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My own beliefs on the afterlife are similar to that of various Eastern doctrines. In that, I believe in reincarnation, some form of karma, and that the purpose of living as a human on Earth is to spiritually grow and mature (through many human incarnations) and eventually self-actualize one's soul enough to liberate oneself from the necessity of material rebirths and thus get closer to God/the Divine and/or reunite with the true spiritual Self.

Q: What are your views on the salvation of all mankind?

I have no firm view on this, other than I'm not so convinced that the human species on this particular planet, among a cosmic sea of likely countless other planets harboring life, is all that special in the grand scheme of things. I do believe our souls are however, and all other sentient souls out there wherever and all over. Down here on Earth, I believe most incarnate humans are just trying to get a basic grip on what it means to be human and aren't necessarily interested in higher religious/spiritual teachings; the kind of religion less mature souls will relate to will be those that revolve around concrete rules and base superstitions.

Where do people go when they die?

Depends on the person. Though for the average person of mixed deeds and accomplishments, from what I understand they will ascend up into an astral realm (there's countless numbers of these) that's akin to their own soul-character and acquired knowledge and habits; there eventually after some time of reflection, the discarnate soul will grow bored and restless and start longing once again for an earthly life, owing to unresolved desires from past flesh incarnations. The less Gnosis this soul has soul has acquired in the past several lives, the less control they will have over the conditions of their new life; there will be spiritual entities (we could call angels) who pick these conditions and guide the soul toward their next life. However, more mature souls who have accumulated more spiritual wisdom (Gnosis) will have a greater degree of control over how and where they will next incarnate. Souls that resolved all their karmic baggage and have thus been freed from the rebirth cycle may voluntarily choose another earthly life for the express purpose of helping other humans become enlightened/liberated. These souls may have full control over the conditions of their new birth.

Will there be a form of eternal torment for some or many?

No, only a sick psychopath would implement such an arrangement. No good/loving God would be responsible for such a reprehensible thing. The idea that if a person screws up in during just ONE tiny little lifetime (we need to take into account the cosmic timescale) they will be damned, is beyond sadistic. In reality, (according to my view) it takes many lifetimes to make mistakes and then learn from those mistakes and then transcend those mistakes. During a single lifetime there's simply a lot of random and weird things that can suddenly cut your life short at a moment's notice. And of course, simply refusing to follow some arbitrary man-made set of laws, or being born in a part of the world that has no access to that doctrine, certainly does NOT mean any kind of afterlife punishment for the person/soul in question. Such a belief is preposterous and doctrines that assert this view were devised merely to instill fear in people and make them compliant toward some state or priestly authority. But yes, I do believe people who commit very awful deeds during their life and have little-to-no awareness they have done so, will experience some kind of temporary punishment that may last one or several lives, or perhaps a limbo period in an unpleasant realm.

Will there be a judgment, and what will that look like?

As one singular event for all of humanity? No. If there is any judgement, it's a person-by-person judgement, each occurring at different times. I believe all human souls have a "Higher Self" or "Guardian Spirit" counterpart that exists to provide subtle subconscious guidance and then after death help facilitate a reflection period for past deeds committed. That itself may be seen as a kind of judgement. Fundamentally I believe the Higher aspects of our Selves are our most harsh judges.

Regarding so-called "immature souls" as the kinds of beliefs and lifestyles they are attracted toward, some of them will certainly be drawn to black/white concrete beliefs and/or firm, predictable rules for securing a sense of comfort and certitude. Whereas other immature souls may just want to just fuck around and lead totally hedonistic lives, i.e. experience as many sense-pleasures as they are able to before their bodies fall into a state of decrepitude. I think for most those it's a mix of these two desires; the average person wants to have fun and at the same time feel sure and secure. Moderately mature souls (not necessarily ones drawn to mysticism, philosophy, or spirituality) will probably desire some kind of creative outlet and perhaps have an artistic, intellectual or inventive temperament. And of course, the even more mature will be actively seeking out higher meaning and will have likely done so in their most recent lives. In my view, a "good religion" for the masses would include outlets for sense-joy/pleasure, higher teachings, and rules for ideal conduct.

What might differentiate me from some other Gnostics is that I try my best (though often fail to) to have a great deal of compassion for the less mature souls of this world. Every person on Earth is at a slightly different place and thus has different spiritual needs. The one thing that grinds my gears the most is one-size-fits all ideological and spiritual prescriptions for humanity. And this also clusters into different populations. A belief system that might be beneficial for one culture, could be a total disaster for another culture.
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Here is a thought-provoking comment I came across recently. From ZN:

The reason I think the Hindu scriptures are frankly superior to those from the Abrahamic faiths is because they provide the keys to the actual meanings of the ideas involved. They are esoteric as opposed to the jumble of exoteric phrases one finds in the Bible - which I'm sure you would agree can lead to so many different interpretations & with more of an emphasis on the outer form of a teaching. One example I came across just the other day was a passage in the Vedas which spoke of the 'body being the temple of God (Shiva). As you know that's where the Bible leaves it, whereas the Vedas expand on the concept speaking of Shiva being the Oversoul, The Self within all beings etc. The quotes you posted in this video likewise give greater insight into the real meanings of spiritual truths.


Countless layers of priestly and scribal interpolations and redactions have indeed rendered much of the Abrahamic scriptural collection almost useless in terms of being a potent tool for enlightenment. In fact, these scriptures have proven to be a source of so much fanaticism and schizophrenic mind-control ideologies/dogmas over the course of many centuries. Whereas, Eastern scriptures tend to get right to the point and provide clear and practical enlightenment teachings; no confusing obscurantism or fuzzy parables required.
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In my view, paranoia and fundamentalism so often go hand in hand. Take internet conspiracy culture as a prime example of this. One can find no shortage of youtube videos pages and webpages full of rantings and raving about "occult" and "pagan" symbolism being everywhere in pop culture. The cranks, lunatics and opportunists peddling this paranoia would insist that these symbols are mendaciously hidden in plain sight by a cabal of dark-evil-elite conspirators who have infiltrated mass media and big entertainment and are thus using their influence to openly gloat about all the secret occult knowledge they supposedly possess. And go to any video on youtube about any spiritual or religious topic imaginable and you'll see the comments section full of the same type of rabidly-incoherent, frothing-at-the-mouth rants, typically colored by a motley assortment of out-of-context Bible quotations, often in the form of just one or two isolated verses.

The central paranoia of the Christian fundamentalist in particular, is that every type of expression out there in the big bad world of pop culture, media and shared ideas, is an affront to or an attack upon the paranoid person's adopted version of whatever variant of Christianity they happen to adhere to. And of course there are those snowflakes who claim not to follow any particular domination; in their own words their rationalization might be something along the lines of, "I just follow the Bible, plain and simple!" Well, quite simple expect for the annoying fact that there are now more than 40,000 different ways of interpreting that "plain and simple" body of scripture. If this many disagreements do exist, then which one is correct? By what standard is an interpretation correct or incorrect? Who exactly should be vested with the authority of determining which interpretation is the most correct? (Entire massive bloody wars have been fought over this very question) Come on now, if the Bible was a clear and unambiguous message any average Joe could easy understand, then why isn't there just one Christian sect? The clear answer is that anyone claiming that they follow "nothing but the Bible" is either totally full of shit or they have self-deluded their mind into a pretzel.

Essentially, modern Westerners are supremely averse to genuine spirituality, and this is especially true for the most fervently "religious" Westerners. They are in fact the greatest enemies of spirituality. Modern modern people are materialists in one form or another. At least secular modern people are just ambivalent about or lackadaisically dismissive of spirituality, as opposed to wanting to wage "holy" wars against it. Literalist Christian fundamentalists are materialists and empiricists when it comes to everything in existence except the what they believe their scriptures say. And even then they glean a mostly-materialist worldview from the Bible. Jesus Christ **had** to have been a literal historical person, and the events depicted in the Gospel narrative **had** to have happened literally, word-for-word. The oh-so-lofty concepts of allegory and archetypes be damned!

