In my last post, I got to thinking about the way in which certain god forms (such as Abraxas and Baphomet) seemed to allow a process in which apparent dualities could be danced with. Rather than certain qualities being located in oppositional members of a given pantheon, these strange hybrid deities seemed to hold such polarities within their beings.
For me as a gnostic explorer these are gods that I am drawn to precisely because they mirror the project of personal integration that I find myself wrestling with. On some level such an admission may seem like high narcissism, but I believe that a degree of honest self-reflection is warranted as we walk this path. Often we choose (and create) the gods most like ourselves as we seek to both make sense of our current experiences and also in our aspiration to become something more, something greater that we currently are. As a magician who is continually seeking to explore and understand the role that belief has in shifting consciousness, I also have a strong suspicion that this is far from one-way traffic i.e. our gods are feeding on us as much as we are feeding on them!
The need and desire to feed is for many of us, an uncomfortable aspect of our existence on earth that we might want to hide from. At a basic biological level in order to survive, humans need to consume, destroy and absorb the life of something else. As much as we may want to whitewash the process, our day-to-day survival is premised on a degree of violence. Once we step outside the boundaries of “civilisation”, we quickly comprehend that we also can become the hunted as well as the hunter; such are the dynamics of the biosphere. Awareness of this principle may well influence our dietary and lifestyle choices, but it remains none-the-less.
For those seeking to explore more magical perspectives on the world, such awareness may also extend to how feeding occurs on an energetic level. In for example, the work of Gurdjieff and other Fourth Way teachers we find the idea of reciprocal feeding i.e. everything in the universe feeds on and in turn are fed upon energetically. To me this feels decidedly vampiric and as long as the feeding is mutual, it maybe a helpful metaphor for understanding our relationship with the any imagined numinous realm.
Any scan of the Internet will provide a startling array of individuals and groups seeking to engage with Vampire and Otherkin identities as a means for making sense of their lives (I have written at greater length about these themes here). However fumbling we may view these attempts to engage with these potent archetypal images, at best the Vampire represents a conscious engagement with the dynamic of feeding, in order to maximize its potential for wellbeing and the pursuit of initiatory goals.
It feels less than coincidental that that the popularity of the Vampire myth in western society seems also to parallel and increased awareness of many Asian religious traditions that make more explicit reference to the “subtle body” and the possibility of energetic exchange. Time does not currently permit a detailed examination of these sources, but those alchemical practices broadly described as “tantric” or Taoist often dealt with the cultivation and movement of subtle energy and the physical uses of bodily “elixirs”. Any contemporary explorer of the vampiric would be wise to integrate the insights of such traditions in evolving their own magical experiments.
Feeding need not be parasitic and there are many models of magical practice that promote an approach that is far more symbiotic and consensual (insights may well be gained from the devotional work undertaken by many practitioners working with African traditional religions). The idea of feeding is hardly new within the realm of religious expression. Whether it be a Catholic high mass, a Vaishnava’s offering of Prashadam (sacred food) to Krishna and Radha or a Heathen sumble, the use of ingesting food to express faith is as old as humanity itself. How we eat and what we eat, are unavoidable expressions of who we are and what we want to become-this is true of both our shopping habits and also the way we use food in the context of our own spiritual journeys. What more powerful way to connect to your god, than ingesting his “body and blood” and fusing them with your own physiology?
We need to pick our gods and heroes with care in that the very acts of our devotion generate seismic ripples within our psyches that yield inevitable consequences. Others (e.g. social media and advertising) may well have a strong interest in what we are “fed” and what feeds upon us. For those of us seeking to cultivate a certain degree of cognitive liberty, we may well need to employ our best banishing practices in order to create our own space.
As a magician working with the chaos tradition, I may value the odd psychic take-away or ritual “ready meal”, but in the longer term I know the value of slowing down and making sure that my sources of sustenance have a more balanced nutritional value. My own work with Abraxas and the whole Chaos Craft approach described in our blog have been an attempt to adopt a “slow” method that seeks to foster a more long-term, creative relationship to working with those Spirits that I would like to see at work in my world.
In devoting my time and focus on these beings I both feed my own inspiration and seek to allow them to utilize my energy in manifesting their presence in our world. My gods of choice may well be fluid, liminal and strange, but at a time when the subtle and complex are often sacrificed in favour of the big, bold message, as an aspiring cultural alchemist I continue to invoke my part-made Gods.
Well, I do believe it was Tobias Churton who correctly observed that Gnosticism without magic is at best a very tepid affair.
If indeed the aim of chaos magic is to be current, rather than simply shallow and trendy, then it must match well with Gnosis, which is and has been eternal rather than temporal.
However, for myself, syncretism is a personal discovery of what has worked and what still works. Western civilization is quite fond of its intellectual flights of fancy, yet I seem to have discovered the reality of Basillides explanation of the three part soul, and all the limitations this implies.
