Magical, Mystical & Religious enterprises seek to fulfill five basic human needs, which can be identified as follows:
To provide techniques of Emotional Engineering.
To give life a sense of Meaning.
To provide some means of Intercession or Intervention.
To supply an explanation of Death.
To formulate a Social Structure or Cult.
These needs are deeply interrelated and many religions, and particularly many political philosophies, do not attempt to deal with them all. Finding a solution to some of the problems may make it less urgent to solve others. An occult priest should be capable of dealing with all of these issues. Let us consider how he might tackle each one and contrast his methods with those of the more orthodox systems.
This includes all practices designed to stimulate or control emotional states. Exaltation in prayer and song, contrition and guilt for imagined sins, fear and anguish at the specter of divine anger, and joy at the prospect of divine reward.
In our culture, a correlation between a fall-off in religion and an increase in the use of mood-altering drugs is very marked. The greatest threat to religion, however, is entertainment. The new power of the entertainment media to supply us with everything from joy to terror has usurped many of the functions of the priest.
There is a refreshing honesty about secular entertainment; it's just entertainment without the excuse of spirituality for its justification. It is still, however, manipulative.
If the priest wishes to put himself into or out of any
emotional state, then he should be provided with the techniques
to accomplish this. The process requires no justification — that
he wills it is sufficient. One cannot escape emotional experience
in a human incarnation, and it is preferable to adopt a master
rather than a slave relationship to it. The priest should be
capable of instructing anyone in the procedures of emotional
engineering. The main methods are the gnostic ones of casting
oneself into a frenzied ecstasy, stilling the mind to a point of
absolute quiescence, and evoking the laughter of the gods by
combining laughter with the contemplation of paradox.
Anyone who masters these techniques fully has achieved a
tremendous power over himself more valuable than health, love,
fame, or riches. He has set himself free from the effects of the
world; nothing can touch him unless he wills it. As it has been
said, the sage who knows how can live comfortably in hell.
Meaning is motivation. Anything which gives rise to physical and
mental behavior of any kind is providing meaning. Thus the body
is the source of many basic meanings in this world. Pain, pleasure,
hunger, sexuality, and so on provide an impetus to action and
hence a source of meaning. Once the organism has solved these
problems, other more subtle motivations arise on the mental
level — desire for knowledge and power, and emotional gratification
of all kinds. Beyond this the organism may seek higher level
purposes which have been called "spiritual," and some there
are who seek the meaning of meaning itself.
To question any level of meaning with reason is usually to
loose it. Meaning arises from the differentiation of experience into
pain and pleasure, good and evil, interesting and uninteresting,
beautiful and ugly, worthwhile and not worthwhile. Experiences
are only meaningful when we are sensitive to them. We can only
perceive difference. Ideas are only meaningful when we can
appreciate their separateness and novelty. Spirituality only arises
when we begin to consider some things non-spiritual. Meaning is
dependent on establishing dualities, and belief is fundamentally an act of differentiation — considering one thing different from
another. So ideas which create meaning for us must be conditional
beliefs. For example, certain knowledge about God, whether it
was yes or no, or certainty about everlasting life, either yes or no,
would completely destroy any meaning in these ideas. If this were
absolutely believed to be everlasting heaven or hell with no
escape, there would be no reason to care about anything.
Reason is therefore destructive of meaning when it seeks
unconditional and absolute answers. In this context it is probably
more prudent to stay the hand of suicide and ask if reason is not
somewhat out of phase with the nature of existence.
The ascetic mystic and the occult magician adopt different stances
toward their respective existences. The ascetic mystic conceives a
vast differentation between the material and the spiritual. He
then attempts to withdraw meaning from the material so that he
can put in into the spiritual. Withdrawing meaning from the
material seems a bizarre exercise, but there is an inner logic to it.
He seeks indifference to sex, indifference to hunger, to pleasure,
and to pain, indeed to everything that motivates normal men. In
return a whole world of what he calls spiritual experiences opens
up for him. His dreams, his acts of devotion, and his inner
thoughts become charged with meaning.