People in general tend to be fearful toward what they cannot (or simply refuse to) understand. And thus they may project and lash out all their inner insecurities and psychic impurities toward anything reeking of higher wisdom. Think of the envious student who speaks using the worst of profanities against the teacher who flunked them for poor performance. And with the modern cultural take on Western individualism, so many people are cursed with a puerile entitlement complex that beams into their minds the notion that they are "owed" things for the mere feat of existing as an **individual**. And thus, in the realm of metaphysical matters, the Truth should simply fall into one's lap, regardless of their own particularity moral character, in-born temperament or level of accumulated merit. Nothing should be rightfully earned through effort and struggle; everything should be freely given out, because reasons.

The age-old Master/Apprentice dynamic has been pissed upon many times over by the hyper-entitled man/woman-child Westerner. And perhaps we could state that the 60s counterculture "revolution" only fanned the flames of this noxious adolescent mentality; everything thereafter became all about "me, me, me, me, myself, and I." The postwar (WWII) economic bonanza, coupled with the rapid advance in material high-technology, was the gasoline that made these flames 100x higher. And now with the internet, where everyone had all the information (or porn) they could ever want at their fingertips, the demand for instant answers to everything is even more magnified than before.

The self-righteous fundamentalist feels a seething rage toward any type of religious knowledge that is directly out of his reach. According his passion-ridden materialist mind, if **he** doesn't see it then it simply isn't there. And anyone who does insist it is indeed there must have some kind of hidden, nefarious agenda up his sleeve. Obvious the fundamentalist's personal God is an egalitarian and democrat who freely puts out all the secrets of the universe for anyone to effortlessly comprehend without any serious effort required. Within the paradigm of modern materialist science, if the scientist (in all likelihood, a glorified technician or doctor of rote memorization) can't read something with the instruments available to the practitioners of his field, then the proposed phenomenon in question simply doesn't exist, rather than being something that may or may not exist.

Homo Hubris is the man of the current era.
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Here's a paraphrased summary of question from reddit on the topic of distributism and standard small businesses:

Is a family business really a distributist enterprise? Wouldn't the business in question have to be a co-operative in order to qualify as one? Isn't any standard business an enabler of what some might call "wage slavery?"

In my view, small local and family Businesses (in addition to co-op's, ect.) are vital parts of a Distributist economy. In many cases, a family business might have a small handful of employees, if needed. In the most traditional sense, those employees might be the children or close relatives of the proprietor, or at least members of the local community. In short, we could plainly state that a family business boosts both familial and local community relations magnitudes more than something like a corporate chain could ever hope to do. And having hired help is just a fact of life for any organization more complex than a sole proprietorship or a one-person consulting business; The need for wage and salary employees won't be going away any time soon. The mere existence of that is not synonymous with "wage slavery."

On the topic of co-ops's, I have not heard of any distributist thought/principles that asserts all business must be cooperatives. Have you? I think the overall solution is to encourage distributed ownership of property and resources rather than getting mired in specific details on how owners should and shouldn't run their own enterprises. In short, this system is called Distributism, not Redistributism.

The way I see it is that on a higher conceptual level, ownership is not just having a piece of paper that says you own property or a share of something. IMHO that's just being a stakeholder or investor. Real ownership is not a mere profit-sharing agreement, but rather something that requires having skin the game in addition to being endowed with a conscientious temperament and the ability to cultivate the stewardship skillset required to be successful at the art of ownership. Someone who's only skills and/or abilities at their job is operating a cash register and taking out the trash is not an owner of that business. Sorry but that will simply never be true.

Should having a much wider distribution of stakeholdership be a thing? Of course. I don't think many proponents of distributism would argue against that. There's no real community without ordinary people feeling and experiencing some degree/sense of investment in their social surroundings. But ownership itself is something that must be earned. And of course the perks of ownership comes with responsibilities.

Having said all of that, I do recognize that there is certainly a psychological type of ownership and this can be bestowed upon people who may not have much experience or skill when it comes to owning things. For example, an employee of a co-op who passes whatever probationary period is required and is thus granted a small share in the organization now has a direct incentive to improve their own on-the-job performance because they now feel a sense of "ownership" in relation to the organization they work for. They still might not be good at managing anything beyond their own workload, yet they still feel the organization is party theirs in a way. Cooperatives do sure sound like a really effective way of boosting employee morale.

I agree wholeheartedly with the concept of profit-sharing (Though I'm still weird on calling it "ownership" in the physical sense) and I certainly believe that way more businesses/organizations **should** (incoming is/ought explanation...) adopt that model. But there would really need to be some kind of significant cultural shift for that to happen in a consensual manner. Greedy proprietors and executives will opt for the business model that rewards themselves with the highest slice of the take they can get. But yeah, consent is key; economic decentralization and mass profit sharing should never come about due to top-down government coercion. Get the government involved and they will always find a way to screw things or even make the situation way worse then it was prior to their act of meddling.

Overall, mass wage servitude is good for no one except a tiny oligarch class. Distributism can certainly help create a much wider sense of ownership among the people.
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Remark from Reddit: "I can’t remember which church schism it was, but it related to the thought that the Old Testament God is not the same God of the New Testament."

My response:

There were actually a good number of early churches which did not recognize the Jewish/OT god as the True God. And they each devised slightly different myths to explain why the OT god is flawed, inferior or even evil. This division actually started before Christianity came to be. The Sethians, who likely predated the first Christian sects by at least a century, started off as a group of disaffected Jewish mystics living in Alexandria who much preferred Platonic teachings. The Sethians simply flipped the script and declared the OT god to be the devil. (Many subsequent Gnostic groups would follow suit) And then during the 1st century CE there was Philo of Alexandria. Though he remained a pious Jew throughout his life, he devises and hammered out an esotericized Jewish theology that was essentially Platonic in character. While Philo's work didn't make a lasting effect on the Judaism of his time period (though it may have influenced Kabbalah centuries later), it essentially was a blueprint for what would become the core Christian theology. For example, the allegory of the Word/Logos becoming flesh was one of Philo's innovations, among several others.

The standard Christian canon is an unresolved and rather schizophrenic attempt at reconciling an all-good Platonic godhead with a rich and voluminous Hebrew scriptural base plagued by a very flawed god; the church fathers eagerly utilized the Jewish canon as an easy means to bolster their claim that Jesus Christ was prohphecized centuries before his coming, and thus convince lots of simple-minded people to join their cult. The very blatant incongruity between these two clashing god concepts was haphazardly paved over by the church and thus never explained in anything resembling a coherent or logical manner. And thus all the violent mob attacks, book burnings, witch hunts, heresy hunts, ect. when any sane mind dared to point out this gaping wound in the entire edifice.
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My short answer would be No.

According to my knowledge on the matter thus far, Gnosticism is merely a worldview or metaphysical attitude. It's the simple idea that the material realm/world/reality is a flawed creation and that it is the ultimate spiritual mission of every human being to transcend the material state and attain an immortal state in the higher realms of spirit. The more extreme dualist Gnostics have claimed the material realm to be a malevolent creation of an evil being. When "Gnostic" is uttered in casual conversation, the latter attitude usually comes to mind first.

They may be no religion we can call Gnosticism, but there were and are Gnostic versions of various religions. The most obvious example is Gnostic Christianity. But even that is not a religion, but rather a common theme found across many variants of early heterodox Christianity. The Valentinian church would be an example of a Gnostic Christian religion. We also can reference truly cosmopolitan Gnostic religions like Manichaeism, which came about as a syncretism of nearly every major world religious current of its time (3rd century CE). Mazdakism was probably a Gnostic version of Zoroastrianism. Kabbalah is arguably a Gnostic doctrine but many self-professed Gnotics today (not to mention Kabbalah-practicing Jews) would probably disagree with that distinction; it's only really true if we also consider the rather wide umbrella known as Hermeticism to be a Gnostic system. And finally, we can consider various Eastern religions and spiritual systems to be Gnostic.
laughingsage: (Default)
Quick list outline:

Upper section (Cosmopolitan): Universal Ideals, philosophy, any ideas really that can be applied to humans, planet earth and even the cosmos as a whole. In it's pure for, the upper section lends itself toward the development of cosmopolitan doctrines; and here I mean cosmopolitan in the true sense of the word, i.e. citizen of the cosmos.

