematic and far-reaching as what is attacked, otherwise the critique is just unfalsifiable hot air.

Today, it seems, a statement’s unfalsifiability has become not just tolerated, but almost a virtue. You can just abandon reason altogether! This is partly because the production of knowledge has become nearly transparent. It thus suffers under the burden of an infinite regression of sourcing:

Where’d you get that fact from?…Uh-huh.

And who funds them?…Of course!

And what’s the funders’ ideological bent?…Just as I thought: it’s (all-caps) fake news!

Under normal circumstances, laying bare the epistemology of facts/factoids in this manner would be a welcome development. People deserve to know how news is made and what sources politicians use to make their arguments and policy.

But to accept the “chains of evidence” for policies yet neglect the workaday methodologies used by both sides in the think-tank wars is dangerous. The social sciences are in crisis; even some of the foundational theses in psychology, economics, and sociology have been discovered to be gerrymandered or outright false.[2]

Knowledge has become shaky. The impartial and disinterested patina of High Science is very impressive to the public, until the sausage-making of High Science itself comes under study and the sociology and politics of scientific publishing and peer-review are shown to be driven by $$ and some very invested egos. Legitimate vs. illegitimate process has become equated with legitimate vs. illegitimate knowledge, and rightly so. This dichotomy directly impacts us in the realms of medicine/pharma use, the “vaccine wars,” GMO food production safety, etc.

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In our new era of source scrutiny, if only one link in the knowledge process is “tainted,” the whole edifice is then seen as tainted. The most glaring and touted example, just noted: The funding pool for scientific studies is a finite resource, and will be fought over in any field of enquiry. This means science is not immune to the market economics of capitalism.

Thus all knowledge becomes suspect as having either been purchased by a corporation for a specific result or produced solely to generate further scientific journal citations, and thus more funding or tenure-track for those academics willing to risk falsification of results in order to GET A SECURE JOB in a very insecure economy.

The long, cooling shadow of the Frankfurt School’s deconstructions of the “capitalist superstructure” once again is palpable. You can make the choice right here: believe there’s a conscious conspiracy to engineer mass consciousness towards technocratic solutions and cull the herd via compulsive high-tech science “cures,” or you can view bogus scientific studies as the product of market forces and a collapsing social structure as the truth behind the Ongoing Crisis.

But the foregoing is what we might call how the content of news is made. There’s also its form of its delivery; and to the psychology of its economic foundations—advertising revenue—we look back to the early decades of the 20th century, when Pavlov conditioned his dogs with the bell to salivate on command and Freud’s nephew Edward Bernays took Siggy’s obsession with sex and bent the public’s frustrated sexual desires into a surrogate—material acquisition—thus birthing one of the advertising industry’s mightiest axioms. T.H. Huxley took Darwin’s big idea and told us we were only hairless simians; Marx told us we were economic hairless simians seeking freedom from wage slavery; Einstein told us it was all relative; Pavlov made the economic hairless simians function like cause-and-effect machines, and Bernays bound up those causes and effects with the Eros drive his uncle had propounded.

Truism: this prison planet worldview smacks of ancient Gnosticism, particularly the two schools of Valentinus (100-160 CE) and Basilides (100-145? CE). Both believed the universe to be a botched creation of a lesser deity, YHWH, who through hubris broke with the Eternal and compounded a cosmos of matter and entropy, a mockery of the Pleroma (holy plenitude) and the principles that governed that distant heaven. The stars and planets of our cosmos are the true governors (archons) of individual human fates, and humans are utterly bound into an “invisible” evil prison from which only knowledge of Sophia and the Divine Spark within can save us.

Cue Morpheus and the two pills.

Gnostic cosmos

HISTORY OF AN IDEA

The prison idea first began, perhaps, with Plato’s cave-myth 2,400 years ago. And some strains in Hindu mysticism posited that everything was a single ever-changing illusion, which Gautama Buddha’s enlightenment “emptied” of essence in the 5th century BCE.

In the European legacy, we’ve endured Descartes’s thought experiment involving a trickster demon creating our subjective reality (and its 20th century variant, the “brain in a vat,” which still labors on in The Matrix). Within the past decades we’ve had Daniel Boorstin’s idea of the “pseudo-event” replacing meaningful discourse in American politics, and Jean Baudrillard’s ideas of the simulation being the coin of post-industrial communication.

