I find it interesting to watch and listen to “political discourse” not because I care about the politicians or parties themselves but because of the patterns and forces which they reveal. Saying this is liable to bring accusations of disconnected or apathetic privilege from the impassioned Left or else of Satanic refusal to tow the Nationalist line from the effusive Right, but this is evidence of the selfsame patterning.
In the occultism of the West, we might speak of egregores: group-minds which take on a literal life of their own, directing human activities on a more or less large scale in line with their own survival and expansion needs rather than the explicit desires of the human agents themselves. These egregores, however, may be dealt with, tricked, trapped, or, more commonly, compacted with just like any other spirit-being. Such pacts, whether explicit or implicit, are more common than not.
To paraphrase Mark Stavish, from the Institute for Hermetic Studies monograph entitled Studies in Poltergeists, Obsession, & Possession (CreateSpace, 2016), one does not need to obsess or possess an entire population in order to control it; it is far more efficient to focus on the much smaller population in leadership by which the greater mass of a society may be influenced.
It is no coincidence that in traditional societies, the elders or others in leadership generally also hold a role similar to that of clergy—though much more directly than the clergy of mainline churches and synagogues of the modern West. Such leaders would maintain contact not only with their own ancestors, household spirits, and the like, but also with the ancestral founders of the entire community alongside the spirits and deities who helped them to bring the whole project together.
Valentin Tomberg, writing anonymously in his masterful Meditations on the Tarot, tells us that all egregores are basically demonic; they arise from human passion and, unless carefully and tightly reigned, inevitably grow out of the control of those who gave them birth. Under the guidance of some tutelary spirit or deity, they may be symbiotic forces of social, cultural, even psychic cohesion among a people, but without such strong and wise hands, they will behave like parasitic beasts, guiding their hosts to self-destructive behavior in order to spread their own genetic code far and wide.
Preferring an English-language iteration of Yogic terminology—which prioritizes the potential of the individual over against any and all inner restrictions arising from self or other—Shri Gurudev Mahendranath taught in terms of the “KKK matrix”, composed of Kleshas, Karma, and Konditioning (the spelling being an intentional mnemonic device). (Twilight Yoga II: The Magnum Opus of Twilight Yoga, International Nath Order, 2002) The first two are classical philosophical terms in Yoga, Vedanta, Tantra, etc., while the third is a familiar substitution for samskaras (mental patternings) and vasanas (derived from memory), being patterns of thought and behavior. These three reinforce one another, with the Kleshas (the five Pain-Bearing Obstructions) being the most primal.
Still, our conditioning is the first and often most tangled layer to work through and, most relevantly, much of it is made up of influences which vampirize us from the outside: social, political, cultural, and other tendrils which wrap in amongst the native vines and become almost indistinguishable from them.
Both approaches are accurate, and both are useful angles when dealing with those mechanistic and involutionary forces which manifest socially and culturally as “politics”. The term is applied to all manner of loosely related phenomena in order to bring those phenomena within the wheelhouse of the much broader force-patterns we call egregores, and rhetoric is applied by the force-agents we know as politicians, activists, ad-men, propagandists, and so on. Our major concern, though, must be our own freedom.
I make no pleas for anarchism or libertarianism; any “ism” is an anchor-loop for chains.
I also do not intend that if it is in one’s power to act compassionately for another that one should not take the opportunity, for this is merely selfishness.
I do state, without apology, that true strength and the freedom to use it must come up together, like the two hands which climb a ladder. Whether uniquely modern or not, people love to revel in their own weakness. In part, this arises from laziness; it is far easier, after all, to claim a weakness as a strength and demonize those who try to improve themselves than it is to do the painful work of self-examination.
This issue is also at least partly due to a consistent misunderstanding of what constitutes genuine strength. Some of what feels like power in the moment reveals a deep-seated weakness or lack of direction. The first show of strength, then, must be the willful act of finding the alien threads among the native in our own minds and personalities so that, eventually, they may be untangled and traced back to their source.
We must each be responsible for our own inner freedom and strength.
Equanimity, Samarasa—that power of the Alchemist, the Theurge, the Adept, the Yogi—is nearly impossible to perfect before achieving the deepest levels of gnostic insight, but if we don’t at least start to make strides in that direction our self-examination and examination of the world as both reflection of and reflected in our own minds cannot ever begin.
It is for this reason that Masters the world over advise us to first quit ourselves of internal entanglements as much as possible, and no amount of exploration in this direction is wasted.
5 thoughts on “Politics as Counterfeit Spirit: A Metapsychology of Liberation, Part I”
as always, thank you for your clear teachings
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I enjoyed the ideas in this short article. Thanks for the concept of egregores.
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Reblogged this on Chrysalis Tarot and commented:
A very astute piece about the adverse effects politics and other group-think can have on the spirit and essence of who we truly are. Rise above the chaos and eschew ego-obsessed Egregores.
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