Lower section (Telluric): Fixed land-based attributes, i.e. aspects of a religious tradition that derive from a specific geographic location and all the various characteristics associated with that location. This section includes any and all folklore based on this land/place-based criteria.

Left section (Personal): Individual spiritual and religious practices, generally used for the purposes of self-development, initiation, knowledge-acquisition, personal wellness and other forms of spiritual attainment.

Right-section (Communal): Group spiritual and religious practices; generally anything involving prayer and worship in a group setting; also group rituals and communal holiday observances; family and religious congregation activities are included in this category.

***

As we can see, some religions surviving to this day tend to overemphasize one or more of these sections, and likewise neglect some of the others.

Generally, religions which are all about group conformity, behavioral compliance, following an exhaustive list of seemingly-arbitrary rules, excess ritualism, ect., tend to leave the Personal section out in the cold and skew too far toward the Communal. This sort of dynamic creates an imbalanced system and more often than not, retards people's personal spiritual development and attainment. Usually this imbalance persists in service of maintaining and perpetuating a religious/ideological power structure that would surely lose its ideological monopoly if the religion in question were to allow too much of a variety of different teachings, interpretations and practices to exist under its umbrella.

And then of course, there are systems of spiritual practice which are almost wholly within the Personal section and thus are only useful for an individual's spiritual and ethical development. These systems usually manifest as very exclusive groups of spiritual seekers and thus are rather useless to laypersons and the untrained in general. Such systems are incapable of serving larger groups or communities. A good example of this in the modern age would be various occult and esoteric groups existing in the Western world; most have teachings and practices that are far divorced from the everyday affairs and experiences of the average Westerner. Another example might be the various forms of Eastern practices which have become trendy among some spiritual seekers in the West. In this case, it's the Lower section (i.e. folklore and place-based attributes) which are quite alien to Western experience and thus require a steep learning curve for the Western practitioner to properly apprehend. In this sense, a Westerner can never fully become a Hindu, but they can surely incorporate the philosophical and practical teachings of the Hindu tradition into their own spiritual worldview. And of course, Western-friendly Telluric themes (i.e. Hellenic or Norse godforms, as an example) could easily accessorize such teachings.

Neglect of the Telluric section can become quite problematic. We see this the most with religions that have become wholly scripture-based and thus portable. We see traditions that were once firmly rooted in a specific place become spread wide and far and exported to new locales far remove from the religion's core mythos. People convert to this new "foreign" religion and as a result become quite alienated from the folklore traditions of their own culture-place of upbringing. This is essentially how people become cut off from the land, so to speak. When Europeans adopted en mass a Semitic ideology rooted in a warm and arid environment, the fissure between the Telluric section and the three others first begun. And perhaps it was this kind of rift which set us Westerners off on the path to materialism in the first place. When religion becomes little more than abstract ideas and principles and countless pages of dead letters, there is no longer local-experiential "magic" to any of it. To the average person, they are just going through the motions every day partaking in dry/lifeless rituals and utterances cut off from their own intuitive impressions.

Many tribal religions can be said to be rather lacking in the Cosmopolitan section. Few, if any universal ideas are expounded upon; the whole tradition is simply the carrying on of an old torch, just because that's how things have been done since time immemorial. We could perhaps say that the "Neopagan" revival efforts in the West tend to eschew the Cosmopolitan section and can even be downright hostile toward philosophy and the very notion that firm ethical principles should have a solid home in one's religious practice. Such an endeavor in this era is often little more than a fetishization of what its practitioners imagine (quite inaccurately, in all likelihood) to be an ancient folklore tradition; there becomes too much of a focus on mythic and aesthetic elements, and a neglect of abstract principles and ideals.
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Though my somewhat-intensive studies on the matter (in my own scattered-yet-immersive style), I've found a very close correlation between the sephira spheres on the Kabalistic Tree of Life and the planetary spheres of classical Hermeticism. I actually find sticking to the planetary names and attributes to be more clear and helpful than using the former system.

Here is a diagram of how each of the planets fit into this system in hierarchical order:


A quick disclaimer is in order before proceeding further: The Plolemaic system is meant to be a metaphysical cosmological map, not a literal map of our actual physical solar system. Anyone witha 3rd grade science education knows that the Earth is certainly not the center of the solar system. In other words, the map above is heuristic device used to explain metaphysical principles; it's not the territory itself. We moderns have this knee-jerk impulse to grossly empiricize everything under the sun, to to speak. The ancients didn't really think like this. I've actually run into a few people (in this case, Rene Guenon fanboys) who believe literally in this geocentric model as being our physical reality. They are missing the point of it entirely and are spiritually and mentally consumed by their lower ego and thus have little interest in exploring the mysteries beyond the most superficial level with an open mind and humble heart.

Having gotten all of that out of the way, we can now move into the map itself. In this system, each of the 7 sacred "planets" function as receptors and transmitters of primordial cosmic energies or intelligences (i.e "the gods"), according to the classic Hermetic sciences. There are both higher and lower aspects to the planets, with the lower aspects manifesting when the different planetary energies intersect here on Earth in an inauspicious manner. The highest aspects are the benevolent qualities each planet represents. The hierarchy starts with Earth, but the Earth isn't a planet itself in this scheme, but rather the starting point on our enlightenment journey. The basic outline, in order:

Moon (Luna/Selene/Diana): Raw intuition and creativity, also the reception of all the other planetary energies and the transmission of them down to Earth. Associated with the Water element. Luna is the first step on the enlightenment path; it's the initial "wake-up call." The lower nature of the Lunar sphere consists of things like neuroticism, mental incontinence and even insanity, hence the word "Lunatic." The person who fails to pass the Lunar sphere is the person dominated by their unconscious mind; they run most of the time on autopilot and have difficulty exerting agency over their own affairs. In the world of art, Luna is the raw creativity. It's the Solar power (Apollo) which gives art its useful and inspiring form.

Mercury (Hermes/Thoth): Messenger of the gods and associated with the Air element. More specifically, this sphere represents the communicative and flexible powers of nature. Mercury is the power of intellect and thus the ability to understand higher wisdom/teachings within a coherent intellectual framework. Passing this sphere requires the ability to think clearly and rationally. However, remaining stuck in Mercury means the initiate cannot surpass the act of merely intellectualizing higher wisdom; without the ability to master the next sphere (Venus), the initiate will still be driven by emotional impulses, passions and desires. The "master debater" sophist, the legalistic pharisee and the arrogant professor are all potent archetypes for this type of Mercurial arrested development. The lower/malign aspect of Mercury manifests in the various misuses of the intellect that bring much harm and misfortune to others. Tricksters, con-artists and clever liars in general, are all archetypal associations of the dark side of Mercury.

Venus (Aurora/Aphrodite): Goddess of love and bonding. Venus represents the passions and the emotional side of human nature. Lower aspects are our lusts and animalistic appetites of an emotional nature. Passing this sphere requires the ability of the initiate to master his or her own emotions. Failing to pass the Venus sphere means we are still slaves to our emotions. Esoterically, the Venus sphere is the principle of attraction. It's associated with the element of Fire, but this fire is "flowing" and persistent, as opposed to the arid fire of Mars, which simply consumes things and ceases when that consumption process is complete. Venusian fire lingers until its actively dissipated or the burning energy moves onto someone or something else. Think of Venus as heat in a humid medium, say an environment like a tropical beach. Whereas, Mars is a desert environment.