Some arcane variants of this prison idea propose that mass literacy changed the human population’s neural patterning on a large scale, making it easily amenable to manipulation.[3] This assumption makes it possible for some critics to posit that literacy limits the thinkable and stunts our emotional intelligence or intuition/intuitive powers; the linearity of our cognitive ego-constructs therefore belabors our unconscious perception of others’ verbal inflection, cues, body language, scents, etc. The strong version of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis—that vocabulary and syntax can limit semantic conceptualization—continues to live on in conspiracists’ diatribes via the charge that Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) is a form of subtle mind-control. The deterministic hypothesis also lives on, albeit of a deprogramming kind, in Alfred Korzybski’s General Semantics.

More radical critics of modernity elevate traditional, oral cultures over the literate. The “noble savage” is alive and well and can be found hawking ayahuasca ritual tours for $2,500 a pop in South America.

On the other hand, media theorist Marshall McLuhan claimed in the 1960s that the “West” was entering a post-literate age, and that image-based mentation (as opposed to alphabetic-linguistic) was actually on the rise.[4] With the proliferation of television, movies, personal computer, and Internet consumption, it’s hard to argue against McLuhan’s hypothesis. Iconography has returned via memes, emojis, acronyms, IM shorthand, computer gaming, corporate logos, YouTube videos…

Computer world

But if we go back 530 years to the Italian Renaissance we discover an obsession with images and symbology comparable to today’s. The Hermetic scholars Marsilio Ficino, Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, and Giordano Bruno concerned themselves with images’ ability to form and bind thinking by means of “infecting” the human imagination.[5]

Images are static upon the page, but they can become living things in the mind. Ficino and Bruno constructed magical systems using phantasia that “imprinted upon the human soul.” These images inherently used our natural imagination to enliven them with unconscious mental affect. The binding element was Eros, according to Ficino and Bruno. The love of self is bound up with the love of other in an erotic-somatic sense (sexual love), but the archetype-eidos of Eros precedes all manifestations of it in the individual’s world; this is a pure affirmation of the Platonic conception of Ideas as filtered through the Neoplatonists such as Iamblichus.[6] For Ficino, Eros is the background upon which any archetypes can operate at all, for even the sensations of horror and revulsion and hate (emotions tied in with Jung’s shadow archetype in depth psychology, for instance) are at the deepest level founded upon “self-love” by way of the need for the preservation of both body and mind.

GiorBRuno

THE STOICS

To understand the ecology of Renaissance magic we must understand parts of the Stoics’s philosophy and its winding path to the Renaissance scholars via the Neoplatonists of the 1st-5th centuries CE.

The Stoics of the 3rd century BCE believed in a universe composed of one primary substance, the pneuma (breath, spirit/soul, “wind”). The pneuma of the universe was steered by the cosmic hegemonikon (controlling center/mind) and its Logos (reason), which had created everything by means of varying the degrees of pneumatic tension of each entity.

The universe was a pneumatic continuum in differing degrees of boundedness or “tightness.” All objects and their qualities, potentialities, appearances were pneumatic phantasms.

Human beings were considered somewhat unique because their own hegemonikon, centered in the heart, could control one’s actions, emotions, and thoughts by means of its share in the logos—and this also structurally reflected the cosmic hegemonikon’s logos.

Thus the microcosm of the human being reflected the macrocosm of the universe.

The Stoic theories of phenomenology and epistemology were complex and interrelated. Since all is pneuma, the world’s tightly constituted object-appearances (phantaston) would ripple through the less-dense air to impinge upon the eyes, ears, skin, etc. These would impress themselves upon the hegemonikon as images (phantasia) with a sort of physical weight.

Our hegemonikon would thus gradually become filled with images of the world; language was simply a prop to arbitrarily label things and actions, but even in this arbitrariness it could create an intelligible system of relations.

Propositions of language could be true or false to the phantasia inside a person’s hegemonikon, depending upon the disposition of the outer pneuma-phantaston at a given instant (this theory anticipates Wittgenstein and Russell’s logical atomism by 2,300 years).