For those who devise or believe in religions, it is necessary to
erect conceptions on a cosmic scale to provide a source of
reference and meaning. Invariably the highest principle must be
paradoxical or contain some duality. Either the ultimate principle
must actually consist of two opposed principles or there must be
some sort of fall from the ultimate. The paradoxes of religion are
unquestionable and can only be interpreted on a hierarchical
basis. Religions are innately repressive and conservative. Only
heresy and schism permit any evolution of ideas. Much of the
meaning in religion derives from authority-and-obedience relationships;
hence most religions exist only as social phenomena. Private
religion inevitably evolves into mysticism or magic, and these
have a tendency to devolve into new religions.
The occult magician does not conceive of such a vast gulf between
spirit and matter. To him they are both part of the same thing, and
he exalts neither above the other. He rejects no part of his experience. The magician lives in a continuum beginning with
the sublime and ineffable Tao/God/Chaos/Kia through the mysterious
and subtle Aethers to the awesome and strange material world. To
the magician, any piece of knowledge, any new power, any opportunity
for enlightenment is worth having for its own sake. The
only thing abhorred in this incredible existence is failure to come
to grips with some part of it. To be able to operate in all spheres,
the magician must master the art of either acting without belief or
of being able to invest belief temporarily in anything with which
he is experimenting. The occult magician should be equally at home with
a crozier, a paintbrush, a test tube, or a wand. In all things he is
seeking to bring his Tao/God/Chaos/Kia into manifestation; for him life is its own
answer, and the way he lives it is his spirituality.
It is senseless to ask grand and unspecific questions about life
and the universe in general, because for an answer we can only
invent hypothetical states of not-life or not-universe. The universe
as it exists is a fantastic and magical place itself, and life is a
mystery whose depth can never be exhausted. It is only when man
does not pay enough attention to the totality of what is going on
around him every second that he is tempted to invent spurious
theories to cover his lack of knowledge. For the occult magician, that
lack of knowledge is the ultimate source of meaning. The true
priest is one who can communicate this sense of mystery.
All religions have some method of affecting reality, or of
encouraging some god to affect reality, or of merely giving the
appearance that they are doing these things. As a religion becomes
more institutionalized and orthodox, there is less and less emphasis
on this type of activity, and for good reason. Magic is a very
anarchic business. Some people have a greater gift for it than
others and sometimes it fails. Most priests who become adept at it
would soon realize it was their own psychic power at work and not
that of a god. Such priests who became adept would soon attract a
huge following and usurp and disorder the clerical hierarchy. All
orthodoxies tend to frown on its use for this reason, and also
because they might not themselves be able to deliver on demand.
The religions' answer is to involve the congregation in a
half-hearted attempt at intercession, and then be ready with the catchphrase, "It was not god's will," in the event of failure. One
might well ask, if god is going to do his will anyway, surely he does
not require a cue from us?
The approach of the priest is entirely different when
he leads his order or coven in magical activity. There is a high
probability of failure because they may not be able to raise sufficient
power and they may not be doing exactly what is required.
Everyone will be aware of this. In this situation they have to act
with total commitment and without the slightest trace of lust of
result. Everything possible must be done on the physical plane to
set up the conditions of success beforehand, and then the magic is
hurled in to tip the balance. To have given one's utmost is enough
in itself. The result can be awaited without fear or desire and
received with laughter, whatever it may be.
The difference between ideas and beliefs is that ideas may be true
but beliefs are always false. That may seem a monstrous thing to
say, but I offer it as a definition. What separates an idea from a
belief is the emotional force committed to upholding the belief. If
something were really true for us, we would not have to make an
effort to believe it.
All beliefs about death have one other
characteristic apart from their inherent improbability and falsity.
They have to be conditional. That is to say, they have to contain
both heaven and hell, or both pleasant and unpleasant reincarnations.
Consider a scheme in which one was destined for either
everlasting heaven or everlasting hell or for either total extinction
or perpetual existence as a totally disembodied spirit without the
organs of will or sense. Or consider a certain knowledge that one's
next incarnation could not be affected by events in this life.
beliefs, these things would be quite useless and unsatisfying. This
reveals beliefs about death for what they mostly are, devices to
create emotional effects in this life. The priest should
abstain from adding anything to this necrotic heap. Rather he
should devote his talents to showing people what death is like.