Sun (Sol/Apollo): Represents the heroic and healing role the initiate will embody on his or her path. The Sun is the giver of life and energy. It represents vitalistic activity and energetic manifestation in general. A saintly person or a true altruist is the type of person who has mastered the Solar sphere. The Solar hero is truly a "son of God" if we're to understand what that means beyond all the trite platitudes which have been associated with that symbolism over the past many centuries. Solar Savior figures are clear representations of the Sun archetype when applied to the actions of sentient beings. The Sun is also a symbolization of Celestial Fire in an apparent form that humans can make sense of.

Mars (Pyroeis/Ares): Mars is the god of war, in the most superficial sense. However, on a more primal and esoteric level, the Martial sphere represents the harsh and unyielding Judgement aspect of the enlightenment path that must be mastered before ultimately breaking free of one's earthly fetters; it's raw willpower. Whereas Jupiter is the benevolent Sage or Hierophant capable of practicing genuine Mercy, Mars is the series of trials and tribulations that must be passed before the hero can truly become an enlightened master. Really, there's no Mercy without Judgement. Martial activities and endeavors are quite self-explanatory. Mars is a fundamentally male energy and thus its essence is supremely cut-and-dry and lacking in nuance. Whereas Venus, the mundane female energy, is a tangled web of ebbs and flows, meandering curvatures, and convoluted nuances.

Jupiter (Zeus/Jove): This sphere has been subject to a whole host of misunderstandings largely due to the fact that various sky gods also functioning as pantheon heads have been associated with this sphere without much in the way of finer explanations being offered. To clear up this confusion we should defer to the Indian understanding of what Jupiter represents. The Hindu shorthand term for this sphere is "Guru." The benevolent and wise teacher (or Hierophant) is the true essence of this sphere. The mundane aspect of Jupiter is fortune and prosperity; think of the word "Jovial" as an example. Combine this with its kabalistic association with Mercy, which can only really be attained once Judgement is mastered. Plato's concept of the Philosopher-King may perhaps be the best characterization of the aggregate sum of what this sphere has to offer.

Saturn (Kronos/Rhea): This oft-maligned planet represents the constrictive and limiting aspects of nature. It's associated with the Earth element and thus the Saturn symbolism of things like blockages, obstructions, austerity, restrictions, conservatism, stodginess, caution, rigidity, old age, slowness, stubbornness, the act of thwarting or stymieing, ect., easily comes to mind. If Mars is the sword in battle, then Saturn is the shield. If Mars is the accelerator on a car, then Saturn is the brakes. In essence, the Saturn energy is the final gatekeeper of this manifested universe of limitations, sorrow, troubles, death, ignorance, disaster, destruction, ect. We could perhaps say that Saturn is the Ouroboros (the serpent who eats its own tail) or the Wheel of Fate/Samsara. Saturn is the final tests before a soul can truly gain immortality of consciousness and escape the cycle of death and rebirth. At this stage, the initiate will have transcended all of their worldly desires and thus have balanced out all of their karmic debts. The highest aspect of the Saturn sphere is the Great Mother Goddess, which is the primordial energy that gives form and solidity to everything in manifested existence. Many of the Neolithic and Bronze Age serpent cults understood this symbolism quite intuitively.

The functions on this chart higher than Saturn constitute a whole different topic for another time.
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On belief and practice:

1. Traditional Gnostic schools of thought posit an original spiritual unity that came to be split into a plurality, through a series of emanations. This doctrine can be conceptualized as either Monism or Panentheism.

2. As a result of this pre-cosmic division, the manifest universe was created. The lower layers of existence, which would include the material universe, were created by beings possessing inferior spiritual powers to that of the Godhead and His highest emanations. Some historical Gnostic doctrines speak of these lesser spiritual beings resembling entities like Jehovah of the Hebrew scriptural canon (The Christian Old Testament), and many of the anthropomorphic deities found in most ancient polytheistic religions. Other doctrines speak of a benign or neutral Demiurge (Artificer) being/spirit (or series of artificer beings) who created the material universe.

3. Differing Gnostic teachings and myths feature both male and female emanations of God (often referred to as either Aeons or Archangels) who were involved in the cosmic creation. Some Gnostic myths organize these emanations into a hierarchy of male-female pairs, somewhat reminiscent of the ancient Egyptian religion.

4. In the cosmos, space and time is imagined as having either a malevolent or constrictive character and may be personified as demonic beings (or simply, capricious forces of nature) separating man from God. In other doctrines, the domains contained within space and time are a part of an illusion or at least a rather distorted or degraded version of the higher realms.

5. For humankind, the material universe is either vast prison or an illusion that ensnares souls. Human beings are enslaved both by the physical laws of nature and by man-made moral laws that are based on worldly-material power dictates (like the Mosaic code, as an example) and other legalistic religious doctrines and creeds that were created by fallible, flawed and corrupted men.

6. Humankind may be personified as Adam (or Anthropos), who lies in the deep sleep of ignorance, his powers of spiritual self-awareness stupefied by materiality. And within the soul of each individual human of this physical world is an "inner man," a fallen spark of the divine substance. Since this exists in each person, we have the possibility of awakening from our stupefaction; a human soul requires many lifetimes (death/rebirth cycles) of cumulative experience on the material plane to reach the point where an awakening is possible.

7. What ultimately ignites the awakening is not obedience, faith, or good works, but knowledge of the divine. However, to attain knowledge of the divine, a seeker must cultivate for himself higher states of consciousness and attaining these higher states requires the cessation of habits, behaviors and activities that turn people down toward the material plane and thus away from divinity. Gnosis-seekers must work hard to purify their souls and attain a state of temperate, benevolent and disciplined conduct. This is accomplished through leading life of performing good works, avoiding destructive lifestyles, engaging in virtuous conduct, and striving to attain an all-around excellence of character.

8. Before the awakening, individual humans often undergo some sort of psychological crisis event; things like: troubled dreams, trials and tribulations in their daily life, loss of a loved one, having a crisis of conscience of some form or another, ect.

9. Man does not attain the knowledge that awakens him from these dreams by cognition (intellectual reasoning and speculation) but through direct revelatory experience, and this knowledge is not conveyable information but a modification of the sensate being.

10. The awakening (i.e., the salvation) of any individual is a cosmic event; upon attaining salvation, the the individual is liberated from the cycle of deaths and rebirths on the material plane; this cycle can be symbolized as either the Wheel of Fate/Karma, or the Ouroboros, i.e. the serpent who eats its own tail.

On Ethics and Modernity:

11. The heartfelt rejection of fallible, man-made moral law codes and ossified religious doctrines asserted by the powers of this world as bring “inerrant divine revelation” is enjoined upon every person of good conscience. Gnosis-seekers must reject the authority of religious dogmas that have been shaped by the dictates of money and politics.

12. Having said that, a Traditional Gnostic is reverent toward time-honored teachings and practices and is thus quite diligent and discerning when it comes to determining which teachings are legitimate and which are fanciful, misleading, incomplete and conceived in error. The Traditional Gnostic must be able to identify and reject false teachers.

13. The Traditional Gnostic must be especially skeptical toward any spiritual, metaphysical or religious ideas that have emerged in the modern era, that is: within the last 500 years of Western cultural development. Most modern doctrines on ethics and the human condition are tainted by the corrupting influences of materialism, hedonism, consumer culture, money, dependence on technological conveniences, erroneous ideas about “progress” occurring in a perfectly linear and material manner, and of course the literalist approach to interpreting ancient religious scriptures.

14. The most recent modern ethical doctrines tend to: overwhelmingly emphasize rights (legally sanctioned protections and entitlements) over duties, assert material pleasure as being the highest good, and encourage the pitting of the sexes and racial/ethnic and subcultural lifestyle groups against one another in the name of things like “progress” and “social justice,” thus dividing and destabilizing communities and nations. Very little emphasis is placed on the individual's collaborative role within their family and community, and their obligations and responsibilities toward their social surroundings in general. The Traditional Gnostic must be able to balance their state-granted rights as an individual with their responsibilities to society.