Agreement between the phantasia within and the outer world led to truth. For instance, “the cat sits on the mat” is a proposition whose truth depends upon 1) what time it is uttered,[7] 2) the agreed-upon existence and appearance of cats, mats, the act of sitting, and 3) the presupposition of both an observing human hegemonikon and the cosmic hegemonikon that in principle underwrites the truth of the entire scene. The proposition can be spoken in any one of the world’s 6,000 languages; every one of them is phonetically arbitrary but possesses a deep structure independent of language that is a direct revelation of the cosmic hegemonic logos (in this, the Stoics anticipated Chomsky’s theory of transformational grammar by 2,300 years also).

So the phantaston-to-phantasia has efficacy: it affects the disposition of the human hegemonikon in a physical manner. Much papyrus was used and ink soaked in disputations over the reality or non-reality of the lekta (“meaning”) of linguistic propositions, but being proto-epiphenomenalists, the Stoics waved away lekta as a side effect of spoken vibrations or written words. They were more concerned with the fact that the impressions could be true or false to the will of the cosmic hegemonikon (obviously, this dismissal was a huge inconsistency in their philosophy).

Their belief in pneumatic resonance and agreement between the soul (another way of saying hegemonikon) and the world soul was the important part.

For this agreement there was a special class of experience: the phantasia kataleptike (unshakeable impression/irreproachable image). The Stoics would class certain sense-experiences with this phrase, but classing it such would be dependent on conjunction of phantaston, the personal hegemonikon’s physical disposition (e.g., if we have a high fever or have ingested hallucinogens then we cannot completely trust our concurrent sense-impressions as kataleptic), and the cosmic hegemonikon. That is to say, there must be an alignment between the outer, objective world, the observer’s state of mind, and the will of God. As scholar Ioan Couliano put it,

For the Stoics, the functional relationship between the cardiac synthesizer (hegemonikon) and the pneuma was clearly determined: the hegemonikon “is like a receiving post to which all impressions received by the senses are communicated.” On the other hand, the Stoic philosophers also develop a theory of phantasms produced by the hegemonikon. For Chrysippus (the greatest philosopher of the Stoa, who clarified their doctrines), the clear representation of the sensory object formed in the cardiac synthesizer is called phantasia kataleptike or “comprehensive representation” and leads naturally to a rational adhesion (synkatasthesis). The main difference between Aristotle and the Stoics consists in the fact that the latter think the pneuma is the soul itself, whereas the former believe it to be only a kind of ethereal intermediary between the soul and the physical body. That is why the Stoics conceive of fantasy, according to Zeno and Cleanthes, as a “stamp upon the soul,” a typosis en psyche.[8] (explanation added).

To align one’s hegemonikon entirely with that of the cosmic hegemonikon was the Stoics’s ethical goal; by aligning oneself with its “will,” one could accept all that occurred in life with equanimity, tranquility, and preserve the integrity of one’s piece of the whole, our personal hegemonikon.

By this route, an individual could at least attain towards the state of the Stoic sage, a person who has done the will of God/Cosmos. At death, the coherence of this pneumatic logos-entity could survive for a time before dissolving itself into everything, like a drop of water into the pneumatic sea. This condition depends upon the clarity and tranquility of the soul, in a striking parallel to Vedantic and Buddhist state of samadhi:

Later, Epictetus is to state that phantasms are influenced by the state of the pneuma that receives or conceives them. He resorts to a comparison: “just as houses at the edge of a body of clear water are reflected in its limpid surface, so also are external objects reflected in our psychic pneuma, with the obvious result that they are influenced by the present state of the pneuma.” In order that the image is reflected in the mirror of the pneuma may be precise and faithful to their subject, the pneuma itself must be tranquil and pure. So it is that Epictetus, continuing and developing the moral preoccupations of the Stoics, combined them with the doctrine of spirit: to have a clean pneuma, a well-polished cardiac mirror, becomes the equivalent of being virtuous. Here Stoicism find itself in the company of the whole Platonic tradition, whose most important practical outcome is to obtain, by a suitable technique, the separation of the soul from the body so that the former may not be sullied by the latter. Beginning in the second century A.D., a technique of this kind is known as theurgy, which primarily designates a purification of the soul for purposes of soothsaying in the benefic exalted magic but also for pursuit of a better posthumous destiny.[9]

NEOPLATONIC ADAPTATION

Theurgy may be defined as ritual action intended to make contact with another sphere of existence by utilizing forces higher than the human to elevate one’s consciousness and being to that same level. It is the framework of magic as we know it.