God derives from root words meaning invoked, or poured, and thus do we inherit the relationship between us and the Gods.
In the Northern tradition, many of the Gods walked the Earth as men, and retain their essential human natures, including predilections. Odins’ best magic was never spelled out in the Havamal, but was there for his philosophers to find their signs.
Jung wrote in Septum Sermones Ad Mortuos that Abraxas was both terrible and the cause. Congruent, I believe, with the way of the Templars.
Thanks Mike-nice reflection. I agree Gnosticism without Magic is both tepid and arid-equally Magic without philosophy and spirituality is (in my view) fairly pointless.
The Templars continue to be an esoteric enigma, but for many reasons continue to offer up keys for those of us inspired by the romantic imagination.
Yes, there are more than a few who view romance, and the romantic, as bad words. I’m not all together certain that the enigma of the Templars can ever be solved by modern researchers. For one, they are, to a man, thoroughly beholden to a world view that places the Abrahamic religions on a pedestal of such prominence that they cannot peek around it. Secondly, they are religiously sworn to uphold a materialist world view with such rigor, that they refuse to allow for the advances of their own science.
Some time ago, a series on the Templars ran at The Secret Sun, and it was quite good, as well as refreshingly open to evidence that official historians are compelled to ignore.
I might also point out that the Atbash cipher, when applied to Baphomet, translates into Sophia.
So, were the Templars Gnostic-heathen warriors?
The seal of Abraxas does not lie.
Whatever was going on for the Templars, they continue to inspire me in their stretching the edges of orthodoxy by incorporating an array of fascinating material.
Gnostic-heathen warriors apparently influenced by some strange form of Islamic mysticism-a heady brew indeed!
I have followed the history, and have come to an unavoidable conclusion. Christianity destroyed Gnosticism wherever it found it, with very few exceptions, and these exceptions, interestingly enough, were those that gave substance to Christian cosmology, which by any standard is a rather primitive affair, and needed all the help it could get. Thus western Gnosticism is a fragmentary affair that appears again and again, only to be genocided into history.
Islam, another carpet bombing religion devoid of meaningful cosmology took a different tack toward the Gnostics-one where they were allowed to coexist under certain circumstances. Thus we find the descendents of such groups extant today.
Current political conditions threaten the survival of humanity, interestingly enough, with the resurgence of judaism into the middle east. Such environments are no longer friendly, or even neutral to the Gnostic impulse, however we still have in the Islamic world some of the best preserved Gnostic traditions. I find it rather laughable that some seek to award judaism with the Gnostic origins. Apparently the well documented hostility of judaism toward the Gnostics is overlooked by them.
Sufism is widely credited with being the mystical arm of Islam, yet every scholar who looks at Sufism comes to the conclusion that it predates Islam by a wide margin.
So, it seems to me at this point that Gnostic groups within the Islamic world adopted enough of the face value customs to be conversant within Islam, yet were never Islamic themselves. Some of these Gnostic sects were warriors like the Templars. Like attracts like, and eastern Gnosis has re-fertilized the west time and time again!
Personally I believe that there will always be a struggle between those who wish to explore truth and those (who are often acting from a place of anxiety), who wish to contain and standardise such a process.
I wouldn’t lay these attempts to control at any one tradition’s door-I think they are universal. Those who desire to explore inner-terrain will always seek to evolve cosmologies that mirror the complexities and challenges of that journey.
As you say, those who seek the path of the warrior can be found within many paths-whether the Templars or the Assassins. I guess the key question in all this being: “what does these mean in terms of inner work and the pursuit of freedom and happiness?” We’ve all seen the horrors of jihad that has no effect on the heart.
It is, zenelf, a politically incorrect thing in western society to be a warrior of any kind. I’m not equating the role of the soldier with that of the warrior, which is a common modern meme. The warrior fought for higher principles, perhaps for the highest of all principles-for the expression of the soul in the face of death. Death.
The soldier is the tool of the elite branch of society, the wielder of terrifying weapons that are not his, but are borrowed from that very elite. The warrior returns his weapons upon death to the magnificent realm. The soldier gives up his weapons at the whim of his “superiors”.
Warriors are a threat to the elite. Soldiers are a comfort to them.
The spiritual warrior is not simply one who does his fighting in supernal realms, but it is the truth that the reality of Death, close at hand, lends an electricity to the world, and a sincerity to the warriors’ actions, that few can comprehend.
The Templars were destroyed by the abrahamic complex that can brook no Gnosis, only their facsimile. This alien ideology is unnatural and toxic to the genuine character of the Anthropos. It has brought us nothing but subservience, loss, and dissolution. Templars were aware of this, such is the rerason for the seals of Abraxas and Ashteroth.
What is the warriors’ path today?!?
What is the way the swears the sword to the Goddess and to all that is Life and Reality?
That, my friend, is the question.
Thanks Mike-a good question well articulated! It sounds as if we have a shared focus in exploring what the role of the warrior-priest should be within the worlds that we live.