15. Modern ethical doctrines tend to tie their concept of “progress” directly to the advancement of material science and technology, with almost no attention given to spiritual goals and perspectives on the matter. This set of assumptions tends to imply an eventual material-utopian “end of history” event whereby humanity will be “saved” by some sort of technological singularity. In contrast, the Traditional Gnostic must be able to differentiate spiritual progress from the advancement of material knowledge and innovation, and recognize that technology is merely a tool (which can be used to bring about both good and bad outcomes), and not an end in itself. First and foremost, the Traditional Gnostic must prioritize a spiritual worldview over a material one.

16. Many groups and people today claiming to be “Gnostic” actually prioritize these aforementioned modern ethical doctrines over genuine Traditional Gnostic teachings and a spiritual worldview in general, probably owing more to a lack of awareness on the matter, as opposed to a willing ideological orientation. As a result, they will cheery pick fragments of Gnostic teachings and shoehorn them into a modern or postmodernist worldview that is defined by many of the traits outlined above. The is tantamount to the material tail wagging the spiritual dog. To alleviate this cognitive dissonance, the Traditional Gnostic must be able to frame ancient Gnostic teachings within the proper historical context and resist the urge to confuse or conflate such teachings with modern ethical speculations.

17. The Traditional Gnostic must envision ethics as the means for individuals to improve themselves first and foremost, rather than being the act of forcing some set of lofty-sounding abstract ideals onto the world around them. The latter endeavor usually involves flawed people trying to “save the world” before first addressing their own character flaws and bad habits. The result of this is more often than not, a rather predictable drama whereby people project their own demons onto the world and end up doing more harm than good, despite originally having good intentions.

18. The Traditional Gnostic will be able to differentiate genuine Gnostic teachings from literal interpretations of Gnostic-themed myths which have the potential of promoting a cosmic victim mentality for human beings. In other words, when the constrictive and inconvenient aspects of manifested nature are excessively anthropomorphized, human beings may be seen as helpless victims of all-powerful supernatural comic book villain characters and thus things like adolescent-rebellious attitudes toward existence and world-denying escapism are encouraged. When in actuality, according to various Wisdom teachings, humans are more often than not the victims of their own vices and short-sighted worldly endeavors. In other words, the so-called “archons” are alive and well within our own psyches and we certainly have it within our power to battle them. In summary, the Traditional Gnostic will aspire to be a hero rather than a victim.

19. Having said that, people have often indeed been victims of circumstance and collective ignorance over the many many centuries of human history. Victims are ultimately people bereft of agency (willpower) and self-awareness and thus strewn about by chaotic forces. Thus, Gnostics must be ever compassionate and forgiving toward people in the grip of ignorance and flawed modes of living and conceptualizing the world. Of course this doesn't mean accepting their flawed worldviews, but rather recognizing the root causes of error and thus cultivating the awareness and ability required to isolate oneself from the corrupting influences of error.

20. And finally, the Traditional Gnostic must resist the urge to harbor hatred in their heart toward various historical forces, movements, ideologies and institutions which have oppressed, suppressed and mercilessly attacked Gnostic thinkers, visionaries, sects and movements throughout the last 2,000 years or so of history. The Gnostic may recognize that such oppressive and evil-spirited movements have been first and foremost political projects and not genuine religious or spiritual endeavors. The Traditional Gnostic must resit the urge to employ a boogeyman or scapegoat to pin all of humanity's problems onto. Understanding error does not mean the need to conjure up a storm of negative emotions. In the end, a negative mental or emotional state means a negative spiritual state. Such a state inhibits spiritual growth and makes liberation/salvation impossible until this antagonistic state is dissolved into the aether.
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Wow, it's been quite awhile since I've posted anything. Let's just say I've been in a bit of a transition period as of late. I'm trying to iron out a few kinks in my subtler bodies, and this particular time of yeah, the last leg of winter, is quite an appropriate time to attempt such an undertaking. The ancients agreed with this wholeheartedly.

Anyway, pursuing the various spiritual spaces on the internet, it's quite obvious to me that there are no shortage of false teachers out there. In other words, people who pretend to be enlightened and thus have access to higher knowledge that very few (or no one else) other people have. They make lots of grandiose claims and are usually not very shy about the act of self-promotion. Having studied under a genuine guru/teacher at some point, it's become quite easy for me to spot the fakes. The most obvious red flags are displays of emotional immaturity and uncontrolled emotions in general. Unfortunately, many thirsty seekers fall for the frauds and get swept up in false and misleading teachings and sometimes get sucked into noxious personality cults. It happens.

Here are some telltale signs of a false guru/teacher/spiritual master to look for, in no particular order:


  • Makes grandiose or far-fetched sounding claims to the general public, i.e. people outside their own group or inner circle

  • Shows signs of emotional immaturity and especially the inability to control their own emotions in precarious or challenging situations.

  • Makes more than a few statements containing blatant falsehoods and factual inaccuracies that anyone with sufficient knowledge in the area(s) in question can spot right away.

  • Unwilling to entertain or accept feedback from their students/followers.

  • They claim that they alone are the only person who is in possession of higher truth(s) and/or knowledge, and that all other teachers and traditions are either false or inferior to his or her own teachings.

  • Has the habit of gloating and acting in a manner that displays ostentatious self-promoting conduct.

  • Takes criticisms very personally and lashes out with fiery emotional responses when challenged on something potentially false or misleading they said.

  • Shows an obsessive curiosity in the student's personal affairs. Or, shows no concern at all for the student's personal affairs.

  • Has no qualms describing in detail to strangers various bizarre and otherworldly spiritual experiences they have had, especially those involving contact with incorporeal beings. Look out especially for people who claim to have "channeled" special/unique information from such beings.

  • Will invite students or followers into their inner circle with very little or no work/achievement on the part of the student required; often all that's required of the student or follower is the remittance of monetary payments and/or free labor to the teacher. Look out especially for teachers who don't vet student candidates for desirable character traits or prior relevant experience and thus seem to take in anyone off the street.

  • For more exclusive or elitist cults/sects, the student/follower might be told they have to read (or view, if movies/videos) a large body of work before they can join. Now this itself isn't the sign of a false teacher, but if the student isn't required to actually show an understanding of the material but rather just a regurgitation of it or simple ideological acquiescence or agreement with the materials in question, then this is probably a red flag.

  • May become very aggressive or persistent with retention attempts if/when a student/follower attempts to leave the group. Any outsider or new student who asks the teacher reasonable questions will simply be told that they have sufficiently studied or understood the body of work in question, if the teacher doesn't feel like addressing those questions.

  • Frequently heaps unprompted praise upon students/followers. In other words, "love bombing."

  • Liberally uses their own concocted theology, cosmology, eschatology, myths, ect. that are not rooted in any historical tradition.

  • Alternatively, they claim their own teachings are a part of a venerable lineage that they were initiated into, despite there being few signs of either,(a) such a lineage actually existing, or if regarding a real lineage, (b) no credible proof or signs that their own teachings are indeed a part of that lineage.

  • Their ideas/teachings are chock full of New Age tropes.


  • ...this is certainly not all of it. This list could probably go on forever. Maybe I'll update it at some point.
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Great little comment I just spotted today:

The Bible from creation to the crowning of Solomon is a grand cosmic myth, a story book of the constellations. YHWH is the moon god. The Akkadians deified their kings, combined them with gods and placed them in the constellations. The text was expanded like the Gilgamesh epic through expansion by parallelism and resumptive repetition. Scholars have yet to figure out the original text and it is not that hard to do. The stories went from Akkadia to the Amorites, Hittites, and finally the Assyrians who changed the name from Sin to YHWH, Marduk to Moses.


I will have to look more into the Sin/Yahweh association. But let's run with it for now, if just for the purpose of hypothetical games. Sin was an old Akkadian moon god that became especially revered by the Imperial Assyrian regime that dominated the Iron Age Near East. The Egyptian name for Moon was "Iah" (pronounced, "Yah" and of course one of the top Sumerian-Akkadian gods was "Ea" (also pronounced "Yah"). Yahweh as a major Hebrew god may have came about as a play on words, so to speak.