Many Romans adopted the Stoic philosophy as a living ethic. Its ideas survived and flourished in Hellenistic Alexandria, where hundreds of cults and religion battled each other for adherents as the Roman Empire disintegrated. The religion of Mithraism utilized Stoic astronomical dogma as one basis of its beliefs.[10] Plato’s Academy survived and adopted distinctly Stoic elements. As Couliano notes,

Credit for having synthesized in an original fashion the Platonic, Aristotelian, and Stoic elements that make up the theoretical basis for Renaissance magic is due to Synesius of Cyrene, who, having been a disciple of the Neoplatonist martyr, Hypatia of Alexandria (d.415), ended by converting to Christianity and becoming a bishop…That is why the theurgic preliminary to any process classified among the practices of spiritual magic will be “cleansing one’s pneuma” or hegemonikon, or a “cleansing one’s heart”…While theurgy assumes the place of honor as far as (the Neoplatonic follower of Plotinus) Iamblichus is concerned, Synesius holds the pneumatic synthesizer responsible for soothsaying and magic…We have already seen that Epictetus compared the pneuma to a basin filled with water, a liquid mirror. Plutarch of Chaeronea is the first to speak of a “pure mirror,” nothing more. For Synesius this double-faced mirror provides the opportunity for two parallel surfaces to meet on neutral territory. In so far is it is the intermediary between the intelligential world and the sensory world, this mirror, if perfectly clear, will make it possible for inner judgment to contemplate the world above epitomized by the reasoning part of the soul, and will give the latter the opportunity to perceive and to judge the sensory objects whose image is transmitted to common sense through the external senses.[11]

We may then say, following Couliano’s thought, that the theurgy of the Neoplatonists is a clarification into practice of the Stoic program of achieving hegemonic purity, plus methods of aligning oneself with the gods or God.

In the Platonic hierarchy of truth, an artist’s representation of reality lay at the bottom and the Form of the True at the top, in the realm of Forms. His dialogue Timaeus presents an Egyptian-influenced vision of the virtuous souls’ destination in the stars at death. Intermediaries between the heavenly world and human beings were daimons, beings that delivered messages, portends, and prophecy, most of the time while a person was in a altered state of consciousness.

But even these living meldings of “phantaston with phantasia” had their corresponding perfect Forms in the Otherworld:

Since the phantasmic synthesizer affords the possibility of an encounter with a world peopled with divine powers, and since, according to Platonic dogma, this world is homologous to the intelligential world, there is a way of acting upon the synthesizer to invoke numerous presences. This invocation, resulting in the company of gods and demons, can be carried out by using certain substances, forms, and colors to which the higher beings are sensitive.[12]

This is the basis of ceremonial magic as it was known in the Renaissance. It is only in Eros that we share with everything, much like the pneumatic relation between person and cosmos, that we are also a part of the daimons (the intermediaries invoked by theurgy), and they of us. They slumber in our consciousness, and awake in our dreams. They invade our conscious life and speak in daydreams.

To control and strengthen these manifestations is the goal of the magician, and these spirits each are stamped with qualities that one can come to know through study and the imaginative faculty. Magicians intone chants physically through the pneuma, make physical images using pneumatic phantaston that resonate with higher powers, and internalize the resulting forces by means of pneuma.

A text called On Radiations by Iraqi philosopher Al-Kindi (801-873 CE) is the source of a theory that, when wedded with Stoic ideas of the pneuma, produces a full account of how magic physically, emotionally, and spiritually operates:

The fundamental idea of (On Radiations), only one among the 270 that the historiographer al-Nadim attributes to its author, is that each star has its own nature, which it communicates to the surrounding world by means of rays. Now the influence of stellar radiations upon terrestrial objects changes as a function of the mutual aspects that the stars and the objects produce. Besides, (pre-existing) substances receive the qualities of rays in different ways according to their intrinsic properties, which are hereditary (whence it is apparent, for instance, that the son of the king will have a natural disposition to rule and the son of a laborer to follow his father’s calling.)