Necromancy is something of a dying art these days, largely because
it has been widely abused by those who are merely telepathic with
the living and/or who want their money. Nevertheless those who have directly seen or spoken to the dead have a certainty of
something beyond faith. The single experience of having left one's
body for a time is worth more than any belief, and it is the only
useful preparation for death. The experience is reasonably accessible
to any determined person.
Any human enterprise involving more than one individual will
exhibit some form of social structure from complete hierarchy to
apparent democracy. The dynamics of assorted cults, cabals, and
religions are instructive of the various ways in which magical
orders ought, and ought not to be, organized.
In a religion, hierarchy is of paramount importance and is
effectively an object of worship itself, though this would never be
openly stated. To enslave their followers, hierarchs represent
themselves as the emissaries of higher powers or "the teaching" or
whatever, but not as the thing itself. This is analogous to troops
saluting not the officer but the commission he wears on his breast.
The end result is the same, but it does help to overcome the ego
resistance involved in one person submitting to the will of another.
Once such an assymetric relationship has been established, it
readily perpetuates itself. The priest or leader is permitted to pass
personal comments on his followers. These do not even need to be
especially perceptive. They need only be the sort of things one's
friends wouldn't say to one's face, plus a few things one would like
to hear and suddenly the guru appears the wisest man on earth.
Another gambit of religious and political organizations is to
force a re-rationalization of beliefs through action. People are not
persuaded into belief intellectually. They are persuaded to perform
religious acts in childhood or while under stress. Afterward they
develop or accept the rationalizations and opinions that go with it.
To convert a man to anarchism, persuade him to throw a bomb for
various romantic emotional reasons. He will subsequently have to
adjust his beliefs to justify what he has done. The most successful
organizations are those that plunge potential converts straight into action. Obedience follows a similar pattern. At first only the
smallest and most inconsequential obediences will be demanded.
These force the rationalization that one is in fact loyal to whatever
one is giving one's obedience to. This loyalty is but a stepping
stone to greater acts of submission, usually of one's intelligence,
wallet, and sexual favors.
Leader-follower relationships also allow the leader to license
his followers to act without responsibility. The natural inhibitions
to displays of violence, sexuality, and other emotionalities can
easily be over-ridden if the leader tells his followers to do these
things. They will often thank him for letting them do what they
have always had a desire to do.
Secrecy and elitism characterize all hierarchies. There is
nothing wrong with being elite or having real secrets, as such, but
most cults rely heavily on artificial elites and manufacture secrecy
as a means of enticement and control. Accepting that elites exist
and keeping secrets are acts of obedience themselves. Membership
within an elite and a degree of megalomania are among the
licenses leaders can confer upon followers. To this end most cults
reinforce their collective identity with standards of dress and
behavior and all manner of badges, insignia, and labels. These
often assume as much importance as the actual activities of the
cult. People are easily tricked into accepting membership in a
large group as a substitute for enlarging themselves.
The activities of cults would seem to presuppose a high degree
of cynicism among their leaders. This is rarely so. Most have
swallowed their own lies and deceptions totally, or else rationalized
them in terms of an even higher cause. As a result, their
burning obsession equips them with a certain charisma which puts
fire in their eyes and inflames their speech. And what is the end
result of all this cultish activity?
Commercialism or a Police Raid: A cult either manages to turn
itself into a harmless institution or it becomes progressively more
extremist until the state decides to smash it. A genuine Order will be engaged in psychic guerrilla warfare against all black
cults and religions including materialist philosophies. In such a cult every man is his own priest. Any member has the right to
teach any other member anything he knows. No member has the
right to claim any secret within the Order beyond the secret of his
own identity if he wishes it.
Unlike cults and religions, a genuine Order will not admit
people on a number-for-its-own sake basis. Vitality can only be
maintained by quality control at the intake. Whatever hierarchy
arises within an Order will be a reflection of demonstrable ability.
Attempts to use the various tricks of the teacher enumerated in
this section will be immediately spotted and ridiculed. There is
only one justification for the existence of a genuine Order — to enable individuals to take control of their own
spirituality. And that is a very heroic and dangerous objective.
Watch out for the Police Raid.