It seems as if the Jerusalem priesthood the came to be during the Persian period (right after the fall of the Assyrians and Babylonians) created a new national god that in function was an amalgamation of other gods of the time. It would have made much sense to use a god-name that was familiar in the broader region. As evidenced by the Elephantine papyri, the Persian rulers may have stationed a group of Semitic-speaking scribes in Egypt to assist with administering the newly-annexed territory. These scribes may have been the founding element of the later Jerusalem priesthood. If these scribes were Sin-worshippers they may have adapted the local (in this case Egyptian) Iah for their moon-worship.

If the proto-Jewish priests were indeed Sin worshipers then their origins may have been among the scribal ruling element of the old Assyrian regime! The Persians were quite known for their mercy and tolerance, in sharp contrast to their Assyrian predecessors. So instead of wholesale- massacring the old regime, they may have very well retained the useful elements (like scribes) and relocated them to a faraway part of the empire where they wouldn't have the opportunity to stir up any local revolts or be a general nuisance. Egypt would have been quite a safe distance from Northern Mesopotamia. But the Persians weren't able to hold Egypt for very long after the initial conquest due to a series of local revolts. The Persian administration would have been bounced right out of there and the southern Levant would have been the closest Persian-run area to Egypt to resettle in, where their next job would have been helping the Persian crown conduct administrative affairs over groups of Phoenician/Canaanite subjects. Jerusalem would have been the new abode for the Sin/Iah scribes. The peoples to the area to the north of them, in Israel/Samaria would have been following the old Canaanite pantheon, i.e. the pantheon of El, known as the Elohim. Yah(weh) would have been a minor or nonexistent god to these people. Eventually, through a series of events we don't really know the true nature of yet, the Yahweh priests in Jerusalem eventually came to dominate the religious affairs of the whole region all the way from northern limits of the Sinai border up the border with Phoenicia proper.

I'll have to further explore this thought-stream in more detail in the future.
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I've been around a few people who have claimed to be practicing "Stoicism" let's just say I wasn't very impressed; to put it rather lightly. Back when I still had Facebook I poked around in a few groups that were ostensibly devoted to Stoic practice. There I noticed a lot of virtue-signalling and plenty of parroting of currently-fashionable ideologies (various regressive-progressive liberal and SJW talking points), of course under the guise of being "stoic." What a hoot.

Problem #1 is that so-called "Modern Stoicism" is rather wishy-washy on the topic of metaphysics. It's most popular promoters, which are life coaches of the typical contemporary character, tend to avoid the fact that the classical/traditional Stoics of Hellenistic antiquity nearly all subscribed to a spiritual worldview of one sort or another. The Moderns however are just fine with letting their students cling into whatever nihilistic and relativistic modern and postmodern views they wish. Enforcing spiritual discipline among students is, ya know, bad for business and stuff. Who wants to chase away customers when there's so much $$$ to be made?? On a more grounded note, it's quite possible that many of these "teachers" are themselves ignorant of traditional spiritual doctrines. So even if they aren't necessarily money-grubbing opportunists, they are still a shining example of the blind leading the blind.

The bitter truth is that most modern, secular, educated people (this comprises the vast majority of those who identify as stoics today) here in the West now base their morality solely on utilitarian presuppositions and believe in one or another "humanist" doctrines which place no principle higher than that of the individual human ego. In absence of a higher or divine principle, human existence is little more than a battle of egocentric wills and this battle can only be framed realistically though the lens of Machiavellian game theory analysis. So we have people **using** stoic methodology for the purpose of **appearing** more virtuous (what they envision virtue to be) than the next guy. There's no Good in and of itself. What's passed off as "stoic" virtues is little more than mere utility. The purpose of the whole endeavor is to use a "stoic" toolkit to prove one's ego as **appearing** to be more pure/clean or advanced/evolved than other egos. Of course I don't think most modern stoic practitioners see their own use of stoicism as being anything like those attributes. But if/when they sit down and ponder the ultimate purpose for their study of this knowledge then they may in fact come to a similar conclusion as to what I laid out above. The long and short of it is that without a consistent Physics* (metaphysical weltanschauung), Stoicism is nothing more than a methodology without a clearly-defined end goal.

*remember that classical/traditional Stoicism consists of three parts: Physics, Logic/Rhetoric and Ethics. Most modern practitioners tend to omit the first two parts and are thus practicing a massively-incomplete system.
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1. Ahimsa: non-violence, non-injury, harmlessness.

2. Satya: truthfulness, honesty.

3. Asteya: non-stealing, honesty, non-misappropriativeness.

4. Brahmacharya: sexual continence in thought, word and deed as well as control of all the senses.

5. Aparigraha: non-possessiveness, non-greed, non-selfishness, non-acquisitiveness.

6. Shaucha: purity, cleanliness.

7. Santosha: contentment, peacefulness.

8. Tapas: austerity, practical (i.e., result-producing) spiritual discipline.

9. Swadhyaya: introspective self-study, spiritual study.

10. Ishwarapranidhana: offering of one’s life to God.

***

So apparently that's just the beginning. The path of liberation is hard, to put it lightly. Yoga has nothing to do with attaining a perfectly-toned butt.

“‘Brahman may be realized while yet one dwells in the ephemeral body. To fail to realize him is to live in ignorance, and therefore to be subject to birth and death. The knowers of Brahman are immortal; others, knowing him not, continue in the bonds of grief.’” (Brihadaranyaka
Upanishad 4:4:13,14)
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A comment I came across from a self-professed "Gnostic":
Thelema is Ultra Materialist/Hedonist, It's a pathetic Evil Anti Spiritual Ideology created by An Evil perverted Heroin Addict who called himself "the beast 666", no role model or icon of enlightenment for anyone.


My response:

I wouldn't go nearly that far. But I would say Aleister Crowley's works are rather hedonistic, nihilistic and morally relativistic. Crowley himself was a degenerate and thus a very poor role model for spiritual seekers. Having said that, "Do what thou will" does have a much deeper meaning for anyone astute enough to realize that a person's true will has nothing to do with their irrational momentary desires and whims. Of course 99% of people who come in contact with "Do what thou will" won't understand it beyond the literal/superficial meaning. And thus AC's "teachings" aren't all that helpful to someone who hasn't already accrued a lot of philosophical and spiritual understanding.
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Excellent analysis From KD:



The problem begins here:

White Supremacy is the belief that “the white race is inherently superior to other races and that white people should have control over people of other races.”

No one who is labelled a “white supremacist” actually says or believes anything like that. If you look at anyone identified as a “white supremacist” by the SPLC, they are generally “white nationalists”, e.g. believe that whites should live in homogeneously white societies, and they generally believe in genetic differences between subgroups of humans, but since East Asians are generally smarter and have lower criminality, most of them would be East Asian supremacists.

So we have a definition that doesn’t describe anyone today, maybe described some ex-colonials in the early 20th Century, but that is being applied to a different set of people. The point is that even if the Classics are free of “white supremacy”, so are most of the people currently labeled “white supremacists”.

The problem is not “white supremacy”, the problem is “white identity”, that is, “white people” having some sense of collective identity as “white people”.

But actually, it is more subtle–its not “white people” having a collective identity, but rather, having a positive collective identity as “white people”. Even worse, people taking pride in their identity as “white people”.

From the standpoint of the Left, it is no also longer permissible to be “white” and not identify as “white”–that is racist (you are in denial or “colorblind racist”). Rather, “whites” must identify as “whites”, but associate “whiteness” only with negative traits, and be filled with self-loathing and self-hatred. [Which might explain the demographics of certain suicide statistics with the APA has recently opined upon.] Thus, college campuses now offer mandatory Maoist struggle sessions on “whiteness”.