Al-Kindi believed that in addition to the stars, the elements emitted rays. Thus everything compounded of the four elements emanated its unique presence. This was a novel idea:

According to al-Kindi, we find ourselves in the midst of an invisible network of rays coming from the stars as well as from all earthly objects. The entire universe, from the most distant stars to the humblest blade of grass, makes its presence known by its radiations at every point in space, and every moment in time; and its presence, of course, varies according to the intensity and mutual influence of the rays of the universe, so that there cannot be two things truly identical to one another. Besides the psychic emotions (joy, sorrow, hope, fear) are also transmitted to the surrounding world in the form of invisible radiations, which also mark their changes, according to the arrangement of every (pre-existent) substance.[13]

The Stoic idea of fate as determined by initial conditions plays a part as well, a binding force for individuals and all objects.

EROS AND BINDING

Ficino’s and especially Bruno’s “Art of Memory” play the primary role in the creation of externalized phantasia (or as the Indians and Tibetans call them, tulpas). The “memory theater” was a mnemonic system meant to enshrine the associative constellations between the stars, the elements, colors, seals, herbs, properties etc. in the mind of a magician and combine all of them into unique sigils as a sort of shorthand formula for their recollection, activation, and projection. Based upon “tagging” the parts of a building or room with individual ideas, these associations could be internalized and became living presences in the magician’s psyche. A “walk” through one’s memory palace could then instantly call up an entire rite. The magician was to meditate upon these walks for hours, for days at a time, Erotically imagining them as the architecture of both psyche and the world-psyche. In this way they could eventually be projected outward physically via the pneuma or vibrated through it in coherent form towards a target, creating the desired situation, whether it be love of a person, the death or sickness of a person, to find treasure, etc., from combinations of the symbolic-sigillic elements. The magician’s control over their personal hegemonikon’s phantasia could use the intervening pneuma between itself and the Cosmic Hegemonikon to either evoke a pre-existent “familiar helping spirit” or physically form a daimon with which to communicate and do their bidding.

To what uses these creations were put was up to the purity of the magician’s hegemonikon.

The architects of our subconscious bestiary today are not so pure—or so say today’s conspiriologists.

IMG_2817

THE TABULA RASA GETS A BRUTAL DOWNLOAD

Of course, systems such as Ficino and Bruno’s were dismissed, debunked, and plowed under by the empirical sciences from roughly 1650 to the present. Modern empiricism, born from Hobbes, Rousseau, and Locke’s ideas of the human mind as a blank slate, matured through the positivism of Comte and the Encyclopedists (Isaac Newton’s nocturnal alchemical and Hermetic studies became an untidy historical secret until recently).

But as Couliano revealed, the system of eidos-image/emblemata/logo, Erotic binding, and “infection” of the mass imagination goes on today through media that was unimaginable in scope and sensible power by the Renaissance magician…but still recognizable in its purpose: control of humanity, by means of stimulating physical and psychological change in individual millions of hegemonika.

Human desires can be channeled by means of Eros and imagination. As PR guru Edward Bernays touted, “sex sells!” Capitalism demands you be dissatisfied with both your body and mind, and presents a million puerile cures.

Hypnotic association of the soul/psyche with one’s physical body lay at the heart of this spell. Our science hammers into us from birth that we are only atoms and void (much like the first beliefs of the Epicureans and the Gnostics). Our agency, via Eros, is tied up with this body-identification, having been rehearsed over our formative years, making our separating any deeper self from the association very difficult.

The magic that was meant for the sage’s personal illumination has been used to bind us.

As noted in Part One,

1) the techniques of magic and alchemy were kept secret by practitioners because public revelation of them meant the methods would be put to secular uses and disaster/enslavement would inevitably result.