In other words, the white man should aspire to follow in the footsteps of someone like Otto Weininger, who as a homosexual Jew, wrote a book about how awful Jews and homosexuals were, and then killed himself. If you are not willing to declare yourself a subhuman on the basis of your racial background, and grovel and seek forgiveness for your collective guilt as a member of the despised race, then you are, in today’s terminology, a “white supremacist”. It may seem like a weird place to end up, but that’s racial politics for you.
This comment was a response to a rather spineless and milquetoast article attempting to explain why Intersectional Marxists have been trying so hard to sabotage and destroy Classics departments within academia. Specially on why these ideological zealots despise the Classics so much in the first place:

Since the Classics are the foundation of Western Civilization, which is an advanced civilization historically built by and for white people, and the Classics contain some of the most brilliant European minds in all of human history, they will always serve as a basis for a positive collective identity for white people–and so they must be destroyed, along with “whiteness” and “Western Civilization”. And we may have found the right levelers to do it.

This is not to say racial pride and racial chauvinism are not “problematic” as the progressives say, but the idea that that these characteristics are only “problematic” for people of a certain race is entirely silly as any Tutsi can tell you.


Correct. The act of claiming that a specific kind of evil or defect is unique to only one ethnic or racial group is itself the most blatant example of racial hatred. Basically, the Left has become consumed by its own shadow.
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Insightful comment today from SS:
Gnosis is understanding, but it is understanding through direct experience. The literal understanding of religion/spiritual texts, is the lowest understanding. It also breeds elitism. People who become pious and righteous. They begin to believe that only literal understandings are important. And if you don't follow the rules, well then, bad things will happen. And as history has shown, Righteousness has caused humans to make other humans suffer. The Romans killed people of different religions because they threatened the religious stability of the nation. If people refused to worship the gods, they were inciting a calamity upon the city. It was a crime similar to treason.

Theology is a construct of religion. Those with gnosis are beyond that. They have symbology and mythology. When you have Gnosis, there is no way to concretely talk about it. Words do not do Gnosis justice. That is why Gnosis is an individual experience which may be spoken of to those who have it.

Jung believed that the things he experienced and talked about were real. Just not in a literal way. That is the point of Gnosticism; Gnosis.


This lends some credence to the notion that ordinary language more often than not obscures and confuses our understanding of higher concepts.

I do believe there there may be something akin to a "language of the gods" and that influential humans in times past (and probably today too) have actively work to confuse this language, namely members of powerful priestly castes who have gained much power from obscuring spiritual concepts so the common rabble has no hopes of comprehending the "secrets" of their arcane priest-craft. This is no different than what modern academics do today when they use nearly-incomprehensible jargon to discourse on topics that really aren't all that difficult for the common person to grasp at a basic level. Lawyers do the same thing with legalese. By nature, humans form occupational guilds and do whatever they can to guard the "secret sauce" from the competition.

Lets go back and look at the Biblical Tower of Babel myth. What I glean from that is that the forces of nature or "the fates" (which the Jewish authors/editors re-branded as their 'God') have seen to it that human knowledge and mutual understanding must be fractured and confused so that petty, egocentric, short-sighted rulers can continue to oppress and tyrannize the people. Of course, these priestly scribes inverted the narrative and made this confusion a "good" thing. But that's a whole different topic for a different day.
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A post from Reddit I found to be quite interesting:
Can a person who has gained their full nature and happiness through stoic philosophy exist in modern western culture that has beliefs in unregulated catharsis, constant hedonistic forms of media and a strong belief in that external values dictate happiness?

The ideal stoic would most likely if they are a honest person be problematic to their social circles. When a group is angry or sad it is often seen as apathy or even hostility when a person within that group is calm and collected.

Let’s say person gets sick and they ask a ideal stoic “Why me?” and the ideal stoic responses with “Why not you, you haven’t been born special or superior to others who had just as much chance at getting sick as you, nothing wrong or out of the ordinary happened here.” In my opinion two reactions will happen, they will thank the ideal stoic for the logical and calming advice or they will see this as apathy and be offended that they aren’t illogically taking their minor and inconsequential problems as major ones.

“A good man is not prostrated at the loss of children nor fortune. Neither is death terrible to him; and therefore lamentations over the dead should not be practised.” - Plato’s Republic

Not a work of a stoic, however, better yet a message coming one of three of the most valuable philosophers (Socrates, Plato and Aristotle) this message is not anti caring about children or to be suicidal much rather a virtuous person would want life for everyone to choose, however, this simply shows that there is a different level of reality and reason with a person who is a ideal stoic, because of this misunderstanding of the ideal stoic I argue that he/she would most likely be seen as apathetic or psychopathic.

I would like to see any problems with my reasoning.


My response:

A person who enacts Stoicism into their daily conduct and rhythms is a walking refutation of people who very easily give in to an emotion-driven mob mentality. Without even uttering a single word, such a person is a reminder of what the emotionally-incontinent person is not. And thus, projection onto the former from the latter person is a very likely reaction to occur. Especially in this current mini-era of hyper-partisanship, shrill ideological tribalism and crazy moral panics, the mere refusal to join in whatever chorus of howls is taking place at the moment immediately elicits suspicions of the stoic non-participant being "the enemy" or whatever other out-group designation the mob might assign to the person refusing to get with their program. Human herd behavior is quite primal and dangerous, and getting caught in the stampede can be deadly.

To answer your question: I do believe YES, they can certainly exist in today's culture, but they must tread carefully and be very selective about whom they interact with. Though this is true really of any era or cultural environment.
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Just a quick rant here (don't expect coherence or logical flow). Anyway, I'm jotting down some notes regarding my observations and interactions with people who claim to be Neopagans or "heathens" or whatever other label a person of that persuasion might affix to themselves.

Probably owing to how small/fringe/marginal Neopaganism is, there hasn't yet been any sort of substantial intellectual culture that has sprung from any of its various subdivisions. And yes, emphasis on subdivisions. Since efforts at reviving pagan traditions tends to focus on one specific (and long-lost) ethnic tradition, there's very little coordination or cooperation between these various endeavors, and thus no unity. The closest thing we have to a unified doctrine is Wicca, which isn't at all based on a real historical tradition; a British Neo-occultist made the whole thing up out of thin air during the mid 20th century ara. I've heard Wicca described as "Christianity with boobs," and I'm inclined to largely agree with that assessment. Wicca has more to do with the Victorian occult counterculture than it does with anything related to the religious/spiritual practices of prehistorical Western European peoples.

Anyway, because of this massive amount of disunity and splintering among the Neopagan community, it's quite difficult to formulate a singular "Neopagan" metaphysical system; any such effort would come from one of the groups and this could easily be seen as one group attempting to impose a rigid doctrine on all the other groups. Yeah, most Neopagans are (rightfully) pretty sore about what Christianity has done various native religious traditions for many centuries; a big reason they become "pagans" is to escape from all of that while being able to maintain some kind of spiritual worldview.

Of course when we actually examine the history of pagan cultures, states, empires, ect., we see a vastly different picture painted. Pantheons were often consolidations of various ethnic traditions. And philosophy, particularly in Greco-Roman civilization, did indeed produce several attempts to formulate an all-encompassing metaphysical system using the Hellenistic (Greco-Roman) pantheon as a thematic backdrop, combined with Mesopotamian (Chaldean) astrotheology and Egyptian emanation models. This is precisely what the Eclectic School during lately antiquity did, though modern historians generalize this movement as "Neoplatonism." The Eclectic movement led to yes, Neoplatonism, but also similar movements/doctrines we know today mainly as Gnosticism and Hemeticism. And oh yeah, I shall not fail to also mention the 900 lb. gorilla in the room, that is Christianity, which was really the grand state-approved product of Hellenistic eclecticism.