2) We are in the midst of disaster(s); therefore,

3) secret techniques of magic and alchemy have been used by secular forces to bring us to this point (“secular forces” who nevertheless are purported to covertly believe in some “ancient religion,” whether it is worship of our “Sirian/Lyran/Vegan alien masters,” the Egyptian Ennead, Sumerian/Akkadian gods or demons, etc. and are doing these beings’ bidding until they return to earth).[14]

Many conspiracists throw around this invalid, messy syllogism. One could well argue the second proposition is false, or that the first is not a necessary truth at all (mass knowledge of the mysteries does not result in disaster, and it is safe for all to know about them), or, most cogently, that the frickin world doesn’t need the forces of perverted magic to become a disaster or tyrannous hellhole.

The paranoids are ignorant or disparaging of “mainstream” history, psychology, sociology, the history of natural magic and alchemy, information theory, complexity and chaos theory, game theory, etc.—the list could go on. Conspiracists such as David Wilcock, David Icke, Michael Hoffman, and Chris Knowles accept the conclusion/a worldview and then look for the evidence of secret societies manipulating events to fit. Improbable coincidence or synchronicity is usually invoked as the marker, both that one has stumbled upon something occultly important (to fit one’s worldview), and as the signature of the secret “game masters” trying to communicate their staged events’ meaning to the “enlightened” few.

The sense that one’s personal agency has been compromised, that one is a prisoner in either body or socially or societally, is purely subjective and dependent upon one’s unique psychological history. This fact is usually to always suppressed by the conspiracy-monger. Yes, we are processed and yes we are manipulated, to certain degrees, but the efficacy of that processing is never predestined or assured. It is possible to be exploited by the Powers that Be, but one only has to critically study the capitalist methods of consent-creation, fear-induction, and the responses many individuals have as individuals to see that the gilded bullshit is perceived by many as just that: gold-plated turds.


[1] 9/11 was not just “the most horrendous terrorist attack in American history”; if you’re going to say that, you must simultaneously say it was also the most horrendous bureaucratic intelligence failure in American history, entirely avoidable, and belongs on the list of catastrophic, trust-eroding scandals.

[2]

[3] This too has a precedent in Plato’s philosophy: he decries the reliance upon what we would call “book learning” instead of dialoguing and thinking itself as superior forms of philosophizing, which had a different connotation back then. With advances in understanding epigenetics, it is now hypothesized that the ability to comprehend text may be passed on genetically (in distinction to Noam Chomsky’s Platonic idea that language-comprehension is an inherent human property).

[4] With the rise of the personal computer, the internet, and “peak television,” it’s hard to argue with him. Iconography has returned via memes, emojis, acronyms, shorthand, computer gaming,

[5] I am going to frankly ignore cognitive science findings on human’s imaginative ability because 1) scientists do not use “imagination” in the sense the Stoics, Neoplatonists, medieval philosophers, and Romantics did, and 2) they have no agreed-upon idea how a modular-memory concept of imagination might be explained by the brain-area and algorithm-modeled approach they use.

[6] Iamblichus’s elevation of Eros was also inspired by the cosmology of the Chaldean Oracles, who viewed it as the binding force.

[7] Although strictly, time did not exist for the Stoics; since all was one living being ultimately, everything was in process and stages of transformation. The pneumatic vibrations of the cosmos at any given time determined the events that would follow any given instance. They were obsessed with emanations from the stars and seven classical planets that determined fate.

[8] Couliano, Ioan. Eros and Magic in the Renaissance, University of Chicago, 1987. Pg. 113

[9] Ibid, pg. 113.

[10] David Ulansey believes the ultimate mystery at the center of the Mithraic cult is knowledge of the equinoctial precession, which was celebrated in the bull (Taurus)-slaying scene inaugurating the age of Pisces that the Mithraics lived under but was soon to end. This knowledge, Ulansey claims, came from Stoic astronomers of Phrygia.

[11] Couliano, pgs. 114-115.

[12] Ibid, pg. 115.

[13] Ibid, pgs. 119-120. Here we have a forerunner of ideas like the Akashic field and David Bohm’s implicate order in physics, but it is underpinned by some wild blend of Neoplatonic Oneness and Heraclitan flux, that is, a hieros gamos of chaos (the ever-changing intersectional networks) and stillness (the binding force behind the elements).

[14] This is part of the thesis of “William Bramley’s” infamous ancient aliens/Illuminati history book, The Gods of Eden, which in turn is based on the works of Zechariah Sitchin.