So yes, once upon a time "paganism" was indeed supremely philosophical. But the historical traditions most Western Neopagans today draw upon is whatever can be cobbled together from the scattered remnants of pre-Christian Germanic and Celtic tribal folklore. These traditions were never the traditions of great civilizations (it requires urbanized societies to develop deep thought on metaphysical matters) and due to the tribal nature of these traditions, they were each fractured into sub-traditions and local docrtines according each small/local tribal division. And of course, folklore itself isn't a whole or intact religious tradition. From my own interactions with Neopagans, I've come under the impression that many are just fine with pretending that fragmentary knowledge of folklore is enough for a reconstruction effort. Many of these people I suspect to actually be atheists, agnostics, or maybe vague pantheists if they actually hold something resembling a spiritual worldview. But many are just people alienated from their Christian upbringing and looking for something spiritual-y to be a part of. And then there's some who use Neopaganism as a method means of engaging in ethnonationalist identity politics. I'm thinking particularly of White Identitarians who take up the mantle of "Heathenry" (Germanic/Norse Neopaganism)as a way of expressing their (imagined) ethic identity, i.e. something along the lines of "We Wuz Vikangz." These people generally call themselves Folkish Heathens. Of course there are many Neo-Heathens who shun ethnic identity politics and practice an inclusive version of Heathenry; I would be doing a massive injustice if I failed to mention the folks who are actually the majority of the Neo-Heathen movement. Anyway, regarding the Folkish Heathens, I quickly discovered upon interacting with some of them, that they seem largely hostile to philosophy or anything all the intellectual. Their heathenry is largely about expressing their emotions and desire to form tight-knit ethnic cliques adorned with the same gang colors and regalia. BTW, I have nothing against ethnic solidarity itself, I just think groups who take up that cause tend to be quite hostile to cosmopolitan (in the true sense of the word) endeavors like philosophy. As we know, the goal of philosophy is to get at and unveil universal truths.

If Neopagans are to be philosophical and united in any way, then the next logical step would be to revive the great pagan philosophical schools which formed the underpinnings of Western thought to begin with. This is really a no-brainier. The Western Esoteric Tradition, i.e. Hermetic, which is really just the aforementioned Eclectic School of late antiquity, can easily be flavored with the various godforms (i.e. old gods and goddesses interpreted as ideal forms or archetypes) of whatever folklore traditions can be incorporated into the whole. There's even been some pretty substantial efforts to inject metaphysics into the Nordic Rune system. That was a great start, now let's see if it can be taken further.
laughingsage: (Default)
It goes without saying that Gnosis is not for the faint of heart (to put it lightly). And it's certainly not a path for extroverts or really anyone who requires a lot of interpersonal attention and social validation in their everyday bumblings. It's not the path for those who have the proverbial "ants in their pants" and are thus prone to constant action at the expense of contemplation and self-reflection. The so called "man of action" and the aspiring Gnostic will seldom see eye-to-eye on much of anything.

There's a very good reason why spiritual seekers throughout history often preferred to cloister themselves away from the general public. Asceticism has always been a logical defense against the temptations, corruptions and vulgarities of the mundane world. However this act of running away comes with a downside. The cloistered ascetic may become totally out of touch with the general society and thus become incapable of rendering any useful service to others. We see this enough with Ivory Tower intellectuals who fancy themselves as far above the common rabble and often assume to know what's best for them.

So there needs to be a happy and harmonious middle-ground. That is: shield myself from the malignant influences of daily life, but still engage in the surrounding social fabric, in a limited capacity. I shall, to the best of my abilities, only interact meaningfully with people of sound and temperate character. And when I am able to, offer help and assistance to those in need, granted this assistance does not devolve into over-personalized interactions. In other words, keep the walking wounded at arm's length. But first, do everything possible to not myself be one of the walking wounded.

The long and short of it: there's very few people out there who earnestly pursue spirituality the great mysteries. That is, people who embark on a spiritual path that is divorced from religious dogma. And for those who wish to undertake this journey, there are countless obstacles, pitfalls and distractions along the way. The many wayward paths usually lead to places like: conspiracy theory rabbit holes chock full of paranoid parallelomania; religious fanaticism and fundamentalism that rapidly falls upon immature persons who develop a false sense of certitude with regard to a specific doctrine or set of teachings; New Age nonsense and other forms of milquetoast modern pseudo-spirituality; and then of course the sort of crushing nihilism and hedonistic materialism that may result from too many fruitless searches.

It's all very lonely until you find the right friends. But when those friends do materialize, it's life's most ultimate adventure.
laughingsage: (Default)
1. This first point is a succinct reiteration of some other points I had made on the first list. Namely, that institutionalized (i.e. mainstream) Christianity has always been a sectarian affair with a rigid believer/nonbeliever binary Christian clergy have used over the many centuries to divine all of humanity into opposing "with us" vs. "against us" camps. Under this system there is zero middle ground, nor are people allowed to have any freedom of conscience; more specifically, freedom to form their own beliefs and opinions on metaphysical subject matter. Mainstream Christianity is supremely sectarian, and for me, compulsory belief and religious tribalism together is the ultimate deal-breaker. Full stop.

2. In my opinion and from the perspective of the great Western esoteric tradition, any attempt to claim a godform or archetype as a literal, real, historical person in anything resembling a matter-of-fact way (like the Gospel drama/myth does), is supremely vulgar act and a profaning of the great mysteries. Such an endeavor is what charlatans and mind-control cultists do in an opportunistic attempt to gain as many unthinking followers as possible. As I stated on my first list, I do not believe Jesus of Nazareth to have been a real historical person.

3. I do however believe that Jesus was created out of thin air by the New Testament compilers and editors (whomever they may have been), but that in the realm of ideas, Jesus is a very real entity. As an idea, Jesus Christ is composite godform; effectively a of mashup of Dionysus, Apollo, Mithras, Horus and very likely some Eastern inputs like Krishna and the Buddha. As a whole, Jesus Christ is a solar godform. On his name itself, Jesus Christ may in fact have been concocted out of an attempt to create a "Dionysus-Krishna" compound name, as we know "Ies" was the Phoenician name for Dionysus/Bacchus and adding the Greco-Roman os/us masculine proper noun suffix to the name would render "Iesus"..in other words, Jesus. The creations of composite gods for political purposes was nothing new at the time. Not long before Christianity came to be, the Macedonian rulers of Egypt combined the worship of Osiris and Apis into the compound god Serapis. They constituted this new cult for the Egyptian masses they ruled over at the time.

4. As we can see, the creators of the NT narrative were syncretists and they borrowed from every religious tradition they could get their hands on at the time in order to create their new chimera-savior god. Why should I or any independently-thinking person worship a fake god with a fake historical narrative attached to its legacy?

5. The clear answer is: I should not. And I'm under zero obligation to, since Christian institutions have lost so much power over the past several centuries that not a single Church anywhere in the Western world still has the power to force their dogma and demand for sectarian affiliation upon the general public. Why would I voluntarily throw my lot in with a crappy religion that I'm under no obligation whatsoever to affiliate with?

6. Having said all of this, now I can move on to some positive remarks regarding the archetypal aspects of the Jesus godform. But first I must say that in this day and age, we all have choice. As an archetype or ideal form, Jesus is a symbol of light, love, healing, altruism, spiritual rebirth, spiritual illumination and spiritual community-building. And on an ever higher metaphysical level, he personifies "the Logos" which is essentially the active, create and radiant aspect of creation. In essence, the Logos is the masculine aspect of Natural Law. In the Mazdean and Vedic systems, this is the fiery Asha and Rta, respectively. My point in bringing all this up to to put fort the idea that we can use any number of similar godforms to serve as a vessel for this holy and luminous archetype. Why not allow the people to choose between other solar/savior/healer figures like Apollo, Mithras, Dionysus, Krishna, Balder, ect.? Different people can choose a different godform based on their own personality type, aesthetic preferences, or really whatever one resonates with them the most. And event the sacraments, art and ritualism of traditional Christianity has been recycled into whatever new cults arise. Let's face facts: the ritualism of Christianity was stolen for earlier systems anyway. So why not just repossess these elements?

7. Finally, I do recognize that many good people will wish to retain worship of Jesus, which of course is all fine and good. Jesus worship can be cleaned up and purged of its historical blemishes. But at the same time there will be many who don't want to bother with what they see as centuries of blood-soaked baggage and spiritually-enslaving dogma. For the latter group, they can simply adopt another solar godform.

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